Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday happenings

If you can believe it, 2007 is almost at it's end. And in just about two months, God willing, our little guy will enter the world. This is quite a different Christmas than last year, it's amazing what changes can occur in just 12 months. Here's what we've been up to in the past week.

I passed my 3-hour glucose test last Friday. Hooray! It was actually kinda fun. DH used a sick day to hang out in the lab's waiting room with me all morning, punctuated by my hourly blood draws. We watched The Simpsons Movie on our mini DVD player and complained about the uncomfortable chairs. Another patient brought her 2-week-old baby, and we smiled contentedly listening to his tiny cries. Afterwards we ate at a Mexican restaurant and enjoyed the stolen afternoon hours together. I cherish every "couple" moment we have, anticipating when Bean will be the focus of all our attention. I got the test results on Christmas Eve, which was quite a relief. While we were waiting, DH had been practicing his dirty looks and stern reprimands every time I reached for carbs or sugar. To make it worse, he kept asking me if I wanted to walk the dog with him. No, actually, I don't want to walk the dog. The way I see it, there are three main pluses to being pregnant: 1. permission to gain weight; 2. automatic excuse not to exercise (who is going to argue with a preggo who says she needs some rest?); and 3. the beauty of creating life, or something like that. Take away the first two, and this pregnancy was about to get ugly. Real fast. But Merry Christmas to me, I'm clear. I won't be eating 6 donuts again any time soon, though. Well, at least not so close to a doctor's appointment.

My parents arrived for their visit on Saturday, and we've been enjoying their company this week. Especially the dog, who nearly threw herself out the window at the airport when she spotted them. (Fortunately, she didn't pee on the seat like she did last time. But I slyly suggested we take DH's car, just in case.) Monday was absolutely gorgeous, so we took advantage of Seattle's tourist destinations. Who says it always rains here?! Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, the Fremont Troll, the floating bridge... good stuff. We even tried to visit that awesome donut place downtown (I know, I know, old habits die hard). But much to our shock and dismay, they were entirely out of donuts! Not one piece of delicious fried dough in sight. I suspect that DH called ahead to arrange it, but I have no proof.

On Tuesday we enjoyed a quiet Christmas here with my parents. Lots of gifts to be opened, with Evey and Bean getting as much as anyone. Santa (aka my mom) continued the tradition of putting "stockings" in our stockings:

My favorite gift, though, was from DH. I don't mean to turn this blog into a catalog of the jewelry he buys for me, but considering I expect a serious drought starting in March, I thought I would document this on his behalf. Plus, I was really touched by the sentiment! He told me that he was browsing in the jewelry store when he spotting this necklace -- a pearl resting in a white gold circle. It reminded him of me carrying Bean, and he knew he had to buy it. I know what you are thinking, but hands off DH. He's mine.

And speaking of DH, I know it's very common for husbands to feel left out while the mom bonds with the new baby. To keep him involved, we included him in the Christmas belly pic:

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas as well!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Test Day

The first sign that yesterday was going to be tough: I actually had to get dressed, do my hair, and put on make-up -- and it wasn't a Saturday. No, it was glucose tolerance test day, to check for gestational diabetes. Lucky me.

Here is a quick overview of how the procedure should go, for those of you unfamiliar with it:
1. Stop eating/drinking anything with sugar 3 hours before the scheduled blood draw.
2. Drink a small bottle of glucola (provided by the doc in advance) in less than 5 minutes, timed 1 hour before blood draw.
3. Arrive at doctor 20 minutes before blood draw, to ensure proper timing of the test.
4. Blood is taken precisely 1 hour after you finish the glucola.
5. Meet with OB for regular pregnancy check-up.

Here is how my afternoon actually went:

1. Stop eating/drinking anything with sugar 3 hours before the scheduled blood draw. No problem. I had lunch and finished up by 12:25 pm, after which time I sipped on water.

2. Drink entire bottle of glucola within 5 minutes, timed 1 hour before blood draw. Now this glucola stuff gets a very bad rap, in my opinion. I'm not sure if what I had to drink was different than other preggos I know, but it wasn't bad at all! It was not syrupy, it just tasted like orange pop with a little less fizz. I guzzled it within 5 minutes, again no problem, thinking this test was gonna be a CINCH!

3. Arrive at the doctor 20 minutes before blood draw, for accurate timing of test. Ummm, no. This is where I started to derail, for a couple of reasons. First, being a telecommuter, I am not overly familiar with the traffic patterns in Seattle. Second, my appointment was at a later time of day than my previous ones, making me even less familiar with said traffic. (Where was my Fox News morning traffic dude when I needed him? Good luck with that!) Third, there is construction on 405 N, which was not the highway I was taking, but it caused considerable back-up on one along the way. So after downing the glucola on schedule, I crated the dog and hopped in the car, unknowingly headed straight into traffic hell. Shortly after leaving home, I found myself in a dead stop on the freeway. I had no alternative but to wait it out, because the next exit was the one I needed anyway. While my GPS system (which I nicknamed Marsha) ticked away the minutes, putting my estimated arrival time later and later, I attempted to relax and engage in some positive self-talk. "You are doing everything you can be doing at this point. There is nothing more you can do. Relax, this will turn out okay in the end." That positive self-talk quickly degenerated into cursing. "I $&#*ing hate the traffic in Seattle! Our doctor in St. Louis was much closer! I'm such a %@^! idiot for not leaving 2 hours in advance!" As it looked less and less likely that I would be arriving at the doctor on time for the blood draw, I decided to do the only thing a woman in my situation could do: Call DH and complain, so he could suffer with me. I caught him at his desk at work, right before he was about to leave to meet me at the doc's office. Unfortunately, one of his coworkers was at his desk and likely heard my loud swearing over the phone. They both tried to calm me, with the concerned coworker attempting to offer route advice. But there was nothing they could do to help, so we hung up, agreeing to meet at the doc anyway. (Well, not the coworker.) Meanwhile, the glucola was reaching my bladder. Fearing a repeat of another bathroom emergency, I began scanning for a Subway. Then the far left lane started moving, and I decided that if there was ever a moment to be a rude driver, now was it. I would just hop to the left, jet down to my exit, and then cut everyone else off. Finally catching a break, it turns out I didn't even need to cut people off after speeding ahead of the line. They were all waiting to split off onto 405 N (with it's construction nightmare), leaving me a clear path to 405 S. Free of the jam, Marsha informed me that I would arrive at the doc at 3:22. I was supposed to arrive at 3:10, with the blood draw at 3:30. Luckily, there was not much traffic for the remainder of the ride. But did I mention it was raining? (You know this is Seattle, so I don't want to be redundant.) I wanted to get there on time, but more important, I wanted Bean to be safe. Marsha's ETA continued to drift back, until I parked the car in the lot at 3:25. I ran inside and checked in, with precious few minutes left on the clock. After offering my apologies for being late, I asked to use the bathroom (puhleeeaze). Denied! No time. I scanned for DH in the waiting room before being whisked back, but he was still a few minutes behind me. Time for the blood draw.

4. Blood is taken precisely 1 hour after you finish the glucola. The nurse quickly ushered me into the exam room. I have come a long way with my fear of needles in the past two years, I am proud to say. I've had more bloodwork than I care to remember, and I have even given myself shots. But sitting in the chair waiting for the syringe, I was lightheaded from the combo of stress and the sugary effects of glucola, and I really, really had to pee. The nurse poked into my left arm. After some digging, she withdrew the needle, commenting that my veins were flat. (That makes one part of my body!) She decided to go for the right arm. She didn't even stick me, finding the veins totally uncooperative on that side. Time to go back to the left, this time with a pediatric needle. More digging, more discouraged "hhmmm"s from the nurse. I was getting more lightheaded, wondering if DH made it, and dreaming of the moment I could bolt for the bathroom. When she withdrew this needle, again unsuccessful, I needed a short break if I wasn't going to pass out. Mentioning this to the nurse was shooting myself in the foot, though, delaying the relief of the bathroom because she made me lay down and drink some water. I took some deep breaths and it was back to the test, which I felt I was already failing miserably. "One last try," the nurse said. "I'd hate to have you drink that nasty stuff again..." The implied "but" was horrifying. Not because of the taste of the drink, which as I said, was not that bad. It was that I had made it so far! Overcome the obstacles! Prevailed over traffic! Not fainted or peed (yet)! We had to get this blood, and NOW. She decided to try the back of my left hand. After running it under hot water to get the veins out of hiding, we both gave it our all. ("Think bloody thoughts," she instructed, so I did.) Success! She filled the vials and released me to the restroom. Ahhhh.

5. Meet with the OB for regular pregnancy check-up. By then, DH had been taken to my exam room, and the doc showed up immediately thereafter (one benefit to being late, I suppose). The visit included a weigh-in, of course. To my horror, I gained 7 pounds in 3 weeks. I blame those donuts, cursed donuts. The doc, however, was not concerned. "You are still ahead of the game," she kindly assured me. What game is that, sumo wrestling? While listening to the heartbeat, she also commented that there was no fat between the baby and the doppler wand, helpfully remarking that we should thus get a good look at the baby at the next ultrasound. That made me feel worse! If there is no fat on my belly, then where the heck did those 7 pounds go? Not all to Bean's little body, of course. This is part of the reason that I avoid looking in the mirror whenever possible. I prefer to live in ignorance rather than engage in the dangerous and depressing game of "spot the cellulite." But the doc was pleased with what she saw/heard, and I'm grateful for that. Now we get to wait for the results of the glucose test. If there's a problem, they'll call by Thursday. If there isn't... well, no news is good news.

Who knew it was going to be this much fun being pregnant? And I'm not even to the good part yet!

** UPDATE: Not 5 minutes after I posted this entry, the doc's office called... I failed the glucose test. :( Just barely, but enough that now I have to go in for the 3-hour test on Friday morning. This means fasting, hanging out for 4 hours at the clinic reading outdated magazines (Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt divorcing, oh my!), and getting my blood taken again and again and again. Waaaaaaaah.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Welcome, third trimester!

Well, the third trimester has settled in. 29 weeks and counting. This is the belly I am now lugging around, as of Saturday (28 weeks and 5 days):

I'm still feeling okay. My energy level seems to be diminishing, so I'm thankful we are done with the relocation. I'm also less comfy and more achy in general, but that just means I get to sit on the couch while DH cooks dinner. (He is making a lovely mustard-roasted chicken with veggies, and it smells divine! I think I'm going to feel achy tomorrow, too.) The strangest part of the pregnancy right now has to be feeling Bean move. I've been experiencing this for months now, of course, but it's more intense. And this kid is active, let me tell you. With absolutely no consideration for what I need to be doing at the moment, such as... oh, I don't know... sleeping. He finds that 3 am is a perfectly appropriate time to play my kidney like a drum. I figure that's the job of a child, though -- to be blissfully unaware of how his actions affect me until the day that he becomes a parent himself. The beginning of nature's most necessarily lop-sided relationship. Meanwhile, as I watch my tummy roll and bounce, I try not to think of the diner scene from Spaceballs when the alien pops out of the guy's stomach, complete with top hat and cane, and serenades the patrons with a rousing rendition of "Hello, my baby! Hello, my honey! Hello, my ragtime gal!" One good punch from Bean, if I can grab my camera quick enough, and I'm the next Internet sensation. Coming soon to a near you.

Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for those of you who enjoy tales of my pregnancy woes, this past weekend came and went without any uncomfortable emergencies. On Friday night, we attended a Christmas party hosted by one of DH's coworkers and his wife. There were 26 2/3 of us, plus 6 dogs, packed into a tiny townhouse. It was a really nice evening, and I came away with a $20 gift card to Jamba Juice from the gift exchange. I knew it was time to leave, though, when I almost had to take down this Jack Russell terrier that kept trying to hump poor Evey, who was huddled in fear under my chair for hours. The mama instinct was kicking in beyond my control, and I would hate to embarrass DH so soon in front of his new coworkers. A gigantic angry pregnant woman body-slamming a 10 lb dog, another video forward you'll soon find in your inbox.

Other than the promise of a stomach full of pureed fruit, the other good result of the Christmas party was that hiding from the Jack Russell really took the energy out of the dog. She actually slept through the night without requesting to join me and DH in bed! Not even Bean woke me up, for that matter. Sleeping in was just as fabulous as I remember. Then, my sweet DH drove us into downtown Seattle for our first real visit to the city's top donut shop. He knew better than to protest when I asked him to buy us a dozen -- 10 for me and 2 for him. What's $20 for donuts when you've driven 15 miles to get there? The price of a contented preggo is worth much more, as he is well aware.

Perhaps the best news of all, I officially finished my Christmas shopping on Saturday afternoon! Last recipient on the list: the pooch. We got her a giant candy-cane shaped rawhide bone. It's so much easier to buy for females, even spayed ones. This is her enjoying the bone we got her last year:

This is her reading the Christmas card that my parents sent to her this year. (Yes, they sent a card specifically addressed to our dog. Is there a problem?)

And just for fun, this is one of her favorite positions when napping on the couch. I could just squeeze her to pieces.

To round out an overall good weekend, I got a present from DH on Sunday! He surprised me with a pair of emerald earrings, to thank me for all my support and effort in moving us to Seattle. (Also known as The Emerald City, as my luck would have it. I'm really thankful we didn't move to a place nicknamed The Garbage City or something along those lines.) Anyway, he loves it here and has been so happy since we arrived, and that makes me happy, too. But the earrings are good insurance for him, just in case.

My impression of Seattle is still a good one, although the clouds rarely part these days. I can hardly be unhappy when there are quality donuts to be scarfed. I have been wondering, though, how far away do I have to move to escape certain really annoying commercials? 2100 miles and I still have to endure the Empire Carpet guy's nasally, overly enthused sales pitch and his unfortunate group of back-up singers belting out "800-588-2300... EMPIRE!" Unfair. And while we are on the topic of television, I haven't decided if I like the traffic guy on the Fox morning news. He's young and a bit goofy, often sarcastically adding "Good luck with that!" when pointing out nasty traffic snarls. In contrast, my St. Louis traffic lady would follow up bad news with helpful advice, such as suggesting that you leave early for work or offering an alternate route. I'm unsure if I like the Seattle guy's realistic approach -- you poor suckers are screwed no matter what -- or if I prefer St. Louis lady's blind optimism that you won't be awkwardly late to that morning meeting just because some idiot didn't slow down in the rain and now the highway is a parking lot. I guess it doesn't really matter, since my commute now consists of waddling 5 steps down the hallway. But I have to think about something when Bean wakes me up at 3 am, so there you have it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cookie Monster

After spending the last year isolating ourselves at home with pills, injections, thermometers, charts, books, and other infertility-related paraphernalia, DH and I have officially burst onto the social scene of Seattle. And when I say burst -- well, it was a close call on Friday.

We had plans for dinner with my mom's office manager's son and his wife. (Got that?) They live here in town, of course, and were gracious to extend the invite and welcome us to the city. Normally you will find me and DH at a restaurant shortly after 5 pm, the only people there without blue hair and still in possession of our own teeth. But in attempt to be cool for at least one evening, we agreed to meet them at a restaurant downtown at 7:30 pm. Shortly before we leave, I am putting on my make-up when I have a shooting pain in my left foot. Looking down, I clearly see that one of my toes is not happy, bent in a way that it usually isn't. So I start freaking out, and once DH is assured that no, Bean is not on his way, he promptly tracks down an urgent care place nearby. Luckily, we quickly realize it is just a cramp and my toe is soon back in it's rightful place. Cramps like this are common in pregnancy, and while they are not entirely preventable, drinking water is supposed to help. I guzzle down two huge glasses of water, praying that I wouldn't be struck by the affliction during dinner. Turns out that should not have been my biggest concern.

Downtown is approximately 25 minutes from our house, in good traffic. So we leave about 50 minutes early, anticipating a bit of a crunch. Now about 30 minutes or so into the drive, as we are crawling along the highway in extra-horrible congestion, it's time for the second panic of the evening. I have to go to the bathroom. Immediately. And we are nowhere near the restaurant or even any other exit for an emergency stop. As you probably know, using the restroom when you are pregnant is not something that can wait. There's no holding it when a 2-lb baby is using your bladder as a lounge chair. I try relaxation breathing to distract myself while DH silently dreams up an excuse to tell the couple in the event of an emergency change in plans. (We are both fearing the worst, although neither of us speaks it.) Somehow I manage to keep my composure until we can exit, which is in downtown Seattle. We immediately get stopped at a red light, and I get out of the car in the middle of the street and race to a nearby Subway. Thank goodness, crisis averted. But the fun is not quite over yet, because now I am standing in the dark in a rather scary part of Seattle, with a man and woman screaming angrily at each other in Spanish nearby (I was hoping it wasn't the couple we were meeting), while DH is struggling to navigate the one-way streets in gridlock to retrieve me. Plus we are at least 15 minutes late for dinner already. We connect via our cell phones, and DH says he is completely stopped in the next street over and suggests that I walk to the car. I express concern that traffic would become unjammed before I could get there, but he assures me, "There is absolutely nowhere for me to go." Famous last words. I turn the corner and see our car, just as the street opens up. I yell to DH over the phone, "I see you! Don't move! Unlock the doors! I'm running down the street!" So in all my pregnant glory, I'm booking it down the sidewalk to catch DH. I hop in and the slam the door, and we take off... for about 20 feet, and then stop again because the light has changed. DH is laughing hysterically, and I'm just relieved to be... well, relieved.

The good news is that despite the rocky start to the evening, dinner was wonderful. The restaurant had a lovely bathroom I visited about 5 times, just because I could. And the food and conversation were terrific as well. We were completely exhausted by the time we got home, though, so while it was fun to dine with people of our generation, you'll probably still more often find us eating with gramps and grams.

Saturday we wasted an absolutely gorgeous day doing necessary errands. It was our second attempt at getting driver's licenses, as we discovered the first time at the DMV that the State of Washington requires 26 original forms of identification, a character referral from your kindergarten teacher, and a notarized list of your favorite colors signed by the governor. Then you get to wait an hour and a half to sign a form and have your picture taken. After that bit of fun, we battled the crowds at the mall to do some Christmas shopping. Overall the day was a success, though. Our eyes are open in the license pictures and we knocked off nearly our entire gift list, which is pretty much all we could have asked for.

Sunday was another social day for us. One of DH's coworkers invited him to a bar to watch the Lions play the Cowboys, as the game wasn't on the stations you can get at home. Being that we are in the Pacific time zone, that meant DH dragging himself out of bed early to get to the bar by 9:45 am. Despite the Lions blowing a fabulous lead, DH had a good time and got his football fix for the day.

Then around 3 pm, it was time for the highlight of my weekend: the cookie exchange. My love of cookies began when I was around age 2, perhaps even earlier, listening to Cookie Monster sing "C is for Cookie." You see, "C" is not only for cookie. It's also for ME! While Elmo eventually surpassed Cookie Monster as my favorite Muppet, I was hooked on cookies for life. For my birthday, forget the cake -- I want a ginormous cookie from Mrs. Fields. With extra frosting, please. (In fact, while we are on the topic, let the countdown begin: 2 months and 1 day until my next cookie cake. Dear lord, there'd better be Mrs. Fields out here...) So when a coworker of mine who was also transferred to Seattle with her husband two years ago invited me to a cookie exchange, you can imagine how quickly my answer was YES.

I have never been to such an event before, but now that I have been to one, I plan to elbow my way into the cookie exchange circuit as quickly as possible. It is exactly what it sounds like, heaven on earth: we all made and brought 3 dozen cookies, then went around the room filling a container with everyone else's sugary creations. We didn't eat any of the cookies during the party, but there were delish appetizers and hot orange cider to enjoy. So now there is a tantalizing array of 3 dozen cookies on the kitchen counter... minus the 7 that I ate for dessert last night. (Minus the 5 more that I will go downstairs and grab right now, because typing this post has made me hungry.) And I left the party with an invite from the hostess to hit the local malls with her whenever I feel like getting out. Which is pretty much every day. I hope she doesn't mind.

Cookies, shopping, socializing, and no car "accidents" -- I'd say it was a pretty good weekend. Oh, and I'm fairly sure we named Bean, too. Although DH doesn't realize it yet.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Slip Slidin' Away

This is a belated topic, but I thought it was worth mentioning anyway, because many of you have been so kind to ask how we are doing in Seattle following the rain storm earlier this week. (And for those of you who HAVEN'T asked, I assume you didn't know about it, otherwise you would have also been wracked with concern -- so let me enlighten you.) On Saturday, it snowed quite a bit. Beautiful, gorgeous, huge wet flakes. It reminded me of Michigan, which was comforting and lovely. On Sunday, it warmed up and started raining. And kept raining, and kept raining, and kept raining. So by Monday (yep, still raining), we had snow melting off the mountains and water pouring from the sky. Which led to flooding and mudslides. Yippee, welcome to Seattle! DH's boss ran to his desk to assure him this was an unusual occurrence, appropriately afraid we would immediately pack up and head back to St. Louis. I wonder really how uncommon, though, as there is a weather term for it: the "Pineapple Express," because the system comes from Hawaii. (Are we anywhere near Hawaii? Apparently I have absolutely no clue where I live.)

Fortunately, the immediate area around our home was not affected by the rain. The biggest inconvenience to me was having a hyperactive dog who couldn't get a proper walk. The biggest inconvenience to DH was driving through the flooded valley on Monday to get home from work. I told him not to go through the mini-lakes that had formed -- don't be a hero, I don't like sports enough to raise our son alone. But of course he didn't listen, and ended up in a situation where waves were actually going over the top of his car. He was shaking for about two hours after he got home. Or wait, was that me shaking him? Either way, we emerged unscathed and dry, thanks for asking.

Random thoughts/updates:

Does anyone watch Mike & Juliette's morning show? Today they talked about women delivering huge babies and brought in enormous turkeys to show everyone what a 20 lb newborn would look like. That was frightening on many levels. Luckily, Bean in no way resembled a turkey in the last ultrasound.

Evey ate my cell phone on Tuesday. (See previous post re: our dog/mountain goat and the kitchen counter.) Has anyone seen the Family Guy episode where Peter accidentally swallows his cell phone, and you can hear "hold" music coming from his stomach? DH and I had a good laugh imagining the phone ringing inside the pooch. I got a new cell phone with a local number, but if you need to reach the dog... try my old cell number. (Thanks to DH for that observation, he's so witty.) :)

One of the hardest questions for me to answer is "How are you feeling?" I don't know why that question leaves me tongue-tied, but it does. "Well, I'm having trouble maneuvering through doorways with a 20-lb basketball protruding from my midsection, I can't keep a thought in my head or object in my hand for more than five seconds, and I am in trauma counseling after seeing a gigantic turkey on TV that I might have to deliver in three months." Or, "I'm doing great. Generally the waddling is kept to a minimum, and there are tons of bone-chilling symptoms in 'The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy' that I don't have yet." (None of which are fit to mention in polite company or pseudo-anonymous blogs. But you preggos and former preggos know what they are.) Somewhere in between those two answers is where I am. I don't feel glorious and radiant, like dancing through the streets and brightening the world with my pregnancy glow. But I don't feel entirely crappy yet, either. Just taking it one day at a time, one kick at a time.

I added a new poll to the right so you can help us choose a name for Bean. Don't worry, no presidential debates associated with this vote. Although that snowman guy was really cool.