Friday, August 22, 2014

In the pink

Hasty post! Been incredibly busy!

I have so many beautiful baby blankets that were lovely gifts for Theo. That's what happens when you have a baby in winter. Fleece, cotton, wool, knit, quilted, handmade, patterned, solid, characters, fancy, everyday, light, heavy, small, large, blue, green, yellow, even pink accents, all adorable and useful.

Yet I know deep down that the blue ones, as much as I love them, will stay home. I have a blue one with clouds, obviously has nothing to do with the gender of a child, it's a lovely sky scene. But I know, I can't bring my new baby out and and about in it.

My neutral ones are great, but let's get real - I need full-on pink blankets. I don't want to spend every moment I'm out and about explaining to people that it's a girl. From a certain perspective, it's a waste of money, it's lame, it doesn't make sense. But deep down it's the same thing as putting Theo in tiny button down shirts and cargo pants, before he could even roll over. It's all part of the process of accepting each one's gender role for the moment, until they are old enough to find their own way.

I may have to wrap her in (some) pink, but I keep reminding myself that Theo had his share of railroad prints and dinosaur jammies. As soon as he was able to choose (even before he could talk perfectly), it became clear that he wasn't entrenched in blue and boyish. I had no problem allowing him a "girl" lunchbox (which isn't even girly), "girl" sunglasses (which are sparkle rainbow, which, duh, is pretty rad) and "girl" TV shows, all of which is drowned by a sea of "boy" choices, like trains and cars and sports. When my girl gets old enough to choose, who knows what she'll want, but whatever it is it'll be fine. A few pink blankets, bows, and heart prints won't keep her trapped in a frilly box forever.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Six months and change

I cannot believe how big I am.

Man, this really is a lot harder. I'm definitely a few weeks ahead of my size from last time. I feel much more encumbered, full, tight as a drum most days. When I'm not getting kicked in the kidneys I'm getting pressure on my pelvis. Basically, I feel like saying "bleah" all the time. I eat Tums all day long and am out of breath any time I'm on my feet.

It's hard to keep my expectations down for my ability to play with Theo but he has adapted pretty well, allowing me to lag behind while he runs ahead, allowing me only short bursts of messing around on the floor before I need to seek out a soft chair, allowing me to move him aside when he sits too squarely in my lap. He talks to the baby, gives the belly kisses, and is generally already being an awesome big brother.

Everything going well...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Five Months

Everything is going well.

People ask how I'm feeling, and the short answer is: tired, hungry, and urpy. Urpy, you know what urpy is, right? Urpy is when you feel like you ate too much, and your belly is pushing into your esophagus, and you probably should burp or something but you can't. Not exactly heartburn, but close, just full and roly-poly and kind of achy. It's the strangest thing, feeling full, when you're actually hungry. It's how I feel nearly all the time.

For me it's extra-challenging because I have a small appetite to begin with, and I admit I'm not eating everything in sight. The urpy feeling doesn't help at all. I'm often completely turned off by the thought of eating until I have a couple of bites. I keep catching myself feeling crappy and realize that I'm actually hungry but couldn't tell.

Not being able to bend at the waist without feeling like you're getting punched in the gut is really, really annoying. I just recently started forcing myself to sit down to pull pants on. It's hard being so encumbered when I'm used to being swift and flexible.

I think this is more of a pronounced problem this time around because poor Theo is getting the brunt of it. We're both used to having me run around with him, and now, running just feels awful. Even 30 seconds of light jogging takes some determination to get through. Come to think of it, why would I have any reason to run at all, back when I was pregnant with Theo and working? I try to substitute with speed walking instead and sometimes that keeps him happy. I try not say "I can't run because I'm pregnant" as I don't want him to develop any animosity in that direction. I can't say how glad I am that we waited this long, allowing him to develop the independence to play without me always keeping up.

Otherwise, he's still very excited about the baby. He loves to pat the belly, kiss it and give it raspberries. We talk about it and I got some storybooks from the library about new babies. It's all very joyful and fun to explore the idea of a new person in the house.

All the testing has come back happy and healthy. (I don't want to say negative or positive as that's confusing with the various tests - suffice it to say everything came back good.) It occurs to me I never did a gender announcement here, though I'm sure word has gotten around in other ways. It's a GIRL, definitely a girl, both the genetics testing and the visual check have made this official.

I went in this week for a diagnostic ultrasound, which my OB performed. She's apparently really good with the machine and would rather do it herself. She checked absolutely everything, including parts of the brain, angles of limbs, shape of the lips, nose and chin, development of major arteries and the stomach cavity. I've gained about 8 pounds and the baby is in the 37th percentile, perfectly great for someone my size.

So yeah, doing great, and at 5 months already. As Theo came early I'm already feeling way too close to the due date. We still have so much to do...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Small, Big, Subjective

I'm 4 months into the pregnancy.

Last time I started taking photos of my belly at 3 months and posting them here. This time, in true veteran fashion, I didn't feel like bothering, even though I've definitely gotten larger at a faster pace this time around. I had a look at my old photos just now and wow, I was posting not even a belly at all, wasn't I?

The thing is that this time, I started out with a bit of a leftover belly from before, like nearly everyone else does. At the very least my non-pregnant belly was the size of my three-months-along photo from last time, and little more than that besides. Maybe that's why I didn't want pictures?

I can't say I know what you, individual reader, are thinking, but whenever I bring up the topic of my waistline, I tend to get the same reaction from others, which involves annoyance at the skinny girl complaining about being supposedly fat.

Let me say a few things right off the top - I would never truly use the words "fat" or "overweight" to describe myself. It's obvious I've pulled a good number in a genetic lottery and I'm very grateful for that. I can't claim any sort of credit for it as I really don't take care of my body that well.

That said, over the years I have always had my own version of "fat day jeans" and "skinny day jeans", and eventually I get to a point where I grow out of the skinny ones and my fat ones become my skinny ones, and I buy larger jeans, just like everyone else does, all along the weight spectrum, as they get older and less fit. I don't have the measurements I had 15 years ago and only part of that is due to having a baby in between.

I don't worry about my size that much. I admit I was a little unhappy with how my new shape looked in my usually well-fitted shirts after I was well and done with pregnancy and breastfeeding. I did have to get rid of some tops that no longer worked and shop for my new shape. Seeing as how there have always been certain styles that didn't work for my body (which is an issue no matter what your size is) it was just a bit of a lateral adjustment and not that much to deal with.

Again, whenever I talk or write in this manner I worry that people are angry at me. There are so many moms out there who undergo a major transformation in order to give birth to a child. These ladies have to face real physical consequences and I never would compare myself to them. I was lucky in so many ways with my pregnancy and this is definitely one of them.

But is just talking about my experience enough to annoy people? I still wish to express myself, still wish for understanding, and yes, empathy.

See, nearly all moms go through a similar stage in the first and early second trimesters, where they are pregnant, and visibly so, but not visibly enough for strangers to be sure. At this point, anyone who knows me and my usual shape well enough can, if they happen to notice my belly, discern that I am in fact pregnant, and not simply gaining weight.

Last time, I put off buying maternity clothes as long as possible, and even bought looser styles that I could wear afterwards. This time, I went and got maternity clothes immediately. The main reason was that last time, I was pregnant in the winter, and bulky styles were easier to pull off. This time, I'll be pregnant in the summer and needed things like shorts and thinner tops that flattered. Another reason is that this time around, the current hip styles are all short in the torso, and do not work at all for a pregnant woman.

But I have to say, the biggest reason I got maternity clothes immediately is that I wanted to look pregnant, NOW. The belly popped out, I felt tired and lazy, and I needed to do my best to tell the world that I have a baby in here. The idea that someone would think I was merely larger in the tummy was more embarrassing to me. Perhaps it's all those discarded skinny jeans, perhaps it's that leftover belly giving me a head start, perhaps it's my body now familiar with pregnancy, perhaps it's the fact that I'm going to be 37 very soon and know I don't look the way I used to.

Last time, I hadn't known any other pregnant moms. I didn't realize how tiny I was in comparison. Now, having seen and talked to countless women in various stages, with various sizes and various issues, it's even more clear to me how small I was. That doesn't make it that much easier when everyone you talk to says "You're so tiny!"

Similarly, last time it was easier to brush people off and say "I'm a small person" and "My doctor says it's fine". But this time, when some roll their eyes at my mentions of my size, or make sure to tell me in an irritated voice how big they were and how awful it was, I can't help but feel a little lonely in my pregnancy, a little lack of sympathy from others. I am not looking for pity of any kind, as I truly am extremely lucky to have it so easy, but I do enjoy smiles and encouragement, not disdain and one-up-manship. Yes, most people are just jibing me in a friendly fashion, which is perfectly fine, but if all I get are jibes, then I feel a little less understood. (All my good mom friends jibe AND encourage, and believe me, I appreciate both, and love having you ladies along for the ride this time!)

It's a typical sort of thing that moms have to face in all sorts of areas, and I try to remember to not play the one-up game when it comes to anything, be it how long a kid took to speak to whether he can ride a bike by kindergarten. I'm sure my stories of Theo's milestones and my pregnancy can sometimes come across badly but I have always tried to make it supportive conversation about how all children are different.

Oof, what a long post, and probably way too complain-y. I'm telling you, it's really weird, the second time, because you generally know how things work, and you generally don't worry about things, and since my tests are all coming back rosy I'm mostly just concerned with eating enough and sitting as much as possible, which means I don't have much of anything to post. Except a complain-y post.

Please forgive me. In penance, here is a pic of me in my not particularly flattering lay around clothes. Four months. Definitely bigger than my pic from around the same stage in 2009.

Love all of you and your continuing support.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


We decided to do a weekend camping trip with Theo, a first attempt at something we've been talking about forever.

I used to go camping with my family once a year up in Sequoia, and when we got old enough my brother and I got friends together to go on our own. We were never backpackers or anything, just drive up, designated sites, running water on tap kind of camping. It might not be hardcore but it's still sleeping in a tent with cooking around a fire and the possibility of wild animal visits.

Theo isn't ready for that long a trip, but living in Southern California we have lots of choices for easy weekend camping. I admit that my bias against the beach or other places that don't have trees has limited my enthusiasm in the past, but now we knew we'd have to keep it close to home and low key to make it easy on everyone.

Greg found a place in San Juan Capistrano called Caspers Wilderness Park. It's tent camping, with designated sites, running water and full restrooms, including showers. There's hiking and trees and ok, they have a playground, too. The best part is that it's only about 45 minutes away from our house. Sounded like a perfect mix of the real deal with some soft edges.

We teamed up with our friends that have two kids. Their son K is Theo's age and H is nearly 2. Theo and K are very good friends and get along wonderfully most of the time. Our friends are very experienced campers who were looking to get out their with their kids same as we were.

Theo was very excited on the lead-up. We read books about camping and pulled out his sleeping bag. He didn't have any reservations about any of it. It seems we had waited until the right moment to give this a try.

We drove out on Friday evening after Greg's workday, had a quick dinner when we got there and set up the tents. The campsites were generally what I'm used to, though they were very close together. There was no buffer between you and your neighbors, and the place was nearly sold out. Still, the place was very pretty, lots of lovely trees, plenty far from the nearest city.

There was a very large group of frat boys on a site across a road from us and we definitely worried about late night noise. They got a talking to from the rangers when they started getting loud early on, but after dark they really didn't bother us too much.

Even with Theo's enthusiasm, we really weren't sure how things would go. A couple weeks prior he had been afraid to get near birthday candles at a party - how would he cope with a campfire? We were sharing food duty - would he get picky on us when options were limited? Would he get bored with hiking, would he sleep in the tent? Would he just whine the whole time, beg to go home?

I admit, by the time we got to the campsite, we were already blown out by his unstoppable talking. Some days he just doesn't cease asking questions, pondering things aloud and repeating them until he gets responses, or just narrating everything that is happening. After a solid day with him packing for the trip, I was about to lose my mind.

But the magical thing is that when his friend K showed up, they just talked to each other, and we could get a break. There is no overstating how the age of 4 is so much better in this respect. The kids keep each other company so completely that the break it gives us adults is nearly overwhelming. As we worked on camp chores, or even just relaxed for a minute, we couldn't help but point out to each other how awesome it was, having them together and content without any work from us.

Our boys did some playing with the older kids that were next door to us. Thankfully our friends brought some little monster trucks and the kids never ceased being interested in driving them everywhere and narrating to each other about what the trucks were doing. While we were dealing with cooking and cleaning and fire maintenance and everything else, they were climbing the logs next to our site, driving trucks on a bent-over tree, or just running around the campsite. The neutral territory in such a new environment made these kids much more amenable to everything. Best of all worlds.

The endlessly entertaining tree.

We had brought some beach chairs to put around the fire, and he had no issue sitting in them. He showed interest in maintaining the fire, at one point handing me logs to add. He drew the line at holding skewers with marshmallows on them but he got close. He ate just fine with no complaint, including oatmeal different from our usual. Pleasant surprises all around.

We tried and tried but there was no teaching him how to hold a flashlight without pointing it in someone's eyes. At least he didn't have a freak out when we finally took it away from him.

The first night, he asked for bedtime early. Let me say that again - he wanted to go to bed early. It was pretty cold, but in his warm pajamas and sleeping bag he seemed perfectly comfortable. Read him a few books, lingered in the tent, told him it was time to stop talking and go to sleep, and down he went. He was solid all night long, even as the temperature dropped, even as owls hooted loudly directly above us, even as baby H got up early. I woke a few times, he did not.

In the morning Theo crawled into my sleeping bag and we did our usual lazing around. Even so we were up and out of camp fairly quickly to get a nice hike in. Turned out the campground was having a 40th anniversary festival that day as well. The hike we wanted was in the same direction so we sauntered through the festival first.

On our way to the festival.

They had booths with all sorts of nature groups, including a bird of prey rescue that had some amazing owls, a tiny falcon and a huge red tail hawk you could get super close to. There were free popsicles and Theo actually had some of Greg's fudge pop, which is revolutionary as he won't go near ice cream of any kind. We then decided to hit the trial while the kids still had their morning energy.

The walk started simply enough with long grasses and huge gnarled oak trees. Horseback riding is a big part of the park and we came across a parade of at least 20 riders that went past us. It took us a while to realize that the trail we were on was going to take us all the way up to the top of the nearby sandstone hills. We pushed on, ready to turn back if need be, but if someone was going to quit it wasn't going to be the kids, who were always at the front, vying for position, not flinching at steep inclines and narrowing paths. After a while it became apparent that as the pregnant woman I was probably the weakest link in our chain, but I felt inspired to continue as we had plenty of food and water with us, and only called for a break once, not out of any real exhaustion, just to catch my breath.

Theo loves hiking. Though he does love pointing out wildflowers, he isn't one to linger, always wants to keep going, and getting him to stop to look at a view can sometimes be difficult. He has lots of energy and continues on through most terrain without much coaxing.

Holding hands is not only adorable, it keeps them from trying to be first in line.

Even the kids were impressed with the view when we reached top, with the sandstone cliffs, spring green hills and valleys, and a bit of ocean in the distance. The weather was near perfect, with clouds rotating around and a pretty consistent breeze keeping the sun from getting unbearable. We picnicked at the top with PB&Js, fruit and crackers, and were soon ready to continue. The walk along the top of the ridge was another good portion, and by the time we were ready to go back down the baby had awakened in his carrier and needed his own lunch. The kids busied themselves with crayons and paper during this break thanks to our friends' foresight and soon we were ready to head down.

Somewhere along the way Theo found a sandstone/dirt clod thing that he didn't want to let go, and later two large pieces of tree bark. He diligently carried all three the rest of the way. Next time I'll get him his own backpack because the inconvenience of stopping every time he dropped them or needed to adjust was enough to make me nuts.

Downhill is always easier but by the time we leveled out my endurance was down to nil. The last section of walk along a dry river bed and through more grasses was down to telling myself we were almost there, but it was a lot longer than I anticipated. Seeing a little snake was a highlight, don't think I've seen one on a trail before.

It was at this point that Theo started to lose it and I couldn't blame him, but I'm not great at carrying him all that much lately. Instead I took the (now mostly empty) backpacks and Greg carried Theo, a lot. I felt bad but what else could we do, it was a very long hike, and Theo had been a trooper for so much of it.

Finally, we made it back to the festival. There was live music which delighted baby H and gave the rest of us something to stare at as we had a well earned break. We had some food from a taco truck and eventually gathered ourselves for the last push to the campsite. Lots more carrying of kiddos, and general groaning when we discovered we probably could have taken a tractor hay ride shuttle.

When we got back to camp, it amazed me how the kids just did not stop. They got right back to playing while we lay on our air mattress and watch through the tent windows. No nap, not even sitting, just a continuous flow of energy.

Dinner included hot dogs so that about covers it. While he didn't ask for bed, we knew he would go right down after such an intense day. As the boys brushed teeth Greg set up the telescope. We had a nice look at Jupiter with two of its moons easily seen. It was only well after the boys were in bed that we caught a glimpse of the International Space Station zooming steadily past. Instead of owls, we heard a noisy pack of coyotes, seemingly right up the road from us.

The next morning we had our breakfast then slowly progressed towards packing ourselves up. Theo wasn't too happy at leaving but agreeably said bye to our campsite when we had finally gotten everything into the car. We stopped at the local nature center before we left, checking out taxidermy animals, pressing buttons to hear their sounds, reading signs set next to a bird feeder to identify the species, and climbing a small viewing tower to see all around. After another PB&J lunch we were ready to call it a weekend and head home.

Theo asked if we could go to K's house, a usual tactic when we're leaving someone he doesn't want to leave, and seemed the most sad at parting with them. We then had a nice chunk of the rest of the day to unpack the car, begin to clean things and put them away, and relax, as Greg and I really strained ourselves on that hike. Theo likes to mention how much fun he had and that the loves camping. We had such a good time we're talking about doing something similar later in the summer. May as well squeeze it in before the next baby comes and sets us back a while.

Success on all fronts! I want to time travel to when Theo was 2 and was dead set against getting his hands dirty. I'd reassure myself that we'd get around to doing all the fun things that were impossible then.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's (going to be) a GIRL

Headline says most of it - it's a girl. :)

The results came back from the DNA test and it's all good. No Down's or other chromosome problems, completely clean. And we now definitively know the sex. Time to clear out all the boy hand-me-downs.

I also had the nuchal translucency test, where they use a high def ultrasound to measure various things and take a good close look. Baby looks fantastic in every way.

We told Theo that it's a girl and his response was "that's just what I wanted!" He loves saying that so he may very well have said that to any news. He does love little girls though - many of his friends are girls. We showed him the ultrasound shots and he seems very excited about the whole thing.

We're very excited ourselves at the prospect of the whole new adventure a girl entails.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Here we go again

Announcement time!

I'm three months pregnant.


Here are the answers to your questions!

I'm due October 7th. Theo was 3 weeks early (and not premature in any way) and supposedly earlier is very possible for a second baby so we're definitely set to be ready ahead of time.

We'd been trying for a while. This is within our ideal gap between Theo and new baby. Theo is excited, though we know we'll be dealing with the usual jealousy issues eventually. He has been around pregnant moms and new babies and kids with siblings so he's relatively familiar with the concepts.

I'm feeling very well. I had some nausea but not as bad as I had the first time (which was short-lived and mild compared to most). I'm feeling better but definitely tired much of the time, and I'm hungrier between meals.

I'm already showing, which isn't surprising on my small frame.

I've had a couple of OB visits. We're with a different doctor and a different hospital, at Saddleback in Laguna Hills. They have a dedicated women's hospital and their maternity ward has individual rooms. My ultrasounds have been very good, strong heartbeat, fetus looks active and well-formed.

Up until just now, a mom over 35 (which, yup, I definitely am) would be required to get an amniocentesis, aka an amnio, which involves using a large needle inserted into the belly to check fluids. It carries a relatively high miscarriage rate and no one loves doing it. Thankfully there is a new test, where they just take the moms blood normally and can check it for free-floating fragments of the baby's DNA. The branded name is "MaterniT21" and it can check for chromosomal problems like Down's Syndrome. On the lighter side, it's a 100% accurate check of the baby's gender. We got really lucky on this one, as our insurance just started to cover it as of January 1st. Even my doctor hadn't yet dealt with insurance that so easily gave us the go-ahead. I've already had the blood draw and the results should be in very soon.

Yes, we're hoping to move. Having Theo share a room wouldn't be too bad, but with Greg working from our bedroom, he has nowhere to go when the house will be busy with a noisy baby. It has already been tight and this is definitely a tipping point. The market looks very close to being ready for us to sell the place but we need to wait just a little longer. Even a few more months might be enough. If we need to, we might rent the place out, but of course that's loaded with complications. We could move to all sorts of place as Greg doesn't have a commute, but we'd need a big house in a good school district, and we'll see just what we can afford.

We're hoping for a healthy kid, boy or girl. You know that you'll know most everything as soon as I do.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

No, really, things are good.

I've been complaining at lot about Theo lately. Not here, sure, and not even necessarily on Facebook, but if you see me in person I'm often overwhelmed and exasperated and need to lean on the shoulders of everyone around me.

It's unfair to him, really. He's only four. His brain is still making new connections between primal emotional responses and civilized higher brain responses. Just because he is capable of doing all sorts of things for himself doesn't mean he can control himself all the time.

As a reminder to myself (and a small amount of penance for my whining), here is the amazing progress he's made in recent times.

Theo's pretend play has blossomed. He comes up with funny stories and cute ideas. He plays by himself and makes funny voices. He also sings! This is particularly new. He has become obsessed with the Beatles song "Ob-la-di Ob-la-da" and he actually sings nearly all of it. I don't see any demonstrations in public any time soon but at home he's trying it out. I need to try get it on video.

He has made incredible strides socially. When we are approached by strangers asking him questions, he is much more likely to respond and be generally talkative. He speaks clearly enough that everyone understands his words (even if he's off on some tangent others can't understand). Sometimes he says too much, but mostly he just charms everyone. Up until recently he was always hiding behind me, or even getting defiant in his fear, saying mean things. Of course it will be a while until he's consistent and understands true politeness but his recent bravery is very welcome.

I attended a preschool class party last week and his interactions with his classmates is incredibly improved. He ran around with the other kids, calling them by name. Some even called back to him. He shared extremely well, took turns without issue, waited in line even better than I did. I've attended parties there before and the difference is staggering. Before, he had no interest in interacting, especially in the noisy, out-of-the-ordinary party environment. He would cling to me and do nothing else. I figured things were getting better at school as he now comes home and talks about small social interactions, such as who he played with, who was absent. Even when it's something on the negative side (Jake wouldn't play with me today) it's never told in a meltdown way, always just more info for his social report. I'm glad we've had him in school (three days a week) so he can develop his personality and resilience on his own.

Yes, we've had trouble with the usual things at home - getting him to take baths or get dressed or just go potty. And yes, he often throws fits out of nowhere about the smallest things, and is sometimes incredibly rude for no reason at all. I'm reading a new book called "How Toddlers Thrive" and it's very reassuring, letting me know that all of this is entirely normal as he tests the waters of independence and his brain figures out whether he's still loved when he exerts his power. But there's one thing that he does that actually seems very out of the ordinary for his age - he wants resolution to our conflicts. Often, towards the end of some tantrum argument, he'll suddenly shift from being crazy angry at me and come in for a hug, saying "I want us to be happy again, can we be friends and love each other", even as he's still crying and yelling. He'll apologize in the best way he can, saying he is sad we had a bad morning, or that he wants to fix it and doesn't know how. It's incredible. The ability to step away from the corner he backed himself into and try to repair the problem shows a level of awareness that's not only unexpected, but often, more sensible than my own inner turmoil.

There are lots of other things he's doing incrementally better at, but it's hard to gauge, as there are days where he reverts and you're really not sure if there was any progress at all. As all the advice I've ever seen says, it's maddening, and any rational adult can be driven insane by it, but it takes hundreds of teachable moments to really cement in better behavior. The change comes in fits and starts and may seem to vanish, and you just have to keep on, keep on, keep on. I mean, how many times can you say "don't play with your fork"? The answer is, every day for about 5 years. Or more.

In any case he's actually doing very well. When viewed through a lens of trying to nail down his behavior, it seems like he's struggling, or that he's behind on these high expectations. What's really going on is that he's away and running and I'm trying to catch up with him.

(Figured I need to provide something to look at - here are some recent videos.)