May 29, 2016

Third trimester: it's complicated

Last weekend, at my friend Liz's baby shower, she asked if I thought I'd go early or late compared to my due date. I replied that I would be entirely confident that like almost all first births (as well as both my sister and I), this baby would show up late.... except for the fact that I had a nagging suspicion I wasn't out of the woods in regards to complications with this pregnancy, so that was the only scenario where I could see me giving birth earlier than August 13th.

I should stop saying crap like that. 

(I've mentioned how 3 of my really close friends were pregnant all at the exact same time, right? Through some ridiculously crazy twists of fate, all four of us got pregnant with due dates within four and a half months of each other. Despite it looking like we engaged in some sort of embarrassing teenage-style pregnancy pact, I assure you that is not easily accomplished with the fickle reproductive systems of one's mid-thirties, and it really did just happen to work out this way.)

At this point, we have one baby who has successfully made it out into the world; our next arrival is due July 4th weekend; #3 is scheduled for the first week of August; and I'm bringing up the rear with my August 13th due date. 

So when we took this photo last weekend at the shower, I was somewhat alarmed to see that I looked not only like the most-pregnant lady remaining, but also like I was giving birth sometime way sooner than mid August: 

Also yes, I'm like 6" taller than all of my friends. 
Everyone assured me it was just the angle, but I remained suspicious of the largeness and in chargeness of that belly. 

Fast forward to Tuesday, when I had a 28 week level II ultrasound scheduled. (Oh yeah: back at my 20 week anatomy scan, they found a few exciting anomalies: some choroid plexus cysts [CPCs] in the brain, and two echogenic foci on the heart. CPCs can be a soft marker for Trisomy 18 [very very bad chromosomal anomaly], but often only when in the presence of other fairly clear anatomical markers like clenched fists due to finger malformations, and anomalies with the heart. While that was quite unlikely for us since the hands and other parts looked fine, the addition of echogenic foci apparently moved us from a possibility of Trisomy 18 to a possibility of Down Syndrome. Counter-however, since we'd had a Verifi test done in the first trimester - a blood test that measures your risk of chromosomal disorders in the fetus - and that came back with really reassuring results, like a 1/10,000 risk, my doctors weren't overly concerned with the findings and urged me not to be either. Easier said than done, naturally, but my only choices were to freak out or to try and put it out of my mind, so I went with #2. Anyway, this 28 week scan was ostensibly to check up on the cysts and foci, but primarily to see if any new markers had presented themselves, since both the continued presence OR the disappearance of either the CPCs or the foci means virtually nothing: if they still presented, it was fine and normal; if they had gone away, that was fine too, but is also a normal outcome even if the baby did have T18 or Downs. So. Very informative screening in other words. Did I mention that only like 1-3% of fetuses have these markers in the first place? Because of course. Also the probability I was going to get OHSS!)

So back to this week: the cysts had disappeared (good slash meaningless!) and the two foci on the heart were still there but so small they have no anatomical implications, so thumbs up to all of that in the sense that nothing got worse / bigger / multiplied. But after doing enough of these, I'm starting to pick up on some cues, so I noticed the technician got a little quiet while measuring the volume of amniotic fluid in my uterus. "Fluid look OK?" I asked. "Oh yes," she replied. "It just looks like there might be a lot of it." 

Then she started measurements on the kid's skull, and began muttering to herself. She redid the measurements about four times, before finally admitting defeat and commenting that our baby had a big head. She measured the femur too, and concluded it's just a big ol' baby overall. She estimated the size at nearly 31 weeks (rather than where I was, 28w 3d) and about 3 lb 6 oz, whereas my weekly baby newsletters were telling me 28 week old fetuses should be about 2lb 4oz. "Do you have diabetes?" she asked me, skeptically. 

I had actually JUST gotten the results from my gestational diabetes test the day before - I passed (meaning no diabetes!), but by the skin of my teeth: you're fine if your score is 135 or below, and I snuck through with a 134.  

So! I talked through all of these results with my ob/gyn. Having a big baby and too much amniotic fluid is indeed most commonly caused by diabetes (gestational or otherwise) so despite technically passing my 1 hour test, I get to go back for the big mama 3 hour test this week where you drink even more of an even glucose-ier drink, then get blood drawn once an hour for three hours to monitor your body's ability to process sugar over time. Apparently the placenta is quite the insulin hog, which is why pregnant women can develop diabetes temporarily - just while the placenta is stealing all your insulin. Plenty of people also just have babies that measure big at some point but "even out" over the course of the pregnancy, or just have big babies in general and it's not a problem, etc. If I do have gestational diabetes, I'll likely just need to make some modifications to my diet, keep up with light exercise, and keep close tabs on my blood sugar level to make sure it remains in check.

It sounds like the more problematic result is the excess fluid levels. Polydramnios - which, you guessed it, is only present in 1% of pregnancies! - can be the result of anatomical abnormalities in the fetus (like an esophageal obstruction, meaning the baby isn't swallowing any fluid; not the case with us); can be diabetes-related; or can just develop for unknown reasons. The problem is that it can lead to some fairly serious complications, like preterm labor, having your water break prematurely, placental abruption, umbilical cord prolapse, hemorrhage post birth, or even stillbirth. Which means I earned myself a referral to a high-risk specialist for a consult, and depending on their assessment, may end up with a higher level of monitoring for the rest of the pregnancy. We'll see though - I have the 3 hour test this week, and the high risk specialist in two weeks, so I'll know more after that. 

As it stands, though, I feel fine right now: I don't have any [other] symptoms of diabetes, and the fluid levels aren't excessive enough to cause shortness of breath or trouble breathing or anything. (Remind anyone of OHSS much!? Apparently if the fluid levels do get too high, one potential treatment is incredibly similar as well: they go in with a needle to drain out fluid to relieve some pressure. Been there done that, baby!) 

I do feel pretty vindicated about that picture up top, though. I have medical proof that I am huge! (The ob/gyn's old school belly-measurement put me at 32 weeks, over THREE weeks ahead. I am definitely bellying it up in here.)  

May 20, 2016

Into the third!

Oh man, second trimester, am I right? ::wistfully looks backwards in time::

I'm one whole week into the third trimester now - so you know, basically a pro - and I already can tell this is going to be... interesting? Not as awesome? Challenging?

Yesterday, at 1 day shy of 28 weeks. Stretching out and ruining non-maternity clothes because it is still inexplicably in the 50s and raining here EVERY DAMN DAY. WHY SPRING WHY WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO ANGER YOU SO. 
A few weeks ago - right around when we moved into our new place - I started getting these paralyzing, shooting pains through my right butt cheek. At first, I thought I had pulled my glute from all the squatting I'd been doing while packing (since bending over from the waist has become increasingly uncomfortable / impossible) but realized that there was no actual strained muscle to rub that would offer relief. After some research I concluded it was most likely my piriformis muscle, which is a wee muscle waaay under the glute that is next to (or intertwined with) the sciatic nerve. Which often gets strained or compressed due to the shifting pelvic alignment of pregnancy. Well! There you go. Luckily that only lasted about a week and a half, because there's not a whole lot you can do to treat or relieve that particular pain.

This was only 25 weeks, but at a day-long conference in downtown DC. My options for Preggo Business Wear are, uh, limited, to put it mildly. That tight white tank was not doing me any favors in the size olympics. 
Unfortunately, that transitioned into more traditional sciatic pain, and I now have a near-constant tight pain in my right lower back any time I'm sitting. Which is.. kind of a lot, considering I sit at a desk all day. I did get myself one of those exercise ball doohickeys though, and I spend about half my day bouncing around on that, which seems to help a little.

27 weeks. I took the picture on the right, then had a strong sense of deja vu.. and yup, I'd taken a virtually identical photo almost exactly a year prior. Total samesies, right? 
Other than my own literal growing pains, though, things continue to go pretty swimmingly. I'm more often just in a state of shock & dumbfounded-ness at my ever-increasing girth, and at the *violence* with which baby girl is moving around in there. "Active" seems to be an understatement for her. If I wasn't so sure there was only one of her in there, I'd assume she had recruited some friends for daily mosh pit sessions.

26 weeks. But the real excitement in this photo is I FINALLY GOT MYSELF A FULL LENGTH MIRROR!! 
I definitely miss the awesome renewed energy from the second trimester, though. That cut off dramatically, like a faucet being turned off, just days before officially hitting third tri. I now want to do nothing but lie on my couch with glazed eyes. Dragging myself to work every day seems challenging and unfair. I'm pretty useless every night once I get home, especially if I manage to also make dinner before collapsing prone onto the sofa.

And I still have THREE MONTHS to go! This seems both insane (HOW MUCH BIGGER CAN MY BELLY PHYSICALLY GET) and alarming (ONLY THREE MONTHS? I WILL HAVE AN ENTIRE HUMAN CHILD IN 3 MONTHS?!?!?!) and I flip smoothly between these two reactions about 14 thousand times a day.

The first thing I (finally) bought for baby girl's nursery! It's a print of a paper cut by Sarah Trumbauer, and I loooooove it. If / when we ever pick a name for this kid, I want to get one of her custom versions with  her name included on it, too.
On the one hand, it's awfully good there are still three months to go because WOWZA are we not ready for her yet. We officially moved into the new house 4 weeks ago, and it's been a slow process getting everything set up & unpacked. We have a lot more house than we did before, so trying to figure out what to put where, how to distribute our now-seemingly-meager furniture supply between rooms, and ordering more furniture to fill the most egregious gaps, is slow going.

The cats testing out our new-to-us chaise longue, toted back last weekend from my parents' house in NJ
In a ridiculously well timed twist of fate, my parents ended up selling their house over a year before they initially intended to and are closing this weekend - meaning they had to downsize dramatically at exactly the same time we found ourselves with a new house with excessive storage space. And with a lawn and property that requires maintenance and care, but no tools with which to do so.


...So we went to NJ and loaded up a 15 foot UHaul with virtually the entire contents of their shed and storage room. BOOM. We now have a lawn mower! And a snow blower! And a circular saw, and a jigsaw, and like 12 other kinds of saws, and a power washer, and a power painter, and shovels and rakes and belt sanders and every other tool my dad bought over 40 years for house projects. It's kind of awesome.

Oh, and also the PIANO.

::heart eye emojis for days::
I need to find the box of piano books (oh. hmm. and figure out a storage solution for piano books!) and get playing for baby girl.

BUT, all of this means there has still been almost no focus on preparing for the whole BABY part of things. I did finally register, because my mom was getting increasingly alarmed at my inability to set a date for a baby shower, but I couldn't send out invites to a shower until I had a registry, and I had no time to research enough baby items for a registry soooo nothing happened for many weeks. BUT it is now done, invites have been sent, date is set, and I now get presents every day in the mail and it is VERY VERY FUN. Newsflash, guys: baby things are FREAKING ADORABLE! So many cute tiny articles of clothing are showing up on our doorstep!

And, uh, it all goes, still in the box, into the empty room that will be her nursery. Eventually. Once we buy furniture and stuff.

We're also holding the shower at our house - in exactly 4 weeks - so we're using that as incentive to get our asses in gear in terms of finalizing the house layout and acquiring the bare minimum of furniture (and, say, getting backsplash tile installed in our kitchen after having half of the old stuff ripped out during counter installation) before then.

Testing out the size of the new, larger dining room table we need for our new, larger, AWESOME communal living/dining space at the new house. 
Luckily, I am a great help around the house right now and have boundless energy! ...oh wait. Haaa.


April 15, 2016

More than halfway! (Alternate title: I still have *how much* growing left to do...!?)

I have officially passed the point where I'm now obviously pregnant. No more tentative "oh my gosh, are you.....?!" comments; they're now all of the "oh look at you! When are you due?" variety. The stomach is large and in charge. It enters rooms before I do. I'm finding it harder and harder not to rub it absent-mindedly throughout the day.


The most exciting development, however, is I can finally feel baby girl kicking around in there! It took me until my last ob appointment to realize what it was I was feeling though, because I am apparently an idiot. The nurse asked during my check in if I had started feeling kicks yet, and I said no, not really, and she assured me it was totally normally for a first pregnancy this early on. But a few minutes later, while she was dopplering my belly for the heartbeat, she goes, "WOW! You couldn't feel that one!?"

You know, the one she saw FROM THE OUTSIDE of my belly.

I realized at that point perhaps I needed to modify my expectations of what I was supposed to be feeling in there. I had not been feeling any of these fluttery butterfly sensations I'd read about. No delicate bubbles popping gently against my stomach. I *had* been feeling some seismic shifting type jerks, which I had attributed to that feeling when you are, um, experiencing some gastrointestinal excitement? And you feel a large gas bubble suddenly shift into a new position? I started paying more attention to those, and realized slowly that... oh. Um. Duh. That's your baby, stupid.

I will say these kicks are certainly not gentle or delicate (or easy to miss, so I have no explanation for my thickheadedness). Over the last week they've become strong enough to feel from the outside and have become sharp enough that I occasionally stop in the middle of a sentence because it's so distracting. To me, it feels like she's doing that move that Olympic swimmers do when they get to the end of a lap - you know that sudden flip and then a hard push off the wall with their feet? That's what it feels like is going on in there, multiple times throughout the day (and night). Caffeine and sugar are the best ways to get her going, but each day I can feel her more and more, regardless of what stimulants I've recently provided for her. It's freaking awesome and I love it.

Other new developments: my hair continues to be fabulous for the first time in its life, and my only regret there is that I cut it short a few months ago because how great would this hair be if I had even more of it!? I went FIVE DAYS without washing my hair last week! I don't know if there are enough exclamation points on the internet to convey how amazing this is for greasy mcstringy hair over here. It has apparently stopped growing entirely, so I have no chance of this hair ever being in a non-short state, but I'll take what I can get.

On the bummer side: acid reflux has made a sudden and aggressive appearance. Tums have suddenly become a precious and irreplaceable commodity in my daily life.

But overall, I still feel pretty fantastic. I haven't had any hip or back pain yet - which I attribute greatly to my trainer, Tam, who has been awesome at adapting my workouts to my increasingly-lumbering physique while keeping my core in some semblance of in shape and intact. The only body part consistently suffering remains my poor ankles and feet, which have stubbornly refused to chill on the swelling front.

I am starting to realize just how much larger I still have to get, though, and it's making me nervous. Baby girl only weighs, like, a pound right now (the other 14 lbs are.. uh.. placenta? Let's all agree that I have a very dense placenta, yes? :-D ) and the thought that she is going to grow 6 or 8 times this size before she's done? Haaaa. Ack. (Send help!?)

March 28, 2016

Iceland: apparently I never actually posted anything but Reykjavik?!

I would have bet (and lost) some serious cash money that I had written a second post about Iceland, but the archives don't lie. I realize no one but future-me has been waiting with bated breath for this, but future-me will indeed want to see these pictures, so apologies, current-everyone-else! Not at all timely trip recap post ahoy!

I know I mentioned it in my other post, but the fact that there are only a few hours of daylight in Iceland in January was both really hard to get used to, and at the same time really easy to get used to, since there wasn't anything you could do about it. But I did amuse myself by taking photos to timestamp the progression of daylight while there, since it was so foreign.

For example, here is a shot from our tour bus as we picked up folks around the city for a Golden Circle tour, at full-on 9am:

Reykjavik, 9:00am :)

By 10:30am, the sun had started to rise while the moon set:

...and daybreak with the setting moon, at 10:30am.

And this is about an hour later, with the sun as fully up as it was going to get:

Sunrise complete

That pinkish glow just.. stayed. All the time. It was incredible.

Our first stop was a town called Hveragerdi, which is (I think?) the only town in the world built entirely on a geothermal hot spring. There are literally columns of steam rising from cracks in the ground throughout the tiny town - like, just in people's yards, or on the side of a hill - and like most of Iceland, the entire town is run on geothermal power. I have virtually no good pictures of this, since we rolled through town in the bus and it was still pretty dark, but the picture above with the setting moon is from just outside the town, and you can see the steam just sort of randomly pouring from the ground. There's even a restaurant there that cooks the food entirely using steam - not, like, with steam POWERED ovens, actually cooks the food IN the steam. That is on the list to try if we ever go back.

Our next stop was the Faxi waterfall (which means horse's mane, named after the appearance of the falls). It was VERY COLD AND WINDY here.

The wind was NOT PLAYING AROUND out here.

Chris + Faxi. Still freezing.

But see how it looks like sunset even though it was like 11am? It actually made for challenging photos, since I always wanted to capture the brilliantly-colored sky at the same time as whatever I was actually taking a picture of in the foreground (and I need more photography chops to do that effectively) but it's hard to screw up these views too badly no matter what you're doing.

The sky remained stunning. There's something to be said for the quality of light when the sun only rises partway into the sky every day.

Next up was another waterfall, Gullfoss:

This one is somewhat unique since the two tiers of the falls are at a nearly 90* angle from each other.

This one is famous because it's apparently quite rare for falls to make a 90⁰ turn between two tiers of the ravine like this:

It was EVEN COLDER here. Painfully, amazingly, cold.

If I thought it was cold at Faxi... I was wearing two pairs of pants, two wool sweaters, a giant winter coat, and snowboots here at Gullfoss, yet felt like I was wearing nothing more than a pair of cotton pajamas, the way the wind cut right through me. After a few photos (me: "GOOD ENOUGH!") we beelined it inside for some incredibly wonderful lamb soup to warm up.

You know what's good? INSIDE. With delicious lamb stew to warm you up.

After lunch we hit one of the most famous stops on the Golden Circle tour: Geysir park, home to the original & famous geyser (literally named "Geysir") that unfortunately does not regularly erupt anymore... but also home to many smaller and more regularly-erupting geysers for the viewing pleasure of tourists.

The main geyser (actually named "Geysir") used to be the main attraction, but has stopped erupting in recent years.

It smelled VERY strongly of sulfur here. Overwhelmingly, nearly gaggingly so, if one happened to be, say, around 8 weeks pregnant at the time.

Strokkur is now the main attraction, erupting about 30 meters into the air every 7 minutes or so:

ERUPTION!

Because the water erupting from the geysers is literally boiling, it causes an interesting (and slippery) dynamic around the park: the ground just below Strokkur was covered in standing water from the frequent eruptions, but everywhere nearby that wasn't getting doused in boiling water every 7 minutes was just covered in a nice thick layer of slippery ice from the runoff.

Icicles on the rope around Strokkur

I fell a lot. Chris did a lot of arm-grabbing-and-hoisting to keep me from slamming into the ice too badly.

As we had been driving around the countryside all day, we routinely passed fields full of adorable, shaggy Icelandic ponies. We asked our driver if we could stop to get a better picture of them at some point.

Some of the Icelandic ponies we'd been seeing from the bus all day. I wish we could get closer....

Boy, did he deliver. He pulled over next to a fence at the side of the road and called out to the horses, who all came trotting obediently over to the fence, hoping for treats.

Oh hello! Yes I'll pet you too! Although all he really wanted was snacks.

They were super docile and friendly

They all also had snow and ice matted into their coats. They didn't seem bothered.

Chris and a pretty black

It was so awesome.  They were adorable and wild and shaggy and had chunks of ice and snow woven throughout their manes and coats and didn't seem bothered by it in the slightest. I really wish we had had some apples or something as thanks for letting us get so close and pet their sweet faces.

By this point it was getting late in the day, in terms of sunlight (you know, like, 3:30) so we hopped back into the bus to try and hit one more sight, Thingvellir National Park.

Incidentally, this is what virtually all roads we were travelling on looked like. This was not a "bad" road; it was apparently just the normal state of roads in the winter.

This was the general condition of the roads all day, incidentally.

None of the cars or buses or vans had chains on their tires or any apparent special snow/ice equipment. Everyone just.. drove on the roads like this, at normal speeds, and did fine. Coming from the DC Metro area, which shuts down schools for weeks at a time at the faintest suggestions of snow, rain, or ice... well, color me impressed, Icelanders.

By the time we arrived at Thingvellir, we were catching the very last of the daylight (...at like, 4pm) and the landscape took on a stunning monochromatic aura as a result:

Entering Thingvellir National Park

We hiked up a short pass through the hills to the site of Iceland's first Parliament, established here in 930 (and where it remained until 1798!).

Walking up through a rocky pass in the very last of the daylight

That last photo is after manipulating the saturation and exposure in the original to normally unheard of levels in order to eke out the very last of the light and colors available in the near-darkness.

And.. that's it. We were only there for two days and two nights, mainly in an effort to see the Northern Lights - which didn't happen. The first night out we had ostensibly perfect conditions, with reports of activity to the north of us, but the lights never migrated south enough for us to see them. I specifically booked us on a tour that would allow us to try again another night if the lights were a no show, but by night two I was so exhausted from jetlag and cold (and being 8 weeks pregnant!) that I couldn't handle the thought of spending another night freezing my tuchus off instead of snuggling in a warm bed and getting some desperately needed rest. So after we got back from the tour, we warmed up with a quick nap and then had a lovely, quiet dinner in downtown Reykjavik before packing up and heading to the airport at an ungodly hour the next morning.

I'd absolutely, totally go back. Just maybe in the summer, next time. :)

This was the birthplace of the Icelandic parliament? Or something? I fell asleep during this part.

March 23, 2016

Second trimester: the (only slightly) less rhapsodic version

Don't get me wrong - I remain practically giddy with relief and happiness that the second trimester has been such a cakewalk compared to the first. But I think I can now talk about it without bursting into spontaneous odes or songs. :)

I continue to highly enjoy eating, like, all the time. Although as things get noticeably more stretched out in the abdomen area, I find I can eat less and less at a given sitting, which has been a hard lesson that I've had to learn - repeatedly - after too many dinners that concluded with me moaning piteously and rubbing my resultant extra-distended belly in woe. So, lesson learned: frequent, SMALL meals, self. I am still on board with virtually ALL foods, too. I've started to crave sweets more often than salty, but don't get me wrong - put just about anything in front of me and I'll happily hoover it right up. No specific cravings or aversions yet, just a continued blissful enjoyment of shoving any and all foodstuffs into my gaping maw.

Actually, there is one super weird thing with my eating habits: I've historically been really, REALLY wimpy about being able to handle spicy foods. Like, I become a cartoon caricature of a person who has eaten a hot pepper: I turn bright red; I start to sweat; my eyes start leaking tears - and of course, my mouth and lips are in varying levels of intense pain, depending on what I was stupid enough to try to eat. But now? Pregnant? I can suddenly handle spicy foods, like a normal human, as if it's no big deal. WHAT. HOW. WHAT. On the one hand, I joke that this is definitively proving I have Chris's kid in me - this has to be HER ability and not mine. But how a wee fetus is able to provide a sudden tolerance that changes my physical reaction to spicy foods..!? Yeah, no idea. Pregnancy is so freaking weird, man.

The hoovering of foodstuffs has been paying off though: I've definitely gained back everything I lost in the first trimester, and then some. As I learned at my last checkup, I managed to put on ELEVEN POUNDS in one month, much to my amusement. The doctor was - well, not concerned, per se, but definitely sort of made a note of it, since that is obviously a kind of large swing in one month. But once he heard a little backstory on my first tri woes, and realized I had only put on like 5 pounds compared to where I started pre-pregnancy, he was back on board. I remain highly amused and weirdly proud of my 11 lb month, though.

One of the very few areas in which 2nd trimester has failed to do a complete 180, though, is my stupid skin. It has thankfully become slightly less sensitive, but holy cow is does it remain dry and quick to anger. My scalp is no longer excruciatingly painful after a shower.. just, like, regular painful. I have been able to cautiously transition back to normal shampoo & conditioner from the tea tree oil I had been using to heal/soothe my skin, which is great because that stuff was leaving my hair oily and stringy like no one's business. The less frequently I subject my skin to showering, the better, at the moment. So now I can go like three days (!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this is CRAZY LONG for me and I LOVE IT) between hair washings, and I'm sorry to report as it's kind of gross, but I am only showering once or twice a week, because even with frequent full-body lotion lathering, my skin gets too dry and painful otherwise.

BUT! This would normally be grosser than it currently is, because another change in the apparent fundamental make up of my body chemistry? I no longer sweat or smell. Like, at all. I don't even need to put on deodorant any more. And I was a SWEATY BETTY before this, believe you me. I wear nearly exclusively tank tops or sleeveless shirts in the summer because one iota of heat or humidity + my body - even with those "clinical strength" deodorants - will still = copious sweat, rings on all the underarms of my shirts, etc. And now! Nothing! Why? How? So weird! I don't care! I will revel in it, for now!

The only real complaint I currently have is around sleep. I've always been so! good! at sleeping. I'm amazing at it. I can sleep easily, almost anywhere, and I sleep SOUNDLY. Well... I used to, anyway. I've become an increasingly light sleeper, now to the point where every time Chris coughs or the dog starts licking himself (OMG THAT NOISE STOPPPPP ITTTTT) I am instantly awake.. and worse, can't immediately drop back to sleep. If it happens close enough to dawn - like, say, 5 am! or 4:30, sure, why not! - I'm up for the DAY. This is... not cool. I assume it's my body preparing me for not sleeping through baby cries, and preparing me for being up a lot at night, or whatever... but dude. I have the rest of my life to not be able to sleep through the night, I don't know why we need to start THIS early.

The only other kind of bummer symptom is that my feet & ankles have already started to swell regularly, ever since I hit about 15 weeks. The doctors are not concerned (blood pressure is fine; no face/hand swelling to accompany it; no piercing headaches at the same time) but hoo-boy does this not bode well for when I'm giantly pregnant, in this swampy hell-hole of a place, in August. I have been warning Chris to expect a sexy pregnant beast come summertime.

Overall though, second trimester remains the best and I am SUPER AWARE of how good I have it. Our 20 week anatomy scan is next week, which hopefully will be awesome - especially since I still haven't been able to feel any kicks from Contrary Baby in there. So it will be nice to get a view of her (hopefully!) doing well and partying it up. I'm not sure if she's just not kicking hard yet, if I have an anterior placenta, or I just am very not in touch with my body (strong possibility), but I'm trying to be chill about it and assume things are fine until we get a peek next week.


March 17, 2016

Life status: overwhelmed

Guuyyyysssss. There is SO MUCH going on. I need three of me to even start to maybe sort of handle my life right now. Baby girl continues to get the shaft in this process because she's not making an appearance for, like, MONTHS at this point, and we close in a week and a half and need to make arrangements to hire movers and oh god I need to start packing but that means I need boxes first but also we're not moving right away because we want to redo the kitchen first which means I need to pick new flooring and new counters and new backsplash ASAP and once that's finalized we need to schedule them to come in and measure because it will be another week before they install and I have to be available for that too but we're going away for a week in the middle of April with the in-laws and also I should be looking at appliances too but also my parents just sold their house and we need to make arrangements to go up there and sort through everything and bring back all the furniture and tools they no longer need but we do so I need to rent a truck and also get train tickets but we can't move the piano because you need special movers so I need to find them and get those guys hired and when should I schedule that for but also we need to tour daycares because around here you need to reserve a spot months and months in advance and also we probably need to try to find a pediatrician soon and shit we should take some childbirth and babycare classes also one day I need to actually start researching baby gear and oh maybe name this child but before that we need to figure out when the grandparents will be around and if/when they want to provide any childcare so that I know when we need to reserve the daycare spots for and sometime during this we also need to find renters for our current condo for once we do move but ALL of that is taking a back seat to work which is still awful and I'm doing three jobs and OH. MY. GOD.

This is my brain. At all times of the day and night. It's very sustainable.

The first major change I've had to make is at work. I had been trying to negotiate some perks for myself due to the fact that I'm doing three jobs (including that of my VP-level ex-boss) but just learned that all sort of fell through, so effective immediately I have decided not to work more than 40 hours a week anymore. If nothing gets done anymore as a result, I no longer care. (Easier said than done, but I'm working on this new mentality.)

I more or less finalized movers for us for April, a piano mover for my parents' piano, and a truck for May to cart back everything we want to take from my parents' house now that they're downsizing.

And I *think* I might have decided on floors and countertops for the new kitchen, which has been MAAAJORLY stressing me out. I am very much NOT adept at interior design of any sort. I can't tell what will look good together, I can't look at a 6" square of marble and know if it will work on a 12' length of counter, and I definitely don't know if a floor tile I'm looking at in a different store matches the marble we saw three days ago.

So! I talked the marble guy into letting me take a chunk of marble home with me, and I went to Lowe's and bought one (1) floor tile in the color we're considering, so I could hold them up next to each other:


(They're both sitting on our CURRENT countertop, which will play no role in this at all). I think they will go together? Yes? But I was still having a RULL hard time envisioning whether these materials would work in a larger scale, in a full kitchen. Here's the listing photo of our new kitchen, for reference:


I cannot handle the green countertops, and while I have very few feelings about the floor, it's very squeaky so Chris desperately wants it ripped up so that we can get the subfloor fixed (and then put in something nicer since we will have already ripped out what's there). The appliances are pretty old, so we'll be replacing them with updated stainless steel. And hopefully I can switch out that ugly fluorescent light pretty easily. But the layout will remain the same, and the cabinets are in great shape, so this reno will just be on surfaces: floor and counters (..and backsplash).

BUT here's the other tricky bit: I do WANT to redo the cabinets at some point - they seem solid so there is likely no need to rip them out anytime in the near future, but I'd love to stain them dark sometime down the road. So whatever finishes I pick now need to look OK with that light wood, but also not look stupid if I do go dark in a few months/years.

And I have NO IDEA how to extrapolate any of that from one floor tile and a hunk of marble.

Luckily, the internet is full of helpful tools for helpless people like me, and I found a site that let me mess around with a mock kitchen, changing up the floors, counters, and cabinet colors. This is CRAZY USEFUL for someone like me who desperately needs to see things mapped out like this.

First I started with light wood, what I thought might approximate the floor tile color we were thinking of, and I couldn't find a marble that matched, so I went with a flecked white version in case our marble at large scale read mainly white:


I think they mostly go, right? I don't know? Opinions? (Obviously this is not the actual layout of our kitchen, and we will not have a giant stone (?) hood over our range, but you know. Materials & scale.)

Then I switched the wood dark to see if it would still work:


Ooooooooh. Well that's not terrible. 

Then I went with a more-obviously-dark-flecked marble, which is closer to how I'm *hoping* ours actually reads in person:


The default backsplash I'd been using doesn't work so well here, but LOOK when I change it to dark wood!!


Still not loving this backsplash but I love the marble and dark cabinets together. Uh, assuming that is what my marble would look like. Sigh.

So tell me - what do you think? Am I going down a terrible, regrettable path here? Anyone have or used similar colors or materials and would like to adamantly warn me away from them, for example?

(Next up is dithering on backsplash, because I *think* I probably want glass subway tile or a glass mosaic pattern, but the online tools tend to not have that sort of granularity of choice so I can't see it in context and waaah life is hard.)

Oh right. Also I'm still pregnant! That is still happening! But second trimester continues to be absolutely thrillingly boring, which I love and am extremely grateful for. Assuming I keep this "meh, work" attitude going, I'll hopefully now have bandwidth back for actual pregnancy updates.. not to mention one day finishing recapping the Iceland/Ireland trip. Dream big, friends.

March 01, 2016

Second trimester: marry me?

Oh, you guys. Second trimester. How I adore thee.

Hands down my favorite part about life right now is food. FOOOOOOOD. I love food again! I love ALL food! All the time! And I can eat ALL OF IT! No more nausea, no more white bread sandwiches. I am eating a giant salad right now with a scoop of.. well, pretty much everything Whole Foods offered at the salad bar, all piled into one gorgeous messy pile of nutrients that I will cram down my facehole with unabashed glee.

The only downside to this (I mean, aside from my sudden ability to put on like 15 pounds in a week if I don't reign myself in) is that I am equally thrilled to eat a pile of lettuce with beets and bleu cheese - the major players in my current lunch - as I am to scarf down 2 or 3 poptarts at any given time. And despite my mom's exhortations that I should be eating everything I want at all times to make up for the weight loss in 1st tri, I sort of doubt the baby requires 200% of its daily corn syrup and saturated fat serving every time I pass the vending machine at work. At least there are chickpeas in this salad to balance it out...?

I also enjoy the fact that at 16 weeks, I have a nice pronounced baby bump. This is highly surreal for me, partly because it's not quite big enough for other people to assume that the belly is not 100% poptart-related. A lot of the time even I will catch myself wondering how I let myself get this big before remembering it's because there's a HUMAN IN ME, and then I push wonderingly on my wee bump, which is now hard to the touch underneath the skin.

This week the baby is the size of an avocado. This is blowing my mind. Avocados are pretty darn sizeable. Of course, my avocado baby only weighs like 3.5 ounces, so it's a pretty insubstantial avocado. But it's a nearly-weightless avocado with limbs and eyes and a spine, which I legitimately cannot fathom when I think too hard about it. I've started playing piano regularly again, so the baby can be exposed to music as soon as it can hear sounds outside my belly. And also because I honestly believe I experience music internally at a fundamental level when I play, not just aurally, and I want the baby to experience that too.

Overall, I'm glad the 2nd tri is letting me actually focus on the fact that there is a baby in there, as opposed to needing to spend the vast majority of my physical, mental, and emotional energy on trying not to die. (I mean yes, obviously I was not going to die in first tri, At least not after the OHSS resolved. But man was it a slog to get through every day for a while there.)

Now I just need the rest of my life to allow me to take some time to bond with my baby bump, because WOW am I trying to see how much I can cram into one year. My job has sort of exploded into flames - huge change in senior management; my (very awesome, personal friend) boss quit; they are not replacing him so I am currently doing both my job and a VP level position; ps haha ask me if they're compensating me for this in any way yet HAHA - annnd we also just bought a house. Which we're closing on in 4 weeks. Which is great! But also takes up jussst a teensy amount of energy and time and brainspace to deal with. Thankfully Chris is handling like 99.9999% of everything financing-related and mostly just brings me papers to sign when appropriate, because I totally cannot handle it at the moment.

As a result of all that, though, I have done exactly zero prep for this kiddo (...and it's also why I've been almost completely MIA online). I haven't started researching baby gear, looked into furniture, read any baby books, you name it. I keep telling people she'll be lucky if she gets a name before she gets here.

Oh yeah. That's the other thing. We found out it's a she. :)