Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Back safely in Denver

Just a quick note to let everyone know we made it back to Denver safely. It was a long drive, especially the last bit through blizzard conditions, but we took our time and went carefully and now here we are. Home again, home again, jiggity jig as my mom used to say.

We are still basking in the afterglow of a wonderful week spent with friends and family. We had such a great time. And we are still completely overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and generosity of everyone at our baby shower and those who've sent gifts to our home. Thank you all so very much.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Guess What: It's a GIRL!!!

Week 23Whew, finally the secret is out. It was tough keeping it under wraps for the last week, but we wanted to be able to share the baby's sex with friends and family in person at our baby shower. My mom and sister threw us a wonderful party on Saturday. It was a packed house, and we had a blast. There was food, drink, games and lots of cute baby presents. One highlight was the blindfolded cloth diapering contest the boys were forced into. They were good sports, and the results were entertaining.

We got so many cute cute things from everyone. It's still hard to believe that in a few months we will have a new little person in our family to use all of this adorable stuff on! I can't tell you how much we appreciate all the thoughtful and generous gifts. But more than that we appreciate all the support everyone has offered, and they way you all have shared in our excitement.

Week 22Wow, what a week! Sorry there haven't been any updates but I've been having too much fun being on vacation with my family this week. We got into Houston Saturday afternoon and hung out with my mom and Stephen. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we worked. Tuesday night my sister flew in from Miami and Wednesday she, my mom and I palled around all day getting ready for Thanksgiving and just having fun being together. We celebrated my mom's birthday at Chuy's, her favorite Tex-Mex restaurant, and I gave her the silk/alpaca shawl I'd been working on all month for her. Mmmm... Tex-Mex. I wish they had Chuy's in Denver!

Thursday was of course the big Thanksgiving celebration at my mom's house. We had an excellent turnout, and the food was fantastic. Mom's turkey, dressing and German chocolate pie never disappoint. It was great getting to see our big, wonderful family.

Friday we went over to Jim & Beryl's house and hung out. Beryl photographed us in a series of portraits featuring the bump. They came out great! I'll post a link to them soon. And then we stuffed ourselves on Tex-Mex at Teotihuacan (tay-o-TEE-wa-kan), our favorite restaurant in the Heights.

I'm not sure whether it's all the Tex-Mex we've been eating or the German chocolate pie or what, but the peanut seems to be on a growth spurt this week. I swear, every morning I wake up and seem bigger than the night before. There have been times when my skin feels stretched beyond capacity. And she's kicking more and more every day. Last night for the first time ever I could just barely feel her stirring around from the *outside* of my belly. I can't wait for Arwen to be able to feel her move.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Centering Pregnancy & Other Notes

So first the latest gripes. All this time I've been hearing people moan about the terrible heartburn in pregnancy. Meanwhile I smugly thought to myself, "Heartburn? What heartburn? It must be all the fruits and vegetables I eat." Ahem, yes, well once again Note to Self: Just wait, all the stuff they warned you about - it's coming!

Last night we had a delicious dinner - big thick steak-like pork chops marinated in a brown sugar-soy sauce-garlic concoction, garlic mashed potatos and steamed broccoli. I was in heaven. Until 3 hours later when I tried to go to bed. There was this horrible burning more in my throat actually than my chest. Musta been the garlic. I tried taking Tums. What a joke! That gave me oh about 3 and a half minutes of blissful relief. Ultimately I ended up propping myself up in bed to sleep upright. About 1:30 AM I woke up feeling all better. At which point I made the foolish mistake of attempting to sleep lying down like a normal person. The heartburn came back immediately.

In addition to that I've had this same headache for going on 3 days straight now. Tylenol has proven no match for it. And I'm drinking water like a fish. I guess my body is just working through something. Oh well, I will try to be patient.

In other news, I had my first "Centering Pregnancy" meeting this week. These are - are you ready for this? - group visits with my midwife. It sounds a little crazy but I think it's going to be the good kind of crazy. The way it works is 5 pregnant ladies (including myself) who are all due in March meet at the midwife's office at the hospital every two weeks. Significant others are welcome to come too. (Arwen plans to go with me to all the remaining visits, but he couldn't make it to this one.)

When you arrive, you put on your nametag and grab your chart. Then you go take your own blood pressure, temperature and weight and write it down in your chart. Before Tuesday I had never even had a look in my chart at any doctor's office. It was neat to see all the results from lab work, all the notes my midwife had taken about my health history, the results of the ultrasound, everything that has to do with me and this pregnancy.

After you've recorded your vitals, you have a private moment with the midwife where she checks your belly and listens to the baby's heartbeat. Then you join the other ladies/couples in a circle of chairs. For the remainder of the 2 hour session, the midwife and possibly a doula (labor coach) and/or nurse lead you in a discussion of a relevant topic. This week's discussion was nutrition. At the next session we'll be discussing exercise.

This format seems like such a good one, because most pregnancies proceed normally, so from a medical perspective there's not much to talk about with your healthcare provider. But yet you're so hungry for information, especially when going through it for the first time, and doctors and even 1-on-1 midwives don't necessarily have the time to answer all your questions.

I really wasn't sure what to expect going into this, but I left this first meeting feeling incredibly empowered. Just getting to handle your own medical chart makes you feel like you're not a sick patient, but like you're in charge of this normal process you're going through. Sitting with these other women - several of them first-timers like me - and sharing ideas and fears and things we're excited about was also very empowering. It left me feeling that although I don't have all the answers, this journey is a normal, healthy part of life and by the time we get to the labor and delivery room I think we'll feel as ready as we can. At our last appointment, 20 weeks from now, we will all bring our babies to the group. I can't wait!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Look at me now!

Today was soooo exciting. Arwen and I went to our 20 week ultrasound for a few glimpses of our little peanut. The ultrasound tech was really wonderful, a very sweet woman from Australia named Pippa. She took the time to explain everything she was looking at and what it meant.

The detail of the ultrasound absolutely floored us. We got to see not just the baby's face, hands and feet, but we got to count all ten fingers and all ten toes. We could see the four chambers of the heart pumping blood. We could see the spine, the brain and the other organs. Pippa looked at various markers for Down's Syndrome, Spina Bifida and Cleft Palette, and found that the baby had none. She measured the baby's head, its tummy, the length of its legs, and the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding it. She measured the heartrate and we got to hear it again. Everything appeared normal. All signs point to a healthy baby.

It was amazing how much the baby moved around in the short time we were there. At first its arms were up with its hands behind its head, like it was maxin' and relaxin'. Later its hands were by its side. And just before we left we caught the baby sucking its thumb. Now that was cute!! At one point Pippa was trying to get a close-up of the feet so she could count the toes, and the baby's feet were moving like it was going for a jog.

So the big question. To know or not to know. We had decided to ask the technician to write down the baby's sex on a notecard and seal it in an envelope, so that we could figure out what to do with it later. When we came into the room I explained all of this to Pippa in great detail and she was more than willing to comply. When the moment of truth came, she asked just once whether we were sure we wanted to know. At which point Arwen piped up, "Oh come on honey! Let's just find out now!" What the heck, I said. And it was remarkable how well the baby cooperated. It was as if the baby was sitting on top of a glass table and we were looking up at the parts in question. So we got a crystal clear view, and the tech was highly confident in her assessment.

For the answer to the $64,000 question... you'll just have to stay tuned! We want to wait until we can share the happy news in person with our friends and family while we're in Houston for Thanksgiving and our baby shower. Sorry folks, bear with us. It won't be long!

The last time we saw the peanut it looked, well, like a peanut. Now it's got pretty much all of its "people parts." Just needs to put on a few more pounds so it's ready for the big wide world.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Decisions, decisions

Week 21We're scheduled for our 20-week ultrasound tomorrow morning (Monday). If the peanut is in the right position, the ultrasound tech should be able to determine its sex! But we're still completely up in the air about whether we should find out.

I always swore that I would not find out the baby's sex. I *love* surprises, and what could be a bigger surprise than that? And I like that not knowing seems to require of the parents a noble unconditional acceptance of the little one, no matter what s/he turns out to be.

But I've been surprised to find myself just itching to know anything I can find out about the peanut, to start unfolding the mystery of who this little person will be. It meant the world to get a first glimpse of him/her at our 8 week ultrasound, and then later to hear its heart beating steadily away. I've loved feeling the fluttery movements that started recently. And I can't wait to see the peanut again tomorrow.

Finding out its sex has certain practical advantages. We could settle on a name. I could get started on a few really cute gender-specific knitting projects. But the main thing about knowing the sex - which could be both an advantage and a disadvantage - is that it allows you to take the mental leap to really imagining what life will be like with this child. And while on the one hand I'm eager to make that leap, on the other hand it could lead us to set expectations or create a mental image that doesn't jive with reality.

One thing that I think really helped us during our hike of the Appalachian Trail was that we were wholly unable to set any sort of mental expectations about what it would be like. Neither of us had ever spent much time on the east coast, and we certainly had never tried living in the woods for half a year. So each day was a new discovery and we learned to take it as it came, both the good and the bad. I can't help but wonder if we'd be best served by following that same approach on this journey to parenthood.

But then on the other hand... I'M DYING TO KNOW!!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

We turn 14 today!

Today, November 7th, is 14 years from the night Arwen and I started down the crazy path of life together. I don't think either of us could have imagined that night that we'd find ourselves together so many years later, on the the verge of yet another something new. We've pretty much grown up together and seen each other through so many different stages: he took me to my high school prom, we left home together and experienced those first thrilling years of living on our own, we enjoyed ourselves (a little too much) through the college party years, we studied hard together through the college study years, we went through the agonizing transition from the idyll of college life to the routine of corporate life, we bought our first car, our first home, adopted our sweet puppy... and just around the corner is the brave new world of becoming parents together.

We've made lots of mistakes, we don't always see eye to eye, and it hasn't always been pretty or perfect, but I think all the time about how unfathomably lucky we are to have each other. I never thought I'd meet someone as weird as me. I never thought I'd find someone I could trust so completely. I never thought it was possible to grow and change and become someone new, and yet at the same time hold on to the reassuring security of being loved by someone unconditionally. Arwen is my best friend, my partner in crime, my protector, my everything.

So uh... I guess today we're getting to see the flip side of these wacky pregnancy hormones. I guess the grumpy ones are taking a break and the sentimental mooshy ones are taking over!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Halfway there!

20 WeeksWe are officially 20 weeks as of Sunday. It's amazing. You can see how quickly things have been changing lately in terms of the peanut's size. I mean, come on, I'M HUUUUGE!!! I think we're onto a growth spurt now. A couple weeks ago I noticed my appetite had really waned - sometimes I wasn't hungry at all at meal time (definitely NOT like me!). But not this week. In the last couple of days I've sat down at a couple of typically oversized restaurant dinner portions and thought, Well I'll have some good leftovers tomorrow, only to find a completely cleaned plate at the end of the meal. I guess we're hungry!

Oh and Sasha says hi. She just had to sneak into this week's picture. She's been doing well. In fact she's on a walk to the park with her daddy right now. We've been telling her she's going to be getting a little brother or sister soon, but she doesn't really seem to understand...

Oh guess what... We got a car! Woo hoo, finally we can check one major thing off the To Do List. We picked up an '05 Honda CR-V with 23k miles on it. It's got 4 wheel drive and is loaded with tons of safety features. It's rated well for front, side and rear impact as well as rollovers. It also is LATCH-ready (the new safety standard for car seats). I'll post a picture soon.

I've got to run - We're heading to the gym. Peanut likes his/her cardio.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Houston, We Have Movement!

I've been waiting and waiting for this baby to get rockin and rollin. Before today the only fluttering movements have been isolated incidents days and days apart. They were so subtle I wasn't really sure whether it was the baby or the bacon cheeseburger I just downed.

But today has been different. I've been feeling the baby off and on every few hours. It's pretty cool!! The movements are still small and subtle, but they're occurring so regularly now that it's obvious that it's the baby and not my small intestine.

Some other developments: I have progressed past the 2nd button on my favorite pre-pregnancy button-fly jeans. I'd been wearing them around the house with the top button undone, but this morning when I sat down to get to work the peanut lump made it known that one measly button isn't going to cut it anymore.

And guess what else: I finished the froggy set! I put on the pom-pom eyeballs and stitched the smile last night at my knitting group. It was a big hit with all the other gals. Well... there's still ONE more thing I'd like to do, but so far my efforts have been thwarted. I am dying to find a single fly button (not like the button fly on my jeans - but like the kind of fly that flies, ya know) to sew on just outside the reach of the froggy tongue. Wouldn't that be cute?