Thursday, May 31, 2012

34 Weeks & Ian's 32nd Birthday

Let's see, where did I leave off last week?  (I am SO unmotivated to write today, we have a million things to get done around the house and are running out of time, so this may be a quick one!)  

Oh yes, I went to yoga.  It was fun because I shared my experience about my terrible hospital visit with all of my pregnant yoga ladies and felt reassured after talking about it with Yvonne, our teacher.  I told her how I am trying to be so positive about the whole birth experience and that everyone, my doctor and hospital, just is so negative.  She told me that this is normal and just to just keep up the positivity and good things will come - I knew all this but it was nice to hear it.  I also said, out loud, for the first time ever that I am going to try to have an all natural birth.  I actually announced it in class, and couldn't believe it when it came out of my mouth.  I also told my doctor this yesterday at my appointment and discussed it with our hypnobirthing teacher as well.  Crazy!

Now, let me clarify.  This morning I woke up thinking about this very subject and I just want to write it here for me to see.  I will attempt an all natural birth as long as I an practice pain free hypnobirthing techniques and it is not stressful for me or the baby.  However, if my labor becomes too painful which results in me stalling, stressing or freaking out (or the baby undergoing any stress) I will do whatever is necessary to remedy the situation.  I am hoping I can mind over matter this, but do not know what to expect so I will not say any absolutes in this situation.  (By the way, I hate it when people say absolutes like, "I will never have a baby," or "I will never get married," etc.  Why say it because you never know what might happen in the future, you know?)  I am staying positive, I know that I can do this (partly because I've kind of done it before, although only at 11 weeks), I am strong and am pretty tough but don't want to make any guarantees.  I know all of the facts, I am educated on the subject and believe I have the tools to make it work - but it will be ok if I chose to have an epidural, no big deal.  It will happen as it is supposed to happen, right?  We have no control over any of it anyway, sometimes you have a birth plan that gets thrown out the window if some emergency arises - and that's totally ok.  We expect so much of ourselves, it's stressful, so this one I will just go with the flow.

We received a sample birth plan last night at hypnobirthing and a fear checklist to fill out before we go back on Saturday.  I think we will take the birth plan, modify it a bit for us and then go over it with our doctor next week.  The fear list is great because I've read, in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, that having unspoken fears can stall labor and just by saying them aloud can make things progress again, and I can't wait to explore our fears through a hynosis technique and then put them away.  I will include some here after I fill out my list, my mind is somewhere else at the moment (like I should be in then nursery spray painting frames right now!).

Wednesday was our last day of school last week and Ian's birthing was on Thursday.  We went to lunch at Spaghetti Company (one of our favorites that also has gluten free pasta), did some shopping and then came home to relax and make gluten free philly cheese steaks (another of my favorites that I've never attempted to make gf before!).  

(Yes, it's summer and this means no shirt for Ian!)

(Homemade gf philly cheese steaks with organic steak - so yummy!)

(Ian got a new vacuum for his birthday, it's all he wanted, and here is an action shot - he loves it!)

On Friday, Ian was off to ComicCon to root through comics all day and then on Saturday I joined him with our friend Tozzi and my brother-in-law and his family.  It was pretty crazy there, a lot of walking around, and after about 3 hours I was beat.  I DID get to hug Colin Ferguson, from Eureka, saw some pretty interesting costumes and bought a cool Spider-man print to hang up (I'm obsessed).  Ian also got me another print on Friday of all the Star Wars characters doing yoga poses, it is so cool, and I may hang it up at school when I go back.  Sunday we were off to Ian's parent's house for his birthday dinner and then when Monday rolled around we decided we better get to work on some projects around the house.

(My sister-in-law, Kelly, came over on Saturday night and we decided to give her the bunny.  We loved him, he was so cuddly and cute, but we have too many pets and a baby coming so it was just the responsible thing to do.  He loves it at her house and is having fun, I know she'll take good care of him!)

Ian started spackling and painting the carport while I took on the spackling and painting the frame around our front door.  I am so tired lately and all I feel like doing is laying on the couch or in the pool, but time is just ticking away and we are running out of time to finishing this little stuff around the house.  The whole back of our house needs to be painted, the nursery needs to be finished and then some touch ups on the inside should happen before baby comes.  It feels like so much, especially since I have no motivation to do any of it, and I wish we could spend this time together, laying on the couch, instead of working.  We only have a month or so left to be together, just the two of us, and working all day isn't what I had in mind these last couple of weeks.  But, we've agreed to quit at 3pm every day so that we have some time to relax so that should be good and calm my soul a bit.

(Lemon's dresser arrived this week too, it is so cute!)

(Summer also means gf pasta salad at our house - yes!)

(Do not mind the hair, this is what summer, pregnant Allison looks like around the house.  Can you say cravings much?  I am in LOVE with fruit - this is the second, giant fruit salad I've made!)

We went to hypnobirthing last night, instead of Saturday because of ComicCon, and it was really relaxing.  We learned about some labor positions, some calming hypnosis techniques and watched some more outdated videos.  In one of the relaxation techniques she made our hand a "relaxation glove" so that when we put it on and moved it to different parts of our body, it made them numb and relaxed.  I think this will be SO helpful during labor, I can't wait to use it.  So many of the techniques are in the hynobirthing book, but I told Ian we could record them, us saying them, and put them on my iPod instead so that he won't have to pick up the book to read them to me, I can just pick the track I want to listen to whenever I feel like it and go into it.  But, this is something else to do in the limited time I feel like we have, so we'll see.  I have to put all the hypnobirthing CDs on my iPod sometime soon anyway and start packing my hospital bag and making a list - agh!  I started packing the diaper bag for the hospital and that was fun, I just can't believe it is all happening so soon!

I am afraid I am a bit in denial about the whole thing (and feel horrible admitting this here!).  As I've said before, this pregnancy has been a nerve-wracking one, us constantly worrying about if baby is healthy and not really taking the time to bond with her or focus on the reality of the situation.  I have told you before, it's hard to get attached when you've experienced a loss, and now my mind is finding it hard to accept that this is all really happening, because in a way I was worried that it never would.  I did not think, months and months ago, that I would be 34 weeks pregnant one day, I had hoped it but in the back of my mind was worried we wouldn't make it this far.  Now, here we are, and it doesn't seem real.  I don't feel pregnant still, just like a slower, less mobile version of myself.  Am I the only one who thinks this way?

I know what is coming, I am armed with the facts and tools but just can't seem to wrap my ahead around it.  I know there is a baby coming but find it hard to visualize bringing her home from the hospital and her living here, with us.  I just feel blocked in this department, like it might never happen because it is so surreal.  Is this common for first time moms or am I some sort of freak?!  I have spent so much time not focusing on the reality, just focusing on Lemon's health, and now I can't seem to grasp the reality.  It's weird, I'm weird, I know.  I'm excited and nervous and have no idea what to expect - but can't wait to see our baby girl.  In a way I am still a little hesitant like, "Is she really coming?  What if something goes wrong?  Will she really be home with us using all of this stuff we have for her?"  Maybe that's it, maybe it's the same old thing like I'm preventing myself from getting excited because I still have it in the back of my mind that something could happen to her.  Why am I like this?  I gotta work on it . . .

I guess I had more to say than I thought, isn't that how it always is?  Thanks for listening (reading), I do feel better always getting it out.  Now, I'm off to do some work!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

33 Weeks: Goodbyes & Bunnies

(Ian had to rush off to physical therapy so I couldn't get another pic today after running my fingers through my hair!  Oh well.)

(Before he left, Ian thought the bunny's new home should be in the hallway - temporarily.  So I decided to pick him/her up and take a pic!  For an explanation on why we have a bunny, see below.)

According to Julia this is my "golden week" where my baby's weekly development matches my age - 33 weeks and I'm 33!  It is crazy that I am past the 8 month mark; in a way I never thought I'd get here and it's still so hard to wrap my head around, but here I am and this little girl is still growing, growing, growing!

This week I was hoping to go to a rarely offered prenatal couples yoga and massage class at my yoga studio but it was cancelled due to not enough couples signing up.  I was so bummed because it was the perfect thing to do on a Friday night and Ian and I could have learned so many techniques to help during labor but no one was interested, so dumb.  So, our Friday night didn't go as planned but that gave us time to clean the house and get ready for our maternity photo session on Saturday morning.

Friday was also the last day for Seniors at our school and so I said goodbye to some of my favorite people last week.  I wrote about this last year, and what it's like for teachers, so I won't write about it again but it is so bittersweet.  (These students are no longer students at our school, I will not post names and they are all over 18 so it is totally legit that I can post their pictures here - my disclaimer.)

 (Sorry if some of these are blurry, kids took the pics!)

The senior prank this year was releasing some rabbits and baby chicks in the hallway on the last day.  Normally they just tag the school but this time it was worse because it involved baby animals.  My husband's classroom (he teaches Special Education) gathered up all of the stray animals (20 baby chicks and 2 baby bunnies) and found homes for them.  One of his assistants took the chicks, another teacher took a bunny and guess who ended up with the other bunny?  We did!  (That makes 11 animals at our house now, if you're counting.)

(The students wrote a 1 and 2 on the bunnies' ears - for 2012.  They shaved them and wrote it in permanent marker, so sad.  Some of the kids said there were more bunnies that kids picked up and kept and some kids said there were more chicks too but some got stepped on.  So awful.)

(He wanted to bring him/her to school today, I said no and that today was about getting work done so we could leave early and not about bunnies.  But seriously, how handsome is my almost 32 year old husband?!)

I'm still trying to decide if we are going to keep the bunny or give him/her away (Ian's sister wants him/her if we do).  It is up to me this time because Ian got a parrot a couple of months ago and we decided that he was our absolutely LAST pet.  It is just another animal to take care of, when we clearly have a baby on the way, but we are both so in love with him/her.  We put him/her outside in the mornings and evenings (we made a fenced off area so he/she could hop around in the grass) and at night we let him/her hop around in the living room with us.  He/she is seriously the most cuddly, lovable bunny I've ever seen (even though I really know nothing about bunnies), and even when we walk out of the room he/she follows us.  I can't decide what to do, I'm just so in love but am trying to be responsible!  (Ian of course says the bunny is a sign of fertility and labor so he thinks it's a sign that we have it.  Of course he does.)

Our maternity photo shoot was the next morning, with my friend June, and it was tough finding things to wear and I got frustrated trying to figure it out.  I woke up super early, did my hair and makeup and then pulled out the only clothes that fit me right now (and that aren't work clothes) and was disappointed.  I always thought I'd have such cute style as a pregnant lady but it's just tough to want to spend lots of money on clothes you probably won't wear that much longer, hard to justify the cost.  I have gotten a few things but thrift stores are the best bet because clothes are used, you don't wear them very long anyway and they are cheap.  So here I was about to take really cute pics and I had no cute clothes to wear.  I ended up making it work (of course!) and we took pics for about 3 hours all around our house, and got some REALLY cute ones.  I can't wait to see a preview of them and then the real photos - I'm dying of anticipation (and will of course post some when I get them!).  June was amazing, it was super relaxed and she was so encouraging even when I felt ugly in some shots!  Ian was happy to have worked with her too, someone we know and someone so easy going, we both had a lot of fun!

(The morning started off with my tea smiling at me so I knew it HAD to be a good day!)

(The only shady spot in our back yard at 11am!)

Then we were off to our 2nd hypnobirthing class.  This time we learned some breathing techniques, three different ones - one for no surges (contractions), one during a surge and one when it's time to push (which they also have another word for but I forgot it).  We also watched some videos of ladies delivering using hypnobirthing and it was awesome - they were so calm and relaxed, they hardly even made any sound when pushing the baby out.  I can't wait to do it!  Here are so more recent videos I found, showing hypnobirthing deliveries (if you're interested):


 And one not in a tub but easy going none-the-less:

I so wish I could do a home water birth but I'm too worried about the baby I think.  Based on our past, losing a baby, I'd like to be somewhere where there is technology available just in case something happens or we have an emergency situation.  I love being at home, and being in water seems absolutely amazing (and this is probably how I will do it next time after knowing what to expect), but I think I need to be in a hospital just in case.

We did more relaxation techniques at hypnobirthing and some more hypnosis.  It was really fun and I think last Saturday was the first time I was actually able to really relax and fall into the hypnosis aspect of it.  It's just tough because we are in a yoga room, laying on yoga mats and it isn't really comfortable so it's hard to get into it and let yourself go, compared to if you were at home in bed or on the couch.  I still love our hynobirthing teacher, Marne, and she taught us some massage stuff to practice at home which we both liked.  We rescheduled our class for this upcoming Saturday because it's Ian's birthday weekend and we are going to the Phoenix ComicCon with friends/family and so we are meeting with her again on Tuesday night instead.  Today is our last day of school so weeknights will no longer be a problem for us - woohoo!

We took a hospital tour on Monday of the hospital right by us that I am supposed to deliver at (I like it because it is SO close!).  And let's just say, I was unimpressed.  Before we left, I found a whole list of questions, online, that you are supposed to take and ask during your tour.  But, we were in a group with 4 other couples who apparently had no questions about the most important day of their lives and so it was only me asking the questions.  And, the lady doing the tour was some registration lady, not even a nurse, so she didn't know the answer to some of my questions and that left me really frustrated.  I asked her something simple like, "Do the rooms have iPod hookups?" and she couldn't even answer me.  And, some jerky husband said, "I don't think you'll have time to listen to music" and laughed at me and that really made me mad.  I told him, "We could be here for days, don't you want to know if we can listen to music or bring DVDs?"  And again he told me I wouldn't have time for that.  Are you kidding me?  Thank god he's not my husband because imagine how supportive he will be to his wife during labor if he thinks it's an in and out operation and that you will just want to sit there without music or movies.  Ridiculous!

The hospital looked really hospital like even though the section is called "Birthing Suites" and I wasn't prepared for that either.  I do not like hospitals and they project to your brain that someone is wrong or you are hurt, but labor has nothing to do with this.  I was hoping they would look more like a bedroom and less sterile, but I was wrong.  I had to save all of my medical questions because I knew she wouldn't have an answer for them and asked her afterwards if there was a nurse we could talk to instead.  She said it was a really busy day and that if I wanted to wait she would find me someone but I told her I would just come back.  It made me so upset because my questions are all over the internet, I was NOT the only person that has thought to ask them, I'm sure, but everyone we were with just stood around, not asking ANYTHING.  It was weird.  So, I will probably go back next week while we are off and see if I can talk to someone else, because it totally put a bad taste in my mouth.

Last week, with our OB, and this week with the hospital visit I realized something.  I am trying to stay positive about this whole experience but it seems that everyone around me (the doctor/hospital/etc.) are the ones putting a negative taste in my mouth about it.  I think they deliberately try to scare you so that you go into this thinking the worst and you have a hard time, instead of staying happy and relaxed about it.  I am going to continue to do my best, and be in the best mind frame, but it just sucks that everyone keeps on knocking me down,  It makes me want to take these next couple of weeks to find a midwife and birthing center instead, I DO NOT want to give my money to my doctor (who I find I am liking less and less) and this crazy hospital if I am not going to get the care I deserve or want.  However, many people have had great experiences at my hospital so maybe I just spoke with the wrong person, I am willing to give them another chance.  And my doctor - I am not really worried about because you see more of the nurses, who I'm told are pretty encouraging, so I just hope they are on board with our whole hypnobirthing philosophy once we get there.  I don't know what to do and feel like I am running out of time!

Last day of school today and I am SO EXCITED!  I don't have to come back until October 31st next year and the next time I set foot in my classroom, I will have a little baby girl at home.  It is SO WEIRD to think about but so exciting.  Ian and I will be completely different when we return, it's hard to imagine what life will be like for us then.  It is tough being a pregnant teacher, your fuse is a lot shorter and you kind of check out because you realize something way more important is happening in your life at the moment, so this year has been kind of a tough one (but definitely nothing compared to last year!).  So I am happy to be done, happy to let these Juniors go and then start fresh again next year.  We are getting 6 new teachers in our department and I think that will be SUCH a positive change, I can't wait to meet everyone when I get back.  I need this break, with my baby girl, and feel like she is really close to being here now that school is out.  This year FLEW by and last year, at this time, I never thought I'd be here - but here we are and we CAN'T WAIT to start this new chapter of our lives!!!

(Took one last look at my classroom today before saying goodbye until October 31st.  I hope I come back to everything looking like this and nothing broken or ripped down!  Next time I see this room I will be a mama of an almost 4 month old!!!)

 (Our last day of school car pic, I'm so excited for this summer!)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dear Lemon (from Daddy)

From the moment of our first pregnancy in December 2010, we were happy and overjoyed that we were going to become parents.  We put everything into that baby, all of our hopes and dreams and then in January it was taken away from us.  In November 2011 we became pregnant again, but this time it was different; we were more cautious and it has been hard to connect, knowing how fast it could all be gone.  It has been unfair to our Lemon (and has caused me many moments of guilt), but it never meant we loved her any less.  We were just wiser and more hesitant, but knew in our hearts that this was our baby's spirit come back to us, and that this time she would be healthy and we would eventually get to hold her in our arms.  This letter has been a long time coming and it is the first either one of us has written to our baby girl.  We hope to continue this, even after she's born, so she can look back and know just how excited we were to meet her and experience life with her.  This one is from her Daddy . . .

Dear Lem,  
It’s been . . . 8 months of science . . . 240 days of anatomy and . . . 5,760 hours of human development.  Proteins for your body, and folic acids for your brain, Conception, embryo, fetus, ultrasound, placenta, glucose . . . brain has developed, spine is strong, 10 fingers 10 toes, you are coming along.  I have been obsessive and scientific and . . . I have been missing out.  Let me explain. 
The path to parenthood has been mountainous.  We have traveled the tallest peaks and the lowest valleys.  Sometimes we get to the top of one mountain and all we can see are more mountains.  Sometimes it feels like we can’t find our way down and sometimes we can’t find the way up.  Sometimes we climb together, sometimes we climb alone.  Your mom has waited for me at the top of my mountains, and I have waited at the bottom of hers.  Every mountain has been a lesson and every valley is a time for reflection.  Now, hand in hand, we climb our final mountain and we see you waiting at the top.  :)
A week ago I woke up, ready for the day’s climb.  (Each day we make it up the mountain just a little bit more, getting closer and closer to you.)  I put my hand on mommy’s belly, and you kicked.  Normally when you kick, it’s just a kick - but this time was different.  This time was electric! From your heart to your foot, through mommy’s tummy, and into my hand, you sent me a message.  It made my heart jump, and my eyes close tight.  In that instant I watched a path blaze through the darkest forest and I finally knew where I need to go.  I opened my eyes and realized that in that instant I had become a different person.  I gently pushed back on mom’s tum to let you know I was there and you kicked again, and for 5 amazing minutes we sent messages to each other.  When my time comes, and I look back on life, this will be the moment I became a daddy.
So this is it.  We’re almost to the top of the last mountain on our way to becoming parents.  I’m ready to be your Daddy, little lemon. I’m ready to sing you songs and read you books. I’m ready to put bows in your hair, give you snuggles and watch movies on Saturday mornings.  Your body has grown and my days of science and worry were good for that, but now it’s time for me to start acting like your dad.  I’m going to work my hardest over these next few weeks to let you know that there is so much to our world.  I love you so much already and I’m feeling so lucky to be able to climb this last mountain with your mom . . . I can’t wait for you to start climbing mountains with us.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

8 Months!

For a week that I didn't think would be that exciting, this one sure turned out to be a crazy one!  I have finally succeeded in spending almost all of my gift cards and think we now almost have everything we need (including newborn cloth diaper covers!).  We built the stroller and car seat this week and now I just look at them sitting there in the corner of our living room, so excited that our little girl will be in them soon!  (And when do you put the car seat in your car without looking like a pregnant crazy person?)  The only thing left to build is our co-sleeper and Ian had a good idea to wait until we do our maternity photos with June this Saturday so that we could have some pics of us putting it together.  The only other big item I still need is a breast pump and I have a few gift cards left to get it, I just have to find time to order it!  Oh and all of my cute, decorative Etsy stuff - gotta get those nursery decorations too!  (One more week of school and then we will have TIME for all of this!)

Friday we went back to the 3D ultrasound place to see if we could get some better pictures/video of Lemon.  This time, she had her hands out of her face but her umbilical cord up in her mouth (she must know where her food comes from!), but we couldn't tell in the pics so we didn't mind.  We ended up getting some really cute pictures and lovely video - I'm happy they wanted us to come back!

 (Sticking her tongue out!)



Saturday I went to prenatal yoga (10:15 was early for pregnant yoga!) and then I had my first prenatal massage as my yoga studio A Desert Song.  I have never gotten a prenatal massage before and was excited about the hole in the table for my belly, but didn't realize I'd probably need two more holes for my sore boobs!  I told her they should make cut outs for those too, it's hard to get into a position where they are comfy!  The massage was amazing, one of the best things I've ever experienced.  Most people think that they go easy on you because you are pregnant, but the only thing Laura didn't really rub hard was my legs, because of blood clots.  Other than that, she went to town, and after I felt like I could have slept all day!  But, we didn't have all day because later we were off to our first hypnobirthing class!

It took me about 3 teachers to finally arrange a hypnobirthing class that was convenient for us and for the instructors.  Most of them do it out of their homes, or our homes (and with 10 animals this wasn't going to fly), so I had to find someone that didn't have cats (like the first woman), had time for us and had a place we could meet at.  We ended up choosing Marne at Love and Light Birthings and I am so happy we did, she is a super sweet, gorgeous 38 year old with a not so great birth experience under her belt and then a successful hypnobirthing one.  We are the only people in the class and it is kind of strange because we were hoping to meet other couples and feel a bit uncomfortable talking about sexy stuff with just one other person (whom we don't know very well yet), but it is alright because she is very open and genuine.

The first class was all about the history of hypnobirthing and we watched some videos about it, she showed us some actual births using the techniques, and we got a book and two CDs with relaxation techniques and affirmations.  We also learned about the muscles in the uterus and how they work, what our bodies are capable of (we've been training for birth our whole lives through orgasm), some vocabulary (my favorite part!), how Ian needs to be the go-between for the doctor/nurses and me, and did some actual hypnosis exercises which I totally sucked at (but know I will get better at with practice!).  The reason I wanted to try this approach to birth is that I am totally in the dark about labor and I have no real negative thoughts towards it, and wanted to keep it that way.  The process of hypnobirthing is that you can relax while in labor, it doesn't have to be a big production, you are informed on what your body can do and what you really do or do not need a doctor's help with, and you are empowered knowing this is natural and that you CAN do this yourself, pain free.  They teach you a lot of tools to help you with this and since I had no preconceived notions, I wanted to go at this all in a positive way, only learning positive things about giving birth.  They even give you a button, during your first class, that you can wear:

On a side note - our first hypnosis exercise.  We were told to lay back and get comfortable and she told us to picture a kitchen, some place relaxing and a certain food cooking on the stove.  After I learned that neither Ian or I picked our kitchen (because we remodeled it ourselves and the thought isn't that relaxing!) and we both picked different foods - me, good old fashioned Kraft mac and cheese (not gluten free like I have to eat now) and him hamburger for some reason.  She told us to imagine a big, ripe, juicy fruit next to a cutting board and then she started describing the fruit and right away I knew she was going to describe a lemon.  It was so strange because of all the fruits in the world, she picked a lemon, and after that I was lost in thought, thinking of how we MUST be at the right place for us right now, this MUST be where and what we are supposed to be doing - it was just so weird.  We had to smell the lemon and bite into it and I have to admit I smelled it and tasted it, it was really cool.  But you aren't under hypnosis or anything, you are totally aware of what is going on, but you just learn to relax and listen to her voice.  It was really neat and we did a few more exercises (that Ian was WAY better at than me) but that proved what our minds can really do.

Now don't get me wrong, I know labor is tough and I am not surrounding it with roses and butterflies.  But I DO think that the mind holds a lot of power and that if you start thinking positively about something, from the beginning, and go into it like that, you will have a more positive experience.  It is proven that your endorphins kick in during birth and that if you tense up, are scared or nervous, you will block the euphoric endorphins and only send the pain receptors out into your body (there are technical words for all of this but I've forgotten them).  The woman who started this technique had a horrific birth experience (twilight sleep) with 3 of her children and after reading an article about a doctor in the 1890's that saw 3 natural births for the first time and was impressed, knew she could do it a different way for her 4th child - and she did.  The doctor, whom she read an article about, was called out to assist with 3 different deliveries that ended up not needing his assistance at all, because the women didn't know any better and therefore did it all themselves and were perfectly capable of doing so.  

The history is there, the facts are there and the mind is a powerful thing - so I'm going to do my best to stay positive, not get nervous and know that I AM ready for this experience (and am kind of excited about it!).  Marne ended the class by teaching us about perineal massage and showed us how to do it, and gave us that to do as homework (this was the sexy part I was talking about!).  I also have to listen to my CDs (and we did this yesterday with the affirmation one) and read my book, although I am a bit caught up in another book at the moment - Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.  If you haven't read this and are pregnant, or plan on getting pregnant sometime in the future - read it.  Talk about empowering!  So positive and lovely, and it just goes along with all that I've been focusing on regarding labor.  We have 4 hypnobirthing classes left and I am so excited to hear even more about the birth process, since I know hardly anything yet and to learn what my body is really capable of doing.  So awesome!

Speaking of birthing, we had our first twice monthly OB appointment on Monday.  As I told you before, our doctor isn't really that supportive of hypnobirthing, because she's never seen anyone succeed at it past 7cm, and I am not really that fond of her lately making jokes and not really listening.  But, I do like her straight-forward attitude and matter-of-factness and have been told by Christine, who also did hypnobirthing, that the nurses at the hospital we are delivering at are very supportive of the technique, so I am not really worried about our doctor.  If I choose to go natural, so be it, and if I don't, that's fine too.  But, I'd like to use the things I have learned in my classes along the way, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  I would love to have a midwife and do this at home or at a birthing center, but for my first I'd like to be in a hospital with an OB just because I'm not sure what to expect.  

Our doctor also said to me, "Are you ready for this, this is really real now."  And I laughed and said, "Yes, it was really real this whole time."  And she said, "No, this is really real now."  It just solidified all that I've been learning and reading about - they try to scare you and make you nervous about birth, when I don't think it needs to be this way.  I know this is real, I knew the moment I found out I was pregnant a year ago and then again the moment I delivered our first baby, at home through a natural miscarriage.  I knew the moment I got pregnant again, learned that this baby was healthy, felt her move and heard her heartbeat on Christmas morning.  I don't need to hear about how this is "real," I am fully aware of the reality of all of this.  I know that babies grow and eventually have to come out and am beyond excited about meeting Lemon for the first time, holding her in my arms and participating in the birth experience.  My question back to her should have been - do YOU know how real this is?  Maybe years of delivering babies has numbed you to this, maybe seeing so many moms and dads in the hospital and treating them like dollar signs makes you feel like this is less real, but to us - it couldn't be more real.  I think she wanted a stronger reaction from me; but too bad, she didn't get one.

Sunday (I know I'm going back a day but wanted to save this for last) was a scary day for us because my bestie, Christine, ended up in the hospital around 12 with a grapefruit sized cyst.  (And yes, she gave me permission to post about this.)  She wrote me around 1pm and then I didn't really hear from her after that so I texted her boyfriend, Jeremy, and asked him if he wanted us to pick up her son, Espen, from the hospital so he could come swim with us (and get out of there).  I thought that it was probably sad for Espen to be there, to see his mom in pain and all hooked up to machines, and so maybe he needed to get out and do something fun.  Plus, Jeremy is in law school and if Christine ended up having surgery, he could use the time to study for his finals.  I ended up meeting Jeremy at their house, so he could pick up some things for her, and got Espen and we headed to Dairy Queen for ice cream and then the pool.  Jeremy texted and said that Christine's parents had arrived from Yarnell but that they all wanted to stay while she was in surgery so we kept Espen for most of the day.  We swam, watched a movie, cooked some spaghetti and then Christine's parents came to get him.  We learned from Jeremy that the cyst was so big they had to remove her right ovary too, because it had twisted about three times and was black, it had no blood supply going to it.  He said Christine didn't know yet, and probably would be upset, but I knew that for the rest of the night she would be pretty out of it and couldn't wait to talk to her the next day.

 (Shortly after this we found out why you don't give a 5 year old ice cream at 3pm, he was nuts but fun the rest of the night!)

(A picture Christine posted on Instagram of her bandages, her gorgeous face in the hospital and her HUGE cyst!)

When she first when in the hospital, she didn't know what was wrong and was just in horrific pain.  She told me they were going to do an ultrasound and this got me thinking the worst - what if it's cancer?  I started to think about losing my best friend of 18 years and what I would do, and I was so scared all day thinking about her, not knowing what was going on.  She is truly my twin, my other half, my person and I don't know what I would do without her.  When I picked up Espen and had him at our house, it made me think of my Aunt Kathy and her best friend (of over 40 years), Debbie, who passed away a year ago, leaving her 15 year old daughter, Stormy, in my Aunt's care.  I would do the same for Jeremy and Christine, we would take Espen in a heartbeat, but how sad would that be?!  You grieving your friend and having their child right there with you, all the time, and having to put on a happy face for them?  Seeing your friend's face, in their face, every day, and having to stand by your now child while they are hurting just like you?  I can only imagine what this would be like and feel so much for my Aunt Kathy and Stormy, thinking of them (and the anniversary of Debbie's death) this week.  

The loss of Christine's ovary was sad for her and sad for me when Jeremy told me about it after the surgery.  I understand they had to take it, she understands this, but in her mind she felt like she was missing something.  I wondered this, before I talked to her, would she feel like less of something because she is now missing a piece of her?  I remember my step-mom, Leslee, telling me after her double mastectomy that she felt like less of a woman, when she was still totally a woman but just had no breasts.  It's like you lose a part of what makes you something, but not really, it just makes you feel that way.  Would I feel that way too?  I bet I would and I bet everyone does in situations like this.  So, here it was, Mother's Day and Christine lost a piece of what made her a mother there at the very beginning, a piece of the puzzle that made Espen a fetus at first (her egg could have come from that ovary!).  But, this doesn't make her any less of a mother at all or less of a woman.  

Some of my students at school wished me a "Happy Mother's Day" on Friday before we left and it made me feel so good, even though I celebrated Mother's Day a bit last year too.  One student said to me, "Next year, you will really be able to celebrate because you aren't really a mother yet," and this got me thinking . . .  Just because I haven't actually delivered my baby and held it in my arms - does this make me less of a mother?  Nope.  I told my student that I am still a mother, and was a mother last year also and that there are many mothers who are mothers without having birthed their own babies.  My Aunt Kathy is a mother and celebrated Mother's Day last year and this year with Stormy, anyone that has adopted a baby or cared for a child when someone else couldn't or didn't, is definitely a mother.  Someone who has been pregnant and carried a baby for any amount of time, or even cared for a child in their life, even if the baby/child/person did not survive, is still a mother.  A step-mother or father is still a mother or father, whether they were there in your life the whole time or not.  It doesn't make you any less of something just because life didn't go as planned or because a piece of your womanhood is missing - and this is something all of us should remember.

So, I've been down lately and Christine has been feeling down too.  We talked last night and both shared the same complaints - our bodies don't feel like our bodies, she looks down and sees her bandages and feels like she's done this before (she HAS had two cysts in the past), and I am feeling guilty because lately I miss wearing my normal clothes, having options, laying on my stomach, cracking my back and just feeling "normal" again.  But I gave her the same advice I need to remember myself - it is all temporary.  This too shall pass and we will be back to ourselves sooner than we think.  Maybe a wiser version of ourselves, but ourselves none-the-less.  

I love you, Christine, and am so happy you're ok!  We have so many years full of fun ahead of us!  :)

 (Right around the time Christine went to the hospital, these were delivered to my house, from her, for Mother's Day!)

(From my mom, representing a contribution to Maggie's Place.)

(My Mother's Day pic that my Instagram friend, Amber, told me I should take so that next year I could take one with Lemon instead of a belly.  Ian took it and makes me smile with bottom teeth, I hate it.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

31 Weeks: Revealing a Name, 3D Ultrasound, a Baby Shower & Babes of Summer!

(Too lazy to put the captions.  This blog was a long one and I've had to restart my computer twice trying to finish it tonight!)

Talk about feeling melancholy the 3rd trimester - that word describes exactly how I felt yesterday as I started this post.  I'm tired and just feeling blue for some reason.  School is out in 9 days and I think that's most of it - it's hard to find things to wear, hard to feel comfy and cool all day and I am just overall annoyed at my students, and we've been together way too long.  Not to mention that all of their late work is due on Friday so I have a TON of grading to do before then so I am really not motivated to write this post.  I just feel busy, busy, busy - we have so much planned, I just can't wait until school is done so I can have a moment to breathe.  But, enough with the negativity for now, it was an exciting week last week!

My best friend, Matt, came in from Oregon on Thursday to spend the weekend with us.  My step-dad dropped him off at school, we went out to lunch and then we all headed home and took Friday off to hang with him.  We spent Thursday night baking the cakes for our three level baby shower cake and then had to bake another on Friday morning (all three cakes took 7 boxes, total, of Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Cake Mix).  It was a HUGE task and took up almost our whole evening on Thursday.  After baking, we went out by the pool Friday and then I met my mom and Matt's mom, Sandy, for nails (she's like my second mom, I've known her my whole life).  I chose a yellow color nail polish, you'll see why below, for my toes and fingers so that they could look pretty for my shower on Sunday.  We all went out to eat and then went home to relax on the couch.

 (Gluten free batter doesn't really rise so you have to fill the pan enough when you are pouring it in.  Then, we had to cook them forever, because the middle just wouldn't cook!)
Saturday we frosted the cakes and then took Matt, Sandy, my mom and Ian's mom to our 3D ultrasound so we could all see our baby girl.  It was a really neat place, the tech had me lay on a super comfy bed while everyone got to watch from benches all around the room, and Ian got to sit right next to me.  The place told me to bring something that gets our baby moving, so I brought a Hansen's soda and hot tamales, and drank/ate some before I went it.  At first she was pretty cooperative, but just had her hands in front of her face a bit and the right side of her face smooshed into the placenta.  Then, as the tech wiggled and wiggled her (she seriously did and made me change positions like crazy), she got more and more uncooperative and ended up covering most of her face the rest of the time.  The tech even said that her head was so far down it was hard to get a good shot of her face, and predicted that she would come early (not what I wanted to hear!).  But, my regular OB said nothing about this last week so I had to tell myself not to worry too much.  The place was so nice they are letting Ian and I come back tomorrow for another shot at the ultrasound to see if we can get better pics and video.  I was happy with what we got, we saw her face, her nose, her lips - but they didn't think we got enough so we are going back.  I'm going to try to eat something big before I go this time, to really make her move!  It was so neat seeing her in there, it made me feel more connected to her, because it has definitely felt hard to connect, to realize she's really there and coming in July.  I mentioned to Ian that after you lose a baby, you don't want to connect for fear that something might happen, so getting that feeling back is difficult, even though this baby is a-ok.  It's just so hard to imagine a tiny human in there, even though I SAW her and know what she looks like, it's still weird and foreign to me.  I thought she looked just like my Nani when she was little (my grandma) with big lips and a cute nose - but we shall see when she comes out!

(It was a lemony cake, I think it took 8 lemons by the time we were done and some lemonade in all of the cake mixes!)

(Aw, look at those lips and that nose!  Such a cutie!)

The rest of Saturday was spent covering and decorating the cakes.  We covered them in fondant and then had to hand cut all of the letters of the baby's name, to put on the outside of the cake.  After covering the middle layer there was a hole, and Ian had to work for about 4 hours to patch it, it was a mess.  We ended up buying more fondant and just re-covering it, and then it turned out fine.  We stuck the letters on and I made the pieces for a bow, hoping to put them together in the morning before we brought it to the shower.  We also played a fun game with everyone on Instagram and Facebook - taking a picture of some of the letters and having people guess her name.  No one got it but a few people were pretty close!

(Matt's job while we were decorating.)

And, without making you wait any longer, here is our baby girl's name!

We decided to call her Lemon, just like we've been calling her up until now, except it is tough getting used to just Lemon instead of "the lemon."  We thought that life handed us lemons over the past year and for us, the possibilities were endless, so we thought Lemon just fit.  Ray is after Ian's sister, Kelly's, middle name and we spelled it differently to also represent a "ray of sunshine."  Angeline was my Nani's name and this is my Nani's baby, one that she has protected all this time and kept safe and healthy so we had to name Lemon after her.  We love this name and know it will fit our little happy ray of sunshine that was sent to us!

On Sunday the boys went hiking and so I woke up alone.  It was nice having the morning to just relax a bit and get ready for the big day.  My bow for the cake, however, failed me and so I spent most of the morning trying to make another one before getting ready so it wasn't as relaxing as I'd hoped.  My friend Andrea came over around 12 to go with me to the shower (she came all the way from Indiana!) and the boys came back to take the cake over (it weighed about 40 pounds at this point).  Both bows were a mess so I scrapped them and was thankful I bought some flowers the night before to stick on the cake.  It turned out looking beautiful and the boys hauled it over to Jenny's for the shower, and we were right behind them.

I need to just start by saying how amazing my friends are.  Jenny worked so hard decorating her house and buying things for the shower, it was unbelievable.  And, Christie and Christine helped along with my mom and Ian's mom, Patty.  Jenny never throws a bad party, I don't think she ever could, and she did not disappoint with this one.  We got to her house at 12:45 and already so many people were there, waiting to celebrate with me, and her house looked gorgeous!  All of the food was gluten free, at my request, and the games were super fun (and different which I LOVED) and my friends looked beautiful.  My Aunt Donna and Sonja helped set up and clean up and are always there to lend a hand, and Aunt Donna was, of course, the master of ceremonies.  I had such an awesome time, surrounded by all of the ladies I love and adore, and couldn't have asked for a better day.  Instead of writing more, here are the pictures to prove it (get ready, there are lots!).  (The shower was held at Jenny's house, the blonde bombshell in the photos, and she took all of these pics - so happy she did, they turned out so cute!)

For more shower pics, click here.

(My long time friend June who is taking maternity photos of me in a week!)

(We HAD to play the "don't say baby game!")


(Me with a moostache!)


(Ian and Matt, the cake was heavy and they were tired after hiking!)

(My mom, Aunt Donna and Aunt Virgie were in tears after seeing the baby's name!)

(Coming in - these are out of order but I'm too lazy to organize them!)

(Baby necklaces)

 (The food was from Picazzo's, a gluten free pizza place here in AZ.  So good!)

 (Lemon candies with cute little sayings beneath each jar!)

("Ready to Pop" popcorn boxes I got on Etsy!)

(Mustache straws handmade by Jenny, the straws are also from Etsy.)

(Are you kidding?  How cute is this?  That's really me!)

(My friend Elise typing "wishes for baby.")

(Seriously, some of my favorite people.)

(There was a game where you had to make what our baby was going to look like, out of clay, and then I picked the best one.  My cousin Marilyn won!)

(I have lots of necklaces on!)

(My best friend, my mom.  She has done SO MUCH for us this past year, I owe her everything.)

(Christine and her mom making their clay babies!)

(Aunt Virgie who flew in from Nashville to be there.) 

(Aunt Donna is going to make a quilt from everyone's "baby wishes" for me to hang in the nursery!)

(Ian's mom and my mom!)

 (Another crying picture after they saw the cake!)

 (While opening presents, I tried to get Aunt Donna to say "baby" by asking her something about a gift and she didn't, but right after she passed that test she said, "Yeah baby!" like "in your face you can't have my necklaces" and so I got them anyway!  It was SO FUNNY!!!)

(And then my sister-in-law Kelly took all of the necklaces away from me!)

(The love of my life.)

(My cousin Krystal, I don't see her enough!)

(One of my first yoga students at school, Drew.  She just finished her own yoga teacher certification and can now teach yoga anywhere she wants - so proud of her!) 

(After I totally fell out of the bubble chair, the cushion slipped!  Christine got a great pic of me blaming her because I was trying to look at a funny pic on her phone!)

 (So much yellow!)

(Side pic!) 

Aunt Sonja took some pictures too and these were just too cute not to share!

 (My two moms!)

(Matt's mom, another one of my moms!)

(Jody and Elise, my work buddies!)

(Ian's fam)

(Matt's mom, Sandy, made these!)

(At the end of the shower, I gave my besties and my mom frames to say "thank you" for putting on the shower.  They cried!  The frames were handmade by Angie Austin on Etsy, an incredible artist.  Order some, you won't be disappointed and she custom made these for me and shipped them out super fast, see below!)

We drove Matt to the airport Sunday night and I was sad to say goodbye.  It was a such a busy weekend, filled with cake baking and shower stuff that I felt bad I didn't have more time to hang with him.  Ian did such a good job entertaining though, when I couldn't, and I hope Matt had fun.  I am so thankful whenever he comes to visit and it is so crazy that the next time we see him we will have a baby - so crazy!  Ian and I spent the rest of the evening opening and putting away baby shower gifts and it was lovely going through them with him and seeing everything we got for our baby girl.

Back to school on Monday was the same old thing, getting my kids organized after being gone on Friday.  We were in the computer lab and the kids were busy so I took the opportunity to do some shopping with our gift cards we got at the shower (shhh don't tell!).  We got most everything we needed, except for little things and a few big ones, and it was awesome to have a bit of help!  Everyone brought us the cutest stuff!  Then, I was off again on Tuesday for our annual Babes of Summer boat trip on Bartlett Lake (we had to do it before I got too big!).  It was a gorgeous day (cloudy at times, calm and a cool 90 degrees) spent with my three best friends on a pontoon boat, just soaking in the sun and relaxing.  I think we all needed it and I always enjoy our time together, no matter how it happens.  This one, too, is better in pictures than in words.

(You park high up and have to lug all of your stuff down a big hill to the marina.  The girls were so sweet and I didn't have to carry a thing!)

(Jenny and I stayed on the boat while Christine and Christie got in the water.  I don't know what's in that lake and was nervous about getting up and down on the ladder so it was better I didn't go in.  But, Ian made me bring a squirt bottle so I could keep cool, and it worked!)

(Apparently the water was cold!)

(I'm sure there's a better captain picture of Christine but this was the only one I had on my phone - someone send me a better one!)

(Yellow toes!)

(And just like my bikini pic at 6 months, I had to post this one for posterity!  I am not going to buy a new bathing suit just for pregnancy and Christie gave me a bunch that fit my big boobs and booty, so here I am in this little leopard number.  It may not be pretty but will be fun to look back on later!)

(Too tired to crop this, you will just have to deal with the Instagram icons!)

(2011 vs. 2012 - See my thoughts below!)

I had some major issues after seeing some of the boating pictures that we all took on Tuesday.  I have never been one to be self-conscious, in fact I don't think I have ever been my whole life, but after looking at some of the pics, I definitely was.  I felt big, really big and unlike myself in the photos, for the first time ever.  I realize that I am lucky, I know that I am blessed and I never forget that, every single day, but for some reason, on Tuesday night I freaked and hated every single one of the pictures that were taken of me (I even asked Christine to take some down from her Instagram!).  I guess there was such a disconnect between how I feel I look and how I actually look (and yes these were all bikini pictures I was freaking about so that may have been it) and it threw me off.  I am feeling so great, so happy and lucky to be on this adventure; but then when I see myself - ugh!  The lucky and blessed part doesn't help when you step on the scale and see an extra 30 pounds, when your pants stopped fitting not only your belly but your butt months ago and when you feel really clumsy like you could tip over at any moment.  Your body goes through some crazy changes, in such a short period of time, and I've never experienced anything like this before, I've always been pretty fit my whole life.  It was probably just the rocking feeling, being super tired and just worn out after boating all day that did it, but I went to bed in tears and felt horrible.  It was a strange feeling for me and threw me into a kind of funk on Wednesday, when I started writing this blog.  However, after yoga last night and a walk with the dogs and hubby this morning, I'm feeling much better today and more like my mood matches my look.  I am staying positive and happy, know that this is all temporary and that our little muffin will come out of all this.  I never lost sight of that, just needed to remind myself.  (It's funny because I JUST told my Instagram friend, Katie, this same thing when she was feeling down, and then I started feeling down myself!  I should have taken my own advice!)

This weekend we are off to our first hypnobirthing class (which have been a total PAIN to schedule with instructors in our state for some reason!) and have our second attempt at a 3D ultrasound on tomorrow.  I also am going to go to yoga on Saturday too, after going last night, because I am running out of time for prenatal yoga classes, and I love them!  I won a free half hour massage at my yoga studio too, so I paid for another half hour and have that after yoga before hypnobirthing, so much fun and perfect for my first Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of my family and mommy friends out there, new and old, enjoy your weekend and RELAX like me!!!  :)