Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gotta be Moving Along

It's been quite a couple of weeks over here at the Frank and Hope household. The biggest development of all is of course the new knowledge that we will be parents of a baby boy in about 4 months. Perhaps even dwarfing that fact though, is construction work has been completed on our house and we are moving in! Tomorrow! The freaking out, oh yes, it has begun.

We hired movers for the big day. This not being our first move, and having tried both moving ourselves (and by ourselves I mean pressing friends into service) and hiring movers, it is really a sanity saver to just pay someone to move your crap. This time we decided - ok Frank decided - to hire the moving company to also pack for us. It made a lot of sense. We've lived here for almost 4 years. We have a ton of crap that would have taken me months of flipping through old magazines and trying on old clothes to get packed. These guys were done in 3 and a half hours. It was incredibly expensive and really, am I so lazy that I can't pack myself? Quite simply, yes.

Allow me to justify. This is the absolute busiest time of year for me at work. I'm up to my eyeballs in someone else's Christmas, from the tree to the gifts (buying and wrapping them) to the holiday festivities and traditions , to the damned Christmas Eve dinner, all of it is my job. I work just about 7 days a week during the month of December. I mean it quite literally when I say I don't have time to pack. Add fat pregnancy, which is an excuse for lots of things, and a general overwhelming sense of panic, and professional packers are a fabulous solution and totally worth the cost.

Why are we moving the week before Christmas? Fair question. The house is done. We've already made one mortgage payment without living there. We want to wake up in our new house on Christmas morning. At least Frank will. There's a good chance I'm going to wake up at work on Christmas morning. We have four months before the chicken gets here and that's if everything continues to sail along smoothly. We have to get unpacked, settled in, and start getting ready for his arrival. I'm not going crazy over setting up the perfect nursery - I am resisting the baby gear marketing machine with all my might - but the boy can't sleep in a drawer. It's just time.

So we're all packed and the movers are coming tomorrow morning to do their thing. Frank will be here for the moving out but he has to work tomorrow and probably won't be around for all of the moving in. My mother in law has taken the day off from work to come help me out with the movers - you know, directing them and stuff. I'm extremely grateful for this help. Decision making is not my forte. I tend to stare and get glassy eyed and confused. Alberta (the MIL) on the other hand, is a decision making machine. She's also very practical. My own mother is jetting off to Spain tonight to visit her family and my sister. It's her first time home for Christmas in 29 years, her only grandson lives there, and my sister is prego and needs some love from her mommy too so I don't begrudge Mom going one bit. I'm awful glad though, that I have my other mom here with me to keep the panic to a minimum.

My plan for tomorrow is to dive in and start unpacking right away. With Alberta there I should be able to stay on task, although I have lots of old clothes to try on.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Drum Roll Please

So obviously when I said I would let you know in a few hours, I meant a few days. Not so swift with the updating over here.

Our appointment was at 2 o'clock on Wednesday. By 3 o'clock we were still in the waiting room and I was about to kill someone. Frank was patiently playing games on his IPhone while I eyed everyone else in the room, trying to figure out how many of them were still in front of me. Just before I lost it completely, they called my name and finally, we were in.

Everything was indeed fine with the Chicken. All arms and legs and fingers and toes were in place. The heartbeat was strong and the chambers of the heart were separated correctly. The brain was brainy and the spine was spiney. The Chicken was extremely squirmy, so much so that the technician even remarked that it was a very active baby. Some of the pictures are a little blurry because the child would just not hold still. I was being karate chopped and elbowed the whole time. One shot has the arm up near the face in full on karate chop mode.

After all the measurements and checks, the technician finally got to the good part and looked for the goods. We are expecting a boy! There was no mistaking it, all his boyness was on full display for us. Frank was so excited, he couldn't wait for the tech to leave the room so that he could start texting people. He did the happy dance a couple times and was just beaming. He's also taken to saying "Frank Jr Jr" every chance he gets.

It's pretty funny that in my family, there are 5 girls and two boys. My parents' first 3 children were girls, quite close together. My parent's first 3 grandchildren are all boys, not quite stairsteps like my sisters and me, but pretty close together. My nephew just turned 2 and my sister-in-law and I are due on the same day in April. My older sister (the mother of the 2 year old) is due again in May, but we don't know what she's having yet. It's a mini baby boom.

I've been worried because there hasn't been a lot of bonding with the baby on my part so far. I don't really know why. Being totally surprised by the pregnancy and then not having any real symptoms (not that I'm complaining!) has made it seem surreal and hard to grasp. Feeling him move so much, knowing when he's awake or not, finally having an actual pregnant belly, and finding out it's a boy has really helped bring it all home to me. It has also awakened me to the reality of holy hell, there's going to be a baby at the end of this! I'm going to be some body's mother.

The mother of a boy, no less. We're gearing up for a life of trucks and trains, matchbox cars and sports. This kid has an excellent chance of being musically talented too, given his genes, so perhaps there will be music lessons and recitals in the midst of all that rough and tumble boy stuff.

We're pretty excited.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Big Day

We're heading out in 2 minutes for the big ultrasound. I'm worried that the chicken is still face down, butt up and we're not going to see a damn thing. As much as this kid moves around, who knows which way it's facing? I swear I felt a foot today on the right side of my belly.

I'll let you know in a couple hours.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dream Weaver

My brain has officially gone on strike, I think. It's demanding a decrease in the levels of estrogen in its work environment before even coming to the negotiating table. I put the tea kettle on and wonder what the hell that noise is 5 minutes later, I forget what I'm talking about mid-conversation, and yesterday, I swear I lost the ability to speak clearly for a few hours. I feel like I may need to start wearing a helmet soon, for my own protection.

As part of its labor action, my brain is creating the weirdest dreams ever. Last night I dreamed (dreamt? I never really know) that the baby had come early - no labor or anything, she was just home with us already - so the doctor wasn't going to see anything on the ultrasound on Wednesday but maybe we should go anyway just to find out why my belly keeps getting bigger and why I still feel movement if the baby is already here. My subconscious suggested that maybe there was another baby in there still.

While trying to solve this dilemma, I also kept oversleeping and forgetting to feed the baby every three hours and Frank had to keep asking me if I fed the baby. (Why every 3 hours? You'll have to ask the United Normal Brain Functions Union Local 31. This is their job action.) I also couldn't remember where I had put the baby down to sleep and was relieved to find her in a pack and play in the living room. The living room, by the way, of our current apartment, where this baby will never live.

Then I realized that I was feeding this baby formula and had never even tried nursing. (I should add that this dream baby appeared to be about 6 months old and was talking to me.) I was horrified by this and immediately began to try to nurse. It seemed to be going fine until the baby turned into my cat and started biting me really hard while I stubbornly tried to keep nursing.

That's all I remember. It was disturbingly real and freaky. I was really happy to wake and find myself still pregnant without a mystery baby in a pack and play in the living room.

It was definitely a girl in the dream though. As if that means anything. The BIG ultrasound on Wednesday will finally solve that mystery for us. I hope.

Meanwhile, I hope the brain strike ends soon. A girl can't function like this.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Want a Hippopatomus for Christmas...

I have a whole Thanksgiving/Chicken update in the works, but first a little anecdote about my awesome job.

I picked the kids up from school today, having not seen them in a week. When we got home, they were hanging up coats and chattering on and on. When I walked away from the closet the ten year old looked at me and said "you got fatter". Then she told me she brought me something home from school because it looks like me.

She brought me home a little action figure Gloria doll from Madagascar 2. Because that's what I look like right now. She thought it was a hilariously good joke. Ha ha ha. Jerk.

For the record, which I will soon back up with photos, I do not look like a damn hippo. I barely look pregnant. And if I had half of Gloria's ass, that would be remarkable.

Kids are awesome.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving Meltdown

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of mine. It comes in a close third behind Halloween and Christmas. As a kid there was nothing better than waking up off from school on - let's face it - a random Thursday with the whole house smelling like turkey and stuffing. My sisters and I would stay up the night before with my mom breaking apart bread for the stuffing. It was more about chatting and goofing around than really helping. All Thanksgiving day we would kind of just hang around the house and eat snacks or go outside and play with friends. In the afternoon my grandparents and aunts and uncles would cram into our tiny Southwest Philly rowhouse and get down on my mom's awesome turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and other goodness. Mom always made creamed onions for my grandmom and lima beans for my granddad and I would share with them because I loved that stuff too. Then we'd sit around and watch football and eat pie with whipped cream. I'd doze off listening to my granddad remembering Thanksgiving football games from a hundred years ago and my Uncle Tim and my dad good naturedly driving each other crazy.

This is still Thanksgiving at my mom's. They moved out of the old neighborhood and I've never lived in the house they have now. There are different faces at the table as we kids now all have spouses or significant others. There are always a few college students who couldn't make it home and my mom makes sure her house is home to anyone who needs it. There are faces missing from the table. My brothers and baby sister are in California and my big sister is in Spain - and none of them will make it home. Both of my grandparents are gone but we still have lima beans and creamed onions on the table (mostly because I ask for them). Uncle Tim still takes pictures of food and has too much fun annoying my dad.

I love Thanksgiving for these reasons. I love to be in the kitchen talking about nothing and everything with my sisters and aunts, pretending to help my mom but really just eating cheese and crackers and drinking wine. I love to sit next to my dad and listen to him yell at the TV over a football game he doesn't really care about but still, "that's not the play you wanted!". The madness and the noise and the smells and dear Lord the STUFFING. Even though I've never lived in that house, all of that is home to me. I haven't lived at home for almost 10 years. I have my own home, a husband, and a baby on the way and still, being at my mom's on Thanksgiving is just being home. It's HOME in a larger sense than being in the house where I grew up. It's everything warm and familiar.

Thanksgiving this year is making my head explode, probably in much the same way as it does for most married people. It has never been an issue for us before because Frank was working or I was working or my parents were off visiting my far flung siblings or my mother in law had other plans. It has always worked out so that there has never had to be an actual decision about where to spend Thanksgiving. This year, not so much. I'm off for Thanksgiving and so is Frank. My parents are staying in town and doing it up, Frank's mom has no other plans and would like us to come to her house. There is also the matter that my parents will be out of town on Christmas so this is really the only holiday I get with them this year.

Obviously, I want to go to my parents'. What else would be the point of the Norman Rockwell picture I painted for you a few paragraphs ago? On the other hand, I haven't seen Frank's mom since the summer and he's her only child and dear God the guilt of not going to her house on Thanksgiving. (Not that she guilts me, because she doesn't. Ever.) I tried getting her to come to my parents' house - we're all family after all - but she didn't love that idea. I've been trying to work out some kind of dinner here, dessert there scenario but I can't get it to make sense because either I'm leaving my mother in law alone on Thanksgiving until dessert, or I'm going to my mom's already having eaten and therefore unable to eat all her delicious holiday goodness - because I certainly can't get away with not eating at my mother in law's Thanksgiving dinner. I really could do the second scenario because my mother in law likes to have her holiday dinners at like 3 in the afternoon so there would be plenty of time to get to my folks' 6pm dinner. But then we're just abandoning her after dinner.

We're all going to ignore the brattiness of my not taking into account where home might be for Frank and that maybe he wants to see his mother on Thanksgiving.

I don't know what to do. I don't want to hurt any body's feelings and I don't want to leave anyone out. I'm resisting the urge to just throw a tantrum and demand my way. Lora is having super-duper-boycott-Thanksgiving-family-stress-day at her house and that's looking like a pretty attractive option right now.

I just want stuffing and biscuits and my mom's couch.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fine then

So the ultrasound was Wednesday and clearly, we didn't get what we wanted because it's now Friday and I'm just getting around to updating.

The hospital where we go for the ultrasounds is lovely. The rooms are newer and well kept, the equipment seems to be very good, and everyone who works there is extremely pleasant and helpful. I'm encouraged by this because it's where the Chicken is going to be born. Even the doctor who comes in to review the ultrasound is super nice. It's been the same guy both times and he's funny and casual. He takes the time to talk to us and explain things. He chatted about what names we might have in mind and talked about his son's name. It's all quite nice and comfortable.

So forgive me, but I was totally annoyed by my experience with the technician. There were two technicians in the room because apparently the one doing the scan was new and in training. I would have really appreciated someone explaining that, even though I could figure it out by myself. The woman was very new to the system the hospital uses I guess so she was fumbling around a lot and the other woman was giving her direction. In the meantime, I'm laying there,all gooped up, having my belly jammed into by not the gentlest touch with the ultrasound wand. I can barely see the screen because she has it turned mostly towards her face, and neither of them are really explaining what I'm seeing. They didn't even get a picture of the whole baby for my sake. I could have been a training dummy for all the notice they took of me.

The good news is the cyst is completely gone. There is no sign of it anywhere. My question for the doctor is going to be; why then, does it still hurt? Seriously, even as i sit here now typing this, it hurts in that exact spot. My mom and sister both say that it's probably just a little tender still as the tendons stretch and take over that spot. Who knows? At least it's gone.

The frustrating news is the Chicken was face down, butt up, and vertical so we didn't get a look at anything. We did see the spine which looked...spiney enough I guess. The night before I was doing some dishes and I felt the funniest feeling in my belly, like a fist turning over. When the techs said the baby was essentially upside down, I realized that the funny feeling was the baby rolling over. On the night before its big show. I can't believe a child of mine would have stage fright but there it is.

After the techs left and we were waiting for the doctor to come in, we tried the flashlight trick to see if we could get the Chicken to roll back over. Frank has some crazy flashlight application on his iPhone but he was putting it on flash and police car and other blinky madness. I told him to stop giving the baby seizures. It didn't work anyway. The Chicken was still stubborn and upside down for the doctor too.

We go back in 4 weeks for the big anatomy scan. I hope Frank can make it. He's going a little nutty waiting to find out. Truth be told, I am too.

Wednesday was also the 16 week mark which I think means 4 months. I have to say though, that whole month thing is a little wacky. Does this mean I'm starting my 5 month? Am I 4 months pregnant? I'm sure if I stopped and thought about it for a moment I could figure it out, but I much prefer the weekly counting approach anyway.

The baby is about 4 inches long and weighs about 3.5 ounces. Fingernails and toenails are fully formed. The Chicken is now covered with down-like hair called lanugo, which should fall out before birth. Between Frank and me though, there's a good chance this kid is coming out pretty hairy whether the lanugo falls out or not.

At this point, it may become possible to feel the baby move - or turn completely around just in time to break Mom's heart a little. I've been feeling what I think are quickening movements for about a week now. It's a strange experience because it's so fast and so slight, by the time I realize what it was, it's gone and doesn't happen again. Earlier this week I got a tiny little poke and before that, just a few little bubbles popping on my left side. I try to lay really still and quiet so I can feel it but all I mostly feel is the blood pumping hard and then the rhythm of that puts me to sleep. There is movement in there though.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Small Update

There hasn't been much actual information here. Sorry about that. I know you want to read all about what kind of produce the Chicken resembles this week. Here's a little update.

I'm halfway through week 15 and not much is happening. Well, happening to me. All kinds of stuff is happening with the Chicken, such as:

Baby D now measures about 4 inches long, crown to rump, and weighs in at about 2 1/2 ounces (about the size of an apple). She's busy moving amniotic fluid through her nose and upper respiratory tract, which helps the primitive air sacs in her lungs begin to develop. Her legs are growing longer than her arms now, and she can move all of her joints and limbs. Although her eyelids are still fused shut, she can sense light. If you shine a flashlight at your tummy, for instance, she's likely to move away from the beam. There's not much for your baby to taste at this point, but she is forming taste buds. Finally, if you have an ultrasound this week, you may be able to find out whether your baby's a boy or a girl! (Don't be too disappointed if it remains a mystery, though. Nailing down your baby's sex depends on the clarity of the picture and on your baby's position.

We have an ultrasound on Wednesday (at exactly 16 weeks) and I will be disappointed if we're not able to find out the sex. The suspense is killing me! The point of the ultrasound is not to determine gender or anything. There's a big ol' cyst on my right ovary and they want to take another look and see if it has changed size at all. I'm hoping for shrinkage but I'm not too concerned. The doctor says it won't affect the Chicken and as long as I can handle the pain (oh yeah, it hurts all the time), they'll leave it alone. I'm hoping for shrinkage just for my own comfort but more than that I'm hoping for the money shot. I'll be giving my belly pep talks that this is no time to be bashful for the next two days. Either show us the goods or you get the flashlight baby!

I had a doctor's appointment umm, almost 2 weeks ago. Anything that wasn't baseball that happened in that two week stretch of the playoffs and World Series is all so very hazy. It's like I was on a baseball bender - which I pretty much was. Anyway, the doctor's visit went well. I only gained 1 more pound in the 4 weeks between appointments, putting me up to 139. Frank finds that hilarious. He listened to the heartbeat again and poked around my belly. He said my uterus was up around 16 - 18 weeks rather than the 14 weeks it was, thanks to the cyst that ate Philadelphia. He said to get a flu shot and don't rent one of those baby dopplers because it will make us crazy. He was supportive of my resistance to the quad screen blood test, ultimately leaving it up to us. It was a short visit.

So we have the ultrasound on Wednesday, then the doctor again the following week, then another ultrasound the week after that for the big anatomy scan.

Speaking of comfort, my love affair with maternity pants is over. I'm still enjoying the forgiving stretchiness of the waistbands, but that's about it. The reality is, they make me feel all fat and schleppy. They're so baggy and saggy - especially in the rear - there's no way to look good in them. I'm always hiking them up to fight the droop. I'm still wearing them every day, but now I hate them every day. There's just no pleasing me, really.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mush and Awe

I'm not much for mushy. Or public declarations of love and fidelity. Sarcastic and withering are much better colors on me. On the inside though, I'm just a big pile of squish that cries at anything.

Frank and I are both this way, although him not so much with the crying. We're not big on being affectionate in public or gushing about each other to people. We don't even hold hands in public that often. A lot of friends and family - and strangers - sometimes don't get our relationship and I think this is at least part of the reason why. When we were engaged I never called him my "fiance" - there is no more annoying word on earth. We were only engaged for a couple of weeks anyway because we are so averse to sharing private stuff with people, we hopped a plane and got married in Vegas, just the two of us.

This is all to say that I'm about to take a moment and expose my squishiness and lay on a big pile of mush, so I'm giving you fair warning to skip this post if you're not in the mood for a gushing love fest.

When I found out I was pregnant, it wasn't like the movies. If I'm being honest, I was very upset and not a little depressed. I cried trying to figure out how to tell Frank, cried when I told him, cried when we came home from the first prenatal visit. I was in a total panic. I felt like a stupid teenager who got herself knocked up and lost her scholarship. There was no consoling me. All of this was not about the baby. Babies don't scare me. Rather, it was that our entire life was about to turn upside down and it was my fault because I ruined everything.

For over 3 years we've been living rent free (and utilities free) in an apartment provided by my boss. It's a one bedroom, 900 square foot deal with a garage right in the middle of the ritziest part of downtown Philadelphia. Needless to say, we've been having a lot of fun these past 3 years without much responsibility. I work long hours and he works crazy hours but still, it's been pretty awesome. We took a lot of vacations at a moment's notice and bought a lot of fun toys (for him) and shoes and handbags (for me) and saved up some money. Like I said though, the apartment is a contract stipulation of my job, which I'm most likely going to lose/quit because I can't/don't want to do this job with a baby at home.

That means I'm going to need a new job and we'll need somewhere to live and it all has to get done before a baby makes his/her grand entrance in about 5 months. I was consumed by terror, guilt for creating this situation, and did I mention sheer terror? I kept crying and apologizing and crying and freaking the eff out.

I fully expected Frank to join me in the freaking out, but he never did. At least, not to me. Instead, he sprang into action. He put up with approximately two days of my freaking out and then told me that he didn't want me to be sad anymore, that everything would be okay and that it was time to be happy about it.

We decided that the best thing to do was buy a house so we went looking. We both fell in love with the first house we saw so we made an offer and they took it. The whole process took a week. Holy everything happening so fast! He didn't want me to stress out about the whole home buying process so aside from giving me some papers to sign, he handled the whole thing by himself. Also, my credit isn't the greatest so it was better to leave me out of it anyway. He even went to settlement the day of the Phillies parade. The house needs some work so he's calling contractors, meeting with landscapers and electricians, even getting the house inspected for termites. All on his own, all on the first weekends he's had off in 3 months. He's getting up in the morning to scrape wallpaper and rip out paneling before going to work the night shift, or he's going to work at 4 in the morning and then going to work on the house.

I'm sure he's worn out from the stress and the worry and the running around on top of his work schedule but he never complains. He tells me not to worry about anything , he's on top of it. He doesn't want me worried about anything but work and being pregnant. If he could find a way to stop me from stressing out at work, I'm sure he would.

In the midst of all of this, Pregzilla hasn't been that much fun to live with recently. While I've escaped most of the nastier symptoms of early pregnancy like nausea and puking, the hormones have knocked me sideways. I'm an emotional disaster area and this too Frank bears without blinking. He lets me complain and be grumpy and snap at him without taking it personally and he does his best to distract me by making me laugh. He comes to every doctor's appointment, reads my pregnancy books and websites, and even rubs my belly when it hurts - all without asking.

I've never been much of a damsel in distress. In fact, I've always been pretty independent and have always insisted to do things myself but I'm blown away by this. Frank has always been the guy who stands up so others don't have to. It's the quality that led him to first join the army and then the police department. I've known him since I was 14 and I've always known this about him, but I'm still amazed by his insistence to be in charge of everything so that I don't have to worry. To me, it speaks to a level of devotion to our relationship and growing family that leaves me in awe.

It's not new behavior for him. This is the guy that gave me the key to his place and made room in his closet after only a few months of dating - at his suggestion, not mine. The guy who brought me to his house and fed me chicken soup when I had strep throat even though he was working the graveyard shift. The guy that I married after dating for 8 months. Even so, I'm falling in love with him in a totally new way as I watch him do all of this for us. I wish there was a better way to tell him how much it's appreciated.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Just Crappy

I have this whole list of things to write about. They're all half written in my head and some are started in my blackberry and some are in drafts right here on Blogger.

I had plans today to write about my World Champion Phillies and my Granddad, who was a true fan and didn't live to see them win last week.

But I'm going to have to get to all of that tomorrow because today I want to complain.

I just feel like hell today and I'm pissed about it. I really need to just lay down but I can't because I'm at work and will be here until 10pm at the earliest (I've been here since 9:30am btw).

I'm experiencing that lovely thing they call round ligament pain and it hurts like hell. Shooting, crampy pain that comes and goes in my belly all day. I know that the muscles in there are stretching out to make room for Chicken Dinner and I'm happy he/she is growing and my belly is getting bigger but damn, does it have to hurt so much? It's worse when I sit hunched over a keyboard, and even worse than that when I'm driving. Those two activities basically make up my job description so it works out well.

I have a lovely headache, right behind my eyes. I took some (doctor sanctioned) Tylenol but I must be immune because it has not helped and even though the doctor said I can take it four times a day, I'm not doing that.

Today is also a day where my body must forget that we are in the second trimester now because every smell is making me want to just retch my guts out and be done with it. Being right in the middle of Center City Philadelphia is giving me plenty of opportunities to puke, too. Maybe it's the Tylenol

Something weird; the joints or whatever they are in my back and shoulders are popping. It starts as soon as I wake up and it's all day long. That, plus the back and hip pain is a fun combination. I'm also perpetually out of breath. Climbing a flight of stairs, walking, any form of physical activity totally takes my breath away. Today I took out some trash and it was as if I just ran a mile. It's like I'm 80 years old over here. How am I going to function when I'm heaving a big belly around?

And can we talk about daylight savings time? Why are we still doing that? Who benefits from sunrise at 5am and darkness by 5:30pm anymore? Are there farmers around without electricity that I don't know about? Does the government know that pregnant women with Seasonal Affective Disorder are not served by stupid daylight savings time? Ok self diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder, but still!

I just want to be home, in pajamas, asleep. I'm feeling pouty because why do I have to go to stupid work when hello? growing a person right now? Can't I just be home? It's not fair.

I know. So bratty. I'm sorry. I'll be better tomorrow. Or at least I'll keep it on the inside. Promise.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Slide Continues

After all my protestations that I would not yet even look at maternity clothes, I broke down on Saturday and went to the Gap. The truth is, a sister just couldn't breathe anymore. The whole rig with the rubber band (and I mean a straight up rubber band whose previous job had been holding my mail together) and belly band was becoming pathetic. I was beginning to resemble a sausage, like one of those college girls newly introduced to a diet of beer and chicken wings. My jeans were even too tight on my chicken legs.

Anyway, I went to the Gap with no expectation that the pants would fit but I picked up a few and headed for the dressing room. I never, ever try clothes on and undoing the aforementioned rig was a pain but I had to do it. Low and behold, the damn things fit. The comfort was fabulous because it's not just the physics of jamming 10 pounds of flour in a 5 pound sack, putting so much pressure on an area that just feels weird all day is not comfortable.

The other surprise is that they look like regular pants. I was expecting giant elastic panels and no pockets but these have very discreet stretchy parts of the waistband that aren't even noticeable; and they have pockets and belt loops and everything.

Of course it was not the most practical purchase of my life, considering I spent $150 on 3 pairs of pants that won't fit me for more than 3 months, but the comfort makes it well worth it. I'm also told they'll be good to wear right after delivery. I'm secretly going to wear them on fat days too I think.

It's another strange moment for the girl who wasn't ready, though. One more indicator that all of this is really happening. Now added to my daily thoughts of "holy crap I'm pregnant" is "holy crap I'm wearing maternity pants". Weird.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joy in Mudville

Taking a break from all this baby talk and complaining, my Philadelphia Phillies clinched the National League Pennant last night, beating the stinkin' Los Angeles Dodgers and the insufferable Manny Ramirez in 5 games, in their own ballpark!

Frank and I stayed up for the whole game which was pretty good for us since it lasted until almost 11:30. Where we come from, it's tradition to go out on your front step and bang pots and pans and holler and carry on after a win like that. Unfortunately, we live in a yuppie neighborhood now where people don't do that. So we just cheered inside our apartment.

But oh, the joy of it! The Phillies haven't been to the World Series since I was 16 years old. No Philadelphia team has won a championship in 25 years. The last time the Phillies won - the only time the Phillies won - I was 3 years old. There have been 100 losing seasons of professional sports in my town. We are due for a victory.

The last time the Phillies were in the Series, Frank and I were in high school and actually had just started dating. He was a senior and I was a junior and we were together at a friend's 16th birthday party that fateful game 6 night when the Phillies lost the Series to Toronto. Here we are, 15 years later, together again, rooting for the Phils in the World Series.

Hopefully the outcome will be different this time and I can tell my kid he was there when the Phillies won it all. The way sports go in this city, it may be the only one we get in my lifetime or his.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

12 Weeks

We hit 12 weeks today and there aren't many developments to report. Chicken Dinner is growing and developing a lot and by our next ultrasound in 4 weeks we should see an actual person on the screen.

The hormones are turning me into a raving lunatic. I'm living in a constant state of rage these days; rage that only subsides when something makes me cry. That something could be a glass of water. My dog made me cry the other day because I thought she was looking at me with a sad face. I'm hiding the anger and craziness pretty well though. Luckily I get a lot of practice at controlling myself at my job, where human emotion isn't tolerated and my boss doesn't know anything yet. I did snap on poor Frank last night. He came home and I was already asleep so he woke me up to talk to me for a little while. We hadn't seen much of each other the past few days because of work. I was not happy about being woken up and I refused to participate in conversation and I think I may have bit his head off a little. Sorry Fish. I'm not much fun right now but I'm told it goes away soon.

My tailbone and hips have really started to hurt. They feel all loose and disconnected. I've always been bony in the hip area and now it feels like it. It especially hurts when I walk or drive. I tend to slouch on my tailbone when I sit and that really hurts. I've been trying to sit up straighter. Maybe my posture will improve.

It may be time to move up a size in the bra department but I think it may be a larger band size that I need, at least I hope so. What is the next size after DDD, anyway?

I've been having some pain in my lower abdomen/pelvic area which I'm guessing is just more stuff stretching and spreading out and making room for the Chicken. I'm getting the sense this is going to be a big baby and I am going to be a big(ger) girl.

I'm really looking forward to getting past the next two weeks and officially into the second trimester. Frank is looking forward to it as well so that maybe he'll have his easy going wife back for a little while.

Here's what's happening with the Chicken:

The most dramatic development this week: reflexes. Baby's fingers will soon begin to open and close, his toes will curl, his eye muscles will clench, and his mouth will make sucking movements. In fact, if I prod my abdomen, the baby will squirm in response (Frank spent a lot of time poking around my belly tonight so maybe baby got some exercise), although you won't be able to feel it. His intestines, which have grown so fast that they protrude into the umbilical cord, will start to move into his abdominal cavity about now, and his kidneys will begin excreting urine into his bladder. Meanwhile, nerve cells are multiplying rapidly, and in the baby's brain, synapses are forming furiously. His face looks unquestionably human: His eyes have moved from the sides to the front of his head, and his ears are right where they should be. From crown to rump, the baby is just over 2 inches long (about the size of a lime) and weighs half an ounce.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


This whole first trimester experience is absolutely for jerks. Aside from the joys of numbing exhaustion, unpredictable nausea, the emotional fortitude of a toddler, and gassiness that would make a frat boy proud, the whole pants thing is a damned indignity.

My pants don't fit. No pants fit. My regular pants are a joke. I'm certainly getting Lora's money's worth out of the belly band she got me and I've given up all attempts at buttoning or even zipping my jeans in the morning. It's not just the belly, either. My hips are becoming another obstacle the pants can't surmount. I've always been about as narrow from the hips down as a person with a huge rack can be without tipping over so having hips at all is an interesting development. If I get a respectable set of hips and a slightly larger ass out of this I'll take back all complaints.

It's not just the fit. Having a waistband held together with a rubber band screaming for relief that's cutting into the gas that will not shift does not feel good on the belly. Chicken dinner may be deformed because there's no room in there for him.

I won't even look at maternity pants because I know they'll be too big. My belly still only looks like the recipient of too many french fries and there's no way I'm buying maternity clothes in size XS. I don't think there's going to be anything XS about me in the coming months and at this point XS will be too big.

( I know, boo effing hoo Hope, your size fours are too tight for you these days. What a crying shame. Shut up.)

I tried just wearing a bigger size in regular pants but that was not better. While there was a comfortable fit at the waist, they were like parachute pants everywhere else. I was very comfy but I'm sure I looked all slouchy and ridiculous. At work.

So seriously, what's a girl to do? The struggle to squeeze myself into my regular old pants is making me start the day feeling pissed off and disgusted. Can I just give up and start wearing stretchy pants? Not sweatpants necessarily. Don't they make pants out of some kind of stretchy material that a girl can wear to work? I know these pants exist. I see women wearing them. Do I have to go somewhere like Rainbow Shop of Dress Barn to find them?

When I was in college, the trendy thing to wear was black pants that were cut like jeans and made out of some stretchy polyester blend. We called them S.I.P.s for Sorority Issue Pants because all of the sorors wore them on the weekends. I wish I had those pants now. They probably wouldn't be in style anymore but I wouldn't care.

There's a LuLu Lemon yoga store near my house. Maybe I'll get some cute yoga pants. That might not be so bad.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Gag Rule

My parents raised me without an ounce of superstition. My Irish father and Spanish mother, who themselves were raised with all kinds of old world hocus pocus and Catholic idolatry, brooked none of that nonsense in our house. We didn't even bother with horoscopes or astrological signs. Instead, they raised us to know all of that stuff was crap. As a result, I've never avoided walking under a ladder or thrown salt over my shoulder or worried that a salamander was going to spit on my head and make me go bald. Ask my mom about that one.

(I will say that I was scared to death of Banshees when I was a kid, but that was more about watching a movie that featured the scariest.Banshee.ever. than my dad relating lunatic stories to me. Even now a clouded over, full moon can give me the heebiest of jeebies)

I fear all that sensible upbringing was for naught because here I sit at 31 years old, superstitious as all get out.

I can't even make my mouth form the words "I'm pregnant". When I do have to say it, to doctors or nurses or friends who try to give me beer, it feels strange and untrue. I feel sheepish, as if I'm telling the biggest lie of my life. Like if I say it out loud, something terrible will happen and it'll stop being true.

I gave my parents one of the pictures from my first ultrasound and my dad asked if they could put it on their fridge. My answer of course was hell no! Then somebody might ask who that is and then people would know. My dad's response was, "Of course they will. That's the point of putting the picture up there". No way Dad, it's way too early. You can't tell yet. My mom totally backed me up.

What is this bizarre superstition - chiefly among women I would say, since Frank has been telling everyone on Earth and my dad's new favorite expression is "Hope's pregnant!"- about waiting until the first trimester passes before we admit to being pregnant? I know the belief is we wait until after the first trimester is over "in case something happens". But why do we want to keep any of it a secret?

Why do we insulate ourselves from the support of everyone we know at a time when we need it the most? My experience so far is specific to me of course, but all I can think about all day long is holy crap I'm pregnant. From the time I wake up till the time I go to sleep (which is a relatively short span of time these days), my thoughts are consumed with the person I'm growing inside me. Why is it logical to not talk about the only thing I feel like talking about? Is there some kind of shame in miscarriage? Some have argued that if you tell everyone and the baby is lost, then you have to tell everyone you miscarried and wouldn't that be terrible. I would think that if I were to miscarry - I can't believe I can even type those words considering the terror they cause me - I would want and need the support of everyone I know to help me get through it. If I don't tell anyone and that does happen, then I'm alone in my grief, which can only make it worse.

For these reasons and probably better ones that escape me, I'm calling bullshit on this theory and on myself for espousing it. I've found so far that it's kind of a lonely and scary thing to be pregnant. No matter how many of your friends have been there already, or how many websites/books you read, or how many bloggers you stalk until you become internet friends; no matter how understanding and supportive your partner is, it still feels like you're the only person in the world having this experience. I feel this way and I live in the same town as my parents, in-laws, and extended family. I can't even begin to imagine the loneliness my sister felt all the way over in London with no family around.

So Mom, Dad, put that ultrasound picture on your fridge. Call the Aunts and let them know. Tell anyone and everyone. I'll be doing the same.

The only person I'm not telling is my boss. That's about me being a chicken and I'll explain it later.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Reading Material

I'm looking for a few good books on pregnancy and childbirth and all that stuff. I'm not a fan of the books that use excessive exclamation marks or a bunch of cloying crap about the wonder and miracle of it all. On my travels through the internet I've heard that The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy is a good one.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Temporary Sanity

Yesterday we went for my first ultrasound and first appointment with a real doctor. Both experiences were very positive and I no longer feel compelled to burn down Pennsylvania Hospital's OB department. The ladies at the front desk, the ultrasound tech, and the doctor who came in to interpret the results were all friendly, cheerful, and even funny. I was extremely nervous about the ultrasound, terrified that something was going to be wrong. It was a comfort to be taken care of by such nice people.

The ultrasound was an emotional experience. It's been kind of surreal to know that I'm pregnant without any outward evidence to support it. To see that tiny gummy bear looking thing wiggle on the screen and know that it's inside me was incredible. The technician told us I was exactly 10 weeks along and gave us a due date of April 29. So nice to have some scientific facts this time. We go back for another ultrasound in 6 weeks and then another 4 weeks after that.

The visit to the doctor was equally positive. The doctor was warm, friendly, and had the bedside manner of a totally normal guy. I didn't even feel funny about him poking around because he was just so nice, he made me very comfortable. He engaged Frank in the conversation and answered every question I had before I could ask it. He also is very committed to his patients. He made sure to tell me that he'd most likely be there to deliver the baby but if he wasn't on call, it would be his partner who I could certainly meet beforehand if I wanted. He found the baby's heartbeat, which was a wonder, and did another ultrasound, which I could stare at all day. My favorite part of the visit was when he told me to eat whatever I want - aside from raw fish or meat - and if I gain 40 pounds, it's ok. Holler at your fatgirl! I have no intention of gaining anywhere close to 40 pounds but it was nice to hear a doctor be so laid back about things, rather than giving me a long list of don'ts. This doctor is my new best friend. I'm actually looking forward to my next visit in 4 weeks. I've never looked forward to a doctor's apppointment in my entire life.

Am I letting go of some anxiety? Not really. I'm still a basket case but seeing the baby has helped. I'm trying to take it one day at a time.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fried Chicken and Babies

I've been a patient at my gynecology practice for 2 years. It's primarily a midwifery practice with some backup doctors around. I liked being seen by a nurse midwife because it's a much more personal and less clinical experience than those I've had with doctors in the past. Every time I went for an annual exam, I saw a different person, which also never bothered me, although it is a little bizarre to exchange first meeting pleasantries with someone who is about to root around in your lady bits.

Frank and I went there together a few weeks ago for my first prenatal appointment and it's no exaggeration to say the whole experience was a nightmare.

My appointment was in the morning, when the office was just opening. It's a large practice and the waiting room was packed with pregos. The lady behind the desk was already yelling at people everyone who came through the door to sign in. When we were finally called back to the exam room, the very nice nurse/medical technician/Lincoln Tech graduate had the wrong codes on the form explaining why I was there. Codes that she kept repeating to me as if I knew what she was talking about. She then said she had to go find out why I was mislabeled or whatever and she would "be right back". We're left alone in the room for about 20 minutes. I fell asleep on the table and Frank tried really hard to keep his head from exploding.

Then a little old lady walks in and introduces herself as the midwife and asks me how my other baby is doing. I tell her I don't have any other babies. She then asks if I had the baby somewhere else and that's why she doesn't have it on the chart. Again I tell her that I've never had a baby before, but I'm working on one right now. She finally gets the message and moves on to asking us what we expect for this pregnancy and what kind of birth we want to have. I told her we have no plan, none of this was the plan, we're totally shell shocked here. She asks why we didn't consider abortion.

Are you kidding me lady?! We're both sitting here, wondering when the world turned upside down, and you as my health care provider ask me why I haven't considered abortion? What type of shit is that? I don't need any effing reverse psychology where you reveal to us that we've been ready all along! This isn't an after school special!

I calmly responded that we're over 30, we've been married for over 5 years, and while this wasn't the plan, we can handle it. Abortion isn't for us.

She then spent the next half hour counseling us on how we can do this. She just talked and talked and talked. Finally, she got around to asking some medical questions about family histories and then said she had to go see how many people were waiting to see me because I wasn't really scheduled for a prenatal visit. I hadn't even taken my pants off yet! Ten minutes later she comes back and says she does have to go but she'll examine me first. She uses some stupid little external Doppler stethoscope to look for a heartbeat and finds none. She actually examines me and tells us "that's about an 8 week uterus". She writes a prescription for prenatal vitamins, tells me to make another appointment in 4 weeks, and sends me down the street for some blood work.

Not exactly the experience I was expecting or looking for in my first visit. When we left the place, Frank very gently suggested that perhaps we should consider changing doctors. Like, getting an actual doctor. He said he was pretty sure that place was selling fried chicken out of the back office. I was surprised to find myself wanting a more clinical experience. So we made an appointment with the doctor who delivered Frank's son. He has his own practice and we'll see him every time we go. And he went to medical school.

Next on my list; the hospital. I am making appointments and touring some facilities because I am not sharing my room with some damn crackhead.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Over the last few days I've become gripped with overwhelming, probably irrational, fear. When I first began to suspect I was pregnant and right after I found out, I was knocked out by some pretty bad nausea and the exhaustion was paralyzing. Two weeks later, the nausea is just about gone, except for an occasional wave, and the exhaustion seems to be manageable. All of which makes me terrified that the hormones are decreasing because I'm about to miscarry.

The rational explanation of course is that I'm adjusting to the hormones and nearing the end of my first trimester so everything is leveling out. If I were a little more objective I would realize that the emotional nuttiness is a symptom (seriously, the little girl dancing with the Phillie Phanatic made me cry the other day), as is wanting to fall asleep while driving and the weird cravings for peaches and my mom's chicken soup (not together, that would be gross).

Yet the fear still grips me. I could not fall asleep last night because I was so scared. I'm not having any miscarriage signs. No cramping, no bleeding, no back pain. Nothing. In fact, things seem to be progressing pretty smoothly. I can feel my muscles stretching and if I press on my belly I can feel the hard, grapefruit sized lump that I'm guessing is my uterus. There is no real justification for being this scared. My brain keeps reminding me that my mom had a miscarriage with her first pregnancy, but then she had 7 perfectly healthy kids. None of the other women in my immediate family have ever miscarried, including my own sister. There's no real family history.

I think part of it is how fast everything is happening. I have no time to catch my breath or wrap my mind around how quickly my life is changing. We're going to buy a house and move, I may have to change jobs, I'm going to own a person and be responsible for keeping him or her alive. Everything about my life is going to change in the next few months and the catalyst for all that change is completely beyond my control. This is a lot and I don't have the emotional fortitude to handle it so the freaking out continues.

It's also quite surreal to know that I'm pregnant but not see any real evidence. It's hard to process a tiny (now) human looking person growing inside my own body. Without any outward evidence it's like it's not really happening.

For all of you wanting gory details:

I don't look knocked up. My pants don't fit anymore but it just looks like I've been eating too much pizza and drinking too much beer. I now keep my pants closed with a hair tie looped through the button hole and around the button. My friend gave me a really awesome gift that I tried out yesterday and I have to say, it's a genius invention. I wish I knew about this years ago, for when my pants didn't fit just cause I really did eat too much pizza and drank too much beer.

My boobs are getting bigger, which is truly frightening. I got measured for new bras right before I got pregnant (actually, the week I got pregnant I'm pretty sure) and I was in between two cup sizes. I'm glad I went with the larger size. I have a couple more weeks in those and then I think I'll have to move on up again. I may choke on my own cleavage by the time this is all over.

As for Chicken Dinner:

He's barely the size of a kumquat — a little over an inch or so long, crown to bottom — and weighs less than a quarter of an ounce. This is the beginning of the so-called fetal period, a time when the tissues and organs in his body rapidly grow and mature.He's swallowing fluid and kicking up a storm. Vital organs — including his kidneys, intestines, brain, and liver (now making red blood cells in place of the disappearing yolk sac) — are in place and starting to function. Tiny nails are forming on fingers and toes (no more webbing) and peach-fuzz hair is beginning to grow on tender skin. In other developments: baby's limbs can bend now. His hands are flexed at the wrist and meet over his heart, and his feet may be long enough to meet in front of his body. The outline of his spine is clearly visible through translucent skin, and spinal nerves are beginning to stretch out from his spinal cord. Baby's forehead temporarily bulges with his developing brain and sits very high on his head, which measures half the length of his body. From crown to rump, he's about 1 1/4 inches long.

I'll get some belly pictures going soon. Right now there's not much to see.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Universe is a Comedian

My husband and I were so smug and self satisfied. "We're never having kids!" we declared. We loved our little life with our dog and our cat and our spur of the moment vacations and crazy work schedules. We never wanted anything to change. It's not that we didn't like kids. We just liked the kind that went home with their real parents after we were done playing with them. We didn't want to own any personally.

That was the excellent and well executed plan we had been following for over 5 years of marriage. Excellent and well executed until last week, that is, because last week two ept's told me I was pregnant. Holy crap. Not even wait two minutes for the line to appear pregnant, either. Nope. I got a full on, instantaneous, screamingly positive test. Twice. Two days later a grandmother of a midwife told us I was 8 weeks along.

That's when the freaking out really began.

We're not ready says my brain and Frank's brain. We don't own a house, my job is now in jeopardy, THIS WAS NOT THE PLAN! We worried for a couple of days. Then we decided that it was all going to be ok and that we would be happy and excited instead of scared to death and freaked out.

So here we are, expecting the thing we never expected: a baby.

I hope to document my physical and emotional changes as this pregnancy progresses. It should be an interesting ride.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

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