Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I wanted to take a moment to wish you a very happy and wonderful Christmas and holiday season.

Tomorrow morning Michael and I will be leaving town to visit family in Indianapolis and Illinois, which I am so very excited about. Because our schedule is as jam-packed as my carry on luggage, I doubt I'll be posting while I'm there.

So I'm wishing you the best and warmest Christmas! Be safe and merry!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Le Tour de Birth

We toured the hospital yesterday! If the frequent kicking from the babe wasn’t reminder enough, it certainly made this whole thing seem very real.

This particular hospital has a birthing center that is attached to the hospital proper, so I feel like it’s getting the best of both worlds. You get the amenities supporting natural birth (birthing tubs, less pressure for interventions, etc.) but you also have access to all of the serious medical equipment in case something goes wrong. (I know I’m considered a low risk pregnancy but I still get nervous at the idea of a home birth. I don’t think I could ever do that.)

It was a group tour which could be a good or bad thing, I guess, depending on your perspective. I liked seeing the other couples and watching us all waddle around as a pack (except for me…I’m trying to not adopt that pregnancy waddle until it’s no longer possible to refrain). I decidedly didn’t like how crowded things were when we all piled onto the elevator.

We knew someone in the group! How small a world! (There are a lot of hospitals in the Phoenix area and this particular hospital does two tours a month, so what are the chances?!) Another reason why I liked being in a group is that I tend to ask a lot of questions and I feel like I start bothering people with them. There was at least one other mom in the group (the one we knew) that seemed to have her eye on a natural birth, so she was asking all kinds of questions too.

When we first got there we were notified that all of the LDR (Labor, Delivery and Recovery) rooms were full! Was it the full moon? Was it a bunch of women wanting to get induced before the holidays? Or doctors pressuring them to so as to not have interrupted holidays? (That’s right, I said it!) Who knows? But because of this, we were told that we wouldn’t get to see a LDR room. I was SO disappointed. Sure, I wanted to tour the hospital to see what entrances to use, what waiting rooms look like, etc., etc., but the real reason I came was to check out the room for all the action. And to be told we’d miss out! I immediately started wondering if we should come back for another tour.

But what will be will be. We make plans and God laughs. It all turns out.

It just so happened that one of the rooms was being cleaned out and prepped for a new mom right as we were passing through. So we did get to look inside while a team put out new sheets and brought in new supplies! I was so happy to get to see the room after I’d been told I wouldn’t! I especially like how they try to make these rooms feel less medical-y. They have laminate flooring that looks like wood and all the medical equipment is kept in cupboards – very inconspicuous. All of the rooms are outward-facing, so they all have windows. At the mention of the Jacuzzi tubs, Michael whispered to me that he couldn’t wait to have a soak while I was laboring on the table. He thinks he’s so funny.

We also got to poke around in a postpartum room where we’ll be hanging out for however long I need to after recovering from birth. We didn’t get to see inside the nursery but we did see a couple newborns – one being held and one being wheeled around. What little burritos they are! Can’t wait to have a burrito of my own!

And speaking of burritos, we had Chipotle for dinner afterward.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This Makes Me Feel Old

I had a little group of six girlfriends (including myself) who were my closest friends in high school. These were the girls who - apart from my soccer team - I spent most of my weekend time with.

This is us on our Senior Trip after graduating - a trip that involved a car breaking down on the highway, a ride in the back of a police van, surf lessons, sunburns and one tattoo.
Lyndsey, Christina (Paige's friend from CA), me, Jaye, Paige, d'Averill and Ashly.

And here we are on the same trip, dressed down for a walk on the beach:
Well, the group has grown apart somewhat, as groups sometimes do. Paige now lives in California. Some of us are just in different stages of life (some are out partying while three of us are pregnant!) so we just don't see each other as much anymore.
But since Paige is in town for Christmas she coordinated a little reunion and I'm so glad she did. Here we all are almost seven years after the above photos were taken - almost 10 years since I first met some of these girls. d'Av, Ash, Lynds, Jaye, Paige and me (with just awful posture).
And after stuffing ourselves at lunch, we went out in search of a sweet treat: Some things never change!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Holidays, Finally!

Slowly but surely it begins to feel more like Christmas around here.

I'm not sure if it's been the 75' weather or some other reason, but it really feels like Christmas snuck up on us this year. We put up the tree pretty early on but didn't even find time to put the ornaments up until last week!

But for my work holiday potluck I volunteered to make my favorite holiday cinnamon roll cookies. I almost lost my motivation (making these is a two-day process) but I rallied and finished them off while my mom came over to visit.
A pain in the butt to make, but pretty and so delish!

And we even got some fog!Fog is almost unheard of in Arizona on account of how dry it normally is. But waking up to this sight was a welcome change.

Tonight, with Christmas fast approaching later this week, we finally got some presents wrapped and placed under the tree!

I can't wait to go out to Indianapolis and Danville next weekend to see all of the family and really celebrate the day!

p.s. Please vote in my new poll!

Also, the Bakery has been updated!

Total Eclipse Tonight!

Are you planning on staying up to watch the total lunar eclipse tonight? It's totally rare!

Read this article if you'd like to know more about when the eclipse will start and finish in your time zone. Favorite line of the article: It describes what the lunar eclipse would look like if you were standing on the moon's surface. It says that you would see a big dark Earth halo'ed by a brilliant red light. In that ring you would be seeing all of the Earth's sunsets and sunrises at once. Isn't that beautiful to think about?

And if you'd like a good laugh, go to Youtube and search for "Total Eclipse of the Heart Literal Version." Hilarious. I'd give you a link but Youtube is blocked at work. (Don't look at me like that for blogging at work, I'm on my lunch break!)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stay-cation

Can I just tell you what a wonderful weekend we had?

Michael got a gift certificate for a one-night stay at the Royal Palms hotel here in town, so we had a little stay-cation on Saturday night. It was so beautiful and so nice to have our little romantic evening.

Our room had a big ole bathroom that you could see into the bedroom through cabana-style shutters. When we got into our room we had two surprises: a gift certificate to the spa and a plate of chocolate covered strawberries!

Michael had mentioned our weekend getaway to a client this week. For no special reason other than to return some kindness to Michael, they had arranged for these things to be delivered to our room! This is Michael looking through the list of spa services. This is about the time that I literally teared up with happiness.

We took a little walk around the grounds before getting ready.

We went out to eat at Donovan's Steakhouse and had some just incredible food. The below belly is only half baby - the other half is an 8 oz filet served Oscar style (topped with a crab meat sauce).
After returning to the hotel we listened to some live music in the lounge then made our way back to the room.
The next morning we hit the spa before checking out. The gift certificate was really only enough for one service but we thought it'd be nice if both of us got something. So I signed up for a parafin wax manicure and Michael got a "Signore's Pedicure." (I laughed so hard as he made the reservation on the phone - he sounded so ashamed to be saying the words aloud.)
What a treat! I even got a flashy gold color on my nails to celebrate the impending holidays!
This weekend just couldn't have been nicer, couldn't have been needed more, and couldn't have possibly been appreciated more than it was.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hypnobabies

If I didn’t lose you with this post, I might lose you with this one. Although I must say that I was so pleasantly surprised with the comments I had from total strangers full of encouragement and positivity surrounding natural birth! Thank you, women who likely had a Google Alert set for “Natural Birth!” Maybe I’ll get you back here with this post!

I’m sure you’ve all heard of a bunch of natural birth birthing classes that offer techniques to cope with or get past the pain. Lamaze. The Bradley Method. I’m not doing these. I’m doing Hypnobirthing, also known as Hypnobabies. I prefer this second title because it reminds me of when Michael first heard of it and he waved his hand in a hypnotizing gesture and said, in a very soothing voice, “Baby, you will enter this world in a calm, submissive state.” Made me laugh because this terminology is the vernacular used by Cesar Milan when talking about training bad dogs. (“You must put them into a calm, submissive state!”)

Hypnobabies draws a lot of raised eyebrows because of its name and all the imagery it invokes, which I can understand. So here’s a very brief synopsis of my understanding of the Hypno technique, and why we decided to go with it:

Hypnosis does not involve you being conked out, out of control of your body, under someone else’s power or without the ability to remember what happened. You are not in a zombie-like trance the whole time. The whole point is that you can put yourself into and pull yourself out of this relaxed state if you want or need to. It is all about self-guided meditation. It is relaxation techniques, visualization and some repetition of sayings to keep you in a focused state of mind. You can keep your eyes open, walk around and talk all while you're in your relaxed state.

Their information compares the mental state you go into to how you feel when you’re driving a familiar route and can’t remember much of anything about the commute. (“Wait, I didn’t run any red lights, did I?” Kind of funny, we also discussed this state of mind in one of my college psych classes.) Or when you are so focused on a book or task that you don’t realize someone has been talking to you for the past 5 minutes. This is the kind of selective focus and meditative state that you enter in hypnobirth.

I can hear all you skeptics out there rolling your eyes.

Well, I’ve done my research. According to a study done in 2001, 42 pregnant women received either normal counseling or hypnosis training before their births. Only 1 in 22 hyno-moms needed to stay in the hospital more than two days after birth compared to 8 of 20 “normal” moms. And NONE of the hypnobirths required medical intervention, whereas 60% of the other births did! WOW!

One of the techniques I’m looking most forward to is learning about the functions of the experiences you go through during birth. I think the idea is that you experience less pain if you go into it knowing what is happening in your body (and why) when you’re having a contraction, for example. There is also a lot of fear release and positive repetition. I read a woman’s birth story and she talked about how this really helped her – repeating that, even at the most uncomfortable moments, “I am safe. Our baby is safe.”

I’m probably not describing it very well. If you’re open, I’d encourage you to read up about it.

My first class is on January 2nd and I can’t wait to go and check it out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cake balls and other weekend activities

If you guessed from the one-word teaser at the end of last post that I was going to be posting about cake balls, you're right! (All the rest of you - get your mind out of the gutter, perv!)

I got together with a three lovely women this weekend to make some Christmas-y cake balls to enjoy and share.

To make cake balls:
1. Bake a sheet cake.
2. Crumble cake into teeny bits with food processor
3. Mix crumbs with some kind of binder - I used frosting
4. Roll mixture into balls
5. Dip balls into melted chocolate
6. Decorate
7. Let harden
8. Enjoy

Between the four of us we must have made more than a hundred balls. I wish I would have taken a picture of them all lines up on the wax paper to dry! Nevertheless, here is a small sample of the wares:
Speckled ones - Funfetti inside (my contribution). Dark chocolate and white chocolate - red velvet inside (Cindy's creation). Some of the peanut butter covered ones have strawberry inside and some have chocolate peanut butter (Jaye and Anni's). And the red one has mint oreo inside (also Cindy). These are so moist and delicious!

We also went over to the home of two of our favorite people this weekend - Remi and Cole and their smiley baby Smith. There was food, laughter, birthtalk and scorpion hunting.
That's Michael with the black light (see this post for more explanation) and Cole with the poker thing.And there was also some hanging around in ridiculous outfits while the menfolk jump-started our car, which needed a new battery. Remi's solid explanation involves giving us a little belly dancing show to utilize the belly dancing kit I got her for Christmas. My outfit is less easily explained because this is just how I looked after bundling up to do the scorp hunt. However, the Santa Sweatshirt was a joke. Kind of.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mid-Week Musing

News: my belly button has gotten suspiciously shallow lately. This has interrupted an age-old tradition of Michael trying to tap his finger in and out of my belly button to make a funny little “plop” noise. He usually tries to get in as many as he can before I successfully squirm away because it feels weird. And now the bottom of my belly button is right there close to the surface! All vulnerable and exposed!

Question: Do ALL belly buttons completely pop out like little snooze buttons?

Item: I had new software installed on my work computer to allow me to use my regular mouse on my laptop instead of the little finger pad thing. When the tech guy came over to install, he showed me that the official settings make you select which computer is the “master” computer and which is the “slave computer. Is it horrible that my first instinct was to giggle and blush and think, "Kinky!"? Maybe my first reaction should have been to shake my head at the insensitivity.

Update: According to my daily pregnancy email reminder, baby is about 2 lbs right now! Makes sense, my midwife told us that she went through a growth spurt in the past month! Wish I could nuzzle her!

And now I present a one-word teaser for what my next blog will be about: balls.

Let your imagination wander!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Au Natural

I’m planning on going natural, if you’re wondering. Natural birth. Natural as in no medication or interventions, that is. I guess people have different definitions of “natural.”

Now guys, I really don’t mean this blog post to be offensive or condescending. I know that people get sensitive when this topic is brought up because everyone feels like other peoples’ opinions are a slam against what they decided to do. I don’t want to come across with an attitude of “OMG, you’re a horrible person if you did x…” or a competition of who is better at being more natural, etc. I can’t stand that stuff.

What I do want to do is post about my feelings on the subject, and I’d like to be able to talk about something that’s important to me. I understand that not everybody out there agrees with me. I’ve already gotten several people try to talk me out of going natural, and one gentleman (who happened to be a nurse) make very clear that he thought I was an idiot and that he obviously knew what my body was capable of much more than I did. I wanted to tell him that, simply by making such statements, not only was he solidifying some of my fears about contemporary medical-intervention labor and delivery care, but also giving me personal ammunition and motivation to stay the course. (Let’s call it the “Take THAT” approach.)

I know going natural isn’t for everyone, I’m just saying that I think it’s for me. I think everyone has to decide what they want out of their L&D experience. A lot of women don’t want pain, I get that. I can see how having a less-painful, calmer experience would be preferable. However, going natural gives me some of the things that I’m looking for with my experience.

Guys, I don’t want a c-section. I’m not afraid to tell you that. If I end up getting a c-section I fully plan on coming on this blog and talking about the experience and my likely disappointed feelings about it. I like to think that my blog is a place where I can write a realistic portrayal of my life – the good and the bad. I think I helped this aim by posting about my nausea and puking experiences over and over and over again. Anyway, I’m scared of a c-section. Mostly because I keep envisioning this moment after the baby is born where Michael and I will get to look into the little one’s (likely screaming) face and hold her and cuddle her and tell her how much we wanted and waited for her. I’ve read a few too many blogs and forum posts of womens’ birth stories telling of their horror or sad experiences with c-sections. I’ve read about being tied down to the table (arms, head). Being freezing cold. Not being able to see anything, not knowing if everything is okay. Having the baby held in front of you for a minute before they whisk her away for testing and care. Being so wonked out from your meds that you recover in another room for an hour or more before you’re well enough to see your baby. Feeling so detached that you don’t even feel like holding the baby, you don’t even bond. These are the things that I don’t want from my experience.

So here are the reasons I want to go natural:

1. I feel like I can. I feel like I am a strong, tough woman who should be able to deliver a child without pain medication. I feel like I will be able to handle it. I would like to try.
2. I don’t know enough about the drugs. I’ve spent my entire pregnancy watching what goes into my body. “Is this soft cheese pasteurized?” “No wine for me, thanks.” “Has this produce been washed?” I haven’t gone crazy. I’m not eating all organic. I ate sushi (only cooked rolls though). But still, I’ve been pretty careful about what I put in my body. The truth is that I haven’t done my research. I haven’t learned enough about the drugs to find out what all they do/mean. So I’m hoping to just play it safe and pass on grass, like I did when I decided against taking Tylenol for a splitting headache because I couldn’t remember if it was okay or not.
3. I want the natural experience. I’ve heard that you get this awesome wave of bonding hormones right after giving birth naturally. Some people argue that you don’t get this same thing when you’ve had meds.
4. A cultural discrepancy. Plenty of other cultures look at birth as a beautiful rite of passage. Girls look forward to giving birth because it means their transition into the woman’s culture of the society. In Western society we tend to look at birth with horror and fear, like it's a medical condition to be treated, cured. It’s a favorite pastime for women to share horror stories of their births or the births of people they know. I’ve already seen this first hand. As soon as someone finds out I’m pregnant, people want to tell me the worst birth stories they know. “I hope you have it better than my sister! She was in so much pain she popped blood vessels in her eyes and she had a huge tear on her…” “Okay, I got it.” I just think we could all benefit from treating birth with a little more positivity.
5. It might lessen my chances of having a c-section. I’m sure this isn’t scientifically proven, but I did see some information in a very one-sided documentary called The Business of Being Born. It pointed out that doctors will often recommend Pitocin (a drug) to make birth progress a little faster. However, this also makes contractions more powerful and painful, so you need an epidural. And after a few rounds of getting the meds right and several hours of trying to get the birth to progress, eventually your body starts shutting down and suddenly you need a c-section. Even if this isn’t completely proven, it makes sense to me. So if this can lessen my chances of a c-section, I’ll take it.
6. It will cost less money. Period.

Do I have times that I wonder if I can do it? Do I have moments when I realize that I actually have no idea of how bad it might get? Do I realize that, even after going natural, something might go wrong and I’ll end up needing all kinds of interventions? Yes on all counts.

But this is my plan and I’m sticking to it. I will not throw a tantrum if things don’t go my way but I will try my hardest to stay the course.

I hope you’ll support that decision and not be offended by this post. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

6 Months Along!

I can't believe that I'm already at 6 months along! As rough as those nausea-packed early weeks/months were, it now feels like it's going by so quickly!

Here I am at 24 weeks:I really feel like I've gotten a lot bigger in the past month. What do you think?










My childhood and dear friend Keely requested a belly pic to put on Facebook, so I took one especially for that. So I figured I'd show it here as well:
Plus, you get a glimpse of our skinny Christmas tree!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

A full week after Thanksgiving and I'm finally getting around to blogging about it!

This is going to be a very picture-heavy post to make up for all the only-text posts I've been doing.

Our day started out with some last meal preparations. Everyone in our family provides something for the big T-Day meal, and Kai is no exception! His rolls were some of the finest I've tasted. Just look at that jam-packed oven!We had not one, not two, but THREE types of cranberry sauce. We have at least two people in attendance who prefer their cranberry sauce avec lines from the can. Wish granted!I had a bit of everything. And ATE. IT. ALL.
Michael's contribution, two home-baked pies. And then it was time for a little rest and relaxation for humans...... and dogs alike.
Then it was time for the Turkey Day Games to begin!

One game was the Journey to the New World, where your ship (person) had to navigate the Atlantic Ocean (patio) and avoid rocks (obstacles) while carrying your cargo (a stuffed turkey between your legs).
Another game was "Guess that Gourd!" where you had to guess how heavy this large gourd is by lifting it.We also had a game where you had to toss a stuffed Scarecrow into a bowl on the other side of the patio to get points.

The last game was the chipping contest. (Haven't you heard about the Pilgrims playing this one?) The floating green was first placed pretty close. Since everyone made this one (including Kai!), we moved it further away.The final round involved chipping across the pool onto the green that floated in the hot tub.There were also a few games that were unplanned, such as the "Jump the Fence to Retrieve Toys that Fell into the Arroyo" game. JP excelled. And the Hot Tub Football Toss, which everyone had a go at.
And, of course, the three-dog wrestle.And we'll finish off with the one picture in which I am featured: