Thursday, December 27, 2012

Three months and three holidays later

Our little man is now 14 weeks old. Every month he grows older, he continues to astound us. The day he turned three months old, he decided to celebrate by rolling from his tummy onto his back.

I have been horrible at writing my blog, but I have to admit...I haven't missed it. Every moment I am able, I spend with my little boy. The smiles, the giggles, the little happy dances...they are unlike anything I have had the joy to experience. I am only writing now because the baby dragon is taking a nap. I expect that any time he will wake up and I will just press save and publish because I don't know when I will get the chance to write again.

Christmas with our little boy was just so fantastic. I love his facial expressions and the way he mimicks sounds now. He really focuses and concentrates on the people around feel as though you are having a conversation with him. Crazy...I know...since, he is only a little over three months old. But, he is astounding to watch. A friend said that the joy of having a child is reliving childhood all over. She was so right.

That is my little man waking up. Hope to write again soon. Pardon for typos and grammatical errors.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Fastest Eight Weeks of My Life (And, Most Wonderful)

When I was pregnant and preparing for maternity leave, eight weeks sounded like an eternity to take off. The longest holiday time I had taken from work was three weeks and that was when I got married. I thought the eight weeks would drag along, but this has been the fastest eight weeks of my life.

It doesn't seem long ago that I was at the hospital giving birth to my little one and now he is going to be turning two months old this week. The time has gone by entirely too fast for me. And, I am in awe at how quickly he has adapted and changed over the weeks. He has gone from tiny crying newborn to a giggling, smiling and gyrating infant. In the last eight weeks, while he has grown in weight, length and intelligence, I have mastered swaddling, shushing, cloth diapers, dressing a wiggling baby, and breastfeeding. In other words, he has adapted much more quickly than I have.

While I was learning to take care of my son, something else emerged during the eight weeks. I saw a new side of my husband that made me melt. He has an amazing way with Royce. He has a magical effect on the baby so that he is able to put him to sleep when the baby is at his fussiest. And, hearing my husband sing, tell stories and talk baby gibberish...well, it has made me fall even more in love with him.

I have been so blessed to have the last eight matter how quickly they have passed. It has been a wonderful, challenging, miraculous and rewarding experience. I have fallen in love with the new little boy in my life and fallen deeper in love with the boy who has been in my life for 16 years.

I cannot believe these eight weeks are coming to an end today. But, the adventure has just begun.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What I Learned My First Month as a Mom

Yep, my son will be a month-old tomorrow. It is unbelievable how much he has already grown and how much he and I have learned together. I am in awe of my little man. One month seemed pretty far off when we brought him home the first day. But, the time has flown by; it has been an amazing, yet challenging first month. Here is what I have learned in my first month:

1. Sleep? What is Sleep?
They tell you that you will be tired, fatigued and exhausted the first few weeks. Those wise people who write books and teach classes aren't kidding. When your baby arrives home, he has his days and nights all mixed up, you are trying to figure out how to take care of a new human being, and he is trying to figure out what it means to be a human being. Sleep does not come easy. You get sleep when you can...and in the first week, that means you may choose between grabbing a bite or grabbing a nap. Thank goodness the baby is starting to get day and night straightened out so we are getting a lot more sleep during the evening. I think we should be right on schedule when I go back to work (I am crossing my fingers right now and doing a small prayer that this is our reality).

Sidenote: Babies have day and night mixed up because of a woman's activity while the baby is in the womb. During the day, we move around and so the baby sleeps, lulled by the movement. During the evening, we rest and so the baby starts moving about. The baby keeps the same schedule when he or she is out of the womb.

2. The Crying Game
I don't mean that quirky film. I am talking about the game that the baby plays with us everyday called, "Guess Why I'm Crying." Is it a bowel movement? Does he want to be held? Is he hungry? Is he overtired? I believe we finally have cracked the code, but sometimes the baby will throw new curve balls our way. It feels a bit like a heroes know, the one that Joseph Campbell talked about in his mythology book. Everyday, a new challenge is given to us in order to unlock the next path of our journey with our little one. The reward...a smile, a coo, a sleeping child in my arms. I had a dream one evening of the baby standing by a bridge, asking me, "What is your quest?" I woke up before he asked me about the velocity of a swallow.

3. Fairy Milkmother
Every breastfeeding gal should have a fairy milkmother, aka a lactation consultant. Without mine, I am pretty sure I would have been in a crying pile on my living room floor, feeding my baby formula, having given up on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding may be natural and rewarding, but boy...when you are new to the concept, it is pretty complex. I had so many questions and unknowns to face the first two weeks...and I read books and took classes beforehand. Happily, breastfeeding is going great and our little boy is growing stupendously. I am so glad I stuck with it; for him and for me.

4. NASCAR Pit-Style Diaper Changes
They are possible. My husband and I have mastered the pit-style diaper change for those late night wet diapers. We are fast and light-fingered so we don't wake up our sweet sleeping child. We are thinking about timing our team take on diaper-changing to see what our personal best may be. And, yes, we do give each other a high five when we have completed a successful pit. You would too.

5. Bellagio Water Show
It is true what they say about baby boys and their talent for creating their own water show when you change their diaper. Just when you think you have mastered the diaper change and you will never get sprayed in the stomach or hand again...the baby proves you wrong. We are slowly mastering the art of squelching a Bellagio-style water show in the nursery. It is just another part of the heroes journey discussed above. And, really...every single time, it makes me laugh, especially when my son looks so proud of himself afterward.

6. Amazed
I am amazed everyday by the wonder that is my son. Watching him mimick a smile, holding his head up, listening to him make new sounds, seeing him grow, having him hold my finger with his little hand. He is a miracle. I enjoy every moment with him...exhausted or well-rested. I love being a mom. And, I never knew I would feel this way.

I look forward to the next month, the next day and the next minute with joy and anticipation. We have embarked on a new journey and I am so very blessed that this new journey includes our son.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Enjoying Today and Tomorrow

We decided that breastfeeding our son was the best decision we could make. Outside of the health benefits of breastfeeding, there is an unexpected benefit of time bonding with my little boy. It is a special time we have together. And, lately, when I look at him, I begin to think about so many things.

I think about the places he will go, the wonders we will show him in this world. I think about taking him to my favorite museums. I ponder camping, Disneyland and the beach. I get excited about traveling to our favorite places in the world - riding an elephant in Thailand, snorkeling in Hawaii, seeing the Sydney Opera House, eating gelato in Italy, meeting family in Switzerland, being in awe at the Louvre.

I think about the things he will do. I imagine his first finger painting or his first time strumming the strings of a guitar. I think about taking him to his first music concert. And, I daydream about all of the books he will read, discovering new worlds. I get giddy about sharing with him my favorite movies. My mind quickly jumps from things he will do as a young child to what he will do when he is a young man. I see him going to a university, pursuing his dream for a career that makes him happy and perhaps also makes this world a better place.

After all of this dreaming and thinking...I look down at his sweet two-week-old face and I pull myself back. My daydreaming is wonderful and it makes me look forward to the future with my son, but it is this day, this very second that I want to enjoy - the small smile on his face, the sigh he gives just before he falls asleep, the intense look his blue eyes give me as I talk to him.

It is a delicate balance, but I want to be a mom who looks to the future with anticipation, while also embracing every sweet moment right now. I want to enjoy today and tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

He's Arrived!

I know this is a very late blog post. I have been in sleep-deprived baby bliss for the last two weeks; two weeks today to be exact. My son turned two weeks old today and it is still unbelievable to me that this little boy is in my life.

After nine months of a happy pregnancy and the wonder of another life growing and thriving inside me, it all came to a crescendo on my due date. September 18 at 8:15 a.m. my water broke while I telecommuted in my home office (I was trying to get some things done before my weekly doctor's appointment that was scheduled for 9:50 a.m. that morning).

"Ryan, I think my water broke!" I yelled from the living room. My husband came racing in from the other room.

"Honey, stand on the tile. You are getting amniotic fluid all over the carpet."


Suitcase, pillow and cord blood kit...they were all loaded into the car and we were off to the hospital. Along the way, we let my parents know that we were having the baby today and I chatted with my best friend (everyone calls their best friend on the way to the hospital, right?).

Triage confirmed that my water did indeed break. And, they sent me to labor and delivery. I was already dilated four had been confirmed at my doctor's appointment the week before. So, when they called my physician to let her know that I was here, she let told them to put me on pitocin.

At 12:10 p.m. I was put on an IV of pitocin to get contractions going. My family and my pastor came to the hospital to start labor off with a prayer and loads of love. This is what we had been preparing for, Ryan and I. We had everything we needed for a natural childbirth-- relaxation exercises, music, breathing.

Good thing we were flexible.

The idea of natural childbirth quickly came to a halt when the pitocin kicked in. My contractions came fast and strong. There was no time to focus on a beach scene in my head in order to go someplace away from the pain. In two and a half hours, I dilated from four centimeters to eight centimeters...and I was experiencing the worst kind of pain. Wrenching and excruciating, every contraction shot down my legs. My husband would try to prepare me for each contraction by having me begin to breathe just before it would hit (he was watching it all on a monitor). It got to the point...I didn't want to know.

"I want a epidural! I can't take the pain anymore."

I was in tears and no amount of breathing or relaxing music was going to put me out of my misery.

In about 20 minutes, the doctor came and gave me the epidural. And, all of my pain was taken away. I was in a happy, magical place. Ryan watched in awe as some of the biggest contractions hit the monitor and I didn't feel a thing. I was relaxed and feeling really good. I was so glad I went to the epidural class so that I woud feel comfortable with this option. This was great!

It was only a couple of hours and I was fully dilated to ten centimeters. Two hours of pushing, with the doctor arriving around an hour in...and my little boy was born. It was 7:23 p.m. in the evening and we met our son for the first time. A perfect son who had a full head of hair, weighed seven pounds nine ounces and measured 20.5 inches long.

The feeling of holding him close the first time -- amazing! I had a miracle laying in my arms. The little one who had been inside my belly this whole time was now flesh and bone, blood and breath. While I was in awe, it also felt so natural. He was meant to be here with Ryan and I. He was meant to be close to me.

Two weeks later and the awe of that moment in the delivery room still hasn't left me. I look at his beautiful blue eyes and that little expressive face...amazing! This is my son. This is my little boy with whom we will share new adventures. It is certainly bliss to be a mom. He has arrived!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ben and Jerry's Day

September 15 is a very special day in our home. It is what we have dubbed Ben and Jerry's Day. Why have we made it an ode to that yummy ice cream concoction?

Sixteen years ago today, this guy and this girl who had a friendship blossom over the Internet and on the phone suddenly found themselves sitting on the Santa Monica Pier together, talking over two pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. It was sunset and the day that had gone before this moment could not have been more perfect. There was something special between these two. After nonstop talking and sharing, there was silence and he broke it with a sincere and lovely question.

"Can I kiss you?"

"Not yet."

Of course, he never would have ask if he thought the answer was no (and he told her so). But, she assured just didn't seem quite right yet. Fast forward to her garage after driving home. That is when she let him kiss her. And, she had never felt warmth and love like this. She felt like she had truly arrived at a place called home. He would share the same sentiment with her while serenading her one evening with the song, "Home" by Depeche Mode.

Since that day, my life has been blessed in amazing ways. I have shared so many adventures and special moments with the man who truly is my other half. Yes, we have had our share of rocky moments (who doesn't?) and incredible obstacles (my sweet has survived cancer three times), but what matters most is that we always come back to each other, we look to each other for strength, growing more in love with one another every time.

As we wait for our Baby Dragon to arrive, this year's celebration seems that much sweeter. Who could've imagined that those two from the pier would be expecting a child?

I know that Ryan is going to be an amazing father. He has been a wonderful partner, loving husband, incredible best friend and a support unlike any other during the pregnancy. This blog post is dedicated to the kindest, sweetest, smartest, funniest man I have ever known. We have so many more adventures to come and we will have someone new with whom to share them.

p.s. Yes, today would be a pretty perfect day to have the baby. We will see what the day holds. No matter what, the day will end with a guy and a girl sharing a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. It's sitting in the freezer. And, I know you want to know the flavor - New York Super Fudge Chunk. It's the ice cream we were eating on the pier.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Surrender

For the last week, I have been working from home and waiting for the baby to start that chemical chain reaction that we commonly call, labor. With me being at 39 weeks, I have also learned to surrender a bit of my independence.

If you read the last couple of blogs, you will know the baby is sitting pretty low, in the head-down position. And, I have been dilated and effaced for the last two weeks. This Tuesday, I was told that my cervix had thinned even more and I had dilated another centimeter. I am now dilated to 4 centimeters, almost half of what is needed to deliver, without pain or strong contractions. I impressed the heck out of the doctor. But, these developments have meant a bit of surrender on my part (it's been difficult for this indepedent lady).

First thing to surrender - driving my manual shift car. With the baby so low, it is not comfortable to drive a stick shift car. Anyone who has a manual, put a small ball between your thighs and try driving. Yeah, it's like that. I have now become a bit dependent on others to give me a ride to get out of the house or run errands. Big thank you to my two awesome parents for shuttling me a couple of times in the last week.

Surrender number two - the ability to move freely. I have a small watermelon in my belly, and although I can still make it at my yoga class, it is near impossible to lean forward. Dropping something on the floor or even just putting lotion on my feet becomes a strange contortion routine. Thank goodness, yoga has made my legs and core strong enough I can squat all the way down to the floor with confidence (this is how I am able to pick up most things from the floor).

Surrender number three -- the ability to work in the office. As I mentioned, I have been working from home. The discomfort of the baby makes it difficult to work in the office (see the next surrender). The commute and the distance from work to home is also a concern when considering I could go into labor at any time. It was the doctor at work who told me...don't come into the office if you are dilated 3 centimeters. I also need the flexibility to rest when needed. Carrying around seven pounds of baby in my abdomen is exhausting at the end of the day. It also gives me peace of mind to know my husband is only 15 minutes away from the house and the hospital is only ten minutes away.

Surrender number four - sitting in a chair with a hard surface. Yes, a baby's head is lodged low in my pelvis, sitting in a chair is very uncomfortable. Thank goodness for the wonderful invention that we call a stability ball - a large ball to sit on for core exercises. This ball has been my friend throughout pregnancy, but never more so now than when I need to sit down for a while. It has become my new work chair.

Surrender number five - the freedom to just do whatever chore I desire to do around the house. Without the commute in the morning and afternoon, I am able to get a few more things done around the house before and after putting in a full day of work. However, what I am able to do is greatly limited. I have done a lot of laundry, vacuuming and dusting. But, I can't answer that itch that wants to pull the weeds in the front yard that have sprung up since it rained. I can't start moving heavy boxes around in my art room in order to do further organizing. I can't lug the carpet cleaner out. I am sticking to light activity chores and sucking it up on the other stuff.

I know that many dream of being a princess in a castle, being waited on. I was never one of those who had that dream; I am always on the go, keeping busy. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I have completed something. I like the ache that comes from doing a day's work around the house.

I have been humbled in the last week, keeping my pride and independence in check while I wait for the baby to make its way into the world. Baby Dragon, for you, I surrender.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Lady in Waiting (or, Ticking Time Bomb)

This morning was my weekly appointment with my OB/GYN. It was time to see how far I had progressed toward the baby's arrival. I was anxious to hear what she discovered, given the news last week.

Last week, I was 80% effaced and one centimeter dilated (the measurement of the cervix opening). What does this mean? My cervix had thinned out (the cervix is 100% effaced when a woman delivers a baby)and was preparing for the big moment.

This week, my cervix was still very soft and thinned out and I was dilated to nearly three centimeters. For those of you who have had a child, you know that three centimeters is generally to where a woman progresses during the first phase of labor. The doctor described me as a ticking time bomb...I could go into labor at anytime.

Her description certainly put it all into perspective for me. They always tell you that you go into labor when the baby is ready, but it really sank in for me today. This is not something I can plan around. This is not something I can put on my schedule. It brings to mind an image of me sitting in a plane, door open, waiting for my turn to skydive into the blue when I get the signal.

My contractions could become rythmic and strong, sending me into labor, within in a few minutes of posting this blog or two days from now.

This is one of those moments in my life when I realize, I have no control over nature. Kind of like being pulled under by a wave while swimming in the ocean. You can try and fight it all you want, but you need to wait until the wave passes to swim to the surface. Ride it out. And, that is what I am doing today.

I worked from home a bit to see what my body would tell me. It is telling me that the baby is certainly coming and my body is getting ready. It is also telling me that I am a lady in waiting and I need to deal with it.

I am excited and also filled with a bit of anxiety -- the little one we have been waiting for these nine months is going to be here very soon. Very soon! I cannot wait to see my son or daughter for the first time. Anxiety comes into play when I think of how I will deal with labor. I have gone to classes and prepared myself, but just like jumping out of a plane, you never know what to expect when you get out there. Thank goodness I have a wonderful partner to help me along.

We are almost to the next leg of our new journey. But, in the meantime, I am dealing with the fact that I am either a mild mannered lady in waiting, looking out to the future with anticipation and a smile, or a ticking time bomb that is about to jump into the next phase of my pregnancy.

I would like to think that perhaps I am a mixture of both -- a Jane Austen character ready for adventure and the unknown with zeal, but we will see when the time actually arrives.

I will be sure to keep everyone posted.

p.s. The mystery was solved and we now know the wonderful couple who gave us the high chair last week. The thank you card is already on the way.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Christmas Everyday

Truly! It is like Christmas everyday at our home lately. There are boxes by the front door or we get the key o'joy in our mailbox that gives us access to the BIG mailbox where they put the special mail. I am pretty sure I have written about the generosity of our friends and family. But, I am not sure I have expressed it enough. We are blessed beyond belief; they are spoiling us and our soon-to-be-here Little Dragon.

I love getting packages in the mail. Who doesn't, right? It is so fun to open up a box that just has your name on it and a return address of "Fulfillment Center." Peering inside and seeing what is hiding under those little air pillows is a perfect little moment of joy. I especially love reading the notes that friends write to go with the gift. They are always sweet and heartfelt. Yeah, you all know who you are and you have made this hormone-crazed pregnant woman cry more times than she can count.

Outside of the boxes sitting by the front door, we have experienced Christmas-like celebrations three-fold (with the fourth and final one this weekend). Yes, that would be four baby showers. No, really, four baby showers! This is what I am talking about -- generous, amazing people!

Every shower has been full of love and celebration. The gifts have been wonderful because we now have a fully stocked nursery and we are ready for a baby, but it is the time with special people that makes it feel like Christmas. Seeing our friends light up and smile when they talk to Ryan or I and ask about our Baby Dragon. The hugs, the kisses, the laughter and giggling. Just thinking about the baby showers, I am overwhelmed with happiness.

We have known that we are pretty lucky with the friends and family who surround us, but the last couple of months have left us awestruck. Our little one is going to have an extended family of aunts and uncles unlike any other child. Hillary Clinton says, "it takes a village." Well, Mrs. Clinton, we have our village and it is filled with some of the smartest, wittiest, kindest, loving people.

Yep, it is Christmas everyday at our home. And, I just have this feeling the holiday spirit is going to continue for some time. We have the best gift of them all coming very soon.

P.S. Christmas gifts usually have a tag that tells you from whom the package has come. Every box we have received thus far has had such a label, either outside or inside so we can thank the giver. This week, we received a secret package. I have put in an inquiry to our baby registry to find out who the generous gift-giver is. The gift is a high chair we had on our registry -- a generous and wonderful surprise. We really want to thank whoever sent it. If it is you...please email or call.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My First Impulse Purchase

Ryan and I haven't been purchasing too many baby things. It may be a bit of superstition, but 90 percent of what we have for the baby right now is from others.
Not that we haven't roamed around the Babies R Us on a Sunday afternoon. Or, trolled the internet, looking at adorable toys and clothing -- I have accumulated quite the list of bookmarks on my computer, all filed neatly under the folder called, Baby.

This all changed on Wednesday evening when I had my first impulse purchase.

Okay, now for some people who adore shopping, this may not be a huge thing. But, for is a pretty big deal. It was the first time I had wandered through the baby section at the store, honed in on something and had to have it. Right then.

It had started out innocent enough. We had gone to Target to purchase thank you cards and a few other things. Lately, when we go to Target, we also stroll through the baby section, just to look and see what is new. We were just about to move on to the sections of the store we had come to visit, when I asked Ry if we could walk down a newly organized aisle (yes, we walk over there often enough that I could tell there were some new things).

Lining the aisle were rows of swaddling blankets and onesies. Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed the soon-to-be desired item. It was a flash of orange. A familiar comforting feeling took hold of me. I believe what I just saw was Halloween-related.

So, let's stop here a moment. As long as I can remember, I have been enamored with Halloween. I was proud of the fact that when they asked you in elementary school which holiday was your favorite, I didn't give the Christmas answer others gave. Halloween is just wonderful! It is during my favorite time of the year and it happens to be in the same month as my birthday. Many times my birthday napkins and plates were halloween-themed. On my 21st birthday, friends and family came over for dinner and cake, hanging above us was a giant spider we had attached to the ceiling. I also have a weakness for Halloween-themed clothing - socks, earrings, t-shirts, pajamas, anything. And, I wear them throughout the year, not just in October. Now that you know I am a Halloween fiend...let's continue.

I turned my head toward the onesies and saw them hanging there in the middle of the row. Halloween onesies and caps to match. My heart melted. And, a sound of indeliable fondness was emitted from my throat.

"Awwww. Ryan, we have to get these."

I held the onesies in my hands and you would think I had never seen anything more precious. They were beyond adorable to me and I would not be leaving the store without them. Cute little cartoon bats, black cats, frankenstein monsters, vampires. An orange cap that looked like a jack o'lantern. I ran my fingers over the embroidery and I was bewitched (yes, pun intended). The baby will be a little over a month old when Halloween arrives this year. This would be perfect!

My logical side grabbed hold. What was I doing? This was ridiculous. I hung the items back up on the wall display.

"I really love these, but we don't need them. We can always come back for them after the baby is born."

"Honey, I think we should invoke the Costco Rule. Get it when you see it because it may not be here later. There are only a few left."

With my sweet husband's reassuring sentence, I took them off the wall again and we were on our way. I had a huge smile on my face and was very excited about my purchase. I couldn't stop looking at them and thinking about our child wearing this special outfit on Halloween.

Since Wednesday, the reality that our child will be here very soon has been so much more vivid, so much more tangible. The purchase seemed to trigger within me that I really will be a mother very soon. I have that comforting, happy Halloween feeling. I think I will have a new favorite holiday --a birthday.

So, here is a photo of the onesies and caps I purchased so you can see either how cute they are...or, how insane I must seem in this post. Note: if you think I am a bit crazy, don't tell me. I don't want to know.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Victory. Or, getting a car seat installed on a Sunday afternoon

Last Sunday, we were happily informed by a Babies R Us email that the car seat for which we had registered was on sale (for 3 days only!). We pondered and decided that we would purchase it that day (in my head I saw anxious pregnant women scrambling to Babies R Us to purchase the car seat until there were none left). It was one thing to purchase it, but we had no idea what we were getting into when we decided we would try and get it installed in the car.

One thing to understand is that the car seat we chose was given five stars by the Department of Highway Safety not just for its effectiveness, but because its instructions are easy to understand. Instructions are pretty important so you can put the seat in the car for maximum safety effectivness, right?

We proudly put the large box into the back of Ry's car and broke it open when we got home. Ryan inspected the seat and looked at all of the little different straps and safety warnings. I proceeded to read the booklet. The first two pages of the booklet were filled with bulleted, bold, all caps, red text of DO NOT's. I thought it was rather thoughtful that the writers of the booklet actually apologized on the first page for so many DO NOT's, but explain politely enough that they existed because they are important to know.

As I proceeded to read the remainder of the booklet, we would stop and discuss. There are scenarios in the booklet about how the car seat should be installed based on the child's age, weight and height. And, there are some "or" scenarios included. Being the engineer and the communicator, we were clarifying together that we understood what the booklet was telling us. We were looking a bit bewildered after reading the instruction booklet for 30 minutes. Were we getting this and would we put the car seat in the car correctly so our child would be safe?

Time to move from studying theory to practicum. We took the car seat out to the car. When we placed in the back seat of my four-door Mazda, the car seat looked quite large. It didn't look so big in the store. "Honey, is this going to work in my car?"

After getting the seat adjusted for rear-facing position (this is for an infant; the back of the car seat will face the front of the car), we got it placed perfectly in the middle of the back seat. Then it was an exercise in looking at the seat and looking at the manual.

"Where does this strap go?"

"Let me take a look at the book. Um, I think that based on this diagram, it goes here? Do you agree?"

Thank goodness for the LATCH system in my car. Once we figured it all out, it was really just two hooks into the LATCH system on either side of the car seat, a knee onto the seat and a tug of a strap to ensure all is snug. After we got it installed...we decided it wasn't too difficult. "Hmmm, that wasn't too bad."

But, the process of figuring all of this out took about 30 minutes or so in the garage on a humid and hot Sunday afternoon. In the end, we were sweaty, yet triumphant -- kind of like finishing a 10K run.

"Let's take it out now," I told Ry.

He looked at me. "No, let's leave it in for a while and go in the house."

The car seat has been in my car all week. I like it. Another touch of reality for me that sooner than I think...this will be my new normal. I asked Ry one day, after driving my car around to run errands, what he thought of seeing the seat in the car.

"It's a bit freaky. But, I like it." Followed by a big beautiful grin.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

12 Emotional Stages of Pregnancy: I am at Blissful Contentment

I am beginning to wonder if there's a list of the 12 emotional stages of pregnancy and I haven't seen it. Here is my take on this list:

1. When I first found out I was pregnant, there was excitement. Loads of tears. Love, love, love. I couldn't stop looking at Ryan and thinking about how blessed we were.

2. Then, at the first ultrasound, it seemed like a miracle; something unbelievable. We made this little embryo on the screen. Incredible!

3. After the talk with the doctor about my age and higher possibility of issues for the pregnancy and baby, it turned to anxiety. What if the baby does have an fetal anomaly? What if I have health issues?

4. Relief because the baby and I passed the tests with flying colors. Deep cleansing breath. I am pregnant and all will be well. Om.

5. Reading books and going to classes, there was a realization that there was a lot of preparation needed for the little human. Urgency. I need a binder. I need to organize. I need a list. We need to get things done.

6. While the urgency continues around checking off the to-do list. There is also a lot of nesting going on. I needed a space for the baby; some physical place so the baby knew we were making room for him or her.

7. A feeling of accomplishment comes in around the beginning of the third trimester when the to-do list is complete. Ahhh...we are right on track and feeling much more ready for our little one.

8. At the birthing class around the end of the seventh month, a bit of worry creeps into the picture. Will the pain be more than I can manage? Will I get this breastfeeding thing down? Will everything be okay at delivery?

9. Blissful Contentment. This is the stage where I am right now. I am content and feeling so good.

I am in the beginning of my eighth month. The nursery is done. The baby and I are in good health. We have gotten a lot of organizing and preparation completed. Friends and family are around us, surrounding us with love and support. Things are just blissful. There are lots of smiles around our house, especially when Baby Dragon moves around in my tummy; we love feeling him or her move. It is pure joy.

Right now, we are settling in and finishing up a few things. We are able to relax and look forward to the weeks ahead -- weeks of baby showers, washing little clothes and sheets, ordering diaper service, and mentally preparing for a positive birthing experience.

I am not sure what the next three emotional stages will be. I am sure women who have given birth could tell me. I am thinking anticipation, exhaustion and joy.

What an incredible adventure -- no matter where I have been in my pregnancy. This has certainly been the most amazing experience in my life. Yep, blissful contentment.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reflection: Sixty Days and Counting

It is unbelievable to me that I am now only 60 days from my estimated due date. Where has the time gone? I never expected this part of the journey to fly by so quickly. But, as I reflect back on the last seven months, it has been a truly wonderful experience full of the unexpected and new.

We first found out we were pregnant over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend -- hmmm, maybe we should include Martin or Martina on the list of names, but I digress. When we got that positive test, it was a delicious secret between us, as well as my very best friend (Rachel was visiting that weekend). We found it difficult to tell anyone because we wanted to keep it close, savor the expectation - it was something precious between us (and not in a Golem sort of way). But, once we told my parents and our close friends, we saw that others would savor the news as well. We saw that others had the same joy we had.

When you are over 35 and pregnant, joy alternates with anxiety. Tests and ultrasounds are done to monitor the baby's progress to ensure your old age has not contributed to a genetic anomaly for your baby. When the last of the major tests were over and we passed with flying colors, we then focused on the long list of things to accomplish before the baby arrived, while also reading lots of books about the little biological science project growing inside me (I will never get over the wonder of the baby's growth). The list of things to do can be overwhelming.

I am happy to report that most of our list is checked off and we are feeling much more prepared than we did even two months ago:
- A spot for the baby is confirmed at a daycare and it is a wonderful place
- Pediatrician confirmed
- Nursery set up (it is such a beautiful room in our house - I just sit in here and hang out now)
- Cord blood registry chosen and we are in the process of confirming
- Classes completed: two birth classes, one child care class and we still have a breastfeeding class, as well as a first aid and CPR class to attend
- Pre-registration at the hospital is complete
- Name list is compiled
- Playlist for the hospital room is loaded on my iPod
- Diaper delivering service is standing by
- Baby showers are on the calendar

There are so many other things we are checking off our list and as we do, we are feeling more confident and ready. We know that a baby will be a big adjustment, but it is one I know we will be able to manage because throughout this whole process it has been "we." It has never been me or he. It is always us.

Finding my partner and best friend in one truly loving individual has meant being blessed by so much over the last 15 years (and we should be celebrating 16 years right around when the baby is born). But, in the process of being pregnant, that love, kindness, wit, partnership and spirit for adventure has shown me that as a team, we can do anything. And, Ryan will be a truly outstanding father. It makes me teary-eyed just thinking about that adorable man of mine holding our child.

My reflection is almost over, but I have to write about generosity. I count myself a very lucky girl when I think of the amazing friends I have in my life. They are all such a great support and have always been there when I needed them. But, the generosity that has surrounded Ryan and I during the pregnancy is just wondrous (cheesy word, I know, but I can't think of an adjective that properly describes the infinite amounts of generosity we have experienced). I am pretty sure it is all of the love and generosity that surrounds us that gives me that so-called pregnancy glow.

To all of you...and I sure hope you know who you are...thank you! Thank you for the hugs, smiles, laughter, support,shower planning, little gifts, encouragement, generosity, and genuine love.

We are sixty days and counting...while I can't wait until that day when I finally get to hold my little Baby Dragon...I am looking forward to everything the next sixty days has in store.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

We Want to be Surprised

Over the past few months, we have done our baby registry, gone to classes at the hospital, interviewed daycares, and done meet-and-greets with pediatricians. In addition to talking to people every day, they all add up to a lot of encounters where we are asked what we are having. And, of course, being witty and a bit devilish...we always say, "A baby, we hope." Sometimes we get giggles, other times we get the dumb dog look and they rephrase the question:

"No, what is the gender of the baby?"

"We don't know."

"Oh, you aren't far along enough to know the gender."

"We could have known if we wanted to. We want to be surprised."

The reaction to this statement varies from confusion to dismay to delight. Some people who know me pretty well know that I am a planner and I think they are a bit confused at the fact that I wouldn't want to know. Others just look stressed out at the prospect of not knowing; they aren't having the baby, but they still need to know. And, then there are those people who geniunely think it is wonderful we want to be surprised - "there aren't enough surprises in the world."

My feelings mirror the last sentiment.

Outside of knowing how to decorate the room and what clothes to buy, no one can give me a compelling enough reason for knowing the gender of my little one before he or she is born.

Knowing the gender of the baby isn't essential to planning for his or her arrival (I have a whole planning binder to ensure we don't forget anything). All babies, regardless of gender, need the same things - stroller, crib, diapers, a home, love. No where in that list is there appropriate decor based on the baby's gender.

We are expecting a new human being who has very little understanding of society's gender stereotypes until at least the age of two or three (and I hope we don't let too many of those stigmas into the house at that point in their lives). We have time to add the girl or boy into things after the baby has been in our lives for a while and we have a sense of his or her persona.

All of the reasons for knowing the baby's gender are really for the benefit of adults. Naming made easy - perhaps, but I don't mind keeping two lists. Shopping is easy - I'm not convinced because I am not overly keen on the profusion of pink that defines things for girls. And, babies could care less about what they are wearing, as long as they aren't too hot or too cold. Baby clothes are created to be a cue for adults so they can look at the bald baby in a blue outfit and say without fault, "What a handsome boy."

I'll admit that what first was a decision just simply because we wanted to be surprised, has now become even more deliberate. I found that without knowing the gender, we are simply expecting a child that we anticipate with a lot of love and affection. This is not a gender-defined child with built-in stereotypical expectations.

Not that we don't sit around in the evenings listing all of the things our baby could be -- a famous physicist, space travel pilot, chemist who finds the cure for terminal diseases, renowned artist, philanthropist. The list is long, but it is about our child being whoever he or she wants to be. She could be a girl who is obsessed with Star Wars and comic books or he could be a boy who adores reading all kinds of books and painting with his mother.

We want to be surprised. Not just by the gender of our child, but by the new discoveries and adventures we will have with this new addition to our family. We want to be surprised and awe struck by the little moments of joy. We just want to infuse his or her life with love, learning and exploration. We look forward to the surprises in life and even more so now that we will have a child with whom to share those surprises.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Mission Impossible: Seven Hours of Sleep

Early in my pregnancy I read an article that said it was best to get at least seven hours of sleep every night, more if you are able to. The benefit would be a healthy baby, healthy you and shorter labor. Yes, shorter labor. A study had been done that women who got seven hours of sleep or more had shorter labors than those who had five to six hours of sleep every night. My mission: seven hours of sleep.

I imagine that Tom Cruise's character would look at me like I was crazy. He would tell me to choose to scale a building instead. My odds are better.

In my first trimester, I generally fell asleep on the couch every night. Whether I was talking to my husband, reading or watching television, it didn't matter. I would nod off. And, because of this wonderful hormone called relaxin that relaxes all of your muscles, including your intestinal muscles, food makes the journey at a much slower pace than it used to. So, I would get up from the couch - quite a while after dinner - and my stomach would feel horrendous. I would pop some Tums (BTW, Tums is the greatest invention by man) and hope that my stomach would settle down enough for sleep to come. It was a 50/50 chance - a night's sleep could be eight hours or four hours.

Second trimester came around and I was back to my normal sleeping pattern. I was energetic all day. I had the ability to stay up fairly late in the evening and get my seven hours or more of sleep. I was feeling really good. Mission possible!

It was toward the end of my second trimester that all of this good fortune and sweet slumber changed. My stomach had grown and it wasn't looking like I had simply produced a beer gut, but that I had eaten a basketball. When your stomach is this size, it begins to feel as if it is a separate appendage (it especially feels this way when your little one is doing a disco dance in your belly at 3:30 am).

The tummy is bigger, the baby is moving a tremendous amount and my nesting has kicked in. Hello to early mornings and evenings spent rolling from one side to the other. No more sleeping on my back. You can only sleep on your side because it is best for you and the baby - you don't want the baby to end up on your vena cava. And, with your circulatory system a bit screwed up by pregnancy, after only an hour or two on one side, you have to flip to the other because your hip or leg has gone numb.

My sweet husband decided I needed some assistance, so he purchased me a special pillow to help put me in the optimal position. The pillow certainly helped. I slept better and was much more comfortable. It also helped that before bed we practiced the relaxation techniques learned in the birthing class we took at the yoga studio. Sleep and I were at peace again.

Now that I am in my third trimester and the basketball has become a beachball, sleep is difficult to capture once again.

I use my special pillow and ensure it is positioned correctly. I breathe in and breathe out to relax. I clear my head and allow my body to become heavy. I am sitting on a beach, listening to the waves, smelling the salt air. Then one of two things occurs -- my bladder signals that it really needs to get to a bathroom or the baby decides it needs to practice moving his or her legs and arms, perhaps his or her head, before settling in for the night. Deep breath, Om.

Some evenings, once I get situated again and everything internally seems to be ready too, sleep is wonderful. I wake up refreshed and ready for the day. Other days, sleep has alluded me and I get up in the morning feeling like I tried to sleep on the red eye flight from Tahiti to Sydney (I've been on this flight - it does not contribute to productive sleep).

I am still shooting for my seven hours or more of sleep. I have found that it comes much more easily if I eat dinner earlier in the evening, do some sort of exercise during the day, and refrain from drinking water at least 30 minutes before I go to bed. Productive slumber is possible, but it takes ingenuity, cunning and flexibility. We'll see if I can keep these skills tuned up enough for whatever my body throws my way in a few weeks.

I'll just keep breathing and picturing that beach. I am determined that this will be mission possible.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Naming Ceremony

In Cherokee tradition, a baby isn't named until they have a naming ceremony. The tribe elder provides a name to the new member of the family through divine inspiration and the assistance of the ancestors. Being part Cherokee, I may want to subscribe to this tradition. Why? Discussing the name we want to give to our still-loading child has become a daily conversation.

I never thought when I became pregnant, one of the most difficult things we would have to do would be thinking about a name for our child. I was nervous about breastfeeding, getting the house ready, understanding what all of those gadgets were at Babies R Us, and ensuring we got the safest everything for the baby. But, this naming thing is hard. And, it is even harder when you give in to the temptation and look through baby name books or read through the popular names for the year in a magazine. (As a side note, I have discovered the fad this year is down with the letter "i." If a name once had an "i" in it, it has now been replaced with a "y." Apparently my mum was 36 years ahead of her time with my name.)

I have learned - the hard way - not to discuss our top choices for names with others. Everyone wants to ask you, "What names have you come up with?" They are expecially curious when they find out that we don't want to know the gender of our little one so we have to brainstorm two sets of names. It is bad to answer this question with any of the names we are in love with at the moment. Let me repeat - bad. You feel good if the questioning individual loves them too, but if they are less than pleased...the smirk, wrinkled nose or thin line of lip can be heartbreaking.

Note to others: don't ask an expecting couple what names they are considering unless you can put on a genuine smile, no matter the answer. The mother's hormones are zooming around the edge of lunatic and the father is probably barely holding on to sanity himself. Be kind.

So, you might be thinking..."find out the gender and make this process easier on you." You would think that would be a solution. But, we went to a class at the hospital earlier this week filled with couples who were all having girls and already had a name picked out. My go-against-the-norm self was proud I was having my own little revolution in this age of planning gone way too far. (yes, I said it. me. the planning freak)

The day we head to the hospital to deliver our Baby Dragon into the world, we will have a list of names with us - yes. But, I don't want to be attached to one name. I am hoping we can engage in a modified naming ceremony. I want to look at the baby in my arms and find an intuition or inspiration that will deliver the name to us.

Perhaps this is too idealistic, but I am going with it. I feel like settling on a name right now, would be like looking at a blank canvas and providing the soon-to-be-created painting a name. It just wouldn't work.

I know we will continue to make our list of scientists, engineers, composers and artists to provide some enlightenment and ideas for our darling baby. But, I look forward to the actual ceremony of finding just the right name when he or she is finally blinking up at us with a whole world of discovery ahead.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Nesting: An Illness or Just Hormones?

Nesting. This is something I haven't always fully comprehended or understood. Deep down, I am a gypsy at heart. I crave traveling, moving around, fitting everything into one bag. Of course, after living in one house for about ten years, I have accumulated more than my gypsy heart tends to feel comfortable with. And, most of the stuff -- books and my own art (along with the materials it takes to create it); I guess it isn't all so bad. But, when you read books on pregnancy, they tell you that you will begin to have the tendency to nest. Please! That won't be me; I won't give into hormones. I was so wrong.

My Type A, organized side, has taken over the house. And, it is taking no prisoners.

When we moved into our home, I was beginning three years of graduate school and we were working through the death of my husband's mother, all while we both worked full time. Unloading boxes and putting things away in an ideal way was not a priority. It killed a bit of my anal retentive spirit, but I dealt with it because there just wasn't the time. But, now that our baby is on the way...the priorities have changed. Any given morning, I am up early and organizing, throwing things away, putting items into a box for Goodwill and cleaning.

The house is a bit topsy turvy right now because we are moving things out and reorganizing most of the rooms to not only make way for baby, but to also give him or her the environment my nesting self is craving. I not only want to have space for the baby items we anticipate, but I also want the house neat and clean for impending baby visitors.

Perfect example - this morning. While my husband got ready for work, I decided to get up as well. What kind of crazy person is up at 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning? Um, me. I decided I would get some laundry started. My laundry adventure led to an expedition deep in my closet in search of clothes, shoes and other items I no longer needed and could be donated. By 5 a.m., most of the closet was pulled into the bedroom and I was sorting through my discoveries. My husband could only shrug, smile and give me a kiss goodbye. This has been his reality for the last four or five weeks.

I'm glad he is taking it in stride. Being together as long as we have, he understands me. It may be bewildering at times, but he knows this is what I need to do.

I have to say that although this process is considered nesting (yes, I feel like a momma bird, preparing for the impending chick), it is also freeing my gypsy heart a bit. I feel lighter. It feels good. I am getting closer to feeling ready for the baby to arrive...almost.

Note: This nesting process is feeling a bit more urgent this week. Why? I will be beginning my third trimester next week and the clock is ticking on my preparation time. Nothing gives me a warm fuzzy feeling right now like a schedule, a checked-off to do list and an item that is created solely for organizing. I know others share my illness - embrace it.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Three-Hour Tour: A Story of Registration and Survival

Is it coincidence that it took us the same amount of time to register at Babies R Us as it did for the castaways to end up on a deserted island? I don't think so. However, the castaways on Gilligan's Island may have packed quite a bit more than we did for our tour.

It was a warm Monday evening and we arrived at the behemoth baby mega store, Babies R Us, with one water bottle, one granola bar, clipboard, Consumer Reports app on one phone, bookmarked website for the Department of Highway Safety on another phone and a list of essentials for the soon-to-arrive little bundle. We were going to set up our baby registry.

To prepare for the day, we did research on items, narrowed the list to the things we wanted, and did a couple of recon missions in order to have a better lay of the land. If you have never been to Babies R Us - it is the equivalent of a Wal Mart Mega Store, but filled wall-to-wall with every item in creation designed with a baby or toddler in mind. In a word - overwhelming! But, we were determined to do this. This is the ultimate place for your baby registry, right?

The tour started innocuous enough. We sat at a desk with a pleasant woman who entered our information into a computer, provided us with materials to help guide us on our mission, handed us a scanner gun and then let us loose into the wilds of the baby jungle.

I won't lie. The scanner gun was a treat. It has become one of my favorite toys at Costco. I hope your Costco has one too - it makes shopping there so much more entertaining. Sorry, I digress. It happens when I talk about gadgets. Back to our story of survival.

With the scanner gun in hand, as well as our other registry tools, we set out on our trek. We had one and a half hours in mind for this tour of duty. But, apparently the registry gods had other ideas for us. We started at the back corner of the store and decided to make our way around so we ended at the front of the store. Swaddling, receiving blankets -- all a cinch. We even had fitted sheets scanned in a few minutes. As bears, ducks, dinosaurs, butterflies and giraffes flew by, we were stopped in our tracks by the decision to choose a mattress.

Which option was best for the baby? Which one was green and enabled us to transition it to a toddler mattress? Checking apps, lists, and getting sips of water...we made our choice. And, we moved on. But, our tour slowed at cribs (the one we had chosen a couple of months ago was no longer there), high chairs and pack n play/bassinet combos. Then, it was time for a bathroom break (I am six months pregnant; this baby likes to sit on my bladder and I've been instructed to drink at least 80 ounces of water each day).

We bypassed the jumper aisle - I am leery about having my child placed in an item that looks like a Mardi Gras float. Seriously, if you haven't seen these things - they are scary! Add lights and your child could easily enter the APS light parade.

Car seats were no problem because the research on this item had been taking place for a couple of weeks. We went through this area like trained ninjas.

By the time we made our way to bottles, bibs, pacifiers, we were beat, but we needed to continue on. I even considered handing off the scanner to Ry and telling him to go on to toys and clothing without me. But, we soldiered on together.

At the end of the night, we looked at our scanner and we were pleased and astounding that there was more than 100 items logged. When we went to close our registry, we were told, "Not bad. You guys are pretty realistic. Usually people register for about 200 items."

I was aghast. How long does that take? And, how do people train for such a tour? I don't think I would have had the stamina. We walked out the doors - accomplished and a bit wary.

The next day, I was rehydrated and preparing my clipboard with a question sheet for a daycare tour. This was going to be nothing compared to the three-hour tour.

Note: Ryan and I have felt so blessed by all of the support we have been receiving these last six months. And, the fact that we have close friends and family planning baby showers as we speak, giving reason for a registry...well, this too overwhelms us. We are two pretty lucky individuals...make that three lucky individuals.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

I'm Sensing a Disturbance in the Force

Pregnancy has been a new adventure. When I saw the plus sign, pregnancy was an alien state to me. My closest friends don't have children. If they do have children, they already had them when I met them...or, they had them in another state or country. A little perspective: my sister's baby shower is the only baby shower I have been to in 20 years. Babies were not a discussion topic around the table when I met with friends, except perhaps the occasional, "How is the baby-making going?"

With this all being said, being the knowledge-seeking person I am, I began doing research by reading books about pregnancy. The most helpful (and, don't laugh) has been What to Expect When Expecting. The book breaks everything down, month by month. And, the information is fascinating. The fact that we all walk, talk, breathe, dance, sing, basically do the things we do has become so amazing to me when you consider that we all started out as a fertilized egg. And, the way we develop so quickly...again, amazing!

Well, while reading the book, it tells me that in my fourth month, I may begin to feel the baby moving. Um, excuse me? Move? Okay, this is the stuff of sci fi movies, right? And, why don't other women who have been pregnant tell you about this?

It was about week 17 when I felt the first flutter in my abdomen. It wasn't gas. No, definitely not. It was different. Kind of like a butterfly or feather inside my tummy. The next week, it felt more like a gentle nudge from inside; someone very lightly poking me. My reaction? "Luke, I'm sensing a disturbance in the force." (yes, more talking to my tummy...I think this may have been when I started talking to my tummy more frequently in fact)

By week 20, the nudges were more frequent and more prominent. And, they seemed to occur on a schedule - 3:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 8 p.m., 11:30 p.m. When I talked to the doctor about this, she told me very nonchalantly, and with all seriousness, that the baby was already training me. me: "Training me for what?" doc: "Feeding and taking care of it." me: "Oh? (pause) Oh!"

The movement hasn't always been a nudge, there were also somersaults or a rolling motion from week 18 through week 24. Imagine how your stomach feels when you are on a roller coaster plummeting toward the ground. Yeah, that feeling. It almost knocked me on my butt one day when I went running.

Right now, that little water dragon of ours is beginning to lose the space to do somersaults and move around with ease. At 25 weeks and 4 days, he or she is a little more than 1.5 pounds and nine inches long. And, with it losing space to move around, that also means that over the last three weeks, the movement is definitely more noticeable, more frequent and stronger. This little one is active! We think that perhaps he or she will take up karate or soccer. These little kicks can now be felt when I put my hand on my abdomen and they must be something akin to a roundhouse kick.

Having physicians and nurses in the building where I work has been helpful. They assure me that all of this crazy movement is a good thing. One of them told me that it shouldn't surprise me - active mom, active baby.

So, it isn't just a disturbance in the force, but it still is taking me some time to get used to. Those little kicks are reassuring that my little dragon is growing and healthy..and, for me, that is what is most important.

P.S. We'll keep you posted if our little one becomes a karate champion or World Cup Footballer.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Adventures in Searching for Daycare

Although our child is still "loading," there is so much to do to prepare for its arrival in this world. And, the preparation goes beyond having the essentials, like a bed to sleep in, diapers, clothing. One of these essentials is infant daycare. And, boy, we are finding it is a doozy of an effort.

As a full-time working woman, I am taking maternity leave, but then will be heading back to work full-time. I commute more than 20 miles to work so we are searching for a daycare nearby the office so I can check on the baby and breastfeed during day. The first obstacle and narrowing of the search - proxmity to the office.

We will not be using daycare every day of the week because my husband is home part of the week. Wonderful savings, right? Perhaps. As long as the daycare will even consider taking a child part-time, aka not a full five days. I have discovered that daycares don't really like to take children less than 5 days a week. Infants especially. Obstacle number two - willingness to take a child part-time.

Of course, we want the best for a our child. A licensed, up-to-date, clean, safe environment. Shouldn't be too much to ask. Luckily our state has a department that monitors child care facilities to ensure they are staying current with safety and health requirements - and they post each site's report online. But, when viewing the latest visits to some of the sites, my throat seized up and anxiety snuck up on me. Some locations had 17 to as many as 30 violations. EEk! Obstacle number three - safe and licensed provider.

When you put just these three obstacles together, the choices are significantly limited. How do parents do this? I am afraid to add my other wish list items -- national certification, leans toward the organic in cleaning supplies, caregivers have degrees in child development. Is my wish list unrealistic? I emailed a fellow executive mom and she is also in the process of searching for a daycare. We shared tips and findings. Knowing I have a comrade in this search has helped, but my anxiety hasn't lessened. Thank goodness, I am 25 weeks right now. We still have some time.

We are touring a daycare next week and then plan to tour two or three more for comparison. I am sure everything will work out -- these things usually do. But, in the meantime, I am attempting to tackle this little adventure one step at a time without the use of relaxation techniques learned in yoga.

I didn't even think about the search for a pediatrician today (this might have sent me over the edge).

Friday, May 25, 2012

Talk to the Belly

I am amazed at the love I am feeling already for this little being growing inside me. I am 23 weeks into my pregnancy and our little Baby Dragon (yes, that is our nickname for our little one) has already endeared herself or himself to us. We have already given the baby some personality traits based on its activity throughout the day (boy, this baby moves) and its bit of attitude when we go in for ultrasounds. But, most interesting is that the baby's presence is so strong already that we talk to him or her quite often.

It isn't uncommon for me to talk to the baby in the mornings as I get ready for work. Wandering around the house, I find myself telling him or her about what I am doing and my to-do list for the day. It is just second nature.

"Mommy is feeding the cat. Hear her meowing. She is so silly. And, then we will eat some breakfast."

I also sing in the car (well, I did this before I was pregnant) and will talk to the baby about the song that is playing.

"Oh, mommy loves this song. She and daddy danced to it at their wedding. Daddy was so handsome."

But, then in a moment I stop myself and look around me. It seems a bit crazy what I'm doing. I'm talking to my still-developing baby while it's in my belly. Is it crazy?

They say that right now the baby's ears are developed and can hear sounds from outside. One of the things that attaches a baby to its mother and father are their voices. After hearing these voices from inside the womb, they are comforting and familiar to the baby right after it is delivered. Quite amazing.

Of course this understanding of the baby's listening ability is also what prompts parents-to-be to purchase little speakers that can be put on the mother's belly with the other end attached to an iPod. If you want your child to be cultured, why not start now? How about a little Mozart through the mini-speakers? Or, I have also seen a small device that supposedly emits noises that are aiding in your developing child's learning ability. You can give birth to your child and immediately give it an IQ test and begin to pick out colleges-- it's been learning all this time (I'm being sarcastic, but the ads practically claim this)!

Every week I read about the baby's development and what he or she is able to do. Only 23 weeks ago, there wasn't even a fetus in my body, but now there is a being with moving hands and feet, a beating heart, little lips that are already suckling, and ears that hear what I'm saying.

Although I may give pause to whether I seem a bit off for talking to my belly...I know I am going to keep doing it. As much as it is comforting to the baby inside, it's also comforting to me.

So don't mind the lady talking to her ever-expanding belly. She's just doing a little bonding with her baby.

Just a note: The photo - not my belly.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Surrounded by Love

As I was stretching and doing my morning breathing meditation, I let my mind wander to all of the love that surrounds me. I have always considered myself very blessed by the amazing people in my life. But, the love these people show me has become so very special during my pregnancy.

Ryan has made comment that perhaps the arrival of our baby is one of this year's most anticipated events (summer olympics, sorry). At least it seems that way among our friends and family. It may not be true, but the fact that they make us feel this way is truly wonderful.

Some days, the prospect of all the responsibility becomes a bit overwhelming (part reality kicking in and part weepy hormones). But, when I think of all the love that surrounds us, it all becomes clear. We will not be raising this child all on our own. This child will have some of the smartest, most creative, most caring people with whom to interact. Just as Ryan and I have benefited from those around us, our child will as well. What a gift.

On this Mother's Day...I dedicate this post to my mum, a woman who has shown me that love, kindness and appreciation are the tenets with which we treat others. She also showed me that a woman can work hard, raise a wonderful family, and show motherly kindness to those in need through generosity.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

First Photos

When you are a pregnant woman over the age of 35, there is a lot of caution given to you by your physician. You are at higher risk for everything. And, you undergo every test possible to seek the actual chances. My statistics for risks thus far have been proven low, for my age - thank goodness. The pretty cool perk that comes with all of this caution is you get way more ultrasounds. These are a treat!

So, yes, Ry and I bask in the glow of this little science project that is currently growing in my belly and ultrasounds are pretty cool just from that aspect. I am still awe from the last ultrasound...we saw my little baby's heart - I mean really saw his or her heart. All its chambers pumping away, delivering blood to the baby's body. Amazing! We also saw the baby's brain and spine, long lean legs (crossed at the ankles, by the way), the toes that have been kicking at me, and the little hands. Science has let me see my baby's first photos.

We look forward to ultrasounds not just because we can see some amazing things happening each time, but also because it is our one glimpse at the little baby with whom we are already extremely attached and smitten.

Last time we went in for an ultrasound, the technician was a bit peeved because the baby was not facing the right way so we could not have an image of that perfect baby profile. The baby's back was facing outward. The tech moved the wand around, trying to coax the baby. Our little dragon gave in part of the way. We could see part of the face, the remainder was resting against the placenta. We were giggling. Already, this little one has its own little personality and attitude it seems. This journey is a fantastic one. I look forward to holding my baby for the first time, but right now...I am enjoying his or her first photos.

Introducing Little Dragon...the ultrasound you see is from 13 weeks. You can see the baby's profile, a hand just below the chin and farther down a foot and toes.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Oh, Baby!

Today, as I was driving into work...I decided it was high time I post on my blog again. It has been months and months of wasteland on my poor blog sphere.

What has prompted my sudden attitude to write on my lonely blog? I think it may be the fact that I am pregnant - it may be the hormones, in fact. Facebook and Twitter seem too incredibly impersonal for posting about this precious gift. My blog is the only little island where I know I can run away to share my thoughts and they still seem intimate (this is strange, I know, since this is on the World Wide Internets).

I am also feeling this overwhelming urge to document a bit about myself...perhaps for the little one who is currently moving about in my belly (creepy, but so cool, right?). I want him or her to know that his or her mother had thoughts, ideas, dreams, adventures...and I hope this "Little Dragon" (as we have come to call the baby - it is the year of the dragon, hence the name) will also pursue all of these things with his or her own independence and fervor.

Change is on the horizon at the Cerf-Dehmer home, but oh, baby...what an amazing, miraculous change. We are waiting with anticipation and enjoying every day of the journey that result in the birth of our own little human. Yeah, we are pretty blessed, filled with joy and just loving it all right now. I can't imagine it any other way.

post script - since I am currently 21 weeks...we are a little over halfway there with our journey, but I hope to log more in the upcoming 19 weeks (give or take a few weeks). I hope some of my favorite people will tune in.