Friday, December 31, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 2010

Not the year I hoped for, that's for sure. To say I can't wait for 2011 is an understatement. To think 26 days ago I was thrilled about the year (well, almost all of it). Here's the year in recap.

January: Living in Germany and traveling all over the place. Our parents visited us for the 2009 Christmas season and we traveled all around with them. On New Years, we were in Paris. Before heading back to the US, we also visited Switzerland, Italy, and Romania.

February: We flew back to Chicago for our home search. We had a week to find ourselves a house and place an offer before heading back to Germany. We found our dream home and put in an offer. They accepted. 2010 was promising to be a great year!

March: We flew back to Chicago and were here to stay. We moved into our new home just two days after our plane touched down and started trying to get pregnant just days later.

April: We found out that those two lines (when the pregnancy test is done correctly... yes, I'm sometimes blond) meant that we were pregnant! Woah, that was quick! We did some volunteering at our new church and met a bunch of amazing 20-somethings like ourselves, too! I was midway through teaching a graduate course in technology for teachers.

May: I began subbing in our local area. We started attending a Bible study with those new friends we found and really became plugged in. I also had my very first OB appointment that confirmed once again that we were expecting! The end of this month also brought tears... a dermatology appointment and biopsy found that I had Basal Cell Carcinoma. Skin cancer at 27. Lots of tears, but a promising recovery.

June: The month started off rough. I had surgery on my skin cancer to extract it all-- which was successful. I wasn't able to have all of the numbing drugs due to my pregnancy, but I toughed through it. I recovered well. We had Ray's parents and grandparents in town mid-month and went on a nice architecture cruise downtown. Our second OB appointment followed at the end of the month.

July: This was a great month. Not only did we celebrate 2 years of marriage with a trip to South Haven, Michigan, but we had so many social gatherings with our friends! We headed back to California (for the first time since we packed the truck and moved to the Midwest in 2009) to watch our friend Jen get married! She played a role in us uniting, so we surely wouldn't miss her wedding for the world! My amazing husband bought tickets to see Bon Jovi at Soldier Field also! And finally, on the date of our 2nd anniversary, we found out we were expecting a son. Those were such happy memories. I remember we called our Bible study group after calling our elated parents and then headed to have a Mexican dinner and virgin margaritas. :)

August: This was another busy month. We had visitors from Germany, more social outings, our first Chicago Cubs baseball game, a play downtown in Lincoln Park, and our first baby shower at Seven Springs, Pennsylvania! Ray's family held a shower for Luke & Liz (expecting the same month) and us. It was so much fun and we dreamt of what the next year would be having our 8-month-old sons with us there!

September: Lots of subbing this month. I was becoming quite pregnant at this time and everyone was beginning to notice. My parents came to visit us for the first time and we showed them around the area. We had more visitors from Germany and lots more social events, including a White Sox game. We went on a tour of the Labor and Delivery unit at Edward Hospital, where we delivered Andrew.

October: We celebrated my 28th birthday this month and my 2-week appointments started. We were able to hang out with my cousin TJ, his girlfriend Pauline, and my aunt Robin downtown on a warm night. My best friend Alison, her husband Nic, and their kids Gabrielle and Scotty came to visit for a few days as well. It was wonderful having them here. We also had our first (of 2) baby classes at the hospital!

November: More subbing, our second baby class, volunteering, and lots of social events this month. We had dinner with many people because we were sure we'd be too busy to have social time once Andrew arrived. All of the finishing touches were put on, the nursery was complete, and we were ready for our baby. I was seeing the OB every week starting this month. Strong heartbeat, no concerns. All was well on the baby front! We celebrated Thanksgiving with some friends locally because we didn't want to drive too far in fear that we would be too far from the hospital.

December: Our world came crashing down and all shades of white quickly turned to black. Our baby was born without a heartbeat and we weren't ever going to experience bringing him home. We still have no idea why... and we don't really want to know. We love you little man. I sure hope you're enjoying heaven.

Still praying and full of hope that this new year may bring better news. There were wonderful times, but also such trying times in 2010. While some days I wish I were never pregnant so we could be spared from having to endure the pain of losing our son, being pregnant with him was precious and wonderful. Yes, I complained like all pregnant women do, but deep down inside, I loved that God chose me to grow his little body. We are thankful for one another and hopeful for a healthy pregnancy in this new year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Congratulations! ... Oh, I'm so sorry.

Our circumstances lend themselves to some uncomfortable encounters with innocent, well-meaning people. When Ray went back to work, there were plenty of times he had to correct congratulatory remarks and ultimately make many people uncomfortable. I luckily have not had many of these encounters myself (yet), but know that they are coming in larger numbers.

Though I haven't been back to substitute teaching quite yet (will likely go back in late January or early February), they have been notified. I just don't want to walk in the door with confusion and stares about why I am not home taking care of my newborn. While I know fellow teachers and staff are understanding, children are innocently oblivious. That will be a difficult road for me because most students knew I was pregnant (it was hard not to notice!) and many even know that the name we had picked for our son was Andrew. They would often ask how Andrew was doing by name. I just don't know how to properly engage with these students as this isn't something that should sadden them. It's unfortunate, but it may not be appropriate to share with a 3rd grader that my child has died. That will be a road I cross when I come to it.

As for the understanding of people near and far, we've never felt so loved and cared for. The school district I have subbed for since about April of 2010 sent me not only a nice plant form 1800flowers, but they also sent us a gift certificate to a restaurant in our area. I just never anticipated anything more than a card from people I know on a business-only level and especially not for a substitute! We've received cards from people we barely know and receive them everyday. While we don't need cards or gifts (so if you're reading this, please be under no obligation), we are appreciative that so many people are thinking and praying for us during this time.

Speaking of mail... my poor mail lady. Like I mentioned above, it was a bit hard to conceal my pregnancy and I wasn't trying. I was proud to be pregnant and embarking on becoming first-time parents with my most incredible husband. My mail lady knew we were expecting and came to the door to deliver a package. She said, "I notice you're no longer pregnant, congratulations!" Surely, she meant well. She wasn't at fault for congratulating me. I deserved the congratulations under normal circumstances. I wanted the congratulations, but have swapped those words and cards for sympathy cards instead. I tried to contain the tears when I told her the unfortunate news, but I just couldn't. I can't speak the words without crying. It made her very uncomfortable and I was not intending it to be that way. I felt terrible that she walked away feeling awkward and sad. I since wrote her a Christmas card and placed it in the mailbox letting her know that she had every right to congratulate us as we were expecting a child. What has happened was not her fault, nor ours. I thanked her for her service to our home and explained that although we are mourning, we still appreciate her.

In case you're wondering where your Christmas card is this year, we sent none. I recognize that Christmas is indeed a wonderful season, but this year was marked with much suffering for us. We just cannot write and send cheery cards to people when we aren't feeling that spirit. Know that we are feeling thanksgiving in spite of our tragedy, but that we are just not motivated at this time to send cards.

It's weird receiving Christmas cards mixed with sympathy cards. For Ray, he was receiving birthday cards in the midst of Christmas and sympathy cards. For two people who have never received a sympathy card in our lives before this tragic event, it's an odd feeling.

We haven't been back to church for an actual service since before Andrew was born. We went to see our church's Christmas musical, but I wish we hadn't. It was titled, "A Mother's Story" and images of newborns were on display everywhere. Having just given birth to my stillborn child 6 days prior, this was disheartening. I know the images were meant to portray baby Jesus (of which my child was not, haha), but the images were just rough. Seeing others with their infants in carriers was also difficult. There was a line in the play to the effect of, "No mother should ever have to watch her child die" (Mary speaking about Jesus sacrificing his life) and that surely sent me into a crying spree. I already knew it was coming as my friend had warned me ahead of time, but it didn't make the words any easier to hear. Though I know people have the best intentions and are there to love and pray for our healing, I just can't bear to cry walking into the doors. These people watched me through my pregnancy and though we will go back, we just haven't yet. I will forever be known as the woman who unfortunately lost her firstborn child. I'll forever be the person who will be spoken about in whispers and treaded lightly around when any discussion of babies arises. In moving here, that was one thing that Ray and I were most excited about. We had a new city and all new friends that would know us for who we are together. Living in LA, everyone knew the Brandy before Ray and we loved that they knew us as a couple only. Now, we have a new title. While it would be easier to just walk away from that church and those people, we feel at home there. These people were the ones praying for us and offering dinners, gifts, and their time. We love our friends and the community we have been introduced to. It's humbling to be that couple with the unfortunate tragedy and to have others care for us. We'll go back, but we just need time to heal us. Christmas needs to pass and baptisms of infants probably doesn't warrant our return. 

We were watching TV last night after engaging in some strenuous (haha) Wii Fit exercises and saw a commercial:

A woman sat in a rocking chair next to an unlit Christmas tree, holding her swaddled newborn baby. Her husband walked into the room and she told him to go back to bed because it was 2 a.m. He then replied by telling her that it was not just 2 a.m., but 2 a.m. on Christmas morning, as he plugged the Christmas tree lights in to illuminate the room. They both smiled as they embraced their child-- it was a special moment to be spending their first Christmas together as a family with their new child they just welcomed into the world.

My heart aches.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bah Humbug.

Feeling sad today. I just have no desire to celebrate Christmas this year.

I'm glad the Christmas tree and decorations were already hanging, otherwise I'm not certain they would've been taken out of the boxes.

My husband is incredible. I'm not sure what happens to a person after they go through losing someone they love, but I'm attached to him. Normally I enjoy my space, but I just want to be next to him and anticipate him arriving home every night. I always love that time, but I especially need him right now. My poor husband's 29th birthday came on Monday and it was a bit more somber this year. On December 5th, our son's birthday, we had reservations to have a romantic fondue dinner downtown. We didn't make that reservation as I was just 3 hours from delivering our son and in active labor. We decided to eat there for his birthday instead. It wasn't quite the birthday present I had in mind to give him. What I wouldn't give to have been able to bless him with a son-- to make him a father. I know we'll get there. He will be a dad and I will be a mom.

To pass the time, we have planned a few things to look forward to. On Christmas Eve, we're going away to a hotel a few hours away. I don't know the logistics because it's a secret. I love secrets planned by Ray. In February, we're headed to the Bahamas. We were meant to fly to California around that time for our post-baby shower to share Andrew with our friends and family. Again, I just can't go through with that. We re-booked and are now headed to Florida for a cruise. I am very much looking forward to that time. It's almost like being married all over again. We are trying to have more date nights because that's just where we started. We started as two and we're still at that point. All things considered, I am in love with the husband God blessed me with. Above all, he is my constant and my love. I know that having met and married him means my life has been enriched. While I long for a child, some of my friends are still waiting for their soulmate. I am forever thankful for already having found him. It doesn't change that I had to say goodbye to my son 10 days ago, but it does put life into perspective and make you focus on what you currently have and are thankful for.

These infant photos on facebook and it seems everywhere I go are rough. I want to feel happy for my friends and those strangers out there, but I don't. I hate that part of myself, but it's just not something I'm ready for at this point. It's still too fresh. Two weeks ago, I was meant to be a mom also.

I am slowly healing. Emotionally, I will take some time. I've cried every single day, but it seems to be getting easier. I doubt it will be consistent and I hate that I have lost control of my emotions. Physically, it's slow. I'm ten days post-delivery and I'm not enjoying my mom-body. It also doesn't help that I cannot workout right now. I desperately want to go for a jog or jump on an elliptical. I realize many women who have children feel this way about their bodies post-delivery. But, my situation is different. I sit around my house in emotional and physical pain just wishing it all away.

Time will heal... but does it have to be going by so slow? I'm ready to wish 2010 goodbye. Despite all the great times, it brought the worst day of my life. Maybe 2011 will bring parenthood to a reality.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Music For Our Souls

Music has been so helpful in breaking the silence in our home. I used to love silence and at this time in our lives, we loathe it. 
While I want to be hearing the sounds of our child, we're hearing nothing. Thankfully, I'm also hearing my phone ring and the 
sounds of voices from all the amazing people God is using in our lives to get us through this time. We're surviving. I don't know
about flourishing, but survival is at least hopeful. My friend Kim brought over a CD of music that encourages her. Internet music
has been on nearly every moment I'm awake.
 
I read somewhere today that although God cannot prevent our suffering, he can get us through it. Many songs are helpful, but 
the lyrics of Redman's song, Blessed Be Your Name, are quite powerful. I've always loved this song, but today it has new meaning.
 
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Devastation. The Post I Have to Write.

What can I say? I've experienced more heartbreak than I thought was ever conceivable. Ever.

During my entire pregnancy, I've read blogs of others who have given birth to babies suffering with seizures, born 3 months early, or dying shortly after birth. I've read about their coping processes. I felt sorry for them. (I read lots more happy blogs, too, in case you want to call me crazy). I have friends who have had countless miscarriages, continue to struggle with infertility, and have tried everything just to become parents. Coming to terms with our tragedy now, perhaps that was a helpful way to lead me in the direction of grieving. We both always saw our lives as pretty much perfect and wondered why we had everything. We got pregnant the very first time we tried. Neither of us had ever had a real tragedy or dealt with death in any close way. Sure, we've had older family members die. But those family members died generally of a sickness or were much older and had lived a full life. Death is a part of life, but it's simply not fair to endure it without having experienced life. So, those perfect lives I mentioned we had (successful in school, educated, happily married, own a house, great friends...), well, there will always now be a scar and void in that "perfection" we have.

We thought we were in the clear. Throughout the entire pregnancy, there were very few concerns. He always measured smaller, but not a concerning size. He was breech, but the external version had nothing to do with his death. I fell, but on my bottom-- again having no impact on our child. We thought that at 38 weeks and 5 days, our perfectly full term baby would be perfect upon birth, even if he were early. I mean... that's an entire week after full term is generally defined and we passed the mark.

Everything, and I mean everything was defined by us having a son. I wouldn't make appointments, dinner dates, nothing in hopes that I would have a child that consumed our every moment. Andrew was in our every single thought.

When you're pregnant, there is just nothing that can compare to the feeling of having your child growing within you. It's God's perfect place that he designed to protect and nurture babies. I was that perfect place for Andrew... all until sometime between Saturday night, December 4th and Sunday morning, December 5th. We had a doctor's appointment for our 38th week on December 4th at 10 a.m. and heard his precious heartbeat once again-- counting the days to actually seeing his gorgeous face. We left with confidence as we had for awhile now. Though still zero centimeters dilated, I was certain we'd have him within the next 17 days-- because they wouldn't be cruel and allow him to be born on Christmas. (In hindsight, I could care less when he was born... as long as he was born alive). Like I said, his organs were fully developed and we were over the bump of nervousness that usually determines sustainability. He was moving fine on Saturday.

Sunday morning, December 5th, I didn't feel much movement, or any at all. I wasn't thinking about that though, because about an hour after waking, I starting having an intense single cramp in my abdomen. I thought... surely it's constipation or something of that nature. Yes, I tested the theory. Okay, but no relief. About an hour later, the pain worsened and it turned into intervals rather than a direct, constant feeling. My amazing husband was on the Internet searching as we all tend to self diagnose. At this point we did not think it would be contractions. I had never had a contraction before. Not even a Braxton Hicks-- whatever those feel like. By the time we actually started considering I may be in labor, we counted. I called the doctor to tell her that I was having sharp pains that lasted for about 30 seconds and came every 3 minutes. She said, "Call back when they are 1 minute long"-- 30 seconds is not enough. Okay, I get it. Many women call thinking they are in labor and freak out. I wasn't trying to be on that statistic, but this pain was intense. So intense that I vomited because of the intense pain. At this point, Ray was timing them and we were certain I was in labor at this point-- active labor. He counted and called the doctor. It took them awhile to get back to us (about 30 minutes), but we started driving. We assumed they were giving us time because since this was our first baby, we are probably the most prone to overreacting. Ray feverishly walked around cleaning the house during our wait and grabbed our bags before leaving.

We arrived at the hospital sometime between 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. and Ray dropped me off at the door as he parked the car. I continued to have 1-minute contractions spaced about 2 minutes apart. They weren't getting easier. Once he walked in, we headed up to labor and delivery. I was taken into a "checking" room as they intended to dismiss my labor cries and send me home. But... I never went home. This is where my life will be changed forever. This is where I become forever scarred, bruised, broken, and saddened. A piece of my heart is gone.

I lay down on the bed and the nurse strapped me with a fetal monitor. I've had this done numerous times before, so I know the procedure quite well. Usually, since I'm a smaller person and he is a full grown baby, they find it immediately. This time was different. She searched all over my belly and we heard nothing but the faint sounds of my own heartbeat. When she called on her phone for backup to assist in finding the beat, I looked at Ray and we both just had a look of disbelief. Right then, I really needed no more evidence that something was seriously wrong. We had about 4 nurses in the room and then the doctor came in with the ultrasound machine. Again, I'm really used to seeing that machine in action and his heartbeat. Nothing. At that moment, I experienced shock for the first time. Nonverbal, wide-eyed, tearless, shock. Then, hyperventilation. I began to shake and remember saying that I could not physically stop myself from shaking. I was wheeled down to another room-- the room we're now convinced is the "death" room in the L&D ward. It was located far from any other delivery room in a corner. Later, Ray told me that instead of a stork or some beautiful mark on our doors (we had 2 entrances), we had a falling leaf with some bereavement poem behind it. I didn't hear a single baby the entire time we were there. Not a single cry. Not my baby, not any other baby.

In the meantime, my contractions are beyond excruciating. I was dilated from 4 to 7 centimeters in about an hour. Being the carrier of a confirmed unresponsive baby, I had a million extra tests to be administered before they would consider an epidural. It just seemed unfair. I am in pain as any other laboring pregnant woman, yet I get no reward. I endure the same pain but have nothing to smile at in the end. Blood was taken in large amounts, an IV was placed and another ultrasound machine and technician came in. This time, she was testing the amount of amniotic fluid to see if that was any cause for the distress. Nope, normal. My water had not broken. Once all of these tests were done, I received an epidural.

Then, all was calm. There was no one in the room but people looking at me sadly, apologizing, and walking out. We sat there, still in shock and nervous of the next step. It's one thing to know you will be walking out of the hospital alone, but it's another when you know you'll come face to face with your child at some point. I wasn't nervous about the birthing process. I would have done anything to assure he would be alive, crying, and well when the day was over. The irony is that I was terrified of giving birth before this day. For some reason, when you're in emotional pain, physical pain is almost nonexistent. We sat there crying, in shock, talking through the worst day of our lives. Talking about how impossible it could be that this could be happening to us. We were prepared. We have it all together. We love God. We attend church, pray, and love others. We volunteer, give, and still, we must experience this.

At about 7:45 p.m., I was told that I would have to start pushing as I was completely dilated. This time I can remember both vividly and abstractly. It wasn't me inside my body. I remember them coaching me and my wonderful husband by my side. My water broke at 7:51 as I heard the nurse tell the other. At some point, they made me stop to wait for the doctor to arrive. She arrived and I gave birth to our child. Lifeless, but infinitely more beautiful than I ever conceived. I did not want to see him until he was cleaned off and they took all of their information. He was taken from the room and the rest was silent. I was shaking incessantly as I could not control the nerves that rushed in my body. I would be meeting my son for the very first time. A son who moved within me... who I loved SO much. But, he would never see me. I would never see his naked body or his eyes. I would never see him smile, laugh, or move. Shaking.

It was anticlimactic. Rather than hearing the words of how many pounds or the length, Apgar scores, or anything else, I just heard talks of no cord issue, no blood clots, no placental issue, no evidence of a problem.

At 9:04 p.m. on December 5th, I gave birth to an angel.

I had to ask the nurses how much he weighed and how long he was. They wrote it on the whiteboard in the room. 7 lb. 6oz. and 19.75 inches long. Perfect baby boy. They just kept telling me how beautiful he was.

Having not seen him yet, this is probably the time nurses began to share their heartbreaks. It seems like that is a human response to when others suffer. People search for something to level-out your feelings. I met 3 nurses who gave birth to stillborn children. The great news was that they all went on to have 3-5 more children after their tragedies.

We met our son around 10 p.m. that evening. He was infinitely more gorgeous than I ever thought he could be. He had a beautiful nose, mouth, cheeks, ears, hands, feet, and even little eyelashes. His hair was a light blond shade and he just looked at peace. I was terrified, but once I saw him, all I wanted to do was hold him and touch his still-warm body.

Around 11 p.m., the hospital provided us with a baptism and that was wonderful. He was dressed in a gown and given to God. He was always God's, really. This is the best way we knew to memorialize him.

At 1 a.m., people from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came to take photos of us with our son for the very last time. We were never to see him again after these minutes. While I felt this was something our child deserved... to have a family portrait with parents who could not possibly have more love for him, it tore us apart once again. Every encounter with him caused us to wail.

The next day brought infinitely more tears. The other doctor I saw frequently in the practice (the celebrity) came in early morning. She was also devastated. We talked it through and she gave us research she's learned about stillborn births with no explanation and promised to continue searching my file for information. She promised us there was nothing we could have done and that we followed all that we could to assure a healthy baby. Most importantly, she helped talk us through the future. She talked counseling, occupying our time, joining a group of support, and having more children.

The truth is, as soon as we found out Andrew would never come home with us, we wanted to fast forward or rewind. We wanted a re-do. A restart button. A do-over. I wanted to fast forward to pregnancy #2 as fast as humanly possible. As insensitive as this may sound to anyone reading, those who have had a stillborn child see life differently. Every woman I have talked to in my same experience (firstborn, stillborn) wanted to immediately start again. It's not that you want to cover up your first baby and mask the emotions, but because we know we'll never "get over" our son. We'll never be done mourning him. The longer we prolong having another child, the less healthy it will be for us. Plus, we were told that you are infinitely more fertile right after giving birth. Your body is ready to be pregnant and it's had practice.

I wasn't the most graceful pregnant woman. I was terrified of giving birth. But now, that's not the case. The silly things I've said I missed during my pregnancy I wish I could take back. I would be willing to do anything to assure that our child could be here with us.

On Andrew's birthday, I know two other people who gave birth that day. I know two other couples who welcomed their firstborns into the world just a couple days ago as well. As much as I want to say, "It's not fair", I know. I'm not jealous of their babies, but infinitely jealous that they are able to love their children and take them home. I don't want their children. I don't want any child. I want our Andrew. But, he is now with God. Tragedy occurs and God hates that... but it still happens. It happens to people with no warning, like us, and it happens to everyone.

As much as we felt taken care of at the hospital in that terrible Room 120, we felt there were a few things missing besides having our baby laying in the bed next to us. The next day, we were handed a paper to call local mortuaries for funeral/memorial/burial/cremation services. Talk about a shock. Two days prior, I was experiencing kicks and movements from my baby inside my body. I was counting the days until we could place him in his carseat, take him to the park, and see him smile. Two days later, I am signing autopsy paperwork and being told to call and price-check with funeral homes to cremate our child. Nothing, nothing is more painful than having to say goodbye to your baby. Luckily, the nurse offered to call around and set up arrangements for us. Less than 24 hours after finding out you will lose your child, giving birth, and staring at his face and we're required to price check for death services?

On Tuesday, we were allowed to go home. I was kept in the hospital a bit longer than usual because my white blood cell counts were higher than they should've been. They wanted to monitor in case I were to have an infection. I wasn't about to go back to that hospital again until I actually heard good news, so we stayed. The car ride home was infinitely harder than we thought it would be. I was wheeled out of L&D and sat in the wheelchair downstairs as I waited for our car. A woman sat with her 4-week early newborn in the chairs also waiting. She was laughing, smiling, and sharing her precious gift with all those around. I also had a baby, but I wasn't sharing him with anyone. I wasn't strapping him in his carseat or experiencing nervousness as we drove our precious cargo to his home and the room we had perfectly set for him. The laundry was done and everything was ready for his arrival. We drove home in tears. When we arrived home, I sat in the car as Ray found the strength to de-baby our house. Every single thing baby related (you can imagine our house was flooded with it as we were expecting him in just days!) went upstairs and is now sealed in what would have been his room. While coming home was difficult, the most difficult part was the silence. We hated how we left the hospital changed, but unchanged. We were changed emotionally, but all the hopes and dreams we had for the past year were shattered and the house we expected to share with our child-- the Christmas tree we thought would be his first tree and a place for our first family photo has vanished. Remnants are still around the house. Safety plugs, emails congratulating me on making it to my 39th week of pregnancy, diaper coupons... all triggers of emotion. 

Visiting the funeral home to select an urn for our child was the most difficult thing I think I've ever endured. It was gut wrenching to write "mother" and "father" on that paperwork to know we never got to exercise those privileges. We never watched him laugh, open a Christmas present, or kick a soccer ball. Going to "pick him up" will no doubt be even more painful.

This entire story is sad, but the most wonderful part is having the love and support we've had from friends and family. Having moved here in March, we never anticipated the amount of love we would be given by these people. We joined a great group of 20's/30's at our church and have since been quite connected. We spend lots of time with these wonderful people and they have made a point to assure we are pre-occupied and not sitting in silence. As much as I hate talking and sharing my emotions (except via blog), I have been forcing myself in order to avoid depression. Postpartum is most common (for obvious reasons) among women who have lost a child. We asked our friends to just keep us company. We don't need gifts, condolences, Sympathy cards, or anything. We have enough reminders of our son. We have pictures with him, footprints, and plenty of other items that we can't possibly forget how much we are mourning. We just want to laugh, to talk, to enjoy the company of others to break silence. We had at least 15 visitors at the hospital including the pastor at our church site. The outpouring of love surely blessed us.

We should be hearing our baby crying, waking up all hours to feedings, and changing diapers. We're not. We're just crying.

Physically, I am still dealing with the pains of giving birth. My emotional changes far outweigh that pain, but it is cruel to feel what a new mother feels and not look into the eyes of my child. I cannot drive right now. I must heal. My milk has come in and my breasts are incredibly painful. They are meant to nurture my child-- the child I won't ever have a chance to nurture. I stare at a post-pregnancy body and have no reward to show for it. I don't care what my body looks like, but it definitely reminds me of Andrew. If I feel a growl in my stomach or a cramp of any kind, it takes me back to what it feels like to have Andrew moving inside of me.

We will always be in love with him. We may never see him again, but he was our child. He sure was beautiful. Godspeed. We are not done. We want children and we pray that someday we'll get to experience what it's like to watch our child grow.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Ending of an Era

In the time I've known my husband, I've been introduced to Vera Bradley. Coming from California, almost no one has these or has even heard of the brand. While we dated, my sister-in-law bought me my very first VB items. This was the very first purse I ever owned by VB and there is a matching lunch tote to go with it.

It's been used thoroughly. So thoroughly, in fact, that my husband is now embarrassed that I would even carry the bag around considering its condition.
It's nicely monogrammed... except I've been married for 2.5 years and have since become a Wilson-- inherited a W and dropped an F. This purse is older than even our engagement of 3.5 years ago.
Here's the real issue. Here's what makes my husband cringe when I grab this as we head out to a nice dinner-- like the one we had Tuesday night with our incredible friends, Derrick & Liz. Check out those shoulder straps. I know. Cringe.
I promised that I would retire this bag {to the garbage} and use my other bags from December 1st on. Well, it's December 3rd and I'm just getting around to that promise. What can I say. Does pregnancy count as an excuse?

I'm still using the lunch tote-- even if it has no matching companion and it is monogrammed with my maiden name.

Baby Update: Week 38

Here we are... the home stretch. Baby W is viable and could come {safely} at any time. I'm ready for him to arrive because I'd love my body back. As you know from my previous post, 6 days ago I had an external version done to turn Baby W into the correct position. From that experience, I was required to wear a very large belly band and it's super itchy! As if the humidity changes haven't already caused me to lose TONS of sleep and itch all night incessantly-- add a wool band to the mix and that's a cocktail for pain and torture. But, worth it, I know.

How far along?: 38w3d
How big is Baby?: Big enough to make his appearance! I believe he's probably in the 6-7 pound range at this point. I'm not huge and most people that see me do no react to him being very large at all.
Maternity clothes?: Yes. We all know how I feel about them at this point. Thank goodness for yoga pants on days where the other 4 options just aren't working.
Sleep?: Terrible. Like I said, that itching! I think it's about 40% baby and 60% intense dry skin. I have literally tried it all: oils, lotions, wet skin + lotion/oil, infrequent showers, short showers, humidifier running all night...
Best moment of the week?: When Baby W was turned successfully!
Movements?: Oh yes. His new position head-down doesn't seem to be bothering him much since he's moving as much as ever!
Food cravings?: No. I did make peanut clusters last night for the first time ever. My mom would make these ever year for Christmas and since I had all the ingredients (peanuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter), I figured I'd try my hand at it. Peace of cake and delicious.
Aversions?: Not really... but the heartburn has been creeping back and making me question my food choices. Gardetto's mix = rough night.
What I miss?: A full night of uninterrupted sleep. Haha. I know. Laugh away. That will cease to exist in just a couple short weeks when Baby W arrives.
What I'm looking forward to?: I am looking forward to the weekend! It starts (for my husband) in about 4-5 hours!
Anything else?: Not really. He's fully grown and all set to make his appearance. The thin hair on his body is shedding and the vernix is also diminishing.
This week in history: Obama makes a surprise visit to Afghanistan, we had our first snow! It didn't stick for long but I hear tomorrow we'll be getting 2-6 inches! And so it begins...

What's going on this week (with us)?: We had a great week. I subbed a few times but I have a feeling that this will be my last week. I would go one more week of subbing, but people keep asking me when I'm due, if I am up for the task of working a full day (what would I be doing at home but driving myself crazy?! Laundry is done, bags are packed...), etc. It's almost like they want me home-- which I guess makes sense. No one wants me going into labor in the middle of subbing kindergarten, right? Depending on how far along I am according to my doctor tomorrow, I'll make the decision if I will continue working a few more days or not-- though I know it's not super accurate either way since people progress at different rates.

We are getting a Christmas tree tomorrow after my 38-week doctor's appointment. I've never had an appointment on a Saturday. Tomorrow will be my first time. Christmas trees seem much cheaper here than in LA... or maybe it's been too long since we've purchased one. We've only had one tree in our 2.5 years of marriage since last year we did not buy a tree in Germany (traveling a ton and no space). We should be able to find a nice tree for under $25. Many go for around $15. Not bad.

We have a date night on Sunday to Geja's Cafe. It has been rated one of the most romantic restaurants in Chicago. We considered checking out Marshall Fields' lights and window displays on State street, too, but it may be too cold. It's been in the 20's with a wind chill down to about 10-15 degrees lately. We may be doing a drive-by rather than parking and walking in the freezing (and potentially hazardous, icy terrain) temperatures. Either way, we're going to have an awesome fondue dinner! Can't wait!

Here are the photos from the previous months. Since they turned Baby W, you may be able to see a huge difference in the shape of my belly. It's definitely less of a basketball and more top-to-bottom rounded out.
Here I was two weeks ago at 36 weeks breech.
Here's my 38-week photo after the external version = no longer breech.
Here are the rest of the photos in case you'd like to check back in time. At my 40 week post, I am thinking about creating a video slide show to see progression better. It's a pain to upload, but I'll make it happen somehow. That is if Baby W isn't here already! :)


Here's a lovely care package sent by Samantha for Thanksgiving along with a card from my parents-- the jellybeans are long gone!
Our friend Erin (who just had a baby girl in October!) sent over these books as some of her favorites. She's also a kindergarten teacher, so she knows what the little ones love. I would say that the super little guys perplex me. I'll learn soon enough! Thanks Erin & Adam!
It's been package central at our house... unfortunately I don't have a photo of all the amazing things Alison, Nic, Gab & Scotty sent (I put it away already and wasn't going to run around the house pulling things from shelves... sorry no photo!), but I'll describe the amazing stuff. Alison has now had two little ones of her own and had a baby in March, so she's well versed on what she loves. She wanted to share some of those loves with us and Baby W.

Aden & Anais swaddlers (these are so wonderful!), Sophie the Giraffe & Giraffe Wubbanub, 2 nursing tank tops she bought for a total bargain (way to go, Al!), a Boon Squirt spoon (...which is awesome! They use them with Scotty and they're super convenient!), & A Baby Gap footed outfit (SO cute). Everything is being washed so it's all ready to go! :)

Here are a few photos of that horrible band I've been wearing. I've only taken it off for a total of about 3 hours since Sunday. I wear it when I sleep since I am less aware of his movements then, and most of the time when I'm awake. Right now, however, I am being a rebel. It's just so uncomfortable. I'm hoping by tomorrow's appointment, the doctor will tell me I am good to go and he's right where he needs to be without a chance of movement. Of course that's probably unrealistic, but it's a hope.

Doesn't that look comfy? The good news is (if I'm trying to be positive here), is that it does provide back support if that was a concern... which it's not, really.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

EV Success!

Guess who's no longer breech? That's right!

We went into labor and delivery for our 10 a.m. appointment with the celebrity doctor and before we knew it, Baby W had a new position. I bet he's just super confused at this point having been breech for a long time and now living in an upside-down world.

We know L&D quite well considering we spent a few hours there on Tuesday after my fall. We were taken into a delivery room this time because they needed to use the ultrasound machine-- and it appeared to be pretty quiet around the area.

The nurse hooked me up to fetal monitoring again, asked me a ton of questions, and gave me a shot that was to calm the uterus before the EV was to be performed. The shot was no walk in the park and hurt for a few minutes after, but I've had worse. It made me feel a bit jittery, but that's just what the nurse said I might feel. She came in and gave me a big cup of ice water to get the baby moving. It seemed to work quite well because there was lots of movement going on!

After being there for about 30 minutes, the doctor came in, checked to make sure I was still breech (definitely) and they hauled in the ultrasound machine. They checked his positioning and heart rate often for a few minutes as they figured out where he was in my belly. Then, the action started. She used both hands on my nicely gooped belly (they used a bunch of that ultrasound gel), scooped his bottom and his head and moved him in a circle clockwise (if you're from my perspective). It took about 15 seconds and it worked! Except... he promptly moved back into his lovely breech position. They monitored me again, counted his heart rate, and tried again. This time, about 15-20 not-so-comfortable seconds and he was head down! She held him there for about a minute while monitoring his heart rate as to make sure there was no distress. While painful, it wasn't the worst I've felt. The nurse commented twice that she's never seen anything like it-- the baby's body obviously moving into place. The doctor said it was because I'm a small person and every large body part (his head, mainly) was visible. The doctor was very pleased and said I was a great candidate not only because I have a small physique, but because I was relatively calm throughout the process and didn't tense my stomach muscles.

I was hooked up again to fetal monitoring to assure there was no distress and discharged 2 hours later-- after we both had cat naps, watched a little TV, and listened to some Christmas music. Before we left, I was strapped with a massive belly band so that it would hold him in place and give him little room to be able to flip back up if he tried. I have instructions to wear this band at least until my next OB appointment on Saturday, December 4th.

While elated, it's a bit more scary and real now! Things could potentially move at any time considering he is in position. With our previous situation, I had more control of knowing that there was little likelihood I would go into labor because he was not positioned properly. Now... it's all a mystery! Thank you to all who were praying (especially my favorite 2-year old, Joel Marriott). Now, if we can only keep him down and from already expressing his {obviously} individual mind. I wonder who he has acquired that quality from? ;)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Baby Update: Week 37

This week was quite different from most! I had two experiences I never anticipated! Well, one experience and somewhat of a decision we had to make.

Here's the experience...
I was on my way to sub last Tuesday and stopped off at Starbucks to buy a venti caramel apple spice. I rarely go to Starbucks and even more rare is ordering a venti! I happened to have my free birthday coupon from October that was soon to expire. On this bitter cold morning, I figured it was the best time to use it. I arrive at the school 30 minutes before school starts and grabbed everything I needed from my car. About 20 feet from the door of the school, I slipped on black ice (I did mention is was definitely in the 20's with a wind-chill, right?) and landed right on my bottom. You can imagine where my drink ended up... all over the place. Frustrated, I headed into the school knowing I was probably going to be leaving immediately. I let the secretary know that I couldn't stay and had to go to the hospital. At 37 weeks, that's not something to take lightly. I called Ray and he met me at the hospital. I was just so frustrated because my bottom didn't even hurt, my drink was gone, I lost out on a sub day (which are about to end completely soon, along with that extra cashflow), I left my delicious lunch at the school, I inconvenienced the school who had to find another sub with 20 minutes left until school began, and to top it off, I had to spend 2 hours at labor and delivery! Who knows what that bill is going to look like when it arrives...

I was hooked up to a fetal monitor for 2 hours and listened to Baby W's heartbeat the entire time. It was fairly steady around the 130's until he moved-- then it jumped between 150-160 every time. Ray stayed with me and got a bit of a taste of what it's going to be like in just a few weeks. When I was done, the nurse said she read a few contractions, but at this point in my pregnancy, that is completely normal and not the effect of a fall. I was discharged and carried on with my day.

The next piece of weekly news is the decision we had to make. I was scheduled to see the doctor yesterday and not looking forward to the waiting room. Every time I am scheduled to see this particular woman, it takes forever to be seen! I usually wait over an hour in the waiting room for her. She is also the one of the four doctors in the practice that is the "celebrity" of the group. She delivers all the high-risk, scheduled multiples births, and is known in the area for being that doctor. You can almost never get a new patient appointment to see her unless you are already seeing another doctor more exclusively in the practice. Since it is uncertain of which doctor will be on-call the day I deliver, they schedule me to see all of them at times during my monthly/weekly checkups. I saw two other doctors the last two weeks and this week was her turn. Having been breech and given ultrasounds the last two weeks in a row, I thought this week would be no different. The waiting part was dead-on. I had to wait forever. When she came in, she also recorded that the baby was still breech (which we also knew going in) but then asked if I would consider an external version. I was shocked to hear this! We went into this appointment thinking they would automatically schedule me a c-section and just hope for the best when it came to his positioning. That was the only way we saw getting out of the c-section. She didn't even mention the word! She told me she was on-call Sunday and that she would gladly attempt the version if we were interested. She weighed the pros and cons of the procedure (concern of placenta separating from the uterus or going into active labor) but also said that in her 23 years of doing ev's, she has never seen that happen. Well, I believe she said one woman went into immediate labor after, but that's better than the placental separation. So, we agreed to go ahead with it. We scheduled the procedure for 10 a.m. tomorrow (Sunday, November 28th) and walked out. If it doesn't work and he still doesn't turn, we have a scheduled c-section. If it does work or he turns at a later date, we're going natural. I know the procedure is painful, but I'm willing to give it a shot for the potential to avoid the awful c-section recovery! The stat I was given: there's about a 30% chance it will work since it works best on people who've already been pregnant (= stretched uterus more pliable and mine isn't). She also said, though, that since he is quite high in my belly that it may be a better chance for me than another first-pregnancy candidate. Considering I was given a 25% chance he'll move on his own, I will at least increase the probability a bit more and do everything we can.

As for the rest of the baby updates...

How far along?: 37w4d
How big is Baby?: Baby W can be anywhere between 5.5-7 pounds at this point. All estimates, of course. I'm about 2 days away from viability, where the baby can be born at any time without any risk of complication or underdevelopment.
Maternity clothes?: Yes, and I hate them. Loathe. Can't wait for my other clothes to fit again.
Sleep?: I slept amazing last night thanks to the humidifier and lots of lotion. For the most part, I've been sleeping erratically, but I was happy to have a great night's rest.
Best moment of the week?: The whole week was wonderful. We spent Thanksgiving with our friends, Jim, Kristi, and Joel along with their families. Ray and I are in the midst of 4 days off together which is such a blessing to have right before chaos hits (aka having our first baby!). Sure, it will be chaos, but also a precious time in our lives we will only share together.
Movements?: Yes, he moves. A lot, and often. While we were playing games with about about 15 friends last night, and all of them witnessed Baby W moving violently in my belly. He can be quite entertaining. :)
Food cravings?: I've been wanting pizza this week more than usual... though I haven't actually had any. Haha.
Aversions?: I wouldn't say so, except that I don't feel in the mood for leftovers lately
What I miss?: See maternity clothes and sleep.
What I'm looking forward to?: Tomorrow's procedure being over. I want it to happen but I want even more for it to be over so we have a general idea of the next proceedings. Will be be having a c-section, or not?
Anything else?: Nope. Most websites are saying he's fully cooked at this point and can come at any time.
This week in history: The full-body scans and pat-downs at airports are causing lots of issues with TSA and travelers.
What's going on this week (with us)?: I mentioned a few things... but we've been spending a lot of time this week just getting little things done for Baby W. We bought some items and did the laundry of baby clothes, blankets, etc. We're now working on odds and ends that are on our to-do list for this long weekend. We've cleaned the house really well since there is a potential that tomorrow's procedure could be the day for us. Doubtful, but we aren't taking any chances of coming home to massive amounts of dust bunnies. Of course that means I'll probably be doing another deep clean before the baby actually does come, but at least we utilized our time well. We headed out last night after bundling ourselves up in a bunch of layers to see the Naperville parade through downtown. After, we had cider and headed to the Grounds for Hope Cafe to play games with a bunch of friends.

I'll update if the external version was a success, or not after tomorrow's procedure! Turn, baby, turn!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is such a special time. Just last night I was reading back on a few random journal entries I wrote while we were living in Germany this time last year. We worked that day and drove to a local town, Iserlohn for dinner-- Chinese food takeout. Then we went to a Christmas market, our very first one, and headed home. The Germans do not celebrate this day of Thanksgiving as we do in the states, but in many ways, it seems like they are more thankful everyday than we are. Their lives are simpler. They have one option of many grocery products, focus less on brand names, and don't appear to need everything like we do.

This year, our circumstances are considerably different. We are awaiting the birth of our son in 3 weeks or less! It's an incredible gift to share with one another as a married couple and an even more precious gift knowing that what we have created is a complete miracle from God. There is simply no other way to describe it.

As we hustle to gather the food together and scope out Black Friday deals, I just want to make sure we, the Wilson's, are conscious of how much we are gifted with. In forms of health, family, friends, love, food, shelter, and God's grace... we're abundantly gifted with so much that it is important to reflect on that.

As we welcome this little miracle into our lives, may we be thankful parents who teach humility, appreciation, God's love and grace, and thankfulness to him each day. May we be a representation of this with our lives as an example.

We can't wait to see you, little love!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lots of Yellow + Squirrel Carnage

I'll start with the carnage. Ever since a few days before Halloween, we've noticed some special holes in our pumpkins. We suspected birds. Oh no. Squirrels. Instead of eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like they used to eat in Southern California (they weren't normal), they eat pumpkins. I guess it makes sense. They are edible and the squirrels are hungry. They're also not stupid. They know winter is coming and that is a time where they will starve if they aren't on their game. The carnage looks much worse now, but I didn't snap any more photos.
We celebrated our friend Kristi's 30th birthday with dinner and fun at their house. They made lasagna and salad. It was awesome.
We all dressed in yellow to pay tribute to Kristi who loves yellow. Some of us did not have yellow (I seriously can't believe Ray does not own a single piece of yellow clothing. Nothing. Not even a t-shirt.
Here is the some of the crew in yellow...
Ladies in yellow...
Reflective yellow shot. It doesn't appear that I'm doing a whole lot of reflecting. Haha.
Good friends, good fun.

Baby Update: Week 36

How far along?: 36w4d
How big is Baby?: He's about 6 pounds and 18.5 inches long! I can't believe that big of a child is growing inside of me. From the change on the scale at the doctor's this week, one of us is obviously gaining weight. I hope it's him, not me. :) Someone please take all of the Halloween candy out of our house immediately. Thanks.
Maternity clothes?: Yes. I am not starting to return some items to friends because either they fit too snug and I'm all about maximum comfort right now, or they are in need of them. Lots of pregnancies all around. I did discover a store called Clothes Minded (my friend Liz told me about) that has lots of maternity wear... I'll be visiting that place for baby #2 when that occurs in a few years (had to put that for my mom who will likely start asking me as soon as Baby W is born). ;)
Sleep?: Yes... this week was rough. I slept only a few patches at a time and I think it is because my skin has been so incredibly itchy. It's turning winter here. I took Baby W's humidifier and placed it directly next to me while I sleep, I have used massage oil and gobs of lotion, and we've now turned up the humidity in our house. It's almost unbearable. But... not sure that has anything to do with the baby-- though having to use the restroom a million times and having a basketball attached to your abdomen doesn't really warrant the best sleep anyway. Thank goodness for the last two restful nights, though.
Best moment of the week?: Having dinner with our friend Nik! He and Solange are great friends and some we miss dearly from California. Nik was out here for a job training and we were able to have Lou Malnati's for dinner with him. Since he couldn't experience "Chicago" since he was carless and working the majority of the daylight hours, we made sure he at least had a deep dish experience.
Movements?: Yes... but not the ones I want. We found out via ultrasound #2 (in two weeks time) that he is still breech. He moves all the time but none have been the 180 degree movement I am hoping for.
Food cravings?: Like I said, food is just always appealing.
Aversions?: None.
What I miss?: I miss fitting into clothes. Last Saturday (1 week ago from when I am writing this), I bought a vest. I can't zip it now. I'd just like a few more options.
What I'm looking forward to?: Baby W! I think it's safe to say that at almost 37 weeks! I'm also looking forward to accomplishing a few things on our to-do list this weekend.
Anything else?: Baby W is continuing to pack on pounds and the only thing left is to make sure his little lungs are developed enough to sustain life outside of my body. In just about 9 days, he will be considered "full term" and able to live without additional support of any kind. Though, I think he'd be fine if born today, honestly.
This week in history: Not that this is newsworthy... but something that happened this week. Oprah just announced her "favorite things" on that show she does annually and plugged two things that affect us: Groupon (a website we use all the time) and the Nikon d3100 camera. We just bought it this week before her show aired. Thank goodness because now the prices are likely to spike and they'll be sold out everywhere! We needed a great camera to take pictures of our little man. We also made sure to buy the insurance so we wouldn't have the same debacle as our last camera tragedy. Take note, Canon, we've moved on to Nikon.
What's going on this week (with us)?: Ray is working a bunch and traveled to Minnesota for one day where he said there was snow on the ground. We still haven't had snow {yet, knock on wood}, but the temperatures have been a lot cooler. We've been hanging out in the 20's-40's lately. I've been subbing a bunch this week and just trying to get things done. Laundry is now in order since Baby W could really come anytime. I am in the process of washing everything, we just put the carseat in the car, and we're just prepping as we should. I am convinced that "nesting" is nothing more than "holy cow...we're going to have a baby and need to get this done now since we won't have time or energy later" as we are coming to realize. Ray played volleyball again last night and we're about to head out to run some errands. Productive, busy, and good.

Picture comparisons:


Here's Month 9! He's still "high" on my belly because he's breech. No "dropping" has occurred, sadly.
We received another cute and creative gift in the mail. The package came from our friends Samiya, Ali, and Norah (their little lady). It's a really cute train of magnetic letters.
Carseat installed! We used the latch system in my Accord and read both the manual and car manual. It's quite tight and secure.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Baby Update: Week 35

No pictures on this one, sorry! Next week I'll be displaying the 36-week belly. Only a few more of these photos to go before Baby W makes his debut into the world!

How far along?: 35w2d
How big is Baby?: He's about 18 inches long and 5.25 pounds. He's officially out of the preemie stage! If he were born today, he'd most likely be a well-developed little guy. Correction... I just read online that a preemie baby is one that is born prior to 37 weeks gestation. However... there are many babies born before this at 6-7 pounds and perfectly normal. So, I'm not sure about that!
Maternity clothes?: Yes. I have cleared out a few items to give back to a friend I've borrowed them from because she is pregnant now with her second and has informed me that she is feeling her clothes already tightening. I have about a month left (thankfully!) and will be sizing down from there. Once baby comes, I may just be wearing lots of yoga-ish pants. Preferred anyway.
Sleep?: Yeah. I attempted to use this pregnancy pillow wedge but hated it. So, that exited the bed after one night. It was to position me and provide support of my lower back and belly while sleeping-- it also kept me on my side rather than falling on my back, which isn't recommended. Regardless, it didn't work and I didn't like it. Sleeping on my side just as always is what is best for me.
Best moment of the week?: I went on a great walk (and actually sweat!) with my friend Jess today. So far, that was the moment. I can't say that subbing in 1st grade or kindergarten were really that enthralling, honestly. ;)
Movements?: Yes, he's moving, but not in the right places! We found out yesterday at my appointment that he is breech, head up! Yikes! He still moves plenty but now I hope he's channeling that energy to move down into the birth canal. Can't believe I just typed that. Woah.
Food cravings?: No. But thankfully there is only one Snicker's ice cream bar left in the freezer. I have eaten 11/12 myself-- but not in the same day. I'd say I've consumed them over the course of two weeks. Still, dangerous!
Aversions?: Nope.
What I miss?: I miss running again. I just feel so immobile not being able to move my body more. Walking was nice, but it's not running. I know... get over it. Soon I'll be able to run again and I won't want to. Haha.
What I'm looking forward to?: I'm looking forward to the weekend again. I see my husband more on weekends and love that. We signed up to volunteer at the food pantry we've volunteered at before this coming Saturday and we have plans with friends, too. It should be a nice weekend. I'm also looking forward to my next doctor's appointment (Tuesday) so we can continue investigating Baby W's breech position and talk about options. They said they generally do not do an external version on women in their first pregnancies because there is a concern of rupturing the placenta in the process. We'll see. I've started all kinds of weird things like lying on an ironing board with frozen veggies, shining flashlights, and crawling on all fours for about 15 minutes at a time. Not enjoyable... so I sure hope he makes the decision on his own! C'mon Baby! We are conscious, however, that no matter what happens, this little guy will be a joy to us and just having him will be wonderful. Sure... I'd love to avoid a c-section at all cost, but if that does come to be, I need to accept it, remain thankful, and carry on.
Anything else?: Not a whole lot in the baby department as far as development is concerned aside from added pounds and finishing touches. He looks pretty much as he will when he finally comes.
This week in history: How about some positive news: today we celebrate our Veterans. :)

What's going on this week (with us)?: We are having a fine week at the Wilson house. Tomorrow night Ray will be playing dodgeball for his Friday night sport since there is no volleyball tomorrow. I'll go and watch as usual. We have our weekend planned and it will include lots of socializing. I think we'll probably buy a few baby (etc.) items this weekend, too. Baby is getting closer and we could use a few more things that although aren't required, may make life easier post delivery. I have my prenatal massage tomorrow and I'm thrilled! It should be awesome. I hope that I can relax enough for the positions she'll probably put me in. No doubt it will be my first prenatal massage and that in itself is a bit weird. But, I love massages and will absolutely come away feeling more refreshed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Christmas Card Dilemma

While it's not a huge dilemma... it's one I've thought about. Do we send out Christmas cards this year being 9+ months pregnant with our baby? Do we wait until he arrives and be fashionably late with a cutesy photo of him to adorn a photo card? Do we send regular cards... or try Shutterfly for the very first time?

While still deliberating, we're considering a Christmas card/birth announcement that we'll order post-delivery so our little guy can be shown to the world. It may turn into a sort-of "New Years" card rather than a Christmas card, but that might be fun. Are birth announcements a thing of the past? In this digital age, it does make me wonder...

I was searching through Shutterfly's website and saw this gorgeous one that I loved...

Of course it wouldn't hurt if Shutterfly wanted to gift us with some freebie cards either. I heard through my friend Alli that they will be giving away 50 freebie cards to some bloggers-- now if we're chosen, we'll be under obligation to pick out something fantastic and send away!

Cooking Machine

I've made a few recipes recently that we liked enough to blog about. I'll definitely be making these again soon.

First one... pot pies. I love pot pies but have an impossible time finding ones that are both vegetarian and not 100 grams of fat each. I had never attempted the creation of one myself, but felt that the fall weather we've been having was the perfect time.

I felt a bit like Sandra Lee of Semi-Homemade Cooking when making this meal because I used mostly store bought items to save time. The recipe follows the photo...
Using our Crate & Barrel ramekins I love so much, I made these. Here's the recipe:
Semi-Homemade Chicken & Veggie Pot Pies 
Ingredients:
Crust: 
1 can of 8 low-fat croissants
Filling: 
- 1 breast cooked/chopped chicken
- 4 cups of cooked vegetables (I used 2 sliced carrots, chopped broccoli, diced green bell pepper and sauteed them with a touch of soy sauce/covered to steam the rest of the way)
- 1 can Cream of Potato soup (eliminates the need to cook potatoes, too!)
- Cheese of your choice. I used mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan
- Chives, pepper, salt, season to taste. I don't measure... I just throw in.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to whatever the croissant container tells you to. :) 350 degrees I believe.
2. Unravel croissants but do not separate. Leave as two long rectangles. Use a rolling pin to thin them out as much as possible. Cut your thinned dough into 8 squares total.
3. Line the bottoms of the ramekins with a square piece of dough in each. Cook for about 5 minutes until a hint of golden appears. This is done so the bottom does not stay soggy when you add ingredients and cook again.
4. In the meantime, cook veggies and chicken.
5. Mix veggies, chicken, can of soup, and just enough water to give a smooth but not soupy consistency (about 1/2-3/4 cup depending on how much of the other ingredients you've added). Add cheeses-- whatever amount you'd like. Eye-ball it. Heat in a saucepan altogether until cheese melts into mixture.
6. Spoon mixture into each ramekin (at this point the bottom dough is a bit cooked).
7. Use the remaining 4 squares of croissant dough and cover each top by pinching over just as you would in making an apple pie.
8. Bake until golden.

Yields 4, 10-ounce ramekins = 4 meals ... but in our case... 2 very, very full people who love croissants a whole lot. Haha.

The next recipe was born when my friend Liz asked me to make a "bean" salad to bring over for dinner at their house. Bean salad? I'd honestly never made one! She of course knew that I am a veggie and figured I would find this task easy. One would think. I quickly kicked into gear and wanted to use my absolute favorite new protein/grain, Quinoa. This stuff is delicious, versatile, and incredibly good for you. It tastes just like white rice and has an airy consistency. I am not a fan of brown rice and this far surpasses that and is still better for you! I found recipes on the internet for quinoa and black bean salads but wasn't entirely pleased with any of them. So... I used some of their ideas but made my own rendition.
Black Bean & Quinoa Salad
Ingredients:
- 2 cans black beans, drained
- bell pepper, diced (any color--I used red)
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (Hint: I cook with 1 cube of boullion or some stock instead of plain water. It makes for a much tastier result)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 bunch chopped green onions
- 1 cup sliced or chopped black olives
- 1 cup corn
- Chopped jalapeno pepper (I also added some of the jalapeno juice to the dressing)
Dressing:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3-4 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped/minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon jalapeno juice (if using canned jalapenos, use jar juice-- or from peperoncinis jar)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients & serve cold

That evening, we had a great dinner at the Allen's house. We brought our salad and they made beef cabernet burgers with ciabbata bread as the buns (toasted and delicious), homemade spicy black bean veggie burger for me (SO delicious and so thoughtful), and spicy sweet potatoes (I don't like sweet potatoes but these were not sweet and I actually enjoyed them!).

...and let's not forget to mention a Thanksgiving package that showed up at our doorstep this week! Ray's parents sent some Thanksgiving love from Maryland. Thank you, MD Wilsons!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Baby Update: Week 34

It's been a great week here at the Wilson house. We've been quite productive and we're only "nesting" a little-- most of it is just preparing for winter!

Here are the updates before some fun photo updates:

How far along?: 34w5d
How big is Baby?: I read that he is between 4 pounds and 5 pounds at this point, erring on the side of 5 rather than 4! He's becoming a big boy! If born now, he would likely be fine with only a very short stay in NICU (surely we don't want that) and his lungs are just about fully developed and wouldn't require additional oxygen. He's also around 18 inches long!!!
Maternity clothes?: Yes, and I can't wait to be out of them. I know I'll still be wearing them post-birth for a bit, but at least I'll be able to fit into some of my other tops and slowly work my way back into normal clothes. Basically any clothes are uncomfortable at this point-- aside from Ray's shirts and sweatpants. Yes, I wear his shirts often... but only around the house.
Sleep?: Eh. Yes, I do, and no, it's not wonderful. I think those days are over! Sleeping in has been really difficult to do. But, the great thing is that when I am sleeping, neither my back nor ribs hurt. :)
Best moment of the week?: I really enjoyed having dinner at our friends Derrick & Liz's house along with our other great friends, Kristi, Jim, and Joel. And... Kristi announced she is pregnant with baby #2!
Movements?: I do believe he has moved from down (which was great) to the side (breech) again! I have become wider rather than further out. I used to be able to feel the hiccups in my lower belly, but now I am feeling what seems like his back and head in the center and extending to the left. But, he is surely moving a ton! Sometimes, I think he is physically carrying my organs to different places. Haha! My right rib has been quite sore this entire week. It's as if I have a bruise, but I know it's just the pressure from him pushing up.
Food cravings?: No, but please don't ask how much Halloween candy we had left over and hence have consumed as a result. The Twix, Kit Kat, and Reese's are disappearing at an alarming rate.
Aversions?: No. Not in the least.
What I miss?: Champagne. A friend mentioned it the other day and I wanted a glass. We have a bottle chilling in our fridge from Alison & Nic's visit that I will be consuming post delivery. It will be a Christmas present-- don't worry people... I will have a glass. My hope to breastfeed will not be compromised. Speaking of breastfeeding... man are those breastpumps expensive! Soon I shall invest in one. Soon.
What I'm looking forward to?: Well, I'm not looking forward to my weekly appointments starting this week! I had an appointment last week and they continue every single week until I deliver. I am, however, looking forward to finishing up all the purchases and little things before Baby W. We don't really need anything, but there are some things we're thinking about since our baby class this past weekend (like yellow washcloths designated for "dirty" jobs, baby wipe container, desitin... you know... the small stuff).
Anything else?: Like I said, I've started weekly doctor's appointments! It's becoming very real that next month (or anytime, really), we are going to be parents to a little boy! It's incredibly exciting and is giving us great anxiety all at the same time. We are blessed and can't wait to see what this little guy is like. At my doctor's appointment, I weighed in only .5 pounds more than 2 weeks prior and I am still under the 150 mark. I don't think I'll make it. As for Baby W, there isn't much going on other than adding extra poundage and final touches on organ development. But, in all the literature I've read, he would most likely be fine if born now or anytime after. Holy cow!
This week in history: Black Friday deals turning up early everywhere (we're interested in a couple things this year and plan to actually participate!), Obama in Asia, Daylight savings "fall back" occurred this morning at 2 a.m.-- love that extra hour usually... but when I'm pregnant and can't sleep anyway, it doesn't do much good. Haha.

What's going on this week (with us)?: We've been getting so much done around here. We washed both of our cars today. Mine hadn't been washed at all since we bought it in April and I wanted to touch up a few paint chips before the winter months = rust. We also purchased a few winter items like a snow shovel, ice, an oil space heater, and a firewood holder for our garage. We took our second baby class yesterday at the hospital called "Babycare Plus" that included information about when baby comes home and helpful tips (swaddling, diapering, Happiest Baby on the Block theories, carseat safety, vaccinations, pediatricians/doctors, infant CPR, etc.). It was okay. I heard amazing things about the class and while it was helpful to hear a few things, we didn't need the class. I guess we just felt that since we are first-time parents, we should take classes to educate ourselves despite the amount we've read in books and all over the Internet-- not to mention what we know from common sense and from friends with kids. Baby W does deserve the best, however, so we took the classes. Ray also played volleyball with our friends in the co-ed league (I go as a spectator) and won 2 of 3 games! They have now won more games than lost-- which is great! We had dinner with friends and that was wonderful as usual. It's just so nice having great friends.

Here are the monthly photos to compare:

Here's the Month 8.5 photo:
Here are some nursery photo updates. We bought a new lamp and there's the bird I bought at the thrift store, sanded, stained, and painted. I love it. The lamp was a recommendation on behalf of my friend Alison whose son, Scotty, used the nursery when they visited. It was quite dark and we needed some light in there for middle-of-the-night feedings. This lamp is awesome because the base is a touch-base. You simply touch anywhere on the silver bottom and it turns on. No switches to fumble with and so easy! Considering that we would use this as we're tired, it's easiest to use.

At my shower last week, the ladies provided us with a few things we felt we "needed" like the changing pad and changing pad cover. We also got crib sheets and a bunch of items I have to wash before use. I'm waiting until it gets a bit closer to his arrival to throw in the load so they are nice and fresh.
This photo is to show the monkey. It's from our baby shower and it now has a home. :)
At our Babycare Plus class, we learned infant CPR. In order to do so, we had to blow up our "mini baby" they kept calling it. Ray was lucky enough to have that job. This came just a day after Ray took a two-day course of CPR at his work. He's pretty solid with knowledge.
Mini baby testing out the bassinet. Of course everyone else in the class deflated their mini baby. Oh no, not the Wilsons. 
And... the final pièce de résistance... this onesie. I was home the day UPS dropped this off at our doorstep. It came from a company called FansEdge, but with no information of whom sent it! We're still speculating who sent this our way, but either way, I love the LA pride! Thank you, friends, to those who sent this. I'll call the people I suspect were involved in this mystery present this week.
Overall, great and full week! Here's to the next one and a healthy baby boy growing strong!