Monday, September 29, 2008

Smooth Moves

Now that you have seen our progess on the nursery, you may be wondering what we did with all that other "stuff." Well, Jon's office has moved down to the ground floor guest bedroom. We crammed everything into this quiet, little niche for him where he can study his international politics and homeland security to his heart's content. He even has a sitting area for relaxed studying or meeting with imaginary clients.

My office, on the other hand, is wherever I can get wireless access on my laptop. Lately, it's been my favorite corner of the couch, with my feet propped up on a few pillows and topped off with an ice pack. But when the weather is really nice, and I'm trying to catch some rays, my other favorite location is the front deck.

Now isn't that a convenient place to work, study and tan - all at the same time!

Speaking of offices and jobs, my new position is going much better. We finally completed all the necessary paperwork and signatures so I can officially work from home. I'm still coming to campus a lot right now but having the option to go home whenever has been nice on both me and my ankles! In fact, I have determined that my swollen feet have nothing to do with my sweet, little baby and everything to do with my EVIL desk at work, which I hate being stuck at. I've also realized how dull things are at home during the week. I'm sure there are plenty of things I should be doing, but at this point I'm lacking the necessary motivation. I'm hoping being home all day will be much more enjoyable, and purposeful, once Jack arrives.

Jon's new job is going well too. We both LOVE his new hours! Okay well I love that he's home early every day, I'm not crazy about how he wakes up at 4:30 every morning. Or how he requires two battery-operated alarms to wake up at 4:30 every morning. Or how he sometimes turns off one alarm but forgets to turn off the other alarm which goes off whiles he's in the shower every morning. But other than that it's been great! :) Two weeks ago he was away in DC at a school. Despite spending the majority of our first year of marriage apart for months at a time, I still can't get used to even weeklong separations. I managed to cope by ordering all my favorite chic flicks from Netflix and treating myself to pizza and Pringles most of the week. It looks like he may be traveling a few other times this coming winter/spring, but thanks to my new flexible job, he had better be prepared to take the baby and I along!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Changing seasons, changing ... background noise

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, fall is my favorite season! I’m so excited that things here in Virginia Beach have finally started to cool off and that I can participate in some of my favorite fall activities: picking pumpkins, purchasing mum, riding on hay wagons and the annual flinging open of windows!!

I love having the windows open. Growing up in Pennsylvania without air conditioning, it didn't matter how hot the summer was. Here in Virginia things are a little different, and I've grown accustomed to spending the summer days shut up in my climate-controlled bubble, oblivious to the outside world. Now that our windows are open, I've become re-aquainted with our neighborhood. More specifically, I've noticed that our quiet little street isn't as quiet as I once thought. First, I noticed that a lot of people take walks on our street with their kids after work. I think this is cute. I love to hear the voices of little ones as they pedal as fast as they can on their tricycle, or try to spin out in the neighbors driveway. I've also enjoyed checking out the different strollers that come by our front walk. Second, I've noticed that there is a very sassy squirrel in the tree by the window in Jack's room. I really hope he goes into hibernation soon because I don't need his squeaking disturbing my son's naps.

Having the windows open has also drawn us closer to our backyard neighbors, or at least made us more aware of them. On Sunday, while washing dishes and enjoying the breeze in my open window and while Jon was watching the football game, I heard some very strong language yelled to the referee for a bad call. It took me a few seconds to realize that this was no man in my house, but rather an angry fan in the house several yards away. Then yesterday, whilst making my husband a delicious dinner the tune, of which I can only say must be the soundtrack for the underworld, suddenly came blaring across the tree tops. I would have thought it was Jon in the next room, but we definitely don't have that kind of noise in our house. And it wasn't the Navy boys who live next door. No, it was some teenager a few houses down who's parents must have been out because the serenade was allowed to go on about a songlength longer than it should have.

At nearly 37 weeks, there is also one other aspect of fall that I've come to appreciate even more so this year - a new wardrobe. Thanks to the cooler weather I've been able to opt for a more "layered look" and I can honestly say I'm back in some of my non-maternity clothes. Granted I can't button the jackets, but at least it has provided me with some variety of attire. Sadly, I've reached the point where a number of maternity clothes don't fit anymore. This is surprising to me because most people are still commenting that I'm rather small for being due "any day." Although there are a few people who prefer to assert that I'm "huge!" Fortunately, aside from my swollen feet which I've been able to get under some sort of control, I'm still feeling pretty good. Every once in while I catch my husband with the "will-she-ever-get-back-to-normal" look in his eyes, and I can sympathize, but other than being slightly larger and slower, I still feel a lot like my old self. You know you're getting close to the end when you switch from thinking about how big you're going to get to wondering how long it will take to get small again!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Practice makes perfect

Relaxation isn't the only thing we've been practicing to get ready for parenthood. It would seem that raising a child involves a number of different contraptions, which are best mastered before the baby arrives. One article I read recently suggested that I should not only take everything out of the packages, but I should also loosen all bottle tops and containers so that I don't have to worry about trying to open the baby lotion with one hand while balancing Jack with the other. Phew! Good thing the author mentioned that because with all the other things to think about when having a baby, I'm pretty sure the loose bottle caps item would have definitely slipped my mind! :) Personally, I don't really like the idea of half-open items sitting around my changing table and nursery. And honestly, with all these other baby-deposits we have around the house - crib, pack 'n play, swing, bouncer, sling, even *gasp* FLOOR - I don't think I'll have a problem putting Jack down for a second so I can open a tube of diaper rash cream. I digress.

Back to practicing for parenthood ... here's a picture of Jon trying out our new baby carrier.

All those straps and buckles didn't make a whole lot of sense, so we threw Bennie Dog in there for size. Not only does Jack have a smokin' hot dad, but he looks pretty good with a baby carrier too. We can't wait to try this one out on our beach walks! I think I've figured out how to run the swing and I've officially listened to all 5 songs and all 5 nature sounds (hey I had to make sure they were appropriate!).

I tried setting up the baby monitor. It didn't take me long to realize it's kind of hard to test that one out on your own. Especially since Jack doesn't make much noise right now.

I also tried out the stroller this week (in the garage, I definitely don't want to creep the neighbors out by pushing around an empty stroller) and toyed around with the carseat. That one is definitely going to require some more research. There are way too many straps, snaps, slits and buckles on that thing. And I think I pulled one too hard to see what it was for and now I can't get it to go back to normal. At this point, the baby authorities recommend installing the car seat in your car so that you're ready to go just in case you go into labor early. We've discussed taking the base to the fire department to make sure it's put in correctly, but so far have not taken action. I just can't picture myself staring at an empty carseat in the rearview mirror just yet. Maybe I could put Bennie Dog in that too. Now, if I could only find a way for Jon to practice changing a diaper ...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

On becoming educated

Last week Jon and I had our Prepared Childbirth Class at the hospital, and finished up our 6 week Natural Childbirth class with a local midwife. I had not considered the irony of this until watching this clip from Bill Cosby … yes, we took a class on how to do something naturally. And not only did we take a class, but I’ve been spending the past 8 months or so reading and studying this subject. Apparently childbirth does not come as naturally to some of us as it does to others. From what I’ve heard/read, the key to a positive natural childbirth experience is relaxation. Unfortunately, despite weeks of practicing, this is the area that Jon and I definitely fail in. We can describe the various stages of labor. I can tell you what I’ll be feeling, and he can tell you what he should be doing. We know what each letter of the T-R-A-N-S-I-T-I-O- N acronym stands for. We know exactly when to breathe, when to push, and when to inhale-exhale without pushing. We know how to labor if the baby is posterior, we know how to labor if the baby is anterior. I know all about papaya enzymes, lasinoh, blue cohosh, black cohosh, red raspberry leaf tea and evening primrose oil. And I can take a cleansing breath, take two more, squat, and stay there like nobody’s business. But so far, neither of us has aced the relaxation bit.

Our midwife was offering a prize – a homemade Moby wrap – to the couple who practiced relaxation the most throughout the week. It wasn’t exactly a fair assessment, since she could only go on our word. But since we forgot that we were even supposed to be practicing the first week, I wasn’t too competitive with this one. Another part of our homework was to find some relaxing music to take with us to the hospital. Of course, it shouldn’t have words or singing, and it shouldn’t be a music-only version of a song that really does have words because you might find yourself singing along in your head and thus not relaxing, and she doesn’t recommend anything with crashing waves or crescendos, etc., etc. I soon realized how very little of my musical collection would be deemed “relaxing.” So on one of those rare occasions when Jon and I found time to get serious about this task, he pulled a self-created CD out of his binder entitled “Quiet Sounds.” Sounded promising. And at first I thought the violin solo piece was the answer to our problem. But then things started picking up and it wasn’t until the loud drumming, stomping, crazy violin segment that I realized I had heard this song before – in the movie “Gladiator.” Turned out the CD was a collection of tunes from all of Jon’s favorite movies. Sorry honey, but songs from movies about combat and death do not qualifying as relaxing. The last thing I want to picture in the middle of a contraction is a blue-faced William Wallace, sitting atop his horse, blonde mane blowing in the breeze, screaming “freedom” as he gallops down the hillside with spear in hand.

We took this class with about ten other couples, all of which will be delivering at the local midwifery center. Our midwife doesn’t have a very good memory, she was still getting names mixed up at the last class, so just about every week she asks us where we’re delivering. You can just see the sympathy in everyone’s eyes when we tell them the Navy hospital. A few people mentioned that they had delivered there once before … and then the unanswered question hangs in the air, “So why aren’t you delivering there again?” But lately we’ve heard about some really positive experiences that others have had there. Last weekend we went to check things out ourselves in the one-day “Prepared Childbirth Class.” The first thing I noticed when walking into this class was how big it was. Apparently it’s one of the biggest they’ve had. And considering the common joke that women’s water all seem to break at the same time, I’m hoping that I’ll at least get a bed for Jack’s arrival. I’ve also heard that many women go onto labor during a full-moon. I’ve already checked out October’s calendar, and it appears that we can expect a full moon on the 14th, 3 days before the due date. Although that would be nice, I’m anticipating going a little late. I was a very late baby, as in 3 weeks late, so I figure I’ll plan to be late with this one, and then end up pleasantly surprised if he arrives early or on time. (On a side note, I’m pretty sure the doctor had my mom’s due date wrong, because I am definitely not a late person, and I’m sure that even prior to being born I was sensitive to others needs and the importance of being on time). Anyway, back to our class. It was interesting to hear that of the on-average 350 babies that are born at this hospital each month, 90% of deliveries are with an epidural. Since, ideally, this is something I’d like to avoid, at least I now know that there are about another 30-35 women a month who are doing the same, even if they are the significant minority. I was tempted to ask the nurse what the hospital’s c-section rate was, but after sensing her annoyance to my other questions about the routine administration of pitocin after birth and their IV requirement once you are admitted, I thought it best to let that one go.
All in all, we’re pretty impressed with the facilities, especially since it's all free for us! (thank you fellow-taxpayers). Everything looked clean and organized. And personally, I’m pretty excited about the extra large showers! I’ve never stayed in a hospital before, but it doesn’t seem like it would be too bad. And Jon seems to have forgotten his original plan of returning home to sleep because he’s definitely not leaving me and Jack that first night! We also now have our hospital route picked out, as well as a back-up plan if traffic on the bridge-tunnel is bad. We know right where to park and where to check in, and where Jon can get coffee, snacks and goodies and I can get … ice chips. My mom asked if I was going to take pictures on the tour. Since it wasn’t really a tourist event, I’ll save pictures for the day Jack’s born. But if you are interested, here are some snapshots from the hospital’s website. Also, after all these pictures of my expanding belly, I thought I’d throw one in there that includes my expanding ankles as well.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Capn's Quarters, Part II

Drumroll please ... the nursery is complete! And I have the pictures to prove it.

This is the view from the door into the room, and a shot of Marmie's awesome nautical flags. Each stands for a different letter of the alphabet.

Here's the crib and adorable sailboat bedding set.

This is the rocking chair from Rachel's attic, Handsome Coastie just finished staining it. It's a perfect match! Those are also the curtains that I made the other week.

Here's the changing table, and the nautical flag toy holder. See the little gold sign? ...

... it says "Poop Deck."
This is the oar peg-holder that the cousins so generously "donated" from their own bedroom. ;) Also the cool Coast Guard life-saver from Megan and "Baby's First Seabag" from the Navy.

This is Jack's bookshelf, although it's somewhat lacking in the book department.

Jack's crammed closet. Thanks to Marmie's yard saling skills, Rachel's boys' hand-me-downs, and all our great friends, Jack's pretty well-set in the clothing department. I hardly had to buy a thing!

Final stop, Jack's toy basket. You can't bump into this stand without setting off a nursery song or some flashing-light rubber ball thing.

We're hoping to have Jack himself take you all on a video tour of his "crib" once he arrives. Until then, you now have at least an idea of how this couple prepares for their first child. We realize that baby Jack could care less about his lighthouse nightlight, hand-stained rocking chair, and designer clothes, and that by the time he knows what a "sailboat" is he'll probably be out of the crib. But setting up the nursery was loads of fun for the hubby and I, and definitely an exciting beginning to the radical life changes we're about to experience. And while it's slightly less convenient to trek down to the basement to get on the computer, reorganize the kitchen cupboards to make room for baby bottles, bowls and spoons, or step around the electric-powered-3-stage reclining- music-playing-with-5-nature-sound-options-baby swing, we can't think of a better reason to reduce, rearrange and rethink our current lives than that little boy who's going to make his appearance next month.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Au revoir ankles

It’s happening. After 35 weeks of a nearly-ideal pregnancy, my vena cava has finally given in. I have swollen ankles.

A few weeks ago some kind-hearted lady at church told me that if I hadn’t started swelling yet, then I probably wouldn’t. Although I really didn’t believe her, deep inside I wanted to think she was right. And aside from my feet and ankles, I’m still doing pretty good. I thought for sure I’d be wearing my 3-carat faux diamond ring from Wal-Mart by now, but my fingers are still rocking the hardware Handsome Coastie purchased for me three years ago, a little tighter but not yet cutting off my circulation. And while swollen feet and ankles are somewhat uncomfortable, and completely unattractive (my husband just stares at them and laughs) my real dilemma is shoes! My footwear collection mainly consists of heels and flip-flops. And since I’m not supposed to wear flip-flops to work … I think I need to go shoe shopping this weekend.

Obviously, swelling of the limbs is a very common symptom of pregnancy. But just knowing that is not enough. I, of course, want to know why. Naturally I turn to my trusted resource, Baby Center. First I realized that searching for “swelling” turns up a whole host of calamities. What we’re really dealing with here is “edema” - when excess fluid collects in your tissue as a result of retaining water, changes in blood chemistry and pressure on your pelvic veins and vena cava (the large vein that carries blood from your lower limbs back to the heart). The retaining water thing is no joke, while my belly doesn’t appear to be any larger (39 inches if you’re interested) I’ve somehow managed to gain 5 pounds in the past 10 days!!! In just a matter of days I blew through both my low- and high- weight gain goals. While it’s easiest to blame it on the water, I must admit that with the start of football season, I may have indulged in too many mini-hot dogs, nachos and brownies this past weekend during the Penn State game. Mama needs to get out for more beach walks!!

This past week I’ve also been SLAMMED with free time. (Is that possible?). So much so, that I was able to spend the weekend writing up a birth plan, typing and re-organizing all of our notes from childbirth class, laying out Jack’s coming home outfit, and counting diapers, wipes, Diaper Genie refills, sleepers and onesies. (Yes, I am a record keeper.) So I thought I’d be able to continue the trend this week by cooking dinner every night, freezing meals for post-baby dinners, getting some exercise and finishing my final project. Surprisingly, this “edema” has literally knocked me off my feet. Now I get home from work, put my feet up on a stack of 5 pillows, turn on the news and read books. I’ve decided to take a break from my pregnancy/labor/birth/parenting library and turn to something lighter. On Monday I started “Out of Africa” but just couldn’t get into it, on Tuesday I finished “Animal Farm” but it wasn’t really the kind of story I was looking for, so last night I started re-reading “Little Women.” I’m hoping this will be the book to keep me occupied over the next few weeks.

Throughout this whole pregnancy, and especially since the arrival of “The Nest” I’ve been able to enjoy full nights of restful sleep, without even having to get up to use the restroom (my in-laws say I have a hollow leg). But this morning I’m slightly more sluggish than usual. Between the excessively loud thunderstorm, horrible case of heartburn, and Jack practicing Kung-Fu at 3am, last night was not a good night. This is probably good preparation for the future. Needless to say, for the first time these 9 months, I’m actually anxious to reach the end. I think the hubs and I are both looking forward to meeting the little guy and getting to feel his little kicks from the outside. And I’m definitely looking forward to doing so with smaller ankles and no heartburn!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Who will Jack take after?

We know that Jack is a boy, and seeing how his parents don't have a lot of diverse genes to offer, we're pretty sure that he'll end up having blonde hair and blue-ish eyes, be somewhat on the shorter side, and have huge muscles. Just kidding :). I've never been good at the who-your-baby-takes-after game, but come mid-October I'm going to be very curious to know just which of Handsome Coastie's and my traits our son inherits.

Will he be big and long-overdue like his Mama?

Or average and a little late like his Dad?

Will he have Mama's unruly curls?

Or Daddy's silky straight locks?

Beach bum?

Or ship captain?


Or Bennie Dog?

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Take My Breath Away

Long, long ago, in my prior life, before there were husbands, college coursework, Graco Quattro strollers in Catalina print and Labor and Delivery tours... I attended my high school prom. The theme, chosen by my Junior classmates, was “Take My Breath Away” (based on the song released when most of the class was barely two years old). The only reason I remember this, of course, is because of the lovely champagne glass I received with “Take My Breath Away – Milton High School Prom 2001” etched on the side (would someone please tell me why we give teenagers adult beverage containers at their high school proms???). I have never once used that glass, I’m pretty sure it’s packed away in a box in my parents’ attic, otherwise I would include a picture of it here for you all to see. But I am reminded of it this week when, thinking back to the lavender balloons, silver confetti, and gym-turned-ballroom that left us all “breathless” over 7 years ago, I realize what really takes my breath way – being 8 months pregnant.

And so now we embrace a new phenomenon of baby-growing – pressure on the diaphragm. At first I just noticed it whenever I would lay down at night, but now it’s becoming increasingly more obvious that I can no longer climb both flights of stairs, trek to the top of the lighthouse, carry a load of laundry or even lounge on the couch solving Sudoku puzzles without taking twice as many breaths as I used to. Fortunately, this is not a painful or uncomfortable result of pregnancy – simply an unexpected one. I have to wonder, if I’m feeling this squished how does Lil’ J feel??

Amidst these moments that take my breath away, we just wrapped up a very unlaborous Labor Day weekend with Handsome Coastie’s parents here in Virginia Beach. The only thing better than eating dinner out, sitting on the beach, visiting lighthouses, watching movies, and hunting for buried treasure is being able to do them all without thinking about issues at work or my final project that I need to get crackin’ on. It was a refreshing weekend, and sadly, the last of which we’ll spend with our long line of summer visitors. Looks like the guest suite will be sitting empty for the next 6 weeks until the baby arrives.

Nursery update: The bed skirt arrived this week and now Jack’s room is done, EXCEPT for the rocking chair. Here's a picture of me at 33 1/2 weeks and a "sneak peak" at the nursery. For the benefit of my readers, I have asked my husband several times for an estimated time of completion on this project, but I think we’ve reached the “nagging wife” point and my pleas have become ineffective. I would go ahead and do this myself if he’d let me, but I think he hid the stain and varnish. My only suggestion is that you contact him personally, compelling him to finish the rocking chair so his sweet wife can FINALLY post pictures of the baby’s room for all those who have been patiently waiting. :)
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