Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Waiting Game

Well, my 264-post streak has ended. I did not get a post in yesterday. Tom had plans to step in and pinch-hit, but given that his afternoon and evening were equally as crazy as mine, I can't really fault him for not getting around to it either. Besides, it was inevitable. It really is silly of me to concern myself with publishing something each and every day, though it makes me feel good to at least have that goal in mind, and it keeps me motivated and on-track.

No, there is no baby in-hand. Not yet, anyway. But yesterday was all about finding out whether Raspberry's entrance was imminent.

It didn't really come as any great surprise to me yesterday morning when I was plagued with contractions from the moment that I woke. I had, after all, overdone it the day before, in a big way. It occurred to me, on my way to my scheduled 2:30 OB appointment, that the way I was feeling might warrant a bit of monitoring, but I was unprepared for what my internal exam revealed.

I was 3-4 cm dilated. That change, in combination with the frequency of my contractions, caused my doctor some concern. Just a week ago, I was not dilated at all, and given that Michael came so quickly at 8 lb 14 oz, she felt that there was a real risk that my guaranteed-to-be-smaller, not-quite-36 weeker would fly right out if I progressed to active labor within the next few hours.

She monitored me in the office, just to gauge the frequency of my contractions (which were determined to be 4-7 minutes apart), but began making preparations to send me straight to the hospital afterwards before I was even hooked up to the NST machine.

The tricky part for me and Tom was figuring out what to do with the kids in such last-minute circumstances. He had dropped me off for my appointment and was driving around with them in the car when I called to update him on the turn of events. He called Mima, and initially headed for home to wait for her there, but once my doctor saw the frequency of my contractions, she was uncomfortable keeping me in the office for one minute longer than I had to stay. I had Tom turn around and come back for me before he even had a chance to unload the kiddos from the car, and we ended up meeting Mima at the hospital.

Mima and Tom switched cars in front of the hospital doors with the children still inside, so my poor babies ended up stuck in the car from about 1:45 to 6:00 (or whatever horrendous hour it actually was when Mima made it back to our place in rush-hour traffic. Abby took it all in stride, as usual, but Michael, who ended up long overdue for a scheduled sippy of milk, was screaming his head off by the time she pulled into our driveway.

Meanwhile, Tom and I nervously made our way into unknown territory. I chose a different hospital this time than I used for my other two births, and I hadn't had time to tour it or even to drive by and see the layout of the place prior to our arrival yesterday. Thankfully, the L & D triage area at Virginia Hospital Center consists of private rooms, rather than curtained sections, and provided a fairly comfortable environment for the several hours I spent being monitored to determine just what the situation was.

For a long while, it was unclear. The contractions continued every 4-7 minutes, but were not increasing in either frequency or  intensity- not in any organized way, anyway. I had some real doozies, but they were randomly occurring, and none were of the strength that I recall being characteristic of the active labor stage.

My first internal check at the hospital confirmed that I was definitely at four centimeters, if not a "tight five," but the following ones all revealed no change beyond that point. Despite that, and partly because, when it came to decision-time, I had just had three or four bad contractions in a row, the doctor on-call elected to admit me overnight, "just in case."

At that point, I sent Tom home, because I had a feeling that if nothing had happened yet, it wasn't likely to that night.

And thus began a horribly long, uncomfortable span of hours.

I thought about doing a quick "placement" post on my phone, but I was so miserable that the prospect felt like too much work. Though most of the contractions were not terrible, my back was in such bad shape that no position was comfortable, especially in a hospital bed with fetal monitors strapped to my belly. My ability to change position at all was further compromised by the IV I had in one arm (I was given a round of antibiotics, also "just in case," since I am GBS-positive this time around), the blood pressure cuff I had attached to the other, and later, a pulse-monitoring device I had taped to my finger to distinguish my heartbeats from the baby's (Raspberry and I were collectively moving around so much that the monitor kept losing track of its target).

Though I hate taking medication unless absolutely necessary, the very thought of surviving an entire night in the state I was in scared me into accepting the Ambien I was offered. It took a couple of hours to kick in, though, I and I ended up biding my time watching Freaks and Geeks on Netflix streaming as I rocked in the rocking chair, having exhausted any comfortable places and positions on the hospital bed.

I managed a few hours of sleep in the end, and in that time, the contractions calmed dramatically. My early morning check showed that no further dilation had occurred overnight, and I was cleared to go home. However, I stupidly went down to the cafeteria for breakfast, and it wasn't until I finished eating that it occurred to me that I now had no room or bed to nap in as I waited for Tom to arrive and pick me up. I ended up sitting around for nearly two hours, and must have looked in pretty bad shape as I hobbled through the hospital hallways with Tom; every staff member that we passed offered a wheelchair and a couple concernedly asked if maybe I should go get myself checked out. I had to awkwardly explain that I had just been sent home.

Ultimately, it wasn't the contractions that were the problem, though I did have to stop for one of them. It was my back, which finally appears to be recovering from Tuesday to the point that I can almost stand up straight, and the infernal pressure I'm feeling from the current position of the baby. I can't walk without a prominent limp, straddle, and stoop. It must be pretty pathetic to witness.

Not that much of that has been going on since I got home anyway. Tom has been quite the aggressive nursemaid, and has been chasing me away from any opportunities to even walk across the room to fetch things. I'm of two minds about it. I really needed my rest today, and since Mima stuck around until dinnertime, I was able to get plenty of it. Two naps' worth, in fact.

But once I caught up on sleep, that old boredom and frustration set in pretty quickly. And I'm once again feeling terribly torn about the whole situation (not that how I feel affects my reality in any way, in the end). I actually felt myself on the verge of tears on the way to the hospital, faced with the possibility that my pregnancy was just hours from being over. It felt too soon. I felt robbed.

A couple of hours in the hospital changed my perspective a bit, though. The experience was exhausting, and the thought of going through it only to go home and wait around some more was deeply troubling. Add to that my growing concern that if active labor starts while I'm at home, it may progress too quickly for me to make it back to the hospital in time. It was (and is) terribly selfish of me, but I began to wish, early as it was, that Raspberry was really on the way that very night.

Part of me still wishes it, though I am also very thankful that Raspberry is staying in a little longer. It can only be for the best, after all, as far as Baby is concerned.

Mommy just has to figure out how to survive the next few hours? days? weeks? until the time really comes. If only I knew when the moment will be.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rough Start, Smooth End

Tuesdays have been tough for me lately, since they're the one day a week that Tom goes in to the office to work. I really have no right at all to complain about the one measly day, and I promise that I'm not. It's just- for obvious reasons- a rough transition for me, being so used to the extra help I usually get with physical tasks, like trips up and down the stairs with babies, placements and displacements from the cribs, and assistance with diaper changes (particularly of the 40 lb toddler variety).

For the past two weeks, Tom has stayed home with me, because between illness, injury, and the ever-evolving (and ever-problematic) late stage of my pregnancy, I was particularly ill-equipped to handle things alone. Fast-forward to today, when, despite being bigger and more sore than ever, I'm otherwise doing pretty well compared to many other days, and Tom really needed to get some things done away from home.

I made sure to get to bed at a relatively decent hour last night, but had no control over when Michael would awake, which, sadly, occurred at the depressing hour of 5:30 am. He was coughing pretty heavily, and seemed almost to be choking in the process, so Tom went up to check on him. However, stayed up there with Michael for quite some time, and between my worry for my sickly son and my usual tendencies toward insomnia, I was unable to get back to sleep.

By the time Tom was set to go, we had determined that a doctor's appointment was in order for Michael, since he's had this cough for over a week, and was sounding worse today than ever. Tom made plans to leave for home as early as he could, and I set an appointment for as late as I could, so that I wouldn't have to drag two babies out of the house by myself, a near-impossible task for me at this point in time.

And so my solo day began. Abby was defiant, Michael was cranky, and though I managed to get him down for two naps, he only slept an hour each time. Through it all, though, I managed to catch up on the dirty dishes, grab a quick shower, dress, and have the kids ready for Tom when he walked in the door. I wanted us all to go to the appointment together so that we could stop somewhere to eat afterwards and, in doing so, manage to recognize Tom's actual birthday in a small, albeit casual and last-minute, way.

Tom got home just in time, and everything seemed to be coming together until we got in the van and I was informed that the ambient lighting had been turned on and left on, and the van would therefore not start. We wasted about ten minutes trying to jump the battery before we began desperately passing babies back and forth and moving car seats into the working car.

Somehow, some way, I was able to fast-hobble into the doctor's office with Michael at exactly 4:30 (the appointment time), after calling ahead to beg permission to be five to ten minutes late. Of course, I still had to wait five or ten minutes to be seen, but I needed that time to catch my breath, anyway.

Michael, as it turns out, is just fine. It's likely that he's sounding worse today because he's finally moving all of that junk up out of his lungs. I hope it happens quickly; we could all use some better sleep. In the meantime, we've been advised to try honey as a natural cough suppressant, so we'll see how that goes.

Appointment done, we drove just a block down the street to a nearby pub we've been wanting to check out: Ireland's Four Provinces in Falls Church. We actually had our very first date at a Four Fields in DC, and I'd remarked to Tom several times that I wondered how similar this local pub was to that one we'd dined in way back when.

Turns out, it was lovely. In fact, we liked it so much that we may celebrate an anniversary there sometime, instead of in DC. And it offered one of the most interesting appetizers I've ever tried: baked brie.

Mmm mmm good.

As we waited for our food, I finally got the chance to do something I'd been too distracted to remember to do all day: wish Tom a happy birthday.

Abby had a grand time coloring, especially since she was given eight different crayons, rather than the standard four. We ordered the usual mac n' cheese for her, which I think she liked, but got a little frustrated with, as it took time to cool to her satisfaction. After several attempts that ended in brief tears, despite our near-constant efforts to mix and test the bowl, she focused her attention back on the soda bread, which was a big hit with both her and Michael.

Though we got him to eat quite a few bites of potato leek soup (which was fantastic), in the end he had eyes only for the soda bread, as well.

Don't let him fool you. He's trying to look all tough here, but he had a great time.

Both kids enjoyed the frequent visits from the manager, who came by to tousle toddler hair, make conversation, and generally take very good care of us.

I made sure to mention to the waitress that we had a birthday boy in our midst, so she put a nice little candle in Tom's Bailey's Irish Mousse (which, by the way, was amazing, and will be at the top of my list of things to go eat sometime when I am no longer pregnant).

Make a wish!

And now, for some brief, baby-free time with the birthday boy. You can be sure we'll be using it to basically sit around and do nothing as we recover from the day.

The joys of parenthood, right? ;)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sippy Success

Yet another item on my long list of Things I Really Need to Do has been: order some sippy cups so that we can get Michael using them.

For Abby, we initially had difficulty with introducing hard-spout and straw sippies, but found success with the Nuk Learner Cup, the spout of which we found could be attached to bottle cannisters that had been lying around, unused, ever since we committed to using only Dr. Brown's bottles during her infancy. So, in the beginning, in essence, Abby was still getting a bottle, just with a slightly different mouthpiece. After some months, she got the hang of using a straw, and had a short stint using straw sippy cups before deciding that she wanted to "do like the grown-ups do" and tip her cup up to drink, at which point I started giving her hard-spout sippies to use.

For Michael, I imagined we might be able to go about things in a similar way. However, when I tried him on a Nuk soft-spout, he seemed a bit overwhelmed by the flow, and had difficulty with the spout. He kept sucking on it too hard, causing it to buckle inward, and when he was done, let out the hugest belch I've ever heard from him. I worried that he had taken in far more air than was ideal, and went back to bottles for awhile after.

Since then, I've been feeling guilty about the fact that he is now over a year old, and I've done nothing to encourage a transition off of bottles. During my online shopping spree for birthday presents this past week, I finally got around to ordering some stuff for Michael, too. I decided long ago that I wanted to try the Born Free soft-spout sippy, since it has an airflow control system, in the hopes that it would prevent a repeat of Michael's experience on the Nuk. However, Amazon doesn't always have the best pricing for sippy cups, and I can't often find them in multiple packs, so the pricing wasn't ideal. I kept thinking that maybe eventually I'd get out to a baby store and buy some there, but I eventually accepted that that wasn't happening anytime soon, and bit the bullet. I may not have found the best deal there was to get, but I acquired four sippy cups, and we promptly began using them.

The first day was a little bit tough. Michael was far too interested in the novelty of the cup, and had difficulty focusing on actually drinking from it. By his second feeding, we figured out that the handles of the cup were making it far too fun to play with, so we removed them. However, it wasn't until his last "bottle" of the day that Michael finally got into the swing of things, and finished the entire serving within.

It's been smooth sailing ever since. Here's a picture of tonight's "bottle,"  nicely sucked dry.

The plain old unadorned cups were a tad cheaper, but I couldn't help myself. I love the little animal designs.

Abby loves them, too, and always comes over while Michael is eating to see which cup he's got (we have three of the colors/designs). She's entranced with the monkey on the blue cup, the giraffe on the purple cup, and the koala on the green cup. But she's been a very good sister, and has never tried to take the cups from Michael, much as she admires them. I've been very impressed with her restraint. I guess it helps that she recognizes that the cups are "his," and I've been careful to remind her frequently that she has her own special sippy cups to use, too (though, sadly, they aren't nearly as cool-looking as Michael's).

This is what the spout looks like from the side.

And here's the internal piece for the airflow system.

Extra pieces are always a pain, but it's a simpler design than the Dr. Brown's bottles, so it's still a step up, convenience-wise, and Michael's had no issues taking in too much air with these babies.

This is the underside of the piece shown above. Though there is a special little silicon extension to help you pull the clear inside part out of the white plastic, I still find the two parts difficult to separate at times. The spout can also be tough to push out of the top. But those would be my only complaints. Once pulled apart, each piece is much easier to wash (especially by hand, in a pinch) than the little pieces of the bottles we've been using, and they're not hard to put back together again.

And here's my happy little boy with his "big-boy cup."

For now, he's taking after his sister, and will only drink in a semi-reclined position. That was probably the hardest hurdle to overcome with Abby during her own transition: her resistance to tipping the cup up high enough to get the milk out. Michael dislikes having to do so as well, which is why he will not currently take his bottles sitting upright in the highchair.

But we're working on it, and given that Michael acquiesced to holding his own bottle at a much younger age than his stubborn sister, I am hopeful that we'll get him transitioned to this next step a little more quickly than we did with her, as well.

Of course, as it has been and always will be with all such developments, it's really up to him.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Raspberry: 35 Weeks

Dearest Raspberry,

We're at thirty-five weeks now. How did we make it this far? Suddenly, everything feels like it's moving in fast-motion. If you follow in the footsteps of your sister, I've only got about four weeks left; your brother- about three. Perhaps you'll come earlier, still. Or maybe, despite the constant protests of my uterus, you'll break the mold completely and come on or after your due date, giving me five weeks or more to prepare.

Thus far, I'm not actually dilating, which puts me a little behind schedule as compared to my pregnancy with your brother. I believe that 35 weeks was the point at which I progressed to about one cm with him. Somehow, my cervix is holding stronger this time, and though it's getting beaten down by your head (which, as I understand it, is why the outside is so open currently), it has not yet begun to open on the inside, where it counts.

In fact, your head is sitting so low that my doctor had trouble checking me at all, intent as she was to be as non-invasive as possible. It's a troublesome thing, trying to monitor signs of pre-term labor via internal exams without causing irritation and worsening the condition. Many midwives, and some doctors, will not check for that reason, but I must admit that my own urgent need to know exactly where I stand leaves me eager for the next week's appointment, just to find out the new status quo.

I guess this means that you've "dropped," then? It was my understanding that if it happens, it only happens with first babies, and neither of your siblings (especially not your sister, who spent the entire pregnancy carrying as high as can be) ever bothered to do so. Ahead of time, anyway. I'm assuming that it had to have happened at some point during labor, but perhaps it's not termed "dropping" by then. After all, you've got to go down to get out eventually, if you're planning to exit the "old-fashioned way."

Certainly, that would explain the tremendous pressure I've been feeling lately, and the difficulty walking without appearing as though I'm mimicking a penguin or have just spent too much time on horseback.

It's all good, though. On my better days, at least, I'm starting to find peace with everything again, and really trying to cherish these last days and weeks with you. Through the good and the bad, pregnancy is such an amazing, unique experience, and I'm not certain when, or if, I'll get a chance to do it all over again.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Double the Birthdays, Double the Fun

Tom and Mei Mei have birthdays one day apart in the month of February, so we decided to celebrate them together this weekend.

We settled on a family late lunch/early dinner at the nearby Gordon Biersch, in an effort to work around the kids' bedtime schedules.

Unfortunately, we couldn't totally avoid naptimes, so Michael missed his second one, but he did quite well despite the omission. Initially, the novelty of the new surroundings was enough to keep my little tough guy pretty content.

Though that scratch on his cheek looks much darker today, it appears to be healing nicely so far.

He's never been one to have a lot of patience for sitting in one place for long, so we had to worker harder towards the end to keep him happy, but the yummy bread and a share of his sister's mac n' cheese went a long way.

I just love that Abby is finally old enough to appreciate the benefits of a pack of crayons and an activity sheet. It makes keeping her occupied so much easier.

And she can now usually be entrusted with a cup and straw provided by the restaurant, though careful monitoring is still required. She has to frequently be reminded that cups do not need to be tipped (and ideally, should not be) when equipped with a straw. I thwarted each attempt that she made to do so until the very end, when the spillage was mostly contained by the convenient plastic top attached to her kiddie cup.

Though she's really getting the hang of coloring, now, she still has a tendency to try to use crayons in ways for which they were not intended, like coloring directly on tabletops.

Thankfully, she waited until the end of the meal to attempt to eat the crayons, which I decided she'd had quite enough time with, thankyouverymuch.

One thing she's definitely got down now, though: unwrapping presents.

Hang on to your giftwrap, folks! Abby's on the job.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Michael had a surprise for us when he woke this morning, after yet another tough night: a long, red scratch on his left cheek.

Despite my near-constant efforts to keep his nails trimmed, Michael seems always to have some level of very minor self-injury going on. Usually, it's comprised of tiny cuts on the sides of his nose, near his eyes, or inside of his ears. I find it rather baffling, because Abby outgrew her face-clawing tendencies by five months or so, but Michael has kept on, at over 13 months.

It breaks my heart every time I see any broken skin on my perfect little boy, but usually the cuts are very small, and heal up quickly. This one is the worst I've seen, however.

It's not terribly deep, but deep enough that it will eventually develop a pretty thick scab, and rather wide. Also, it's quite red and angry looking. This picture doesn't do it justice, as it's a bit washed-out from the pop-up flash.

And yes, that's a girl's onesie that Michael is wearing. That's just the kind of day that I've had- he was a mess after lunch, and the closest baby item I had on hand was an old onesie of Abby's that got mixed into one of my laundry baskets, still un-emptied in the nearby master bedroom. Hey, it's not like Michael cares, right?

"Actually, Mom, I think pink flowers are pretty cool."
I was a tad concerned that Abby might have an opinion, though. Some months ago, I put that very same onesie on Michael, for similar reasons. Abby, who had worn it recently enough to remember that it was hers, threw a fit of impressive proportions, and I quickly changed him out of it to spare my ears. It seems that now, either enough time has passed that she has forgotten about her previous ownership, or she has altogether ceased to care.

Like me, however, she's not too pleased with Michael's new facial feature. All day long, she's been requesting, "Wanna take off Michael's scratch on his face." A couple of times, she's reached out to peel it off, as though it were a sticker.

Tom jokes that it makes Michael look like a "tough guy," but it just makes me sad.

He looks pathetic enough lately, with his runny nose, icky cough, and tired eyes (between the teething and the cough, he's been up several times a night for the last week).

See? There he goes again. I guess he's my sicklier baby. Abby's had coughs before, but never this productive, and never for this long.

We've got a humidifier running in his room at night, now, but I wish that there were more I could do.

My poor, tired, beautiful, scratched-up boy.

I really hope that doesn't scar. :(

By the way, he did get yet another manicure this evening. His nails were already pretty short, but somehow, inexplicably sharp. If only he'd keep his little dagger claws off of his face.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Witching Hour

I think it's kind of awesome that as I sit down to write this post, my belly is serving as a shelf, of sorts, for my little bowl of chocolate morsels. That's a perk of pregnancy that I might actually miss. Eh, who am I kidding? As much as I complain, I'll miss most of it, to be honest, once the bad memories fade.

What has not been awesome has been pretty much the rest of my day.

I skipped this week's play date for what I thought were all of the right reasons: conserving energy, taking it easy, keeping my stress levels down... Though recent tests and exams have both confirmed that my frequent contractions are acting as no more than a nuisance at this point, they certainly can get pretty painful pretty fast if I don't take certain precautions (like avoiding over-exertion, sudden movement, or pretty much any significant amount of movement at all). But no matter about all those goals I listed above- my strategy completely backfired. I used up whatever energy I may have conserved picking up the playroom, because it was driving me batty continuing to look at the chaos around me hour after hour. Ditto to "taking it easy," both then and later in the day.

As for keeping my stress levels down? That doesn't work so well when my daughter decides to take all of the pent-up energy from over the past week, that she might actually have blown off at the play date, and use it all up in the desperate hour before dinner. There's something about that time of day, when my sanity and strength are nearly sapped, my hunger is building, and some secret signal begins to be transmitted to the little 'uns that the Witching Hour has begun.

Suddenly, no matter how smoothly the earlier part of the day may or may not have been going, toys begin to be snatched away, hitting and shoving become the featured behavior, and the screaming and shouting begins (and that's all just on Abby's part). Michael? He gets fussy. Super, super fussy, clingy, needy, whiny, and generally inconsolable. Magnify that on a day, like today, in which he has outright refused his second nap.

I actually had a short moment of peace and amusement when he collapsed to the floor at one point, lazily sucking on a binky as his eyes slowly glazed over. Oh, how I would have loved to snap an "I told you so" picture in that moment, to show him someday in the future when it would earn me nothing, but would serve as a playful bit of teasing, and say, "This is what happened when you wouldn't take your nap." Alas, I had no camera on hand. And before I knew it, he was up again, having needed only a short recharge before continuing on in his tenuous but determined state.

Dinner, at least, was comparably quiet. Bedtime, not so much. This lovely tradition we've started in "the big bed" has begun to backfire ever since Abby witnessed a short scene in Parenthood featuring a little girl swimming in a pool. Now, she thinks that our bed is her own personal pool, and attempts to "swim" in it, rather than sitting still for story time. I'm impressed with her imagination, but for two nights in a row, now, we've had to either skip or cut story time way short, because there wasn't much point to reading as she thrashed about at the foot of our bed.

So, here I sit, injured once again (having thrown out my back as I administered one last time-out before dinner), and once again writing about pretty much nothing as I stare at a now empty bowl and a shirt covered in dry baby boogers.

Maybe tomorrow there will be that much less snot to deal with. Maybe.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New Shoe Shimmy

Michael wore his new shoes for the very first time on Sunday, when we ventured out of the house together to attend Mass. At first, he would not walk in them. I watched him try to stand initially, and then fall back on his bottom almost immediately, confused by extra weight and layers on his feet. Though I didn't plan to let him run around in the church crying room anyway, since he's still unsteady, I did have a small moment of concern, worrying that perhaps we might have trouble convincing Michael to use the shoes in the way that they were intended.

My fleeting fears were silly, of course. The very next time that Michael wore the shoes (which was the next day, as I've been trying to give him short bursts of time in them to get adjusted to the way that they feel), he was much less bothered by them, and made an effort to walk in them right away.

It's taken a bit of time, but he's doing very well in them now. (And looking so handsome!)

He walks almost as well with them on as with them off.

Though, I have noticed that he tends to spread both his legs and feet wider apart as he walks when the shoes are on. It makes him look like a little cowboy.

In general, he's really having great success with walking in recent days. He now falls much less often, can compensate more readily when approaching uneven surfaces, can change directions in mid-walk, and can easily crouch down to pick up something in his path and continue on afterwards in one fluid motion. In fact, he rather delights in walking around while holding various things in his hands.

It must be quite the novel experience for him. After all, it was not so easy to transport things before, when crawling required the use of both of his hands. Now he's got both hands free to do as he wishes!

I still can't believe my eyes when I look at him lately. He's such a little toddler now.

And finally sporting a sixth tooth! (That lower-right lateral incisor is about 75% exposed, currently.)

Heart Breaker, indeed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Littlest Whovian

We have a little Whovian.
Her name is Abby Rose,
She may be only two years old,
But has great taste in shows!

Yeah, yeah. Now you see how crummily my brain is working lately. And yes, I know full-well that crummily is not a word.

However, it's true that we have a little Whovian around here.

Tom has been really into Dr. Who for the past six months or so, and in recent months has sat down with Abby to watch it.

It may not be a show designed for children, but it has somehow drawn her attention, probably because she knows how much Daddy likes it. The same has held true for Good Eats and Top Gear (two others of Daddy's favorites) but Dr. Who is the one that really holds her heart.

She can visually identify and name at least three of the companions, and will sometimes hum the theme song for you, if you ask her to.  Once, when Tom heard her making an attempt at it, he asked, "Is that the Dr. Who music?"

"Who-sic," she replied, a little too quickly, before sheepishly correcting to "music."

I've also heard her quoting random lines from the show on various occasions. Perhaps the most oft-repeated is "Allons-y!" which, through her fandom, she has learned means, "Let's go!" in French. Though, if you question her, often as not she will mischievously claim that it really means "Let's go... take a nap!"

She's also become enamored with fezes and bowties, thanks to the tastes of the current Doctor. For a long while, she began wearing a red Christmas pail that we had lying around on her head, and calling it a fez. That is, until her daddy accidentally stepped on the thing and crushed it. Luckily, she has not seemed to notice its absence (yet).

To me, it's one of her cutest obsessions yet, though I've found lately that it must be tempered. After all, if I catered to my little darling's whims every time she plaintively requested, "Want to watch Dr. Who," it would be all that we ever did, all day long.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Little Taste of Insanity

There's a quote that goes something like: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results."

Does that apply to the practice of playing and re-playing the various levels of Angry Birds? I mean, I do get different results each time, just not often better ones. And I've been spending far too much time, in recent days, devoted to the task. 

There's not a whole lot else I seem to be physically capable of half the time. 

The expected side-effects of massive boredom and frustration aside, I think that what I hate most about my lower-than-usual activity level of late, however, is the extra amount of discomfort that it ultimately causes me. By the end of the day, no position is comfortable anymore, and by the end of a few, my very muscles start to rebel. I'm still not sure whether the unreal and unexpected soreness that I experienced getting out of bed this morning had to do with some bug or other that I may or may not be fighting off right now, or whether it was the end result of far too many hours seated on my bum.

Regardless, I've had a whole lot of sniffling and sinus issues going on today, for my part, and the kids have had their share for the last week, almost. In Michael's case, I assumed teething initially, but who even knows at this point, especially since Abby has now joined in as well. They've probably been kicking germs back and forth to each other all along, and have finally passed some on to me, too.

Whatever it is, it seems to be minor, but it's not making life any easier or more comfortable for anyone involved.

I will say, it's been really nice to see how good Abby's gotten at blowing her own nose. I just wish she'd ask for a tissue first.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Raspberry: 34 Weeks

Dearest Raspberry,

Where to begin? It's been an eventful week, full of trials and triumphs, but mostly trials. Injuries, insomnia, aches, pains, contractions... We're definitely in the home stretch, now.

On Monday, I had my 33-week appointment. Due to the frequency of my contractions at just 33 weeks along, I was given a Fetal Fibronectin Test (fFN) before my internal exam. The exam revealed that my cervix was still closed, but barely, and only on the inside. Apparently, this is not an unusual state for the cervix of a woman who has given birth before to be in, but given that I've had two prior internal checks that have not inspired any description other than "long and closed," and given that this is how things looked when all of the craziness started with your brother, I'm thinking that in my case it's the first small sign of change. Change is a little scary, but the fact that it is so minor is comforting, at the same time.

Certainly, with the force and frequency of the contractions I've been having lately, it boggles my mind that my cervix hasn't taken more abuse just yet. The rest of my body? Well, that's another story. To say that I waddle now would be an understatement, and I'm lucky sometimes if I can stand up straight at all. Incredible tightness and pressure will strike suddenly at times (often because I'm having a contraction, but sometimes outside of one, as well), and I'll wonder if you've perhaps dropped in there. But later, the pressure will be relieved, and I'll be left to guess at what all of the earlier sensations were about.

I will say that I'm not feeling you up in my ribs much anymore. Only very rarely, and not for awhile now. When you first began to explore the space up there, I thought perhaps you'd go the way of your sister, who hung out as high up in my belly as she could until the moment she was born. In fact, I had a painfully bruised diaphragm to prove it- I swear that she was pushing her little feet up against it as she made her way down and out.

Thankfully, though you seem to prefer the lower regions of my abdomen, much like your brother, I haven't had sciatica pain from it, on top of everything else. I have had all kinds of other random things going on lately, though, like (thankfully) short-lived breakouts in various places on my face, generally itchy and super-sensitive skin, surface clots and cramping in my lower legs, and a return to a regular hair loss pattern at around the six-month mark (wahh, but at least it's nothing like post-partum hair loss, and I can hopefully avoid the annoying regrowth patterns this time as a result). Through all this, the ever-enjoyable weight gain has finally begun. Though it didn't really start piling on until I was 28 weeks or so, I'm now up to 30 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight. A good number, but it would be amazing not to see it creep too terribly much higher. One thing that still has not appeared, and I am assuming simply won't this time, is the linea nigra that I sported through most of my first two pregnancies. It has actually continued to fade out, as the weeks and months pass, from where it used to be, and is nearly undetectable now.

The most noticeable happening, though? Big changes going on "up-top" (to put it delicately). It's interesting to observe how differently that timeline has gone with each of you. During my first pregnancy, I noticed a definite bust size change by the fourth month, and had begun to produce colostrum by week 24 or so. Though with your brother I never noticed a size change at all during the entire course of the pregnancy, colostrum appeared around week 26. This time, not having observed any size changes by 29 weeks along, I assumed it wasn't happening again, and began to wonder (not for the first time) if this meant that you are, indeed, a little boy (boys don't cause quite as much estrogen production, which could explain the difference between my first two pregnancies). Then, suddenly, at 30 weeks, I had a transformation overnight. Maybe you are a girl then, after all? Or maybe my body is just terribly confused all of the time, much like my mind.

Here's hoping that body and mind get it all figured out soon enough. Though I can't deny that I would be happy to put a quick end to the discomfort I've been experiencing, what I want most is for you to stay put for as long as possible, for your sake. I can rest pretty easy about that for at least the next few days, since the fFN test came out negative. Though it's not the greatest predictor of whether a woman will go into labor within two weeks of getting the test done (assuming a positive), a negative practically assures that it will not happen. Unfortunately, I had to wait until Friday to get the final results and find out for sure that I could breathe easier. Now, I have to wait until Wednesday to find out whether we're on a steady progression toward (possibly) early labor, and just how far we've come in that direction. After all, by the following Monday, that test won't be able to tell us much anymore.

There will just be you, me, my crazy uterus, and the future. Just what does it hold for us, I wonder?

But I'll make you a deal: if you do your best to hang tight until you're good and ready (it's a big, wide world out here, and there's no going back in once you come out), I'll do my best to help. It's all that I can do, in the end.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Fearless Walker

It's late, and I'm just getting around to posting, so I'm taking the easy way out again. I'm letting a video do all of the "talking" for me.

But everybody loves a good video, right?

Here's my little guy who, in the past two days (and particularly today,) has gained a sudden ferocious determination to walk around everywhere. Sadly, his stamina, focus, and coordination can't seem to keep up with his desire, as you can see by the end of the clip. 

However, he is bold, and fearless. And he is now officially a Walker (just not of the Walking Dead variety, thankfully). ;)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Read Me a Bedtime Story

Have you got a hankering for one? Why don't you let Abby "read" it to you tonight...

Sweet dreams!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Funny Valentine

By the end of last week, I was thinking we might be taking a break from play dates for a bit. By the beginning of this week, I was sure of it. Somehow, on Sunday, I managed to pull a muscle/ligament on the inside of my left leg that was a mere twinge when it happened, but grew progressively worse as the hours went by. I managed to get out to my OB appointment on Monday morning, though between my leg pain and an inopportunely-timed contraction, I needed the help of two nurses to undress.

At that same appointment, I was informed that the new recommendation for the Tdap vaccination is once for each pregnancy, so I allowed myself to be given one, with the warning that my arm would be sore afterwards. I've gotten tetanus shots before, so I thought I was prepared. I was not. I'm not sure if the pregnancy was to blame, but I've never experienced so much pain post-vaccine before.

By the end of the day on Monday my entire left side was practically useless due to the agony that any kind of movement caused. By Tuesday, things weren't much better, and the internal exam I had on Monday at my appointment caused both days to be pretty heavy on the contractions, on top of everything else.

Wednesday brought with it a relief from a lot of the pain, and more of a semblance of normalcy. I started to consider the play date after all, for Abby's sake. Also, for mine. I didn't want to end up dealing with both a teething baby and a stir-crazy toddler again at any point in the near future (or ever, for that matter).

And so, this morning, we got ourselves out of the house. I even scrounged up enough imagination to get Abby dressed "in theme." She sported a pink pair of socks adorned with hearts, a hoodie decorated in colored hearts, and a pink hat with a jeweled heart attached just above the brim.

In honor of the holiday, our gracious hostess had prepared a frame-decorating station with wooden frames, crayons, and stickers. Abby had a blast creating a Valentine-themed craft to go with her Christmas one. And one of the other moms brought lots of Mardi Gras beads to share from her recent trip to New Orleans.

Of course, I still have to do my part and find pictures to go inside of my new collection of handmade frames. I have an idea for this one, though:

Sadly, from this angle, you can't really see the heart on her cap, but she still looks pretty snazzy, no?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Michael's New Shoes

Somewhere on my very long list of "things I've been meaning to do" has been lurking the entry: Buy Michael some shoes.

We managed to procrastinate so long on this for Abby that she was 16 months old, and three months into walking, before she got her first "real" pair. Like Michael, she'd owned some decorative footwear over the months since her birth, but nothing that was truly appropriate for a new walker to walk in outdoors.

I didn't want to put it off for so long with Michael. Though it will be many weeks before the weather is nice enough, and he is steady enough, to actually walk along the ground outside, at the very least it would be good to have something easy to "install" to slip on his feet and keep them warm on cold days.

However, since Michael is so brand-new at walking, I've been much more discerning about the type of shoe to get him. Abby, who was becoming a pro at her newly-gained skill by this time, went straight to regular rubber-soled Stride Rides. Even she could have benefited from a slightly more flexible style, though, and she tended to trip a lot at first, but she managed in them okay.

With Michael, I wanted to be sure that he got shoes that were soft-soled and allowed him to feel the floor beneath him as he continues to learn. However, all of the soft-soled shoes that I saw looked so thin on the bottom. I was a little concerned that they wouldn't provide quite enough of a barrier between his feet and the hard ground for good protection. I also couldn't seem to find a style that I really liked.

So, for many days, I went back and forth between the offerings of Robeez and various other companies that showed up under a Google search of soft-soled shoes. Finally, I repeated the search on Amazon, hoping that I could settle on something there and avoid a shipping charge by using Prime. It was on Amazon that I came across a company called See Kai Run. I know nothing about them, and though the reviews on Amazon were favorable, there have not been many written yet. I haven't even gotten a chance to try their product myself, as the shoes were only just delivered at 8:00 this evening, after my little guy had gone to bed.

However, "on paper," I was intrigued by their design. Instead of having strictly leather soles or strictly rubber, they are a combination of both, seemingly providing both the flexibility and extra coverage that I was seeking (and extra friction, I'd imagine, as well).

I'm a little worried about the sizing, as it's based on age rather than actual measurements. I got the 12-18 month size, since Michael is just over twelve months and is only slightly above-average height and weight. I only hope that his feet are about average-sized, too. I guess we'll find out tomorrow.

Here are some shots of the shoes.

I got the focus wrong on that second one- it should be on the front shoe rather than the rear- but, oh well. You get the idea, anyway.

The design wasn't my favorite- I was more partial to some other styles that didn't come in Michael's size. However, I preferred the Garret Trainer over some of the other shoes available, so I went with it.

The price also wasn't my favorite. It wasn't unreasonable; just more than I really wanted to pay, and more than most of the true soft-soles were selling for. To be fair, though, Abby's first pair probably cost about the same. Stride Ride is not exactly inexpensive.

But then I saw the box that these adorable little shoes came in. Is it sad that the cuteness of the box makes me feel just a bit better about how much I paid for what came inside of it?

Certainly, any misgivings I may have now will melt away when I see my precious little gem strutting about in these babies. But that shall have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Brainy Baby in the Big Bed

For the last couple of nights (likely because teething discomfort has him waking every couple of hours overnight lately), Michael has been losing steam around the time we usually start getting Abby ready for bed.

Ever since we've had a routine, to speak of, for the two of them, we've always put Abby down first, since she gets her bedtime stories read to her in the room that Michael sleeps in. He is, of course, in the room that was supposed to be Abby's, but she's still in the nursery because she's very attached to the crib. Had things gone the way we originally planned them to, Abby would have transitioned to a toddler bed by the time Michael was ready for the crib, but not only was Abby not ready for change at the time that Michael outgrew his bassinet, he was still waking so frequently throughout the night that we weren't ready to move him from our bedroom.

A mini-crib was therefore purchased for Michael, which started off in our room and was moved upstairs to "the room reserved for Abby, someday" once he started waking only once or twice a night. And so the situation remains, until Tom and I find the energy, or are forced by circumstance, to switch things up again.

Long story short, Michael's need to go down to sleep before Abby got her stories read complicated things a bit. I expected, and got, a bit of resistance from her when it was time to start story time and she was unable to follow the usual procedure of going upstairs to Michael's room. To appease her, I offered Abby "the big bed" in our room. She gleefully complied.

And so it was- last night we started what will surely become a new tradition. Mommy and Daddy in the big bed, with Abby squeezed in-between (and under the covers- that's a must) for a bit of reading before bedtime.

Our current rotation of books consists of Big Sister Now, by Annette Sheldon, and The Going to Bed Book, by Sandra Boynton. Whenever we introduce a new book, we start off reading it to Abby, but- with her uncanny talent for memorization- she is able to take over after just a few read-throughs. Last night, she "read" the latter, but mostly let her father take over for the former.

Tonight, however, she tackled Big Sister Now all by herself. And gave a near-perfect reading. Now, I've known for awhile that she can do this. She's memorized every Madeline book that she owns. But somehow, it seemed less impressive when there was a rhyme-scheme involved. After all, rhyming is a useful tool for memorization. Also, I only saw evidence of it here and there, as Tom is usually the one who does the bedtime stories.

Even Tom was impressed this time, because usually he reads through the book once first, and Abby "reads" it again immediately afterwards. Not so tonight. She picked it up and read it straight through without a refresher. And I was there through the whole thing. I heard the special little voice that she uses when she reads: more baby-like, and slightly unsure, as though she knows that she's giving a performance of sorts, and is a tad nervous. I watched as she repeated a line here or there when she got stuck on where to go next. It's interesting to me that her diction, which is usually so incredibly clear for her age, becomes just a bit more muddled as she recites. But, to be fair, she's pulling up quite a bit of information right out of her memory. That's got to take some precedence, for her, over focusing on enunciation.

It was incredible to witness, and not for the first time, I wished I had a video camera handy. Because this book was many pages long, and contained quite a bit of dialogue, with no rhyme whatsoever. But she dictated it all, and smiled proudly up at us when she was done.

And me? I can't even remember phone numbers anymore...


Tomorrow is the first day of Lent, and I still haven't decided on what I'm going to do for it. My life has become such a struggle for survival these days that the idea of giving up something on top of everything else I'm dealing with (like my beloved chocolate, which is my usual sacrifice) seems impossible to comprehend.

Maybe I'll give up sleep, instead. If this teethe-ageddon keeps up much longer, I'll be forced to, anyway.

Monday, February 11, 2013


This morning, Abby announced to Mei Mei that "Abby is a cutie pie, and Michael is a sweetie pie."

Perhaps he's a bit of a pasta pie, as well.

Abby, by the way, is one of the few little kids I've ever met who can properly say spaghetti. I find this especially impressive, given that I still have pretty clear memories of saying "pisketti," myself, and at a much riper old age than two.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Raspberry: 33 Weeks

Dearest Raspberry,

I don't know what got into you last night, but you were up to some pretty crazy business as I lay down and attempted to fall asleep.

I grabbed your father's arm from behind me and placed his hand over my side, where he, too, could feel the strange punching that was coming up through my belly at regular intervals. Thankfully, you chose a spot on my tummy that wasn't painful for me, but the sensation was surely odd. Really, every sensation that you cause is odd to me (I can never quite get used to it all), but that oddness passes in to the realm of surreal when your movements push so far out of my stomach as to appear that they might break through in the end.

After a few minutes, you were calm again, and I chuckled at the memory of last week (or was it the week before), when I noted how much less zany your activity had gotten as of late. I guess this was your way of letting me know that you are not so predictable as all that, eh?


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Her Maiden (Front-facing) Voyage

I've been debating for days about when to switch Abby over to the new, front-facing car seat, and it finally occurred to me today that she is not the only child whose particular circumstances I should be considering. I'd been waiting until I got official measurements from the doctor's office on Michael to double-check them against the infant carrier height requirements, but then forgot to actually do so once I came home from his one-year appointment, numbers in hand.

Until yesterday. The conversation came up again, and I finally pulled up the Chicco Keyfit 30 manual online to revisit the height maximum (weight is easy to remember- 30 lbs- as it's in the name).

As it turns out, Michael is now one-half an inch too tall for the Chicco carrier that we've been putting him in since he was born, so the time to change was apparently last month (or the month before that, perhaps). Shame on me for letting it sneak up on me again (the same thing happened with Abby, when I discovered at her one year check-up that she'd reached a whopping 32.5 inches), but Michael is so much smaller than Abby was that it honestly took me by surprise this time, though I learned my lesson about height tending to max out before weight. I suppose a part of me really believed he'd fit in that tiny carrier forever...

We finally had occasion to leave the house today, for a birthday party, so Tom got everything ready this morning. When Abby came out of the house with me, a surprise was waiting for her in the van. She climbed in happily, all by herself, and was all smiles as I secured her in the brand-new seat. I'm really not sure which change she was more excited about- the new seat, or the new direction- but she was definitely a happy camper.

Perhaps the most excited member of the party was Tom, however, as he giddily announced to me, "Look! I can see her in the rear-view mirror!"

I'm uncertain how Michael took to the whole game of musical chairs. He was compliant enough while being put in the (new-to him) Britax, which was a good sign, as he often fights the process in the Chicco. However, once Abby entered the picture, as he looked over at her I could swear that he was envious of her forward orientation.

Sorry, Buddy. Maybe in another year.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Of Nothing, and Everything

My ears are ringing. The silence that has followed the advent of Bedtime is blessed, overwhelming; dizzying, even. Sadly, it will take my ears (and the rest of me) some time to recoup from the soundtrack of my day.

Screaming, crying, wailing, screeching- you name it. From Michael, from Abby, sometimes both at the same time. I don't know how many brain cells I've lost today, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not getting them back.

And I don't know how I'm going to face another day of this teething madness.

At least in Michael's case, I know what to blame all the crankiness on, even if I can't seem to fix it. Abby appeared to just be having a random bad day. Or maybe, between the PB & J sandwich and strawberry banana yogurt she had for lunch, she ended up with too much sugar in her system. When she wasn't tantruming, she was hyper as all get-out.

Perhaps, she's got a little bit of Cabin Fever going on. I didn't take her on a play date this week (shame on me). But between the poor quality of my sleep lately, the extra weight I'm now lugging around my front, and the ranging-from-annoying-to-downright-painful contractions I've got going on at all hours, I just couldn't summon up the energy. I'm also wary of getting in the car to drive myself around nowadays. Not only does being on the road irritate my uterus like almost nothing else, I always worry that I'll have a contraction just bad enough to distract me (or even, God forbid, prevent me) from driving properly.

We may therefore be on a play date hiatus for awhile, so I imagine it would behoove me to come up with novel activities for the Little Miss and me to do together.

Fat chance that will happen, when I can't even put two thoughts together for blog posts lately. We at least have chocolate in the house now, but I got through quite the serving of semi-sweet chocolate morsels before even gathering the strength to open up Blogger Dashboard tonight. While the chocolate infusion brought me a temporary surge of happiness, it sadly brought no inspiration with it.

Thus, my post about nothing. Though, right now, the "nothing" of which I speak feels like everything, and everything feels like a just a little too much.

Cue that special focused breathing I'm supposed to be practicing to ease my anxiety. I guess now would be an appropriate time, eh?


Before I hit publish, I've got to include a couple of positives here, because the day was not totally bereft of them, and because I like to end on an up-note, when I can.

1. Michael is really and truly walking now. He'll generally only go five feet or so at once, and he's only slightly more inclined at this point to walk than to crawl, but he's got the posture, gait and process down.

2. Tom made Chicken Parmesan for the first time tonight, and he nailed it. One of my favorite dishes of all time is Cheesecake Factory's Chicken Romano, and Tom's fare came so incredibly close to tasting the same that I would have been brought to tears, were I not so shell-shocked from the day's events. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, when I can perhaps find a peaceful, quiet moment to sneak some leftovers and truly cherish the repeat experience.

There. Now I can put a smile on my face while I close my eyes and just breathe.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What Michael Wants

'Cause- you know- Abby is a mind-reader now, or perhaps a translator of sorts, and she knows such things.

She has therefore taken it upon herself to start speaking for her brother.

Take this morning, for instance. Michael was joyfully babbling away, and Tom was encouraging him. Of course, we're both desperate to hear him throw some words in the mix, so every once in awhile, we prompt him. "Michael," Tom coaxed, "Say Dada."

Abby, who was hanging out nearby, became very suddenly agitated. "NoMichaeldoesn'twanna say Dada!" she insisted, practically tripping over her own tongue. "Michael wantsta say Abby!"

So, Michael. You polished off a whole peanut butter and jelly sandwich today. What are you gonna do now?

I bet Abby could tell me...