Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Snow Days

Things we've been doing to combat Snopocolypse 2010 Cabin Fever:

1) We've been doing art projects:

The idea of the Thankful Tree has been making its way around my group of internet mommy friends, and I thought Lucy might be able to understand it a little bit. I figured it was at least worth a try. I needn't have worried. Lucy came up with a huge list of things that she's thankful for including:
(her friend) Frances
Chocolate cookies
Our family

She had So. Much. Fun. coloring and cutting and pasting and listing and drawing and tracing. I was thinking it was a good 45 minute project. Lucy made it last almost twice that with her intricate tracing of all the letters I made and trying to cut leaves out with her zebra striped safety scissors.

When we hung it on the wall, the first thing she wanted to do was show grandma. And then the second thing she wanted to do was call daddy and ask him to come home and see this "beautiful, beautiful art project" and play with her. It seems she's growing out of the terrible part of the Twos a little bit and I'm loving this thoughtful, sweet, imaginative girl that's developing.

2) We've been braving the cold and playing in the snow!

If Lucy could just be outside poking things with a stick for the rest of her life, she'd die a happy girl.

Also, when the heck is the last time I had to scrape a walkway or driveway? I was living in the Midwest Tundra, I'm sure. Hard work, that. The mailman better be appreciative that he won't slip and break his neck on MY sidewalk.

Of all the snow in the yard, she found this little patch of snow and ice in our alleyway more interesting. I think maybe it had to do with the leaves frozen in a layer of ice. Either way, I was hopping from foot to foot impatient to get back in the warmth while she was obliviously involved with whatever exploring she was doing.

And to the explorer is sure to come new discoveries: her first taste of hot chocolate and marshmallows. As you can tell, she was thrilled in a WHY-have-you-never-given-me-this-BEFORE?! sort of way.

The snow should disappear tomorrow with 40 degree temps and some rain. As much of a pain it is to get snow in Seattle, I'm glad we took advantage of the winter-ness of it. It sure does feel like the holidays. Next up! Thanksgiving tomorrow with friends and a nice long weekend of relaxing. Heaven.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Things of Note

1) Yesterday, the Bubba suggested spur-of-the-moment that we take a family photo on our front steps. 13 minutes later I was ordering our Christmas cards with that picture on it. It was that easy this year. Everyone was looking at the camera AND smiling, the background was normal, we looked like we were together... In short, the stars were aligned.

2) I had another midwife checkup today. Bidou's heart rate is in the 150s, I'm measuring at least a week big, but from the ultrasound and other measurements he seems to be a big, long baby. The midwife was very glad that I had done research on EIFs and didn't get stuck in freak-out mode (this is a different midwife from the one I had the original conversation with). She said she HATES telling people about them when everything else is normal because they are not an indication of anything. And she also said she's seen a lot of these in her time as a midwife. So that's encouraging too.

3) It's snowing. We beat Wisconsin for snowfall so far this year.

Lucy is in absolute awe. She'll say "There are SNOWFLAKES, Mommy! They're BLOWING! They're COLD on my hands!" And she spent a good part of the morning just putting her boot prints in the accumulation. It's so fun to see this through her eyes now that she can really understand and experience it this year. Plus it's starting to feel a whole lot more like the holidays are moments away with snow outside the window.

Those are about the only fun parts, though. Seattle drivers turn PSYCHO with the littlest hint of a snow cloud on the horizon. Plus, the roads are starting to get slushy-ish and it's supposed to get much colder, which doesn't bode well for a city with two (brand new! As of last Snowpocolypse!) salt trucks and a handful of plows. Needless to say, I got all my errands done early and will be riding out the rest of the day in front of my fireplace with a cup of tea and my toddler and a book. Hopefully the Bubba will be able to get home from work on some snow-routed bus...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This Time Around

I've decided it would be much more convenient if the human gestational period was about 25 weeks. That sounds like just enough time to get adequately uncomfortable, and yet not really enough time to wish for sweet sweet Death the way I'm imagining I will for the entire third trimester.

I loved every second of being pregnant with Lucy. The first little whispers of movement, even the great big belly-morphing movements at the end. I was never sick with Lu, never felt more tired than I could handle, never really had much to complain about. I felt beautiful, radiant even. Oh, I complained. Don't get me wrong there. I just feel like I was so in awe of the whole process and so filled with joy with the prospect of starting a family that I secretly relished even the discomfort at the end. I wasn't too disappointed even when my due date came and went and I still had to wait. It was exciting anticipation.

This pregnancy is different. I was so sick. I was (am?) so tired. I have to take care of an energetic toddler while being sick and tired. And now I'm big enough that I'm starting to feel uncomfortable when I stand. Or sit. Or lay down with a frillion pillows. And I know I have so much longer to go! Bidou has filled out all the extra flabby tummy skin Lucy left behind, and my stretch marks are remembering their ginormous blossoming proportions and waking from their saggy naps. My belly button is even starting to feel weird with some of the innie creeping outie (this never happened with Lucy, but I'm about 20lbs lighter at this point, maybe that matters?). And then there are other weirdnesses that are new to me: the super dry skin, the melasma only on the left side of my forehead, the charley horse-like round ligament pain in my stomach as Bidou grows and grows.

But! I'm still loving the baby acrobatics. That part will never not be magical. I have a little human under my skin. A boy human! Who is trying to run and jump and play even though he doesn't know how.

I'm more comfortable with the idea of having a baby this time around. I can imagine how the spring will be and I can plan for taking care of an infant. I know how it works, now. I love this little baby fiercely already, like I didn't know was possible before Lucy. He is already the fourth equal part of my family.

It would just be so convenient for me if the required cooking time for a baby were just a wee bit shorter.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Other Things

Thank all of you for your kind words for us. It feels a little like we're putting on a brave face, but really, we're choosing not to worry. As my mama reminded me, God never gives us more than we can handle - and he's never let me down yet. So there's that.

Is it too late to post pictures of Halloween? I'm going to pretend it wasn't over two weeks ago and that it's not too late. Especially because I'm pretty sure you need to see pics of a two-year-old Wookie.

Practicing her Wookie speak "Wrrrrraaaaaahhhh"
We taught her to say that instead of "Trick-or-Treat."
Two-year-olds can be so much fun like that.

Action shot - If only she had a blaster or a cross bow...
But no, she was just running through crunchy leaves.

The post-Trick-or-Treating comparing/eating of the booty!
I had a much easier time giving Lu a snack pack of fruit snacks
than a fun-sized Snickers. That said, Mama likes the Snickers.
Everybody wins. (Also, aren't JacknMollyMoo the CUTEST?)

Costume idea shamelessly stolen from my friend Shelby
who also swallowed a Jack-o-lantern this year.
(Side note: I can't believe that was only two weeks ago;
Bidou must have grown, because I'm pretty sure I'm twice that now.)

Oh, did I tell you that the Bubba was Princess Leia? No? That's because I DIDN'T GET A PICTURE OF IT. I made him a "hair" hat to wear, and I have to say it was quite amusing. Alas, no evidence has survived because he wasn't a huge fan of "being the joke." Whatever.

A fun time was had by all.

I'm already brainstorming next year's costume's theme!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happiness Hiccup

The ultrasound on Monday showed a bright spot on Bidou's little heart. I knew this. I saw it and I wondered what it was. But of course, in the emotional There's-My-Baby moment, I didn't ask the tech. I'm not sure she could even (legally) tell me.

I finally got a hold of the midwife yesterday and asked all about it and she broke the news that because of this spot, our risk of Bidou having Down Syndrome just skyrocketed.

My voice got nice and even, and I asked lots of relevant questions about other risks and markers that may have been present. (Such detailed questions, in fact, that the midwife asked if I worked in the medical field!) I was very calm and rational until I hung up the phone. If you've ever been pregnant or even been in the same room as a pregnant woman, you'll know that my next reaction, as soon as the phone call was disconnected, was Full-On Freak Out including sobbing, unintelligible phone conversations with the Bubba at work ("Lizzie, I can't understand you. Take a breath."). These are not the things an already emotionally charged lady wants to hear.

My perfect little baby might not be perfect.

From the very beginning, I put this little baby boy in God's hands. Before he was even a thought, we knew we would love and cherish him as the gift he is no matter what. The Bubba reminded me that just as this baby is a gift to us, he would also be lucky to have informed parents willing to love and take care of him no matter what.

After the initial Freak Out, I put on my research pants and got to work. I have (accidental, maybe not-so-authorized) access to the research databases at a university, so I put on some Sesame Street to babysit Lucy and started wading through documents thick with jargon. The bright spot is called an echogenic intracardial focus or a calcuim deposit in the muscle tissue of the heart. It is considered a "soft" marker for chromosomal aneuploidy, specifically DS. And that's probably why the tech took a thousand million pictures of Bidou's EVERYTHING after seeing that. I'm so thankful she was thorough.

The thing is, though, Bidou has no other markers for DS. No nuchal thickening. No Hyperechogenic Bowel. No shortened femur or humerus (Bidou was measuring 20w4d in fact, when I was only 19w at the time). Nothing else. And I'm not considered in a risky age group (yet).

When all of these things are considered, according to all the most current research that I read, echogenic intracardial focus is considered a normal developmental variation.

Now, I understand the medical field's CYA policies quite well. I also understand that I need to be informed about everything that happens with me and my baby for my own sake and safety. But I'm not sure not giving ALL the information about something is helpful. For example, my midwife did tell me that the EIF would not in any way interfere with the development or general health of bidou and that it isn't even anything that she felt like she needed to follow up on. Which is consistent with the research I read. Evidently they're either present or not and go away at some point after the baby's born. But an EIF does not increase our risk of DS by as much as she said. Not even close. According to the vast majority of everything that I've read, an isolated EIF (with no other markers or indicators) is not only not correlated, but not even ASSOCIATED with an increased risk of chromosomal aneuploidy.

Seriously. How frustrating. I feel like at the very least she could have told me that the research is not conclusive instead of convincing me that our risk just went through the roof.

I spent a very emotional afternoon worrying and fretting and crying when I didn't need to. At least I can be thankful that I'm the kind of person that spends an afternoon crying and frantically doing the research and not the type that spends the next four months fretting about the health of my baby.

All of that said, Bidou still has an EIF. And it probably means nothing. But a couple extra prayers, couldn't hurt, if you're the praying type.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's A.....

People, I totally forgot how emotional ultrasounds can be. I started bawling basically the moment my back hit the table. My tech was adorable, though, and awesome and I loved her. It's funny how immediately close you get to techs and nurses in situations like ultrasounds. Thank goodness for the really great ones.

The Bubba took today off and we lined up a baby sitter for Lucy so that we could go to the ultrasound together and then maybe out to brunch. Which sounds like heaven, right? But kids, they ruin everything, don't they? Poor Lucy is sick with a killer cold and it was a pretty hard night last night so Daddy stayed home to play nurse and I put on my Big Girl Pants and went to the appointment all by my onsies.

Which ended up being fine, because it was wasn't overwhelming for me. It was perfect. This perfect healthy baby was opening and closing its hands and flipping around and stretching simultaneously right inside me and right in front of me and it seemed so magical in the quiet dark of the ultrasound room. I was a little sad not to be able to share it with the Bubba, but it was a very intimate experience. A baby. That wasn't Lucy. Right here.

The ultrasound took a really long time because this baby was so very interested in getting a thumb into its mouth that it couldn't be bothered to be still enough for the tech to measure things like the head and heart. But watching that arm working toward the face, and watching that mouth work around that thumb. That was amazing.

And then I got to come home to my (Big) Little and my Love and share all the good news. The healthy baby, the great Battle To Get The Thumb, the sweetness of the stretching and moving and kicking. The positive outlook on life:

Thumbs up!

Oh, and there were hilarious surprise crotch shots with every other flip because evidently this kid couldn't resist mooning the ultrasound wand. Sounds about right for the progeny of me and my Bubba.

So, everyone, meet my SON. (I started crying again just typing that.) You were all so right! How did you know?! I myself was blown away.

He finally got that thumb!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's Your Guess?

I'm waiting on some photos to be able to show you Lucy in her Wookie-ness on Halloween (you could see one here) - maybe tomorrow.

So! Instead let's play a round of What's Your Guess? (I am not above copying R and Jess.)

Our "big" ultrasound is Monday morning and I am so excited. I feel like I'm way more excited to find out this time than I was last time. I guess I just really want to know if Lucy's going to have a brother or a sister. On the one hand, we have all kinds of girl stuff, and we wouldn't have to buy anything new! On the other hand, it'd be fun to have a boy around too! Lucy could have a sister to steal clothes and makeup! Or a brother to monkey around with! I have to know! Also, we haven't had an ultrasound yet - just doppler heart beats - so I'm just really looking forward to SEEING this active little soccer player.

Ok, so here's some info upon which to base your guesses:

Old wives' tales say that if you're carrying high it's a girl, low it's a boy. It seems to me I'm big in the middle-ish-to-lowish general area.
17ish weeks

Old wives will say that a fetal heart rate above 140 means girl, below means boy. My midwife tells me Bidou's heartrate is on the low side of 140.

Old wives' tales say that morning sickness means a girl because of the double-up on female hormones. I was SO SO SICK from about week 5-9 with Bidou. But I was never sick a single day with Lucy.

Old wives will say that craving sweet means a girl, savory means a boy. I have never wanted more spinach-feta salad or apples before in my life. Oh and potato chips. Normally I don't even LIKE potato chips.

Old wives' tales say that if the husband gains weight, a girl is on the way. Um, have any of you ever seen my husband? The Bubba can merely *think* about going for a run and drop 15 pounds that no one knew were extra. I don't think the man is capable of gaining any sort of substantial weight.

Old wives will say that if a mom has better skin during pregnancy, a boy is cooking, but if mom gets acne it's a girl. I've had no trouble with acne at all. I can't remember for sure if I did with Lucy or not, but I don't think so.

And what about the Chinese birth calendar? That says this baby is a boy. It predicted a girl when I was pregnant with Lucy.

Oh! And one more thing in the interest of full disclosure. The Bubba's brothers tend to be girl-daddies on the whole. Of his four brothers that have - or are soon to have - a total of nine kids, only two are boys.

So what do you think? Monday night will be the Big Reveal!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lesson Learned

You guys, I was *that* mom today. The one people shake their heads at and wonder what I think I'm doing.

We were at a store this morning stocking up on things to put in our Rainy Day Activity Box. We got construction paper, watercolors, glitter. I've bookmarked some cute holiday crafts that we can do and send to the Grandmas and hopefully keep the lion-in-a-cage pacing that Lucy does when we're not Doing Something to a minimum.

We went by the Halloween clearance stuff and I picked out some things for my student tonight, and Lucy saw one of those M&M characters personal fans and fell instantly in love. And at more than half off, I thought, "That is worth every penny for the ALL DAY distraction it is sure to bring." So we made our purchases and made our way to the grocery store for our Real Errand.

Blue M&M: the culprit

Lucy rode in a "beep beep"at the grocery store - you know, those little car carts - and was blowing her fan on everything and "making it windy!" and generally having a wonderful time of it.

Then I heard "Uh, oh... It's stuck, Mommy." I thought maybe it jammed or she put it in the steering wheel or something so I pulled over to help dislodge the new toy. But no. It wasn't so easy. She. Put. It. In. Her. HAIR.


And it was so tangled that I had to ask a store employee for a pair of scissors to CUT IT OUT. Talk about worst case scenario. The motherly employee was looking at me like, "Did you actually give a two-year-old this FAN to play with?" And, insult to injury and all that, Lucy has a brand new inch-long patch in smack in the middle of her beautiful hair. Totally sucktastic.

(and this is just the part that stands up)

Humble pie was on sale today.