Drumroll please…

"Since the day they got married
He'd been praying for a little baby boy
Someone he could take fishing
Throw the football and be his pride and joy
He could already see him holding that trophy
Taking his team to state
But when the nurse came in with a little pink blanket
All those big dreams changed

And now, he's wrapped around her finger
She's the center of his whole world
And his heart belongs to that sweet little, beautiful, wonderful, perfect
All-American girl."

All-American Girl, Carrie Underwood

Today was the biggest day yet in our journey toward parenthood. This morning, at our ultrasound at 9:30, we learned that Baby is a GIRL! I cannot begin to explain the change this news has made in my heart as we anticipate the arrival of our little one. Seeing her little face for the first time, hearing the ultrasound technician say that she appears healthy and growing at the right pace, pointing out her brain and her organs and her tiny little hands and feet and watching her kick her legs was the most awe-inspiring, breathtaking thing I've ever seen. Perhaps it was the pregnancy hormones kicking into gear (OK, I fully intend to blame it on that), but I was such a happy, weepy mess the whole time as I took in the life that's taking shape in my belly. I was changed forever, through and through.

I had a feeling for a while now that our baby is a girl, although my pregnancy didn't start out that way. For much of the first trimester I was pretty intent on the idea that we were having a boy. There was no rhyme or reason to this whatsoever, it was just my thought process at the time. But as things progressed, I started gravitating toward female names, the color pink, and the idea of making adorable, frilly things for a darling, imaginative daughter, and a life of watching her grow and learn new things every day, and the idea stuck like glue. I actually began to think that if I learned we were expecting a boy, there would be a little twinge of disappointment. I always scolded myself for thinking such ridiculous thoughts, since the most important thing would be having a healthy child, and loving him or her no matter what kind of news comes out of that ultrasound.

And then, when I woke up this morning, my mind was flooded with thoughts of a life with a girl, and life with a boy, and the realization that I had absolutely no preference of one over the over. I was completely at peace with the possibility of either outcome, and when the ultrasound technician said, "Oh! There it is… are you guys ready?" I was totally unbiased, and completely ready for whatever she had to say. And when the news came that we are having a girl, I squealed with delight and cried very happy tears, and knew with all my heart that I would have felt exactly the same way had she said, "It's a boy!"

Without a doubt, a switch was flipped, and my life was changed forever. I was flooded with such a sense of connectedness and love and bliss that I couldn't stop smiling all day. We are one step closer to knowing this person- our daughter!- and raising her to be the best version of herself. Cody and I do not want a spoiled princess, and have all the intentions in the world to keep her from becoming one. I have all kinds of ideas and hopes and dreams for who she will become, but the truth is, I have no control over that- only influence. She already is who she is, and all we can do is our best to raise her in a home full of love, joy, and encouragement; to set positive examples of what it is to be a woman, and how a man should take care of his family, and set the standard for the men that will inevitably enter her life someday; to keep her healthy; to point her toward the God that Cody and I know and love and pray that she finds Him too. She is our little gift, our little girl, and nothing could have prepared me for the joy that I have found in getting to be her mom.

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Preggatinis

I was watching Better Arizona this morning and they did a segment on "cocktails" for pregnant moms that looked simply fabulous! The author of the recipe book Preggatinis, pseudonym "Liquid Muse," showed viewers how to make a couple of different recipes, including the Berry Berry Basil Mojito, which I am so excited to try I can hardly stand it! Here's the video from the show, and the recipe:

1 T strawberries
Healthy pinch of basil
2 t sugar
Juice of half a lime
Fre alcohol-removed white zinfandel

In a tall glass, mix strawberries, basil, and sugar, and mash together until you see the juice of the strawberries begin to dilute the sugar. Squeeze in lime juice. Fill cup with ice, and top off with the white zin.

LOVING this idea. I had a chat with my BFF today about baby shower themes, which we will get more serious about once we know whether we're having a boy or a girl, but I'm sure that Preggatinis of some form or another will be part of the fun!

Holy heartburn!

I woke up a couple of nights ago around 12:30 feeling as if I would spontaneously combust at any moment. I tried in vain to ignore the awful sensation, but I had to get up to pee anyway, so I got up and took care of business, and felt such enormous pressure in my entire torso that I worried I would simply burst. Being that I have never experienced heartburn until I became pregnant, I never knew how bad it could be. And whoa Nellie, that was a horrendous experience.

Heartburn Lesson #1: Don't scarf down a humongous meal, under any
circumstances. Earlier that night, I made salmon cakes, wild rice and green beans for
dinner, and we were pressed for time to get to our friends' house by
7:00. It was a huge meal and we ate fast. I don't care if the world is ending and you have to
evacuate immediately, JUST TAKE YOUR TIME. You don't have to tell me
this is why I had the worst case of heartburn in the history of the
human race accompanied by a balloon-like sensation in my boobs and
tummy. TRUST ME, I KNOW. 

I was fortunate in that it didn't last long and I was able to fall back asleep. I know that it's important to sleep propped up when hit with a blazing inferno in your chest, but what other remedies are out there to alleviate the symptoms? My doctor recommended cider vinegar tablets and those didn't do a whole lot to help the situation. She wasn't a fan of Tums. I'm all for natural remedies but I couldn't imagine dealing with that kind of pain and sheer discomfort on a regular basis. I've read all kinds of good articles, like this one on BabyCenter, but I'd like to hear from moms who have dealt with this and found relief in one form or another. Ready… set… GO!

On another note, last night Baby was flipping around in the tummy, the most movement I have felt so far, and Cody even felt a little twitch when he put his hand on my belly! It was the most exciting moment of my pregnancy so far… anything that makes my husband feel more connected to the process is the best thing I could ask for. Four days until we find out what we're having!

One week out

We are a whopping one week out from two major things: the halfway point of our pregnancy, and finding out whether we will have a pink or a blue nursery! I cannot tell you how excited I am to find out what the little occupant in my belly is so we can start seriously thinking about names. I have only briefly looked at name books and Web sites, and while I've found some interesting ones, I have not found anything that I am absolutely crazy about. I also find it hard to believe that we are pretty much halfway through this whole process- and I must admit that I have all but forgotten about how awful I felt that first trimester. However, the past day or two I have been visited by the nausea elves, as if to say, NOT SO FAST! We are here to remind you about your all-time favorite part of pregnancy! In case I forgot. Which I did, until then.

In the meantime, my belly is getting huge. For some reason, this revelation of mine just never gets old, and every day I look in the mirror and say to Cody, "My belly is so BIG…" To which he replies, "Yes, dear. You're pregnant." Every day, we share this exchange, without fail, like it's some sort of new discovery on my part, and PLEASE BEHOLD THE AMAZING GROWING MIDSECTION, HUSBAND O' MINE. I wear the belly loud and proud, but at the same time I can't help but wonder if strangers on the street look at me and wonder, is she pregnant, or did she just have a GIGANTIC lunch? So I am now that girl who walks around with her hand on her belly constantly, as if that is somehow going to help confirm my pregnant state to those wondering about my status. Yes, I do realize that this could just as easily be viewed as me suffering from a stomach ache because I ate too much for lunch.

On a side note, I'm sitting in the living room, and Cody and both the dogs are napping on the couch. Hanalei is yelping in her sleep. TOO CUTE NOT TO SHARE.

In other pressing news, I think I felt baby kicking around in the belly a couple of days ago. I had to shut off the volume on the TV, lay perfectly still, and put my hand on it in order to positively identify the source of the twitchy sensation, but based on what I've heard it resembles, I think that was it. In fact, since I'm sitting here pretty quietly, full from a big meal, I feel little pokes and prods right now. Anyway, the other night, as we sat there trying to figure out if that was indeed Baby kicking and not just gas or my stomach muscles spazzing out due to THE SUDDEN GROWTH SPURT, Cody decided that he would say things directly into my belly, like "Helloooooo?!!" and "RAHRAHRAHRAH!" The next day we got our weekly BabyCenter email and found out that Baby can hear things that happen outside of the womb.

So we won't be yelling random sounds into the belly anymore. We will, however, attach headphones to the bump every now and then with classical music and other genius-inducing harmonies emanating into his (or her!) precious little ears.

Settling in…

…to this whole pregnancy thing. The nausea has passed for the most part, I have lots of energy and have gone on a cleaning spree (downstairs at least), and my appetite has returned to normal, although I don't feel like I'm eating all that much more than I usually did pre-pregnancy. However, there are some things that I enjoy eating IMMENSELY, much more than I usually did.

First off, tomatoes. I want them ALL THE TIME. In every form. I went to Costco the other day and left with a gallon of salsa and a giant bag of sun-dried tomatoes, and was thisclose to leaving with three enormous jars of pasta sauce. I held myself back from that purchase because I'm getting back into cooking and love making my own sauce concoctions on-the-fly. The next day, I went to Fry's and got a bag full of roma tomatoes because my favorite snack is cottage cheese with paprika and sliced tomatoes with sea salt. I also occasionally munch on a handful of sun-dried tomatoes, and I add them to pretty much every recipe I possibly can.

Second craving: pickles. Could that possibly be any more cliche? (While I do crave a lot of dairy, ice cream isn't high on that list. Anymore.) On the previously mentioned trip to Costco, I seriously considered buying a gallon jar of Famous Dave's Signature Spicy Pickles. A gallon. I picked them up and put them down twice, stared at them longingly, and then asked myself, What excuse could I possibly come up with when Cody comes home to a jar of pickles so big it doesn't even fit in our pantry? I had nothing, so I reluctantly walked away from that impulse buy. I purchased a much more reasonably sized jar of sweet and spicy pickles at the grocery store the next day, and let me just say that these are the best pickles I've ever had in my liiiiiiife.

Third: Lay on the spice; I will roundhouse kick heartburn in the face if it tries to come between me and my Sriracha! I'm a big fan of all things spicy now, but it's even better when it's the hot/sweet combo (funny… I like my men that way too). I have a recipe for spicy sweet popcorn that involves chile powder and brown sugar that I am anxious to try, most likely when we wrap up our Flight of the Conchords season two marathon, and I'll probably keep eating it through the Big Love season three marathon that will start if we ever get the DVD.

The last notable craving consists of things I used to eat during my childhood. I've had hankerings for Instant Breakfast, Nestle's Quik, and spaghetti with ranch dressing, to name a few. Totally loving the memories these things bring back- the simpler times of my life that I've all but forgotten about.

Yesterday, Cody and I went walking at the mall and ventured into a maternity store for the first time. In the span of a week, my tummy has popped, and Baby Alley has finally started to make his or her appearance, at the sure cost of pants that fit. While I'm not a huge fan of the elastic waistband jean look, I do believe that it's time to seek out and invest in a couple of Bella Bands. If it allows me to wear the jeans I already have, bring it on! Plus, my dear friend in California said she would send out some maternity wear that she doesn't plan to use again. I love me some hand-me-downs from my fashionista friends.

In the meantime, here are a few favorites from our shoot with Session Nine Photography:

Alley 44

Alley 52

Alley 54 GOOD LORD! There's a WHAT in there?!?!

Alley 58

Alley 2

Alley 6_2
Oh, my. How I adore my husband.

The birth dilemma.

Now that I am a full 17 weeks along in my pregnancy (for you normal people, that is roughly the equivalent of four months… twenty weeks marking the halfway point), I am starting to consider the type of birth I want to have. My doctor(s) have not broached this subject with me yet, but thanks to the shenanigans of Dooce and the birth story of her second child, I'm becoming increasingly intrigued by the idea of attempting a natural birth. I use the word attempting very generously, because there are no words to describe the fear that I have of this whole process. I cannot guarantee that I'm not going to chicken out at the last minute, throw caution to the wind and snatch the doctor by her scrubs demanding that they shove the giant epidural needle up my spine FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. I'd like to think that this is a fear I share with most pregnant first-timers out there, perhaps with the exception of my mom who claims that giving birth was the most easy thing she has ever done. And I was born breech! You must take into consideration the fact that she is a tough Icelandic Viking woman, and she gained 60 pounds during her pregnancy eating nothing but oranges, all of which fell off almost immediately after giving birth and she went back to looking like the supermodel that she is. My dad totally scored.

The one birth-related question I did sneak in at my last visit was whether the odds of me carrying a breech child are higher since I was born breech and so was my mom. The doctor said that it has nothing to do with genetics, but more with the build of the woman's body than anything. She said that if I'm built more like my dad's side of the family I may be in the clear. Good to know since I'm built EXACTLY like my mom, who is built EXACTLY like my grandmother. Awesome.

So despite the fact that back in the dark ages of maternal medicine when breech babies were delivered vaginally, and came out perfectly normal (I mean, how am I not the picture of normal? Why the funny look on your face?), the chances of me being able to deliver my baby, should he/she turn out to be breech, without a c-section are slim to none. While I do unabashedly question my level of pain tolerance in the throes of labor, there is a huge part of me that feels like I will be missing out should I not be able to deliver my baby naturally and epidural-free. Women have been doing this FOREVER, with no medical intervention (did I mention FOREVER?), so why the heck can't I do it too? I'm scared to death but more than that I want to experience the hormone-induced high and full awareness that so many women who give birth naturally describe. 

I'm not gonna lie, come labor time, I could totally think the pregnant me was absolutely out of her mind thinking this ever should have been done without the assistance of an epidural. The pain is going to be horrendous, I know, but I dealt with some pretty outrageous stomach cramps in my track days that still go down in the record books as the worst pain ever. Granted, those plagued me for an hour at a time, not so many hours that it almost equals an entire day. 

I'm doing my research though, and I want some opinions from the moms out there. Tell me what you know, what you experienced, what you believe about the state of maternal medicine today, and share advice. I'll be the first to admit that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, but in light of that, I want to be as educated as possible as I approach that day in January when our little one comes into this world, one way or another. 

Heartbeat.

I am now a little over twelve weeks along, a.k.a. just under
three months, for those of you who don't count things by weeks like
normal people do. Every night I look in the mirror and exlaim, "Look! I
think I'm showing!" But that always turns out to be a food baby, not
the actual baby, because every morning when I wake up I look in the
mirror, and my tummy is as flat as ever. I have actually lost weight
since becoming pregnant, but I sure don't feel like that's the case. My
pants are tighter- so tight, in fact, I've given up completely on
trying to wear anything that doesn't give in the waistline. You can call me Nacho Libre; sometimes I like to wear stretchy pants. And maybe sometimes a cape.

Yesterday morning, we had our third OB/GYN appointment, and before we arrived we had no idea what to expect. The previous month, I had been poked and prodded like never before, and I dreaded the prospect that out of some sick twist of fate I would be the patient who would have to have my blood drawn at EVERY MONTHLY APPOINTMENT until I give birth to an 11-pound baby for whom we couldn't find hats big enough to fit its giant head. We have this problem with my husband, so naturally my biggest fear, next to having my blood drawn, is that our child will carry on this lovely trait in honor of the one who gets to experience the watermelon vs. the lemon phenomenon firsthand.

Imagine my elation when we were able to walk out of there with absolutely NO poking and prodding. I almost wondered if we were leaving prematurely, if we were actually supposed to keep waiting in the room after the doctor left because somebody would inevitably walk in brandishing syringes and speculums and scalpels and any other instrument that could possibly be used to torture a pregnant woman, but no one tried to stop us as we walked by the nurses' station or arrived at the checkout counter. High fives were exchanged, and off we went for our traditional post-appointment Port-of-Subs sandwich run.

We didn't escape, however, without a completely life-changing experience. The nurse who checked us in had a portable ultrasound machine and immediately set to work gelling up my belly to find the heartbeat. Two excruciating minutes later, i.e. AN ETERNITY- no joke- she finally found it, and in that moment my whole perspective on my pregnancy shifted. It's not that it wasn't real- believe me when I say that no experience has ever been more real in my life- but… I fell in love. I felt a bond with this little person for the first time. I looked at my husband and couldn't believe what we were hearing- the sound of our baby's life. I felt protective; I felt elated; I felt completely overwhelmed with love.

Whoever this person is, is just who it is. I say that all the time but it never fails to amaze me. Listening to the heartbeat of this new life that Cody and I helped create was absolutely the best thing I have yet to experience.