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.

Things that make me dry heave.

I haven't actually thrown up yet. THANK GOD. I hate feeling nauseous all the time and a sane person would probably want to hurl in the hopes of getting some semblance of relief, but no sir, not me. Even though I haven't done this pregnancy thing before, I am smart enough to know that all the barfing in the world will not relieve the incessant nausea that makes the process of acting as host organism to a slooooooow-grooooowwwwwing being of the human variety so enjoyable. Why make myself miserable with my head in the toilet five times a day when I can be miserable in front of the TV, or with my face buried in a book instead of a trash can?

My gag reflex, however, has not escaped unscathed. As I sit here watching the Michael Jackson special (what a bizarre day), I am also trying hard not to dry heave at the stench of my dogs' wet food filling every square inch of air space in our house after their evening feeding. And GOD FORBID that we try to feed them their dry food sans wet food. They would rather starve, and usually that's what they do if given the choice. Cody is not here to do the job so I get to take on the task myself, in all my nauseous, pregnant glory. There is also something particularly gag-tastic when the feeding requires that we open a new can of food, as I had to tonight, which means that it hasn't been refrigerated, which means that it's warm-ish and the aroma is that much more intense. But they ate, and they are happy, and true to post-meal fashion, they are running around wrestling with each other as if someone gave them a 14-liter dose of pure liquid speed.

Come to think of it, the dry food is pretty foul-smelling too, and so are these chew bones we got them from Costco. Every time I open our pantry I hold my breath to avoid the smell, which, so I've been told, smells very similar to marmite, something I will NEVER EAT AS LONG AS I LIVE.

I hate anything involving poop, but I don't think that has anything to do with being pregnant. And boy, am I glad that we have had healthy dogs for the past several weeks. April was a rough month for our dogs and the owner who had to clean up after them: me.

I cannot stand coffee right now. The smell, the taste, EVERYTHING. Just the thought of drinking coffee gives me heartburn.

Carrots. I don't even want to look at a carrot. When I look at carrots, I think about the sensation of chewing them, and it makes me sick. Cooked, raw, blanched, dipped in ranch dressing, it doesn't matter. Don't give me carrots.

THOR has an ear infection. How do I know this for sure? Well, besides the fact that after his bath today I had to cut a handful of bloody hair out of his ear, the smell was otherworldly. I distinctly remember describing the odor emanating as I retrieved his "stool" (if you could even call it that) from our bathtub (that story requires a whole other post) as "otherworldly." So there ya go.

The Italian sandwich we serve where I work. Unfortunately for me, it's a very popular sandwich.

The smell of cooking chicken… good God that has to be the all-time worst. Worse than the dog food. Worse than the poop. Worse than the ear infection. Cody has made some doozies in the weeks since I've been pregnant and I finally had to cut him off, I just couldn't take it anymore. If it's baking in the oven with other things in the dish, this is not a problem. But if you're cooking it on the stove top, PLEASE SPARE ME THE TORTURE. Actually, I could handle writing about everything else I just wrote about, but just thinking about the stench I endured on those nights that Cody innocently set about making dinner for himself makes me want to make a beeline for the bathroom.

There is a flipside to this, however. We went on a little light rail adventure with our friends Alex and Ryan on Saturday evening with the mission of eating at Lolo's Chicken and Waffles. Little did we know, it was more than a mile walk through The Hood from the nearest light rail stop to Lolo's, and it was more than 100 degrees outside, and the whole way there we were like, this had better be good, and OMG, what if we get there and they're only open for breakfast! And hey! What do you think the odds are of making it to Lolo's vs. getting gunned down in a drive-by vs. suffocating from heat stroke! Because I'm personally thinking the drive-by is the most likely! Needless to say, we didn't do our research, but we made up for our ignorance with pure, unadulterated determination. Half an hour later, we walked up to one of the most ghetto-fied buildings we have ever seen: boarded windows with broken glass still sitting on the sills, bricked-in windows, chipping paint, and an upturned shopping cart for a lawn ornament. We made our entrance- two couldn't-be-whiter boys and their wives- and were immediately greeted by two things: the overwhelmingly appetizing smell of bona-fide soul food, and murmurs of the more appropriate patrons asking each other, "What are all these honkies doing in here?"

All I can say after my oh-so-satisfying meal at Lolo's is that they can call me whatever they want as long as I get to eat their food. It was a soul-altering experience. I can say with utmost certainty that I will be getting more cravings for chicken and waffles, ONLY FROM LOLO'S, AND KFC IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATIVE, than any other food during the baby-building process. Hopefully Cody can put up with being called a Honky long enough for me to pop out this kid, who will no doubt look more like a fried chicken or a waffle than either one of us once I'm through with it.

The Grandmas.

I have never met two women more EXCITED about becoming grandmas than my mom and Cody's mom. They're both first-timers, and they're both beside themselves knowing that they will have a little one to cuddle and spoil in true grandma fashion. It's the best thing ever. 

I have come to the conclusion that my mom was put on this planet for one purpose, and one purpose only: to be a grandma. Or rather, an amma, as we Icelanders call our dear grandmothers, as I always have with my mom's mom. (My dad's mom was always Mum-Mum to everyone… we aim for different in our family, apparently.) She can literally hardly contain herself as she anticipates the arrival of this little one. Every time I see her she puts her hands on my still-flat tummy, her face just beaming because SHE KNOWS WHAT'S IN THERE! It's SO CUTE. The same can certainly be said for Cody's mom. He said it best: upon finding out that we are expecting, she was "activated," Terminator-style: full grandma mode, ON. It's fantastic.

"Amma" and "Grandma" are going to be amazing blessings to us. They already are. My mom calls me every other day to check in on me and my "little blueberry," as she calls our growing child, along with occasional e-mails to let me know she's thinking of us. Cody's mom calls and e-mails both of us to see how I'm feeling, to see how she can help us out, or just to let us know how everyone is doing and that she loves us. It's wonderful knowing that we have such a core of support in them- that's where it starts, really. No one will be more hands on with our child than our own precious mothers. 

Nothing makes you appreciate your mom more than becoming a mom yourself. Someday I'll understand the magic of watching your children start families of their own. But for now, Cody and I have a front-row seat, and two grandmas who love this "little blueberry" more than words can say.

Rough day.

Actually, it's been a rough couple of days. No energy, extreme nausea, wobbly legs. I remember when I ran track and cross country in high school and then college and having workouts and races that left my legs so shaky it was hard to so much as hold myself up. I have never remembered that feeling with such clarity as I do now- I feel like that ALL THE TIME. But instead of feeling that way because I just ran 10 laps around the track at a successively fast pace, I feel that way because I'm… laying around on the couch, doing nothing. It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever tried to explain. "Yes, I sit around on my butt ALL DAY LONG. And MAN does it wear me out!"

What?

For the past couple of weeks, I seem to have settled into a pattern of feeling generally well during the day and pretty gnarly at night. This is OK because I work during the day and there is nothing worse than being around food that you normally love but now that you're prego makes you want to blow chunks, and dealing with the already-overwhelming smell of the 5-pound block of bleu cheese that the sweet salad lady, just doing her job, is cutting into manageable crumbles, all while trying not to either dry heave or pass out on customers as you take their order at the register- with a smile. 

Yesterday and today were definitely out of the "norm" that I have been experiencing lately. My Sunday started off well enough- woke up, went to church, went to a class, and that's when the fun started. Nauseous, uncomfortable, hungry for a croissant sandwich. We went to Paradise Bakery and I ordered the roast beef and havarti on a croissant, which I was completely unaware contained horseradish, which is definitely one of those things I have a VERY hard time eating these days. Ate it anyway and proceeded to relive the taste sensation for the remainder of the day and night with the release of even the tiniest burp. This was quickly followed up by such intense fatigue that I crashed on the couch and fell asleep- immediately. My poor husband. I had signed us up to babysit Cruz again that day, and guess who did ALL the work? He is such a trooper. And will be such an amazing dad. I have never been more in love with him than I am now.

Anyway, today sucked too.

It's amazing how bringing a life into the world is one of the hardest and one of the best things that a person can ever do in life. With every day that goes by that I feel AWFUL, I breathe a sigh of relief because it means that my baby is taking what it needs from me to grow and be healthy and strong. It's hard, and sure, I wish I felt great all the time like some women do, but if I felt great all the time I would probably wonder if my baby is really in there, growing up a storm. I feel better the worse I feel because of what it means.

It's funny how pregnancy changes your outlook on life. Cody and I both said the other day that no matter how surprised, unprepared, freaked out, uncertain, panicked, or desperate we have felt through this process of facing this new responsibility, it never even crossed our minds to want the baby to stop growing and not make it. It's not that we ever would have wanted that- don't get me wrong. We're still scared, and excited. It's just that our perspective has shifted to want the best for this new person that has been placed in our lives no matter the effect it has on us.

It's made us grow up.