Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday Mail for Heroes

I think I write a post every single year at this time, urging people to participate in this easy program.

1. Grab a box of Christmas cards, thank you cards, blank cards.

2. Write 2-3 sentences to the men and women who are serving or have served in the military and their families. These cards are distributed randomly.

3. Stick them in a large envelope and mail to:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791

This is an easy way to pass along holiday greetings to a deserving American. I had students at several of the schools I serve make cards last week and today, I stuffed a medium sized flat rate box at the post office full of cards. And when I say stuffed, I mean STUFFED. I probably had close to 300 cards, if not more.

Cards MUST be received to their facility by Friday December 6, 2013. Not postmarked for 12/6. Received on 12/6.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Meet Our Daughter

Daughter. I will have a daughter. My husband will be the father of a girl. My nieces will have a little girl cousin to have as their little doll. 

Yesterday seemed like a dream. For 19 weeks, we've known a baby is growing inside of me but yesterday changed something. I know she is a she. This girl who will become the center of our universe for a lifetime. 

Meet our daughter! 

Ultrasound pictures are creepy! Here is a shot of her little baby hand...
Hello mommy and daddy and lady pushing down on me with some strange object. No, I will not sit still! My mommy had a sip of Pepsi before her appointment! I'M ALL JACKED UP ON PEPSI!

Now, I will attempt to not buy every single adorable piece of girl clothing known to man. Wish me luck! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What is Baby D?

On Saturday, we go in for our 20 week (19w2d) ultrasound. This ultrasound is mainly done for measurement purposes but we are most excited about finding out the sex of this little baby! This appointment was made way back the first week of September and at the time, November 23 seemed like a LIFETIME away. And here we are, just two days away. I can't believe it! I honestly don't know how people wait an entire 40 weeks to find out what they are having. The anticipation has been building the last couple of weeks and I find myself thinking about it all too often, as if I can figure it out just based on my thoughts.

Over the past few weeks, I've been testing out some of those gender/sex predictors online. The old wives tales and charts that make you do silly things to determine if you are having a boy or a girl. Here are the results!

Chinese Birth Calendar Chart:
I used 5 online charts. Three said girl and two said boy. One of the charts that predicted boy was using my chinese lunar age and not my traditional age. One point to Team Pink.

The Mayan prediction is that if the mother's age at conception and the year of conception are both odd, the baby is a girl.  I was 33 and the year was 2013. One point to Team Pink.

More nausea=girl
No nausea=boy
One point to Team Pink.

Heart Rate:
Above 140: girl
Below 140: boy
I've asked both times that I've had doctors appointments and it has varied. The last reading on my home doppler was 145 but the last reading on the doctor's (better) doppler was 138. I'm calling this one a draw.

More acne=girl
Less acne=boy
For the first time in my life, my skin has been well behaved, at least up to this point.
One point Team Blue.

More clumsy=boy
I don't notice that I'm tripping or banging into walls so...
One Point Team Pink.

Boob size:
Funny story: The first time I went into a maternity store was at about 14 weeks and the sales associate was explaining everything available in the store. She started talking about bras and when she guessed my cup size as a "D", I corrected her and said "C." She replied, "You're a D." LOL.
Bigger Boobs=girl
Same size=boy
I'm not completely out of my bras yet but I probably should be!
One point Team Pink.

Baking Soda Test:
This is kind of gross so I apologize in advance. You put a bit of baking soda in the bottom of a cup and pee in the cup. If the baking soda fizzles like soda, the prediction is boy. If it stays flat, girl
I did this last night and the result was...
One point Team Blue. 

Final result:
Team PINK: 5
Team BLUE: 2

I can't wait to share the news with all of you and see if these silly "predictors" are right or wrong!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Guilt

Before I became pregnant, a friend of mine who struggled with infertility announced she was pregnant. If I am going to be completely honest, I feel more happiness when infertile friends get pregnant. Perhaps it is the (often silent) sisterhood that is formed between women experiencing this kind of grief. When this friend announced her pregnancy, I was so happy for her and for the first time in a long time, something clicked inside of me and I felt hope. As if her success could somehow rub off on me. 

Maybe I had reached that point in my journey that my sadness and despair had transformed into hope and belief that good things could happen to me too. That transformation didn’t occur overnight. It took a solid year of removing myself from the disappointments of trying to conceive and some monthly therapy to calm my nerves and focus on the positives in my life.

A couple of days after I got a positive test, I sent her a Facebook message to ask her a question.  I told her how much hope her pregnancy had given me and she said that she went through a guilty phase. At the time, I couldn’t understand why she would feel guilty! She said she made so many friends in the infertility community and telling them about the pregnancy gave her a lot of anxiety. Since I was about 2.5 seconds pregnant and feeling quite nervous about my ability to carry a baby, I hadn’t reached this stage. I was still shocked and amazed that this was even happening. 

Within the last few weeks, that guilt has crept in to my head. As I wear maternity jeans because my old jeans no longer fit and everyone that I am in regular contact with knows my news, I feel guilt. I feel like I don’t want to talk about being pregnant openly because I don’t want to hurt anyone. I know the pain all too well. I know how it feels to hear someone talking about the baby growing inside of them and feeling that ache in your heart because you want it so bad. I guard my conversations because I realize how much of a blessing this is and that everyone who wants to experience it may not get a chance. I ask the question, “why me” when there are others out there that deserve it too. 

But I can’t control that. As I have learned over the past 3+ years, my reproductive struggles are not the “fault” of others. Why miss out on my joy and happiness? I have to be true to myself and for me, that means remembering my past, recognizing the pain of others but ultimately living my life and being a model to those who haven’t reached that point of hope and belief in good. I can look back and remember getting the news that this friend or that friend was pregnant and as much as I cried and mourned my own “loss”, I always made a point to share in their happiness because walking on eggshells isn’t fun and I didn’t want anyone to do that on my behalf.

I want to share my experience but I don’t want to hurt anyone. I have this past that makes me so much more sensitive to the world of pregnancy and I wonder if it will carry over to motherhood. Will it always be with me?

Monday, November 11, 2013

In His Eyes

The first thing I noticed was that the life was gone from his eyes. His spirit just wasn't there. It was easy to understand why and medically, it made sense but that was the most difficult part for me to cope with. It wasn't easy to know he couldn't eat because his ability to swallow even liquids was gone. He couldn't stand up by himself and his speech was much different.

But none of that compared to the look in his eyes. When I walked into his hospital room just 48 hours after the stroke occurred, I was greeted with his usual "hi honey" but it didn't sound the same. He was in his wheelchair which was a nice change from seeing him in the hospital bed looking so helpless. It was heartbreaking and the picture is burned into my memory for life. I wanted the life to come back to his face. I knew with time, his arm and leg would get stronger. He would be able to eat and his speech would normalize. He wouldn't be in a hospital forever but what I wanted the most was to look my dad in the eyes and see the twinkle. The joy. The happiness that I always saw.

Weeks would pass and he would be in a different hospital bed in a different location. I would watch him re-learn how to walk and be happy to sit by his side while he ate a sandwich. I would explain to him that we wanted him to stay another week, that it was for his own good. He wasn't happy with this news but I had a way of  bringing it all together and he agreed-one more week.

Another week passed and I sat on the stairs inside the home I grew up in waiting to see the car carrying my dad pull into the driveway. He was coming home to a home he no longer could fully utilize but we did our best to make it home, sweet home. Walking wasn't quite an option yet so he was wheeled around sharp corners and through narrow doorways for many weeks.

Months passed and he was on his own for the first time. Nervous doesn't even begin to describe it but he was out of his wheelchair, walking with a cane and able to function on his own. What a relief.

A now, a year (and a day) later, we gathered at his house to celebrate his recovery. He took control of the BBQ and cooked up hamburgers and hot dogs. He doesn't even use his cane anymore. He emails us to let us know about his newest personal best on his walks around the block. He cracks jokes that make him laugh so hard he is in tears. He refers to his not yet born third grandchild as "her" and "she" because what he knows best is daughters and granddaughters.

His eyes are twinkling again. He doesn't have that far off distant look that broke my heart on Day 2. I'm hopeful for the future and feel so proud that my dad has faced these challenges and defeated each one. He still has items on his list to accomplish but there is no doubt he will knock them out of the park.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Round Up

I'm calling this post The Round Up because I feel round. Well, my stomach does.

I woke up Wednesday morning and as I do each morning, stare, push and observe the growth of my stomach. I was feeling especially bloated that morning. As someone who has a bit of a rotund gut anyways, I've decided that I won't really know when gut becomes baby bump but Wednesday morning, the gut was round, I felt full and bloated and decided that it might be a good time to just rock the maternity jeans and maternity shirt and go with it. The thought of buttoning pants over this thing just wasn't going to work for me. Sadly, I still just look chubby but I need to wrap my head around the realization that I am pregnant and my stomach is changing shape and I shouldn't be afraid or ashamed of what I am putting out there. EMBRACE THE BUMPGUT, MICHELLE!

Have I told you guys that we have a fetal doppler? Our friends let us borrow theirs many weeks ago, before it was even possible to use it and hear the heartbeat. I'd been really excited about using it since we received it but didn't want to jump the gun and not have success with finding the heartbeat. We first gave it a whirl at around 10 weeks and didn't have a luck. It freaked me out A LOT and I swore off using it until after our 12 week ultrasound.

Since then, I've tried to use it about once a week, still not having success finding the baby. Since it caused so much anxiety, I made a promise to myself that I would only use it in the days following my doctor appointment, after I knew that the baby was in there and beating away!

Tuesday night, I decided to give it another shot. It took a bit of time to get a reading, but since I know what to listen for now, I recognized the baby right away. It was beating at about 145 for a few seconds and then the wiggle worm shot across my uterus. Such stage fright! I kept trying to find it again, moving the wand all around. When I found it again, I started the video on my phone to capture the sound and the number of the screen. I got about 7 seconds of solid sound before I lost it again. It is such an awesome sound! I know as the baby gets bigger, it will be a little easier to track down the heartbeat but I'm going to stick with my rule of only using the doppler after appointments!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wiggle Worm

At my prenatal appointment this morning, my doctor placed the fetal doppler wand on my stomach and was able to hear the soothing sound of my baby's heart beat right away.....and then it disappeared.

She moved the wand over to the right and picked it up again. We listened to it for about 30 seconds and she said "you got a wiggle worm in there. Do you hear it moving around?"

Hear it moving around? No. I heard the heartbeat (always a HUGE relief) but moving around? Like swimming in there? What does that sound like? I need to be given the hearing of a doctor.

I find it so utterly strange that there is a avocado sized being swimming around in my uterus but I can't feel it yet.

As we walked out of the exam room, she said "Everything is looking very good. You are having a healthy pregnancy."

This is all so surreal. I'm not faking it. I'm not in a dream. I'm actually pregnant. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?