Saturday, September 28, 2013

Seven Late Takes

On Monday, I attempted to bring order to the chaos of my life by printing this lovely rainbow-colored spreadsheet and sticking it to my fridge. It is called Weekly because I am an idealist and Acts of Service because sometimes I like to be obnoxious. It is actually working pretty well so far; hopefully I can sustain my momentum long enough to tick off the last few things, at which point I will probably give up on keeping a clean house until next year. It is really hard to turn over a new leaf when one is pregnant and therefore unable to engage in prolonged exertion, climb on chairs, or handle dangerous chemicals with impunity. (I still handle chemicals sometimes, but I wear gloves and wash my hands obsessively and maybe have an anxiety attack or two.)

(My mother is coming in November and December, so my apartment won't become hopelessly dirty before 2014 rolls around.)

My cleaning frenzy was slowed significantly by the fact that the vacuum hasn't been working properly. I tried cleaning the beater brush and that didn't solve the problem, so at the advice of Facebook (i.e. my mother and Melanie B) I checked the vacuum cleaner bag. It was stuffed to overflowing (oops), so yesterday I went out and got vacuum cleaner bags. They work fine, but it has not resolved the problem with the beater brush. Scott can't figure out how to fix it either. I am making due with this tiny beater brush that I think is meant to be used on stairs. It gets clogged every 100 square feet or so and needs to be disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled, so vacuuming takes a very long time. Blargh.

I have an appointment with an asthma/allergy specialist on Monday because my primary care doctor thought I should have such an appointment after my lung thing a few weeks ago. (I've been doing much better this week, in case you're wondering. Pink fluffy hearts to Pulmicort.) So Thursday night I went to print out the new patient forms and halfway through my printer refused to work because it did not have enough ink to maintain print quality. Seriously, printer? You can't give me two low-quality pages just so I don't have to deal with that this week?

So I toddled off to Wal-Mart yesterday morning and got printer cartridges. (A black one, which we need urgently, and a color one, which we will need soon, and who wants another crisis + emergency Wal-Mart run?) Scott changed the ink for me when he got home, so now I can work on my forms, which ask things like whether I was breastfed as an infant. Apparently that's important with allergies and stuff.

As a rebellion against all this busyness, I made brownies and vanilla custard yesterday. The brownies are from a recipe my friend Mari got off the side of a cocoa tin. The custard is my own recipe and was intended to go with a french toast casserole thing I made Thursday night. I have been tossing handfuls of frozen blueberries on as well. Nom nom nom.

Dad and Teresa are apparently going to some kind of father-daughter dance tomorrow. Mom thought to get Dad's suit to the dry cleaner's, but didn't think about a dress for Teresa until Wednesday. Fortunately, she went to Target on Thursday and found this dress. I find this blog-worthy because seriously, how often do you walk into a store and find something that's reasonably modest, pretty, and affordable in time for your event two days away?

Teresa is taking some kind of homeschool art class. Here she is with a pear that she drew.

And here she is running a lending library...except apparently you had to pay money to get books. And you couldn't browse; she picked a book for you and handed it to you.

Matthew continues to be adorable and talkative and fond of climbing on things. Here is a random picture of him because he hasn't appeared on this blog in a while:

Scott and I managed to watch Agents of SHEILD on Thursday night. We enjoyed the show, but it has definitely been too long since we watched TV that wasn't Netflix or library DVDs. Or not long enough. I had forgotten how terrible commercials are, especially when you see the same 3 or 4 half a dozen times in the course of an hour.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Seven Quick Baby Takes: 28 weeks

One of my friends from high school had a baby recently and even more recently brought the baby to visit my family. Matthew was NOT PLEASED by the fact that Mom tried to hold this tiny interloper, but he was fascinated by the fact that she also drinks out of a bottle and now he goes around pointing to babies or pictures of babies or things associated with babies and says "BEEBEE" enthusiastically. Hopefully this fascination will last until December. Though he probably still won't be happy if Mom tries to hold my baby.

Teresa continues to be extremely enthusiastic about the whole baby thing. She is learning about breastfeeding and c-sections (Her: "That sounds easier." All you readers who have had c-sections can laugh now.) and who knows what else. She also drew me this picture:

I did find out last time I visited, however, that she has gone back to petitioning Mom for a baby sister. Apparently she figures Scott and I will be dead ends on the girl-baby-producing front for a few years, but Mom and Dad don't have any little babies around anymore and therefore obviously need another one.

I had my 28-week appointment on Tuesday. I didn't have to wait very long, so remind me later that 2:45 actually isn't a bad time at this practice. Anyway, I weighed 201 pounds (4 pounds up from 25 weeks, 18 pounds up overall), and my blood pressure was 122/something, which earned me praise from the MA. Tad was head-down again during the whole fundal-height-measuring, doppler-using part of the appointment. Dr. B found this unremarkable, as he should, considering Tad has plenty of time to turn around again (and again and again). He did remark, "This baby will not stop moving" in an amused sort of tone while using the doppler. Me: "Well, I did just drink 50 grams of glucose."

Oh, and I did my glucose screen. Drank the stuff at 2:00, went in, got my blood drawn in the middle of chatting with the doctor (you have to draw it precisely one hour after drinking the stuff). The fruit punch flavor isn't actually that gag-worthy; it just tastes like liquefied Jolly Ranchers. Also, I was supposed to get a call back "right away" if my results were abnormal, and it's been 3 days and I haven't gotten any calls. Dare we hope that my pancreas pulled off a dark horse victory?

My next appointment isn't until 32 weeks. I thought there would be one at 30, but apparently not. Oh well; it's not like I'm not busy enough.

Things I have done this week on the getting-ready-for baby front:

A. Emailed a lady in my hometown (where my parents still live) to ask if she still makes ring slings. She does, and for $30 plus the price of fabric I can have my very own custom sling. That's a lot cheaper than the name-brand ones. Plus, no risk of ugly colors. (I am supposed to pick my own fabric and get it to her and then she'll make it and get it back to me. I volunteered my mother as a courier.)

B. Got proof of pregnancy (a note scribbled on a prescription pad by my OB) so I can submit paperwork to the county department of Job and Family Services so the baby can have health insurance. I could write a long and angsty post about public assistance, but I won't, because I don't feel like it. I'll just stew quietly.

C. Tried to get pre-registration paperwork so I can schedule a hospital tour and pre-register and all that fun stuff. But the packet I got at the OB's doesn't actually have any paperwork in it. It has an envelope for mailing the paperwork, and it has a sheet of paper listing all the other sheets of paper that should be in there, but lo, they are not. If I call them to ask after my glucose screen I might ask about that as well; otherwise it can wait until my next appointment. (They have hospital tours several times a week, so I'm not too worried about squeezing one in before the baby comes.)

D. Wrote a rough draft of a birth plan that I'm actually halfway satisfied with. I still have lots of questions, though, and I might want to edit down the 2.5-page single-spaced document so nobody's eyes glaze over.

(First-timer with control issues, remember?)

We also have a car seat now, courtesy of my parents. My mother has really been embracing the whole first-time-grandma thing. I mean, I really didn't expect her to do much more than dig out Matthew's hand-me-downs and call it a day. But in addition to digging out an abundance of said hand-me-downs, she bought all my maternity clothes, planned a baby shower (invitations went out this week), and went yard saling for baby clothes. I think Tad is up to 5 sleepers and about 6 onesies now. I know that doesn't sound like much, but he isn't even going to be born for another 3 months and cute sleepers seem to just sort of magnetically attach themselves to babies, so I am not worried about his clothing situation. I have been trying to get Mom to redirect people's giving impulses into diapers, lest this poor child spend his life sitting bare-bottomed on a towel.

(No, we're not really that poor. It's a joke.)

Tad continues to be an unusually active baby, which is good because I continue to be an unusually anxious mother. Of late he has been moving hard enough to make my whole belly twitch dramatically on a pretty much daily basis. (He's been doing that occasionally for weeks.) Unfortunately, he rarely does this when his father is around. Maybe he finds Scott's voice soothing and sleep-inducing. That wouldn't be a bad thing come December, would it?

When I went to therapy last week, the receptionist commented, "Not long now, right?" I said, "Not until December" and made small talk and it was non-awkward, but seriously? If people are going to be asking me that for three months straight I'm going to slowly go bonkers.

Then a few days later the MA at my OB's office commented just before she weighed me that I had "really popped out" since my last appointment. "So I hear," I said, a little wearily, and the conversation trailed off. You'd think she'd know better than that, working in an OB office and everything, but maybe I'm just an unusually sensitive pregnant woman.

Anyway, you can judge for yourself, based on this picture from Sunday (28+1):

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Conversations with my sisters, movie quote edition

About a week and a half ago, I was visiting my family and ended up sitting at the table having breakfast with my sisters. Teresa asked something about coming to visit the baby at my apartment after he was born. I said that she might come visit my apartment or she might come visit us at the hospital.

Teresa: "Ooh, I want to do that."

Me: "I don't know what the rules are. They might not let you visit because of germs."

Teresa: "I won't touch anything!"

Me: "What about the floor? What about the air?"

Andrea, with funny accent: "Yes, you can touch the floor."

Teresa, nonchalant: "That's from Despicable Me."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Seven Quick Takes in which we discover that they *can* charge you money to breathe the air

Last weekend I started having really bad shortness of breath suddenly. I know, shortness of breath is normal in pregnancy (I got told that at least half a dozen different times in the course of ensuing events), but this was not normal. Just trust me.

I thought about calling the doctor Sunday night but ended up not doing so. I did tell Scott about things, though, and he offered to work from home Monday in case I needed his help with anything.

On Monday morning I called my OB's office and they said it sounded like something for a primary care doctor to handle. So I called Dr. M's office. (He does NaPro but technically he's family practice so he can't really complain that he doesn't "do lungs", can he?) They managed to get me an 11:30 appointment. So Scott took a very long lunch break and we went off to Dr. M's. Got there at 11:25, didn't see him until about 12:20. Gotta love those right-before-lunch appointments.

I won't bore you with a long recap, but I ended up leaving with a prescription for albuterol. I dropped Scott off at home and went off to the pharmacy for my new inhaler (which cost a horrifying amount).

I used the inhaler at about 3:30 and again at about 9:30. Nothing much happened either time. I was never short of breath enough that I couldn't talk or turned blue or anything, but at this point I had been working as hard as I could to breathe for so long that my ribs were starting to hurt. I had the vague idea that if you go to the hospital and act all asthmatic they will give you breathing treatments, so at about 11:00 Scott and I went to the ER.

Turns out that if you're pregnant and have chest discomfort and shortness of breath, they don't just give you a breathing treatment and send you on your way. Instead, they do their level best to convince you you're about to drop dead of a pulmonary embolism and need a CT scan. And you shouldn't worry about that hurting the fetus; a little radiation never hurt anybody.

ER Doc agreed to order a breathing treatment after I insisted that I was not getting a CT scan. So I got nebulized and felt better. Well, better in the sense that I could breathe again. Albuterol is trippy stuff.

Then we managed to get me discharged and went home. (I am really surprised that I did not have to sign a million forms saying I was leaving against medical advice.)

Scott managed to send an email to his work saying he was taking a sick day before collapsing into bed. I came to bed too, but only slept for about 3 hours. (We got back at 3 a.m. and I slept from 4-7.) I had managed to acquire a spacer from the nice respiratory therapist hospital lady, and that made me feel a lot less stupid while trying to use the inhaler, but it still didn't do much. So I sat around not sleeping and reading about CT scans during pregnancy.

I think I woke Scott up around 1:00 and we had discussions and he checked on some essential work things and then back we went to the ER. We sat around for a very very long time and I got two different saline locks because the first one wasn't big enough and had an EKG and five vials of blood drawn and a CT scan. I got two lead apron thingies, and Tad listened to me when I told him not to move during the scan. (I was sending him thoughts reminding him how much he likes to sleep on my bladder. You know, far away from my lungs.) Then as soon as I got back to my room he gave a few nice hard kicks. I was about ready to buy him a pony at that point.

I don't have pulmonary emboli, as evidenced by the fact that I'm at home and not in L&D with an IV of heparin. (Then again, since you can't see me, for all you know I might be typing this from L&D. I'm not; I'm in my comfy chair in the living room of my very own apartment.) I also don't have pneumonia or any one of a number of heart things. I don't officially have asthma because I haven't ever done a pulmonary function test, but that's the working theory. I have somewhat figured out the inhaler, but I also have a nebulizer now and prescriptions for nebulizer thingies of albuterol and pulmicort. Because having to sit and breathe for 5 minutes is better than using an inhaler and having it NOT WORK.

I'm supposed to use those as directed and go see a pulmonary specialist of some kind to get further told off for my inability to wheeze, as any decent person would when they can't breathe. (WebMD tells me that wheezing is not essential for an asthma diagnosis, but you wouldn't know it talking to any doctors around here.) I will report back on whether I'm actually going to drop dead of something-or-another.

Scott worked from home on Wednesday too, while I lounged about and made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. (It was the kind of week that requires cookies.) Then we collaborated on dinner (a beef and noodle soup that we invented ourselves, inspired by our chicken noodle soup recipe). Then after dinner we were lounging around at our respective laptops and I told Scott, "Come over here a minute." Him: "Does that mean come over, or..." Me: "Just come here." So he came and stood behind my chair and I put his hand on my belly and said, "Okay, baby, now move again."

The baby had been kicking really hard in the same spot for a minute, but of course he quieted down as soon as Scott came over. Then after a few seconds I felt a little tap. Scott said, "Was that my imagination or your stomach or..." Me: "It wasn't your imagination." And then the baby gave some good hard kicks, and I said "Good baby!" and Scott said "Hello!" and it was perfect. I felt normal for a second, you know?

(Scott even posted about it on Facebook. He posts a status update approximately 5 times a year, so it was obviously a very big event for him.)

I still really appreciated my therapy appointment this morning. We didn't actually talk much about the hospital thing, but I think I needed to talk about (think about) something else for a while.

I'm doing okay (not 100%, but okay), but prayers would of course be vastly appreciated. For my physical and mental health, for the baby's health (he has been kicking up a storm as usual, so I think he's unperturbed by all the excitement), for our finances after two ER visits and a ton of tests and $200+ of asthma medications and an unpaid sick day. (Scott doesn't get paid time off, except for a handful of holidays.) And for anything else you can think of, because we probably need that too.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Seven Quick Baby Takes: 26 weeks

I had another OB appointment last Tuesday, during which I actually met the doctor who is probably going to be catching this baby. (That's what it says on his website. He doesn't deliver babies; he catches them.) I like him a lot so far, though of course I reserve the right to change my opinion after I've talked to him a few more times. (Though I certainly hope I don't decide that I dislike my OB at 30 or 32 weeks. I'm much too lazy to switch.)

The downside is that he didn't come in until an hour after my scheduled appointment, but I knew when I took the right-before-lunch slot I'd probably be waiting a while. (Best time slot: Early morning. Second best: Right after lunch.) And despite the fact that he was obviously running late, he sat down and made sure I knew about all the stuff in my chart (like my blood type and the fact that I don't have STDs) and we talked extensively about my L&D visit the previous week and a fair bit about Metformin and glucose tolerance and hormones and all that fun stuff. (His policy: If you were on Metformin for a while and especially if you needed Metformin to get pregnant, you should probably just stay on it. So I didn't have to have fun conversations about insulin and breastfeeding. Too bad.)

Also, my blood pressure was 130/70 (nobody commented on it this time) and I weighed 197. That's just 4 pounds up between 21 and 25 weeks; 14 pounds up overall. I'm kind of proud of myself, which is silly because I've been continuing to Eat All The Things. I think Tad burns a lot of calories with his intrauterine gymnastics.

During my appointment, I got a bottle of medicinal Kool-Aid to take home and put in my fridge, because apparently the stuff is better chilled. The MA was very insistent that I pick between the orange flavor and the fruit punch flavor, even though I told her that I had no preference because I'm pretty sure they're both disgusting. So I picked fruit punch because I don't like the color orange. I hope I don't regret that decision.

My glucose screen and next appointment are mid-afternoon on the 17th. I think they actually go to lunch from 1-2 at this office, so I might not have to wait forever and half a day. We'll see. It also occurs to me that doing the glucose screen in the afternoon stacks the deck in my favor a bit; I know from long experimentation that I metabolize sugar best between lunch and dinner. I'm still not looking forward to metabolizing that sugar, though.

Because my OB is awesome, one of the things he asked at my last appointment was if I'd thought of how I wanted my birth to go. I told him that I had some general ideas but needed to figure out how to do birth plans and whatever, and we moved on to some other topic. (I think, actually, that's when we moved on to chasing Tad around with the Doppler. He's "probably transverse" now--so good thing I didn't get all excited when the ultrasound tech thought it was a big deal that he was vertex last time--and uncooperative as usual, but the OB clocked his heart rate at around 160, which is normal for him.)

I hope Dr. B was actually curious when he asked about my birth preferences, because I now have a LONG list of questions for my next appointment. Also, I discovered that wearing your own clothes is apparently a thing in the natural childbirth community. Wearing hospital gowns is depersonalizing or something. Here I always thought that the best part of giving birth in a hospital was getting to bleed all over SOMEBODY ELSE'S STUFF. Actually, I still think that, so that's one thing I don't have to put in my Super Long Birth Plan of Doom Yes I'm a First-Timer With Control Issues.

Incidentally, when I went to L&D the other week they actually asked me if I wanted to keep wearing my own nightgown and I declined in an "Are you crazy?" tone of voice. Now I feel bad. Sorry, hospital peoples! Keep offering to allow your patients to maintain their personal identities!

Sometimes, I notice Tad jerk as if he's being startled awake from a deep sleep. It makes me wonder what he could be dreaming about. I mean, he can't see anything, besides having a vague idea of light and dark. Maybe his dreams are like those old-timey radio programs.

Working on my giant Baby Todolist is taking a very long time, because turns out things like dishes and cooking and grocery shopping still need to be done. However, this week I did succeed in signing up for a childbirth class (and a bonus free breastfeeding class). The main downside is that childbirth classes apparently go like hotcakes and so the only one available runs until December 10. First babies never come early, right? (Scott says it doesn't matter if we waste our money, as long as they don't require you to do a live demonstration if you go into labor before the class ends. He has a way of cutting to the heart of the issue, doesn't he?)

I also proofread baby shower invitations and made some final tweaks to my registry. As I mentioned, my mother is hosting, so I am trying not to be too Pregzilla about the whole thing, because everybody knows that hosting your own shower is rude, and ghost-hosting by bossing your mother around is even ruder. Anyway, the invitations are super cute, but I can't really show you because they have my last name and my parents' address and my mother's email and phone number on them, and if I put on that many black boxes they won't be cute anymore.

Scott and I have also been making "What if I go into labor while you're at work?" plans. He is making good progress on his driving lessons, so the plan for him to get his license is on track. Meanwhile, we figured out busses. Having him take the car to work is impractical for lots of reasons, but the X bus, being a commuter express bus, only runs in mornings and evenings. Fortunately, the Y bus and the Z bus both also stop at Local Mall, so theoretically he could drive the car to Local Mall, ride the X bus to work, get a midday call from me, ride the Y or Z bus up to the mall, get the car, drive to our apartment, pick me up, and drive on to the hospital.

The only real disadvantage of this plan is that the Y and Z busses, being not express busses, take longer. So it would take Scott a good 60-90 minutes to get from downtown to the suburbs, where we live, and then it takes at least 15 more minutes to get to the hospital. Still, as long as I don't try to match my mother's record of a 3-hour first labor, we should be good. (My mother says that if you're having a 3-hour labor, you'd know right off.)

Also, my mother-in-law spontaneously said that if I should happen to need a ride, I should just call them. It was very sweet, though I hope to avoid taking her up on it.

I always seem to run out of things to say after #5. I think I am subconsciously leaving a space for a progesterone update, except of course I have no idea what my progesterone is doing. I haven't gone into labor yet, though, so there's that.

I am surprised that I got over fretting about progesterone so quickly. I seriously don't think about it at all. Of course, I occupy my brain by fretting about kick counts and other things.

(I just deleted half a paragraph for the sake of my male readers. Summary: The "sympto" part of NFP is useful even when you're pregnant, though it might make the office staff at your OB's think you're weird. If you don't know what I mean, thank your lucky pH-balance stars.)

--- 7 ---

 I decided to start taking pictures every 2 weeks instead of every 4, so here is 26 weeks.

I look very serious, but I was just tired. I'm happy on the inside, promise. I don't know that I look that much bigger than I did at 19 or 20 weeks. I know Tad is growing, though, because my stomach and lungs have been feeling rather squished--apparently he's just growing up instead of out. Also, I think he's been having a bit of a growth spurt in the 5 days since this picture was taken, because I've been all round-ligament-pain-y and HUNGRY. That could just be my imagination, though.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Seven Random Wednesday Takes: FOOD

I wrote most of this post on Saturday and it has languished since. I have lots of things to write about this Friday, so I'm just randomly finishing and publishing it now.

A few weeks ago, we went to a family reunion and I decided to bring these:

They're based off this recipe, found via Pinterest. I think the only difference is that I used mini marshmallows instead of regular sized. Also, mine are a lot prettier. I want to make one of those Pinterest "Nailed it" comparisons now. :)

On the feast of the Assumption, as I mentioned, we went to have dinner with friends and I brought these cupcakes. My changes: I used 2 1/2 cups of homemade pumpkin puree in place of the oil + canned pumpkin, because I wanted to use up some of my puree, and 2 tsp cinnamon + 1 tsp nutmeg in place of the pumpkin pie spice, because I don't know what pumpkin pie spice is. Also, I used more sugar in the frosting...maybe 6 cups? I like my frosting thick and sweet.

I actually think my pumpkin muffin recipe is sweeter than these cupcakes. Maybe next time I'll just make muffins and frost them.

We get pork loin cheap at Meijer, so I am always on the quest for new pork chop recipes. This month's experiment was Parmesan Panko Crusted Pork Chops, another Pinterest find.

I used regular breadcrumbs in place of panko (actually, I used mostly ground-up bread heels from the freezer) and I mixed the parmesan in with the other dry ingredients so I only had to dip twice. (Into the egg and then into the dry stuff.) 

They were AWESOME. Definitely making this again.

The other day I was bored with all our available chicken options and so went to Google and ended up here. We made that with 1 cup of broth (because cutting a boullion cube in half is too much work) and it was AMAZING. It doesn't last long enough, though. I think we got 4 meals (2 meals for each of us) out of 2 pounds of chicken.

Some time later, we made steak using that recipe, except with beef broth and steak seasoning instead of chicken broth and parsley. (Scott got the steak as a birthday present from my parents.) It was likewise AMAZING. I don't know what it is about that recipe that's so magical, but there you have it.

Since I used up all my capital letters for the week on the last two takes, here's a less excited one: My total grocery spending for August was 221.61. Yikes. And that was over the course of only four Thursdays. So I banned myself from shopping on the fifth Thursday in August and put myself on a mission to think of creative ways to eat well using what we already had. I think I did well, though I concede that we had dinner at my in-laws on Labor Day Eve. We wouldn't have starved to death if we hadn't, though. It was just that we hadn't seen them in forever and a 3-day weekend seemed like a perfect occasion. (It was September 1 by then, but I wasn't able to really restock until September 3 because Aldi is closed on Labor Day.)

So during my Eat What You Already Have week, I ran out of dessert. I really like dessert, so I upended my almost-empty container of baking cocoa and made these cookies. I omitted the coconut and I think that made them a bit sticky, but they were still delicious. Scott even liked them, and he isn't normally a big fan of chocolatey things.

On Saturday (August 31) I realized that I was planning to make hamburgers for dinner but only had two hamburger buns in my freezer stash. Oops. I decided to go out on a limb and try to make my own. This recipe was the first one I came across.

These buns are super-duper tasty, especially fresh out of the oven and slathered in butter. Mine didn't look at all round and smooth like those, though. They looked more like drop biscuits. Still, they worked okay as buns and as I mentioned, very nom-worthy as biscuits.

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