Friday, January 27, 2012

Pregnancy Update: Week 33

It's been since, what, 18 weeks that I last gave an update? Geesh! Well, maybe no one really cares all that much, but one thing I wish I had done a better job of when I was pregnant with Brady is document my pregnancy. Mostly because in the 3 1/2 years that have passed, I have forgotten what aches, pains, highs, lows I had the first time around, so I find myself constantly wondering things like, "When did heartburn kick in? How much did I weigh at week "X"? When did my energy wane? When did I start sleeping poorly? When did the Braxton Hicks start?" You get the idea....

So, even though we have a mere seven (EEK!) weeks to go, I wanted to give an update, a photo, and plan to do so weekly from here on out.

The second trimester was basically uneventful, but did bring regular headaches, lightheadedness, and digestive woes. Thankfully I managed to get a control on the first two by not completely eliminating caffeine some days (doctor suggestion!) and by ensuring I regularly took my vitamins and consumed as much iron-rich food as possible. I passed my glucose screening (YUCK!), maintained healthy weight and blood pressure counts, and generally just had a boring time of it, thankfully!

The third trimester began with the new year, and despite it usually being the worst trimester, I found myself energized, productive, alert, and generally feeling great! Plus, the mild winter has been a bonus as I have no winter coat that fits me, and after my mom's spill on the ice last March, everyone in my family is extra-cautious of slippery surfaces! 

Cue week 33....

In a matter of a few days, I went from feeling big but good to exhausted, achy, emotional, non-productive, no energy, heartburn, infection, sleeplessness, crankiness, on and on and on. I'm a pleasure to be around, I'm just sure :)

I honestly feel like my body is wrapping up this pregnancy very soon, although I need to mentally continue to plan for another late arrival. Braxton Hicks started at week 31, and while they were annoying and regular in the evenings, they weren't bad. This past week the accompanying cramping has been so bad I have woken from a sound sleep and even started timing them one evening thinking they were progressing. It's so weird how regular and strong they are, and yet....nothing. It could be a LONG 7 weeks at this rate!

Baby is over 4 pounds now, and after this week, his lungs are basically mature. We FINALLY have his room set up, thanks to the help of my parents, and even though basement progress is slower than we'd like, we at least don't have to bring him home to a room that looked like it belongs on "Hoarders."

I asked this question on Facebook, and I think we know what we are going to do, but I thought I'd post it here, too: Assuming the pregnancy remains uncomplicated, would you rather deliver at downtown Mercy hospital which is over-crowded but fully equipped with a NICU, or deliver at Mercy West where you are basically the only patient but has no NICU? I know, I haven't presented all information in this question, as both have distinct advantages/disadvantages, but it's good to get opinions in case someone shares something we haven't thought about yet!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Farm Boy Casserole

I don't think cooking gets much easier than this: take a bunch of comfort food-type ingredients, throw 'em together, and call it a casserole. Joel is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, so I know when I make this for supper, he's gonna love it! Give this fast, easy, cheap meal a try while it's crazy cold outside!

The Stuff:
1 lb. ground beef
1 can drained green beans
1 can drained corn
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped carrots
1/4 c. chopped onion

The Sauce:
1 can cream of celery soup
1 c. shredded cheddar or monterrey jack cheese
2 T. olive oil

The Stir:
In a large skillet, brown and drain the burger. Set burger aside, and using the same skillet, coat the bottom with the olive oil and layer in the frozen hashbrowns until the bottom of the pan is well covered. Let simmer on medium-high.

While the hashbrowns are defrosting, mix together the vegetables, burger, and celery soup and pour on top of the hashbrowns. Cover the skillet and let everything simmer until veggies have softened and it is warm throughout.

I like to use my Pampered Chef skillet that can also be used in the oven up to 400 degrees. Once the casserole is done, I sprinkle the cheese on top and stick the uncovered skillet under the broiler at 400 degrees until the cheese starts to brown on top.

Try adding or substituting other veggies, or give ground turkey a try instead of beef - the sky's the limit! Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Basement Project: If You Build It, They Will Come, pt. 1

Who is they? I don't know. Friends. Family. Rodents. Hopefully not rodents.

Stealing a line from the famous Iowa movie, the basement project began as a sort of vision. No one whispered random remarks in our ears - not that kind of vision. But more of the kind of vision when two people talk about what the future might look like and their hopes for their family as it grows.

When we purchased our house in 2008, we immediately began thinking about what to do with the 1,600+ square feet of unfinished basement we had to work with.

View into the Office.

Bedroom and Bathroom

View from the bedroom closet into the bedroom and family room.

Middle of the Family Room.
We knew the necessary items: an office, a 4th bedroom, a large rec/entertainment room, storage, etc. But we started dreaming about how and why the space should be used. It went beyond simply "slapping up some walls and calling it good". We developed a purpose, a vision, for the space. And my-oh-my has it been a roller coaster of fun, chaos, headache, confusion, indecision, vision, expense, and creativity. I'll be posting much more in the coming weeks on our basement progress - stay tuned!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Baby B

I apologize in advance for the lengthy post. Chances are you know we are expecting baby #2 mid-March. I wanted to share the other part of the story that not many know. Some people may think it’s private and shouldn’t be shared. For whatever reason, I just don't feel that way.

At around 10 weeks, I was working on a normal Thursday when I (sorry if this is TMI!) had some spotting, which is not really what you want to see at any stage in pregnancy. Back at my desk, my phone was at 5% battery life. It was 4:30 so I shut down the computer, left work quietly, and texted Joel: “I’m spotting, low cell battery. Call the OB to see what we should do, text me back.” I then used what little battery life I had to call my parents to get them in the loop. Between all of us, we got the message that the OB said to go to the ER since their offices were closing for the day, and my parents would be waiting with Brady at our house for the plan of action while Joel came from Ames.

I drove the 25-minute drive from Adel to home as fast but safely as I could. A million thoughts went through my mind. I knew the risk of miscarriage was significantly greater in the first trimester. I don’t tend to panic prematurely – I am the type who tries to stay calm and cool until I know the outcome of a situation. But it was a long drive home.

At home we decided my mom would accompany me to Mercy West, since it was close by and Joel was not due home for another 40 minutes or so. Check in went pretty fast, and Joel arrived soon after I was admitted.

At the exam, everything looked good. We were waiting on the final piece of reassurance, the ultrasound, but due to some complication at the downtown hospital, we decided to go home after three hours and do the ultrasound in our doctor’s office the next day. We felt pretty confident that nothing was wrong, but still anticipated the results of the ultrasound.

The next day, the technician got right to work. After checking a few organ-type things, she focused in on the baby. She told us, “I have good news and bad news.” That was not at all what we expected her to say! She started by telling us that she didn’t see any concerning signs or sources of bleeding, and that the baby seemed healthy and normal for 10 weeks….but that we were pregnant with twins and, unfortunately, one didn’t make it.

That was…..totally unexpected. Aside from some several jokes on my part about carrying twins, (maybe I just knew??) we never expected to hear that kind of report. We could clearly see, though, the larger, thriving baby with beating heart, and the smaller, less defined baby measuring a couple weeks behind.

The tech left Joel and me, and we didn’t quite know what to say or think. We were sad and happy at the same time. What a strange range of emotion, to be relieved I was still pregnant, but to also mourn the loss of the other baby. While I’m not sure I would know what to do with twins, no one wishes for the loss of a child.

Healthy Baby "A" at 10 weeks.

Baby "B" at 10 weeks, stopped growing around  weeks.

The twins - you can definitely tell size and developmental differences.

We met next with an OB in our practice. He came in and didn’t quite look at our chart closely, making a couple errors. Most notably, he didn’t realize one twin was no longer alive, and he was just Mr. Jolly about the whole thing, asking us if we were surprised by the ultrasound and what not. I think he thought we were ungrateful and weird when we replied with melancholy faces and indifferent expressions. After he explained the whole twin thing to us for awhile, he finally flipped the chart and realized his error.

I was still unsure what to feel the whole time we were in the appointment. The hardest part was seeing the lost baby on the ultrasound and in the photograph. I did manage a little humor, telling Joel, “You know, Dwight was a twin.” Referencing a favorite show of ours, The Office: “Yeah I was a twin. I reabsorbed the other fetus. I now have the strength of a grown man and a little baby.” It made him smile, and I think he was glad to see I was doing ok with the situation.

We are now just weeks away from delivery. We weren't sure if we'd see anything of Baby B on the 20-week ultrasound, and to our untrained eyes, we didn't.

It’s a strange feeling, knowing we lost that baby. Many people who miscarry don’t tell people about it. I can understand why some would want to keep that private. For whatever reason, I think I’m the opposite. It feels unfair to just pretend he or she never existed. Most people would never know they lost a twin since you don’t actually miscarry the fetus. I’m so thankful we didn’t plan on having twins and then find out otherwise: we found out at the same time that we had two and lost one.

In the book Heaven is for Real, the author claims that his son met a girl in Heaven who was the miscarried child of his parents. That she was alive and well in Heaven, and anticipating the day her parents would get there and name her and meet her. I don’t know if that is true, if unborn children, who would never be viable outside of the womb, are in Heaven, but I like to think that could be the case. And maybe someday, we will get the joyful surprise of meeting a child we never got to hold and love here on Earth.

So, this is our recognition of little Baby B. We can't wait to meet Baby A in March :)

On a side note: our neighborhood has eight houses, with three pregnancies at once. The other two families are expecting or just had twins and, well, we were on that path, too. We marvel at how statistically impossible that is! So, I don’t know what’s going on, but if you don’t want twins, don't move here :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New Blog

Back in September 2009, I had no concrete ideas or intentions for this blog. I thought "Hey, I love to write, I need to be better about documenting life and memories, and someone somewhere just might like a thing or two I write about." So, I just dove in!

Over the last 2 1/2 years, I have been quite inconsistent, very text-heavy, and super sporadic in my blogging efforts. And that's been ok. But one of my main goals in 2012 is to actually make this thing a tool of use, for myself, my family, and hopefully you!

I thought about all kinds of strategies and themes, and determined that, while I have specific things I love and am good at, I couldn't just narrow it down. For example, I love cooking and baking, but don't want to be another food blog. I enjoy deep-thinking and reflective writing, but doing that all the time would hurt my brain, and who wants to read that?! Gardening and crafting are fun, but I'm so so SO amateur, and not necessarily year-round. I love writing about my family, but that is only interesting to, well, us :)

So I'm not limiting it, simply focusing the blog. I intend to have more of a schedule of sorts as well as themes to the posts. Some of my goals for January-March include three posts each week, theme-ing the posts so you know if you want a certain kind of post, which day of the week it will occur, and increase photo usage. If all goes well, the second quarter of 2012 will include a blog re-design.

When I decided I was going to run the half-marathon in 2010, the only way it was going to happen was if I told people about it. The more people I told, the more I felt like, "Oh crap, I have to actually DO this thing now or risk failing!" So, that's what I'm doing here. It's so easy to have good intentions, but unless there is some form of accountability from others, I usually hop off the bandwagon.

So, I guess that is kind of my New Year's Blog Resolution (Blogolution?). Some exciting things to write about coming up: pregnancy/baby news, travel plans, fitness tips & efforts post-baby, projects (including our massive basement finish), and much more! I hope you will continue to join me!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Mother's Love

One thing I've wondered since Brady was born is how I could possibly love another child as much as I love him.

From the moment Brady was put into my arms, he had my heart. It truly is a miraculous connection, which I've written about before, but I couldn't help but wonder how I would be able to love another child as much.

You see, once Brady was born, he had my whole heart. All of it. No other kid even held a candle in comparison. That's normal, I think. So what happens when baby #2 comes along? How is that 100% distributed? Do you lose some love for child #1 to accommodate for another child? Do I care less about the new baby than I did about Brady when he was born? How can you divide a mother's love?

I guess time will tell, but I have this funny feeling it won't divide, but simply double. It's a concept that puts mathematics and logic aside. The 100% love I have for Brady will remain, and instantly my capacity to love will be doubled. It's probably a lot like God's love for us: we don't get a fragment of His love, we get 100% of His unconditional love, all the time.

I guess I'll find out soon enough :)