Dear baby (32 weeks)

This week has been all kinds of crazy and exciting. My belly feels like you’ve grown a lot this week. Everything is getting tight and every move you make seems so much more pronounced. You feel so strong and wiggle-y, and even when I feel a sudden jab that takes my breath away, I have to laugh with sheer wonder. Are you that much like me? Will you try everything the hard way before coming around to the easy way? (By the way, I know you’re still head up! Good thing we have a few more weeks for you to decide to turn over.)

The bad news is, this morning I woke up starting to feel sick, so I hope you can be patient with me for the next few days. I’m probably going to need a little extra sleep, and I’ll probably be drinking orange juice, which makes you feisty. Hopefully we can play nice so I don’t get too much heartburn from it. Deal?

I still can’t fathom that there’s just 8 weeks (or so) of us being together like this. And it could be less! In just five weeks you’ll be medically clear to come whenever you wish. I’ve tried over and over again to imagine what our new life together will be like, but I just can’t. I know what lots of other babies are like, but you? I can only wonder and wait.

Right now, I am truly content to wait. We have lots of time next year, and many years after, for rushing around and watching you grow up before our very eyes. But for these next few weeks I have you closer than you’ll ever be again, and I’m in love with it!

Hormones, food, and other annoying stuff

So I just finished part two of my dinner tonight, because after about ten bites (maybe 15 if I’m really hungry) I’m suddenly full. I know I’m definitely in the part of my pregnancy where it’s recommended to eat several smaller meals throughout the day. And when I was in ‘ultra dieting mode’ months ago, that’s how I ate as well. But then it was fun, almost a challenge. Now it’s just annoying.

Also annoying, heartburn. As much as I’ve tried to lessen it’s blow, it still sucks. I can only tap dance around foods I love and crave for so long before giving in. Middle of the day indulgences are, of course, better than right before bed time, but sometimes it makes no difference. The only somewhat consistent force in easing my suffering is being proactive. When I feel it starting, I don’t mess around. Two Tums.

Which leads to annoying pregnancy symptom number three: sleeplessness. Sometimes I’m just uncomfortable, sometimes I can’t breathe (thank you pregnancy sinuses!), sometimes my brain won’t shut off, and sometimes I just have to pee or I wake up with heartburn. Whatever the cause, when I find myself awake in the middle of the night, I’m finding it much harder to go back to sleep, probably because all those individual factors are working together against me. And it’s making me really tired. And cranky, but that’s also part of something else altogether.

Of course, a lot of little things have been getting on my nerves lately, no matter how much I try to avoid being overly sensitive. Semi-random occurrences  of crying, pouting, and lashing out are becoming more and more frequent. I know it’s not really my fault, but I still feel pretty guilty that Brandon takes the brunt of it, especially since he’s been pretty freaking amazing at taking care of me. The hormones are taking over, though. No sense in pretending otherwise.

I will admit I’m starting to get a little of those ‘beginning of the end’ nerves. We’re starting to gather all the must-haves before the baby makes her grand entrance. Also I’m trying to get my head in the right place. I’m not scared (maybe just a tiny bit around the edges) thanks to all the support, and reinforcement I’ve been getting through reading positive birth stories. I’ve come to terms with the risks and released them, along with so many other things I cannot control at this point. Life and death are equally miraculous and powerful, so it seems kind of foolish to look them in the eye and demand to have my own way.

One last annoying thing I’m trying to figure out: what to wear. I understand that due to the nature of this process, my modesty is of little concern, but I still want to have a plan for how to make myself comfortable. It’s really impossible to guess how I will feel in that moment, so I kind of think this task is bordering on impossible. But that doesn’t stop me from trying.

Bacon-y Potato & Swiss Quiche

Holidays are a fun time for me since we are still low enough on the family totem pole (and our house is too small) to host any of the family get-togethers, but I can flex a little cooking muscle beyond what Brandon and I would normally eat ourselves. Now for a while I think perhaps Brandon’s family got the impression that what I do is desserts. Which is not untrue: desserts usually travel well and I like to make beautiful food.

Now this Christmas, his step-mom just asked me if I wanted to bring ‘something’ which I jumped all over. I don’t remember when the idea for quiche first came to me, but when Sharon asked me “What’s that?” I knew it was fate.

It’s kind of funny how dessert-like the finished product is, but the savory flavors won’t give anyone the wrong idea. My favorite part was waiting until the last minute to decide what to throw in my masterpiece. I grew up with spinach quiche or quiche lorraine, and I’ve had some other amazing combinations of meats, vegetables and potatoes. But for some first-timers, I didn’t want to get too crazy. I referenced a whole bunch of different recipes (here, here, and here mostly), and gave it a whirl. Here’s  my Bacon-y Potato and Swiss Quiche.

1 pre-made refrigerated pie crust
8 bacon slices, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 cup chopped onion
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled & sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon chives
1-1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
6 large eggs
1 cup whipping cream

Preparation

Fit pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate according to package directions.

Cook bacon pieces in a large skillet until crisp; drain on paper towels. (I cooked the bacon slices whole and cut into pieces after cooling.) Drain bacon grease from pan, reserving 3-4 tablespoons. Add potato slices, onion and seasonings and cook in bacon drippings until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain excess grease and allow to cool.

Layer bacon, potato mixture, and cheese into prepared crust.

Whisk together eggs and whipping cream; pour mixture into crust.

Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until set.

Now really all that remains is some family approval, but judging from the smell of the kitchen I’m counting this a hit already!

Dear Baby (30 weeks, 3 days)

Sleep is getting harder to come by, baby. Even when I’m exhausted, getting comfortable is a chore. And when I do manage to accomplish such a feat, I’m often overwhelmed with heartburn, or the (seemingly) ever-present urge to pee, so I have to get up and settle down all over again.

That’s not including all the stuff going on in my head. I’m starting to become more and more preoccupied (obsessed?) with how often you move around during the day. I haven’t officially started taking ‘kick counts’ because I’m afraid it will just make me stress out more. There’s a voice in the back of my head that says to trust my body, and to trust you. If you decide you need to come earlier than we’re expecting, then you’ll just do it. It’s a  hard voice to listen to, but I’m trying.

Actually there are a lot of voices in my head lately. I don’t mean that in a sinking into schizophrenia kind of way. Between all the books, and the medical professionals, and all the friends and family that chime in too, sometimes it feels hard to find my way through. And the dreams… oh goodness there is a LOT of weirdness in my head. Obviously my subconscious is trying really hard to keep up with all the information, emotions, and hormones.

The one thing I’m getting more and more sure of is how ready I am to finally have you here. No, the house isn’t ready, and we still have classes to take (oh goody MORE information!) and obviously your precious little body probably isn’t quite ready, but my heart is. I know that won’t mean the end of me questioning my sanity, or the endless chorus of advice, but it will mean a miracle transpired, and somehow two people became three.

A recipe for success

It’s no secret that Brandon is a very picky eater. Once upon a time, I too had some odd food aversions, but for the most part, pregnancy has done away with that. I’m now a confirmed lover of peanut butter, chocolate cake, bananas and probably a few other things I’ve forgotten to hate on.

Brandon is not pregnant, though. Nor will he be. So I have to deal with his picky eating in a slightly more juvenile manner: sneaking things into recipes.

At first I was painstakingly careful to make sure things were minced up teeny tiny, and in small quantities, so that he would either not notice or not be able to pick them out. Onion was a big one. It’s nearly impossible to cook without it. Finally, after becoming less and less sneaky about my additions, I was able to confirm that yes, he does like onion when cooked in something else. Point for me.

Tomato is one of those foods that he claims to hate, but only in certain conditions. I almost had a nervous breakdown a couple of months ago when he said (and I quote), “I don’t like tomato sauce, but I do like marinara.” I wish I were joking. After a LOT of trial and error, there are two ‘ick’ factors: actual tomato texture, and additives in many tomato sauces that don’t agree with him. These are fairly non-negotiable, but they can be worked around. In recipes that call for canned tomatoes, a healthy dose of tomato paste can be substituted for flavor without adding any ‘yuck’. (Of course, I will continue to experiment with the tiny pieces, but I’m not getting my hopes up.)

Another pleasant side effect of eating like a 10-year-old is, the foods he does like, he will eat over and over. Chicken, turkey and salmon are our meat staples. Green beans, broccoli, and carrots are the basic vegetables. Add in rice or couscous, factor out anything with more than a little dairy because of my allergy, and you understand what a mind-numbing challenge it can be planning our meals for the week. (No that’s not ALL he eats, but those are things he will eat without fail.)

Now, we did have a little chat about how he was going to be subjected to more and more experimental recipes lately. Partially because after four years of dancing around his picky tastes, I’m throwing in the towel. But mostly because I had to eat whatever was prepared for me growing up, and our kids will do the same. AND they will have TWO good role models. Thankfully, he only somewhat begrudgingly concurred.

Which brings me to our dinner Monday night. Every Sunday before we go to the grocery I do a mad search for a recipe to try, and most often come up empty-handed. This week, I found something magical: jambalaya. He wasn’t impressed with the recipe or the picture, but I made the call anyway. This week, I’m making this. And you’re trying it.

It has rice, which you love.

It can have turkey (sausage) which you also love.

I’ve already proven you don’t hate onion, no matter what you say.

Tomato paste is already in the recipe, so we can take the stewed tomatoes out.

Bell peppers are a crap shoot. Green ones are obviously way more potent, but I’m going to hedge my bets and try red ones.

Shrimp you hate, so I’m not even going to bother.

The rest I sort of made up as I went along, using this shrimp and sausage jambalaya for inspiration. The end result was so good, there’s none left to take pictures of. Sad as that may be, it’s the reason I’m bothering to blog this recipe at all. So here it is, Brandon approved jambalaya:

Turkey Sausage Jambalaya

2 TBSP olive oil
1 package Jennie-O Hot Italian Turkey Sausage Links, sliced
1 cup chopped yellow or white onion
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp “Cajun Seasoning” (I used Emeril’s Bayou Blast)
1/2 tsp Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
2 cups uncooked Minute Brown Rice

In a large pot (or dutch oven) heat oil over medium high heat. Add sausage and yellow or white onion & saute for 3-4 minutes. Add green onion and red peppers, cook until just tender, about 1-2 additional minutes. Add all remaining seasonings and spices, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add rice, cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes uncovered. Serves 4

I will admit this recipe doesn’t taste super authentic, but it does pack a fair amount of heat with lots of great flavor. And Brandon likes it, which sometimes is all that matters.

Limits

If there’s one thing training has taught me about pregnancy, it’s that pain is not the sign you’ve reached the limits of your capabilities.

That’s not to say that pain should be ignored. Quite the opposite entirely. It’s a very loud note you have to learn to harmonize with. Some pain means you did something wrong, some pain means you did something you’re not ready for, and still other pain means you need a little break and then you should try again. And my favorite kind of pain: stop doing nothing and move.

It’s not easy to learn how to translate pain. Even before I started lifting, I was a pretty accident prone kind of girl. When I was growing up, I had more sprained ankles and wrists, more trips to the ER for x-rays, more bumps and bruises than just about anyone I know. But after breaking my arm twice, I learned what the difference was between a break and a sprain.

As an adult, I tried running for a while, too. I learned what the difference was between shin splints and chondromalacia thanks to some very nice doctors. (Also, I learned I kind of hate running, even without injury.)

There  have been assorted other minor injuries, fewer and fewer as I’ve learned more about myself and good techniques.

So now I’m closing in rapidly on 30 weeks pregnant. Every trip to the gym is different, requiring planning and focus. And it still hurts, but a lot less than sitting on the couch does. My hips will probably continue to protest long after this baby is on the outside, from what I hear. But that’s all the more reason to get stronger, to get healthy mobility back and to do it all over again.

There’s also another kind of pain I’ve never faced before. For some, it’s insurmountable, and for others, it’s a gift reminding them of the beauty of humanity. I hope when this baby’s time comes, I can take all of these lessons and put myself in the latter category: I am only as frail as my fear and as strong as the pain I bear for love.

The Internet

I know the internet hasn’t been around for forever, but it definitely feels like it sometimes. I do know that my knowledge of computers has basically grown up with the internet in existence, so I’ve really never had one without the other.  From basic email, to chat rooms and games, to blogging and the beginnings of social media as we now know it to exist, and doing research for papers and projects, I’ve spent a good size chunk of my life online whether for entertainment or out of necessity.

It seems to be a little strange, then, how many business still don’t have a website. Not even a ‘good’ website, just something that comes up when I type in your name and location into a search engine. I know I’m being biased, but when it comes to giving my business to someone, if I can’t learn anything about you online (even just on Facebook) I have a hard time finding a reason to give you my money over someone who does the most basic work.

Now I know there are LOTS of small businesses that don’t quite have the time or resources to put themselves out there, or simply just don’t know how. The thing that really baffles me is all the medical practices and professionals who aren’t on the internet. Their profession relies heavily on technology, so it’s not like they’re oblivious to computers. How do they hope to differentiate themselves from their competition? I understand that a website really says nothing about the quality of care provided, but it still opens the door to building a relationship. If I can see your face, look up your office hours, see a picture of your facility… it all helps. To me, it also makes a statement about how much they value growing their business. Quite frankly, I’m not particularly interested in patronizing a doctor who doesn’t push themselves and their business forward.

So I go on my insurance provider’s website. I type in the kind of doctor I’m looking for. And then I start Googling. Usually every single name that comes up in my results. And then, depending on my success, I start asking friends and family for referrals. Why do I as for referrals last? Mostly because I see a lot of apathy. I want to really love my doctors. I’m trusting them to help me manage the health of this one body that needs to last. For the most part I see people who don’t particularly like (or dislike) their doctor. It’s the fact that shopping around can be such a pain.

Now I’m starting to search for a doctor for my baby. I will admit, this one time I did as for referrals first, because for some reason, people treat the healthcare of their children differently than their own. It’s something parent’s fight for, and get second and third opinions for. And still, I rely on the internet.

I’d like to say I don’t make snap judgments based on what I find online, but that’s a lie. It is a first impression, and honestly, usually a good one if I can find something that wasn’t published by a healthcare rating service. I don’t know if this makes me a better or worse mother, or just a new one.