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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TIS THE SEASON...

...for the flu, migraines, sore throats, and stomach viruses.





















We had a wonderful Christmas week at my parent's house - full of family, friends, dates with my husband, and time spent with Uncle Jeff. Unfortunately, my holidays (and several other members of my family) were spoiled (or cut short) by illnesses. I got the migraine, fever, throw-ups. My brother has the fever, sore throat. And Grandma got the stomach bug.

I got sick on the way back into DC. I willed myself not to throw-up for hours, but after an hour of the chills and knowing I needed to throw-up to feel better I just let it happen. I felt so much better. My fever lasted until late Sunday night. I'm continuing to recover...the fever and nursing has made me so stinking dehydrated.

In the midst of all of this, I'm getting ever-so-close to my comprehensive exams. Less than two weeks now. I'm made it through all of my notes and in some instances am beginning to review my review notes. There is SO much to remember!

Posts will be few and far between for the next couple of weeks, but stay tuned. I have already begun writing my 2008 Year End Review (a recount of my 30th year of life) and a holiday summary.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

THE TASTES OF THE SEASON, part 2

Foods that remind me of Christmas:

1. white chocolate peppermint crunch candy
2. hot chocolate
3. cinnamon stick cookies
4. molasses cut out cookies
5. snickerdoodles with either red or green sprinkles
6. peppermint stick ice-cream

The white chocolate peppermint crunch candy has been made. It is beautiful. Unfortunately, I don't like it. We'll be giving it all away.

I had fabulous hot chocolate last night. It was an organic powder mix from Trader Joes. So good...

This year is the first time since college that I haven't made cookies. I'm pretty sure my mom has made the cut out cookies and snickerdoodles. I'll be sure to grab a few of each from her stash. I know she hasn't made the cinnamon stick cookies because she thinks they are too cinnamon-ie (I don't think such a taste exists...you can't have too much cinnamon). She also thinks the cinnamon cookies make other cookies on a plate together taste like cinnamon. I think as a birthday gift to myself, I might make a half recipe to enjoy.

As for peppermint stick ice-cream, it is hard to come by. I'm craving a large mug of creamy hot chocolate with a scoop of peppermint ice-cream. Hopefully I'll be able to find the ice-cream in the next couple of days. However, it may be better for my waistline and hips if I don't find it.

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Today: went to school to meet with my study group. It was a good meeting and the baby was an angel.

Tonight: we're going to deliver bread and candy to all of our neighbors. Then we're having spaghetti and "meat" sauce for dinner.

Bummer of the day: I dressed the baby up in a beautiful WHITE Christmas outfit today. And, obviously, she had a large diaper explosion. It was so big that the Baby Bjorn needs to be washed. Here's hoping we can get the stain out of her outfit...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

WHAT MAKES A SONG A CAROL?

I spend most of my days at home. To fill my home with the sounds of the season (and to distract myself from a crying baby), I'm listening to Christmas carols. Specifically, I'm listening to DC's WASH fm. They are playing Christmas music the whole month of December. For the most part, I'm enjoying the music. I've heard one too many versions of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, but overall it has been a pleasant experience. Between the music, baking, the pine scented candle, decorations, and the best Christmas outfit for my baby (complete with RED Mary Janes!), I'm feeling quite festive this year. I received five Christmas cards today, which really made it feel like Christmas (btw... Mom, your Christmas card was beautiful. I see why you liked it so much).

Back to the music... I was thinking today, after hearing These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things (from The Sound of Music): what makes a song a Christmas carol? There is nothing in These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things that says anything about Christmas. Why do "we" then associate it with Christmas? Why does a station playing only Christmas music play such a song? Is there a history/story here that I'm missing? I associate the song with a terrible thunderstorm and a pillow fight. Again, what is the link to Christmas?

If anyone has an answer, please let me know.

Otherwise, enjoy this festive season.

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Tonight: our church prayer group is meeting to celebrate birthdays and Christmas, which means I'm comfortable taking the baby. Our group has been so welcoming of our little one, but I hate being the one with the screaming baby.

Tomorrow: venturing up to school to meet with my study group and introduce everyone to the baby. I'm a little nervous about driving up there alone with the baby, but am fairly confident she'll end up sleeping.

Studying: is going well. Tomorrow my study group is going to go over SAS (thank goodness). I'm nearly 3/4 of the way through all of my statistics notes and about halfway through my epidemiology flash cards. I'm feeling good about my progress, but nervous about my test. I need to get a lot of work done before January.

Upcoming events: visiting with neighbors tomorrow night and bringing them homemade bread and candy. Also preparing for my birthday... am I really 31?

Monday, December 15, 2008

FOOTBALL


David claims I don't love football; I love the Steelers. And he's right. Growing up in Pittsburgh you are taught to love the Steelers through thick and thin. There were some tough, ugly years in the late 1980s. And then there was the disappointment of the January 1996 Super Bowl, and the 2002 AFC Championship game against the Patriots (where some hotshot rookie named Tom Brady walked all over the Steeler's defense in Three Rivers Stadium, nonetheless). But everything came together on February 5, 2006 when "The Bus" lead the Steelers to their fifth Super Bowl win. (The weekend of the Steelers' Super Bowl win was even sweeter for me because I was married the day before!)

The bottomline is I'm a Steelers' fan and proud of it. My PINK Steelers' jersey shirt goes to prove it (as does the baby's Steelers' onesies). Since we don't own a TV, I usually spend Sunday afternoons following the online ESPN ticker while the Steelers are playing. I can see up-to-date results throughout the game.

Yesterday the Steelers played the Ravens, in Baltimore, and it occurred to me that even though I don't own a TV there is a TV in my house. My dad brought a little 13 inch TV with him when he came for the week the baby was born. Since the Steeler game was the local game yesterday and my rabbit years successfully pick up CBS, I decided to watch the game. And I am so glad that I did.

What a game. What a way to finish things off in the last two minutes.

I'm so proud to be a fan. And so glad I was able to watch the game yesterday (it was the baby's first game and she loved it!).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

TWO MONTHS

Dear Baby Girl,

You turned two months old this past Sunday. I cannot believe how fast you are growing...

During the past two months, you've experienced a lot of firsts. First trip in the car, first night alone in the bassinet, first bath, first trip to Target, first visits with friends, first late night snack, first sunrise cry-fest, our first nap together, first "exercises" on the changing table, first hugs, first kisses, and first smile. I've loved each of these moments and will treasure them forever.

We've worked together to get you eating well. And we've discovered that the secret to you sleeping well is swaddling you tightly and bracing you between rolled blankets so you can't move around and startled yourself awake. Your Daddy and I try hard, but we still cannot prevent diaper explosions (hopefully you'll grow into your reusable diapers soon). We love you and will continue to clean up and try to prevent these messes.

You went to the doctor yesterday. You now weigh 9 pounds 15 ounces and you're 22.5 inches long. You are in the 25th percentile for weight and 50th for height. Your head circumference is an inch bigger this month compared to last, but it is still tiny... 15 inches (10th percentile). They refer to your size as a "peanut", but you are healthy and growing according to schedule.

I love dressing you up in all your girly clothes. My favorite outfit of yours is your pink jumper with matching diaper cover and your grey and pink striped tights. I'm so looking forward to dressing you up in your Christmas outfit! You'll get to wear it this Friday when we go to what will be your first Christmas party.

Life has really changed for me during the past few months. I'm not going to write down all the details because what you need to know is that I love being your Mommy. You are such a delight and will forever be my little "pumpkin". I cannot imagine my life without you. I cherish moments like the one I'm having right now with you asleep in my arms. It brings me so much joy to watch you sleep... I cannot imagine what it will feel like when you call me "Mommy" for the first time or are able to reach for me when I go to pick you up.

My prayer for you is that you continue to grow big and strong. And that you continue to thrive. I look forward to hearing your little voice and watching you grow up into a little girl.

You are so precious to me. And I love you.

Love,
Mommy

Sunday, December 7, 2008

LOVIN' IT

I highly recommend adding International Delight's MOCHA ALMOND FUDGE creamer to your coffee. It is a true delight.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

CHRISTMAS 'TO DO' LIST

With the Christmas holiday just a few weeks away, there is much to be done. Our 'to do' list includes: writing Christmas cards, buying presents, mailing presents, making cookies, making candy, and (new this year) making breads. I got an early start on this list today, seeing I was up around 6am. Nothing like a baby who doesn't want to sleep any more to get your day going early...

Before 10am nearly all of my Christmas cards were written, addressed, and stamped. As the afternoon is coming to a close, I can proudly say that nearly all the cards are finished, we have the box for our family in Taiwan nearly filled, cookies are in the oven, and my white chocolate covered pretzels (with red and green sprinkles) are complete. It has been quite a productive day.

To make things just a little bit more festive, we saw a few snowflakes this afternoon. D says that the ground is getting a little crunchy - it might be cold enough for the snow to stick. Hope we wake up for a beautiful winter wonderland tomorrow...

It is really starting to feel like Christmas. Next week things will really kick into high gear when we start baking breads to give to neighbors and the white chocolate peppermint crunch candy is made.

I love this time of year.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

BRUTAL

I'm sure you've all seen (either in-person or on the Discovery Channel) violence in nature... a shark jumps out of the water to capture a seal; a lion devours its prey; an alligator attacks and drowns an unsuspecting zebra, or a dog hunts down a baby bunny. One expects these acts of violence out in the wild. You don't expect them to take place in your backyard, especially when you live in the city. Unfortunately, they do take place in your backyard...

This morning I looked out our back window only to find a huge black crow sitting on our fence. He was busy doing something so I gave him a closer look. And what did I see???

Just a crow sitting on my fence eating the head off a baby rat. That's right... the big bird draped the tiny rat over the fence and was eating it from the head down. As I watched from the downstairs window, D watched from upstairs. After the crow flew away, we met on the steps to see if the other had seen the brutal act that took place in our backyard. D went outside to see what had been left behind, And what did he find? Oh... just a half eaten rat (without a head) and chunks of rat flesh stuck in our fence.

GROSS!

Being the wonderful husband that he is, he took several trash bags outside and cleaned up the mess. After he came back inside the crow was back with a couple if friends looking for the remains of its kill. Seeing that the rat was gone, the crows flew away.

Hopefully we'll never see anything like this again.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

CHANGE OF PLANS

It's only been 48 hours since I publicly laid out my plans to study for my comprehensive exam, and I'm going to make some changes. It's not that I'm not studying. I AM. In fact yesterday was a really good study day for me. It is just that I realized that simply going through flashcards is not the best way for me to learn. I actually get the most out of MAKING the flashcards. Writing out what I need to know, re-writing slides and class notes, is how I learn. This has always been the case. Flashcards are great, but I need to write things out to get them to stick in my brain.

With this in mind, I am planning to spend the rest of this week rewriting my slides and notes from my first biostats class. This weekend I'm still planning to focus on SAS.

Next week, I'm going to turn my attention to my second biostats class.

The week of the 15th I'm going to spend the first half of the week focusing on epidemiology and the second half of the week doing biostats problem sets.

The week of Christmas my aim is still to get through all of my flashcards AGAIN. After writing out all of the materials the flashcards should be a good review.

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Other plans: this weekend we are going to get our Christmas cards written, addressed, and mailed (assuming that they are delivered before then). We also need to mail our gift's to D's family in Taiwan. On Sunday we're going to make cookies and candy with the little boy D has been mentoring all year. And in the midst of all that, I'm going to study.

Today: just got home from Target where I bought supplies for making cookies and candy. I was surprised that Ghirardelli chocolate chips were less expensive than the Nestle's brand. Who would have guessed?

Sleep update: the baby woke up at midnight and 4am to eat last night. And then slept until after 7am. It was wonderful. I'm hoping the 4am feeding will begin to stretch out closer to the 7am feeding. Shoot, I'd be happy if she went from midnight to 6am and then was up for the day. All in due time...

Biggest worry: Monday is shot day. The baby has her two month pediatrician visit and it is time for shots. I'm stressed out. She has to get four shots. I have a lot to say about this and immunizations, but will save it for another post...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TRADITIONS

Slowly, but surely we are creating our very own family traditions. For instance, each year we celebrate Easter with a fantastic seafood dinner (usually five courses for eight adults, the maximum that will fit at our dining room table). We also reserve each Thursday night as our "date night". Obviously this has changed dramatically in the past two months, but we were still able to get out to a fancy dinner in DuPont about a month ago when my mom was in town and willing to babysit. Our dates will look different in the weeks, months, and years to come, but we are hoping to keep the tradition of Thursday night date nights - even if we just get an hour or two together after the little one is asleep and can watch a movie together.

[Side note: Our first Thursday night date night was Inauguration Night 2004. Our four year date night anniversary is quickly approaching!]

Back to traditions... with Christmas quickly approaching, we are thinking about what traditions we'd like to build with our family. We plan to make it a tradition (this will be our second year) to visit all of our neighbors the week before Christmas and give them a holiday treat. This year we will be preparing an assortment of sweet breads - banana, lemon, pumpkin, and a cinnamon sour-cream, white chocolate peppermint crunch candy, and chocolate covered pretzels. Last year we had a wonderful time visiting with neighbors and spreading some Christmas cheer. We also have taken the time (this year will be our third year) to visit the Botanical Gardens during an evening before the holidays. It is beautifully decorated and in the evenings they have live music. And we usually run into someone we know while there, which is always a pleasant surprise. We're planning to go again in two weeks.

Besides that, we don't have any traditions YET... I think this is a good start, but I'm looking forward to building more traditions with my family.

Do you have any good holiday traditions you'd like to share with us?

Monday, December 1, 2008

SOUNDS OF THE SEASON

Truth be told, I've been listening to Christmas music for several weeks now. I love the sounds of the season. Usually I don't allow myself to listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, but since Thanksgiving was so late this year I decided to get a jump start on my listening pleasures. Much to my delight, on Sunday when I walked into church music from The Messiah was playing.

Several years ago I took my mom to hear The Messiah performed at the National Cathedral. It was wonderful. Friends of mine are going to hear it this coming Sunday, but because of a birthday party and a nursing baby I'm not going to be able to make it. Bummer...

As a consolation I purchased a copy of The Messiah, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, on iTunes this afternoon - for the bargain price of $7.99. We'll enjoy the music throughout the Christmas season and beyond...

COUNTDOWN TO MY COMPS


December is here, which means January is right around the corner. And that means my comprehensive exams are NEXT MONTH. When I decided last spring to attempt to study and take my exams in 2009, it seemed like such a far off date. I was not even six months pregnant at the time; barely showing my tiny belly bump. Now I'm the mother of a nearly two month old and I have to be ready for my exams NEXT MONTH. I'm a little freaked out.

The good news is I have finished all of my background reading. This translates into having finished re-reading two biostatistics and one epidemiology text book. Now I need to move onto my flash cards. I'm going through my first round of biostats cards right now. My goal is to finish this set by Wednesday evening. Then I'll move onto the second set of biostats cards, followed by 14 lessons worth of regression slides to review. I'm hoping to have this all completed by Friday (which will be hard with Lehman coming into town for a visit).

My goal for the weekend is to review SAS, the statistical computer program I am required to know and use for the exam.

Next week I am going to devote my time to epidemiology.

The week of the 15th, I'm going to spend my time doing biostats problem sets.

The week of the 22nd, my goal is to review all of my flash cards AGAIN. You might ask how I plan to do this... well, I'm going to have them in the car with me while we travel over the river and through the woods... I'm also going to make the most of my time nursing the baby. While she's chowing down, I'm going to study.

The details of my study plan are more for my benefit than your reading pleasure. Writing down my goals will help me stay focused. You'll be able to hold me accountable. Weekly study updates will be posted on Fridays. Stay tuned...

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Favorite holiday item: my soy EVERGREEN scented candle. Lighting it makes our entire house smell like Christmas.

Friday, November 21, 2008

THE TASTES OF THE SEASON

There are so many wonderful smells and tastes during the fall... freshly fallen leaves, crisp cool air, apples, apple crisp, and squash, to name a few. Next week's Thanksgiving holiday is the climax of wonderful smells and tastes. There isn't a better smell or taste than a Thanksgiving dinner.

To jump start the Thanksgiving season and prime my taste buds, David made pumpkin pancakes this morning. They were delicious. I ate four of them in one sitting and am contemplating having more for lunch (there is extra batter in the refrigerator). I'm thinking of foregoing the pumpkin pie this year at Thanksgiving and instead having apple crisp and homemade vanilla ice-cream (have I mentioned that we picked up an ice-cream maker, for FREE, from friends who were moving?). To get my pumpkin fix on Thanksgiving, I'm thinking pumpkin pancakes for brunch would be a good idea. Maybe this will be a new family tradition.

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Today: I'm studying logistic regression and trying not to fall asleep. I also need to make a couscous filling for the stuffed squashes we are taking to a potluck dinner tonight.

Weekend plans: Christmas shopping for our family in Taiwan (box must be mailed by early next week), finishing design of this year's Christmas card and getting them ordered, and attending an 8:30AM church meeting on Sunday.

Thanksgiving: my family is coming into town on Tuesday. We're cooking (read: D's cooking) dinner again this year. We'll be cooking a turkey breast for the non-veggies and having a fish dish for those of us who don't eat meat.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

LET IT SNOW

Well the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since there's no place to go
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!


The temperatures have dropped and it feels like fall/winter. And although we don't have a fireplace, it is delightful here at home. It is time to wear wool sweaters (except the ones that are dry clean only b/c the baby is drooling and throwing up milk often), thick socks, mittens, and fleece. It is also a wonderful time for food. I've been baking bread in my breadmaker like it were my job. And am currently cooking a "beef" stew. (I say "beef" because we are vegetarians; I'm using veggie beef strips that can be bought in the freezer section of your grocery store.) Earlier this week I made homemade vegetable soup.

I love this time of year. And making it even better than other years is that I have a little cuddly daughter who loves to snuggle into my chest early in the mornings and at nap time. Cuddling, warm food, winter clothes... this is a wonderful time of the year. And with the holidays upon us, I'm really enjoying life. It is time to plan for Thanksgiving dinner, buy Christmas gifts, and make Christmas cookies. This year I'm also making breads for gifts. I cannot wait to get started. Having the oven on is such a delight with the cold temperatures outside.

The high today is only supposed to be 40 degrees. And if it is going to be that cold, let it snow! We saw a few flurries here in DC on Tuesday, but nothing more. I'm ready for some snow. DC is such a pretty place when it snows. And since it is so cold outside, it would be delightful to see a couple of inches of the white powdery stuff.

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Not so delightful: seven weeks until my comprehensive exams. I need to get my study ON.

Favorite baby item: the Baby Bjorn. The baby still isn't napping well during the day. She'll wake up screaming either because of a burp, gas, or slap to the face (yes, she throws her arms around in her sleep and hits herself in the face). The Bjorn lets her sleep close to me (peacefully) and I have two hands free. I can cook, clean, study, and blog!

Health update: I had my six week check-up with my OB yesterday. Not surprisingly, I'm healed and can return to normal activities (i.e., running). Also, I need to increase my calcium intake. Surprisingly, I'm five pounds lighter now than I was at my first pregnancy visit.

Also, I had to get a flu shot yesterday and my arm hurts. I also need to get a pertussis vaccine booster shot on Monday. I need both shots to pass antibodies onto the baby. I hate shots... what we won't do for our children?!?!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

FIRST CHURCH

Washington DC is preparing for President-elect Obama to move into the White House. Much talk around town is about all the new "firsts" --- First Family and First Lady being the most common. There is also talk about the new First Dog, the First School (where the children will go to school), and also the First Church.

When President-elect Obama left his congregation in Chicago earlier this year, he said he would wait until after the election to decide on a new home church. His home church will be the new First Church, where the First Family will worship each week.

Last week, Time Magazine published an article entitled What Church Will President Obama Attend? The author of the article asked several several credible sources to provide a church suggestion for the Obama family. One of the six churches featured in the article is my home church.

What if I were to become church members with Mr. and Mrs. Obama?

We'll have to wait until January to see what happens... If nothing else it was great seeing my small church getting some publicity in Time. I really liked what the article had to say about us.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A GOOD START



The 2009 NYC Marathon is 50 weeks and one day away. With this fact in mind, I gathered myself - both physically and mentally - and went for my first training run this morning. I haven't run since mid-June when my belly size and extreme heartburn forced me to stop. I've felt ready to hit the road again for about a week now, but have lacked the motivation to actually get out there. With temperatures near 70 this morning and an extra hour and a half of sleep (D took the baby between her 5:00 and 8:00 feedings), I decided that TODAY I would begin my quest to get back in shape.

I set out today with the goal of running for 30 minutes. I did it. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't fast. But it was a good start. And it felt so good. I probably won't be able to walk tomorrow. My plan to get back into shape includes 3-4 runs per week from now until the new year. Hopefully I'll be up for running the five miles around the lake at my parents' house at Christmas time. I'm also planning to do some strength training. The baby likes when I do squats while holding her - so I can work that into my daily routine. I'm also going to do abs daily and push-ups. Come January I'll set some new training goals...

In addition to my exercise goals, I still have about six pounds of pregnancy weight to loose. Although I'm (proudly) back wearing my size six jeans, I'd like to get back to my fighting weight. My aim is to loose this weight over the course of the next eight weeks (which will be a challenge with the holidays approaching), but I think I can do it. I think I can. I think I can...

Overall I'm feeling really good about my run this morning and am looking forward to my next one. Here's to sticking with my fitness goals and kicking butt in the 2009 NYC marathon!

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Bread baking: made a loaf of sour dough bread yesterday. It is wonderful. So glad I made a large loaf.

Weekend plans: friends coming over for dinner tonight. David is cooking veggie terrine.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

HOMEMADE BREAD

As mentioned before, David and I aren't "stuff" people. We don't have a TV. We only have a microwave because it came with our house. David likes that our kitchen counter-tops aren't cluttered with appliances and other gear one can get for preparing food. However, after receiving several loaves of homemade bread from friends at church who brought us meals after I got home from the hospital, we started talking about wanting a bread machine. When two of our friends came over with dinner for us a week ago, we mentioned our desire for a bread machine. One of those friends said he had a bread machine at home and it was collecting dust. So we agreed to bread machine-sit for him. We can use his machine in return for a loaf or two. Sweet deal!

I used the bread machine for the first time yesterday; made a loaf of garlic herb bread. It was so easy. The bread tasted great and the smell of bread baking was fabulous.



We believe that making our own bread (instead of buying loaves from the grocery store) will save us money. A large loaf of homemade bread, which should last us about a week, requires four cups of flour, a couple of teaspoons of yeast, salt, water, and a few teaspoons of butter. These ingredients can be bought in bulk and will make several loaves. Hopefully in the long run making our own bread will be less expensive than buying a loaf of bread for more than $3 a pop. We'll see...

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Rainy day activities: studying biostats and trying to get the baby to sleep and eat.

Clothes changes: we're on baby outfit #2 today. Before noon yesterday we were on mommy and baby outfit #2. Things are looking up today!

What I'm not liking today: the cat. For the past month, he has been the target of all my anger. Today he moved his food bowl into the middle of the doorway, where I proceeded to trip over it. Not only did I spill food all over the floor, but I nearly fell with the baby in my arms. I am so done with this cat. He's 13 years old (or there abouts). Maybe he'll be going to kitty-heaven soon...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CORAL ANNIVERSARY



Yesterday my parents celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.

Before I was married, I failed to realize how significant a wedding anniversary is. Now, I cherish not only my own anniversary, but the anniversaries of friends and families. And 35 years is a BIG deal. Although being married is wonderful, it is hard work. You don't just instantly fall in love with someone, say "I do", move in together, and have instant bliss. It takes work. There are days when you just want to go into YOUR room (which isn't your room any more - it's the one you now share) and close the door. There are also disagreements, miscommunications, misunderstandings, differences in priorities, and, in my case, too much clutter around the house that put stress on our relationships. Sticking together and working to make a relationship with a spouse work is HARD WORK. And many people do give up.

I'm so proud and thankful that my parents have set such a wonderful example for my marriage. And I celebrate with them on their 35th anniversary. Here's to another 35 years of wedded bliss...

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Baby: slept from 11pm until 4am last night. It was heavenly. She was up again around 6:30am, had a quick breakfast, and then fell asleep on my chest. We cuddled for about an hour before getting out of bed. It was a precious time.

Studying: finished my epidemiology text book reading yesterday. Tomorrow I begin the task of getting through my statistics books.

Dinner tonight: ginger shrimp over rice. This is a new recipe from the November issue of Cooking Lite. We'll see how it goes.

Event of the day: hanging out with my old work colleague and friend, Heather. We had a delightful time catching up this afternoon. And the baby was on her best behavior!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A GIFT


It's been a rough couple of days here... the baby is tired, but she just can't calm herself down enough to sleep. This leads to hysteria. She cries and cries until she is so stinking tired she just passes out. But as soon as you lay her down to nap, she wakes up crying. It's a vicious cycle.

Now, don't get the wrong idea, she's still a sweetheart, but she has her moments. And these moments seem to be happening more often than I'd like. Evenings and night time have been extremely challenging. She usually gets a good chunk of sleep in between 10pm and 2am, but then it becomes unpredictable. Sometimes a nighttime feeding will last a full three hours and before I can get back into bed she's ready to eat again. Again, it's a vicious cycle.

Yesterday she slept peacefully through church (making me look like a rockstar mom). The afternoon was a different story. She was cranky and hungry all afternoon. We finally settled her down after a bath and a good meal and she conked out on the couch around 8:30. I had a terrible headache so I went to bed, too, since I figured I'd be up again for feeding before midnight. Much to my surprise, I woke up at 1am and she was sound asleep in the bassinet beside me. I thought I heard her waking up so I laid back down preparing myself for her cry. What seemed like moments later, I heard the cry. Before sitting up, I looked at my watch and it was 3am. That's right, my baby gave me the glorious gift of 6.5 hours of sleep. I woke D up to see if he had fed her before going to bed around midnight and he said no. My baby must have known how much I needed the sleep and gave me a wonderful gift.

I'm feeling like a million dollars today. Even though the 3am feeding lasted until 4:30am, it didn't matter. I could have stayed up until morning with her at that point. I felt so good. Today's chores, grocery shopping and ironing, seemed like impossible tasks just 24 hours ago. Now they seem like a piece of cake.

I realize that her sleeping this long is probably going to be a rare occurrence, but if I can count on one amazing night of sleep a month I'll take it!

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Today: have already been to the pediatrician and received a shot (hep B vaccine). I think it hurt me more than it hurt her. We're going to grocery shop later this afternoon.

Studying: am still working through my epidemiology readings. My goal is to have all my readings finished by the end of the month (this is a lofty goal).

Clothes changes: babies have this wonderful tendency of having diaper accidents (aka poop explosions). We were in our second outfit before the sun was up this morning. It could be a long day!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

ERGONOMICS

ERGONOMICS: the science/technology concerned with the design, manufacture, and arrangement of products and environments to be safe, healthy, and comfortable for human beings

There is NOTHING ergonomic about caring for a newborn. When the baby is crying and wants to be carried in a certain position (over your shoulder or like a football on your LEFT side - heaven forbid we switch to the right), you carry the baby in said position. No matter how much your back or shoulders hurt you contort your body to make your baby comfortable and happy. When your baby is fighting you to nurse, you must maneuver your body to meet her demands and fight her squirming body. Even the best "equipment" on the market - the boppy pillow or the "BrestFriend" - don't make being a mom ergonomically-friendly. I still find myself supplementing my baby's comfort when she's using the best baby products out there. And at the end of the day, my body is broken down and tired.

There's also the host of activities I've had to learn to do one-handed because the baby refuses to be in the bouncy chair, the pack-in-play, or her bed: preparing and eating food, loading the washer and dryer, pulling my hair back, making the bed, etc...

The highlight of every day for me (physically) is getting my back cracked and rubbed by David after dinner. Although my little one is one a slight eight pounds, carrying her around and keeping her comfortable and content is taking a toll on my body. My neck hurts from looking down on her while she is nursing, my shoulders and back are sore from carrying her around (especially when she's fussy), and there have been days when my sides hurt from my bouncing and twisting with her in my arms. I also have to carry her in her carseat and the stroller down our front steps each day just to go for a walk. The objects are awkward and, even though we have the lightest stroller available, it is still heavy and burdensome.

It is tough work. I'm using muscles I didn't know I had and strengthening my deltoids and biceps on a regular basis.

But it's all worth it. Yesterday afternoon my little pumpkin fell asleep on my shoulder and then managed to curl up on my chest, resting in one arm. She slept for hours there and I just enjoyed her presence. And this morning she's sound asleep in the Baby Bjorn. I love it.

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DC Celebrates: More than 93 percent of the Districts residents voted for Obama on Tuesday. After the results were announced that evening, the city went crazy. The Washington Post has some great pictures of the celebrations at the White House and on U Street, NW. In our neighborhood, we had a fireworks display and some LOUD excited neighbors cheering Obama's victory. Luckily for us, it started to rain in the middle of the fireworks display and the celebrating stopped.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I VOTED!




I haven't been this excited for an election day EVER. And I don't think I'm alone... this morning David went out to vote bright and early and the line at our polling place went around the block. I headed out to the pediatrician's office first thing this morning. And then voted around lunch time. It was the baby's first election day and she was a hit at the polling station. We met several neighbors with little ones or little ones on the way while at the polls. Our neighborhood must be in the midst of a baby-boom. There are little ones and pregnant women everywhere.

Anyways, back to the election... Although the Presidential election is on everyone's minds (and I was excited to cast my vote for that contest!), here in DC we don't get much of a say. Obama will win in the District by a landslide (in 2004, Kerry won more than 75 percent of the vote). So our one little electorial vote will go to him. The big contests here in the District are for City Council. There was a major upset in the primaries where the Republican incumbent for the at-large seat lost to an up-and-comer. Since the primaries, the incumbent was campaigned hard to win as a write-in candidate. I'm super excited to see the outcome of this election.

We also voted for a new ANC rep in our neighborhood. I met my (hopefully) soon-to-be rep as he was leaving the polls with his pregnant wife and toddler. He seems like a great guy, someone who will represent our neighborhood well. Plus he is intent on cleaning up the playgrounds and local pools (a nice bonus for us).

I am exited for the polls to close tonight. Tomorrow (barring disaster) we'll have a new President... (and history will be made - either we will have the first black President or the first female VP. EXCITING TIMES!)

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Baby: is over 8 pounds now. She's gaining weight like a champion - if only she would learn to sleep like one.

What I'm up to: Besides emailing, making phone calls, and blogging, I just did an ENTIRE load of PINK laundry. That's right... a full load of only PINK clothing. My daughter is such a girly girl.

Frustration of the day: our indoor ficus tree is losing all of its leaves. It is making such a mess. I need to rake and bag the leaves INSIDE. This is not right.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

SWELLING

I've mentioned in several past postings that I was really puffy/swollen during the last few weeks of my pregnancy. My puffiness peaked while I was in the hospital giving birth. I didn't realize until last night that David took pictures of my hands and feet while I was at my puffiest. As you can see, my hands and feet didn't look my own.











Luckily, I depuffed quickly and these pictures are a distant memory.

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This time next year: I hope to have completed the NYC marathon. That's right... I don't think I could run a mile today, but I'm looking to be marathon-ready in 365 days. Let the countdown and training begin!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

INTRAVENOUS DRUGS


Upon being admitted to the hospital for my induction, I was hooked up to an IV. At first I was just receiving fluids (preparing me for possible dehydration during labor). Around midnight (after my last bite of food and sip of water), I called my nurse to get some assistance getting to the bathroom (I was also hooked up to a heart rate monitor). My nurse, Stacy, arrived and took one look at my swollen right hand and decided I didn't need fluids throughout the night. She disconnected me from the IV bag, which gave me the freedom to get up and move around as I pleased and also saved me from additional swelling.

I was put back on fluids as well as pitocin early the next morning. And I swelled. My slightly puffy feet and ankles got puffier (I wasn't sure this was possible). My face swelled; my hands swelled; my wrists swelled - so much so that I had to remove my watch. It took nearly a week for my body to rid itself of all the excess fluids. About a week ago, I was able to put my watch back on and my wedding ring once again fits comfortably. My ankles are once again visible and my puffy face has de-puffed. I think I'm looking pretty much back to normal.

In addition to all the fluids I received while in the hospital, I also received A LOT of drugs. Everything from pain killers to stool hardeners, stool softeners, antacids, antibiotics, and labor inducing drugs. When it was obvious that the second epidural was not taking, I was pumped full of lidocain. The doctors were very generous giving this pain killer to me intravenously. Had I been more coherent, I probably would have asked him to slow down; I'm not a huge fan of taking so many drugs. In total, I believe I took more drugs during the my induction than I have during my entire lifetime.

The one drug I am EXTREMELY grateful for is the antacid, which I was given right before my c-section. One of the doctors who was prepping me handed me a little shot glass sided container, told me it was an antacid, and told me to swallow it in one gulp. I wasn't sure why I needed an antacid, but I took my shot without question... anything to bring me closer to pain relief. It wasn't until I got into the surgery that I was told that my blood pressure might drop after the delivery and this might cause me to puke. Taking the antacid suddenly made sense. And when I did start to puke, I was grateful (as grateful as one can be while throwing up) that the antacid worked.

The last IV drugs I received were a quick dose of antibiotics and a pain killer. I had to keep my IV in for an additional 24 hours - in the event there were complications. When it was finally removed from my arm, I was relieved. And ready to detox and de-puff. My head started to clear a couple of days after returning home.

Drugs are a blessing and a curse. They do provide necessary relief and health, but they also can leave you feeling loopy and unlike yourself. I'm glad to be back to normal now - only taking my daily vitamin.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

LABOR

It's been two and a half weeks since I became a mom... It's been busy. There's been nights when an hour of continuous sleep is a blessing; minutes when silence is cherished; and moments I don't want to ever forget. My goal over the next week and a half is to capture in writing all the moments leading up to and including my journey into motherhood. And so, we begin with labor...

I had a scheduled induction nearly two and a half weeks ago. We arrived at the hospital, got checked in, and quickly were given the first round of medication. I wasn't allowed to eat for the first two hours after beginning the medication. After the two hours had past, as long as I wasn't in active labor, I was encouraged to eat and drink until midnight. David went out and got me empanadas and pretzels. We also snacked on homemade chocolate chip cookies. Around midnight, with David soundly asleep on the pull-out couch beside me, I started to have my first contractions. They were uncomfortable and not the type of pain I expected. Basically they kept me up ALL NIGHT long. Around 7am, my nurse came in and encouraged me to shower. The shower felt great, but the contractions were so uncomfortable I had to take a sitting down shower. About half an hour later, the chief resident came in to examine me and found me to be 4 cm. Way to go me!

Around 8:30am we started pitocin and I got what would end up being my first of two epidurals. I watched on the monitor as the contractions came and went and I was pleasantly surprised to feel no pain. Unfortunately, the tides were about to turn. Around 11am, I was examined again - 7 cm. I was entering the labor phase known as "transition". And all of a sudden the epidural wore off. No pain relief and I was having contractions ever two minutes. This sucked. I screamed at David for accidentally bumping my bed, and when a friend walked in the room to be with me I greeted her with a stern, "don't talk or touch me." Lovely...

I went for about 3 hours like this - gripping the bed, crying, breathing deeply. It sucked. In addition to the contraction pains, I also was experiencing extreme pain on my left side, from my catheter to my left hip. My nurse reinserted my catheter. That didn't help. I begged her to just take it out; she wouldn't. I thought I was dying. The chief anesthesiologist came back to see me. He, the wonderful man that he is, sat with me through another epidural and the administration of a ton of pain medication. His patience was tested by me - I was somewhat grouchy and incoherent - but he said with me to help me through the pain. Around 3pm, my OB stopped by to see how I was doing. Obviously I was not doing well. The first time I saw her she was in her street clothes. She returned ten minutes later in scrubs. She asked if she could examine me and through the tears I said no. Although I was 10 cm, the baby had not dropped. I kept yelling that I was pushing during a contraction, but nothing was happening because the baby was so high inside of me.

After what seemed like FOREVER, I was finally prepped to go to the operating room. The spinal tap I received there was the BEST THING EVER. David joined me about ten minutes later. He was able to see my parents and say a quick prayer with them. As the surgery began, David and I agreed one last time on our boy and girl name. When it was announced we had a girl, we both cried.

As David went to be with her, my blood pressure dropped and I began to throw up. Lovely... lying on your back unable to move and puking. I was a sight to behold. Moments later, David left to share our good news with my parents. I was made presentable again and was able to hold my daughter for the first time. Unfortunately, because of all the drugs and the puking, I don't remember holding her or the fact that I carried her back to my hospital room to meet her dad and grandparents. I was also too sick to care for her the first night. She spent it in the nursery without David or me. We, however, did get a good night of sleep.

Recovery from a c-section is no laughing matter. Everything that requires stomach muscles - coughing, laughing, standing up, shifting in bed - is difficult. But the pain is temporary. And I don't remember much of it now. Everything changed when they wheeled our little baby into my room the morning after her birth. She was so small and so cute - looks just like her daddy. I was in love and love is a great healer.

I spent the next three days in the hospital recovering. The care I received was incredible. Everyone - from the doctors to medical students, nurses to techs - were fantastic. I was cared for so well. When it was time to leave the hospital, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was wheeled out to our car through the main hospital entrance carrying a "beautiful baby girl" balloon. I felt like everyone was looking at me and celebrating this moment with me. I teared up... grateful to be going home and delighted to have a healthy, beautiful baby girl with me.

Monday, October 6, 2008

INDUCTION


My body is still showing no signs of going into labor naturally. So it is induction time. I'm leaving for the hospital in an hour and a half. Surprisingly, I'm not anxious. I'm really not feeling a whole lot right now - kinda' just numb. No excitement, anticipation, fear, concern, anticipation. NOTHING. Guess I'm just saving it all up. That or my body - physically and emotionally - has no idea what it is in for and therefore is just trying to ignore reality. We'll see...

I still need to pack my hospital bag, put clean sheets on the bed, vacuum, move the car so it doesn't get ticketed tomorrow morning, and do a load of laundry (unlike Jill, I am not fighting FEMCHA today). I also need to write some directions and other instructions for my parents, who arriving 24 hours ahead of schedule.

All the excitement at the hospital kicks off at 5pm. My doctor has guaranteed me a baby by dinnertime tomorrow. I'm aiming for noon. And, for the record, David and I both think we're having a boy.

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Things I think are important to have at the hospital: deodorant, season 1 of ALIAS, lollipops, toothbrush and toothpaste, and cute socks (to go with my glamorous hospital gown).

Things I'm not taking: my own pillow (don't want it to become infected with hospital germs).

What Baby D will be wearing home from the hospital: his/her Steelers onesie!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

SNL

I've never been a huge fan of Saturday Night Live. Probably because it is on SO late. Even in high school I rarely stayed up past midnight. However, my interest in SNL was peaked last month when Michael Phelps was selected to host the season premiere. Who would have thought a swimmer would be given such an honor?!?

Since we don't have a TV and I'm rarely up past 11pm, I was eager to see what the critics had to say about Phelps' hosting... so the morning after his SNL appearance, I got on the internet before church to find some clips from and reviews of the show. I found very little about Michael Phelps; everything was about Tina Fey's impression of Sarah Palin.



The skit from the season premiere with "Sarah Palin" and "Hillary Clinton" was so funny. I watched it several times; laughing out loud each time.

For the past couple of weeks, I have gotten up a little early each Sunday morning so that I have time to watch Sarah Palin clips from SNL. Last night's skit on the VP debate was so funny. If you didn't catch it live or haven't seen it online, please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, spend ten minutes and watch it!

Other great clips can be found at www.hulu.com.

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Hulu: for those of you who are looking for yet another way to waste time during the day or evening, check out hulu.com. You can view FULL movies and TV shows - free and legally. I've been watching the first season of Chicago Hope this weekend (have watched four episodes) and am loving it. You can also watch The A-Team and the movie Weird Science. Enjoy...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

SHAMED AND PITIED

Last night I took the metro home after celebrating a friend's birthday on Capitol Hill. The timing of my trip home happened to coincide with the end of the National's baseball game so all of the trains were crowded. I boarded a train, realized no seats were available, and quickly moved to the center of the car to optimize my grip and stabilize myself for the trip home.

As the train was departing from the station, a woman approached me from the other end of the car. She stopped about a foot away from my belly (two feet from my face) and pronounced:

"Would someone please get up and give this woman your seat. She is obviously pregnant and needs to be sitting down."

I was mortified.

How dare she pity me in front of others? And treat me like I was incapable of taking care of myself? Had I needed to sit down, I would have politely asked someone if I could have his/her seat.

And how dare she shame an entire train-full of people? It would have been a completely different story if I had asked for a seat and the train-full of people had denied my request. But those passengers did not need to be shamed my a woman pitying me for being NINE months pregnant. HOW DARE SHE!?!?!?

So about a dozen different people who heard this woman's request (on my behalf) turned to gawk at me. The nice man to my right began apologizing to me; he hadn't noticed that I was pregnant. He offered me his seat. I thanked him kindly, but told him it wasn't necessary; I was fine standing for my short trip.

I then glared at the woman who made a spectacle out of me and snidely thanked her for her concern.

I stood the rest of the way home (even as the train began to empty out and seats became available) out of spite. Probably not the wittiest or original response, but I'm tired and hormonal these days. It was all I could think of at the time.

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Stating the obvious: I'm still pregnant. About a week overdue.

Today: went to the doctor. Baby's heart rate is strong, fluid levels are "outstanding", and my blood pressure is a little high but normal. I haven't felt any contractions and I'm still at 2cm dilated (have been for more than two weeks now).

Big news: my induction is scheduled for Monday at 5pm, which means Baby D should be here sometime on the 7th. Stay tuned...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

OVERDUE


My due date has come and gone, and I haven't had a single contraction. Nope... not a one. I spent yesterday feeling sorry for myself. I am so ready to not be pregnant. I allowed myself 24 hours to just feel blah. I wasn't thinking about the fact that I haven't met the little person growing inside of me or the fact that I still don't know if it is a boy or girl. Instead I spent yesterday dwelling on all the things I want to do as a non-pregnant person. For instance, I'd like to bend over, get up from sitting on the floor without assistance, drink a full glass of wine (or two or three), go out for a run, wear pants without elastic around the waste, see my feet, and paint my toenails, to name a few activities.

Today I forced myself out of my selfish funk and am trying to go with the flow. I'm eating spicy foods and taking brisk walks. I tried drinking raspberry tea. It didn't work, and the taste was so unappealing that I've given it up. Tonight we are going to try acupressure... I found a web site that lists pressure points that are supposed to send you into labor. It's worth a try. The reality is: baby D will come when he or she is ready or I'll be induced next week. I can survive another eight to ten days pregnant, right?

Hopefully I can survive. My blood pressure is a little high these days and the swelling/puffiness in my ankles/feet and hands, as seen below is unsightly.












The line on my ankles caused by my socks occurred during church this morning. I had on what I thought were a loose-fitting pair of cotton socks. It looks like they were cutting off my circulation. My toes do look like little sausages. I have three pairs of shoes (including the ugly green Birkenstocks pictured here) that fit. I can't wait to wear my other shoes again. And I haven't worn my wedding or engagement ring in ages. As you can see I can barely get it past the nail on my ring finger. The puffiness in my fingers has spread to my hands and wrists. I had to loosen by watchband last night because my watch was cutting off circulation to my hand. Hopefully I won't have to remove it permanently.

Friday, September 26, 2008

TOES & EYES

Last night I met David at the doctor's office. NO... not my doctor's office, but his. D has been fighting an infected toe for nearly two months now. What started as a little redness around his big toenail before he left for Taiwan ended up as a full-blown infection a couple of weeks ago. He's been through three rounds of antibiotics and nothing has helped the toe infection go away. So his doctor decided that part of the toenail needed to be removed to take the pressure off the infection and allow it to heal. The operation took place last night.

D did great. My moral support probably wasn't necessary, but I'm glad I was there to hold his hand. After the procedure, the doctor bandaged him up, we went to the CVS to get some painkillers (just in case), and then we went home. The bandages the doctor applied are not supposed to be removed until tomorrow morning. In the meanwhile, he was to shower without getting his foot wet, and he had to find a pair of shoes that would accommodate all the bandaging around his toe.

This was the solution to the shoe situation...



D cut the toe-box of his old running shoes with a knife and allowed his toe to pop through. Great idea! His toe and the bandaging have all the room they need and his foot is protected and well supported. Tomorrow when we re-bandage his toe, he probably won't use as much gaze as the doctor and his normal shoes will probably fit. He goes back to the doctor next week to be sure everything is healing correctly.

Now onto my eyes... Since we still don't know if Baby D is a boy or a girl, I've been getting all sorts of guesses/predictions from people (some I know and some I don't) about whether we're having a boy or girl. Some people think you can tell the sex of the baby by how the mother is carrying, how she looks, what she's craving, etc... Several nights ago, my aunt and uncle from Texas called with a new method for predicting a baby's sex. They instructed D to look into my LEFT eye. He was supposed to see whether or not there was a distinct 'Y' shape in the blood vessels of my eye.



As you can see, I do have said 'Y' (although it is perpendicular to the correct positioning of a Y). According to my aunt, having the y-shaped blood vessels in your left eye means you are having a girl. My aunt learned this prediction technique from one of her elderly patients, who claims this is a sure-fire way to determine the sex of a baby. We'll see...

Speaking of seeing Baby D... I'm due tomorrow, but not planning to have the baby any time soon. I visited my doctor yesterday and there is little evidence that I'm going to go into labor any time soon. They are going to run some tests next week to make sure me and the baby are doing ok. I'll probably be scheduled for an induction the following week. In short, I could be pregnant for another two weeks.

Be prepared to hear from one frustrated, grumpy pregnant woman during that time...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

311

Dialing #311 in DC connects you to the Mayor's non-emergency hotline. The saying here goes: "Burning house - dial 911. Burning question - dial 311."

I've called 911 several times - for gunshots, illegal fireworks, a reckless driver on our street, and the fire under the street. Prior to this week I haven't had a reason to call 311... that changed several days after our scheduled recycling pick-up failed to occur.

Irritated by over-flowing recycling bins in the street, bottles and cans laying outside said bins, and passers-by using my recycling bin as a public garbage can, I decided to call 311 and complain.

My 311 operator was extremely nice and sympathetic (she made a comment about the need to clean up city trash/recycling to prevent vermin - rats, mice, opossums, and raccoons - from taking over the city). She took my name and address and ensured me that the city would collect our recycling within 48 hours. Not bad.

I was so excited yesterday morning when I heard the big city recycling truck coming down the street. I went to the window to watch and the nice man picking up my recycling waved and saluted me. I was touched. Then they just drove away. Seriously. All of my neighbors had recycling bins sitting street-side waiting for pick-up and these guys just drove past them. One of my neighbors also saw what was happening and he ran after the recycling truck. This neighbor was able to the truck drivers to make one more pass down our street and about half of my neighbors had their recyclables picked up.

The whole situation left me a little ticked off... was I not clear when I called 311 that I wanted ALL of the recycling in our neighborhood picked up? or were these city employees SO lazy that they only picked up from the crazy, complaining lady?

Do I call 311 again and complain?

Monday, September 22, 2008

HEALTH INSURANCE


Health insurance is complicated and confusing. And I'm not talking about whether we need a universal healthcare coverage plan in this country (I'm not going there; at least not today). I'm talking about my personal health insurance plan. It is CRAZY what I can and cannot do under my current insurance plan. For instance, I can get prescriptions from my PCP (that's insurance speak for 'primary care physician') filled at the school's pharmacy. But prescriptions from a doctor outside that school's medical system cannot be filled there; they have to go to a partner pharmacy that the insurance company accepts. Additionally, all of my lab tests have to be preformed by one lab and analyzed them. No exceptions.

The particular laboratory I'm required to go to by my insurance has been hounding me for weeks for unpaid bills. This blows my mind. I go the lab they recommend, I check (before going to said lab) to be sure they'll cover the cost of the test, and then I follow through at the specified lab. What more can I do? Why does the lab call me saying that I have thousands of dollars worth of unpaid bills?

My most recent message from the laboratory said that they will start refusing to provide services for me (and the baby when he/she arrives) if I don't pay my outstanding bills. Obviously this caught my attention...

I called the lab this morning to see what the problem was (and was even ready to set up a payment plan if in fact my insurance wouldn't cover my prenatal blood glucose test or blood work). Much to my surprise (and DELIGHT) the laboratory had entered my insurance information into their system incorrectly. They made the correction to my insurance policy number and, BAM, I owed only $12 for nine months worth of laboratory work.

As grateful as I am for my insurance, I am curious what people without insurance do? Just visiting a doctor is expensive. I've had the most uncomplicated pregnancy known to mankind (knock on wood) and still the bills (co-pays) have been more than I expected. And the costs for the actual procedures, which are mostly covered by insurance, are outrageous. What is one to do if they don't have insurance? The answer is beyond me...

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Baked today: lemon bread (using leftover lemons from David's catering venture last weekend) and marinated tofu.

Currently: at the library taking a break from studying statistics. One more chapter to read before Wednesday's study group.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

CITY LIVING


You know you've lived in the city for awhile (and are overly cautious/concerned about crime) when you assume that balloons popping at a child's birthday party across the street are gunshots.

Seriously, my neighbors are hosting what appears to be a wonderful birthday party for a child, complete with streamers and balloons. One by one, the balloons on the outside of the house are popping - some by children who find joy in popping balloons and some by the wind blowing the balloons into the railing or brick wall. I've heard about four or five pop in the past hour and each time my initial thought has been, "GUNFIRE."

Am I a pessimist or a cautious city dweller????

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Tonight: I'm home right now reading a statistics book. David is out celebrating the completion of his triathlon with his guy friends. We're going to meet up later and have dessert together.

Health: My heartburn is unbelievably bad tonight. I've had two cups of ginger tea and have no relief. Baby, it time for you to drop and come out. I cannot take the heartburn much longer.

Friday, September 19, 2008

THE PELVIC REGION

I haven't thought much about the pelvis, pictured below, since my 12th grade anatomy class. There just hasn't been a need to think of the bony structure that holds my hips in place and allows me to function like a normal human being. That is until NOW...



About a week ago, I felt like I had injured the left side of my pelvic region (possibly my ilium). I thought maybe I had walked into something and bruised myself or maybe my barely-fitting maternity pants were rubbing in the wrong spot and I was chaffing. After some physical investigating (which is hard when your belly is BIG), I determined that there was no evidence of bruising or chaffing. What I did notice was that the pain was spreading across my pelvic region. The epicenter of my pelvic pain was right in the center, on the public symphysis.

In the days following the spread of the pain, my discomfort has grown. Walking hurts, getting out of bed is hard work, and bumping into the dishwasher door or the bathroom sink can bring tears to my eyes. Not knowing what was going on, I talked to my doctor about all my pain. Her response, naturally, was this kind of pain is normal. My body is just preparing itself for the baby to drop and come out. Supposedly, there are ligaments and tendons down there, too, that are stretching and getting ready for the big baby drop and exit. People in the OB/GYN field call this round ligament pain; I call it a pain in the ass.

Apparently there is nothing to do to make the pain stop. I just grunt a lot and try to remind myself that this is what my body was designed to do. WHATEVER...

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Updates: for the girl who has had the easiest unplanned pregnancy known to man, it's been a rough week. I also developed a nasty skin infection on my upper-tummy/rib-cage. I'm medicating topically, washing my clothes separately from David's, using my own towels, and washing my hands frequently (we don't need the nastiness to spread). Who knew you could get yeast infections on your skin?

School: I'm spending a lot of time studying for my comps these days. Working my way through introductions to biostats and epidemiology. I'm hoping to finish another two stats chapters and the rest of epi this weekend.

Dinner tonight: (if David ever gets home) cod wrapped in lettuce and poached in a butter-wine sauce, rice, and sugar-snap peas. We're also having vanilla-strawberry parfaits for dessert.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

FOUR GROCERY STORE DAY


I set out to do our weekly grocery shopping today around 1pm. After stops at three local grocery stores, I arrived home around 3pm. I just made my last stop at the local market to pick up a gallon of milk. Making today my first ever FOUR grocery store day.

Usually, I'm a two grocery store shopper. I get most of my pantry items, eggs, milk, personal hygiene products, and household cleaners at Target. You just cannot beat their prices (but it should be noted that the price of eggs went up by 40 cents this past week; still they have the best prices around). I then go to the nicer grocery store to get produce and other items that are not sold at Target (such as hummos). Today I made an extra trip to the organic market to purchase some bulk items to make homemade granola. That makes three grocery stores.

I had to go to the fourth store to get the milk (and laundry detergent that was on sale) because I purchased too much at Target (including a new bathmat and towels for our newly finished second bathroom) and the other stores. The thought of walking home with a backpack full of food and bathroom accessories and FOUR bags of groceries PLUS a gallon of milk was more than I could handle. My swollen ankles/feet just couldn't take it. So I opted to delay purchasing the milk until this evening. Having just arrived home with my milk, I realized it was my fourth grocery store stop of the day. Amazing what I will do (and the lengths I will walk) to get the products that I want at the cheapest prices.

My biggest complaint: At each of the stores, I used my own reusable grocery bags (and a backpack at Target). And not one of the store employees helped me pack my bags. It's like store employees are afraid of the reusable bag or maybe during their training they were not taught how to properly put food items into them. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The will double and even triple bag a gallon of milk for the woman behind me, but they'll make me (the VERY pregnant lady) bag all of my groceries. It really ticks me off. I expect the same service as any other customers. Just because I say, "I brought my own bags," it does not mean I don't want any help bagging my groceries. In fact, I'd like some help; right now, I need the help. Next time, I think I'm going to just ask for it. Or I'm going to start complaining...

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Basement: our construction project is finished (minus a fresh coat of paint). I love the new bathroom and my functional laundry room is a dream come true.

What I did today: other than grocery stopping, I made a veggie lasagna and several pounds of granola. Does anyone know if granola can be frozen? I also was able to serve as a proxy for David in a Census survey on employment and volunteer activities (I love participating in surveys).

Tomorrow: off to school to meet with my comps study group. We're growing through one-third of a semester's worth of biostats in an hour.

Monday, September 15, 2008

ROCK STAR

David was a rock star this past weekend.

On Saturday, he and a co-worker catered their company picnic. This involved preparing and serving food for more than 60 people. The picnic menu included: pumpkin, almond, blue cheese empanadas; spinach, ricotta, pine nut empanadas; spinach, goat cheese, craisin, orange salad with lime-based dressing; pasta salad; grilled veggies for sandwiches; and blueberry/lemon and rasberry/vanilla fruit tarts. Oh... and he also made a fresh watermellon drink with sprite. It was a delicious meal and a successful catering venture for D.

On Sunday, he got up at 4am and was downtown before 5:30 in order to participate in the 3rd Annual Nations Triathlon. He and two of his chums have been training all summer for the race. All three of them did wonderfully and finished with smiles on their faces. It was a brutally hot day (77 degrees with a lot of humidity before the sun even came up), but that didn't stop D from swimming, biking and running his heart out. I'm so proud!

For the first time since we've been dating, I didn't participate in the race with David. The thought of participating in a three hour endurance event while 20 pounds heavier than normal and with a nearly full-sized infant in my belly makes me a little sick to my stomach; I can barely climb the stairs to the second floor these days. Since I wasn't participating, I was the dutiful race wife. I got up at 4am with David, drove him to the race, showed up at the staging area to take before pictures, and cheered at each of the transition areas. Unfortunately David didn't see me at all along the route. He was worried, after missing me at a point early in the bike, that I had gone into labor and a big surprise would be awaiting him after he finished. I didn't go into labor, but I did get some great pictures. Watching all the swimmers making their way north in the Potomac as the sun began to rise was beautiful. As much as I enjoyed watching/spectating, I wish I could have participated.

Pictured here is DC's Mayor, Adrian Fenty, welcoming the triathletes. The Mayor, who is a kick-butt runner and biker, participated in the triathlon. (Note: my swim time from the triathlon I did several years ago was about six minutes faster than the Mayor's swim time yesterday. Yeah me!)



And here is a picture of David's swim heat getting ready to take off. Unfortunately, I missed David jumping off the platform into the water. So I'm not sure where he is in the mix of green-capped men. Rest assured... he is there!



David has recovered nicely from the race. After a good night of sleep, he was feeling fine this morning. And he was actually talking yesterday about doing another triathlon. Right now we're considering doing an Olympic distance tri in Pittsburgh next July and then running the NYC marathon in November. Should be fun - and a great way to burn off all the weight I've gained during my pregnancy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ELECTION DAY


I voted yesterday. By the end of this year, I will have participated in two primaries and one regular election - a lot from a girl living in a jurisdiction where her vote doesn't count for much. Yesterday was the DC primary; not to be confused with the Presidential primary, which was held in March. The "elections people" in DC (whoever they might be) thought it would be a good idea to schedule two primaries. That way they can spend more money, cause voters more headaches, and confuse all voters as to what is going to be on the ballot when.

As you can imagine voter turn-out was not particularly high yesterday with only local candidates and positions on the ballot. Only three of DCs eight wards had Council members up for elections and several other at-large Council seats were up for grabs.

The Council member representing the ward I live in was up for re-election. This was the main reason I went out to vote yesterday.

Voting in DC leaves much to be desired. Not only do we District residents not have a say/representative in Congress, but our one Electoral College vote doesn't really draw residents to the polls. Additionally, the District's voting process leaves much to be desired. Here are two of the unpleasantries I experienced while voting yesterday:

1. As I approached the site where I was to vote, I was pleasantly surprised that I passed into the "no campaigning beyond this point"-zone without being bombarded by various campaign staffers handing out fliers and begging for last minute votes. However, as I got closer to the voting location, a woman approached me and asked me to vote for her "friend" and gave me a packet of literature. Are you kidding me? It is illegal for you to campaign in the no-campaign zone. And this woman was camped out there - with her table, chair and desk of literature. Out of spite, I voted against this woman's friend. Respect the law, lady, and my boundaries.

2. Once inside, I went to the appropriate table to check-in. I was greeted by a woman who asked me to spell my last name. I spelled it twice and after I realized that she did not know that 'A' comes before 'E' in the alphabet, I told her my name was a few pages back in her book. After asking me to respell my name again, she finally found me. She confirmed my address, made me sign her book, and sent me to the next table. She NEVER checked my photo ID. Are you kidding me? As I was moving on to the next table, I realized she was talking on her cell phone through a blue-tooth device while she was checking me in. How rude!

My overall voting experience left little to be desired. The staff was grumpy and obviously had better things to do, like talking on their cell phones. All of this, and I didn't even have to wait in line. Just imagine what happens when you go and have to deal with the crowds.

With little incentive to vote in DC and the unpleasantries of the voting process, no wonder only 13 percent of registered Democrats and 17 percent of registered Republicans turned out to vote yesterday.

The big news, on the voting front, is that a four-term Republican Council member lost her re-election bid to an up-and-coming 33 year old. Unfortunately, as a registered Democrat, I didn't get to participate in this vote due to DC's closed primary rules.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

DO NOT FORGET



There are a handful of things (and then some) about being pregnant I don't want to forget. Most are the annoyances and discomforts I put up with day-in and day-out. There are, however, a few pleasantries that should not be forgotten.

Things not to be forgotten:

1. Everyone wants to talk to you when you are pregnant. Specifically, they want to know: when you are due, if it is a boy or girl, and how you are doing. Since I'm not working or going to school regularly, I usually like the human contact.

2. People are shocked that I don't know if Baby Dawson is a boy or girl. It's as if I'm a neglectful parent or something. I'm looking forward to the SURPRISE.

3. People make/buy wonderful gifts for a new baby. Last night I received a homemade quilt for Baby Dawson. It is beautiful.

4. Some people do think that being pregnant is equivalent to being permanently ill or disabled. If I hear one more time that I shouldn't be carrying my backpack or I should sit while waiting for a train or bus I might scream.

5. My 98.6 degrees of body temperature + the baby's 98.6 = 197.2 degrees and this heat concentrates itself in my feet. Being hot ALL THE TIME sucks.

6. Having visible ankles is over-rated... swelling does occur, especially when it's 90 degrees outside. Ankles disappear, toes start to look like little sausages, rings no longer fit, and most shoes are too small.

7. Without my wedding ring on, people don't know if I'm married or not. On a recent meet-and-greet with a potential pediatrician, I was the only woman in the room without rings on or a husband present. I think a lot of people were curious about my situation, especially the pediatrician who asked if I had plenty of help for when the baby comes. When I told her that my husband wasn't with me because he was flying home from Taiwan a look of relief swept over her face.

8. I'm tired, but cannot sleep. I'm uncomfortable, hot, and annoyed nearly every night after 10pm. On most nights I'm annoyed by the neighborhood cat that is in heat or the sirens ringing throughout the city.

9. The baby has taken over my body. My breathing is short, my stomach is small, the heartburn is constant, and trips to the bathroom are increasing in number.

10. You can outgrow maternity clothes, especially pants.

11. You AND THE BABY can out-weigh your husband, especially while he's training hard-core for a triathlon.

12. The list of irrational fears about labor and delivery grows each day.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

PENNY PINCHER


I tend to be a good saver of money. I find security (right or wrong) in knowing that I have money in the bank. Being a saver of money has been hard for me during the past year. My graduate stipend in about a third of what I was making while I was working, and if you consider the 12 percent of my salary my former employer was putting into my 403 account, I'm making considerably less these days. Wanting to live within my budget and still save some money, I am always looking for ways to save.

This past summer I have spent countless hours in different grocery stores trying to determine where we can get the cheapest food. For instance, eggs, nuts, bread, and veggie burgers are cheapest at Target. Salsa is cheapest at Safeway; soy "deli" meats are best bought at Whole Foods; and cereal is only cheap when bought on sale. I'm proud that I have figured out a way to save money on food (and still not have to drive out to the 'burbs).

This morning, however, I feel like my penny pinching could have gone a bit too far. I went to school this morning, but didn't need to be there until mid-morning. That being the case, I decided to metro to the end of the Green Line, take the bus to BWI airport, and then take the light rail into Baltimore. Yes, it sounds like a miserable commute, but if you time it well and have a good book on hand it isn't bad at all (and only 15 minutes longer than taking the Marc Train directly into Camden Yards). Additionally, this route provides me with a lot of flexibility in terms of when I leave home/school as the Marc trains only run back and forth during rush hour.

In order to get the 10am bus to BWI, I left my house around 9:20am (just to be sure I was on time). I got to the metro station by our house and realized that the higher/morning rush hour metro rates were still in effect. Wanting to save LESS THAN A DOLLAR I stood at the entrance to the station willing the arriving train to arrive just a few seconds late so the clock would change to 9:31am and I could get the discounted rate.

Unfortunately, the train wasn't running late. I had a choice to make... I could either wait eight more minutes and take the next train (probably missing the 10am bus) to save 85 cents, or I could spend the money and make my connections as planned and arrive to school on time. Surprisingly, this was a tough decision for me to make. I was really set on getting the cheaper rate and actually thought about screwing with my pre-planned schedule and possibly being late for a meeting.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?

In the end, I forked over the money for the rush-hour rate and made it to school on time, as planned. And I believe this was the right decision.

But, seriously, how far am I willing to go to save a few dollars? Am I too reliant on money for security? too much of a penny pincher? completely out of my mind?

How far is too far when it comes to saving money?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

MOUSE IN MY HOUSE



Well, it has been confirmed. There is a mouse in my house. I first spied the little bugger this morning. He was ducking under our refrigerator. Part of me wanted to believe that I was seeing things; another part of me knew there was a mouse. I saw him again an hour later as he crept across the floor in our living room. (Yes, it is GROSS.) Upon seeing him again, I went looking for our cat only to find him sound asleep under our bed upstairs. Chai is definitely not earning his keep around here! There has not been a mouse siting since and the cat knows something is up... he's spent considerable time sitting in front of the refrigerator. Hopefully he'll be successful in killing the mouse.

Tomorrow I will go out and buy some traps.

The good news is: (1) it is just a mouse (it could be a rat, which would be much worse), and (2) I suspect that he snuck into our house through the basement door this past weekend while David was working to finish our bathroom and laundry room construction. I don't think our house is infested or over-run with mice.

I'm sure there will be at least one more post about our mouse and how we caught him. So stay tuned...

'TIS THE SEASON...

... for football. Last Thursday David and I marked the beginning of football season by attending a Washington Redskins game.


Our outing to FedEx Field marked many firsts:

1. David's first in-person NFL game
2. My first non-Steelers in-person NFL game
3. Baby Dawson's first football game
4. My first pro-football game where there were cheerleaders.

We had great seats for the game and the weather (until the rain started to fall in the third quarter) was perfect. The Redskins lost (miserably). Attending a game in DC was much different than attending a game in Pittsburgh. Very few fans dressed in Redskins apparel (unlike in Pittsburgh where everyone knows to wear their black and gold). Additionally, the fans just lacked the energy and passion that is oh-so apparent in Pittsburgh.

Prior to the game, I thought long and hard about what I should wear. My choices: cute pregnancy cloths or my Steelers t-shirt. I opted for the cute pregnancy clothes (namely because my Steelers t-shirt looked a little too tight with my ever-expanding belly). Once I got to the game, however, I wish I had worn my Steelers' t-shirt!

During the game, I had my first (and hopefully last) opportunity to watch the Redskins' cheerleaders. In my opinion, they are not so much cheerleaders as they are scandalously dressed women who spend too much time on their hair and make-up and little to no time on their cheer/dance routines. I was appalled by the too short shorts and cleavage-showing tops these women wore. Not only that, but they were white (so you can only imagine what happened when the rain started to fall). They paid little attention to the game and never rallied the fans to cheer. When the music came over the loud speakers at the stadium, they did do some dances. But their routines were simple and boring (more of a showcase of their asses than a display of skills). And to top that off, they failed to point their toes when doing kicks.

I hate cheerleaders. Always have. (Don't get me started about the cheerleaders at my high school who actually won varsity letters for cheering.) Watching the Redskins cheerleaders perform last week only furthered my hatred. Baby Dawson, under no circumstances, will become a cheerleader.

As much as I hate cheerleaders, I love football, specifically Steelers football. And I LOVE the fact that the Steelers don't feel the need to have slutty cheerleaders performing each week on the sidelines. It's about the GAME, people.