Tis the Season!

I am finally starting to feel better, and the things that I cannot wait to do are all Christmas-related!

Last night we decorated the tree. The bare tree had been setup inside for two days, and I was so sick that I just didn’t have the gusto to decorate it. It was depressing staring at that naked tree, sprawled on the couch covered in snotty tissue. Finally, last night, I was feeling good enough to tackle it. After the yearly “how to put on the lights” miscommunication, Dan and I hit our stride and the decorating was in full swing. We used clear/yellow lights, gold tinsel, vintage colored ball ornaments, and a collection of special ornaments. We get a new special ornament each year, and this year’s was a white ceramic ball with our Christmas card photo on it. On the treetop, we placed two little silver bird ornaments.

The best part of decorating the tree was turning off all of the lights when it was done and plugging the tree in. The warm glow of the tree with Andy Williams singing in the background was so peaceful. Dan and I snuggled on the couch, listening to music, in silent awe of how lucky we are.

Today I felt even better than yesterday and decided to whip up my first batch of Christmas cookies. I have been craving peanut butter, so I decided to make a cookie similar to the Hershey’s Peanut Butter Blossoms. Let me state right off the bat that I never follow recipes exactly. In almost every case, I reduce sugar, substitute things, etc. In this case, I knew that I wanted to make this type of cookie, but I wanted the peanut butter portion to be really good. No offense, Hershey’s, but you’re not my trusted source for baking recipes.

Instead, I turned to one of my favorite recipe sources, allrecipes. Here, I found a recipe that looked good, Classic Peanut Butter Cookies. The only alteration that I made to this recipe was to reduce the amount of sugar, both white and brown. I am not a fan of overly-sweet things, so usually about 2/3 of the recommended amount of sugar is plenty for me. Once the cookies were baked, I plopped a Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Kiss in each one. Super easy!

When I took a plate of warm cookies downstairs to Dan in his office, his remark was, “ooh fancy!”. Actually it was more like, “ooo, thaney!” as he was too busy devouring them to speak. That made me smile, as they are very basic cookies. I guess the addition of the candy in the middle makes them seem more sophisticated than they really are? Either way, they are yummy and are sure to become an annual holiday tradition.

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Cabin Fever

My throat started hurting on Monday, but it wasn’t bad enough to keep me from going to work for a meeting. I went to work, came home, and I was sure I had dodged it. On Tuesday, I knew I had been wrong. It is now Thursday evening and I keep feeling sicker and sicker. Last night I slept fitfully, coughing and sneezing myself awake. My throat raged and my sinuses burned. I haven’t left the house since Monday. The worse I feel, the less I care about going anywhere.

The snow this evening is beautiful. It started falling in this afternoon and has continued, steadily blanketing the ground. The sky is thick with snow. I cannot see past the neighbors house across the street. The dogs look out the window wistfully. I open the door for them to go outside. They stick their heads out the door and as the wet snow pelts their noses, they turn back inside, padding towards their cedar beds.

snowed in

It is times like this when I love our house. I adore the fireplace, warming my toes and my heart. I love the down blanket that envelops me on the couch. I love all of the windows, revealing the magical storm outside, sheltering me beneath their glass.

fireplace

My little baby, I hope you are not feeling the aches and fever that I feel. I hope that you are warm inside of my belly.  I hope that you are cushioned in fluid as I am cushioned by the warmth and walls around me.

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Turkey Day Road Trip

This Thanksgiving, we decided to visit Dan’s best friend Chris and his brother Joel in Lafayette, Oregon. Joel purchased his house a few years ago, and we have been telling him for ages that we will come visit. Thanksgiving rolled around this year, and Joel invited us to join his family gathering. This included his three brothers: Stephen, Dan, and Chris, their wives, and Gloria, the matriarch of the family. Here is the route we took:

We loaded up the car at about 8:45, foolishly expecting a 3 hour drive. Due to the snowing conditions over Santiam Pass, our speed was reduced to 30 MPH for a solid hour and a half of frustration. Once the elevation dropped and the snow melted, it was smooth sailing. We arrived at Joel’s house at about 1:30, keeping our fingers crossed that we were not holding up lunch.

We quickly got acquainted with everyone, including Jay Jay, an adorable and very well behaved Boston Terrier. Jay Jay spent most of his stay at Joel’s house roasting himself directly in front of the fireplace, straying briefly only to sit on someone’s lap. It was shocking how hot that little guy got! He would come over and plop himself down like a little hot potato. My goodness, it felt good!

As always happens, the turkey took a really long time to cook. At 2pm, Joel announced that it would be ready in 20 minutes. All of the wives scrambled to get everything ready to go in time: 1) stuffing is warming? check., 2) rolls are in the oven? check., 3) table is set? check. Everyone was pretty proud of themselves at 2:20 when the whole meal was ready. And then, Joel checked the turkey again and proclaimed a problem. He had mis-read the temperature on the meat thermometer and it would actually be ready in thirty minutes or so.

By 4:00, the turkey still was not ready. At this point, I was VERY hungry and beginning to feel nauseous. I sneaked out to the car and wolfed down a granola bar. I didn’t even care about spoiling my dinner at this point, I just needed something to eat. That egg for breakfast at 9:00 wasn’t cutting it anymore! The granola bar did the trick, and at 4:45, lunch was served!

We had a lovely dinner, discussing politics, the economy, and other current events. After dinner, Gloria, the matriarch, made a special effort to come over and talk to me. I was happy but exhausted, and I had collapsed on the loveseat in the living room. It was all I could do to stay upright. Gloria is one of the most positive people I have met. Her husband died about ten years ago, and she has learned how to make the best of her single life. She now lives in a retirement community and has many friends. Although Gloria’s memory is failing her (she literally asked me where I am from over ten times in the span of an hour), she is a ray of sunshine. She spoke over and over about how fortunate we all are and how wonderful life is. It was truly a privilege to share her company.

Friday morning, we hit the road at about 8:30, hoping again to make better time than the day before. Although the roads were better, we hit a rock going over the mountain pass and had a flat tire near Idanha. Dan sprayed some of that fix a flat goop in the tire, and it seemed to be drivable. Knowing that nothing lay ahead, we turned around and went back to Detriot, Oregon to air up the tire further. Luckily, we made it home unscathed at about 2:00. The additional time that it took to deal with the tire was no big deal. We were just fortunate to have packed the fix a flat goober!

So, as cheesy as it may sound, I cannot help but realize how many many things I have to be thankful for this year:

  • a wonderful husband that I love with all my heart who can fix anything that goes wrong with my car or in our lives
  • two awesome dogs that welcome me with wagging tails every morning
  • great friends to welcome us into their homes
  • plenty of yummy food prepared for us (and plenty of nice people to do the dishes too!)
  • Baby Devlin growing inside of me and getting bigger every day
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Telling the Families

I knew that I wanted to tell my mother first, before anyone else. A baby is a special bond shared by women, and it was only fitting to honor the woman that brought me into this world by sharing the news with her first. I called Mom on Friday night to share the news. Please pick up the phone, I thought. She did.

After some brief smalltalk, I asked her, “Are you sitting down?”. She pretty much knew what was coming next and was overjoyed when I told her, “Dan and I are going to have a baby!”. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful mother. She is steadfastly supportive and genuinely shares my joys in life. She is amazing. Towards the end of the conversation, I asked her if she was ready to be a grandmother. Her response was a resounding yes. She can’t wait.

Regarding the rest of the family, Saturday was Dan’s birthday, and his mom and dad invited us over to celebrate for lunch. We decided that this would be a good time to tell them about Baby Devlin. After trying to figure out a cute way to break the news, an idea occurred to me on Tuesday: cake! What if I made a cake decorated with baby stuff and brought it as a surprise? Dan loved the idea.

Unfortunately, by Friday I was feeling pretty sapped. Even walking up the stairs seemed like too big of a chore to handle. Luckily, I purchased a cake mix in the event of this. There was no way I was making a cake from scratch, but I could at least handle a mix, right? Saturday morning I woke up at 5 am. This, ironically, is sleeping late for me these days. The insomnia is killing me. I leaned on the counter with my elbow as I mixed the batter. I put the cake in the oven and by the time the cake was ready, I had my second wind. The chocolate frosting (also a mix – yuck) went on easily, and now it was time to decorate the cake with pink and blue accents. Aside from my crooked and off-center writing, I think the overall effect is nice. Well… maybe not nice exactly. Decent.

We presented the cake as soon as we arrived, not wanting to sit through the whole meal trying to keep the secret. Ma jumped up and down yelling, “I’m going to be a grandma!”. I did think that this was somewhat odd as Baby Devlin will be grandchild #15 for her. Her enthusiasm was appreciated, nonetheless. Dad gave me a big hug. Grandma (Baby Devlin’s great grandma) was happy as well. When she heard the due date of July 4th, she exclaimed, “oh a little firecracker”. We laughed and joy was shared by all.

Baby Devlin, you have a lot of people waiting to welcome you into the world!

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Birth Center Whirlwind Tour

Birth Center Tours

Birth Center Tours

Yesterday Dan and I went to tour two birthing centers in town, Motherwise Birth Center and Bend Birth Center. Although I am only six weeks and three days pregnant, I am so darn excited about this whole experience that I have been on pins and needles for these appointments.

I view pregnancy as a natural life event in which a woman has everything that she needs inside of her to deliver her baby safely. Although there are certainly cases in which health risks to mommy and baby necessitate medical intervention, most women are capable of bringing a new life into the world without surgical and pharmaceutical intervention. Birth is a natural (and stunning!) part of a women’s life journey. I want to experience every bit of it.

Like all birth centers, caesarean section rate at Motherwise and Bend Birth Center is much lower than that of hospitals. St. Charles Medical center in Bend has a C-section rate of an alarming 33%, 8% higher than the national average of 25% (which is still crazy). I understand that about 7% of Motherwise clients transfer to hospital during labor, largely for epidurals when the mother has become too exhausted to continue on her own. Most of these are first time mothers like myself.

Motherwise was our first stop on the Bend Birth Tour. We arrived (amazingly!) on time after scrambling to get out of the house, stopping halfway down the driveway to run back in for my wedding ring, and I realizing that I was too hungry to endure three more hours without McDonald’s.

The building is newer and the facilities are clean and bright with modern furnishings and beautiful birthing tubs. We were greeted by Nicole and two midwife assistants. After a quick tour, Nicole met with us in one of the exam rooms to explain a bit about Motherwise services and to answer questions. The whole thing had a surreal aspect to it; I couldn’t believe I was actually sitting in a birth center talking about our baby. I was overwhelmed with emotions as I sat on the couch, holding Dan’s hand:

  • I was frightened because this pregnancy was suddenly official.
  • I was proud to be sitting there with Dan. He showed such interest and enthusiasm and asked a lot of really good questions. My sweetheart!
  • I was excited picturing the birth and the new baby.

Nicole has a great energy. She is light and enthusiastic and sunny. Motherwise has delivered about 600 babies , and they average 7-9 births per month. She spoke of the importance of diet and exercise as well as some of her experiences in delivering babies. Motherwise also offers a variety of prenatal classes and services. It is structured to provide a sense of community for pregnant women, something very important to me.

We both left Motherwise almost certain that we had found our midwife/birth center. Dan remarked on several occasions, “they had me at hello”. He loves them.

Our next stop on the tour was at the Bend Birth Center. We arrived a bit early and Dan chose to make himself a cup of hot tea while we waited. In a few minutes, we were greeted by Janette, the midwife at BBC. Janette is a lovely woman with a very serious and thoughtful disposition. She is determined to offer informed consent whenever possible. I really appreciated that Janette views the experience as one in which the parents are given all of the information that they need. It is then the parent’s responsibility to make the decisions that are best for them. Although I feel that this is a similar philosophy to Motherwise, it was definitely stressed more at BBC.

I was not super excited about the Bend Birth Center facilities, and this is purely out of personal preference such as decor and layout. Although I am confident that the quality of care offered at BBC is top-notch, the environment itself did not feel welcoming and warm to me. Although it is an older building, Janelle has decorated in a loving way, with nice touches such as pretty linens and antique furniture. The colors are mostly dark colors that some may find soothing, but that I found depressing. It was also quite cold, although I am sure that the temperature can be adjusted upon request.

On our way home from the birth centers, we both agreed that we would like to use the services at Motherwise. We are still undecided as to whether we will labor in the birth center or at home. I have mixed feelings on this and there are a lot of factors that will contribute such as risk, cost, etc.

Regardless of whether we actually use the birth center to deliver Baby Devlin, I most certainly want to use the prenatal classes at Motherwise. I am so looking forward to sharing this experience with Dan. It would also be so nice to meet other expectant mommies!

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Massage Chair Bliss

I have been flexing my self-indulgence muscles, a rare thing for a type-A taskmaster like me. One of the wonderful things about being pregnant is that I am beginning to think of myself as a “we”. Each action that I take is considered more thoughtfully. Is this really good for me? Does this make me healthier? Does this make me happy? I am learning (very slowly) to accept the side of me that wants to pamper myself with a good book or a cup of tea instead of the side of me that needs to go to the store to pick up tonight’s dinner or fold the laundry before it wrinkles.

Last weekend I splurged and bought a massage chair cushion for a whopping $150 at Bed Bath and Beyond. I was there looking at curtains for the guest bedroom when I couldn’t resist the temptation to relax for a couple of minutes in the chair setup as a store display. Normally, I wouldn’t dream of spending this kind of money on an item that seems, well frankly, cheesy. However, after 5 minutes of nirvana and a lot of smirks from other customers, I decided, “what the hell”.

This thing is awesome. Initially I was concerned that it was an impulse buy and that it would just collect dust. I have been using it a few times every day until the cushion actually turns itself off because it is sure that no one could endure so much kneading and rolling. I am not sure of the duration for each cycle, but I am guessing 15 minutes? My favorite feature is the built in heaters. Yesterday we had our first big snow and the temperature in Bend has plummeted. Relaxing in my massage chair with heated rollers and a good book while I look out the window at the frosty trees is like heaven. Life is so good.

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Hello Hormones!

Central Oregon Snowfall

The hormones have officially kicked in. Poor Dan! I have already broken down in tears twice today, and it’s only 1pm. The first tantrum was brought about by frustration in trying to get the Sony TV to work with a non-HDMI cable. The second tantrum was brought about by frustration in trying to get the permit submitted for the new French doors in the nursery. They are both embarrassing, petty episodes that I already feel sorry about.

I woke up this morning at my usual time since Sunday’s daylight savings, 4:30 am. For the first time this morning I noticed some definite boob soreness. They are also (sigh) bigger.

I keep waiting to get morning sickness, hotly anticipating the nausea. So far, my stomach has been a little more touchy than usual but definitely no vomiting or severe aching. I have heard that about 75% of women experience morning sickness and that it is more common in women who have migraine headaches. It is supposed to start at about six weeks. Today is six weeks and 2 days for me so I fully expect to be praying to the porcelain god any day now. To be honest, I am really looking forward to it. Not having morning sickness seems like it will cheat me out of the experience somehow.

It is the first big snow today and so beautiful. Neither myself nor the dogs has any desire to venture out for our daily walk. It is too warm and cozy in here!

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