Thursday, March 29, 2018

Pregnancy Week 38

Greetings faithful blog readers, 

When we left off last week, Babies R' Us gift cards were spent, baby stuff was set up, sleep was starting to be more interrupted, and other than occasional cramping, there weren't signs of labor progress. 

Week 38
Baby Size: A 6.5 to 6.8 pound leek (it's leek week!) 

According to the internet, baby is now 6.5-6.8 pounds and 19 and 1/2 inches long. Week 38 starts off glorious with a work from home day. I accomplish a lot, and Brendan and I go on a walk and cook a healthy dinner. Friday is a quick work day, and the weekend is spent catching up on grading, writing and submitting, trying a new restaurant (we figure we might as well eat out while we can and love Ohana Poke--just a delicious veggie bowl for me, but Brendan says the poke was good), grocery shopping, yard work (for Brendan), and putting the final touches on the nursery. On Sunday, we do another neighborhood walk, but it is getting up into the 90s, and I'm glad I won't be pregnant during the summer because heat + pregnancy isn't a good combo. Basically, we have a great weekend where back pain is my only complaint.

Then Sunday night, I sleep horribly (up 4 times in 6.5 hours) and just making it through teaching and office hours on Monday is tough. I come home and take a two hour nap (and still feel foggy). I know that life with a newborn will equal sleep deprivation, but at least I won't be teaching our newborn Thoreau. I'm enjoying these last class meetings a lot. The classroom is still my happy place, even at eight and a half months pregnant. Monday, we work in another neighborhood walk. That's the extent of my fitness, but I do enjoy it.

Tuesday, I have my 39 week appointment a couple of days early. My doctor is out doing emergency surgery, so we see the nurse. It's a fast appointment with not much news: baby girl's heart rate is 154 bpm, my blood pressure is good, and I'm up almost 22 pounds for the pregnancy. We don't do a cervical check. Afterward, I drop by the hospital to have them add our medical directives to our patient files. I'm not sure this was entirely necessary, but I feel better knowing it's done.

I'm definitely starting to get nervous about labor and delivery. In some ways, it's very hard to keep living normal life not knowing when life with change forever. My co-worker Sara says the baby has dropped a little, and I am getting up at night more and my heartburn has lessened a bit, so perhaps that is true (though I can't really see it for myself). I am exhausted easily. I take long couch naps. It's basically like first trimester tired all over again. I order a few more a different brand of bottles and pacifiers (just in case) and a few more swaddles. I probably don't need these things, but I'm starting to freak out a little. I practice swaddling and watch YouTube videos on calming crying babies. I also order this labor ball based on my friend Kelsey's advice and these nursing tanks (If you want to order from Kindred Bravely, please use my referral link and we'll both save $10). I have to laugh thinking of showing up to the hospital with all this stuff.

Week 38 ends with a long workday where I feel like I'm really dragging. After work, I drive to the pediatrician's office for a consult. I am so pleasantly surprised by my experience! I thought I'd get maybe 15 minutes of someone's time, but instead, I get to meet with the lactation consultant one on one for about 45 minutes and with our pediatrician one on one for about 30 minutes. I love both and love that our pediatrician is also a certified lactation consultant. I feel like I'm going to have a lot of support as I figure out breastfeeding and being a mom. One thing the lactation consultant tells me is that breastfeeding sessions in the first two weeks (when baby is regaining birth weight) can last 45 minutes and take place up to 12 times a day. There's no "right amount of time." She also instructs me not to remove the baby, even if it seems like she has stopped sucking. I write down all her tips in preparation for my new temporary full time job. When I get home, the house is clean thanks to the cleaning service, and I take an epic two hour couch nap until Brendan is home from his night class. He cooks dinner and gives me an epic foot/calf massage before bed. My back pain is getting worse. I find warm baths at night help a little bit. The brace helps too, but overall, this last week or so is probably just going to be uncomfortable.

We both agree that our impatience has definitely increased exponentially this week. As I enter week 39, our baby is officially considered "full term," and there is a 46% chance of her making her debut this week. Let's hope so because mom and dad probably aren't going to be any more ready.

If we make it to the due date without a baby, I'll be checking in next Thursday with a week 39 recap. Otherwise, I'll be checking in with baby news. Thanks for all the love, support, good thoughts, and prayers you can send us!


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Home Tour (3+ YEARS in)

Greetings faithful blog readers,

It has literally been years since I did a home tour post. I was inspired to do this because in order to clear our office to make way for the nursery, we had to make some changes. We got rid of furniture and added new furniture. When I went back and looked at our home tour post from 7 months in, I was shocked at how empty all the rooms looked. We definitely don't like clutter, but with a baby on the way, clutter is going to be more inevitable. I figured now would be an interesting time to capture what our home looks like as we anticipate the arrival of our first child.

The dining room has seen significant changes. Namely, when we got rid of our junky office bookcases, and we invested in some nicer bookcases from Haverty's. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that's where I find most furniture in Midland; in my experience, Haverty's furniture holds up well, and they have good customer service. These are from the Martin's Landing set. Brendan printed photos from our Africa trip to hang in this room, and we love them.

The bar cart is another new addition to this room. We ordered it over two years ago on Overstock, and it looks almost exactly like this one. We've been happy with it. The high chair is a hand me down from our friends Dagan and Steph, but I love how well it matches our dining room furniture. We don't eat in this room often, but it's our go to space for playing board games, entertaining, or enjoying nicer meals. Sometimes, I'll set up my laptop in here and work (not when I'm pregnant because I'm all about the couch right now). We also have two collages in here by Brendan's dad, which we love. 

The front entryway hasn't changed much, except we did get artwork by Brendan's dad (see drawing on left wall), and of course, this is now our stroller storage zone. We really feel lucky to be able to ship ourselves artwork from Connecticut and frame it once it arrives here. I love all of Brendan's dad's pieces and the pieces our friends have given us too. 

Entryway to kitchen and main hallway view: 

To the left of the hallway: 

The guest room is pretty much unchanged besides the fact that there is little closet space now thanks to clearing the other closet to make way for baby stuff. I did leave the dresser in here mostly empty for guest use. 

The second bathroom between these rooms is virtually unchanged: 

The kitchen! We still love it and still spend most of our time in the kitchen room/living area. You can see the light on in the laundry room in the second picture, but it's virtually unchanged, so I didn't get new pictures of it. 

Our other new bookcase (also Haverty's) is in the kitchen dining area. We moved the filing cabinet in here and also got the Epson XP-440 in January, which we love so far. It's really tiny, so it can fit almost anywhere. We eat most of our meals at the bar, so the dining table in the kitchen is another good "I don't have a desk" workspace.  

Though my favorite workspace is always going to be the couch :) We do have some new artwork in the living area, but other than that, the couch, and the mamaroo, it's pretty much the same. This room is cozy, and we love spending time in here. 

Our room is pretty much the same, except you can see that we moved Brendan's fancy printer in here (see corner) and the art has changed.

Brendan wasn't totally convinced about getting this chair, and we both use it all the time for reading and writing. I hate to say I'm always right but...

Our bathroom and closet area is pretty much unchanged (except my bathtub candle collection has somehow grown exponentially). You can see more pics of the bathroom in the last home tour post

The garage is the same, and our front and backyards are currently a work in progress. Right now, we're coming out of winter and green things are just starting to appear.

I hope you guys enjoyed our tour. We continue to be happy here and have enjoyed the process of finding ways to make our space work best for us. Mostly, we can't believe we've been here for over three years, but I'll save you the paragraph where I muse on the passage of time!


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Baby Girl's Southwestern Nursery Tour

Greetings faithful blog readers,

I wanted to pop in with a tour of our baby's southwestern nursery. The idea for the theme came to us at dinner when I was 18 weeks pregnant. Even though we already knew we were having a girl, we wanted to design a nursery that could work for a boy or girl since we hope to one day have another child. The southwestern theme just felt right as we live in west Texas.

Before we could do anything about a baby room, we had to clear out the office. You can see the office in all its glory in this old home tour post. We were okay losing the office space because neither of us ever actually utilized it (that's probably because the furniture was never that comfortable). We cleared the space over winter break, and special touches from our friends and family helped us make the nursery come together more perfectly than what we'd ever imagined. We hope you enjoy the nursery tour! I'll link to everything I can in case you see something you love too :)

Ta-da! It's our new favorite room.

Details, details, details:
Furniture: Jenny Lind DaVinci Crib (a gift from Brendan's parents), the very comfy Shermag Valencia Glider & Ottoman (a gift from Brendan's aunt Carol & uncle John and cousins Katie, Anthony, Molly & John), Floating bookcases by Pillowfort (can't find the cloud one on the Target website now). The desk and chair are Brendan's (from childhood), and the quilt stand belonged to my mimi (dad's mom).
Decor: (Left Wall) Letter "E" (made by my cousin Amanda), pink quilt (quilted by Brendan's grandma Nancy), mint blanket (knitted by mom's best friend, Virginia). (Above the crib) "I Love You" banner (purchased at a gift-shop in Maui on our babymoon), 3 cacti prints from RomaLena on Etsy. (Above nightstand): Print from an Austin artist (gift from cousins Amanda and Matt), print from Cuddle + Kind. (Above the glider): clouds and raindrops (handmade decor from our baby shower by Amanda and Matt). (On the glider): Purple blanket (knitted by our friend, Jenni), Llama Pillow (a gift from our friend, Allison--from World Market). (Above the desk): Antique rug (a gift from Brendan's sister, Annie). (On the desk chair): Pink/Rainbow blanket (crocheted by our friend and co-worker, Stephanie). Rug: Berber Moroccan Diamond Rug. Bedding/Chair pillow: Carousel Designs. Mobile: Levtex Baby. Hamper: Levtex Baby.

The dresser/changing topper was a gift from my parents. It's Eco Chic Kennedy but is no longer in stock. The fridge stand we found at an antique shop years ago (and a beer fridge should be an essential part of every nursery!) The hand painted letters were the craft that all our family and friends participated in at our baby shower, and my dad and Brendan engineered the perfect way to display them. Our co-worker Emily found the lower print ("though she be little, she is fierce") on Etsy, and the top print is also Cuddle + Kind

Brendan's cousin Katie made the "hello baby" banner. You can check out her design work here. Brendan's dad painted the bunny and the bear. <3

A close up of those beautiful letters! 

The curtains are also by Carousel Designs, and I love the arrow curtain rod by Pottery Barn Kids. One of our maternity photos is framed and hangs above the desk <3.   

We had so much fun putting this room together, but we couldn't have done it without the creative and special touches from our loved ones. This nursery feels just perfect, and we can't wait to show it to our baby girl. Thank you to everyone who helped make our dream nursery a reality!

Later this week, I'd love to do a full home tour post and show you where exactly we moved all those books from the office, but we'll see what the week brings!


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pregnancy Week 37

Greetings faithful blog readers,

When we last left off with the pregnancy updates, it was the middle of spring break, we were starting to place orders from our Amazon registry and trying to figure out a plan for our Babies R' Us gift cards, and we felt "ready" (but with the knowledge that we could never actually be "ready").

Week 37
Baby Size: A (6 to 6.5 pound) bunch of Swiss Chard (makes me miss our farmer's market!)

According to the internet, our baby is between 6-6.5 pounds and 19 inches long. We celebrate the start of week 37 with a visit from my parents. The primary reason for their visit is for my dad to help Brendan install the grass in the side yard, but we have plenty of baby tasks that we can use their assistance with too. Up first, my dad and Brendan assemble both the SwaddleMe By Your Bed Sleeper (a gift from my cousins, Stephen & Casey) and the bassinet Dagan and Steph handed down to us. Our plan is to have a sleeping space for her in both our room and the living room and to see which she prefers because with babies you never know! Of course, Lola thinks the new beds are hers, so we're keeping them closed off in the baby's room for the time being. While they did that, my mom started doing our laundry, which was awesome. My stomach is in the way, so it's hard for me to bend down to get the clothes from the bottom of the washer; thus, having some help in this department was majorly appreciated. The news about the short lived value of Babies R' Us gift cards had definitely started to worry me. We were holding on to a lot of them, so after surveying my mom friends, we went to the store that night with gift cards, coupons, rewards, and store credit. That first night, we scored incredible deals on everything, and we're now the proud owners of a mamaroo. I've heard it can be hit or miss, so let's hope it's a hit with baby Egan. We also purchased a good deal of clothing in size 9-18 months, silicone bibs, pack and play sheets, wipes, and a bathtub insert.

We still had gift card money leftover, so my mom and I made another run the next day. This time, we picked up diapers (we have a good deal of newborn, size 1, and size 2), a baby book (Brendan is under strict orders to make sure we get the footprints in the baby book at the hospital), and some more clothes (18 months-2T). The gift cards are gone, but I feel good about how we spent them. My mom helped me pack my hospital bag, and we met with our friend James (the lawyer) to sign our medical directives (I need to get a copy to the hospital). We enjoyed visiting with my parents too and playing boardgames as our nightly entertainment.

The next day, dad and Brendan installed the car seat bases, assembled the stroller, set up the mamaroo, and took a bunch of cardboard to the recycling. My mom and I got manis and pedis, made a target run (she wanted me to have tennis balls in a tube sock to help with labor pains), and packed my diaper bag; plus, she did more laundry.

Sunday, my parents left, and it was also the last day of spring break. I wasn't too down about heading back because I knew my schedule was going to be easier with the eight week classes completed. Still, it was our first real adjustment to daylight savings.

This week, I start experiencing what feel like period cramps. There is no consistency to the cramps, and they only last for 15-20 seconds. My nurse said it's uterine irritability or contractions (but not actual labor). Also this week? The joy of getting up multiple times per night to pee begins (I'm just glad that symptom held out until week 37!) I'm not sure, but I think I'm getting up 3-4 times a night. I always fall right back asleep, so at least there's that. My left ear also hurts, but we have the doctor look at it on Tuesday, and he says it looks fine and that tube irritation is common during pregnancy.

On Tuesday, we have our 38 week appointment a couple of days early. My blood pressure is good, baby girl's heartbeat is 158 bpm, and I'm up 20 pounds for the pregnancy. I opt in to a cervical check, and the news is basically no progress in these two weeks. I'm now 60% effaced and 1 centimeter dilated (as opposed to 50%, 1 centimeter two weeks ago). We have an induction scheduled for April 9th (4 days after the due date), but my doctor says there is roughly a 75% chance I'll deliver before then. We also discover that in addition to his Easter travel March 29-April 1, he'll also be out of town April 5-6 (and not on call the weekend of the 7-8). Thus, we realize the only time he'll be available near our due date is April 2-4. He offers to induce on one of those days but again says that labor is going to be easier on me if it can start naturally. We leave feeling a bit bummed: we know the doctor plays a small role on delivery day, but our doctor has been through a LOT with us (to give you an idea, we've had 27 appointments with him since Oct. 2016). Then, I remember the nurse talking about membrane stripping and go home and read up on it in Expecting Better (plus talk to friends who have had it done). Apparently, having your doctor strip your membranes increases the chance of going into labor within 48 hours by 25%. We schedule an appointment for that on the morning of April 2nd figuring it will give us the best chance to get labor started on its own at a time my doctor is available. If it works, great. If it doesn't, that's okay too. The only downside is some pain, which, as I told Brendan "I'm not going to get her here without enduring some pain no matter what we do." We end the day with an awesome lecture by Barak Goodman at school, and it takes our minds off the baby, which is nice.

I end the week by giving a reading at school, and it goes really well. It's tiring being on my feet and finding the oxygen to read a 30 minute story, but I'm so glad I got to share some new work before baby girl comes, and my colleagues and students are wonderfully supportive. After 7 hours at work, my back is killing me despite the brace. I come home, lie down on the couch, take a long nap, and don't move until Brendan gets home from his night class!

I know that the great challenge of these last couple of weeks will be staying present in the moment. I want to appreciate the sleep I get, the classes I teach, the sweet moments feeling baby girl kick, and all these last days of our lives as a twosome. However, at the same time, I'm battling impatience and the feeling like I've been waiting to hold and love this baby for nearly two years. Brendan feels impatient too, though not to the same extent.

As we enter week 38 (still "early term"), I still have a lot to get done at work. Wish me luck as I chip away at essay/discussion/journal grading, recommendation letter writing, and paperwork completing. I will be back next Thursday with a week 38 update (there is a 1 in 4 chance the baby will arrive before then, but we are not holding our breaths!)


Monday, March 19, 2018

The Grass That Will Become Greener

Greetings faithful blog readers,

Spring break went by quickly (as all good things do), and we were able to accomplish a lot of grading, baby, and house projects. Today, we went back to work, and believe me, the 6AM alarm and our first real need to adjust to daylight savings lighting wasn't easy, but once I was back in the classroom, I was happy. Discussing Emerson and Harriet Jacobs is what Mondays were made for.

Anyway, I wanted to pop in with a few updates from the end of our spring break, and the biggest one of all is the progress we're making on the side yard. If you've been reading the blog for awhile, you know that I once (naively) believed our landscaping would be a short term project. Brendan tried to warn me of how unrealistic that was, and here we are three years later, and the yard has become a bit of a hobby horse. We spend a good deal of money and time on landscaping, but you know what? I think we both enjoy it (though I have to remind Brendan frequently not to be self-critical--we are getting things to grow in a desert, and that is a major accomplishment in my opinion!)

We focused on the back and front yards in the first two years, and only really started pondering how to fill all the space on the side of our lot last year.  You can see pictures of the mostly empty side yard here last spring. If you recall, two Aprils ago, we planted grass plugs which a few months later (and I'll admit, to my surprise) turned into actual grass. This April, we're going to be a bit busy, so I suggested that perhaps we should use spring break to make some side yard progress because I know it has been bothering Brendan. But planting grass plugs is a lot of work, and, at 37 weeks pregnant, I'm not in any state to help, so we had to call in reinforcements. Luckily, my dad was available and willing to help. Weeks before the break, Brendan started trading his gym time for side-yard prep time.

Pictured, the results of their hard labor; not pictured, how sore they both are from squatting.

Don't worry, the desert willow isn't dead. It should come back this spring along with most of the evergreens (we're a little worried about one of the four, but we're hopeful).

I hope by July we have an update with some beautiful grass and a baby sitting on it!

In other spring break news, I discovered that Torino's Pizza Bar does Saturday and Sunday brunch. Since there are only two other Sunday brunch options I know of (Wall Street Bar & Grill and Basin Burgers), this was big news that I felt wrong keeping to myself.

The food was excellent and very fairly priced, but the wait was really long (think almost an hour to get our food, even though the restaurant was almost empty). Still, I'd give it another try. They also have $4 mimosas and $8 bloody Marys (though none of us partook, so I can't comment on that).

My salad cravings continue! Butter lettuce is the new best thing to happen to lettuce. I like to buy the kind that you can pull right off the root. I made a dressing with 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar, 1/8 cup of sugar, 1 tbsp of soy sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Put whatever fruit and cheese you like in the salad (strawberries, cara cara oranges, and apples here) and you've got yourself dinner. Don't forget dessert: mint chocolate chip ice cream is still my favorite these days!

Guess who helped me finish grading midterms today? Zo. 

We hope you're getting a little help today too as you ease back into the work week.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Pregnancy Weeks 35 & 36

Greetings faithful blog readers!

When we last left off in the pregnancy updates, Brendan and I had completed all our childbirth and baby care classes, baby girl was in position and measuring right along with her due date, work was crazy busy, and I was remedying the starts of lower back pain with the help of a maternity support band and new shoes (TOMS). I also had another milestone: my last week without a doctor's appointment.

Week 35
Baby Size: A honeydew melon 

According to the internet, baby girl should be about 5 and 1/4 pounds and over 18 inches(!) long. March has really come quickly, and we have a crazy busy day at work with the induction ceremony for the honor's society we co-advise; however, we also make time that morning for the daycare/preschool tour at our on-campus children's facility. We couldn't be more excited about this place! The school has a 4 to 1 infant/caregiver ratio, the kiddos are happy, the teachers have been there a long time, and I will be able to stop by during the day to breastfeed. After 25 months on the waiting list (!), we've made it to slot #2, so we're feeling hopeful it will all work out. We also meet with a lawyer (our friend, James) to start drafting our will and medical directives (I'd like the hospital to have a copy of my medical directives on paper beforehand). Of course, it's not fun to think about those "what-ifs," but James makes the process less stressful (thanks James!). Friday, our honor society students present us with the sweetest baby gifts, and it makes me cry! We work in a trip to the movies, and it may be my last one before baby because seats are getting pretty uncomfortable (can't lean back or recline without feeling dizzy). I spend the rest of the weekend grading, walking, and getting organized for the week. Heartburn is still bad. I take one or two pills a day for it, which usually prevents it from keeping me up at night. I ordered this nursing/sleep bra, and I love it for night and hanging around the house (thanks for the recommendation, Shannon). I find this diaper bag on craigslist in Round Rock new with tags for $80, and my sweet mom picks it up for me on her way home from work Monday. My friend Sydney loves hers, so fingers crossed, I'll love mine too. Also on Monday, we have our 36 week appointment a few days early. Baby girl's heartbeat is 143bpm, my blood pressure is good, and I'm up 19 pounds for the pregnancy. I have my first cervical check (ouch); no dilation, but I'm about 50% effaced, which my doctor says is typical and what he expected for this point. I also get my Group B Strep test done (a few days later, it comes back negative, which is one less thing to deal with on delivery day) and have more blood work done (everything comes back normal). We will return to the doctor in a week. At work, it's another busy week: we're staying later than usual, and we're sharing my car while Brendan's car has some (under warranty, thankfully) repairs done. Every class has papers due before spring break, so I meet with a lot of students, and I teach a new workshop for the first time. Wearing the maternity support band to work is key for keeping lower back pain at bay. I also have my substitute come to my class. My students want to know how long I'll be out, but I tell them there's no way to know exactly since it all depends on when the baby comes. I've saved up enough paid time off so that I don't plan to return until the end of the last week of classes (my plan is to be back in time to grade final papers/exams). Luckily, we have family willing to help us the few days we need coverage between finals and summer, and that is something for which I give immense thanks! I also give thanks for my co-worker Andrew and his wife Allie who have so generously stocked our freezer with food for after baby girl comes. We are beyond grateful. 

Week 36 
Baby Size: A head of romaine lettuce 

Baby is a "6 pound head of romaine lettuce" this week (can you picture Brendan's eye roll?) and 18 and 1/2 inches long according to the internet. Tonight is the big PANK reading at the AWP conference in Tampa, FL, but I'm too pregnant to fly, so we're kicking off spring break on campus instead. I love that the college brings in a snow cone mobile; how fun is that? Now that I'm a month from my due date (whoa!), I can officially order my breast pump from the insurance company. Knowing nothing, I select the one my friend Lauren has and hope for the best. I'm tired by the end of the week, but it's finally spring break. I spend all day Saturday grading and get my grades submitted for my two 8-week classes. With those behind me, I feel quite relieved. I don't do much on Sunday, but we do place an Amazon order for some of the final things from that registry, and I stock up on some essentials for postpartum recovery. Our gift cards come in handy, and we've finally earned the $100 diapers & wipes credit. I do have a bit of a moment of panic when I realize Babies R Us may be closing their stores (and we still have lots of gift cards there). Not sure what our game plan is going to be, but we're bummed because we have one in town that's so convenient, and we were looking forward to being able to shop as needed (they are closing--so we'll have to figure this out). I organize the pantry on Sunday, and we take a neighborhood walk both weekend days. It's my goal to walk everyday of spring break (since I won't be walking around campus at all), but oh my gosh is it exhausting! It's humbling to feel so wiped out from a simple neighborhood walk. We still want to see baby girl before we bestow a name on her, but we try practicing names aloud this week. On Tuesday, I have my 37 week appointment a couple of days early. Baby girl's heart is beating 154bpm, my blood pressure is good, and I'm up 20 pounds for the pregnancy. No cervical check this time. My doctor doesn't like pregnancies to go past 41 weeks, so we schedule an induction for April 9th (4 days after the due date) just in case. Hopefully, we won't need to induce, as natural labor progresses faster, but it's nice to know we have a contingency plan. On Tuesday, I realize that I've pulled a muscle in my upper back, and it really is quite painful! I ice it down, but I'm afraid my days of bending over (to move laundry, feed the cats, or pick things up off the floor) need to come to an end until the pain subsides. My breast pump arrives, but I haven't unboxed it yet; consider that added to the to-do list that seems to grow daily. I spend the last day of week 36 in Odessa with my friend Casey, her almost 3 year old, and her 2 month old baby. It seems impossible that I'll have a baby in just a few short weeks. Do we feel "ready?" Um, no. We're excited, but I don't think anyone can be "ready" for such a major life change. I wasn't ready to teach my first college class...I just did it, and before long, I had been doing it for a few weeks. I imagine this experience will be similar (except with more pain and sleep deprivation). I'm thankful to all my friends that have reached out to me and offered support and told me about the nitty-gritty truths and their own wide range of motherhood experiences. I do feel like I have a realistic idea of what to expect, but more importantly, I have an idea that there is a wide range of normal, and I have people (mom friends and non-mom friends alike) that I can call. So, as I approach "early term," I know we'll all be okay. 

And on that note, I'll end this update. Now that doctor's appointments are just a week apart, I'll start doing weekly updates on the blog. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a fantastic week. 


Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Different Kind of Spring Break

Greetings faithful blog readers!

It's the first day of spring break, and we're not jet-setting to a conference in San Francisco and romantic getaway to Napa, hiking Big Bend National Park, attending Red Sox spring training/playing in Austin, catching up with friends in Los Angeles, taking in the sounds of SXSW, being in an wedding, or embarking on a road trip. Nope, instead I'm sitting at my sticky bar (Brendan is writing in the other room) and sipping on water after a full day (nearly 7 hours) of grading. And you know what? We're totally embracing our "let's get caught up on work and nest" spring break.

Though it would have been awesome to be able to be at AWP in Tampa right now and have read on Thursday night (at 36+ weeks, I'm too pregnant to fly), I'm truly feeling a.) very thankful to be pregnant, b.) very relieved that I just turned in grades for two of my courses (that means I'm finished with half my load), c.) grateful for the time to catch up on grading for the other two classes (hellooooo essays and midterms) and d.) glad that spring break falls when I'm pregnant enough to be highly motivated to check off any remaining tasks but not so pregnant that I feel like I can't move.

Brendan and I were taking a walk tonight and reflecting on our spring breaks of the past. In the past, we always did some grading over spring break, but we both discussed how this year is different because we have a deep desire to get all the grading "squared away," so that we leave classes organized and our students with feedback before going on leave. Plus, there are so many things to be done around the house and yard that we are both really appreciating having a week to get organized. That said, we have realistic expectations about what can be done. This baby is not coming home to a "perfect house," (we still have "junk drawers") or "perfect parents," but we know we'll have done our best to prepare.

Despite having a to-do list, we're still making some time for spring breaking. I just finished a super fast read by the author of the Frugalwoods blog that I wrote about in my last post. I love what she has to say, and even though my goals aren't the same as hers, her book gave me a lot of "food for thought." Just a warning though: it's really much more of a memoir than a "how-to guide," and I was more expecting the latter. We also started a new TV series on Amazon Prime: Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams. Any fans of Black Mirror will enjoy this show too. Plus, we went to dinner with friends Dagan and Steph last night, and I'm excited to visit my friend Casey and her new baby later this week.

Also, I'd be remiss not to mention the real winners of our "hanging around the house" spring break...

Lola and Zoe are immensely enjoying all the extra snuggles. And to thank us for staying home with them this week, we've already had the privilege of cleaning up their vomit twice (awesome).

If you get a spring break, we hope you're up to your own definition of awesome, and if you aren't spring breaking, we hope you're having a restorative and relaxing weekend.

Before I sign off, just a quick and exciting note that I'm planning to give a reading (if baby girl doesn't make a surprise early debut) on Wednesday, March 21st at Midland College. You can find the details on my new chapbook page. 


Monday, March 5, 2018

March Musings

Greetings faithful blog readers!

I hope everyone's week is off to a good start. I'm excited to blog, even though I have no particular topic in mind. I figured I'd do a brain dump style post and tell you all sorts of things that are making me happy. This is a stressful time work wise, and blogging has always been a great stress reliever for me, so I relish the chance to sit down and do it since I caught up on grading this weekend.

Without further delay, here are my March musings!

Salad Cravings 

As a college faculty member that works closely with students, let me tell you how much of my diet is Dominoes pizza. Film screening on Tuesday night? Pizza. When there are leftovers, you take it home! Lunch on Thursday? Leftover pizza. Meeting with the club you advise on Friday? Pizza. Need a quick meal before taking said club to a play on Saturday night? Leftover pizza. Needless to say, I eat a lot of pizza, so maybe it's no wonder I've started craving salads. A few things I love in my salad lately: arugula (it's so good), apples, peppers, carrots, purple cabbage (obsessed with crunchiness), pecans, bleu cheese, and a dressing I make very similar to this one (PS, this salad is amazing too).

You Too Can Make Falafel! 

Our friend Jennifer got us Sheet Pan Suppers recipe book one year for Christmas, and there's a falafel recipe we just got around to trying. When I say we, I mean Brendan prepped everything, and I put it in the oven while he was in class, and I still managed to not do that part perfectly. Luckily, the falafel recipe turned out to be fail proof, and I'm proud to say we can now add this one to our repertoire. I never thought about making falafel at home. While we made ours in the oven, here's a free recipe online you could try if you too want to make this delight. 

Sweetest Gestures 

So, my coworker Andrew and his wife Allie made me some ice cream that's dairy free and put it in the freezer at work along with a lasagna for Brendan and I for after baby girl comes. How thoughtful is that? I had no idea what to expect from homemade dairy free ice cream (the ingredients are cocoa, vanilla extract, coconut cream, lactose free milk, sugar, and brown sugar), but guys, this stuff is AMAZING. It basically tastes like eating a mounds bar. It's so delicious that I will probably cry when it's gone. 

get it? sweet!  

In other amazingly sweet gestures, our co-worker Stephanie crocheted this beautiful pink rainbow blanket and presented it to us today. I couldn't wait to get home and put it in the nursery. Above is the purple chevron blanket that our friend Jenni knitted for the baby. I cannot believe how talented our friends are and how much time they put into these creations we and our daughter will cherish forever. 

In other sweet gestures, we were completely surprised at our honor society meeting when the members presented us with a whole bag of baby gifts. They were sneaky and caught us totally off guard, and I cried. 

These amazing members completed 164 hours of community service this year (all related to forwarding reading, writing, and literature), and we planned our induction ceremony a month early this year because we wouldn't miss it. 

I can't do a sweet gestures segment without sharing this photo of my laundry doing, house cleaning, dinner cooking husband extraordinaire. I managed to do the grocery shopping yesterday and try to stay on top of what I can, but Brendan is definitely picking up the slack around here. 

A New Blog Favorite 

I'm always on the hunt for new blogs to read, and I came across this one thanks to my bestie, Corley. I delight in reading about the Frugalwoods, and even though we'll probably never be as frugal as they are, the blog inspired me to look at our monthly spending from January in detail. I was pleased that we put away a third of our income, but the Frugalwoods save more like 70%! Inspired by their thriftiness, the blog made me think of all sorts of ways I could curtail my spending. Essentially, the Frugalwoods philosophy is spend money on the things that make you really happy but stop spending on things you don't really appreciate (such as dinners out just because you're exhausted, drinks with friends just because it's "what you do," drive through coffee because it's habitual, or new clothes because you have "nothing to wear." I'm eager to see what our spending looks like in a month where I'm being more self-aware now, and the Frugalwoods have already inspired me to skip on eating out a couple of times, hunt for good deals, and embrace a more conservative approach to spending. 

Election Day! 

Tomorrow is election day, and I'm working in voting between an oil change for Brendan's car and a full day of work that includes tutoring, teaching a new workshop (on college application essays), and assessing British Literature artifacts (you're jealous, right?) But we researched all the candidates this weekend, and we're excited to cast our votes tomorrow. As I didn't have to tell my American Literature students today because William Garrison wrote it better than I could express, apathy is terrible; I hope everyone votes! 


Brendan and I went to the movies this weekend, and Annihilation with Natalie Portman is pretty freaking weird. Brendan read the books the movie is based on and said it's almost impossible to adapt the books to film, but the movie was entertaining to us both. 

The Jungle Book at MCT 

We took a group of students to the Midland Community Theater this weekend to see The Jungle Book, and it was absolutely delightful. The cast is made up of high school students, and the cast we saw was an all female cast. They were wonderful. The play was funny and touching, and the costumes and set were beautiful. The show runs until March 25th, so you still have plenty of time to catch a performance. 

George W. Bush...Paints

Also in Midland until March 25th? George W. Bush's Portraits of Courage on display at the Museum of the Southwest. You can bet I was not going to let Brendan miss this one. I downloaded the app, watched the videos, appreciated each painting, and reminisced about my fondness for George W. Bush (proof that you can like a person without agreeing with all his politics). I found this exhibit both devastating and exercise in how we cope with what's past and atone for what is lost.

Those are all my current March Musings. Wish me luck in the last week before spring break! 


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Pregnancy Weeks 33 & 34

Greetings faithful blog readers,

My doctor's appointments have become more frequent, and, with them, the pregnancy updates will too. When we last left off, I was feeling tons of strong punches and kicks from baby girl, Brendan and I had almost finished the nursery and completed our childbirth classes, and my goal was simply to survive my crazy work schedule until spring break (when half of my classes will conclude).

Week 33 
Baby Size: A head of Celery 

Week 33 starts out tough when I wake up in the middle of the night with horrendous heartburn and cannot get back to sleep. I move to the couch (so I can "sleep" propped up), but this is definitely the night I learn to never go to bed without taking heartburn medicine first. After an all day meeting at work, I come home to discover a cold sore (my first since 2013). I quickly email my nurse who assures me my prescription cream from last time is safe to use during pregnancy. My body feels like it is fighting a virus, and I spend the weekend resting and don't leave the house. Another lovely pregnancy symptom starts this week: drooling in my sleep. At least I can sleep! On Saturday, Brendan and I each paint a letter to finish up the nursery display that our friends and family made us at our shower. I paint the "X," and he paints the "O," and we hang a couple more prints in the nursery. I can't wait to show you guys photos; we've ordered the final three prints for the room, but I didn't realize they are shipping from Bulgaria, so that could take some time! Knowing I need to be more active, I make Brendan promise to walk with me a few times a week. I order this maternity support band to make walks a little more comfortable. We have a couple of days of gorgeous weather (70s and sunny), and I'm so happy. On Monday, Brendan and I take a breastfeeding class at the hospital, and learn so much. First of all, I had no idea how all the logistics worked (file under "things I never thought about"). I already expected it would be a complicated process that would be a bit overwhelming at first, and the class definitely confirms that expectation. A newborn baby will need to breastfeed 8-12 times a day in the beginning because her stomach is only the size of a marble and then a ping pong ball. I'm preparing myself for a big learning curve ahead and my plan is to keep my expectations in check and see how things go. I also learned that underwire bras are a no while breastfeeding (what?!), so I'm now actively taking recommendations on your favorite nursing bras (please help!). On Tuesday, I have my 34 week appointment a couple of days early. It's a very exciting one because we have our first ultrasound since the beginning of January. Baby girl looks great: she weighs 4 pounds, 13 ounces (that's the estimate), measures exactly 33 weeks, 5 days (which I am), and is in the 36th percentile with measurements. They check her brain, heart (143 bpm), stomach, kidneys, and bladder, and everything is looking great. She is head down, and the doctor says she'll most likely stay that way. Lying on my back is a definite no now, and I have to turn on my side during the ultrasound because of dizziness. I tear up; Brendan says he is just happy the whole time. As usual, baby girl doesn't cooperate much when it comes to showing us a preview of what she looks like. We see her nose and lips but not at the same time (she keeps her face next to the placenta and her hands over her face). We can tell that she has some hair. Even though we can't see much, we think she's beautiful. I can tell that she has her daddy's nose! On my end, my blood pressure is good, and I'm up 17 pounds total for the pregnancy; my next doctor's appointment is only two weeks away. At least for right now, I'm excited about my visits being more frequent, and I go ahead and book the next several appointments.

I end week 33 feeling like I'm coming down with a sore throat, but a few home remedies (eating a clove of raw garlic, gargling with warm salt water, and drinking tea with honey) have me feeling better overnight. Work remains extremely busy. I feel behind, but I am doing what I can. We get another cold front in Midland and it's sleeting and freezing on Wednesday. I'm not happy about it (and so much for my walking plans!) but I keep telling myself spring is around the corner.

Week 34
Baby Size: A Butternut Squash (Brendan has absolutely had it with these comparisons; "when is the last time you picked up a 5 pound butternut squash?" he wants to know).

Week 34 starts out with a leg cramp! I wake up howling in pain. It's my second leg cramp of the pregnancy, and it scares Brendan if I jump out of bed because he's worried I'll fall, so he immediately wakes up and starts trying to help with my leg pain. It's pretty funny that a leg cramp can cause so much commotion! Brendan and I have our dentist appointments, and my cold sore is no longer contagious, so I can go. I've been making a huge effort to floss since I know gum disease can lead to preterm labor, so I'm relieved when I don't have to cancel the cleaning and my dentist says everything is looking good. On Friday, our weather warms up, and I can continue with my neighborhood walk plans. Saturday, two pairs of TOMS shoes I ordered arrive (pictured above) and they are an absolute pregnancy game changer (easy to slip on and very cushiony/supportive). For those interested, I ordered the Women's Classic style. The maternity support band I mentioned above is also proving to be a good investment. I wear it to the museum on Saturday, and when I take it off, I immediately notice how much back pressure it relieves. Between last weekend and this one, we make so much progress on our thank you notes. Almost done now! On Sunday, we take a long walk at the nature preserve and cook another big pot of soup. This is how I'm getting my veggies in, but I LOVE ice cream (mint chocolate chip), the leftover chocolate chip/cream cheese cupcakes I made for Valentine's Day (they stay in the fridge, so they're still good), and Dr. Pepper (I buy the small cans as a treat). I definitely wasn't such a sugar lover pre-pregnancy, so I guess this counts as "cravings," though I've never been completely desperate for anything like some women describe. On Monday, we take an infant CPR/baby care class at the hospital. It's our last class, and we practice CPR and what to do if an infant is choking, and swaddling. They also show us a disturbing video about infant crying: apparently, some healthy infants cry for no reason at all for hours a day for several months of their lives. The video instructs us to understand that there is nothing we can do other than put the baby somewhere safe and walk away if frustrated and make sure the pediatrician checks out the baby for other issues. There are really upsetting interviews with parents whose children were shaken by a caregiver or family member. Overall, this video leaves us both disturbed and contemplating ordering a second set of noise canceling headphones! Despite the ten hours we've spent in hospital courses, I have moments where I feel overwhelmed and self-doubting. I know this is normal, and I know I'm very lucky to have such a great partner and support system.

CPR Practice 
I'm thankful that sleep has continued to be good and that emotionally and physically, I'm in a good place. I still have occasional anxiety (mostly related to our baby getting here safely), and I still have moments where the pregnancy feels like a dream. My overall emotional state is grateful. Though my lower back is starting to hurt at the end of the work day (I probably need to wear the support band everyday now), and I still have heartburn daily, I remind myself of how much important work my body is doing. Our baby is busy developing her brain and lungs, and though we are eager to meet her, we want her to arrive as healthy as possible, so patience will be the name of the game for the next few weeks. My stomach looks very veiny these days. I don't have stretch marks yet (still using Burt's Bees Mama Butter twice daily), but it it's like my stomach has become transparent! I made Brendan take a photo of it last night. Looks like my mom will finally get to see an underwear pic, haha.

Work is still very busy (lots of evening events this week, and I have two courses finishing in 8 days), but on the bright side, it helps the time go quickly. We only have a little over a week until glorious spring break.

I'll be back in two weeks with my weeks 35 & 36 update. Have a great Thursday everyone!

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