Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quick Check-in (34w1d)

Hi, everyone! Another quick check-in between seeing our houseguests (my parents) off this morning and heading out to see DH's parents this weekend.

I am doing really well - still off of Zofran, and on just 1/2 tab of Unisom per day. Nausea is ever-present but is rarely problematic.

I made it through Christmas, hurray! And.... drum roll please.... our tree is down and put away! Any local friends are now faint from shock, as our tree usually stays up till sometime between St. Patrick's Day and April Fool's. But my ruthless decluttering habits have taken over holiday trappings as well as everyday things, and I have been champing at the bit to get decorations put away so that I can move on.

Speaking of decluttering.... wow! I have been impressing even myself! It's really quite laughable. I am pretty much trying to throw out anything that isn't tied down. And frankly, a lot of what is being kept is being kept only because there are various parties to answer to (i.e. the family that gave us the gifts) rather than any real need/want. But I've been doing really well anyhow - biweekly trips to Goodwill and continual give-aways on Freecycle, and I think it's making a bit of difference, though I'd still like to get rid of an easy 50% of the stuff we have left.

Decluttering has always been my instinctual method of stress-relief, and nesting has just thrown it into ultra-high gear, with an added dash of utter ruthlessness. I love it! It's given me the ability to get rid of a bunch of stuff that I've never wanted to keep but have been guilted into. Hopefully this can continue! I am really a minimalist at heart, and having stuff bothers me. My parents are continually urging me to just store stuff in the attic, but they just don't get it - having too much stuff bothers me horribly. I don't feel peaceful until it is gone and OUT of the house for good. My dream is to live in a one-room cabin in the mountain with just the basic necessities (bed, table, chair, etc.).

Have I wandered far enough for you? It's hard to write coherently with Thomas the Tank Engine in the background. In reading back over what I just wrote, I found at least five major spelling errors, so don't expect linguistic perfection today.

But Christmas was nice! We had a fun time, though I did get stressed the last couple of days. I usually am a Christmas minimalist as well, but I think I just left too many things till the last minute. Next year, must do better.

My favorite part of Christmas was having church on Christmas. Our church has church on Sunday Christmases, and I love it! Christmas church is just extra-special. I really wish that our church could do the old-fashioned practice of having church on Christmas regardless of the day it falls!!!

An update on my efforts to NWP (nurse while pregnant!) - We continue to plow ahead, but it is hard going. We are only a hair's breadth away from weaning, though I am fighting valiantly to keep on. Only six more weeks, only six more weeks! I'm hoping I can hang on. If I make it, this will go on my life list of great accomplishments. Why? Because it HURTS. Horribly! Sometimes worse than others - anywhere from "Ouch!!" to "YEOUUCCCHHHH!!!!" In fact, a couple of weeks ago, I actually - no joke! - took a wooden spoon into the bedroom so that I could bite on the handle (a la "Ben Hur") while nursing. (It was better than my fingers.) Conclusion? Wooden spoon handles are way too big - they need to come out with a thinner edition. But it helps. Local friends, you will now know why my wooden spoons are covered in bite marks when you come over and are puzzling over that fact.

For anyone who is clicking "Unsubscribe! Unsubscribe!".... yes, I think I am crazy. This is not an experience I want to repeat.

We have now passed over the 34 week mark - nerve-wracking! Very nerve-wracking. I know most people are anxious for their babies arrive, but I've never been anxious for a pregnancy to end (though I am looking forward to meeting baby). Why? Well, (1) labor hurts, and I'm a wimp, (2) babies are a lot easier to take care of in-utero than in-arms, and (3) having a new baby turns one's life - and sanity along with it - completely upside down for at least six months. Not fun! But it will be fun to meet our newest family member - and to have the nausea leave!!

Having a third baby is going to move me completely out of my comfort zone. As a matter of fact, baby #2 did that, but #3 will do it even more thoroughly. It's not even something in my recent family history! On my side of the family, we have only only-children and two-children families for at least three generations back, and DH himself has only one sister. Both my mother and my MIL had only one pregnancy (one singleton and one twin), so neither of them has dealt with children of different ages, and neither of them has dealt with three children. This is going to be the adventure of a lifetime!

Well, I could meander longer, but I have bored my poor readers long enough! I'll check in after New Year's, when we're back and unpacked. I hope that you all have had a lovely Christmas - enjoy the one remaining holiday this weekend!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Still Alive! (33w1d)

Hi, everyone! Sorry it's been so long! And actually, it might have been even longer, but my family is coming in town today and I'll be MIA for another week, so I thought I would check in.

However, I am ridiculously short on time, so here are just a few quick tidbits of life from the valley of the Sun:

- I have been off of Zofran for about.... three weeks. It feels so nice! I am still taking 1/2 of a Unisom (or 1 Diclectin) per day. I went off of it one day this week, but it didn't last. I'll try again soon! I am feeling fairly well most of the time (except for when I feel rotten). The nausea is always here, but it's not usually too much of a problem. Night before last I actually had to get up in the middle of the night to take some Unisom because the nausea wouldn't let me sleep, but that's unusual.

- Other pregnancy symptoms - breathlessness, exhaustion, muscle fatigue, pelvic pain, difficulty walking, the usual. :)

- I forgot to say that I did my hospital tour a few weeks ago - had a great time! It was so much fun. Hopefully I'll never actually end up there, but it's a nice feeling to know that if we do need to go in, I like the place where we'd be going and feel at least mildly comfortable there. You can read my review of that here.

- Our actual Lepkuchen Day went really well, and we enjoyed it tremendously. Thanks to all who joined us! (And to those who would've but couldn't!) You can read about Lepkuchen Day here. This year our dates were screwy - it's supposed to be the Saturday before Thanksgiving, but our fearless Lepkuchen-Day-founders had to mess with the dates so that they could fly back east for their daughter's new baby (birth story here! as well as more about Lepkuchen Day). 

- Remember the cat that was lost-and-then-found? Well, she got out and was gone for several weeks.... and then we found her again. And then last night, she slipped out again and is currently - again - missing. What a cat. Definitely not one to trust!

- For those of you who are curious about what goes on at a homebirth, and specifically, the supplies used at a homebirth, I wrote up the details in a post on my other blog - enjoy!

- Other pregnancy details: I am currently taking a calcium/magnesium supplement, Floradix (iron), alfalfa tablets (for vitamin K, as we plan to nix the vitamin K shot/drops), and all the usual other stuff (fish oil, multi, zinc, B complex, etc.). As my blood pressure was a wee bit high at our next-to-last visit, I am also working on that (fluids, protein, salt, exercise... and lots and lots of cucumbers!!). Thankfully at our visit last night, my BP was again behaving itself - hurray!

- Childbirth prep - I got out my Hypnobabies CDs!! And listened to a track.... once. Yup, it's bad. Or rather, I'm bad. I simply cannot summon the energy at the end of an exhausting day to stick on half an hour of CD listening. I ought to improve myself, really, but..... sleep calls. Maybe some other year.

- I am really enjoying getting to know our midwife - she is a really neat woman. Last night I had the privilege of chatting with her for an hour (I love midwife visits!!), and thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. I have also been attending her biweekly meetings for pregnant mamas, and those are great as well (and open to the public for anyone who's interested!).

- We are also enjoying the Christmas season! I am a minimalist about Christmas (as in most things), so I don't do half of the things that most people do, but I really prefer it that way and have a great time enjoying this month. We've been going out to look at lights and playing lots of Christmas music, and this week I'm going to do some minor baking (sugar cookies) and wrap a few minor presents - and that'll be about it! We don't exchange presents with half of our family (haven't convinced the other side to hop on that wagon), and we also don't give our own kids presents - sounds Grinchy, but being the only grandchildren on both sides of the family, they are so thoroughly spoiled that we soon found it to be pointless. (In fact, all of my decluttering efforts will probably be eaten up by an influx of Christmas presents....) We'll also attend church on Saturday and Sunday, which will be great - one of my favorite parts of Christmas! I hope that each of you out there is enjoying the holidays and having an enjoyable Christmas week.

- Lastly, I would ask for your prayers for a local HG mama here who is beginning her seventh - yes, seventh! - journey into the world of NVP/HG. She was holding her own until this week but is now beginning to experience the HG slide (we all know about that one) so she could really use your prayers.

I will try to check in more often as the last weeks of this pregnancy count down! Love to all! And a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Vacation in Flagstaff

And so, our vacation to Flagstaff! Here it is, in all its glory.

This is truly the vacation that almost didn't happen. Originally it was supposed to be in July, which was when I was good and sick, and it was rescheduled for September (still too sick).... then October (I got sick again, this time with a cold) and finally November. This truly was an event that required some muscle to have happen.

Despite living in the valley for over eight years, I have never been to Flagstaff (heresy!). So it was fun finally to see the town that everyone around here uses as a vacation spot, and in which half of our church's kids attend college.

This was a very short vacation, based on (1) cost, (2) time, and (3), the fact that we were using half of the time not for vacation, but for a trip back to Sedona for Thanksgiving with family. So our vacation was just three days - most of which was spent either holing up in our hotel room watching the food channel, because it was so cold, or trying to get kids ready to go out. Moms of many, you amaze me! Some days we weren't even leaving our room till 11 a.m., after dealing with all the getting up routines. Those of you who are up and out the door by seven really astound me.

Here are some of the things we did!

Snow and visiting the lumberjack at NAU:

Driving by a beautiful Catholic church in downtown Flagstaff. The monument outside (see below) reads, "Joseph's Carpenter Shop: In Memory to All Children Who Have Died Unborn, Known Only to God." How precious! I'm not sure if that is referring to all miscarriages and abortions, or to early miscarriages only, but it was still wonderful. I loved it.

Our hotel room:

Driving out of town to see Lake Mary. Never found Lake Mary (the GPS led us to some obscure ranger station that had nothing to do with a lake), but found the next best thing - more snow! DS played while the Chublet spent time being cute:

Our traditional trip stop at Dairy Queen, where DS talked non-stop to the girls at the front counter (mostly telling them about the Apollo 11 launch) and DH and I enjoyed pumpkin pie blizzards (they seriously need to up the pumpkin and spices in their recipe):

Inventing new uses for hotel ironing boards - improvisatory bed rails!

A quick stop at the Flagstaff mall:

We also stopped at the Little America hotel - it has lots of childhood memories for DH, and it's also where our church held its women's retreat a few weeks ago. I didn't make it to the retreat, but at least I drove by the hotel where it was held! That's got to count for something, right???

Then, in Sedona.....

Fun at our favorite place, Tlaquepaque:

At the labyrinth, which DS chose to do by running madly up and down the path:

(Note: On this trip, I had only two things to wear that were warm enough - a pair of maternity jeans which were, alas, too big - and thus were determined to obey the call of gravity rather than my attempts to make them obey societal rules of modesty, and a pair of overalls which I have dubbed the ugliest maternity pants in the universe. Below you will see the second of those modeled, as I work on my beached whale impression (these are so going to Goodwill!):

By Oak Creek:

Feeding the ducks at our favorite resort:

Other things we did:

- The Lowell Observatory  - big hit, too bad we got there when it was closing - next time!

- Babies to Kids toy store - big hit!

- Local park to play

- Beaver Street Brewery for lunch - delicious gluten-free pizza!!

- Downtown Flagstaff

For Thanksgiving with the family, I tried my hand at a few gluten-free items - pumpkin pie (big success!), sweet potato casserole (also a success), and stuffing (err.... ask me next year after I've had a chance to try again).

So, all in all, a good trip. Not as fun as last year, and it didn't help that I was feeling tired, nauseated, out of sorts, and battling an overwhelming desire to go home and scrub the baseboards with bleach (nesting urge continues unabated). But we got through it and had fun. Hopefully next year's trip will be a little less hectic!

This morning blog post was brought to you courtesy of a small boy - who shall remain unnamed - who slept in until ten o'clock. By which means I know that we have serious work to do on our bedtimes around here!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Laborious Thoughts, or What Have I Gotten Myself Into Now?

The clock is ticking! The countdown is on.... we are roughly two months out from baby's arrival, give or take a few weeks. And as that unknown date approaches, I find myself - once again! - intimidated by the thought of going through childbirth again.

Really, I thought I'd gotten past all of that. After all, I've had two unmedicated homebirths. While they were tough and extremely challenging, they were also empowering, transformational, and life-changing. I'm very happy with them.

But.... they were also hard. And the thought of doing it again is quite intimidating.

Of course, it doesn't help that - aside from the usual Bradley exercises - I haven't really done any preparation for this birth. We briefly considered taking childbirth classes, but the astronomical cost (class + babysitting = big bucks) was a bit off-putting. And my free time seems to have dwindled to near-zero, so the thought of listening to a 30-40 minute Hypnobirthing or Hypnobabies tape every night - when I am dead tired and just wanting SLEEP - is less than motivating.

So there it is! I find myself fearing this upcoming birth. Which I shouldn't, of course. My body was made to do this, I can trust God to get me through it, and I have an amazing birth team to support me - DH, one of our doulas from last time, and a great valley midwife.

And I know I'll get through it. It's just the challenge of doing so!

One thing that I know will help is the fact that we have a great doula. The difference between my first and second births, doula-wise, was amazing. With our first birth, we had a lovely woman as doula, but she was just too hands-off for what I needed. I'm the wimpy kind who needs coaching and hand-holding through each and every contraction (though I didn't know that at the time). With my second birth, my two doulas were absolutely awesome (they're the hand-holding type!), and it was so much better. I had no idea what a difference a doula could make!! Absolutely phenomenal.

And of course, it always helps to have done it before. At least there's no fear of the unknown.

So... Does anyone out there have any suggestions for labor prep? Advice, suggestions, stern lectures, etc.? If so, bring it on!

In the meantime, I'll just get back to my chanting - "I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!" (Or maybe not, since I can't stand that children's book. Must find new mantra.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanksgiving, The Realistic Version

*FOODMENT* If you are actively dealing with NVP, just skip this entry entirely!

This past week, while we were vacationing in Flagstaff (and when it was mostly too cold to be outside), we got the chance to watch one of our favorite TV chefs whip up a Thanksgiving meal. With proper advance preparation, he promised that his plan would result in only four hours in the kitchen on Thanksgiving to produce the feast.

With all respect (and really, I love this guy), that "quick and easy" meal would have had me in the kitchen at least twice that time, and most of it in either near-tears or extreme irritability.

And really - four hours? While trying to entertain family and guests, watch two children (one of whom will doubtless be in a state of uber-hyperactivity) and gestate another, and deal with fatigue from having been up several times the previous night due to one cause or another??

Definitely asking for a meltdown. And lost tempers. And at least one fight with the hubs, which always makes an event so happy and meaningful.

And so, without further ado, I present my set of tips for a quick-and-easy non-meltdown-producing Thanksgiving, fitted especially for the family with young children.

Tip #1:

Make it a potluck. One person cooking for the whole gathering is an enormous burden. Spread the love. And hopefully get some other poor sucker to make the turkey and dressing. (I'm on my ninth married Thanksgiving and have yet to cook a Thanksgiving turkey.)

Tip #2:

Use disposable serving/baking dishes.

This one will have people up in arms, due to either the environment or degradation of cultural ideals. But there are several times in life when disposable is just plain good. (Other times are while moving, while dealing with NVP, or in the immediate postpartum.)

If you want to take the heresy to the next level, use disposable plates and cutlery. I won't say whether or not I've done this, but if I had done this, it might have been absolutely wonderful.

Don't get me wrong - I love proper serving dishes. But there are some times in life when ideals go out the window. I'm discovering that living with small children is one of those times. 

Tip #3:

The biggest one of all:

Don't cook.

On Thanksgiving, at least! Advance cooking rules. This really saves my sanity, especially as there is no better way to provoke bad behavior in hyper five-year-olds than to spend four hours in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning rushing about and saying "Don't bother mommy right now! I need to cook!"

All mothers in the audience are already wincing and nodding in agreement. 

Here are a few links. Make in advance, then freeze!:

For dessert:

Libby's Pumpkin Pie - The recipe says not to freeze; I have no idea why, because it worked just fine - just thaw for 8 hours in the fridge.

Pumpkin Cheesecake


Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes - Make up to three days in advance and refrigerate, or freeze.

Cranberry Sauce - Make several days in advance. Just a note, I have never had any luck with this recipe as written - it comes out very runny. If you like a good stiff cranberry sauce, add the berries at the beginning (instead of after boiling the syrup) and boil considerably longer than the recipe calls for.

Sweet Potato Casserole - Freeze, thaw overnight in fridge, then cook covered to heat (will take longer than called for) and uncovered to brown.  

There are tons of other make-ahead recipes; just Google it! You get the picture. When my sister-in-law hosted Thanksgiving, she even made the turkey and dressing the day before - and it was great.

Tip #4:

Just a side note: When life gets really stressful, don't feel badly about cheating (storebought) or bowing out. When I had my round of true hyperemesis, we ended up bowing completely out of both Thanksgiving and Christmas because I couldn't even handle food (let alone eat it). That's okay. Last year when some friends of ours were recovering from the swine flu over Thanksgiving, they bought their dinner from the grocery store. That's okay. And when there are pregnancies, illnesses, new babies, and young children in the house, sometimes the easiest way out is the best. Period! Don't feel badly when shortcuts are necessary.

Several years ago, I hosted Thanksgiving for DH's side of the family. We split the cooking among three families, so each family only had to make a few things. We all used disposable baking/serving dishes. I made all of my dishes in advance. I won't say whether or not we used disposable plates/cups/cutlery.

It was the nicest Thanksgiving I've ever had, and the one in which there was the least irritability ("Ack! I've got three pots boiling over on the stove! Don't bother me!!!"), the least despair ("We've eaten and now we have a good solid two hours of dishes to do. Kill me now.") and the most family time spent together celebrating the holiday. It was wonderful.

Enough heresy for the day. I'll check in soon - maybe even report in on our vacation, which actually did finally happen!! Love to all!