Sunday, April 6, 2014

Farewell, our dear companion





Bo Bo

Dippy Doo

Stinky Doo


Ol' One Eye


Our one-eyed Finnish Spitz. Our beloved dog.  
We said goodbye to you today.

. . . .

When I was growing up we had a family dog - a Cocker Spaniel named Dusty. Dusty was with me during junior high, high school and college. That's a lot of time, and a lot of life, to share with a pet. When it came time to put Dusty to sleep I couldn't help but think of all of the things I had been through as a teenager and young adult, and how he had been there for all of it. All of the times I had spoken to him privately, sharing my thoughts, fears, dreams. Think of all the drama, all of the stuff that happens when you're 13 to 23 years old. Dusty was there for all of it. When he had to leave us, it broke my heart. My childhood was officially over.  And when I went home that day, to grieve the loss of Dusty, Toivo was the one waiting there for me.

. . . .

I didn't want Toivo originally. I was living with a boyfriend at the time and one day he announced that he was bringing home the dog that his grandparents had gotten as a puppy the previous year. (They didn't want the dog anymore because the dog would periodically take off, taking the bike path along the highway all the way into town.) I was indignant, almost hostile. Dusty was nearing the end of his life.  I knew that we were putting him down soon.  I didn't want another dog. I had a dog at my parent's house that was using that part of my heart. I wasn't about to replace him prematurely with some prone-to-running-away farm dog.

My former boyfriend brought Toivo home anyway. I looked at the ragged looking dog and told him pointedly, "You are not my dog."  Though I really didn't want anything to do with him, I also wasn't going to abide the mess that he was.  Within the first three days of Toivo living with us I had him neutered and thoroughly de-ticked. Honestly, I had no idea so many ticks could live on a dog. I spent a couple of days sweeping up piles of dead ticks. [shudder] I was hesitant to like Toivo, and I think he knew it as he kept his distance.

Shortly after Toivo's arrival, the time came to put Dusty down. I came home from the vet, eyes red and swollen. I sat down on the couch and started to cry again. Elbows on knees, head in my hands. Tears flowing from guilt and sadness.  Toivo was sitting quietly on the other side of the room looking at me. After a few seconds he stood up, crossed the room, jumped up onto the couch next to me, laid down and put his head in my lap. I cried harder. I put my hand on his head.  "Ok," I told him, "You are my dog."

. . . .

Toivo struggled with epilepsy as long as I had him.  The last couple of years were challenging as his seizures got more frequent, but our vet found a good combination of medications to control them.  In the last two years I had almost forgotten Toivo had seizures, they were so infrequent.  But there is one thing that medication simply cannot cure: aging.  This last year Toivo started to decline, as old dogs tend to do.  His hearing started to fade and at the end it was practically gone.  His eyesight (in his one working eye) wasn't as good as it used to be.  His endurance when we were out for a walk declined.  And in this last month his hind legs started to fail him.  He would try to get up from his dog bed and his back legs would give out.  He'd try to get up on the tile floor in the kitchen and couldn't.  He'd stumble when he'd walk and have a terrible time trying to negotiate the four stairs in the back yard.  He fell a few times.

I talked to our vet who prescribed one medication.  When that didn't help, she prescribed another.  That one didn't help either.  We talked on the phone a couple of weeks ago.  She said she could take x-rays and MRIs and take my money chasing a definitive cause, but that at the end of the day it wouldn't matter.  Whatever the diagnostic tests revealed the course of treatment would have been the same.  One of the two types of medications should have brought him relief if there was relief to be had.  To put it simply: there was nothing we could do to fix him this time.

. . . .

If there was anything Toivo had too much of, it was wanderlust.  (The running away from the farm should have put me on alert.)  He ran away at least a half dozen times during his life.

A couple times he took off at the cabin.  Once in the winter. I had to chase him through the woods in knee-deep snow, where he'd stay just far enough ahead of me to taunt me.  I lost sight of him at one point and only found him because I heard his bark a few properties over as he met up with another dog.  Another time he got loose at the cabin it was a rainy, dreary day.  That time my brother-in-law found him by chance.  Toivo's tether (we had learned to tie him up but he had escaped) had gotten wrapped around a log in the woods.  But he had sat there quietly, giving no indication of his whereabouts while we scoured through the trees.  I can't believe that Paul found him to this day.

On numerous occasions when we were in Hawaii he'd sneak out of the yard when we weren't watching.  Or he'd sneak off while we let him watch us play bocce in the big grassy area beyond our fence.  He'd disappear through the holey chain link fence into the unkempt Naval property to the rear of our house.  We'd run around calling his name and just when we would be ready to give up for awhile, we'd find him.  Usually nose-deep in a hole, chasing after something that liked to burrow.

He escaped through an unlatched gate three times here in California.  I've chronicled those adventures in my blog already.  Those were the scariest, as he was losing his hearing and sight and we live very close to a highway.  The first time he got out his bark saved him (again).  The second time?  Thank you microchip and animal control.  The third time?  Dumb luck.  The absolute dumbest of luck.  We had no business finding him that last time.  But once again, Fate decided that Toivo belonged with us and we found our way back to each other.

That last adventure seemed to end Toivo's desire to stray.  He seemed content these last 12 months to stay home.  There were a couple of times the gate got left open, but he didn't take off.  Maybe he didn't even realize the gate was open.  Maybe he did, but he knew he was getting to old for that crap.  Maybe he finally decided that whatever was out there in the great, wide world wasn't what he wanted anymore.

. . . .

If Dusty was the dog of my youth, Toivo was the dog of my transition into adulthood.  He was there for my first adult relationship.  He was there for the breakup.  (I got "custody" of him the breakup.  Best thing ever.)  He was there as I struggled with finding myself in the aftermath.  He was there when I found my strength and confidence.  He was there when I met my future husband.  He was there as I changed jobs.  As I finished law school.  As I passed the Bar.  As I moved from place to place.  We lived in St. Paul in an apartment, in Minneapolis with Grandpa, and Oklahoma, Hawaii and California with Zac.  He had been on long road trips to and from Oklahoma, from Oklahoma to Nebraska, and the great road trip of 2008 that had us drive from MN to NE to Seattle, WA via Yellowstone National Park.  He had flown from Seattle to Hawaii to San Diego.  Toivo was there when Grandpa had his heart attack, when I got married, when I left my friends and family to move to Hawaii.  He was there when I struggled with infertility and then when I had a baby.  He saw me through all of it.

. . . .

A number of years ago Toivo snagged one of his toenails on Grandpa Clare's carpet.  It was nearly ripped off.  It looked like it could be nothing but incredibly painful, but the only thing that had alerted me to Toivo's condition was his limp.  No whimper, no sound to indicate discomfort.  I took him to the vet to have it taken care of.  When we got to the vet he laid down on the floor to wait patiently for our turn.  A little girl, maybe five years old, came up and started petting Toivo's head.  Though Toivo was one of the most mild-mannered dogs I had ever met, you never know what animals will do when they are injured or hurt.  "Honey," I told her, "I don't think you should pet him.  He hurt his paw and sometimes doggies act funny when they're hurt."  The little girl continued to pet him and then gave Toivo a big hug around the neck.  "He won't hurt me," she said.  Toivo looked up at me with (what I projected to be) a look of kindly resignation.  No, he wasn't going to hurt her.  Toivo never ceased to amaze me with his patience when around children.

When the vet saw Toivo's toenail she was astounded that he wasn't more agitated, more distressed.  She said that he clearly must be in pain, but he wasn't displaying it the way most dogs would.

It's with that experience in mind that I've watched Toivo deteriorate these last weeks.  Was he in pain?  I couldn't tell.  He didn't whimper when you pet him, but he fell regularly when he tried to stand.  He must have had a few bruises under all the fur.  He still had his appetite, but his bones were becoming more and more evident as he lost his muscle mass.  He still had his personality, but he was a little more tired than usual.  But even though his body was failing his personality was still there, clear as day.  He was still Tovio. 

. . . .

We had hoped that we would get a definite sign of when we needed to put Toivo to sleep.  We never got it.  I picked Saturday because Zac would be able to be there with me.  Friday night I sat on the floor next to Toivo, laying in his bed, and said all the things I wanted to say.  Zac comforted me and I finally pulled myself away to go to bed.  After all, I had to get up in three hours to feed our son.  I got myself ready for bed and noticed that Zac hadn't come to the bedroom.  I went to the living room and there he was, sitting cross-legged on the floor next to Toivo like I had been.  Tears rolling down his face.  It suddenly dawned on me that as much as this story started out as a story about girl and her dog, it had become a story about the three of us more than seven years ago.  This was Zac's dog too.  I had been so wrapped up in my own grief that I hadn't taken the time to consider Zac's loss. Zac hadn't had a pet since he was a young boy back in Nebraska.  But about seven and half years ago he gained a dog because the dog was part of a package deal: If Zac wanted me, he was going to get Toivo too. And so the three of us became a family.  Zac's affection for Toivo was always evident, even though Toivo sometimes drove him crazy.  Zac was the one who always brushed the dogs.  He would tell you it's because he couldn't stand their shedding in the house.  But I could always hear Zac talking to Toivo, laughing.  And every brushing ended with a hearty belly scratch and a Milkbone treat.

I sat down next to Zac.  We sat there, crying, scratching Toivo behind the ears.  Saying goodbye.

. . . .

I've had guilt over these last 10 weeks of Toivo's life.  More often than not when he came over to get pet, I had an armful of baby and no hand to spare.  He'd bark that needed to go outside, but I'd be in the middle of nursing the baby and couldn't get up.  I felt like I was neglecting him.  Perhaps the only good thing about knowing when your pet is going to pass is it allows you plan your last days together. Toivo got a few pieces of steak with each meal this week.  He got copious amounts of carrots, asparagus and broccoli, his favorites.  He always had a rawhide to chew on if he wanted it.  He got a lot of affection.  Even the weather played nice, giving Toivo a week full of the chilly evenings that enjoyed so much.  He'd lay outside by the back door, curled up, dozing until we would call him in for bed.  It was a good last week.

. . . .

The words were few as we said our final goodbye to him.  As he drifted away.

You're a good boy, Toivo.  

You're a good boy.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Settling in to a new normal

While I didn't have those overwhelming maternal feelings right off the bat, it didn't take long for me to fall totally and utterly in love with Archer.  I would find myself staring at him, completely enchanted with his tiny features and sleepy demeanor.  As he was born early Sunday morning, the hospital told us we were welcome to stay until sometime on Tuesday.  Zac and I talked about it.  All things considered, I felt good and Archer was healthy.  Staying in the hospital for another 24 hours wasn't going to speed up my healing or Archer's development, so we decided to leave a day early.  If I was going to be sleep deprived, I wanted to be sleep deprived at home where I could actually sleep when I had the time.  Simply, Zac and I were more relaxed at home.  It was quieter and we could move at our own pace.  Besides, we figured it was time to jump in to the deep end of the pool.  Time to figure out this parenting thing.  The hospital isn't real life - home is.

The first four weeks of Archer's life were a blur.  I know I've talked about living life two to three hours at a time, but it's hard to convey how disorienting that is.  You can't think of anything that is supposed to happen later that day, or tomorrow, or next week.  You're just moving from one feeding to the next, with naps where you can get them.  I had trouble breastfeeding for the first three weeks (a future blog post) and during that time most of my life was consumed with pumping breast milk, prepping and feeding a bottle to Archer, burping him, changing his diaper and then washing the bottle and pumping equipment.  (My hands have never been so dry in my life, as they are in hot soapy water every two hours and I constantly forget to put hand lotion on.)  Zac would help by giving Archer his bottle, burping him and changing his diaper, but even working together the whole process could take 30-45 minutes.  And as soon as we would finish we would look at the clock and realize that we would have to start all over again in about 180 minutes.

Zac was able to take leave to be home with me for 10 days following Archer's birth.  Knowing what I know now, I am so incredibly thankful that Zac was at a command where he was able to be there for the birth and for the first few days of Archer's life.  I cannot imagine how other military wives have a baby (especially their first baby) while their husband is deployed.  I know that often times they have family available to support them, but it seems like there is something important about going through that initial struggle together. Being sleep deprived together, being clueless together, trying to figure out the different cries together, supporting one another.  One person comforting and tending to the baby while the other person simply relaxes for a few minutes.  I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that I love my husband even more than I did five weeks ago.  The way he has been there for me, for our son, and the way that he and I have worked together as a team has made our marriage even stronger than it was.

While Zac was able to be there for the first 10 days, he had to leave us on day 11.  Zac was required to attend a school a couple of hours north of our house for two and a half weeks.  Zac was distressed and sad about leaving us, but my parents had arrived a couple days before so at least he didn't feel the guilt of leaving us alone.  As Zac was getting ready to leave he admitted that he was sad that he was going to miss out on the next few weeks, knowing that Archer was going to change even in that short period of time.  He also didn't like leaving me while I was still having trouble with breastfeeding, knowing that I was feeling disappointed, guilty and sad about the struggles.  (Again - another post.)   I promised him that Archer and I would be fine.  We were, thanks in no small part to my folks.  My parents were wonderful, as I knew they would be.  They were patient and understanding and helped in all sorts of way, big and small.  My Dad had to go back to MN after a few days, but my Mom was able to stay for a week and a half.  It meant a lot that my parents were able to come out and support me, Zac and Archer. I am so fortunate to have parents that have the time and means to fly half-way across the country to help.  I love that my parents are helpful, but not hovering.  They supply advice and wisdom when asked, or they dispense it at judicious, pertinent times without coming off as preachy or patronizing.  They understand that Zac and I need to find our own way, figure out how our family is going to work.  Their presence was a huge help.

Mom left on a Sunday and I had until Friday afternoon until Zac got home to try being a single-mother.  Zac is going to be deploying at some point later this year, so I figured it was as good a time as any to practice.  After all, hopefully by the fall we will have some sort of routine and Archer will be eight or nine months old and I will be getting larger chunks of sleep.  If I could be a single parent while getting two hours of sleep at a time, I should be able to handle it down the road when I'm getting six, maybe even seven. 

Overall the time alone with Archer was a success.  Luckily I didn't have anywhere to be that week.  No appointments, meetings or other obligations.  It allowed me to be flexible with napping, feeding, dressing and bathing.  (For both Archer and me.)  The evenings were a little tough as Archer would have a bit of a "witching hour" sometime between 6:00 and 8:00pm.  He'd be fussier than the rest of the day, refusing to be consoled unless he was being held and I was moving.  He was fed, dry and not over- or under-dressed.  He was just unhappy.  If I held him and paced around the house, he was crabby, but not crying.  If I tried to set him down he'd start to scream.  There was one night that I had to walk and bounce and walk and bounce and walk and bounce for 90 minutes before he finally fell asleep.  That was a rough experience, and it reinforced to me how lucky I was to have Zac around to help out most of the time.  Sometimes you simply need to tag someone else in, like you're professional wrestlers.  Ok, I've gotten my butt kicked long enough - it's your turn.

Archer and I survived the few days together.  Dare I say, we even thrived.  Each day I was able to get us out of the house for a brief time, whether it was to run to the post office or pick up some items at Target.  Despite our small victories, I was delighted when Zac got home from school on Friday.  I was able to show Zac that I successfully took care of myself and the baby in his absence, which gave him a sense of relief knowing that he hadn't abandoned us to suffer, alone.  Of course, Zac was happy to be home with me and his son.  I don't think Zac put Archer down for the first 48 hours.  It was nice to have my parenting partner back and the three of us spent that weekend simply hanging around the house, spending time together.

That weekend there was one moment where the three of us were laying on the floor, talking and playing, and I was able to mentally take a picture of how happy we were.  Our life is so good.  Even when we're sleep deprived, even when we don't get to have the same flexibility of schedule that we used to have, even when there are times apart, our life is beyond good.  We're a happy little family, us three.  So very happy.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Let the adventures in parenthood begin

At some point this blog became 95% about my journey through infertility.  I didn't intend for that to happen but it was the subject that motivated me the most to write.  Now that Archer has arrived, it seems likely that much of my blog will now be reflecting on my new adventures through parenthood.  Certainly the first four weeks of Archer's life have been all consuming of my time and emotional capital.  I haven't had any time to write a blog entry because my life is currently being lived in 30-180 minute increments.  Living on a 24-hour clock, never getting more than two hours of sleep at a time, makes the days run together.  I can't quite tell if I feel like I've been a mother forever, or if I feel like it's flown by.  And, truthfully, I still have moments where I look at Archer and think, "I wonder when his parents are coming to pick him up."

So, how did we get here?  What's our birth story?  (That's what most people want to know.)  Archer was due on January 17th.  At my appointment on the 16th, the OB (not my usual doctor, who was on a week's vacation) announced that he thought I should get scheduled to be induced the following Saturday.  That caused me all sorts of stress that subsequent week as I prayed to go in to labor naturally.  I watched each day pass on the calendar with increasing dread.  I know plenty of women who have been induced, but I wanted to avoid it if I could.  On Thursday I called my OB (back from vacation) and expressed my concerns and anxiety about the Saturday appointment.  My OB explained that I was still in the window of having a normal, term pregnancy and that if I wasn't ready to be induced on Saturday, then I shouldn't be induced.  (I need to reiterate how much I adore my OB - he is exactly the type of doctor that I wish everyone could have.  If we were to have a second child I would need to have him as my OB again because I don't think anyone else could measure up.)  He suggested I keep the Saturday appointment at Labor and Delivery (L&D) as more of a "check-up" just to see where I was at.

Saturday morning Zac and I packed the car as if we were going to the hospital to have a baby, just in case.  On the way in to L&D I told Zac that I needed to pee.  Now.  I barely made it into a nearby bathroom and almost peed all over myself.  The urge to pee wasn't new - I was 41 weeks pregnant, after all.  I just figured it was only inevitable that at some point I'd wet my pants.  While I was a bit mortified and exasperated, I didn't think much of it.  At the appointment the doctor examined me and announced that I hadn't dilated any more than the last two appointments.  (Still sitting at 1cm.)  He suggested that we go home and wait until Monday or Tuesday to come back in to see where I was at, but needed to check a couple more things before he let us leave.  He pulled out the ultrasound machine and looked around my belly to check on amniotic fluid.  His brow furrowed as he searched and searched.  He looked up at us and said, "You really have no amniotic fluid left.  You haven't experienced or noticed any leaking?"  Zac looked at me and said, "Are you sure that wasn't your water breaking in the bathroom?"  Turns out, it was.  I don't know what I expected my water breaking to be like, but I was expecting something more than the sudden urge to pee.  (And it certainly wasn't like anything I've ever seen on "General Hospital" where the breaking of the waters usually is accompanied by a natural disaster, vehicular collision or at a remote cabin in the woods with no medical personnel.)  The doctor, who had a moment earlier said that we might be going home, shrugged and said, "Well, looks like, 'Welcome to Labor and Delivery'."

Our appointment was at 9:00am on Saturday.  Archer arrived at 5:23am the following morning.  I can't complain about the 20 hours that it took for him to arrive.  I was able to be up and walking around for most of Saturday.  My biggest goal was to stay out of that darn hospital bed as long as possible.  Even when the evening rolled around and I had to be tethered to some monitors at all times, the 10-foot cords allowed me the ability to stand near my bed, pace a little, do a few squats and sway.  Zac and I used these early evening hours to finally decide on a name for our baby.  (Nothing like the pressure of the last minute to force you to make a decision.)  They continued to gently increase my Pitocin each hour or so and the contractions settled into a nice, steady increase in frequency and intensity.  Finally as we got closer to midnight, Zac fell asleep on the fold out chair in the room.  I dozed a little, but finally around 12:30am I decided it was time for an epidural.  I had made it to six centimeters and the pain, while not unbearable, was tough to get through.  I had heard that the intensity level of contractions doesn't increase much after about the five centimeter mark, but that the increased frequency is what made the perception of pain feel overwhelming.  I decided I didn't need to be a hero.  I was tired.  I hadn't slept well the night before our appointment - the anxiety of the potential inducement had kept me tossing and turning.  Now it was approaching 1:00am and I knew we still had a ways to go.  I wanted some rest, to put myself in the best position possible to do the hard work that was coming.

When the epidural team came in, Zac was a bit startled.  Granted, that was mostly because he had been asleep and suddenly an additional three to five people were coming in and out of the room.  He helped me breathe through the contractions so I could be as still as possible for the insertion of the epidural.  The procedure was successful and, as my lower half numbed, Zac and I went back to "sleep" as we waited until I hit the magic 10 centimeters.  The epidural guys did a great job.  I was numb, but could still feel when I was having a contraction and still had some control over my muscles.  Basically the pain was gone, but I had enough sensation to have an idea of what was going on.

A little after 4:00am the nurse visited to check on my progress.  She announced, "Oh my, you're ready to go."  That surprised me.  I assumed that the epidural would slow my progress down, but I had continued to dilate about a centimeter an hour while I had slept.  I was equally pleased to know that the end of this part of the process was almost done but I couldn't help but be a little nervous at how the pushing was going to go.  I had heard horror stories of women pushing forever, only to end up exhausted and needing a C-section.  I also knew there were still plenty of opportunities for complications.  Hemorrhaging, the cord around the baby's neck, etc.  But I was ready.  I spent almost my entire pregnancy working out to keep my body strong.  I had experienced a charmed pregnancy and first part of the labor process.  I was cautiously optimistic that perhaps my good fortune would continue.

My conversation with the examining nurse had roused Zac from his slumber (bless his heart, that man can sleep like the dead anywhere at anytime) and I could tell that he was nervous when he realized that it was time to have a baby.  The nurse called for the doctor and while we waited she showed Zac how he was going to help me push by holding my legs.  The nurse explained how she wanted me to breathe and push.  It sounded simple enough.  Big inhale, push, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, quick exhale, quick inhale, push, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, quick inhale, quick exhale, push, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, big exhale.  Wait for another contraction.  The nurse cautioned Zac and I that the pushing part sometimes takes quite awhile.  She said that it wasn't uncommon to need to push for an hour or so.  Somehow in the back of my head I thought, "An hour, eh?  Doubt it."

We practiced pushing twice.  That is, the nurse and Zac each grabbed a leg and I pushed with all my might. After the second push the nurse said, surprised and a little alarmed, "Um, okay.  Stop pushing.  The baby is right there and we need the doctor to get in here."  Quickly the doctor and a host of supporting personnel flooded the room.  The doctor got set up and everyone took their ready positions.  The nurse and Zac grabbed my legs and the doctor gave me the okay to resume pushing.  One push cycle.  A few breaths.  Another push cycle.  A few breaths.  "One more should do it," the doctor assured me.

Big inhale

Push, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. . . .


Baby crying.

A boy.

Our boy.


I looked at Zac and he looked at me.  Our son was here.  We said nothing.  I think we were too stunned to speak.

They placed our baby on my belly and wiped him down as he cried.  There was no worrisome pause, waiting for the baby to cry.  He came out, loudly announcing his arrival.  He looked amazing.  Pink.  Healthy.  Strong.  

After a few minutes of staring at him, they took Archer over to the warming crib next to me and started all of the assessments and procedures that needed to happen.  Zac went with the baby, taking photos and helping the nurse as needed.  I lay there, overwhelmed.  I had expected to feel a flood of maternal love upon seeing our baby.  I expected to feel something primal, something instinctual that would link me to this new little life that was equal parts me and my husband.  But I didn't.  I felt . . . scared.  I was scared that we wouldn't know what to do.  I was scared that we had made the wrong decision by pursing fertility treatments.  Maybe we weren't supposed to be parents.  Maybe we wouldn't enjoy being parents and end up resenting our son.  I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that my life as I had known it was over.  I instantly felt ashamed that I felt that way.  What was wrong with me?  Why didn't I hear the call of maternal love and connection to my son immediately?  Wasn't I supposed to be ecstatic and crying tears of joy?  

When they brought Archer back I couldn't take my eyes off him.  He was staring up at me, with giant, dark eyes. He seemed incredibly calm for someone who had just been squeezed through a birth canal.  If I hadn't immediately feel a maternal tug inside of me upon his birth, I certainly felt sympathy for the little guy at that moment.  All three of us, Zac, Archer and me, we were all dazed and confused.  We were all new at this.  New dad.  New mom.  New person.  New family.  None of us knew how this family thing was going to work.

"But I promise you this, little guy," I thought to myself, "your dad and I will try our best.  So I guess we've got that."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hello world

Boy, oh boy.  Look what the stork delivered on Sunday, the 26th.


Stories to come, once we're in a routine and more rested.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fortune Cookie Madness

Admission:  I have gone out for Chinese food two times in the last three days.  (Of course that's only if you count Panda Express as Chinese Food.)  This was the fortune I received on Thursday:

I laughed out loud when I read this one and promptly emailed this photo to Zac.  (Which resulted in Zac laughing as well.)  My labors?  Yeah, I've been trying to get those to start for a week now.  But it was nice to know that when they did happen I'd bear sweet fruit, which I read to mean a healthy baby.

Today (Saturday) is one day past my due date.  I've been growing impatient for the aforementioned "labors" to kick in.  Impatient, frustrated and antsy.  So when I got this fortune this evening, all I could do was laugh again:

Seriously?  Is this some sort of coordinated fortune cookie joke?  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Waiting, waiting

I'm less than a week away from my due date.  I had an appointment last week with my OB to see where things stood.  He was happy that things were moving along and he didn't think we would make it to my due date.  Looking at the statement now, I wish he hadn't said that.  I've spent the last four or five days hoping that labor would kick into a higher gear but it hasn't happened.  As a result, I'm kind of at a loss as to what I should do with myself.  I've already put myself on maternity leave from my job.  If I would have known I had almost another full week of work availability, I would have kept on earning a paycheck.  However, I didn't want to be half-way through an assignment only to have the baby and then stress out about finishing before the end of the month.  So without employment to consume my time, I've been using the last few days to "nest" which hasn't really been compelled by some sort of instinctual motivation but instead by simple boredom.  

Today I made scones for breakfast because at least that killed some time.  The house is prepared.  The baby's room is ready.  The Christmas decorations are back in storage.  (Save a few "winter" decorations that I like to have out that remind me of the time of year.)  The laundry is washed, folded and put away.  The bathrooms are clean.  The kitchen is tidied and mopped.  And I don't need to vacuum again.  In the evenings I've been working on a cross-stitch piece that has been an on-and-off project for a couple of years.  I finally cleaned, starched and blocked some crocheted snowflakes that have been sitting around.  I sewed some liners for the baskets underneath the diaper changing table.  I rearranged things in the guest room, knowing that we will have a parade of company starting in a few weeks.  I went through my clothes (and had Zac do the same) to purge things to be donated or simply thrown away.  

I'm actually at the point where I could attempt to organize or do something with the boxes of photographs I have stacked in the closet, but there really isn't any level of boredom in this mortal realm that could motivate me to tackle that undesirable project.  Maybe I'll just keep on working on the cross-stitch.

As each day passes and I get more and more impatient.  Last night a friend asked me if I was nervous about the process of having the baby.  No, not nervous.  Sure, I've had absurd anxiety dreams the last few nights (e.g. baby is born and for some reason Zac and I forget to feed the baby for 24 hours) but during the day I don't really think about the labor and delivery.  In this case perhaps ignorance is bliss.  You don't know what you don't know.  I have no reason to fear labor and delivery because I have no idea what it's like.  And even if this was my second or third child, each delivery has the potential to be an entirely different experience.  I simply want to come through the process with a healthy baby and a healthy me.  How we get there isn't really important to me.  I'm just ready to get there.

I wonder what else I can bake/cook this morning . . .

Friday, January 3, 2014

It's a new year

Back when I was in K-12, my parents, sister and I regularly went to our cabin to celebrate the New Year.  Some years our aunt, uncle and cousins came with.  Some years we asked a friend from school to come with instead.  Every year there was some junk food and snacks, card games, cold weather, and some possibly illegal sparklers and/or fireworks. The cabin was heated by a old Ben Franklin wood burning stove and often in the evenings we would sit around it for awhile, being cozy and warm.  I remember being at the cabin for New Year's Eve, 1989, and saying aloud, "1990 doesn't even sound like a year."  It was strange to my ear,  "The 1990s."  This is probably because my entire conscious life had been in the 1980s.  The recognition of the changing of a decade was new to me.  There have been a few decades that have passed since 1989 - heck, we even moved into a new century - but I feel like this New Year will be a bigger change than most that have come before.  My due date is in about two weeks.  Babies tend to show up when they're good and ready, but in the end there is no way we're completing first month of 2014 without becoming parents.  It is hard to wrap my mind around.

As I put together our Christmas Cards this year I spent time going through our photos and our calendar, reminding myself of what all we did these past 12 months.  Of course, just like the last three years, the wall calendar in the kitchen reflected the voluminous medical appointments associated with our journey towards parenthood.  We had done an IUI in January 2013.  It wasn't successful.  We spent the first part of the year trying to figure out when we were going to stop trying, how many more IUIs we were willing to attempt.  I started acupuncture around that time, my Hail Mary, my "at least I tried just about everything."  In April, Megan and Paul came to visit.  Right after they left, we tried another IUI.  This one seemed to work.  We waited, not trying to spend too much time wondering if we'd make it past the six-week mark.  Well, we're past the 36-week mark at this point.

On one hand I feel like I've been pregnant forever.  I remember those first weeks and months:
The first few ultrasounds, and steeling myself for potentially bad news each time but trying to be hopeful.  
Going camping, laying in a tent in the woods, wondering when (if?) the morning sickness would kick in.  
One of my girlfriends figuring it out early on when I waived off a glass of wine, and my inability (or desire) to lie to her.  
Zac coming home and telling me that he had told his boss about the pregnancy in order to make sure he was available as possible for doctor's appointments.  
Attending a family wedding over Memorial Day weekend, wondering if we'd be able to keep our secret - not wanting to distract from the focus of the wedding and not wanting to tell our families just yet.

The first few months were spent slowly disseminating the information about the pregnancy to maybe one or two people at a time, depending on the circumstance.  Finally we were able to tell our families, and announce it on Facebook.  The flood of love and support was overwhelming and I settled into being pregnant.  Weeks pass.  Months.  A full three-quarters of a year.  And now here we are, really any day from bringing this baby into the world.  A lot of life happens in nine (really 10) months - Zac and I went places and did things all while my body changed and the baby grew.  At this point I feel I have forgotten what is like to NOT be pregnant.

On the other hand, how can it be that it's already time to have the baby?  It went so quickly.  All of those events that happened on the calendar are still fresh in my mind.  Why does time seem to elapse more rapidly with each year?  That seems to be my adult life in a nutshell - I blink and months go by.  I can only imagine that will continue once the baby arrives, when every day brings something new and amazing.

I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2014.  May you know prosperity and peace in your lives and, most importantly, joy.  I wish you all the most joy that your hearts can hold and then some.