Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

As of last Sunday, we have officially completed our 8-week birth class.  Here is a picture of the crew:  7 couples giving birth at 5 different hospitals in the Chicago area + one doula/birth instructor.

If you are looking for a birth class, I’d highly recommend it.  The class was held at Be By Baby by a birth instructor named Natalie Evans.  She also does the same class at Bloom Yoga on a different day of the week.  We loved Natalie and could imagine she would be a great doula as well.  She was extremely knowledgeable about the history of birth and the birthing process.  We also felt that while she definitely has a bent toward the more natural choices in terms of birth and parenting, that she gave a really fair and sensitive view of both sides of things.  We were worried that 8 classes might begin to feel repetitive … how much could there be to go other in terms of breathing??  But in the end each class had some really good stuff and we looked forward to it every week … especially since it was some of the only time we had carved-out to focus on our coming baby.

Part of what we appreciated was that she doesn’t teach a specific method, like the Bradley method.  Instead she focuses on basic education about the birth process and then incorporates different breathing techniques, comfort and relaxation measures into it.  That way it’s up to the couple to figure out what makes them most comfortable.  She’s also been a doula for just over 100 births, so she had some GREAT birth stories about things like the husband who ran out for a cheeseburger and will never be forgiven, the woman who developed a chapstick-centered ritual or a labor that took 5 days (yikes!).

We loved Natalie and we also really appreciated meeting other first-time parents.  It was fun to watch each of our stomachs grow over the two months we were together.  The group got along really well and while at the beginning conversation was very muted during breaks, by the end Natalie couldn’t get us back into the room on time to finish the second half of class.  We appreciated how many different walks of life everyone came from and yet we had so much in common at this point in life.  I could imagine setting up future play dates with many of the families and was a little sad that we won’t be together longer to continue to develop some of those friendships.

But yay!  We’re officially approved to give birth now that we’ve completed class and we can’t wait.  The first baby of the class is due March 9th, so we’ll see how that goes …


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Sometimes this guy just makes me laugh.

Sometimes he lets me photograph my laughter.

Sometimes all it takes is a bag of flour being strolled around our apartment for “practice.”  And yes, he made sure the bag of flour was securely harnessed and buckled before take-off.

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Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day didn’t feel a whole lot different than most other days this year.  We got back from Lake Geneva just in time to have our friends Jarrett and Catherine over for lunch and mentoring.  Then we headed out the door to our fifth birth class where we learned about some good comfort measures and partner work for labor, as well as all about what happens in a C-section.  After that we had the night to ourselves but had no desire to head back out for something fancy.  So I brought just a little bit of romantic cheer to our night with some fun appetizers to share together so we could have a cozy night in.

Baked Brie with Mixed Berry Preserves in Puff Pastry

St. Louis Toasted Ravioli with Marinara

And chocolate covered strawberries

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Dear Quino,

(That’s your daddy’s newest nickname for you and I think it’s one that might actually follow you out of my uterus.  So far all his nicknames for you are in Spanish, as I’m pretty sure he hasn’t quite yet reasoned out that you won’t actually be 50% latin.  It’s becoming quite clear that he was paying even LESS attention than I was in Ms. Mueller’s 8th grade biology class because I have at least pieced together that one part English/Check + one part German/Welsh/Scottish does not equal Latin genes.  I guess we’ll let him wait til you arrive to figure it out.)

With your impending arrival around the corner, things have started to change a little around our house.  First, it’s messier and dirtier but that’s just because your momma is getting more and more lazy and wiped out the bigger you grow.  Hopefully that is not a permanent change.  Conversations are changing and words like “stroller frame” and “hotslings” and brands like “Chicco” have made an entrance into their vocabulary.  There is the addition of a little bassinet in their second bedroom that looks strangely out of place so far.  There is also this new collection of books starting to stack up, the likes of which this home has never had any prior use for:

(Of course your mom and dad haven’t quite got around to reading any of them just yet.  They’re not that prepared.  But they figure the books are there, ready for the first emergency.)

Though your mom and dad haven’t spent a ton of time figuring out what to do with you once you enter this world, they are spending a fair amount of time getting ready to help you enter as smoothly and easily as possible.  They just got back from an orientation meeting for parents who plan to use the Alternative Birthing Center.  They just might have been standing in the very room you will first breathe air in.  They looked at the bed and the tub and the birthing balls … and the room where we’ll spend our first few hours together as a family.

On Sundays they spend time at birthing class with a really great instructor/doula who impresses them with having way more information about birth than they ever thought possible.  So far they’ve learned a lot of things that they want to avoid: back labor, pro domo labor, labor that lasts from Thursday until Monday (there was someone experiencing this just last week), episiotomy, and more.  But they’ve also learned some really great techniques for helping you change position and ways that your dad plans to help your mom get through this.  (A lot of the ways your dad can help involve lots of arm strength so those nightly push-ups he started on in December are going to come in handy!)  Mostly they are hoping that your birth is a fun experience, but are starting to be ready for you to come either way!

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29 Weeks

Here’s looking at 29 weeks, one day (last Thursday).  And for those who haven’t yet learned pregnancy-week speak, which was always very confusing to me and involved too much math before I gave up, this means 7 months, 1 week down and just 11 weeks to go.  Well, truly who knows because Toro could decide to appear 7 days early or 10 days late or anywhere in between.  But it sure would be fun to land his due date and be an April Fool’s Day Baby.  Somehow I think it will end up fitting his personality just fine.

Besides meaning that I have officially entered my third trimester, this means that doctor’s visits are now coming up every two weeks.  Gotta make sure this little guy stays healthy the quicker he grows and the more he pulls at my body.  I had my last visit on Thursday of this week and talked to the doctor about concerns from everything to not making it to the hospital in time once I go into labor (given my mom’s birthing history) to that “normal,” first-time 18 hour labor.  I feel very unprepared for either end of the spectrum at this point.

Third trimester means that Nate and I have added birthing classes to the weekly schedule.  We’re doing an 8 or 9 week course with about 7 other couples that focuses on providing us information on all different types of laboring techniques.  Our due date is right in the middle range of all the couples there.  I found the first week semi-fascinating as we learned about the history of birth in the U.S. and all the crazy, scary things that people used to do as a part of routine birth treatment.  Makes me wonder if we are completely off in left field still, but mostly I’m glad that I at least missed the phase in birthing history where “Twilight Sleep” was considered the norm.

Listening to the other couples left me semi-overwhelmed with all we have to do, research, and think about.  I think these couples must do nothing but work and baby research.  But they did get Nate & I thinking about diapering options (seriously, who has time for a “Cloth Diapering Options” class??) enough to decide what route we want to take with that.  And last week we invested in our first piece of baby furniture: a $35 Eddie Bauer rocking bassinet from craigslist.

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Pregnancy Post

I haven’t written much on this blog about our pregnancy. Well at least I don’t think I’ve mentioned it much but it’s possible I’m becoming one of those people who is oblivious to any conversation that doesn’t involve pregnancy. I hope not, but the bigger my stomach gets and the harder and more frequent Toro’s kicks get, the more it becomes the focus.

Truly, at times I feel that we haven’t been able to concentrate on this pregnancy enough. Nate and I have thrown ourselves into so many changes, unknowns, and lots of extra work that most days we don’t get to sit and spend a minute talking about baby names or dreaming about a year from now or watching him kick. The fact that I’ve had a relatively easy pregnancy has been a God-send with all the other balls we are juggling, yet sometimes I feel a little bad that we aren’t able to focus on this unique time as much as I’d like.

So far pregnancy has included many of the clichés: at just two weeks pregnant I started waking up 4-5 times a night to go to the bathroom (didn’t even know the cause!). At about 7 weeks I started to wake up with a funny feeling in my tummy and feel the need to eat a continual stream of bland carbohydrates until noon. Chicken and other meat became highly unpalatable except on rare occasions and if I pulled pork chops out of the freezer in the morning to make Rosemary Brined Pork Chops for dinner, that was a sure-fire guarantee that by nightfall I wouldn’t be able to even think about pork chops for a month. At the beginning all I could think about was spicy, Mexican food. I couldn’t get enough of it and Nate was in heaven with all of the tacos, gorditas, and chimichangas coming out of our kitchen.

One weekend I discovered that the Slurpee was the ultimate solution to an upset stomach. We quickly identified two 7-11s within 3 blocks of our house for frequent Slurpee runs. Fortunately for all of the people against Red Dye Number 40 or whatever it is, I didn’t discover this until shortly before my stomach settled down for the most part. At somewhere around 14 weeks I spent 5 days thinking about nothing but Lay’s barbeque potato chips … despite my life-long hatred of anything barbeque flavored. After five days I finally gave in and ate the whole big bag of chips in two days. Now the idea of barbeque chips as delicious seems like it came from someone else’s brain.

I’ve always had a sensitive nose, and being pregnant didn’t help that at all. Entering my work building felt like torture as I have to walk through the line of smokers right outside the door without vomiting from the smell. I couldn’t use the A/C in my car because it just smelled wrong to me. And my poor husband, who I have always given positive reinforcement for good breath and dental hygiene, was suddenly pushed away at the slightest hint of toothpaste smell. It turns out that mint does NOT cure every type of upset stomach. Fortunately my first trimester symptoms were light. I experienced some of what pregnant women go through without being on the horrifying end of the spectrum, and for that I am very glad!

Now I’m in the second trimester (nearing the beginning of the third) and that comes with a whole other set of symptoms. Figuring out what to wear to work has some days become a 15-minute process of putting a shirt or pair of pants on, throwing it off, and scrambling through 5 more wardrobe changes for something that works on this changing body. Leggings became my new best friend before the maternity pants started fitting. For the longest time the most frequent comment I got was, “You’re not showing at all. You’re really small.” That has now subsided. I believe it was right at the halfway mark, week 20, when Nate officially announced that my stomach was sticking out further than anything else, ahem, on my profile.

Standing and walking for long periods has been the biggest challenge of this trimester … and that’s just set to get worse. I’ve had the energy to just keep going, pushing, getting as much done as possible in a day but my body isn’t cooperating. A stiff pelvis and achy legs and back are always the result of a full day. My sister got to experience this firsthand when she came for Thanksgiving and by the end of the weekend I was hobbling around like an old woman. She also got to experience the decreased bladder of her sister who was once famous for “holding it” for 3 days on a trip to the jungle. There was one painful walk from the restaurant where a stop off at McDonalds for the bathroom was a necessity and made me find my pregnant friend completely normal when she told me she had peed in a cup a few days prior because it had gotten “that bad.”

My newest symptom as of the last two weeks is that I’ve become a “snorer.” Yes, apparently this happens to 25% of pregnant women as all of the tendons and ligaments in their body relax. It’s been bad enough that Nate has bought me breathe right strips and spent a number of nights in the other bedroom. Please someone tell me that this goes away when I give birth. Oh and please someone also tell me that the slight waddle in my walk that I am beginning to develop will also go away after I give birth. I mean, do I need to relearn to walk when this is over?

Other than my own symptomatology, there are the responses of people around you. I have been asked if I’m getting fat and told that I’m glowing. I’ve been chastised for wearing heels and for walking too fast or carrying a box. No one cares that I’ve looked this stuff up and I’m supposed to be wearing 1.5 -2 inch heels as opposed to flats or high heels … or that I’m allowed to lift up to 30 lbs. I’ve been told I’m carrying a boy by everyone and their mother for reasons such as craving salt instead of sweets or what my stomach looks like or the fact that I’m looking good and therefore I do not have a little girl inside sucking out all my beauty. Turns out they were all right as Baby Toro is decidedly male, but I’m still not giving credence to the reasoning.

Possibly one of the more surprising aspects of pregnancy has been my husband. Who knew that he would become an absolute fount of knowledge about what is going on with my body? I’m constantly saying, “Why is this happening …” or “Can I do this …” and he most often has the answer that he just read in his “Dad” book or heard on a Pea in the Podcast. Oh yes, this podcast exists and it is perfect for my husband who loves podcasts of any kind. And it’s perfect for me because he has saved me a lot of time doing my own research. That hasn’t come without side effects, such as a sense of overprotectiveness that we’ve had to negotiate. Everything from being banned from bleu cheese to insisting I hold his arm while walking to constant admonitions to get up slowly or sit down and relax. I appreciate his willingness to be as involved as he can.

I meant to take a monthly picture to catalogue my growing body but it turns out I haven’t taken one since 20 weeks and I’m not just shy of 26 weeks. I’ll try to add one soon to this post. Watching my body grow and change has been a constant challenge. Last night I dreamed I had gained 11 pounds in one night. I woke with this thought in my head several times throughout the night, telling myself it was just a dream and I couldn’t possibly have gained 11 pounds … only to fall back into sleep and jump back awake thinking , “I gained 11 pounds last night.” When I finally woke, I weighed myself to ease my mind and found out I’d lost a pound since yesterday. Clearly packing on pounds has been one of the harder adjustments!

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Today, Thursday, marks the halfway point til we meet Baby Panama.  Can’t believe this little one has been in me that long already … but I have a sneaking suspicion that the final 20 weeks are going to move by a lot slower than the first 20.  Something about me carrying 1.5 times my regular body weight or something.  Here’s what this baby is doing to me at the halfway point:

Just for commemorative purposes, let’s just make sure I remember what I looked like in July when Baby Panama was possibly just becoming.  Looking at these two photos side by side makes me want to cry a little.  Sometimes I like to cry a little bit just because.  Now, I don’t generally say, “Hey!  Somebody take a profile of me that highlights my stomach area,” so I don’t have a great shot.  But I think this photo is adequate for demonstration purposes.

I cry.

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