Friday, January 28, 2011

The Boa Constrictor of Pregnancy

Okay, I'm not trying to be negative here, but I feel like there is a boa constrictor tightening itself around my body. I've up-sized my bra twice already, and while it can contain my preggo chest, it still makes me feel unable to breathe--especially while sitting down. To make matters worse, I am itchy. Really itchy. In places inappropriate to scratch in public. Or in my office. I've tried lotion and all that jazz to no avail. Now, I know it could be worse. But it is pretty uncomfortable.

On top of that, the fatigue remains strong--I'm still waiting for that "burst of energy" you all promised me in the second trimester! The other morning, I woke up early to go to spinning class and went to put in my contacts...only to find my contact case empty. After much searching, I found I had forgotten to take them out the night before and they were still in my eyes. This morning, I put on an outfit and went to the bathroom to find that the bra I was wearing was not...appropriate...for the outfit, so I went into my room to change bras. When I went to put my shirt back on over the new bra, I couldn't find it anywhere. I was looking all around, frustrated. "I *just* took it off--where could it have gone?!" Only to find Michael laughing at me, "Um...isn't it around your waist?"

Why yes, yes it is.

Despite all of this, I really am feeling pretty positive (and connected) these days. Michael and I had plans with friends (both together and separately) every night this week that we weren't on duty, and I've had some great conversations with kids in our dorm as well. This weekend, we're making a three-course gourmet (ha!) dinner for the group that won the scavenger hunt. I made it to the gym twice this week, and I got some extra exercise in the form of shoveling my car out of a snowbank.

And, of course--there's little drummer boy. I get so excited every time I feel a single little drum beat from inside the great pumpkin of my belly, and I swear I can't wait for them to get stronger and more frequent. But for now, I just like knowing baby carrot is there.

This week, I've also been grateful for:
  • Michael going to get groceries during a busy dorm duty night
  • a night with two of my favorite (adult) campus residents
  • waking up to a clean house!
  • a snow day that allowed me to sleep in and NOT be on duty
  • having the Florida trip to look forward to, as well as a likely trip to visit Tiff et al later in February
I'm even feeling pretty balanced. During the snow day, I got in admissions work, cleaning, a bath and some reading. It wasn't AS productive as it should have been work-wise, and it wasn't AS relaxed as I might have wished...but it was good. And I felt content at the end of the day.

I've been really engaged by the reading in my Brain Rules for Baby book too...maybe I'll share some of the findings with you next time!

Meanwhile, I've got to go home for lunch and take off this bra so I can breathe!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The World's Tiniest Drummer--playing from inside a pumpkin!

I've heard a lot of descriptions for the first feelings of baby moving inside of you: a fish swimming in your stomach, butterflies fluttering, bubbles rising through tomato sauce...and I've been anxiously awaiting any and all of those reassuring feelings. I'll concentrate on my stomach, feeling around, sending mental messages to baby to just MOVE already. I'd think I felt something, but then when I'd focus on it, it wouldn't reappear.

But over the last few days, I've been over the moon to find I have a tiny little DRUMMER in my tummy. I swear--it feels like someone beating on the world's tiniest drum--from the inside of a pumpkin. Go ahead, picture it. Cute, huh?

That's right. My baby's cute. And musically gifted. Though he seems to have inherited my lack of rhythm.

Still, I'm celebrating. And I've become one of those women who constantly feel their bump. I just feel like I have a little buddy in there. Without realizing it, I'll find myself softly feeling myself up, just saying hi there, little buddy.

So I went to spin class this morning (after waking at a ridiculous 5:15 am!) and found that my stomach seems to have grown substantially in the last two weeks. As I was furiously pumping away, my knees were sort of knocking into my stomach. (sorry, baby). Maybe if I raise the seat higher? Maybe there's a reason you don't see too many preggo women spinning. But it is such a good workout!


They were calling for two feet of snow tomorrow, then changed it to 6-10 inches. We were expecting a snow day, so we rescheduled our interviews at work and I packed up a bag full of applications to review--the first of the season! I was irrationally excited at the thought of how much work I could get done from home on a snow day...and after sleeping in to boot! Sadly, they've changed the forecast to 4-6 inches, which probably means we'll only have a delay. In which case, our office still opens at 8 am. Sigh. For some reason, there just isn't the same excitement about trying to get all that work done at the office. 

Can't you just imagine the conversation where I try to explain to my boss how much more productive I could be if I could sleep in and work from home? But I swear it's true!

Well, if I'm going to have to get up on time, I might as well head to bed now. The 5.5 hours of sleep I got last night didn't quite do it for me...

'night, y'all.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Navel Gazing

So my words for 2011 are positivity, connection (connected-ness?), and balance. Only I keep forgetting the balance part. I'm doing fairly well on the connection front...I've been filling my calendar with friend dates and making myself more available to connect with students in the dorm (even when they ask to make cookies in my oven at 11:30 pm...opportunity!). I'm definitely making progress on the positivity front, because I've started noting the things I'm grateful for when I'm feeling particularly negative.

But balance. Hmm. Not so much.

On Friday, we had a snow day, and I wound up being on duty in the dorm. I had a plan that I would get admissions work done but also clean the house. While I was on duty. And then I decided to go to a leisurely brunch. And then watch a DVR show. You know--in the name of balance.

Before I knew it, my dorm shift was over and I was somehow exhausted. So I took a nap.

Moral of the story: doing nothing all day is just as un-balanced (and unhealthy) as trying to do everything in a day.

I did, however, manage to just turn the day around by spending hours last night turning our wedding logo into a baby logo. I know, I's kind of disgusting to have a baby logo. Let's not call it that. But I had gotten this baby journal on etsy and there's a photo opening on the front, and it seemed a bit odd to put the ultrasound picture on there. So I thought this would be a fun little project. Maybe I can use it on the announcement or something later. Anyway, I kept some of the elements that represented our engagement ring and the lace from my wedding dress...but I replaced some of the more frilly elements with baby jungle animals, owls, monsters, and robots. I had to add a little blanket for the baby to sit on so he didn't blend into the background. But I have to say, I'm pretty excited about how it came out. yay.

I didn't sleep well last night, so I lingered in bed until after ten trying to feel rested. It didn't work. So I decided to take a bath. I was supposed to go to the gym with a friend, but it didn't work out and I didn't feel motivated enough to go by myself. Eventually, Michael and I decided to go to dinner and a movie. Only, the first two restaurants we tried had a long wait and by the time we finished dinner, we had missed the movie. So it was 8:30 and, other than eating, I had again gotten nothing done today. Michael suggested we do the movie tomorrow instead. Which was a nice idea. Except now I had put off the admissions work, the cleaning, the grocery shopping, etc etc until tomorrow.

So I asked him to help me clean for an hour when we got home. Neither of us wanted to do it, but we did! And we got most of the house done in that hour. And then I printed out the picture for the baby journal and updated the journal. So at least I got something done today. I'm feeling a little more balanced, I guess.

Meanwhile, I keep trying to connect with baby telepathically. And by massaging my stomach. I'm trying to get him to kick. He hasn't kicked yet--at least not that I can tell--and I'm about to start week 21. References online say you start to feel it between 16 and 22 weeks. And I'm sure I'll regret saying so later, when he's constantly kicking me, but I just can't wait! It will be very reassuring to feel him moving and kicking and to know it means he's generally okay in there.

This is normal, right? To be this paranoid with your first pregnancy?

While laying in the bath today, I laid both hands on my stomach, feeling around for the baby, seeing if I could make him move. And then I took my hands away and stared at my belly with great concentration. I talked to the baby. I meditated. I opened one eye in case I could see something I couldn't feel.

Who would have ever imagined such interest in watching my own stomach? Talk about navel gazing...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A practice in positivity

Today hasn't been the best day. At lunch, I ate a huge bowl of thai leftovers, which was delicious. Then I had one bite that tasted funny and immediately threw up everything I ate today. A lot. I guess something disagreed with my pregnant self. Then I had to rush back to work to give an interview. Awesome.

We were supposed to be headed to Florida early tomorrow morning to visit my parents, and we were REALLY excited to get out of town. Partly because life has been just a little stressful and busy lately, but mostly because we really miss them. And maybe a little because Michael is going through fishing withdrawal right now.

So I freaked out this afternoon when I went to check in for my flight and the reservation said we weren't flying out until Saturday. What?!

Turns out they had already decided to cancel the flight tomorrow morning and just rebooked us for a day later...without telling us. Awesome. I called and they agreed to put us on a later flight tomorrow morning.

But then that one got canceled.

To skip to the end of the story, we couldn't fly out until Saturday and since we were coming back Sunday that just didn't seem worth it. Luckily, we were able to get a full refund and cancel the hotel and rental car without penalty.

Nonetheless, I'm feeling pretty sad and grumpy and irritable. So I guess it's a good time to practice that positivity I was talking about. Here goes.

I'm grateful that:

  • The maintenance crew figured out how to turn the boiler up so we get hot showers again!
  • I had a really good interview this morning
  • We found out our flights got cancelled before we got up early and rushed to pack and get to the airport
  • And we got a refund
  • And we *might* be able to reschedule
  • the girls in the dorm got the head of school to help them form the name of our dorm with their bodies. For the scavenger hunt. =)
  • I guess now we have a free weekend in which to get caught up on housework and laundry and maybe even some reading and fun
  • Maybe we'll have a snow day tomorrow, in which case I can stay home without using the personal day I was going to use up
  • I also won't have to waste the 1.5 lbs of blueberries in my fridge that were probably going to go bad before I got back and got a chance to eat them.
  • There's a really yummy strawberry shortcake dessert with my name on it
  • Michael's going to let me go to bed early after doing the 10:00 check ins.
You know, I actually do feel a little better right now. Crazy, huh?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Plan for Positivity

I'm a complainer. I am. I'm not proud of it, but it's true. It stems from a need for validation, I'm pretty sure, and it's one of the things I'd most like to change about myself, which is one of the reasons I've chosen "positive" as one of the new year's resolution guiding adjectives for the year.

It's hard for me not to complain. Sometimes it feels like everything is going wrong and the world is not stacked in my favor. Sometimes it's hard to comprehend how infuriating and incompetent others can be. Or how thoughtless. Sometimes I want to feel a sense of accomplishment in the sense that I want others to think, "Holy crap. How can she even DO all of that?!" And that's hard if I don't constantly tell them how much I've gotten done--and in the face of such hard conditions! It's also just such an easy, fail-safe conversation starter. It's so easy to connect with someone over a shared frustration, isn't it?

I don't think I can quit cold turkey, but here's what I'm trying to do...when I find myself in that overwhelmed/complaining/negativity cycle of thought, I'm going to try to stop and list some things that I'm grateful for...something positive to focus on. And I'm going to ask Michael to help me with this. To his credit, he has tried to help me see and break the cycle in the past, but it's not usually effective. He'll point out that I totally can handle it all or that it's not as bad as I think or that I need to look at one step at a time. But once I'm in that place, I can't really hear any of that and I don't want to. I want sympathy. And I want him to offer to take something off of my plate! A detailed account of all of the things that I'm doing really well wouldn't hurt either. In any case, the last time Michael tried to talk sense into me during one of my complaining and distressed monologues, I told him he didn't understand and walked away with tears in my eyes, frustrated because he had asked what was wrong and then when I told him, he acted like I was overreacting.

Which I probably was. But that's not the point.

So I'm thinking that it might help if he just listened, and then changed the subject by asking me what the best part of my day was. Supposedly this kind of conscious thought-changing is supposed to be very effective. I've been trying it on my own, and when I remember to do it, it works pretty well.

Today, I was frustrated about a situation with a colleague, and worried that the upcoming snowstorm would spoil our travel plans to Florida Friday morning, and overwhelmed with work, and sooo tired from two days of only getting 4-5  hours of sleep.

But I was also grateful for a super hot shower this morning, and the opportunity for a mid-day nap, and the fact that the girls are still really excited about the dorm scavenger hunt and have even gotten one of the less connected students to feel engaged with it. And I'm also grateful that my husband ends every single one of his emails to me with a heart. Like this: <3. Grocery list, bill reminder, a response to me nagging him about matter what it is, there's a heart at the end. It's so reliable that I've sometimes wondered if it's in his signature. But I imagine he's not sending those little hearts out to all of his email recipients. But he takes the time to add it. Every time.

And I'm grateful for that two-second gesture among the more mundane daily communication of our marriage. Beyond that, I'm especially grateful that he sometimes takes the time to write a witty reply to an email. My husband is wicked funny like that. Check out this email exchange from before Christmas:

me: (apropos of nothing) I am totally getting you a viking hat for Christmas
him: I already have a Viking hat. If you're talking about the Minnesota Vikings, then I'd prefer a Patriots one. =)  <3
me: This one is a KNIT hat to keep you warm tho. One you could actually wear out of the house. Hahahaha. Almost as good as the moose hat I found. You clearly need a new hat.
him: Coolness. Got a pic? <3
him:  You must not want me to have any confidence left. <3
me: lol. Doesn’t it say a lot that I think you can pull it off? C’mon, which one do you want? I told kate she’s getting the moose mittens for xmas.
Dear Abby,

My wife thinks my head would look better with a knit moose and/or knit horns attached. Should I be worried?

Worried In Weston
See, that's what I'm talking about right there. Tell me that doesn't make you smile. In fact, I had to share with Kate, who responded in kind:

Dear Worried in Weston,

As long as she is not attempting to knit them herself using hair collected from her gaggle of house cats, you should be okay.

I think I'd like to write a whole book of collected emails in this format. That's how inspired I am by the people in my life.

Next time I'm feeling like complaining, maybe I'll just write a little one of those. 

Followed, of course, by a note of thanks to something I'm grateful for.

Monday, January 17, 2011


We were at a friend's house over New Year's Eve weekend this year, playing games and generally being merry. One of our friends had one of those boxes of conversation starter questions and pulled out this question:

"What event would you really like to receive an invitation to?"

My answer: A screening of Wheel of Fortune!
Michael's answer: My future daughter's wedding.



After I decided on my guiding words for 2011, I started asking Michael at the end of the night what the best part of his day had been as I reflected on mine.

My answer the first night: I got a lot done at work today.
Michael's answer: Coming home to you.


I'm recording these gems so you can remind me of them in 9 months when I'm sleep deprived and irritable and forget how wonderful my husband is, okay?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

You're NOT supposed to EAT your baby!

Okay, so last year's new year resolution was doing really well until it trailed off in August. Here's what happened: I found out I was preggo. (After taking THREE pregnancy tests...I never imagined I'd be scrutinizing the definitiveness of a thin, barely there pink line on a urine soaked stick.) Anyway, once I convinced myself it was really, truly true, being pregnant was pretty much all I could think about, all the time. But I couldn't mention it in a blog until I hit the "safety" mark of getting through the first trimester. Plus, I was nauseous all the time. Mostly due to smelling dead rats everywhere. (I'm still unsure if these scents were real or fabricated by the hormones.)

So I stopped writing. (Though you'll be happy to know that I DID write the essay to enter in the Real Simple essay contest. Sadly, it seems I didn't win. Who judges these things, anyway?)

But now I'm 20 weeks in, my baby is approximately the size (and shape?) of a banana (according to my weekly email blast from and it's a new year. So it's time for a new resolution of sorts. You'll remember that last year I chose a different focus for each month, hoping that I would make some healthy new habits while enjoying some adventures along the way. I focused on de-cluttering and organizing, connecting and relationships, learning Danish, exercise and meditation, using less technology and spending that time in better ways, boundaries and balance, cooking, and creating. By far, the most successful was de-cluttering and organizing, and I've managed to maintain some of that throughout the year. (I read my magazines and then pass them along to friends now instead of keeping them stacked up for 4 years, mocking me!) Learning Danish was moderately successful, and I was able to actually understand some Danish on our trip to Denmark. Exercise worked fairly well for most of the year--I averaged about 3 times a week, including one weekly spin class and one weekly body pump class for several months. In fact, I've somehow become one of those women I hate! You know the type--you walk into the gym and see a (smug) pregnant lady running full speed on the treadmill or stair climber, hardly sweating? Well, okay. That's not quite me. I'm not smug. And though I make it through spin class, sometimes I leave in the middle for a bathroom break. (I'm pregnant--I have to pee a lot!) Actually, I feel kind of like a middle schooler, dawdling in the bathroom before returning begrudgingly to math class. And usually, when the instructor tells us to increase the resistance, I move the knob only marginally.

But I do still exercise. And will continue to, now that I've recently read Brain Rules for Baby and learned how important it is for my future baby's IQ and happiness.

Cooking was a joke--I made 6 meals (5 were pretty good) during the month and the only thing I've cooked since has been grilled cheese and pasta. (I worry for the health and nutrition of my future child.)

But the biggest joke was probably boundaries, balance, and meditation. Major fail here, on pretty much all accounts. I did manage a 5 day silent meditation retreat which was some kind of wonderful, and left me blissfully zen peaceful for a full two weeks following the retreat. But my mindfulness bell has sat largely unused in my meditation corner.

As it turns out, Brain Rules has convinced me that my chronic, moderate level of stress is very unhealthy for our baby and has long-term ramifications for our child, including IQ, impulse control, and ability to soothe himself. Along with a whole bunch of other things. So I'm determined to really work on that this year.

In any case, although I actually got a lot out of last year's month-long adventures, I plan to try a different tactic this year. See, I read this article in Oprah about all of these women who were trying to achieve happiness through a particular goal. One women thought she'd be happy if she could have a baby. Another wanted to start her own business. Etc., etc. You see where this is going, right? Each one accomplished her goal and was totally miserable.

Enter life coach, who shares a strategy for finding happiness in your present life and working towards even more of it in the future. Life coach tells us that rather than focusing on a specific goal, we should envision ourselves achieving that goal and find a few adjectives to describe the way it makes us feel...validated, energized, smart? Then we should look at those aspects of our current life and job that make us feel that way and work towards focusing on other ways to achieve those feelings.

She explained it better, but I'm telling you, it was very compelling.

So I've decided that this year, I'll choose three adjectives to focus on all year. I'll highlight how they apply to my present day life, and I'll use them to guide decisions, and try to move towards them whenever possible. This is important, so it took me a long time to settle on the words.


The adjectives I want to use to describe myself in 2011 are...positive, connected, and balanced. I tend to focus on the negative until I get caught in a vicious cycle that I can't see my way out of. So this year, every time I get trapped in that negativity, I'm going to try to list as many things as possible that are positive about my life. If I'm having a booked-solid, horrible week, I will focus on the night out with my girlfriend or the time Michael let me go to sleep early.

I know I feel most energized and motivated and happy when I am engaged with work or other people. So I'm going to try to stop screening as many calls and multitasking and laying on the couch hoping for a little nap while on duty in the dorm. Instead, I'm going to leave my door open, make dinner plans with friends, and turn the television off and play board games with my husband.

Balanced is going to be the hardest, but also maybe the most crucial guiding word for the year. I'm going to be a mother soon! Technically, I suppose I already am. I need to establish some foundation of sanity which is strikingly lacking in my life. It looks likely that after my maternity leave, I'll be back to work either 4 days a week or full time. And still dorm parenting. And since I sometimes lose my mind and let my head spin a la the exorcist, followed by a meltdown complete with sobbing, chocolate, and hibernating...

Well, I need to work on balance. I need to bring back some meditation. And stick to the exercise routine. And learn to leave work at work. And learn the definition of "good enough." Maybe even eat a little healthier? I need to sleep. And let the little things go. I need to find joy between the chunks of impatience. I need to prioritize the meaningful aspects of life over the illusion of perfectionism.

So those are my goals for this year. Perhaps lofty in the face of a newborn and the first months of mommyhood. But worth aiming for.

So let's end this post with something positive to focus on. Imagine the scene: I'm in my sister's living room, squatting among the toys and pack and plays, playing with my 10 month old nephew, Cooper, when my 3-year-old nephew Greyson starts climbing on me in such a way that could possibly qualify as reckless endangerment of my developing fetus. So I tell him how we have to be careful of the growing baby. And he asks where the baby is. And I tell him it's in my belly.

And he holds his hand out under my chin and demands, "SPIT IT OUT, EM. You are NOT supposed to SWALLOW your baby!"


I've gotta write that one in the baby journal.