Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Week 38 Update

The home stretch!
Still feeling really good which is pretty amazing and I know I am lucky to still be feeling good. The most trouble I have at this point is sleeping comfortably through the night and since I know a full night's sleep is going to be missing from my life coming up soon I am ok with this symptom, especially since I can catnap. And catnap I do. Also I need to elevate my legs a lot in order to keep the blood flow to my toes, otherwise my legs swell and it's uncomfortable. 
We went to the doctor almost two weeks ago and had the final ultrasound done. The baby was being camera-shy (he/she gets that from me!) so when the technician toggled to the 3-D format to get us a nice facial picture the baby was not cooperating, hands in mouth the whole time. So no 3-D picture but we can wait seeing as we are going to meet the little one soon enough. I was surprised to hear from the doctor that the estimated weight of the baby then was only a little over 5 pounds, even though that is totally normal at the week count we were at I thought the baby would be bigger especially taking into consideration that at the end of March another doctor (they rotate in this practice so we see different ones for the various appointments) commented that the baby would be big. But it just goes to show that you can't take too much stock in a one-off comment. Since the baby is only about 5 pounds I do hope we make it to/near the due date (June 10th) so the baby packs on a few more pounds and is a nice healthy weight upon arrival.
This was taken on Mother's Day before we heading out for a walk. Loving that one pair of my shorts fit and some of my favorite comfy t-shirts still fit over my ever growing bump.

At this point, and hopefully I am not jinxing myself, I am pleasantly surprised with how well my body has handled being pregnant. I've heard that chronic pain and pregnancy can be a rather uncomfortable combination and I always just planned on it being a tough experience. I remember saying once to Chris that 'being pregnancy was going to be...' and as I said 'challenging' he said 'terrible' in context of my normal, everyday pain. October was definitely rough with throwing out my back and I still have this low, low back pain localized to the left side that acts up after cardio-walking but it's nothing that ice and my regular chiropractor appointments can't minimize. I know a huge reason why I have had success is due to my low stress work and because I get to work from home. It's crazy to think how things work out, all for a reason seeing as my forced career change from my previous work was a very hard blow to suffer. Looking back I know that job was way too demanding and stressful for someone with my pain situation and I know being pregnant and working that job would have resulted in a much different pregnancy for me. 
In terms of the master to-do list, things are looking good. I'm working on a mellow playlist to load onto Chris's iPod that we can play during labor and delivery. I was and still am on the fence as to what kind of music I want to listen to while in labor. I prefer faster-paced rock and metal for the most part but I'm not sure if I'll want to listen to that while dealing with labor. We are not very high-tech when it comes to devices so we both just have old iPod shuffles that can't handle more than one playlist. So my plan is to make a mellow playlist on Chris's shuffle and then if I have time a more rocking one on my iPod then bring both and see what I am in the mood for. The hospital bag is packed, as much as it can be and Chris even put it in his truck the other day. We'll need to throw some additional items in a tote when we are heading out but most everything is in the bag already. Chris installed the car seat and I threw together a basic diaper bag to leave in the trunk since we got a new one at the shower and hand-me-down, I figured might as well just have one in the trunk  at all times (for the first few months we are only going to have one vehicle that works to drive the baby around but in a way that makes things simpler because we know the baby will only be in that one car). Stuff around the condo and in the baby's room is pretty much done. I'll plan to do some more organizing if time allows but if not, no big deal.  I've been reading up on labor and delivery, as well as general infant care and I plan to read up on nursing as well. My thoughts on reading about the whole nursing thing are if I get to it I get to it but otherwise I'm much more of a hands-on learner so it's not until I actually have the baby that I will really learn and I know they will give me plenty of help and advice in the hospital.
Food-wise I feel like the bottomless pit, even if I don't feel particularly hungry I just want to eat and eat. Still not really having any cravings, a few weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night craving Gatorade. Now one would think this is because I'm not getting enough hydration, but I drink around 100 ounces of water a day, which is crazy. I think the need to quench my thirst may have to do with the whopping dose of thyroid hormone I am taking since I know it can cause dry mouth. I bought the powder mix of Gatorade and have been making batches of it and have gone through the majority of it in a few weeks. 
Baby J is pretty active in there, although I suspect he/she is running out of room. At this point I feel like we are bonding when he/she kicks me and I usually rub my belly where I can feel the baby kicking. It generally makes me laugh and reminds me to talk to the baby. We are almost finished reading 'The Phantom Tollbooth' and I might even have time to start the first Harry Potter before the big arrival. At this point I'm not really in a hurry to deliver, I'm still comfortable, the weather isn't too hot (yet) and I'm enjoying the quiet time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Baby J's Nursery

I was a little all over the place when it came to deciding the theme of the baby’s room. I love so many pop culture things that I wanted to put in the room that I couldn’t settle on one thing. Plus in terms of making blankets I knew I wouldn’t be able to find character fabric to coordinate with the characters that I wanted to paint on the walls. So ultimately the baby’s room is a mishmash of different characters, bright colors, animals, and DIY. The second bedroom in our condo was already painted a fun, bold blue-we both love the color blue and we aren’t finding out the gender so we decided to stick with it and add pops of lime green- which makes the color scheme that of Monsters, Inc. Babies R’Us actually has adorable Monsters, Inc.  nursery décor and had I known that going into decorating I might have just committed to one theme but it was too late for that by the time I saw what they had. With the blankets I stuck with the blue and lime green theme and went with various animals and geometric patterns. The characters we included in the room are Winnie the Pooh, Baby Muppets, and Baby Mario from the Super Mario video games. See what I mean about being all over the place?
                I wanted to do some sort of a wall mural in the nursery but knowing I’d be pretty pregnant by the time I actually did it I wanted to cut myself as much slack as possible. Even though I am successful at drawing cartoon characters I have never painted them on a wall. So I came up with what I thought was a pretty good idea of finding images online I wanted to use, tracing them onto transparencies and then renting an overhead projector to project the images onto the wall to trace. I really wanted to do Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, and Baby Princess Peach- I thought it was a nice way to tie in two things that Chris & I both love- I love Mario (plus my eBay Mario stuffed characters collection will be displayed in the nursery) and these characters appear in MarioKart, a racing game and Chris loves racecars (and some of his racecars will be displayed in the baby’s room). I planned to incorporate the character’s racecars as toys into the mural. I first focused on these characters- there weren’t tons of options to choose from online for images and they were all separate, so I picked three individual images for the characters and then scaled down Mario and Peach’s racecars to put next to them as toys, putting the overall design together myself. I couldn’t really find exactly what I wanted for Peach’s car so I ended up drawing it myself. After I got all the images onto transparencies I went to my local craft store and picked up all the paint I needed (on sale! Woohoo for planning ahead). Originally I was going to get wall paint in sample sizes from Lowe’s but Chris had the idea of using craft paint and I’m glad he did because the smell of real paint has bothered me throughout my entire pregnancy.
                As more time went by before the project was launched I realized there was no harm in finding images for my other favorite characters- the Muppets and since it’s for a baby’s room, the Muppet Babies.  I was strategic about picking the characters since I wanted the colors to match up with the Mario characters, both for continuity and also because I already bought the paint and figured it’d be nice to not have to buy an entire separate set of colors. Mario and Luigi are primarily green, blue, and red and Peach is blonde with pink clothes- which perfectly matches with three main Muppet characters- Kermit (green), Gonzo (blue with red), and Miss Piggy (pink clothes with blonde hair) unfortunately that meant that Fozzie Bear was left out. I was able to find a lot of images online for these three and I quickly selected an image of Kermit and Gonzo riding a bike together, and an image of Miss Piggy also riding a bike- I thought this coordinated with the racecar theme of the Mario characters. I traced these to transparencies and figured I’d just see how it went the day of the project as to whether I was going to do both murals on two separate walls.
                The day we rented the overhead projector we started by projecting the images on the wall, one grouping at a time (in the moment we decided what the heck let’s at least trace out both while we have the projector rented for the weekend, we could always just paint over it with blue if we decided to only do one mural). First we traces the outline only of the overall picture in chalk, then Chris painted within the chalk outline with primer. 

We opted to work exclusively on getting the outline of one set of characters with the transparencies in place (we taped it to the machine while working) even if we turned the machine off this ensured it would lie up while we were getting the outline on the wall.  So we waited for the primer to dry fully before I went back and did all of the outlining for the characters with black paint. 

After that was done, we repeated the process for the Mario characters.  Once the characters were fully outlined in black we were done with the overhead projector and then it was just a matter of coloring in the characters.  I took my time with this, doing the colors over several days. We love the way it came out and I am so happy we used the projector.

             Since we have a two bedroom condo and not a sprawling house, we have an in-one, out-one policy with furniture so if we bought all new furniture for the baby it would have meant getting rid of some of our furniture. I really didn’t want to part with my grandfather’s desk and book case so we decided to rework both pieces, the desk will be used as the changing table and the book case was updated from black to the lime green and will house mostly my books for now but the babies as well. 

Chris built a shelf to attach to the back of the desk and painted that lime green as well to give storage for wipes, diapers, lotions, etc. We ordered a changing table pad and he built a box for the pad to sit in so the height is more ergonomic for my back. 

We did splurge and get a pricey nursing glider in a durable, light blue fabric with a recliner which means we’ll be getting rid of Chris’s old beat-up recliner. Randomly on Ebay one night I found the cutouts to make Muppet Baby pillows, so I impulse-bought Baby Beaker and Baby Bunsen to stuff and sew.

 In terms of wall décor, we are sticking with some things that were already in the room like a framed puzzle we did of a hot air balloon festival and an original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie poster (fitting since I’ve already read the book to the baby). We also ordered a ‘Wookie the Chew’ print from artist James Hance who wrote and illustrated the book of the same name (which, sadly, is currently unavailable) the book is a mash-up of Winnie the Pooh and Star Wars (another favorite pop culture thing of ours).
We are waiting on our hand-me-down crib from my brother and sister-in-law which will go on the wall where the Mario characters are, I got some cute Monster's Inc. sheets and some lime green polka dot ones as well for it. And the crib mobile is Winnie the Pooh, to continue with our pop culture mash-up!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Planning ahead: Cooking

         Ok, so I have talked about planning ahead as much as I can with some of the regular day-to-day stuff. I have put together the comprehensive grocery shopping list as well as to-do list for cleaning in the condo to help both Chris and I in the later stages of my pregnancy as well as the first few months of being parents. I have also printed up a 'When to pay bills' list because I am worried I’m going to forget when various bills are due.

          Another extension of the food category is cooking up some freezer meals to store for easy meal prep when the baby is here. This is recommended for any new parents but for me this is particularly important. If we don't plan ahead and freeze some meals we'll be eating take-out every night and even with my prescription stomach medicine my stomach would not be able to handle living off of take-out. In addition if I am successful with nursing I won’t be able to take my prescription that allows me success in occasionally eating foods that are full of flavor, spice, oil- pretty much anything from a restaurant (I am hoping with the help of my dear Lactaid pills I will still be able to eat take-out pizza in moderation). So for nursing moms it is important to continue to eat healthy after pregnancy but for this mom planning to nurse it is essential. As long as I eat basic, healthy meals I should be ok to go without my prescription med while I nurse (as you can imagine it is largely a quality of life medicine, certainly not a necessity and thus I can make the call on my own about not taking it if I want to nurse). In order to ensure we eat healthy and not order out for the first few crazy months, I wanted to tuck away a decent amount of meals in the freezer that we can just heat up when we are sleep deprived, new parents.
I started a few weeks ago and made my chicken pot pie and taco pot pie both of which I have previously frozen and cooked up in the oven a few months later. Next I took to Pinterest where I found a great pin linked up to a blog written by a mother, who at the time of writing the post was very pregnant with her second child. She had somewhat similar reasons for wanting to ensure she was going to be able to eat healthy during the first few months with the new baby and she provided a list of crock pot meals that can be thrown in a freezer bag, thawed in the fridge 24 hours ahead of time, and dumped into the crock pot to cook up when wanted.  I took a couple of her recipes and then went back to Pinterest for some more- quickly finding pins under the ‘freezer crock-pot meals’ search. As one would suspect, most of these recipes involve chicken, so I tried to diversify looking for recipes with different proteins, also I have this general policy of trying to add one more vegetable to most recipes if they seem lacking to me. For example for the Thai chicken dish, I added broccoli as well since when I make a fresh peanut sauce chicken dish I include it. Broccoli was listed as an ingredient for some of the other freezer meals and it’s pretty hearty so I figure it will freeze well. I initially found three chicken dishes- the Thai chicken dish, a chicken tortilla soup, and a honey-lime chicken (this one has no veggies in it, just pineapple but I left is as is because I wasn't sure what vegetable to toss in), and three beef dishes- a Mongolian beef recipe with carrots, a chili, and a Mexican beef and sweet potato recipe. I tried to find a group of recipes that used different proteins, veggies, and flavor profiles.
I should have taken more pictures while I was prepping the meals, the chicken tortilla soup for example was so colorful it looked delicious making it tough to put it in the freezer for later. Speaking of the prep, the blogs I got these recipes from did all the meal prep in one day, I didn't go that route. I bought the ingredients for one or two recipe(s) per week and in some cases chopped the veggies and stuck them in the freezer bag in the fridge for a day and then added the rest of the ingredients the next day. I definitely paced myself. Also when looking to take pictures of my finished work, I noticed one of the beef meals already has some freezer burn on it, I must not have got all the air out of the bag so if you are planning on doing these kind of meals make sure you get all the air out!

 I’m a bit nervous about freezing, thawing, and cooking but hopefully they will turn out good, since I didn't plan far enough ahead to test a recipe out fully (freeze for a month or so, thaw and cook it up before the baby arrives). For each the recipe instructs you to defrost in the fridge for a day before you throw it in the crock-pot. Also if they needed anything else added to the crock-pot (only one did- lots of chicken broth) or should be served with a rice or noodle I wrote that on the freezer bag with the name of the dish and the date.  Our freezer has never been so full! Although I read somewhere it's less energy to keep a well stocked freezer cold than it is to keep an empty one cold so that's good. The nice thing about all of these recipes is they should serve for at least two meals for the both of us so there are 2 pot pies and 6 crock pots meals in the freezer- the pot pies have 6 servings each and the crock pot meals should at least get us 4 servings (in some cases I scaled down the amount of protein used since it's just the two of us and although we love having leftovers we try to only make enough of a given meal for two additional servings per person otherwise we get sick it). So there is at least 16 meals in that freezer. The other thing that is nice is I paid for the meals while I am still working so while on maternity leave when money is a little tight the grocery bill will be less. 
Another idea I read, or actually heard on a YouTube video embedded in an article with helpful tips about first-time parenthood, was making a grocery list and putting aside the cash for it and asking a family member or close friend to food shop for you the day before or the day you are scheduled to come home with the little one. I definitely plan on doing this so we know we’ll have fresh milk, fruits, and veggies for when we come home! We'll also plan to stock up on some of the basic, non-perishable items each time we go to the market. For us that is cereal, canned corn, canned black beans, chicken broth, macaroni n' cheese, and my guilty pleasure Pasta Roni which I at least now always add some vegetables to in order to make them more of a meal. 

Here are the links to the original blogs I got these recipes from-,  these two blogs had the recipes for the crock-pot meals I used (and in some cases slightly adapted to get more veggies in the recipe or make smaller overall meals). Unfortunately I can't find the link to the helpful article about being a first time mom, with the video that suggested preparing a grocery list for a family member to buy and deliver to your house while you are in the hospital. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

My Baby Shower!

My baby shower was great, a beautiful day in early April, surrounded by lots of family and friends who showered us with tons of gifts for the little one. My mom let me partake in some of the prep because that’s just the way I am, so she kept me informed of all the major decisions as well which was nice. There were about 40 people there and my mom booked a private room at our favorite, local Chinese food restaurant.  Admittedly the Chinese food menu was a little out of the ordinary for a shower, but it was so yummy and I was looking forward to it in the weeks leading up to it. Since it was a few weeks before Easter my mom stuck with an Easter theme (which went nice with not knowing the gender, lots of pastels) she ordered a cake and cookies from her favorite baker friend. The cookies were made to look like Peeps- pink bunnies and blue chicks with little chocolate morsels for eyes and the cake was a strawberry flavor with peppermint frosting, decorating in white with real peeps and jelly beans on top. It said ‘There is wonder in the waiting!’ which is a cute phrase we saw on several of the cards as well. There was also Easter candy spread about on tables and in the little goodie bags the guests took home. 
            The guests played Baby Shower Bingo using a game card I created, I ended up making my own but used the good old internet for inspiration. The premade ones weren’t quite what I wanted, especially since the game is largely based on the presents you open and since we are getting a lot of hand-me-down items from my brother and sister-in-law we didn’t have all the standard items on our list. So I decided to go through and create my own bingo sheet in PowerPoint and then I just mixed it up so there were 5 different game boards and printed up 8 sets of them.

 I wanted to put together the gift baskets that people could win and I went with the baby theme- my favorite was the basket called ‘The baby-maker’ that had a bottle of champagne, chocolates and two movies- Magic Mike and Knocked up! There was also a ‘baby your body’ basket that had lotions, hair products, nail polish, etc. and two  for your ‘baby’ baskets one for a girl and one for a boy that had little, easter-related candy and toys for people with kids or grandkids. 

My mom also did a raffle for two of the baskets, she put a sticker on the inside of two different plastic Easter eggs, and then went around the room and had each person select an egg. The two people that had the eggs with stickers won a basket. Another cute thing she did was send around a notebook and asked people to put their gender prediction, we got some really nice notes in there.
                I went shopping the previous week for a dress, I had a maxi coral skirt that I was going to wear but I wanted to get something special for the shower especially since I haven’t bought much clothes to get through the pregnancy so I figured I owed myself the splurge. We went to the outlets which I knew didn’t have a maternity store but figured I could try some larger stuff on in regular stores. We tried the Gap first and I found a really cute maxi chevron dress. I tried it on and I looked huge! Plus the chevron stripes did not match up at the seams, which drives me crazy especially because when you are  pregnant people also look at you from the side. So I went with a completely different approach and tried on a little navy blue cotton dress at Ann Taylor that was fitted with extra ruching on the side. It is a dress I would normally never wear because it was fitted (and cotton so not too forgiving of a fabric) but I figured what the heck, might as well try it on and I really like it. I thought for a non-maternity dress it looked really cute over my bump. I also liked that since my bump was so out there in it, it created an optical illusion almost in that my bum looked smaller in it. I did make the mistake of wearing non-maternity pantyhose. I am normally not a big pantyhose wearing but I was impressed with myself that I remembered to go to CVS the day before and get the largest pair they had.  But once I put them on the day of (or rather had Chris help me into them) I realized they must make maternity ones and it was going to make for an uncomfortable day! But once we got to the shower I forgot about them.
                I got a wonderful surprise as the guests were arriving, my college roommate flew up from Florida for the shower. I was totally not expecting to see her because not only does she live all the way down the coast but she is a new mother to a three-month old herself and she just started back to work the week before the shower.  When I saw her walk in I cried! It was great having her there and I was so touched she flew up, with the little one and hubby, to be with us on our shower day.
                We ended up getting all the major stuff on the registry as gifts, as well as plenty of gift cards to pick up the remaining necessary items. We got some really great homemade blankets, a beautiful quilt that Chris’s mom made that must have taken so long, it is patchwork with some really cute, different fabrics including a Sesame Street one. She also made bibs and burp cloths and a few other blankets- she’s been very busy! We got a lot of onesies and some sleepwear, I did find since we don’t know the gender  a lot of people opted to buy non-clothing gifts, which is fine with us. I also have noticed from the shower and in general that the one thing that is tough to buy ahead when you don’t know the gender is pants! Because baby boys tend to wear what look like sweatpants and baby girls wear leggings, so Baby J does not have many pants thus far. But it will be summer so that’s ok. But otherwise onesies and pjs are universal as far as I am concerned. Based on what we got at the shower, and a few little shopping trips we have done we aren’t going to buy anymore clothes until the baby comes. Certainly we are held back by gender, but also regardless of that we don’t know what size this baby is going to be and I don’t want to have a ton of stuff that is too small for the baby to wear.

                All-in-all it was such a great afternoon, spent with family and friends, eating yummy food and cake and feeling all the love this little baby already has!