Thursday, July 31, 2008

Night Five

Night Five

Why does this make me think of the Alamo? Staying at his post until the very end? Although I don't think Davy Crockett wore fire truck jammies. Fire stage coach jammies, maybe?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Charlie and the Big Bed: Going well, after an exhaustive 2 AM search yesterday I found him and Phent crying UNDER the bed, very confused, but otherwise he is doing well and sleeping about the same as before, which is very well, knock on wood.

Charlie's Vocabulary: He now says "Please!" hopefully instead of whining "Mine" when he wants something. Is much more pleasant and does not elicit dirty looks from strangers in public. Also says "Thank You" before leaving the table. He is more polite than me.

Also, when asked "Who is president?" he replies "Bush", "Who is Secretary of State?" he replies "Rice", and "Who is going to win?" he says "OH-MAMA!"

Bravo: Has a secret name! Woo! Is growing quickly such that when I bent over to unplug my laptop this morning I almost spontaneously delivered right there in my dining room. Had to sit down and rest after that. Also? The ligaments or tendons or whatever it is that connects your legs to your body? HURT. A lot. Walking normally is no longer an option. Is HOTT.

House Appreciation Week: Garage is much cleaner, no room for a car yet, but we're getting there, guest room comforter and shams have been acquired, Goodwill clothes have been delivered, nursery has been set up, thirteen-thousand teeny onesies have been folded and put away, refrigerator is still toxic

3-hour Glucose Screening: PASSED with flying colors! Bring the carbs.

Dissertation: Discovery of work-around for stubborn problem has left me feeling less homicidal, still at 70 pages, but have several handwritten pages of things to add.

Alcohol: Had Communion at church and a sip of my sister's beer Sunday night then removed all my clothes and danced on a piano. Referred to Ryan as "Esteban" for the remainder of the evening. Not really but man that beer sip tasted good.

NINE WEEKS TO GO and still so much to do.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008


I had to skip breakfast this morning because I had my 3-hour repeat glucose screening test at 8:00. My body, which was expecting a nice big bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats, was not pleased. Charlie's daycare was offering mini-muffins at the front desk and I nearly stuffed two in my mouth as I passed by before remembering that I was supposed to be fasting. When I arrived at the doctor's office I was rewarded with a blood draw and a bottle of syrupy sweet orange soda-like glucose tolerance beverage, which I was instructed to drink in its entirety in the next five minutes.

I'd like to point out that I only like to choke down carbonated beverages when there is some chance I will get a buzz out of the deal. And I guess I did, if you could call the sleepy, detached feeling the glucose beverage gave me a "buzz". But not the kind of buzz that compelled me to take off my shirt and dance on the examining table.

I was instructed to come back an hour later, after my OB appointment, for the second of four blood draws (the first was a baseline and the subsequent three--at one-hour intervals--were to test how my body was responding to all that sugar they loaded me up a champ, I would imagine, considering how much practice I give it every day). The lab tech came out to get me and took pity on me perched woozily on the edge of my plastic chair trying to make sense out of the book I'd brought to pass the time (hint: next time bring something light--not "Affluenza" and the biography of Nancy Pelosi). After the blood draw she led me to a room with leather recliner chairs and blankets. I sank into one of the chairs and braced my head to keep it from spinning then called a friend to see if she'd had any luck with her newborn's sleep issues. I think she was making more sense than me.

When I was finally allowed to leave I figured I'd go home and eat some leftovers I'd been saving for lunch. Part of me wanted to treat myself to a special lunch but since I'd just read about the Voluntary Simplicity Movement in Affluenza I felt guilty about spending extra money on food and the waste of the fast-food and meat industries and how the plate I got my food on was created from petroleum products and would only be used once and then thrown away and then somehow the Exxon Valdez, deforestation in the Pacific Northwest, and our nation's dependence on foreign oil all got wrapped up in my decision about whether to go out for lunch or not.

That line of thinking alone should have been the first sign that my blood sugar was about to crash HARD.

I was driving home, looking forward to the two pieces of organic cheese pizza that I had saved (that came from a box that I recycled) the other day when I noticed how irrationally furious I was getting at the traffic lights for being red, the other drivers for being slow, the radio for being annoying. I thought it would be in everyone's best interest if I got off the road and had something to eat. Immediately.

I pulled into Pei Wei, ordered my Orange Peel Chicken and sat down with a fortune cookie and a big glass of water. Still feeling alright, I returned a call that I had missed and nibbled on my fortune cookie. My food arrived while I was still on the phone. I dutifully scooped half of the large portion into a to-go box so I wouldn't unwittingly eat too much and then started in on the rest with my chopsticks.

And then I CRASHED. HARD. My hands were shaking and my whole body started sweating. My brain wouldn't let me concentrate on anything besides EATING EATING EATING FASTER FASTER FASTER MORE MORE MORE! Like there was an alarm going off in my head. Rice was flying off my plate into my lap as I frantically grabbed bites of chicken, snowpeas, and carrots with my chopsticks. When all of the food on my plate was gone I opened the to-go box and dumped it all back out onto my plate (hungry hungry hungry nom nom nom nom). When all of the easily chopstick-ed food was gone I used the serving spoon to scoop mouthfuls of rice into my mouth. Between bites I sucked down my water in huge, desperate gulps.

It wasn't pretty. But I'm sure it's not that unusual to see a pregant woman totally lose it at a Chinese food restaraunt (although the profuse sweating and Muppet-like way I attacked my meal might have attracted some attention).

I bought a cookie on the way out and sat in the car for a few minutes until the shaking and sweating subsided. And then I stopped at Sonic to buy a large iced tea. And then I ate some more food when I got home. Finally, aside from some slight tingling in my hands, I feel like myself again.

If I do have gestational diabetes Bravo probably gained like two pounds from my lunch alone. And I guess I shouldn't be too smug about the pound I lost since my last visit since eating enough Chinese food to feed an entire family isn't listed in any of the pregnancy books as a path to healthy weight gain.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Five Hundred People on my Street Can't All Be Wrong

In exchange for a ride to and from the airport, my aunt and uncle said I could use their Toyota Sienna minivan while they were on vacation for two weeks. As you know, I love to mock some minivans, especially the Honda Odyssey/Toyota Sienna, which enjoys a cult following in our new neighborhood. But I nearly broke my water the last time I strapped Charlie into the back of my Neon so I thought I'd see what all the fuss was about.

The first time I put Charlie into his seat in the van I nearly wept with joy. He and I were practically looking at eachother eye to eye. I was able to stand up straight as I fastened the straps instead of the totally unnatural bend-twist-lift-grunt-swear maneuver required in the Neon. I didn't whack his head on the door on the way in, as is our special little tradition.

And then I got into the driver's seat and my head exploded. All this time I've been using my arms to heft myself in and out of my car. I had no idea that the other half lives by simply sliding their bottom across the seat and then swinging their legs in.

This is lux-ur-i-ous.

My mom said "It would have been cheaper for Ryan to send the whole family to the airport on the Super Shuttle."

All along Ryan has been gently steering me back along the path of reason when I start conversations with phrases like "You know, we never really considered a minivan, do you think maybe we should?" or "Charlie stays so cool in his carseat with the independently controlled rear passenger area air conditioning system! He's so much happier!" or "Just take a look at this ad I found on Craigslist, they can see us at 5:30."

"We don't need the extra room." he rationalizes "Let's get something smaller that gets better gas mileage."

Which, OK FINE! Now is a terrible time to trade up to a less efficient car. And it's getting worse every second. And we should all be doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint blah blah blah Al Gore's NEVER BEEN PREGNANT IN TEXAS IN THE SUMMER!

So it seemed all was lost. Ryan's argument had the support of the environmental movement, mine had the Me Generation and the considerable heft of my ever growing body. Ryan was making practical and financial sense, I was begging like Charlie the first time he laid eyes on the train table at Barnes and Noble.

And then a stroke of luck. In our neighborhood, on Ryan's commute home, someone was throwing away a perfectly good lawn mower of exactly the type Ryan has had his eye on. I called him at work to tell him to look out for it. When he pulled into the driveway he told me he was so excited when he saw it he turned down the wrong street. "Let's go get it!" I encouraged brightly "We can use the VAN!"

He folded up the back seats with three quick lever pulls and that baby was OURS.

We couldn't get the handle in because of Charlie's car seat, but Ryan was one proud suburb-dweller as we slowly drove the quarter-mile home with the loot hanging conspicuously out of the back of the van, tailgate in the air like some kind of phallic symbol of triumph.


That sense of pride could never be achieved from fuel efficiency alone.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Well that was a surprise!


Meet my new niece, Brava (Her real name is much much cooler), born on Saturday just after 1:00 in the afternoon. We weren't expecting her for another few weeks but at 8lb 10oz and 21.5 inches, I guess she had other plans. Brava is healthy and cute and eats like a champ. Yesterday when I was holding her she started fussing and I almost had to stop myself from whipping off my shirt and offering her a little snack--that part of Charlie's life was not that long ago! My sister is up and around and wearing pants with a button (which is more than I can say for myself these days).

She fell asleep all curled up on my chest (the baby, not my sister), her bottom on top of Bravo and her head just beneath my chin. I remember when Charlie was that small but it's all fuzzy and gauzy (which I think is how I was feeling then because I was taking a lot of painkillers). It sure is hard to imagine having Bravo with us in just 11 weeks... Probably because we have made absolutely no preparation at all and because I've been going to bed right after dinner most nights the upstairs of our house looks like a fraternity moved in.

To help me calm down about the giant mess Ryan declared this week "House Appreciation Week" and the goal is to unpack the last few boxes, clear out a space in the garage for at least one car, paint the guest room and buy a nice comforter, get the "nursery" ready (an alcove upstairs that currently houses our ironing board, Charlie's reading chair, and a huge pile of clothes bound for Goodwill), TAKE DOWN THE CHRISTMAS TREE THAT "WE" (RYAN!!) MOVED FROM THE OTHER HOUSE FULLY ASSEMBLED WITH ORNAMENTS AND LIGHTS STILL ON, consign all extra baby clothes, clean out the refrigerator, and figure out if two car seats will fit in the back of my Neon.

Ryan's going to have to do those last two because my gag reflex has gone all first trimester on me and I don't think I can install the car seat without giving myself a placental abruption. Oh how I wish the last item on that list was "buy car not designed for teenagers."

And then there's that other little project I should probably finish before Bravo is born.

Eleven weeks. Deep breaths.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Excuse me while I vomit with relief

Anyone else watch Hopkins tonight (Episode 4? With the little two year old boy?)

The good news is that I will never sleep again so I should be getting lots of work done. You know, during those moments I'm not trying to climb into Charlie's crib to sleep next to him.

Day 17 of Your Dissertation is Your Life

66 pages. Am hoping for at least five more by the end of the day (one is already written). My strategy is lots of very large graphs. Also? Comma splices. Too many thoughts in one sentence! GAH!

Charlie is with my mom again. He is on the "one injury a day" plan. Yesterday day care called to report that "Charlie fell off of a table and got rug burn on his chin." Erm, he was on a table?? Not that I blame them, there are eight kids just like Charlie in there and he knows better than to climb on furniture, but when I got there half an hour later at pick up time he was still crying and only stopped when he saw me and that was hard. Then this morning for no reason at all, while both of us were standing close by, he flung himself off of Ryan's desk chair and landed awkwardly on hands and knees splayed across one of the rockers on a nearby rocking chair. He was unhurt but totally freaked out. I think this is all because his legs are growing at a rate of about three inches a night. Anyway, I'm hoping he doesn't scare my mom too bad.

Open on my desktop is the most recent email from Dr. Advisor as motivation:

"Great idea!! --Dr. A"

So that's nice. And I'm going to treat myself to a nice lunch too.

Time to start page sixty-seven (and I was proud of my sixty pages until Dr. Math Professor said dismissively, "Yeah, sixty pages is a good start").

UPDATE: Guy at the sandwich shop gave me three cookies instead of the one I ordered (And yes, I did point it out to him before I ran gleefully out to my car with the loot, that karma, it'll getcha). Guess he has a thing for sweaty, unshowered pregnant women wearing their husband's old college tshirts. Sex-ay!

UPDATE 2: 70 pages and my eyes are starting to glaze over (note: fewer cookies next time) so I'm meeting Charlie and my mom at the sprinkler park. I have several things written in my notes that need to go into my Official Dissertation dot doc, so I bet I'll meet my five page goal by the end of the day.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Can the grandmothers stay in the room with us, then?

Charlie is home today and not living it up in the toddler version of Lord of the Flies because he has some, ahem, lower GI problems that I suspect are related to teething, if the accompanying drool-covered fist and more whiny than usual disposition are any indication. Saturday night/Sunday morning (I have no idea which) he threw up in his bed and was awake for nearly an hour while we cleaned him up, changed his sheets, and then carefully hand washed Phent and ran him through the drier. Charlie's room was littered with rejected Phent proxies. We really need to find another Phent FAST.

Sunday afternoon we took a tour of the maternity section of the hospital where Bravo will be delivered. The first part of the tour was a brief overview held in a conference room stocked with crayons and paper for the kiddos (we kept Charlie with us so he wouldn't infect anyone else if he did turn out to have a bug instead of a teeth problem). The nurse talked about when you are supposed to go to the hospital and what to expect once you arrive. I was largely tuned out because we'd done this less than two years ago and Charlie was studiously removing items from my purse one by one and I was trying to keep things under control.

However I was listening REAL GOOD when he said "...sick babies who need oxygen or IV antibiotics will stay in the Special Care Nursery but healthy babies stay with their parents the whole time. We don't have a nursery here. That way you can feed on demand and bond with your baby."

Ryan and I looked at eachother, panic-stricken. I hissed "That's not what the brochure said!" as Ryan mouthed "I thought you said there was a nursery here!" "I thought there was!" "This is the whole reason we're not going to the hospital by our house!"

Keep in mind this was a small conference room with three other families who all seemed very on board with the hippy South ideal of the quick-like-a-bandaid approach to bonding with your newborn whereas I have no qualms with handing my squalling newborn (cough, Charlie, cough, who nursed for two hours straight and still wouldn't settle down for me but who was sleeping like a little angel within twenty minutes of being taken to the nursery) off to a trained professional so we can all get some rest, baby included. The other couples nodded agreement and some even smiled, even the couple who was there with their FOUR OTHER CHILDREN.

We were interruped from our "discussion" when Charlie stood up wearing a diaper as a hat. The nurse whistled appraisingly and one of the other kids called out "Diaper head!" Charlie revelled in the attention and offered several repeat performances before it was time to go on the tour.

The tour was uneventful except for me having to stop myself from blurting out "This kid you all find so adorable (and rightly so)? Diaper head? He breastfed for THIRTEEN MONTHS! He weighed TWENTY-FOUR POUNDS by six months AND he came home from the hospital nursing every three hours during the day and every four at night because those nursery nurses KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING!" [insert Howard Dean scream]

At lunch afterwards we discussed the feasability of renting a small apartment in The Old Town where I could live until the baby is born at the same hospital where Charlie was born. That way, I could defend up to a week before my due date at the end of September, go to a few My University football games, and send Bravo to the nursery at night so I could come home rested enough to care for two small children. Everybody wins! Except Ryan who would have to live by himself for three months.

Guess I better "sleep while I still can" HAR HAR HAR!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Please don't yell at me.

Turns out that the only place on earth that I am meek and demure is in the OB's office. Probably because I was raised to fear authority in all its forms, even when only perceived. Or maybe it's because I feel inadequate in the presence of my doctor WHO MANAGED TO FINISH HER DEGREE BEFORE MENOPAUSE.

Today was no different. I had a long list of concerns I wanted to mention during my visit. In the waiting room I reviewed them: shocking Braxton Hicks contractions, occasional stabby pain in the right ovary region, stomach acid spraying out of my esophagus while I sleep, fatigue, absentmindedness, reduced appetite, road rage, and a total lack of spatial awareness that makes things like driving and closing the refrigerator door perilous activities. The nurse called my name and led me to a room. I sat down as she opened my chart and said "Alright, do you have any concerns?"

"Me? Noooo. Well... maybe some heartburn? But it's not nearly as bad as last time. I mean, I had to sleep sitting up then. This isn't anything like that."

(vacant smile, nervous titter)

Because, you know, I hate to be a complainer!

I was immediately scared that she would tell me to eat small meals, avoid eating before bed, and to try Tums, which, yes, that works when I'm not pregnant but I've been going through a bottle of Tums every couple of weeks. I immediately started blurting phrases out like a Tourette's victim in a Kung Fu movie.

"Nexium! I took Nexium last time! Huge help! Was sleeping sitting up! Could not eat! Stomach acid! Choking! Nexium nexium nexium!"

(vacant smile, nervous titter)

When she was sure my little outburst(s) was (were) over my doctor explained that the "sphincter" between your stomach and esophagus relaxes during pregnancy and the result is that stomach acid can flow backwards and give you heartburn.

I pretended very hard that I am not the kind of person who giggles at the word "sphincter".

I succeeded because I find my doctor intimidating. Later Ryan got a good chuckle out of it (Me: "Doctor says I have a weak sphincter!" Ryan: "WHAT?!" Me: "It's a valve between your stomach and esophagus." Ryan: "Oh, because I have a sphincter in my BUTT!!").

She continued "Try to eat small meals (damn), leave plenty of sitting-up time between eating and going to bed (damn damn DAMN), and let me see if I can find you some samples of Prevacid so you're more comfortable."

My doctor, she is wise.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Jackson Pollack meets Matlab

I have composed a graph for you detailing my dissertation progress over the last week and a half.

There should only be ONE LINE on this graph

Anyone who would like to join me for and evening of drinks and computer smashing (BYO hammer and pent-up aggression) after this is all done with, please send me an email.

Excuse me for a moment (puts hand over phone)... FOR THE LAST TIME, THAT IS MAMA'S CERVIX! NOW GO INTO THE VERTEX POSITION UNTIL PAPA GETS HOME!...sorry about that, what was I saying?

(By the way I have totally become one of those people who carries on phone conversations peppered with Mom-speak. Last night I called my friend and said "Hi Heather! SIT ON YOUR BOTTOM How are you doing?" She was quite confused.)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pardon the interruption from our regularly scheduled dissertation kvetching...

A few items...

Charlie and Rossby (and Ryan and me, as their facilitators) were in a neighborhood Fourth of July parade on Friday.

Here's Charlie in his parade float:


Also in Charlie's float, lots and lots of "snacks":


(because he is a little nervous around his wagon ever since the first time we used it and it tipped over into some grass and I thought food would take his mind off the terror of being thrown from a moving vehicle by one of his parents. It worked like a champ) Good times. I love our neighborhood.

Before the parade was the Boy Scout Pancake Breakfast at the fire station.


Notice how Charlie is looking to the right. There were fire trucks just outside the big bay doors from where we were eating. Charlie was hopelessly distracted. I think he ate a sausage patty and some orange juice for breakfast (and also a pantsload of Ritz Crackers during the parade). Finally tiring of trying to limit his squirming I asked him if he wanted me to take him to see the trucks. He jumped off Ryan's lap, grabbed my hand and shouted "BYE!!!" to the rest of the table. Then he RAN all the way to the fire trucks with me in tow saying "IRE RUCK! IRE RUCK! IRE RUCK!" and making a siren noise all the way.

You've never seen a happier boy (even though he doesn't look happy in the pictures):

Left to right: Bravo, Charlie

Today I picked Charlie up early from the nursery (he was none too pleased, either, when he realized he wouldn't be finishing his Goldfish and sippy of juice) and took him into church with Ryan and me for the last hymn (which was "America"). I've been wanting to do this for some time and since it was a communion Sunday we had plenty of time today. When he and I walked into the sanctuary the hymn had already begun and Charlie was in awe. He looked around with huge eyes at all the people, the stained glass windows, the organ. It was so neat. I would love to include him in more of the service (I thought communion might be good because of everyone getting up and moving around but he wouldn't understand the significance and I can imagine a really big, inappropriate freakout when he was only allowed one bite of bread), but I don't think he's ready so maybe the last hymn is a good place to start. I loved having him with us, especially for such a special hymn.

After church we went to Schlotzky's for lunch (we call it "The Schlotz" because it sounds a little dirty) where the second we pulled into the parking lot Charlie shouted something unintelligable and then repeated "Mmmmmmm! Mmmmmm! Mmmmmmm!" while signing "good". Some kids know about family dinners on Sunday, ours knows about grilled cheese at the local fast food deli chain. Awesome. I had a pretty good gas-traction (which feels exactly like a contraction except it's really probably just gas) during lunch. I hunched over, eyes bugging out of my head, pretending to be super fascinated with the crust of my roast beef and cheese sandwich, and concentrated on not yelling "HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!" thus startling other diners who obviously wouldn't know I am only 27 weeks and might try to offer embarassing Good Samaritan-style assistance. Like calling 911. Whatever it was has only happened one time, thank goodness, and not the four times in an hour that would warrant a trip to the doctor. Any heroic "I made it through transition last time with no drugs I could totally do it naturally this time" type delusions I once had are now GONE. I don't miss them.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Day two of my captivity

My mom and dad have Charlie for the day at their lake house. I could feel my mom rolling her eyes when I told her he needs to wear his swimming shirt and hat at the pool. At least I didn't tell her how much supervision he needs when he's eating grapes (I turned around for a second the other day to check on some browning ground beef and when I looked back at him he had SIX of them in his mouth)!

Anyway, off to have some fun writing about transfer functions and high-frequency energy and time histories. Thankfully my parents brought me some tea because I'm gonna need it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fortunately, ankle bones are not required for typing.

Because I still can't see them. They might be gone for good this time. At least I can't feel the fluid sloshing around in there like after that night I spent playing pool and drinking fake coctails made from club soda and cranberry juice when I was pregnant with Charlie. Klassy.

Today's two meetings went well. The one this morning with my committee, including Dr. G from Math, went even better than expected. We were talking about what I could do to verify the data from one part of my project and inadvertantly solved a separate problem I've been struggling with for a few months. Dr. S gave me a twenty-five page packet of Mathcad calculations that gives me step by step instructions on how to do what I need to do. Bonus! I was so pleased by the development that I didn't even roll my eyes when Dr. G and Dr. S walked out of the room making plans to meet for dinner leaving me to climb onto the conference room table to turn off the projector. Fortunately I was wearing sneakers today.

Then I ran into our department chair in the hall and said hello and he said "Hi Becca! Dr. Advisor says you've been making GREAT progress!" I nearly snorted. He continued "Well I guess you're not supposed to know he feels that way." Ahhh, the game continues.

But the best part of my week was back in South this evening when Ryan and I got to my aunt and uncle's house where we were meeting my parents with Charlie. He looked at me, took a couple of shy steps toward me, and then ran into my arms. When it was time to eat dinner my mom strapped him into his booster and he patted the seat next to him and said "Mama!" This morning Ryan said he looked all over the bathroom for me, in the shower, in the closet, before deciding I must be downstairs making breakfast. I don't think he was too disappointed when my mom was there instead, waiting for him with breakfast tacos.

I need to go to bed. I am no longer accustomed to prolonged periods of concentration, answering hard questions, walking all over campus, and hauling around my backpack and I'm embarassingly tired.