Sunday, January 24, 2016

The BEST News...


We are absolutely OVER THE MOON to be counting down the days until we welcome our first non-canine baby in August!  This announcement was one we had hoped to make as early as early 2014, but due to delays caused by major life changes and most of all our bodies' super reluctance to give us a baby, we've had to wait a lot longer than we ever imagined. Waiting aside, and possibly due in part to all that waiting, we are so excited to be parents and to meet our little mini me that we can hardly sleep! After 9 years together and almost 6 married, we're more than ready to be a family of 3 humans and 3 dogs! Finally, the dogs won't outnumber us and the human race might regain some control of the BDH.

Here are some photos from our announcement photo shoot at the Eiffel Tower!

I've attempted to answer some of the questions I think you might have below, but if you have others feel free to leave them in the comments!

Q: How far along are you?
A: We've just entered our second trimester and are so excited about it (which we're really thankful means we're out of the highest risk period!)

Q: Will you find out the gender?
A: YES MA'AM! This is a major no-brainer for us.  If we could have found out the gender the day we conceived, we would have.  As a type A, planner that loves to be totally prepared, I don't know how I would survive the pregnancy without knowing how to decorate the nursery, how to monogram, what clothes to buy, etc. In fact, not knowing now is killing me and resulting in me buying and pinning a bunch of stuff for both genders (just keeping all the receipts). 

Q: When will you find out?
A: March at the latest. We are currently weighing the pros and cons of an out of pocket blood test that would tell us a week to two from now, along with telling us if the baby is at risk for any genetic or chromosomal disorders. We have to decide by tomorrow!

Q: What symptoms have you had?
A: Nausea, nausea, nausea, some more nausea, nausea while I'm having nausea, nausea while I'm sleeping, nausea while I'm showering, nausea while I'm doing anything... basically I've been really, really nauseaus. My doc put me on the strongest anti-nausea med on the market which helped for awhile, until it didn't (on Christmas Eve when I felt like I was on my death bed - like level 10 nausea - at my family Christmas get together when we still hadn't told anyone - I laid on the floor eating saltines I'd hidden under the couch next to me). After that point, the doctor DOUBLED my dose (crazy) which kept my nausea below level 3 or 4 pretty much constantly.  It was still there a lot of days, but was bearable.  I really struggled with it on our Europe trip, which I'm sure wasn't helped by all of the strange smells and foods, but we were too excited to be in Europe to let it slow us down. Aside from the morning sickness (which most often for me struck at midnight or right before lunch), I've had a dramatically increased sense of smell, increased need to pee, very low blood pressure due to the widening of my blood vessels (a normal pregnancy thing) causing light headedness and trouble standing for more than a few minutes (I've always had low blood pressure but pregnancy has made it much worse), and abdominal ligament pain due to the stretching.

Q: What symptoms haven't you had?
A: Moodiness (much to my surprise, emotionally I've felt the exact same), elevated basal body temperature (which at first worried me but the doc says its fine), exhaustion (apparently you're supposed to be super tired during the first trimester but I've felt the same, if not way more energetic on days).

Q: Any cravings?
A: Not so much, just a TON of food aversions.  Foods I've always loved (lettuce, onions, red peppers, foreign food) I can't even look at or even think about now without getting sick.  It's super sad and I hope to come out of it soon. As far as cravings go, I've not experienced the "I need to eat X right now" feeling at all, but I have noticed an increase preference for three things: apples, juice and cereal.  I read one study that linked increased apple consumption during pregnancy to dramatically decreased chances of the child developing asthma, so I don't fight myself on the granny smiths. :)

Q: Which room will be the baby's room?
A: The guest room closest to us!  It has its own bathroom and is the shortest number of steps from our room, so it seemed like the logical choice! We've already cleared it out by moving that guest furniture to our craft room and condensing our craft room into what is now just a craft closet. A worthwhile sacrifice to make room for baby!

Q: What are your plans for the nursery?
A: We plan to start wainscoting soon - not sure what kind yet, but trust me, it's a daily topic of conversation in our house.  Also, hubby is already drawing plans for an elaborate set of built-ins in the closet.  For anything beyond that, I'm having a hard time visualizing without knowing the gender.  I'm thinking probably mostly neutrals (creams, whites, grays, metal tones) with either gender, but if it's a girl I know I won't be able to resist a little (or maybe a lot) of pink.

Q: How much weight have you gained so far?
A: One pound in the first trimester, which I wanted be zero, but since the baby and all of his/her gear/placenta/sac/etc. is now bigger than a grapefruit, I'm apparently storing more water and making more blood, I'm not beating myself up about it.  By my logic, all of the baby gear and extra blood probably weighs more than 1 pound, so I've probably lost weight, right? :) I tried to stay really active throughout the first trimester because I have an illogical fear of gaining too much weight during pregnancy (my mom gained 80 pounds with me, so I guess that's why) and I'm proud to say there were only 6 days in the first trimester when I didn't hit 10,000 steps on my pedometer (and those days were mostly close).  Several days I got into the 20,000s and twice in the 30,000s, so my numbers have even been higher than what they were before I was pregnant on average.  I don't get my heart rate too elevated, I just try to stay moving now that I know that pregnancy is slowing down my already not so fast metabolism.  Now that I've entered the trimester where I have a medical need to gain weight, I'm mentally prepared to watch myself grow (I just didn't want to grow before I needed to).

Q: Will this blog turn into a baby blog or will it stay the same?
A: If anything, it might briefly turn into an infertility awareness blog but after I write that one (just one, I promise), big cathartic post it will go right back to being a decorating, DIYing hub, just now with the occasional bump/pregnancy update post mixed in. :) I think it's really important that as a society we begin to raise awareness and develop comfort talking about infertility and miscarriage so that the 1 in 6 couples who end up dealing with either of those issues know that they're in good company and there are plenty of people around them they can reach out to for support. 

Q: Will you go for a natural delivery?
A: No way, Jose. Until a doctor makes a compelling medical case for the health of me or my baby for why I should endure more pain that I have to, I will be the first one in line for that epidural.  Props to those who want to go without one and props to those who don't.  I don't really see why it matters and personally won't be handing out any trophies or high fives to friends based on which way they choose.

Q: Breastfeeding or formula?
A: Breastfeeding if I'm able.  Willing to do whatever I can to make it work, but I know some women just can't, so I'm trying to mentally prepare for that possibility too. Again, major props to all parents for keeping their babies alive and fed, however they do it.

Q: What do you miss doing/eating/drinking?
A: In recent years I've been really, REALLY annoyed by pregnant women who complain about what they can't do/eat while pregnant, partly because it just sounds ungrateful but mostly because an infertility diet and lifestyle restrictions are WAY more restrictive than pregnancy restrictions, and unlike pregnancy sacrifices being made for 8 months and with an awesome prize at the end, infertility sacrifices go on indefinitely with no guarantee of any good results.  *Stepping off soapbox now*  With that being said, I'm really enjoying everything I can eat, drink and do again that I couldn't while on an infertility diet (like eating food other than fruits + veggies 2 weeks a month, using normal shampoos, being able to pee in toilets instead of cups/pouches and being able to touch plastic shopping carts at Target, you know, the little things). No alcohol? No biggie. I couldn't have it during infertility anyway and at least now hubby can drink again. The only thing I've struggled with that is tougher than during infertility is not being able to color my hair. My roots are by far the worst they've ever looked and I CANNOT WAIT to get them fixed this weekend now that I've cleared the first trimester! Getting a root touch up is my big second trimester welcome party for myself.

Q: Most surprising thing about pregnancy so far:
A: Is 'that it happened?' an answer? J/K.  In all seriousness, I think I'm most surprised at how calm I've been the whole time.  Even with as much time as we had to mentally prepare and to crave this moment, I'm still shocked that I've yet to have a freak out moment.  I've heard from so many friends that a couple weeks in it just kind of hit them that their body had been invaded by an alien, they were going to have a child in a set amount of time to take care of for 18 years, that they would get stretch marks, that they couldn't reverse or pause what had been set in motion, that they could die in childbirth, etc. and freaked out for an hour or so.  I totally expected that to be me, regardless of how bad we wanted it, because you really do forfeit a lot of control over your body, health and life (and let's be real, I love control), but I haven't had that moment or anything like it.  I've been so blissfully happy the whole time and haven't spazzed once, much to my surprise. Pregnancy has made me a much calmer person. 

Q: Favorite baby books so far?
A: I LOVED Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy (so funny and real), Baby Bargains has been great to read reviews on all of the baby gear and as a first time mom to read which of those items you actually need and which ones you can pass, What to Expect has been good and the source of a few things I didn't know already, one medical pregnancy guide has been helpful but the pictures of actual naked pregnant women still spook me every time I turn the page and find one.  Most of all, I'm really excited to be starting Baby Wise this week, which has been highly recommended to us by several friends, including some of the best parents we know. 

Q: What do you THINK the gender is?
A: I think its a girl for several reasons, mostly the nausea, heart rate and Ramzi method, but Ross is convinced its a boy.  We'll see in a few weeks! We would be so happy to have either one - we're just ready to know so that we can get to work planning! 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

England, France & Belgium!

Hi dolls!

My family and I just got back from a wonderful Christmas/New Year's trip to Europe and wanted to share it with you! 

We started in London, where we checked out the Tower of London (which I'd watched a million documentaries on and was super excited to see), the Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, London's Winter Wonderland (kinda like the state fair, but a bigger, European, Christmas themed version) and the London Eye.  After two days checking out London, we did day trips to Stonehenge and Bath.  Bath was one of our favorite spots - so gorgeous! We also day tripped to Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle), the nearby tiny pub/hotel where the cast and crew stayed for the first few seasons (as a Downton Abbey fanatic, this had me over the moon!) and a day trip to Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII's GORGEOUS South of London home.  Ross and I watched two documentaries on it too (there's a really good one on Netflix now) and were so hyped to see it in person.  Many of these group shots were taken by my dad with his new selfie stick that I got him for Christmas.  Watching him use it left us all in laughs every time!

Next we took the Channel Tunnel (aka Chunnel) to France, where we drove through Northern France which was very rural and beautiful, then to Paris.  I fell in love with Paris within twenty minutes of being there! The architecture, the crepes, the history, the monuments, the canals, the romance - I was smitten with all of it! I was so pleasantly surprised with the Parisian people.  Several folks warned me that they were rude and our experience couldn't be further from the that.  They were so wonderful and so friendly!  I would even say that the Parisians we interacted with over our four days there were on a whole much friendly than the average American.  We checked out Notre Dame (at night and during the day - I recommend both), the Eiffel Tower (twice, riding it to the top once!), the Louvre (we only spent 3/4 of a day inside and didn't come close to seeing everything, although we did see the Mona Lisa, Napolean's bedrooms and Michelangelo's sculptures), the Sacre Ceour (twice - both times at night - it was so breathtaking and one of our favorite parts of Paris), the Moulin Rouge, the Palace of Versailles, we went French antiquing (and got two great pieces) and so much more! We're both so in love with France now

Our last and most brief stop was Brussels, Belgium.  A close friend used to live there and told us exactly how to spend our limited time there.  We saw the Grand Place, which is a central town square marked by 5 or 6 story 17th Century/medieval buildings that are among the most beautiful I've ever seen.  We went at night, when the buildings were illuminated in changing colored lights and every 30 minutes they would play the most beautiful medieval music - just amazing.  We also saw Belgium's #1 attraction, the peeing boy statute, which was essentially a one foot tall statute of a boy peeing.  Kind of underwhelming but I'm glad we saw it.  Brussels is filled with replicas in all colors, many of which are much bigger than the original and all of which are peeing. The best part of Belgium was touring the Breendonk Concentration Camp, which was our main draw to the country.  Breendonk was so moving, with a really well done audio tour that you could play while walking through the camp.  It was incredibly chilling and something I'll always remember.

I thought I would list some of my favorite and the most interesting things that I noticed Europe does differently from the USA, many of which I kinda wish we would copy:

  • In France and Belgium, waffles are a hand held street snack served on every street corner. The Nutella and strawberry waffle I had while walking from the Eiffel Tower to the Louve may have been my favorite thing I ate in Europe. It was also all over my face.
  • Nutella is EVERYWHERE and served on EVERYTHING.
  • England especially was very vegetarian friendly
  • Throughout Europe almost every restaurant we dined in had a long dessert menu AND THEN a long ice cream menu. They take their sweets seriously, like me.  I loved that ice cream - and countless varieties of it - were served basically everywhere.
  • The French and English were all so friendly and helpful to strangers.
  • People bring dogs everywhere, often without leashes.  Fast food restaurants, fine dining restaurants, grocery stores, churches... sure, bring your dog!
  • The metric system. I love America, but we're just wrong on this one.
  • Military time. Again, just makes more sense.
  • Co-ed bathrooms. In all but one instance I thought these really worked and made sense.  In the KFC in Paris where I spent two hours though (long story) the stall doors were not even close to floor to ceiling, which kind of creeped me out when I heard male voices just outside my 4 foot door.
  • Paid bathrooms downtown.  When you have to pee in downtown London and you've already eaten and don't know where you can go, if you'll need to buy something, etc., these make so much sense.  We saw them in London and Paris and for about 50 cents you could use them. Love this concept!
  • Service stations with food courts like in the NE United States - so many options! Just wish they weren't so far apart.
  • Coins instead of small bills - loved this!
  • Tips included in the cost of your meal at a restaurant/restaurant workers paid a good base wage already. I can't tell you how much I loved this! We usually gave an extra 10% anyway, which they viewed as super generous, which shocked me but in a good way.
  • Waiters would give you a craft of water for the table, even if only one person ordered water. This just makes it easier on everyone - I get my refill exactly when I want it and it saves them trips.
  • Public transportation is obviously far superior to much US public transport. Very convenient.
  • Congestion charges in London. If you have your car inside city limits during the day, you have to pay a fee (I think it was like $10 or $15). So ridiculous.
  • European mayonnaise is not real mayonnaise. It's gross. Also, I'm not a mustard eater but it was completely different too.
  • No ice in a lot of places.
  • Eggs on pizza... what the heck?
  • No paper towels in bathrooms, ever.  I get that the driers make more sense 95% of the time, but sometimes you just need a paper towel.
  • The smells. So many big city smells, just like NYC, some bad, some awful, occasionally some good.
Mayonnaise problems notwithstanding, it was the trip of a lifetime and we'll carry the memories with us forever! Thanks for reading dolls!

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