Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter walk


Took the ol' pooch out for a walk this afternoon to try to get on her good side again.  She was our first (and only) baby for 4.5 years, and was none too pleased when a human pup joined our little clan.  Penny is the most gentle dog I know, and has never shown any aggression, but lately she has been sitting in her little corner looking lost and forlorn.

We both enjoyed our little outing: cold and blustery but it was wonderful to get out of the house, just the two of us.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thank you, 2011

What a difference a year makes.

Last Christmas we were nursing our failed IVF wounds, and this year we celebrated with our one-month-old daughter.  That is some crazy stuff right there.

The more I speak about infertility (and I do because I'll never understand how the whole thing got so taboo, and I'm not one to hold back if you've noticed) more and more couples come out of the woodwork saying they did/are having trouble themselves.  How the heck did this biological imperative become so damn hard?!

Matt and I decided we won't shy away from telling Annie how she came to be: we want her to know how very badly we wanted her to be here and how modern medicine played such a substantial role in her existence.  I want her to know about the long drives to the clinic, the crazy scenarios we found ourselves in (me constantly in  the stirrups, Matt having to, uh, give numerous samples in the clinic's multiple "male specimen rooms" complete with ample porn selections), and how we waited for the embryologist calls after the IVF extraction telling us how our little blastocysts were growing.  On our first IVF attempt nothing divided past the two-cell stage, but Annie's cycle resulted in many beautiful eight-celled little buggers.  In a way, this is her first baby picture:
I often wonder if the right or left blastocyst came to be our daughter.  The whole thing is mind-boggling.

It's not lost on me how very fortunate I am.  In terms of infertility our stint was not exceptionally long: we tried to conceive for a year and nine months before hitting the fertility jackpot with our positive pregnancy test.  We started right outta the gate from my April 2009 surgery (literally - I remember asking my surgeon - and I swear this on all that is holy - "Can my surgery incision, like, bust open with a growing baby stomach?").  I am obviously not cut out for a career in medicine.

After a solid six months of TTC ("trying to conceive" for the fertile bunnies out there) we went to our ob/gyn who performed a few tests and put us on Clomid to regulate my cycle.  After a solid year of TTC we met with our reproductive endocrinologist.  And then after two monitoring cycles (one sans meds and one with), four medicated IUI (intrauterine insemination) rounds, and two IVF rounds I had a bun in the oven and about 10 fertilized cells in the freezer.  It sounds so easy when I put it like that, but I will never forget the tears that cling to this process.

I recently saw this PHOTO ESSAY ON INFERTILITY on Slate, and I cried like a baby paging through the author's account of her journey.  The slide with medications piled high on her kitchen table?  I still have a stockpile in my closet and just recently threw out the refrigerated stuff during my eighth month of pregnancy. It's hard letting go of thousands of dollars of meds - even if they're expired and I'm already pregnant.  The photo of her sticking herself in the car?  Check!  I distinctly remember sticking myself in the car in a dingy parking garage in Philly.  The place had cameras set-up all around and I remember thinking the footage probably looked like I was doing something pretty nefarious as I stabbed my stomach roll.  Everything about the essay rang true: the damn ultrasound wand (we knew one another in a very intimate way), the near daily blood draws and subsequent nurse phone calls going over all my levels and dictating next steps.  When you're going through infertility the game plan can change almost daily: the medication dosage is constantly tinkered with or now they need to see you tomorrow morning for monitoring when you, say, have a morning meeting.  (I can say a lot of things about my last job, but I'll leave it on a positive note and just say this: they gave me the utmost flexibility during my unending appointments, and for that I am grateful).

I'm not sure why I'm writing all of this.  Partially I'm just taking stock of how far Matt and I have come.  Partially it's in response to a few conversations I've had with other women TTC: this process is absolute drudgery and there is no time when it's more pronounced than during the holidays.

I want to wish everyone a very happy new year, and I hope anyone who may be reading this who is going through infertility will find solace in the possibilities a new year can bring: I know 2011 has flipped my world upside down in the best way possible.

Here we are today lounging on the couch; Matt took this photo to show off Annie's swanky new sock monkey pants her Aunt Priscilla knitted for her.  That kid is gonna be such the little hipster.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Post-pregnancy: Crohn's and baby love

This was the front of our holiday card this year.  The photo is courtesy of Matt's super duper coworker who moonlights as a photographer, Jamie (check her out if you're in suburban Philly!), and the card is from Minted.  


Annie is tucked away in her Moby wrap with Dad, so that finally (woohoo, finally!) means I have a few moments to type.  


On Crohn's:  I went through a good week where my digestive system was absolutely, pitifully out of whack. It started about five days after Annie's delivery, which was not very fun as I was still in the heat of recovery from my (sigh) episiotomy.  You know you have a good marriage when your husband, very straight-faced, says after one of my bathroom runs, "Is your butt clean? (Thank you, honey.)  You should soak your butt in a bath so everything can heal."  (In truth, I ran several baths were I stole Annie's Burt's Bees bubble bath and I really do think it made everything better.)


Everything has settled down (I think I may have simply eaten some food that didn't agree with me) and I'm continuing with my maintenance medication, Pentasa.  My GI said to up my dosage following my delivery, but because my symptoms are currently in-check, and I'm breastfeeding, I'm very hesitant to do so.  There has been very little research on mesalamines and breastfeeding (although it is certain they do pass into the mother's breast milk), but due to the drug's category B status, there is currently little direct evidence of side effects to the baby except for an increase in diarrhea, although I still feel very "iffy" about the whole thing.  I think it's all about a balance of what's good for her, and for me, and it's something I will discuss when I see my doc in a few weeks.


On Motherhood: I spoke to my boss the other day and said very succinctly, "I love her to death, but I don't think I'm in love with motherhood yet."  I know it sounds harsh (and I thought about whether or not to even type this), but these past few weeks I've just felt out of it.  I miss being a part of humanity (even the crush of my god awful commute at times!).  I miss walking around the corner at work for a cup of coffee.  I miss my alone time where I could cuddle up with a good magazine in bed.  And even though I'm getting a decent amount of sleep, I am exhausted. Now when friends reach out (often over Gmail chat) I slowly peck out my responses with one hand, as I'm invariably holding and feeding her with the other.  How comes no one writes about this stuff?


The last few days, though, have been an absolute ball of bliss and I'm so relieved: her personality is coming out more and more and I'm finally interacting more and more with the little bugger.  I'm learning her grunts (and no, she does not coo, but grunts like an extra on The Walking Dead, and it's the dearest thing ever) and yesterday she had a blast grunting at her reflection in the mirror!  She even smiled!  We dance and look at the Christmas tree (she is absolutely, positively transfixed by the lights) and I'm starting to finally feel like more than a feeding trough.  I think she's beginning to really know Matt and me, and by golly, I think she likes us!  I return to work on February 13th, and I can safely say that date gets harder and harder to think about each and every day, and I've already had a few crying spells about it: 13 weeks just seems too young to put a little one in daycare.  It doesn't feel right at all, but it's our game plan for now.


Well, time to feed (but of course!).  Later we may go on a Trader Joe's outing and who knows what else the day holds in store for us.  I do know, however, it will be wonderful: I'm loving these little moments with Matt and Annie (or Jo-Jo as he calls her).


Friday, December 16, 2011

Bathing beauty


This photo absolutely terrifies me.


I think it's safe to say Annie's first real bath was a complete, and utter, success.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fussy little one

Oh, Annie.  Today has been tough, and I know it only gets more challenging from here on out!  Our little girl cried for most of the day and I'm afraid I've gotten into a, "What's wrong?  What's wrong?  Are you hungry? Here's the boob!" sort of rut.  I'm stuffing my breast in her face every time she gets upset, and I swear the kid sucked me dry today.  (TMI??)

Speaking of breastfeeding, I have been very lucky.  She has latched without too much trouble from our first night and we only had one hiccup in our first week when my breasts became engorged and I had to bring out the pump for two days.  I know, I know; I'm on TMI overload these days.  But, whatever, it is what it is, and it's natural.  I love breastfeeding!  First of all, it's cheap, and I'd much rather spend our cash on adorable baby outfits - or chocolate cake and Target runs, in my case - than formula.  It's also, of course, good for her and I love the convenience factor.  And of course the closeness it brings between us (more so on my part because that barracuda is sucking away and doesn't have time to stare into my eyes the way I stare into hers).

Right now she's sleeping on my chest and I am TERRIFIED TO MOVE.  Matt is out playing basketball and I have to go the bathroom.  Yes, these are my "big" problems these days.

From one of the more quiet moments this afternoon - my two loves:


Friday, December 2, 2011

Welcome, Annie!

This post has taken so long because I write in five-minute spurts; my little firecracker always has other plans!  I suppose it mimics the pulse of my days now: I measure everything by feedings and diaper changes and hugs. 


I adore this photo.   This is Matt and Annie first thing in the morning.  (I just realized he looks naked here.  No worries though; I swear the boy is wearing boxers!)

It's Wednesday and Annie has been home for a week.  Matt returned to work this morning, and although it's nice for one of us to return to a routine - a set schedule - I already miss the three of us holed up in the house and his gentle teaming style as he cared for Annie.  I've always wondered how having a child would alter our relationship, and although it's too early to see the changes, and that only time will tell, this week's sneak peak is everything I could have asked for.  I am so in love with my little family.

I went into labor early in the morning on Monday the 21st.  My pregnancy was sublimely easy, but the Sunday prior there was a marked difference: basically, I was finally very uncomfortable.  (Thus my charming 11/20 blog post!)  I awoke at 3 am on Monday morning and went downstairs checking the news, leaving pithy messages on Facebook indicating the kid was never going to come, and then at 4:45 I started not feeling well.  I knew this could be a precursor to labor, but also knew it could damn well be anything due to Crohn's.  I woke Matt up and told him I wasn't feeling well and ran to the bathroom and lo and behold, my water broke (only after a careful inspection with Matt that I wasn't indeed just, you know, peeing or something).  I showered and he took Penny out and finished packing and we made it to the hospital shortly before 7 am.  My contractions were about four minutes apart on the ride over.  

The business of being admitted into the hospital was almost as laborious as having the baby itself.  We arrived at the 7 am shift change and there was a general nonchalance to the ward.  Obviously, these ladies have seen thousands of kids being born, but I think we spent no less than 45 minutes on paperwork (even though I pre-registered and went through all these questions on an earlier visit).  This was all fine and good, but the whole time I was thinking, "Shouldn't someone be checking the vajayjay or something?!"  There was no vajayjay checking to be had!  I felt I had to be at least 8 cm by this time.  Obviously, when I was finally checked around 8, it was a measly 4-5 cm.  Oh.  I guess now I understand the nonchalance.  

Let me stop here and tell you Matt and I had a birth plan.  It was short and sweet but said things like I wanted to labor as long as possible (and stay on my feet) and then receive an epidural, if desired.  It said I didn't want an episiotomy.  It said we wanted delayed cord cutting, skin-to-skin contact immediately after the birth, and have the baby with us at all times.  Now I will say this: None of this actually happened.  

It was really balmy this past weekend so we took a quick stroll through the neighborhood.

Because I was progressing quickly and my contractions were now two minutes apart (and doi, because I'm a sissy), I requested the epidural at 8 am promptly.  Obviously, an anesthesiologist isn't magically summoned and poof they're there, so we completed my paperwork, monitored the baby, finally checked under the hood, and they paged the doctor.  By 9 am he was there with his epidural cart.  He tried for 30 minutes and three different times to insert the epidural to no avail.  It's a bit unnerving to have someone repeatedly stab you in the spine, but heck, I was focused on some pain relief here!  Stab away!  He thought he finally got it (apparently I have tight vertebrae) and went on to his next victim....I mean, patient.  My pain didn't subside so he returned and after another 20 minutes said he'd have to find a colleague to attempt this.  Then he muttered something and left.  


At this point some may say, "Why didn't you just go the natural route?"  I mean, I was progressing quickly, but here's the thing when you're progressing quickly: that shinizzle hurts!!  I have the utmost respect for women who have natural births, but I feel I've been through enough physical pain with my Crohn's, and I had no desire to not take the more comfortable route to delivery.  By 10:30 another anesthesiologist arrived and shortly before 11 the epidural catheter was in and functioning properly and I was feeling sweet, sweet relief.  So much, in fact, I turned on the TV to watched a little "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" (for real, yo) for a few minutes.  As I was enjoying my really sub par reality programming, my nurse started moving the fetal monitor around and frowning.  Then she called in another nurse who did the same thing.  I was scared and asked if the baby was okay.  I remember getting upset and one of the nurses patting me and saying everything would be fine, they're getting the doctor and the slowed heartbeat was probably because the baby was so deep in my pelvis.  Then the other nurse checked my dilation and she yelled, "OH, SHE'S READY!", and paged a member of the NICU team because "We have a meconium birth here!" and my doctor was in the room.  


Matt was confused.  I was confused.  Our doctor, a man I hadn't met previously except for two minutes when I was admitted, instructed Matt to lift one of my legs and for me to grab the other and said, "Okay, now!"  I distinctly remember saying, "What do you mean?!  Push NOW?!?!"  You have to understand in about two minutes I went from tacky TV-viewing to having a kid.  I thought this would take hours!  I had a whole birth playlist, damnit!  I mean, the thing had Enya!  That's some serious stuff, right there!  We didn't even turn over our typed-out birth plan to the medical team since the whole morning was spent on the epidural fiasco.  


"Yes, now!" he said.  By now my nether regions were blissfully numb and I pushed.  He seemed pleased and asked me to push again.  Matt was there and staring at everything wide-eyed, but not making a peep.  I had no idea what the situation was, and certainly wasn't getting any intel from him.  The doctor then said to take one more push and the man grabbed a pair of surgical scissors and since were were in the heat of battle here and a whole nursing team was waiting (where did these women come from?!) I complied and  felt what can only be described as being "opened up" and a lot of pressure.  Due to the epidural, it was only uncomfortable and I saw Matt's face flicker with could only be described as dumb-struck man awe.  There was a pause as the doctor aspirated the baby and then he said for me to grab the baby's arms and pull him or her out.  I reached down and the baby slithered out and I can honestly say it was probably the most profound and surreal moment of my life.  I know, I'm terribly cliched.  And this is not good writing on my part, but it's impossible to capture that feeling and that moment.  (Not that the whole thing was sunshine from the heavens or something.  Matt commented later the room "looked like a scene from Dexter".  Lovely.)


The nurse reminded the doctor we didn't know if we were having a boy or girl and he held her up and I swear on all that is holy I thought, "Now what is going on down there; that's not a scrotum is it?!"  After a pause from Matt and I - the doctor -who thought we must have been serious grade-A twits, said, "It's a girl!"  (Both male and female genitalia is swollen and appears over-sized upon birth.  I even asked Matt if he was slightly confused for a hot second and he exclaimed, "YES!")


And so that is the story of how our 8 pound, 4 ounce Joanna Rose Hopkins came into this world at 11:15 am on Monday, 11/21/11.  Only later did I understand the need for an episiotomy and having to deliver her quickly due to the risk of her inhaling meconium during birth.  But in all, even though nothing really went according to my notion of labor, it was a picture-perfect delivery.  And by that, I mean things happened quickly (and isn't that what you want?!).  I labored drug-free for several hours and progressed at  a nice clip, and when I did finally receive the epidural it was time to push.  By 12:30 I was in my room enjoying an open-faced turkey sandwich (realizing my love of food - even hospital food - this should not surprise you).


And now here we are.  It's Friday today.  We were shocked Annie was a she; everyone said we were having a boy and you start to believe it, but I couldn't be more overjoyed to raise a girl.  Matt is equally smitten.  Facets of her personality are already making an appearance: she is often resolute and stubborn and gives us looks that can only be interpreted as, "Really?  I mean, REALLY?"  I think we have our work cut out for us, and I couldn't be more pleased or in love.


Mr Mom; Matt has Annie in our Moby wrap.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Joanna Rose


This morning at 11:15 we welcomed our daughter, Joanna Rose, to our little family!  She is 8 lbs 4 oz and 20 3/4 inches long - not quite the "monster baby" our doctors purported she'd be!  She came swift and furiously, and we hope her life is filled with as much passion as her arrival.  We couldn't be more in love with our little "Annie".
So much more to come, but thank you for your support, comments, and well wishes - it has meant to the world to me in our journey to parenthood (and here we go...eeek!).

Kathryn and Matt


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Still Waiting....and waiting...

I Google-imaged "late baby" and this image came up.  I don't know what to make of it, but obviously it needed to be posted.



It took us almost two trying years to conceive, and nine slow months in utero, and now this sucker has the audacity to curl up with a good book and settle down for the long haul nestled in my pelvis.  I am three days late, which I know isn't much, but lord almighty if it doesn't feel like three months.


"Your baby's head is right there!" exclaimed the ob/gyn on Friday.  Since I see different doctors in the practice I pointed out that the baby's head has been "right there" for the better part of a month now.  "But you're about 75% effaced as well!"  Look, lady, I was like that last week.  And the week prior.  


Then my mother, who had both me and my sister early (and was resolute when she said I was absolutely going to have this kid early as well), said she was doing some research on late babies, and 1) that our baby was surely going to have a cone-head because he/she has been deep in my pelvis for so long, and 2) "you know that the later they get the bigger they get, right? And then sometimes they can't get them out."  


Thank you mom!


I've tried everything to evacuate this kiddo:


1) Dutifully watching YouTube videos on pressure points that supposedly stimulate labor and having Matt be my personal masseuse.
2) Sex (having sex to try to get a baby out is about as equally fun as having sex trying to get a baby in, let me tell you that, particularly because it's often at 4 am when I can't sleep and Matt is awoken from deep slumber - hehehe).  
3) Walking (this really only helps with the baby "dropping", but mine has been as low as it can go for a month)
4) Jumping up and down like a banchee 
5) Making deals with baby, e.g. "If you come out now maybe I won't be so anti-video game."  (Total lies, I will always be anti-video game.)
6) Taking the non-express train home from work hoping all the bouncing and shaking "will do something".
7) Crying and complaining


That's about it.


On Monday I have a non-stress test, which is just simple protocol for later babies, and monitors the baby's movements and heartbeat, ensuring everything is a-okay.  At that time we'll schedule my induction, which will be sometime after Thanksgiving.  I didn't think I'd be at Thanksgiving stuffed like a damn turkey, but there you go.


Matt is much more zen about the whole thing: "You had such an easy pregnancy and you should be happy our baby made it to full-term," he says.  The only acceptable response to this is a death stare.  Obviously.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Three bowls of soup and a baby (well, not yet)



"The only way to expedite things is to have sex.  Oh, and nipple stimulation," my doctor said.  This is possibly the least sexy thing you can hear in an examination room with your doctor rummaging around your cervix.  (And a great opener to a simple soup blog post!)

For the past three weeks I've been dilated at a measly 2 cm, which means...nothing.  For the past two weeks I have been 70% effaced (effacement measures the thinning and softening of the cervix), which means...nothing (but you gives you a freaky mental image).  For the last four weeks the baby has been "fully engaged", meaning it's at 0 station, or as far down in the birth canal he or she may go, and is "lock and loaded".  Apparently this doesn't mean too much either.  The baby can come today, or weeks from now.  I am due in four days.  

Now, first babies being late is normal, but let's get something straight, here: exactly one week after my due date is Thanksgiving.  This bambino will NOT mess with my turkey dinner.  Nothing keeps me from my stuffing, damnit.  


Speaking of food, I've been doing less cooking but whipped up a simple Moroccan stew tonight.  I love soups and stews because they are 1) healthy, 2) inexpensive, and 3) yield enough for at least 2-3 dinners (aka cater to my lazy-ass-ness).  Of course, I make any stew less healthy serving it with baguettes (or tortilla chips if it's any sort of chili).  It's just the Kathryn way.


Moroccan Stew


Recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com
****I doubled the spices, and didn't really measure anything.  But I guess that's the beauty of stews.  The original recipe is below.



INGREDIENTS:
1 cup French green lentils
3 bay leaves
2 whole garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed hot chile flakes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 butternut squash - peeled, seeded, and
cut into 1-inch cubes
1 (8 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup plain yogurt (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
(optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
DIRECTIONS:
1.Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the lentils, bay leaves, and whole garlic cloves. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer lentils until they are cooked but still firm, about 10 minutes. Drain well. Place lentils in a bowl; toss with olive oil, thyme, and 1 tablespoon chopped garlic. Remove bay leaves and whole garlic cloves; set aside.
2.Heat 1 tablespoon olive in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in chili flakes, cinnamon, cumin, and coriander and cook until fragrant. Add garlic, onion, celery, zucchini, red and yellow peppers, and squash; cook 3 or 4 minutes.
3.Mix in the lentils, tomatoes, chickpeas, and vegetable stock. Raise heat to medium-high until stew just begins to boil; reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the chopped parsley. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with a dollop of yogurt, some chopped mint, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.


This stew is easy and inexpensive; lovely meatless wonder with the addition of the chickpeas!


I can't begin to describe the warm aromas when you add the spices (particularly the cinnamon).  Such a great one-pot Sunday supper.


Take me to Marrakesh, baby!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Matt

If there's one thing I'll miss about my pregnancy it's how it brought Matt and me closer together.  I've heard from so many people that you only have your first once, how exciting the time is, to enjoy every moment of it, but I never was able to appreciate that until now, in the sunset of my pregnancy.


Seeing Matt download audio books on happy babies, or practicing swaddling on that damn stuffed frog, or take my hand protectively as we cross the street, have made my heart swell: I have never been so in love.  He will be a soothing source to our (probable) Scorpio baby: his calming demeanor coupled with his/her passionate intensity.  That's what I like to think anyway.  Two nights ago he told me he hopes our child is feisty like his/her mother, and I know I couldn't be with anyone better: someone who actually appreciates I go from tears to snark in twenty seconds flat.  Someone who enjoys putting up with me.  Someone who never makes me feel "less than" for my shortcomings.  


I know he will be an amazing father, and I cannot wait for the ride of our lives to begin. 


Matt figuring out the infant car seat and the car seat base.
 (I still don't know how they snap apart.)
With disrupted sleep and a long commute, I'm lazier than ever.
Matt has been doing much of the cooking and I just had to snap a photo of this:
toothpicks in my chicken sandwich.  


Using the last of our summer basil he mad a rustic bruschetta.
Lounging on the couch in dirty sweats I hardly thought I was worthy.
And again, a "10" for presentation!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Leech Baby!

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked about my butt boil.  I’m truly touched.  My gluteus maximus is truly touched.  You have been so kind to us both!

So my butt boil (coded “boil of the buttocks” on my office visit receipt – I can’t make this stuff up) is a measly nothing compared to its former self.  My GI does not think I have a fistula and it was a freak occurrence.  I pray and shimmy my behind to the butt gods!  She warned me repeatedly about flare-ups post-birth, however, which is very common, and ordered some blood work.  Today she called me with the results, and I can only say the following: I have a leech baby.

“Your albumin levels are exceedingly low,” she said.  “My what?” I said.  “Your albumin levels.  And protein.  Basically your general nutrition.  Since you refused to get on the scale at your office visit, can you tell me how much weight you gained during the pregnancy?”  My response: “I’m not sure; I stopped looking about 1.5 months ago.”  (Hells no I wasn’t going to burden myself with that information!)  Her response: sighing (although I really do believe she was sort of tickled at my idiocy).  “Well,” she continued, “with Crohn’s and your surgery you’re already not absorbing enough nutrients, but now the baby is sucking everything else.  I’m sure the baby is fine, but I wanted to ask how you’re feeling.  It’s rare to see numbers this low.  I’m going to fax them to your ob/gyn.  It’s nothing to be terribly concerned about; basically, the baby is like a parasite, getting all the nutrients it can.  I’m very glad you got pregnant at a time you were feeling well; this is why you have to start off on the best possible footing.” 

My response?  “I have a leech baby!” 

I wrote this to Matt saying to feed me a Cornish game hen tonight with a side of steak.  His response: “With the baby coming we cannot afford that but I’m sure Penny will let you have some of her special lamb dog food.”  No one takes me seriously!

Now, I’ve been pretty tired the last couple weeks (this week it’s hit pretty hard), but that’s normal, and sleep is starting to be disrupted, and I’m busy at work.  I told Matt that I am surely the world’s most amazing pregnant lady since I’m not only pregnant, but pregnant with a leech baby, and still am out and about.  (He has yet to email me back after that one.)

Speaking of leech babies, our child has had many nicknames throughout the pregnancy.  There was “monster baby” when we thought he or she was going to be a ten pounder.  There is “alien baby” because we believe all newborns look like extraterrestrials.  Of course, “Cletus the Fetus” was a popular one.  The other day, after getting a higher heartbeat for the baby, I asked my ob/gyn if there was a cause.  “Did you just eat breakfast?” she said.  I said I had a banana and she said, “Oh, you must have a monkey baby!”  She then got terribly flustered and apologized about five times for calling the kid a monkey baby, and all I could think was, “Look, lady, monkey baby is probably the best thing it’s been called this whole time.”

Today our baby is considered full-term.  And I just can’t wait to meet that little sucker.

(Get it?!?!)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

One month left!

35 weeks!  (In the work bathroom..what else?!)


A somewhat Crohn’s related post!  I know, I know – what’s Crohn’s again?  First, let’s get to the good stuff (because Crohn’s, any way you slice and dice it, is never the good stuff). 

I’ve been measuring three weeks large (now I’m not sure how they can ascertain that with a tape measure of my jelly belly, but alas…) so Matt and I paid the ob/gyn a visit this past Monday for a measurement ultrasound.  Matt, who has been downloading audio books purporting to make your baby smarter (and who knows what else) said he wants a child no less than nine pounds (as nine pounds is the optimal weight for a smart baby…obviously).  Now, that skinny monkey isn’t birthing anything, so I’m not sure where he gets off.  And lord knows I’ve got some bajunk-a-junk hips, but let’s not get excessive.  On Monday, slightly before I hit the 35 week mark, the baby was measuring at 5.5 pounds, with an estimated birth weight of upwards of 8.5 pounds.  I can handle that.

On another positive note, the nursery is completed!  We went as clich├ęd as one can go when a baby’s gender is a mystery and did the room up in yellow and green.  Here are some photos!:


Matt chose and applied the decals.  Half because he should have some say, and half because I'm lazy.

And here he is holding a swaddled frog.  He loves that frog.  First it went with us to the breastfeeding class, and now he practices his swaddling on it.  Look how he cradles it.

Well...at least he's getting into it and all...

Today we had our first run to the hospital.  I hadn’t felt the baby move since yesterday (sorry, Mom, whom I spoke to on the phone this morning and didn’t want to alarm) and as the Eagles game started I told Matt we needed to call the doctor.  (Perfect timing on my part, if I do say so myself.)  Now, I’m not a hypochondriac or an alarmist, but every appointment they’re dishing advice about “kick counts” and it’s hard to count how many kicks you’re feeling when you feel, well, nothing.  The baby’s movements have been getting less frequent and more subtle due to the lack of space to move around in, but they just gosh darn fizzled out.  I tried everything: ice cold water, lying on my left side, half a box of Joe-Joe’s (Trader Joe’s version of Oreos – the sugar was to kick-start the baby, I swear!).  After a good 12 hours of lazy baby we made our way to the hospital where everything was absolutely hunky dory.  “It seems you have a happy baby,” said the doctor.  Oops.  “Better safe that sorry!” she said and then exclaimed, “Wow; you’re having a lot of contractions; did you just feel that?”  Lordy I am not in tune with my body (or apparently baby) at all; what contraction?!  Although contractions at 35.5 weeks are completely normal, that’s what made Matt and I hightail it home to finish the nursery.  Up went a mirror, and I washed all the baby’s clothes and bedding. 

Now, no Crohn’s post is without the icky, so let’s get started: a couple weeks ago I thought I had finally entered the holy grail of expectant motherhood: I thought I had myself a big ol’ hemorrhoid.  The first thing I did was thrust my butt into my beloved’s face for a look-see.  This happens more than you know.  He diagnosed an “internal hemorrhoid” after some Googling.  Two days later the thing started (bear with me here; this is educational!) seeping.  Oh lord no.  With a maxi pad on my butt I called the doctor who said to come in. 

“It’s like…a boil.  An abscess.”  We obviously immediately dubbed the affliction “Kathryn’s butt boil”.  She said it could be nothing; an aftereffect from an ingrown hair (no Brazilian waxes here).  So she took a sample, and off I went.

Now, earlier this week I have been feeling a fair amount of discomfort: my jelly belly is now rock hard (the only time in my life I’ll have hard abs), cramps are frequent, insomnia, and my stomach is a mess.  Being 35 weeks pregnant I think this is somewhat normal, and I’ve been traveling and eating out (restaurant food and stress) so of course things are a bit off.  But on Wednesday the practice called and said the culture was odd in that it showed bacteria that is only found within the GI track.  “You need to call your GI; this could be a fistula.”  Well, smack my hiney, the Crohn’s is back!

As I write this (Sunday) I’m feeling better and carefully monitoring the butt boil (it’s the same if you cared to know, and of course you cared to know).  I have a GI appointment this week so we’ll see; I was a woe-is-me sob fest mid-week but now feel defiant, or at least adopted an eye-rolling, “Well, isn’t this lovely” sort of attitude.  This pregnancy was a proverbial piece of cake; minimal fatigue, no morning sickness, little swelling, and I frankly don’t get what all the fuss is about (I’d like to think I’m pretty hardcore, but Matt obnoxiously reminds me because of my size carrying a baby is easier than my petite counterparts, which I feel is absolutely true, but gosh darnit, give me some credit here!).  So if my body is going to poop out in the home stretch, so be it: I think I’ve been pretty lucky so far.


Here's to the next month!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

33 Weeks

I’ve come to the conclusion that people who fly must decide that airport bathrooms are entirely inferior to those on the plane, because nary three minutes into our flight (three!) a stream of pea-sized bladder passengers were making their way to the lavatory in the back of the Airbus-whatever-whatever.  I surely thought the flight attendants would say, “Get back in your seat and use Depends next time!” but no.  We had JUST TAKEN OFF and were rapidly ascending. 

I am a fearful flyer, particularly during take-off.  Once we reach cruising altitude color comes back in my face, I unclench my palms from the arm rests, and I get with the program.  I know it was early in the flight because immediately during and after take-off I put my fingers to my ears so I can only hear the low rumble of the engines (I don’t need to hear the wings moving, the landing gear retracting or any of that nonsense).  My fingers were still at my ears when these people started the trek to the restroom, totally oblivious Philadelphia was still below us.  I say this irked because I sit in the aisle seat, and their rumps are constantly butting into my face.  I also say this as a 33-week pregnant woman: if I can hold it, so can you.

So here I am, jetting from Philadelphia to Charlotte to Tallahassee for work.  The leg from Charlotte to Tallahassee is on a tiny plane, and by tiny, I mean medium-sized.  I mean, the thing’s no Cessna or anything, but ten rows doesn’t quite work for me.  My fear of flying has gradually increased with each passing year.  As a kid you’re too dumb to know any better, and as an adult I’m too dumb to understand the physics of how a plane can stay airborne.  Doesn’t it need to flap its wings or something?

Nearing the end of my pregnancy, I perhaps have a deeper sense of what can be lost in a tragedy.  As in, when did we start discussing how much life insurance we’ll need?  When did we hit the cusp of thirty years old?  And how the heck are the two of us dunces going to care for a newborn in less than two months?!

Everything is coming to a happy head: I feel overwhelmed and positively giddy, and dare I say, ready.  Last night Matt felt the baby for the first time: hard, seemingly petulant thumps on my left side. 

It was magic.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake


I love my husband dearly.  But not enough to spend forty bucks on an ice cream cake for his 29th birthday in late July.  $40 ice cream cake?!  That is some ardent, first-year-together love right there!  (Or something to save for the much lauded 30th!)  Since we're more of the "Is this a pimple or a tick on my scalp?" type of couple (I seriously ask this at least 2x a week), boy was getting something else.  So I made his other favorite dessert: a cheesecake.  Matt adores cheesecake.  That doesn't make him a sophisticate, because he equally adores pudding (even more so if they come in those little cups).  He is a complicated creature.

I never made a cheesecake because, although supremely simple, they intimidated me (I mean, they crack!).  Also because I know I cannot be trusted near a cheesecake.  After reading a quickie primer on cheesecake perfection (bake with a hot water bath to reduce cracking) I made this super simple white chocolate raspberry ditty that is highly rated on All Recipes.  Many readers suggested to just nuke the white chocolate chips instead of utilizing a double broiler (who DOES that anyway?) so I did.  They also said seedless raspberry jam or preserves are just as good as cooking down the whole fruit, so I did that too.  With those modifications this recipe is simple and fool-proof, and perfect piled high with summer fruit for a deceptively impressive meal closer.

***The recipe, in the original form, appears below.  Again, I used raspberry preserves, microwaved the 1/2 and 1/2 with the white chocolate chips, and did not add additional sugar to the crust (like Oreos don't have enough sugar?! Pah-lease.)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.
  2. In a saucepan, combine raspberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to boil, and continue boiling 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer to remove seeds.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). In a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt white chocolate chips with half-and-half, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla and melted white chocolate.  Pour half of batter over crust. Spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over batter. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan, and again spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.
  5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours before removing from pan. Serve with remaining raspberry sauce.

This cheesecake should be called "Pseudo White Chocolate Cheesecake" because I ate half of these suckers before they got nuked.
Same thing with the Oreos.  You know a sleeve of those things was gone before baking began.  Duh.

For water bath (to prevent drying): Wrap spring form pan in foil and place in a jelly roll pan with about a 1/2" of hot water.  Bake.  Eat.


Tip: Arrange copious amounts of berries to hide any imperfections.

Poor Matt looks like he's enjoying his birthday treats alone.  I swear: there were folks on the other side of the table.  (Maybe.)

Happy Super Duper Belated Birthday, Matt!