Tuesday

The cuteness expiration date

Fact: Everything babies do is cute. I know some would argue with me that the midnight screaming sessions and exploding diapers aren't so adorable, but I stand firm in my initial statement. Every little thing a baby does is considered cute.

I dressed my daughter in her Winnie the Pooh track suit this morning, and as I pulled her little pants up to her belly button on her disproportioned baby torso, she resembled Fred Mertz a la I Love Lucy.

Now this isn't a good look for anyone, unless your fashion icon is Steve Urkel, then you have achieved your goal. But while on a grown adult, pants up to your armpits would look ridiculous, on a baby it draws sounds of laughter and "Oh my goodness, what a pwetty widdle girl you are!" It's not like you can buy low-rise pants for your baby. That would lead to the need for thong diapers and it's all downhill from there.

With this in mind, I've compiled my list of what I have given the lengthy title: "Stuff That is Totally Cute When Babies Do It, But Weird Coming From An Adult."

- Hiccups. When a baby hiccups, their whole body expands and contracts. The mouse squeak that accompanies each bounce is endearing. To hear that little "Hee-ooh" and watch their limbs flail is hysterical. Since you can't exactly scare a baby or say "Here kiddo- drink this glass of water upside down while standing on one leg and humming the National Anthem," you have to ride the hiccups out with a smile.

Now if an adult made that much fan fair with each diaphragm spasm, you would last maybe five minutes before throwing a shoe at them.

- Spit up. When my daughter spits up, the trickle of regurgitated milk from her mouth is accompanied by one of the best facial expressions I have ever seen. Her eyes look so confused and slightly panicked, and if she had a cartoon thought bubble over her head I think it would say, "What the crap? What's happening? What did I do to deserve this?" 

Since adult spit up is usually caused by illness or drunkenness, it is not an occasion for laughter. And since our stomachs hold more, um, diverse contents than a baby's, the results are absolutely disgusting. Although, that same facial expression might still occur.

-Crying. I know how terribly cruel this sounds, but any mom knows what I mean here. I'm not referring to cries of pain or those pitiful whimpers. But the big honking wails, complete with red scrunchy face and quivering chin. It may not sound cute, but it gets to a point where the baby looks so utterly ridiculous it circles back to cute again.

Now if you have a baby girl, chances are you will experience this crying again over the course of parenthood. But with the exception of excruciating pain or extreme emotional trauma, watching an adult kick their legs and screech through crocodile tears is just comical (and cause to seek therapy.)

And the number one, ultimate cute thing babies do that is weird coming from an adult is:

- Baby farts

People will giggle with pure glee when a baby farts, especially if the baby does it while you are holding them. Now I thought fart humor was limited to the realm of teenage boys and Jack Black movies, but babies open up a whole new world in which it is appropriate for anyone to laugh at that little (or sometimes not so little) tooting noise coming from the diaper.

If an adult were to fart while sitting on your lap, chances are there would be a high level of discomfort. But when a baby passes gas, it is the most adorable rush of air you'll ever feel on your leg.

Monday

Making the breast of things

When I wrote my initial post about breast feeding, never did I imagine the scenarios that would occur when I actually put my money where my boobs are.

The proverbial “they” say that breast feeding is better for babies on all levels, nutritionally and even emotionally. The skin to skin bonding is supposed to help with raising well-adjusted children. Charles Manson must have been a formula baby.

Many pregnant women wonder “How will I know when my milk comes in?” Well ladies, when you wake up feeling like someone poured concrete in your breasts and they are about to explode – your milk has come in.

I found that my daughter has three phases to let me know she is hungry. The “More Milk” dance typically begins when CeCe starts gurgling and waving her hands around in the air. With her tiny arms peeking out from the gaping sleeves of her sleeping gowns, she resembles some sort of baby wizard speaking gibberish and casting spells.

Phase two begins when the baby starts grunting like a wild boar and attempting to chew her sleeve, blanket, Daddy's hand, whatever is within her very limited range.

Naturally, the last phase of the hunger dance concludes with CeCe wailing her head off like someone is amputating one of her toes without anesthesia.

I usually try to get my torso disrobed before phase two ends. Because CeCe's jaw clamps down like a bear trap when she's kept waiting too long.

We've been successful so far in our nursing journey, with a few surprises along the way. I never knew how far breast milk could spray on its own accord.

In our second week home, Matt, CeCe and I were enjoying some t.v. time together and our little girl wanted a snack. But in the middle of assuaging her appetite, she abruptly slipped off of her target and revealed a stream of milk that shot across the room.

As I frantically spun from side to side looking for a burp cloth, I looked like a human lawn sprinkler. When I resorted to simply slamming my hand over the blast, I looked down to see my daughter's beautiful face covered forehead to chin in milk. Awesome.

Beyond the fact that a new mom's breasts occasionally turn into tiny uncontrollable volcanoes that erupt milk lava with no warning, we've tackled the issues that come with nursing although I'm sure there are many more to come. The main lessons I've learned from nursing in this short time have to be:

A) When your home is being overrun by visitors wanting to coo and cuddle your child, you can always slip away for some private time with baby by nursing, and

B) When life gives you excess boob milk, choose to laugh about it. Your couch cushions may get sprayed, your shirts will be soaked, but if you choose laughter when it happens- you'll be smiling a lot.


My Labor of Love

The last two weeks have gone by quickly, but have no fear readers- time has not erased the memories I have of Tuesday, the 23rd. I've been mentally scripting this post since I got my epidural and am delighted that CeCe has decided to sleep peacefully so Mommy can get back to blogging.

When I awoke at 6 a.m. that Tuesday with stabbing pains in my gut, I told myself one thing over and over: "If this is false labor again I'm going to kick somebody."

Of course, it was the real deal. Thankfully my mother was by my side to whisk/ help me waddle to the hospital and we proceeded to get down to business. As my contractions intensified I was sure the nurses thought I was insane. Despite all the breathing techniques we learned, my reaction to the pain was to squirm around, moan, shake my hands frantically above my head and tap my feet against the railing of my hospital bed.

For those women of the world who endured drug-free childbirth, I applaud you with one hand, and use the other to shake you while screaming, "What were you thinking?"

Just let it be known pregnant-world, there is no medal awarded for not taking advantage of pain medication during labor.

I toughed it out to 5 centimeters then thought "I made it halfway naturally- that is admirable. Bring on the drugs."

Because some idiot father in California passed out during his wife's epidural, hit his head and sued the hospital, my anesthesiologist wouldn't allow anyone but the nurse in the room for the big event. Luckily, he was quite the soothing presence. With his salt and pepper beard and surgical cap that attempted to hide his ponytail, he was the type of guy who if asked what his favorite Grateful Dead album was, you know he would have a well-thought out answer.

The doctor chatted me up during the process, calling me "mama" the whole time, which I feel was more of a 1970's throwback term of endearment rather than a reference to my status as "mother." And once he had that little silver tube in place, there was no trying to understand- he was my magic man. I was numb from the waist down and kept poking my own legs in amazement at my lack of feeling.

But the love of being numb wore off when it came time to push. While the nurse kept telling me I was doing great, I certainly couldn't tell. You do what you think is pushing, unsure of what muscles you are using or if any progress is being made- and then you feel it. The bowling ball reaches the end of the tunnel. It wasn't painful, but the pressure was overwhelming.

Because they anticipated I would take a few hours of pushing, they didn't call the doctor in right away. Well the medical staff certainly underestimated how badly I wanted to meet this baby. I was quickly informed to stop pushing, to which I said, "Um, yeah, not an option right now. Sorry."

The doctor actually had to jump forward to catch CeCe I popped her out so fast. I started pushing at 9:00 and my daughter was born 29 minutes later. That didn't surprise me at all - UK had a basketball game that night, and tip-off was at 9:30.She had her priorities straight.

Sunday

Just the beginning

Cecelia Kathryn was born Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 9:29 p.m. She weighed in at 7 lbs, 3 oz, 20 inches long.

As I adjust to my new schedule and lifestyle, rest assured that I'm stock-piling plenty of new posts about the experience of labor and the first few days home. So check back in a few days, now is when the real fun begins!

Monday

A not-so-grand finale

While I've resigned myself to thinking that my daughter must have signed another 9-month lease on my uterus, I can't help but contemplate my upcoming labor (which could be any day now. Fingers crossed.)

When you really think about it, labor is not something I should be excited about. "Wait- you mean I get to spend an undetermined amount of time writhing in pain while an assortment of strangers take turns exposing my vagina and it culminates with the possibility of torn flesh and pooping myself? What are we waiting for?!?!"

But the reaction I will have to the onset of labor is likely to be the same as if I was a chubby 5-year-old in a Cinderella costume boarding the plane to DisneyWorld. It is going to be a magical experience simply because it marks the end to pregnancy.

When my water breaks, you might mistake that I just discovered the winning Powerball ticket in my pocket. I want to jog into the maternity ward while my friends form a human tunnel and I throw high fives as I make my way to the LDR room.That is how excited I am to go into labor.

This won't exactly be my first time in the delivery room. I was lucky enough to witness the birth of my nephew, which you think would have caused me to sew my knees shut in an effort to avoid childbirth. My fondest memories of that day include a nurse telling me that I would be wanting a baby next and my grandmother saying "She needs to get a boyfriend first." I was 18 at the time.

Well take that, Memaw- now I have my own happy accident to love and cherish. Terribly appropriate, I know.

Other than the subtle digs at my freshman dating drought, I also got the pleasure of viewing a real-live newborn baby. And I will be the first to tell you that the beautiful, gorgeous baby boy who came out of my sister was disgusting.

Newborns look like aliens. A mixture of blood and slime coated his skin that somehow managed to be white and purple at the same time. I was not aware that most babies are born with a cone head that corrects itself, so I believed my father's cruel joke that James would need a special helmet to correct the defect. His eyes were swollen and goopy, and his belly button clamp scared me.

Obviously, no child is born perfectly pink and clean and smelling like a baby. That part comes a bit later. But for some reason we are convinced that this awkward creature is adorable. I believe this to be a direct result of the relief that the ordeal is over. You could hand me a shaved rat covered in Vaseline and I would declare it to be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, if it signified the end to pregnancy and labor.

So bring on the pain and all the ugly that comes with it. After 40 weeks of this business, I'm ready to call it all beautiful.

Tuesday

Shotgun weddings decline in popularity

I'm trendy. And I don't mean that like I am all about Ugg boots, the new plaid for fall or totally into Katy Perry at the moment. I am part of a national trend in my life decision to visit the delivery room before the wedding chapel.

In a recent New York Times article, someone finally decided to look at how many “single moms” aren't really single. More than one quarter of us are cohabitating with a partner. 28 percent, in fact. One in four of the women society views as “single moms” actually have just as much (if not more) help from the other half of their baby's genetic code.

So congratulations to all the other members of the “Living in Sin Club”! We finally have put enough of a dent in the statistics that someone is paying attention to our actual living situation rather than the lack of a gold ring on our swollen fingers.

More couples are opting to have a child but hold off on the wedding bells. We are saying "I do ... just not right now." Apparently it's time to change the childhood playground taunts. For more and more couples, first comes love, then comes a joint lease, then comes a baby carriage. And the marriage? Eh, when it's time.

If Beyonce would have called the song “All the Single Mothers,” the lyrics might have been a bit different. “If he likes it, then he will put a ring on it eventually when we are in a more financially and emotionally stable situation.” Not as catchy in the clubs, but the truth.

I hope that this represents a cultural shift in how we approach the idea of family. No longer are we being pushed into shotgun weddings out of fear for how outsiders will view unmarried parents. Bad news for the maternity-wedding dress industry.

Many right-wingers would say that this study only proves that the sanctity of marriage and family is being degraded, but I argue the opposite. I think that my decision to hold off on marriage shows my respect for the institution. Instead of jumping blindly into a marriage out of shame or guilt for my pregnancy, I am waiting for the right reasons. You know, that whole “love” thing?

Or I could go the way the fundamentalists prefer, march down the aisle just because my birth control failed and end up statistically more likely to get a divorce. How is that for the sanctity of marriage?

While the views of society may be slow to change, I hope this recognition for our demographic will be reflected in a tangible way.

A simple way to acknowledge this growing trend would be a new check box on government forms. Seriously, Facebook has more options for defining my relationship status. 

On medical forms and such, you are married, once were married, or you are single. Single. Alone. Solitary. Not part of a couple. When you start throwing synonyms out there, doesn't seem so harmless, does it?

With a growing number of pregnant women in the same boat (probably on the verge of capsizing under our collective weight), it's time to consider a change in the way we strictly limit relationship categories. I understand that “In a committed relationship but waiting for marriage due to personal reasons or political obstacles” may be a bit much.
But how about a good old simple “Unmarried” option? “Unmarried” allows me to say “I am not necessarily single, but I am legally not bound to another human being.”

The study's data is from 2008, so I am sure the number of cohabitating couples delaying marriage is even higher now and will continue to grow as more couples choose to ignore the stigma of being *gasp!* unmarried parents. So holla at all my not-so-single ladies. The times they are a-changing.


Tricked, but no treat

Three-foot-tall superheroes and various Disney princesses ran amuck in my neighborhood Sunday night, as I'm sure they did in many of yours, as children participated in one of my favorite holidays.Oh that glorious night of smearing your child's face with paint that falsely promised to wash off easily and then pumping them full of sugary treats right before bed time.

Halloween is grand.

Instead of the usual shenanigans of a Halloween party, Matt and I opted to stay in for the night since I am beyond-comfortable pregnant. I considered donning a sequined dress and going as a disco ball, but sweatpants just seemed much more appealing.

While my Halloween night was spent eating excessive amounts of candy and trying to avoid catching any glimpse of the seventeen Michael Myers movies being shown repeatedly (I don't care if they are edited for television, they are still scary), my unborn daughter was busy with her own Halloween plan.

Apparently my little girl is going to be a prankster. Even though she is still inside my uterus, she managed to pull a fast one on me, a little trick known as false labor.

Waking up at 5 a.m. is no rarity for a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy. But this particular wake up call I received was unusual in the intensity of contractions. So after timing them for a few hours on my handy iPhone Contraction Counter App, I called the doctor and he gave me the go ahead to come on in.

But after being poked, prodded and probed, the extremely unfunny punchline was revealed to me- my cervix was nowhere near dilated. I was still sealed up tighter than Justin Bieber's chastity belt.

Let it be known, false labor is a cruel and terrible joke by Mother Nature. Because if what I was feeling were just practice pains, I would rather have not known what is in store when the real deal comes along. You try to keep yourself calm in the moment, but that excitement couldn't help but pry it's way into my brain, whispering "we might have a baby today."

Well, little voice in my brain, shut your pie hole because all I got was seven hours of Braxton-Hicks and not a single baby to show for it. We ended up coming home and spending the rest of the day on the couch trying to ignore the consistent waves of contractions that proved to be a big joke. Not funny, baby! Mommy's not laughing!

I just hope this isn't an indication of what I can expect from her in the future. "Hey Mom, I'm ready to get here .... J/K, hahaha!" I don't know how many more false alarms I can handle before I become overly frustrated and just start pushing.

I thought I might be getting a wonderful treat in the birth of my daughter, but alas, I was tricked by hormones and wound up with nothing but leftover Reese's cups. So now every pang in my abdomen, every strange drop of fluid I leak, is suspect. I just hope baby girl got these hijinks out of her system. Because I'm ready for the real shebang, no joke about it.

Monday

Speed it up!

As I hit that glorious milestone of the long-awaited ninth month, I feel like a marathon runner with the finish line finally in sight. Only instead of being able to sprint toward that finish line, I'm first saddled with a backpack full of bricks, ankle weights and a wheelbarrow piled high with concrete blocks.

It is the home stretch, and stretching is certainly what this time period is doing. Just like the first cut is the deepest, the last month of pregnancy is the longest. And much like many pregnant women before me, I've succumbed to the curiosity, flipped to that chapter in the child-bearing bible of "What to Expect" and read up on my options for inducing labor at home. Trust me, if Mary had this book and access to some castor oil and spicy food, Christmas would be in November.

I have decided to hold off for a few more weeks, but it's still good to be informed as to what tricks are out there. School House Rockin' baby, knowledge is power.

It's not surprising that just like everything else in pregnancy, trying to induce your own labor is not glamorous. There is, as mentioned, the castor oil and spicy food. Apparently wreaking havoc on your intestines can jump start labor by tricking your body into having contractions. Of course the massive diarrhea that must come first won't be so fun, but if you're willing to put your colon through its own personal Hiroshima, then go for it.

Sex is another option for inducing labor, and what a cute way to bookend your pregnancy. The deed is what got you in this mess in the first place, so why not get busy to start the big show? Of course, you are nine months pregnant and probably feel like you are the size of a small hippo. So good luck finding a comfortable position to have wobbly, weird sex in just so you can be absolutely exhausted afterward.

Walking is probably the simplest method for inducing labor and one any mama can try with ease. In fact, any exercise can help, especially if it lets gravity do the work and helps baby slide on down. If you see a pregnant woman on the verge of popping doing laps around your neighborhood, chances are she is trying to get things moving along.

Herbal remedies- they're not just for hippies! Some people may swear by the power of plants, but I'm pretty skeptical that some root mashed into tea will start my labor. And doctors generally disapprove of venturing outside of Western medicine when it comes to something as important as your baby's health. So before heading over to your local hemp-clad medicine woman, I'd call the OB and avoid the smell of patchouli unless desperate.

Frustrations are surely to get worse before anything gets better this month, but I'm realistic in knowing that these are simply possible tricks and not foolproof methods for causing labor. The baby will come when she is good and ready, no matter how long I've been good and ready and waiting. Of course, that is my opinion now. By next week who knows, I might be ready to give Mother Nature a good kick in the butt. Castor oil cocktails all around!

Tuesday

An X-rated meal

If you've wandered into a maternity store lately, you've probably noticed all the racks featuring those super-nifty tops with clips on the straps that fold down and bare all. And while many women only know this style as associated with lingerie and sexy time, the growing supply of nursing bra's, nursing tank tops and nursing night gowns is a sign of the times- Breast feeding is totally in.

Many new moms (such as myself) find the option of breast feeding to be a no-brainer. Seriously ladies, why do you think they are even there? Decoration for your sternum?

It's shocking to me that once upon a time, breast feeding was not considered the best option for babies. My grandmother recalled how doctor's offered an injection at the hospital to “dry you up” because breast feeding was so outdated. We had formula now, and newer is always better. Right?

False. But even though the medical world is now pushing breast feeding, there is still some apprehension about the practice and I can understand it. We have been raised to think that breasts are a private part of our body (at least I was.) And suddenly, they are no longer an piece of your sex appeal, but a critical part of motherhood.

The challenge of getting it right, the fear of it being painful, the hassle of timing feedings and/or pumping- none of those scare me too much. I'm more uncomfortable with the idea of how many people are going to see my boobs by the time my child has stopped nursing. I've never been one to reveal cleavage. I think Snookie's mother should have locked her in the house for dressing like she does.

Being exposed at the hospital is one thing. They're medical professionals, the human body is nothing they don't see every day. So a nurse helping my baby latch on might be ok. But what about when you come home? Everytime a visitor comes during meal time, will they get the hint to take a hike and call first next time? Or will I get to enjoy the awkward dance of “I need to lift my shirt up now, what are you going to do?”

I'm guessing I'll just exile myself to the nursery for feedings when others are around, but eventually I will want to leave my house and need to bring the baby in tow. Then we get to see how the rest of the world will react to a public display of breast feeding.

Many moms say after a certain amount of time, you just stop caring who sees you and what they think. After being pooped on and having your boobs leak through your shirt so many times, I'm guessing you stop sweating the small stuff. 

So when baby's tummy starts growling, you stop mid-stroll through the park, or on a bench at the mall, or even out at a restaurant and then what? Whip out one of your girls and let the little one chug away? Throw a stylish nursing shawl over your shoulder first and think no one will notice? Or do we hide away in a bathroom stall until our babies are full?

I think no matter what we do, there will always be people who stare or are uncomfortable by the practice. We can go to whatever lengths possible to be discreet but it won't matter to some. I think the proper approach to breast feeding in public is whatever we as mothers are comfortable with. After all, they are our boobs. If you don't want to see them, don't look.

Monday

The Genetic Code

Growing up, how often did you hear "You look just like your mother!"?

For me, I couldn't walk into our local Wal-mart without being pegged as my father's daughter. My family portrait has been accused of being a cloning experiment though, we all tend to share a face. And now that I'm adding a member to that portrait I am stuck pondering the concept of genetics and how they will apply to my baby.

Jot down a quick list of what you don't like about your appearance. Not the best exercise for self-esteem, but stay with me here, I promise I can be more uplifting.

Then make a list of the traits you possess that people associate with your parents. (Your mother's eyes, your father's smile, etc;)

Finally, make a list of things you like about your appearance.

Now take those points and make a list of how you want your baby to look. Oh, don't pretend you haven't done this already. Because just like other people pick apart our faces and attribute them to one parent or the other, it is natural to wonder what our children will inherit from us, good or bad.

Genetics are a wild concept. Our offspring resemble our own faces forging an instinctual affection. Seeing bits of yourself reflected in that baby reinforces the desire to nurture and protect them.

But what about when that child grows up? When they are able to evaluate and critique their own appearance, will they be as appreciative for those resemblances are we were? Or will they turn into sullen teenagers who resent you for passing on poor vision and freckled skin?

Just a quick google search will reveal endless programs that promise to morph photos of you and your partner to reveal what your child will look like. And they usually end up looking like a bug-eyed alien with a skin disorder.

It's the same approach as cutting out individual facial characteristics from a photo of the family and pasting them ransom-note style to a surface. Cut out dad's eyes and stick them on top of mom's nose, put grandma's smile below and auntie's hair as the cherry on top. Now that you've compiled your ideal combination of genetic traits, how cute is that baby? Yeah, didn't think so.

 I hope my daughter can accept the best of her inherited traits with the bad as well. And I hope I can let go of this preoccupation with genetics since I can't control a darn thing about it. Will she have her dad's nose? My bad teeth? His fair skin? My curly hair?

All I know is that she will have a nose in general. And teeth and skin. And hair, unless she goes through a Sinead O'Connor phase, which is her choice. Whoever she may resemble is up to nature, but I am sure that no matter what she looks like, I'll find a piece of myself in there somewhere.

Friday

Shameless Plug

A new post to follow soon- I'm currently stressing about the concept of genetics.

But before I get to writing I wanted to let you all know that my blog updates can be found on the Lexington Family Magazine website, along with articles and local resources for all the pregnant ladies in Central Kentucky. Enjoy!

Tuesday

A deranged diet

"Waiter- I'd like a tuna salad sandwich with some ketchup, fried pickles, a side of mashed potatoes with salsa and cover everything in hot sauce. Thanks."

 If you're ever uttered something akin to this order, you probably have been pregnant. Or you have something seriously wrong with your taste buds and should go see a doctor.

Pregnancy cravings are a myth for some women, and a daily routine for others. Lately I have fallen into the latter. My new favorite meal is to make some chicken-flavored Ramen noodles, cover them in soy sauce, add curry and garlic powder, then top it off with cheese. I could eat five bowls of this salty, spicy noodle-soup a day and then some.

Eating out when experiencing cravings can be difficult. Wanting to combine flavors and textures that would make the chef gag can be an awkward request, but I think if I'm willing to pay the extra 75 cents for a side of guacamole with my fried chicken then I should get it without the look of disgust from the server.

Cravings don't always have to mean the weird combos of Frosted Flakes crushed up in chili. Sometimes it can just be an intense desire for one completely normal food in particular, just in extreme quantities. For example, I spent $7 on Kit-Kat bars yesterday and only have one left as of this moment. Half of one actually. By the end of this post I will have no Kit-Kats and one chocolate-smeared computer keyboard.

I went on a potato kick in my second trimester that would have made an Irishman say "Damn girl."  Potato soup, scalloped potatoes, chicken covered in potato chips- it was my Hobbit Diet. And like most things, it passed.

As long as your cravings don't involve food or drink that is harmful for the baby, don't be embarrassed by what your belly is growling for. Indulge. From what experienced moms tell me, often times the very foods you craved while pregnant will be repulsive to you once baby is born. And according to the baby books, your child can actually taste the things you eat during pregnancy past a certain point. So eat strategically Mama- maybe you should be loading up on brussel sprouts while you can still tell your child what to eat.

Thursday

Dude, where's my everything?

Pregnesia has hit me hard and fast lately. I think it's a good idea to sew my name and address inside all my clothing, so when I get lost in my backyard a neighbor will know "If lost, please return this disoriented pregnant woman to 2222 Expectant Mama Lane."

Forgetfulness and general ditziness are common symptoms of Pregnesia, for those of you lucky enough to be unfamiliar. Written off as a joke diagnosis, I am speaking out in my confused state to say that this crap is legit.

Even in the limited space I have to lose things these days, I still manage to misplace every single item I seek out during a normal day. I'm more convinced than ever that Pregnesia is very real and my affliction is in the advanced stages.

Purse on top of the car, car keys in the kitchen cabinet, frozen waffles in the vegetable drawer- it doesn't matter what I'm looking for, I will have previously left it in the most ridiculous "what-the-hell-was-I-thinking?" place possible.

Other symptoms of Pregnesia include the inability to perform the simplest tasks you used to breeze through. For example, I am a self-proclaimed Sudoku master yet the other day I found myself staring down a 2-star puzzle with my mouth hanging open like a kindergartner faced with a trigonometry problem. I've been stumped with spelling errors more than once while writing a new blog post even though my college degree focused heavily on editing the writing of others (many of whom were too lazy to even use the computer's spell check.)

Zoning out is also a common factor. And not just daydreaming about the baby- because often I can't even recall what I was thinking about in these phases. Have you found yourself watching an episode of Law and Order and thinking -"Wait! They just found the body. How have they already arrested the murderer?!" Then you realize thirty minutes passed and you have no idea where they went.

You can excuse these episodes of losing time and losing your keys by assuming you've simply lost your mind. People keep telling me "You just have so much on your mind that it's hard to concentrate." That might be part of it. And while my doctor cannot confirm it, I think Pregnesia should have an actual medical diagnosis.

Any women who has entered her seventh month of pregnancy wondering where her shoes are when they are strapped to her swollen feet would agree. "Preggo brain" is the real deal and some kind of clinical recognition would help others be a little more understanding. So when I forget what time I'm meeting my friends, or where we are meeting or their names, I can say "Hey, cut me some slack. My Pregnesia is really acting up today." And I'll have a doctor's note to prove it.

Saturday

The green-eyed pregnant woman

Giving up your vices for the sake of your baby may not be as difficult as you thought it would be. Nixing the alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine might seem easy in the beginning while you are distracted, bathing in the excitement of your new baby to come. But I've learned ladies, give it 30 weeks and you'll be eyeing the chick chugging her venti mocha what-not and want to snatch it from her hands and guzzle it down.

My inability to move about freely has only intensified my recent case of spouse envy. The other night my boyfriend sat down with a Bud Light and I felt a tug-of-war inside me - the urge to take the beer and drink it all myself versus the desire to break the bottle over his head for daring to drink in front of me when I could not partake.

Do not feel guilty if you have felt this (or at least a degree of this. Maybe I was too intense.) We should not be expected to sacrifice these things with a smile on our face. Outsiders seem to think because it is best for the baby, we should be chomping at the bit to get rid of these things in our daily lives. I just want to say, during my pregnancy I gave up sushi and cooked my steaks well as opposed to my preference of rare, but to expect me to do it happily and without a tiny bit of reluctance is unrealistic.

We should be allowed to mourn the loss of things we found pleasure in. Whether it's your favorite cocktail or some activity deemed unsafe, changing a lifestyle to accommodate baby is challenging. And it doesn't help to watch others savor your favorite things while you sit with the options of 7-Up and decaf.

People will say, "You decided to get pregnant, so deal with it." We are dealing with it. I'm not going to request to the entire restaurant that no one order a beer while I'm there so I won't get jealous. I'm pregnant, not unreasonable. Okay, I'm both, but the former led to the latter.

So this is more of a call to the friends and partners of the pregnant- or at least a shout out to the moms to say "it's okay to stand up for yourself here." I tell my friends I don't want to go to a sushi bar on our lunch dates, even if I could just order something else. I ask my boyfriend to get rid of my favorite beer that was in the fridge even if he might drink eventually.

Once the reality sets in that you are being deprived of your faves for close to a year, you will find your voice in asking others to abstain in your presence. And it's better if you do. Otherwise you will keep in the resentment and it will eventually explode like a big volcano called Mt. Preggo, with crazy-lava engulfing your loved ones.

So when you see a stranger on the street with your favorite beverage, take a deep breath and remind yourself "Only XX more weeks." But when it's your best friend or husband, it's within reason to ask them to keep the booze in the fridge while you are around if you are feeling annoyed by your limitations.

Plan for your first date night post-delivery to be full of your favorite things that you couldn't have during the pregnancy. I know come my Mommy's night out, I'll be staring down a glass of white wine and plate of raw fish with a hunger like no other. And when my daughter is born perfectly healthy, it will have been worth the wait.

Wednesday

Not exactly a vacation

God must read my blog. Not to sound arrogant, but right after writing a post about how I don't enjoy the over-helpfulness during pregnancy, I find myself in a situation where that is exactly what I'll need in the coming weeks.

We had some complications arise with our pregnancy, and while my baby girl is healthy and kicking I have been instructed to prop up my feet and stay that way until I pop.

Surviving bed rest is going to be a challenge. Luckily, for the past two days I have been spent slipping in and out of naps to pass the time. I think my body is trying to hibernate to avoid the impending boredom. The best option would be to put me in a light coma until my due date. Unfortunately, that is not medically advisable so I am adapting to my new routine.

I'm having to relinquish all my daily tasks to Matt. This means he will be responsible for the laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping and (Lord help us) the cooking. Meanwhile, if not for the combination of the new t.v. season and DVR I would turn into a crazy person.

People seem to misunderstand the toll bed rest takes. It's easy for people who work everyday to imagine it as an awesome vacation. But please be a little more sensitive. My idea of a vacation includes cocktails poolside or hang gliding, neither of which are on the "can do" list for my condition.

Realizing you can't even run out and grab a Pumpkin Spice Latte (which I am heavily jonesing for right now) is annoying. Unable to contribute around the house is frustrating. And looking out the window to see people going about their usual, completely mobile, taken-for-granted lives is depressing.

When relaying the news of bed rest, try to not respond with "Oh but the baby is ok so that is wonderful news!"

Yes, we are happier than you can imagine that our babies are healthy and safe. But this collective situation is not wonderful news. Instead, try this: "I'm really glad the baby is ok. That sucks for you though, can I buy you some Cosmo's and bring you lunch one day?"

Stocking up on puzzle books, creating a craft bag, starting a mini book club or just providing a change of scenery by bringing flowers are all positive things people can do to help us deal with the monotony of bed rest. And know that whatever put us on bed rest is likely not contagious. So you can visit. I can already say, not even a week in, I would love a reason to get out of my pajamas. So stay with me readers, I'm going to need the company. It's going to be a long 9 weeks.

Monday

Let me do it myself

Let's play a game. Which of these things is not like the others?

Cancer, limb amputation, blindness and pregnancy?

If you guessed pregnancy, you are wrong! The answer is: they are all the same! Thanks for playing.

Apparently, pregnancy fits into that list of disease and disability. Or one might think so considering the way pregnant women are treated. It seems some folks consider pregnancy a condition that renders women in need of constant assistance. While it may be a nice gesture, it can become overbearing.

I have grown tired of being infantilized just because I am pregnant. Now in my 30th week, more than ever people seem to think I am incapable of completing my daily functions without aid. You may think you are being helpful, but really it is irritating.

Offering to carry my grocery bags is nice. Insisting on pushing my cart, opening my car door and guiding me there by holding my elbow is not. I've adjusted to my size, I can handle walking thanks. I'm like a Weeble. I may wobble, but I won't just fall down.

Even those who keep their hands off tend to exaggerate their concern. Puppy dog eyes and a pat on the hand accompany "Really, are you ok?" After that moment comes the list of no-no's.

"You ordered coffee? Oh no, you shouldn't have any caffeine."
" You need to wear shoes with better support."
"You shouldn't be pumping your own gas. Or driving at all for that matter."

People take on the tone of a kindergarten teacher when speaking to a pregnant women. A giant list of "should and should not's" tied in with excessive hand holding. The intention is genuinely appreciated, but the result is certainly not. Your desire to help translates into "Here, let me. I know you're incapable of doing this yourself."

We have doctors to give us our guidelines of what is and is not acceptable during our pregnancies. And the majority of that advice is to live our lives. Pregnant women can drive, exercise, work and do whatever they feel fit to do. Some women may love taking advantage of the worriers out there, but I'm not one to fall into my best Scarlett O'Hara voice of "Oh, how will I evah open this door all by my lil ole self?"

All I ask is that people read the signs- if we are attempting a task on our own, don't simply jump in and demand we sit down while you finish. Offer. Ask. A simple "Can I help with that?" will suffice. We'll let you know our preference.

All I'm looking for is the same courtesy I received pre-preggo. Because my lips are highly unlikely to ever utter the words, "Oh thank God you were here to wipe my nose for me. Who knows how my large pregnant self would have managed without you."

Thursday

Disenchanted

Quick- pick three adjectives to describe yourself. I already have mine figured out. Right now, I would describe myself as "pregnant," "super pregnant" and "still totally pregnant."

The honeymoon is over.As much as I hate to sound like a small child on a long car ride- I'm booooored.

Baby books always use such positive words like "miraculous" and "joyous" to describe pregnancy, and I know there is a certain joy to the miracle. But after 30 weeks, the charm has worn off.

After six months of being pregnant I am simply bored with it. I feel I have been pregnant for ever. I cannot remember a time when I was not swollen and alcohol-deprived. This is my new permanent state of being and I honestly think I will just be pregnant forever.

The first six months bring so many exciting moments. From the moment you realize your pregnancy, the first doctor's visit, the sonograms and first time you feel her move: all of those are life-altering moments. But it's shocking how quickly your days go from new experiences to ho-hum.

I've read every magazine in the OB's waiting room, no more ultrasounds mean no new pictures of baby for now, and her kicks and movements have become commonplace. The last trimester is really just a waiting game.

I relayed this feeling to some non-pregnant friends only to hear "Oh, but don't you just savor every moment of being pregnant?!"

Later I mentioned this same thought to some fellow pregnant ladies and felt validated by the response. A chorus of "Oh my gosh, yes!" came at me. By the sixth or seventh month it seems many women are ready to cash in this baby check and end the ride.

Staying busy is a key component to passing the time, but unfortunately my work schedule is very lax. The majority of my time is spent gestating, which isn't exactly entertaining. Not having a regular 40-hour work week makes it difficult to break up the monotony of the last ten weeks.

But instead of lying around praying my daughter comes early so we can end this ordeal, I've decided to take action and would recommend this to any expectant mama suffering from a case of the Pregnant Mondays (a much more serious strain of simply the Mondays.)

- Spread out your schedule. If you have laundry, grocery shopping and a hair cut on the to-do list for the week, don't cross them all off in one day. Try to have at least one out-of-the-house errand per day. Even just that one trip off the couch can help break up the time.

- Get dressed. Even if you are not going anywhere special, take a shower, put on real-people clothes and fix your hair. Just feeling prepared for the day can boost your mood and inspire you to do things.

- For every hour you spend working on baby stuff, give yourself ten minutes of non-pregnancy related time. If you take all Saturday morning folding onesies, go to a mindless Will Ferrell movie that night. For every parenting magazine you buy, get a Vogue or Rolling Stone (whatever you fancy). Remind yourself that there is a baby-free world out there and you still have a place in it.

- Socialize with your single/non-parent friends. Not only will you not have time to do this soon enough, they can turn the conversation to things other than your pregnancy. If you feel your bump is all people can talk about, these friends can distract you with their own lives.

- Take a class. Exercise classes, writing groups, book clubs, just do something. Keep your mind and body active and let the weekends actually feel like days off again.

Tuesday

Genius Babies Everywhere

Pregnant women are subjected to unsolicited advice from any and everyone during their 9 month adventure.  And surely it continues all through the child's life. But beyond advice is the sharing of experiences, and while this could be a exercise in solidarity, I have found that I'm likely to snap soon and throw my shoe at the next mom who decides to pull one of these:

"Oh well my baby slept 8 hours a night their first week home."
"Oh, my baby never cried."
"My baby was perfect."

As if this isn't obnoxious enough to hear bragging, it doesn't end there. We then learn that these children are apparently geniuses.

"Bobby was speaking in full sentences at 6 months."
"Susie was reading chapter books at one."
"Donnie could do complex algebra problems in kindergarten."

How many other women out there know what I'm talking about? Not only do you hear about how their child was born potty-trained, they also reached every milestone years ahead of the norm. And I would just like to tell those women:

No. No they did not.

I don't know where you can buy these rose-colored memory filters, but the likelihood is your kid showed some remote interest in a picture book about a bear, screamed "Baaaraarraa," and you now remember that as the moment they could read.

Let me be clear. Your story is not impressive. It just makes me want to say, "Really? Joey was reading that early? Weird that he is so average now."

I believe that every parent has the right to brag on their child. You want to share their accomplishments.  But why are we so obsessed with our kids being the first to do everything? Why is it so important to remember them as the most intelligent baby on the planet?

If this continues after my daughter is born, I'm going to have a new response to those mother's glory stories of likely BS.

For now, I smile and nod and say "Wow. That is great."

Instead, the new reaction is to act terrified, grab my boyfriend's hand and say "Oh no Matt! Our daughter is only progressing according to normal standards set by the pediatrician! She's never going to get into Harvard at this rate."

If you want to share some delusional memory of how exceptional your baby was, consider now that they are a B or C student who is just "pretty good" on their sports team of choice. And that doesn't make them any less special.  You have a better chance at relating to and comforting these new moms (like me) if you are honest and give us realistic expectations.

"Kids are all different. My daughter started talking right at 12 months, but my son didn't really talk until 18 months. There is no exact age."

Try a down-to-earth conversation like that for a change. Trust me, you will avoid my shoe to your head this way.

A Baby Storm

The tradition of baby showers is an interesting thing. As my friends planned my shower, I did some Internet research (okay, I googled "baby showers") to see what the norm was for such an occasion.

The first thing I noticed was the "Chicks Only" assumption. I've decided to have my boyfriend come just for the last half of the shower. I thought that was a nice compromise for the universal shower standards.

In addition to the obvious gender segregation, I also found several Web sites that outlined the staff assignments of a baby shower party. Apparently we have the food planner, the invitation sender, the games coordinator, and my personal favorite, the "Mommy Liaison."

What is this you ask? Well here are the duties according to babyshower101.com:
The Mommy-To-Be Liaison should:
-Place Mommy in a comfy chair.
- Get Mommy's favorite food for her
- Make sure she is always drinking lots of water.
- Get something for her feet to be raised.
- Massage her shoulders.
- Help her up and down from the chair
-Monitor her mood and the amount of stimulation
- See if you can get her anything

Now honestly, who wouldn't want that gig? Let's just rename it what it actually is - this job is "Mommy-To-Be's Bitch."

I get that it is nice to check on the Mama of Honor, but really? Monitor her mood? Massage her shoulders? Did I suddenly become a incompetent child due to this pregnancy? I think I can manage my own hydration, thanks.

While we jokingly assigned my friend Shannon this role, that is mostly because I know she would ward off people who were annoying me and calm me down if I lose my temper.  I can't believe anyone would find it reasonable to assign a friend to be a servant for the day.

Maybe I'm just not a traditional baby shower kind of gal. After all, the very conception of our child wasn't in the most traditional time line, so it makes sense I want to veer from the path. I think your baby shower shouldn't adhere to a list or a tradition, unless that's what you want.

The shower is meant to celebrate your baby and your pregnancy, to allow your friends to contribute to your baby's needs and spend some quality time with them before your life drastically changes forever. And if I want my man to be there for it, you can bet my giant pregnant ass he is going to be.

She has a face!

You may read that title and think 'Whoa! What kind of Hannibal Lector stuff is happening in your world where your baby WOULDN'T have a face?"

But I'm simply going to detail how today my daughter's image went from a fingerprint smudge on a cell phone, to an alien's skull X-ray to a beautiful baby.

We had a great visit to the OB this morning to look at little girl's heart. Last time she was all twisted up and the tech just couldn't get a good view. This time, we could see it beating perfectly. Very glad to hear the happy/healthy conclusion each time.

Matt had to work so he unfortunately missed the ultrasound, but my friend Erica was awesome enought to wake up at 8 a.m. and get me to the doctor. She got to witness the amazing moment where I got a good look at my daughter's face for the first time.

The 3-D sonograms are pretty freaky at first. When the baby is so small you can't make out any features, your child just looks like a peanut, or a worm, or a charchoal sketch a five-year-old make with his toes.
But now, at 23 weeks along, the 3-D image was incredible. I see her nose. It looks like Matt's. I see her mouth moving non-stop. It's like mine.

I can see her eyelids, her fingers, her individual toes, every tiny feature that makes her uniquely her. It hit me very suddenly, that my baby is not simply my baby. She is her own person who will grow into her skin that is currently covered with lanugo and vernix (fine hair and a greasy, cheese-like substance in case you were wondering.)

I know that she will drastically change over the next 17 weeks and then even more over the rest of her life. But to see a glimpse of something as simple as that nose, that part of her face that she may hate or love, that part that may make her think of me or Matt when she looks in the mirror, that part that makes other people say "Oh, she looks like you," and "She has your nose."

That nose is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Because she now looks like no one but herself, whoever that may turn out to be. *Sniffle*

To work or not to work

The past few days Matt and I have been discussing a lot of post-preggo plans. We've discussed our careers, and I am elated that the possibility exists I could be a stay at home mama. We basically realized if I did find work, my entire paycheck would be for day care anyway, and that doesn't really make sense to me.

I've found conflicting opinions concerning this notion, so I thought I'd look at the pros and cons of not going back to work.

- Adult interaction. I know how crazy I go if I don't have human contact for an extended period of time. Matt worked all last weekend and even my grandmother wasn't picking up her phone. By the time Matt got home from the office I had decorated a volleyball with Sharpie eyes and spaghetti hair, stuck it to the top of the broom and named my new friend Cheryl. She knew all my secrets.

Ok, not really. But that is an example of how loony I feel without adult interaction. So the idea of hearing baby coo's and cries all day interrupted only by the dialogue of daytime television worries me a bit. Stay at home = con.

- The sleep factor. I am fully aware I will never sleep a full night ever again, apparently. So the idea of heading out to 8 hours of uninterrupted work after being up all night with a screaming kiddo isn't terribly appealing.I have visions of falling asleep at my desk, full on drooling, with wet spots on the front of my shirt from the awkward milk leakage.

I know staying home is no walk in the park either, but it would at least allow for a few more rest periods during the day than being in an office environment. I could live in sweatpants and not feel obligated to wash my hair as often. Stay at home = Pro.

- Money. Kids are expensive. We learned that quick. And while I would likely be contributing the majority of my paycheck to day care, I might have a little left over for me-money. And if not, how would I get any spending money? I would have to ask Matt for an allowance or something and that is too wierd for me.

If I want to head to the mall and buy a new pair of heels, I feel I shouldn't have to justify that purchase to anyone. I'd rather be one of those wives who has her own secret visa and tells her husband every new dress she buys was "Totally on sale!" (Cough, ahem, MOM.) The idea of not having my own money to spend as I please is frightening because it's a freedom I've always have. Stay at home = con

- It's time I can never get back. My mom told me this the other day. She stayed at home with all three of us kids. She was always able to volunteer for school clubs and projects. We always were able to have dinner as a family and when I got sick, she was always there to baby me as I stayed home from school. As an infant, I don't want to miss my daughter's milestones and the major changes in her first year of life. But even beyond that, I cherished having my mom so involved with my life because she wasn't distracted by a full-time job.
 Stay at home = pro.

For now, I think I am leaning toward staying at home. Because if I change my mind I can always go back to work later. But my mom is right- I will never get that time back if I give it up now.

Mom-vision

My vision has been slightly distorted lately. Perfectly innocent images that would never have caused me concern before now seem to contain satanic imagery and are painted in dark colors and blood. Signs that once simply looked like rainbows and smiley faces now appear to be skulls and snakes.

Before you ask what hallucinogenic I took this morning, allow me to explain.

Our baby shopping has taken a turn recently, from onesies and nursery furniture to pediatricians and day cares. Choosing a caregiver for your child can be tough I have found, especially when you are convinced no one will be able to give her the adequate attention she needs and no one is good enough.

I finally realize how my dad felt abut my high school boyfriends. I never understood his rationale until I found myself thinking "but no one can take care of my princess the way she deserves!"

I know this is crazy and plenty of doctors and day care workers are out there who will give my baby everything she needs. But I still have some twisted, warped view of every facility I check out. It goes something like this:

Every ad for a pediatrician I look at turns into something malicious. That friendly doctor is actually an evil clown who can't wait to jab needles into my baby's body and laughs with glee as she cries. That lollipop in his hand was dunked in arsenic. That's just fact.

Every sign for a day care center, the happy baby on the sign suddenly looks malnourished and scared. That group of kids playing outside is actually a chain-gang. The playground equipment is covered with razor blades and barbed wire and the toys are all broken and dirty with toxic paint.

Let me reiterate, I am NOT crazy. I am just insanely paranoid about who will be taking care of my child when I cannot. So many stories pop up on the news about abusive nannies, and growing up as a doctor's kid I am convinced my father is the most brilliant physician on the planet and every medical decision should be run by him.

We have a few more months to decide these things, so hopefully my eyesight will return to a normal state. Or maybe I just now have an unfortunate power of "Mom-vision" where the entire world looks different when it comes to my kid.

My Kardashian Underwear Situation

I never thought I would honestly be able to relate to a Kardashian sister, but grab your ice skates, Satan, hell has frozen over.

This may not make sense at first, but bear with me. I was up later than usual last night and due to the Sunday night line up I wound up stuck with an episode of Kourtney and Khloe take Miami.

While I normally would vomit on my television at the thought of listening to those women complain  their mother, I found myself interested in watching Kourtney's struggle with her weight after pregnancy.

Now unlike homegirl, I have never graced the cover of Maxim magazine in a string bikini nor will I ever. But I have always been comfortable with my body. I have been in the same weight range the majority of my adult life. I like to go walking or running when the weather allowed and I thought my weight fit well with my height. Give me some skinny jeans and a tank top that let my hip tattoos just peek out a bit and I was good to hit the town.

Pregnancy shakes up a lot of things in your life. Even when you know it's coming, it doesn't ease the shock of waking up and realizing your size 6 ass is no more. My break down came when my underwear was too small for my expanding waist. The elastic was cutting an ugly red line in my skin and I realized that I needed to go up another size.

Now you may be thinking, "You already wear maternity clothes, what's the big deal?" The big deal is the label. Maternity clothes are just that- temporary clothes that cater to my baby bump. But the underwear thing- that was a slap in the face that I needed a bigger size in regular clothes.

Kourtney was obsessed with exercise to get in shape for a post-baby photo shoot. I won't be partaking in any celebrity events after I give birth, but I am going to have to accept that my sizes will be different. And I want to do that with more grace than that crazy Armenian cyborg.

But as much as I am annoyed with her vapid ramblings, I understand the pressure she felt. All you want is to look in the mirror and feel like something stayed the same. Your whole life is different now, why do your thighs have to be too? Take away my sleep pattern, diet, every minute aspect of my life, but leave me my hip/waist ratio.

I know this is impossible, so instead of ending up in an ambulance like baby mama K, I'm going to try a different approach.

Today I am going shopping to buy underwear for my ever-expanding ass and thighs. I will continue to eat my recommended amount of calories and won't push myself to exercise more when I feel over tired. My new plan is to burn off baby fat by playing with my daughter as much as possible, and realizing she doesn't care if I'm a 6 or a 12. She's a baby. She can't even count.

The Birth Plan


Well we have hit the halfway point in this whole ordeal. Matt and I have moved past a lot of the "Oh sh*t, pregnancy is crazy" stage and we are now looking at the "Holy frick, we are that much closer to having a baby" phase.

We are reading less of our pregnancy books and more of our labor and delivery books, and all those baby-birthing experts recommend making a birth plan. So let's take a look at how one plans for the unpredictable.

- Pain medication. Would I prefer to use natural methods of pain relief or am I open to receiving medication or regional anesthesia? Let me think ... I want an epidural. I want five epidurals. If you think telling me to breathe slowly is going to be enough to numb me from the pain that is happening, you are on heavy drugs. And should give me some.

- Visitors. Do I want the nursing staff, my partner, friends, family, medical residents  in the room for the delivery? You mean, do I want everybody and their mother to see me on my back, crying and sweating with my lady parts in view? I'll pass, thanks. I will obviously allow the nurses and the doctor in, but beyond my boyfriend and my carefully selected best friend/coaching team, everyone else needs to stay the hell out.Seriously, why would other people even want to see that?

- Episiotomy. If you know what this word means, say a little prayer for this first-time mama. I know it might be the best option, but it makes me shudder. If you are not familiar with the term, don't look it up.

- Mobility. Do I want to be hooked up to monitors constantly or only have intermittent checks as needed? Well it's not like I'm going to be doing laps around the hospital while having contractions, but I would like to be able to move. The idea of just lying in bed waiting for things to get worse isn't ideal for me. Let's keep things untangled for as long as possible so I can at least pace around in my super attractive hospital gown.

There are plenty of other decisions to be made, mostly based on worst-case scenario and emergency situations. But those are a more serious conversation that require me to think and discuss with Matt. For now, at least I have those basics out of the way.

Gender Wars

The mystery will be solved soon. This is most likely my last post where I don't yet know the sex of my baby. Wednesday the anticipation will finally stop killing me and I will finally be able to answer that question.

When people ask "So you know if it is a boy or girl?" I can respond by joyously shouting "Yes! Yes I do know! It is a ____!!! Thank you for asking that question so I can answer it!"

Everyone asks if I have a preference and I think I am supposed to respond with "As long as it is a happy healthy baby, I don't care."

But I have been collecting information during these past few weeks. It seems everyone has an opinion on which is easier/better to raise. Boys or girls.

Matt wouldn't mind a baby girl. It's a teenage girl I think he is scared of. Everyone says little girls are easy to deal with, but most parents dread the teenage years. I guess I am biased because I was a teenage girl therefore they do not scare me. But to a new dad, I can understand how the impending world of boyfriends, unexplained crying jags and periods could seem terrifying.

I wouldn't mind a little boy. I feel very close to my nephew and found him to be a ball. But the male temper is something I fear. Teenage boys (and beyond) are much less likely to be open with emotions, so how do you get them to communicate with you? Teenage boys are as much an alien species to me as teenage girls are to my boyfriend.

If anyone has thoughts on the pros and cons of raising boys versus girls, let me know. I'd like to go into this doctor's appointment with a few positives to draw on no matter what the outcome.

What about us?!

I feel left out. And not in a "no one on the playground will play me with" kind of way. In a much more, all-encompassing forgotten demographic kind of way.

The more parenting/baby magazines I try to read, the more frustrated I get with the world. I have quickly come to realize during my pregnancy that my mommy-category is not catered to in most publications.

Example one: I read an article about healthy food for pregnancy on a budget. But mostly everything on the list was organic or name-brand products. The budget for these so-called "cheaper eats" must have been based on that of a CEO.

I am not living in poverty and can afford groceries, but I hardly think most of us can afford to spend a couple hundred bucks on ourselves just so we can eat $5 apples. How about a REAL pregnancy-friendly low cost diet? Like where to find the best online coupons, which items are safe to go generic on and how to maximize nutrition in fewer items?

Example two: Every magazine includes the phrase "You and your husband" ... I will try to contain my rage at this point. Just because we aren't married doesn't mean we aren't interested in parenting publications. But the simple use of those words alienate a huge portion of potential readers.

How many other mothers are out there who are not married? My guess is, a hella lot. But that doesn't necessarily mean we are single. There are single mom magazines, there are married mom magazines, but why can't I be an unmarried mom in a commited relationship and not feel like I don't count?

Example three: Every photograph is of an older mom. Apparently only 30 to 40 year olds have children and care enough to read baby magazines. I'm not saying use teen mom models for every shoot. But let's diversify a little bit! Families start at all ages.

I have a new dream in life now. Starting a parenting magazine that addresses every kind of partnership between parents, that shows images of all types of moms and doesn't assume we all make $100,000 a year.
Probably a pipe dream, I would have no idea where to start, but maybe one day I can use this journalism degree, combine it with my motherly observations and birth a brain-child that all moms can relate to.

Growth spurt

Growth is an integral part of pregnancy. The growth of the baby, the growth of your stomach, the growth of your feet ... what?

That's right. It's not just your stomach that expands during pregnancy. You grow all over. Some days I wake up and feel like the Stay-Puft Marshmellow Man. Here are a few of my favorite discoveries about growth during pregnancy.

Let's start with the most obvious: my uterus. I literally woke up one day and felt like I had swallowed a bowling ball. I sat there poking at my lower abdomen which suddenly felt like it was lined with cement. I knew my stomach would expand gradually but the initial phase was a strange experience.

Boobs. Fellas, it ain't as cool as you are thinking. Because while our boobs get Pamela Anderson huge, they also get terribly uncomfortable. So if you think you are getting near those new D cups, dream on. I'm busy adapting to the new 5 pounds I'm carrying on each side of sternum.

Feet. As if my feet weren't already sail boats, pregnancy knocked my feet up another full shoe size. Thank God I will be summer pregnant. Flip flops will be heaven for my swollen puppies.

Hips. The phrase "child-bearing hips" is not an exaggeration. I can feel my ass and hips pushing outward like they are Roman conquerors trying to take over the rest of my lower body. Every day I put on my underwear and look in the mirror only to feel like the missing Kardashian sister.

Hair. I've always been a short-haired gal, but I'm letting this mane grow as much as it wants during the pregnancy. My hair is considerably longer than it was a few weeks ago and I hear that is thanks to those yummy prenatal vitamins. I guess I'll go all out Rapunzel while I can, because I hear the hair magic is gone once the baby comes.

So that's my awkward growth list. It's like chugging down that "drink me" potion Alice was all hopped up on in Wonderland, but it only affects certain parts of the body. As long as my nose stays the same size, I'm cool with whatever adjustments my preggo-state brings.

Do not touch

While I mentioned pregnancy makes a woman lose her shame, I would like to clarify that we do have boundaries. This post goes out specifically to the people who seem to think it is acceptable to touch my pregnant belly.

I get that I am visibly popping out now. My stomach isn't knocking things over when I turn, but it's enough to notice. But here is some news for you- I am not Buddah. So quit rubbing my freaking stomach.

My belly is still attached to my body. It did not suddenly become public domain because there is a baby inside of it now. This is not a petting zoo, so hands off.

There are a select few people in the world who I am comfortable with touching my stomach uninvited. And you would know it if you were one of them. So unless you receive an engraved invitation in the mail, it is safe to assume I do not want your grubby hands poking around my belly button.

You can't feel anything move yet. When I can, I will let you know. Verbally. No need for you to touch yourself to confirm my baby is kicking. That is not your privilege.

My boyfriend frequently rests his hand on my belly, as do I when I am simply resting. If you are a good friend and want to lay your hand briefly on top of my stomach after a hug, I can live with that. But knock it off with the "wax on, wax off" bit on my abdomen.

The next time someone starts rubbing my stomach, I will let them know it is unwelcome. I'll start rubbing their head. Or flicking their ear. Or poking them in the throat. And then I'll say, "Oh I'm sorry. Does this uninvited physical contact bother you?"

Pregnant women deserve a little space and respect. Enough craziness is happening with our bodies and we do not need to feel invaded or violated just because you can't control your "goochi-goo" need to physically connect with my offspring. You can do that after the baby is born. Until then, my stomach is still my domain. So keep off the belly.

When I grow up ...

Flashback time. Think back to one year ago. Five years ago. Ten years. Heck, just last week. Where did you think you would be today?

Strap in folks, I’m taking a stroll down Memory Lane, on the corner of Unrealized Dreams Avenue and Bumps in the Road Boulevard.

When I was four I wanted to be a fairy princess. That’s not a joke or just a standard little girl dream. I was dead convinced I could be such a thing. I had wire and cloth fairy wings that I wore well into my tween years. Ok, 15, but those were happy times. 22 was an impossible age. It’s like how my 3 year-old nephew thinks most grown ups are only 5 years old, including me and my parents. 22 was ancient and simply too far in the future for me to even consider. I was busy with a fairy kingdom to plan for after all.

When I was 12 I wanted to be everything. A musician, a fashion designer, a doctor, a teacher- I wanted every job Barbie could hold basically. 22 was still an unreachable age that didn’t matter. When you are 12 it is hard to see past your own nose, which you are convinced is ugly and terrible and will keep anyone from liking you in middle school.

At 18 I was getting some idea of what I wanted out of life. College gives you that kick in the ass needed to figure yourself out. I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to write stories that would make people smile, cry, laugh and most importantly, think.

I wanted to get my degree, work in New York or internationally for a few years, move to a smaller town, get a job at a local paper, marry the guy I found after dating around and raise a few kids well into my 30s. I thought 22 would be my jet setting years, the years I defined my career and told people “I’d like kids eventually, but right now I’m working for my Pulitzer.”

Now- I am 22. New York is no place to raise my baby. I can’t handle the demanding work load required of a big time journalist and be there for my kid every day. I found the guy I want to marry so dating is unnecessary.

Everything is backwards, opposite and upside-down of how I thought it would be at 22. So now let’s plan on where I will be at 32.

My kid will be 10 years old. I will be celebrating a wedding anniversary with Matt. I hope there are more kids in the picture by then. And I still want to be a journalist at a local paper, wherever we end up.

I guess this ramble is just to say, everything is different than I expected at 22. But I like my new plan. Because this baby will be my fairy prince or princess. He or she has the possibility to be a musician, a designer, a doctor or a teacher. This baby is my Pulitzer.

I've got a brand new pair of roller skates, you've got a brand new key

That title is misleading. Actually I have the new key. Matt does as well. Neither of us own roller skates. I just like that song.

Those keys we have, by the way, are to our new apartment!

Finally. I am exiting the realm of college-student living where empty Natty Light boxes are considered lawn ornaments, hearing Kanye through the neighbor's window at 3 a.m. is expected, and street parking is a cruel joke created by Satan himself. I'm moving on to big kid land and actually creating a home.

Home is an interesting term. I think freshman year "home" was still where our parents lived. Then home became interchangable for where our parents lived but also our college town. Now I finally realized my home is going to be Lexington. It is going to be my baby's first home. The first home Matt and I share together. My first official home that I am going to build from scratch. I'll tell Matt to light the fire while I put the flowers in the vase that I bought today ...

I have this frame containing a crocheted piece that simply says "Home." It is not fancy. It is special only because of where it came from. But I decided it is going to be a staple in my home. Something that when my son or daughter is older I can tell them "This was in the first home you ever had."

The home we are building is a great foundation. The apartment is a good size with every luxury possible. I could weep with joy at the thought of a garbage disposal, dishwasher AND washer/dryer. I feel like royalty.
The best part has to be when you walk outside and take this little concrete path, you come out between a wall of trees and there is a beautiful expanse of a park. It's like walking into freakin' Narnia! I can't wait to go for walks along that path with my stroller.

While I plan and prepare and shop and clean to make my home one I will love, I am aware that home is simply another word for "wherever your family is." Here are a few thoughts for those of you pondering what home means to you:

"A house is made of walls and beams. A home is made of love and dreams."

"Home is not where you live, but where they understand you." -Christian Morganstern

"Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." -Robert Frost

“One's home is like a delicious piece of pie you order in a restaurant on a country road one cozy evening - the best piece of pie you have ever eaten in your life - and can never find again.  After you leave home, you may find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up.” -Lemony Snicket

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” -Maya Angelou

“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.”   – Benjamin Franklin

"Our house is a very, very fine house, with two cats in the yard. Life used to be so hard. Now everything is easy cause of you ..." -CSNY

Unnecessary

It recently came to my attention that the Food and Drug Administration was considering putting warning labels on certain foods that may be choking hazards for small children. While to many this may seem like a meaningless wire story, or cause to say 'good for them, let's keep our kiddo's safe," I have to say my initial reaction was different.

What has our world come to when an outside force has to step in and say 'Hey parents- make sure your baby doesn't try to swallow this carrot without chewing properly!'

For starters, if we can't force our children to thoroughly chew their food before attempting to swallow and subsequently block their own windpipes, maybe we shouldn't give our babies those foods to begin with. Logical. But what blows my mind is how common sense, run of the mill, should be totally obvious "DUH" information is passed off as shocking scientific revelations nowadays.

Have you ever closely read some of the warning labels on items you use everyday? All the little stickers that declare "not a child's toy"? How is it that we as parents got to the point where we have to be told a taser gun is not a toy for our 3-year-old? How many parents gave their kid a plastic bag and said "Go nuts. Pretend it's a mask or something"?

You may be thinking 'Whoa Kate- it's just carrots.' But I can honestly see our country sliding into a spiral and landing in a place and time when kitchen knives have flashing neon warning labels reading "Don't let your kid stick this in their eye. It will stab."

I just want to know when parents became so ignorant or so negligent that companies began to have to remind people what is harmful to a toddler.

It's that same argument about why coffee cups say "Extremely hot!" across them. Shouldn't we know and expect coffee to be hot? Should we not take precautions so if the coffee does spill it is not directly on our flesh?

Of course we should. But if the coffee doesn't tell you it is hot, then you can get burned and sue the world for a bajillion dollars for being an idiot for not knowing that coffee is a beverage traditionally served hot.

Same goes with warnings about children. If you honestly can't figure out that it's a bad idea to let your kid put a plastic bag over their head, to let them play with scissors or to let your child who has yet to teeth eat a carrot, then you have no business reproducing.

Ode to sashimi

Many people think it would be difficult to give up all your vices during pregnancy.

The very night before we found out I was pregnant was historic. It was the night UK lost to West Virginia in the tournament. Sitting at Charlie Brown's out on the patio with my friends, I drowned my sorrow of the outcome in more than one John Wall shot.

But the very next day, the moment my reality hit me, I was done with it all.

Quitting smoking wasn't difficult at all. That is probably because you are so sick and nauseous and feeling like shit anyway you can't tell what is nicotine withdrawal and what is morning sickness.

Alcohol isn't too hard to resist either. The smell of liquor makes me gag, and like I said, I am physically ill enough from the baby hormones that I don't need to be black out and sloppy to vomit anyway.
I cut back on caffeine, no big deal.

Out of all these former life forces I thought I needed to survive, I rarely think about the cigarettes, booze or venti coffees. There is only one temptress who still holds my heart. She is cold. She is ruthless. And when covered with too much wasabi, she will make you cry.

Oh, sushi. I miss sushi with a burning passion in my mouth.

Apparently eating raw things is a no-no in pregnancy. If I had known that beforehand, I might have hesitated before participating in sexy time.

Take away my beer, take away my Coca-Cola, but please dear God have mercy and leave me my dragon roll!

It may seem strange to you that I am this obsessed with the lack of sushi in my life, but I can tell you I honestly dream about it. People who don't like sushi always say, 'It's not about the taste, it's the texture that bothers me.'

Well eff you and your aversion to sushi based on personal non-baby-related choice. I long for that texture, that combination of flavors, to feel my teeth slide right through a slice of salmon or tuna and then roll around with the sticky rice, all dipped in a paste of that mystical green wonderment mixed with salty, tangy soy sauce.

I would give up anything to ensure that my baby is as healthy as possible. If you told me watching Glee was bad for the baby's brain function I would cancel my DVR recording. If doctors discovered Facebook could impede the fetus' spinal cord development, I would delete that account.

I will forego sushi for the sake of my baby. But I will not forget about it. The very day I can be torn away from my infant long enough for a lunch date, you can bet where you will find me. Face first in a giant pile of rainbow rolls.

Shameless

Note- those of you who are easily made uncomfortable might not care for what I am about to say. But pregnancy pretty much requires a reckless abandonment of all shame or dignity, so I don't really care.
Sex is a weird thing. It's full of awkward moments, people make strange noises and faces and there is a reason most people want to do it in the dark.

That being said, pregnancy is also a biologically weird thing. It's full of awkward moments, people make strange noises and faces and I bet people wish they could do it in the dark but light is medically necessary.
So combine the two and you can imagine the weird that ensues. Mostly it isn't even physical things. It's mood swings that could catapult a car to the moon.

Some days a mere at on the back is enough to make me want to turn around and punch someone's face. Contact repulses me at times. Other days I am like a freaking koala bear and want to hug someone and cling to them like a suction cup windshield ornament Garfield doll.

There is a common joke in movies and television about the fear of sex during pregnancy. People are always worried about hurting the baby. I am not necessarily worried about poking the baby in the head or anything, more so with shaking the baby around in there. But luckily I have a 50 year old gray-haired man doctor to ask these super personal questions too. Score.

My other thought is how the baby books say at a certain point your child can hear outside the womb and will recognize your voice. Do you really want the baby hearing your O noises?

I read all these magazine articles with Angelina Jolie talking about how she feels so sexy pregnant and Brad Pitt is all "Yeah, super sexy!" To Brad and Angie, you all are freaks. Pregnancy is not a sexy time. With the exception of the hormones that rage like a 15 year old boy's, sexy is not an adjective I attach to being preggo. Nauseous, bloated, crampy, irritated, fatigued, swollen, grumpy ... see sexy anywhere on that list Jolie? Didn't think so.

But I guess when the urge strikes, one of the benefits of being pregnant is you have someone who is forced to find you attractive long enough to satisfy that want. They put you in that state of fatty grossness so there is very little they can do about it. It's either figure out a way to find this attractive or suffer in celibacy.

Gender-fying

Most of you know I'm a fairly liberal thinking gal. I'm all into "equality" and I'm against "gender structure" and all that fun hippie stuff.

In all seriousness, I find gender studies to be fascinating and now that I am bringing a child into this super gender specific world, I am tasked with creating an environment for my baby to grow up with no pressure to be anyone but him or herself, regardless of what media, society, clothing commercials and the toy aisle tell them.

I don't know the sex of the baby yet, and I think that is a good thing while I am decorating the nursery. I chose a theme of Winnie the Pooh. Colors are light green and yellow. I know once I announce the sex, it will become a world of blue, baseball mitts and monster trucks, or pink, flowers and Barbie dolls. But that is everyone else and how they choose to socialize the kid.

For me, I'm taking the gender neutral approach. Unspecific colors, I wish for clothing to remain within reason as far as the girly-tomboy spectrum goes, and toys will be selected by the child as they are older with no judgment from me.

If my little girl wants a football, she will have it. If my son wants a kitchen set, let's get it. I am so worried that as my baby grows up they will be genderized by school, by the media, by extended family.

I just want my child to be happy with who they are. I fear so many people give up what they truly love because of fear of how people will react. My child deserves to grow up in a world where rigid gender structures don't exist. I know that is unrealistic, but it's my hope and my biggest fear.

All I know is if my daughter wants to do pageants, I will be there to fix her hair and pick out dresses. If my son wants to play football, you will find me in the stands cheering my heart out. But if things turn out the opposite way, or anywhere in between, I will be happy knowing my child is true to themselves despite the pressures from external forces.

The pesky finger

As my stomach begins to get bigger and more uncomfortable for my normal clothes by the minute, I am resigned that I will no longer be able to hide my pregnancy from the people who I don't want bothering me about it. It will be visually impossible to deny that yes, I am cooking up a baby in there.

While I am currently at that glorious point where I can play it off that my fatty deposits like to accumulate in one particular abdominal area, it doesn't stop people from looking and giving me inquisitive faces. There is a process when someone starts to notice my stomach in conversation and it goes something like this:

"Hey! So (eye's glance at stomach then quickly back up) what's new with you? Have you (second glance to stomach, significantly longer than first) finished school? What's next on the job front? (eyes back to stomach, then looking pleadingly at me to say something to explain this odd bulge)"
"Well, I'm having a baby."
"Wow!"-

I am going to stop this dramatic reenactment here because this is where I end the conversation. The point when I reveal I am pregnant and people IMMEDIATELY look at my left hand ring finger. Guess what idiots? There is nothing there, and there is nothing wrong with that.

I didn't realize I had hopped into a time machine and was now living in 1955. I don't remember hanging out with Doc Brown and Marty McFly anytime recently, so why do people act like we live in the age where single mothers were social pariahs?

I have honestly considered buying some giant cubic zirconia of a ring at Claires just to get people off my back. Those of you reading this know me, and know my boyfriend is amazing. I believe we will one day legally complete our family, but sometimes I just want to rent a billboard that reads "Just because we aren't married doesn't make us less of a family."

I seem to live in an awkward middle ground. I'm not one of those teenage mothers featured on MTV reality shows, but I'm not a 30-something career woman either. I walk the tightrope between being completely irresponsible and totally prepared. I have a committed partner, we just have different last names.

From now on I am going to have fun with this. When people ask if I am getting married I'm going to answer "Well we can't. Not until the Kentucky legislature appeals that silly same sex marriage law." or "Yes, but it was too expensive for my Mormon husband to buy all of us wives our own rings, so we take turns wearing it."

If you are going to be shocked by my lack of a ring, then I don't really care to share my baby news with you.
Because when I finally do get married, chances are those people won't be on the guest list.

The Name Game

There are three questions people ask when they discover you are pregnant:

When are you due?
Is it a boy or a girl?
Do you have a name picked out?

The first two are easy to answer. They are clear cut facts told to me by the doctor. It's that last one that requires a real personal effort. I know the names I don't want- those are easy to cross off the list. But at this point, your guess is as good as mine.

There are plenty of joke names out there for the baby right now. My dear Kernel friends quickly landed on Falcon. Falcon Jamaal Warner to be exact. This name still is thrown into casual conversation about the baby just for good measure.

My other work friends were on board, only with slight alterations. Falcon Jet Racer. The Second.

That name was proposed by Billy, who asked to buy the rights to name the child, and since I was pregnant-level hungry I sold the rights for a plate of nachos. I don't think that contract is legally binding but those nachos were delicious. No regrets.

Our friend Emily told me to stand outside and shout the full name over and over and over, because that's what I'll be doing for the next 18 years anyway. If I'm not sick of it after a few minutes, it's a safe name.

I told my mother I like biblical names. She then mailed me a list she compiled of names ranging from Abraham to Zebediah.

My friend Caitie calls the babe "Bowzer."

Az and Erica refer to the child as Annabelle/Kyle.

In all of this madness, I know I may come up with ideas, but in the end, I have to look at my baby's face and see him or her in person before I can make that decision. My sister was almost named Caroline. I was almost Mallory or some other nonsense.

So as much as I love Elijah James or Lucy Ann, I know when I look into my baby's red, screaming scrunched up face, I will know what the right name is.

Ready or Not

I never realized how much thought goes in to planning for a baby. But now that I am 12 weeks along, I have become completely obsessed. Instead of staying trapped inside my own head, I decided to do what I have been trained to do, the only thing I know how to do and do well- write about it.

Updating friends and family about a pregnancy is a tricky thing. Some days all you want to talk about are crib sheets, onesies and bouncy chairs. Or you are busting to talk about the stuff you are really thinking about, but no one wants to hear about breast pumps, cramps, elastic pants and acne like you're a teenager again.

It seems there is protocol for baby talk. People want to hear the fun things, the sweet things. No one wants to hear about your sobbing breakdown during an episode of Glee or how you chucked the remote, book,
picture frame (whatever is in arms reach) across the room and you really can't explain why you are mad in the first place.

If you can't tell by now, I will say point blank that the hormonal roller coaster is taking its toll on me. But every so often, there is a light that peeks through and lets me feel normal for twenty minutes. That moment came yesterday, at my second doctor's appointment.

We saw our first sonogram last month, and looking at that collection of black and white specks warmed my heart. But that was four weeks ago. At a stage where I can't feel my baby move and my stomach wasn't really showing, there are days you wonder if you really are pregnant. I was paranoid and all I wanted was confirmation he/she was still in there.

Hearing the baby's heartbeat eased that fear. I let out a huge sigh, not of exasperation as usual, but of pure, unadulterated joy. Apparently the baby likes to move around (imagine that- a child of mine who can't sit still.) And just hearing that rapid rhythm will get me through the times where I feel like an alien in my own skin. It was my new heartbeat.