Saturday, September 27, 2014

Round Two!

“I just wish she would stay still for one second.”

The extremely nice yet understandably frustrated ultrasound technician continued sliding the scanner over my belly as the image on the screen wiggled around like a tiny interpretive dancer.

“This does not bode well,” JT said from his bedside chair.

It had been over an hour, and the Love Bug had not stopped moving for one single second, rendering the tech’s job of getting clear image of the heart nearly impossible. Her little arms shot forward Macarena-style, blocking the view. Then she’d flip over and sway her legs like a synchronized swimmer. I’d tried everything - lying on my side, walking around, bathroom breaks. None doing. This little chick was in the middle of her morning swim, and she wasn’t stopping for anything.

We had ascertained earlier that she was indeed a “she,” a surprise to both JT and I. For reasons neither of us could verbalize, we’d both kind of thought the baby was a boy. JT always used the male pronoun when talking about it, and I was looking only at boyish bedding during my online searches of nursery decor sites.

But instantly upon finding out, we were both overjoyed. I immediately switched my mindset from blues and greens to all things purple for the nursery. JT, the man who makes his living as a pro-wrestling authority, established some ground rules. No daughter of his would ever become a WWE Diva, nor would she ever date a wrestler.

I started sending him things like this:


Finding out the sex definitely gave me another, “This is really happening!” moment, which have become commonplace since starting the second trimester. Hard to believe we’re halfway done!

Second Trimester So Far:

Yay for the return of energy! I’m still not at 100 percent pre-baby levels, but I no longer have to physically hold my head up starting around dusk each day. I’m still sleeping eight-plus hours a night - hopefully a habit the baby just loooves - and waking up refreshed most days. I’ve been going into work earlier, ending my 11-year streak of working 10-6. But once my old lady bedtimes started translating to a 6:30 a.m. wake up (which I’m seriously hoping makes getting up with Baby LaBar ever so slightly easier), it became silly to sit at home killing my mornings sipping decaf while watching “Will and Grace” reruns until it was time to get ready for work.

I’m very aware that this quiet down time spent gently slipping into my day will be desperately missed in coming months, but you can’t stockpile time, and for now, I’d much rather get home and get dinner on the table before 8 p.m. 

It’s also good I’m eating earlier because I’m hungry often. OK, all the time. I wake up at night sometimes starving but refuse to become a midnight snacking cliche just yet. Save something for Round Three, right? I can easily eat breakfast and be ravenous by the time I get to my desk an hour later. I’m trying to carry as much fruit with me as possible and do pretty well, but the less-than-beneficial snacks continue to creep in. I’m a sucker for chewy fruity candy these days and don’t dare suggest I eat my turkey sandwich without a side of sour cream n’ onion chips or Cheetos. I won’t listen to such madness.

All these empty calories have to end up somewhere, and my ever-growing baby bump is more than happy to provide the rental space. It seemed like one day I was thinking, “Hm, I really haven’t put on any weight yet. I wonder if everything is OK? Should I be worried? I know - I’ll worry just in case.” Then a few days later, it became, “Crap! Ten pounds in one week! How the hell is this happening? This can’t be right. It can’t be safe! Now I’m really worried! Arrghhh!!!”

By the way, LOL about wondering how I was gaining so much weight so fast. For the answer, one need only look in any drawer of my kitchen. From Starbursts to salted caramels, ice cream bars to blocks of cheese, it’s not exactly a riddle. People ask me what I’m craving. Literally, everything. Sugary, savory, whatever, bring it on. I’ve added two frozen waffles to my morning breakfast of eggs and bacon. I snack all day, yet I’m still starving by the time I get home, and eat seconds for dinner almost every night. I’m a pickle jar away from being every pregnant lady in every movie ever. But I will say that I am staying active, walking a couple miles a day a few times a week and jogging when I feel up to it. I’m terrified of what the winter months of my third trimester hold. Add the holidays to the equation, and I might as well just rent a circus tent now.

One bonus to gaining weight: maternity pants. They are the most comfortable piece of clothing ever conceived (ba-dum ching!). I love them so much, I’m actually bummed it’s not socially acceptable for women to wear them all the time. How can we make this a thing? If I start it, will you all do it too? Someone call Anna Wintour.

I’ve also been reading as much as I can about babies - books, magazines, blogs, other mom’s diaries. I’ve been gathering as much information as I can while trying to avoid the Super Scary Ways Everyday Objects Can Kill You articles my doctor advises I ignore. I started with some of the longstanding bestsellers, which I’ve found to have varying levels of helpfulness. “Bringing Up Bebe,” for example, offered some suggestions on how to Frenchify my child, or make her into a calm, quiet, mini adult with perfect manners, a distinguished palate and more sophistication than I’ve managed to muster up in my three decades. Things I took from this book:

When you’re baby is screaming, do “The Pause.” This means listening for a minute to see if you can hear what your baby really wants rather than just grasping around for every diaper/binky/bottle within reaching distance the second she stirs. I can get behind this on paper. In practice, I don’t stand a chance.  

Expose your child to every food imaginable. Serve meals in courses and force them to at least try a portion of each. LOL!!!! I’m sorry, but I’ve seen children eat. Most food ends up in their hair or on the floor before you can scoop two spoonfuls their way. Courses??!! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLMAO

American maternity leave allowances SUCK compared to other countries. No argument there.

Don’t play narrator. This will make everyone around you hate you, your child included. This I totally agree with. There is nothing worse than seeing those parents hovering around their children at the park barking every option at them until the kid's eyes start to spin. “Do you want to ride the slide? How about the swings? Did you see that bird?! OMG another slide! What do you want to do first? Slide? Swings? Slide?! Bird!? AHHHHHHH!!!!!!?” Just NO. Let your kid just play. So what if that means she roams around aimlessly and stops to inspect a piece of grass for 10 minutes? Just leave her be.

You have three months to get your figure back if you want to be like a French woman. You will also apply makeup daily, DGAF about breastfeeding in order to maintain some “mystery,” never eat anything you bake with your child and barely acknowledge her presence in public. Kill me.

I much more preferred Anne Lamott's "Operating Instructions," a brutally honest look at her first year raising her son. One of my favorite lines, after she's spent another agonizing sleepless night with her colicky baby and decides to just go ahead and forgive herself for not being the World's Best Mom: "I think we're all pretty crazy on this bus. I'm not sure I know anyone who's got all the dots on his or her dice." I'm thinking of getting that stenciled on one of the nursery walls. 

Much more fun than reading up on all the ways I can screw up my child was registering for my baby shower, thanks entirely to my sister-in-law and mom of the two most precious little girls on the planet, Nik. I honestly don’t know what I would have ended up with had she not been there to steer me in the right direction. Probably 47 ridiculously impractical purple infant outfits and a pack of baby wipes. My favorite part was when I paused in front of a display and asked her in all seriousness, why a new mom would need a brush for her nipples.

“Do they get, like, extra dirty?” I pondered, inspecting the bristly product before me.

“Yeah, those are for cleaning the bottle nipples, not yours,” Nik said with way less mocking in her tone than I would have gone for.

Did you guys want to start shining my New Mom of the Year Award now, or…?

But honestly, her advice was so helpful as has been most of what people have been telling me since I announced my pregnancy. I’ve gotten a lot of tips, solicited and otherwise, perhaps the best of which came from a co-worker who approached me at my desk one morning a couple days ago.

“I know you’re getting advice from everyone under the sun but do you mind if I give you some more?” he asked.

“Shoot,” I said, bracing myself for the “Your Life Is Over” talk so many people have been excited to enlighten me with lately.

“I’m going to tell you something not a lot of people will,” he said. “My advice is this: Enjoy it. No one tells you how much fun this is going to be. It’s hard, yes, but there is so much to enjoy and it goes really fast. So have fun with it.”

I was shocked, and so so happy. I thanked him, really meaning it. Best advice ever. It’s what I’ll try to remind myself when it’s 3 a.m. and I’m desperate for sleep and sanity. Or when the baby hasn’t stopped screaming for what seems like an eternity and I’m wondering what exactly I got myself into.

Because I know those moments are coming. But I also know I already love this baby more than I knew I could. I can’t imagine how that will grow in coming days, months and years. I’m so ready for it. And I plan to enjoy every single second that I can.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

When the Right One Comes Along

I'd like to preface this post by saying this won't become a regular thing, I promise. It could lead to JT's ego growing and frankly, we don't have the extra room in the house, what with the baby coming and all.

Of course I would start a post about our one-year wedding anniversary with a jab at JT. But teasing is such a big part of our relationship. It's never malicious - more like taunting your high school classmate in the cafeteria because you secretly wish he'd ask you to go steady, or whatever it is kids do these days. When I was young, we just "went " with people. Like, "I'm going with Tommy." Going where? Denny's? Second base? We never clarified. But trust me, it was all very exciting.

JT and I have been going together for more than four years now. Those years have included an amazing first date (worth it's own post down the road), vacations with family and friends, moving in together, a beach proposal, moving into our first official house, an amazing wedding, more trips, and recently, the news that we're expanding our little family in just a few short months.

I will never forget the sense of calm I felt on our wedding day. There were a million reasons not to feel that way, most of them pouring from the sky in the form of relentless raindrops. Our day went nowhere near as planned, and instead of swapping vows in my parents' spacious backyard, we crammed 40 people into their living room. As guests got situated as best they could, I waited upstairs in my childhood bedroom, listening and just trying to take it all in. I felt excitement. I felt joy. But I never felt scared. Because I knew I'd done the right thing. JT is the best man I have ever met. Marrying him was a no-brainer.

We are different in so many ways. He loves being social. I am Queen of All Introverts. He's aggressive when it comes to work and business. I'm more of a "see how things play out" person. He's incredibly thick-skinned. I get offended before people even open their mouths.

He loves pro-wrestling. I build jigsaw puzzles for fun. In what world does that couple make sense?

But where it counts, we're the same. We make each other laugh. We make decisions together well. We love our family fiercely. And that's why I knew we were ready to start our own.

I know I give him a hard time on the blog from time to time (or every post). But beyond all the insignificant stuff I gripe about, he is genuinely the kindest person. For my birthday a couple weeks ago, he bought me a set of chairs and table I'd had my eye on for our front yard. I had emailed him a link to the set a few months prior, so the gift, while incredibly thoughtful, wasn't really a shock. What surprised me was what he said as he gave it to me.

"I wanted to get you something I knew you would like," he said, lugging the huge box housing the set into the living room. "But I like this too, because I know you and I will sit on it as we grow old together."

Honestly, the box could have been empty, and I still would have considered it the best gift I've ever received.

(I love this story so much, I won't even tell you that when he put the set together the next day, he mysteriously ended up with about 10 extra pieces. Or that the chairs are really meant to be decorative only, but that doesn't stop him from sitting on them most evenings, watching cars go up and down our street like an octogenarian Neighborhood Watch president. I call him "Pappy Creeper." But I digress....)

 In all honesty, JT, you make me happier than I've ever been and I'll do my best making you feel the same for the rest of our lives. Or at least until those chairs give way.

Love you, babe! Happy Anniversary!

Please enjoy a listen of the song we played during our first dance: "When the Right One Comes Along":

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hey, Baby!

I came home from work one hot June evening to find JT on the deck, soaking in some sun and calming down after a busy day. I went out to join him, and he filled me in on all the chaos he’d dealt with - juggling multiple assignments, interviews, deadlines and meetings.

“Blah,” I said. “That’s a lot. But you did it! Gimme a hug!”

He did and as I pulled away, a throbbing scorched across me as if I’d just taken a wrecking ball to the chest. The surprise of pain paused my breath, but it quickly subsided.

“What the hell was that?” I wondered, as JT continued his story. I hadn’t done any pec exercises since, well ever. Why was I so sore?

I knew with absolute certainty.

I was pregnant.


The next day, I stopped at the drugstore on the way home from work. Twenty minutes later, the digital reader on the test spelled it out for me: Pregnant, 3+ Weeks.

A smile I couldn’t even try to conceal slapped itself across my face. I wanted to tell JT right away, but I knew he’d had another doozy of a day and needed some downtime after work to get into a good headspace.

So again, I  joined him on the deck, though I won’t even pretend that I listened to a word he said as he recapped his stressful day. I waited until I could tell he’d relaxed.

“Well,” I started sitting upright in my chair. “I hope you won’t mind finishing that nice bottle of wine in the fridge.”

He looked at me quizzically. Allowing him to tap into my stash usually required much more than a stressful work day.

“I’m pregnant.”

He froze. Then, as realization washed over him, he broke into the biggest smile and rushed over to me.

“Careful!” I exclaimed and guarded my chest as he scooped me up into a hug.

After weeks of waiting for doctor’s appointments, privately filling in our closest loved ones, and nearly bursting from wanting to tell every person I encounter, JT and I have reached a point where we’re comfortable going public about the pregnancy. And it’s been so wonderful to share our joy.

Since finding out, I’ve been keeping notes on how things have been going. I’m 19 weeks right now, so some things have changed since I started the following recap. Stay tuned for a second trimester check in coming soon.

And thank you to everyone who has shown JT and I so much kindness as we prepare for this amazing change in our lives. We love you!

First Trimester: Round One!

How I Feel:

Contrary to every chick flick I've ever seen, I did not immediately start vomiting during inconvenient moments ( important business meetings, celebrity interviews, etc.) the instant I peed on a stick. I actually never got nauseous at all, except for once when I was working on a story about butchers and found myself in the middle of a narrow freezer stuffed with moldy chunks of aging beef hanging from metal hooks. And I'm fairly sure that had nothing to do with pregnancy.

This was good because had I been getting sick, I would have likely not had the energy to drag myself to the bathroom. Or hold back my own hair. Because while I was not sick, I was EXHAUSTED. I permanently felt like I'd pulled an all-nighter. Which was ironic, as most nights I was in bed by 10 or, if I was forcing myself to stay up, asleep on the couch by 10:03.

Other than becoming a functioning zombie, I felt pretty great. The realization that what I put into my body actually really mattered now meant clearer skin, less eye puffiness and a sharpened focus. Plus, prenatal vitamins are magic. Within a week of introducing them into my daily routine, I had shinier hair. And for the first time in my life, my nails grew past the quick. As a chronic biter, I never dreamed of nails strong enough to be manicured minus an acrylic applique. I felt a little like Bella in that one “Twilight” movie – not the one where the baby crushes all her bones from the inside (that comes later, right?). I felt like Bella after Edward turned her and she woke up looking like herself, just more alive, despite technically being dead, but whatever. Lusher hair, laser-sharp eyes, general sultriness she definitely didn't have before. I felt like that but without all of the I-hate-everything attitude that seeps into every Kristen Stewart performance.

How JT feels:

I would never presume to speak for him, but he seems cautiously happy. He keeps saying the goal for this stage is to keep me healthy and him sane. I think he’s afraid he’ll end up breaking the baby, but I’ve tried to reassure him that he will be fine. I’m thinking giving him diaper duty for the whole first month should eliminate any initial fear on his part, right?

How other people feel:

So many people had such lovely reactions to the news of my pregnancy. We got lots of well wishes, thoughtful cards, assurances that we'd be great parents. It was so fun to tell our families and all our friends, see their genuinely sweet reactions and bask in all the love and joy.

Yet when it came to telling some people, there were a few reactions that sucked the wind out of my sails faster than you could say “diaper genie.” A quick glance at a few mommy-to-be blogs proved I was not alone in not loving some common responses people (usually relative strangers) have when first hearing your big news. Some universally loathed reactions include:

Reaction #1: Your life is over.
Generally delivered by parents we barely know who still remember the carefree existence they had before the days of early mornings and children's programming.

Here’s the thing: I've heard this a million times. I know my life is going to change in ways I can never even begin to understand right now. I know whatever that new life is will pale in comparison to my current situation in many ways, particularly in the arenas of sleep and social life. I also know that I’m nearing my mid-30s, have had a really great life so far, and am ready for a new chapter that’s not so much about me. Bringing something I love more than myself into the world will be scary, for sure. But I don’t see it as an ending. To me, it’s the beginning. (God, I can hear the people who love to say this laughing at me right now. Again, I know you're right. Just do everyone a favor and quit saying it, OK? It's a huge bummer. K, thanks.)

Reaction #2: Thank goodness! I was starting to think something was wrong. It's about time!
Mostly from people who also asked me about how many children I planned on having before I'd even had my engagement ring sized.
To these people, all I have to say is relax. No one on this planet will ever do things the exact way you want them to, when you want them to, in the exact manner you would. People do what they want to do, when they want to do it. I know you want people to be happy. But they’ll get to that happiness when they’re ready, not when you decide they’re supposed to. OK? We good? OK.

Reaction #3: I knew it.

This reaction was my least favorite, as it dissipated any excitement at the news. And made me feel like I looked like a whale when I was barely showing. When you’re abundantly aware that your body is gearing up for some major shape shifting, vanity is king, people. A bit of advice: even if you’re not surprised, fake it.

Other than those few less than pleasant moments, it’s been a really sweet experience so far filled with little pockets of extreme excitement and anxiety. I met a student doctor at my first appointment, who seemed genuinely pumped to tell me they’d be taking me in for my first sonogram that very day.
“You’ll get to hear the heartbeat!” she squeaked with an enthusiasm I hope she doesn’t lose during her career.

I was so happy, I couldn’t form words so I opted for a goofy grin instead.

“And,” student doc said, leaning in toward me. “You’ll get to find out if there’s more than one.”


The hell? More than one? I felt my grin flip over as the realization washed over me. More than one? Why had I never thought of that? Oh, this does not bode well. I’m going to be a terrible mother! I’ve been so busy being happy at the thought of one, I never let myself think there could be more!

Student Doc saw my expression and immediately backtracked.

“I am so sorry! I didn’t mean to upset you! I just thought…..”

I know what she thought. She thought she was talking to a competent human being who would, I don’t know, have at least a passing thought about the possibility of multiple births.


But then, just as I was making a mental list of all the baby books I should buy seeing as how I knew literally nothing about being a suitable pregnant person, the ultrasound technician scrolled over my belly and a quick whooshwhoosh came through the speaker. It was my baby’s heartbeat, strong and healthy and right there where it was supposed to be. I looked up and saw my (single) little Love Bug for the first time, right there on the screen above me. I couldn’t have kept the smile from returning to my face and after the tech printed out a picture of the sonogram, I carried it around all day and stared at it, already so so in love.

And that’s pretty much how I felt through the entire first trimester. Happy, content, tired, overjoyed, anxious. Round Two started a few weeks ago, and it’s been equally wonderful and scary. (post on that coming soon)

For now, I’m just really trying to savor every moment both because I know how fast this beautiful experience will go and because I know my life will never be the same once it’s over. For right now, it’s all about enjoying what I can, when I can.

Assuming I have the energy to stay awake.