Monday, September 30, 2013

Superwoman With a Pumpkin Belly

I feel like my focus is crystallizing and clarifying itself. I am becoming efficient and direct in my actions. If something needs to be done, I do it. No procrastinating, no whining - it just gets done. On top of this extreme focus, I am also becoming quieter, more inwardly drawn, and more able to just sit and BE. Neither of these abilities (focus on tasks or mindfulness in the moment) have ever been a strong point for me. But I think both are in reaction to my current state of contradictory existence. As in, I am simultaneously living through weeks of work that would have previously brought me to my knees in exhaustion and tears, whilst preparing myself emotionally for the biggest change I may have ever experienced. That state of existence requires focus and attention. And so, I am not letting my workload bowl me over, I am not ignoring nor obsessing over the impending loss of our dog, and I am giving moments to the enormity of what is happening.

Now, you may wonder who this zen-like being is. And, is she real? No, not really. She is just a function of the situation. She is just "getting by" in order to "get through." As I said before, there is no time for an alternative. No time to fall apart. So, I keep it up. For two more weeks. And then, I'm sure when hit by my first "identity shift" (not working???), I may begin to crumble and fall apart over oh-so-important things such as a lack of sufficient amount of burp cloths. But, for right now, I keep it up.

Case in point - last night. I was up until 1:00 in the morning catching up on paperwork that was due today. Not only was I hyper-focused on my work without the typical moans and laments about staying up too late, but I also managed to finish all of the baby laundry AND still relish in the delight of folding onesies and little hats while sitting in the baby rocker. Again, WHO IS THIS PERSON?

The only telltale sign that I may be inwardly cracking is that painful, teeny, tiny cold sore at the corner of my lip. Not noticeable to anyone but me, but oh-so-there. The only other time in my life I ever had a cold sore was in reaction to a 16-mile-hike done at breakneck speed in which I thought I may never live to see civilization again. THAT brought on some cold sores in reaction to me pushing through the physical stress to keep going. Actually, it brought on enough cold sores to send me running in panic to a doctor. This time? Physical, intellectual and emotional stress. And what do I get? Just a teeny-tiny cold sore. I feel like superwoman. Superwoman with a pumpkin belly.

So let's hope the cold sore is not the sign of my strength cracking. Instead, I'm going to keep this up. Because really, I'm doing okay. And, I can do anything for two more weeks. Well, almost anything...don't point me at that 16 mile hike with major elevation gain right about now. I'd fall to my knees and not be able to get back up. In the meantime, while I continue to drive forward, I will relish in the little moments I keep finding for myself. Such as, the kitten asleep on my feet. A tiny baby hat. My husband browning garlic while I stir the rice. These things keep happening despite the rush of our days. So, wherever this inner strength and mindfulness is coming from, I'll take it. I'll take it, and wear it as if I am used to being this person. And I will just ignore the little cold sore...

I'm going to leave you with a puppy-kitty-photo-dump. Can't help myself.

Monday, September 23, 2013

34 weeks: Pushing Through It

I knew September would be busy. I knew it would be the month of classes and nursery prep and buying last minute things. But I had no idea how busy it would be. I don't get home until late at night (between 7-9) every night. I am working so hard to get my clients to a good place before I go on leave, as well as my two supervisees. Not to mention the mountains of paperwork and reports that need to be written. But written when? Amidst the baby classes, shopping, social outings, doctor's appts, vet appts, etc...I barely have time to breathe.

B has it just as bad as I do. He has had major deadlines at work, all which are linked to live events broadcast on television, meaning that his projects HAVE to go off well or else it could fail in a very public way. And, as the owner of his company, that just can't happen. So he is working literally all of the time and when he is not working (or at baby classes), he is spent. Amazingly, he has been even more caring and nurturing to me in the past few weeks the entire rest of the pregnancy - making me dinners, running me baths, etc - but still I feel we are both dealing with our own bubbles of stress and just "waiting it out."

Surprisingly, aside from the physical exhaustion and emotional stress about Monte, I seem to be keeping it together pretty well (except for a certain meltdown this morning when I found out B had eaten the last of the peanut butter). I think that I know that there really is no time for a breakdown. I just have to get through this. Get the work done. Do it, so I can come out the other side.

My stress will peak and then come to a screeching halt when my maternity leave starts in three weeks. I can do anything for three weeks, right? B, on the other hand, has projects continuing through November. BIG projects with HUGE price tags attached to them. And, as he put it, "There is also the tiny little fact that we are having a baby in the middle of this all." It makes you realize that life just doesn't stop because it would be more convenient to take it slow right now. We lead busy, busy lives. And we both know we work this hard so that baby can have the things that the two of us didn't.

It's just that, for right now. I'm exhausted. But, buckle down, blinders on, pull hard, and plod forward. Last day of work is October 11th. I will make it before I know it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How Much Can You Fit In A Day?

This day has lasted 300 years.

Thursdays are my days off. When I first started taking Thursdays off, I envisioned long naps, walks with the dog, catching up with friends, running errands I never have time to do...but, really, they have just turned into one long appointment. This morning I got up early to go to an appointment with a potential pediatrician. Mind you, I made the appointment early so B could come along before work. But then, his work week exploded and he was already working before I even left for the appointment. Great. So not only do I have to go alone, but at a ridiculously early hour.

When I woke up this morning I was having flashbacks to the first trimester. Well, first trimester plus heartburn. I think the stressful, busy weeks I've been having coupled with the increasingly difficult sleep every night finally caught up with me. I had a stuffy, clogged head, a ringing in my ears, overall nausea, and, of course, the heartburn. So, after deciding whether to eat breakfast to curb the nausea or Tums to help the heartburn (I did both), I headed to the pediatrician.

Now, let me just say I haven't interviewed any others yet and this one is an out-of-network provider, so our insurance won't fully cover it, so I went into it not knowing what to think. First impression? The office is beautiful. I'm totally sold on that type of thing, I'll admit it. Great (separate) waiting rooms, beautiful enormous fish tank, open, airy, pretty...nice. Then the doctor walks out. She doesn't look like your typical doctor. Young, beautiful woman wearing a long flowing skirt (no white coats here) and a huge smile. Oh, and she walked out RIGHT on time and then apologized for "running late" as she was coming from the hospital. She gave me a tour of their clinic and pointed out neat things like the fact that they keep most prescriptions on hand so you don't have to go to the pharmacy, they have a cute kid-sized toilet for urine samples, they have an entire wall of stickers and organic-gluten-free-lollipops (so they DO give out lollipops!). They have separate well and sick exam rooms (not just waiting rooms) and they are inviting and pretty, not sterile and scary. And...a bunch of other stuff that I can't remember. Then we went into her office and she told me about herself and her specialties, etc. We talked vaccines, circumcision, probiotics, solid foods, etc. All of her answers were just like me...very middle of the road. She cited a bunch of research studies and APA guidelines, but also pointed out where they differ on their policies and why. For example, they only give one vaccine shot at a time to minimize effects on babies and also pain/trauma of getting 4 shots at once, but their vaccine schedule is still within APA guidelines. Also, they don't recommend starting with rice cereal, but rather pureed black beans or avocado, due to a bunch of reasons she was very emphatic about but I haven't gotten far enough along to even care about yet. Finally, their appointments are 45 minutes long, they pride themselves on "no wait" (NO wait) times, and they will meet you at the office for after hours or weekend appts, if needed. Oh, and since we are delivering out-of-hospital, she will come to our house for his first check-up the day after he's born. And there are only two doctors and two nurses, which I like. Soooo I am going to call their office manager who will walk me through the insurance stuff and give me estimates on co-pays, etc. If it all seems doable financially, we may end up going this route. It just felt right.

Next, I ran to the baby boutique to get baby gifts for my coworker (and may have got us a few things too...) and then ran home to get Monte for his vet appt. Ok, we go. I'm finally going to blog about the fact that his cancer's back. Now, B took him for his last appt and he was very blase about it. As in, "It's ok, we just need to restart the chemo regime and everything will be fine." Well, today, I went in, they took him back for his treatments, and then the vet (one I've never seen before) came out and sat next to me in the waiting room. Note those words - in the waiting room. And she starts telling me, "Well the cancer hasn't gone away. He's still not responding. So, we need to try one of our 'rescue efforts...'" Guys, I stopped listening. I started focusing on the tone of her voice, the expression in her eyes, and trying not to burst into tears in the waiting room. I kept hearing the words rescue efforts over and over. So somehow we agreed on a treatment plan - which is basically to just throw a bunch of different drugs at him to keep him alive as long as possible and then she said, in a sympathetic tone, "He's just such a handsome dog." Which sounded like something someone would say at a funeral - "Joe was just such a great guy." Then she left.

I got my shit together and tried to calm down a bit. But then, the vet tech comes out and asks me if I will come back to an exam room with her (maybe the vet told her I looked about to fall apart??). There, she starts going over informed consents and payment schedules, etc. I tried to ask a simple question about time frame. As in, how long will we keep this up for? But then, I just lost it. I don't cry in public. But there I was, a super-pregnant lady, crying. Crying a lot. She was very uncomfortable. So, long story short, we will just keep up the drugs as long as they keep on keeping him alive. No one knows how long that will be. And I just keep thinking, how can I go through my dog of ten years, my first dog, my first "baby," dying while my son is being born? How do you do this? How do I not allow one monumental event to overshadow and detract from the other? But that is where we are. As I write this, Monte is laying next to me on his bed, blissfully naive and happy. So, that, I suppose, is something to take comfort in.

Next I had to take Monte back home and then head off to my 34 week midwife appointment. B was working from home so I was able to cry in his arms for a bit (which didn't seem to help) and listen to him tell me that everything seems worse right now because I am just so exhausted and overworked (which did kind of help). When I got to the clinic, I sat in the waiting room wondering how I would make it through my appointment without crying. The midwife turned out to be one I've never met, but who played a huge role in my pregnancy. She is the one we called on that night in Mexico. I still remember her calm, serious voice saying, "I'm so sorry, but you need to get to a hospital right now. I think you may be having a miscarriage." She also followed up with us with multiple phone calls and helped us so much when we were alone. So, I was already feeling close to her.

The appointment followed in the same vein. We talked about Mexico, we talked about Monte (turns out she also has a 10-year-old dog with cancer), and we talked about how tired and sick I was feeling. It was just so nice to sit and talk and be heard and understood. She didn't do anything, but I felt so much better. Is this why people like coming to therapy? We know that most of the effectiveness of therapy is not necessarily our techniques, but just the connection with someone else who listens. I got that today. So then we felt Baby - I felt his shin bone! - and listened to his heartbeat, which just made me feel happy and sweet and satisfied. At the end I asked her for heartburn remedies and she looked at me with a chagrined expression and said, "Sorry....all I can say is Good Luck." Basically, she recommended Tums, calcium magnesium, drinking milk, sitting up straight after eating...nothing surprising and nothing that she felt was really that effective. Oh well. At least she knows how to listen.

Oh, and I appreciated her sense of humor. When she was feeling my belly, she noticed all of the little scratch marks from Bear using my belly as a launch pad. She asked about them and then said, "Oh, I was wondering if you were having some really kinky pregnant sex." Ha. Which then turned into a conversation about bland pregnant sex and the introduction of vibrators. Good midwife.

When I got home, B led me into the kitchen and showed me that he had had his assistant deliver Bay Cities for dinner. For those of you non-LA-readers, Bay Cities is the best Italian Deli around and it reminds me of walking into my grandma's house when I wander the aisles. Oh, and he also hugged me a lot and apologized for not being able to come with me to any of the appointments. But really, I think it was the food that made me cry. What a great guy.

So now I'm home. My plans for tonight were to try to catch up on my mountain of paperwork that I am behind on. But, after today, they may have been replaced by plans to spend some quality time with Netflix, eat some delicious lasagna and Italian bread, and take a bath. If only my plans could also incorporate an entire bottle of Sangiovese.

I hope all of you have had an easier day than I have. I would appreciate any thoughts on pediatricians, good pregnant sex, wine-replacements, or just some positive thoughts sent in the direction of a certain 120-lb German Shepherd.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Insects and Indecision

This is a post about nothing. Be advised. Truly, it is about nothing. Just a lot of random paragraphs that are not related in any way.

I was woken up this morning by little tiny kitten paws dancing all over my body. Now that may sound adorable. But it is actually annoying. And frightening. You may wonder why I, a woman who weighs an-amount-that-shall-not-be-named, is afraid of a 3 lb kitten? Well, for one, I sleep in the nude. Yes, I do. And for two, those little velvet kitten paws actually are just sheathed razors from hell forged in the pits of Mordor. Seriously. I need to start wearing pajamas.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about Beauty. I considered this last night in the bathtub because I realized my toe nails are a beautiful coral shade of polish. I also noticed that my breasts and belly are round and luscious and beautiful. But then I realized, I'm not very good at finding Beauty in day to day life anymore. I've been pretty inwardly focused and I've been too stuck inside my own Plans. Not to mention, I haven't spent enough time outdoors...where I usually see the most Beauty. Although, I will say, there is beauty in watching my kitten sleep.

Today I fell out of my office chair. Really. I was trying to pick up a water bottle I dropped on the ground. This isn't an easy task anymore. So I ever so slowly leaned to the side...slowly...slowly....getting closer to the ground. And then, still slowly, gracefully, both myself and the chair ended up on the ground. It was a lot easier to pick up the bottle from down there.

I have been agonizing lately about when to start my maternity leave. It's a bit ridiculous, because I'm only agonizing over the difference between one week of work - a short week, so really only three days. THREE DAYS. But it's more of a question between choosing myself or choosing my sense of obligation to work. Mainly my obligation to my clients and trainees. I will not bore you with the details, but that extra half-week may actually make a difference to them. But....not really. It's more in my head, I'm sure. I just...have things I want to accomplish and am having a hard time letting go. But then my irrational fear that Baby could come early kicks in and I start thinking I need to go on leave NOW so I can have some alone time before he shows up. I am incredibly indecisive and B told me he refuses to help me agonize anymore because the whole thing is boring him. Ha.

I've been plagued by insects today. When I went to wash my hands at work I was confronted by the Most Enormous Cockroach Ever sitting on the edge of the sink. He was reddish in color, had a body the size of my thumb, long legs that looked made for jumping at people, and antennae twice the length of his body. He looked like a grasshopper on steroids. He looked like he wanted to eat me. I chose to risk germs over being eaten by a cockroach and so I didn't wash my hands. Sorry. Then, when we took the dog for a walk today, we realized that the trees along the canals were filled with enormous spiders spinning their webs over the walkways, trying to eat happy unsuspecting pregnant women. They were the biggest spiders I've ever seen.

I've earned a new pregnancy symptoms - Heartburn! I've never had heartburn before, so when it started on Sunday I thought I was either getting the worst chest/throat cold ever or I was having a panic attack. Or both. And then I realized what was happening and told B I had solved the mystery of why my chest and throat felt like they had been doused in burning gasoline and he looked at me like I was crazy because I'd never had heartburn before. So I bought some Tums.

Time has become fluid. I have 6 weeks left and I have lost all concept of whether that is a LOT of time or not enough time. m,dfg. 4 5 , <----Bear typed this as he ran by. I left it because maybe it's a mathematical formula that explains how time seems to shift depending on my mood. As in, one moment six weeks is SO long to wait and then the next it is a freakishly short amount of time before my entire life changes. I feel a bit like a tiny boat on the ocean. Tiny as in Stuart Little's size. Just the size of a teacup, floating on the ocean. When you're that tiny, you don't try to fight the waves. Just go with it. Because either way, this baby is coming when he comes. There's nothing I can do to speed it up, slow it down, or determine exactly when it will happen. It just will. Happen.

Thursday is a day of appointments. We are interviewing a pediatrician in the morning. I have no questions planned. I am worried I will just stare at her and blink a lot and ask if she gives kids lollipops. I also have a midwife appt. I'll be 34 weeks. Soon I'll be at weekly appointments. I know every pregnant lady ever has probably said this, but "I remember thinking I couldn't imagine being at weekly appointments." Really. Then I have to take Monte to get chemo. I still feel like I should write a post about the fact that his cancer is back in his lymph nodes, but I'm just kind of avoiding it. B says everything is fine because the vet convinced him that it's "no big deal" if we start the entire chemo regime over again. Aside from the fact that it means thousands more in bills, going back to weekly appts after graduating to monthly, and somehow figuring out how to get him to his appts with a newborn baby - I'm also really upset because it feels a bit like a gruesome, tragic fight with the inevitable.

So. As I forewarned you, this post is about nothing. Just disjointed thoughts. Did you make it this far? I'm surprised. Do you remember anything I wrote about? Insects and Indecision? Great. Sounds good. So, to reward you...I'll leave you with another headless photo of me at almost 34 weeks. I posted this on Facebook and was shocked at how many likes and comments the photo got. I mean, do I really know 50+ people who care about my belly? Really, it is interesting to see the random people who are so enthused by pregnant women. I am sticking with my theory that on some unconscious, primal level we all see pregnancy as optimistic proof that our species is continuing. That is the only thing that could explain that many people "liking" my picture. Of course, they got to see me with my head still ON my body....

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Education Motherhood

It's been a rollercoaster of a week. We had three classes at the midwife clinic, I had to be at work super early every morning, I had to do a full day training for staff and trainees on trauma treatment, I presented at a conference, AND I've had my normal workload on top of it all. The earliest I got home all week was after 7:00, but most nights were closer to 9 or 10. Monte had a vet appointment and we found out his cancer is back (probably an entire post coming on this, but long story short is that it's still treatable, just means more cost and effort), which hit me really hard. And I'm just....tired. Oh, and B has been extremely stressed at work with deadlines and meetings and contracts galore.

So what is the point of this long rant/complaint-fest? Well, it's not just to pour on the excuses for not commenting and blogging more. It's actually to set the stage for something nice. You see, as I write this, Monte is laying at my feet, Bear is sleeping on my belly wearing Indy's old kitten-collar, and I'm sitting in my brand new rocking chair. I'm feeling very "at peace." Which is surreal given the week I've had. I kept commenting all week on how bizarre it was that I was still "happy" despite all of my stress. And by "happy" I don't mean joyful and giddy, because god I'm tired, but I mean this buzzing feeling in the back of my mind that this is all temporary and insignificant compared to the contentment I have coating my world right now. Hoping this keeps up. This may be the most effective and healthy way to cope with stress that I've found since red wine!

So I mentioned we've had a lot of baby classes lately. I want to briefly update you on that and then, in a rambling way, meander myself to the true point of this post - something that happened in our Childbirth Class today.

So first of all, we had a class on Breastfeeding. Does everyone get this or is this just something specific to our clinic? Either way, I really enjoyed it. I feel like I really don't know anything about breastfeeding, and oddly enough, B seems to know everything. Honestly, every question - he had the answer. I think the teacher had a crush on him by the end of the night. Most importantly, the teacher leading the class, a lactation consultant for our clinic, was extremely maternal, down-to-earth, knowledgeable and calming. She is the one who does home visits through our clinic if you are having problems with breastfeeding. She is exactly the kind of person I would want to welcome into my home if I end up feeling my mommyhood threatened by my inability to breastfeed my baby. Oh, and she wasn't judgmental, over-the-top-attachment-parenting guru who would judge you for any decisions you end up making regarding pumping, length of time breastfeeding, etc. So, breastfeeding class? Success.

We also had a free Introduction to HypnoBirthing Class. This was taught by a "Licensed Hypnotherapist" (as a mental health professional, I'm not really sure what the heck that means...) who offers an Intro class to couples in order to entice them into taking her 4-course, $450 HypnoBirthing series. The neat thing about it is that she limits the class to four couples, and each series includes private sessions for both moms and dads, which focus on improving your relaxation skills and "facing your fears" about labor. Then, she makes you individualized hypnosis CDs based on your private sessions. Ok, so...what did I think? Well, again, as a psychologist, I am a bit skeptical about hypnosis. But let me be clear here, I am not skeptical about the effects of relaxation. Research shows the impact of deep relaxation on both overall mental health and neurological states of your brain. Not to mention, I've seen it work with my clients and with myself. I'm just not so sure there is any difference between hypnosis and deep relaxation. As in, I'm not sure you can hypnotize away my pain. You can just get me to a state where I'm so relaxed that I don't process it the same way.

Ok, so technicalities aside, I was still going into with an open mind. She gave us some background on hypnosis - theory, research, etc - then she led us through various practice exercises. Most of them were very similar to what I teach my own clients. During the exercises, I found myself editing them to do the things that I already know work for me in order to increase my relaxation. I realized through the course that I am already very attuned to what I need to do. I don't think that a few classes are really going to improve my skills that much. And please note - I'm not saying that I am a relaxation-yogi. I struggle with using the techniques in day to day life and definitely could use more individual practice. It's just that, I feel I can do that on my own. The only thing that may have been worth it is to teach B how to be my "coach" and guide my through my strategies. But again, I feel we can do that on our own. So, my plan is to sit down with B and teach him the techniques I already use (some are very personal) and then do a few practices where he guides me through them. Wish me luck that we ACTUALLY follow through with this. Anyhow, would I recommend the class to someone else who is not me? Well, it's $450 so that is quite an investment, but if you do not have anything structured that you currently do as a relaxation technique and you are looking for a natural birth AND you think you'll practice it and go into it with an open mind, then YES do it. It will be helpful. But if you don't fit those criteria, save your money.

Ok, last class. We are halfway through the Childbirth Series. Which consists of four classes, four hours each, with four couples in the class. A lot of hours, I know. I realized that they are run a bit like "couples therapy groups," which at first rubbed me the wrong way. Especially when they started asking us to do art therapy exercises (again, I don't do art therapy - just not that kind of therapist). But now, I have to say, the hippie-side of me has bought into these classes 100%. Both B and I kind of love them. We pack a bag of snacks and goodies, dress in comfy clothes, and grab "our couch" where we curl up together and cuddle throughout the whole class. I'm not kidding. All of the couples get really comfortable. Kick your shoes back, arrange a pillow nest, and cuddle up to your partner people, this is like entering an expensive hippie-commune for upper-middle-class Los Angelenos. Topics are not just about Labor and Birth. We also discuss sexuality during pregnancy, your relationship during pregnancy, pain relief methods, possible complications, and hubbies learned how to do belly palpitations to tell what position the babies are in. Really fun. So yeah, I've bought into it hook, line and sinker. Oh, and I kinda LOVE my husband at these classes. He drinks the koolaid too, and turns into this ultra-attentive, focused, caring guy who does things like - refills my water class, rubs my shoulders, rubs my belly, or arranges my pillows. How come I don't get that all of the time??

Finally this brings me to the subject I wanted to share with you (50 pages later). Today our homework was to call our parents and talk to them about the birth story of when we were born. There were specific questions to ask, etc. When it came time for our check in, one of the girls said doing the homework had put her into a "bad mood." As she started to talk about it, she started to cry and said she couldn't share right now what was going on and so we appropriately moved on to the next couple. Well, the next couple starts checking in about their baby shower, and then suddenly, the 2nd girl starts to cry and says how difficult it's been recently with her mother because her mom just isn't giving her what she needs and hasn't been there for her enough and how she "wants her mom." The first girl starts all out crying and nodding along with her. And then suddenly I am squeezing B's hand really, really tightly so I don't cry. Because, although I haven't blogged about it, it's something B and I have talked a lot about. My mom hasn't had the stereotypical response to my pregnancy that I was craving. Not enough phone calls to ask about how I'm doing, or how the baby is doing, no gushing over ultrasounds, so special "care packages." Now, remember my Princess Post? I thought I was just being ultra-needy. Because, really, she's not doing anything wrong. She says the right things, is excited that I'm pregnant, and is planning to come and be with me for a month after baby is born. So yeah, she's a great mom. It's just... I've felt something lacking. It turns out for all of the girls in the class, this baby will be their mom's first grandbaby, and we all felt they aren't quite sure how to transition into that role. Also, my in-laws have FIVE grandchildren and they do it perfectly. It's actually made me feel closer to them.

I guess, it just was an interesting moment for me to look around the room and see these women who are becoming mothers themselves but who are needing our moms so intensely right. What pressure on our mothers. What pressure on us. The expectations to have a certain feeling or a certain strong. But it's a role transition. A big one. And a scary one. Probably for both generations. So. Yeah. I would say the hippie-commune-group-therapy modality was helpful today. Not to mention all the gross, gooey, sappy, bloody birth videos we watched after lunch. Can't have a childbirth class without them.

And, to end, I am going to share actually share with you our art therapy exercises from the first two classes. I can't believe I'm doing this because, 1) it is cheesy, and 2) I don't entirely believe in this shit and 3) I'm clearly not an artist. But mostly, I want to share them with you because I am so amazed with what B drew and what he said about his thoughts. So, I guess I'm kinda bragging about how sweet he is.

First of all, the women were asked to draw an animal that they would think of during labor (or something silly like that). So I drew this little cat. Partially because I heard once that cats purr during labor, which is admirable and amazing. But also because cats are strong and inwardly focused. I chose a housecat (as opposed to a lion or tiger or something more impressive), because I think that symbolizes me better and because I don't think I need to be ferocious during birth, just content, calm and focused.

Next, the men were asked to draw something that "symbolized pregnancy" to them. Other men drew pictures of growing flowers or women feeling uncomfortable or a house to symbolize a family. B drew this. He said he represents the sexiness, curviness, and beauty of a pregnant woman. And, inside, he drew shapes to symbolize the complexity of what is happening inside of the woman and the amazing biological things going on under the surface.

Today, we were asked to draw something to symbolize the "journey of pregnancy." Most people drew things about the two of them together and I felt a little bad because mine wasn't about B and I, but more about me. I had had this dream this morning that I was following this winding path that went up and down and up and down and in the distance I could see this beautiful sunset and I was desperately trying to get there. But my family was there and they were lagging behind and just couldn't understand how important it was to get to the sunset at the end. I was so frustrated and just kept telling them to hurry up. But I knew I'd get there in the end. And, if I'm honest, even though B wasn't actually in the dream, I have felt sometimes that I am leading the way and while he is following my lead (literally and figuratively), I'm the one who has to cut the path.

This is B's "journey of pregnancy" art. When he described it I actually got tearful. I am going to to try to explain it to you. He said that the two blue lines are the two of us, that come closer together and move farther apart, depending on our relationship. The yellow circle and then yellow lines is our baby, coming to join up with us. Then they go into the corner where there is a lot of colors and shapes and that represents some of the stressors we've had, specifically including what we thought was an almost miscarriage in Mexico. If you look close, you see like a yellow teardrop surrounded by blue, and that was us shielding and protecting him. Finally, in the upper right hand corner, there is a "vortex" because he described us as circling around and around faster and faster as we approach the birth. The colors around the vortex are our support network.

So yeah. I got tearful as he described his art because I got to see this entire pregnancy through his eyes and it was so sensitive and thoughtful and connected with how I feel that I realized I would marry him all over again. Not to mention, I was so proud that THIS guy is MY husband. Eat your heart out, everyone else in the room.

And there you have it, probably way more than you wanted to know about our "art therapy experience." If you're lucky, I'll share more later...we still have two more sessionsclasses to go. What about everyone else? What would YOU draw? What animal would you choose to represent yourself in labor or going through something difficult? How would you represent your pregnancy or your relationship with your partner? Do you think you'd enjoy the art aspect or just burst out laughing? Please share....

p.s. This was my view as I wrote this post. Did you notice that my rocking chair is in some of the pictures? I'm still working on the nursery - waiting for last minute touches (namely artwork) to show up in the mail, so you can expect pictures in a few weeks or so!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Post #2: Road Trip

So I promised you two posts to catch me back up into the blogging world. Yesterday I shared a bit about the Baby Shower (and spent way too long freakishly cutting heads off of perfectly cute photographs), and so today I want to share about our road trip over Labor Day weekend.

I’ve written before about how Los Angeles and I are starting to have a relationship like two roommates who get on each other’s nerves. As in, we still need each other to pay rent, but we can’t even stand listening to the other person breathe. I explained how B and I are ready for more space and peace of mind. Mainly, we imagine a plot of land (minimum 5 acres) with trees, meadows, maybe even a stream...with my horses grazing in the pasture. We dream about sitting on our back porch, listening to crickets, sipping a glass of wine, and watching the evening darken. Oh, and we dream about all of this within an easy drive of good restaurants and culture. Where may be find this paradise, you may ask?

Those of you avid followers (haha) may already know that we hope to find the dream in Sonoma. It seems to be the best of both worlds. Not too removed from wine country, San Francisco, and even LA (for B’s business trips), but still within peaceful countryside. So, this past weekend, we loaded Monte into the car, packed my Giant White Vagina pregnancy pillow, and headed up North.

Let me first share with you the joys of roadtripping at 31 weeks pregnant. Then, I will talk about the outcome of searching for our dreams. Deal? You see, in order to scout out the “perfect place,” in addition to the 8 hour drive to get up North, we also spent every day, ALL day in the car, driving around to research areas and properties for sale. The result? Picture me in the car, with pillows propped at all angles. One wedged under the belly, one on my left side, one on my right, and one in the small of my back. Really. Each day I would start out sitting like a normal human being, but by the end of it I’d be wedged in like a marshmallow, trying to ignore aching muscles. You know what else is great about the country? Lack of restrooms. Seriously. No shortage of beautiful views or redwood trees, but nowhere to pee!! And not “country” enough that I felt comfortable peeing on the side of the road for fear of someone seeing my pregnant self squatting there in full glory. Well, to be honest, this did happen one time, on the side of a road, near a vineyard. Classy. Each night at the end of the day I would crawl into bed bleary-eyed and not speaking in coherent sentences and fall sound asleep.

But, aside from the fact that I may have underestimated the impact of 3rd trimester pregnancy on roadtripping comfort, the trip was definitely a success. We went up not certain if the area would be right for us, and we came back with plans to move anytime between spring 2014 and spring 2015. That is CLOSE!

The positives? Plenty of trees, vineyards, open land, crickets (as requested) and beautiful views. Plenty of cute, wine-infused towns and friendly locals. A note on friendly locals. We realized how LA we have become when baffled by local-behavior. As in, wow that person just politely waited to let us onto the road, or that coffee barista spent 15 minutes chatting with us about which roads are pretty to drive on, or the hostess at the restaurant chatting with us about local schools and then bringing us some homemade bruschetta to “welcome us to the area.” Wow. Also, horses. Horses everywhere. *sigh* Most of the areas we fell in love with were within an hour’s drive from San Francisco, which is perfect because I love San Francisco (definitely LA’s classier, more genuine, artsier, unrelated-adopted sibling), but I don’t want to live there. Being close enough for a day trip will help our kids grow up loving it too, but NOT being city-kids.

The negatives? I realized I may have become more citified than I originally thought. B fell in love with off-the-grid properties nestled away in hidden groves of redwoods that were 30-45 minutes of winding roads from any semblance of a town. And I found myself thinking…um? Schools? Doctor’s offices? My place of work?? You see, he can work remotely from home, so a “commute” isn’t as big of a deal for him. Also, our “dream” of having the land with trees, pasture, creek, and back porch to elegantly sip wine upon? Well, that could easily run us upwards of $1M in certain areas of Sonoma. Fuck. So maybe our dream has to be edited slightly. Or approximated. (I suppose I could sacrifice the stream).

The decision? As I already said, we’re thinking we may move as soon as next Spring or into the following Spring. But we won’t be buying yet. We can’t afford even an approximation of our dream just yet and also we realized that it would be much better to choose the dream house/land based on its attributes, not its location. Which means casting a wider net geographically. Which means it would be a hell of a lot easier to search with a real estate agent while we actually live there. PLUS we realized that for half of what we pay currently in rent, we can already afford our approximated-dream in a rental. We found 3 bedroom farm homes on property (with streams!) for reasonable (by LA standard) prices. Which would set us on track for saving money and allow us to start living what we want.

So, you may be asking, why wait? Just move! Well, basically we’re waiting to feel sure (as sure as we can be) that B’s business will survive if he relocates. All of his clients are here and most of his employees (a percentage also work remotely). He knows that he doesn’t need to be physically present to run the team, but he wants to make sure it’s solid enough to handle the transition. Also, the longer we wait, the less commuter flights he’ll be taking back to visit the City of Angels.

But, we have a plan – however vague – and it makes me excited! I love having dreams and plans for the future. I am someone who thrives on change. But I do feel a bit apprehensive. I realized this will be the first move we’ve made that we were not “forced” to make. I have moved for college, for graduate school, for internship, finally ending up in LA when B got a job here after my internship ended. All of these moves had a purpose. This next move? The purpose is to seek out happiness, I suppose. But it seems a bit reckless to walk away from the secure life we have here, my very good job, and B’s company flourishing the way that it is. But, as my sister said, “what’s the alternative? Buy a house in LA and raise your kids here?” Now, no offense to LA-lovers (really and truly – no offense!), but I want my kids to grow up running free on our property with our dogs. Not to mention, the same $1M in LA will buy you a semi-decent house in the valley or a 1 bedroom house in the glam-ghetto of the westside. No back porch or crickets.

And now? Back to real life. Which hasn’t seemed so bad now that we have The Plan. I also feel healthier emotionally after getting away from work, the city, and my obsessive Calendar-Gazing/prep for baby. Not that I am not still totally excited and in love with the idea of him getting here, but it was nice to have a weekend where I focused on something else. B and I also feel more connected. He spent more time talking to Baby and feeling my belly. We spent more time having REAL conversations instead of snippets. And we actually spent a little bit of our time having actual sex. Wow. Oh, and Monte enjoyed himself too! So all in all, Road Trip Success!

What about the rest of you? Have you ever left something certain for the chance at something better? Or are you happier not rocking the boat? While you mull over that, I'm going to leave you with some pictures from the trip. Some of the scenery, more of Monte, and a few of Bear (who didn't come on the trip but still just keeps being cute!).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Post #1: The Baby Shower!

So I’m baaaack! Did you miss me? Did you know that I was gone? I’ve just been disconnected from blogland ever since the weekend of my baby shower. It’s been kind of nice actually, I have been overall way less focused on the internet/pregnancy/nursery/etc. It’s been nice for a bit. But I missed all of you! I’m going to spend way too many hours catching up on reading where you are all at.

But first, I need to catch you up on ME. Because I’m so important, right? No, but really I want to share two big things have happened. First, the baby shower, and then our big trip. So prepare yourself for TWO blog posts. I hope you can handle it…

Post #1: The Baby Shower

So…our shower. Wow, it seems like a long time ago now but I’m going to try to paint the picture for you. It felt like a full weekend of Baby Shower because we had friends who flew in earlier in the week to be there. My sister, best friend and I spent the day before running around to Costco, getting mani/pedis, and having a long lunch. The whole weekend was grey and cloudy, but I kept reassuring them that it would be sunny for the Baby Shower.

The morning of, we woke up and it was still grey and cold and I was a bit worried, but I kept saying, “Don’t worry, it will be beautiful once we get up to the park above the marine layer.” And guess what? So true. When we showed up at the park it was brilliantly sunny and perfect. There was a polo game going on on the bright green polo field in front of our picnic tables (have to have horses at my shower somehow, right?), we had five picnic tables under the trees, and everything was looking wonderful. Well, if I have to complain, I guess I would complain about the fact that the picnic tables were on dirt instead of green grass but wait, I’m not complaining. Our shower officially started around noon, but of course I don’t think anyone showed until 12:30, and most not until 1:00. That was okay. We planned for that. We set up the alcohol (which no one drank – ha!), the cake (which was absolutely amazing – shortcake with fresh fruit and whipped cream frosting), and the food (which was catered from a friend’s restaurant and got rave reviews).

In the end, I couldn’t believe how many people showed up. It was so touching to see that we have so many good friends who turned up for us and our baby. I did end up feeling a bit rushed and exhausted because I didn’t have time to just sit and be with anyone, but I guess that’s to be expected.

In the end, it was exactly what I wanted. No baby games, no decorations, lots of friends (of both sexes) just hanging out and chatting. Oh, and there were babies there too! I still didn’t overcome my fear of holding babies and so just looked at them from a far. Very cute. One little boy (8 months old) was enamored with Monte and was crawling all over him. He actually was sitting on him like a horse at one point. And then Monte turned around and ever-so-gently licked him on his face. Priceless.

Oh, and of course we got gifts! Again, everyone was so generous and I was so touched and amazed by how thoughtful everyone is. I guess I should get on the Thank You notes, huh? Gift highlights included a lot of random things from people who are actually parents and so know what is actually practical. Unlike my registry which was filled with decorations and cuteness. Best gifts? My sister filled a bag with adorable clothes, handmade etsy toys, outfits, books, and a giant teddy bear. I think her gifts meant a lot because I could see how much time she had put into picking them all out across so many different places. Plus, she has absolutely awesome taste. She is going to be the best Aunt. Next Lorna, from the LaLaDiaries actually made Baby a blanket. Not only was it handmade, but matched out nursery colors/theme. I was blown away and told her I will not be making anything by hand for her little girl. (Sorry Lorna!). Finally, completely unexpected….a business associate of B’s bought us our Chicco Key Fit carseat! Are you kidding me?? B said it was a “business thing” and I felt momentarily awkward, but hey, we have a car seat! To put a baby in! (right now my sister’s giant teddy bear is in it, but hey…)

So that’s it. I’m going to leave you with some pictures. I do have to say, I almost broke my “anonymous-creepy-headless-photo” thing for this post. It seemed so sad to crop heads out of all of my really cute pictures. But then I just couldn’t get past a nagging paranoia of one of my clients finding this blog and reading all about my bodily experiences during pregnancy. Not cool. So, you get a bunch of weird, headless body shots. To make up for it, I decided to leave the cake photo unedited. That will be a very un-dramatic way to introduce you to our baby boy’s name ☺

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