December 30, 2009

  • 31 Weeks!

    Man the time is flying by.

    I’m not ready to officially launch my website yet but I feel guilty not posting in so long, so here I am. I think I’ve got another xanga post in me! I’m hoping that my posts on my website will have a slightly different feel, and that’s a lot of pressure. But xanga never judges me.

    December 13th marked six years since I started this blog. Dang. Six years is a long time. When I started this blog, I was finishing up my SATs and ACTs and halfway through my senior year of high school. I hadn’t truly MET Jeremy yet, and I didn’t even know about the play. And look at my life now! At that moment, I NEVER would have imagined it. My life completely changed course just three months after I started this blog. I love having all of it somewhat chronicled here.

    Anyways, a quick pregnancy update. I still can’t believe I’m pregnant. It surprises me and still feels like something only people older than me should be doing. But I’m almost 24 and been married more than 3 1/2 years so it’s a perfectly acceptable state to be in. I just feel like I’m sneaking into an exclusive club, underage and inexperienced, instead of being a real member.

    Pregnancy really is not fun most of the time, but every time I feel all those increasingly stronger kicks and wiggles it is all worth it. And she is constantly moving. Even when I was sleeping the other night, snuggled up behind Jeremy, he said he could feel her kicking him in the back.

    Doesn’t that just MELT YOUR SOUL?!

    It’s the most precious, adorable thing I can even attempt to fathom. It’s like she was saying, “Hey Dad! Mom is sleeping and I’m bored. Talk to me!” She is just lovely.

    So I love that part. Pretty much everything else about pregnancy sucks, but feeling that little being move around inside you is just so spectacular that I already feel bad for my future non-pregnant self and can’t wait to be pregnant again. And this is coming from someone with almost constant heartburn, enormous abdominal and back discomfort and pain, a general loss of independence, and terrible bladder control.

    I do get to enjoy that positive aspect a lot these days though. I think she must move around in her sleep some too. It just seems like she’s always wriggling and rolling. I’m not sure if she’s head down though. I hope she is, or will be eventually, but if I had to guess, I’d say she’s still transverse. (Laying side to side.) It’s fine for now, but I’m getting nervous about her staying that way and forcing a C-section. Oh well. Nothing I can do about it.

    My mindset is changing these days. The first trimester I was solely focused on not puking, relaxing, and not miscarrying–which basically equalled stressing, worrying, and freaking out about miscarrying even more. When I finally got to a point where I felt “safe,” I focused on choosing all the big important baby items. I wanted to get out and try/buy them all while I was still able to get out. Now I’m finally starting to seriously think about labor and delivery. It’s scaring me a little now. It’s hard not to worry about all the complications that can arise, not to mention that some women and babies still DIE during childbirth. Bleh. Plus I’m still debating with myself over epidurals and other pain medications. Right now I’m still leaning towards not having them, and I don’t want an IV either. I don’t want to feel tied down at all. But it’s hard to make any of these judgment calls without ever having experienced labor before. I’m wondering what will best help me have a normal, vaginal delivery. In my rare case, being a woman with a spinal cord injury giving birth, there are really NO resources to help me make my decision. The doctors have determined that I will feel pretty much everything too. So much for the last 11 years of living life in a wheelchair. I don’t even get the benefit of not feeling labor pain! Haha, geez.

    I’m trying to plan for having a newborn in the house as well. I’m starting to try and organize things, throw out stuff, and generally deep clean everything. It’s a lot of work. Especially when it’s getting more and more impossible to bend over and pick things up off the floor or out of cabinets or from the dryer or anywhere not right in front of me. I’ve been reading up on sleeping schedule techniques, feeding patterns, breastfeeding tips, etc. (I sure hope I’m able to breastfeed despite my reduction from last summer, but if I can’t, I’m not gonna feel like a failure. I hope.) I did a lot of research today on SIDS as well as the best ways to lower your baby’s risk for it. That SIDS is scary stuff, so mysterious.

    I’ve poured over various lists of newborn necessities, and I’m trying to compile a list of my own of all the things we need. Thanks to my amazing baby shower, we mostly only need small things. A nursing pillow, some more full body outfits, something to swaddle with, a Bumbo, an infant carrier/Baby Bjorn so Jeremy can be that awesome dad that carries his little girl around on his chest, one of those warm blanket car seat cover things, etc.

    We still haven’t decided on a name. We are still liking Ariel and Olivia, but a few months back I had a dream about the baby. We were visiting with my family and everybody was calling her “Baby Abby/Abi/Abbie.” I told Jeremy the next day, just for fun. And he’s like, “I really like that name!” And he seems to like it more and more. I wasn’t onboard at all at first, but the more he talks about it, the more I like it too. I think he makes me like it because I love that he’s been so involved in this whole thing. Many fathers aren’t, and so it makes me happy for him to love a name. I can’t help but like it. Finally, just last week, I looked up the meaning of Abigail, and it pretty much means, “My father’s joy.” So you know Jeremy just LOVED that. I still think Ariel is my favorite though. Just because it’s so much more unique. But we’ll see. We still aren’t making any final decisions until she’s born, and we still love Olivia as well, but it’s just so popular these days. I really have NO idea what her name will be. Not a clue. It could be any of those three or something totally different and random that we think of later. It will be a surprise for us as much as everyone else. But I like it that way. Since the gender is rarely a surprise these days, I like to save the name for last.

    Last week or so we were having the name discussion and not coming up with any real leads when Jeremy yelled into my belly, “Hey baby! What do you want to be called?!” She did not answer. I suppose we should only ask her yes or no questions so that she can kick for yes and stay still for no. I’ll mention that next time Jeremy is interrogating her.

    We start our childbirth classes at the hospital next week I think. Hoping to learn some helpful stuff! And hoping it will help me make my decision about all the various labor and delivery options. What choices did you mommies reading this make? What would you do differently?

December 19, 2009

December 8, 2009

  • The Santa Claus Debate

    So this baby isn’t even born yet but I’m already having the Santa Claus debate in my head. I have no real issue with Santa Claus. I quite like him actually. I don’t think people are trying to use him to replace Christ or anything like that. I know there are some religious people who try to cut Santa out of their Christmas completely but I don’t feel that way. Besides, the kids are exposed to Santa at school anyway. I grew up knowing what Christmas was REALLY about, and never got Christ confused with Santa. I think he’s fun and helps make Christmas morning a magical event for those first few years of a child’s life. However, I DO want Christmas in our home to be more focused on the Savior, Jesus Christ, than on Santa or gifts. I also don’t want my kids thinking I lied to them. I didn’t feel that way as a child when I found out Santa wasn’t real, but I know some do and feel utterly betrayed.

    I don’t know if I was ever a true believer. If I was, I was to young to remember. I only remember having doubts about Santa Claus. One year a few weeks before Christmas I found a huge Barbie Dream House in my parents closet that later came from “Santa.” I told my parents privately after I opened it that I’d already seen it and knew it was from them. I think my mom called me a “little snot” for peeking, haha. I know that sounds mean but she meant it with love. I wonder what she called Lauren when Lauren used a screwdriver to take off the locked doorknob to the extra bedroom in the basement where all the gifts were hidden…haha. Lauren was older then though, like 5th or 6th grade. I didn’t tell mom what Lauren had done until after Christmas…but I had to make sure Lauren didn’t tell me what I was getting. I wanted to be surprised! I’ve always loved surprises.

    I noticed in kindergarten that Santa and my mom had the same handwriting and wrapping paper. (My mom covered that one well though, she said Santa didn’t wrap gifts so she had to wrap them for him.) I also had major issues with why poor kids didn’t get nice presents like I did. Why wouldn’t Santa give them extra special gifts since they didn’t get special birthdays or even basic needs met? When I finally asked my Dad if Santa was real, he said yes, and I trusted my Dad more than anyone. I asked him how he knew and he said it was because he had seen Santa as a child. I was skeptical, but he convinced me that he’d seen the real Santa. And of course, he had. He’d once snuck out of bed and caught his parents setting out the gifts as being “Santa.” I didn’t feel like he lied to me. Even at the time I figured he was talking about his parents. I kinda wanted to believe in Santa, but it wasn’t a big deal for me. I knew my parents were just making it special for me. I didn’t feel betrayed or anything. And I never had a big moment when I realized he wasn’t real. I just gradually grew out of it. Pretty early, mostly because of the poor kids thing. I could swallow the idea of him riding around the world in one night, but I couldn’t believe that a man as nice and kind as Santa wouldn’t give poor kids a lot of really neat stuff. I think I believed in him far longer than the tooth fairy or Easter Bunny, but that’s only because I never really believed in them at all. Also my mom said anyone who didn’t believe in Santa didn’t get presents so I played along for a while. She just didn’t want me to spoil it for my younger sisters. And I also didn’t want to spoil it for my parents that I was growing up. Even at five years old, I knew it would make them sad to think I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in Santa and reindeer.

    So for our kids, I don’t think we’ll make a huge deal about Santa. Maybe he will just bring one gift. Like something that an elf could have made. So no Easy Bake Oven or Barbie dolls, but maybe something handmade from Etsy. That was another issue of mine. I knew Barbie was made by Mattel. Not elves.

    And when they ask me if Santa is real, I will just ask what THEY think, and make sure that they understand that it’s not nice to try to influence how their friends think. We’ll have to play it by ear after that.

    What was your experience with Santa Claus? What kind of experience do you want your kids to have?

December 1, 2009

  • Week 26, The Moment I Wake Up, and Three Weeks

    These days I count my life three ways:

    1. In Pregnancy Weeks: 26. (Maybe 27? I’m getting confused again.)
    Every week that passes is a lovely treat. It’s one week closer to meeting my baby, finding out whether she looks like me or Jeremy or some other random family member, one week closer to feeling like a normal, female human being, one week closer to my body not hating me so much…I could go on. My back is getting ridiculous. Today I was only out of bed for a few hours, but the pain sent me back to bed again, begging Jeremy for a back rub. (He did…though he played a game on his iPhone with the other hand, but you know. When I’m asking for multiple backrubs a day I assume he gets bored.)

    Notice I said one week closer to feeling like a normal FEMALE human being. Yes, growing a baby is seriously feminine, but sometimes I feel downright masculine. The excess saliva forces me to randomly spit into the trash can, toilet, or sink, whatever’s available. I’m sure it’s not attractive and I would still never do it in public or when company is over but if I swallow it, I get the burps. Burps like I’ve never had in my life. It’s not pleasant. I’ll spare you the rest of my gassiness woes. I know Jeremy would like to be able to forget. Hehe.

    Did anyone ever tell you about the excess saliva or hips popping? Morning Sickness gets all the glory and these other lovely symptoms just show up unannounced.

    Sometimes I think my body really does hate me. The baby has already used her cuteness to turn it against me. My back hurts, my butt hurts, my hips hurt and they are constantly popping out of place. Today my hips popped five times. And I’m a big girl. I’m tall and big boned. When my hips pop the sound is like a bone being snapped in half. It scares the crap out of me every time. I don’t remember it happening hardly at all before I got pregnant. I suppose things are loosening up down there in anticipation of a baby coming out, but geez. The popping is making anxious. I suppose the same hormones loosen everything up because my shoulders randomly pop all the time too.

    I get headaches frequently throughout the day. Today I woke up with one. The heartburn has become a nightly bedtime ritual. Right now my throat burns a fire that neither milk, hot chocolate, ice cream, nor Tums can douse. The worst part is my bladder. It has forgotten how to work and has turned into quite a pansy. I suppose two pounds of baby sitting on top of it and how ever many baby-related fluids are starting to put a strain on it. I can’t sneeze or really laugh much at all without dashing to the bathroom. And forget coughing! Coughing is no good. So I do every trick in the book to stop sneezes, I giggle politely, and I weakly clear my throat instead of actually coughing. It works. For now.

    But the news isn’t all bad, of course. The little girl in my belly should be around two pounds now, and about 14 inches long. She moves, rolls, and kicks all the time! She’s kicking the laptop right now, and can make it move. It’s impressive. She seems most active in the morning when I wake up and at night before I go to bed, but it may only seem that way because that’s when I’m in bed being still and more likely to notice. Jeremy and I were an hour late for Date Night on Wednesday because we were having such a good time watching her acrobatics. My stomach looked like an earthquake zone. I love it and will gladly put up with all the aches, pains, and discomforts for however long it takes to get her here.

    2. When I Can Eat Again: The Moment I Wake Up

    Food is my very best friend right now. It tastes better than ever, and I can’t get enough of it. I daydream about food, I plan my day around food, I want food right now actually. I procrastinate everything so I can have just ONE MORE SNACK.

    I’m extremely possessive of my food these days, especially sweets and my favorite dishes. A few weeks ago I got so angry that I cried because someone ate my last Swiss Cake Roll. At the grocery store, we had all chosen a snack. I chose Swiss Cake Rolls for myself and the boys each chose something for themselves. When I found out someone had ate it, THE LAST ONE, without telling me, I was furious. I went to the pantry, so excited for a Swiss Cake Roll, and there was nothing but an empty box mocking me. (Why leave an empty box? That’s another rant.) I can laugh about it now, but at the time I didn’t speak to the offender for an entire day. Even now, I hide my stash of Little Debbie Christmas Trees and Wreaths so that I know exactly how many I have and how many I’m allowed to have per week, etc. And holy crap if somebody were to eat one without asking my permission, SOMETHING WOULD HIT THE FAN. I don’t mind buying snacks for other people, and I keep extras in the closet, but don’t touch my personal Little Debbies! I also get extremely irritated if food is left out to go bad or stale. Don’t get me started on how to correctly fold down a cereal bag or squeeze all the air out of the flour tortillas bag.

    I usually bring a snack to eat in bed, and something to nibble on while I get ready in the morning. I can’t eat large meals because my stomach is getting squished, but I seem to graze all day. As soon as I’m done eating I’m thinking about what I could be eating next. I never really feel full. I always feel like I could eat more, but I try to limit myself so I don’t weigh more than everyone in this house combined by the end of this pregnancy. I still eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, which I think is good. I figure if I’m going to be eating nearly constantly, they better be good things. Right now I really enjoy bean burritos. I make them with 96% fat free tortillas, fat free refried beans, and 2% milk cheese. So I don’t think it’s too bad. When I was doing Weight Watchers the whole thing was only like two points. (I kinda miss Weight Watchers.) I also eat a lot of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup with 25% less sodium, PB&Js, and banana sandwiches with Miracle Whip. (I know half of you just threw up a little but maybe it’s a southern thing? My Dad always ate them and they are DELICIOUS. Especially when the bananas are at their perfect ripeness and you cut them really thin.)

    So yeah. Food, I will see you in eight hours!

    3. Time Until This Semester is Over: Three Weeks

    This has been a horrible school semester for me. I love most of my classes (except math) and I enjoy the university experience. I really do. BYU is a top notch school in my opinion and I feel so blessed to be able to get a top-ranked education.

    However, sometimes it makes me want to die. Do the classes really have to be so hard? So intense? So stressful? Apparently the answer is OF COURSE. And my professors don’t forget it. BYU classes do not play around. There’s always some super scary assignment looming over my head and I always feel confused because I am missing so many classes due to pregnancy complications. They expect 2-3 hours of reading and studying outside of class for every hour in class. So if you’re taking 15 credits like I am, that’s at least 30 hours of outside work. Add that to my pregnancy, my wife duties, my parenting duties, little odds and ends for my family (we’re pretty much their IT team,) my Disney responsibilities, and my church calling, and I’m swamped. I know I did this all to myself. I could have waited until I graduated to get married. I could have waited to get pregnant. But there were just a lot of factors and honestly, if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it the same. The last five and a half years with Jeremy are worth taking the slow route to my degree. And the baby is only putting me behind a semester. Not even a semester really. I just have to survive.

    The stress is really getting to me though. Jeremy made a less than loving remark to me in the mall the other day and I just lost it. Sure, he wasn’t being particularly nice, but it wasn’t something that I should have gotten all upset about. But I did. Bad. I stomped (figuratively) out of the mall with tears in my eyes and we went home and had the biggest fight we’ve had in a long time. The whole thing lasted maybe an hour or two and we got it worked out and were totally fine and gooey-lovey-dovey by that evening, but still. I’m stressed to the max. When this semester is over, pass or fail, I will feel like the happiest little free bird. I can’t wait. I just want it to be OVER. I want to be able to enjoy the holidays. Right now I can’t. I can’t even put up my Christmas tree because I know I should be studying and I feel guilty doing anything else. I shouldn’t even be writing on this blog right now but I needed a vent.

    Next semester though…I originally wasn’t going to take any classes, but I really need to take one. If I don’t take it, then I won’t be able to graduate until April 2011. It’s only offered in Winter, so if I can manage it, I think it will be more than worth it. I know the professor really well and I think he will work with me. And I will still have tons of free time. Time for nesting, time to be a better blogger, time to think about my parenting strategies and goals, time to work on my photography skills before my little muse gets here, time to start outlining and writing my novel(s). It’s a lot to accomplish before the baby gets here, but I want to have that “me” time before it’s totally gone.

    Well I feel better, and my back has calmed to a dull ache. I think I can sleep now! Although I’m more than a little hungry by this point, I’m making myself wait for morning. Gotta take my sister to the airport. She gets to have a little trip home! Wish me luck that I don’t dislocate a hip trying to get in my car…haha! Goodnight!

November 15, 2009

  • Originally written on Thursday night/Friday morning…

    Where is home?

    It’s 2:00am. As I lay here in my childhood home, alone in a king-size bed with only a dozen ornate pillows to keep me company, I can’t help but feel desperately homesick.

    It doesn’t make sense. This is where I made most of my childhood memories. This is where I experienced life through my preteen years. My family and I built this house with our own hands. I remember the summers when all my neighborhood friends were out riding golf carts and jumping on trampolines while I was busy drying and staining cedar siding. The smell of the wood was so luxurious and I was amazed that it had been shipped from the somewhere far away. With my dad’s knowledgeable guidance, I hammered nails into the framework of the wall I’m leaning against now. I remember the weeks and months I spent with my mom and sister painting every surface of this immense interior space. Six thousand square feet of literal love and sweat.

    When I had my accident and endured three months in a far away hospital, I ached to come home to this spot. To this street. I wanted to badly to get away from the harsh white walls of the rehab center, the terrible smells and sounds of fellow patients weeping in frustration and depression at night. When I finally came home to a small room on the first floor of my house, I worked hard to get well enough and strong enough that I could move back upstairs to my big room full of my beloved 1950’s antique mahogany furniture.

    But this place feels foreign to me. My family is as wonderful as ever, but I just can’t feel completely comfortable here. Not while they’re away and sleeping. The sheetrock has all been replaced since the fire of 2007, and the paint colors are all new to me. The wooden floors are all new, and the familiar wood details have been replaced with strange new ones. The family room furniture is nicer, more comfortable, and way more functional—yet it bears no scars from childhood forts gone awry nor memories of sneaked late-night kisses with the boy I would someday marry.

    I forgot my toothpaste and face lotion. I had to brush my teeth with water since everyone was already asleep, and I followed it with flossing and gum in an effort to achieve the same effect. There were no towels in the bathroom closet so I used a rough paper towel to dry my face and hands. My entire nighttime routine was damaged. Now I can’t sleep. Those habits were formed in this house, yet tonight I couldn’t even complete them. I feel…off.

    I can’t remember where the light switches are. I stumble around in the dark looking for them and when I find one, it rarely achieves the desired result. Even many of the lighting arrangements have been changed since the fire. There are new can lights in new places and ceiling fans once operated with the flick of a switch are now at the mercy of a mysteriously hidden remote. Once I finally find what I believe to be the correct light switch, I often realize I can’t reach it. A new or shifted piece of furniture is blocking my grasp.

    The house just isn’t as wheelchair friendly as it used to be. It doesn’t need to be. I’ve been gone for over five years. But it still makes me feel uncomfortable. The guest bathroom and bedroom were actually remodeled after the fire to make them easier for me to use, but somehow I still feel trapped. My stair lift that used to take me upstairs is gone. I don’t even know where it is.

    Memories are fading. Like the one from when I found got the news that I made the cheerleading squad in 6th grade, and I couldn’t contain my adrenaline and excitement. The gaudy rose-colored carpet covering the stairs took a beating as I ran up and down it over and over again while shouting in delight at my good fortune, telephone still in hand. The two-toned carpeting has since been replaced with beautiful wood and stone, but the memories don’t seem to be as vivid in the grain.

    It is oddly quiet here. There are no occasional fire truck sirens. There are no young married couples laughing and talking outside my window. There are no TiVo bumps and chirps drifting down from the friendly neighbors above. There are no happy babies squealing out on the sidewalk.

    There is no sidewalk. Only a very dark street.

    I can only hear the ticking and hourly chiming of the large living room clock. While growing up, that clock was such an integral part of my daily white noise that I often didn’t even hear it. Since I’ve been here, it has pealed out four times. And every time I jump at the surprise. It is no longer a comforting tone of home; it is the distant, frightening gong of a stranger.

    Outside I can hear the wind and rain beating against the house. The tall evergreen trees rustle chillingly and my body reactively tenses up.

    I’ve always been terrified of the wind.

    I remember sleeping in the room above me—MY room with the light lavender walls and deep plush purple carpet—the same room where my younger sister is sleeping now amidst bright pink walls and cold hardwood flooring. I can’t even bear to go up and see it because it makes me so sad that it’s gone. The wind would whip and whistle around my corner of the house, and cause me to run panicked down the stairs screaming about tornado nightmares and snapped pine trees that were certain to fall upon me at any minute. This house is certainly the safest house in town. My dad built it to withstand almost all of the natural disasters possible in this area. The basement has it’s own tornado room, a fort of cinderblock reinforced with poured concrete and rebar. There were even bunks for sleeping, and during particularly scary storms, I would sleep down there in an uncomfortable bunk, happy to be in silence and far away from the screams of the wind.

    Often I would squeeze my eyes closed and fantasize about the day that I could have a strong husband to share a bed with, one that would protect me from the wind and make me feel safe. I’d pray for guidance to find him, and to be blessed to find him quickly. I imagined he was far away, in some distant land I’d never visited. I waited for him to suddenly appear in my life. I didn’t realize he was sitting right behind me in class every day. I never knew he was merely across town, listening to the same eerie wind through the thin walls of his family’s modest home.

    My heart aches to have him here. This king-size bed in this huge room is so very lonely. I’m cold and there’s no one to snuggle with. I’m hugging a pillow with a myriad of annoying little tassels instead of a warm, breathing human whose mere breathing pattern makes me feel safe and loved.

    As ridiculous as it is, I find my self crying real, stinging tears even as I think of him. I can see him alone in our smaller bed, in our smaller room, in our much smaller house—our little kingdom that we built together.

    It’s an elegant though humble space, but it is unquestioningly, undoubtedly home.

    Not so much because of the walls we painted or furniture we bought, but because that’s where he is. He IS my home. If he were here, I know this bed would not feel so empty, this place would not feel so unknown.

    I sat with my parents in their room tonight and came up with any excuse to sit and chat. I didn’t want to come to this room alone. I knew the despair I would feel. My mom could sense my distress and offered to watch Big Bang Theory with me. This was comforting, watching a show that Jeremy and I watch together every week. I laughed and immersed myself in the silly nerd stories. But every mention of Battlestar Galactica or technical computer lingo only reminded me of who I was missing—my brave, heroic, funny, kind, gorgeous geek of a knight in shining armor. After three episodes my mom was too tired to continue, and I grudgingly brought myself here to this spot. Alone.

    Now it’s 3:00 and I’ve had my cry, and convinced myself—somewhat–that the gusty winds will probably not get me tonight. The little life inside me has woken up, and every little kick and stretch is a comforting reminder of her Daddy, the very same amazing person whose absence is currently flooding my being. I know she misses him too. I know she is missing his voice telling her goodnight through my belly, and missing his warmth as we snuggle together as a family. I don’t think I’ll separate us from him again for a very long time. Maybe never.

November 12, 2009

  • Just a random blurb…

    Life has been a little rough and stressful recently. I tend to clean, and I mean DEEP clean, when I’m angry. And let me tell you, I have a sparkling clean kitchen tonight! I didn’t even watch GLEE! I needed to let off some major steam that has been building for several weeks and I feel a little better. Me and Jeremy are fine though, it’s not about him. I know you can all sleep better tonight knowing me and Jeremy are still completely, unfailingly, immovably, and disgustingly in L-O-V-E. My marriage is my favorite thing in my whole life right now. That and my baby. And really, my problems are small compared to many people. But not that small. It takes a lot to bring me down.

    It’s hard because I can’t really talk to anyone about it except Jeremy and sometimes my parents. And I hate that. I much prefer my life to be an open book.

    So I’m going to pass on the big 24 Weeks update. Just not in the mood. Nothing has changed really. She moves around and squirms all the time now and still, every single time I am shocked and entertained. Every single time I feel a twinge I want to interrupt me and Jeremy’s conversation and scream, “SHE MOVED! FEEL MY BELLY!” But if I did that we’d never get any talking done because I’d constantly be giving him baby movement updates…haha. Today while researching for a paper in bed, I had the laptop on my belly, and she would move it! That was really cool. I was impressed.

    One really exciting piece of news is that we booked the Disney Cruise to Alaska in 2011! Whoo hoo! We were very blessed and were able to work it all out. We have about zero disposable income for the next two weeks but we’ll survive. I’ll just eat enough at the baby shower to hold me over for a week. Haha. (Like I could even eat enough to hold myself over for an hour these days!) I’ll talk more about the cruise later. But the best part is that my immediate family is coming too. I hope more and more extended family members end up coming though. The more the merrier!

    Another thing keeping me looking on the bright side is my baby shower on Saturday! My mom and a few other ladies in the family have made this thing a lot bigger than I expected. Bigger is better in this case. I’m so excited! It will be so great to be able to just hang out, eat, and catch up with so many friends and relatives. I can’t wait!

    I’m actually leaving for the airport in about 5 1/2 hours and I still have to take a shower, finish my paper, do another load of laundry, and finish packing the toiletry stuff that has to wait for the last minute. Yeah. Probably not gonna get to all of that…

    Anyways, that’s it for tonight! Pray that I have a safe landing in Raleigh. Former Hurricane Ida will be there causing 24 mph winds. I know that won’t bring a plane down, but I’m sure it will be bumpy enough to make me nervous. Which is bad because I’m also nervous that we’ll crash some other way, that the baby will freak out from the pressure, that I’ll go into pre-term labor, that uterine pressure changes secretly cause autism or something, that I’ll have to pee and not be able to get to the airplane bathroom, and a myriad of other concerns. Ha! At least it’s not Friday the 13th yet. I don’t have a good track record with those either.

    Until next week!

November 4, 2009

  • 23 Weeks…and a political tangent.

    The big event this week has been…movement! I feel the baby kick every single day now. And a lot! She’s become my special little friend that lives in my belly. And she has definite patterns to her routine. I sometimes go a few hours in midday without feeling any nudges, but after meals and especially during prime time television at night, she is all over the place. That’s nice because her Daddy is sitting right next to me on the couch and is able to feel and see her kicks. Sometimes she punches me so hard that I flinch in shock or yelp a little bit. It still catches me off guard. Wouldn’t you jump back in surprise if some invisible being punched you completely unexpectedly? Now imagine that coming from inside of you. It’s crazy. Another thing I’m noticing is that I feel movement in a larger area of my belly, not just the one spot that I’ve been feeling a while. She’s taking up a lot more space in there than I realized.

    I think I enjoy it more when Jeremy gets to feel a kick. Even more so than just feeling it myself. Last night I’d had my last Pepsi for a while. (Jeremy and I made a pact that we will NOT drink ANY soda. I don’t know how long it will last, we didn’t really set a goal, but I’m hoping for at least 6 months. Once we get used to not drinking it, it should be easy to give it up all together. It’s just hard because it’s EVERYWHERE in our culture.) I guess the sugar in the Pepsi set the baby on a little dance routine. She was punching and kicking, really hard. We paused the show we were watching to just feel her move. It’s really one of those special moments that make me wonder how anyone can ever be satisfied with one child. Or even two. (I’m sure I’ll understand that better once I have a screaming toddler to deal with, haha.) But for now, this seems so addicting. Whenever I’m bored I can seriously just sit quietly and feel her move and be completely entertained. It’s a little easier to understand why some people have a dozen kids when you experience something like this. It’s so special and unique, especially when you are so crazy in love with the person that got you pregnant in the first place.

    It makes abortion even more hard to understand. Cases of rape and incest, and health of the mother are one thing, but abortion in general just seems even more heinous now that I’ve felt this little life growing within me. I know they don’t usually do them this late, but even during the first trimester, the babies are so sweet and human. I just can’t support it. I feel adoption should always be the first choice for “unplanned” pregnancies. Of course the real problem is the horrible, casual attitudes we have about sex in our culture that CAUSE the unwanted babies but that’s another blog post entirely. I feel like if you are in a position that you would abort a baby that might result from the sex you’re considering engaging in, then that should tell you that you aren’t in a responsible position to be having sex in the first place. I think that is your choice. Once you’re pregnant, there’s no more choices. You’re having a baby. That’s a controversial and often unpopular stance, but that’s the way I feel. It’s probably my most, and only, staunchly conservative opinion. People having sex without being willing to take care of the possible consequences are making such an incredibly selfish and immature decision that it blows my mind. Sigh. Can you even imagine a world where EVERY baby is born to two loving parents that lovingly raise them into adulthood? What a drastically different world we would live in.

    Anyways, after being pregnant once, I kind of can’t wait to do it again. Don’t tell my parents though! Haha. My Dad is already worried for me to have any more, and my Mom is worried for me to have more than two. It’s true that pregnancy is hard for me, but as far as I can tell, it’s not really damaging my body yet. We’ll see how labor and delivery goes. And I will do my best to avoid getting pregnant again right away, but geez, the good times, like feeling her high-five her Daddy last night, make all the morning sickness and discomfort SO WORTH IT.

    I just always saw myself having 4 or 5. But I’d be happy with whatever I get. Frankly I’m just thrilled to get one when I was always just a little unsure sure if I’d ever have any. I’d like to have at least three though.

    My appetite is out of control. I’m amazed at how much food I’m eating on a daily basis. Yesterday I had two sandwiches in a row. I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my life. I’m still completely grossed out by fast food, or even heavily processed foods. It’s great for my diet and general health, I’m sure, but not very convenient. Ramen noodles and Easy Mac just aren’t cutting it. I tire of eating them halfway through, and my body feels like it got about as many nutrients as if I’d eaten cardboard. It’s very unsatisfying and I end up having to find something else more substantial to eat just to feel like I’ve eaten anything at all.

    So yeah. Pregnancy is weird but awesome. Parts of me never want it to end, but most of me would still LOVE for March to hurry up and get here so I can experience her outside of my body. (Getting rid of the backaches would be nice too!) Jeremy said the same thing last night, that he just can’t wait for her to be here. The cool thing is that she IS here. She’s right here kicking my laptop as I type this. She responds to voices sometimes I think. When we saw This Is It, she sat still the entire time, but danced all the way through “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Billie Jean.” The girl’s got good taste.

    My joy is bittersweet tonight though. An old friend is going through her second miscarriage tonight and my heart just aches for her. I’ve never experienced a miscarriage, and I sincerely can’t imagine the devastation, but I do know many of those emotions that go along with any kind of infertility, having dealt with it for a long time. It’s kind of a battle scar that so many women silently share. One thing my neighbor told me when I was worried to death about miscarrying was helpful. She’d had four or five miscarriages, but was mere days away from giving birth to her adorable, perfect little boy. She told me, “Don’t worry! Even if you DO miscarry, just remember that someday you CAN get to this point.” And she pointed to her huge belly…haha. That stuck with me. And I think that’s true. All anyone can do is stay calm, keep the faith, and hope for the future.

November 3, 2009

  • Nothing Cures the Dumps like a Disney Cruise!

    So I’ve been really depressed recently. Just so overwhelmed with school, family stresses, finances due to Jeremy’s hours cuts, pregnancy hormones, more school, my church calling, constant back pain, everything. I’ve been extremely unmotivated and fallen behind in school due to my back being impossible. Yesterday was kind of the breaking point and I just had to cry all over Jeremy for a while. He was very patient and rubbed my back. I love him. He didn’t even tell me to stop crying! He was perfect.

    Well today my mom plants this idea in my head about a Disney Cruise to Alaska. It was kind of exactly what I needed. A reason to be excited, something to think about besides all my other worries, something to plan, etc. I love planning! She calls going on and on about how wonderful it would be and has already come up with all the prices for my little family to go along with the rest of my family. She figured that the cheapest available room that Me, Jeremy, Joey, and Baby Girl Swafford could stay in for the 7-night Alaskan Disney Cruise would be just under $5000. We would only have to save up about $300 a month to pay for it by the due date. It would require sacrifices, especially with Jeremy’s large pay cut, but I felt we could do it. The sacrifices would be worth it. I got VERY EXCITED. And VERY HAPPY.

    So I call the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) about a wheelchair accessible room. You can’t get that info anywhere online, you have to call. And guess what? There are BARELY any handicap rooms left. FOR A 2011 CRUISE! I was shocked. Every single cruise we could potentially go on (all 7 of them) only had the expensive, large, staterooms with a veranda. And not many of them. Some dates only had ONE wheelchair room available on the entire ship. The rooms that ARE available are the exact same rooms me and Jeremy had on our honeymoon. Sure, it would be magical to have breathtaking views of Alaska’s mountains and glaciers, not to mention the memories of being in the same room from our honeymoon, but did I mention they are expensive? I wasn’t planning on having a room that nice ever again in my cruising lifetime. However, that’s all that is left. That bumps our total cost up to about $7700. Making our monthly saving requirement about $460.

    OUCH.

    I wanted to cry again. I wanted to scream at how unfair it is that I have to have an expensive wheelchair room. I wanted to complain to DCL for having so few wheelchair rooms. I was angry that I ever got my hopes up only to have them stomped to little bits. I considered getting a normal room and crawling through the tiny doorway on the floor and crawling into the tiny bathroom for every shower and pee break. Then I remembered that I will already have a child crawling/tottering around and requiring constant attention. I can’t be trying to drag myself AND my baby in and out of my room and the bathroom on the floor. I just can’t. It’s not safe. For either of us.

    But you know what? I want to go on that cruise. I NEED to go on that cruise. It would be the perfect graduation present. (I’m graduating December 2010. Fingers crossed.) I need a reason to stop eating out so often and cook healthier, cheaper food at home. I want something to look forward to after the baby comes when I’m sleep deprived and dying for human interaction after spending most of my days stuck on bed rest. I want a prize to focus on while I’m desperately trying to finish school with an infant. I need motivation more than I’ve ever needed it in my life.

    Our baby girl will be at such a great age. 16-17 months. Sure, she won’t remember the cruise when she’s older, but I will remember her face lighting up when she gets to meet her favorite princess, character, or even Mickey Mouse! I will have so many precious photos of a time when she’s old enough to recognize and love the character, yet young enough to believe they’re the REAL THING. I can’t imagine many things better than that. I SO WANT THAT.

    I made a short term room reserve. The agent practically forced me to. It’s a free courtesy to reserve a room for three days until you come up with the initial deposit. ($1800 for us.) It’s impossible, but she was adamant. She asked the name of the infant that will be on the cruise and I told her she didn’t have a name yet because she isn’t born yet. The agent just thought that was the sweetest thing, and I think it’s pretty cool too, to book a cruise for a passenger that hasn’t been born yet! It got me excited again. It made me want to make it happen. I want to see my baby meet Ariel, The Little Mermaid, for the first time. I want to see Alaska, for the first and probably only time.

    Actually, I would gladly switch to a cheaper cruise, something in the Caribbean or Bahamas, but my family is definitely going on the Alaskan cruise and I don’t want to be left out. Again. My family has already done six of the Caribbean/Bahamian Disney cruises–without ME–so they aren’t really interested in those. They’re spoiled…haha.

    So I’m going for it. We may not make it. We may not come up with all the money. And if that’s the case, so be it. What will likely happen, is even if we can eventually scrape together the $1800 for the initial deposit to permanently reserve the room, the wheelchair rooms will be all gone by then. I have one reserved now, but only for a few days and we’ll definitely lose it cause there’s no way we can come up with $1800 by then. According to my calculations, we can barely scrape together $800 within the next few days, assuming we eat off the food we have stored up in the house and only spend $100 on groceries and toiletries for the next three weeks.

    But if we ARE able to save up a lot of money, and still not make the $7700 cruise, or not in time to reserve a wheelchair room, then I will try to do something else equally awesome with the money. Maybe a short little 3-day cruise on the new Disney Dream ship? It won’t be nearly as meaningful as having a large chunk of my extended family together, but it will be something fun for my new little family. I need the motivation, a little bit of pixie dust. Some MAGIC.

    And a Disney Cruise with my wonderful family is just that.

October 27, 2009

  • Survey because I’m too uncomfortable and stressed to sleep.

    Nine things about yourself:

    1. I’m pregnant. It’s all I think about and I’m a little shocked when I forget for a few minutes. It still blows my mind that it actually worked.
    2. I love, love, love my husband. I also look up to him and admire him. (Did I TELL you he just got 100% on an exam???) He wasn’t the easy choice, but he was the right choice. And my favorite choice I’ve ever made. I can’t imagine myself being any happier if I had waited for what I thought I wanted.
    3. I used to think I needed “Girl Time.” But I don’t. I often enjoy it, but usually still wish Jeremy was there. I also used to think I was a feminist. But I’m not. I’m more of a humanist. I want to be respected as a strong, smart, capable woman, but I also think it’s okay to be a damsel in distress sometimes.
    4. I question everything. EVERYTHING. Usually on a daily basis. I’m constantly debating my goals, my desires, my moral code, my beliefs. The only think I’m sure of is that I need my husband in my life. I’m terrified of him dying anytime within the next 80 years.
    5. I hope that when we get to heaven, we can choose what we want to remember and what we don’t want to remember. I have a few months/moments I’d like to have erased. And I’d like to have a say about what Jeremy gets to remember. Haha. He can erase my first kiss if I can have my own eraser for him. Our first kiss was infinitely better anyway.
    6. I probably get on people’s nerves for talking about my husband so much. Actually, I know I do. I’m really sorry, I really am. I just can’t help it. Sometimes I feel like he’s all I have. Which isn’t true. I have a great family. I blame the pregnancy hormones. They make me so dang mushy. (But two days ago I vowed to be angry at him for at least a year. Moodswings.)
    7. I only wish I could walk so that I could dance with Jeremy and sneak up on him. I’d have to teach to dance him first. But if I’d never had my accident, I probably never would have ended up marrying him. No, I’m sure I wouldn’t have. So I’m grateful. We’ll dance in the next life. I’d also like to be able to look good in a dress and heels for once. I’ve never worn heels in my 23 years.
    8. Even if I were to someday decide or find out that my faith and religion is completely untrue, I’d still be immensely grateful to have grown up and navigated my adolescence with those values and standards. It gave me so much confidence and helped me avoid so much heartache. I’d have a hard time leaving.
    9. I have an intense phobia that very few people know about. I’m too scared they’ll use it against me.

    Eight ways to win your heart:

    1. Humor. I love to laugh.
    2. Ice Cream
    3. Doing good impressions of people. Not necessarily famous people though. Just people.
    4. Romance in general. Flowers, mood music, candles, little surprises, hidden notes.
    5. Deep, intellectual conversations that make me think about what I really think.
    6. Little gestures and acts of kindness. Knowing someone is/was thinking about me.
    7. Surprises in general
    8. Hugs and unexpected kisses

    Seven things that cross your mind a lot:

    1. Jeremy/my marriage
    2. My baby
    3. Food
    4. Career vs. Stay at Home Mom debate
    5. My family back home (and here)
    6. School work
    7. Homosexuality. I know that sounds weird but it just perplexes me. I want to understand it.

    Six things you wish you never did:

    1. I never should have tried to wait for Jeremy to tell me he loved me first. I should have just told him but I had this thing that guys had to say it first. Maybe I could have spared myself some pain. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. I don’t know.
    2. Wasted so many semesters on majors I didn’t love.
    3. This is the hardest category so far. I hate it when people claim to live with no regrets, because you SHOULD regret stupid decisions, but I guess I don’t have many regrets.
    4. I wish I hadn’t tried to please everyone else at my wedding.
    5. I wish I hadn’t been such a complete dork in elementary, middle, and high school. I had no reason to be so insecure and goofy. I was really smart.
    6. I wish I’d made my move on Jeremy at Close-Up and got an extra year together. High school would have been SO much better.

    Five turn offs in a guy:

    1. Lying/any dishonesty at all
    2. Cheating–whether emotionally or physically
    3. Cockiness/Egotism: thinking being a “man” means you have to be an insensitive jerk.
    4. Facial Hair OF ANY KIND. Eww.
    5. Emotional distance

    Four turn-ons in a guy:

    1. Humor
    2. Dark features
    3. Kindness
    4. Confidence, especially when meeting new people

    Three careers you would consider:

    1. Just about anything at Disney
    2. High School Honors Literature/History teacher
    3. Stay-at-Home-Mom

    Two things you want before you die:

    1. To see all my kids grow into happy, healthy, smart, and kind adults with good marriages of their own. If that’s what they want.
    2. Travel all over the world with Jeremy.

    One confession:

    1. I’m relieved to be having a girl. I know that’s terrible. I still want a boy someday, but boys seem so much scarier. I don’t wanna debate with Jeremy about circumcision, worry about higher autism rates, try to keep them morally clean from pornography and girls, cringe while they play football, and all the other things that terrify me about boys.

  • 22 Weeks

    Well, there’s definitely a baby in there. I’ve been able to feel her kick almost everyday this week! Mostly right after dinner or a sweet snack. It’s like she gets this jolt of energy and between that and my full stomach, I get to feel all kinds of little pops, wiggles, kicks, rolls, and punches. A few nights ago Jeremy and I were able to SEE her punching through my stomach. I think they were punches, not kicks, because of where my stomach was moving. When we had the ultrasound, she was laying with her head in my lower left abdomen and her feet up to the right. And when I looked down to see my stomach pop, it was jumping just below and to the left of my belly button. So if she’s still in that position, I think she was definitely hitting me. Jeremy was able to see and feel her kick/punch for the first time, so that was just amazing. It really shocked me. I didn’t think you could see movement from the outside until much later. But that just goes to show how little I know about pregnancy.

    She’s moving around a lot right now, maybe because I had a little chocolate ice cream just a little while ago?

    So I’ve finally gained some weight. Jeremy and I managed to get me down onto the floor onto the scale and I’m moving up again! At some point I think I’m supposed to be gaining a pound a week but I don’t think I’m there yet. At least I hope not because that means I’m supposed to gain 18 pounds from this point. Which wouldn’t be terrible I guess, but I don’t really want to. It’s already getting so hard to get around. Jeremy is going to be taking our bed off the frame and onto the ground soon so that it will be at the same level as my wheelchair. It’s just too hard to transfer up into my tall bed. It’s hard to do much of anything.

    It’s getting impossible to go to classes. Especially on days when Jeremy’s working and he can’t take me. I’m spending a lot of time in bed to rest my back. I can’t wait to get my power chair going so that I can recline during class sometimes. I considered withdrawing, but I can’t imagine giving up on all the work I’ve already done. All those exams! All that stress! I can’t bear to let it all go. It’s getting hard to gather the motivation to keep going though. I feel kind of lost.

    My back is hurting pretty bad now, despite all the pillows I have stuffed back there. I’m gonna get in bed!