Wednesday, August 31, 2011

God Provides

Last Wednesday we took the car to the shop to get new brake pads - we learned we also need new tires to go along with those pads (not to mention a few other things that need a-fixin'). I'm also still paying off my initial investment of my small business before I start seeing any real profit. Well..

Last Friday, our Chancellor announced to the staff that we would be given a bonus to thank us for our hard work. Huh? Say what? We're going to recieve extra income??

Not only do the bonuses cover the car expenses, but it will also pay off my Premier Jewelry investment! How frickin' cool is that! My goal was to have the investment paid off before Joanna arrived. I didn't know how I was going to do it, but God had it all figured out!


This has happened so many times to us: unexpected expenses accompanied by financial provision. From unanticipated safety deposits to extra paychecks! I'm thankful to now be accostomed to relying on Him in our finances instead of worrying about it. He always takes care of us. Always always always.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Turtle

I am a turtle. (coo coo ca choo?)


Not only am I terribly slow and half spherical, but when I lie down on my back I can't get up! I can use my legs to move a bit, but my stomach muscles were lost in battle as my uterus expanded. I can roll to my side and push up if there's enough surface area. Put me on a couch and I'm up a creek; there's no room to roll over without falling off. Praise God for Jonathan! Although he especially enjoys watching me helplessly wiggle for assistance, he's my knight in shining armor. He's going to be such a great daddy :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Clothing Fit for a Prego

My most recent Netflix obsession is Mad Men. I love vintage clothes, American History, city living, and advertising - this show is a perfect combination! During Season 3, the always chic Betty Draper (played by January Jones) wears the most adorable maternity dresses. This white lace garden party dress is my favorite:


Ah! LOVE!

This got me thinking about how I love wearing vintage clothing. After seeing how she effortlessly pulls off elegance in the face of housewifery, I'm more and more thankful to live in the now and not the 60s. I don't have to wear pantyhose everyday - I get to be comfortable!!

For my Spring/Summer/early Fall pregnancy, I'm relying heavily on dresses to get me through the growing and stretching of my expanding tummy. I'm extremely thankful that I've only been growing in my torso, but I've been growing (and showing) since Week 8. There were only so many flowy tops I could wear until telling the office I was pregnant! As soon as people knew, I could wear actual maternity clothes and more form fitting outfits to show off my basketball.

Since Lynchburg sucks at maternity clothes, I've turned to an old friend: eBay! eBay is the absolute best place to shop when you need clothes you'll only wear for a few months of your life. To date, I've spent less than $100 on an entire maternity wardrobe. Most of the items come in bundles or lots, which means you're getting several items that are all the same size. A majority of the clothes are name brand so I knew the exact size I needed. I traveled to actual maternity stores three times, two of those times my mom was treating me to some fun pieces (thanks mom!). I'm also still able to wear many of my pre-prego dresses because I like flowy and stretchy materials.

Last and not least in any way, I've been blessed with wonderful friends who have given me their maternity clothes! While a few pieces are on loan, most of them are mine to keep then divvy to others who are in need of maternity clothes.

Honestly, all of my favorite jeans and dresses were either free or purchased for like $1-$3. If you're not wearing something for more than a year, it's not worth buying at full price. Well, I don't think anything is worth buying at full price, but I'm a cheap skate.


My Must Have Maternity Staples:
  • 4 comfortable dresses - some days you just don't want to wear pants. For me it's most days. I have about 25 dresses that I wear on a regular basis and most of them were a part of my pre-prego wardrobe that I can still wear. About 1/4 of the dresses can be worn casually and to work while the rest are more "professional" for work, but I can make them look more casual with flip flops and accessories for the weekends.
  • 2 pairs of comfortable jeans - I love maternity panels! I have 2 pairs of maternity jeans I wear regularly and about 6 that I sometimes wear. I've accumulated extra pairs through eBay lots and the generousity of others.
    • Depending on the season, you may need maternity shorts and capris as well. For you lucky pregos that have long torsos and carry high, you may not even need maternity jeans until the very end. Personally, I've been wearing them since Week 10.
  • 2 pairs of comfortable dress pants - I have about 5 pairs but regularly wear 3 of them.
  • 1 (or more) pair of dark leggings - they help transition you from Spring to Summer back to Fall (and sometimes Winter depending on how thick they are). I wear my black leggings at least once a week.
  • 2 pairs of dark yoga pants - instead of old sweat pants, get something you can wear to bed or to the store without looking like a hot mess. I have two pairs of black yoga pants and they are super comfortable and they look like I just came from the gym. (Ha. Gym.)
  • Cardigans! - depending on when your pregnancy occurs, cardigans help your summer dresses double as winter dresses. I personally prefer a nice sweater to a jacket, but to each his own. All of my cardigans were part of my pre-prego wardrobe and I wear them often in my cold office.
  • COMFORTABLE SHOES - The caps lock was not stuck - I really am shouting this in your face. Comfortable shoes are a necessity for health and sanity reasons. I haven't had to purchase any new shoes but I'm very limited in the shoes I'm able to wear. I rotate between 4 pairs of shoes - all sandals. They allow my feet to swell without hurting and I can show others the toes I can't see. Thankfully I'm still flexible enough to put some pink polish on my toenails. If you're a winter prego, you won't be able to rock the sandals. All I can say is Payless has a great selection of wide sizes and you can invest in some nice insoles if they aren't squishy enough for you.
  • Pretty Jewelry - Some days you just feel fat and ugly no matter what you wear; this is a normal feeling. For those days, have a piece of jewelry that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The jewelry will distract people from your bump (and other areas) and draw attention to YOU. Necklaces and earrings are great for people to look at your face while bracelets and rings help you look skinny.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Post-Pardom Bump

I've always been curious what women look like after giving birth. Most women understandably hide out for a few weeks while they adjust. While busily "researching" on what a post baby bump really looks like, I stumbled upon this photo:



Apparently, OK! magazine thought it was okay to photoshop Kourtney Kardashian this much. Wow. First of all, THANK YOU to Kourtney for posting a real picture of herself and her newborn on her blog so moms everywhere can see through the photoshopping. 

Secondly, Kourtney was fit before getting pregnant, even though she partied hard. When she found out she was pregnant, she cut out alcohol and other harmful things so she likely lost some weight in her first trimester. With those things in mind, I'm not expecting these results, but I'm definitely encouraged by them! I don't plan on walking on a Victoria Secret runway weeks after giving birth like Heidi Klum or Adriana Lima. I do plan on losing weight responsibly and in a healthy way.

Thirdly, maternity pants are so dang comfortable and I'm not opposed to wearing them after I give birth. My pregnancy wardrobe will likely be my post-pardom wardrobe as I drop pounds and inches. I don't miss my pre-prego pants, but I do miss my pre-prego dresses. I know I'll have a fun time shopping for a new wardrobe at Goodwill when I'm ready to get into a dressing room again.

Fourthly, I'm very thankful that I'll be nursing Joanna. Nursing helps mothers burn more calories and shrink their uterus faster, which makes you lose your baby weight faster than if you formula feed. 


So bring on the baby! Then bring on the new clothes!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Needs / Wants / Dreams

I've had requests to stop buying things for Joanna so others can spoil her, haha. Those comments have inspired me to make a list of Needs, Wants, and Dreams in terms of our new life as parents. The needs are necessities to keep us from going looney. The Wants are things that would be nice to have but aren't necessary. Dreams are things we'll be saving for long-term.

We're fairly simple people. We have a washer and dryer but no dish washer. We have two cars and no cable TV. We do have high speed internet because c'mon, that's totally a need, right? So when putting together a list of needs/wants/dreams, I'm basing it on suggestions and personal nanny experience. This is our first child so we're still figuring stuff out one day at a time. This is going to be such a cool adventure!!!

As of week 30:

NEEDS - We'll be buying these in phases over the next months.
  • crib mattress
  • crib sheets We have 4 sheets and 2 liners - how many more do we need?
  • diaper bag
  • 8-10 more cloth diapers We just need about 3-5 more!  
  • cloth trash-can liner for the diapers
  • nursing pads
  • Pack-n-play
  • Baby Bottles
  • Baby bathing products (shampoo, soap, lotion)
  • cloth diaper detergent
  • toilet sprayer (for cloth diapers)
WANTS
  • breast pump (electronic, not manual)
  • baby sling (We have a Bjorn but we'd like to get something she can nurse in. We're registered for a Moby, but anything like a sling or something would be cool. We're still keeping our eyes pealed. They range in price anywhere from $30 to $100, depending on style, brand, etc. I don't mind having a used one either.)
  • crib set (sheet, liner, blanket, etc)
  • some kind of rubber sheet for the crib (We have 2 so far - do we need more?
  • changing pad (we're turning our dresser into a changing table)
  • glider with ottoman (my parents got us a glider, we just need a gliding ottomon.)
  • casserole dish (I'm going to have to learn to cook eventually!)
DREAMS
  • Cable Television
  • TiVO
  • DVDs of Johnny and the Sprites, Baby Einsteins, Little Einsteins, Muppets, and Wiggles.
  • A mini-van
  • A vacation to Australia

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Each Moment

God's grace leaves me speechless. I'll try to put some words together that can glorify Him, but I know they'll always fall short of what He deserves.

In the face of tragedies in the past month, I'm left wondering about the future of our little girl. Little Oliver and Baby Joshua are now with the Lord after one hour and two months of life on this Earth, respectively. One family is praising Jesus in their sorrows while the other is seeking answers and options.

I know the common question is "Why would God allow this to happen?" It's a good question, but not a great one. It's not God's fault - it's a result of sin in the world. God gives us the gift of free will. I don't think the boys' parents sinned and this is their punishment - I think God is going to use these tragedies to bless them and show them (and others) incredible things that couldn't be seen otherwise. In both boys' deaths, His name is glorified. Although Oliver lived for one hour, I can't imagine any other life that was so saturated in love. His parents keep his ashes in his nursery and still love him; they always will. After their miscarriages, Oliver gave them hope that they can get pregnant again. Joshua's 2 month life brought glory to God because his parents chose to worship Him in the midst of their loss. Joshua's little siblings are having a hard time coping with the loss after preparing to be big brother and big sisters to him, but they have amazing examples in their home: their parents. Both Oliver and Joshua will be waiting for their families in Heaven.

So what is there to say? think? feel? What if Joanna doesn't make it through labor? What if she doesn't make it through her first week? What if she's born with Down Syndrome? What if she gets cancer before her fifth birthday? What if she has depression like her mom? What if she can't have children of her own? There are millions of questions I could ask God about our sweet baby girl. There are some things I can know for certain without asking Him: I know He is for us. I know He loves Joanna more than we do just like I know God loves little Oliver and baby Joshua.

I had this status earlier: "Joanna has the hiccups. Each movement gives me another moment to praise God for her." That's the best thing I can do with my uncertainty: praise Him for our growing baby, our strong marriage, our small adorable house, and most importantly our salvations.



This video continues to ring in my heart from our days of trying to conceive.

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God

In the chaos and confusion
I know You're sovereign still


It's still true. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Blackout

I just blacked out for a second. I was sitting down, my head dipped to the right then snapped back to the center. It felt like my brain was drenched in luke warm water and I was being rebooted like a computer. No pain, no nausea, just dizziness.

I had a donut at 8:15 and the turnover at 10:15 - 2 hours apart from each other. I started the day with a fiber bar (which I know have sugar, but not nearly as much as a a donut), a little bit of soda but not my usual amount, and I drank about 64oz of water before lunch. For lunch, I had a chipotle cheese steak sub and some Pepsi. I came back to work, drank more water, and had two bites of a frosting-less cupcake. That's when it happened.
It freaked me out a lot, so I called the doctor and Jonathan came into my office to sit with me and make sure I was okay. They said they would call me back when a nurse had a chance. Jonathan went back to his office to get back to work.


45 minutes later, a nurse called me with my answer: I had too much sugar today. Yea I know I had a donut and an apple turnover this morning, but that's not all I ate and I didn't eat it an hour ago. The most recent significant thing in my system was protein and iron! How would that cause a sugar high?
*sigh* I love being told that my dizziness/shakiness is due to too much sugar when they don't even look at my file to see my low blood pressure, low sugar levels, and anemia. I don't think they even saw that I have a history of brain issues (my AVM from 2003 should have been a red flag for her, but she probably glazed over it like the donut I had this morning.)

So I drank some Pepsi and I feel better. My guess is that I didn't have enough sugar or had a sugar crash. Self medication ftw.

I think this raises a good question: Who knows your body better? You or your doctor/nurse?

Diaper Bag(s)

I didn't think picking a diaper bag would be so difficult! Jonathan reminded me that this is not a purse - it's a utility bag that both of us will use. Although I do disagree to a point, it is something that he will have to carry sometimes. However, I'm working on the assumption that Jonathan will be carrying the baby (carrier) while I tote the bag around.

Tiny Tillia's Pink Tulip Diaper Bag - $40 at tinytillia.com

In general, I've calmed down since my gender neutral kick. I still look for things that I can reuse for each child, but as soon as we found out it was a girl, all I could see were tutus and flowers! Since diaper bags usually don't last longer than 1-2 years, I think getting one bag per baby is pretty reasonable. If it lasts longer, then awesome! If not, it's like getting a new backpack for school.

I'm still buying furniture, sheets, and toys in mostly primary colors so we can re-use them. But I can't resist the occasional princess book or fluffy tutu! Her clothes are definitely pink and purple though.
 

Anyway, back to the diaper bag...

This is my favorite gender neutral bag I've found so far:


SkipHopDash Deluxe in Cherry Bloom - $58 at Amazon.com



It's been very difficult finding a bag that Jonathan and I can agree on. The gender neutral bags are usually brown, tan, or vomit green. We already have a green and grey stroller to use for all of the kids - I want some flare!

I can definitely understand how Jonathan doesn't want to carry a pink bag around. We've talked about having two separate bags, but he'd rather just have one and avoid the "oh no, it's in the other bag!" moments that are inevitable.

We'll see.
---------------------------------------------------
UPDATE

I love my husband!!

I bought the TinyTillia bag! Even if we don't use it as a diaper bag, we can use the brown changing pad and the accessories in another bag while I use this bag as an adorable tote. LOVE!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

FAQs

As a follow-up to my "Things People Say" post, I decided to also post (and answer) some Frequently Asked Questions.

  • Are you pregnant?
    • No, I had Mexican for lunch. Of course I'm pregnant!
  • When's the baby due?
    • What baby?
      • "Ooh.. uh.. the pandas.. at the zoo.."  
    • October 23rd.
  • Is it a boy or a girl?
    • It's a girl :)
  • Do you have a name?
    • Joanna!
      • Do you have a middle name?
        • Hussein
        • No, we don't have one yet.
  • How are you feeling?
    • Pregnant.
  • Are you sure you're due in October?
    • Yep, that's what the doctor said.
      • Are you having twins?
        • No. But thank you for inadvertently calling me fat.
  • How much weight have you gained?
    • As of week 29, I've gained 27 pounds. 
      • Wow, isn't that a lot?
        • Yes. But docs aren't concerned so Imma keep on feedin' my baby!
  • Why do you walk like that?
    • My uterus has expanded to accommodate an adorably wiggly bowling ball which makes walking with a normal stride physically painful. Waddling makes me comfortable and therefore can save your life.
  • What's it like having a creature growing inside of you?
    • It's like having gas that can punch you in the lung.
    • It's like a tickle from a rainbow.
    • It's like that scene in SpaceBalls where the guy has the special and the alien bursts out singing "Hello my baby, hello my darling, hello my ragtime gal". 
  • Why are you doing cloth diapers?
  • Why are you going to nurse?
    • It's much healthier for baby and mama.
    • It's super cheap.
      • Are you sure you're not a hippie?
        • Yes, I'm absolutely sure I'm not a hippie.
  • Why don't you have a doula/midwife?
    • Because I'm not a hippie.
    • They're extremely beneficial for those who want one. We don't want one.
  • Why are you (not) anti-epidural?
    • I'm going to make it without drugs as long as I can. If I want/need drugs, I'm totally taking them without guilt.
  • Why are you (not) staying home?
    • Our desire is for me to stay home, but we're relying on God to confirm and provide funds in order for us to do so. It's cheaper for both of us to stay working but it's more important to us for a parent to be home with the child(ren).
  • Did you have morning sickness?
    • Yes and still do. And by the way, the "morning" in morning sickness is supposed to be said with air quotes since it happens all day.
  • Do you play classical music for her while she's in the womb?
    • No - I play Broadway and Bluegrass. 
What other questions am I forgetting?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Things People Say

I've been amazed and amused at the things people say to me because I'm pregnant. These are some of my favorites:

  • Wow! You're huge! (a co-worker who hadn't seen me in a month)
  • You've really let yourself go. (Warren)
  • I don't want to alarm you, but I think there is something growing inside of you. (Ryan)
    • I think it's plain to see. (Jordan in response)
  • You are looking radiantly maternal today. (Robby)
  • You look like you're about to pop. (Someone at church when I was only 5 months pregnant)
  • I know I shouldn't say this, but you're really fat right there. (my 7 year old nephew, pointing at my stomach).
  • Your pudge is so cute. (Latiesha)
  • She look like she on the way to the hospital. (A woman at Goodwill)
  • You're doing cloth diapers? We'll see how long that lasts.
  • Don't get a Bjorn, it's not good for the baby's hips / Bjorn's are the greatest invention since the toaster. 
  • You should stay home so you can be there for your family/ You should go back to work so you can provide for your family. 
  • Sheesh, you blimped overnight. (A friend at church)
  • I didn't realize you were pregnant - you're always sitting down! (older lady at work)
  • Hi.. AAWW! (a custodian in the hallway who looked at my face, looked at the bump, reached down to touch it, then walked away.
  • You're like the most mellow prego I know. (Jenn)
  • My labor took 36 hours; I ended up tearing and needed 4 weeks recovery. 
  • My epidural wore off right before the worst part, it was awful.
  • I LOVED my epidural! / Epidurals are not God's will. 
  • An epidural will cause your baby to suffer long term health effects / An epidural won't hurt your baby at all.
  • I hated being pregnant! / I loved being pregnant! 
  • First babies usually come early. / First babies usually come late.
  • You should get a doula. / You should take this class. / You should read this book. / You should watch this youtube video. / You should ignore what everyone else tells you. / You should do what your mom did. / You shouldn't do what your mom did.


And while we're kind of on the subject, I don't care who you are - ALWAYS ASK before you touch me. I don't go touching your stomach without asking so you shouldn't either. If you don't ask, you risk getting your hand either slapped or eaten.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Staying Home

Jonathan and I were both blessed to be raised by stay at home moms. Dad was the breadwinner of the home while mom was the cook, maid, nurse, best friend, voice of reason, dry cleaning lady, and taxi. Our goal is to repeat history and have me to stay home with Joanna and her future siblings in their first years. We're still figuring out the logistics to see if we can actually afford for me to stay home, but we're praying it's God's will.


The unemployment rate in this country can certainly be overwhelming. 1 out of 10 people are looking for a job, and even more are underemployed and barely able to get by. We were a single income household for the first 2 years of our marriage, living on one paycheck and savings. At this point in our lives, logic would say "but, if you make more money having two incomes and having her in daycare, why are you going to give up your independence?" Two very loaded questions in that one statement. We finally have two incomes and have found ourselves to be financially stable. Jonathan and I would make money with two incomes since childcare is very affordable in Lynchburg. But its not about the money.


When I was a nanny for three amazingly adorable active boys, I had the time of my life being their not-quite-parent-but-kind-of when their parents were working. It was a 3 days a week from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. gig that helped me go to George Mason and finish my degree. I learned so much more than the textbooks taught in my childhood development classes, most of the lessons about myself and my own limits. However, as I watched little Nay Nay grow from a 6 month old monkey into a 3 year old acrobat, I couldn't help but be sad that his parents were missing it. He was the third child and most parents don't take as much notice on the third child (and that's coming from a third child). They missed his first steps. They missed the look in his eyes as he realized he kept his balance longer than ever before. They missed his laugh when he grabbed his goal - his bottle of formula. It made me so proud and so sad to witness this moment. This is why I want to stay home: I want to be here for Joanna.


But what of independence?

*sigh* I admit that I was the first to say "I'm absolutely going back to work. I need to work for my own sanity." The more pregnant I become, the more I fall in love with the idea of witnessing my child(ren) grow and learn. I have 2.3 degrees to my name and I am fiercely independent when it comes to many things. (I not only march to my own beat, I married a drummer.)  I love my job and my staff, but I know being Joanna's mommy will be the best job I'll ever have. Becoming a parent means giving up a part of yourself to give it to someone else. It's not about my independence as a woman - it's about my child and my role as both a woman and mother.


Ultimately, to each his own! I vow to not judge mothers who choose or have no choice to go to work after giving birth. It's a very personal decision and I hope we can go the route we desire. God willing, He'll provide so we can do this for Joanna!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Stroller and Cloth Diaper Videos

Hello followers! All 8 of you! :)

Back by popular demand, I made two more videos about our stroller and our decision to use cloth diapers. I actually recorded them back to back, but I changed outfits so people would think I had more time on my hands, haha. I'm hoping to do a post about breastfeeding and/or our parenting class we just had. I'm also considering doing a post about miscarriages, still births, and baby Oliver in particular. We'll see.



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sweeney Todd

The name Joanna first became a contender even before we conceived. We were watching my friend play Anthony in a regional production of Sweeney Todd. Anthony's love interest (and Sweeney's daughter) is Johanna. The haunting and beautiful song, "Johanna" stayed with us even as we left the theater. Even looking at the lyrics now, I'm reminded of how we longed to have a little girl for a year before God granted her to us. We just knew.

Here is the first verse:

I feel you, Johanna. I feel you.
I was half-convinced I'd waken.
Satisfied enough to dream you,
happily I was mistaken,
Johanna.

I've always loved Steven Sondheim's work, but this song is now one of my favorites because of the personal meaning it now holds. We dreamed of our Joanna long before we knew she'd be ours. We're so blessed!

 
Here's another version within the context of the musical:
 
 
 
Yes, the song itself can be quite creepy, but to us it's so beautiful. Anthony singing that he'll "steal" her means he'll rescue her from her from the judge that stole her when she was young. The judge also wants to marry her now that she's older. Anthony is her hero!