dig this random post

Chuck Norris: Putting the laughter in manslaughter since 1973.


4 or 13 depending on how you look at it

The Man and I celebrate our many years together today -- with a big date. We got concert tickets (Zero 7 @ The Orpheum!), a babysitter (I <3 Ami), and off we go to enjoy (Dr. Sears says I can have a glass of wine!). I am very much looking forward to it. I thought I would not be excited to leave Zoe for a few hours, but I am so sleep-deprived and house-worn that I am looking forward to the break and reconnect with my lovie.

Our Wedding

I have some very sad news that might be hard for some of you. So, sit down and grab a box of Kleenex. Our computer, Zero has passed on to the other realm. We were just browsing together the other day when he his chip just stopped. I tried to revive him, but his soul left in a pouf of smoke. We will miss him. It is never a good time to lose such a vital member of one's family. He was over 80 years old in computer years and had a good drive and just RAM out of juice. Funeral Services will be held Friday. We will cherish the back-up memories.


bow tie

Stephanie sent me this picture comparing her mom's features as a baby to Zoe's. We are always postulating which features come from which genetic pool. Since her size comes from The Man's side for sure, it is not a surprise that we all think that there are more features that do... in particular the bow tie shaped lips.

Although for the record, The Man says that all babies look alike.


pics of z

After going back over some of these pictures, I can really tell how much our tiny person has grown. These are almost all from her first week of life. Her hands used to be wrinkly. How cute!


birth story -- part 2 (of 2)

We took a little nap and relaxed watching Criminal Minds to pass the time while I labored under epidural. By midnight, I was dialated to 10 cm and fully effaced... so we thought a few more hours and we would have the baby... we were all so excited. I think the nurse was really annoyed with our "how much longer?" and "is the doctor coming now?" questions.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for what felt like forever. Finally, the nurse told us at 5:00 AM that Dr. Dwight was in the hospital to deliver another baby and would stop by to see how we were doing, and if possible deliver us at the same time.

When he arrived at 5:15 AM, he instructed Eva and Mark to each grab a foot and lean my legs into my chest while I tried to push a few times on each contraction. We get this effort started under the oversight of the nurses. At this point, I am using a little trigger that came with my epidural that upped the dose a little bit on command. It was not quite doing the full job of blocking the pressure. As time wore on with the pushing, it stopped working altogether... right when I needed it most. They said they couldn't give me any more. Sort of gives me the opportunity to see what a natural childbirth is like if you take a break from it in the middle.

From Eva's experience, the pushing part lasted about 15 minutes. Ha ha ha. Without the benefit of epidural anymore, I withdraw to my own universe in my head and all I know is push during contractions and relax fully when not in contractions. I lose track of time, who is in the room, what is going on around me, and even that there will be a baby at the end. All I know is pushing - or resting for energy to push. This was VERY hard work - I was pushing through the count of 10 three or four times per contraction, depending on the strength of the contraction, and then resting for sometimes less than a minute before going again.

I had asked Eva and Mark to give me some cheerleading like, "push, come on, you're doing great, keep going, push-push-push." We were hoping to have the baby at 8:07 AM -- so I could have 11/10/09 - 08:07 numerical significance. By 8:05, Eva sees the clock and starts coaching like she is on hyperdrive: "push-push-push-push-push-push-push-push-push-push-push-push-push" until I kick her in the shoulder and yell "NOT SO MUCH!" My inner dialogue was more like, "I appreciate your enthusiasm, but could you please give me NOT SO MUCH!" Still, I hope I didn't hurt her feelings (or her shoulder.) 8:07 AM came and went, and I still had a long way to go.

They had me try pushing sitting up and then going to my side - difficult because I still can't use my legs or abs due to remnant epidural. I had such a strong urge to push at this point that I couldn't have stopped if they forced me to. We returned to back-lying pushing with Eva and Mark helping. -- Oh, and Mark wanted to be behind my shoulder with the non-gory view of the whole thing.... But he was down on the business end and had to let me know if my pushes were effective or not. He was the first (besides the nurse) who got to see Zoe's shock of dark, long hair. He said he was really glad to have that view and to be a part of the whole thing.

Somewhere along the line, and I was sort of aware of it, this thing became an emergency situation. More nurses came and went, the doctor, who was dropping in periodically before was staying more often -- and called in another doctor to assist. Tables of surgical equipment were wheeled in "just in case" and more and more nurses... Eva said at one point there were six nurses helping the two doctors. I'm just in my own world, pushing or relaxing... focusing on what I can do and less what is going on around me.

People were shouting, "This is IT!" I could tell there was some scrambling. Stuff being moved out of the way and other stuff being brought in. They took off my hospital gown so I was totally naked except for the belly band holding the monitors in place. I heard someone say "in case of Shoulder Dystocia" when they introduced me to the other doctor. I can feel Zoe. Well, I'd been feeling her for a while, but I could definitely tell that she was getting close to crowning. I could REALLY feel her. I reached down and touched her head to give me some motivation to do what had to be done -- and I pushed. And pushed and pushed. Dr Dwight told me he needed to give me an episiotomy to help her come out. Just get her out of me. I was losing it a little bit. I didn't care if he cut my legs off if it would help end this.

He only had a few seconds between contractions to make the cut. I could feel the sting of the scissors and then the next contraction hit hard. Mona, you only have a few more pushes and the baby is going to come out, okay? So don't stop pushing... keep going even when the contraction ends. Try not to take a breath unless you need it. Push hard. It is no wonder that I didn't pass out. I didn't breath for a long time. I just pushed until I could push no longer and it felt like a terrible place to stop... Her head was delivered but her body wasn't. At least I could believe them when they said, "Just one more contraction and you'll have a baby."

9:57 AM

And there she was.

They threw her on my stomach and I looked down into my daughters eyes. She was magnificent. I had forgotten about her in all the hustle and flow.... and there she was. She gurgled and complained when they wiped her down and again when they suctioned her mouth. But mostly she lay quietly on my stomach, blinking thoughtfully at me, glancing around the room curiously.
Mark pulled out the camera and took a quick video of her first quiet moments: getting acquainted with us while the nurses did some quick checks of her and I. Dr Dwight was stitching me up at the time and then delivering the placenta. I hardly noticed all this because of the beautiful distraction laying before me. The nurses did not disturb our chance to bond for our first hour together. I took Zoe to the breast within about 15 minutes and she sucked pretty well right away. When we finally let the nurses take her to be weighed, measured and examined more fully, she weighed 9 lbs 9 oz and was 21 inches long. A big little girl. Our baby was finally here.

Just in time for Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for Dr. Dwight -- for letting me labor so hard for so long to have the baby without surgery. Surely another doctor would have given up on me sooner.

I am thankful for Eva -- for giving up more than a month with her family, Marissa's first lost tooth, Halloween, and so much more... to be with me during those moments, encouraging me "push-push-push" and then for tromping up at 3AM to burp and change the baby for me so I could go back to sleep. Without her, this would have been SO MUCH HARDER!

I am thankful for Mark -- for becoming a parent with me, for holding my leg and giving me ice chips on command, and for collaboration on the many, many challenges to come.

I am thankful for Mom -- for now I fully understand what you have given and the fullness of a mother's love.

17 hours of hard labor.
5 hours pre-epidural.
5 hours pushing.
1 unforgettable day: priceless.

Actually, I am pretty sure I will be getting a bill. But you know what I mean.

I have been holding posting this until I have a chance to go through pictures, but better something than nothing. So, I will post more pictures later.


birth story -- part 1

This picture was taken just a few hours after she was born.
And this picture was taken the day we came home from the hospital.
At about 5:30 AM on Mon Nov 9, I started having nice even contractions that were tolerable but significantly different from the Braxton-Hicks ones I had been having. I am excited because we had an appointment for a scheduled induction for that evening at 10 PM and I really wanted to avoid inducing if possible and was agonizing over keeping the appointment or rescheduling it to give Zoe some extra time to start things on her own.

My first thought? We should go out to breakfast. Today might be a big day and we will need to fuel up... so off to Charlies, my favorite little diner in the Farmers Market for pancakes and hashbrowns. I had an appointment with my OB at 9:45 AM - from now on I am going to call him Dr. Awesome. Anyway, Dr. Awesome tells me that I should keep the appointment since it helps labor and delivery to know I am coming, since I AM definitely going to the hospital today. I am dialated to 3 cm. Mark goes to sleep so he can be rested for the big event and Eva and I promise to wake him up with plenty of time to shower and get bags ready before we have to go to the hospital.
By noon, my contractions are every 1/2 hour and Eva and I are walking up and down my streets trying to get things going a little faster so that we aren't going too slow by 10. For the most part, I can keep walking when a contraction hits, albeit slower and more steadily. By 3 PM, I have to stop walking and hold onto Eva's shoulder and contractions are 15 minutes apart.
We have worked out a system where I rate the pain on the contraction as C for comfortable, B for better and A for ahhhhouch. We both realized we might need something after that... At 5:53 PM I was sitting in my rocking chair with my shiatsu chair topper and a heat pack so relaxed that I was almost asleep when the biggest contraction so far hit. Maybe it was the context, but it was unbearable. That's when I uttered the first of only TWO cuss words during the whole labor & delivery. (I know, amazing right?) I walked directly into the computer and told Eva, "Blankety-Blank-Blank -- I'm getting the epidural." And I threw out my entire birth "plan" just like that. After that, it was very hard to figure out what position, technique, and rythm was going to help me cope. I did eventually settle in to taking loud, long breaths and tapping something (my leg, face, object nearby). When I became so demanding of Eva's support that contractions became hard to time, we woke Mark up. I'm guessing they were 5 minutes apart or less for about 1/2 hour. We called the doctor, who said, "go have your baby."
The drive to the hospital was not too bad. Just knowing that we were going made the contractions easier to cope with. When we got there, everything changed.

It took over an hour for "Mean Nurse" to check us into the hospital, botch an IV several times (during contractions), and hook us up to all the gear and monitors. When she checked my cervix, I was still dialated to 3 cm! All that work and nothing was different. I couldn't believe it. So, when they asked me whether I wanted my epidural now or later, I said "now." Thinking it would be a long while to dialate the rest of the way and I was coping okay, but just barely. It took another hour for the epidural to be administered. The nurse checked me right after they got the thing in and I was already at 6 cm. Wow! If I had known it was that close to fully dialated, I probably would have declined and said, "I got this far, I can do it without." Boy am I glad they checked after. I needed, needed, needed that rest to prepare for what was to come. The instant the medicine hit my spine -- I smiled and thought "I'm going to be able to enjoy having the baby today." I know this exactly because I actually wrote down my thoughts... I'm so glad I did because that really cracked me up later to read. Ahhhh, to be so naive now.

.... to be continued.


look what i made

You may have already heard the news...

Zola Jane McCowen was born on Wednesday, Nov 10, 2009 at 9:57 a.m. weighing in at 9 lbs. 9 oz and 21 inches long. I will share a detailed birth story a little later on, but the short version is that it was very intense, long, and at times scary. Due to her size, it was a very close call on emergency cesearean, but I chose my doctor and labor companions well. I did opt for an epidural, but due to laboring for such a long time, it wore off almost entirely hours before she was born, so I still got to realize the emotional experience of something like natural childbirth. We gave her the name Zola after my grandmother on my mom's side, who I enjoyed corresponding by mail weekly with ever since I learned to write and until she passed. We will call her Zoe, pronounced with a hard "o" and hard "e" like Joey.

First of all, she and I are both recovering well. She tolerated the labor exceptionally well and just came out of the ordeal with some expected bruising and coning on her head - which is almost all gone now. She looks like she's a few weeks old instead of a newborn, with tons of hair, great pale skin, and nice proportions. From most angles she is really pretty (of course I think that.) My recovery is also going well. I feel like I just gave birth to a nearly 10 pound baby, but other than that, I'm doing pretty good. We were released from the hospital today around noon and have settled in at home pretty well. I even wrapped her up in a sling and went for a walk for a few blocks between feedings this evening.
We are getting to know her quirks and personality. I love her cry, which she doesn't use often so far. It's a little husky/raspy and she sounds like she could grow to have an amazing singing voice. She is really mild tempered so far. She doesn't like to have her diaper changed and she doesn't like to lay flat/still (but who would after being accustomed to being bounced around in the equivalent of a clothes washer for 10 months.) She loves hanging in a sling while I (or Eva) goes about our things. She is also a quick learner with breastfeeding and she definitely gets her appetite from me.

As much as I can see myself and Christensen traits in her face, I see much more McCowen. I think she gets a lot genetically from her dad. When I dig them out, I will post some side-by-side baby pics of Mark, Me and Zoe for some comparison.

This has been such a remarkable and emotional few days that are seriously and completely impressed forever into my memory and my heart. To quote The Man: "I can't stop looking at my daughter."

more pics


month 10

I can't believe our daughter is now full-term and could (technically) be born any day.

Evan, Eva and Brandy were here for the weekend. Evan and I spent the day running errands and going to the Pedersen Auto Museum on Saturday, which was a blast. Then Eva & Brandy arrived on Saturday night late and we had some adventures. A crazy guy tried to run Eva over and then smashed in her van window about 5 minutes after they got here over a parking space. The next day Brandy chatted up Mary-Louise Parker while she was walking her dogs across the street from my house (she lives on my block I think.) Then Brandy & Mark were extras on set for some filming of a TV show. My favorite was "An actuary, an accountant, and a attorney were sitting at a table..." jokes at lunch. Rarely does life provide so much laughter. I think it put me into labor a little bit. I had Tuesday off. Eva and Brandy came to my doctors' appointment and got to meet the other Mark in my life. He showed them the baby on ultrasound - we could only make out parts since she is so big... and listened to her strong heartbeat. He also checked me. Last week I was not really doing much, but this week he said that I am as ripe as a Trader Joe's Avocado and that my body does not have much laboring to do. My bishop's score was an 8 and I was 80% effaced (2 days ago.) I had been having a contraction every other day, sometimes every day. But the last few days it has gradually increased to several per day. Yesterday they got up to once per hour before subsiding overnight.

I made the difficult decision to opt out of my exam sitting. Yesterday was the last day for a refund and with all the contraction activity and my doctor saying he'd probably see me in a few days, I decided not to keep pushing so hard. So, I forfeighted the remaining study time and started my maternity leave today instead of waiting until after my exam/due date. It was too much to do and I need to take some time to rest. I came home today a few hours early and found myself exhaustedly out of breath just laying down on the couch. I think I did the right thing.

Especially since this morning I woke up with a powerful urge to move furniture around.
We got our delivery of cloth diapers from the service. They are so soft and cute all folded up. We are just going to do a 3-month trial to see how it goes because Mark is a little skeptical of how well they will work. I expect it to be just as convenient as disposibles (or more so) since they drop them off clean at your door and pick up the dirty each week and you just set out the pail on the day - no rinsing, no buying (they are rentals), and no losing your parking spot to run to the store. The technology has come a long way from rubber pants & pins.
Happy birthday Saturday to my Mom and yesterday to Brittany and Jennifer - who all celebrated milestone years (75, 16 and 29, respectively.) Just think, you were all conceived around Valentines Day. (Guess how I figured that out.)
Just think: next time I blog it will be to post pictures of my sweet little baby and give you the details of her birthday story. Incredible.


month 9

It looks like I am arching my back to stick the tummy out, but I'm not. I PROMISE! That's just the screwy posture that I have to have to stay upright. I have now at 128% of my starting body weight and most of it is right out there in front.

My coworkers threw me a surprise baby shower disguised as a "cookie baking contest." I really love cookies -- and baking -- so this was a perfect way to trick me into attending (and catering my own event!) I got to judge the treats (sugar rush for Zoe) and award a winner. There were lots of generous gifts and everyone was there. It was really nice and almost intimidating to see how many people took the time from their workday to come down and congratulate me.

I still have a lot of things to do to prepare. I have my birth preferences written up, and I am in the process of putting together the hospital bag. I am putting together a phone list of who to call. Right now, we are only planning to call parents. We will post updates to facebook. But if you want more, maybe ask me and we will set up a phone tree.

Mark took a day off and we went off on a baby-moon this past weekend. You know, one final sweet adventure as a couple before we become three. We drove to Santa Barbara and Ojai and did the old-lady circuit of antique shops, craft tourism, and hotel chilling. We made some startlingly good food finds and enjoyed each other's company. It put a reboot on all the stress that has been building lately.

I have been having a few contractions every other day, nothing big. She has moved head down and has dropped about 2 inches. I feel there is still a few weeks to go, but definitely I can see the end of the road ahead. Her movements are no longer subtle bumps, but huge visible rolls across my tummy that anyone within 15 feet can see.
She is "full term." I have had a few interactions with her that make her feel less like an alien parasite and more like my little daughter. We played a conditional kicking game, and I was able to feel her little toes. She got her first case of the hiccups last weekend. She is really active in the car (Los Angeles roads are very bumpy.) And she kicks me almost everytime I rest my arms on her bump.

Physically, I still have a lot of prep to do, but mentally I am getting more and more ready for her to arrive every day. People have been so nice. I am surprised at how much gear, clothes, diapers, and blankets we have received. Thank you everyone!


month 8.5

This is NOT our little baby, because we are too cheap to pay the $85 for a 4D ultrasound when we are within a month or so of meeting her face to face. But I just loved this picture when I saw it on a internet forum for women who are equally preg. I don't have a latest pic of me. Just imagine the last picture and add an inch. I've been feeling the stretch and enjoying the surreal realizations that HOLY CRAP this whole thing is BIGGER than me, deeper than I can imagine, and happening right now. It's been very emotional - in equal parts terrified stress and blissful happiness.

These last two weeks have been about trying to decide if we can afford to continue to live in Los Angeles once Zoe arrives, or if we have to move to somewhere with a lesser cost of living index. I think this has been one of the harder decisions we've had to make. We both love it here so much, it's hard to be objective. I can't say we are final on it. But we're close, I think.

We're keeping an eye on how low the placenta has shifted. I think the baby dropped today at 2:34 pm based on how painful and urgent that particular trip to the restroom was. I've had a few contractions now. The first one was last week. This week, I have gotten one or two when I lay down for bed here and there. I would like to labor naturally as long as I can, so I am doing a lot each day to prepare myself for that - as if preparing is even possible.

Mark realized that poop gets all over the babies butt and you have to wipe it off every time.

I played a poke each other game with Zoe's foot - I think she was responding because if I changed where I poked, she poked back in that spot. It was pretty amazing. Everything about this is pretty amazing.


I have finished putting together our baby registry at:

All the big ticket items have been gifted or loaned along the way. I think we are down to needing mainly the stuff you don't know you need until you have the baby and learn about these things the hard way. I still managed to find a few things that I know we will use and enjoy.

Nancy came to town to visit over the weekend. We went shopping and of the stuff Nancy bought for Zoe, I just have to show you this really cute jogger set in size: "holy crap that's tiny." The hat has little ears. Fruit themed with ears. It just doesn't get any better than that.



Tomorrow is the 2009 Autumn Equinox, first day of Autumn, the night and day stand equal. Celebrated as a harvest festival by the Celts, who honor the death of the sun god on this day of magic due to the rare balance of light and dark, they take time for thanks and learning, and repairing all things. For me, it will be Father's Day; the day I honor the memory of our family patriarch with some sentimental tradition. For the first several years, I planted a plant. But, since I don't have a green thumb, I found it too depressing when the plant subsequently "went to heaven." So, now I celebrate with best medium ever: FOOD. What is more synonymous with family and tradition than FOOD! Of course. And it doesn't go to heaven. It turns to poop, but we can ignore that part.

So the last few years, I have sought out an A&W and gotten a root beer freeze. This seems perfect, because it reminds me of all those trips in the big truck on Wednesday, passing the big mug and stopping in for some royal-named burger (Queen, King, etc) and a root beer freeze. It reminds me of dad's contagious smile, sweet tooth, and inner child. This year, like last year, I am going to make them at home. Partly because I still have some root beer left over from last year and largely because it lets me spend more time in the memory. It has been 15 years without the man. Hard to believe.


month eight

I started getting the urge to spring clean out all the nooks and crannies of our home, purge all the unnecessary storage, and make some room for our baby gear. I've found a couple of drawers in the hall cabinet for Zoe's little adorable wardrobe and linens and have organized it with a drawer map, even. I'm designing and sewing a little plushie doll for Zoe as my creative outlet during breaks from studying for exams on the weekends.

I noticed my first stretchmarks this week and with it, some serious internal stretching pain. It feels like my abdominal walls are tearing apart and that the baby picks the weakest spot on the wall to kick... hard. I felt her knee this week. I think she's so big that I can feel her swirling even when she is sleeping. She moves almost constantly now. I started listening to my birth relaxation CDs and find that I sleep really well when I do. I also sleep more than I am awake now. I'm tired. The pregnancy hormones still make me a morning person and my exam study is going well thanks to that extra few hours of high productivity in the morning that I am trading for the low productivity evenings of falling asleep early.

I'm carb loading - potatoes sound lovely. Especially when mixed with something fatty like bacon and cheese. And there are so many wonderful ways to cook potatoes with bacon and cheese. Still eating a lot of fruit and taking walks daily. But, I've added cookies and second breakfast to the routine.

Eva has set a date for the Utah baby shower tentatively for the day before Thanksgiving. I should have some kind of registry set up soon for those who have been wondering out loud what we still need. I have finalized our travel arrangements to be there, so everyone in UT can look forward to snuggling that brand-spanking new nubbin.



I just wanted to share the fabric that Mark picked to make the crib ruffle and bumper out of for Zoë. The pattern has such a nice deep contrast that I think it will be visually interesting for an infant -- and it is neither pink, purple, or "pastel" feeling. Target has some nice dark chocolate sheets that will look cute with this.


for sale

My extended warranty expired and the suspension light just popped on when I hit a bump in the road, so I am now interested in selling my car.

2005 Scion xB - 78,000 Miles: ($8,500 As Is, $9,000 if I have fixed the cracked tail light, cracked windsheild, and suspension light issue prior to sale -- this is below blue book.) The car has been routinely maintained and I have all the receipts of service.

Me Car

UPDATE: Regarding the suspension light, it came on after hitting a bump and Internet said that happens with Toyota's sometimes but that the computer will check again in 50 miles and reset if there is nothing wrong and it did. However, we are still interested in selling and still offering the same price. (OBO)


month seven

Third trimester, here I come.

I'm having the most textbook pregnancy ever. This month was filled with a lot of running around making fun so I really tested my boundaries. I can still walk a lot, carry a lot, and generally do most everything I ever did. No, I'm not jumping on a skateboard or going to a wine testing, so you can relax. But, I continue to be pretty active and am taking my long walks at lunch and evening.

I put on more weight in my face, arms, hips, etc. In other words, that basketball I hoped to hide under my shirt is now an ephemeral hoop dream. I blame yogurtland. It's Pomegranete-raspberry tart wonderfulness is the final evil upon the world and will cause all humans to destroy one another eventually.

The little girl is now too large to do flips in my uterus and is getting so much stronger. You can see my tummy bounce when she is active. She likes to stick some appendage up under my ribcage and into my lungs from time to time. I can tell if she is sideways or up-and-down and am getting to know her daily rhythms. When she stretches while she rolls, it feels gives me a internal flesh-crawling sensation and you can totally see her butt jutting out in the asymmetry of my bump. She should be about 2.3 pounds and 15 inches long by now. I still crave more fresh veggies and fruits than anything else.

We are starting to make concrete arrangements to welcome this little life: staging all the things we will need, cleaning, gathering, sorting, washing and folding clothes and little finger sized socks. I started the registry, but had no idea how difficult it would be to figure out what to put on it. We have been gifted so much that only the things you need tons of or don't know you need until you need them are left: medicines, wipes, etc. It's hardly the sexy type of thing that people want to get for you. And I doubt anyone will give us round trip airfare to Denmark. But, that would be cool, wouldn't it? (They don't have it at the store I'm registering at, so I guess we'll have to think of something else.)

This whole thing still feels so unreal. It's just a really big step and is hard to process. I see a little baby in a stroller and either get all goofy-happy inside or start to hyperventilate. I think that when you have an awesome relationship with your spouse, it's hard to transition to being "three" without some concern about what you are giving up. I know that Mark and I approach everything with really realistic expectations, and that is the most crucial ingredient for satisfaction with outcomes. So, logically, I know. Everything. Will. Be. Okay.

I can't hear that enough. That and that my husband will still love me when I am a deflated lactating balloon with a wailing detachable Dictator.


puck stops here

Everyone on our team passed their exams this past session so our VP took us out to Spago and I got to meet and shake hands with Wolfgang Puck, because he was there greeting some of the tables. The food was good, but I rarely opt to eat something that costs more than a hooker. After the lunch, I got to go home early, so yay for short Fridays.

Jennifer & Lindsey are still here and we are still rocking the fun. We had an awesome picnic at the Friday Night Jazz event at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art (LACMA) and walked through a few galleries. It was awesome. We capped the night hanging out with Scott & watching movies (well, technically, I crashed out, but that's what everyone else did.) It was lovely.

Praise Yogurtland frozen yogurt, and pomegranate raspberry tart flavor, in particular. Mmmmm.


three friends

Jenn and her BFF Lindsey are visiting this week. We went to Malibu on Saturday and the Huntington Library Gardens on Sunday.
We enjoyed holding hands at the "Pavilion of the Three Friends" where the plaque read: "The 'Three Friends of the Cold Season' are plants that represent courage and unity during hardship. By remaining green all winter, the pine shows endurance. Bamboo embodies flexibility and strength. The plum tree flowers even during the harsh weather of early spring."

This place was several hundred acres of beautiful!


this blog has gone bgc

(Breeding Grand Central.)

This is the awesome crib/mattress that I got over the weekend! It was a generous gift and we are BOTH anxious to put it together. It converts to a toddler bed, a twin with and without rails, and a nightstand and comes with the hamper liner, trundle drawer underneath, and changing pad liner.
I also went clearance shopping with Jennifer, who really knows how to work the sales racks / coupons. We totally hooked up with about 15 little ADORABLE name-brand outfits for our munchkin for under $35. Plus, I love to shop. And Jennifer loves to shop -- and might be even more excited about the baby than I am. And there is nothing cooler than having someone ELSE ask me - "Can we go check out those crib-bed-in-a-bag sets?" -- Um, I just wet my pants in excibriation (right after making up that word)!


month six

I am feeling pretty good, considering my girth - a 14.0% increase at this two-thirds mark! The weight is the main thing at this point, as most of my other "symptoms" have subsided. Maybe at one point I will put together a growth chart. That seems like something I'd enjoy. I am no longer having very strong cravings, have a little more energy, and (like I said) feel pretty good.
I went to Houston for the 4th and we've been Summer-Fun-O-Rama-ing with Stephanie since I got back.
The baby has moved up (and out) some and is now prominently showcasing herself on top of my sciatic nerve. (Hasn't even been born yet and is already getting on my nerve.... ha ha.) The stretching of my body has passed a critical mass where my round ligaments are now loose as a goose and she can move about the cabin freely, as can I without pulling something. So we are both getting around better. I really enjoy my evening walks, which take the pressure off my pelvis after sitting all day at work and have been sleeping better. Stephanie got to be the first one to feel her movement from the outside last Wednesday. She is strong enough that if I'm crossing my arms, you can see them bouncing when she kicks them.
We are registered for child birth classes and have started making arrangements for her arrival. I got a few little teeny-tiny spring dresses and some ideas for some crafty goodness to enjoy to her benefit before she gets here.
Negotiations on her name are still technically open, and I think they will be until we are forced by the hospital staff to write something down. At which point, I'm 99% sure we will write down the only name we have considered up to this point. But, don't be surprised when the announcements go out if it's something else. These things happen. We're a crazy, spontaneous couple of kids. We might just go nuts and throw something else out there.
I haven't really thought much about things like a baby shower. The folks at work usually throw one, and that will probably be it. We'll probably be having an "after-birth party" (ha ha) in Utah around Thanksgiving so all the folks home for the holiday can meet her.



I was hanging out with Brandi Hogan last week and we snapped a picture of our equally pregnant tum-tums. Love that photoshop...;) Anyway, I made Brandi scootch down to my height so that our bumps could be lined up. What you can tell is that my butt is five times bigger than hers (we knew that, right?) Fun times.


where did I put my nap?

Mark wanted to know if he could strap the baby upside-down on his back in some kind of holster, and say "energize" and make the baby stiffen into a deadly weapon that he could draw by the ankel like a sword and fight crime with. I told him that infants are like dogs... you have to train them to do such complex tricks. If he can train her, I will personally buy him a holster with some fancy crime-fighting slogan leather-embossed on the front.
I've been making a routine of chai tea & long walks every evening. Saturday I started early, taking my tea & walk at 10 a.m. -- and walking farther than I intended, ending up at the mall. Needing to sit down & rest before the long walk home, I decided to see "My Sister's Keeper" which is based on a book that I have read... cried my hormone-ridden brain out. Good movie. I rarely say this, but the movie was better than the book.
When I got home at 6 p.m., Mark reminded me that we had tickets and had to leave in 30 minutes to go see "Explosions in the Sky", an instrumental post rock band that we missed last time they were in town. How did I forget this? I skipped ABBA to be able to see Explosions.

It was a great show and I never enjoyed slipping into bed and getting off my feet so much in my life. This morning was about recovering. I slept in, woke up, ate, and fell back to sleep. Now I'm playing catch up with myself to do all the weekend household business that piles up during the week. But, I took some time out to make Fried Green Tomatos for lunch. I was craving them so a lady at work picked them from her garden so I could fry them. It hit the spot, but now I'm paying for the greasiness. To distract myself from the heartburn, I'm watching Benjamin Button while I clean the house.


yodel lady who

I really like yodeling.

If you do too (or even if you don't), watch this. Maybe it's the hormones, but it made me cry.

After watching this amazing kid yodel, I found these vocal tips on a yodeling fan site... Subject: Yodeling... How to get started


month five

We made it to the half-way point and we're hanging in there.

I am now sleeping only on my left side, and hobbling in the popular Christensen fashion. I have really enjoyed me some (eg: my body weight in) potato salad & greek salad. I'm past the "craving" point where I-know-what-I-want-and-I-want-it-now and into the I-don't-know-what-I-want-but-I-want-it-now point.

I have read my 1 billionth baby/pregnancy book. I have freaked out on people. I have cried at nearly everything sweet. I have gotten really nuts about random things - like pet dander (don't you think we should shampoo the carpets RIGHT NOW at two in the morning?) and skin changes (see this red patch on my knee that looks like a rug rash? do you think it's cancer that can be passed to the baby?) And I hung up a sign at my desk to remind myself to breathe, because it is all so much to take in that I really need to periodically re-evaluate, take a nice long breath, and relax.

I have gained 16 pounds so far, which puts me on track to gain about 35. I am eating a lot of healthy smaller meals and walking a good distance two or three times a day. I haven't cancelled my gym membership, but I think it might be a good time to. I don't see myself really hitting the gym for another 10 months at this rate of exhaustion. I get winded after the first quarter mile of walking (okay, waddling -- slowly.) I can tell that some of that weight gain is definitely going to the baby, based on the strength of the kicks. They sort of feel more like kicks now and less like flutters. I have also reintroduced a single cup of coffee to my mornings. It hasn't hurt my bedtime, which is now 8:30 pm.
The straight-on face shot in an ultrasound looks like an alien monster. Somehow, we will love this klingon skeleton.

More ultrasounds confirm we are now 100% sure we are having a GIRL! Today we had the ultrasound where the doctor went through to check every detail & vital part of the baby's body. He pointed out the various parts of the brain, the four chambers of the heart, the aeorta, mitrochondrial valve, kidneys, belly button where the umbilical cord comes out, etc. It was really something. We thought it would be 3-D & show the blood flow, but it didn't. It was very reassuring, though. The doctor ruled out spina bifida, cleft palate, and a few other things. He thought that there was plenty of fluid around the baby. The placenta was placed well (in front of the baby) and my cervix was long & closed. I know this part must be important because he repeated it three times.


actual size

This one is truly for you, fans. I personally am grossed out a little bit by my belly, especially in pictures taken with a flash. And so is Mark. So I apologize if you were one of the minions of my fans who begged for this. If you lose your appetite, don't say I didn't warn you.

Anyway. Mark was having a hard time visualizing the garden vegetable that is used week by week to demostrate the baby's typical growth. So I sketched out the measurements for him. It looked really big on paper, compared to the avocado or even snow pea of what seems like yesterday. So, to get a feel for the actual size in comparison with my tum-tum growth, I sketched it on.

Keep in mind that the rest of that bump contains my displaced bladder, stomach, intestines, and other smashed up organs - not just baby and amniotic fluid. It definitely looks a lot smaller on that now showing bump.

As you can also see, the baby's eyes are too close together. No, I have not been drinking. I'm blaming Mark's genetic code for that.

In a related note, I am reading the "give it to you straight" birth stuff that is usually glossed over in pregnancy books in order to keep you from trying to squeeze the baby out your nose to avoid. Bad idea. I should have stuck to catalogs.

Also, Wii Super Paper Mario rocks. Go buy it (used) and talk to me when you come out of your crack-a-thon in a month.


belt buckle and groin of america

What you see behind me is the belt-buckle of middle america. We liked St. Louis so much more than we expected to. They had Hardees and White Castle and protesters at the local planned parenthood and a disproportionate amount of overweight people (I could be heard telling Mark, "this is nothing. Just wait until we get to Texas.")

Josh and Anna's wedding extravaganza was beautiful, opulent, and over the top. We ate and drank well. (No, of course I did not embibe. What? You think I want a baby with eyes too far apart?) Probably the best part for me was chilling with Nick and Tanya at the Botanical Garden.

On to Texas... Hanging with McBro and Evan. So good to see those guys. We did way too much and a lot of nothing. Another botanical garden, a trip to Galveston Island to see the hurricane damage, take a Duck Tour of the downtown & bay, tour the police station and jail where McBro works, Nasa Space Center, and lots and lots of driveway chillin, barbequeing, and delicious food. No one can ever claim to be a better cook than Kim. I'm sorry. That chick has a monopoly on the title "best ever."

This is Nasa.

This is port-side on the Duck. I have a fetish for boats on vacation, so I am seriously elated in this picture for getting Mark on the water.

There is my little bump. I think it really started to pop out on this trip, because when I got home, I had only two shirts that could still conceal it. I guess it's safe to assume that it no longer looks like a failed diet.
Once swaddled safely back into my own bed, I slept 15 hours and then 10 hours the next day. Ah, the vacation after the vacation. My body was tired, but my mind was so relaxed.
I bought a maternity swim suit so I can feel the precious sense of weightlessness next time I go to the gym... which has been a weekly on Sunday routine for the past few weeks. I'm looking forward to trying it out. The heaviness is surprising (compared to what I expected this early on.)
In related news, I almost threw a pepperocini in my mouth and washed it down with chocolate milk. It sounded awesome. Luckily, somewhere between the refridgerator and my mouth, sanity kicked in just in time to stop me. Thank God.


weekend wonderful

We took a quick trip up the coast overnight and got a hotel in Morro Bay outside San Luis Obispo. It was so relaxing and incredible to be able to spend so much time with my husband.

We had some nice conversations on the scenic drive, saw some vineyards, and stopped for chocolate milkshakes.

This little country restaurant was so good that we went there for BOTH dinner the night we arrived AND breakfast the day we departed. I bet they have other good restaurants, but we obviously don't care. I ordered the meat loaf sandwich and Mark thought it sounded nasty... and then heartily helped me eat it. It was amazing.

This beach was walking distance from our hotel. I walked down while Mark took a nap the first day and we went together the morning we left... and that time, there was so much beautiful fog that you couldn't see the haystack at all. It was a nice, kind of isolated beach. I found FOUR perfect sand dollars just laying on the beach within 5 feet of each other. A great place for treasure hunting.


month four

I'm sure, Internet, you are thrilled to find out about the sex of the baby. So I must divulge. I'm sure you are just dying in anticipation. But first, let me just say how things have been going.

All downhill... for now. This month has been such a piece of cake. I am rounding out a little bit, with my muffin top growing at proportionally the same rate of speed as my bump so as to just make me look generally round... no basketball shoplifting over here.

I am eating every two hours by mandate of my body... although with the whole muffin top observation, I have started writing everything down so that I will be tempted to pick up "apple" instead of "potato chips."

Here are some random items that I have craved:

  • Fish Tacos from Rubios

  • Dill Pickles

  • Salt on everything

  • Anything w/ Italian tomato-based sauce (lasagna, spagetti, pizza, etc)

  • Salt & Vinegar Chips

  • Potatoes (instant mashed makes a quick snack)

  • Sandwiches with everything.

  • Avocado

  • Garlic Bread

  • Jalapenos
Anyhoo, listed like that -- it does seem to have a pattern: tangy carbs. Mmmm. Tangy. Carbs. Apples just aren't tangy carbs.

I am still looking pretty good. No crazy complexion/pigmentation issues. No swollen limbs. No hair falling out. Pretty much, if it weren't for the failed diet hiding in my shirt, you'd never know. I'd know. It's hard not to notice the change in blood pressure everytime I shift position, the weird sensations, dizziness, headache, etc. Plus, I've started feeling the baby rolling around sometimes when I sit still. It still feels a little like a tummy rumble, but in the wrong place for my stomach. Granted, my stomach HAS moved... up in my ribcage. And those rumbles kind of freak me out because it feels like a heart attack. This has been the month of figuring how how in the hay we're going to pay for everything. I think I have us sorted a little bit. Surely there will be some surprises. But, at least we have a plan.

Speaking of surprises, some people would rather not know the sex before the baby is born. Not us. We had to know. Our doctor is 90% sure we are having a... click here to find out.