Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The List

Despite taking a couple of weeks “off” for the major back pain I was experiencing, the list of things I feel I need to accomplish before baby’s arrival continues to grow. I feel like I am finally making some headway this week. For example, the Christmas decorations are now put away. The right way. However, that project alone took me two hours – pretty much Banana’s entire naptime that day. The next day I obsessively cleaned my family room and kitchen. The contractors that were here installing a new light/fan in our family room,
and the recessed lighting in our kitchen...

...made a big, dusty mess out of things. I am very happy with our new, well-lit rooms, but it was a lot of work getting things cleaned and put back together. Banana’s naptime today will be spent at the doctor’s office. It’s time for my 28-week check-up. I do plan to do some work in the kids’ rooms when they get home from school. Trust me…they’ll be thrilled.

Another person that’s sure to be thrilled with this process is my husband. It seems like whenever I complete something on my list, it naturally creates a new list of things for him to do. Whether there is something that needs to be moved that’s too heavy for a pregnant lady or something I simply feel he should be doing, it goes on the list. That’s just what he wants to look at when he gets home from work, I’m sure. Hang in there, hon! Only 10 more weeks to go!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Polar Palooza

Well, I survived Leader-Daughter Camping on the coldest weekend of the year. When I walked into the lodge the baby in my belly did a little dance because, Alleluia!! There were cots! Loaded with TWO mattresses!! And they were close to the bathroom, too!!! While my weekend bed was a little narrow for a pregnant lady who has to sleep on her side with a pillow between her knees, I actually slept about as well as I do at home lately.

The cold wasn’t an issue except for when we needed to transition from one building to another. The majority of the events were in one big hall. Meals were in the building just next door, but we slept in a lodge a fair distance from the other places. To keep traffic to a minimum, we were required to walk back and forth, so a good amount of bundling up was necessary each time we walked outside. Most everyone was a good sport about it, though.

Spending time with Miss M was awesome. The Polar Palooza organizers kept us hopping from one event to another. We made a variety of no-bake snacks, including “Armpit Fudge”, which turned out to be very tasty. We also made a whole bunch of cute winter crafts, like this adorable stone penguin paver.

We had a Trivia Night on Saturday evening, which was a lot of fun. It was Miss M’s first Trivia Night (and my first Trivia Night without hot wings and beer.) The categories included questions for both the moms and the daughters. For example, there was one entire round dedicated to Hannah Montana and another to Retro TV. Not to toot our own horns, but our table came in second place!

Back at the lodge was like a huge slumber party two nights in a row. The girls gabbed, played games, and even organized a talent show one night. We were in a lodge with a loft, which was a pretty neat setup. It also had a full kitchen, so we had snacks, hot chocolate and soda. You know…all that not-so-good-for-you stuff.

Being good Girl Scouts, we also had chores. We helped prepare and serve lunch on Saturday afternoon. Miss M was so excited about getting to serve chili school cafeteria style to all the other moms and girls. She loves that kind of thing. We also got the pleasure of cleaning up the Dining Hall on the last night. Miss M used an industrial sized mop and a rolling bucket with a water squeezer built in. Who knew she loved that kind of thing too? That information could come in handy around the house.

So for all the anxiety it caused me beforehand, I was pleasantly surprised that the weekend turned out great. And I have two years to gear up for the next one! Click here for a few photos from the weekend.

Monday, January 21, 2008

“Thank you, Martin Luther King, Jr.”

That is what Miss M said when she remembered that she was off school today. I made sure to remind her that being off school is not the reason we should thank Dr. King. I wanted her to know that our family in particular should give special consideration to this special day. As one of the moms from the G.I.F.T.* program said in an e-mail yesterday, “Without Dr. King I don't know if my family would ever have come to be.” Her e-mail also included this poem written by Byron Von Rosenberg.

An American Holiday

With peaceful demonstrations
He overcame such hateful strife
He set a people free
And for that he gave his life.

Many years have passed
And there is peace within
Yet we must pause to contemplate
Those words he spoke again.

"I have a dream" of freedom
That rings in every place,
Equality and Liberty
For each person, every race.

No man is truly free
When he denies that right to others
For we must be a family
Like sisters and brothers.

Martin Luther King
Showed us all the way
And that is why we celebrate
This American holiday.

Byron Von Rosenberg, 2003

My husband took the day off work so that we could do something special to celebrate today. We decided on the Black World History Museum on St. Louis Avenue. The museum dedicated a large room to the dreadful way that Africans were first brought to America. There was a replica of a slave trading ship that we could walk through and an actual slave cabin moved to the museum from a plantation in Jonesburg, Missouri. The majority of the other displays focused on African-American Missourians including George Washington Carver, Dred and Harriett Scott, musician Clark Terry, Clara Brown, Hiram Young and others. The kids were fascinated by the realism of the wax figures (and quite frankly, so were we!) In one of the last display rooms we entered sat Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself. Big D was thrilled to see someone that he recognized. He was even more excited when he learned that there was a cake in honor of Dr. King’s birthday, and that it was NOT made out of wax.

I am so happy that we were able to do something together as a family to commemorate this special holiday. I’m not sure how much the kids were able to get out of it at their young ages, but I do know that a tradition has been established. Our family will continue celebrating not only the birthday of Dr. King, but also the ideas to which he dedicated his life.

* G.I.F.T. (Getting Interracial Families Together) is a social group for families of mixed race, whether by marriage, birth or adoption.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Wish Me Luck!

This weekend Miss M and I will be attending Polar Palooza – a Girl Scout Leader/Daughter event held at one of the area camps. We went 2 years ago and it was a lot of fun. Obviously we didn't camp outside in the middle of January. We stayed in a lodge and ate our meals in a warm dining hall. There was so much to do, there were new people to meet, and we even liked the food that was served. I was looking forward to going again this year…until my back started hurting.

Last time we slept on small mattresses on the floor. The mattresses were designed for cots, but there weren’t enough cots for everyone so we just threw them on the floor. It wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t six months pregnant then either. My only hope this time is that there is really a cot to go with that mattress this time. With the way my back feels in the morning, I can’t imagine getting up from sleeping on the floor without help. Poor Miss M might have to wake up several times in the night to give her mom a hand getting up for another trip to the bathroom.

I get the feeling that my husband thinks I’m crazy for doing this. But Miss M has been looking forward to this for 2 years (it only happens every other year). Besides, there aren’t too many opportunities for the two of us to do things like this without the younger kids. It’s valuable time together for both of us. I would say that most of me is looking forward to it as well. But there’s another little part of me that’s slightly nervous (I think it's called my tailbone.) Needless to say, I will be packing the Tylenol and my heating pad…and extra pillows.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Vacation from Videogames

Our family has an X-Box which, until recently, hasn’t had much use. We got Dance, Dance Revolution for Easter, which sparked a new interest in the machine for a while, but it was never used excessively…until now.

Each of the three older kids got a new X-Box game for Christmas. They played all three for a while, and then they really got addicted to one in particular. The nice thing about Fusion Frenzy is that all three of them can play at the same time, something that means a lot to Mom and Dad. During the Christmas break, we let them play as much as they wanted, which to be honest, was usually ALL DAY LONG. We figured when school started, things would go back to normal anyway.

Well, here’s what “normal” has become since the free-for-all video gaming began…

First of all, when C.B. is not at school on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, I encourage him to have some rest time with me, usually by putting in a kid movie for him. However, there wasn’t a single movie he wanted to watch if playing X-Box was even a possibility.

Secondly, when he was told he could bring in his favorite Christmas present for "Show & Tell", C.B. brought in the case for the Fusion Frenzy game to show his class. I didn’t even bother telling him that it was not the game he got for Christmas. Fusion Frenzy was actually given to Miss M.

But the final straw for me was a series of conversations that came up between the boys and me. Please be aware that C.B. was a definite part of these conversations, but Big D is traditionally the spokesperson. A synopsis follows…

Big D: Mom, can me and Johnny play X-Box.

Mom: You know we have a rule about TV, computer and video games when friends are over. You and Johnny can find better things to do than play X-Box.

Big D: But I don’t know what that would be. There’s nothing else to do.

Mom: I guess there’s no reason that we should have a basement full of toys then. Maybe we should get rid of all that fun stuff down there.

Big D: It’s more fun at John’s house. I want to go over there next time.

Mom: That’s fine with me. (John doesn’t have an X-Box!)

And only a few days later…

Big D: (After playing for at least 20 minutes on the computer) Can I play X-Box?

Mom: You have already spent some time on the computer today. What does Daddy say about computer games, television and X-Box?

Big D: They melt your brain (with characteristic eye-rolling.)

Mom: That’s right. What have you done so far today that is good for your brain?

Big D: Well, what is there? I can’t think of anything that's good.

Mom: What about all of our books or puzzles?

Big D: They’re BORING!

It had become apparent to us that the boys had completely forgotten what life was like before X-Box. The multitude of toys, books, board games and puzzles meant nothing to them, and that was unacceptable to us as parents. We have given the X-Box a break. It is on a one-week vacation from the Reddy Zoo, much to the disappointment of the boys. We are hoping that this will give them a chance to get re-acquainted with some of their favorite toys and break in some of the other things they got for Christmas. I guess we’ll see!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It’s On (You Know…Like Donkey Kong)

Throughout my first pregnancy I was dead set against the epidural. I thought the possible permanent side effects outweighed the definite yet temporary pain. However, when labor didn’t progress (I never dilated past 4 centimeters) I was prepped for a c-section. And guess what? That meant an epidural. I pretty much had no choice if I wanted to be awake when my baby was born. Nevertheless, I hated the feeling of that cold fluid in my spine and I was absolutely nauseated by the fact that I couldn’t feel two-thirds of my body. It certainly validated my decision not to use the drug in the first place, even though I wasn’t able to uphold that decision. I was extremely disappointed that I was not able to stick to the drug-free delivery that I had planned. I told myself that if given another chance I would definitely make it happen the next time.
Well, here I am with that second chance, albeit 10 years later, and still lamenting my first “failure”. I spoke with my OB at my very first prenatal visit about my delivery options following the c-section 10 years ago. “Once a section, always a section”, he stated without much further explanation. However, he was less than three months from retirement at the time, and I knew he would not be around to deliver my baby in the spring. I still had hope. The retiring doctor’s partner was a young doctor and would surely have better options for me.

It was two more months before I was able to meet with my new OB. During that time I spoke with pretty much any woman who was willing to discuss her labor and delivery with me. My just being pregnant seemed to cause the conversations around me to center constantly around babies and their arrivals. Up until now I haven’t known many women who have had c-sections. With the exception of my sister-in-law who delivered triplets, all of my sister-in-laws and close friends had vaginal deliveries, several of which I would even consider to be dream deliveries. But when women outside of my usual circle began telling me their stories, I realized there were more people out there whose labor and deliveries sounded more like mine. But I also realized that those ladies were missing something that I most definitely had – a bad attitude. While it was reassuring to know that other women had similar experiences as my own, it wasn’t until one woman said that it “didn’t matter how the baby got here, as long it was safe and healthy”. It hit me how selfish I was being. My yearning for a “normal” delivery wasn’t for the baby’s sake, it was for ME!

So when I was finally able to discuss the matter with my new OB, I had much more of an open mind during his explanation of the retired doctor’s “once a section, always a section” comment. The new doctor took the time to explain to me how some women can have a successful VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) due to the circumstances surrounding the initial c-section. If the first baby was breech, for instance, it is unlikely that the same circumstances would hold true for the second baby. However, if the first baby was too big for the mother’s birth canal and labor was not progressing (sound familiar?) it is possible, even probable that those circumstances would be repeated the second time around. This discussion also took place following an ultrasound where the technician said the baby looked to be a pretty big one. Being a diplomatic kind of guy, the OB suggested we schedule a c-section but cancel it if I felt strongly about attempting a VBAC as we got closer to the baby’s due date. I left his office feeling like I was almost certainly going to have a c-section, but not feeling all that badly about it.

A few days after my appointment, my sister-in-law delivered my new niece. Her delivery experience made mine look good. But her sweet baby girl was finally with her, and that’s what was important. It was yet another reason for me to feel OK with having the surgery. So when I had my OB appointment yesterday, I didn’t cry when they called the hospital to schedule my repeat c-section. I was actually kind of excited that I had a date to meet my baby. And when I got home and wrote it on the calendar, I promptly started freaking out about all the things I have to do in the next three months!!