Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Case of the Ken Doll Leg

If you grew up playing with Barbies, you know that 1) Barbie could never keep her shoes on and 2) Ken could never seem to keep his leg attached. Dad performed countless emergency surgeries on Ken to reattach his leg after a dance party, impromptu wedding, or motorcycle ride left his detached limb helplessly hanging in his pleated pants.

As my muscles, joints, and ligaments loosen to prepare for Catherine's arrival, it seems that my right hip has decided to no longer contain my leg. I have Ken doll syndrome, as I twist and stretch each night in an attempt to perform the same emergency reattachment surgery that worked wonders on Ken all those years. I was prepared for the weight gain, the countless bathroom breaks, and the occasional nausea followed by a need for Krispy Kreme donuts. I was not prepared for joint detachment. 

So today, I purchased the Snoogle pillow as I am determined to sleep for more than an hour at a time without waking up in intense pain and with the fear that I will not be able to snap my leg into place in time for my sixth bathroom break. I'll report back soon. Hopefully, my hip will fair better than Ken's.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Name Game

What's in a name? Since the beginning of time, we as a human race have assigned names to people, to places, to things, to actions, and to concepts. These names have become identities, social constructs,  forever recorded in history. Think of the great thinkers, the great artists, the great authors of our past and the weight that is now associated with those names. A name is not just a name.

So, it is with this in mind, that we began naming our daughter. Talk about pressure. The name we assign our daughter will be part of her identity for the rest of her life. This name should suit an adorable five year old, a blossoming preteen, a confident teenager, and a driven young adult. It should look nice whether it is written in crayon or printed at the head of a resume. It should sound assertive when introduced with a firm handshake, but feminine when shared with a potential mate. It should be classic, honor her familial heritage, and also forge a new path.

We thought long and hard, making list after list of potential names, writing them out on paper, admiring the monograms, researching the language origins and meanings. We thought of names that are important to us, names that evoke a certain feeling. Finally, after many months, we have chosen a name for our daughter. And as we talk to my growing belly and address her daily by name, we know it suits her. In just a few months, we will welcome Catherine Elizabeth into this world where she will begin her life's journey and define her name as her own.
24 weeks (12-6-10)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

According to Deb

November 28th, 2008, while Husband and I were enjoying a blissful honeymoon in Punta Cana, my Aunt Debbie lost her battle with melanoma. Notice I didn't post this on the 28th as that day seems to stand still each year, but I wanted to pay tribute to the woman who meant so much to me. Loss is a part of life. We learn to appreciate the days we have with one another. We learn to love fully. We learn to grieve. And these past years have changed me. They have changed my family.

Growing up, Aunt Debbie earned the title "Crazy Aunt Debbie," not because she was insane, but because she could turn the most mundane situation into a party. Debbie had a way of making you feel special on the most ordinary of days whether she was encouraging my shoe addiction by hours of dress up in her closet of Jimmy Choos and Manolos or teaching my sister the art of painting, she was helping mold her nieces into the women they would become. We begged to have her babysit us, knowing a night with Deb promised makeup and make believe. We marveled at her home filled with masterpieces of local artists as well as her own. We looked forward to her famous Auburn tailgates in the fall and to her fabulous white Christmas trees and brunch during the holidays. I developed a love of sterling silver, of artfully wrapped gift giving, and of finding the perfect shoes for any occasion. Quite simply, Deb made life more fun.

At Debbie's service, my dad recalled a childhood story from a family vacation. As they traveled down the road, Dad and Debbie in the backseat picking at one another as only brother and sister do, she took his shoe and threw it out of the window. It bounced down the highway into oblivion. "Terry threw his shoe out the window," she tattled. Dad laughed as he remembered this day, recalling that every time he saw a single shoe in the middle of the road, he imagined how it got there and he thought of his sister. And now, whenever I am driving on an average day and notice a single shoe on the side of the road, I think of a young Debbie on a family road trip and I can't help but smile.

It is impossible not to shed tears when remembering her, because loss, while a part of life, is never easy and frankly, never fair; but I know my life is richer because she was a part of it. Through my tears, I smile, because although she is not physically here, she is everywhere I look.

Deb is everywhere in my home. Her artwork fills each room, her shoes fill my closet, and I carry her purse each day. Each year, decorating for Christmas makes me think of her and I smile. I have a small "fabulous white" Christmas tree in my kitchen and its ornaments are framed copies of her paintings. My daughter won't know her Aunt Debbie, but she'll know her. She'll know every story my family shares, every detail of every painting in our home. She'll know that sterling silver makes any meal special. She'll know that you're never truly dressed until you pick out the perfect shoes. She'll know that Chanel No. 5 is timeless. She'll know that being eccentric is a good thing. She'll know to laugh about the small stuff and lean on family through the big stuff. She'll know her because I will never forget her.

My life is certainly more fabulous because Deb was in it and I live every day hoping that I live my life according to Deb's philosophies. I hope that when I leave this world, it is better than it was when I found it. I hope that those I love know how much I truly love and appreciate them. I hope that I can make at least one person's life special because the relationships we share and the legacy we leave are what life is all about. Love and be loved and smile when you see lonely shoes along the highway.

My BSC Graduation, May 2006


It's been a while since I've posted and I blame it on nothing other than writer's block (and the fact that I have been preoccupied with making and eating baked goods). It's a funny thing, pregnancy. It has made me want need things I rarely wanted before. I have officially replaced vodka with chocolate (and Krispy Kreme doughnuts... and pumpkin bread... and Little Debbie Christmas tree cakes... and all things baked and delicious...). 

At a little over 23 weeks, I am finally looking the part (thanks partially to my newfound relationship with sugar). A total stranger at Publix asked me when I was due. He has no idea how happy it made me to actually be recognized as pregnant and not just chubby! It was a good day. I'm measuring right on schedule and have my next ultrasound Monday. I cannot wait to see our little girl again! This picture is definitely outdated now, but thought I should share anyway!

20 weeks

She is kicking up a storm, but mostly at night. She's a night owl like her Mommy already and is going to be wildly disappointed when she realizes the rest of the world refuses to operate on our schedule. I spent an hour the other night just watching my stomach move with each kick while Husband slept soundly beside me. It was 3:00 a.m. when she finally settled down enough for me to sleep and I hadn't even realized how long I had been in awe of my moving belly.

This life evolving inside me brings new meaning to the word "family" and a new appreciation for the holidays. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season: a loving and constantly supportive family, wonderful friends, a husband who loves me even when I am crazy and inexplicably moody, and the future of our family growing inside me. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just a Flutter

As I sat on the couch last Tuesday night, adjusting to an empty house from a husband on the road, eating grilled cheese and an entire can of Chef Boyardee ravioli while singing along to Glee, an unfamiliar but welcome flutter in my stomach startled me.  I waited. And I felt it again. She kicked.

It is such a surreal realization to finally have contact with this little lady I've been growing for five months. She hears me now, knows the tone and rhythm of my voice, the calming reassurance of my hand on my stomach, and is apparently a Gleek in the making. She is only the length of a banana right now, but each day she grows stronger, gains coordination, develops into the person we will welcome into this world in March. Will those little legs be dancing like her Aunt Mallory or playing basketball like her Daddy? Or will she surprise us all?

I spend my days and nights talking to my daughter and wondering who she will be, knowing that I will love her no matter what. We all enter this world as a blank canvas. Shaped by genetics and surroundings, we somehow, some way, become individuals with our own ideals, our own goals, our own moral compass. It floors me to think of the girl she will be and the woman she will become and the life she will build for herself. Our job is to provide the right tools for her journey.

I may feel just a flutter, but that tiny tiny kick packs quite a punch.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tickled Pink...

Daughter. One simple word with so much weight. It has taken me a week to write this because it has taken me that long to process this. A baby girl. Until now, there was an unknown baby growing inside me. We alternated reference between him and her, spent nights in a whirl of both girl and boy names, and chose two options for nursery decor. We guessed the sex depending on my cravings and appetite and old wives' tales. Until now, this baby, though much loved, was such a mystery to us. And now, she is real. She is our daughter.

"It's a girl."

Those three short words brought tears to my eyes. I looked to my husband to see the same expression I saw the night I told him I was pregnant. The indescribable mix of joy, shock, and anxiety. We are parents. It seems like only yesterday that we met and now, six years later after nearly two years of marriage, our family has become three as we prepare to welcome our daughter into this world. Our daughter.

18 weeks... It's a GIRL!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Home Sweet Home

We did it! We have officially moved! Throughout college and after, I have moved countless times. Some with actual moving companies, others with Dad driving a giant rental truck and the rest of the family serving as our "movers." You'd think I would be an expert by now. This is not the case. Moving across town was quite an ordeal (even with a moving company). I have no clue why we have so much "stuff" and from where it all derived; and I have no clue how people move across the country (Melissa and Justin, I am unbelievably impressed). Thankfully, my parents were there to help us with moving, cleaning, and organizing. I don't think I thank them enough for how helpful they are in all areas of life. Especially now as I cannot carry anything and feel the need to rest after every 25 minutes of intense activity, rendering me basically useless on moving day. As I am closer and closer to joining the many ranks of parents who have come before me, I am grateful that I have such strong examples. I only hope I can compare to the parents I am blessed to have.


 The house has come a long way since we purchased it only three weeks ago. There were some pretty special paint colors and techniques used as well as some fabulous taste in carpet and an apparent DIY decking project gone awry. After repainting the entire house, ripping out carpet and replacing with hardwood, rebuilding the deck, and tiling the carpeted bathroom and "man" room, this house has slowly become ours. Give us a few more months of hanging artwork, changing light fixtures and adding furniture (nursery furniture to be more specific) and we will be ready for baby Ryan's arrival.

The Ryans are officially home.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Memories in Cardboard

In less than 36 hours movers will arrive to pack all of our earthly possessions into a giant truck which they will drive across town and unload into our first house as a married couple. This is the house to which we will bring baby Ryan home. The house in which he or she will take their first steps, utter their first words, fear their first monster under their bed. Christmas morning will be in this house. Every morning will be in the house.

So I carefully wrap the painting of an Abercrombie and Fitch perfume bottle that my sister painted for me for my high school graduation. She hates that I still hang it in my house. She cringes every time she sees it as years of classes and practice have blossomed her talent into that of a true artist. But when I see it, I see my baby sister painting it with my Aunt Debbie and my heart is full. I wrap my wedding photos that my parents carefully chose and had printed on canvas and framed. I smile as I am reminded of how many wonderful friends and family celebrated that day with us and how lucky I am to get to spend my life married to my best friend. I wrap my paintings by my Aunt Deb, some of my most prized possessions, remembering the occasion for which each one was painted. I pack my sewing machine, a gift from Nana and Big Daddy with which I will make baby clothes... and toddler clothes... and Halloween costumes... and anything else for years to come. I wrap beer steins from around the world, a small token of Grandma and Poppy's world travels. I glance at the folded highchair, the first purchase of ours for baby Ryan, and I see our future.

And as I pack box after box of seemingly meaningless possessions, I find their isn't enough bubble wrap to protect all of the memories I associate with all of them. My life is so very full. Full of beautiful people and beautiful memories and there are only more years of celebration and life to look forward to. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The 16th Week

Saturday was my 16 week mark. There is not a HUGE baby bump, but a bump nonetheless. I am definitely starting to feel more pregnant as the weeks progress. I noticed this as I was forced to take breaks every 15 minutes while packing last night. That's right! WE ARE MOVING SATURDAY!

So my 16 weeks pregnant self starting packing last night. Not being able to lift anything over 20 pounds makes packing a small feat. As I packed a box, I pretty much left it exactly where it was, creating a cardboard maze in my living room and kitchen. At least the cat is amused. Tonight, I take on the china cabinet. Thankfully, I have enlisted the help of Heather and anyone else who volunteers to assist. I pay in wine. 

This 16th week may challenge the control freak in me as I learn to sit back and watch others DO while I simply direct from the sidelines. The sidelines are not a place I prefer to be. Thank God for movers, family, and friends to help us get settled! But this time next week, I will be sitting in our new house, staring at the empty nursery, and counting down the days until we will know if baby Ryan is a girl or boy!

This life of ours is changing very quickly and I am loving every minute of it (even the packing).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Behold, the Belly Band

At 16 weeks pregnant tomorrow, my belly is growing to the point where it can no longer be mistaken for a large lunch or a beer binge.  I, of course, think I am huge because it is my body that I watch expand daily. But in reality, I’m not quite big enough for most maternity clothes yet. So, here I live, somewhere in the in between stage of pre-pregnancy clothes and maternity.
I feel as if I am the host of a late-night infomercial each time someone asks me how my clothes are fitting. I announce with excitement, “Oh, it’s the Belly Band!” and lift the bottom of my shirt to reveal the black spandex that allows me to get dressed for work each morning. (“Pants too tight? Tired of struggling with those buttons? Is getting dressed exhausting?! You need the Belly Band!”) It’s a simple spandex concoction designed to replace the need for buttoning or zipping pants or skirts. Truthfully, it is a glorious invention, falling only behind the wheel and light beer.  Why limit only to pregnancy? The makers of the Belly Band are truly missing a large target audience. They should set up booths outside of Krispy Kreme and Weight Watchers. (I plan to suggest this to the company.)
Of the maternity clothes I have deemed appropriate for my current state of limbo are the beautiful GAP maternity jeans! Combine the waistband of your most comfortable sweat pants with your favorite stretch jeans and you have maternity jeans: business below, party at the waist. Perfectly in time for the overeating of the holidays completely guilt-free.
I may never go back.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I hold this life...

Andrew and I got to see our baby for the first time last week. Have you ever seen a 13 week old fetus stretch its arms and legs? It is by far the coolest thing I have ever witnessed. As I am now nearly in my 15th week, I can't imagine the changes that have already occurred since then. To actually see this human form living, moving, growing inside my body was absolutely surreal. To watch my big, strong husband floored by the sight of his child was mesmerizing. This is life. I hold this life, literally, within me. How amazing is that? 
As I look in the mirror each morning and attempt to stretch my normal clothing over my ever increasing belly, I still find it hard to believe that in only a few months, we will be holding this child in our arms. This tiny child, currently the size of a softball, will grow inside the comfort of my womb until the day we welcome him or her into this beautiful world. What an amazing gift this life is. This is love.
13 weeks, 4 days

Monday, September 20, 2010

Until the Well Runs Dry

I have a beautiful life. I truly do. This life will take on an entriely new meaning in March. I will no longer be just a daughter and a wife. I will be a mother. With that title come so many hopes and fears and with those hopes and fears, an onset of emotion. I am and have always been my mother’s child. Along with the many wonderful traits of hers I carry, I wear my heart on my sleeve. While I have never been ashamed of this inability to hide my feelings, I was unprepared for the avalanche of emotions that would rush through me as I serve my term as a human incubator.
I have read in the many many pregnancy books in the stack beside my bed how hormones will send me into a whirlwind of emotions; and I will admit I have shut my office door a few times while crying over absolutely nothing, but I had not experienced the uncontrollable, loud, sobbing crying that leaves one gasping for air until last night. I sat on the bed, folding laundry and flipping through the movie channels. I came across one I had wanted to see for a while: Everybody’s Fine with Robert DeNiero and Drew Barrymore. It looked like it would be a funny, light-hearted story about a dad who travels the country visiting his four grown children. It is one of the most heartbreaking movies I have ever seen. Blame it on the hormones if you will, but I cried uncontrollably throughout the entire movie.
It begins with a recently widowed man preparing for his four children to come visit him for the weekend. One by one, they all cancel for one reason or another, so he decides (against his doctor’s orders) to go on a trip to surprise them all. He starts in NYC then to Chicago then to Denver then finally Las Vegas. None of them can take the time to visit with their sweet dad. The kid in NYC never even comes home. **Spoiler Alert** They have all lied to him about the details of their lives (the Chicago “conductor” is really only a drummer, his “happily married” daughter in Denver is separated from her husband after he had an affair, his dancer daughter in Vegas not only has an infant son he knew nothing about but also has a girlfriend, and we learn that the artist in NYC is in a Mexican prison on drug charges).  Heartbroken and exhausted, he flies home from Vegas only to have a heart attack on the plane and wake up with three of the four children by his side. When he asks about the missing son (the one in the Mexican prison) his children finally tell him the truth: he overdosed and died. Really? This movie should come with a warning label: Not Suitable for Hormonal Pregnant Women.
It left me hoping that our children are never too busy for us. It left me wondering when the last time was I told my parents how much I love them. It left me in utter disbelief that the world into which I am bringing this child could be so heartless. I much prefer the movies where life is beautifully and unrealistically uncomplicated. I choose that world.

Needless to say, I spent the greater part of last night clutching the dog and going through half a box of Kleenex. I then called my Dad to remind him just how much I love him, ate a giant cookie and watched Glee to clear the horror from my mind. Just typing this is making me tear up again. After this and last week's My Sister's Keeper incident, lesson learned! I will only be allowed to watch Disney movies from now until I’m guessing forever because I am an endless fountain of tears and I’m not really expecting that to go away any time soon.
Man, pregnancy sure is fun.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bull in a China Shop

Today, I googled “clumsiness during pregnancy” and was surprised (and slightly relieved) to find that it is normal to feel “scatter-brained” and clumsy beginning in the fourth month. As this is my first pregnancy and I am among the first of my friends to take this journey, everything is a mystery. Every new thing that I feel, see, think, smell makes me immediately wonder if it is a side effect or if I’m just going crazy.
This has been my impressive week so far: Monday, I locked myself out of my office. It took me 20 minutes to find someone with a key to let me back in. Tuesday, after losing my grasp and literally throwing my knife at a lunch meeting, I left my office keys at the table and only realized this after I had made my way back downstairs to my office. Yesterday, in an attempt to carry toilet paper, my cell phone, and a glass of milk upstairs, I somehow managed to spill milk all over myself and the stairs. Today, while trying to grab a metal ruler from a cabinet in my office, I dropped and then caught said ruler, stabbing myself with the metal corner in the process and drawing blood. In the past two weeks, I have broken 2 glasses and one bowl while emptying the dish washer. Hide your kids. Hide your wives. I am dangerous.
The early stages of pregnancy are definitely odd. To look at me, I look completely normal. If you look closely, it appears I have eaten a big lunch or maybe downed a 6 pack of Budweiser, but those who aren't staring at my slight "bump," I look like myself. You would think this was a blessing, but it turns out it’s a lot harder to explain your weird behavior without being accompanied by an obvious belly. I am sure I will eat these words in a few months, but I look forward to the starkness of a protrusion. At least then, when I inadvertently hurl my dinner fork at you, it will be painfully obvious why I have lost all sense of self control.
Still, at almost 13weeks pregnant, I lie awake some nights and wonder if it’s all really happening. Have we really been trusted to nurture and raise a human being? Do I actually have a child relying on me for life? All the strange side effects, and weird smells, and countless bathroom breaks aside, I am loving this baby so much already it hurts.