Monthly Archives: October 2012

39 weeks (really)

39 week bump

Wonder Woman pose

Week 39 and feelin’ fine. I made the point both OBs were slightly skeptical I would make and quite honestly have zero signs of labor. FW is settled down, my body is in the groove of pregnancy. This baby ain’t goin’ nowhere soon (well not for a few days until he is artificially ejected from his home.

39 week bump

39 weeks exactly

After some awesome responses, I am feeling much more chilled and much less anxious about birth. I have heard many, many successful induction stories (by which I mean no C-section). I am also less stressed about a C-section in general and only viewing it with the same apprehension I viewed having my wisdom teeth out with. Plus, turning the corner into the week FW will come has allowed me to focus on that and not the actual birth. Realistically, while the birth can be an awesome positive experience, it is just one day (or three apparently) in the kid’s life. And a day they won’t remember. So, now I am just looking forward to seeing what will happen and going with the flow.

Also, my relaxing was helped considerably by visiting two friends and their 2-week old daughter. While I don’t want to downplay their sleepless nights and adjustments, they were surprisingly… normal. Conversation was surprisingly… normal. Just with a baby there – who they were awesome at handling. I looked around and thought, ‘OK, I can do this. I can picture this life, it is all good’. I think I had heard too much about how simply terrible the first few weeks were, and had started to panic. Both parents were cheerful and engaging and the baby was awesome.

Also, Wes was awesome with the infant. He held her confidently and in a variety of positions, holding conversation and remaining unshaken when she cried. I am not *quite* at that stage. Ahem. In fact, I drove to their house thinking I would politely refuse to hold the girl using one of my usual excuses (‘I think I feel a cold coming on’), but decided that really… a week before my own infant was due… I should conquer this fear. I sat on the sofa and surrounded her with as much body as I could, stared at her nervously, intently and unrelentingly, and looked up with panic when she cried to the amusement of her utterly unphased parents. Yeah, I am sure I will get better at that when I have ‘my own’. 😉

Firework is doing well. We went for our very last ultrasound. He is so squished in there (although I do appreciate that he is less squished, due to all the fluid, than most, and thus I am way more comfortable than most women at this stage) it was hard to get a decent picture. We got one, and due to it being slightly creepy I would normally not share it, but it was kind of a special moment. Not only did I actually recognize his face for once, but when it popped up and I said ‘there, I can see his mouth’, he smiled. OK, babies don’t smile yet in the way we do (although that is now being challenged, as is the supposition that they don’t cry in utero) but he did form a smiley face, and it was awesome. I *finally* teared up a little bit at an ultrasound (Wes regularly plays ‘perfect dad’ and gets emotional, but I don’t think I have cried since 12 weeks when they thought they had lost the heartbeat).

FW passed his biophysical with flying colors. My fluid has INCREASED ever so slightly (good grief, up to a princely 26.5) but I have no beef with that – it’s all stations go soon so no point worrying (they put our induction back slightly due to a scheduling conflict).

39 week 4D scan

Smiley boy

For me? I feel absolutely great and can still often forget that I am pregnant. I still run… er waddle quickly… up the stairs. And although tonight I randomly developed an incredibly sore throat I am hoping it will pass ASAP. I realised I never updated the weight progress. 25 lbs, which I guess is about it. I feel neither good nor bad about this – it just is what it is. I am pretty comfortable, walking is fine, I have tonnes of energy. I will miss being pregnant but am not terrified of the postpartum wreck of a body since we saw aforementioned friends at the weekend, and the Mum looked amazingly well and healthy. I am going to miss people’s faces when they stop me in the supermarket / elevator / hallway and ask me when I am due, and I say ‘Baby is coming in 3 days’. Their look of shock is priceless, and I gotta admit, I love when they stutter something along the lines of ‘Wow, you look amazing’. 🙂 I have started to work from home for 1/2 of each day – the Dr recommended I get some rest (Wes all but insisted I get some rest) and it has been nice to transition to that slowly.

Wes is doing well – he is excited to meet FW and get start a new kind of life together. I loved that he went to get himself some T-shirts today and came back with a pack of baby socks because he ‘couldn’t resist’. I love that he is excited.

Parents and godparent are on standby for a call with news and info. And we have the final thing in place before FW was allowed to come: my Ma hand-knitted the most amazing shawl ever. It arrived yesterday (but we didn’t pick it up until today) and is absolutely beautiful. My Godmother knitted me something similar when I was first born and I not only still have it, but absolutely treasured it my whole life. I know FW will love his just as much.

hand knitted shawl

Amazing shawl from my Ma

This might be my last pregnancy post 🙂 See you on the other side.

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New Toy-box and a Final Nursery Tour

Homemade toybox

Toy-box

I have been crafting again – I should do more of this as I really enjoy it. I tend to shy away from craft projects due to lack of inspiration, and a general lack of talent (my Mum used to be an artist – how these genes bypassed me, I’ll never know), but my husband and I agreed that I enjoy it so much, it is worth it anyway. I am going to read some craft / home decor magazines, and I also have found a friend here who is going to teach me to crochet something other than long ‘worms’ which will expand my current ‘painting boxes’ and ‘cake pop’ craft repertoire 😉

Crochet stitch

After many failed internet tutorials, this is the most I can do with crochet. A worm. A pink / brown / blue / yellow worm, if you like. But still, a worm.

So… poor Firework will either be a craft-lover, or a child terribly embarrassed at his mother’s homemade, hokey decorations. Quite frankly, I am OK with either 😉

I wanted a toy-box for FW, but ones I liked were all pretty expensive. I had the idea of using an old apple crate to go well with the tree mural in the nursery… but actually finding apple crates, without paying hundreds of $$s for postage was not easy either. Then a quick trip to Hobby Lobby, and 10 princely dollars later, I emerged with a fake, plywood apple crate. Sweet. Some $5 plywood decorations later (including the name letters – hence the blank square) and I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. At least, pleased for $15. He can totally change it up when he is old enough to care.

I also made another ‘letter box’ – just for funsies.

So, unless the hospital puts us back due to being excessively busy, just 4 days to go. Final bits done to the nursery… all the light switches which were really old and discolored have been replaced with shiny new ones, covers have been put on the sockets (not that we need that yet, but hubby was being proactive) and the last things are in place. We have a changing table:

Changing table in nursery

A bed (it is still the spare room for when guests come, and then FW will stay in the pack ‘n’ play in our room – where he might start anyway) / nursing / play / crib area:

Gender neutral grey Nursery

Creepy uber-cam the husband wanted, which scans the entire room (you have been warned, future guests 😉 ):

Web cam for baby

And a closet full of baby clothes for 3 – 24 months – a sight that makes me smile every time I see it:

Baby clothes in wardrobe

See our bumbo? It’s a must have!

If you have sent us something lovely and cannot see it hanging up, this is because it is for 3 months or under, and is in the changing table ready to be worn! It all seems quite real, and very exciting now.

39 weeks (nearly) and preparing for birth

37 week bump

37 weeks 2 days

Well, hello 39 weeks. And now we have a date, I know I really am in the home stretch. Firstly a big, big thank you to everyone’s support after my last pregnancy update, given in the comments or on Facebook. When I wrote 2 weeks ago, I was very sad about not being pregnant for much longer. Many people were kind enough to write and say ‘I felt the same’ and even – ‘now I am a Mommy I STILL feel the same!’. Everyone adored their babies, but it looks like I would not be the only person to choose the baby and the belly if I could.

37 week bump

37 weeks 2 days

Hearing ‘you are normal’ or ‘your feelings are valid’ made a huge difference. Yes, I remain sad that I have – maximum – 5 more days left to be pregnant (more on that later). But I am much more cheerful knowing that feeling like that is fairly common, and a wonderful life ahead still awaits. I haven’t really addressed the issue further, except in one small way. Mostly, I just chose to be comforted by so many people’s kind words, but I have done a little positive visualization / positive list making about what I am looking forward to about the baby coming. Both have perked me up considerably.

38 week bump

38 weeks 5 days

The other thing I have done, is address my mental issues with the birth a little. I had hoped for a natural childbirth. I was going to fight to go over 42 weeks, if necessary. I wanted to go into labor naturally, to labor naturally, and to birth naturally, if possible. The reason why is not so important (come on, this is the girl who chose Tough Mudder – I like a challenge 😉 ), but do know that I recognize natural childbirth as my personal choice – as much for my benefit as the baby’s. Very much ‘each to their own’ and this was my chosen own. However, it looks like things will not go that way. The polydramnios situation is not getting better 😦

38 week bump

38 weeks 6 days. Trying to make it stick out more!

What does this mean? Well, my fluid levels at 25-30 weeks were in the 95th-98th percentile, generally 25-28, but mostly around 25. Average AFI (amniotic fluid index) is 10-14 (dependent on week), and cut-offs for ‘high-risk’can be 20, they can be 25, depending on the country, hospital, person etc. So, I was just on that borderline or just at ‘worrying’ – as Dr Dildy, the high-risk OB put it “You’re not off the charts… you’re just not on a very good position on the charts”. Dr. Dildy said some places would not consider me high-risk, if their cut-off was 25, but Baylor (where he practices) is a little more conservative so does. However, more in a ‘needs to be monitored’ way than a ‘holy crap’ way. So.. they did just that. Monitored me and watched the baby closely with weekly biophysical profiles and all looked pretty good. Plus, we scored cute face pics from our very friendly sonographer. Those who know me well, how much to do recognize the expression below? What Clio calls my locking horns, digging hooves in expression.

37 week 4D scan

Ha! He may look like his father, but he has his Mum’s obstinate expression down to a tee! (37 weeks).

The problem came later on. Usually people’s fluid decreases, starting at around 30 weeks, going from an average of 14 to about 8-9 at 37 weeks. Mine did not decrease at all, it stayed stubbornly at 25. So, as the bell-shaped curve shifted more and more the the left, but my position stayed the same, I was more and more of an outlier. So, technically, I became more and more high-risk. I chatted to no less than 3 OBs (the one I didn’t like, Dr. Dildy who I really do like, and my OB whom I love). I did proper research (i.e. hit up PubMed and read real research papers, not just Google). And I ended up agreeing, of my own volition, that going past 40 weeks was associated with significantly higher risk. Significantly. My OB was actually happy to wait right up until 40 (some would have pushed for an induction at 38-39), so it seemed a good situation, because I felt she was trying to accommodate me and the baby and not just ‘get things done’. Induction is booked for 39 weeks and 5 days from today.

I am still scared of a cord prolapse. Because of all the fluid, the baby doesn’t want to fully settle deep into the pelvis, head down – there is a little gap between his head and the.. er… exit. When my water does break there is likely to be a lot of force to it, both because there is nearly 3 times the usual amount, and because it is under a lot of pressure (think of an overfilled balloon). So, it could force the cord out before the baby, the baby’s head would fall down into it, and the baby’s oxygen would be cut off. In hospital, this would just mean an instant and emergency C-section. If it is before hospital… well… we hope I get there pretty quick. The chances are just under 10% statistically (they are under 1% of you have a normal amount of fluid) so non trivial. But, hence, we hope that I won’t go into labor before the induction, and if I do, at the first sign of labor, rather that waiting at home until I am in ‘active labor’ I am to go straight to hospital. I am as at peace with this plan as I can be.

38 week scan 4D

Sleeping peacefully at 38 weeks. This baby is photographed more than Suri Cruise 😉

So, in a nutshell, I have had to prepare for a different kind of birth. That’s OK, but I am someone who likes to be in control of what is happening to my body, and my baby, and generally my life. I am rarely good at handing over large aspects of my life to others and saying ‘OK, do what you will, I will go with the flow’. It tends to leave me in a cold sweat. If I have ever said to you ‘sure, I’ll come over and you can decide what we do / what we eat’ you know I like and trust you a lot 😉 So, I have been preparing (for preparing is calming) for other plans.

I have tried to strengthen my uterus to be good at labor, in a situation where it may not be ideally ready: evening primrose oil, raspberry leaf capsules, dates. I have tried to help the baby prepare my uterus / get into a good position when HE may not be fully ready: bouncing on a birthing ball, squatting 20 mins a day, walking. I have been rehearsing birthing techniques for withstanding an epidural because pitocin may lead to a more painful labor than a natural labor (pitocin contractions MAY be stronger and harder, and pitocin, unlike its natural form oxytocin, does not cross the blood-brain barrier and give pain relief).

I am also preparing to be accepting of an epidural: the hard part of labor may be longer and if I need more strength, an epidural may help me conserve my strength. I am preparing not to resist the epidural just to be bloody minded – mainly I just want to resist it to the point where it will not slow down labor. And, I am preparing to accept a C-section with grace (the risk is doubled with an induction), and not feel disappointed, or like I failed, or miserable about it. Just to be grateful that it is an option in this day and age!

Oh, and I am packing my hospital bags! I finally did it last week. For me, 2 bags. One for labor containing snacks, gatorade (YUCK), hairbands, warm socks, snacks, my birth plan, protein shots (old habits die hard), a bikini. Snacks…

All encased in my new diaper bag:

And then for ‘postpartum’, hair & make-up stuff (WHAT? My Mum allowed no cameras into the room until her hair and make-up were done! Seriously!), pads, comfy clothes, reading materials, chargers (phone and iPad) and nipple cream / pads (snigger):

A ‘going home outfit for me (YES I AM GOING TO WEAR HEELS IF IT ISN’T A C-SECTION DAMMIT):

And best, best, best of all. For Firework, a ‘first day’ outfit (a little tiger one) and his going home outfit (Alabama T-shirt and shorts like his Daddy wears) + a random onesie ‘just in case’.

All ensconced in an old gym bag. We also have a much coveted and finally obtained Aden + Anais swaddle blanket, a nursing pillow (coz I just love my boppy) and a going home blanket with little racoons on, given to me by my mentor at work. Of course, these bags are packed for a dash to hospital and a regular birth. If we have an induction, we go in at 8 pm for a special gel, stay overnight, start pitocin at 7 am and keep it going for as long as I and the baby can take without distress (which could be 36 hours, but is likely less). So.. then I won’t have two separate bags. We’ll be less birth focused and more focused on just entertaining ourselves in hospital. If it gets to the day we’ll throw in some puzzle books and more entertainment.

Pretty exciting really.

How this right-wing Christian Tory girl ended up supporting Obama

… Or [alternative title]:

“I am sorry I was an ass-hat for the last 6 months”.

But it takes me a while to get to that part in this post. Patience if you will, please.

So, back in good old Blighty, I was actually noticeably right-wing. I was a Young Conservative. I dated a former Young Conservative. I was devastated when he broke my tax-reducing, spending-cutting heart. I cried when “New Labour” got in. I rejoiced when they were out (although not at the coalition replacement). I… OK, OK, you get the picture. So, it seemed clear to me that when I moved to the US, although I liked Obama as a person, I would support the Tory-party allies: The Republicans.  Right? Right?

No. I don’t so much hate them, as actively fear Romney becoming President. I cry at the thought of it. That’s one helluva turnaround in less than three years. So, I began to ask myself: why? How the heck did this happen? How did it happen living in Alabama (although, living in Alabama was probably causal, but that’s not the point of this post). While vaguely pondering it, I did notice other people making the same switch. Fellow displaced Brits looking confused and perplexed and going “hang on, when did I become a leftie?”. Indeed even the Tory party in the UK is struggling to love the Republicans: Cameron is trying to repair relations with his ‘sister’ party, but keeps making clear statements against Romney-Ryan.

How did this happen? I was genuinely curious. After much thinking and mulling and chatting and yelling and crying, I believe it came down to this: in the UK a lot of the ‘social’ policies are pretty done – yeah we tweak them, yeah there are groups asking for more, yes there is inequality It’s no wonderland). But it not on the same scale as the US. The decision, when voting, comes largely down to economics. Even ‘social’ policies: education, welfare etc are largely discussed in purely economic terms. I tend to be right wing economically (a fiscal conservative?), and so to vote right was an easy decision.

In the US many, many mainstream (by which I mean large) groups are fighting for basic civil rights, which I believe should be extended to them: I am socially liberal. So, with my broad sense economic views not changing, I had to choose: Right vs Left: Economics vs. Society. I chose civil rights. Here is why:

I looked at the economy, and the economic policies offered by the two candidates. I do buy the argument that Obama maybe could have done better economically. I don’t know this, I am sort of 55% on that side, 45% on the side that he couldn’t. I don’t know if Romney would do better, because he won’t lay out a damn plan, nor stick to a stated policy. (I did go and read his 8-page plan on his website. About 3 pages was criticizing Obama, about 3 were saying right wing in general is wonderful. ~2 concerned his actual plan, which was vague and non-specific).

Romney changes all the time, many people say Obama could have done better. So, while I may not be confident handing the economy over to Romney, I am not confident handing it over to Obama either. Kind of a dead heat. My history is to think of more fiscally conservative policies as better in times of strife, so I might actually just tip in favor of the Republican party. But. And it is a big but:

If Obama could have done better (and we don’t know that he could have), I don’t think it is significantly better. That is: the world is in a huge economic recession. The Western world is collapsing under financial distress. I doubt anyone could have done more than Obama, such that enough people’s lives were hugely significantly changed. We don’t know if traditionally left- or right- wing policies really work better. Historians and top economists argue about it. But it does seem pretty clear to me that no one in the current world situation could have made a giant leap of difference to the lives of most every day Americans (sure… ‘tell that to someone unemployed’ you say… but I am talking here on a grand scale). Sadly we do vote for ourselves, and our friends, and our situation and looking around, on an economic level I don’t see anyone changing the lives and happiness of those Americans I see by ‘fixing the economy’ on such a scale that it out-weighs the difference social change could make.

This point was first brought home to me when I was hiking with a girl (let’s call her Hot-Stuff A) living in Colorado. She was given great job offers at my Alabama institution and I said to her “Come on, you have to be tempted to take one up, right?”. She looked at me and said: “I can’t. I simply can’t. I am married to a woman, and she would have no rights. No protection.” I was floored, because I suddenly realized it was true. Hot-Stuff A is indeed married to Hot-Stuff B. If they moved to Alabama, both could legally be fired for being gay. Unlikely, but LIKELY s that Hot-stuff B could be denied healthcare, because Healthcare policies are allowed to only be extended to spouses ‘as recognized by the state of X’. Alabama does not recognize gay marriage. So Hot-Stuff B could, and would, be denied it. Furthermore if either got sick, their life long partner could be denied hospital visitation rights: because they are not recognized as family. Their wills could not be recognized, or legally contested by family, because in the eyes of Alabama these girls are not married, and so not family.

That’s bad. That causes actually misery and pain. Britain may wrangle about whether gay people are ‘married’ or in a ‘civil partnership’ but they do not wrangle over basic civil rights. I was horrified, horrified, that two law-abiding people were prisoners in their own state, because they happen to love someone of the same sex.

It was, really shocking to me. And I think it was the turning point. I opened my eyes to the media portraying real, and horrendous stories of people in these situations and saw the misery it caused.

Then I met a girl, a single-Mom at my new job. She works hard. She is what the rightest-of right would call a maker, not a taker. Her 13 year old girl has a genetic condition. The 13 year old (not that it should matter) is a very smart, very functioning girl – I think I last saw her reading an adult book. A very smart, very functioning, very happy and productive 13 year old, who happens to have expensive physical needs. That’s crummy enough, but the Mum was offered another job, and couldn’t take it, because the insurance offered with the job did not cover pre-existing conditions.

So… she could not advance her career, she could not make more money (be more of a ‘maker’), because she could not guarantee her daughter adequate healthcare (she would earn too much for Medicaid in that State). As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Mum told me that she had sat down and worked out that the daughter would exceed her lifetime maximum by the time she was 17. What is this lifetime maximum of which you speak? I hear you Brits say. Oh… well, that is the maximum U.T.’s health insurance will pay out, over a lifetime, for any one person. I.e. at 17 this girl will have no medical coverage. No guarantee of such. I can’t even imagine what it is like to be facing that, at her mother.

Another case: when signing up for health benefits I met a lady from CA who had moved because her cancer treatment exceeded the cost her insurance company would pay. U.T. did accept pre-existing conditions, so she moved here to get it covered. Let me spell it out: the woman had breast cancer. She was afraid of dying. She had to move across the country, away from her friends and family, support and medical doctors to be able to afford treatment.

I looked around and really saw that some social change could make a whole lot of difference to people’s lives. I may not think ObamaCare is the best solution. But it is, at least, a solution. ‘Repeal and Replace’ with some unclear (and frankly untrustworthy) hazy guidelines is not a solution. ObamaCare will at least improve the lives of these individuals. Immeasurably. More than I think an upswing in the economy – or at least, more than I think an upswing in the economy attributable to just one person / one party – could do.

I don’t have time to write about all the cases I have met / discovered. People unable to get safe abortions (do I ‘agree’ with abortion? No. Would I ever deny anyone their right to follow their own ethical code and chose? No.). Kids committing suicide because many politicians in the US want to send out the message ‘being gay is wrong’ (according to who? YOUR God? That is not MY God? What if I don’t believe in God?). Ryan who signed a bill trying to make IVF and IUDs illegal. Endless examples of people’s lives getting worse that Obama would make better.

And lest you think I support Obama because I am a do-gooder only looking out for others, let me assure you, this is not the case. Because then, then, it got personal.

First I went to get birth control for my impending marriage. My insurance company didn’t cover the IUS / IUD (‘tiz abortion, doncha know. Sigh.). I couldn’t afford it. Instead, I got a prescription for valium and some hormones that sent me insane. I gave up on those (it was either that or give up on my marriage… which nearly happened as I went so loopy) and failed to find an affordable solution. By January I was still saving up for the cost of an IUD. By February I was pregnant. Nuff said.

I moved to Texas in June. 4 months pregnant. Not sure why, but I suffered pre-term labor. Sadly, Texas doesn’t cover individuals healthcare when they first move. I had only a ‘help hotline’ to call. I spent many night in tears, scared I was losing my baby, until my coverage kicked in. It worked out well, but for the first time I was forced to face the consequence of putting healthcare in the hands of money-makers with minimal regulations: the loss of people’s children.

Then I was denied maternity leave. FMLA doesn’t kick in as I have not been at U.T. long enough, and anyway, I am the only earner. I can’t go unpaid for 3 months. Luckily, I have a very flexible job, which I can do from home, and very kind and understanding mentors and bosses. We have figured it out. But there was no guarantee of that. The suggestion of healthcare companies I called trying to find short term insurance coverage for pregnancy (which is, of course, a pre-existing condition)? “Don’t change jobs”. Ah, so stay at a lower status, lower paid job and lose the opportunity to do well (academic jobs are scarce) because I am a woman? I see.

Oh, and I find out that C-sections are considered by some insurance companies to be a pre-existing condition. So, should I have one, I may have to make the decision: change jobs and not have children (because their birth would not be covered, and I am not sure I’ll ever have a spare $30,000 lying around), or stay where I am and have the possibility of more children. So, essentially: my career will be held back, because I am a woman. Because – I don’t see men having to make this choice… I suppose they may have to make it on their wife’s behalf. But, overall, I still see this as a woman’s rights issue.

I also have written about this before. I am sick of being told how to live out my religion. Yes, I am Christian. Yes, in my eyes I am a practicing Christian. But no, in my eyes, this does not mean gay marriage should be illegal (if Christians are harping on about the term ‘marriage’ know it was around before the Bible. So just get another term. Let gay people be married, and straight Christians be ‘Bible-married’ or whatever, just don’t base rights on that). I am used to being in a country where I am able to choose how I live my religion (no, I won’t have an abortion, yes, I will attend a gay friend’s wedding) and not told that my interpretation is wrong. I have never lost so much religious freedom as a Christian as when I came to the US.

So, I guess I looked at the options. And, no, I don’t think Obama is perfect. No, I don’t think he has done the perfect job. Nor necessarily the very best. But he has done something, and he will reach in and improve the lives of many – far more than Romney will. Romney will not make changes that affect so many people’s lives this profoundly – is my belief.

So why do I write all this? Well, thinking it through made me realize two things, that made me happier.

(1) I don’t have to hate all Republican supporters.

This is my “sorry I was an ass-hat for 6 months” moment.

I always realized that there were many Democrats I did not agree with, and did not respect. But, I found it hard to see the flip side with Republican-supporters. That there are some I realy can respect and love. There are still many Republican supporters I do not agree with, and pray hard not to judge (no… I really do). But there are also many who would like to see the problems above ‘fixed’, they just don’t have the ‘at any cost’ stance that I do. Or, they don’t think Obama can fix them. Or they think Romney can. Or they just prioritize differently.

I  fully admit there are many worthy and good causes I just don’t feel passionately enough to be swayed by: saving the environment is one of them. It is not a good thing, but it is true. I try to recycle, I try to minimize waste, I am happy to do my part. But I am not going to seriously put myself out, and  don’t really care about it (sorry 😦 ). It is what it is. People can have different priorities and can be just as compassionate. Who is to say which priorities are ‘right’ or ‘more worthy’. Not me guv’nor.

So, thinking through calmly and logically helped me remove my animosity to some people I dearly love. And I am sorry if I seemed mean or judgmental of you before – truly. That is indeed not how I live out my faith.

(2) It helped me navigate the insane media circus that is the US at election time.

Seriously Brits, think of the mud-slinging we do to our celebs. The US is actually nicer to its celebs than we are, but seems to treat its politicians as we treat Jordan. The US media at election time is an ugly, ugly place. And I used to read all the left media and get so outraged and angry at the right. Furious. Upset to tears. Almost beyond reconciling. The right does it too… and then I would get mad at how misrepresented the left was.

Then, I realised that 1/2 of what the media was up in a furor about, I didn’t care about. Do I care that Tagg Romney said he wanted to punch Obama? No. Looking above, that has nothing to do with why I support Obama.

Do I care that Mitt Romney said the humorous comment that he was brought “binders full of women”? No. He mispoke, but it was a debate and I don’t think the hysterical interpretation was what was in his heart. But I do care that when asked the question of what he would do to help women’s equality, he basically said “I’ll create more jobs in general and women can then have access to them” because that does not even touch on what bothers me so much about women’s rights (or lack of) as laid out above.

So, that is how I became an Obama supporter. But that is also how thinking through why that happened helped me be a little happier.

Oh, and to all those who want to say ‘If America is so tough for you: GO HOME’ I do understand your viewpoint. And I don’t mean to whale on America. There are a lot of great things here, and this country has been good to me. And, much as I appreciate a lot about this country, I would like to go home, very much. Indeed, I got married under the supposition that that would likely happen. But my husband examined it some more, and if I did go, I could have to choose between him and my country, and I couldn’t legally take my child. So, while I may have annoyed you, please have some sympathy too. I am not sure I wouldn’t live my life a little differently if I had known this is how it would end up.

On a more positive note, here is the top Google image for the search ‘cutest kitten ever”:


Image credits

http://egbertowillies.com/2012/10/10/jon-stewart-deconstructs-mitt-romneys-promisesliesjournalists-no-longer-serve-their-purpose-video/

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/05/11/stephen-colbert-slams-anti-gay-christians/
http://cutestkittenever.tumblr.com/ <— check this website out.

37 weeks & mixed emotions

37 week bump

37 weeks

37 weeks! Full term 🙂 You think I’d be leaping up and down but for the first time… things have seemed a little hard.

Let’s focus on the positive: I still feel, physically, great. I sleep very well, can still focus at work, have no back discomfort (thank you chiropractor), no heartburn, and still actually forget I am pregnant, periodically. Seriously, TMI moment, but when I go to the bathroom, I sometimes expect my belly to have gone down when I leave… I just don’t feel much ‘different’. I don’t feel ‘pregnant’ as I expected to. I just feel great.

Mentally, this week has been a little harder. I love being pregnant, I love the energy, I love how I look, I love how I feel. I love how things are between Wes & I: we have this neatly settled life that runs so smoothly. We’re both happy and healthy and liking Houston, it makes us gentler on each other and ourselves. We’re getting to know each other better than before, and acting as a real partnership. Not two people doing their own thing towards a shared goal, but actively building something together. We have a routine that works so well (well, it does for me, but I am not the one doing all the housework 😉 ). And generally: life is good. It makes my heart sing.

I think that it is then only natural that in a way, I don’t want to upset all this. Let’s face it: when you love your pregnant body, a post partum body is not exactly something to look forward to. Clearly our life is going to become vastly different and I worry about what it will be like. I worry that Wes isn’t looking forward to being a 3-person family, that he isn’t looking forward to that in and of itself. I do also worry about not loving my kid… or not loving being a mother. I start think ‘holy moly, what have I (we) done?’. This intruder is going to be in our house and in our lives and basically all the pieces are going to be knocked down and who knows where they will land, and how we will pick them up, and what we will rebuild with them? I guess I am scared of what I have to lose, without knowing exactly what I will gain. It gives me a lot of respect for people who keep unplanned children, because at the end of the day, I keep telling myself ‘well, this is what you wanted, Lekki, one time you wanted this so desperately…’.

37 week bump

Love my bump – can’t believe it will be gone in 2.5 weeks!

I think this is partly motivated by the post grant-submission slump. I have written about the grant process before, and shared that while one would hope that when it finally goes in, when all those 2 am nights pay off (or 8 pm + some weekends if you are pregnant) one would hope you throw all your redundant drafts in the air, whoop with joy and run screaming to the pub. In reality you are far too tired, and far too behind on the rest of your work (and if you are like me, far too panicked about actually hitting ‘send’ when you *know* there are more typos). So, I don’t think I have ever felt good after submitting a grant… rather I have felt drained and panicked. And worried about having not been productive enough while I was writing it. And usually quite despondent at my chances of getting funded. Bleurgh. It’s just stressful and I get easily over wrought at the end.

The other stresses hit (e.g. finances… changing over our bank accounts to a local Texas bank has been so difficult! My paypal account got disconnected, which meant we couldn’t get money to the UK… which lead to a whole new load of stress because people treat you like you are a 47%er [sorry Romney fans, couldn’t resist 😉 ] ducking out of your responsibilities, not just someone doing their damned best in a difficult situation). And ugh. I think this is why I slept from 11.30pm on Saturday night – 9 am on Sunday. Then 10.30 am – 12.30 on Sunday. Then 12.45 – 3 on Sunday. Heh heh heh. And trust me it was an effort not to have another little nap at 5.

Welcome to my pity party y’all.

But. But. I am glad I have my faith, because I do try to trust that it will all be OK in the end. I do look back at my life, and see how I have got out of bad spots before and continued to love life, and love where I have ended up. I tell myself all the usual platitudes about how mothers do love their children, and they do adapt, and most choose to do it all again, and really, I do believe that having children can be the most wonderful thing (if it is what you want). And, I tell myself that those evil hormones are playing tricks on me. I spend my prayers in a different way at the moment: Instead of worrying and asking God for help and praying for forgiveness, I am focusing on Thanking God and basking in His love, and sending Him my gratitude and my love – it’s certainly a bit more positive 🙂

I do also recognize the fantastic support network I have – friends, Wes (who is consistently amazing at doing everything to make everything outside of work and pregnancy minimally stressful) and family. Just today a friend Skyped me and gave me words of encouragement about the inspirational power I have that brightened my day. From there: it is an upward spiral. Once I see people believing in me, I start to believe in myself, and my body, and my mind, and my work. It’s all good.

So, I don’t want people to think that I am miserable, or rocking in a corner crying to myself. I just wanted to acknowledge that sometimes things are hard, and not always as straightforward as one would hope, and write about it honestly. But also write that things are pretty darn good too.

And, when things all get a bit shaky, I can look at the latest pictures of those gorgeous chubby cheeks and remind myself just how excited and lucky that I am:

37 week 4D scan

He looks like he is smiling

Best Baby Shower Ever

Baby shower

So, I fully expected not to have a baby shower and chalked it up to the decision to move while 4 months pregnant. I don’t really know too many people here and it just didn’t seem possible. Wes was having none of that – he said that I had to have a baby shower, and he would organize it himself if so required. And he did. He emailed some of my friends at work, and asked if they could book a room and suchlike, and he would set up a baby shower. Then the girls took over 😉

Apparently, Wes was never called on again, and they did EVERYTHING. Camille promised me a ‘real American baby shower’ and that is just what I got. The whole foyer of the 4th floor was decorated, and there was a tonne of delicious food:

Alanna’s cake pops were so good.

Camille even made a special punch:

Ginger, white grape and raspberry punch

There was a diaper cake:

Diaper cake

Coolest idea ever

And a special real cake:

Baby Shower cake

‘Special’ because it was half vanilla:

And half chocolate (both sides equally delicious by the way):

Me giggling at seeing the chocolate side

We sat around chatting, eating and drinking and it was nice to get a chance to mingle with people. Next, we played games (including an A-Z baby alphabet and word scramble of baby words) and then it was gift time:

Opening presents

I got so many presents, it was ridiculous. I felt utterly spoiled and learned an important lesson: there is no such thing as a bad baby-gift! When buying shower gifts for others in the past, I have always been nervous: should I go useful or cute? On list or off list? What if they don’t like what I choose? I can say, without a doubt, I loved absolutely everything I got. If it was on the list, it was needed and so a huge relief to get it. If it was off the list, it was a surprise and I adored it. If it was off-list it was often also something super useful I had forgotten that I would need, like baby bath products and BOOKS (how could I forget books??). And photo frames: I so need some of those, but would never have thought to ask.

I also take back my comment that UK baby clothes are way cuter than US ones: by venturing outside Ross’ Dress For Less (something I REALLY wish that I had done now) people got the most awesome items:

A cowboy outfit

Wait for the back…

Heh heh heh

Raccoon feet – came with a matching blanket, which I will bring FW home in 🙂

And I got a present from the Human Genetics Center:

Clothes, baby wash, wipes and bath squirters

I am kind of glad had a late baby shower as well. Superficially, I love being so big in all my photos: the bump is huge! More importantly: it really perked me up in the final few weeks which are difficult for me emotionally in some ways (battling impatience and yes sadness at not being pregnant soon, and fighting my induction / C-section fears). The ‘unknown’ is truly about to be on Wes & I and both of us are nervous. I am torn between wanting to start the ‘new phase’ (definitely Wes’ stance at the moment) and loving being pregnant, hating change, and just wanting to stay like this. All this talk of induction has made it harder because now I am not even looking forward to labor / birth… something I am working on.

So, this cheered me up immensely, and got me focusing on positive things. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I spent the whole time with a HUGE cheesy grin. I am touched how much effort Wes would go to (contacting strangers) and I couldn’t believe how much fun it was, and how much effort everyone had gone to, and with such grace! I don’t think I can ever repay them, but it is a day I will treasure forever.

Lekki Frazier-Wood

Ridiculous and cheesy grin I wore the whole party, and the whole way home

It’s Fall, y’all.

Not Autumn, but Fall, because this is the American way of doing the season (and man, do the Yanks get it right on this one). LOVE fall in the US. In the UK there is some nostalgia for conkers, and of course, Firework’s namesake Guy Fawke’s night. There is the odd toffee apple and the thought of walks in the woods as the leaves fall. But realistically: there are 3-4 months of dismal grey weather, the damp cold that chills you and ever shorter days. Plus no prospect of a bank holiday.

In America: not so. They go crazy for Fall, celebrating Thanksgiving and Halloween in big fashion.

Shops look like this:

Food looks like this:

Candy corn M&Ms

Candy corn M&Ms

or this:

Halloween Oreo

Drinks look like this:

Pumpkin spice latte

My baking looks somewhat more like this:

Jack O’ Lantern cake

And pets gotta look like this:

Dog in Halloween sweater

Walter’s ready for Fall y’all

LOVE Fall in the US 🙂