Friday, March 28, 2014

Dear Baby Boy... 34 Weeks

Dear Baby Boy,

Oh my goodness darling, just six weeks left until your official due date, can you believe it?! It seems like just yesterday I was writing that little note to you on my way home from work. It was the first of my "Dear Baby" letters and I'm so glad that I decided to continue with them! I just hope that one day you'll get a kick out of looking back on this journey.

You and I spent last weekend in Leavenworth for Alissa's bachelorette party, which was fun but awfully tiring. This weekend Daddy is on his way to Las Vegas for the bachelor party with Matt, and I warned him not to spend all your college tuition on drugs and hookers (in which case you'll end up getting raised by a single mother). I'm pretty jealous that he's going to get some sun this weekend... the weather has been so drab and dreary lately. But I'm hanging in there, with the bright star of your arrival peeking at me from the horizon.

This week you are the size of a cantaloupe (clocking in at five pounds and as tall as 20 inches) and your fat layers are really filling out, making you rounder and more pinch-able. Your central nervous system and lungs are continuing to mature, and the vernix (white coating protecting your skin) is getting thicker. Your tiny fingernails have reached the tips of your fingers, getting ready for that first manicure. I promise not to use polish. Oh, and your testicles descend this week!

You listen to our conversations now, and from what I've read you enjoy music and lullabies. You'll learn soon enough that your mother is completely tone deaf, which is why I don't sing to you, but daddy plays you music from his iPod almost every night, and occasionally we get to listen to him practice on his guitar. Do you like that as much as I do?

A lot of people I know have had their babies several weeks early lately, and it's made me extremely nervous about preterm labor. However, I read today that babies born between 34 and 37 weeks who have no other health problems generally do fine, so that made me feel better. However, go ahead and stay put for a few more weeks just to stay on the safe side, okay?

I've definitely hit that part of the third trimester where I'm pretty much over being pregnant, even though we still have a lot to accomplish before you're born. My fatigue levels are at an all-time high, and I'm experiencing almost comical swelling in my hands, feet and ankles. Daddy has taken to calling me a Hobbit. I limp because my feet are so swollen and painful, and this week I started acupuncture to try and help things. My acupuncturist is focusing on increasing my kidney function so I won't retain so much fluid... I hope I see results soon!

I know I need to slow down and save my energy for labor day, but it's hard with a lot of things going on at work and other obligations pulling me in lots of different directions. However, Daddy and I finished up our six week Childbirth Preparation Series of classes last week, so that at least frees up one night a week for us. I'm sure we'll find ways to fill the time...

This weekend while Daddy is out of town I plan on resting and doing lots of nesting activities, which I'm really looking forward to. Maybe we'll even get a hot fudge sundae as a treat (don't tell!)

Love Always,


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Live & Learn -- Durian Fruit

Every week, The Bump emails me to let me know how big my baby is compared to various fruits and vegetables. For about the last month, that particular web site has been saying Baby Boy is the size of a squash every single week (squash obviously comes in an incredible array of shapes and sizes = not helpful at all). So I was excited to see something new pop up last week...
"Baby's now the size of a durian fruit!"
Durian fruit? What the heck is a durian fruit??
Oh, Wikipedia, what in the world did I do before you existed?
The durian is distinctive for its large size, strong odor, and formidable thorn-covered husk. (Dear lord, is that what's going to come out of my vagina?!?) The fruit can grow as large as 12 inches long and 6 inches in diameter, and typically weighs 2 to 7 pounds. Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the color of the husk is green to brown, and its flesh is pale yellow to red depending on the species. It is regarded by many people in southeast Asia as the "king of fruits."
Image via.
I think this stuff sounds nasty!
"The edible flesh emits a distinctive odor that is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance; others find the aroma overpowering and revolting. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage. The persistence of its odor has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia."
I think I'll pass.
And frankly I'm a little offended that The Bump would compare my tiny, innocent, adorable child to this icky, ugly stuff!
Have you ever heard of, or tried, durian fruit?
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I Confess...

I realized it's been a while since I've posted anything but weekend updates, Friday Letters, and Live & Learn Lessons, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to link up with Kathy for Humpday Confessions.
I confess...
I am utterly addicted to Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and basically anything related to that ridiculous family. I adore it when I check my DVR and realize I have another new episode to watch. Yes, I realize they are totally trashy and annoying, but for some reason I can't look away... Kind of like when you pass a really bad car accident and you don't want to look, but you can't help it.

I confess...
Hiring a housekeeper has completely changed my life. Sometimes I have a little bit of first world guilt about it... but never enough to consider changing my mind. I used to constantly stress about cleaning my house. I would spot clean constantly, and obsessively think about the next opportunity to do a real deep clean. Then I would eventually spend an entire weekend scouring my house from top to bottom. Now every few weeks I come home and it's like an army of magic elves have been in my home, cleaning it perfectly from top to bottom. I wander around speechless, touching perfectly dusted shelves and looking into pristine white toilets. And then I do a happy dance.

I confess...
Lately I've become quite the shopaholic. I blame the baby. There are just so many amazing things out there that I must have before his arrival. These days it's rare for me to come home from work and not find a package on the doorstep... every day is like Christmas! Furniture, books, bedding, clothing, artwork, storage items, you name it, I've ordered it. I'm going to go broke and this kid's never going to college...

I confess...
I've never been more exhausted in my entire life. Like tired in my bones and my very soul. I don't even remember being this tired in my first trimester. I feel like all I do is sleep, but I don't think it's very restful sleep when you have to get up every two hours to pee. Last weekend at the bachelorette party I snuck off each night for bed at 9:30 and 10:30 pm, respectively. And I still came home on Sunday and took a three hour nap. Then I proceeded to sleep for 11 hours and woke up exhausted for work. Perhaps this is nature preparing me for the Tiny Human's arrival...
And there you have it... some Humpday Confessions. Judge not, lest ye be judged. Do you have anything to confess?
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What happens in Leavenworth stays there (and goes on this blog)

Getting married is one of the most important milestones in a girl's life, and it is often preceded by one of my most favorite events...
The Bachelorette Party!
My own bachelorette party weekend was a pretty epic experience, so as one of my dear friend Alissa's bridesmaids, I wanted to help make hers equally as spectacular. Unfortunately two of her bridesmaids (myself included) decided to get knocked up in the past year, which meant one of us (ashamedly raises hand) was unable to get on an airplane and the other had to stick her hubby and new baby in a hotel room so she could go back and breastfeed every few hours. Bachelorette parties in your 30s are much different...
But we made the best of it and planned a surprise weekend for Alissa in one of my favorite little places: Leavenworth, Washington.
We rented an adorable house right in the middle of town for a weekend of festivities including relaxing spa treatments, delicious dining experiences, a limousine winery tour, and lots of other games and shenanigans.
I shall withhold all the gory details to protect the innocent, but let's just sum it up to say we had an absolutely fabulous time! Even me, the token sober one...



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Friday, March 21, 2014

Dear Baby Boy... 33 Weeks

Dear Baby Boy,

As per usual, it was another busy week for us! Your shower at Nana's house was such a blast, and I'm still awed and touched by the generosity of our relatives. It was wonderful to see everyone for a happy reason, and I even let a bunch of people touch my belly, for which you kicked obligingly... well done! We're all so excited to meet you!

Daddy and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary this week, which means it's been seven whole years since we met! The time has flown by, and we've done so many awesome things together during that time, but I think it's safe to say that you will be our greatest adventure.

This week in class we learned about cesarean delivery (which I would like to avoid), postpartum depression, and breastfeeding. Just one more week of classes and we should be prepared to care for you properly... but I guess you can be the ultimate judge of that.

We also had a nice, uneventful appointment with the doctor this week. She said you are measuring accurately right at 33 weeks, which is good. She had Daddy come over and feel your head, which is in the proper, downward position at this point. He was concerned about poking you in the eye, but the doctor just laughed and said not to worry. It did get your heart rate all spiked up there for a minute, which was kind of fun to hear... were you excited to feel Daddy's hands on you?

Now you are the size of a pineapple (more than 19 inches and over four pounds). You are still gaining weight and could grow up to another full inch this week. You keep your eyes open when you're awake, and are starting to coordinate breathing with sucking and swallowing. Your bones are hardening, and you're going through even more major brain development. My little smarty pants. Antibodies are being passed from me to you as you continue to develop your own fetal immune system, which will come in handy once you're born and fending off all the nasty germs out here.

I'd like to say I am relaxing a lot these days, but it would be a lie. Between midnight bathroom runs, leg cramps, heartburn, and my basketball-sized belly, I'm not getting much restful sleep at night. We're also quite busy between all the pregnancy education and exercise classes, which usually last until 9 p.m. or later. And my forgetfulness and clumsiness have definitely reached an all-time high. I often waddle around the house with food dripped down the front of my outfit, wondering what the heck I even got up for in the first place. And I'm bruised everywhere from bumping into chairs and counters. Eyeyeye.

This weekend I'm headed out of town to celebrate Alissa's bachelorette party. The location is still a secret/surprise, but it should be an awesome time. Being the only sober girl for a weekend full of drunken shenanigans is always such a blast (someday I'll teach you about sarcasm). Seriously though, Alissa and Matt are two of our dearest friends, and I'm very lucky to be spending the weekend celebrating their upcoming marriage.

Let's try not to let our sober status ruin the weekend for everyone else, okay?!

Love Always,



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Live & Learn -- Custom Framing

We moved into our new house a little over a year ago now, and I'll admit it's taken us a while to settle in. That's what happens when you practically quadruple your square footage and decide that you don't want all your furniture to come from IKEA anymore.
So one month, one room, and one paycheck at a time, we've been working on furnishing and decorating our new home. And as you can imagine, as Baby Boy's birthday looms and my nesting instincts kick in full force, my franticness to get the house in order has taken on a new level of hysteria.
This week we focused on the media room upstairs.
A couple years ago, Stew's dad gave him a whole trunk full of stuff from his childhood bedroom, and it contained all kinds of cool sports memorabilia. I thought it would be fun to have some of the posters framed and hang them in the media room, giving it a sort of "sports" theme (whatever you do, DO NOT call it a Man Cave).
Hence the lessons I learned about custom framing.
Watch out my friends... what a complete and total scam!
I had heard that custom framing can be quite expensive, so I started gathering some handy dandy coupons in order to make it affordable for us. I mean hot damn, look at these deals! 70% off at Michaels and 60% off at Aaron Brothers... a steal of a deal!
Oh poor, naïve Sarah.
First, we went into Michaels to get a price quote, and excitedly reviewed the custom framing package pricing on the wall. We had three 24x36 posters, so we saw we could get a deluxe package including the frame, assembly, two mats and glass for just $205 a poster... and that would be before our 70% off coupon was applied! Totally affordable. We had the sales person do some mockups for us and then she crunched the numbers. This is where Stew almost lost his mind...
Our quote was $290 PER POSTER, which included the 70% discount! I'm sorry, but that math just did not add up for us. When Stew asked why the price was so much more expensive than advertised, the girl just shrugged and said, "Those prices aren't even remotely correct; I have no idea why we even have them up there. But as you can see you're saving $471 per poster, so this is an excellent deal."
So the advertised price of $205 was really $761 for one stinking poster.
Needless to say, we walked away.
Next door at Aaron Brothers, we marched into the framing section and immediately asked if the prices on the wall were accurate, or if they were completely unrealistic like Michaels. Here, the sales person apologetically explained that indeed, the advertised prices weren't really realistic. But then she went immediately to the computer and started crunching numbers to try and help us find a cost effective way to have our posters framed.
Eventually we found a solution: Buying frames off the sales floor, and then paying for a framing services package that included dry mounting, preservation spacing and fitting, and hardware on each frame. All for a grand total of $344 for all three posters. Not bad, considering that I originally thought that custom framing would be about $100 per poster.
And I think they turned out pretty well! 
So live and learn, folks: custom framing is NOT necessarily affordable, but some stores are much better than others at working within your budget. So be sure you shop around!
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Showering My Baby With Love

After an incredibly difficult week, it was so much fun to spend Saturday celebrating the brand new life of my little baby boy.
My little sis Erin threw an absolutely lovely shower at my mom's house, and Baby Boy literally received a downpour of gifts and love from all the amazing women in his family, who are waiting expectantly for his arrival.

And afterward I got to get in some quality time with my nieces, who are so excited to meet "Baby Marshawn" they can hardly stand it! My favorite quote of the day from Sophia to her little sister: "No Aubrey, it's not your birthday, it's going to be Baby Marshawn's birthday!" Well, I'm glad we got that cleared up.
I apologize for the poor quality of these photos... I told Stew that he should probably get me a real camera as a push present, instead of jewelry, because our child deserves to be photographed with something other than an iPhone.
Thank you to everyone who attended the baby shower. It was so wonderful to see everyone, and your generosity continues to overwhelm me. Baby Boy is such a lucky and loved child already, even before he's born.
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Lucky in Love... Year Two

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone!
It's our favorite holiday, and also our wedding anniversary! Wow, I don't think two years have ever flown by so quickly. I had a lot of fun looking at last year's post, where I finally shared some of our professional wedding photos. I have to say once again how much it means to us that so many of you were there to celebrate with us, and how much we appreciate the support and love you have given over the past two years.
Last year we spent our anniversary participating in the St. Patrick's Day Dash, but this year Stewie decided he wanted something a little more "fancy."
So last night he took me to an amazing dinner at Daniel's Broiler on Lake Union. We're not much for cheesy romanticism like candles, roses and diamonds, but we sure do like to eat and spend time together, and we rarely (if ever) spring for fancy restaurants, so this was a pretty special and perfect way to celebrate. Plus, I hear that after Baby Boy is born, date nights like this will be few and far between, so we were happy to spend a stress-free evening enjoying the quiet of each other's company.
Once again, thank you all so much for being there for us throughout our marriage thus far. We could not feel happier or more fortunate with how our life together has turned out so far. And we cannot wait for the amazing adventures that are beckoning from the horizon.
Lucky in love does not even begin to sum it up.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Dear Baby Boy... 32 Weeks

Dear Baby Boy,

Are you as excited as I am?!

Each and every day that passes, your birthday gets closer and closer, and we're just having so much fun imaging what you will look like and who you will become. Daddy is so anxious he wants me to squeeze you out right away, but I know you have a few more weeks to cook before you're good and ready to join us out here.

The past week has been pretty hard for us. We attended Uncle Steve's funeral yesterday, which was beautiful, moving, and heartbreaking all at the same time. You kicked and moved the whole time, almost as if to say, "I'm here, I love him, too!" and it gave me comfort.

We have tried to stay busy, and attended a couple different classes this week including another one in our Childbirth Prep Series and also a Car Seat Safety and Installation class. That one seemed to be the most informational so far, and we feel super confident now about our ability to keep you safe in a motor vehicle (Mommy's driving skills aren't always the best). Tonight we will attend Infant Safety & CPR to make sure that I know how to keep you alive in case of an emergency (Daddy is already an expert).

Tomorrow we will see everyone you loves you at the shower Aunt Erin and Nana are hosting for us. Aunt Nichole and Uncle Aaron are also coming with your adorable cousins, Sophia and Aubrey. They can't wait to meet you, and Sophia keeps asking when she gets to see "Baby Marshawn," which makes me smile.

By now you are the size of a large jicama (about 19 inches and almost four pounds) and you're taking up a lot of space in my uterus. The other day I swore I felt the exact outline of your foot poke out and kick at me... my little soccer player! You're gaining about half a pound a week now (which means a full pound of weight gain for me... ugh!!), and you'll gain a third to half of your birth weight during the next seven weeks as you fatten up for survival outside the womb. You have toenails, fingernails, and real hair (or at least respectable peach fuzz). Daddy has big plans for all the fun hairstyles you're going to rock as you grow up, because he says you had better enjoy your hair while you have it (the men in our family tend to go bald, I'm sorry to say).

My physical complaints this week remain the same (heartburn, swelling and pain in my hands and feet) but additionally I have been suffering from complete and utter exhaustion. I'm sure it is a combination of emotional stress, working long hours, and the pregnancy in general, but it's definitely gotten worse than ever before. Whenever poor Daddy and I try to sit down, relax and spend some time together I'm inevitably asleep within ten minutes. I just hope that all of the stress I've been feeling hasn't been too hard on you, my precious.

You just focus on getting fatter and cuter, okay? Only a few weeks to go now!

Love Always,



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Live & Learn -- Coping with Grief

Each person handles grief and loss in their own way. Over the past week I have learned that my coping mechanism is to stay busy.
I left the hospital last Thursday after my dear Godfather, my Uncle Steve, passed away after a brief but brave battle with lymphoma. I had no idea what to do or where to go. I knew that my mom and her siblings needed time and space to grieve, but I was an emotional disaster and in no state to go back to the office, so I just went home and curled in a ball on my couch. I eventually cried myself to sleep, only to awaken a few hours later in a massive panic attack. That's about the time poor Stew called and tried to talk me down from my hysteria. Eventually he left work and came home and be with me.
Since then, I've realized that being alone, or quiet, or allowed to think, brings back the panic attacks and sobbing. I think about Steve, and how much I miss him, and the fact that I'll never see him again or introduce him to my son. I think about my sweet aunt and cousin and how great their suffering must be. I think about my angel of a grandmother, who has now lost her husband and three of her children to cancer. I think about my darling mother, whose loving heart has been shattered by the loss of her older brother, who she has looked up to her entire life. I think about myself, and how helpless and lost I feel. I think about faith, and the fact that if I believed in god I would give him the middle finger right now.
And to keep from being drowned by these thoughts and feelings, I stay busy. I attend graduations, and bridal showers, and yoga classes. I work, I run errands, I cook and I clean. I play the music too loudly in the car, because when it's quiet my thoughts begin to whirl and I catch my breath, realizing that once again tears are raining down my cheeks. I feel selfish, sad, and alone.
I think about Steve, and I try to focus on all the happy memories I have of him. The days we spent at Green Lake, walking for the American Cancer Society. The Irish Blessing he gave on our wedding day. The family barbecues he organized. His love of the Sounders. The random emails he would send me, with little tidbits about books he thought I would like, or inquiries asking me to question my faith (or lack thereof). He always, always forced me to think outside the box. I will miss his quick wit, his brilliance, his generosity, and his bright smile.
Let us agree
   for now
   that we will not say
   the breaking
   makes us stronger
   or that it is better
   to have this pain
   than to have done
   without this love.

Let us promise
   we will not
   tell ourselves
   time will heal
   the wound
   when every day
   our waking
   opens it anew.

Perhaps for now
   it can be enough
   to simply marvel
   at the mystery
   of how a heart
   so broken
   can go on beating,
   as if it were made
   for precisely this -

as if it knows
   the only cure
   for love is more of it

as if it sees
   the heart's sole remedy
   for breaking
   is to love still

as if it trusts
   that its own stubborn
   and persistent pulse
   is the rhythm
   of a blessing
   we cannot
   begin to fathom
   but will save us
Jan Richardson

Steven Dennis Swift
1952 - 2014
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