Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pregnancy Recap: The 20-point System

I think I need to write a little ditty about this whole experience growing a baby. If not to inform my readers about what I've learned throughout the process, but to also to write something down to remind myself what it was all like. I've been told that I should journal about my experience so that I can "remember this magical time," but I'm not a natural journal-er so of course, I've haven't done a speck of it. Not to mention it hasn't quite been magical. I've also joked since the beginning that I need to write a letter to myself about how horrible some of it has been so that I think about the consequences before deciding, in a fit of love hormone-filled insanity, to try it again.

So let's start with that.

Dear Future Hana-

So you're thinking about getting pregnant again. Are you effing kidding me? Do you remember how horrible the first 3 1/2 months were? The sickness, the fatigue, the ugly-face crying? You could barely walk to the bathroom without gagging and crying. You could barely walk anywhere for that matter. You hated vegetables. Even the thought of green vegetable matter made you sick. Remember that time you touched a garlic scape and went into a fit of uncontrollable gagging? Horrible. And don't get me started on rotten vegetables.  Remember how even thinking about bacon and pho sent you into a fit of uncontrollable gagging because those were the things you ate just before all the sickness started? You could barely watch TV because of all the Applebee's commercials that made you sick. You would come home from work and lay out on the couch like a worthless slug and had to make Shawn do everything. This time you have to take care of another human at the same time. How are you going to do that? How about the heartburn? Maybe you forget what it's like to have heartburn EVERY DAY for 8 months straight. Let me help you: it sucks.

You think about these things before you make your decision.

Sternly yours,
Past Hana

Ok so that's out of the way. I doubt it will work since I've heard those hormones are awfully strong. Oh well, all I can say is I tried.

Also, how about we not let my future self read the rest of this post.

Despite the fact that the first few months were arguably the worst of my life, the second half of the second trimester and the first few weeks of the third were absolutely lovely. I felt like I was back to my old self with normal energy levels, I started showing a belly, which made me feel more legit, and I was back to eating mostly normal foods. I was even able to go to the gym once a week for a few months. Of course, as mentioned earlier, the heartburn has followed me throughout the pregnancy which has been pretty terrible. I can't eat any spicy foods, I need to watch out when I drink water, and I was worried about developing kidney stones with all of the Tums I was chewing. A few months ago I was introduced to papaya enzymes which work just as well without the worry of taking too many throughout the day.  It helps neutralize the stomach acid without making your stomach feel like it needs to create more soon after. It just soothes. And they taste good. It's totally win-win. They've been a bit of a lifesaver over the last 2 months.

The last two months have gotten progressively more and more uncomfortable. Which makes complete sense. As my belly has gotten bigger and bigger, sleeping and rolling over in bed has gotten harder and harder. I have definitely gotten used to not sleeping through the night. From the leg cramps that are super sudden and painful, to the heartburn, to getting up to pee, I've definitely been training for this whole lack of sleep thing that's about to descend on my life. Then there's my carpal tunnel. But you already know about that.

About a month ago, as I was wallowing in my beached-whale state with my swollen, aching feet propped up on the side of the couch, I came up with an ingenious way for all pregnant ladies to score their crappy side effects in an across the board equal way. Let me introduce you to the "20-point Pregnancy Shit Scoring System." Maybe this is my way of coping with all the crappy things that have happened to my body and put them into perspective to help appreciate the crap I have been able to avoid.

It goes like this: All ladies start their pregnancies with 20 points worth of shitty things that are going to happen to them and their bodies.  Some of these things include (but are totally not limited to):
* Morning/All day nausea
* Fatigue
* Anger and major mood swings
* Vomitting
* Lack of appetite/being unable to keep anything down
* Heartburn
* Varicose veins
* Stretch marks
* Acne 
* Hemmorhoids
* Placenta previa
* Various baby-related health issues (low weight, etc.)
* Carpal tunnel syndrome
* Preeclampsia
* Painful swollen feet and ankles/leg cramps
* etc, etc, etc,

So... A LOT to choose from. But, luckily, most women only have a handful of these. Now, depending on the severity of these side effects that get to you, you get to choose how many points are designated for each. For example, let me break down the points for my situation:
* Nausea - 5 points
* Fatigue - 2 points
* Heartburn - 8 points
* Carpal tunnel - 4 points
* Achy ankles/leg cramps - 1 point
Total: 20 points of pregnancy shit.

I want to mention that this does not take into account labor and delivery.  That's a whole different can of worms.  Who knows, maybe I'll come up with a point system for that too once I go through the experience.

This is where I acknowledge that this whole post has been relatively negative. Sorry, it's easy for me to go there.  Let's turn things around, shall we?

It's silver linings time.

Though the beginning of my pregnancy was the worst thing to ever happen to me, now that I am in the home stretch, I have to thank all the pregnancy gods that this is the way things have panned out.  Every single thing that has been crappy has happened to ME. Nothing has happened to Baby E. She has checked out at every single appointment as "perfect" (midwives' words, not mine, though I wouldn't expect anything less :)), and I have never once had to worry about her well-being. Her heart rate has been perfect and steady, she's positioned in the locked and loaded position, and I have thoroughly enjoyed her practice to become a star soccer player/boxer/gymnast in my belly.  (She will be all three. You'll see.) So I am thankful.  So, so thankful. I know I'm not in the clear just yet, seeing as how she still needs to enter this world, but for now, on this day, I feel extremely grateful for this textbook pregnancy.

Now we can't wait to meet her.

Sooner rather than later, please.

10 days 'til launch day.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Are We Ready?

Is anyone ever fully ready for their first child?  There is so much unknown about labor, about postpartum, about infants, about the tiny little person that's about to change your life forever...

There's only so much we can do to get ready.  We've taken our baby class, which was super helpful and informative, we've toured the birthing center where Baby E will be born, and now our nursery is basically complete.  She actually won't be living in the nursery for the first several months since she'll be in our room sleeping in the Pack n' Play next to my side of the bed, but it's a project that was nice to get out of the way.

Let me take you on a little tour.

A simple Ikea crib, a hand-painted dresser, and some local art on the walls.

Bird curtains, some changing table entertainment, and, of course, Totoro.
We didn't start with any intentions of having a theme or even creating anything super special. The "theme," if you can even call it one, has ended up being animals/birds just based on the various items we collected, and we chose not to paint the room out of pure laziness.  Since our house is so small and this is the only other room in addition to our own bedroom, we had to keep one corner of the room as my crafting/sewing corner.  Eventually, when she moves in to this room permanently, the sewing desk with likely move into our room but for now, this is how it's going to work. She won't be old enough to care for a while anyway.

Let me highlight some of my favorite elements.

* The chicken quilt: It's handmade from my aunt and we LOVE it.
* The curtains: It took us about an hour and half to pick the fabric (which ended up being really expensive,) but it's so fun and cute we're happy with it.  It has two layers, the one closest to the door is an almost-sheer white so that we can let light in without letting any peekers being able to see what's inside. The second layer adds a darkness to the room so that when the baby/toddler has to sleep during the day the room stays relatively dark.
* The kitty shelf: We fully acknowledge that the kitties will likely feel replaced and neglected a bit so we wanted to give them a space in Eddy's room that they can have as their own.  They like high places, and love looking out windows as they snooze, so we thought it would be a nice place for them to be that is safe and out of the way of grabby toddler hands.  So far, Nikolai has taken to it quite well, (he actually fell out of it because he was rolling around a bit much,) but Gus is still a little hesitant.  I think they'll like it eventually when we start spending more and more time in there.
* All the handmade stuff: From the Kingfisher pillow to the rainbow/cloud mobile, to the various blankets hanging around, and the dresser, we have MANY generously talented friends who have put effort and love into making something that will help make Eddy's life more cozy.  I couldn't feel prouder or more loved.

So there you go.  Our bags are packed for the birth and we've done as much laundry as we can.  I've begun making and freezing food here and there so that we can keep ourselves fed when we're in that post-partum fog.  I have this week off for mid-winter break so my mind and body can rest as well.

I guess you can say I'm ready.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

It's Baby Season

Well, these days, when is it NOT baby season?  It seems like everyone's tummy is growing and the babies just keep a-comin'.  I guess I can't say much either though, since I have the bug myself.

All these babies means I've been knitting blankets like crazy.  I've made so many, I've lost track of all the blankets I've made in the last 5 years.  I used to tell you about them, but the turnaround has been so quick on some, I haven't been able to share them with y'all.

Recently I found this pattern.  It's a crochet pattern, which I've dabbled with here and there, but all of my past blankets (save one) have been knitted.  Dudes.  Crocheting certainly has its benefits.  It's easy, it can be really quick, and it's so much more handy to rewind if you make a mistake.

It's so easy, I've been able to make two of these in the time it would have taken for me to make one knitted blanket.  They look really good too.

The pattern is called a diagonal box stitch.  You start with a corner and crochet diagonally, increasing a new box every row until you like the size (at the halfway point,) and then start decreasing until you finish at the opposite corner.  A link to a good video for how to do it can be found here.

That's it.  Diagonal box stitch the whole thing.  Of course, the yarn used in both these blankets is upcycled from old Goodwill sweaters.  The first is almost an entire sweater, and the super colorful one is one I made from all of the tiny leftover balls from all of the sweaters I've unraveled over the years.  Looking at all the different colors made me realize how many sweaters I've deknitted.  It's kind of cool to think that it's a culmination of all the hours I've spent recycling yarn and giving hideous sweaters a new life.  I was worried that it would look funny to combine all the different colors, but I think the crazyness of it all gives it a fun vibe.  I honestly thought about keeping it for our own little one because I liked it so much, but it went to a recipient that loved it enough to make it worth gifting.

The original sweater was actually not that ugly.
The yarn is a cotton/wool mix so it's extra warm AND soft.
Don't you LOVE all the color?
It makes me so happy...
Both these blankets took about half the time it would take me to knit a blanket the same size.  They were smaller than past ones, at about 3-3.5ft across, but what's so great about crocheting is the fact that you can see exactly how big it's getting and you can control the size much easier.  Also, they are almost exactly square with much more even edges. Started adding a crocheted border to the colorful one, but it detracted from the smooth edges it already had, so I nixed it.

I think I may be looking to crocheting for much of my future baby blankets.

Unfortunately, right now, I have been forced to take a knitting/crocheting/overall crafting hiatus.  Why?  Pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome.  Yeah, it's a real thing and it totally blows.  It started about 5 weeks ago and it has been progressively getting worse since.  Sometimes it keeps me up at night because it hurts so bad and I can barely dress myself in the morning due to the weakness that I wake up with.  Several of my fingers have been in a permanently tingly-numb state for the past month.  Yay.  I wear a brace on my right wrist for about 20 hours a day.

I'll write a post sometime this week about how I've been doing otherwise with some pics of our attempt at creating a nice nursery in half of our spare room.  Until then, have a lovely (rainy, if you're in Western Washington) President's Day weekend, everyone.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Don't Procrastinate. It's Expensive.

We got a water bill statement in the mail the other day that made my eyeballs pop out of my head.  It wasn't necessarily the amount that our bill came to, but it was actually the little bar graph that compares your consumption to what it was last year during the same month or two.  I realized that for the last several billing cycles, our consumption has doubled since the year before.  Wha....???

Weird, huh?  I thought so to.  After thinking about it for a moment, I couldn't really pinpoint how we've been using so much water.  Overall we're pretty conservative in our water use.  Especially me.  I'm always super conscious about how much water I'm using while washing dishes, making sure that the dishwasher and washing machine are full before starting them, and even follow the "if it's yellow, let it mellow" rule.  AND, it's not gardening season, so there's no way I'm using extra water outside.

Then my mind went to our bathroom.  Since we moved in, I've occasionally noticed our toilet running.  I didn't give too much thought to it, it would just run for a few seconds here and there.  But now that I was actually putting some thought into it, I realized that perhaps it had been getting worse and running more often recently.  It was just one of those things that I didn't notice because it was a sound I had gotten so used to and just didn't realize it was getting worse.  After 10 minutes of searching the intertubes, I decided it was a leaky flapper in the tank that needed to be replaced.

So off to H-Dizzle we went.  We picked up a new flapper and also decided to get a new aerator for our sink.  The aerator we had was one that dispensed 2 gallons of water per minute and we decided to upgrade to one that dispenses half that much.  The total bill for these things came to $11.

We got home and the installation for both took literally 5 minutes total.

Then we waited.  Two months we waited.  With baited breath.

And today it came.  The bill to decide it all.  See below:

Let's break this down.  Like the graph states, the dark line is this year, the white line is last year.  This cycle, since our super easy and cheap bathroom modifications, we've cut our usage in half.  Damn.  It's even a little lower than the amount we used last year at this time.  AND, this includes the increased loads of laundry we've done to wash baby stuff to get ready for her arrival in the next month.  (Yeah, one month.  Scary.)

So an $11 fix that took a quick trip to the store and five minutes at home lowered our bill by $22 and cut our usage in half.  We're pretty pumped.

Do you have something that needs to be fixed?  Do it.  It feels so good and will save you money and save the earth a little bit too.
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