Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Self-review

Hello? Is anyone there? I didn't think so. That's okay...I have no social life on or off line so I'm pretty good at talking to myself anyway. Wait...what? You're still here? Oh bless your pretty sweet soul!

It's that time of year again. The time where I go in search of my New Year's resolutions and evaluate my performance. Self reviews are the hardest, you know. And it doesn't help when last year's resolution entry makes me want to bang my head against a concrete wall. I thought 2009 was a bumpy one? I thought 2009 included some of the lowest lows of my life? Honey, it was just starting!

2010 will forever go down in the record books as the year full of love and loss. I brought LIFE into this world. I gave birth to a beautiful little boy who surprises and amazes me every second I'm around him, and yet I felt like death was following me everywhere--first when my brother died in June, again when Jon's lovely Aunt Cynthia passed away November 22 after a long, brave battle with cancer, and again on December 6 when our precious dog Macy became so horribly ill we had no choice but to have her put down. I've seen so many wonderful things this year yet I've had to watch so many wonderful lives fizzle and fade away. Every bone in my body wants to say I HATE 2010 but I can't because nearly four years of hoping and praying for a baby finally came to fruition.

I don't know what else I can say.

Fortunately I only made one resolution: "I want to be the best mommy I can be. I want to be the mother who is madly in love, attentive, interested, and active in her child's life. I can't promise to lose the baby weight, or start saving for college right away, or to keep the house immaculate at all times. All I can do is promise to do my best, and love this little miracle for all he's worth."

In my very unprofessional opinion, I only recently succeeded at this goal. I didn't write about it here because I was too embarrassed/ashamed/sad/infuriated/disgusted with myself to admit that I was suffering from a severe case of postpartum depression. I never once wanted to hurt Owen but I often thought about hurting myself. I often thought I was in over my head, that I could never love my child as much as he deserved to be loved. Only recently did I realize I can love him enough and I do love him enough and I need him just as much as he needs me. That bond I felt with the baby kicking inside of me? It's finally back and it's stronger than any bond I have ever known.

So did I succeed in being the best mommy I can be? Yes. Was I perfect? Absolutely not! I did, however, stress WAY too much about losing the baby weight (it's all still there!!), saving for college (yet there is nothing...), and keeping the house immaculate (okay, maybe I...nope, didn't pull that one off either!).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black beans and cherry apple sauce

There couldn't be a more fitting bib.

Zonked


Making up for all those missed naps this holiday weekend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Now that's what I call a workout!

Face the color of beets, clothes sticking to skin, and legs can barely carry my weight. Damn, that feels good!

Now for some Jimmy Johnson and Survivor...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Walking a dog in the hood

Boy on bike: "Hey lady! Don't bring your dogs this way!"

Me: "Why?"

Boy: "There's a giant black dog back there and it's not tied up!"

Me: "Dammit. Black Ugly is loose again..."

Boy: "What?"

Me: "Nothing. Thanks for the warning!"

We went the other direction and walked by the ferocious, chain-link-fence-jumping, man-eating pit bull instead.

Weekly Progess Report: Week 1

(This was written and should have been posted last Friday. I must have been working out so hard that I completely forgot! Yeah, that's it...)

Current Weight: 195 lbs (-5)

Average workout duration: 60 min.

Average daily consumption: 2100 calories

Feeling: Tired, but surprisingly good considering I have to wake up by 5:00 AM to maintain some semblance of a workout routine. What's that old saying? You have to expend energy to create energy? I think that's what I've done here. There were days this week when Jon turned to me and asked, "How are you still going?" It may shock him, but it makes me proud. I haven't had extra energy for a long time, and it feels so good! Actually, I'm kind of convinced just learning I was pregnant with Owen sucked all the energy right out of me for well over a year.

That being said, I feel good now, but I hope to feel even better in the coming weeks. I have a long road ahead of me and I hope to tighten my belt (no pun intended, har har) and see even faster progress soon.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More fun with cousins


Isaiah? Isaiah? Isaiah? Isaiah? Isaiah?


I'M A MONKEY!


Can I eat these?


Copy cat!


Big foot!


Is that the end, mama? Oh, okay, I'll look cute and cuddly.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No Regrets

My sister in law says there is nothing she would do differently in the days leading up to my brother's death and I think that's amazing. I can't imagine the pain and heartache of losing a husband, a best friend, and the father of my children, and it's comforting to know that she has no regrets. I guess that's the least God could offer her.

I do, however, have regrets, 2 actually:

1) I would have hugged him more, and told him I loved him at least one more time had I known what was coming.

2) I would have taken a picture of him with Owen.

I don't dare compare my grief to that of his family, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't break my heart to know that Owen will never know his Uncle Rick, and the least I could have done was snap a photo to show Owen one day, to assure him that his uncle did know and love him.

Rick did hold Owen, multiple times actually, and he interacted with him even more. He held him for the first time on Easter Sunday. Owen was only 6 weeks old and unlike a lot of people with such small babies, Rick took Owen from my arms with precision and confidence. He didn't have the fear of handling something so fragile which I saw all too often. And once the tiny Owen was securely in his arms, Rick began cooing at him, and said, "So this is my new nephew! Hi there little guy!"

Another time that comes to mind when I think of Rick and Owen was a day at my parent's apartment. It was Memorial Day and Owen was laid back in his bouncer doing some people watching (and there are plenty of people to watch in our family!) when Rick walked by, spotted him and said, "Hey Owen! You're just a happy little guy, aren't you?" then he turned to me and said, "You're lucky, my kids would never sit quietly like that!" It was one of those moments that reminded me just how lucky I was to have a baby as relaxed as Owen, something I didn't let myself see all too often in those early months.

No matter how much I regret not having captured those moments in a photograph, I can't change it. I did, however, take advantage of a moment this weekend to get the next best thing:


Owen smirking with his cousin Vanessa, Rick's daughter, showing just how happy a little guy he is.



Owen and his cousin Zachary, Rick's son, stealing a glance at Great Grandma Greene with a giant Lite Brite cube between them.

What I have to remember is that while Owen will never know his Uncle Rick, he will know him through the memories I have to share, and the time he has with his cousins, because Vanessa and Zachary are proof of just how cool a person Rick was, and how he was one half of a really fantastic parental unit.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Domesticated

Right this moment I'm enjoying my last day of vacation for the year 2010 while sitting at my dining room table, looking out at my quaint little cul de sac, and eating lunch of tuna salad on whole wheat pita and a fruit bowl on the side. Oh, and I'm the only person home! Jon went off to work this morning and dropped Owen off at the babysitters on his way, and I'm taking a day for myself for the first time since early February. It's been so long since I've had an abundance of time to myself that I'm not even sure how to take advantage of it. So far I've slept in, worked out, showered, done a bit of laundry, and wiped down the kitchen. And in the middle of each task I caught myself stopping and listening quietly for the baby as if for just a second I forgot he wasn't here. I sighed loudly and smiled each time I remembered I had the house to myself.

A few people warned me that this day would be hard on me, but so far it really hasn't been. Do I miss Owen? Sure, I love having him around. Do I miss him so much that I can't enjoy time to myself? Definitely not. I don't know what that says about me as a mother--whether I'm horrible or normal--but even though I love my little boy from the top of his head to the tips of his toes, the constant attention required to take care of, or the worry of whether or not I'll have enough time to finish a small task before he wakes up, can be down right exhausting. I was once told to be extra careful to not lose my sense of self once I became a mother, but I'm not sure how anyone could accomplish that. The role of mother is much too consuming, and far too important to remain as your very own entity. And especially if you're breastfeeding, not even your body is your own. I don't know, maybe I'm doing it wrong. My experience so far has been Owen calling the shots, Owen playing the boss, and even 10 minute breaks are provided sparingly. Luckily, he's a very cute boss.

Anyway, I'm enjoying my time away from all of the bosses in my life right now.

Still on the agenda for the day: a little shopping, a little writing, a walk with the dogs, preparing a turkey loaf for dinner, and hopefully a few Trading Spaces re-runs. If I've learned only one thing from motherhood thus far, it's this: forget schedules, plans, and to do lists, because none of it can be guaranteed. The best way to truly enjoy every moment is to wing it and the rest will simply fall into place.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Eating Excuses

I had come within 40 pounds of my goal weight before finding out I was pregnant with Owen. I realize 40 pounds still sounds like a long way to go but when you start out with 120 to lose, you can almost taste victory with only 40 left. You start letting yourself belief that soon you'll be able to shop in ANY clothing store, that soon you'll be able to put on your swimsuit and still feel confident, that it was only a matter of days before you'll feel truly comfortable in your own skin for the first time in your life. Well, that's how I felt at least. 70 pounds lost in one year and I was in the best shape of my life.

Most of you have known me long enough, or have been reading this blog long enough, to remember what I was like in those first 3 or 4 months of my pregnancy: scared to death. I was so completely convinced I was going to lose my baby, so convinced the second I became comfortable and let myself enjoy the idea of finally having a baby it would die in my womb and I'd be left with an incurable broken heart. I never mentioned it here, but I even stopped exercising completely because I thought the safest thing for my baby would be to lay around on the couch all day. I had just been laid off by Reader's Digest which only enabled the situation. I didn't have to work, I didn't have anywhere to go, so I hauled up on the couch and watched the Discovery Health Channel and rubbed my belly all day. It didn't take long before I was justifying nightly binge eating by thinking I may never have the chance to experience pregnancy again, so why deny myself anything? And while it is true--we may never be so blessed again--I have found myself 30 pounds heavier and really confused by how I ever managed to lose so much weight before! I don't understand where the discipline came from, or the energy, or the overall motivation. I obviously had more time. I recorded every morsel of food that entered my mouth, every calorie I burned in exercise, and worked out every day for 60 minutes or more.

I don't have that kind of time now, but I can take some time to look after myself. I have to take some time to look after myself. I crave being comfortable in my skin again. I want to enjoy shopping for clothes again. Most of all, Owen deserves a confident Mama. His life can only benefit by me improving my quality of life.

So, it starts now, while I'm sitting solidly at an even 200 pounds. I've been bouncing around between 190 and 200 since having Owen. My goal will be small and just shoot for the 170 pounds I'd reached before letting myself go during pregnancy. I may never hit the 120 pound goal I had originally, but I don't care about that anymore. I've spent most of my life accusing the world of being fat phobic, but I think I've finally realized that it's not the world that's fat phobic, it's me. Expect a short update and weekly weigh-in in the months to come.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lucky for us, San Antonio gave him back peacefully


Psst...Hey mommy, wanna know a secret???


My daddy is home!! (...And he gave me a bath and dressed me like Pooh and I'm not so sure how I feel about that but I'm glad he's home!)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The home stretch

The last 5 days with Owen have been so much fun but I think we're both ready for Jon to come home. I know I am because I miss my husband. I assume Owen is because it must get boring seeing the same face day in and day out.

Jon's absence has been kind of weird this year. The dogs are only just now starting to show signs that they've realized he's missing and Owen doesn't seem to have skipped a beat. In fact, I told Jon during our daily phone conversation (Yes, only one phone call per day with a 5 minute time limit. I'm a little salty about it if you can't tell) if the baby becomes cranky upon his return I will not hesitate to send him away again. I was only half kidding.

Anyway, things went off without a hitch here, which tells me I did a good job in preparing. Better than I had suspected even. I think it was a combination of Owen being a little more independent with age, me being a bit more productive/efficient in the things that need done because if I didn't do them, who would, and the fact that I finally took the time to sit back, relax, and just enjoy my son. It's never been more obvious how easily a baby can pick up on nerves and stress. I've been stress free and he's been an absolute doll. It can't all be coincidence.

My daily routine went a little like this:

Wake up at 5:45, shower, dress, eat breakfast, wake up Owen, feed Owen breakfast, pack up car, drop Owen off at sitter's, and head into work.
Work till 5, pick up Owen, come home, wash bottles, play with Owen and dogs, fix Owen's dinner, fix my dinner, eat dinner together at table.
Cuddle up in bed and watch approximately 15 minutes of Dora, have tickle fest, then it's bath time.
Give Owen bath, get him ready for bed, give him last bottle while rocking him to sleep.
Pack Owen's food for the next day, pack my lunch, poor a bowl of Reese's Puffs cereal, pull out the laptop and write a blog while eating.
Check Facebook.
Go to bed and watch Nick at Nite until I fall asleep.

Perfect? Definitely not, but I never once felt frantic or overwhelmed. I never once felt like I was shorting Owen of attention. I never once felt like I was losing my sense of self.

It may have been Jon who was out having fun, eating 60 inch pizza's somewhere in San Antonio with his buddies (jealous? me? no.....) but it really has felt like a retreat here, too. Even though it has been just as busy as ever, it felt a little less chaotic. I needed that in order to find my role as "mother" in this world of mine.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hi Mom

"I read your blog again."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah, and I cried a lot."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"No, it was beautiful. And I've enjoyed everything you've been writing about Owen."

"Do you check my blog every day?"

"Yes, and I'm disappointed when you haven't written anything...so keep writing."

That was the conversation I had with my mom at 7:50 this morning when I called to tell her I wouldn't be able to walk on our lunch hour. I thought it was cute. My mom has always encouraged my writing and always seemed interested but I don't know that she's ever had the opportunity to get this deep into my thoughts before....unless she snuck a peek at my journals in high school? I wouldn't be surprised.

So, mom, it's obvious you're interested, and taking the opportunity to read what I have to say even now, but the questions is, how far back have you gone into the archives? Back to May 2008 perhaps? It's another one that may make you cry. I know I cried when I wrote it:

Originally written Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday Letters Vol. 1


Note: Yes, I realize the subject says Sunday Letters and today is in fact Monday, but if I'm going to be completely honest here I started writing it yesterday, but I started crying, and then my husband found me, and I decided I needed to distance myself from it for a while. Of course, then one thing led to another and my A.D.D. kicked in and I lost myself in the Survivor Reunion Show. Sorry Mom, but let's face it, you would have done the same thing for Survivor!


Dear Mom,


When I first told you that I would be moving out on my own almost 8 years ago you started crying, and I felt stupid because I couldn't understand why. You and I weren't getting along very well anymore and I thought my moving out of your house would actually make you happy, but that didn't seem to be the case. A couple of weeks went by before I finally caught you alone and asked what you were so upset about, and to my surprise you admitted that between my depression in high school and the way I clung to Jon so quickly afterward, you felt you and I never really had the chance to bond like you had envisioned. I didn't understand what you meant at the time, but as the years passed I watched the relationship you had developed with Kristin while she was in high school and I finally got it. You and I didn't talk about boys, or dresses, or the caddy girls at school. No, you and I screamed, and we cried, and we worried until our chests felt like they were about to explode over whether or not I was going to make it through not only another day of school but another day of life. I was a train wreck for a solid 4 years and you were the frantic family member glued to the ongoing live coverage, hoping for a sign that I was alright. You saw me hit rock bottom every morning, and every morning you helped pull me back out. Only a mother's deepest love would have done that for me, and someday I'll find a way to thank you properly.


As for the mother and daughter bonding, though it may not have seemed like it at the time, through all of the crying and yelling and weepy teenage metaphors of those hectic years, you were able to see a part of me that no one else had seen before.


You once told me what you thought my visits with the psychiatrist were like--you said you always pictured me lying on a couch, confessing my fears and deepest, darkest secrets to the doctor sitting across from me, purging all of my negativity so I could walk out of the office with a smile and renewed sense of worth.


No offense, but I thought your idea of therapy was funny.


The truth is I faked a smile with the psychiatrists and therapists for every single one of those 1 hour sessions. I put on a fake smile before I walked in the door and I removed it the moment we got back in the car. And as for what we talked about, well, we talked about the good things and only the good things, because after all, I wanted to be likeable not crazy.


In the end, what the psychiatrists and therapists and all those other head doctors got from me were lies, but what I gave you every morning was real, it was me, albeit a little harsh at times, but it was me spilling my guts to you, reaching out to the only person I felt would really, truly listen to me. That was bonding, Mom, those heavy, emotional moments are ours and only ours to keep.


I think what neither of us had realized at the time is that I was an extremely complex, quiet, yet dynamic young woman who was trying to come to terms with her complexity and uniqueness when everyone else appeared so normal. You guided me through the toughest years of my life, and I'm here, and I'm doing just fine. I think that says everything there is to say about who you are as a parent--you're an amazing woman who did everything in her power to save me, and you did.


Here's to the woman I owe everything! Happy Mother's Day!


Love always,
Kate

I love you, Mom. Oh, and let's be sure to walk tomorrow, okay?

Monday, August 30, 2010

He's really gone, isn't he?

I woke shortly after 4 AM this morning and thought, "We got the call right about now."

I watched the clock on my work computer turn from 9:44 AM to 9:45 AM and thought, "That's it guys. He's gone."

That was 2 months ago and while I would never expect to be fully healed after the loss of my brother, I do wonder how long it will be before the movie-like scenes stop playing in my head every time I think about him, when I'll be able to say the Our Father without choking up, or when will I be able to look at photos from that time without thinking, "This was taken 2 days before 'it' happened." I suppose I have to accept that "it" happened first, that "it" wasn't just a dark and depressing nightmare I had a short while ago. My brother died and it tears my heart out every time I remember.

I mentioned yesterday that Owen is finally sitting upright and I couldn't be more excited for him, but every time I set him up and brace for his fall I think of this photo we found while putting together photo boards for Rick's funeral. That's Rick bracing to catch ME if I fall. To make it all even a little more eerie, take note of the date on the photo: AUG '82. I was exactly the same age as Owen.


Life will never, ever be the same without him. I'm trying so hard to not let it overwhelm me. I'd rather spend the time and energy being thankful for having 28 years to know and love such a laid-back, non-judgemental, talented guy and AMAZING father. I've never seen kids who were more in love with their dad. He may not have left a big mark on the world per se, but he left a HUGE mark on so many hearts.

Thank you, Rick, for being such a great human being. Thank you for showing us that it's the little things in life that make it all worth living for.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bonding

My father in law was a saint and came by for a few hours to watch the baby while I ran errands and had lunch with a friend. Being attached at the hip to Owen at all times stopped bothering me a while ago, but I'd forgotten how easy it was to get around and do something as simple as grocery shopping without a baby in-tow. I am physically 25 pounds lighter without lugging him and his car seat around, and countless pounds lighter mentally when all I have to do is get from the produce, to the deli counter, to the laundry detergent without making goofy faces or talking nonsense in an attempt to keep him entertained. It's been 6 months but I am still terrified of becoming that poor--or "annoying" depending on how heartless you are--woman with the screaming, inconsolable child at the super market. I never realized just how much I worry about whether or not he's going to freak out until today and felt so comfortable that I took the the time to read nutrition labels again!

He doesn't know it yet, but Daddy is going to have a weekly date with Baby. Mama's going to the store by herself from now on.

Other happenings for the day were...a visit with Nana, watching Owen realize that if he holds on to the ball (instead of letting me throw it) he can capture the dog's undivided attention and he thought it was the absolute funniest thing to see a dog grovel. Owen has also officially mastered the art of sitting upright! He sat in the middle of our bed and watched Dora the Explorer while I folded laundry beside him.

So much has happened so fast and even in these first 2 days of Jon being away. It's been busy, but it's been so enjoyable. Owen is blossoming and I'm finally taking the time to appreciate it. I've struggled with the concept of being self, wife, and mother since the day Owen was born, and I'm still confused by how it's supposed to work (and I'm in awe of all you women who can divide yourself between multiple children, husband, and work full-time!) but it has been an awesome weekend in which I could focus solely on being MOM and bask in the fact that my son enjoys ME equally as much.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The first 6 months of status updates

Seeing as it may take a few years before I could find the time to write about all the little details of Owen's first 6 months, and because there's a pretty good chance I will have forgotten at least 50% of the little details by then, I've decided to do the next best thing: bring all of my Owen/Parenting related Facebook updates to one place.  I wasn't sure how well it was going to work, but as it turns out, it's a fairly accurate, abbreviated version of what our new life is like.

Please note: I put forth a tremendous amount of energy both on this blog and Facebook to avoid being a Negative Nancy. You are getting mostly just the positive side of the story here. I didn't think it was necessary that our friends and family know just how often I buried my face in a pillow and cried about how badly my life sucked or how many times I asked Jon for a divorce. On the bright side, I've been given permission to blame it all on hormones.

February 22
Looks like today is finally THE day! Water is broken, contractions are rolling. Owen is defying statistics and arriving on his due date!

February 27
Thank you everyone for the congrats and well wishes on our new little addition. The 3 of us are adjusting quite well to life at home, but I'm finding little time to play on Facebook! :)

February 28
Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone!! I got the biggest and best birthday gift of all this year in Owen! :)

March 2
is leaving Jon home with the baby and heading out into the world by myself for the first time in over a week. First thought: "Man, it feels strange to be able to zip up my coat!"

March 6
put the baby down for his morning nap and attempted to take a shower, but no sooner did I get a lather in my hair when Macy begins howling from the side of the crib as if to say, "Hey stupid woman, you left the little human ALONE! What kind of mother are you?!"

March 6
Have you seen that Huggies commercial where the dad takes off his baby boy's diaper and he starts hosing down the entire room? Yeah, Owen's trying to give that little boy a run for his money today. My own clothes have become a casualty...

March 9
On the bright side...Owen is official and now has a social security number. On the not so bright side...the house, dog, and all other habitants stink of skunk. :(

March 10
So...as a breastfeeding mom, how many weeks should I plan on having my butt attached to the couch?

March 15
Forgot to study up on lullabys before having a baby. I guess it's a good thing I was able to sing Owen to sleep with Billy Liar! :D

March 18
2 night hospital stay after giving birth: $1500. Large box of Pampers Newborn diapers: $40. Discovering you have the nurturing touch to rock a crying and confused baby back to sleep at 3 in the morning: Priceless.

March 25
Who's the boss? "I am the boss!" I didn't doubt it for a second.

March 27
Owen's going for a new record: 3:30AM and he's STILL fighting sleep. As it stands, there's a pretty good chance he's going to be an only child.

March 28
The hubby and baby are over at Nana's and mommy stayed home for some 'me' time. All that crying the neighbors have been enduring has suddenly turned into a 28 year old woman belting out Ani DiFranco lyrics.

March 30
Help! I think something is terribly wrong with my child--he's sleeping AT NIGHT!!

April 5
"Peace out." Headed out for a late night ride with Daddy.

April 5
was given permission to use a mostly secluded, empty cubicle to use the breast pump in, but thought it wise to wear my shaw just in case. Good thing, because I heard someone ask another someone on the other side of the wall, "Who's over there wearing a cape?!" :-D

April 8
wants to be at home listening to the baby coo...

April 10
About to chop off the pregnancy hair...Deep breaths...you can do this.

April 10
Figures. I finally get the baby down at a reasonable hour and the hubby passes out too! I didn't realize having a baby would turn us into a couple of old fogies. ;)

April 19
Random thought #752: I wonder who has made more money off of me since Owen was born...Akron General or The Energizer Bunny?

April 22
2 months ago today I called off work by saying, "I'm not in labor, but I can't focus on work with these contractions..." Owen was born 12 hours later. :)

April 22
Forget natural childbirth...pinning a baby's arms and watching his face go from smiles to screams while he gets stuck with a needle in each thigh is the new hardest thing I've ever done! :(

April 28
I bought 504 diapers and 44 lbs of dog food on my lunch hour.

April 29
One of the best things about having a baby around is that everyone gets congratulated for an impressive burp!

April 30
OK Medela, I've officially handed over this week's entire paycheck in the hopes of being able to read a book, type a paragraph--continue living my life sans electrical outlet--while using your product. Please don't let me down.

May 2
Owen has been asleep for 10 hours straight. I keep going in there and checking on him and he's fine. If only we had the money to tire him out at Wasabi every night! :)

May 3
I just dropped the baby off at the sitter's for the first time. That was a lot harder than I thought it would be...

May 3
Thanks to Medela's Freestyle I just read 2 and a half of Dooce's blogs and updated my FB status from the filing (pumping) closet at work! I might be able to update my own blog before you know it!!!

May 4
Really hoping Owen gives his new sitter an easier time today. Turns out he was a terror yesterday!

May 5
3 days of packing up baby and delivering to sitter and still arriving to work on time, 4 nights of home cooked meals, 3 consecutive evenings of walking the dogs, and the kitchen is clean!! I think we might be on our way to becoming a functional little family again.

May 6
Jon's first day of taking care of the baby all by himself. I'm not sure who I should be more afraid for...Jon or Owen! ;)

May 10
I don't know that I've ever been so exhausted.

May 12
Only one thing in my life has remained consistent since Feb. 2nd: I fall asleep during the last 15 minutes of EVERY episode of Lost!

May 14
What does it say about me as a parent when the only thing besides me that can hold my 3 month old's attention is his bouncer and ESPN?

May 24
Woke up late, no hot water, spider dangling from shower ceiling, baby didn't want to eat--just talk, got everything and everyone loaded into the car just to notice a flat tire, and then the air compressor broke mid-fill. Hello there, Monday, I hate you too!

May 29
Getting ready for a wedding while keeping a baby happy is not fun.

May 31
Owen seemed to enjoy his first camping trip and it was really awesome for Jon and I to get out of the house

June 2
Owen's old record for sleeping in his crib: 1.5 hours. Owen's new record for sleeping in his crib: ALL NIGHT! I'm not packing up the swing yet but my little boy has done made me a proud mama. :)

June 3
I don't care what anyone says...walking in 3 inch heels AND carrying a baby in carseat is an acquired skill.

June 7
Just got a weekly newsletter from the hospital regarding childcare in the baby's third month and it opens with: "3 Good Reasons to Start Pumping Now!" They must not have gotten the memo that I was only off work for 6 weeks! I've been locking myself in a file room on every break for 2 months already. :p

June 13
Took Owen for his first swim at Nana's today! Clearly we have a water baby on our hands. He LOVED it!

June 16
Should have known he'd wait for a morning I was on my own to wake up early, poop all over EVERYTHING, be hungry enough to eat a horse, throw up on me TWICE, and still be so cute that I couldn't help but spend so much time talking to him that I was late for work.

June 20
had a fun day hanging out with Brooke and baby Savannah! It's only been 4 months since she and Owen were born but it's so amazing how much they've changed. Savannah was such a good little hostess, too! She offered her toes to Owen every chance she got. :)

June 22
I'm pretty sure the fact that Owen is sleeping with a party of 17 seated next to us is proof he can sleep through anything!

June 22
Somebody woke up and ate all my pizza.

June 26
Finally taking advantage of the fact that I'm never alone by going out to lunch with Owen then hitting the towpath with him and the jogging stroller.

July 2
A little bit of sunshine amidst all this gloom: One year ago today Jon and I learned we would be having a baby! I don't know how I'd be making it through this loss without my two men.

July 11
Why didn't anyone tell me that looking into a sick baby's eyes can capture and break your heart in 2 seconds flat?!

July 22
Word of advice: Do not veer from the MapQuest directions at 11:00 at night and it's raining and the baby is asleep in the backseat and your gas light turned on about a mile ago. A 29 minute drive can easily become 69 minutes...

July 24
Baby Einstein rocks!

July 26
is thinking of starting a "Help Katie Become a Stay at Home Mommy" fundraiser. Anyone want to donate??

July 30
29 miles left to South Bend and Owen has rocked this 4.5 hour roadtrip! The best part is he only napped 30 min so we may get some sleep tonight after all.

August 6
Looking forward to spending the weekend with Owen and having absolutely nowhere we have to be!

August 6
Dilemma: Dead batteries in swing (read: the only way the baby sleeps!) and battery drawer was empty. Solution: Held the mobile at gun point (okay, maybe it was a screwdriver) and emptied it of D-cells. I've gotten feisty in my 5.5 months as a mom!

August 10
Feet up on dashboard: We know he got at least 1 habit from mama!

August 10 
Can we have carrots for dinner?? Please!!

August 13
It would figure Owen chooses to roll over for the first time when Aunt Kristin is watching him. She'll probably witness his first steps and hear his first words too! :(

August 14
Saturday night, the baby is asleep, and the hubby and I are sitting around quizzing each other with the iCarly trivia questions on individually wrapped pieces of Frigo string cheese. We are awesome.

August 16
A little advice for all the new moms and dads and parents-to-be: Don't wake a sleeping baby. Do take a few moments every day to watch and admire the most precious little person in your life while he sleeps peacefully.

August 25
WARNING: Your baby may begin singing himself to sleep at 6 months. Be prepared for the most adorable sound you have ever heard.

You are my sunshine

On our way home from the birthday party I stopped to fill up my tank, and as I was standing at the gas pump I looked in at Owen, and caught him staring back at me with these soft, glossy, I'm-so-tired-you're-the-most-wonderful-thing-I've-ever-seen eyes. I tried to take my time to analyze the look and find the words to describe the emotions that were welling up inside me and then I finally got it: For the first time I genuinely and completely understood the song You Are My Sunshine. My world would be so dark without him and that precious face.

Have you seen this daddy?

Right about now my husband is flying 38,000 feet above Alexandria, Louisiana and my first week of playing a single mom has officially begun. That's right. It's that time of year again. The one that used to be filled with chick flicks, dinner with friends, and gobs and gobs of personal time and will now consist of Baby Einstein, pureed carrots at the dinner table, and gobs and gobs of Owen time. Jon has left for the 2010 conference, and due to a recent promotion, he'll be gone a little longer.

I'm probably getting ahead of myself, and will have to smack myself later in the week for saying this, but I'm not really worried about whether or not I can handle the responsibility of soul parent. I knew this was coming and had plenty of time to prepare and that preparation involved removing any dependencies Owen may have on Jon. I had to make Owen dependent on me for comfort and food. I am the first person he sees in the morning and the last he sees before falling asleep. Jon sort of became this big, funny toy that did a LOT of housework. I don't know if that was the right way to prepare or not. I guess we'll see.

One thing I do suspect--and don't tell my husband I said this--I will be much more productive without him here, mostly because I have to be, but partly because his laid-back, things-will-take-care-of-themselves-sometime-this-century attitude is a little contagious!

Anyway, on the agenda for today is my nephew's 3rd birthday party for which an awesome gift has already been purchased, wrapped, and tagged with a bow. After that, perhaps some housework, but definitely some one-on-one chill time with my baby boy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Week 1 Day 1: FAIL

Dear Self,

Don't beat yourself up. Some people just aren't meant to be runners.

Love,
Your sore ankles.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Right Where We Belong

Last weekend Jon and I packed up the car and prepared Owen for a 4.5 hour road trip to South Bend, Indiana where 3 really awesome things happened:

1. Owen crossed his first state line, something it took me 11 years to accomplish!

2. My Uncle Charlie married his college sweetheart on the St. Mary's at Notre Dame campus. It was my first wedding reception with a real live band! Something I thought only happened in movies!

3. I toured the the campus of The University of Notre Dame with 2 of my siblings and found this Cancer Awareness Tree:

066

Each color ribbon represented a different type of cancer for anyone's loved ones who have either survived or lost their battle with cancer.

067

Even the pathway leading to and from the tree was in the shape of a ribbon.

069

My sister Kimberly and her daughter Elizabeth tied a ribbon for our brother Rick who died of leukemia on June 30, 2010.

073

There were so many ribbons...


077

Rick's white ribbon, front and center.

We came across the tree just in time, because as Kim finished tying the ribbon another small group of people walked up to the tree, noted there were no more white ribbons out loud and slumped their shoulders. Kim then looked at them apologetically and said, "I'm sorry. We just took the last white ribbon. It was for our brother."

Then she walked away without looking back.

Something about the way she said it and the way she held herself--shoulders back and head high--assured me that we were all going to make it through this. At that moment I was convinced that one day, in the not so distant future, hearing his name or remembering the sound of his voice isn't going to cause a stabbing pain in our chests but spread a loving warmth from our hearts to our finger tips.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Outted

When I called my mom last Sunday...wait, has anyone else noticed that I've acquired this annoying knack for writing about things exactly one week after they happen? I was thinking about it this morning as I started writing this blog in my head. As a result I've decided one week must be how long it takes me to formulate a string of coherent thoughts between working full-time and tending to an infant's every need. Speaking of said infant...did you know he's already 5 MONTHS OLD? Probably not, considering I've written about him all of, what, 3 times? Maybe 4? I really need to figure out a way to rectify that.

But I digress.

Anyway, so I called my mom last Sunday evening to see if she wanted to take a quick walk with me during our lunch hour on Monday. She works in the clinic 2 buildings over from my office, and I thought it would be an easy way to spend more time with her, and get some exercise to boot. When she answered the phone she sounded really upset, and considering there's really only one reason most of us cry right now I knew it had to be about my brother. We're all grieving in our own way, mostly in private I think, but it's important that it happens whatever the circumstances. I don't want to speak for everyone, but I think losing him has been the hardest thing we've ever had to endure, so I'm pretty sure it's going to be a very, very long time before thinking of him and realizing we'll never see him again doesn't feel like a swift kick to the gut.

I was right, my mom had been crying about Rick, but it was a little more than that:

"What's wrong, Mom?"

"I just finished reading your blog..."

"Oh."

I hadn't seen THAT coming, but I guess that's a risk you run every time you post something on the internet, huh? Turns out my dad Googled my brother's name and stumbled upon Deciphering Kate--my secret little universe that I wasn't trying to hide, but haven't exactly been advertising either.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not disappointed in the slightest to have been found. I'm actually excited and relieved. The word has spread to distant family members by word of mouth and random strangers as my siblings post about it on Facebook. Feedback has been pouring in and it's all been positive. I've seen a record number of hits in all of my 10+ years of writing online, but that's besides the point. When I wrote about Rick I was doing what I felt I needed to do in order to properly grieve for MY loss, but a very big part of me was worried that if someone did find it they could see it as being selfish since it was all written from my perspective. I don't come from a selfish family--the exact opposite, actually--but I was afraid of how it could be perceived, especially since no one knew I had a blog and some didn't even know about my interest in writing.

It appears my fears were for naught, though. Based on the feedback I've received, I think I've helped many friends and family members with their own loss as well. I think I managed to put things into perspective for more than just me. I found the words they couldn't to harness and archive the emotions they were feeling. I helped release the tears that had been stuck since that very dark last day of June. I helped people understand what it felt like to be there and a little of what Rick went through even though they were miles away.

While I'm embarrassed and feel bad that my father had to stumble across such a tearjerker without the tiniest of warnings, I'm glad it happened one way or another. It hurts us all to read it, but I like to think it helps, too.

So.....welcome friends, FAMILY, and friendly people who searched "Richard Crano" or followed a strange link here. Welcome to my little world.

Monday, July 12, 2010

And then I felt a sharp pain in my chest

Katie: "Elizabeth, you have to be nice to people if you want them to be your friend."

Elizabeth, my 4-year-old niece: "He's not my friend! He's my brother!"

Katie: "Well, I'm friends with my brother."

Elizabeth: "I didn't know you had a brother!!"

Katie: "I do! I have..."

Three brothers? Two brothers? Three brothers but one died last week? It seems cruel to not count him, but it kind of feels like lying when I do.

Fortunately, a dragon fly whizzed by Elizabeth's head at that exact moment and she completely forgot about our conversation.

Unfortunately, I can't.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Campfire in his honor

I'll be leaving for southern Ohio around 3:00 this afternoon for a weekend camping trip. I'll be with my family although they will be staying there through next Friday and I'll be home by the end of the weekend. This is the camping trip Rick had been looking forward to, the one he kept referring to when he'd say, "I just want to sit around the campfire with my kids."

I wasn't originally supposed to be going. In fact, Owen and I will be taking Rick's place. I hate saying that but it's for a good cause. Tonight's campfire will be dedicated to Rick. We'll toast him with his favorite drink--a rum and coke--and we'll all share our fond memories of growing up with the wildest, most daring boy in our family, and how we watched him become the reserved family man we've known for the last decade.

Rick was not an emotional person. He shook his head and smirked at overly sappy, sentimentality (unless his wife and daughter were involved) and I like to picture him looking down on us from heaven and giving us that same head-shake and smirk whenever one of us breaks down in tears at the loss of our brother. That's why I think he would love this dedication campfire. I'm imagining him looking down from heaven and saying, "Now that's what I'm talking about!"

It will be a night dedicated to one hell of a brother and there's no doubt he will be there with us sitting around the fire. He won't be there in the way we all had hoped, but he will definitely be there.

Rick was also an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan and I think you have to live in Northeastern Ohio and love football to understand the old rivalry between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, so I expect it will have a big, surprising effect when Jon (a huge Browns fan), Owen and I all show up to the campfire sporting Steelers t-shirts. We'll be rooting for Pittsburgh this year.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ricky

A few years ago I was asked a very simple, yet seemingly complex question by a woman who had just learned that I came from a family of six children: "What would you say is the biggest benefit of having such a large family?" The answer came to me quickly. I said, "You get to learn from everyone else's mistakes."

But last week I discovered a new advantage to coming from a family of six children: there are five remaining children to help carry each other through the all-consuming pain and sorrow when one of us dies.

My brother, Rick, passed away due to complications from leukemia on June 30, 2010. He was only 34-years-old. He had a wife and two adorable children; an 11-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son.

You may remember me mentioning a brother who was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year. It was him. He managed to pull through the surgeries and multiple chemo treatments and remain in remission until this past May when it was discovered that he had acute promyelocytic leukemia. We were told he would be facing another six months of rigorous chemotherapy and two years worth of maintenance, but on the bright side, this particular form of leukemia carried a promising 90% cure rate. We thought he had lucked out again. Our large family remained invincible.

He started the new batch of treatments in early June. When I saw him at my nephew's graduation party on June 12 he said he was feeling a little tired but overall he looked really good. He was taken to the hospital on June 17 after complaining of chest pains and they discovered there was water accumulating in his heart which I'm told is relatively common for patients receiving chemotherapy. He also had to receive multiple blood transfusions while there as the doctors were having trouble keeping his white blood cells in check. I did not visit him while he was there from June 17 through June 25. The little I knew about what was going on had been posted on Facebook or sent to me through text messages by my sisters and it was mostly telling me not to panic, what he was experiencing was normal, he was more anxious than anything because he wanted to be out of the hospital in time to go on the family camping trip July 9 and sit around the campfire. I'm told he wanted out of that hospital something fierce and was prepared to escape on his own if they hadn't signed the discharge papers when they did.

Sunday, June 27, 2010 was the last day I saw my big brother conscious. I'll never forget it because I honestly believe it was an act of God that made it happen. I haven't attended church since long before Owen was born and never really felt the calling to do so until that morning. I woke up thinking I should call my mother and ask her to save me a seat, so I did. I was determined to come straight home afterward though as I had a lot of things I needed to get done. So determined, in fact, that I purposely left behind extra bottles and changes of clothes for Owen so I would have no choice but to return home. Mass was lovely, Owen behaved wonderfully, and when my mom asked if I wanted to come over as we were walking to our cars I didn't hesitate to answer, "Of course!" I figured Owen and I would make due without the extras somehow.

When I got there my dad and Rick were seated in the living room watching an old episode of NCIS. Rick had been staying with my parents since he was released from the hospital because he had trouble sleeping at home. I think it was also because he enjoyed our father's company and found it comforting to have our mother taking care of him. We exchanged "Hi, how are you?"s and he smiled and said hello to Owen. He said he was feeling okay, but he looked off to me. He was pale and sweaty. He was jittery and anxious but I was told these were side effects to one of the prescriptions he was taking. I could tell he was uncomfortable but he was doing his best to ignore it. My brother was a sweet but tough guy.

While I'm convinced I will remember that day forever, the one memory that will always stand out to me is when our mom offered to make Rick a grilled cheese sandwich. She apologized that all she had left was rye bread but he didn't mind. She offered to make one for me but quickly realized there wasn't enough bread to make two sandwiches. I told her not worry about it, but when she brought Rick's sandwich out to him he said, "Katie, do you want half of my sandwich? I know I won't be able to eat the whole thing and I'd hate to see it go to waste if you'll eat it." And just like that, my brother shared one of his last meals with me.

My parents set out to take Rick back home a few hours later and I followed suit.

I got the call at 7:45 the next morning. It was my older sister leaving a message that I still can't bring myself to erase: "Hey Katie, it's Kim. Um, Mom just called me, she wanted me to call everybody and let them know Rick's at Mercy. He's in ICU. He has pneumonia. She said he's not doing very well, but she wanted me to call everybody and let them know. So, um, give me a call if you have any questions. I'll talk to you later. Bye."

I was at work for exactly one hour and a good chunk of that time was spent on the phone with my sister, me crying and asking as many questions as I could, and her doing the best she could to remain calm. She told me everyone else was already en route to the hospital and that's when I knew it was really, really bad and I had to go, too.

By the time I got there Rick was already intubated and heavily sedated. My parents had brought him in around 2:00 that morning after he'd vomited blood and began having trouble breathing. The doctors began by giving him oxygen treatments and when he was still struggling to breathe they requested permission to put him on a ventilator. I'm told he initially refused. He told my parents he was done, he couldn't do it anymore. He told my parents, in not so many words, he was giving up the fight to breathe and he'd rather die than be put on the ventilator. My dear, sweet, brave mother, held herself together long enough to convince her son to keep fighting. He let them sedate and intubate him.

The next 48 hours were spent mostly in the waiting room; sharing memories, playing cards, talking about food, or at Rick's bedside, giving him whatever encouragement we had to keep fighting for his life. We were all hoping for the best and only slightly bracing for the worst. The news kept getting worse. Rick had a staph infection as well as pneumonia, but he was hanging in there. He seemed to do the worst at night. His numbers would drop significantly between the hours of 2 and 4am but they always came back in the morning, only slightly lower than they had been the previous morning.

The call I had been dreading came at 4:17 Wednesday morning. Rick's blood pressure was dropping and it was advised that we all come in. By 6:00 AM his wife, our parents, two remaining brothers, two sisters, and I were all standing at his bedside, torn between telling him to keep fighting or letting him go but there really wasn't a choice. His blood pressure was so dangerously low that there was no coming back from here. We were told it was only a matter of hours. Eventually the lack of blood would cause his organs to shutdown and his heart would be the last to go.

I told him it was okay. I told him I would help look after his family. I thanked him for the wonderful memories and told him he didn't have to suffer through this anymore.

At 9:30 AM his wife was seated right beside him, holding his hand. The rest of us were intertwined in one way or another; my father's arm around my mother's shoulders, my head against my father's back, my hand in my little sister's, her hand in my older sister's, my oldest brother with one arm across my shoulders, the other hanging on to the last brother. This is how we watched Rick go. This is how we counted down his heartbeats from 78 to 0. It was the most tragically beautiful 78 seconds of my life. I was half way through the Our Father when his heart rate flat-lined and my father announced, "That's it guys. He's gone." And despite the fact that we spent the morning telling Rick it was okay to let go, I think we all regretted it in that moment. We wanted him back more than anything else in the world.

They removed the ventilator my mother begged him to have put in. Turns out it couldn't save his life but it did give us all a chance to say goodbye. He may not have been conscious but I'm pretty sure he heard us.

Time of death was 9:45 AM. At that time a woman lost her husband, a little girl and little boy lost their father, a man lost his son and his best friend, a woman lost her 3rd born child, and the rest of us lost one of our own--a sibling--one of 3 boys and 3 girls. Our balance will be off forever.


In Loving Memory
Richard P. "Rick" Crano
September 22, 1975 - June 30, 2010

From his memorial card:

God saw that you were getting tired
And cure was not to be:
So He put His arms around you
and whispered, "Come home with me."
With tearful eyes we watched you suffer,
And saw you fade away:
Although we loved you dearly,
We could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating.
A determined spirit was at rest:
God broke our hearts to prove to us,
He only takes the best.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bare With Me

If I've learned only one thing in the last 2 and a half weeks it's that NOTHING can prepare you for what it's like to live with a newborn. The prime example being that I typed that first sentence HOURS ago but as soon as I punched the period key a certain newborn began wailing because he had a messy diaper and once that was rectified he needed fed and comforted for the 1000th time tonight. I love Owen more than I can find the words for but it's been a big learning curve for Jon and I to finally see what it's like to give of ourselves unconditionally. Our lives are not our own anymore, and we knew that going in, but I--and I'm ashamed to admit this--didn't quite realize how much that would effect my psyche.

Sometimes I feel like it has been constant chaos from the moment we brought him home, but I know that's just me remembering only the bad moments, like that first night when the inability to sleep in the hospital finally caught up with me, and my 2 day adrenaline rush crashed just as the baby decided it was time to start acting like he would never sleep again. My poor mother-in-law received a pleading call at 4 o'clock in the morning from my panicked husband who had not only been dealing with a screaming infant but a sobbing wife for the entire night. I like to think that was the worst night yet, and even if it was, there have been some very close seconds. We are learning though, me especially, and fortunately I'm feeling better. I'm still really tired, but I'm feeling better.

During my pregnancy I envisioned my 6 week maternity leave to be filled with many, many awesome blog posts about my transition into motherhood but considering I'm having trouble finding the time to pay bills, do laundry, or you know, SLEEP, I don't know how much blogging I can really expect to accomplish. I am at the mercy of a newborn's schedule and I have to say he's taken after his mama in that he is not very merciful...not when it comes to something he wants.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Introducing...

Owen Michael Keenan

Owen's first photo


Born exactly one week ago today on Monday, February 22, 2010 at 9:05PM which just so happened to be his due date. He was 7 pounds 7 ounces, 20 inches long, and the most adorable thing I have ever seen.

The actual labor story (a very long story) is yet to come--somewhere between 4AM feedings and the dozens of poopy diapers--but I wanted to be sure to at least let everyone know he has FINALLY arrived and that we're all doing just fine--although I might say differently during one of those 4AM feedings.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So, Yeah...

Did I say I was heading into the OBGYN office with no expectations and a level head today? I'm pretty sure I lied. Although the new word is 4 centimeters. Contractions are becoming slightly stronger and the pelvic pressure is insane. I'm praying I don't have to go another 2 weeks like this.

I look and feel like an ape when I walk.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Few Points to Note

1) No, the gingerbread cake that was supposed to send me into labor on Sunday night did not work, although I probably should have asked just how much I was supposed to eat for the best results. I stopped at 2 slices once I noticed it was 390 calories per serving, but perhaps I was supposed to go all gung-ho and eat the whole thing?

2) The 24 urine test is complete, and has been since Monday morning, but for some reason I still feel like I'm cheating when I actually pee into a toilet bowl! I was so determined to not have to take the stupid test again that my entire Valentine's Day was spent concentrating on the test and not spilling ANYTHING. Every drop was precious. I think it's safe to say I went a little overboard. On the bright side, my urine tested negative for protein and my blood pressure is back down to where it's supposed to be, meaning this particular preeclampsia scare is over!

3) Jon and I went on a tour of the maternity wing of the hospital last night. I thought it would put my mind a little more at ease to know exactly where to go, what type of room I'll be in during and after delivery, and meet a few members of the staff who would be taking care of us. I do think it was beneficial, although I didn't realize I was, oh, 6 months behind the curve and the only woman out of 5 going on the tour who was even remotely close to her due date...let alone a week away! I was the only one who waddled. I was the only one fighting through contractions, however small. I was the only who had to worry about her water breaking in the hallway. It was kind of amusing. As silly and slow as I felt, and even though Jon and I have made enough late night trips to the OB Triage that we already knew where to go, I'm still glad we took the tour. It gave me the opportunity to create a clear picture of what my birthing experience will be like and what mine and the baby's surroundings will be for the few days afterward.

4) My next appointment with the midwife is tomorrow afternoon at which time I'll be checked for further dilation and progress. I'm playing it safe this time and reminding myself that many, many women go a week or more overdue and I can't let myself get upset if I'm still sitting steady at 3 centimeters. It's hard to find a comfortable position nowadays. I'm barely sleeping. My everything hurts and I want nothing more than to see my baby and spend hours deciding who he looks more like, but what I need to remember is it will all happen when it's time to happen and our whole experience will be that much better if we calmly let nature take its course. I think I can do that, but I'm not making any guarantees.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Schmalentine

Jon: "What do you want to do for Valentine's Day?"

Me: "The same thing we do every year: order Chinese take-out and spend a quiet evening at home."

Jon: "You don't want to exchange gifts?"

Me: "No. You know I don't care about Valentine's Day."

Jon: "I know, but when I explain how you feel to the guys at work they all say you're talking in code and you're really asking me for diamonds."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Baby Steps

I'm beginning to think that one of the best perks to having girlfriends is having people to gently push you in the right direction, even if it means pushing you to face something you may be afraid of facing. My best friend, my husband, has a much more fierce, in your face, there's no time for crying! approach to getting me to come out of my safe cocoon, and while I give him kudos for doing what he has to do to get through to me, it also makes me appreciate the more subtle approach my girlfriends have been taking lately. For the last week, my friends have been very calmly but seemingly systematically reminding me that this blog of mine hasn't been updated for over a month! Their sweet, encouraging voices were repeatedly telling me they wanted to hear about my life, my pregnancy, and the crazy things I've been keeping bottled up inside my head. I could be wrong, but I also kind of got the impression that their sweet, encouraging voices were also saying I might go straight to hell if I didn't update soon, and I thought it best not to disappoint this particular group of women.

So what have I been up to while blatantly ignoring my blog? Well, I'm 9 months pregnant, official due date in t-minus 9 days, and because of many factors--my sheer size being one of them--it's kind of hard to think about anything else. This precious little life growing inside of me is getting closer and closer to being on the outside and I've been hell bent on making sure my husband and I are prepared for it, or at least as much as we can be. I'm not naive enough to think one could ever be so prepared that they could endure the amount of sleepless nights we probably have in our near future but we can at least make sure that we start off with all of the necessary baby supplies, good spirits, and a large amount of comfort food stocked in our cupboards.

My discomfort in this last month of pregnancy has been great, but fortunately, my excitement and anticipation in meeting the new little man in my life has been greater. The not knowing when he's coming has been the hardest part of all. I'm the type of person who lives by schedules and to-do lists and this baby has already shown us that his pending arrival is sure to break me of that habit. I like to think that he believes he's setting me free from my schedules and to-do lists and teaching me how to live spontaneously, but I'm probably just crazy.

I graduated to weekly appointments with my midwife on February 1st and I think it surprised us both to find that I was already dilated to 3 centimeters and 55% effaced at 37 weeks. I went in there expecting no change and received the fantastic surprise that my baby could be arriving early. But despite the fact that I just wrote "could be arriving early" I left the office that afternoon thinking he would definitely be arriving early, like--you know--that night, and I didn't have to wait another grueling 22 days to become a mommy! I know now that the past 2 weeks of my life would have been much more calm and relaxed had there been no change and I'd just kept on thinking there was no way this kid was coming before February 22nd. Let me just say that Jon and I have spent far too many hours since then counting possible contractions only to find the time had been wasted because they stopped after an hour each time. Braxton Hicks will probably be the death of me.

My last appointment was on Thursday, and I was so sure I would be dilated far enough for them to send me straight to the hospital that I had Jon install the car seat and toss my bags into the back of his SUV the night before. Obviously, the clothes in my bag are now quite chilly for no reason because that's not exactly how the appointment went. What actually happened was my blood pressure suddenly decided to reach an all time high of 140 and sent everyone in the office into a panic. Suddenly the swelling I've been experiencing in my hands, feet, and ankles didn't appear so innocent and, even though they've yet to find protein in my urine, my midwife became very concerned about preeclampsia. The appointment from that point on is a blur as they rushed to get me out of there fast enough to make it to the lab for more tests. As if the threat of preeclampsia wasn't bad enough, I was also given the news that I had made absolutely no progress and was still dilated to 3 centimeters. The only good news was the baby is measuring at 40 weeks so even if the tests come back positive I can be induced without worrying if he's ready. For now, I'm on house arrest tomorrow since I have to do a 24 hour urine collection starting tomorrow morning and ending Monday morning at which point I will be walking into the lab with a large, orange jug full of pee and they will once again stick me with needles and take more blood. Pregnancy sure is glamorous, eh?

I was livid when I left the OBGYN office on Thursday, mostly because things hadn't gone according to my plan, but also because everyone was in such a hurry to get me to the lab before it closed that Jon and I didn't have much time to ask questions for reassurance. I needed to be told everything was going to be okay, but after a few phone calls, I felt better about the whole visit. Although I must admit, I'm still none too happy about this peeing in a jug thing.

So, in a nutshell, what you've missed in the last month while I was busy pretending this blog didn't exist was actually what it looks like when a woman who is crazy in love with pregnancy finally reaches the end of her rope and wants her baby in her arms already. I'm not good at relinquishing control and it feels kind of silly to only now realize that that's exactly what I have to do while I wait, however impatiently, for my son to be born.

Friday, February 12, 2010

An Imaginary Conversation With My (Hopefully) Soon-to-Be-Born Son

Me: "So...I've discovered this foot hanging out near my rib cage, and I noticed that if I poke it--like this--you start wiggling like a little worm!"

Baby: "Damn it, woman! I'm out of room in here and I have no where else to put that foot, so stop it!"

Me: "Why don't you come out then?"

Baby: "It's too cold out there. I'm waiting for Spring."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Let It Snow

You know what the best thing about working closer to home is? I'm not afraid of snow anymore. The fact that a 15 minute jaunt becomes a half hour drive rather than an hour commute turns into a 2 hour commute would come in a very close second.

So, given the incredible amount of snow that has been dumped on us in the last 3 hours and the promise of many more inches, can I just say--one more time--that getting laid off back in June was one of the absolute best things to ever happen to me? Seriously, if they hadn't closed up shop, not only would I be working for a company that made me miserable AND paid me less, but I would also still be sitting in traffic for another hour from now? Losing my job wasn't tragic...it was a miracle!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

If I had to choose just one word to describe what the holidays were like in the Keenan household my word would be peaceful, and a peaceful holiday season was exactly what Jon and I were after when facing the reality that this would be our last Christmas and New Year celebration as simply Jon and Kate. I don't want that statement to be misconstrued at all, especially not if you think we're at all disappointed at the notion that this was our last holiday season as just the two of us. I think I speak for us both when I say that nothing is more exciting than the idea of having a new little person to celebrate with and that life--especially during the holidays--will be that much more exciting because of the addition. What I mean to say is, since we have met our final months as just husband and wife and soon take on the additional titles of father and mother, why not relish in it? Why not spend it doing exactly what we as a couple have gotten to enjoy so much in the near 11 years we've been together: enjoying each others company. So, we took a nice long nap together in the middle of Christmas Day, and we didn't throw a single party, although we attended many.

Now that the holidays are over my mind is centering more and more around the baby's arrival. It was almost as if the moment January 1st hit I realized we didn't even have a place for him to sleep. I remember that time, months ago, when I accused Jon of expecting the baby to sleep on a blanket in the corner because he didn't want to spend the money on the crib bedding I'd selected and here I was, a little over 2 months away from my due date, and the new bedding I fought so hard for was still tucked away neatly in plastic packaging. At least this setback was rectified Monday night when Jon put the crib together. At the very least, our baby has a place to sleep. But my mind is moving at 100 miles per hour making mental lists of the millions of things I've yet to do and the very little time I have to do it. I'm pretty sure this where I get to say...let the nesting begin.