Friday, May 30, 2008

Sleep Most Important

It occurred to me yesterday, when I was feeling utterly miserable, that sleep could be the pivotal factor in a happy pregnancy. Let me 'splain...

I've noticed that on the nights I make sure to go to bed earlier and get enough sleep (although, enough is a word open to interpretation these days) I wake up the next morning and have a great day. Food tastes good. I have energy. I go to work and then come home and putter around doing housewifely things (such as dishes, laundry, making the bed, etc.).

However... On the nights I stay up and hang out with hubby or read Lord of the Rings far past my bedtime I wake up the next morning feeling AWFUL (yes, it's that bad - and no, I'm not whining). It's not only that I'm tired, but nothing tastes good, I have no energy, and I am pretty much useless at work. It used to be that sleeping 6 hours instead of 8 hours just made me tired. Now I feel sick and useless. Forget about coming home and tidying the house - ain't gonna happen.

I'm not sure if this is a wide-spread phenomenon or if it's just me. Either way, my big plans this weekend definitely include shutting off the alarm and sleeping until obscenely late on Sunday morning. Thank goodness for 12:15 Mass...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


This week my baby is "barely the size of a kumquat," if you were curious.

Can't Believe It's Not Monday

Memorial weekend was wonderful, full of exciting events (early morning rummage sales, shopping for maternity capris and a new bathing suit, honest-to-goodness real warm weather, organizing the huge pile on my desk), and a wonderful vacation from work on Monday and Tuesday. But now I'm a little disoriented. Although today is Wednesday, it's like my Monday of a very short week. And I'm a little behind on my daily life. When I take a vacation I tend to believe that all time stops. It's beyond weird to discover that time has, in fact, been racing along despite my perception.

Anyway, I can't stop to long to update the blog because I have actual work to do today. Luckily, Friday is almost here!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A (Nearly) Finished Scrapbook

For the past several months I have been working on a scrapbook with my mother-in-law. I think we began it last August - but took a long break from October to January. It's been a long project, to say the least. And we finally reached the joyful moment of putting the finished pages in the album last weekend. Just in time.

The scrapbook is actually a gift for Ryan's youngest sister, Steff, who is graduating from high school at the end of May. It's tradition in their family to prepare a scrapbook of the graduate's 18 years of life and present it on graduation day. I was called in to help with the project because Steff was the scrapbooking queen for her older brother and sister, and there are no younger siblings to carry on the tradition for her. It actually worked out well because I love to scrapbook and I really love my newest little sister.

It's been such an interesting project for me to work on. First of all, I've spent a lot of time in cahoots with my mother-in-law. I am so thankful that we get along really well! We've had a lot of fun shopping at the huge scrapbook store for colorful papers and stickers and sifting through boxes of old family photos. I've tried to keep her motivated and on track and she's let me take charge of organizing the project. We've spent countless hours together in the basement pouring over stencils, scissors, and adhesives with old chick flicks on tv keeping us company in the background. In the last year I've spent more time with her than any of my other girl friends!

Secondly, it's quite intriguing to piece together a scrapbook of someone else's life. I showed up in Steff's family about six years ago and have my own perspective on her life from that time. Until 2002, however, it's mostly unknown to me. How are you supposed to pick out the most important memories for someone else? But it's been fun to delve into her life, to see pictures of her growing from a baby into a young woman. So, I just picked my favorite pictures and went crazy on the page design.

Third and finally, I've realized that this project really is a labor of love. There was a moment a few weeks ago when the thought suddenly occurred to me that I would not be the owner of the pages I had so painstakingly created. As an artist, it was a sad moment to know that I was giving away a piece of myself, never to return. But as a sister I was able to embrace the sacrifice because my love for Steff is so much greater than my selfishness. And I knew that of all people Steff would understand the nature of my gift.

She graduates in 8 days. The 2 volume album contains over 120 total pages. There are only 3 pages yet unfinished. I've spend almost every weekend for the last 4 months pouring over this book. But most importantly, I've gained more than I've given - in relationships, self-sacrifice, and introspection. Now it's time to begin the work on my own scrapbooking projects!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Would That Be Green or Purple?

Did I mention that our little baby is now the size of a grape?

Disappointed in Prince Caspian

I'm a big believer in the "don't mess with a good thing" philosophy. And I am especially critical of books turned into movies. The best movies deviate very little from the written masterpieces. After all, isn't the movie created because the book was such a hit? Which brings me to my disappointment in Prince Caspian.

On the surface the movie was quite enjoyable. The costumes and makeup were rich in detail, the outdoor locations were gorgeous. The film technique was interesting with varied shots and angles - and it caught the lighting so well in the woods. An even bigger bonus - the young actors did a great job. I really enjoyed the "artsy" outer layer of the film. But the plot ruined it for me.

The plot barely hung onto the fringes of the written story and left out the deep character development that gives Prince Caspian it's substance. It wasn't just that the director added romantic tension between Susan and Prince Caspian (which pulled us away from Susan's real focus in the book - her relationship to Aslan), but he eradicated almost all of the Christian allegory.

There were two bits of dialogue that left me with an uncomfortable feeling, like something just wasn't right. After the movie I talked with Ryan about it and he was able to clarify what the movie said versus what C.S. Lewis originally wrote.

Scene 1: Lucy has just found Aslan in the forest, after she has ridden from battle in search of help. She asks Aslan if the events in Narnia would have been different if she had sought him earlier. The movie version has Aslan tell her that we can never know the what would have happened while in the book version Aslan actually says that no one is ever told what would have happened if she had acted differently. The difference is subtle but so important! C.S. Lewis wants us to know that Aslan has the power to see the end result of all choices Lucy is offered, just has God can see the different outcomes to the choices we are offered. In the movie Aslan seems just as clueless as the little girl he guides. There is no sense that an all-powerful Aslan (God) knows the different outcomes of Lucy's choices.

Scene 2: Aslan is sending the children back to England after their adventure in Narnia. Aslan's explanation to the children why Susan and Peter will not return to Narnia in the movie is very different from the explanation in the book. In the movie Aslan tells the children that Peter and Susan have learned what they can from Narnia and now must learn what they can from their own home. In the book Aslan tells them that Peter and Susan have learned to love him as best they can in Narnia and now must learn to love him by his name in their own world. Aslan is a Christ-figure. He's telling the children in the book to go back home and grow deeper in their relationship with Christ. The movie takes out all reference to God, Christ, and the real nature of the children's relationship to Aslan.

When you look the two versions of Prince Caspian side by side the movie pales in comparison to the book. The director obviously thought his audience couldn't handle a film with deep character development, as the children struggle primarily with their relationship to Aslan (God) - and therefore took out all reference to God, replacing it with a fluffy romantic anti-relationship between Susan and Caspian and extra battle scenes that don't exist in the book version.

I am quite disappointed to find the work of C.S. Lewis severed from it's original content and meaning. And I'm just not sure if I want to waste my time on any other new movie versions of The Chronicles of Narnia. Maybe I'll just stick to the old BBC versions from my childhood, even if they don't look as cool on the surface.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Little Kidney Bean

I feel like a terrible blogger. Two really good posting days have passed me by and I have failed to post anything new. So here's a shout-out to Mother's Day (Sunday, May 11) and to the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima (Tuesday, May 13). I feel better now.

* * *

So, I've been thinking: Right at this very moment I have a tiny baby, the size of a kidney bean, growing inside of me. I don't look very different yet (although I did take pictures on Sunday to commemorate achieving 8 weeks of pregnancy), and I have gained a total of about half a pound. I'm ok with that weight gain. I'm supposed to gain about 5-7 pounds in the first trimester and I was at least 5 pounds overweight to begin with. I think my body is adjusting itself.

For some reason the kidney bean image resonates with me. Perhaps it's because the shape is correct - my baby has a big head and tiny arms and legs, and is all curled up in a little semi-circle. Sometimes I can't quite wrap my mind around what is actually going on inside of me. But now that my baby is the size of a kidney bean... Well, that size makes sense to me.

I read another women's musings on pregnancy recently (and desperately tried to find the original source for my own post, but have no idea where to find it, so here's a shout-out to whoever you are) and was struck by her words.

During the time when I discover I am pregnant until I am able to feel my child moving in my womb, I feel the closest to God.

Or something close to that. It's not a direct quote. But the essence of her words has stuck with me since reading them.

The time I am in now is such weird time to be in - knowing that I am pregnant, but not having any "proof" of it. I don't look pregnant yet, I can't feel the baby moving inside of me, and I don't really feel the effects of first trimester sickness. And there's still a possibility that something could go wrong and I could have a miscarriage. So I've got to have patience and trust that God will take care of me and my little kidney bean. Not only do I have to trust that a new person really is growing inside my womb, but I also have to act responsibly for my baby. This is a time that requires my faith to increase beyond what I know through my senses.

I don't necessarily feel closer to God at this moment, but I understand why the other mother does. Right now it's hard to connect with my baby, to even believe he or she is really there. So now is the time to throw myself into my Father's arms and trust Him, to let Him take care of us both. In becoming vulnerable, God will draw me close to Himself.

And my little kidney bean will continue to grow. Soon I will be able to hear a heart-beat and to feel little feet and hands punching me from inside out. I won't need to have faith that my baby is there because I will know from my sense experiences that he or she exists. I will have my "proof" at last. It makes this time important for my relationship with God. I understand why the those words have stuck with me. I have an opportunity at this moment to do more than just wait.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Our First Doctor Appointment

Yesterday was our first doctor appointment. And now that I think about it, we never did see an actual doctor... But that is because Ryan and I have decided to try a midwife for our first pregnancy. She comes highly recommended by my chiropractor - and why not stick with more natural medicine if that's what I'm already used to doing?

The truth is that I have no idea what I am doing and yesterday I was a little nervous.

I get that way when I have to do something new or different. In the two years Ryan and I have been married I've never even visited the medical complex that I will now be frequenting over the next 7 months. I don't really get sick and I'm never accident prone. In fact, I've only been to hospitals to visit other people. I just don't like pain and I will avoid at any cost the type of activities that might cause pain. And now I'm on this roller coaster of pregnancy that will inevitably end in the extreme pains of labor. Hence, my nervousness.

Luckily the appointment yesterday calmed my agitated state. It was your basic informative meeting. The nurse practitioner walked us through what to expect over the next 7 months. She also gave us a stack of literature on how to maintain a safe pregnancy (i.e. what type of foods to avoid, how to exercise, behaviors to restrict, etc.). We even received a little "gift bag" of prenatal vitamins and baby magazines.

Once the nurse started talking I realized that I already knew a lot of the information she was imparting to us. In college I took an embryology class (and freaked out because we talked so much about the problems of pregnancy that it seemed nearly impossible to give birth to a healthy child!) and I've done a little bit of my own online research in the past 3 weeks. The nurse's words confirmed my own knowledge and felt more like a refresher course than a brand new subject. It was soothing to hear her speak on familiar topics. She also seemed to know just what to say, almost reading the questions in my mind.

More than anything, I was thankful for Ryan's presence at the appointment. It was never a question if he would join me - but I can't help appreciating his support anyway. I know he will be at my side throughout this pregnancy, catering to my silly whims and protecting me from harm. He will be my strength at the delivery and my child's advocate from the moment of birth until we arrive safely home. Ryan's support and strength give me peace in a time of uncertainty and unanswerable questions. I can't imagine going through pregnancy without him. More than anything, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my husband, this man shaped by God and chosen for me in marriage. I don't know why I deserve him; I am humbled at the goodness of the Lord who brought us together.

Although I diverge from the story of our doctor appointment, I can't help but mention my husband. He was quiet through most of the appointment, but always at full attention. And he will continue to join me for these appointments - especially as they become more exciting and we learn more about our child.

It all feels real now. We are really going to have a baby. The adventure has just begun...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Eating for Two (or; Having to Eat is Not as Fun as Wanting to Eat!)

The first question I am asked these days is "how are you feeling?" Most of time time I can smile and claim that I don't really feel different. Maybe I am more tired and hungry than before pregnancy - but mostly I feel the same as I did two months ago. Since a few days ago I think a different answer is required of me.

I am very lucky. I haven't been sick. But I don't feel "well" either. I am in a constant state of uneasiness and slight upset stomach. It's not the kind of thing that debilitates me - it's just annoying. And I am beginning to feel little bit less excited about being pregnant. I mean, no one told me that it would be a breeze, but somehow I had the distinct impression that I would feel blissful through the majority of my pregnancy. Aren't pregnant women supposed to be so happy and glowing?

I keep thinking about the conversation I had with my mother and grandmother the day I told them the good news. They both assured me they never suffered from morning sickness. But my mom told me that she constantly ate to stave off the feelings of nausea. She said she gained her 25-30 by the time 6 months rolled around because she was eating all the time! Oh, no. I am so prepared not to gain anymore weight than what is necessary!

I think I am beginning to understand just why my mother ate so frequently.

Since becoming pregnant, I've found out that I am required to eat more often. I am not talking about they stereotypical "eating for two cause it's just an excuse to gorge myself." When I feel hungry I also feel sick. And then my blood sugar drops and I feel faint. I actually have to put food in my body or it gets angry at me! Eating frequently also requires extra meal preparation. I have to bring twice as much food to work to last me throughout the day. And it has be high in protein (or it's just not worth the time it takes to eat it). *sigh* It's a lot of work to eat properly these days.

I can't help but compare my current eating habits to those in my past. Gluttony has always been a temptation for me. I love to enjoy food! If I'm watching TV or a movie, I've got to have something to munch on. At dinner I always grab seconds - and one cookie is never enough to satisfy my craving. My freshman year of college I gained my frosh 20 in the first semester (thanks, in part, to the all-you-can-eat buffet). Since college I've battled with my weight, at least mentally/emotionally, but I've not been successful at permanently curbing my eating habits.

Now it would seem that I can finally relax about food. I will gain weight - and that's a good thing, not to mention an unavoidable change. I have a free pass to give into my cravings and eat exactly what I want when I want it. The only problem is that I don't really enjoy eating anymore! It's become more of a chore than a pleasure. And, to top it all off, I never really feel settled or satisfied after I've eaten.

Well, I keep thinking that I've got one more month to slug it through the not-fun part of pregnancy. I keep hearing that the 2nd trimester is the best trimester. It's going to be great. I can just feel it. At the very least, it's something to focus on while I am dealing with the next four weeks!

And as I suffer through weird changes in my body, I always have something to offer up in prayer. I'm trying to remember to focus beyond myself. There's always someone who needs a prayer more than I do.