Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sleep, wherefore art thou?

The scary thing is, I know how elusive sleep often is with an infant in the house, so I wish I could get some sleep now. But alas. I remember this from my first pregnancy.

This is how my nights go lately:

They actually start around 2 pm. Sad, but true. Start to feel groggy and exhausted. Maybe it's just the cold, but this week I feel like someone managed to sedate me without my knowledge or permission.

By time I get home from work, I'm on auto-pilot. I try to work up some energy to play with Henry and slap something on the table for dinner resembling food. For the time being, gone are the days of meticulously planned meals from new cookbooks. This would involve me actually opening a cookbook, and that just seems to require too much energy right now.

After Henry goes to bed, I try to do my Lenten reading and knit, possibly watch TV with Mike. If I make it to 8:30, I consider that a victory. 9 pm downright calls for a party.

I read in bed for a half hour or so and fall asleep.

Somewhere between 2 and 4:30 am, I will insidiously wake up. Whereas I used to be able to simply fall back to sleep, that seems to be a distant memory. I usually try one sideways contortion to get into a more comfortable position before giving up the ghost and heading to the restroom. I check on Hank, and get into bed.

An hour later, I'M STILL AWAKE. It's all very vexing. Sometimes, defying all reason, I'll have to go to the bathroom again. Other times, I just desperately try to soothe myself to sleep and am simply unsuccessful. Often, an hour after that, I'M STILL AWAKE. Naturally, I'll start to doze right around 6 am, shortly before I have to be up for the day.


The next day, this cycle repeats itself most nefariously. And the frustrating thing is that, right now, at 2:07 pm, if I were at home in bed, I could fall asleep in 5 seconds and be unconscious for the foreseeable future. Why does this not happen at night? Frankly, I blame the hormones. They're an easy target.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

so, so sleepy...

Short post today, since my energy level is approximating that of a sloth. Hank and I had some sort of quickie bug over the weekend, and it has morphed into an energy-sucking cold. Not a big deal, but it's really kicking my butt. I'm also in that final 8 week stretch of my pregnancy. I can't complain at all, I really feel great most of the time. But I can feel my sciatica ramping up a tad, and the general discomforts of the final weeks starting to settle in. That's totally expected, and it'll be over soon, but the combo with the cold this week is pretty challenging.

It's ok, because above all, I'm SO, SO excited about the baby coming. And this all means that the baby is coming soon. But I definitely need more rest right now. I tend to not slow down for anything, even advanced pregnancy, and sometimes, I need to cut myself some slack. My right eyelid has been twitching a lot of late, and I know it's from fatigue. I feel super rundown. We'll get there.

I'm still doing my Lenten reading, but after that, it's back to the birthing books, and this time, I'm optimistic about being up for the challenge. Book reviews to come. :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baby CL's latest check up...

Because we're all so very interested in knowing what's going on with them, no? I was at the obstetrician yesterday for my 32 week appointment. Baby CL is measuring perfectly, with a steady heart rate of 135 beats per minute. I have gained 20 pounds, which the nurse practitioner exclaimed all excitedly about how good that is. I know, it is good, it's just that hauling around 20 extra pounds is very much not fun, albeit for a good cause. :) So far, everything is totally uneventful, which is the way I want it to be. No signs of preeclampsia, all is well.

The baby has dropped even lower, and I'm pretty sure their head is engaging in my pelvis. This is very good news. I'm also having a lot more Braxton Hicks contractions this time around. Mike seems a little concerned that this means that I'll have the baby early, but I don't think so. I think that the second (and above) time around, your body prepares more effectively. Thus, the timing of labor is not affected, it will be either slightly before or after 40 weeks just like it would otherwise be, but once started, it will be more productive more quickly. We'll see, but that's what I'm hoping for. This may mean I'm unceremoniously breaking out the truck driver language earlier on in the labor process, but hey; I can live with that.

Because the baby is positioned so much lower, I'm a lot more comfortable (except for my poor, poor bladder; please forgive me dear bladder, and come back to your regular self after delivery!) but there's also some sensations associated with this that can only be characterized as "odd." I don't think I need to go into any more detail, we all know what I'm talking about, yes? These sensations have caused me to, at times, resort to the "pregnant woman waddle." As well, today for the first time, I noticed that when I dropped something when I was walking, the first thought that came to my mind was:

"Do I really need that?"

Because bending down is not high on my list of priorities these days. It involves a ballet-like plie move that can be teetered or tottered very easily into a very unladylike face plant.

At any rate, these things are actually quite exciting to me this time around, because I know that they mean that the baby is getting bigger and will be here soon!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Unidentified objects in the night

I'm 8 months pregnant, so, you know, I'm emotional. I think this goes with the territory. :) And lately, my nesting instinct has kicked into high gear to boot. I'm due in 8 weeks, and I did deliver Henry at 39 weeks. Theoretically, I could deliver anytime beginning 5 weeks from now. Despite my desperate desire for greater physical comfort, this actually terrifies me. I'll have a newborn in my house within 2 months. Dear Lord. Is it possible to remain pregnant for another year so that I'll be more ready? How about just remaining pregnant *forever*? As Blance Deveraux of The Golden Girls said once to her daughter:

" Oh Honey, no you don't. It's a bad look."

At any rate, at 8 weeks and counting, we have no nursery for the baby. This is my second baby, so I know that you don't actually *need* a nursery for the baby, it's just that your nesting instincts demand it. We do finally have some pretty important baby items that I didn't have leftover from Henry: diaper pail, changing pad and covers, bassinette. We were also gifted a new bouncer, which although not necessary, I'm very grateful for because I know that it will come in extremely handy. I have some friends who are going to loan me a baby bathtub and a sling/carrier, so we're really getting there.

But some items we can reuse, and so late last week I ventured into our storage space. Our house has been around for a decent amount of time, about 75 years, and it has all sort of interesting nooks and crannies. One of them is this storage space, We live in the Northeast, so we do have a basement, but we try to keep the stuff down there minimal since we eventually want to finish that space and create a family room. This storage room is on the second floor, off of one of the bedrooms, and is totally unfinished. It has slanty ceilings, the whole bit, but there's plenty of room in there for Christmas decorations, our window A/C units, and of course, baby equipment and toys.

Last week, I was in search of our swing. I wanted to dust it off, get it all ready, that sort of thing. It was tucked back into a recessed area of the storage, along with bags of clothes that Henry has outgrown and other equipment we haven't used in a long time, like the high chair, exersaucer, crib mobile, etc. With a newborn, I found that our swing (we have a cradle version) was essential; it soothed fussy Henry so much and I want it all ready for Baby CL's arrival.

So, I turn on the light in there and look about expectantly. The more "open" front section of the storage is filled with stuff that we need to access more frequently. Thus, I had to move some things or otherwise lean over them to access the baby equipment. Eventually, I was standing at the foot of the baby equipment mountain. I spotted the swing right away, naturally, toward the middle, which necessitated some gentle tugging and pressure. I could have called Mike, but me being me, I was a woman possessed and just wanted to forge ahead. Finally, I dislodged the main part of the swing and inched it toward me. Hark! What is *that* I see on the seat of the swing?


*Mike hurries upstairs* "What's wrong?"

"Um, Sweetheart, see the swing here? What do you think that stuff is on the seat?" *prays silently*

"Hum. Well, that kind of looks like wood shavings or something that fell from the ceiling." *conducts physical examination while the Catholic Librarian bites her nails* "I'm not sure, I think it's just stuff that fell from the ceiling."

"Oh good." *breathes sigh of relief*

"But that stuff there? That's mouse droppings."

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN?!" *the Catholic Librarian says a bit too loudly as she plants herself firmly in the 'denial' camp*

"Well, at some point, there were mice in there. I saw some droppings when we first moved in, though I hadn't seen any since."

"You mean, there were *mice* on our baby's swing?! In our *house*?! This can't be!"

"Don't panic. This is pretty common for spaces like these, and since the house was vacant for a long time before we moved in, this may have happened right after we put this stuff in there and hasn't happened since. We haven't *seen* any mice, so it's probably fine. Let's take a closer look this weekend when we have more time, we can clean up in there, and we can also get this seat cover off and wash it."

Mike is always the voice of reason. Me, I am the voice of extreme emotion. That night, I literally couldn't sleep. I lived for a time in New York City, and still, mice I cannot bear. I draw the line at roaches, thank you very much.

I'm certainly not *afraid* that a mouse will hurt me (or a roach either, for that matter). There's just something about their very existence, in my house, that repels me and makes me want to shut my eyes and squeal. I don't care that they are small and furry, have faces, and some people keep them as pets. They are *rodents*. Vermin, really. I don't want them loose in my home, running all akimbo to their hearts desire, munching on my things, and leaving disgusting little pellets in their wake.

So that night, I had nightmares about mice crawling around in my baby's room, running over sweet yellow and green decor with scampering paws, menacing my baby with forked tails and beady eyes.

On Sunday, I paced outside the storage door with the vacuum cleaner attachment all hooked up and ready to go until Mike was ready. Despite my nervous energy, I couldn't bring myself to go inside. This is where husbands really come in handy. Mike trudged right on in in his socked feet armed with a large flashlight. He fully extracted both the swing (complete with disgusting cover) and the exersaucer.

"I don't see any other droppings in here. But if makes you feel any better, I can get some traps."

Traps? Suddenly, the Catholic Librarian develops a conscience about long-tailed rodents, formerly minions of the devil himself.

"Oh no, I don't think we should do that. I mean, that would hurt them."

Mike arched a brow at me, but I remained firm. We vacuumed off the swing cover, and hustled it right down to the washing machine. It's currently drying happily, and all is well it. Good thing, since we certainly don't have $130 lying around to replace it.

All is well, assuming I don't actually *see* a mouse. If that happens, I don't care how cute their ears and noses are, I'm calling an exterminator.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Third Weekend of Lent...

This weekend I am once again the on-duty catechist for Children's Liturgy of the Word at my parish. This is one of 3 more sessions that I have scheduled prior to my due date in May. I have one more in Lent, and then my last one until the fall is on May 1st, Divine Mercy Sunday, which I can't wait for.

As I've been relaying, I enjoy very much being more involved in my parish, and I do like young children. However, I didn't really realize what I was getting myself into with this particular program. :) In a nutshell, most Sundays during the 10 am Mass, from the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word to the beginning of the offertory, a parish catechist (namely me, or one of about 4 others) accompanies any interested young child (targeted to children who are comfortable being without mom for about 20 minutes and who have not yet begun formal religious education) into the sacristy for a discussion on the readings that the children can better understand.

But... what I didn't realize was that trying to hold a discussion with a group of young children of varying ages is pretty difficult. Not to mention, people do send back children with older siblings who are really too young to get anything of the program. The instant a 3 year old quite naturally cannot pay attention and so throws her dolly in the air and runs in circles, the other children are instantly distracted, and this even from their own short attention spans. Some Sundays, I leave feeling like the kids actually paid attention and got something out of it, which makes me thrilled. More often than not, however, I feel stressed for the duration of our time together because I spend the interval doing nothing but crowd control.

I emailed the Director of Religious Ed. recently about us needing replacement posters for Lent, and happened to mention that this was a tough age group to keep focused for any length of time. Her reply resonated with me so deeply that, although she didn't have a solution to offer, made me feel so much better. She said, "I know it can seem like you are babysitting sometimes...but don't be discouraged!" And as soon as I read that, I felt assured, because that's it exactly! And me being me, I was worried that I felt like I was babysitting because I wasn't doing enough to engage their attention.

So, I feel better. :) And it's Lent, and so it can be part of my Lenten journey. This Sunday is the First Scrutiny for the RCIA candidates. I'll probably miss it, since I'll be in the sacristy with the kids, but it's so exciting knowing that the program is marching on. Soon, Easter will be in sight!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What's going on with the belly?

I will say that one really nice thing about late pregnancy is that your belly is like a toy that is always attached to you. There's always something interesting going on in there.

For about the past week, I've gotten the feeling that something is afoot in Baby CL's water home. Suddenly, my sciatica, although still present, is not nearly as bad. Even more impressive, the *crippling* digestive pain that I've had for this entire pregnancy is almost entirely gone. I did a belly inspection today and had my knitting friends do the same over lunch. The verdict is in: my belly is definitely and suddenly lower.


I don't think the baby is coming early or anything. It's just nice to know that everything is progressing as it should, and you get this reassurance so much earlier in a second + pregnancy. I've been noticing hiccups coming from the direction of my nether regions for the past few weeks, so I'm pretty confident that Baby CL is in the head down position. Now, I think their head has engaged lower into my pelvis, and that's just fine with me. Lock her in there! We don't want any flipping prior to birth. :)

I carried Hank higher for my entire pregnancy, right up until I went into labor, so maybe that explains the horrible sciatica and restrictive breathing I experienced with him. Now, granted, this baby is about to get a heck of a lot bigger in the coming weeks, so these discomforts may still come back to cozy up to me. But I'll take any reprieve that I can get. I'm feeling very happy with my belly right now.

Unfortunately, my bladder is now taking the brunt of things, but hey. You can't have everything. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lenten theme for Wednesday

I've been reading from In Conversation with God every weekday, and today's theme is "To Drink of the Lord's Chalice."I just get so much from this series; it's really wonderful.

A few excerpts for today that I found edifying and underlined:

"James and John ask for a place of honor in the new kingdom, and Jesus talks to them about redemption. He asks them if they are ready to suffer with him. He uses the familiar Hebrew image of a chalice, which symbolizes the will of God for an individual."

"Christian life cannot exist without sacrifice...We cannot follow Christ if we do not recognize him as our Savior, if we do not honor him in the mystery of the Cross...The Lord turned suffering into a means of redemption."

"What previously was meaningless now makes sense in Christ."

"Penance is knowing how to reconcile your duties to God, to others, and to yourself, by making demands on yourself so that you find enough time for each of your tasks. You are practicing penance when you lovingly keep to your schedule of prayer, despite feeling worn out, listless or cold."

"Penance means being very charitable at all times toward those around you, starting with the members of your own family. It is to be full of tenderness and kindness towards the suffering, the sick and the infirm. It is to give patient answers to people who are boring and annoying. It means interrupting our work or changing our plans, when circumstances make this necessary, above all when the just and rightful needs of others are involved."

"A spirit of penance keeps us from becoming too attached to the vast imaginative blueprints we have made for our future projects...What joy we give to God when we are happy to lay aside our third-rate painting efforts and let him put in the features and colors of his choice."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Childbirth: I'm all refreshed

Last night, I attended my hospital's "Childbirth Refresher" class, and naturally, I'm here to provide all the details. We didn't have a babysitter, so Mike had to stay home with Hank. I was sad, but I gave him the blow-by-blow when I got home, so he didn't miss a moment, really. :)

Anyway, when I arrived, I turned in my pre-registration form (did this with Hank too, and it means you don't have to stop at Admissions when you're in labor), got some decaf, and headed down to the conference room. There was a lot of people there, and all had at least one other child at home. Most had delivered at this hospital. The instructor gave a good overview of the birthing process, some breathing and relaxation techniques, and the ins and outs of pain relief medication. What she advised was all of the things I've been reading about natural childbirth: change positions frequently (and she gave us a slew of different ones we could try), relaxation breathing (in through nose, out through mouth) and stay at home as long as possible.

Last time, like most first time mothers, I got to the hospital too early. At least, that's my opinion. My doctor felt I had progressed enough to admit me, but I was only 3 centimeters dilated, and thus I was not yet in active labor. I was having regular contractions, but they were not that intense and I could still easily talk through them. I resisted getting into positions in which the contractions hurt more because I was afraid of the pain. Hence, the introduction of Pitocin, and hence the introduction of the epidural, and hence it taking me nearly 3 hours to push Hank out because I could not feel the urge to bear down and push effectively.

This time, I'm very glad to have at least that one experience under my belt. I feel like I'm in a better position now to have the type of birth I'd like. Of course, the unexpected can always happen, but I'm feeling more confident.

Even during the birthing room tour, I didn't feel panicky like I did last time, when I realized that the next time I was there, I'd be in excruciating pain with people looking at me half undressed, neither of which puts me in any kind of comfort zone. I just felt better, and that makes me feel good.

Our instructor was also very positive about the birthing experience and how women have so many choices now in childbirth, even in a hospital environment. She said that the decision on inserting an IV line and electronic fetal monitoring were all up to our doctors, which I didn't know. I assumed it was hospital policy that dictated those things. The hospital does have walking monitors, and birthing balls and showers in every birthing suite, all of which made me happy. She also said that they emphasize mom/baby togetherness even more now than ever before, and have some new policies to reflect this. Following delivery, babies will remain with Mommy for a full hour. You can have skin-to-skin contact and breastfeed. After that, baby will go to the nursery to lay under the infant warmer for 2 hours, while the nurses assist the mom in getting a shower, stabilized, and transferred to the Mother/Baby Unit. Following that interval, baby will meet up with you and can be with you 24 hours hours a day, in what they call their "rooming-in" emphasis. This is totally different from when I had Hank.

I remember resenting the shower bullying right after I delivered Hank, but I now know that this is for a very legitimate medical reason. The time following childbirth (not during labor) is actually the most dangerous time of the process for the woman. They worry about postpartum hemorrhage at this juncture, and thus the nurses want to assure that your uterus is contracting back down properly, and that you're able to get up out of bed and walk around on your own, especially if you have had an epidural (which 80% of all women delivering in hospitals nationwide do). They also want you to be able to pass urine. The shower is kind of a nicey-nice way of them assuring that this is all happening as it should. Let's just say that peeing (or the other) after childbirth is nothing short of a terrifying prospect, and the warm running water can be a bit of a relaxing impetus, if you will.

I actually had no problem with any of the scenarios that were presented, aside from the continual fetal monitoring. In a low-risk pregnancy and delivery, that simply isn't necessary, and intermittant monitoring would be more than sufficient. But I can live with it, and the book she gave us showed some photos of women manuevering into different labor and birth positions all while strapped up to the monitor, so that made me feel better.

It was all very thought-provoking. The final thing that elicited a lot of response was the epidural video that we watched. I've had an epidural, and without a doubt worship the EPIDURAL GOD because I know what my labor felt like and what the subsequent epidural relief felt like. But even knowing all that, watching the video would make the most hardened epidural fan want to pass. :) It is a scary sounding procedure, and watching it is no walk in the park either.

I guess the key is: you just never know what your birth is going to be like. We all have a set of expectations, and it's easy to feel disappointed if this enormous life event doesn't go exactly as those expectations specified. I didn't want an epidural last time either; but given how my labor unfolded, I got one, and I don't regret it one bit. Is my anesthesiologist slated for canonization? If he's not, he should be.

Even thinking about those contractions now makes me break out in a cold sweat. Oh Mack truck, how nice of you to visit me again, so soon after your last departure. What was that? 60 seconds ago? I see that once again you're headed right for my abdomen...

I just remember the thought that went through my head. Because, in early labor, you'll think "oh, I can totally handle this." And you can, we all can. But once I was in active labor and that Pitocin was kicked on?

"THIS is what it feels like? For the love of GOD call the anesthesiologist!"

This is why I'm avoiding the Pitocin this time. Now I will grant, late active labor and transition contractions are going to be powerhouses even without the Pitocin, so I may be visiting with the friendly on-call anesthesiologist again 8 weeks from now. We'll see. But this time, I think I have more tools in my arsenal such that I have a better chance of staving it off. But if I feel that I need it, I'll get it. God bless modern medicine.

The one thing I'm not interested in is narcotics. Has anyone heard a single good thing about these? "Oh, they'll make you and the baby sleepy, but they won't take the pain of the contractions away?" Really? Then what good are they? For me, it's either nothing, or the epidural. No in between.

So, we'll see. Naturally, you will all know about my birth experience with a full minute-by-minute breakdown shortly following the big event. :) We'll see what the future holds, but I'm honestly excited to find out this time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lent and dance: good for the soul

Those two don't seem to have anything in common, but right now for me, they very much do. I love Lent, and the spiritual reflection that it prompts, and this year is no exception. I haven't really "given anything up" this year; instead, I'm doing more spiritual reading and contemplation. I've started Fr. Walter Ciszek's He Leadeth Me, and as I'd heard, it's excellent. I'll write a full review when I finish it, closer to Easter. I've also been pulling out my study Bible in small bursts. Mass, as well, has been an increased joy. Since my "version" back to the Church in my early twenties (since I never really left, just got lax) I have never missed Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation except for illness. As you all know, though, sometimes Mass is edifying and transcendent, other times it's just fine but you feel nothing special, and other times still you have to prompt yourself a bit to get out the door. I think that's a very normal part of the spiritual journey. Especially when you have young children. The wrangling involved in getting them to sit quietly through an hour long service is sometimes more than we can bear with anything other than gritted teeth and a pasted on smile.

But these past 2 weeks have been just magical. I know that we go to Mass because the Lord is there in the Eucharist, and because it strengthens our relationship with Him to spend time worshiping Him whether or not we *feel* like it. But when we do feel something, it's a spiritual lift like no other. Maybe it's because I am close to someone who will be baptized and confirmed this Easter vigil, and going through the process at my own parish with the RCIA candidates and catechumens is helping me to feel a part of the program and closer to my community of believers. Perhaps it's because the baby will be born during Easter season, and this late part of pregnancy is coinciding with Lent nicely, reminding me of how important it is to face life's daily challenges with grace, humility, and Christian charity. Whatever it is, I've needed Kleenex at Mass for two weeks straight. It's really quite wonderful.

So, that's my Lenten journey thus far. Belly dance factors in with regard to that "daily challenges" thing. We all know that late pregnancy carries with it physical discomforts. And I cannot tell you how wonderful belly dance has been for me in making me more comfortable. My sciatica has been much improved, for which I am so very grateful. Sore hips and digestive pain have also been a lot better of late. I have always noticed that any physical exercise improves my sciatica, but belly dance is the best of the bunch. It feels *so good* to shimmy and hip circle, and I feel great when I get home, if a bit tired. I can even still undulate, much to my classmates amazement, although I have to involve my brain a bit more. My belly has shifted my center of gravity, so I have to consciously "scoop" in order for it to look normal. :) This applies to turns as well, which come naturally to me (as a result of many years of ballet as a child) when not pregnant, but require quite a bit of concentration in the third trimester of pregnancy. We have 2 performances coming up next weekend, and I feel really ready. I honestly feel as good as I can at 31 weeks pregnant, and for that, I am so grateful.

We're down to the final countdown prior to Baby CL's birth, and I'm ever so excited. He or she is due in just over 2 months. I can hardly believe it. I have my "childbirth refresher" class tonight, and will report in promptly. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

All prepared for baptism...

Last night, Mike and I attended our parish's required baptism class for Baby CL. The deacon at our parish runs it, and he's super nice, so I wasn't dreading it at all. But I was apprehensive about Mike's reaction, since if it weren't for me, this is not something he would be doing. But he supports me in sacramental preparation for our kids, so I knew it would be ok. We were also married in the Church, which he genuinely enjoyed.

So, we arrive, and find 2 other families there. Both already had born children, I was the only pregnant one there. :) I guess I'm in the minority in my opinion on this one. I would love to schedule the baptism right now, but it's a no go at our parish until Baby CL actually makes their arrival. They'll do it any weekend, so that won't be a problem. I want it sometime in June or July.

Anyway, it was all very low key. The deacon just asked us all some questions about why we wanted our child baptized, and what baptism is. I gave my glowing answer *halo*, but then the deacon also asked Mike why he wanted our children baptized. Mike provided a very kind answer about how he's not a Catholic (technically he is, which he also explained; he's fully initiated with his sacraments, he just doesn't currently believe) but he thinks that baptism is good for our children because it provides them with a faith community that they may choose to remain in as adults and I will provide a good example for them in living out the faith. I was pleased with his response, as was the deacon. :)

One thing I really appreciate about Mike's spiritual outlook is that he's honest in his lack of faith, and about what it would mean for him to return; he truly believes that if you call yourself a Catholic, you should really be a *Catholic* and believe in and engage in all of the teachings of the Church. No Cafeteria Catholicism in our family. :) I really do love that about him. And one thing that is crucial in any interfaith marriage in my opinion ("sort of interfaith" in our situation) is that the other party agrees to marry in the Church (or be properly dispensed) and raise the children Catholic. It's a deal breaker for me otherwise. And the deacon in fact asked Mike if he opposed the baptism, and he answered a firm "NO, not at all." One of the other couples there was also interfaith; the husband was Pentecostal.

Anyway, it was all very interesting and touchy-feely. When the deacon asked me who the central actor in a baptism was, I answered, "Christ," and when Mike was asked, he responded "Believe it or not, that's exactly what I was going to say." He's very cute. :)

We finished up in 45 minutes, and we both agreed that the evening was very pleasant. I just need to get a sponsor letter from my older sister, who will be Godmother, and then schedule the big event post-delivery.

Our parish has a really nice parish center that our class was held in. It was actually a school until last year. Sadly, after being in business for over 100 years, the school closed to due low enrollment. The issue in our area isn't lack of interest in Catholic education (although financial strain certainly plays a part) but the sheer volume of competing Catholic schools. In our small township alone, there were *5* Catholic k-8 schools. There are also 2 Catholic high schools. Last year, 2 were closed, leaving 3 k-8 schools, including the one Hank will attend next year. In the immediately surrounding towns, all within a 5-10 minute driving distance, are 4 others, used to be 5 but 1 closed. Within 20 minutes of driving, you can add at least 3 more, including multiple single-sex and co-ed high schools. It's kind of crazy. But a good kind of crazy. :)

Anyway, our parish was one of the casualties in terms of its school, so now the building is used for their thriving religious education program, as well as a food pantry, numerous parish offices, an in-progress adoration chapel, and space for Vacation Bible School in the summer and a fish fry fundraiser during Lent. It's very nice. I noticed a bunch of other people going in with us who weren't infant baptism bound. It was the RCIA candidates, and we learned that aside from our 3 adult RCIA members, there are also several older children who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil this year. It was wonderful to see.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hank changes a diaper, and a Baby CL update: Ides of March edition

Yesterday, while Mike taught his evening philosophy class, Hank and I headed to the hospital where I'll deliver for their "Sibling Class." When I had Hank I noted that the hospital offered this, and so this time, I thought it would be something cute for us to do together.

It's a quick one hour class, and they have the children become familiar with baby dolls and what they'll see when the baby is born (things like the clamp on their umbilical cord), how diapers work, how to ask Mommy before picking up the baby and how to be gentle, things like that. It also includes a peek into the newborn nursery.

So, things got going with lots of high-pitched chatter. Each child introduced themselves, indicated whether Mommy was having a boy or girl baby, and when the baby was due. There were about 7 other families there besides us. The nurse indicated surprise that about half of us did not know baby's gender; usually, people find out. The other half that did know were all having boys. One little girl named Claire, who was maybe 2, was dead set that she was getting a little sister, despite the predictions of the ultrasound technician:

"It's a GIRL," was repeated several times, each with very wide eyes. So cute.

We looked at some pictures of babies in their mommy's belly, and Hank even raised his hand and answered some questions. :0 He was one of the older children there. We were assigned a cute baby doll:

"Oh! I see your baby is a boy,"

said the nurse as she undressed ours. This was my first experience with anatomically correct dolls. :) We got to put a teeny tiny Pampers Swaddlers Newborn on our doll (love those things, great marketing), and then we headed up to the nursery.

This is where things got interesting. :) The good part was seeing the actual nursery. Only one baby was inside, the others must have been rooming in with their mothers. She was all swaddled up and had a "I'm a Breastfed Girl!" card attached to her bassinette. She was super cute and as we all gathered around the window she spit up on herself ever so casually multiple times. Ah, memories. :) She was pretty comfortably awake in there until the nurse began to unswaddle her so that she could hold her up to the window. The pissed expression on her face was pretty priceless. As well as the unmistakable image of a newborn crying objection face complete with curling tongue. It all made my uterus ache to hold my own baby in my arms.

So, that joy aside, being up on the labor & delivery/postpartum floor (cutely called the "Mother/Baby Unit" at my hospital) made me a tad nervous anew. It has nothing to do with this particular hospital, which is beautiful and newly redesigned with all private rooms for postpartum mothers. It's just the "hospital thing" you know? To deliver outside of a hospital, I would have to change my provider to a midwife that delivers at home or in a birthing center, and I chose not to do that. So, here I am, 30 weeks pregnant, and once again faced with a birth that will be a "medical event" despite the fact that every indication, including my previous full-term birth, points to an uncomplicated vaginal delivery.

I mean, the thing is, in the event of an emergency, the hospital is the place to be. And I'm so grateful for that opportunity. I just hate the sterilized feel of hospitals, and all of the imposed restrictions that come with it. An IV, lots of Pitocin-pushing, continuous external fetal monitoring, you have to do this, you can't do that, you can't eat, you can't walk around, you get the idea. It just set me on edge a bit being there.

Also, I don't care what the conventional wisdom is, but I do not "lose all modesty" in childbirth. I accept that my caregivers have to see more of my body than I normally reveal to people who are not my husband, but they're professionals and so I get over it. And I develop a comfort-level/rapport with them. But at a hospital, you may not see your regular caregiver outside of your initial arrival and when you deliver. I don't want some random resident doctor examining me. It's not that I don't trust them, it's just that they're a stranger to me. Ugh. The real test will come next Monday at my childbirth class. I'm sincerely hoping that that puts my mind at ease.

So anyway, this morning I had my 30 week checkup at my ob/gyn, and this was with the final doctor in the practice that I haven't seen yet this pregnancy. I saw her when I was pregnant with Hank, but only one time, and she was the one doctor when I delivered that I never saw while in the hospital. Her rotation didn't overlap.

It was nice to see her again and it confirmed my memory of liking her. :) She's real spunky and bubbly, and answered all my questions thoroughly. I was telling her about how my cardiologist no longer suggests antibiotics for my mitral valve prolapse in labor and delivery, and she noted it on my chart, commenting, "Oh, this is good. This way, you can stay at home longer, be relaxed, without having to head to the hospital as early and deal with all their nonsense."

I felt like telling her right then and there how much I liked her. :) She did remind me that I still have to undergo that swab for Group B Strep, which if positive, necessitates antibiotics in labor. *frown* I tested negative with Hank, and hopefully that will happen again. They test for that around 34-36 weeks.

But everything looked good, and no signs of preeclampsia or anything like that. Baby's heartbeat was real good. She's the only one so far that physically palpated my belly, which I like; it's old fashioned, but very effective and telling. Baby CL appears to be in the head down/vertex position (how cooperative of them!) and she feels that they're pretty esconced and should not move prior to delivery, although it's certainly not etched in stone and they'll make a final determination closer to 36 weeks. All good news. I go back in two weeks.

In the mean time, I'm hangin' in there! Less than 10 weeks to go. :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

A tale of two Masses...

This is going to be one of those "settle in with your tea" posts, so go ahead and fill up your mug...

So, this weekend my husband, ever the practical guy, points out to me that Sunday is the "spring forward" segment of our daylight savings experience, and suggests that maybe I should go to Mass for the Saturday vigil instead of Sunday morning like I usually do. And whenever I go on Saturday, he'll come with us, because for some reason he loves vigils. I'm certainly not going to complain about that, so I agree. The next questions is: where shall we go?

We're very lucky to live in an area of the country in which there are more Catholic churches than you can shake a stick at. Even with a massive diocese-wide examination and subsequent painful closing of churches and Catholic schools (most of them gorgeous old churches in urban areas, which the population has shifted away from) we still have a LOT of Catholic churches. I actually chose our current parish based on preference since it was one of two exactly equidistant from our house, both within walking distance. And just a few miles beyond that, are 5 others. I'm not exaggerating. I just counted on my fingers. We even have *2* local parishes in which the traditional Latin Mass/Extraordinary Form is offered. We have a ton of Catholics around here.

And whenever we go to a vigil, we tend to not go to our parish, since their vigil is at 5 pm. Here's where my husband's practical nature comes back into play. If the vigil starts at 5, we won't be done until 6, and then we still have to have dinner, clean up, bathe Hank, get him dressed for bed, all by 7-7:15. So, he prefers a 4 pm vigil, and I'm happy to accommodate, since I'm thrilled that he's going to Mass with us. There are several beautiful churches that have 4 pm vigils, and we usually go to those, but this weekend I was pooped and each is about 10-15 minutes away by car. (see how spoiled I am about churches?) I suggested a parish right in our town. Granted, it's more modern looking and doesn't have that cathedral-feel/wow factor that Mike enjoys in churches, but I knew they had a vigil earlier than 5 pm, and we'd only have to drive 2 minutes. Mike called their rectory and got a recording stating that Mass was at 4:30 pm, so we agreed to go there.

4:15 rolls around, and we try to get Hank out the door. This delays us until 4:22, and away we go. We arrive at the church minutes later and find that the parking situation is a bit out of control. Mike circles the lot once, and lets Hank and I off to get a seat while he finds a parking spot. Hank and I head in.

By this point it's exactly 4:30, and I'm chagrined to see that not only has Mass started, but we're entering from a door near the front of the church. Some kind of small ceremony was going on with what appeared to be RCIA candidates (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults; how adults enter the Church). I figured that since this was the first Sunday of Lent, this was a prelude to the actual Mass. Makes sense, right? Work with me here, people.

Hank and I creep to the back of the church, and I can feel people looking at us. I brushed it off. I mean, it was 4:32. We really weren't late. I quickly discern a new problem: this church was smaller than I recalled, and it was pretty full. There were some spots, but naturally, all were in the middle of pews, and I hated to step over people, especially with Mike having to join us in a few minutes, find us, and then step over these same people. Eventually, we had no choice. I crept up next to a single-sitting man in the last row and asked if we could step over him. Graciously, he moved down so we could sit at the aisle. Mike comes in and finds us mercifully quickly. We're all standing at this point, still esconsed in the RCIA ceremony. All 3 of us are squished as close to the end of the pew as possible, so as to not inconvenience the man who moved over for us. Finally, the RCIA candidates are released and we sit, me stuffing my purse beneath the pew to make extra butt room.

Well. The first sign of trouble was the appearance of people carrying baskets on long sticks. You know, the OFFRETORY. I lean across Hank, and before I can even part my lips, Mike leans over with wide eyes:

"I swear it, the recording said 4:30!"

"I believe you Honey. But obviously there's been some mistake. Mass must have started at 4, right?"

We both glance around. People are forking over their envelopes, and the priest is preparing the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Crap.

"Maybe we can sneak out during Communion."

"Well, I think we should just leave now, Honey. I can't meet my obligation by missing the entire Liturgy of the Word. Hank and I will just go in the morning. It was an honest mistake."

We glance around again and sheepishly zip up our jackets. Thankfully, we were in the last row, but still, no *wonder* people looked at us oddly when we entered. The guy who moved over for us must have thought that we were nuts. Add to this debacle the indignity of having to walk all the way down the street to get to the parking spot Mike finally found, and I think it's safe to say we're going back to our old faithful downtown churches with 4 pm vigils in the future.

Sunday morning, I woke up at "8 am" due to the daylight savings thing. It did feel a bit rushed, which is what we were trying to avoid with the Saturday vigil, but Hank and I easily made it to 10 am Mass at our parish.

And! What a beautiful Mass it was. The first Sunday of Lent, and we're all buzzing with our brand spanking new lenten penances and sacrifices. It feels all exciting and fresh. I could see the RCIA members getting ready for their part in the Mass, and I felt so glad that I went to our parish for this very special Sunday.

We have 3 RCIA members becoming Catholic at the Easter Vigil this year at our parish. 2 catechumens (receving the sacraments of baptism, Eucharist, and confirmation), and 1 candidate (having already received a Christian baptism, now receiving the sacraments of Eucharist and confirmation). The first Sunday of Lent includes the Rite of Sending for these individuals, and then later in the day, they attend the Rite of Election with our bishop. During Mass, they all signed their names in the "Book of Life" as members of the elect, the chosen of God. They are being sent forth this Lent, having prepared for months in RCIA classes, toward the ultimate goal of becoming members of the Church at Easter. It was really, really lovely. And this in fact took place following the Gospel and homily (hence what we walked in on the evening before). Hank was back in the sacristy for Children's Liturgy of the Word, and so I got to pay attention and really enjoy it.

This all got me to thinking, and this is where the waterworks comes into the story (aka pregnancy hormones). Here comes the Tiffany anecdote/tangent...wait for it...

14 years ago I started law school in New York City. It was a difficult time in my life, but blessedly I made a very good friend, whom I remain close to to this day. We'll call her "Mary." :) I stopped attending Mass when I started law school, and Mary, although an atheist, came from a country with a Catholic heritage (where the faith was later suppressed due to a communist government) and she enjoyed the beauty of traditional Catholic churches and liturgy. She encouraged me to go to Mass. We actually went to the parish where Thomas Merton was confirmed. They had one Mass every Sunday, a "high Mass" I suppose you could call it, where they used incense, and she loved that. So, I'd go with her. At the time, I still had faith in God, although my Catholic faith was weak. Mary and I talked about religion sometimes, and she just didn't feel that she could believe, that she simply lacked religious faith. Faith in God had always come easy to me, and so I had a hard time fully understanding such a situation, but I certainly understood that our perspectives came from 2 totally different backgrounds and just left it at that. Once I came back to a stronger practice of my faith in my second year of law school, I would pray for her to receive the gift of faith. After we graduated, and I moved away from the City, I added her to my intentions in my daily rosary.

Where are you going with this, Tiffany? We're circling back around, I promise. :) Last fall, some 13 years after our friendship began in law school, Mary told me that she was thinking of entering RCIA. Well. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I mean, it wasn't a complete shock. I knew that she still attended Mass on her own, and that I'd been praying for her, but holy smokes. This was big! I encouraged her, but I wanted to see what she ultimately decided to do. Given how radical of a turnaround this way, it was possible she'd change her mind. And of course, it's always better to just wait if you feel that the time just isn't right or your heart isn't fully in it.

Well, she decided to sign up, and began attending classes. I bit my nails and awaited feedback on how things were going. I fretted about whether or not she'd have a good RCIA instructor who would teach an authentic Catholic worldview in an engaging way, and whether or not she'd enjoy it, find it intellectually and spiritually stimulating, and continue on with it.

She did in fact experience all of those things. And throughout the fall and winter, began to thrive in her RCIA group.

And so, this past Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent 2011, my best friend Mary was received at the Rite of Election as a catechumen. I'm a bit jealous, because as a member of the archdiocese of New York, she got to meet Archbishop Timothy Dolan, whom I hold in very high esteem. :) And this coming Easter Vigil, she will be baptized, receive the Eucharist for the first time, and be comfirmed into the Catholic Church. I'm actually tearing up just writing about it now. There is absolutely no way for me to express how much this means to me, and how completely thrilled I am. At nearly 36 weeks pregnant, I'm driving 6 hours just to see her received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, and I can't wait.

Yesterday, as I attended the Rite of Sending at my parish, I thought of Mary, and what a special Lent and Easter this is. More meaningful than any I've experienced before, I would dare say. I sang all the hymns with particular gusto yesterday, and eagerly anticipate Easter weekend.

What a wonderful life.

Signs of spring...

Mike: "Aw, look, 2 big squirrels are in our yard. Haven't seen them in awhile. They must be looking for nuts."

CL: "Oh, they're so cute! I love squirrels. I missed them." (This is because we've never had a squirrel in our attic or shed or anything. Then I'm sure I wouldn't feel so warm and fuzzy about them.)

Mike: "Well, I have to admit, they are cute. Look, they're chasing each other. Oh wait. That's not what they're doing. Ohhh..."

CL: "BABY SQUIRRELS! *squeal*"

Mike: "Just what we need. Let's give them some privacy."

Friday, March 11, 2011

A spring cleaning weekend

Despite my continued and urgent need to nest, I've accepted that there isn't anything I can do about it this weekend. We're not going to be moving furniture until much closer to the baby's arrival, and it's too cold to paint. Thus, I need to employ my energies elsewhere, and as we all know, my energies have the force of a small tropical storm.

Thus, I'm going to be doing some spring cleaning. :) Wash all curtains, dust photographs, mop floors, maybe clean out the refrigerator. The side entryway *really* needs some attention. I tend to let that go in the winter because the instant you clean the tile in there, it's dirty again from snow and salt. I like doing things that make the house feel "fresh" so I'm looking forward to it. I'm a little afraid of our kitchen cupboards, so although that's a common spring cleaning task, I may avoid it. Our cupboards really aren't messy or dirty, but I know that once I get in there, I'll spend hours re-organizing everything, and they don't necessarily need re-organizing. No need to create work for myself. I'm good at that.

In baby news, I'll be 30 weeks on Monday. 30 WEEKS. This is a milestone that I've been looking forward to for quite some time. Within 10 weeks of my due date. The end feels much more in sight. Hank was born at 39 weeks, so maybe it'll even been less than 10 weeks! *squeals*

Lately, I've been having lots of those Braxton-Hicks contractions. Those fakey ones where your belly gets all tight for a brief minute. I don't remember getting them this early with Hank. Could this mean I'll deliver before 40 weeks again? Unfortunately, there's no way to tell. :) It's my second baby, which gives me hope, since things do tend to go quicker the second time around. It's as if your body says, "oh, right, this again" and gets its act together much more expediently.

But the thing is, I've known plenty of women who, on their second baby, go *over* their due date. Some who even delivered prior to their due date the first time around. So, it's all a mystery, like always. If I had to guess, based on much TMI charting information, I think I'll deliver between 39 weeks 5 days and 40 weeks 2 days. That's my best prediction via the Creighton Method of Natural Family Planning. :) I'm actually meeting with my NFP lady in early April, and I can write in with her prediction. Bet you can hardly contain your excitement. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A 5 year old and the ashes experience...

When we first arrive at the church, everything is all very exciting. Within 2 minutes, the inevitable comes:

"How much longer do we have to wait?"

"Not long, Honey. Just try to pay attention."

Well, I should backtrack to say that we were late (something that happens very rarely for Type A Me) because the parking was out of sight. I don't know exactly what it is about Ash Wednesday, but people *really* come out of the woodwork for this one. It's odd, because Ash Wednesday isn't even a holy day of obligation. And we all know what Mass attendance is like on those, don't we? (unfortunately). It must be a nostalgic childhood tradition for some people that ordinarily do not attend Mass regularly. Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing whenever people come to church. I just always scratch my head at that one.

Anyway, did I mention it was also raining cats and dogs, and I'm 7 and a half months pregnant, AND I was traveling with a 5 year old? Combine this with a faraway parking spot, and you have us arriving as the Gospel is being read. Super embarrassing. Well, I should clarify that this was a scripture service with ash distribution, not a full Mass. So, see? I wasn't all that naughty in terms of my late arrival.

Regardless of the shortened service, Hank was still antsy. He managed to get water from our umbrella all over (a) the pew, (b) himself, and (c) me. I did somehow engage his attention at the blessing of the ashes, and then it was time for us to line up. The church was pretty full, but with both our priest and the deacon, distribution went pretty quickly. We scurry back to the pew, and immediately Hank notices something that I notice every Ash Wednesday:

"Mommy, yours doesn't look like a cross."

"I know, Honey. Ashes are kind of hard to smudge exactly into the shape of a cross. But Father made a cross sign when he put them on our foreheads, and that's the important thing."

*Hank touches his forehead*

"Honey, don't touch your forehead, because it'll make all the ashes come off."

*Hank touches his forehead*

"Don't you want to show Daddy your ashes when we get home? Don't touch them then."

*Hank sits on hands*

Finally, ash distribution is done, and we all rise for the prayers of the faithful. On only the second "Lord, Hear Our Prayer," I glance over at Hank. His forehead is completely empty of ash.

"Honey, what happened?"

"What do you mean, Mommy?"

"Well, your ashes are all gone."


*Hank frantically touches his forehead*

*Hank begins to cry*

Oh sigh. It took lots of soothing in the car to convince him that he didn't do anything wrong by wiping the ashes off, it's just that it's nice to leave them on a bit longer than, you know, DEPARTURE FROM THE CHURCH PREMISES. But I finally got him soothed, amid much protestations from the rear booster seat that he was merely "making the sign of the cross, I didn't touch my forehead for any other reason Mommy!"

Very pious of him, wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A sleepy Ash Wednesday...

As ever, I am glad that Ash Wednesday is here and that Lent has begun. Hank and I are going to ashes late this afternoon.

I'm super sleepy though, I just haven't been sleeping well. It's not terrible, and plus it's heartening to connect the increasing discomforts with the imminence of Baby CL's arrival! Very exciting. This weekend, for my nesting festivities, I may try to paint the trim in the nursery. That's a bit crazy, probably. If it's too cold, I won't be able to do it, since I wouldn't be able to open the windows to properly ventilate. We'll see. I'm dying to nest though, and I'm running out of things I can do at the present moment, so I must solve this dilemma.

The other morning, I was reading my introductory issue of American Baby over my morning bowl of Raisin Bran. The topic isn't funny, but I found the quick chart of "Who is at Risk for PostPartum Depression?" kind of amusing:

(1) Prior history of depression before pregnancy - Nope (before my pregnancy with Hank, that is)
(2) Prior sexual abuse - Nope
(3) Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy - Definitely nope
(4) Marital conflict - Nope
(5) Hormonal issues related to thyroid function, etc. - Nope
(6) Lack of social/family support - Nope
(7) Type A Personality. Uh oh.


On a serious note, the single greatest risk factor for developing PPD is a prior incidence of PPD. This is definitely me. I'm on the lookout for it this time, and I'm doing everything possible to buoy my spirits naturally, plus I'm more prepared for the warning signs. I'm optimistic that I can beat it this time. I also saw that my hospital has a support group for PPD. Good information to have.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy eve of Ash Wednesday 2011...

Ah, finally, Lent is about to begin. I'm super excited, as always. Sounds strange to say that about a penitential season, but I so love the liturgical year. I'm taking Hank to get ashes tomorrow afternoon, and we're both looking forward to it. I have my study Bible all out and ready for nightly devotionals. I'm going to try and just read some, any amount, every evening. I don't want to set a goal, because if I don't reach it, I'll feel like I failed. I'm like that sometimes. Ok, most of the time.

Anyway, I've got lots of meatless dishes lined up. I'm contemplating volunteering to help out at our parish's 3 Friday fish fries, but I'm not certain that's the best idea considering the being on my feet thing combined with a 2 hour dance class later that same evening. We'll see.

This year, Easter is just about 4 weeks exactly before my due date. I'm just going to say it: *$@! yeah! I can't wait. :) It will be a very special holy day this year.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A very nice weekend, and good heart news

Thankfully, this weekend came and went with a lot less emotional volatility than last weekend. :) I feel back to my old self again.

Friday evening started things rolling nicely with my belly dance class. We're learning a new choreography for the hafla in early April as well as a performance at an international student event at a local college that same weekend. Now that I know that my gown costume fits nicely and looks cute on my pregnant form, I feel a lot more at ease about the events. And the choreography is super fun. We're using canes as a prop, the first time I've ever used one. Shockingly, despite my usual clumsiness, I find that I can wield it normally and not risk taking anyone's eye out. As long as I have a decent-sized circle of safety, that is. Mike always smiles when he walks by our guest room and sees me twirling my cane around in there, practicing. We went two full hours on Friday evening, and though I was tired by the end, I wasn't particularly achey, and I felt just great. Emotionally charged (in a positive way) and creatively sated. My right hand was all red between my thumb and index finger from swinging the cane, and I felt proud of it. :) This is why I love belly dance so much, and it felt good to feel "like me" again when I'm dancing.

I'm much more aware of my body this pregnancy as opposed to last time, and that can be both good and bad. Last weekend, it was bad. This weekend, it was good. Yes, I'm lugging around an extra 17 pounds and I have a definite pregnant belly tucked under my shirt. But I'm still ME. I know this doesn't sound like anything all that revolutionary, but it was a huge breakthrough for me this weekend. It's easy to feel "lost" in one's pregnant body, and to forget what you used to look like and what your physical abilities used to be. This weekend, I got back in touch with those things, and it felt marvelous. I'm very pregnant, but I'm still Tiffany and I'm still a dancer. That was our self-help, touchy feely portion of the blog...

On Saturday, my nesting instincts kicked in like they always do and I dragged 2 bags of newborn items out to unload and place carefully into our changing table/dresser unit, soon to be re-located to the nursery. Whenever it is that the nursery actually exists, that is. Fast forward to a whole lot of squealing and teary eyes as I pulled out teeny tiny little newborn sleepers, onesies, caps, booties, and outfits. So, so precious. Since we didn't find out Hank's gender prior to his birth either, I have a ton of neutral colors and can re-use all of it. They grow so fast out of that newborn stuff, so it held up pretty well despite being washed whenever there was a poo explosion (coined new term: "poosplosion.") Which was, you know, multiple times per day.

I did some further cleaning/re-organizing in the guest room, and that room is pretty much ready for us to bring the office furniture down when we're ready. Probably that won't be until late April or early May. We'll see.

Sunday, I had Children's Liturgy of the Word, and as happens more often than not (unfortunately) it was a tough crowd. :) I need help from any of you who have worked with young children. This age group is about age 4 through 8. The children at the upper portion of that bracket are no trouble at all. But the 4-6 contingent are *very* challenging to keep focused for any length longer than 5-10 seconds, I am seriously not exaggerating. Now, obviously, I understand that this is perfectly normal for children of that age. I just feel a bit like I'm totally wasting my time since I'm constantly having to stop my lesson to keep them corraled or from talking to their friends while I'm talking. I've never formally been trained as a teacher of young children, and thought maybe some of you would have some tips. I do try to keep them involved by asking questions, referring to the poster illustrating the themes of the week, etc. What else can I do? I'm on duty again in 3 weeks, the 3rd Sunday of Lent.

And finally, this morning, I had an appointment with my cardiologist. I've had a small heart murmur from birh, which was eventually diagnosed as a mitral valve prolapse. Not a big deal. But in pregnancy, with your heart working harder than ever given your increased blood volume, they like to keep an eye on it. Happily, my heart sounds great. When I had Hank, the recommendation was still for antibiotics before and following surgery or any kind of invasive procedure. This included dental work, and vaginal childbirth (or cesarean, obviously). Thus, when I was admitted to the hospital, they immediately hooked me up to an IV drip of antibiotics, which stayed firmly in my hand until a full 24 hours following delivery. To say that I hated this would be the understatement of the day. It ties into my biggest complaint about my hospital delivery: I felt like a caged animal. I couldn't walk more than a foot from the bed in any direction. It even interfered with nursing Hank the day following delivery. I really, really want my experience to be different this time, and this antibiotic issue was key. I was thrilled when I asked her about it, and she confirmed that I would not need antibiotics this time. Their recommendation has changed. I figured as much, since they no longer advised that I take antibiotics prior to dental work, but I just wanted to be sure. This made for a happy Catholic Librarian. She's going to write to my obstetrician so that they're aware.

Another week begins, and I'm feeling optimistic. Next week, I'll be 30 weeks and a mere 10 weeks from my due date. I'm feeling good. :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

So, so tired

I haven't been sleeping well lately for a number of obvious and not-so-obvious reasons, and it's definitely catching up with me. After a stormy weekend, I had a great week, and I'm optimistic going into a fresh weekend. I plan to unpack more cute baby clothes and finish the work I began in the guest room for the ultimate move of the office furniture into that space. Things are moving along swimmingly.

Tonight I have dance, and I just hope I can stay awake for it. We have a workshop coming up on April 2nd with a dancer from Canada and an informal hafla to follow. At first, I was apprehensive, since I'll be 8 months pregnant at that point, but after thinking on it, I am looking forward to having one more belly dance goal prior to delivery. I also asked my instructor about costuming, and feel soothed on that end as well. My green costume, although the bottom still shockingly fits, the top most certainly does NOT. She suggested I wear the other group costume, which is a blue gown, and 2 of my classmates graciously agreed to wear their gowns too, so that half the class will be in blue the other half in green. This way, it'll somewhat look like we planned this. :) I tried my gown on the other day, and not only does it still fit (lycra is nice and stretchy) it looks fab on the pregnant form. :) I'm very happy about this. It eases the blow of missing at least one performance in May, when I'll be on water breaking alert and thereafter unable to commit to formal performances for about 6-8 weeks.

In other news, I'm up for tenure next year (scary!) and since I'm going on maternity leave soon, my supervisor is having me prepare some of my documents now. I spent the day going over my Curriculum Vitae (enthralling stuff) and crafting a Table of Contents for my supplemental materials. Once 3 pm hit, I'm fading fast, but I pulled out my required statements of research interests and service to the university from my last reappointment to have a quick look prior to my departure. Holy smokes. I mean, these suckers have been through my own editing process, several colleagues, my supervisor, and our internal committee on appointment, promotion and tenure. By the time of my last reappointment they were LEAN, MEAN BULLSHITTING MACHINES. I just read the first paragraph of my research statement, which included a sentence on how I "...envision librarians contributing to the undergraduate curriculum through effective teaching in traditional and progressive learning spaces..." and "...librarians as facilitators of a quality undergraduate research experience..." Did *I* write that? I mean, seriously?

I was actually kind of impressed. :) Who knew I had such a way with the professional verbiage? Certainly not me, in my right mind. I must have been under a statement deadline last time and really channeled the buzzword fairies. Anyway, I'm happy that I can leave some of the text, although I have to update everything else but that introduction. I'll take it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What are you doing for Lent this year?

I'm telling you, this year is downright FREAKISH with regard to how late Ash Wednesday is. Good gracious! Looking at Mike's Almanac, I realize that this does happen from time to time, but to me, the optimal timing is Ash Wednesday in midish February, and Easter in early to mid April. It's just crazy this year, but finally, Ash Wednesday is less than a week away.

I adore Lent, and always have. For the past few years, I've given up meat for the duration, but this time, due to my pregnancy, I'm not going to do that. I know there are plenty of pregnant vegetarians, but they made a lifestyle choice which involved educating themselves on how to still get sufficient protein and other nutrients. I lack that, so I'm not going to mess with it while I'm pregnant. I will remain a carnivore, and although I don't plan to fast at all (that just seems dangerous for a pregnant woman to me) I will abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent. That's a given.

I also usually give up diet soda, since I love it so much, but right now I'm already not drinking it so that would be pointless. :) This year, I think I'm going to go more for the "adding spiritual things in" strategy for Lent.

I'm going to:

(1) up my spiritual reading. Study Bible in the evenings, along with some Lenten selections that I've already chosen. One is Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy, by Frederica Mathewes-Green. This is a re-read, but I've read it during Lent before, and it's a great book. As the title evidences, she is Orthodox rather than Catholic, but I enjoyed this book very much for it's focus on the liturgical year, specifically what the Orthodox call Great Lent. I'm also going to read He Leadeth Me, by Fr. Walter Ciszek. I've read his companion book, With God in Russia, which was phenomenal. It chronicled his journey through more than 10 years spent in a Russian labor camp. I've heard that his other book is equally life-changing, and I think it's an ideal selection for Lent.

(2) attend Adoration when I can. This is such a boost to the spiritual life, yet why can I never find the energy to go? That's inexcusable, truly. I'd like to bring Hank, as well.

(3) say part of a rosary each day with Hank.

That's the plan for now. I may also try to squeeze in daily Mass during spring break, when it's easier for me to get off campus during the day. What are your plans for Lent 2011?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tired librarian, and baby equipment...

This week is really flying by. I had a reference shift this morning, followed shortly thereafter by 2 sessions of library instruction for English Composition. I'm pooped.

After I finished teaching, I actually took the elevator for the first time in as long as I can remember. My office is on the 4th floor of the library, and I always prefer the stairs. No waiting and good exercise. The past week I've been noticing that I get out of breath real easy on the stairs. I remember this from my pregnancy with Hank. More pressure on the old diaphragm. It's ok, means the baby is getting bigger and will be here with us soon. :) I took the stairs all day today, but I'd reached my limit. I'm officially winded.

Thus, I'm taking a quick break to try and wrangle up some energy before I go home. Let's talk baby equipment. :) We have 2 items that I'm concerned with and would love feedback on. It is your mission if you choose to accept it. :)

(1) Diaper Pail. Wait. I'm having a flashback. I already asked about this right? PREGNANCY BRAIN. I think I'm going to go with deltaflute's suggestion of a plain old metal waste basket. Doesn't absorb the smell as much as plastic. I was looking at the Diaper Genie again, and I just don't think I can do it. The expensive refills just seem like a pain in the you-know-where. And I don't want to stick my hand in that claw part with a dirty diaper in it. Moving on...

(2) Infant car seat. So, we still have an infant car seat that I LOVE LOVE LOVE. It's a Graco Step 1 Safe Seat, and it's an infant bucket that has a weight limit of 30 lbs. It was brand new when we had Hank, and I adored it. I still do. Unfortunately, it expires after December 2011. Hank was a GIGANTIC infant and surpassed 20 lbs in a shocking amount of time. Even though it sounds crazy to cart around a 30 lb baby in a tote seat, it was a lifesaver for when he fell asleep in the car, and you could carry him into the house or store asleep in the bucket.

So....We can use it for a few months, but by January 2012, I'm not going to want Baby CL to make the switch to a convertible car seat just yet. I love my bucket. Hank stayed rear facing in his until well past 1 year.

Now, Graco has infant seats that go to 32 and 35 lbs! Sweet Graco. They're Snugrides now, but they seem just like my seat with just a slightly higher weight limit. Does anyone have one of these? They're pricey, but I'd rather get something we like and know will last a decent amount of time. We may even get a gift card to put toward it. Maybe I can wait until Babies R Us has their next trade-in event? I do have some time to play with, since our current seat can still be used through the end of the year. Decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring is (hopefully) in the air, and Baby CL's world: March edition

Well, I'm still fairly emotional, but I'm definitely doing better. Writing that post yesterday really helped me (as did Shelia's comment; thank you Shelia!). And today is a new month - March! When spring officially arrives and Baby CL is a mere 2 months away from being born. March is packed with other goodies - the beginning of Lent, some visits from family and friends, my childbirth refresher class and the sibling class for Hank, our baptism class, beginnings of preparation for Easter. All good stuff.

This morning, although still cold, has the sun shining and decidedly less snow on the ground. For the past week, I've noticed the beginnings of birdsong in the morning trees, and is there a sound more lovely than that? Everyone is nesting, just like me. :)

Baby CL and I had our 28 week check-up this morning, and it was with a new doctor in my practice whom I've never met before. My ob practice has 4 female doctors, and a few nurse practitioners. My favorite is the doctor that delivered Hank. She's not too much older than me, and super cute, with 2 young children. One of the other doctors I saw in the hospital too, she came to check on me the day after I delivered Hank. She has a very serene and soothing countenance. The third doctor I've met before, but haven't had a lot of contact with. She's real bubbly, and I imagine she'd be very encouraging in the delivery room. I haven't seen her in ages, but I have an appointment with her in 2 weeks.

So, today we saw Doctor #4. She's Muslim, wearing a headscarf as she goes about her daily activities, and immediately, I liked her. She's very warm and kind, but she also had one of those great bedside manners that not only put you at ease right away, but made you feel well cared for and that she really knows her stuff. She put the doppler on my belly, and away we went. Baby CL's heartrate is perfect, and he/she moving around nicely. My fundal measurement is right on track, and my blood pressure and weight gain are all good. The results of my glucose screening were normal, big yay on that.

So, all is well. I'm hanging in there. Oh hark! I hear the sounds of the children from one of the childcare programs on campus playing *outside* on the playground! What a wonderful sound on this first day of March.