The First and Last Time

Today was the first and last time that we'll get to see little Critter's face before August.

We had another (third) ultrasound today, to check to see if the echogenic bowel problem was still present and I'm excited to say that they have determined that it's gone!  Most likely, it was just a little swallowed blood, which is probably really normal and it just happened around the time that we had our 20 week ultrasound.

The picture above is not the best, but I can definitely tell that it's a face! If you can't tell what you're looking at, basically the mouth is right in the middle, the forehead is to the left and one of the eyes is one of those dark spots you see.  There was actually a much better image of him for a brief moment but then he moved before she could hit the print button so we didn't get that great shot. But I still like this picture regardless. 

As predicted, he has a huge forehead.

We also got a new profile image, and yes, those are arms AND legs there above his head.  He is literally bent in half, and still 100% breech.  Hopefully he'll flip soon, while there's still enough room in there to move around (although given his current position, it seems like things might already be tight.)  I asked if they could confirm that he was still a "he," but this awkward position that he's in meant that his privates were well concealed so we're just going to have to hope that the first technician was right!

So, although we're thrilled that he's gotten a clean bill of health, it's bittersweet - it's so nice getting to see your baby every few weeks, and now that he's doing well, we won't get any more ultrasounds unless something new pops up.  Obviously, we hope that's not the case. 

I have so much to write about from the past couple of weeks, and I am definitely behind.  I need to go through tons of pictures and spend some quality time with my computer - something that hasn't been possible recently because we've been so busy, but hopefully I'll have time soon!

"A Pecker Woke Me Up!"

"A pecker woke me up!" That is a direct quote, spoken by me last Saturday morning.  I was in bed, and it was still early.  7:30.  8 a.m. at the latest.  I was sleeping in, as I tend to do on Saturdays, but DH had been awake for hours, I'm sure (I don't even try to keep track of when he wakes up.)

I came out of my slumber slowly, aware of noise outside near the driveway.  I knew that DH had plans to plant some rhododendrons.  It seemed early, but sometimes he likes to make subtle noise to get me out of bed without angering me (sometimes it works.)

So after listening to noise for at least 10 minutes, I get out of bed and put on my glasses to see what he's doing.

But when I look out the window, there is no DH.  Instead I see the biggest woodpecker I have ever seen in my entire life (I've only seen a few, mind you) pecking on the tree stump right outside of our bedroom window.

He was having a field day.  This is a long dead, rotting stump, exploding with nasty bugs that are causing it to fall apart.  He barely had to work to get a feast from the thing. 

So I go out into the hallway, to find DH quietly folding his laundry in the office.  I can't believe I was accusing him of trying to wake me up.  He was being so quiet.

"A pecker woke me up," I said.

"What??" was his understandably confused response.

"There's a woodpecker working on the stump outside of our window. I thought you were working outside."

And then he joined me to look at this woodpecker, who was so big he could kick Woody's butt in a second.

Have you ever seen a woodpecker up close before?? Are they all this big???  Do they all have red "hats" like that???

I know that woodpeckers can cause quite a bit of damage to live trees, but his big guy is welcome to come back any time and help us to get rid of that stupid stump.

A Belly Growth Comparison

Let's review.  

 6 weeks........  And 26 weeks.

Oh my..... I seriously think I am out of room in there.
There are so many questions that run through my mind when I see these pictures side by side, including: 

  1. How can I possibly have 3 more months of growing to do!?!?!? 
  2. Will I ever look like "6 weeks" ever again!?!?!? 
  3. Is my face really fat now? Or is it just the way that I'm holding my head back in "26 weeks."
  4. And my arms, they're definitely flabbier now, right? 
Again, these are all really, really important questions.
I have no answers.
All I can say is, "Oh my...."

Three Year Anniversary

It's hard to believe that it's already been 3 years since DH and I were married!!!

That's right, today is our 3-year anniversary!

Well, our wedding anniversary at least.  It doesn't seem fair to give so much weight to the "wedding anniversary" when we had so much history before that.  In March we celebrated our 9 year anniversary of "officially dating" and this coming fall we will have known each other/been friends for 11 years!  Isn't that crazy!?!?!  It seems like such a long time, and yet it didn't feel that way at all. 

Anyway, Happy Anniversary, honey!!!

26 Weeks Pregnant

(From Wednesday,  May 18th)

26 weeks down, 14 to go.  A few things....

My soccer ball is starting to look more like a beach ball.  

Sorry, not the best belly picture ever....

I have gained 21 pounds.  Not horrible, but still well above and outside of the range told to me by the BabyCenter Weigh Gain Calculator

People that I don't know are now asking me when I'm due.  This goes against DH's cardinal rule of not asking a women if she's pregnant unless you can see an actual child coming out of her.  I told him to get used to it - in a few more weeks, people are probably going to start saying things like "You look like you're ready to pop!" or "Are you due any day now?"

Taken in the evening, when I always look a bit larger than I do in the mornings

I can't stand for more than hour or my feet start hurting like crazy.  How am I going to get my dance on all of these upcoming weddings?  Stone-cold sober and sore feet mean I'm probably not going to be the funnest guest this summer.

Other ever-important updates:
Stretch marks - None (yet)
Belly button - Still an innie (for now)

25 Week Update

25 weeks. Oh my, how I've grown the past 5 weeks or so.... 

I now understand why pregnant women are always rubbing their bellies.  Or I least why I rub mine. It's mostly a subconscious thing.  Sometimes it's to better feel the kicking, which is mostly still light enough to be cute and endearing.  Other times it's just a way to say, "Hey little guy, how are things going in there."  But most of the time, I'm sure it's because they're thinking (as I certainly am), "Oh my gawd, this thing is huge. I can't believe how big it is. Ouch, I forgot that I can't lean into the sink like I used to be able to."

With a shirt on this time.. but you can still see the hugeness (and the dust on the mirror. Oi.)

For me, touching my stomach is my attempt at trying to reconcile my body and my brain.  My brain still thinks I'm my regular size.  I am constantly hitting my stomach on the back of chairs, bumping into counters, and rubbing my belly against newly painted walls.  (Seriously, you have no idea how many t-shirts I destroyed doing this in one single weekend of painting. Totally clean shirt, except for the belly.)

So I'm trying to use my sense of touch to communicate to my brain, "Hey. You. See this thing down here. Stop whacking it again stuff.  It hurts."

Brain, meet Belly.  You two are going to work together if it's the last thing I do. 

So far it hasn't helped, but I'm not giving up yet. 

(And yes, I'm still a week behind on posting these pictures. Life is busy. I'll try to be better - promise.)

Cuteness in a Crib

We decided that Murphy is going to be our test subject for all of the baby things that we receive.  We decided to start right away with the crib. 

So cute.  His tolerance for putting up with all of the ridiculous crap that we make him do is one of my favorite things about him. 

The verdict?  Murphy thinks that the crib is perfect and that Critter will be very happy there.  We couldn't agree more.

The Critter Room (aka "Nursery")

Things have been kind of quiet around here recently, but that's exclusively because we've been crazy busy.  We started work on Baby Hartman's room - also known as the Critter Room - months ago, and we finally finished it.  We are so excited and we both think that the whole thing is just so stinking cute. Even DH can't get over the cuteness, and he is definitely not known to use the word "cute" on a regular basis unless he's talking about Murph.

I am really sad that I don't have a "before" picture of what this room looked like.  For the first three years that we lived here, it was out office, housing our two enormous and craptastic old desks from college, as well as our bookcase, which was probably the nicest thing in the entire room.  It didn't have overheard lighting, was painted a light blue color, but only with one coat of paint, so in some areas the previous pink wall color showed through. And it had an obnoxious pink rug, which seemed to be more like an old piece of carpeting that they threw down.  Hideous, I tell you, hideous.

Anyway, get ready for picture overload.  This post is going to have a lot of them!

Before - Blue walls, lot of holes, very messy

Then we painted and added overhead lights, which helped a great deal

 After that we started work on the closet doors to take them from that weird honey color to bright white.

And the room was starting to come together.  Here it is almost ready to go.  We had decided a long time ago to use the dressers that we already had for this room.  They are solid, hardwood dressers but were stained an awful green color.  When DH first retrieved them from a rental property he brought them here and we considered just throwing them away or burning them.

But at the time we really needed something more in our spare bedroom, which currently had only a bed.  It was also at a time when I was really into spray painting things, and I suggested that we at least try that with these.  After all, we were just going to throw them away, so if it didn't work, we'd only be out a can of spray paint.  We liked them a lot after spray painting them and although it's pretty obvious that they're spray painted if you look closely, we're ok with it.  We decided to keep them and selected our other baby furniture based on this color.

This is the crib that we registered for, gifted to us by DH's mom.  I picked the color rather blindly, hoping it would work and was thrilled with the color match.  DH also appreciated that it was high quality and fairly easy to assemble so it was definitely a great purchase. 

Crib built and furniture in place

Now all we needed was the carpet.  Even though our hardwood floors aren't in great shape (they look better in the pictures than they do in real life) we decided that we had to be ok with that. They aren't horrible, just not great.  We ordered an area rug from Home so long ago that we both forgot what it looked like, and were crossing our fingers that we still liked it and that it matched everything else that we did in the room.

But first we put down carpet padding to make it softer, since it will be a bedroom carpet after all.  And the had a little fun with the tubing, which Murphy did not appreciate at all.

And then, all of a sudden, it was done.

The carpet was amazing.  It was the perfect combination of attractive and kid-friendly cute.  The brown circles complimented the brown furniture and the green circles were almost the exact shade of the wall paint.

So stinking cute, right?!!?!?

After months and months of work, we are so excited to finally have this room done. Murph loves it as well.

You might be thinking that it's a little crazy that we finished this room so far in advance.  After all, I still have three solid months to go.  But our summer is already crazy packed, and there are only a small handful of weekends that we're actually going to be home with no plans this summer, and most of those weekends are the ones right before my due date.  Not exactly when I'm going to want to be doing home renovations.  Plus, we're hoping to spend whatever time we do have fixing up our master bedroom, hopefully before Critter arrives.

It's a lot to hope for, but in the meantime we're just glad to have this room done.  I look into that room at least twice a day, just to remember how awesome it is.  Seriously.

Tips - Maternity Chic on the Cheap

I am a bargain shopper.  I've talked about that before. I don't like paying full price for anything and there's usually nothing in this world that is so amazing that it's worth the full sticker price.  Nothing.  Not even with my wedding dress, which is usually the one thing that all women universally agree you have to splurge on.  Nope, not me.  I really liked a $1500 dress, but I also found a $500 one that I thought was quite nice.  Of course, at the time they wouldn't tell me the cost, because they want you to "love" the dress before you find out how much it's going to set you back.  Little did they know that as soon as I realized the $1000 difference I was like "Hells no!" and the $500 dress was the winner.

Oh what I wouldn't do to be able to fit into my wedding dress right now....

Anyway, once you realize that you're going to have to completely replace your wardrobe with clothing that will accommodate a watermelon sized stomach, you have a mini panic attack about how in the hell you're going to get that to fit into the budget!  (What? You don't constantly stress about fitting stuff into your budget?)  With a budget of $100 month split between DH and I, you can take a wild guess as to who isn't getting new clothes this year.  (Although with the way things have gone this year, the budget is pretty much out the window at this point anyway....)

So I made it my mission to find cute, affordable maternity clothes spread out over a period of a couple of months.  If I found something that was on sale and I knew I would need it eventually anyway, I bought it.

Here are some of my tips - most of them probably very obvious, but they initally weren't to me! - on how to build a new maternity wardrobe without breaking your bank.  I've also included some "style" tips that I have found that help me avoid looking super frumpy. 

1. If at all possible, buy at a store and try it on first
Maternity sizing is ridiculously inconsistent.  Most places say to buy your pre-pregnancy size and that's a good rule of thumb, but don't swear by it.  For example, I have a pair of skinny capri jeans that are size Large, but also a pair of size Large cargo pants that are so big on me I'm pretty sure they won't fit even when I'm 9 months pregnant.  I have skirts that are size medium, but also one that is a size small.  My skirt from Motherhood Maternity is a size large, and it fits fine. The moral of this story - try things on at the store if you are lucky enough to have the option to do that.  Otherwise, you're going to find yourself spending a huge portion of your clothing budget on return shipping when you get stuff in the mail that doesn't fit properly. Online shopping seems great, until you realize the inconsistency in sizing and then you're just pissed at yourself.

2. Make your pre-pregnancy clothes work
When you're around 15 weeks pregnant, spend an evening going through your current pre-pregnancy wardrobe and figuring out what will work for you as you continue to expand.  I say do it in the evening because if you puff up like I did in the evenings you'll be able to see how you'll look at 25 weeks even though you're only 15, and you'll be able to try things on and get a sense of whether or not they'll work.  I was thrilled to find that I have 3 shirts that will probably get me through at least the 7 month mark, as well as a number of empire waist dresses that may last me my entire pregnancy if I'm lucky!  Some of things that I identified as "maternity" options were clothes that I stopped wearing when at my normal weight because they were too baggy or I just didn't like them anymore.  But when your options are buy something new or wear something old and you're broke, it's like shopping in your own closet. Also, just know that at some point - usually around 20 weeks - your pre-pregnancy pants are going to be a lost cause.  Trying to squeeze your stomach into them will only make your baby kick you all day long in anger and cause painful red indentations where the button is (which is probably unbuttoned anyway.)

3. Mix and match a "fitted" with a "loose"
You're already feeling self conscious enough about how you look with this new stomach, so the least you can do is make yourself feel good about how you look in your clothes.  Baggy clothes are a preggers best friend in terms of comfort, but they can also make you look really frumpy.  My solution?  Never put two baggy or two tight articles of clothing on together.  For example, if you're wearing a pair of skinny capris, wear a looser fitting top.  If you're wearing a skirt on the bottom (anything other than a pencil skirt) go with a fitted top.  This method prevents you from looking frumpy or overconfident with your body. (Let's face it, you are bigger than you used to be.) 

4. Shop Sale and Clearance ONLY
Even if the time passes quickly, you're going to be pregnant for a really long time.  9 months is basically a year, and it's not like you're automatically going to fit back into your pre-pregnancy clothes right away anyway.  Keep this in mind, and buy stuff gradually.   For example, when I found out I was pregnant, it was December/January.  That meant that a ton of stuff from the previous summer was on sale or clearance.  Since I am due in August, summer stuff is exactly what I eventually would need (and do need now) so I was able to score some cheap deals!  In the spring, the winter stuff like sweaters and long pants are on sale.  If you find out now that you're pregnant and due in the late fall or winter, you're definitely going to need warmer clothes and you'll score better deals by buying it now, on sale, instead of later, when you desperately need it and will thus pay anything.

Again, this is just what I have found to work for me, and is based on my obviously limited experience with the matter.  However, it can definitely save you a lot of money and keep you looking - and thus feeling - good!

I have a few more posts coming up related to maternity clothes, and these one include pictures, so stay tuned for that!  

April showers, May flowers, and horrible allergies

Last year it was the month of April that kicked my ass with allergies and migraines galore.  This year though, April was relatively good to me.  That's probably because of the cold, rainy weather, which delayed a lot of the pollen, and the stuff that was out was being hampered by the rain.

And we certainly have enough trees and flowering plants near our house to produce plenty of pollen.

But now it's May, dry and sunny, and although I love the weather my sinuses do not and I have been suffering in many ways.

First of all, remember that horse breathing problem I mentioned a few weeks ago?  Multiply that by about 100.  I wake myself snorting or gasping for air.  My throat is constantly dry and sore from sleeping with my mouth open and I've had more bloody noses in the past three weeks than I have ever had total in my entire life.

Perhaps the hardest thing about all of this is my inability to self-medicate.  Thus far, I felt really proud of myself for completely cutting out over the counter drugs for minor inconveniences such as headaches, mild colds, and stuffiness.  But I'm having a harder time doing that with these allergies.  Twice this week already I have given in and taken a Benadryl to help me breath and sleep.  I shouldn't feel bad about this - Benadryl is one of the few over the counter medications on the "safe list" provided by my doctors office of things that I am allowed to take as needed.  But still, after going for so long without taking anything, I still have some weird resounding guilt every time I ultimately give in.  I definitely do sleep and breath better though, so it's probably a good thing for all of us.

The good news is that I have not had a migraine in a couple of months.  Allergy season is usually the time of year when I suffer from migraines the most, so I feel extremely lucky to have been spared so far.  Of course, spring isn't over yet, and I have been known to get migraines at other times as well.  But for now, I almost feel like my body knows that it can't let me get a migraine right now because it would be an unbearable experience.  Or perhaps it's just the power of positive thinking - something I've been buying into more and more over the last few months.

In any case, as much as I love all that spring represents and bring with it, I will be happy when it's over and summer is finally here.  First, because it means that the pollen and allergies will be gone.  And second, because it means that I'll be that much closer to finally meeting my little Critter.

24 Weeks and a Fun Fact

(Note: 24 weeks was technically last week - I am now at 25. That picture coming soon!)

I have officially been pregnant for 24 weeks now - only 16 left to go!  Some might say that I'm in my 6th month, but I don't like the four-weeks-is-one-month-and-pregnancies-last-for-ten-months theory, and I know that I won't officially be 6 months until May 17th, so for now I'm just sticking with weeks.

The growth spurt of the past few weeks continues.  I am constantly amazed at how big I am and how big I feel.  I try to fit my body into small spaces - such as squeezing behind an office chair at work and suddenly getting stuck.  My co-workers definitely enjoy making fun of me for such things. 

Before I show you the picture from this week, I will start the first "fun fact," which I learned through the BabyCenter email that I receive.

Here's the fact:
My uterus is the size of a soccer ball.

A soccer ball!?!??! Do you know how ENORMOUS a soccer is??? It seems crazy to me to consider that something of that size is growing inside me, but then again, it explains why it looks like I have a... well.. a ball of some sort protruding from my stomach.  Why shouldn't it be a soccer ball?

Want to see that soccer ball? (Well, sort of see it, anyway.)

 I grow a nice soccer ball, don't I?

Week 25 pic coming soon!

Help us pick a color!

Although it's probably at least a few weeks off, we're getting ready to pick a paint color for our master bedroom.

Even though I am dying to buy a new comforter and bedspread to give our room a new look, I recognize that the one we have now is in perfectly fine condition and is totally usable.  In many ways, it would be foolish to buy a new one.  That doesn't mean that I don't still want to.

But for now I'm thinking of keeping, at least for another year or two.  So I want to pick a color that will add some brightness and well, color to our room without being so over-the-top coordinated with our bedding that we'll forever be stuck with that color scheme. 

Here are the options that I identified most recently.  The valance that you see in the right hand corner is the same design as our bedspread, so you can get a sense of what we're working with here.

A broader perspective with the curtain in view

And a close-up

What do you think?  They are so similar yet oh so different. I definitely have a preference but I want to see if anyone else thinks a particular color would look better than the others.  I would definitely appreciate the input!

The Moat

You know the old saying, "When it rains, it pours."  And that has been true for us in many ways, both literally and figuratively, during the past few weeks.

First, you might remember our debacle with the emergency roof job.  Well, that left us with no gutters, and although we quickly called a bunch of places for estimates, our jaws hit the floor when we started getting prices back.  They were astronomical - far higher than we were expecting or prepared to pay.  We continued to get a few more estimates, but unfortunately the only company that gave a price under $1000 was super shady and we were not comfortable with him nor were we confident that he would do a good job.

So we negotiated a price with one of the other contractors and signed a contract, only to find out a few days later that he had to cancel on us because he got a bigger contract that was going to pull away all of his staff.  So then we were back at square one.

Ultimately we had to suck it up and pay way more money than we wanted to, to a national company that we sort of hated, but in the end they came through for us.  We send in the contract and they told us "they were scheduling 30 to 45 days out."  "But we don't have any gutters!" we exclaimed, but clearly the receptionist didn't care.

You see, that's where the "literal" rain comes in.  If you've been anyway near Pennsylvania for the past few weeks, you know that we've been getting a TON of rain. It was just pouring off of our house, damaging some of gardens and saturating the ground near our foundation that is already pretty bad at keeping water out of our basement and garage.

Fortunately, three days later the company called to say that they were coming tomorrow, weather permitting.  The weather held up, the gutters were installed, and then it poured for the next couple days.  Although it was really painful spending that much money on gutters, in the end we were so desperate that it felt well worth it.

Then it was realized that some of our downspouts were clogged.  This resulted in DH digging a trench (that I affectionately called "the moat") through our driveway so that the could run new pipes.

Using the tiller to aid in the digging process

 The moat made turning around in our driveway rather difficult

 The new downspouts and the means by which we can fill the moat with water to protect the castle

 Creating the rock waterfall at the end - he's so handy

Once that was finished and filled, he then started working on yet another trench on the other side of our house, that will hopefully connect to an existing pipe that waters the plants/mulch on our enormous driveway garden.

All of this work and all of that money and in the end, none of these projects really add anything to the value of our house.  It's sad, really.  And that's just a small sampling of all of the work we've been doing recently.  More on that to come.

Quote of the Week

It's here! A second installment of "Quote of the Week!"

Here's a conversation that the stink bug on our wall overheard the other night.

DH: "Life is haaard." (After a particularly stressful day.)

Me: "At least your life gets to include beer."

DH: "Yeah, but you at least get the unconditional love of a child every day."

Me: "Incubatin' ain't easy, baby."

That's right - Incubating ain't easy.  Who knew that living in the "country" would make me sound so "back country?"

Picture Catch-Up! Weeks 21 through 23

I'm pretty sure I haven't posted any belly pictures since week 20, so it's time to play catch-up!

Advanced apology - Sorry for the blurry pictures, but I'm still horrible at this self photography thing.  Also, I take these pictures at like, 6:45 in the morning right after I get out of the shower, which is why I generally look like I just rolled out of bed (I did.)  I need  live-in photographer.

Anyway, on to the pictures!!!

Week 21

Week 22

Week 23

It's less noticeable to me in these pictures than it feels in real life, but I feel like these past three (well, four weeks since I'm technically at 24 as of tomorrow) weeks have seen considerable growth. Most noticeable (to me, at least) is the lost of my waist.  Perhaps that's why you don't notice massive change in these pictures? I feel like a lot of my insides - instead of being pushed forward - were pushed to the sides.  I officially am waistless. My one pair of non-maternity jeans that fit at 20 weeks have officially been retired.  About 50 percent of my work shirts have been packed away and the name of the game in dressing is now "long and stretchy."

Speaking of stretchy, I can physically feel my skin stretching, which is not a comfortable feeling.  I hate it in fact.  I keep looking for stretch marks - none yet (knock on wood.)  I've been cocoa butter lotion every day religiously, and don't waste your time telling me that the stuff doesn't work and I'll probably still get them anyway.  I know that.  In fact, I'm painfully aware of the fact, but I need to at least know that I tried to do something to prevent them, and at the very least, moist skin is more stretchable than dry skin, right? It's got to help a little.  Considering that I had stretch marks about 5 years when I was more or less really overweight, I'm pretty sure it's inevitable that I'll get them again, since I'm really close to weighing what I weighed back then.

Our little guy now weighs over a pound, and his weight will double over the next four weeks!  Does that mean I should get ready for more growth as well!?!?

My Organs

Yesterday during a long car ride home from Delaware, I was terribly uncomfortable.  Not five minutes after stopping at a turnpike rest stop, a sharp kick to my bladder (I like to call it "bladder boxing") left me feeling like I needed to use the bathroom again, immediately.

So I leaned by seat back and tried to relax, knowing that I didn't really have to go, and that it was simply because of the kick.  Then a few minutes later, after some particularly intense movement, I noticed a bulge on my left side where my waist used to be.  It definitely had not been there a few minutes ago.

DH decided to call it my spleen, but whatever it was, it was crazy.  I don't pretend to understand what this baby is doing to my insides, but I could certainly tell that something was shifting in there.  I decided to do some research to see just how much my poor internal organs were being reorganized, and came upon this fascinating image/video that shows how a growing baby relocates ones innards.

Take a quick moment and watch it: 

First of all, no wonder I felt like I had to pee.  That poor little bladder in the video gets crushed within the first 8 seconds!

Second, no wonder I can't eat the same quantities that I used to! And no wonder I have digestion issues! My poor intestines. My poor stomach!

In fact, how do pregnant women fit any food in their stomachs at all? 

Here's another one where you drag a slider bar and see the weeks progress as the organs move.  Fascinating, all of it.