Saturday, November 30, 2013

33 weeks

Total weight gain/loss: 26 lbs. This means that I didn't gain any weight in the last 2 weeks. I really haven't had much of an appetite, but I am, it's a mystery. I'm sure with a baby shower this week and a cookie exchange next week, I will make up for the lack of weight gain by my next visit. 

Maternity clothes? I left the house in my oversized Steeler sweatpants from VS, sneakers and Nick's XXL puffy jacket today. 

On our e-bike. 

No shame.

 I fit right in with my Chinese counterparts now. Matching? What's that? My challenge will be to find something comfortable and party worthy for my baby shower on Friday. 

Stretch marks? Nope, but I have some awesome blue veins showing through my belly. 

Sleep: As good as it can get overnight. I'm napping less too. 

                      [ outside Redleaf Hospital last Saturday ]

Best moment this week: We had an ultrasound last Saturday (just before 33w) and the baby measures right at her gestational age. Not bigger, not smaller...right in the middle. We didn't get any pictures, but hearing that we aren't faced with growth restriction at this point took a weight off my chest. I am so thankful to be at this point, and be so close to bringing another baby into our family. I don't take for granted a single day of carrying this child one more day. 

     [my personal assistant removing my UGGS]

Miss Anything? Breathing easily. Bending over to put shoes on instead of sitting down. Sal figured out how to unzip my UGG boots for me yesterday so I think I'll hire him for boot removal from here on out. 

Movement: Yes. Feet out my right side, and head into my bladder seem to be her favorite places to jab. 

Food cravings: melting ice and anything potato based. Cheddar ruffles, potato soup, hash browns, French fries.....

Anything making you queasy or sick: The thought of eating chicken. 

Gender: Girl.

Labor Signs: unfortunately yes. A few b-h contractions here and there. Sal is going through a phases (at least that's what I'm telling myself) where he refuses nap until I rock him to sleep. We have always just put him down and he goes to sleep--so where this insistence on being rocked comes from, I don't know. He's out within 5 minutes of me rocking, but good God he's long and heavy to be rocking with a big ol belly of my own. I have a feeling the rocking may have something to do with the increase in contractions during the early evening. 

Symptoms: Back pain, leg cramps

Belly Button in or out? Flat

Wedding rings on or off? On

Happy or Moody?: Hopeful. Thankful. Happy.

Looking forward to: My baby shower this week. I look forward to an afternoon with friends.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

32 weeks

How far along? 32 weeks

Total weight gain/loss: 26 lbs

Maternity clothes? It's getting cold here! Too cold for leggings, so I've got one pair of jeans,a pair of pajama pants and one pair of black sweatpants to last me through til delivery. 

Stretch marks? Not yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if I don't end up with some around my belly button. I feel like we are at maximum capacity in there.

Sleep: Better the last week. My cold is finally gone. 

Best moment this week: Any time I can sit down and kick my shoes off. Seeing NZ and Sal assemble her furniture and rearrange furniture put a smile on my face as well.

Miss Anything? No.

Movement: Yes. Lots of rolling. I think she went from head down to oblique today. I think I now have feet coming out my sides instead of into my ribs. I have an ultrasound Saturday so I'm curious to see if my protruding body part prediction is correct.

Food cravings: ice and hash browns. 

Anything making you queasy or sick: Nothing 

Gender: Girl.

Labor Signs: unfortunately yes. On Tuesday night I had cramping and contractions for about an hour. I drank water and went to bed hoping it wasn't preterm labor, and was thankful to wake up in the morning and the pains were gone. I still have the occasional Braxton hicks that don't hurt. 

Symptoms: Back & groin pain

Belly Button in or out? Flat

Wedding rings on or off? On

Happy or Moody?: Happy and anxious. My contractions and the realization that I am two hours from my hospital got my head spinning...thankfully I feel better today, but I'm still a bit anxious.

Looking forward to: seeing my Doc on Saturday and hoping for good growth report.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Six weeks and counting.

Feelings of anxiousness are filling my body.

It's not anxiety over giving birth, or making the two hour drive to the hospital, but about Sal.

I've never been away from him for more than a few hours. Ever.

We have arranged to fly my sister out from California to stay for two weeks, which will coincide with my planned induction date and recovery. I trust her 100% in taking care of Sal, and giving him her full attention. But I can't let go of the sad feelings I am already have when I think about leaving him for a few days. I worry he won't nap for her. I worry he will have trouble going down for bedtime. I worry he we call out my name with that heartbreaking sob of his and not be consolable. I worry he will feel abandoned. 

I've had offers from friends here to "practice" leaving him, but somewhere along the way, my mind has been stuck in the mindset that I should be with him at all times. Sure, I've had daydreams of getting away, and I have gone out on my own a few times (but Nick is usually home, or my friend Heather watches him), but it is usually because I really need to go on an errand or something...not just because. And we're talking an hour. Not all day. Not overnight. An hour or two, max. 

The rational side of me knows he will be okay. He's in the best hands (besides ours) that we could think of. He will get to stay in his own home, sleep in his own bed, and have his auntie all to himself. He looooves his aunt Stephanie. I know my sister will have invitations to join my friends for coffee, playground visits, and produce market walks. I know she will keep him busy and love on him.

It's just a couple of days. Not forever. 

That being said, I still can't shake this feeling of anxiety over leaving my little man.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I'm not sure if it was just me being extra tired from being sick this week, or what, but this morning was a tough one. Maybe I just wasn't up on my game, but by 9:00 am, I had already had to clean up two puddles of pee and the items that were hit by the pee floods ( thank goodness our floors are tile and hardwood-makes cleaning easier) by a child who rarely has accidents like that anymore. This was met with a toddler pulling my pant leg asking for more "Duce" and when I told him that I wasn't serving any more juice because he had obviously had to much to drink this morning (causing pee floods), he lost it on me. 

Once the "Duce" tantrum ended, he found some crispy onion crackers and already being frustrated, I agreed-- afterall, it wasn't juice, so that was a win win for both of us.  I turned on a cartoon for him (I needed to get a cake frosted), and he went to the living room with his bag of crackers. Next thing I know, the bag has been dumped upside down and there are crushed crackers all over my rug. Followed by another pee flood. ON.TOP.Of.THE.CRACKERS. Of which were then stomped until they were mush in my rug.

Are you kidding me, child?! 

After cleaning it up and dousing the carpet with my vinegar/alcohol/dish soap concoction, I conceded. 

My surrender flag was a'wavin.

We both needed out of the apartment. We have been in all but one day this week due to my terrible cold and unhealthy pollution levels. We loaded up and went to the playground, and then on to the promenade in front of our complex so he could ride one of those electric rides. 

We returned home for lunch, of which he requested meat-uh-balls (he says it like an Italiano) and naw-chos. I rounded it out with a side of Greek salad and a sippy of milk. As I was getting his room ready for naptime, I hear an uh oh from the dining room. He had pulled his lid off and poured milk all over the meat-uh balls and naw-chos. 

Are you kidding me, child?!

This behavior deemed lunchtime OVER, and in his credit, he did help me clean up. He is a good helper, this kid..but he also knows how to make a catastrophic mess. Anyways, naptime usually goes off without much of a hitch. Occasionally he will talk for a half hour or so, or throw his blanket out and call til someone gets it for him, and once in a blue moon he will refuse a nap.

The moon must be blue today.

For over an hour he refused to nap. Alternating cries of mama with the sounds of a crib being pushed away from the wall, and the sound of tiny feet kicking the ends of his crib (IKEA sundvik cribs have a solid headboard and footboard that make the worst sounds when kids kick them), he went on for an HOUR. Frustrated, I peeked in after letting him carry on for that long only to see his crib in the middle of the room, his rug scrunched up and all of his bedding thrown on the floor. This kid has skills, yo!

I remade his crib, picked him up (after a really deep "keep-your-shit-together-mama" breath) and started holding him like a baby. He's already like half my height, so this wasn't an easy task. I put him up over my shoulder after a few minutes and sang a couple songs to him. As I finished out the last verse of "you are my sunshine", I felt him surrender. 

He was lights out within minutes of being rocked.

I stood there in his room, hugging him tightly before putting him in his crib, and my eyes welled up with tears. The realization that this young, independent, spirited little boy who had run me ragged this morning is still just a baby. Often times I feel like I can't wait for the next milestone to be reached, but standing there in his room this afternoon, just giving him love and rocking him made me want time to stand still. 

Our naptime snuggle was just the redemption I needed after a morning like today.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wham, bam, you bought a crib, ma'am

I did it.

I went against my fears and made the trek to IKEA today to buy nursery furniture. 

Originally, I had planned to give the girl Sal's crib, and move Sal into a toddler bed, but at the advice of my pediatrician back home, I'm not changing ANYTHING. What's Sal's is Sal's and I will relish in the last few months of him being confined to his crib before he figures out that he, the climber of all things climbable, can get out of the crib himself. Its a mystery to me that he hasn't yet figured this out.

Like I said, I will relish in this.

This morning, Sal, my friend Mimi & her son, and our driver spent two hours measuring, marking down aisle numbers and collecting furniture. I am so very thankful for my driver, as he and Sal are best buddies. Sal literally runs to him when we walk out to meet the car. My driver goes grocery shopping with me, watches Sal and pushes the cart & loads my groceries at the store. His performance in IKEA loading furniture and pushing our cart today did not disappoint. I'm not sure he knew what he was getting himself into, shopping for baby furniture with two laowai women, but I couldn't have done it without him. 

The dresser and crib should be delivered tomorrow, assuming in gave the correct Chinese address to the delivery department. The associate spoke zero English, so I agreed to what I understood she was saying (name, telephone, address) and handed over my phone with my address written in Chinese so she knew where everything was to go. I'm getting better at communication, but there's no way I will ever claim that I know mandarin. I know like five words. That's the equivalent of a one year old baby's vocabulary. That's nothin. 

So, hopefully, by tomorrow night, we will have the furniture along with IKEA's stellar directions to assemble. I may or may not owe my ol man a 6-pack of beers for putting up with me and furniture drama, but in the end it will all be worth it. 

Six and a half weeks and counting. 

Good god, I hope I didn't just jinx myself.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

31 weeks & my birthday

How far along? 31 weeks

Total weight gain/loss: 26 lbs

Maternity clothes? The options are dwindling. I prefer to wear leggings and NZ's t shirts at home, and oversized sweaters when I have to get dressed to go out. 

Stretch marks? Amazingly, still clear. I even made NZ double check the other day. 

Sleep: terrible. Awful. No good. I've got a massive head cold and the baby pushing on my ribs, so it makes me feel short of breath most of the day. I remember being sick at this point while pregnant with Sal as well. 31 weeks must be the magic get sick week. 

Best moment this week: Having yet another "normal" prenatal check up. Every time we go, I am worried we will be told something is wrong. The girl seems to be growing just fine, and measures a moderate size. Because of my uterine reconstruction, one of my biggest worries has been that my uterine septum will grow back, causing restricted growth. As the weeks progress, I am more and more thankful for finding Dr. Hubert, who back in 2010--listened, took interest, and diagnosed and fixed what I believe to be the cause of my previous losses. I truly believe that without his expertise, we wouldn't have Sal, let alone be expecting another. 

Miss Anything? Being able to breathe easily.

Movement: Yes. I have a foot lodged under my ribs a few times a day. 

Food cravings: ice, citrus, mashed potatoes and McDonald's (yes, McDonald's) greasy hashbrown patties.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Nothing 

Gender: Girl.

Labor Signs: None.

Symptoms: aching hips, back and difficulty getting a deep breath.

Belly Button in or out? Flush.

Wedding rings on or off? On

Happy or Moody?: Happy and nervous. Nervous because I am pulling the trigger and buying her crib and dresser drawers this week. I want to get her room set up so Sal sees that someone new will be living with us rather than --BAM! Here's your sister. 

Looking forward to: getting over my headcold, and setting up her nursery.

Today is my 36th birthday. I actually had to do the math to confirm this. I thought I was 37. A year younger? I'll take it! Since I am exhausted and sick, my friends kept it real simple, planning a walk in "local fashion" to get my favorite cheap Muslim noodles for lunch. I wore my best Chinese maternity pajamas with fashionable shoes adorned in rhinestones. I felt ridiculous, but comfortable. I even dressed Sal in split pants (with a diaper, of course). 

He was not amused.

We brought the noodles back to my house and enjoyed cake to follow. The plan was a Christmas movie, but knowing I was in need of a nap, the girls left me for an afternoon snooze instead. I'm so thankful for my friends here. We are all from a different neck of the woods, with different pasts, but I've found such support in each and every one of them, that their friendship could be considered the best gift of all.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

30 weeks

                      [ 30 week selfie]

How far along?
30 weeks

Total weight gain/loss: not sure. I see my OB this weekend and will find out.

Maternity clothes? Many of them are getting too tight. Shirts don't cover my belly, and it's starting to get chilly here. Sweatpants and NZ's sweatshirts----ready or not, here I come! 

Stretch marks? Still clear. 

Sleep: I jinxed myself last week, claiming to sleep better. This week, my sleep suuuuucks. Too much on my mind. I'm up from 2:30-5:00a almost every night. I settle into a comfortable sleep right as the alarm goes off, which in my case is a little boy in the next room yelling, "Mah-ma", louder and louder until I get my ass out of bed and greet him good morning.

Best moment this week: I got some pretty bad news early this week regarding one of my best friends. It has left me heartbroken. So, the best moment this week is just the simple fact that I am by some miracle still carrying this child. I'm humbled even more so than before, and just really reaching to find the good moments of this week. It's hard to be happy when you know someone you care about is hurting so bad.

Miss Anything? No

Movement: she freaks me out sometimes because she doesn't move a ton, but then come evening time, she is quite active and puts my mind at ease.

Food cravings: orange juice, a nice juicy steak, potatoes.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope.

Gender: Girl.

Labor Signs: No

Symptoms: aching hips

Belly Button in or out? Almost out.

Wedding rings on or off? On

Happy or Moody?: Thankful to still be pregnant. Emotional. Anxious. Does that qualify as moody? 

Looking forward to: Being reassured that the baby is growing well and I am not in danger of anything at my next appointment.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Twenty two months

At twenty-two months, Sal has really come into his own. I feel like this last month has seen him grow by leaps and bounds. Here's a list of some highlights of being 22 months old:

- Sal weighs in somewhere around 26-27 lbs

- uses his toilet 80% of the time without accidents

- sleeps for 2- 2.5 hours each afternoon, and from 7:00p-6:30a each night

- goes to town on Greek salad

- will dip anything and everything if given the chance. He is learning my motto of "ranch makes everything better"

- has mastered his wooden puzzles and loves the "tozzle" iPad puzzle app

- loves taking "selfies" with my iPhone and iPad if left unattended

- hangs his coat and puts his shoes away when we come in from outdoors

- said his first string of words " no big deal" on his 22nd month birthday. This came after spilling a cup of milk on our floor and hearing me tell him, "no big deal." 

- loves loves loves dogs and "titties" (kitties). I bought him a stuffed yellow lab toy at IKEA one day just because he saw it and called it Tess (which is my dad's golden lab's name). Melt my heart. Mama is a sucker for every new word.

- identifies pictures like sunshine, eraser, yo-yo, etc on a set of flash cards we were given

- insists on "Duce" (juice) morning, noon and night. I had to instill a "no juice if it's dark outside" rule, and water it down even more than before, but he is still a drinker!

- has a thing for "Mickey" and will choose to wear his Mickey shirt 9 times out of 10 if it is clean.

- prefers to play along side kids (parallel play) vs with kids. Also digs the attention of older kids.

- has the greatest laugh/cackle. My friends say he has a future as a "laugh track" recording artist. 

- can roughhouse for hours on end with his dad. One Saturday, he accosted NZ from the moment he got up, to the moment we put him to bed. 

- reads books with us and points things out. He stunned us when we were reading "brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?" And he exclaimed "teacher!" when the picture of the "teacher" came up. We had no idea he knew what a "teacher" was. 

Every day it is something new. I am so thankful to be able to be his mom.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pompom garland

I brought back more Pom poms from the USA than any single human should. This morning Sal and I opened the autumn colored pompoms and made a garland together. 

I wasn't sure how it would work out--trying to be crafty while he was awake--but surprisingly enough, he was really excited to find the colors as I called them out. He'd pick a pompom, hand it to me and then I would thread it. 

So, it doubled as a learning/color recognition activity. That's a win in my book! 

Looking forward to making a Christmas one and valentines one. Maybe by valentines day we can work on some pattern recognition. 

Happy November!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mama needs a favor

Dear Denise,

I know it's been a while I've posted a blog letter to you, but I hope you know not a day goes by that I don't still think about you, your birth, and what you might be like today. Your little brother is quite a handful--and sometimes I find myself thinking about what life here in Wuxi would be like with you here to play with him. 

As much as I wish you were here with us today, I understand it's all a dream. I tell myself you are in Heaven with all the other babies (ahem, sorry--big kids) whose parents are down here missing them, along with our other loved ones who have passed.  I picture you being a little spitfire, yet still polite, caring and welcoming to all those that arrive. I'm sure you're loving having both grandpa's spoiling you, and I'm pretty sure you and Esmay have them wrapped around your little fingers.  

Mama has a request for you-- please keep an eye on little W. He was born too soon, just like you, and he went up to Heaven last week. His mama is one of my besties, and my heart aches for her and W's daddy. Do you think you could show him around, make him comfortable, and give me some peace of mind knowing my baby is looking out for her baby?  

As always, I love you and miss you and wish you were here.



Friday, November 8, 2013

Donglin academy, Wuxi

This past Friday, Sal and I joined the Wuxi international club for a guided tour of a historical "famous" academy located in Wuxi. Donglin Academy, built in AD1111, was the place for Yang Shi, a well-known scholar at that time, to give lectures. 

                                          [entering the academy]
                [Pan pool- built for peaceful reflection]

                 [ enamored with the circular doorways]

                 [ sitting in wancui house, a lecture room]

                                [star student]

                  [ playing outside on a beautiful day]

All in all it was a beautiful tour, although, I have to admit, the educational message of the tour was lost on me, as it is impossible to listen to the guide while chasing a toddler away from ancient artifacts and open waterways. 

I've always shied away from doing these types of tours, but I really enjoyed getting to see a little bit of Wuxi's history, and think that we will sign up for more in the future. I'd hate for my time here to be spent holed up in our apartment, or only seeing shopping malls, grocery stores and indoor playgrounds. Sal is so little he won't remember any of this life in China, so it's my duty to get out and take pictures for him to look back on as he grows up. 

Plus, an afternoon with friends?

Can't beat that.

Interested in learning more about the history of the academy? 
Check out this link:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

29 weeks

How far along? 29 weeks

Total weight gain/loss: 25 lbs (the weight gain finally evened out a bit)

Maternity clothes? Thank goodness for H&M mama leggings and oversized sweaters and shirts. I live in them. 

Stretch marks? Still clear, but my skin is itchy and tight. 

Sleep: I find that I'm sleeping through the night better this pregnancy. I attribute this to only being able to take an hour nap instead of sleeping all day like I did while pregnant with Sal. Plus, hell-ohhh, toddler in the house! Of course he wears me out (in a good way, of course). 

Best moment this week: feeling her start to roll around and change positions. NZ booking my sister's flights so she can be here for two weeks to spoil Sal while I deliver the girl and adjust as a mom of two. I'm not sure how much work NZ will be able to take off following the birth, so just knowing my sister will be here to help out is a weight off my shoulders. 

Miss Anything? Seeing my feet.

Movement: she doesn't move as much as Sal did, but she lets me know she's there.

Food cravings: Ice chips & Citrus.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope.

Gender: Girl.

Labor Signs: Braxton-Hicks.

Symptoms: Peeing non-stop, aching hips and back. Thought I had a UTI, but it ended up just being the girl putting non-stop pressure on my bladder.

Belly Button in or out? In. 

Wedding rings on or off? On

Happy or Moody?: I am thrilled to have hit 29 weeks!!! There were times early on in the pregnancy that I just KNEW something would go wrong and end this pregnancy...but here we are, still going strong. I do worry that she isn't growing enough, although I have no facts to base this on, except for my anxiety. Now that we are starting to purchase things and I have a baby shower in a few weeks, I am having some heightened anxiety that I am going to jinx ourselves and be stuck with a house full of baby gear and no baby. That is one of the most graphic images in my head of coming home without Denise, and I never want to go through that again. I'm a bit more emotional, especially since  I worry about cheating Sal out of all the attention he deserves when the girl arrives. 

Looking forward to: My next OB visit. We are going every two weeks now.

Friday, November 1, 2013

For like ever (her nursery)

Living in a furnished rental makes decorating a nursery a challenge. Since the furniture is not ours to get rid of, we must do some re-arranging to make room for our little-sister-to-be. Our apartment is a three bedroom, so we have space for her in what has been our "office". This means moving the office desk into our pantry (which I think will work well as extra counter space near the kitchen), the bookshelf to our entry way, and the entry way armoire into the baby's room to use as a makeshift closet. The only bedroom in our house with a closet is the master, and it's tiny itself. I've had to be creative with my storage solutions. There is a futon in the office already, and it will stay and serve as a place to nurse and read stories in her room. It's quite Chinese, so I'm hoping to make some throw pillows to disguise it's chrome accents.

I'm stressing about moving furniture and making sure my "plan" works, but I've refused to do any nursery work until I hit 30 weeks-but now that it's just around the corner-I'm starting to get excited about decorating for my girl!

I love browsing for fabric online, and as soon as I knew it was a girl, I ordered three fabrics for crib sheets that my sister sewed up for me. 

          ( fabric)

We have an IKEA in town, and that's where we bought Sal's crib, so we will do the same for the girl. I'm also going to buy an IKEA expedit bookcase as it will be just the right height for a changing table. I like the idea of having the compartments below for diaper storage, etc. 

As for the walls?

I've been smitten with the "for like ever" print since the first time I saw it, so naturally, it's the main attraction in the new room. I also found some inspiration in Cyndi Lauper's song, "girls just wanna have fun", and plan on making a canvas with lyrics from that song for the wall as well.

I'll be sure to post pictures of the finished product when we've got it all together. I'm sure some things will change along the way, but I am excited to see how it all comes together.