Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Last April, not long after discovering I was pregnant, Gene and I had a choice to make: when and how would we tell my parents?  My mom was getting ready to leave for a trip to visit family in the mid-west, and was planning to be gone for about 3+ months. 

Our options:
  1. Wait until she returned in August to tell my family... and everyone else.
  2. Tell my dad and brother but forbid them from telling Mom until her return.
  3. Allow my 1st trimester to pass without incident and tell Mom over the phone.
  4. Assemble the three of them and tell them prior to Mom's departure, even though I was just a month along.
We chose door #4.  Having never been pregnant, and being nearly 37 years old, this was a tough decision.  What if something, anything, went wrong?  Not only would we deal with the heartbreak of losing a pregnancy, but we'd have to break others' hearts after getting hopes up.  It was a gamble but one that paid off.

Gene and I had fun figuring out how to tell my family about Bean's existence.  My mom had been grousing about a broken travel mug, so we bought one at Starbucks for which you can customize the insert.  Gene typed my due date - which is my mom's birthday - in a small font on the insert.  Inside the mug we put a bib that said something about going to Grandma's house.  It was tricky to assemble the 5 of us before Mom left without raising suspicion.  But we managed somehow.

In mid-April we all sat down and watched Mom open her going-away gift.  She didn't notice the date on the mug & simply thanked us for it.  I knew that she'd open the mug in a few minutes and watched her like a hawk while the family chatted.  Sure enough, about 5 minutes later she popped the lid off and saw the Carter's tag on the bib.  That possibility hadn't occurred to clueless-about-babies me but she got the message loud and clear: we were there not to say good-bye but with Big Important News.

She looked over at me, mouth agape.  Gene, knowing what was happening, watched quietly.  Mom couldn't speak.  She blinked at me and I nodded, then she and I both started to cry. 

My dad and brother were utterly perplexed by the weird female telepathic scene unfolding before them.

I don't remember quite what went down next but I do recall my brother, upon figuring out our message of an expected baby, pushing his chair back and saying, "Whoa.  What just happened here?!?"

Dad broke out the champagne and everyone (except me) had some.  I think that my parents each had 2 or more glasses, to be honest!  They were thrilled, having pretty much given up on ever becoming grandparents because of my advanced years and my brother's lack of interest in committed relationships.

After the initial shock started to wear off, my dad asked me the due date.  I responded "12/15".  He thought for a minute, then issued this proclamation:
"This year, we're going out to dinner for Thanksgiving."

You have to understand that my dad is known for non-sequitors.  Half of the time I wonder if he can't hear, the rest of the time I suspect he's simply not paying attention to the conversation or is so uninterested in it that he randomly changes the subject to whatever appeals to him more.  For him to have declared 7 months ago that we would eat out for Thanksgiving is surprising but not entirely out of character.  I halfway think he'd been looking for a reason to do this anyway.

Dad called Shenanigan's the next day, only to be told that they weren't taking reservations until September.  I bet that those were some of the longest months of my dad's life!

So this year, instead of doing all the typical Thanksgiving meal preparations, my parents, brother, husband and I will be headed to a buffet at a nice restaurant on Tacoma's waterfront.  I plan to eat as much crab and shrimp as possible, especially since many of the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts are off-limits with my gestational diabetes.

Don't tell anyone, but I've ordered a fresh turkey and it's being delivered today.  I'm going to roast it on Friday, when Gene and I will have a mini-Thanksgiving dinner at home.  Whatever's left on Sunday will get made up into heat-n-eat meals for after Bean gets here.  I'm considering trying my hand at pasties (like Hot Pockets, only homemade).

Have yourselves a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  From our family to yours, may you spend the day in the company of loved ones and with a spirit of gratitude for the many blessings we all enjoy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Five weeks and grateful

Bean's movements have definitely changed in the past week. I can tell that he's bigger, stronger.  So much so, that I've started doing the pregnant lady grimace.  You know the one: a woman in her last trimester will suddenly contort her face like a gargoyle's when an elbow pushes too far into some organ or tests the limits of his confinement with an outstretched limb.  Sometimes it's so unexpected to get a massive kick or a long, slow push outward that I gasp and stop mid-sentence to get through it.
My shower on 11/5 with my mom & girlfriends.  Wow... belly!

As my brother likes to say: "whoa, sh*t just got real!"  The change in movements has really made me realize that yes, there is a little person in there and he's growing impatient with his cramped quarters.

That said, I've acquired the new hobby of watching my tummy bounce and roll in the evenings.  Hey, it's cheap entertainment and we don't have cable!

My due date is now less than 5 weeks away.  Tomorrow is Veterans Day and I'm going to spend it organizing the nursery.  My hope is that by the time Gene comes home from work, the transformation from what used to be our office (and, frankly, junk room) to our son's room will be complete.  Heck, maybe I'll even get some pics to show you.

My pregnancy has made me realize that I've much for which to be thankful.

As much as gestational diabetes sucks, and as much as I desperately miss grains and fruits, it has kept me honest.  No more chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, or sweets for me.  I eat an apple every few days, and guiltily at that: testing my blood sugar 5x/day and faxing the results to the doctor weekly has a way of keeping one on track.  The silver lining is that I have gained just 15 pounds overall, and not an ounce in the past 3 months.  I fully expect that my baby weight will come home in the car seat, not on my butt. 

The new low carb lifestyle has, however, forced me to explore the wonderful world of fiber supplements.  Nothing makes you feel like an old fart quite like waddling through the grocery store in search of Metamucil.

Friends and relatives at my shower.  Oh, and my poor, swollen cankles.
My nearly 94-year-old grandmother, mom, and me.

How often do you assemble all your friends and loved ones in a single room and spend a day with them?  The answer is probably "rarely".  Good friends threw my shower last weekend.  I was surrounded by people I love and admire from all periods and areas of my life, who support and care for Gene and me in turn.  I was - and continue to be - so grateful for their generosity and the wonderful, thoughtful gifts they bestowed upon Bean.  Our son has more clothes, better books, cozier blankets, and more promises of cuddly date nights than Gene and me put together!

A blanket knitted by my dad's mom for Bean.  Bean is the 1st great-grandbaby on that side, and eagerly awaited.

One of the baby shower hosts, Margaret, had a spectacular dahlia garden last summer.  She was able to save the last of her dahlias for the shower decorations before the frost got them.  The blooms were gorgeous.  Another girlfriend made this incredible cake.  I felt so loved, and grateful for all the people in my life who made the shower a special day I'll remember forever.  And yes, I threw caution to the wind for a single day and said "diabetes be damned, let me eat cake".
Gorgeous cake, beautiful flowers, beloved friends!

I'm thankful for a relatively healthy and easy pregnancy.  Despite being 36 when deciding to try to  get pregnant, I had no challenges getting and staying pregnant (fertility in my family is, shall we say, not an issue).  I experienced virtually no morning sickness, have had swelling only in my cankles and feet, and I feel good overall.  I did have a couple of weeks of significant pain when my pelvis started to separate but that's mostly gone now.

Another thing I'm grateful for, which has surprised me, is a new appreciation for and acceptance of my body.  After a lifetime of struggling with a waistline I'd always hated, I never imagined sitting in my living room with my belly exposed so that I could watch it.  I couldn't have fathomed welcoming people to feel my stomach move (and I hope I haven't dismayed some of my students!).  In the past I envisioned myself in loose, tent-like maternity clothes rather than the form-fitting ones that I've been preferring of late.  It wouldn't have occurred to me to draw attention to my bulging belly rather than try to hide it.  It's been a freeing time to trade  my negative body hangups for a deep awe of what my body is doing: creating and sustaining a new life. 

And finally, I'm grateful that I can count the weeks left in my pregnancy on one hand.  In a few weeks I'll be grateful to lie on my stomach again.