Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Things My Wife Complains About: #17 Spending an Entire Day in the City Doing Everything She Wants to Do

If you're not currently pregnant or haven't been pregnant in the immediate past, you've never heard of a "babymoon." A "babymoon" is a way to spend money on yourself, instead of the child growing inside of you, which seems sensible if you're receiving weekly emails telling you what vegetable your fetus is the size of (current size: maize). In lieu of traveling somewhere exotic with someone who let her passport expire, hates flying, is uncomfortable everywhere, and doesn't like the way she looks in anything but a Snuggie, I decided we might take advantage of the things she's long wanted to do in New York but hasn't done because those things are boring.

We started by going for soup dumplings. My wife didn't complain about the soup dumplings unless expressing frustration that the soup dumplings weren't on the menu and wondering why I'd take her somewhere for soup dumplings that doesn't have soup dumplings sounds like a complaint (note: the people next to us were loudly and obviously eating soup dumplings). Next we made it through nearly twenty yards of Central Park before my wife complained that she was tired--a reasonable claim for someone in her advanced state--so we did what anyone tired does and took several hundred photos of her belly in front of bushes.

After Central Park, we went to the American Museum of Natural History, which I will confess is not boring, if only for the floating blue whale the size of a rocket ship and Brontosaurus in disguise. Unfortunately, my wife turned into the little-understood Pregosaurus halfway through the museum. The Pregosaurus, I learned, is low to the ground and slow moving. It is unpredictable, omnivorous, and has to sit in Starbucks between feedings to complain about its feet.

American Museum of Natural History 2010
Pregosaurus and Allosaurus

For the evening portion of the "Babymoon," we took in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, sponsored by every corporation in the United States. This is the narrative arc of the RCCS for the uninitiated: Santa invents reasons for forty white women to kick their legs in the air for an hour (rising tension), some kid suddenly and unconvincingly discovers the True Meaning of Christmas (climax), Jesus--unmentioned to that point--is born in front of live camels (denouement). Before any of this happened, my wife went to the restroom. When she came out, she said, I can't tell you how many things I have to complain about in there.

Possible Solutions!

1) Turn the "Babymoon" into a "Maybemoon," in which we discuss all the things we might do; ultimately, do nothing
2) Preemptively complain about crazy things (could this sunset BE more orange?) and see how wife responds
3) Invent "Husbandmoon," which takes place in Florida during Spring Training and is greeted enthusiastically by a lack of complaints (hard)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

We tried to make the best of the beginning of the week. It's supposed to be really important to have good dental hygiene while pregnant so I went for a cleaning and check on Tuesday. As far as the dentist could tell without an x-ray, no cavities. I think I like the no x-ray system best. We also had a romantic joint eye doctor appointment on Wednesday- Kevin got new glasses but my prescription remains unchanged since 2004. Sadly the style of my glasses is out.

But anyway, we took advantage of my dentist being in the city to go out on Tuesday. We got soup dumplings after my appointment, walked through Central Park, and then went to the American Museum of Natural History.  We were particularly excited about the dinosaur exhibit after watching about four hours of dinosaur documentary with Brady last weekend.  It's a little sad that so many dinosaurs that we learned about when we were little have been "revised" and renamed. For example, the brontosaurus doesn't exist, and now it's the apatosaurus.  Thankfully, tyrannosaurus rex and stegosaurus still exist. But the real stars of the dinosaur world are now the diplodocus, closely related barosaurus, and the somewhat T-rex-looking but not related, Allosaurus. It was fun discussing how old Baby Clou would have to be before we could bring him back here.  We're guessing it won't be for a few years.

Central Park 2010
23 weeks + 2 days belly shot in Central Park

American Museum of Natural History 2010
The Barosaurus at the entrance of the museum

American Museum of Natural History 2010
Self-portrait with an old-school triceratops

Kevin was also pretty psyched to see the gigantic whale in the Oceans Exhibit, though ironically it took us a lot of effort and time to find it.  It took even longer to make cheesy videos on their email machines, but I insisted on it.

American Museum of Natural History 2010
Kevin and his Moby Dick, if Moby were a 94-foot blue whale

Videos best with sound

You can hear me complaining that it makes no sense that we're sharing a wetsuit

Afterward, we went for dinner at a Peruvian-Chinese restaurant, and then to Rockefeller for pictures with the tree and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes.  Apparently, mom and dad brought me when I was five or six and I critiqued Santa's credibility.  I don't remember it, but this has always been one of their favorite stories.

Christmas Week 2010

Then we went on a visiting-family spree, starting with my grandmother Daisy, then Christmas Eve and the day before it with my mother, visiting Chrissy's family who truly understands what we're going through.  Finally, we hauled out to the Cape for Christmas dinner with Kevin's family.  They showered us with love and presents for us and for the baby. Despite our best efforts though, Christmas without my dad has been extremely sad.

Visiting Grandma Daisy 2010
Soon-to-be Great Grandma (bisaubuela) Daisy is 80 years old

Christmas Eve 2010
Gwen, Matthew, Chrissy, and Owen

23 Weeks
Milestones: Baby is kicking all the way up on the top of my belly now.  Kevin has developed sympathetic pregnancy symptoms (also known as the common cold) complete with fatigue, sore throat, stuffy nose, difficulty sleeping, and increased appetite. Today he almost said "I shouldn't kiss you because I'm pregnant," when he meant to say "because I'm sick."
What I miss the most: Sleeping comfortably. Being allowed to lose weight.
Craving: MILK, DAIRY, ICE CREAM, CHOCOLATE, I want to bathe in it, also yogurt, egg nog, fruit bars, sugar sugar sugar.  I am trying to restrain myself... and failing.
Anti-craving: Food without sugar or salt.
Symptoms: Acid reflux, stuffy nose,  left knee still hurts. The floor is far away and uncomfortable to reach.
Baby-size: Mango!
Weight gain: 19.5 plus? Weighing myself on Christmas wasn't going to happen

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Past 2004-2009

Some Christmas pictures with our family from the last six years.

Christmas Eve 2004
Christmas Eve 2004 with my parents

Christmas 2004
Christmas 2004 with my brother and grandmother

Christmas 2005
Christmas Eve 2005 with my parents

Christmas Eve 2006
Christmas Eve 2006 with my parents

Christmas Eve 2006
Christmas Eve 2006, my last Christmas photo with both of my parents

Christmas 2007
Christmas 2007 with Kevin's family

Christmas Week 2007
Just after Christmas 2007 with Grandma Shute

Cville Engagement Party 2008
Parents visiting Charlottesville after Christmas 2007

Sterns' Holiday Party 2008
Christmas 2008

Christmas 2008
Christmas on the Cape with Grandpa George and Uncle Dickie, 2008

Christmas 2008
Kevin gifting Grandma Ruth (Andrew and Katie sipping wine), 2008

Christmas 2008
With Kevin's mom and cousin Chris, 2008

Parents Visit Brooklyn 2009
Parents visiting Brooklyn shortly after Christmas 2008

I wrote about Christmas last year, here are some of my favorite photos again:

Holidays 2009
Kevin and his brother Andrew in NYC 2009

Christmas Eve 2009
Our first married Christmas at my parents in 2009

Christmas Eve 2009
My parents, Christmas 2009

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's been one month today

“He didn’t come out of my belly, but my God, I’ve made his bones, because I’ve attended to every meal, and how he sleeps, and the fact that he swims like a fish because I took him to the ocean. I’m so proud of all those things. He is my biggest pride.” - John Lennon.

Thanks for the bones, Dad.

22 Weeks, December 12-18, 2010

Thinking about my dad at the beginning of the week was especially difficult. It feels strange that three weeks out I was more upset than even immediately after, probably because the shock and disbelief is wearing off.

As I kind of got a grip mid-week, we got news that Kevin's father had a heart attack. He had a pacemaker put in though, and he should be fine now.

We bought a Christmas tree and I decorated it this weekend.  Baby Clou kicked a lot when I decorated the tree, probably because of all the bending at the waist that I was doing.  Brady also visited this weekend bringing with him a little good cheer (good for all of us) and Belgian beer (good for Kevin).

Brady Visits 2010
Kevin and Brady debating everything, as usual

Milestones: Baby is kicking and punching at the same time, doing flips more often, and maybe paying attention to outside noise?
What I miss the most: (New category from Chrissy's blog! Previously unneeded...) Sleeping on my right side without acid reflux, sleeping without a stuffy nose, sleeping without backache, a working knee. Also Baileys Irish Cream Liquor!
Craving: Apple juice, mango juice, Baileys Irish Cream Liquor (no, I haven't had any), beef
Anti-craving: Nothing, not even the stuff that ultimately gives me acid reflux, how is that helpful?
Symptoms: At the beginning of the week I had super evil acid reflux, my nose was so stuffy I could only breath through my mouth, and sleeping was super difficult, and my left knee still hurt a lot. By the end of the week those symptoms had subsided a lot, but I know they'll be back, and probably get worse.
Baby-size: Papaya
Weight gain: 18ish

Sunday, December 12, 2010

21 Weeks, December 5-11, 2010

People keep asking me how many months I am, which constantly makes me pause to consider because I've only been thinking in terms of how many weeks I am along.  Since pregnancy is about 40 weeks long, that means you might eventually hit 10 months, so the month system seems confusing in terms of time remaining.  In any case, simple math indicates I should be answering 5 months.  I'm clearly showing but I have the "awkward bump" where you can still see my waist fighting back in the middle of the bump.

21 Weeks and 6 Days
Square bump, 21 weeks and 6 days (dress was shorter than it appears)

The baby's kicks are higher up in my stomach area, making me wonder where exactly my stomach is in relation to the baby.  Knowing that baby will kick and punch every day is a nice comfort that everything is okay. So much so that my doctor's appointment at the beginning of the week seemed like a complete waste of time, though they did give me the syrup to drink for my 27-week glucose test.  Luckily it's not as much liquid as I was worried it might be.  I haven't had a single soda the whole time I've been pregnant so I was annoyed at the idea of guzzling some big corn syrup concoction. Also, I got bored of What to Expect When You're Expecting, so I started reading What to Expect the First Year.

My good friend from law school Audra publicly announced that she and her husband Rob are expecting a baby as well! I'm so happy for them! I just wish she lived closer so the babies could know each other.  Though she didn't know it yet, it turns out we were both pregnant at the Sarah and Rob's Wedding!   Particularly funny since I urged her to get pregnant at the wedding. Way to follow instruction, Baby!

Burke Wedding 2010
Both pregnant, October 15th

As far as mourning my dad, this week was much worse.  I feel like it has been for my mother as well.  I talked a little to my friend Chrissy who recently went through the same thing. People who haven't been through it, really don't seem to understand so it's hard to talk to them yet. They can extrapolate that it's awful, but for example they don't understand how distant the feeling is to losing grandparent.  I imagine it's quite different than losing a parent when you're much older as well, but I don't know if that's true.

One of the things that perpetually bothers me is that I wish I'd been a better daughter.  I would probably wish that no matter what I had done, but it's hard to cope with thinking of specific things I could have done better or more.  Even when it's things dad wouldn't necessarily have cared about, it's difficult to explain, but I still wish I'd been a better daughter for my own sake. For example, having visited more before we knew dad was sick  would have been a gift to me, even if  at the time I might have thought I was doing it for my parents.  Anyway, this week was hard hard hard.

Kevin tried to cheer me up with dinner and the Harry Potter movie on Friday, and then yesterday we went to his office Christmas party.  The one day at a time thing seems to work pretty well, but I'm remiss to make future plans.  I looked forward to this time in my life for a long time, and now that it isn't turning out the way I'd hope, I'm afraid to look forward to things at all.

Milestones: Based on baby's estimated weight last week, he's probably a full pound this week. Woo! Babycenter says the baby has eyebrows now.  Our baby book says his arms and legs are in proportion now.
Craving: Apple juice, apples, protein
Anti-craving: I still crave grape juice but it gives me acid reflux so I'm afraid of it.
Symptoms:  Evil acid reflux, my nose is so stuffy I can only breath through my mouth, headaches, sleep is pretty difficult now, my left knee still hurts- my new theory is that it's from not aligning the pregnancy pillow correctly.
Baby-size: Carrot
Weight gain: Oh no, 16.5!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Connor is Home 2010!

Back in September, my friends Becky and Brandon had baby Connor, born premature at 26 weeks.  Since then, the doctors and nurses in the NICU have been monitoring him carefully for weight gain and health issues. Becky and Brandon have been bonding with him at the hospital. And just today, Connor came home healthy!  He's about 6 pounds and 2 ounces. We are so happy for the whole family!

Connor Graves 2010
Connor all dressed for the ride home

Update: Connor gained 5 ounces and is 6 pounds, 7 ounces as of Monday, December 13, three months after he was born.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jeff & Caroline Engaged! Chrissy & Dave Too!

Over the weekend, Kevin's close friend Jeff P and his lovely girlfriend Caroline got engaged.   Kevin and I just met her for the first time in October and were delighted.  I might be a bit biased since she speaks Spanish so I envision my little Spanish-speaking kids playing with theirs one day. Though I don't know all the details, word is that the proposal was extravagant including a flight from from London (where they live) to Venice for dinner and the proposal. Wow!  Jeff says that "...the Clou family blog is the Wikileaks of engagements." Nice.

Caroline and Jeff 2009
Caroline and Jeff in 2009

The engagement is happy news for his family especially since his sister Chrissy also got engaged recently to her boyfriend Dave.  The proposal took place in a beautiful Virginia vineyard and was followed by wine tasting.  The wedding planning is on!

Dave and Chrissy 2010
Dave and Chrissy in 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

5 Months Pregnant 2010

Baby Jeans from Grandma 2010
20 Weeks, November 28 - December 4, 2010

The 20th week started with the sonogram that confirmed we were having a boy, setting my mom off on a baby boy shopping spree.  So far she's gotten the baby 3 outfits and a pair of jeans.  The boy news hasn't made a big change for me since I was already calling the baby "he" and was pretty convinced we were having a boy. Maybe I feel guilty about drinking coffee though, because I don't want to stunt his growth and make him short.  Think tall thoughts baby. It is interesting to picture having a son and all that means.

The news that the baby was already almost a pound on Monday concerned me a bit. On the one hand, I'm glad that a full pound of my weight gain went to the baby and not to my butt.  On the other hand I don't want the baby to be doomed to a life of pudginess because of my Ben and Jerry's addiction.  The ice cream never shows up in my official cravings because I always want ice cream even when I'm not pregnant. It seems disingenuous to blame my ice cream habit on the baby. (Except in early August when I felt compelled to mix milk in to make it runny.)

The baby kicks every day several times a day, and I can also feel him doing other stuff- maybe turning or wiggling.  When I take a shower he seems like he turns.  Maybe he's trying to get away from the sound of the shower.  Sometimes he kicks a little after I eat something new and exciting.  This might be just be in my head because I read that food flavors the amniotic fluid and he can taste it.  I can get him to kick for other people by lying down and shaking my belly a little but I try not to do that because what if he hates that?  I would never know. The kicks still feel pretty minimal to other people, but they're definitely getting stronger.  Last night I swear he was kicking along to the beat when I was watching Glee to Journey's Don't Stop Believing.  I swear.

The acid reflux is getting pretty bad now and mainly strikes in the evening.  Two gulps of milk or a full glass of water helps.  I have to sleep with milk on my night table, three pillows to keep my head above my throat, and lying on my left side-- my right side doesn't work as well.  Kevin puts a glass of water and a smaller cup milk by my bed before I go to sleep.
It's only been two weeks since I lost my dad.  And it's definitely not getting any easier yet.  He was so ridiculously healthy and strong-looking in July, even after his diagnosis.  And he came home in October the best he'd been since July.  Even in his last week, he was a handsome young-looking man. If I had to pick a stage of grief, I'd say I'm in deep denial.  But obviously also really sad and  really angry.  I've only started to talk to people outside my family in the last couple of days. I worry about the stress of my sadness on the baby, not just in the last two weeks, but for the entire duration of the pregnancy, but I don't think there's much I can do about that.

Milestones: Half-way there! Baby boy is punching and kicking every day. I have to wear loose-fitting maternity tops now to be comfortable. I've been wearing maternity pants for a while already.
Craving: apple juice, red sausage (chorizo or pepperoni), milk
Anti-craving: Can't always finish my coffee
Symptoms:  Bad acid reflux, my left knee hurts possibly from the extra weight or possibly from having to sleep on my left side.
Baby-size: Banana (my mom says plantain)
Weight gain: 13.5

Friday, December 3, 2010

Letter from a Doctor 2010

Some people in this world are truly special.  One of dad's doctors called shortly after my dad died, and he sent a letter saying the same thing.  For four months (and even now) I thought constantly of the details of dad's cancer like it was a nefarious puzzle I was trying to solve.  No matter how many different ways I considered it, I couldn't solve it.  You would think that such a letter would come from an oncologist who was used to patients' families being haunted by the complicated choices of fighting cancer, but it actually came from one of his urologists.  He is an exceptionally thoughtful doctor and a kind man, and my mother and I are grateful to him.

Dear Mrs. Shute and Family:

I am very sorry about the passing of your husband, James Shute.  As you know, I did not get to know him for very long but I can tell you that he never seemed to complain despite his many medical problems.  I know it was difficult for you to make decisions about him but I think it is important to let you know that I think everything that you did was correct.  I do know that he was lucky to have such a loving family around him.

If there is anything that I or my office can do for you, please do not hesitate to let me know.
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