The factory is silent. Its assembly line stands motionless. Somewhere off in the darkness, a buzzer sounds. One by one, lights begin to flicker and illuminate on long-unmanned diagnostic panels, giving a sense of enormity and complexity and scale to the machinery. The low hum of power supplies warming up comes next, followed by the higher and louder whine of turbines and electric motors. A whistle sounds, and one by one, employees begin to file in and take their places at the controls. Purposed for a single task, whose time has now come, the factory slowly comes to life...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fifteen and Four

With all the emphasis on Baby Girl's nursery and the furniture and supplies with which we need to fill it, there's been very little time to concentrate on names. After making a few fairly uneventful passes through the immodestly titled Greatest Baby Name Book Ever, Kathy and I decided that we would each come up with our own list of names, and then bring them both to the table for discussion/negotiation/dismissal and hopefully, the eventual acceptance of one.

I finally completed my journey through the land of Every Potential Baby Name early this morning, which left me with a total of fifteen potential first names and only four potential middle names (somehow, I find those easier to weed out).

As we've said in the past, we're not going to reveal any candidates, or our eventual choice, until after the baby is born. However, I will give you the alphabetical breakdown of my choices and then open the floor to speculation. Since I've already made my choices, this will not influence me in any way, but it might be fun to see what people guess.

Of the potential first names, there are:

1 that starts with the letter A
2 that start with the letter B
2 that start with the letter C
1 that starts with the letter D
4 that start with the letter E
1 that starts with the letter J
1 that starts with the letter O
1 that starts with the letter P
1 that starts with the letter T
and 1 that starts with the letter V

Of the potential middle names, there are:

1 that starts with the letter E
1 that starts with the letter G
1 that starts with the letter M
and 1 that starts with the letter R

So that's where I personally am at on the name front! I'll have plenty more stuff to write about soon, but for now, back to work!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Venus of Willendorf

I got out of the shower the other night, and that is what immediately came to mind.

(Here's a link for those of you who don't remember Art History 101...)

I went for the glucose tolerance test on Monday. This was one of the only appointments I've gone to by myself, but because it requires sitting there for at least an hour without much going on, it didn't make sense for Craig to come. We haven't gotten the results yet, but hopefully no news is good news.

I saw one of the midwives while I was there, and I think it's time for us to start rotating through the medical staff to meet everyone at least once before I deliver. This midwife was just okay; I was not overly impressed one way or the other. She did say that it is statistically likely that I'll deliver with a midwife (CNM) because they are the ones usually at the hospital; the doctors are on call if needed, but they are generally attending to emergencies, while the midwives handle most of the labor and delivery.

Baby Girl was all juiced up from that glucose drink, so when the midwife tried to use the doppler, she kicked it off! (whew, whew, whew, POW!) But the heartbeat was fine, I feel fine, everything is good.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nursery Update

As we fast approach the third trimester (by some accounts, we will hit this milestone next weekend... by others, the following week) one of the questions I find myself being asked most frequently by friends, co-workers and relatives is "How is the nursery coming?"
(Runners up include "How is Kathy feeling?" [She's fine, but gets tired and out of breath easily these days.] and "Have you decided on a name yet?" [No.])

So, I figured it would be good to give everyone an update on this now legendary room, along with a few pictures of the progress.

It would be good to start off by noting that what we now refer to as the Nursery was once called The Room Where We Dump Everything We Don't Know What to do With or Where to Put It. It's been a couple-months-long process sorting through the three-foot-high piles of boxes and loose assorted scatterings of God-knows-what, but last weekend we managed to complete most of that. I don't have a "before" picture, but you must trust me when I tell you that if you could get the door open at all, you wouldn't have been able to venture far inside before we went to work in there. I spent my work breaks and evenings last week moving the remaining pieces of furniture and boxes into our upstairs hallway, removing the old curtain rods and tiebacks, and patching and sanding holes. By yesterday morning, all that remained was to remove the switch plates and tape them up. The room looked like this:

I spent an hour or two priming the top and bottom borders of the walls, the corners, the areas around the light sockets and windows... anywhere it would be difficult to use a roller. After recently painting two other rooms in our house, the process had become almost second nature to me. However, I was missing one crucial component this time around: Kathy. She's not able to stand for long periods of time without discomfort and she wanted to spend some time working outside, so I tackled this project by myself. When I was done "outlining" the room, it looked like this:

By this point, I needed a break, so I stopped to mow the lawn and check on Kathy. Afterward, I returned to the Nursery, using a roller to put two coats of primer (one seemed a little see-thru [check out the borders of the walls in the pictures below for an example of what I mean], and I wanted that "cat barf" color as covered up as possible). This process took a couple more hours and involved dragging the drop cloth back and forth with all of my painting supplies on top of it because I was too lazy and impatient to pick them all up and carry them out of the room each time.

The end result (and the room's current state) is this:

Next on the agenda:

1.) Choose a color scheme and paint design.
We're currently using the following pattern from Target as inspiration for our color pallette... more on that in a later entry.

2.) Paint!
This is the fun part.

3.) Move our existing bedroom furniture into the Nursery.
We have some old white bedroom furniture which needs to be repainted and drug down the hall to its new home.

4.) Break out the checkbook for any remaining Nursery accessories and furniture.
Crib, changing station, diaper pail and many, many other things still need to be purchased.

5.) Check the calendar and make sure the baby's not been born yet.
I think we'll be okay here, but it's going to be close.

Look for a new update on the Nursery as soon as there's more to tell.

In other news, Kathy returns to the doctor tomorrow. I won't be accompanying her this time, as she has to take a three hour long glucose tolerance test and it's a work day for me. However, I'm sure she'll tell us all about it right here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Schooling, Afterthoughts and Affirmation

Last Thursday, Craig and I went to our first "baby class." This one was Infant/Child Safety and CPR. I know it seems a little early for that sort of class, and I would have preferred we had taken it a little closer to when we actually have an Infant/Child, but this was the only time they could get us in that didn't conflict with our other childbirthing classes. So on a weekday night, after work, we went over to the hospital for some learnin'.

The nurse that taught the class was actually a surgical nurse from the main hospital, but she said she has been teaching this class for a while. I was amazed at how much I already knew, and I got to thinking about why...

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time by myself. All that time on my hands and lots and lots of books in our house led me to a lot of reading. I remember in particular we had a medical book, a full-color transparency-plated sciency affair that I used to pore over for hours. (It's probably why I understand so much doctor-speak now...) In addition to basic anatomy and chapters on body systems, it was a first aid reference. So I learned a lot of things that I found fascinating back then, but that I would probably find kind of gruesome now. For example, getting a fishhook stuck in your hand. I now know that you need to push it through your hand until the barb comes out, and then you can cut the barb off, and remove the hook. YOWCH and YUCK. But back then, I thought it was pretty cool. So a lot of the first aid things in this course were a refresher for me.

But it was still useful to have to rethink all the things you have to consider when you have a baby. I leaned over to Craig at one point and whispered that having a kitten was going to have well-prepared us already for baby safety. We're already used to having to think about: what is that little creature going to put in its mouth, climb on, hang from, grab, knock over, etc. We already keep our toilet seat lids down (drowning hazard) and our blind cords tied up. Maybe adjustment won't be too bad.

Craig was more critical of the instructor than I was. He felt she brushed off some of the things that he wanted to know were important. You know, how sometimes in a class, they'll tell you, "The book says do it this way, but real life isn't always like that..." I tend to take that in stride, but he felt she should have emphasized: if it's important, you HAVE to do it, rather than leaving a gray area, especially in the minds of first-time parents... But that's small potatoes.

Two things stood out for me in post-class thought:

1. How in the world did any of us make it to adulthood? Our parents didn't know or do lots of those things. All the car seat rules, and food rules, and household safety things... It's a wonder any of us survived.

2. Any woman can get pregnant. (Hypothetically speaking in the broad sense, barring any medical difficulties, etc. I meant from a 50,000 ft view.) There's no laws or regulations or, these days, even strong moral imperatives keeping "unfit" people from having children. Along those same lines, once you give birth, the hospital hands you a baby, and says, "Here's your baby! Good luck!" and off you go. Nobody requires you to take classes. Nobody checks in on that baby ever. Nobody has any idea that you're in your right mind and can handle a completely dependent, brand new infant human and keep it alive. Any idiot can at that point be responsible. And that thought is kind of scary. I mean, it's something I've always known, but the gravity of it has just only really hit me recently.

On a lighter note, I received the first "public" acknowledgment that I'm pregnant a few nights ago! Craig and I went out to dinner with our lovely neighbor friends to a nice restaurant on Saturday night. We stuffed ourselves, but still had leftovers, so when the waitress brought the dessert menu, we weren't having any. But the waitress mentioned cake, and saying "cake" to a pregnant lady is dangerous...

By the time we got home, I said to Craig, "All I can think about now is cake..." So he agreed to indulge me, and we hopped back out of the house again to the store. (Hey, we were already all dressed up, and we needed some staples like milk, bread and eggs anyway...) We loaded up a couple of hand baskets with the basics, and picked up a delicious 4-quarter cake assortment (double chocolate, red velvet, carrot, and German chocolate. YUM)

We went to the register and the cashier looked at the cake and commented on how lovely it looked. Craig said, "That's actually the reason we came out here tonight!" And the cashier looked at me with a smile and said, "I guess you had a craving, huh..." And then she asked if this was our first child, and we got to talking about babies and kids and whatnot...

So that must mean I'm officially at the point where I look more pregnant than fat! Yay! I have noticed that, for the first time since...oh, I don't know, stomach sticks out farther than my boobs! The top-down view is a little strange for me, but I'm slowly getting used to it...

(Side note: if God forbid I ever need to find a job, I am so going to go work at that Harris Teeter! Those people that work there are the nicest, happiest bunch of grocery store workers I've ever seen. They must be treated well...)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ultrasound pics -- 22 weeks

I've been meaning to post those ultrasound pics from the last visit, and I've just been too busy! (read: lazy and/or tired, more likely.) So these pictures are from 22 weeks, but I'm 23 now. (And sorry about the cop-out on the fruit analogy to the right. After week 22, they start bunching them together a few weeks at a time. The explosive growth slows down some now until the end...)

The ultrasound last Monday went well, and we had the same tech as last time, so she remembered we didn't get those face pics we wanted! The munchkin started out pretty uncooperative (although this time I drank some juice before we went, so she was rolling around in there) but later she started giving us some better photo ops. The tech tried really hard to get us some good shots (including switching on the 4D for us, whee!) and we got to see some cool stuff!

(All these pics you can click on to enlarge, by the way.)

First, we are DEFINITELY having a girl!

(We hope that's the last time she shows off the goods to anyone like that until she's oh, about 40 years old!)

She decided to wave "hi!"

If you tilt your head to the left for this next one, you can see a little alien baby skull! (Baby Girl is actually using the placenta as a pillow...)

Here's a sweet little profile:

And here's one that takes a little imagination, but I think it's neat that they can get all this on film:

Then the tech kept trying to get us some good face pictures. She switched on the 4D but Baby Girl was rolling around and putting her hands in front of her face, and then we saw that it was because she was just trying to get her arm into her mouth! (OM NOM NOM):

So everything is fine! They said she weighs about a pound and a half, and is measuring about a week ahead! I was worried about my weight because I myself had gained about 6 or 7 lbs. since the last visit, and I thought, "That can't be right!" But the doctor said I was spot on and doing great, and keep up the good work!!!

The next appointment is on March 23rd, and I have to go in for a glucose tolerance test. But the nice thing about the test this time is that I get to eat (a high protein) breakfast first! I guess they don't want to upset the tummies of a pregnant woman too much with that sugary crap first thing in the morning on an empty stomach! I'll have to get up super-early, but...breakfast!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Baby's First Concert!

One of the first things I learned upon moving to Charlotte is that the metro area is prone to overreaction when it comes to snow. All week, we've been bombarded with "STORM TEAM CHANNEL 37! GET READY TO BE BURIED ALIVE IN THE SNOW FOR A MONTH! THE DEADLIEST BLIZZARD IN OUR PLANET'S HISTORY IS ON THE WAY!" We tend to ignore such hype, as it rarely leads to anything. Besides, it's March for God's sake... we haven't gotten snow this late in the year for nigh on a decade!

Well, the meteorologists were right this time, and last night found me and Kathy trekking through fairly heavy snowfall to the other side of town to see Ben Folds at Ovens Auditorium. We haven't been to a show in YEARS and the one day we decide to attend one happens to be one of the only days of the year we actually get snow. Seriously, what are the odds of that? (side note: traversing slick roads and playing "dodge the idiots who think they can drive in snow" is not a lot of fun for me on a GOOD day, so you can imagine what adding a six-months-pregnant wife to the equation did for my blood pressure.)

Luckily, once we made it to the show, it turned out to be well worth the hassle. The house was still about 3/4 full, which, given the weather, was pretty astounding. The atmosphere was akin to being at a highly anticipated film at midnight on opening night. Knowing that everyone there with you had braved hellish conditions along with you granted everyone a strange sort of kinship. The audience was singing along with every song, in some cases louder than the band. It was pretty amazing stuff.

And our little girl seemed to enjoy it as well. Kathy noted several times that she was bouncing happily around in there.

The trek home was less treacherous, since most people in Charlotte are home and in bed before midnight on a GOOD Sunday. And now we'll have a story to tell our daughter some day about her very first concert. Hopefully she will be born with great taste in music (like her mom!)