Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jordan's Birth Story: While They Are Both Sleeping...

Jordan Dennis Phillips
Born April 30, 2011 at 2:31 PM
6 lbs 15 oz
20 inches

I'm lying in my hospital bed, still sore from giving birth earlier today at 2:31 PM, listening to the clockwork of the IV as it spews oxytocin into my bloodstream and the laughing conversation from the nurses working outside of my door. To my left is the laptop, our cellphones, our cameras, a half empty Lay's bag of chips, a small cup of apple juice, a small 2 fl oz of Medela soothing sore nipple cream, wax water cups and some concoction drink in a big thermos my mom and aunt brought me to help my breast milk develop. In front of me, sits a small body, heaving slowly up and down, covered with a baby blue and pink beanie, swaddled in a white bundle with thin pink and blue stripes sitting inside a clear hospital encasement, tilted so I can see him from my bed.

Every now and then, a little peep comes out of him, as if saying something, but not really. Not crying, not wimpering, just a soft reminder that he is there, and just may be working on his first official poop. And everytime a sound comes from this soft bundle of joy lying at the foot of my bed, an automatic response from the man sleeping on my right joins with, "Hey buddy, what's going on?" or "Yeah Jordan?" Both are asleep, but the murmuring from my newborn son continues as he stretches here and there, moves his head a little as he dreams of his time in the womb or of that sweet first poop and similarly, like father, like son, Andy's responses are not far behind as he is taking a nap until the next feeding.

I think back to the day's events. I remember how I woke up in the hospital at 4 AM so some tall white coat man with thick rimmed black glasses could take my blood sample. Without my glasses or contacts on, I initially thought, what if it's like that movie Unknown, and he is here to put poison into my IV which I can dimly recall was the most painful part of my time at the hospital so far. I also remember the nurse's broken English as she instructed Andy and I to fill out a ton of release forms and sign away any foreseeable rights to litigation and lighten the burden of any form of liability on the hospital's part. This was as we struggled to stay awake as it was already 2 AM at the time.

Earlier that night, we had decided a trip to hospital would be the safe thing to do since I had been having painless contractions for the last 4 hours occurring anywhere from every 5 to 9 minutes. We knew we might be turned away but we didn't want to take our chances. My heart rate was higher than normal, the doctor had said I was 3 cm, 80% effaced and 1 plus station on Thursday, so if anything, getting turned away would reassure us. So off we went to the hospital, calm and composed, ready to get turned away.

The nurse who checked me, politely questioned why we had decided to come to the hospital if I had not been having any painful contractions. I told her of my doctor's appointments stats from Thursday and that I had been having consistent contractions for the last 4 hours. She put a baby heart rate monitor and a contraction monitor on my stomach, strapped with elastic bands (and put on WAY too tight) and began to chart my progress. Andy and I sat there, eagerly looking at the chart as it printed away, noticing all my so called "contractions" were showing up as mere squiggles of pretty static waves. Every now and then, I would get a larger contraction, but for the most part, the "contractions" I had been feeling were just small bumps of quiet noise. The nurse came back and measured my cervix, telling me my cervix was 5 cm dilated, I was still 80% effaced and the baby was quite high, -1 station. Oops, guess I heard the doc wrong on Thursday. She then told me I was having what she would call irritability but no real contractions besides the three or four she saw.

She then called the doctor on call for my doctor (who was away at a Girl Scout camp this weekend and told me if I had the baby this weekend, she'd be out) but advised me that she thought I would probably just go home. Fingers crossed - Andy and I did not want to stay at the hospital if we did not have to, we just wanted to be safe. We hadn't even called anyone in our family for fear of another false alarm (we though after 30 minutes of 5 minute apart contractions on Thursday night that we were on our way in that night!) The doctor called back and hearing I was 5 cm, 80% effaced, wanted us to stay over night and see where we landed in the morning. Andy and I both sighed, guess we were staying... guess we were being safe, but we still kinda secretly hoped it was not time yet and we could go home to sleep comfortably after the morning check up.

When I awoke this morning my nurse, Terri, measured me and told us I was definitely not 5 cm dilated anymore. Did I shrink? Was that possible? She then told us I was now 7 cm dilated and still about 80% effaced with the baby in -1 position still. But I hadn't felt anything painful! I had somehow managed to get to 7 cm, ready for active labor, and had not felt anything besides a tightening in the stomach which I, for all intense purposes, had thought was the baby kicking me!
The nurse said they called this "silent labor" and my irritability over time had somehow gotten me to 7 cm.
Shortly after, Nurse Terri and Doctor Chang came in to tell me they were going to give me pitocin to increase my contractions. They started the pitocin and still the contractions felt like cramps, and I was still feeling okay. Then Doctor Chang came in and told me they were going to strip my membranes, break the water bag, and really get things going. *gulp

At this point, I was 8 cm dilated and then, it started around 10 AM. Painful labor. Contractions that I needed to pause for, execute the breathing exercises Andy and I had learned during labor and birth class, change positions, the whole nine yards. I knew an epidural was an option, but part of me thought, I had no pain up until 8 cm, maybe I can make it to 10 cm. I likened the pain to really difficult diarrhea that is strained in your lower abdomen as your struggle, only times 5! I mean, it was bad, but not that bad, and it was only for a mere 60 seconds before you got through it and were okay again. Andy told me, it's like p90x, you can do anything for 90 seconds! Invigorated with more determination, I plowed through the next hour with minimal hardship. Andy and I were watching Tangled on his computer and soon after, I had him pause the movie while I worked through the contractions. He breathed with me, told me it hurt his throat to breathe this way, at which point I glared at him and thought of the Friends episode where Ross comments on how much this hurts (he hit his head or something) and Rachel just glares at him.

I shoved Andy away when he tried to touch me to help soothe my pain. Other times, I asked him to massage my back. He slow danced with me, cradled me while I moaned in pain and helped me move positions. Some contractions, I held onto the rails of the bed for dear life as if holding on tighter would make the pain diminish. I looked at the clock thinking, am I there yet? We prayed quietly for assistance, comfort and strength while I prayed about whether an epidural was the right next step. I asked Nurse Terri how long she thought I would be until 10 cm and delivery. She told me a cm was normally an hour. At 11 AM, I was still in pain, only it had gotten worse.

Epidural.... my long lost friend, is it too late? Through my mind, ran the cost benefit analysis of how much more benefit I would have gotten (it's expensive folks) if I had decided earlier... but then the fear of having scoliosis and not being able to move after also dawned upon me. The fear of not being able to fully push because the epidural was too strong also frightened me. The - PAIN - suddenly overcame all logical thought and the next time Nurse Terri came by, I told her I would take an epidural please.

It took about 25 minutes to get set up, during which time I had about a million contractions all equally miserable and painstakingly long (okay a minute, but it felt LONGER!). They came in at 11:30 and I was 9 cm... man, only 1 more cm to go, but if this would take an hour or more, that was enough for me to have the epidural. The hardest part was sitting tight as an excruciating contraction went through my body, for fear of messing up my spine if I moved while the anesthesiologist was setting everything up on my back. The "burning" and "sting" he described was nothing compared to the IV from the night before (yes, most painful still) or the labor contractions I had been feeling.

I was never planning for an all natural birth though I had strongly considered it, and though I give much credit to those who can do it naturally, there is nothing wrong with an epidural for those who want it! I just figured since I had been so blessed with no pain up until 7 cm, maybe I should try my luck for the remaining 3 cm by going naturally like my mom, mother in law and aunts had all done (times were different but none of them really had time).

It took 4 contractions for the epidural to take its course. From then on, I felt pressure but no pain. Andy and I continued watching Tangled (we had stopped it earlier when the pain was too much and I couldn't stand it) and I thought, I'd love to go to sleep now... maybe baby will come later so I can sleep blissfully until then.

Gravity helped him slowly move lower and then... it was time. I was to start pushing at 12:45 PM. Only, though I could feel my legs and even move them, my butt was numb. And I was supposed to push as if I was pooping but where was my butt?!

I pushed for a total of an hour and forty five minutes, never positive if I was really pushing or if the praises from the nurse, doctor and Andy were just to motivate me to continue trying. I just continued pushing, always in groups of three, always exhausted from what I think was pushing, but was not certain due to the overall numbness I felt. And then, it happened. His heart rate dropped and I could tell everyone in the room was frightened and everyone paused to look at the monitors (which I could not see from where I lay) and waited. I knew I had to push harder to get him out but I just couldn't physically manage it. Why was it so hard? I was an expert pooper and have been very accustomed to constipation and the effort it takes to truly push a big poop out! Ugh.

I kept hearing his head was near - they could see the hair - yet every set of pushes was not enough. I prayed silently for help, for the courage and strength to continue pushing and for Jordan to be okay. Towards my last push, his heart rate plunged down again. This time I tilted my head and could see it was around 75. The doctor then said she was going to use the vacuum and at this precise moment - is when I completely freaked out.

Andy had told me about a vacuum delivery he had witnessed during his rotation and the risks associated with it. And so, I lay there, looked to him for advice, but his face was white with fear. He knew exactly what the risks were and he was scared for the baby and he could not hide it. They told me I had to push as hard as I humanly could as they used the vacuum and all I could think of was if the baby would be okay. What if his heart stopped completely because I was a sucky pusher? Stupid epidural!
And then... I pushed and they vacuumed and out he came. He was born at precisely 2:31 PM. Slimy, bloody, wrinkly and perfectly all mine (and Andy's). They lay him on me as he cried and all I could think of was, is he okay? Andy looked relieved but I was still scared. They took him away to clean and check and I sat there shaking in disbelief that my 37 and 6 days of being pregnant had just ended, that my stomach was more like I was 5 months pregnant and that there was a crying baby in the room that was no longer a moving motion inside of me.

They told us his cord was very short, which made his heart rate decrease everytime I tried pushing him and it pulled on the cord. I felt a bit relieved that it wasn't my sucky pushing that led to his lowered heart rate but moreover, I was just relieved that he had made it out with the vacuum. We took pictures, videos, called family, called friends, and later, Jordan had his first take at some colostrum and as he gorged on me, all I could think was, wow. Wow. WOW. And also, when will I feel the doctor sewing me up down there? (yeah - they cut me and I ripped). I looked down at him adoringly, still unsure of all the emotions whirling inside of me. What just happened? Did I really just give birth?

As I sit here staring at my baby and my husband while they are both sleeping, I know that it wasn't just a dream (nightmare for some parts). Andy and I normally pray a lot. Today, we prayed a lot for Jordan. And a lot for me. And a lot for the family. We are a family now. And I am here to capture all of that while they are both sleeping. While they are BOTH sleeping. I shall join them soon...

Friday, April 29, 2011

And Then...There Was His Room...

I told myself over and over that I wouldn't dedicate too much time to a baby room. I longed instead for an exercise room. Ultimately, the baby won't notice the symmetry, the colors, or the effort put in. Ultimately, daddy and mommy were quite happy with the little DIY projects that make up his room. Ultimately, there's now a baby room in our house.

The first wall across from the crib (super anal me and earthquake zone California) has from L-R, a cheap DIY ABC print I made from internet seeking, matting on scrapbook papers, and using a cut out from cute baby shower cards (which I never know what to do with after!). In the middle, is a photo of daddy and mommy looking towards the LA Temple the day they got sealed and made it possible for lil Jordan to be born in the covenant. Right is a super cute placeholder that my crafty buddy Paige (who is a professional scrapbooker whomI idolize as her creativity and work is seriously amazing and breathtaking!) made with cute wording about the day he was born, how much he weighed, how cute and cuddly and super he is, etc. It's an adorable print! Center bottom is a currently empty shadow box I have yet to fully be inspired and go forth making and below are the name blocks that were a gift from my friend Allison as part of the baby shower decorations.

Below sits my old opaque purple trashcan (from my hs days!) sprayed painted in lime green along with the DIY shelf Andy built from scratch and three fabric bins I got from our Target gift cards from my good buddy Drea. The empty chalkboards will eventually be glue gunned to the bins and read books, toys, and shoes (or whatever else I think of storing down there).

This is wall #1 and Andy is planning on building two matching shelves that go 5 up on each side which will be used for more books, baby toiletries, toys, etc.

Wall #2 remains the same except we traded up and got two recent magazine covers of Jimmer into the mix. We are also taking Lebron out for Mike Vicks, a great football player for a great team who has repented for his past doings (which aren't that bad compared to some other athletes!).
On the third wall, I took some trinket boxes my mom got at TjMaxx (because they were so darn cute, not cuz she knew what purpose they served at all...), glued some ribbon and buttons to cover the ribbon and glue meeting and hung up above the diaper changing table. I wanted to use my cheap discounted lantern stars bought for our wedding deco which was never used, but the neon bright pink was hard to spraypaint over and it just came out ugly. I'm adding some Asian paper stars as soon as I get around to it.... just a chain of stars here and there.

Below the trinket boxes sits the diaper changing pad cover that yours truly sewed (it's a disaster underneath but looks pretty good on top!), the diaper champ from my coworker buddy Elizabeth and the beautiful very closely matching cherry (but from different dealers) changing table and crib from my mum.
Above it, I made this flag pennant that says "I Am a Child of God." We left the little photos of Jesus we had on the wall, only I, in my quest for symmetry, put one on each side of the crib. Hehe. Some things never change.

And that's it! Pretty simple and to the point, also very cheap which is my favorite part.

Sooner Than We Expected!

Our due date is May 15th and we were both hoping to make it until then. I am still very comfortable though my back hurts every now and then (a simple adjustments takes care of it) and it has become increasingly harder to sit and get up. Still, I don't feel like I am ready for the baby to come out and I am not wishing for him to just get out! I am quietly enjoying maternity leave, the free time, the flexibility to go and do as I please and the checklist of things to do that is shortening with each passing day.

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and the doc told me my cervix is 3 cm dilated - but stretchy and she'd almost say 4 cm, 80% effaced and something about how far the baby's head is - 1 plus station. I know the goal is to get to 10 cm, but as for everything else, I was quite lost and just asked her if we'd make it until next Friday (Andy's last shelf exam for the last third year rotation, coincidentally, obgyn). She said it was unlikely but that you never really knew. She then advised me she'd be out of town for a girl scout camp this weekend, so to try to have it after she's back and by the way, pack your hospital bag. She said the latter three times - so I'm guessing she thinks it could be any day now!.

I wasn't phased by the news, except one small adjustment I made was avoiding the gym after my appointment. I really like the endorphin rush, but I've heard rumors about girls who get on the elliptical to encourage the baby to come as well as those who go on walks to get the baby going. No way Jose! To the extent I could control it by not working out, I was on board to do exactly that.

After running some more errands in Old Town and dropping by JoAnn's for some ribbon to finalize my flag pennant for the baby's room, I came home, eager to finish his room. Currently, the only outstanding item is a shadow box frame that I had planned to put cute sayings and spaces for photos - but that can wait (maybe this afternoon). As for everything else - the room is just about ready (we just washed the crib sheet and bumper so it'll be so fresh and so clean clean for when he comes home). It's pretty empty in there so far but I'm very excited that my disdain for a nursery has turned into a fun DIY project that I quite enjoy (plus I'm one of the main characters who will appreciate as I'm sitting there breastfeeding).

So it looks like Baby Phillips might come sooner than we think! The really funny thing is apparently I am unaware of contractions as I'm having them. We spent the majority of last night with Andy educating me on when I had a contraction by feeling my stomach harden. I told him this is what my stomach always feels like because of my abs of steel. He was not amused. We sat there and timed the contractions for 30 minutes, noting they were 5 minutes apart and about 1 minute in length. Uh-oh. We quickly finished what we needed to - I finished the baby's room stuff, took a shower, put all my craft stuff away, Andy helped me pin some stuff up in the baby's room, finished his studying for his practical exam this morning, we packed our hospital bags, put the carseat by the door, cleaned up the house, made some phone calls to family and geared up in case baby decided to come!

An hour later, Andy gave me some water and asked if I was dehydrated from the day. Come to think of it - I hadn't been drinking that much water from my nalgene, which I normally consume 2.5 bottles of in a day. So I quickly drank some water, we watched some TV and continued timing the contractions. They had slowed down to random spurts of 10 and 15 minutes, so we calmed down and got ready for bed.

Throughout the night, all I could think about were the contractions I kept getting and how to tell if I was having them. There hasn't been any pain so far, just a strengthening in my stomach. The worst pain was yesterday morning when I woke up with a calf cramp in my left leg which I can still feel in spite of stretching it and massaging it every moment I get. Oh well.

Today, I'm off to the Fashion District with my mom in the morning to scope out some cheap discounted baby gear. Then, I'll be back by lunch and continue working through the checklist and timing my contractions in order to log 'em down (the latter is not a fun process).

Only time will tell if Baby Phillips is coming this weekend. If he does, maybe Andy will get to deliver him! If he does come before Andy's test, he may still be able to take it (fatigued yet better than waiting until next year!).

It's all happening... sooner than we expected! But we are still thankful and hopeful for everything to turn out well and we can't wait!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Declaration of Food I Love!

People often ask me what weird stuff I've been craving since being pregnant, has it been pickles and ice cream? Sorry to break it to you folks, but that was appetizing even before I became pregnant. I mean, I wouldn't go as far as to say I'd dip the pickle in my ice cream, but they sound great together. And I do really like dipping my fries into my ice cream....

You see, I, my friends, have always liked different things ... even before I was pregnant. I can't remember ever not liking pickles and ice cream - until I got pregnant! I could not stand the smell or even fathom the taste of ice cream during my first trimester and though I craved a pickle once or twice, after buying a whole jar during Thanksgiving and diving in three or four times, the high price of $3-4/jar was enough to send me away from wanting to purchase anymore pickles. In its place, I wanted different ethnic food (one day it was Korean, the next it was Japanese, then Mexican, Thai, Taiwanese, Cantonese, etc.), boba, tons of fruit, tomatoes, celery, and Mother's Helpers circus animals and iced oatmeal cookies (not sure why). Then, as of most recently, it has been a cobb salad (hold the cheese please), a veggie sandwich, meat, meat and more meat! carrot cake and pound cake. Of everything, the only thing I am missing is Sara Lee pound cake and I fully intend on fulfilling that craving before the baby comes (if only Sara Lee would go on sale!)

I also really like uncooked mushrooms with ketchup. I'm not sure why - but it's really good to me and I can get full off of just that. Funny thing is, I'm only realizing this now. You see, upon first getting pregnant, I thought my obsession with a Ritz cracker topped with a slice of cheese and ketchup was part of my abnormal pregnancy craving. However, now, about 2 1/2 weeks away from the baby's due date, I am still indulging in Ritz crackers, now topped with egg salad and ketchup and I am eating baby carrots with hummus, Cafe Rio dressing, peanut butter AND nutella. Is that normal? Am I normal? I'm not sure, but it tastes sooo good.

I guess who really cares. I declare - that these are things I love! I love ketchup! I love veggies! I love fruit popsicles! I love Ritz crackers with something and ketchup! All these food items are so scrumptious to me that they often make my pregnant self dance with joy while I eat it at our kitchen countertop - fearless of what people may think because I, my friends, LOVE it!

So the lesson learned is... not to be afraid of boldly declaring what you love - even if people will think you're weird. Hehe.

Another thing I love? Whip cream. Can eat tons of it.... TONS. Can literally sit and just eat it out of a cool whip package or with the spray pumps. And I'm not ashamed to admit it! I love it!!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Easter Tender Mercies

Two years ago on Easter, I met Andy for the first time and never would I have imagined that I'd be spending the rest of my Easters with him. At the time I had just begun my investigation of the Church and though I had every intention of getting baptized, I was adamant about learning about the Church history, ensuring I had a solid testimony, and asking many, many questions. One of my favorite questions was always to ask those who grew up in the Church if they had ever fallen away, had doubts, etc. And when I asked this Andy fellow that same question, his response was short, annoyed and in my eyes, a bit obnoxious and basically a big fat no. Perhaps it was both of our strong personalities, perhaps it was his height, perhaps it was my Asian ethnicity - either way, we became friends and eventually started dating two months after I was baptized.... but I digress.

A year ago on Easter, Andy's parents, sister, brother-in-law, nieces, cousins, aunt and uncle came to visit. Though we were not married yet, it was fun to celebrate with many of his family and it was the first time his parents would meet my parents. Dun dun dun!!!!

So thus far, my Easters with the Church in my life have all been memorable and quite drastic from my days looking for a big hat and cute Spring dress to sport to a champagne brunch.

Today was my third Easter after finding the Church and my second Easter as a member. What I learned was - there are a LOT of hyper kids at Church (Easter basket goodies - can be worse than Halloween!) on Easter, a lot of wonderful musical numbers remembering our Savior and big hats - wait, scratch that last one... I only saw one hat at Church and it was worn by a little girl.

Though we did not celebrate with adorable Easter baskets or egg hunts, we had been scripture studying the New Testament as it relates to Jesus's death and resurrection all last week, and I had been wanting to cook an elaborate Easter meal. We instead opted to have Easter with some friends who also did not family nearby and I still got to make some dishes I had hoped to. You see, for a long time now, I have had two cravings that have not yet been appeased. They are carrot cake and Sara Lee pound cake. Today, I fulfilled the carrot cake craving because what could be a more fitting dessert for Easter than a carrot cake? And as for the pound cake, it's just so expensive - I'm waiting for it to go on sale.

For those who know me, you may be aware of the fact that I am only slowly learning how to cook (my mom told me not to make any effort learning until I was married since I'd be doing it for the rest of my life then...). Recipe by recipe, I am learning the ingredients, what aisle to purchase them from, and cooking terms that are foreign to an amateur like myself.

So OF COURSE, when my Paul Deen carrot cake recipe called for 3 cups of grated carrot - I did what any amateur would do. First I peeled the carrots, next I cut off the two ends, and then I started to grate 'em on my cheese grater. This is quite hard. I wonder if this is why carrot cake can be so expensive! I wonder if there's an easier way. Hmmm.. I bet youtube will know! Ahh, the internet. The joy of learning at your fingertips within mere seconds. I quickly typed in "how to grate carrots" into the search tab on YouTube and less than a minute into the video, was instructed to use a food processor. ....

W. O. W.


Good thing I had a Vitamix, the amazing blender that can also be used as a food processor! Too bad it didn't end there. My recipe called for three 9" cake pans, of which I only had one. Each bake time would be 40 minutes, so at 2:30 PM with dinner set to start at 5:30 PM, I was caught in a dilemma. Andy convinced me to cook one part of it in my small loaf pan which made sense at the time. I'd have two layers and a tiny side loaf for fun. Baking proceeded while Andy got some of the baby's room wall deco up (pictures to come in next posts sometime). At 4:45 PM, someone rang our doorbell. The maintenance guy was dropping us a visit to politely inform us that due to flooding two floors below us, our water was to be shut down soon for an undetermined time. And by the way, dinner with friends was scheduled to be at our house since our dining table was large and in charge.

Luckily, after texting our friends that our large dining table meant nothing in light of the lack of water, we found out that one couple had JUST received a free larger dining table last night! What are the chances?!

So we decided to move the Easter celebration to their place and hence, I came up with the following two lists...

  1. Flush the toilet (after you use your one golden ticket flush from the stored water in the tank)
  2. Wash your hands (good thing I just bought a huge bottle of hand sanitizer for when visitors come to see the Baby!)
  3. Clear the dishes
  4. Have people over for Easter dinner
  5. Take a shower
  6. Brush your teeth
  1. Finish baking your second layer of carrot cake
  2. Use the Foreman Grill to finish the chicken for the Caesar salad
  3. Pack up all the remaining food items not yet put together for transport to friend's house
  4. Leave an unpleasant but poignant message to the Management Company about what an inconveniently frustrating situation we have once again been put into (this is not the first time we got last minute notification of our water shutting down due to flooding downstairs by the same people who play loud obnoxious music, smoke tons of weed, and BBQ way too often so that the grimy aroma of charred food floats onto our third floor balcony and into our living room too consistently)
  5. Enjoy a hearty Easter dinner (cooked ham, funeral potatoes, chicken salad, homemade sweet potato rolls, deviled eggs, carrot cake) with friends
  6. Remember the Savior
with Chinese subtitles

in English

Looking back on the night, I realized the tender mercy of Heavenly Father - the juxtaposition of all the events such that we did not have the ability to have people over, but only yesterday, a free and large table was inherited by our friends who could have us over. I'm sure either way, we would have all enjoyed our dinner somewhere, even if we did not have seats or a place setting - but it was nice to have it.

This also is not our first incident of water shutdown so luckily, our slow water storage accumulated over the last month, has given us the luxury of brushing our teeth and even showering with the water we have put aside.

This Easter, I will remember that he suffered so we could be. And as frustrating as not having water is, it is nothing compared to the suffering that Jesus went through so we could be here and endure the frustration of no water on Easter Sunday right before dinner.

Oh and as for my first homemade cake from scratch ever - somehow Andy convinced me to use the two cake pan layers at the bottom and the loaf pan layer on the top... so my cake ended up looking like this.

The presentation: C for catastrophe
The taste: A for awesome!!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Our Adventure with the Rainbow Deluxe Carwash

Yesterday, after lunch with my mom and brother in my hometown of Arcadia (often termed Arcasia because of the more than 50% of Asians who dominate the city), my brother and I decided to get carwashes for our extremely disgustingly dirty cars. The last time I got a car wash was in December from my last car maintenance, and I don't think they even vacuumed my inside so the car was not in good shape. Now we knew our usual go to place was, as of late, not that great. They did a quick job, but usually left some stains, missed some spots, etc. So off we went to the place my mom had mentioned being way better than our usual spot.

When we first got there, I noticed business was slow but with all the nearby street construction, it made sense. I pulled in first and wanted the deluxe rainbow wash, originally $10 - but for today's special - was cut in half! The savings were unbelievable! I looked back to find my brother pulling in back of me and I yelled, "I'm getting the deluxe one - it's only $5 today!" but apparently he didn't hear my entire statement and he responded with, "You're doing the cheapest one?" which was also slashed down to $3 that day. "No!" I exclaimed, "it's on sale! I'm doing the most expensive one for $5!" Confused, he stepped out of his car and came closer so he could hear me correctly. I explained to him the cost savings we were getting and what a lucky day it was for us! He was stoked as well. "Sweet!" he said. So with that, I paid.

I didn't notice it was weird that I was paying before the carwash. Normally, you pay while the car is going through the conveyer belt after you have dropped it off at the vacuum center. Oh well. Without a thought, I got back into my car and would pull the car to whatever drop off station was necessary. Only there wasn't a drop off. I was directed straight into the car wash and in that moment, it hit me. Epiphany! This is like one of those old school carwashes that my dad used to take us through. I quickly turned off my radio (it's habit, I know my antennae is not one that extends), rolled up all my windows, and shifted into neutral, getting ready for the exciting ride through the carwash.

Let me tell you - this one was unlike any other I've ever been in. First of all, the soap is RAINBOW colored! A swirl of beautiful red, green, blue, purple, yellow puffed onto my car and I oohed and aaahed as I took in all the colors mixing together in a declaration of beauty on my car. Then, like many things in life, it was taken away with the big bad bands of rubber that came to put the soap to work. Within seconds, the soap bubbles were gone and all I could see was black. The car continued on its way and the next thing I knew, I was watching the powerful dryer zap away the little bits of water struggling for their lives on my car windshield. They hung on tightly but without avail as the omnipotent air demanded them to depart.

In that moment, I looked at the carpet inside my car which was infested with dirt, leaves, and crumbs of whatever Andy and I had eaten in the car since December. Ewwww. Man, how I wished I could at least have a chance to vacuum the insides, that was a part of the carwash I was looking forward to! But wait! Behold - as I looked onward to the exit of the carwash, I saw people.... ordinary non-uniformed laymen (and women) using a small suction cup thingie majiggie that was attached to a huge hose.

Oh my. I pulled into an empty spot that was adjacent to another empty spot and motioned for my brother's car to come over when he exited. There, we spent the next hour, vacuuming every inch of our car mats, insides, throwing away trash accumulated over time, and laughed at the possibility of what if our mom showed up here expecting a normal carwash without self service? We worked side by side, each commenting on the disgusting state of our cars - mine adorned with an assortment of crumbs and covered with hair which by the way, did not get sucked up by the all powerful vacuum. So with my hands, I plucked every single bunch of hair attached to the carpet of my car. It was probably enough to make a short wig. My brother's car had old Starbucks cups, old red velvet cupcake wrappers, some stuff we were unable to identify and I concluded were chicken bones, and old magazines leftover from when I used to drive his car. We worked hard, never complained and my brother (who is normally labeled as quite indifferent about cleaning up) commented, "It's kind of nice to do it yourself so you can get all the details right." Wow, I was shocked. And then, another shocking statement came thereafter with, "You know, it'd probably be a lot easier if we kept our cars cleaner consistently instead of a one time clean up every now and then like this."

That was my precise conclusion about toilet cleaning a while back (my toilet story), but why had I not thought of it when it came to cars?! An hour later, exhausted but feeling good about our efforts and successfully cleaner (not clean, just cleaner) cars, we left for the very fobby Chinese tea station with free wi-fi where we would aim to work for an hour together. Mainly, I needed my brother to show me how to use the new macbook pro I just purchased (it's so odd going from a PC to a Mac and I'm still slowly adjusting and feel the need to learn more shortcuts so I'm more efficient).

What an adventure we had with the rainbow deluxe carwash! It reminded me about the value of work and how rewarding it is. We felt good when we left, like we had accomplished a lot! And for $5 and an hour later, we felt great! I also enjoyed the time spent with my brother. When our time together overlapped with me living in the back house, our time spent together consisted of VH1's best of the 80's, 90's, reality trash on MTV, etc. But with my demanding work hours, his busy school schedule and extracurricular activities, we didn't see each other much and that time has only decreased since he got back from New York, I got married, and am now having a baby. So it was indeed nice to have the adventure we did together.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Week of Maternity Leave...Almost Over!

How did time go so fast? Next thing you know, I'll be with baby, he'll be walking, then talking, then he'll be a teen, then off to college, going on his mission, getting married - I can hardly believe how fast time goes by! I'll be a grandmother in no time!

This week has been full of many adventures! Lunch and boba with family (cousins, brother, mother), errand running at Target and Costco, paperwork at home, laundry, dishes, baby prep, car stuff and many phone calls. Oh yeah, and freak out moments galore. Hehe. I am getting more and more emotional, after watching a ParentsTV video about how to give your baby a bath, I got teary eyed. Ha!

Tomorrow, I'm returning back to my hometown for some lunch, shopping, and hanging out with my mum and brother. I don't think my brother's too excited about being an Uncle, at least he doesn't seem it thus far. Maybe it's the age difference, but hopefully one look at the baby, and he will melt!

On the downside, one disappointing thing about maternity leave so far is that Andy got sick. So what little free time we have together, he is resting and recuperating. But we're still treasuring the moments we have together and excited for our life to soon morph into baby life!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Special Pregnant Lady at the Gym

I think everyone is scared of me at the gym because of my big belly. But I rather enjoy going every now and then (about once a week before maternity leave, maybe 3 times now?) to use the machines - particularly the elliptical, the treadmill and the stationary bicycle. At first, my stomach was safely concealed in my college sweatshirts and it was only after I took it off that the stares would come my way. It made me feel special, noticed, and well... pregnant, but happy pregnant. Like.. HAHA I'm working out at the same speed as you sucker!! Lately, I'm so big that even a sweatshirt won't hide the bump, so upon checking in, I always get at minimum, a stranger commenting on how dedicated I am or the front desk clerks telling me congratulations and asking me when I'm due. It's kind of nice to be the special pregnant lady at the gym and I will be a bit bummed when the baby is just a layer of fat waiting to be shed off.

Today, I was not just the special pregnant lady at the gym. Today, I was the special pregnant lady at the gym who rode her bicycle so fast and hard while finishing up the second book of the Hunger Games - Catching Fire. I won't lie - I already knew the ending - I couldn't wait to get my hands on the book during Thanksgiving when I read the first one so I googled the synopsis for the second and third books. I tend to do that a lot - I ruin the ending by googling it first (did it for The Next Three Days and Taken - both highly recommended action thriller movies). I guess I like to know what to expect.

... which would be why I have overdone myself with indulging in pregnancy info. I know things never go as we expect - but you can only hope for the best and prepare for the worst, 50% effort 50% opportunity, but I still like to be as prepared as possible. It's why the husband and I have been purchasing gallons of water every week and some extra can fooded items from Costco. We want to not only heed the Prophet's warning about proper food storage, but also, just be ready for if disaster should ever strike. I wish I had stored up on gas with the rising prices these days. Yikes!

Maternity leave has been awesome so far. I get to be the special pregnant lady at the gym more often, I get to cross things off my list, and I get to enjoy the time when Baby goes with me everywhere and anywhere with minimal effort (cuz he's still in my tums). My bedtime is 11 PM and tomorrow I'll be venturing off to Manhattan Beach for some errands and the coastline. It will be nice! I like maternity leave and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone!

Can you tell I'm preggers? (if you look closely at my "WOW" photo - you'll notice my husband is just a "WOU" - go figure...

How about now?

Okay fine.. but now you really can!

I Admit.. I Am Not a Pleasant Pregnant Woman Right Now

I didn't think it was necessary to really start packing a hospital bag - it was on my list of 35 things to do while on maternity leave, but in terms of priority - it was pretty low on the totem pole. And then, two of my subscribed pregnancy newsletters shocked me with a Have You Packed Your Hospital Bag alerts this morning. Eek! No.... I have indeed not!

Scrambling, I quickly pulled out a piece of paper and starting making a list. Andy came home from his 5 AM - 8 AM shift around 9:30 AM and instead of greeting him with a hug, a kiss or even a smile, I tersely demanded, "What hospital snacks do you want?" He pondered it for a while... and in my inpatient pregnant mode of attack, I demanded to know and repeated myself with, "What hospital snacks do you want?!" He sensed my urgency (or my hormones acting up) and responded happily with, "Tostitos!" So I continued, "and what kind of drink?" to which he casually replied, "Any drink will do," ........ "Can you please just pick a drink?" I begged. Maybe he could sense my desperation. "Gatorade," he said. He definitely couldn't. "What color Gatorade?!" I asked.... "Umm..... Gatarade or Spirte," hmmmm maybe he wasn't getting it. "Red Gatorade!" he declared, fine - good, now it is written down except I scribbled Red Gatorade/Spirte. "And sweet snacks?" I persisted, "Ummm... oreos!" Without even realizing it, I retorted with "Ewww" and he said, "Well, put something you would like too like Nila Wafers." That's better, except it won't matter because I can't eat them. Apparently, in labor, I'm only allowed ice chips, apple juice, orange juice, cranberry juice, or water. Delicious! But I suppose I can eat something after - though I'll most likely be making food requests from outside of the hospital especially since Saladang is nearby as is 21 Choices. *trickle tapping my fingers together mischievously like Mr. Burns in the Simpsons.

So far, I've packed my toiletries, the Flip, the digital camera, and a pack of cards. I will still have to gather some change of clothes for me, the baby and Andy, get some missing toiletry items like lotion and chapstick that I prefer (if there's time), a fan?, some bed pillows, a list of those I have been instructed to call while on the way to the hospital, get started on my playlist of music and Conference talks, and create a DVD list for Andy. I guess that means one of us is bringing our computer (there's free internet in the rooms!). I am also going to follow my sister in law's advice and get a cheap terry cloth dress from Target that I can wear while in the hospital, because the blood will most likely destroy everything and probably some cheap comfy slippers that I won'tcare for afterwards. Do I need to bring a towel, shampoo, a loofa and some body scrub? Am I even allowed to shower in the hospital or do I even want to? I have not a clue.

Meanwhile, I can't figure out my insurance options, which means I can't pick a pediatrician which means my birth plan is still incomplete and I do not even want to deal with my CPA renewal stuff until later but I've also been advised I am required by policy to sign up for the AICPA, yet another thing to add to my list, but if the baby comes, I won't have time to do this later!! I still have to get the car maintenance, the cars washed (not in this gloomy overcast weather though) I'm still waiting until next week for a haircut and pedicure (if our budget allows), and I still have to change my name on a ton of accounts. Instead, I really just want to do the fun stuff like making the wall decor for the baby's room or planning my Easter Sunday dinner menu.

So I'm all in all, not a very pleasant pregnant woman right now. Which makes me think... if this part is already difficult, how much harder will the baby in my life be? Will I be able to do it? Won't it just absolutely suck for a while? Will I break down and just cry for no reason? What if I get post partum depression? What if?

I guess the what if's don't matter because this is. Like it or not, he's coming soon and like it or not, I do not know how much time I have until he comes - so until then, I will just keep on trucking, and in the meantime, remember to be of good cheer. Other people have had it worse. Jesus had it a lot worse and this Easter weekend reminds me that even though he was scorned, laughed at, mocked, and betrayed, he is our Savior and he made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Andy and I have been studying the Old Testament leading up to his Resurrection and it makes me so angry and sad that he had to go through that. I have to remember when things get tough for me and when I'm the unpleasant pregnant woman, that Jesus knows my pain, he suffered so he could know and he will help lift those burdens above me if I persevere, am faithful and do those simple and little things that help me be of good cheer.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Honesty is Always the Best Policy

Or is it? Andy and I noticed a fairly larger direct deposit in our checking account from work back in January that was inconsistent with our normal earnings. Upon looking into it more, we realized there was a mistake. We did not deserve this money. We received way more than we should have! Could it be a blessing from the Lord? Could it be a tender mercy? Or... could it be a simple mistake?

We decided it only made sense to report the over earning that was not rightly ours. So with that decision, I moved forward to call and report the overpayment. After numerous long and very excruciating phone calls to the Shared Service Center, I was advised that I owed the Firm more than just the overpayment. They were wrong. I looked at the info over and over and no matter how many times I reviewed it, reconciled it and analyzed it, they were wrong. Determined, I called Shared Services back and reported THEIR error. Three calls later (and three months also!), they finally concluded that they did not have enough information and would need my HR representative to call in with more details.

Now normally that would not be an issue and I would not hesitate. But there is one time during the year when HR is overwhelmingly busy and that one time, for almost every HR person that exists... is annual performance review time. And guess what time period we are in right now? So now, I've created more work for my HR on top of her already very demanding schedule and tight deadlines and she is asking me.. "how did this come up" while I try to explain I was just trying to be honest. ..... ... ...

So is honesty always the best policy?

I tend to think yes because as horrible as the situation has become, as much as I did not want to punt the problem into her court, the commitment to be honest builds character and lends to a routine lifestyle of integrity.

There's often a debate that small white lies meant to protect everyone, are simply harmless. I would generally disagree. Those lies are just perpetuating a cycle of justification, a means to help us convince ourselves that our less than honest response was okay. And then we continue onto other larger, but still small white lies. And soon, we are tangled in a web of dishonesty, unable to break away from the mastery of deceit we have created for ourselves!!! Okay.. maybe I'm exaggerating just a little. ...

But, I will give one example I heard at Church today.. one example of a "gray" situation where lying was described as an okay response. The story goes like this: For one lady's job, she was in charge of determining whether the temp would be hired for full time after an initial time commitment. She decided one temp candidate would not be a good fit and was not intending on hiring her. She then received a call for a job application this temp was applying for elsewhere and was struggling with whether or not debrief on the temp's characteristics which contributed to her own decision not to hire her. She was relieved that she was not asked if she would recommend this person for hire, and instead spoke only to her positive attributes (which she subsequently gave light on the fact that the over abundance of her quiet and reserved manner made her hard to work with on a team and an unfit leader for the group - but only to us, not to the reference seeker). But, she concluded, she did not lie, and, she continued, she helped the temp get a job and simply only spoke to the truths that she knew of.

Let me just say - sometimes when you hear things you disagree with - you have to quickly decide whether to comment or to just digest it. I personally.. was shocked. That, in my book, is a complete and absolute lie. And maybe because I am dealing with difficult staff, feedback and performance issues on a daily basis, and maybe because I myself am trying to hire more capable candidates for my team and maybe because if I were in the shoes of the person calling, I would feel - quite frankly - manipulated. So maybe I'm a lil closer to her example than most people, but I think it's fair to say, leading people in any way to believing something that is not true, is dishonest and in this particular situation, I think she was dishonest and I do not think it's a gray situation. I am not one to stay quiet, and had there been enough time, I was about to make a comment (even at the risk of offending this nice woman) but I decided I'd rather get out of class on time (it's hot, I'm pregnant, I need to pee ALWAYS, you get the point).

But this is what I wish I would have had the patience and courage to say. I would have recommended her to give the inquirer the positive attributes she noted, and then comment that in full disclosure, these attributes did not help her succeed in this particular environment but given some coaching and help, she may have had the potential opportunity to demonstrate she could have been better. I don't know the entire situation - maybe they did try to help her and she failed, but I do know that in her perspective, she has helped this temp obtain a new job. Yay! One that if she is not a good fit for, she will loose eventually. Boo! Get my drift?

It's hard to have a difficult conversation with someone telling them that the job just ain't cut out for them. Trust me.. it's my job and it ain't easy. I have to daily tell staff that frankly, their work is not consistent with the expectations, give them meaningful but hard feedback and tell them if they've been kicked off a job and to shape up or get out. I have had to tell staff that they are unfortunately, dressed unprofessionally or not developing relationships the way they should be in order to succeed. Nobody likes hearing they suck. But who likes thinking they're the best when in reality, everyone thinks you suck? Which would you prefer?

Let's face it - there are a ton of situations that are hard to be honest in. When my mom asks me if I've eaten any watermelon, it's a lot easier to lie that I have not! When my good friend asks me if I like her new purse that she spent a lot of money on that I am quite frankly not a fan of, it's a lot easier to say, "How cute!" And when I spend all day cooking a new dish and Andy rates it as a mediocre dish, it is hard! And it should be - telling the truth is hard sometimes! But there is a benefit to it.

Before we think that we are the exception every time and justify to ourselves why our little white lie is harmless, we should think of how we would feel given we were in the shoes of the person we're about to white lie to. My mom will have to understandably acknowledge that I can't follow every single piece of advice she gives me, even if in her mind, it is for my benefit. My friend has to respect that our tastes are different, and if she likes the purse that her hard earned money went towards, who cares what I think?! And, I'd much rather know Andy is not a fan of the dish so I won't make it again and can try other things. But the truth is, honesty is always the best policy, we just have to be cognizant of how we deliver the truth, how we approach it, and make sure that we are striving to be more honest.

Part of that is learning to be pure in thought. You can't just confuse being honest with being blunt, and criticizing others for every wrong you see, ever disagreement you have. It's sort of like training our minds not to criticize in a mean manner so that when someone asks us what we are thinking, the truth is not some harsh reality of how mean we are. So .. almost as if your thoughts are pure and loving, not bitingly sarcastic and hurtful so that being honest about who you are is not a difficult thing to do.

Early on in the pregnancy, when we had not told a soul about the baby growing inside my tummy, my brother-in-law sensed something was up. We were with the family getting ice cream when he boldly demanded, "Are you guys pregnant?" and my cute husband, shocked and unable to tell even a small white lie then, just stared with his deer caught by a headlight gaze while I blurted out, "No, of course not!" It was so easy for me to tell that white lie while Andy just gave it away with his face and continued eating his ice cream. That incident made me think about the little white lies that we tell so easily without thinking there is any harm. And really, there won't be sometimes! But we should at least consider the potential of both sides before we do tell a lie because honesty is always the best policy! Yes, even the best of policies are broken for special one time circumstances - just make sure your exception makes sense before you do so. I know all I can do is make sure the Spirit is with me when I am the exception and aim to make honesty a habit.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Need a Big HAT for Easter!

My family doesn't celebrate Easter. The most we ever celebrated was a trip to the Santa Anita Race Track for some free Easter giveaways and an Easter Egg Hunt in our backyard one year. Beyond that, the neighbors would always give my brother and me cute lil Easter baskets, goodies or gifts - but after about 3 years, they stopped. In my 20's, Easter meant cute floral Spring dresses with a big hat and maybe an Easter day brunch. No Church, no Saviour, nothing beyond cute, fun and maybe some Easter eggs or bunnies.

Last year, Easter was the same weekend as General Conference and Andy's family was visiting. We were still engaged, but I got to spend both days with his family watching Conference, hanging out, enjoying all the Easter goodies (I even made an Easter bag of fun for my now nieces and cousin-in-laws), watching my now niece run around the house looking for princess Easter eggs, and most importantly, remembering the significance of Easter.

This year, the only family we have nearby is my family and they don't celebrate Easter. We won't be seeing Andy's side of the family and well... that means Easter with just the two of us?

Maybe.. maybe not.. but as Andy and I were discussing what to do for Easter, I exclaimed, "I need a BIG hat for Easter!" You see, it had become such a staple of my Easters before that I said it so naturally as if it was just another item on my checklist for Easter. When Andy asked me why, I stammered to attempt to explain that that's what Easter meant to me for a long time - big hats (and mimosa brunches).

Well, I don't know what exactly we're doing yet. I don't know who we'll be spending it with besides each other... but I do know I'd like to attempt the following menu;

Sparkling Mango Lemonade
Deviled Eggs
Grilled Rosemary Lamb Chops
Mango Chicken Salad
Honey Lemon Carrots
Creamy Sweet Potatoes with Marshmellows on Top
Carrot Cake

Looks like we might have to invite some people over huh? And maybe we can have a WASPy theme - of big HATS, floral dresses, seer sucker suits, Brittany Spear hats, suspenders, bow ties, and polka dots!

Alas, as long as we remember what the importance of the day is. Not bunnies, not eggs, not big hats.. but the Savior, his resurrection and eternal life. I'm sure it will be hard to teach lil Jordan this when all his eyes will see are the easter eggs, treats and bunny... but lucky for us, we will have more than just a day to teach him about it. We will have Family Home Evenings to teach, to talk about the meaning of Easter, and for myself this year, I can try to prepare all the yummy food before Sunday so we are focused in Church and can come home to a wonderful Easter meal to celebrate our Savior and remember him.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Glimpse of My Prego Life

I started my day with a bowl of Fiber One, a recent purchase due to the increased constipation as of late (it comes with the hormonal changes). I then worked from home (thank goodness for a job that allows me to do so) and met my mom for lunch at Chipotle. It was her first time at Chipotle so I offered to order for her but after sitting and staring at the menu for a while, she ran to me and let me know she wanted a steak salad and we both ate every single bit in our bowls and I got a to go burrito for Andy. During lunch, she reminded me of the chicken I would have to eat after giving birth. She then reminded me of all the protein I was to eat and offered to bring me some peanut and walnut soup next week (I think it's a Chinese thing) and asked me if I was eating my swallow's nest every day as instructed. I have been. Then, to my surprise and joy, my mom gave me 10 oranges and a juicer! I have been wanting a juicer for so long and I finally got one - and the kind that is easy to use and similar to the one we had growing up. I went home and immediately made 3 cups of OJ.

But before I got home, I stopped by Target to return the foot spa I got that was a lie from the image on the box! You see, for quite some time now, I had been meaning to buy a plastic container I could use to soak my feet in. I devised a plan to go to 99 cent store but there, the only containers big enough had holes in them (colanders of some sort). So the one I got from Target seemed like just this - except it actually came with a cord and a plug to make bubbles and keep the water warm! This isn't what I wanted! But I'm adventurous.. I'm spontaneous... so I decided to give it a shot. After just one use, I easily concluded - it's going back.

Back at home, OJ consumed, work day fulfilled, scripture study with the hubby done, good-bye said to the hubby for his overnight call, I looked at my now softer (temporarily) feet and decided to paint my nails. I had gotten a bunch of free nail polish from some friends who had the VIP discount from OPI Products and still had not yet dived into any of 'em! I shrieked with joy in anticipation.









Exceedingly hard.... and as such, I have added a pedicure to my list of "to do's" during maternity leave before the baby comes (I also need to cut my so long hair that it's almost at my waist, finish our taxes, figure out insurance for the baby, go to Baby Depot at Burlington, wash the baby's clothes, get the carseat, clear the baby's room, .... etc....).

At the defeat of painting my own toes, I got dinner ready for myself. Five meatballs and a sandwich with arugula, tomato and cheese.. ahh dinner on my own. I know I know. It's weird. But it's so good - and with the leftover tomatoes, I put a tablespoon of sugar on - soooo good, another favorite from my childhood.

So now, I just need to fold the rest of the clean laundry from three nights ago, continue making the flag pennant for Baby Jordan's wall behind his crib while watching prime time TV, enjoy a coconut popsicle, take a shower, and continue reading my book of selection (while watching the baby move around in my stomach from the corner of my eye). It's not as fun as when Andy is around but this will be his second to last overnight call for third year... and with that... we got through the crazy overnight calls during third year.

And tomorrow, I will wake up .... work out... go to the doctor.... and then to the office for my office baby shower lunch, one meeting, and .... I'm done! Maternity leave begins!

And so... even a glimpse into my prego life immediately demonstrates how normal, yet unnormal it is. Being pregnant isn't that different from being not pregnant. It's easy taking the baby with me everywhere. Once he comes - now that will be a different story!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The 20 Minute Digression

Tonight, Andy and I went to a lactation class sponsored by the hospital where I'm delivering. Though I have a free consultant that I can call anytime for questions up to a year (courtesy of work benefits) and lactation consultants at the hospital are free prior to your departure, my doctor had made the suggestion for us to take a class when I told her I wanted to breastfeed. She said part of the battle is educating yourself, not getting tired, not giving up, knowing how to remedy things if they went sour, etc. and that my spouse would be an important supporter of the process since I would be so devastatingly tired, I would resort to formula in a heartbeat if given the chance. Then she told me my job for the first 6 weeks was to be the baby's source of food.. and that was IT. She even stressed what that meant by further telling me any free time I had, I was to sleep and energize myself for the next feeding and to leave the cooking, cleaning, even diaper changing, to others! Sweet deal - I'm in!

So at class today, they started off by telling us all the positive aspects of breastfeeding. To my limited knowledge, it was more economical and the savings would be great and it just seems natural, so why not right?... but apparently, there are also a ton of health benefits that go along with it and to my surprise, studies have shown that boys who breastfeed are able to develop their speech earlier than boys who don't, that was it - sign me up, I'm in! We then dove into the topic of what to eat while breastfeeding and to my surprise, the restrictions are quite consistent with the current pregnancy list.

To my disappointment, I will have to say no to sashimi, deli meat, and soft cheeses for another year (if I make it that long breastfeeding). During this topic of conversation, someone asked if beer was okay. I guess it's an old wives' tale that beer is good for the baby (maybe from the wheat?) but the myth was quickly disposed of and I then proceeded to ask about about peanut butter which I have been feeling guilty about eating so much of lately. What if my son develops a peanut allergy because of my peanut butter obsession? Ugh. It would be very difficult to live with that! And it would probably be enough to throw me into the weirdo pool with Andy as someone who doesn't eat peanut butter (weird, right?!)

The instructor told us that my baby, along with every other pregnant lady in the room who had indulged in peanut butter while pregnant, had children who had already been exposed to peanut butter. *gasp - it's too late! But then, as quick as you can say peanut butter, we got back to the topic of alcohol and how much of it can be consumed while pregnant.

There is so much debate about how much wine one can drink while pregnant - to the point where I have heard a glass here or there is fine - I know so and so who did it, etc. etc. but just yesterday, I saw on the news (I know, not always the most credible, but hear me out) that new studies show drinking moderately during the first trimester can lead to infant death syndrome. Eeek! That doesn't sound so safe anymore, now does it?!

Well, this is the funny part. Our instructor kept telling everyone that all things in moderation were okay, but kept getting more follow up questions thrown at her such as - how long between feedings before you can drink another glass of wine, so do you drink after you feed or before? Alcohol was no stranger to me before I found the gospel and learned of the Word of Wisdom, but even when I put myself into my old shoes and thought of whether this was a reasonable question, I had to stifle a laugh. Were these people serious? Did they not realize that there were greater sacrifices being made on behalf of this lil being that would soon join their families?

The instructor went on to explain that if you drank more than one glass of wine, you should probably pump and throw the next milk you have away - which led to more questions of exactly how much wine you could drink over the course of a day, a week, the year, for that matter. I sat there, quite amused and quite sad that we had just digressed for 20 minutes into discussions of something that was recommended against in the first place, when the teacher brought up this...

"Well," she started off, "there are also other reasons besides polluting your baby with alcohol that you would not want to drink that much while breastfeeding such as the safety of your baby, your ability to function as a mother, etc." HA. Now that is funny. That really hit the nail in the wall.

And then, to my disbelief, we continued down the same road of useless questions, only this time - about caffeine - but mainly coffee and what types of coffee one could drink, what sizes, from where (one person actually researched ahead of time that a Starbucks 20 oz Venti is 300 mg of caffeine) and the instructor had to resort to - "Well, if your kid gets jittery, it's probably time to limit it a bit. Moderation folks.. moderation." The funnier thing is - I think our class struggled with defining what moderation really meant.

People often wonder why Mormons have so many kids. Today, I hypothesized during the 20 minute digression in class, that maybe it's not just because we understand the sacrifices we're making for ultimate happiness as a family unit or that it's part of God's plan, but also because our pregnancies are not as tormenting with restrictions of alcohol and coffee. Okay, that's silly - it's only 18 months, but apparently, some people can't go that long without just dying for a glass of wine. The conversations about soft cheeses, deli meat and sashimi were short lived while the talk of alcohol and coffee went on and on and on. It can't be healthy to rely so much on any substance, even if it wakes you up or makes you feel better. Logic tells me otherwise!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Five More Days

Lately, I've been worried whether my doctor gave me an accurate date or not. In the beginning, she would make comments about how changing the date would only be a few days here or there, so let's just stick with May 15th. However, had I know then what I know now, I would have inquired, is it a couple of days earlier?.. and if so, can we change it?! You see, maternity leave takes effect immediately after the baby is delivered and the month prior to the due date only counts until the baby comes.

So even though I only have five more days of work left, if the baby comes early, not only will I be jipped, I might not have time to finish all I have left to do! But so is the case with life.. which is why I hate procrastinating and usually aim to be ahead of the game. However, given the amount of work that has surfaced onto my plate, it seems any effort I should have made, would have been thwarted.

It makes me think about life and how we can never really plan. Plans are good, being organized is great, checklists make me excited, and that's the point of a goal right? However, should things get in the way of our plans, if something should scatter the set order, if checklists end up being scribbled and not checked off, and if a goal is not met... we have to just rethink it, right?!

And then there are things we can make a routine part of our life and plan around it instead of changing those plans. Simple and small things like prayer, scripture study and being nice.

Being nice? Yes - being nice! Smiling at a random stranger as you make your way into work, offering to help whenever possible, holding the elevator door open when you hear someone fumbling to get in (knowing it's just an additional 10 seconds you'd be waiting), saying "thank you" or "excuse me" or "bless you," saying "good bye and have a nice night!" or "good morning" to the elevator man who checks your badge when you walk in and out of the work elevators, being patient when the post office line is long and someone with a large package is confused, not getting flustered and maintaining your cool while saying "it's okay" when the sandwich girl messes up your order and you're asked to repeat it two more times, and nicely correcting someone when they mispronounce your name, and even being kind to the outsourced Indian folks who can't seem to understand your problem as they scour their manuals to figure out how to respond.

These are but small things that can make or break your day.... if you choose to let it. Don't be a pushover, just be nice about it. There's a nice way to give meaningful and timely feedback to help, and then there's the way that is smeared with negativity and annoyance. It's often hard to choose the former, but why not try it first.

At least that is what I have been thinking about as of late. I can't control what sort of stuff gets thrown my way... I can't control who irritates me or how quickly my hormones react to someone in a short period of time on the inside, but I can choose how I am responding on the outside - hormones and everything! I can choose to smile instead of grimace... to laugh instead of an eye roll, to be uplifting and positive - in light of all the things I have not done, have yet to do and might not be able to do....

And then - of course, the prayer and scripture study comes in handy as my ultimate shield with my positive attitude as my light saber.

Five more days left of work!