Saturday, October 22, 2011

Autumn in Ohio

The leaves are changing to beautiful hues of gold, red and orange.  There's a chill in the air, but the afternoon sunshine is still warm enough for a calming walk.  I love Autumn in Ohio! it gets closer to November it's getting colder everyday.

I can't believe it's been about a month since the last time I blogged.  It's literally almost a daily struggle to get a clean and fed baby out the door on time and get her back at the end of the day and put some food on the table.  Our daily routine: I get up around 0610, wake up the baby (if she's not already awake) to eat at 0615.  Next comes a diaper change, and I put her in warmer clothes for the day.  I get dressed, wash my face, put up my hair.  I pack all of my work stuff and double check Olivia's stuff...cloth diapers for the day, clean pacifier, bibs, extra change of clothes just in case, swaddle blanket, all my pump stuff for work, milk bottles, extra milk for her if necessary...whew...we're in the van, we're on our way.  I make it to work around 0730, I read emails, I work on projects/training/lesson prep.  I pump around 0900.  At around 1130 I eat my lunch, I'm out of the office by 1150 to make it to Bekah's around noon to nurse little O.  I'm back in the office...I pump again at 1500 and I leave around 1630 to pick O up.  We make it home a bit after 1700.  It depends at this point whether O is tired or hungry.  Sometimes I nurse her and she takes a nap.  Sometimes she just wants to play while I try to put something together for dinner.  Best case scenario, I have something halfway prepped from the weekend.  Some days I have no such luck...I have to cook from scratch but most days I can get dinner on the table by about 1830 to 1900.  Usually O will take another nap while I clean up her bottles and do dishes for the evening.  Nick and I sometimes will watch a quick show on Netflix while we eat.  I'd rather talk about the day but sometimes we're both just so exhausted.  Olivia will usually sleep until about 2100.  I wake her up if she's not up by 2200.  She nurses again, we read a few books together and Nick may play the guitar and serenade us.  It's our family time.  Maggie usually will hang out too.  Every other night I will get the diapers in the washer and soak them over night.  If O is a bit fussy I may be behind on dishes.  Once in awhile I just give in and clean up the kitchen the next day, although this leads to a vicious cycle.  O's usually out around 2230/2245 and Nick and I try to make it to bed around 2300.  I'm usually asleep before my head hits the pillow.  I wake up again the next day around 0610 and is starts all over...whew...I can't wait for Friday every week!  :-P

During the weekends we slow down a bit.  I cook us brunch, my latest creation, a tasty omelet with peppers and garlic from our garden, a bit of cheese and's delicious!!!  I try to prep the week's meals, and we usually walk around our outdoor mall here known as the Greene.  Today we went to the Harvest Festival where a "Life is Good" store just opened.  I wanted to get O a cool "Life is Good" onesie but $20 for a onesie???  I'll wait for a sale...

I've started to work out again...although it's been tough trying to squeeze it in my busy schedule.  Running has been different as I'm still adjusting to my postpartum body.  I'm almost back down to my "before" weight...still have about 7 pounds to go my mom told me to give it some time.  I have my PT test end of Jan and I better get on the push-ups and sit-ups...oh and the running too...I've really slowed down but hopefully I can get back into shape fast.

Enough about me...let's talk about Olivia!  Oh where do I start?  She's the most amazing thing in the world, and the cutest!  For proof see this following pics:

We also took a trip to Pennsylvania and Maryland Columbus Day weekend.  Nick's pop-pop is ill and this may be our only chance for him to Olivia so we bit the bullet and went on our first road trip.  Olivia did really well most of the time and slept for a good amount of the time.  Our stops weren't too bad and we even took Maggie with us.  Luckily we had a van!  Here's a pic of the three of us, well, Daddy took the pic:

We're so glad we could see Nick's aunt Nadine, uncle Robbie, his cousins Anthony and Samantha, and of course, his grandparents - grandma Ware and pop-pop.  We made it to Penn the first day and stayed with his aunt and uncle.  We all got up the next day and drove to MD and spent the afternoon there.  We had to drive back the next day.  It was exhausting but we were glad we did it.  Here are some more pics:

Oh and we had 5 dogs under one roof, and 2 birds, but no pics of them here:

From left to right: Lily, Maggie, Noel, Blackie, and Nikki.  Maggie had a blast and fit right in.  They had a great time playing "laser tag" in uncle Robbie's backyard.

A sweet pic of mommy and baby at the grandparents' house:

Lastly, here's to show off Nick's photographic skills - baby O with her favorite toy...she loves her glowworm:

Well, it's late and Nick and I have to hit the sack...hugs to all!

Friday, September 23, 2011

AF marathon, first half day at work, and an active baby!

Has it really been another 2 weeks already?  Yup, coupled with a very busy AF marathon weekend, I'd say time has not slowed down one bit!  Some of the highlights of AF marathon weekend: we got to see Kristen Ott and Kris & Erinn Merritt and their boys Cooper, Lucas and Noah at the "carbo-load" dinner at Bekah Stueckle's house along with Bekah and Jon's little boy David (Jon was still TDY) and Nick and I ran our 10K races without much training (don't do this at home), and Olivia did great with her Godparents Mark and Jackie.  Actually Nick and I both did fine, considering we have not been able to train much.  His time was just over an hour and I finished in 1:16, with a little walking.  Yes, he beat me this time...but it'll most likely be the only time...ha.  We were both a little surprised that we weren't way slower.  It did take quite a bit of planning to wake up early, pack the van (yes we have a van - an '03 Honda Odyssey courtesy of my generous parents when my mom upgraded vehicles - I love it but Nick isn't always thrilled about driving it, but admits that it has a lot of power for a van), dropping off Olivia off early in the morning with all of the items she needs (cloth diapers with accessories, extra clothes, blankets, outfits, milk that I had pumped and stored in advance...I'm sure there were more stuff...).  The weather was absolutely amazing, starting out at around 50s and rising to maybe around 68...absolutely gorgeous!  We were not going for time, we just wanted to participated.  Thank goodness we did NOT sign up for the half marathon actually needs to train for that distance!

Now onto the first half day at work.  Why half-day?  It's a weird AF rule that says if you're taking leave the next day and your supervisor approves, you can take off after a half day.  Why was this important?  Well, I can get home Olivia sooner that way!  I also don't have be charged leave for over the weekend.  If I didn't come in that Monday and continued to be on leave from the Friday prior to the weekend I'd be charged for Saturday and Sunday...yes, unfortunately that's how that works.  I was very appreciative that our good friend Mrs. Misuk Goltz could come over and watch Olivia until I came home around 11:30 am.  I'm not going to lie, it was strange going to work, starting up my computer and logging in.  I think I had something like over 600 emails, of which probably 50 said "your inbox is over its size limit"...yeah, by just a little!  :-)  I spent the morning going through emails, catching up with the office (there has been a of changes), and orienting myself in my cubicle.  Yes, I lost my office during my maternity leave.  We had a few incoming officers who all outrank me so I've been demoted.  :-P  But, I'm not super sad about my cubicle, it's by the large row of windows so at least I'll have natural lighting!  I finished going through emails and proceeded to take more leave.  Then I hopped over to my grad school building to get my flu shot and flew back home.  I was glad to see Olivia!  (Yes, I had only been to work since 6:30 that morning, but I missed my little girl!).  She was in good hands though, although Mrs. G was probably too nice to her and held her most of the time whereas I'd let her fuss and cry for a little bit before going to soothe her since I don't want her to rely on being held too much...but she's still little so I let people hold her usually for as long as they want.  :-)  That afternoon I started to get a headache and felt really tired...and this upgraded to a low-grade fever and mild chills that night.  It turns out the flu shot was to blame.  Luckily I got over it the next morning.

Nick, being a computer scientist, loves technology, electronics, and gadgets.  He installed this awesome little camera that allows our phones to be used as on-the-go baby monitors that we can use everywhere!  This is super helpful as we always have our phones on us and can log on anytime to look at the baby.  Our parents and friends can also log on from the internet to check in on Olivia anytime they want too - double dose of awesomeness!  So, two nights ago, I woke up around 3 am, as I'm accustomed to doing since that's usually when a night feeding takes place.  I thought I'd check in on my phone to see how Olivia is doing.  Mind you, this is what she looks like when I put her to bed, all swaddled up: (Yes, I can take pics using the app from the camera!  I love technology!)

This was what she looked like at 3 am when I checked in on her from the phone:

I had to keep from laughing hysterically in an attempt not to wake Nick up.  Yes, she managed to break out of her swaddle completely, proceeded to move 90 degrees clockwise, and was happily and loudly sucking on her thumb.  Yes, unfortunately she has found her thumb and loves sucking on it.  My mom and grandmother tell me that I was also a happy thumb-sucker whose thumb looked slightly deformed because I sucked on it so hard... embarrassing...but apparently that's a sign of self-soothers and not always a bad thing.  She wasn't crying one bit and who knows how long she had been like that...silly girl...

I guess the last thing I wanted to say is that I have been fairly proud of a lot of things I've done in my life.  Immigrating to the US at 10 years old, learning English from scratch, getting settled in the U.S., becoming an American citizen, being accepted and graduating from the Air Force Academy, becoming an AF officer, marrying my best friend, graduating with my master's from graduate school, but of all of those things, nothing compares to having Olivia.  Yes, I'm most proud of myself for having her...with Nick, of course, and becoming a mother.  :-)  Funny, most people may not list that at the top of their life's list of accomplishment...but life's funny that way...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Getting into a routine...

1 month 9 days old - that's how old Olivia is today!  It's hard to believe my 6 week maternity leave is up in less than a week!  Fear not, I've been told I can take more time off (fingers crossed).  I had a really nice visit from our friend, neighbor, and fellow USAFA '05 graduate Paula Delapasse, her kiddos (Lilith and new son Jacob) and her mother a few weeks back.  I picked Paula's brain about how to put a baby on a schedule that enabled her to go back to work with Lilith, and as always, she provided some excellent ideas.  We're making some progress toward a schedule, although O is still feeding on demand, which makes predictability spotty at times. 

Overall I strive to feed her at 3 am,  6 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm, 9 pm, and maybe 12 am if she's not asleep yet.  BUT, almost immediately after coming home she's been generally sleeping from approximately 10 pm until about 3 am, sometimes longer, skipping the 12 am feeding.  Last night she slept from about 11 pm until 5:30 am!!!  I was up by 4 am because I was so full and ready to nurse her...too bad she wasn't ready and I really didn't want to wake her up, so I just read on my iPhone until she woke up since I was so uncomfortable.  I'm thinking this may be a fluke and she's not ready to sleep "through the night" yet since at the most she is 10 pounds and babies typically don't start sleeping long hours until they're at least 11 to 12 pounds.  Still, it's wishful thinking...if only my milk supply would adjust too!  :-P  Overall (knock on wood), O has been a really good baby.  She typically only fusses if she's hungry, has a dirty diaper, is gassy, or REALLY tired to where she needs some soothing.  Generally she's a self soother and will "sing or talk" to herself to sleep in her crib, which is awesome.

Nick and I have talked casually about me leaving the Air Force and staying at home.  While I would love to do that, the AF did send me to graduate school while paying me full alas, I owe three years.  I really would love to stay home with my precious girl, especially while she's little, but go back to work when she's a bit older.  Too bad the military doesn't work that way.  One can't just leave for a few years and decide to go back.  So for now I just want to spend as much time as I can with her.  Nick's parents were here for Labor Day weekend, and on Sunday we left to go to the nearby outdoor mall known as the Greene, for lunch.  Even though we were only two miles away I thought about her almost constantly and even asked Nick to do a quick call-in to check on her...oye...Nick gave me a hard time about this and I'm sure I'll get better as I'm used to being away from her more.  Nevertheless, it won't be easy going back to work...hopefully mama and baby can make the transition smoothly...

While Nick's parents were here, Nick and his Dad had a good time riding their motorcycles (yes, his Dad brought the bobber he just built on a trailer from North Carolina - they're Harley fanatics, what can I say) and his mom, O and I had a good, but tiring time vising the mall with a grocery trip to Trader Joe's and Kroger's squeezed in at the end of the day.  Since O hates her infant seat, I have panic attacks trying to get her anywhere - so with a day out I must try to get to everything while I have the opportunity.  Really, it's getting better, as long as I time it just right with a feeding beforehand, a clean diaper, then off to run errands while she sleeps.

In general, I'm finally starting to feel like myself again.  I felt fairly good early on (aside from the healing pain), but took a dive when the mastitis hit around 3 weeks.  Now I try to rest as much as I can during the day, but I finally feel like I can get back to putting this house together.  Yes, I'm embarrassed to say I've really let the house go in terms of cleanliness...when my mom was here she literally scrubbed everything from the top down while O and I were stuck at the hospital for two days.  But since it's been almost six weeks, the house and especially kitchen can really use a good scrubb'in.  Luckily I think I can tackle some chores today!

I leave you with my new favorite picture of our baby girl!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nick and V Photography!

As some of you know, Nick and I have been interested, learning, an
d shooting photos for a long time. Nick has about 10+ years of experience and I have about 3 in photography. Collectively, we have taken pictures in still-life, dogs, landscape, head shots, engagement photos, weddings, and now with the arrival of our little one: lots of pictures of our baby girl.

With the hefty price tags of upgrading equipment (camera, lens, lights, studio-set up, etc) we have decided to launch our small business specializing in Newborn and Kids Photography. We're not really in it to make a large profit, it's more to find a venue for funding so we can afford new and better equipment.

So if you know of any newborns and small kids in the Dayton, OH area we'd love to take pics fairly cheaply as we keep building our portfolio. We'll still take pictures in other categories but we're focusing our energies on capturing little ones right now. Here's our website, although it still needs work, it'll be where we post more pictures of our work in the future:

Speaking of pictures, here are some of the latest ones...enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's sleepy time...

It's hard to believe little Olivia's 24 days old today! Time is flying by and I'm sad to even think about going back to work. My plan is to go back at the beginning of October, taking 3 weeks of my own leave. That'll put me at having 9 weeks with my little girl - really pretty good actually.

Nick's parents will be in town Labor Day weekend and my parents are probably coming back in October sometimes, depending on my sister's school schedule.

Not too much else new to report, except that Olivia did great at Bekah's house today! Even though it was only about 2 hours or so, she took all the newness in, not to mention little David was apparently fascinated with her hands. :-) She was so excited she didn't sleep or eat much, but that's okay...

Here are some pictures Nick took last night - I think they're so cute. Nick's also having fun playing with filters...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Watering the flowers...

The last twenty-four hours have been a blur. I was mostly laid up in bed with a case of beginning mastitis. :-( I was hoping to avoid this but when I could hardly get out of bed this morning I knew something wasn't right. I called the hospital and was told to come in. I was prescribed antibiotics to start treating the infection right away. I hate taking medicine but in this case I need to get better so I can take care of Olivia. Plus I read that the earlier it's treated the better it'll be. I'd say nursing is tough, anyone who says otherwise is simply not giving accurate information! But since breast milk is best I'm determined to keep going with this...

So as I start to feel better hopefully, we are still moving forward with more photo-shoots of our little girl. This one is so incredibly cute I had to share pronto!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Olivia's 2 week follow-up!

Nick and I took Olivia (17 days old today!) to her 2 week follow-up appointment at the base pediatric clinic. Everything went fairly smoothly. She was kind of squirmy and didn't like being completely undressed on the table for measuring her weight and height. Somehow hospital clinics are always freezing! She is 8 lbs 4 oz, more than surpassed her birth weight of 7 obs 10.7 oz so she's doing great. Apparently it takes up to 2 weeks just for newborns to gain back to their birth weight so we're really pleased with her progress. She is 20.25 inches, up from her birth height of 19.25 inches. As far as percentiles goes, she's 50% for weight, 77% for head circumference (to hold all her smarts in) and 17% for height. Nick says she's short like me - oh well. But since she's so small all of this can change at anytime. I'm just trying to make sure she's nursing well and gaining weight.

Since her umbilical cord has fallen off, we have also started to cloth-diaper her. We originally wanted to use the G diapers, but they were way too big. So I tried the Fuzzibunz one-size, but they were too bulky. So now we have a system of using the Fuzzibunz X-small until she grows into the G diapers a bit. So far they're working out great, except we did learn that we have to double-stuff the diapers since she's a heavy wetter. Because of their softness, the cloth diapers have actually helped heal her little booty. The disposables were really making her little bottom red, even with applying Aquaphor or baby powder at every diaper change, so I'm really happy about that.

We're fairly lucky that our little girl is a pretty good sleeper overall. Don't get me wrong, there are still moments where we cannot figure out why she cries (and the girl has a set of pipes on her!). But generally she sleeps fairly well, and I have to periodically wake her up during the night to feed her. She has been known to sleep four or five hours straight! But I've read that it's more important that they eat about every 3 hours, so as hard as it is I periodically have to wake her up to get her to eat.

We are also so lucky to have such wonderful neighbors and friends. Several neighbors and friends have come by to see the baby and shower us with food! It's amazing how tired we can get and to have a meal ready is all-too-awesome! We're very thankful indeed.

As far as other news is concerned, Nick has to go back to work this coming Friday :-( but I suppose that has to happen sometime. I have until 11 Sept but I will take a few more weeks off to be home with Olivia - it's going to be so hard to leave her, at least I'll know she'll be in good hands (with our friend Bekah!)

We are still wrestling with the insurance company and local contractors to get our roof, skylight, and gutters replaced after May's hail and wind storm. With a huge deductible it's tough, but we want to make sure everything's done right. Hopefully we can get everything done before it gets cold and snowy again this winter.

The weather has finally gotten a little cooler and we're very glad for it. My garden is suffering again this year - I simply don't have a lot of time to devote to it. The first year we were in Ohio we were too late in starting a garden (2009). The next year I was in grad school and Nick was deployed (2010). This year we have a baby...maybe next year I'll have a superb garden, although that may be wishful thinking. BUT...I'm still getting yummy tomatoes, peppers and zucchini so I guess I can't complain too much.

Nick and I went a bit crazy at Michael's and Kohl's a few days ago buying props to take more baby photos. I must say, Nick's getting better and better being an amature photographer! I will leave you with more samples of his work. As for me, I'll take limited credit with helping to set up and with some design as Nick's the brains behind all of our beautiful photos!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Olivia's Birth Story

As I write this today, Olivia's is 11 days old and we love her so very much it hurts! It's such an indescribable feeling to hold her in my arms knowing she's our baby.

I feel that it is time to share the story of just how she finally arrived into this world. It's difficult to put down in words, as I'm probably still in my post-pregnancy/labor hormonal stage, with lots of emotions that come and go, not to mention an extremely difficult labor that really took its toll on my body.

As some of you may remember, she was due on 31 July, 2011, that would make the pregnancy exactly 40 weeks, according to the way babies' due dates are calculated these days (using the 1st day of a woman's last menstrual cycle prior to becoming pregnant). Somehow I had a weird feeling that she would be either be due on the actual due date of 31 July or would be arriving late. I had secretly hoped she would arrive a bit earlier, but it's obviously not within my control.
So as her due date approached, I began to really put the final touches on everything including her nursery, trying to tie up loose ends at work, and cleaning and doing laundry at home in preparation for her arrival. My mom also booked her plane tickets from 29 July until 9 August. Everything seemed to be going along smoothly, except I was having increasing back pain and often had a hard time sleeping with bouts of insomnia here and there (more on this later).

On the morning of the 27th, a Wednesday, I started to feel kind of uncomfortable. By 3 am, it was enough to wake me out of bed. I came downstairs quietly and started to sit on the exercise/birthing ball and rocked back and forth, alternating between that and going on my hands and knees to take the pressure off my spine. I wondered if I was in early labor (which I was). By the time Nick got up, probably around 6:30/6:45, I was pretty darn sure I was having contractions, although they were still very manageable with the soothing nature of the various exercises I was going through. I used slow breathing techniques to get through each one. I was also a bit hungry but nothing sounded good. I heated up some leftover pancakes but after they were done I had no desire to eat them. I sent Nick off to work, letting him know that I'll call/email when things progressed further. Off he went.

Since my water did not break, I drew myself a bath and sat in there to relax as much as possible. I called my boss and supt and let them know that I was in early labor and would not be there for work that day. By about 10 am things were definitely progressing and the contractions where stronger and closer together, although they were not very regular. Another hour passes and I'm starting to feel very uncomfortable. I ate a small bowl of cherries and a granola bar. I finally called and emailed Nick to come home by around noon/1 pm. He came home and we labored together some more. We were trying to delay going to the hospital as much as possible, knowing that when we got there I would be hooked up to monitors and not allowed to eat lightly anymore. Some more time passes and I'm feeling even worse. I asked for a bowl because I felt like vomiting. I need to add that I absolutely HATE vomiting. I try my best to not vomit at all, but this was involuntary, and it happened, and somehow I felt better, even though I had nothing in my belly.

We finally decided to go to our good friends Mark and Jackie's house on base close to the hospital. We stayed there for probably an hour and decided to make our way to the hospital a bit after 2 pm. I was in triage briefly before the nurse announced I was at 5 cm! We were elated! We thought the labor would advance quickly and I may even have the baby that night - we were WRONG.

I continued to labor naturally even though the contractions were getting much stronger, looking back though, I don't think they were ever very regular, but we were still hopeful. I labored naturally from 2:30 pm until about 9:30 pm. I was checked again, still 5 cm! I was devastated and very discouraged. The pain was really starting to get to me. It didn't help that the resident on call (we'll just say Dr. W) did NOT read my birth plan and asked me if I wanted pain relief multiple times. Her nurse (nurse T) also asked again about pain relief - I wanted to choke them since I had specifically written in my birth plan that I would be the one asking for pain relief, not the other way around. Still, the pain was getting to me and their suggestions did not help. Finally around 10 pm I asked for something mild and was given Nubain. It did provide relief, but wore off very quickly. At this point, in my discouraged state and very exhausted state (having been up since 3 am that morning), I discussed the epidural with Nick and decided to go for it. The main reasoning is that I hadn't progressed at all, I was getting worn out, the pain was increasing and I didn't want to go through the slew of drugs before having to have an epidural anyways. The anesthesiologist was called in and the epidural was inserted around 10:45 pm. I felt relief after the drugs started kicking in and Nick and I finally got some rest.

I can't remember when the pitocin (artificial oxytocin) was started but since my contractions were still not regular I finally consented to having it started. I was pretty sure it was sometime after the epidural was inserted.

By the next morning a new shift of doctors and nurses had come in (also very discouraging). Come to find out, the attending there that morning was a surgeon (we'll call her Dr. S) and was very much a surgeon, not personable at all. I understand her concerns but she was very pushy with her talk on me needing a cesarean. Her exact words were"you're dilating too slowly, this is not normal". Even though I had read plenty of literature that talks about every mom being different, and thus dilate differently. Her resident, Dr. H, was also probably pushed by her to keep checking me. Luckily the very best labor and delivery nurse also came on shift, Julee, who was literally the best thing in my labor. She was our advocate all the way and explained a lot of things to us so that we can make the best decisions. Dr. S and Dr. H wanted to insert an IUPC into my cervix next to the baby to monitor my contractions. By this time the baby, poor thing, had been stressed enough that she had had her first bowl movement, known as meconium. I had discharged just a little of it, and it was recorded as "light meconium" - which is kind of a bad sign that she was being stressed in my uterus. There were no immediate concerns yet, but if I started spiking a fever we would both have to be monitored more closely and we would both need antibiotics and she would be presumed infected as well. Common sense told me that introducing this IUPC contraption would not help with limiting infections, so we refused it. Dr. H came in and had a "talk" with me stating that he would have to document that I refused to be checked and refused the IUPC to be placed into my cervix, and that it was against their recommendations. Nick and I agreed that we were okay with that. I was checked again after the attending left but was only at around 6/7...again, very discouraging how slowly I was progressing. Also, as a side note, they were never really sure when my water broke. It probably "broke" sometime Thursday late morning, but it was never a huge gush, but more like a trickle here and a trickle there. I think they had written down maybe around 11 am or so.

Finally Dr. S left, and a new attending Dr. G came on. He was so much better than the last attending, very personable and very understanding. He came in and talked with us for a long time. In his personal and professional opinion, he did not deem the IUPC necessary, nor a cesarean necessary at the time. He said that the baby and I are both doing fine, and really reassured us in our decisions. I told him that as long as the baby was safe we were not opting for a cesarean anytime soon, he agreed with us. I continued to labor and was checked again sometime on Thursday afternoon, I was at 8 cm, but the docs were saying that was "reducible", which we took it to mean that they can somehow try to get the baby out that way, but we weren't sure.

Now we're getting close to 6 pm...and Julee was at the end of her shift...very sad. BUT...she set us up with another excellent nurse, nurse A. She was also very knowledgeable and so calm about everything, which was great. I still wasn't progressing very well and I really did NOT want a cesarean delivery. So, Nick and I discussed it and did the only thing I knew to do at the time. We asked for the epidural to be turned way down so that I can go back to a squatting position as well as get on my hands and knees to try to use gravity to bring the baby down to open up the cervix. We were warned against this, and told that it is very difficult to come down from the epidural once you've tasted relief. I didn't see any other choice. So after awhile I could feel my legs again and started to squat and do other positions to try to encourage the baby to keep descending. After close to 3 hours I felt like I couldn't do it anymore and asked for the epidural to be turned back on. However, this time only my left side was numbed :-(

Nurse A came and decided to put me in a funny position where I'm almost on my belly, on my right side, twisted somewhat with my right arm going straight up and legs somewhat opened up on the table that they bring you food on. She said this was a good position to try to dilate the cervix - boy was she right! After a good 30 minutes I started to feel the urge to push. She said to try to breathe through it. I was checked again and was complete!!! I wanted to shout! I'm not sure when I was told to start pushing but it started later that evening, probably around 10:30 pm on Thursday. I pushed for 2 hours with the bar in a squatting position, and also did the "tug of war" thing. Unfortunately Dr. W from the first day had returned, and mentioned something again about a cesarean section. I tried to just brush her off, although in the back of my head I was dreading to have to go through all of this and end up with a c-section. Nurse A told me it's typical for a new mom to push from anywhere from 1 to 6 hours. But Dr. W gave me a 3 hour limit. Luckily Dr. T, the attending, came on. She had used the Bradley method to give birth to her child and was very understanding in terms of supporting me to have this baby vaginally. She was amazed at my mobility while under the epidural - I think it had to do with the fact that only half of me was numbed, with crazy back pain that was concentrated on my right side.

Now we'll talk a bit about pelvic stations. As the baby descends, the imaginary line that passes across on my pelvis is known as the "0" station. Anything above is a -4, -3 -2 and so on, and anything below this line is a +1, +2, etc. For the longest time I was stuck at +1, and finally reached +2 after a lot of pushing. Dr. T didn't understand why things were taking so long, so she ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound machine was brought in, and voila, all the back pain and painfully slow labor was explained: the baby was in a occiput posterior, or sunny-side up position, meaning she was facing out, with the back of her head on my spine. This not only causes for intense back labor pain, it makes descent very difficult and is a "dreaded" position by OBs and midwives. Come to find out, most babies turn by themselves on their decent and only 5% of babies are born this way, with almost half of cesarean births occurring because of this position. Dr. T suggested we try to turn the baby internally, which we agreed to. Now this was probably the most excruciating pain I've felt all my life, coupled with the fact that all the drugs were turned way down so I could feel when I pushed. For about 25 to 30 minutes she tried to turn the baby by reaching her hand up through my cervix, and I would be told to push. She needed to turn the baby a full 180 degrees, but every time she started to go past 90 degrees, the baby would start to turn back. I was starting to lose myself in the intense pain but did as I was told every time I heard her yell to push. I don't even know what happened but with all the turning and such the baby finally presented herself and descended enough for us to see her when I pushed! They brought the mirror in to try to encourage me but it didn't help since every time I pushed I would start to see her and as soon as I stopped she would retract. I asked for the mirror to be put away. Did I mention that by this time I was utterly and totally exhausted? I had been up for close to 48 hours with almost nothing to eat, just jello, pudding, popsicles, and some broth. I started to question whether I can do this. I kept telling myself we're almost there and that I can do it. More nurses came in to try to encourage me. I still couldn't get her out. Finally Dr. T asked about either the vacuum or forceps. We chose the vacuum. She warned that we can only break suction 3 times, and that we'd have to use something else if it didn't work. Luckily she only broke suction once and on the 3rd or 4th try our baby girl was finally born at 1:14 am!!! It had been about 47 hours counting back to early labor and about 34 hours after being admitted.

They put her on my belly briefly and I started to sob uncontrollably. They had to take her away quickly because of the possible infection and the fact that she was hyperventilating somewhat. Nick followed her out.

Nick came back in and told me she was 7 pounds 10.7 ounces and 19.25 inches. The midwife's student had guessed she would be maybe 6 pounds!!! Good thing I believed in the 6 pounds, because I would of had a mental block thinking she was that big!

Now comes the next part...the normal delivery of the placenta should take from 6 to 30 was going on 50 minutes and my placenta was still very much attached...everything that can possibly go wrong did, with the exception of needing a c-section. The docs were massaging my stomach to try to induce contractions to help the placenta out. I honestly don't remember how but it eventually came out and I took a brief look at it - it really is amazing, even though I'm sure most people would think it was utterly "gross" but to think that it was the lifeline of the baby for the past 10 months is no small feat.

Because of her positioning, I tore very badly (3rd degrees) and needed a lot of stitches. Nick walked in briefly but had to leave because he said it was utterly a blood-bath in there. Tons of towels were soaked up in blood. Nurses were rushing around earlier to get more sutures - not good. I was told I lost between 900 ml to 1 L of blood!!! After the suturing was done, I dove into a somewhat delirious state. I was in kind of a dream world coupled with the real world. I also had a fever, I was so incredibly hot, and Nick said I was really burning up. I didn't know at the time but I was being taken off all the drugs and I was literally having withdrawal symptoms. I was shaking uncontrollably for I don't know how long, and my muscles were exhausted with the shakes. I eventually drifted off...

Upon waking, Nick told me I was saying random things that really didn't make much sense. I do remember some of this. In my head I had a story line all figured out that was kind of a play-byplay. When I closed my eyes I played out the scenes, but when I opened my eyes Nick didn't say the things I "expected" him to say. He told me I was delirious and needed rest. After awhile I finally drifted off again...

I was up and about by 9 am later that day on Friday, the 29th, Olivia's birthday. All the nurses were surprised but I really needed to I was up. We had to stay and be monitored and the baby had to wait for cultures to be done, which luckily came negative 48 hours later. The first two nights at the hospital were hard because my milk had not come in yet, so the baby cried a lot. We managed to get through it somehow. I was grateful that the nurses and med techs would watch her for a bit when they were not busy so that I could rest.

We were discharged at about 11 am on Sunday, the 31st! It's since been a little over a week and we are recovering well. Here are the pictures Daddy the photographer took:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

38 week belly shots!

Nick, our amateur resident photographer took these awesome pics. I was exactly 38 weeks!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

37 Weeks

I'm 37 weeks today! And while I write this, yes, it is 3:54 am! Another bout of insomnia has hit hard. Instead of tossing and turning (which I have already done for about 2 hours) I decided to get up and actually do something productive. I did some picking up (quietly) as not to wake up Nick, Maggie and Daisy (whom we are watching as Jon and Bekah are picking up their baby boy David Jeremiah in Taiwan!!!), tried my hand at altering one of my tank tops into a nursing tank (with reasonably good results) and decided it was time to make an update to the blog. Indeed, I am 37 weeks today and with just 3 weeks to go, my phone app says the baby's about 19 inches and 6.5 pounds - the size of a watermelon! Although, I have to make a note that all babies are different (of course) and that figure may not be accurate - but it does give you an idea on the size of the baby.

So...we have decided on a name...(drum roll)...she'll be Olivia. I've always liked this name, and there's something to be said about classic names that will always sound great and never go "out of fashion". We were contemplating on a more "trendier" name but nothing really sounded good. Plus she'll have a slew of neat nicknames that we can use: Olive, Liv, etc. And overall it just rolls off the tongue nicely and it's feminine but not too feminine, and it's strong and likable. Lastly it's probably not as popular as a few years or decades back so I'm hoping there will be less "Olivias" out there for her age group when she gets older. As for her middle name, I'm still waiting for my parents' help on that. We'd like it to be a Chinese name but no final choices yet.

So catching back up to a few weeks ago I finished my Basic Instructor Course (BIC) - yeah! We actually had a really nice group and all got along great. The class probably could have been compressed quite a bit but I still learned a lot about lesson preparations, instructor mannerisms, communicating the materials to a group, etc. I also finished the Lamaze class, which was useful but I'm not sure what techniques I'll actually be using in labor. Also, based on first-hand knowledge and experience, my friend Katy Gannon recommended Hypnobirthing, which basically trains the laboring woman to be (as much as possible) in complete relaxation during labor. Sounds crazy but it totally worked for her and to be frank the philosophy sounds really good. So I've been trying to devote a bit of time practicing some of the techniques - we'll see how it goes! I've also had great email and IM conversations back and forth from a good friend Vanessa from high school. It's wonderful to have friends who have already "been there" for labor and afterwards!

I've also been adjusting to my new job. No real instructing hours yet - I've been mainly involved with learning my way around the organization and our mission, and since there's a large flux of personnel as well as the moving around of personnel it's been difficult. I'll definitely be staying in the division but I'm not sure if I'll stay where I am now as one of the branch chiefs - I'm not worried though - it'll all get worked out. I do have to say that so far I really like all the people in the office. Overall everyone's really positive, even though they've been hit hard with recent deployments in support of Japan's radiation assessments, not to mention a lot of people, including the main boss, rotating out soon. They also threw me a work baby-shower, which was completely unexpected and surprising since I just got there. But it was really nice to receive some additional things that the baby will need.

Speaking of baby showers, our friends Jackie, Mark, Tara, Bekah and Mrs. G all helped in throwing us a coed shower. It was beautiful and really nicely put together - we are very lucky to have such wonderful friends. I'll definitely try to get some pics up of those! The baby's room is pretty much all done too. Nick and I have been making weekly trips to Babies'R'Us and Target just to see what lose ends we need to tie up in terms of getting Olivia anything else she might need. I've also started to pack my bag...I should be done, but I'm just not as in a rush as I probably should be. Lots of people at work keep reminding me I really should have everything ready to go...we're getting there! :-)

As if I don't have enough to do I'm cramming for my annual Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) for Chinese Mandarin. Yes, every year I have to re-test and every year I end up cramming. Maybe I'll actually keep up with just an hour or two of studying every week or every other week...that's always my goal! But truly, speaking of languages, my plan is to teach Olivia Chinese. This will be a touch challenge as I've read to be very effective at raising a bi-lingual babe it's good for one parent to stick with language. I will try my very best!

Lastly, I have to say that I really miss running and can't wait to get back into it. Nick and I are running the 10K this year the AF marathon, hopefully I'll be able to jog most of it - as I can't really start to train until 6 weeks after the baby - which means I pretty much have no time to run before the race. But I've been active throughout this pregnancy so hopefully that'll help.

Well it's been about 2 hours and I'm going to try to get some shut-eye before our morning walk. I'll try to make more frequent updates and load some photos soon!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

32 Weeks and 4 Days....

It has been unseasonably warm in Dayton, OH this year. has stated it's about 15 degrees higher in temperature for what's "normal" for around the area - and I - starting to be a very pregnant woman, do not enjoy it one bit!

Let's see, where should I pick up - so much to talk about! And once again, it has been more than 4 weeks since my last update. I have lots of excuses, but I will not go into them. I think an update per month is frankly not too bad. We'll start back up around the beginning of May, where tons of family visited and we celebrated our niece Hayden's first birthday on Mother's Day. It was a super cute celebration and we are so glad that our house is centrally located enough for everyone to gather at. We got to see Nick's parents, of course, as well as my sis-in-law Brie and baby Hayden. Nick's aunts Jenni and Lucy made it, as well as Jenni's husband uncle Bill. The grandparents Shirley and Dick also came for the day from Michigan. We had a fun but busy time and I can't believe Hayden turned one year old, how quickly the time goes by.

I finally started my basic instructor's class at the brand new building where BRAC has consolidated all aerospace medicine studies. That was about mid May or so when we started school. While I was glad to start the class it was hard being back in the classroom all day again - some things never change I guess but there is something to be said about being a life-long student. After all, what can beat the joy of learning new things and being a better instructor for my future students?

We had a Memorial Day cook-out where we invited friends over and had lots of fun. With his credit card reward points Nick purchased an early anniversary gift for me, well, for the baby: a step 2 slide system. Only later did he realize it was for kids 2 years and up - oh well, I'm sure the baby will be able to use it in no time. Seriously though, they have so many fun toys for kids these days!

We started our Lamaze childbirth class as well at the base hospital. While it is a good class with lots of information I have either already seen or read just about 85% of it - but still, the extra 15% is nice. Nick has been supportive in going with me, but not always the happiest of campers. I may go to the rest by myself - we'll see. Mostly it as been hard for me to completely alert after a long day as the class is every Wednesday from 6-8:30 pm -- for 6 weeks! Plus I have another nursing class to attend by myself. Still, I'm very appreciative for all the resources that the base hospital is providing - especially their general attitude toward a more natural birth without all the crazy interventions.

During the first class a few weeks ago a tornado warning was actually called - meaning a tornado had actually been seen in the area. We arrived home to find hail as large as the size of small peaches, only flatter. Nick and I had been painting our garage floors with epoxy so we had been parking the cars outside. Luckily we both drove our cars and they stayed on base for the evening and there wasn't hail in that area. Our wonderful neighbor, who has been taking care of the dogs on Wednesday nights, describe how crazy the storm was. She also said they had lots of roof damage at an earlier storm with smaller hail. Sure enough, our insurance adjuster came out a few weeks later and totaled our roof as well as three of the five skylights. Our older plastic "bubble" skylights had holes from the hail! Even with a 1% deductible on the insured value of the house we should be okay once the claim gets finalized. Our house was built in 1988 and a new roof was installed in 2001, so it'll definitely be a nice selling point when we go to sell the house. Nick couldn't differentiate roof damage but the adjuster sure could. I guess this is why we pay home insurance!

So about the baby - she's a super active baby! I don't even have to count fetal movements because she pretty moves around most of the day! I've gained about 20 pounds and I'm hoping not too much more with the 7.5 weeks left. I've also really fallen off the exercise wagon. I walk on most days and house and yard work keep me active. But actually devoting time to exercise has been tough - hopefully I can go back to at least 3 to 4 times a week before the baby's here. Other than that I'm having some more difficulty getting good rest at night. My bulging belly makes it difficult to get comfortable, as well as the nightly trips to the bathroom - at times it has increased to 2 times a night. But I better get used to that with night time feeding coming up in a few weeks. I've also started to do some packing just in case, although that's not completed.

I have some other good news to share: I passed my gestational diabetes test with flying colors! My level was at 73 (not sure what the units are) but my midwife told me they don't get concerned until the levels reach around 130 - so essentially I'm only a little over half of what they would worry at! I was pretty sure I wouldn't have too much problem with this with my generally good diet and exercise, but you never know after drinking the equivalent of 2/3 of a can of super sugary water - who wouldn't have high blood sugar levels after that?

My brother Aleck has graduated from high school. My mom has been somewhat stressed with his high school years but he's made it through. He's probably enlisting in the Air Force and going to college about 4 years later, which all sounds like a good plan.

I think this is about it, it's hard to believe we have less than 8 weeks to go, and I feel like I still have so much work to do. Our good friend Jackie and Mark are throwing us a coed baby shower at the end of the month, so hopefully whatever we have left to get we'll receive at the shower - baby needs so much stuff! I will once again work on getting pictures posted...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

3rd trimester and other fun!

So it has been awhile since my last update, life has been a bit crazy. It's hard to think that the baby will be here in 3 months! We are still very busy around the house, mainly with finishing up our home projects, TONS of yard work, my new job, and Nick's transition into a new job in about 2 months. And yes - I graduated! After all the worrying I managed to finish my thesis ahead of schedule and graduated without any problems on 24 March 2011. I am very thankful for the way the timing worked out for this pregnancy, and very grateful I was barely sick at all. But I will say I felt like a waking zombie at times, barely able to function and work on school because I was utterly exhausted. Jogging and doing pregnancy exercises was the only thing that kept me going - that and paying attention to what I eat. I will try to include some pictures of graduation when my husband finally gets them off his fancy camera!

To be honest 2nd trimester flew on by fairly quickly. I think I was anxious as I knew the scariest period had passed (the first 13 weeks) but I still was a bit unsure of everything as far as baby's progress goes. Plus it took a long time for my belly to show. soon as I started to feel the baby I think it was better (with a caveat). This was around 17.5 weeks. I felt reassured every time I felt her but when I wouldn't feel her for a day or so I became just a little worried - even though at that stage I knew it to be completely normal. In fact, one's not even supposed to start recording fetal movements until 28 weeks - yet I couldn't help it sometimes. I will say that as the pregnancy goes further I am starting to worry less and less. To that I will credit my awesome hubby, who always reminds me of the things I simply cannot control and to let go. Also, at 19 weeks we were told it was most likely a girl, and this was again confirmed at my second ultrasound a few days ago, at 26 weeks 5 days.

Our nursery is just about completed! All we need is a glider and ottoman, which we are buying from a friend. We did have to add in my dresser and bookshelf from when I first graduated from the Academy just because the baby girl already has too much clothes!'s a sad Brownheim fact, we all have way too much clothes. So we have told family and friends to 1) not buy clothes, 2) if they must, buy size 2T and up, preferably something more like 3 or 4T. We are so lucky we have wonderful friends with older baby girls who have passed down quite a bit of stuff to us - I've only bought 3 sets of clothing at a Mommy sale for something like fifty cents each! On another note, the book shelf is getting filled with books as well, so I'm so glad we'll have a variety to read at night!

Nick and I decided to take a babymoon end of April down to Destin, FL at our friend's mother's condo. It was beautiful down there and we also got to see a few friends. It was nice to catch back up with Chris and Jackie P in Auburn, AL, Chris and Jodi W, as well as my friend from my career field school Mike in the Destin area. We had a lovely time but I started to get antsy towards the end. My constant need to "accomplish" things drives Nick crazy sometimes, but I'm just a very goal/task-oriented person, and it's hard for me to break from that sometimes. I think I get it from my mother, who's always running around the house too. Now if we can just take another week off to do our yard life would be good!

So I was slated to go down to San Antonio for the Basic Instructor Course (BIC) from 11 May until 16 June. While I was looking forward for some time to relax from all the projects of our house, I knew I would have to be in the heat too. After all my funding, trip details and reservations were submitted I was told that to save money they're bringing up an instructor up from Lackland. While I really wanted to check on our rental house in San Antonio, this really makes more sense rather than sending 10 people to Lackland at probably 5K a piece for a 5.5 week class. So I won't get to see some friends as well as the house in San Antonio but I'm actually most grateful for our comfy bed and the fact I'll have Nick close by for support.

Our niece Hayden Isabella turns 1 year old on 8 May and we're so excited that Nick's parents, grandparents, aunts and uncle, as well as Brie and Hayden can come to Ohio and we can all celebrate. It has been a bit rough for Brie with Nick's brother Nate being deployed so we're glad we can all be together this coming up weekend. Speaking of deployments, we averted another deployment for Nick, who was tasked to go in less than a year after coming back in 2010. With less than a week to spare we had initially decided for him to get out of the Air Force, as he would have needed additional training and would miss the baby's birth and essentially the first 7 months or so. We were thrilled however when we found out he got an assignment at the AF Institute of Technology (AFIT - where I just graduated from) to teach cyber-security technical courses for AF officers! So the deployment is averted and he'll be in for another 2 years at least! We're in a take-it-as-we-go mentality right now, especially since his career field has gone to a 1:1 home/deploy ratio, meaning he's home for 6 months, gone for 6 months. This equals total awful-ness for family life!

Another item on the agenda I'm extremely happy and relieved about is the fact our friend Bekah will most likely be taking care of the baby. She and her husband Jon are adopting a sweet little boy from Taiwan and will hopefully be picking him up soon! Between my maternity leave and the 2 weeks Nick will have we're hoping to take our baby girl to her starting around October. That'll give them a chance to get acquainted and into a routine before we add our bundle of joy to the mix. I am so glad this will work out as I'm super particular about food, and this way I can make my own food for the baby later as well as try cloth-diapering - which saves both money and diapers from the landfills. Yes, I'm a bit of a tree-hugger, even before I was an environmental engineer!

So I think that's all the festivities for now. We still have some major projects around the house, including having new skylights installed (one started to leak with the monsoon season Dayton has been having), our crazy yard which we have improved in a major way but still needs lots of work, new wood flooring, taking down wallpaper and painting in the dinning room, and some trim work in the kitchen. But we'll just have to take it one step at a time...until next time...


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

21 Weeks!!!

So I'm officially a few days over 21 weeks and am now "over the half way mark"...except the second part seems so far from now!!! My belly's definitely gotten bigger, although I can still probably hide it fairly well if I wanted to. But if I wear anything tight then game-over...there's definitely something there and I'm finally looking more pregnant and less like I'm overdoing the donuts.

So I have been feeling pretty well and went on my regular jog yesterday (2 miles) with the kids. On the days when I don't feel like it we walk. I have also been very busy this weekend. I'm almost done cleaning the house from top to bottom - this is my Spring cleaning and I like to wipe everything down, vacuum, clean all the bathrooms, dust, etc. I also washed the dogs today as they were getting stinky and itchy.
I will be graduating this Thursday - hallelujah! It seems like grad school has been a long time but really it flew by. There were the nights and weeks when I was completely stressed and hardly got any sleep but overall it wasn't a bad experience - and I'm all the better for it. Thank goodness I didn't get pregnant any earlier though, that would have been tough. Even the baby was very planned we were still a bit surprised that we conceived so fast, and we're definitely very thankful for that.

I made lots of food in anticipation of Nick's homecoming from Alabama, plus the fact that when I was in school I never seemed to have enough time to cool. I made tons of baozi (filled buns), mantou (plain buns) and baked 2 loaves of banana bread. The baozi contains pork with lots of organic cabbage and the delicious green onions, as well as garlic and a blend of spices. They were extra good this time. I love the mantou too - they're plain but delicious with a bit of hummus or even fruit preserves. The banana bread is more of a bread and less of a cake and they turned out great the bread machine - very simple. I made them with some wheat flour but they're not whole wheat since I was afraid they would be too dense. They're also not very sweet - which I prefer. So that's what I've been up to! I still have yard work to do but I think I'm going to leave that to Nick. It's harder now since I can't go non-stop. I have to remind myself to take breaks and my back gets sore too. I also have to stop for more water breaks and snacks. But overall I'm still feeling great.

I am also super thankful that I really never got any morning sickness, just a bit nauseated a few times, nothing a few candied ginger couldn't handle. But the one pregnancy symptom that has followed me from the very start is the frequent urination. I can't remember how many times I just finish flushing and washing my hands that it hits me again...REALLY? I just went...and it's supposed to get worse in the third trimester? How much worse can it get? (knock on wood, please let it NOT get that much worse!)

Aside from that our baby's definitely a little wiggle-worm...I get non-stop action for awhile when I lay down...and now I'm even feeling this ninja during the day! Luckily the baby's still only about a pound...

Well, it's Tuesday night and I'm exhausted. I still have lots to do before Nick gets home. These past 5 weeks have gone by slower than I had hoped...sometimes I feel like I'm back in the days when he was deployed for 7 months! The good thing is I just keep busy with jogging, cooking, cleaning, reading, finishing up school work...etc so it hasn't been too bad.

I will post a 22 week belly pic later this week - after I squeeze into my service blues for graduation! Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

18 weeks/It's almost Thesis Defense time!

So I have not been doing a great job keeping up with this blog, but I shall blame the thesis write-up and defense coming up as the culprit! :-) BUT...I promise to do a better job from now on!

So things have been very hectic. I finally wrapped up some experiments and got out of the lab long enough to finish my thesis write-up. Honestly I think I dreaded so much putting everything together that I made things harder for myself - it really wasn't THAT bad. I'm not going to say I didn't suffer though -- there was certainly suffering involved, but it was the good kind as I slowly saw I was making progress and I was moving towards my goal of finishing.

I received great feedback from one of my committee members, Dr. Goltz, who really helped me see a few things I had failed to explain thoroughly. Dr. Schrand also gave me some pointers on what can make my presentation even better, and make the experiments and the results I obtained tell a better story. I'm excited to say I will be defending my thesis this coming up Monday, 28 Feb and after that it'll all be downhill. I'll mainly have some paperwork to complete and a few other boxes to check but other than that...I will be GRADUATING on 24 March! (Can't you tell I'm a bit excited?) Overall I have really enjoyed my master's experience - not to mention that the Air Force is paying me Captain's pay to be a full time student for almost two years -- how can this deal get much sweeter? Some people have asked me if I would go back for PhD and truthfully I'm not sure at this point. I think I would love to eventually but I've also always wanted to work in healthcare too so my desires are kind of split two ways. I think it's too early to say but I'm leaving that door open for now. Besides, I may even think about going to Med or Dental school later. I would say the biggest thing at the moment is enjoying my family and our soon-to-be addition. Also, I'm really starting to enjoying my career field more in the Air Force so I may just stick to it.

So Nick left for Squadron Officer School (SOS) this past Monday. Luckily he'll only be gone for 5 weeks -- this is nothing compared to when he deployed for 7 months last year. Sometimes military life is hard, and it's especially hard when both husband and wife are active duty! Thankfully it looks like I will be teaching/managing at our school house so I've opted to not be a consultant. Running all over the US and Europe sounds great if you're single, but I want to be with my family more!

As I update the blog I can't believe I'm 18 weeks today!
Just yesterday it seemed like I was only 6 weeks and worried about EVERYTHING! I still get worried at times, but generally I know things are going to be okay with the baby. Nick has always said I read way too much, but I just want to be informed! I will have another routine check-up with my midwife next Thursday, March 3rd, and the gender ultrasound on Friday, March 4th! We're so excited to find out what this cutie will be. A few friends and my mom have speculated both girl and boy, so who knows? All we care about is a healthy baby - besides, it's not like one can choose!

Another big news to report...I have started to feel the baby! I was laying on the recliner a few nights ago, probably starting on Feb 23rd, and I felt a "tap tap" on the belly. At first I thought it was my stomach but I quickly realized that positioning was two low to be my stomach, and the movement was repetitive and I'm pretty sure something's there! Since then almost every night when I'm laying down or at the computer I've started to feel movements and it's truly awesome - and maybe a bit freaky too!

Lastly, today was a great day! I walked with our wonderful friend Mrs. Goltz and joined her and her husband and a few other friends for a delicious brunch at their home. I got to meet some very interesting people I also got a great work-out in. In fact, I'm pretty tired as I sit here. Dr. Goltz is training for the LA marathon with a few buddies so they were doing an 18 miler from Yellow Springs back to Factory Rd! Yes - they're pretty serious! So I walked with Mrs. Goltz. I walked for about 37 minutes, then started to jog. I jogged from 37 minutes right up to an hour, and finished with some more walking and stretching. I covered 4.5 miles in that hour - not too bad in my book. I'm really glad to be able to "run" again. I say "run" since I'm no longer running to train, just to keep in shape to keep me and the baby healthy. In the first I had some scares with bleeding episodes so I stopped running. I hopped on the elliptical and did yoga instead - but I missed that part of my life. So I slowly eased back into it to see if I would have any more problems - luckily it seemed to have gone away (knock-on-wood). Besides, I really can't associate the bleeding with the running, it was just something I thought could have triggered it. Nick thinks I was just too stressed, which could definitely have been what it was.

I think that's about it for now...I still have to put some finishing touches on my thesis presentation. Plus, I want to go to bed early tonight since I haven't been sleeping as well with the growing belly. I don't think most people can even tell I'm pregnant still, but if I wear something tight things have definitely changed!

I will attempt to add a new post every 2 weeks...until then I leave you my 18 week belly pic!