Smile. Scowl. Cry (sad). Smile. Laugh. Cry (happy).

Just over 6 weeks ago, Baby Grouch arrived.  She is strong and healthy and a lovely little peanut.

Baby Grouch at 1 Week

She is also somewhat lumpy and squeaky and sloshy – as  newborns tend to be.

During pregnancy, my body ventured into uncharted hormonal territory – that is – my hormones seemed to even out and become what many would call “normal”.  My moods were relatively even and my anxiety level was low.  I was less anxious and more calm.  My skin, which is notoriously spotty, was smooth and bumpless.  My blood pressure even registered within the normal range for the first time in years.  I stopped having ridiculously vivid dreams that left me half-dead in the morning.  I was sleeping better than ever, and since feeling good is so boring, I had nothing much to post onto this blog of mine.  Pregnancy viking, I was.

Well, the Morning Grouch is making a grand re-entrance.  During labor, the blood pressure spiked, and has returned to hovering on the borderline range.  My skin has dulled and a few spots have returned.  The dreams are slowing coming back and Ms. Grouch has been getting a maximum of 2 hours of solid sleep in a row for the past few weeks.  And the kicker?  Lately everyone is calling me “Ma’am”.  REALLY?  MA’AM?? UGH.

A few Saturday’s ago, I woke up, more exhausted than usual, at the midnight feeding and at the 3 am feeding.  When I heard the baby start to stir again, I asked my husband if he could feed the baby before he went to work, to give me an extra couple hours of sleep in a row.  Naturally, the baby didn’t actually wake up until it was almost time for him to leave, so he said he didn’t have time to feed her.

I was not particularly happy about this turn of events, and didn’t have any extra energy, so the result was me not responding a whole lot when he was talking to me, and me being pretty short with him.  He asked if I was mad at him about something.  No, I insisted, I am just TIRED.  He pointed out that even though I was tired, I was not talking to Baby Grouch with anything less than a loving and soothing tone, and I was, in fact, reserving any negative expression for him and him alone.

As he brushed his teeth and got ready for the day, I pondered what he said.  It was true, no matter how tired I was I had enough energy for the baby.  So, was I mad at my husband?  Then, I realized I was.  And, I wasn’t.  Emotional-Rollercoaster Me was very angry, since I was doing most of the work taking care of Baby Grouch.  What the eff, why can’t you feed your own child?  What is this nonsensical talk about not having enough time because you have to go to WORK.  Work shmerk. I’m TIRED.  And you said to let you know when I needed your help!  And I NEED IT NOW!   RAWR!

But, then, I wasn’t really mad. Logical-Me wasn’t angry at all.  Logical-Me was so thankful that my husband was changing diapers, and feeding the baby and asking me what he could do to help.  Logical-Me appreciated that periodically he would ask me if I was feeling okay (checking for postpartum issues, as instructed to do in his Daddy Boot Camp class).

So before he left, I explained to him this nonsense about being angry and not angry at the same time.  I may or may not have shed a few tears out of frustration. I think he nodded and backed away from me, slowly….

The day continued to roller-coaster.

Baby Grouch and I were listening to Greek Baby Radio and I heard a song about a black cat.  I got very excited and happy since we happen to have a favorite fuzzy being in our house who is also a highly pigmented feline.  So I laughed and sang the song to the baby.  Suddenly all was swell, life was good, and I was giddy and carefree.

Fast-forward 2 1/2 minutes and the next song was about parents loving their little baby so much.  Se aga po, agapi mou!  Suddenly my humor turned to joy, but a sappy, sad and tearful sort of joy, at remembering how hard it had been for us to get this little pipsqueak and how grateful we are now to have her.

Wow.  In a span of hours my emotions had spanned the galaxy.

I  texted my husband and let him know that his wife knew she was crazy!  Knowing is half the battle, right?

The Traveling Pants

So, 35 weeks into pregnancy, I’m feeling…..good.  Incredibly whaleish and crickity creakity (my sacroiliac joint, within my pelvis, and I are not on speaking terms) and heartburny… but still, good.  All the discomforts are to be expected and are overall completely bearable and worth it.  Without question.

Pregnancy viking, so far, I remain.

I have been lucky enough to be at my most-pregnant during the summer months.  Ok, there are definitely downsides to turning more and more into an aquatic mammal throughout the summer –  fingers and ankles can easily turn to sausages, the heat can prevent getting a good night’s rest (I’ve been sleeping with cold packs on my side, and often moving to the first floor or basement after waking up, baking, in the middle of the night).  But the pros, overall, outweigh the cons.  I’m a teacher, so since it is summer vacation, I’ve had the luxury of time – which is good because since I’m considered a “high risk” pregnancy, I’ve had two doctor appointments each week – and it sure is wonderful to not have to use up precious sick days or have to take unpaid work days so I can make them.

(Sidebar – my ultrasounds and non-stress tests have confirmed that this baby is VERY active – a “wild woman” she was called by one nurse, she has had hair on her head for a few weeks already, she often sucks on her fingers, usually has her ankles crossed like a little lady, and she most likely has my husband’s Greek toes (middle toe longer than her big toe) – these doctor appointments are so much more fun than the usual ones 😉 )

Another benefit of being pregnant on my summer off is that I  do not have to worry too much about dressing up for work during the summer – and can thus wear the same few tank tops, dresses and skirts the entire three months, saving me a lot on maternity clothes.  The only thing I’m willing to spend whatever amount of money on is maternity underwear.  There is seriously no greater invention – it is worth every penny.  EVERY PENNY, I tell you!  They make me happy just thinking about them and their stretchy comfortableness.

Any-hoo, speaking of maternity wear, I have to give props to a special pair of Silver brand jeans.  I purchased said jeans around the year 2000 or so, and wore them quite a bit, and then they ended up shoved in the back of my closet for a few years, forgotten.  I rediscovered them when we moved into our new house a couple of years ago.  The jeans a) still fit, and b) remained relatively in style.  Damn good purchase.  Well, little did I know that this was the purchase that just keeps on giving.  These pants have continued to fit, as I have grown, and grown…and grown.

I tried wearing one of my other favorite pairs of jeans a tad too long, with a belly band, and ended up ripping a hole on the inside of one of the thighs (aka my maternal fat stores).  Other pants either cannot be put on anymore, or must be completely unzipped, and still result in extreme discomfort, particularly when sitting.  But the Silvers?   They are like the mystical traveling pants (you know, the ones from the movie, that an entire group of female friends, who all were different shapes and sizes of lovely woman-ness, were able to wear comfortably).  These pants continue to stretch and conform to my changing body, with nothing but a simple hair-tie to hold the button at the top in place.

Pregnancy is amazing and mysterious and wonderful, and so are these damn pants.

The New Normal

So, my husband and I have been trying to have a child for about 3 1/2 years.  The first year we were just not “not trying”.  We figured it would happen within about a year – give or take and weren’t too worried.  To be honest, I was slightly nervous (read: terrified) at the thought of having kids, so I wasn’t in a huge rush.  After the year passed, we decided to officially “try”.  I’d had plenty of time to digest the reality of what children would bring to our life, and I was definitely ready.  “Trying” involved using ovulation predictor kits, and then when those were inconclusive, trying to have sex at least every other day (we actually did a pretty good job with this 😉 ).  But, in the end, there was nothing to show for all of that hard work, and after a second year had passed, we realized we needed a little more help.  Clearly, we should have realized we needed some intervention earlier, but we had naively thought that it would just happen, eventually.

We started fertility treatments, since it turned out that I have PCOS, and was likely not ovulating on my own at all.  And so began our “new normal”.

The new normal involved counting cycle days, and taking medications like Clomid, Metformin, Prometrium, Follistim and Ovidrel (the last two being injectable hormones – so I was giving myself shots 5-7 days per month).  The new normal meant having to use up precious sick days (will I have any left for maternity leave?), since internal ultrasounds were needed 2-3 times per month to check my ovaries and the progress of my follicles.  Sometimes these doctor visits could be done at a local facility, and other times we would have to make the hour-long commute for doctor appointments there.  It seemed many appointments ended up needing to be done on Saturdays, which meant spending a couple of hours in the car for a 20 minute appointment, since the local office wasn’t open on the weekend.

The new normal meant not being able to make plans for weekends or breaks, or having to cancel them, because I couldn’t be out of town if an ultrasound was needed.  It meant, at times, bringing along my zippered case of injectable meds, and heading to a bathroom stall between the hours of 6 and 8 pm to give myself a shot.

The new normal meant the continuous development of ovarian cysts, from the follicle stimulating hormones I was injecting into my abdomen.  These were incredibly disappointing as I would have to skip a month before we could try again, lest my ovaries become hyperstimulated (which can potentially lead to permanent infertility).  The cysts also meant I was often unable to run, something I very much enjoy and use as a stress reliever; it was feared my fallopian tube could twist due to the excessive weight of the ovary, potentially leading to the loss of that ovary.

The new normal meant going in for lab work, a few times each month.  One of the medications I was on resulted in me not starting a period as I normally would, so this included a blood draw at the end of a cycle, to determine if I was pregnant.  I got used to the pitying tone of the lab worker telling me, sorry, not pregnant.

As the months passed, the new normal became diminished hope and increasing frustration.  The new normal was a cloud of blackness, with days here and there where grey poked through.  Staying positive was a constant effort.  And, sometimes I just didn’t have the energy.

The new normal meant tears of anger and frustration at every announcement of a child-to-be. As one would expect, everyone around me started getting pregnant.  Or, at least that’s how it felt.  My friend’s announcements would leave me full of joy and excitment for them, while simultaneously feeling like I’d been literally punched in the gut and even more hopeless and frustrated than before.   After anyone who told me they were pregnant in the last year and a half, I typically cried the entire way home after hearing the news.  A little too much self-pitying, I knew, but the frustration and anger usually escaped.   And how dare some of those people COMPLAIN about pregnancy symptoms, or things they couldn’t do as a result of being pregnant?  I was certainly not understanding or sympathetic to those complaints (I’m still not, really).  I was sometimes a little bit mean.

The new normal meant having timed intercourse on certain days of the month, for the sole purpose of conceiving a child.  This takes a bit of the fun out of the process, let me tell you.  And, while we were generally lucky, this meant having to drive out of town to meet my husband where he was, if he had to travel out of town for work, on “cycle day 15 and 16”, or whatever days the doctor told us were the days to try.  Only once did I have to take a sick day, in order to drive 5 hours, into Ohio, to have sex with my husband that night and the next morning, and then immediately turn around to make the 5 hour return trip.

I’d see the baby pictures posted at the fertility center, no doubt supposed to be an inspiration, and literally wondered if those babies were actually the result of anything that happened in that office. I was pretty convinced they were ALL in-vitro babies, and all of the time and energy we were putting in was in vain.  Were they trying to get as much money from us as possible, knowing we would have to do in-vitro in the end anyway?

The new normal meant wondering what would happen if my husband and I couldn’t have children.  Ever since we met, he had talked about wanting a kids, and that this was something he felt was needed to lead a happy and fulfilling life.  The scariest thought ever, “Will my husband and I make it if we can’t have children?”  This was by far the worst part of the entire process.  Even though I never once doubted his love for me, I seriously began to wonder if he would be able to stay with me and live a childless life, or if he did, if he would be truly happy.

Two days after Christmas, I called to get the results from the lab, as I had done many times before.  The lab worker said, “Well, you’re numbers look good”.  Being my skeptical self, I wondered what the hell they were looking at, I didn’t care about all of my numbers, I only cared about the HCG – and she hadn’t specifically said THOSE numbers looked good, or, for that matter, what “good” meant.  She then added, “You’re pregnant”.  My jaw dropped, and my eyes popped out as I turned to look at my husband, who was sitting right next to me, listening in, in disbelief. I literally could not speak anymore and can’t remember if I just hung up on the lady or if I handed the phone to my husband to finish the conversation.  After hanging up, we had the longest hug ever, and I cried (at least this time I could blame it on the hormones).  I guess that trip to Ohio was worth it, after all.

The new normal became cautious optimism.

While there were a few scares early on, overall, this conception impaired blogger appears to be a pregnancy viking.  Finally, the second trimester has begun, and the new normal is sharing the good news, having an even greater sense of relief and excitement.  And, also becoming slightly afraid of stepping on the bathroom scale.

While I am fully aware that my sleep deprivation is only going to get worse, I’m very much looking forward to the new normal, about 6 months from now.

Sleep Deprivation Can Make You Do Stupid Things. Or, Maybe I Have ADD.

For our 4th anniversary, my husband and I decided to go on a road trip.  We bought a new (used) pop-up camper, hopped in the Jeep and headed West, towards South Dakota.  He had the idea for me to “blog” about our trip (which meant a facebook note, since I didn’t have a blog yet.  He didn’t realize at the time the blogging-monster he would soon create) so I documented as we drove, and it was really quite a jolly time.

Except for the day and a half that it sort of sucked. The first day of suckage, is pretty much unrelated to the second day of suckage, they just happened to be connected within the time-space continuum.  In my original post, I blogged a lot about the wind turbines and the buffalo and beautiful geology at the Badlands.  Included here is just the blurb about the day and a half that weren’t so fun.  Enjoy.

July 8th:

OH. MY. GOD.  We just got to our campsite for the night.  OH. MY.  GOD.  Ok, so we didn’t decide until 10pm the night before we left that we would drive for several hours, instead of stopping in St. Joe and staying with my sister on Thursday night, thus, we didn’t book any campgrounds ahead of time – as would be my preference.

So today, at lunch, we stopped somewhere with wireless so we could find a place to camp for the night.  We ate at a diner and we agreed we should drive for 5 or so more hours.  Ends up we would be near Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Ok, perfect.  So I Google campgrounds near Sioux Falls and Tower Campgrounds pops up.  It is close.  I call the number and they have ONLY ONE spot left.  So I think, well if it is full, it must be decent.  Didn’t check the reviews, honestly just wanted t o get something booked and done with.  I feel flustered and anxious when having to do things on short notice, or when I don’t want to do them (i.e. I wanted to do it ahead, but didn’t, so now just rush and don’t do a good job searching).  EFFING HORRIBLE IDEA.

So, it is right in town.  As in, I can see a gas station from our camp site.  Which, ok, not great.  But, could be dealt with on it’s own.  But then, each camper/tent is literally 5-10 feet from the next.  And I clearly understand now why this one spot was empty.  The lady in the camper next to us appears to live here.  She has a couple of dogs, and several cats, along with many young kittens living in the camper.  There are dozens of flies buzzing around the windows inside and outside the camper.  Husband went to the shower (we decided it wasn’t very safe here and should go one at a time).  And I hear her talking – I’m assuming to the animals in there, or perhaps to no one… yelling things about leaving her alone and “get out of there!” etc..  I hear a flicking noise which I believe can only be a lighter for which she is lighting her crack pipe, as she shoes her crack-addict pets away from her.  WE ARE NEXT DOOR TO THE CRAZY CRACK HEAD CAMPER CAT LADY….UGH!

I tried to convince Husband to pack up and leave, told him I could drive for 4-5 hours and stay at a rest stop.  He said this was my punishment for not checking the reviews.  I go to shower, come back and Husband noticed a bunch of dog shit near the table we had set up.  I again asked him if he wanted to leave.  After eating, I immediately retreated to the camper and thanked Husband in my head for bringing the TV (I normally hate the TV).  I just hope we can turn it up loud enough to drown out the din of traffic surrounding the site.

Ok, let me shout this loud and clear:  I WAS WRONG.  I WAS IMPATIENT.  I SHOULD HAVE CHECKED.  I’M GLAD MY HUSBAND BROUGHT A TV AND DVDS (I hate tv, and we had to negotiate him being able to bring this) !  GAH!!!!!  But having to stay at this shithole is certainly cruel and unusual punishment enough.  I have learned my lesson.

July 9th:

Um.  Ok.  So, I sort of understand why Texas has edited their history books – they don’t want to look like jackasses.  I was going to edit the history of this trip but the Husband won’t let me.  Penance.  So I’ll start by saying that maybe I have ADD.  And, I have sleep deprivation which makes me forgetful.   And, stupid.  I got distracted..by this crazy little devil girl at the campground…she was talking to me while I was supposed to take out the braces, that support the mechanical arms that hold the pop-up “up”.  I took them both off and then since I was talking to her (about why we were leaving and how we were ready to leave the shit-hole site) for some reason I put one of the braces back ON.  This didn’t work out so well when the Husband was turning the crank which was lowering the pop-up.  The one corner with the brace stayed up, popped some cable and we ended up having to call a maintenance guy to come lower the arm for us and then take it to an RV repair shop.

If my dad is reading this, I know he is slowly shaking his head, and thinking to himself how glad he is that I am off his hands and Husband now has to deal with me.  So….we ended up having to stay in hotels for the entirety of our trip, and we dragged our broken pop up behind us, like a bum leg, the entire 22 hours home.  (It ended up costing us $600 to fix the arm; plus we had the added costs of hotel rooms and going out to eat each night).

I asked the maintenance guy if he would still love his spouse if she did this, and he just said he didn’t have a wife.  I told him if he ever decided to spend his life with a special someone this sort of thing may happen and he would still have to love her.

Thank goodness this happened when we were celebrating our anniversary, since it forced my husband to at least partially focus on how lucky we are to have each other.  It appears the Husband still loves me and that is the only thing I care about.

A Special Fart. One I View Lovingly.

This blog is not about farts. If you are a fart-lover, I regret to inform you that this isn’t going to be chock full of anecdotes regarding gaseous emissions.  However.  There is one special fart that does belong here, as it ties in nicely with the topics of sleeping and waking.

While we were dating, I do not recall my husband being much of a farter.  Nothing note-worthy, anyway.  Once we got married, though, it was like someone turned that lever parallel to the pipe and let the natural gas flow. Usually after an emission, especially a nice loud one, my husband will look at me with an impish grin, and I will look back, repulsed, roll my eyes and say, “That’s gross”.  This is our routine.  In fact, sometimes my husband will just say, “That’s gross” for me, in a mocking, high-pitched voice.  At least he knows how I feel.  However, early in the morning, while I am still buried under my piles of blankets, I hear a different kind of fart.  It has a different timbre.  It is longer in duration.  Much longer.  It sounds slightly forced, but nothing painful. It’s like the equivalent of a loud yawn.  And this is the indication that my husband is going to get out of bed.  There is usually about a 5-10 minute window where he checks the news or Facebook on his phone, and then he arises.

I’m not even sure he knows that I know he does this.  Keep in mind, while he bounds out of bed, full of enthusiasm for the day, I am curled up in a fetal position, blankets tucked around me tightly, head buried in my pillow.  I may or may not be groaning a bit, in despair.  Each night, the sheets on my side of the bed become twisted and ripped from the mattress, so I am  laying directly on it (sidebar: this means that my cat, who sleeps at my feet, is also laying directly on the mattress and then my husband gets mad that there will be cat hair on it. Sigh.  I can’t help what I do in my sleep!)  My hand is poised to hit the snooze button so I can avoid the inevitable torture of placing my feet on the floor.  I am so exhausted at this point, that I don’t believe I have ever had the energy to respond to his vaporous alarm clock, I’ve never told him that I named this special little guy.  And I certainly have never told him that even though my face has a scowl, my eyes are squeezed shut, and my garbled response to anything he asks me is completely incomprehensible, that, for some reason, that sound makes me smile.  Well, at least on the inside.  That sound reminds me that he is such a better morning person than I am and I know that it makes him happy to greet the day with his flatulence.  And that makes my heart happy, too.  That’s true love, right there.

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