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January 26, 2010

Ninja baby redux

Filed under: Personal, Pregnancy — Tags: , , , , , , , — llcall @ 8:05 pm

I haven’t given a ninja baby update for awhile.  And for good reason . . . I think she is just too cramped in there to show all her best moves.  Gone are her somersaulting days since the midwife told us she’d have to be superhuman to get her head out of my pelvis now.  But we still get a spectacular show every now and again when she somehow manages to shift my whole stomach from one side to the other à la Alien.

Despite this somewhat more subdued stage, I think it may just be my favorite in terms of baby movement because now she is directly responsive to whatever I’m doing.  So if I’m sick and bending over the porcelain goddess in our bathroom, I get a little foot or two pressing hard against my ribs as if to say, “Stop squishing me, Mom!”

Or if I push against her tiny feet wandering around the right side of my abdomen (sometimes for kicks, sometimes to save my incisions from irritation), she gets ever more determined (“No, I want my foot right there!”) and pushes back even harder.

The force is strong with this one.

***

I was well on my way to an outie belly button a couple of months ago, and I must admit that it was distressing me more than I expected.  It turns out that I loved my little innie more than I ever realized (oh, how vain I really am . . . first my nose, now this).  But there’s yet one more unexpected perk of the appendectomy — they stitched right over my belly button, quickly restoring my innie status.  A new, quick, cosmetic remedy for pregnant women who fear the outie??? 🙂

***

Now that we’re so close to delivery, I get a lot of questions about whether I’m getting impatient for her to make her debut.  And the answer is mostly no.  Sure it’s not so easy to maneuver these days, and when I have my long, itchy nights I think how much better it would be if I could be looking at her and holding her.

But this other part of me doesn’t want to let go of these moments where we are so intimately connected.  I feel every movement she makes now and someday soon, she will have a life outside of me, away from me.  I have this sense that even when I’m staring at her or hugging her, I will still miss her in some manner — miss the things that we went through together.  She will go through things on her own, no doubt sooner than I can even imagine.

The other part, too, is that ever-hovering possibility that this is the last pregnancy for us.  I feel pretty sure we’ll have another child one way or another, but there are enough question marks to make us doubt that another biological child is the right choice for us.  I guess I just want to savor these moments . . . make sure I’ve learned the things that I needed to learn, felt the things that were there for me to feel, recognized the miracle of it all.

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January 25, 2010

Making up for lost time . . .

Filed under: Personal, Pregnancy — Tags: , , , , — llcall @ 5:07 pm

Through most of the pregnancy, I have been on the low end of the expected weight gain.  My midwives were not too worried about it because I was still measuring okay.  But after the appendectomy, I lost a fair amount of weight and was quite a bit under the recommended guidelines as well as measuring behind schedule.  It wasn’t that surprising — clear liquid diets and abdominal surgery tend to have a weight loss effect — but they told me I needed to kick it up a notch.

It seemed virtually impossible to me because I was so nauseated all the time and throwing up a fair bit too.  But from week 34 to week 36, I started to deliver BIG time: 6 pounds in 2 weeks.  I hardly thought I could top that until my 37-week weigh-in last week: 5 pounds in 1 week, bringing my total weight gain up to 30 pounds!!

At this rate, I’m gonna best Neal by 60 pounds when this is all said-and-done.  Yep, that’s right, now I’m LARGE and IN CHARGE!  Maybe even closing in on “fat cow” status?  What do you think?? 🙂

32.5 weeks (22 Dec)

37 weeks (23 Jan)

January 22, 2010

My political education

There was actually more that I wanted to say about politics in general yesterday, but Neal’s super strict bedtime rules got in the way of my more philosophical ramblings.  Ah, but you were not spared forever because I still just feel like talking about it — and I’ve got a lot of time on my hands!

I think I was destined to love all things political from an early age, considering that my birthday falls on election day every six years or so.  Good ole November 3rd has seen the elections of Presidents Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Roosevelt, William Taft, and Ulysses Grant.  So glamorous, I know :).

I was always sort of itching to move to Washington, D.C. and get in the middle of all that action, so in 2002, I did [I can’t believe it was 8 years ago — it doesn’t seem that long ago!!].  It was in that first summer in D.C. that I started to notice something most distressing about politics.

See, I was going from this very conservative BYU environment and a largely conservative extended family, to work at a partner organization of the ACLU called D.C. Prisoners Legal Services Project, and I was getting everything from questioning looks to serious vitriol directed at me [no doubt some of my readers also consider the ACLU to be a dirty word and will sympathize with my detractors :)].  They (that great, amorphous group of conservatives and Republicans) could not understand why I would want to devote my time to such a cause and align myself with such a group of God-less heathens.  And then I spent my entire run in D.C., about 4 years all told, working in the non-profit sector with extremely liberal people, and they (that great, amorphous group of liberals and Democrats) couldn’t understand how I could associate with such a group of God-clinging, Bush-voting idiots.

I guess I’ve come to realize that this is not just the story of politics, but of human nature: when we come to a conclusion about what is right or best, we cannot really understand how others could come to the opposite conclusion.  We can’t just conclude that they have an equally valid opinion and agree to differ, we often can’t even just think that they are wrong about this particular issue . . . all too often we must assume that they are bad or ill-intentioned, evil or stupid.  Lest you think I’m putting myself outside of this cycle, I catch myself waging this internal battle daily.

Human nature or not, it’s what I’ve come to loathe about politics.  I watch these seemingly intelligent, well-intentioned politicians come to opposite conclusions on every. single. thing.  And they can’t begin to make allowances for how anyone could differ from them.  Now, I do not believe that all politicians are incapable of this type of nuanced understanding or goodwill toward others, but I do think that our system seems to demand a sort of black-and-white, good-and-evil interpretation of everything and everybody when we are in the thick of a campaign.  And sadly, we are always in the thick of a campaign in this age of 24-hour news.

I truly mourn for what a political campaign does to people, which in my observation is turn them into the worst possible versions of themselves.  To me, John McCain is a perfect example.  There is much to admire about him . . . heck, the prisoner-of-war thing alone should qualify him as a national hero.  And I watched his political career and applauded much of it for some time.  Then he became the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 and it saddened me to see him look like a lesser man than I believe he is.

I think George Stephanopoulos wrote about this complicated relationship with politics as eloquently as I’ve ever read in his book All Too Human: A Political Education about his years on the Clinton campaign and in the White House [I wish I could have found a good picture of the book cover to paste in here because, it’s true, I think George is dreamy :)].  He chronicles what became a sort of rude awakening . . . he was an idealist who thought that serving Bill Clinton was this grand, great thing that would make the country better.  And he was willing to sacrifice mightily for that dream.  But in the face of Clinton’s many indiscretions, he was left to “question whether helping him get elected was the best thing I ever did — or the worst.”

For a long time, I thought that I would work in the political realm in some capacity.  It seemed to be my great passion.  But reading George’s book was sobering for my idealistic younger self.  I did not ever want to say what Vince Foster, another Clinton advisor during the first term, said just weeks before he committed suicide, “Before we came here, we thought of ourselves as good people.”

January 21, 2010

The day after

I haven’t talked politics much on this blog, which is a bit surprising if you know that I spend A LOT of time reading about and following politics.  Probably the main reason is that I have some VERY opinionated friends on both sides of the aisle, and after living in D.C. for a while I sort of decided that life was generally less-angsty if I gave my political rants only to Neal.  Oh, Neal has all the luck! 🙂

But since everyone and their dog was facebooking or blogging about the Senate race in Massachusetts today, I thought maybe I would too.  After all, it is my blog . . . no one is forcing you to read it.

Based on the reactions I read from my friends across the spectrum, I must say that I feel in the minority because I’m not really sure what I think about this anomalous event — a Republican senator from Mass.  I’m a little amused by the irony: after 46 years Ted Kennedy’s seat goes to a guy who might kill the cause for which Kennedy fought.  I am no great Kennedy fan, despite his excellent record on prison reform, and I sort of loathe the whole Kennedy-dynasty thing, so yes, I’m slightly amused.  But beyond that, I feel very much conflicted, which probably perfectly describes my whole relationship to politics over the last decade.  Is this the lot of moderate, independent voters?  Anyone with me on this??

I have to say that the Republican Party makes my stomach turn even a little bit more than the Democratic Party, and yet, some of the issues that are most important to me, like abortion, make me lean Republican in national elections.  This health care thing, though, has me in quite a quandary.  Do I think we have major problems with our health care system in the United States?  Uh, yeah . . . would anyone dispute this?!  Am I thrilled with how the Democratic Party has handled reform?  No; though I also don’t think passage of their bills would usher in Armageddon the way some people do.  Do I think the Republicans have better ideas?  No; I agree with some of their positions, like malpractice reform is a good idea, but seriously, you can’t mount meaningful health care reform on the platform of “trial lawyers suck.”  I just don’t think the data supports that this is the issue in health care the way some Republicans seem to.  So the long and short of it is that I’m not sure yet if Brown’s election will make health care reform better or worse.  A more bipartisan bill could be good, but if health care legislation goes away altogether — as it has so many times in the past — I will rue the day Brown was elected.

January 19, 2010

Momentous events!!

Filed under: Personal, Pregnancy — Tags: , , , , , — llcall @ 1:19 am

I made this!!

Well, not this exactly, but a stir-fry.  The noodles and sauce came from a package, but I decided to add chicken and broccoli to make it more nutritious.  Seriously, I cooked a meal AND added additional items without the guidance of a recipe — and it was well-balanced to boot.

Number of nights I’ve slept for at least 8 hours!!

It is ridiculous!!  I’m actually not even sure if I’ve ever done that in my life (I’m a very bad sleeper in general, kind of an insomniac).  God bless Phenergan!!  God bless my midwife for suggesting it!!

In the days before I got the new anti-nausea meds (because of some insurance hassles, it was a week-long process), I jokingly wrote this to a friend:

By tomorrow I think I’ll be like a whole new woman.  What do you think the chances are? 🙂

Well, I totally am!  Who knew???  Not that anyone else could tell the difference because I am still spending about 22 hours a day in bed, but emotionally and physically I can feel a huge difference.  My body is getting stronger and I can weather the ups and downs with more equanimity.

Have I exceeded the number of exclamation points allowed in one blog post, do you think?!

January 15, 2010

The future looks bright . . .

Filed under: Personal, Pregnancy — Tags: , , — llcall @ 4:45 pm

I have shared enough traumas on this blog, that I ought to share any and all triumphs as well.  And boy am I excited to share a few:

  1. 36 weeks!!! Exactly 4 more weeks until our official due date!
  2. Baby girl has “dropped” (i.e. her head has descended into my pelvis) and is in a perfect position for delivery! I was actually really surprised to hear this news at our appointment yesterday because from what I had read, the dropping often creates a visible change in how you’re carrying the baby and alters your predominant symptoms (more frequent urination, easier breathing, less heartburn/indigestion).  Thus far, I can’t detect any of these changes, but nonetheless, I am ecstatic that she is in such a good position for a smooth labor and delivery!  And barring some anomaly — okay, maybe I shouldn’t bar anomalies at this point — she won’t be able to flip.
  3. New anti-nausea medicine = AWESOME!! So I’m not sure it really alleviates the nausea that much (although I haven’t thrown up since I’ve been on it), BUT it does make me incredibly drowsy and I have slept like a log . . . no, something harder and heavier . . . a brick . . . something ridiculously heavy, an elephant? . . . since I started on it.  Can you believe I’ve slept for 10-11 hours straight for the last 3 nights?  No?  Me neither!  The great thing too is that this is guilt-free sleep.  I struggle with taking medication that will affect baby girl if it is just to alleviate my own symptoms, but since the benefits of me not throwing up, thus becoming dehydrated, thus triggering preterm labor again clearly outweigh the risks for baby, I can get all this glorious sleep while knowing that it is the best thing for both of us.  Oh happy day!!!

I hope you all have a happy day too!

January 14, 2010

Baby shower, 22 December 2009

Filed under: Family, Personal, Pregnancy — Tags: — llcall @ 7:28 pm

Although a snowstorm that day tried to rain on the parade (a few friends and family coming from Salt Lake were sadly detained), the partying just would not be denied!  For one thing, the most gorgeous spread you’ve ever seen was already ready and waiting.  Check it out:

This is me showcasing it, even though I could never possibly create such a wonder!

Although my Aunt Helen was far away in Jackson, Wyoming, her influence could be seen in the artistry of the refreshments.  She is quite the gourmet and my cousin Audrey has inherited that flair for making food more than just “food”!

To match with my family’s’ holiday plans, we scheduled the shower for just a few days before Christmas.  This meant that some of my local friends were out of town already and couldn’t make it, but that out-of-towners from Washington, D.C. to Texas to California were able to come.  What a treat!

East meets west: Andrea (Washington, D.C.) and my sister-in-law Marisha (Bakersfield, CA)

Ishkhanoohie, one of my oldest friends (on my right), was visiting from Texas!

My cute mom and grandma were also on hand:

I have a lot of special memories from that evening: everyone sharing their best baby name suggestions in an attempt to help my floundering and fickleness; just chatting it up with so many people I love so much; and a video interview of Neal (inspired by Marisha and implemented by Audrey) discussing the pregnancy, the naming process, and our baby girl — no doubt a family heirloom!

We received so many wonderfully thoughtful gifts, which I felt a little sheepish about because we had already been blessed by so much generosity.  I feel undeserving . . . but grateful, since the gifts will serve our little girl well as she has been cursed with a shopping-phobic mother.

So a HUGE thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us!  And especially to Audrey, Marisha, and my mom for planning such a memorable event.  Baby girl has been kind of tight-lipped about the whole thing, but I know she appreciated the coming out party as well!

January 13, 2010

Simple gifts

Filed under: Personal, Pregnancy — Tags: , , , , , , — llcall @ 7:43 pm

I actually wrote this post on Monday, but felt like I was still midstream in my thought process and wasn’t articulating what I meant very well.  Today I have decided that I am still very much midstream but I might as well throw it out there anyway.

I had a really rough time yesterday.  Luckily for you, my dear readers, the internet wasn’t working in the middle of the night so you were spared a possibly long, probably self-pitying blog post.

Things look a lot brighter today than they did last night, which is not surprising since nothing looks particularly bright at 2 or 3am.  But I mostly credit that little boost in my spirits to my former and current Relief Society presidents Rachael and Kellie.  Rachael came over to chat and give me a neck/shoulder massage.  It’s no big shock that this gave me a lift because as my old roommates can attest, I just eat these up (they used to call me a “massage hooch”)!

But I was surprised at how much I was affected by Kellie’s visit — considering that I didn’t even talk to her.  She stopped by, but I didn’t hear the door, so she later sent me a note to say she was thinking about me and wanted to bring me dinner this week.  The email was brief, but by the end of it, I was just balling.

I think that it really crystallized something that I have been learning from this experience: it is no small thing to be reminded that you are thought of, cared for, prayed for, loved.  I’ve had plenty of other intense experiences from car accidents to health problems, but I don’t remember ever being so affected by the simple expressions of concern that people have offered.  I’ve been asking myself why that is, since I have surely been shown enormous kindness in the past.  For now I have two answers:

First, I am a freakin’ crazy, hormonal pregnant lady this time around!  (Just ask Neal 🙂 )

Second, I’m a more relational person now than I have ever been before (that’s a little shout-out to my MFHD grad friends because “relational” is like THE buzz word in our studies).  What I mean is that I accept and embrace the inherent interdependence among people in a way that I don’t think I recognized when I was younger.  It seems to me that in my younger, more independent days (remember I didn’t get married until I was an old gal, 27 years 🙂 ), I could accept a gracious gift, a charitable dinner, but I still felt that at the end of the day, I was this solitary person and such things were isolated incidents.  And maybe you just don’t fully see the beauty in what another person is offering until you begin to believe that you are connected to them in a more fundamental and lasting way.

And on an unrelated note, I’ve been planning to share this on my blog for awhile because it is one of those things that cheers me up immensely.  So, Star Wars fans, which I sincerely hope includes my entire readership, enjoy!

January 6, 2010

Death penalty revisited

I have previously mentioned my opposition to the death penalty on this blog (you know, back in the days when I was actually working on my thesis and not thinking non-stop about baby girl and pregnancy :)).  Today I wanted to share a very interesting recent development that I read about in this NY Times article.

The American Law Institute, a group composed of approximately 4000 lawyers, judges, and law professors, basically wrote the book on the modern capital punishment system back in 1962.  The Institute’s framework was more-or-less adopted by the Supreme Court in 1976 when the death penalty was reinstated.

However, in October the Institute voted to disavow the entire framework they had created “in light of the current intractable institutional and structural obstacles to ensuring a minimally adequate system for administering capital punishment.”  In our current cultural speak, this legalese can be easily summed up: “Capital punishment: FAIL.”  A study the Institute commissioned indicated that capital punishment was subject to racial disparities, enormous expense (even as defense lawyers were underpaid), the possible execution of innocent people, and the politics of judicial elections, all of which undercut the moral and intellectual underpinnings of the system.

Now this doesn’t mean that the death penalty is going to be abolished anytime soon, but a number of legal professionals agree that it drastically undermines the legitimacy of capital punishment and will have many long-term implications.  This is the best news I’ve heard all day!

January 4, 2010

No hands but ours

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: , , , , , , , , — llcall @ 12:30 am

I remember hearing a story about a village bombing during World War II.  There was a statue of Jesus Christ that was damaged in the destruction.  During the restoration, the villagers decided not to put Christ’s hands back on the statue, instead erecting a plaque that said, “Christ has no hands but ours.”  I have since learned that this is something of an apocryphal story, an amalgam of events that happened in more than one place and time.  But I have been reminded of it again and again over the last few weeks.

Two weeks ago today* I was coming out of surgery, still in so much pain that it almost seemed impossible that I would ever feel better again.  We had been in the hospital for only about 16 hours (many of those in the middle of the night) and had already had offers to cook meals, run errands, submit homework, talk to professors, keep me company. . . the list could go on and on.  A sort of calling tree had ensured that most of our family and friends were already aware of the situation, and countless prayers had been said on our behalf.

What astounds me now is that even with so much care and concern already offered, we had barely scratched the surface of what was in store for us.  We arrived home on Saturday and not a day passed for a solid week where we were not given dinner or treats or gifts or offers of service.  It felt truly overwhelming to us that we were remembered so consistently by so many different people — some we know well, some we know hardly at all, and some that chose to remain anonymous.  I mentioned already that we received an extremely generous anonymous financial gift, but not three days later we were surprised by two more Secret Santa gifts.  Behold the generosity:

The first ding-dong-ditching left all this on our doorstep, with each brown bag full of cooking ingredients and a recipe (is that a cute idea or what?!).  I may be wrong, but I had the sense that whoever gave this gift knows a little about my cooking skill (or lack thereof) because the recipes were extremely detailed — just the way I need them!  The red bag was full of specific gifts for each of us, including a handmade baby blanket!

This second gift was a diaper bag chock-full of goodies for baby girl.  It still touches my heart to think of someone caring for my baby girl enough to put together such a thoughtful gift (no one would dispute that I love this baby, but even I have not been able to muster the energy — and overcome my shopping phobia — to actually buy anything she might need :)).

This little jogging suit was just one of the many treasures in the bag — I defy anyone to look at those pants and not want to put little tiny legs in them!  If this girl is anything like her mama, she will get a LOT of mileage out of this get-up.

This week also brought a baby shower (which deserves a post of its own) that my cousin Audrey, sister-in-law Marisha, and mom threw me.  Even though it was quite a party and totally fun, I felt really emotional a number of times being surrounded by so many good friends and family.  I think that this little girl of mine is so lucky to have so many people care for her already . . . almost as lucky as I am!

Although we have felt consistently overwhelmed by so much kindness and generosity, it has been a beautiful reminder that on this earth God works through us.  He calls to us in small ways and large to be His hands.  And it is truly miraculous (and humbling) when you get to witness firsthand people answering that call.

* I wrote the bulk of this post on Christmas eve.

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