Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wife: Today Was Awesome

Well, yesterday I was really sick.  I felt so awful that I took a sick day and stayed home.  Then last night, I started sobbing.  I mean the kind of hysterical, out of control sobbing where you can’t catch your breath and when you try to talk it is kind of like a shriek.  I was just so tired and felt so bad.  I was really upset about it.  Unless you have been pregnant, it is so hard to understand this out of body experience.  I don’t feel like myself.  I don’t have ANY energy.  NONE.  I am tired all the time, but tired doesn’t really describe it.  Extreme exhaustion.  And I miss the old me, who was super productive at work, cooked when I got home, and exercised early in the morning.  And I know in about 6 weeks, I will get that old me back.  So I sobbed and Chris brought me tissues.  He made me realize that it is okay to feel like this, and that my body is working so hard to make the little raspberry aka baby.  He told me to cut myself some slack about work and how I feel when I get home.  So I stopped crying.

Then this morning, I was getting ready for work.  I felt better.  I was putting on one of my shirts when I realized it was too tight across the chest.  My boobs have gotten huge (I am even wearing a not so sexy, utilitarian maternity bra) that the shirt I selected was too tight.  So I threw the shirt at the window, sat on the bed and started sobbing again.  It was awful.  Chris, who was in the shower, heard me, and with shampoo in his hair, got out and came to comfort me.  He really is the best thing ever.  He made me feel better, I selected another shirt and we moved on.

Very important to keep a box of these around.

And I was pretty productive at work today.  I started getting really worn out around 1:30 which is pretty normal now.  But I knew I was leaving early to go to my first doctor appointment, so I powered through.  At 3:15 I left work and headed to the doctor.

We got there pretty early.  While we were waiting, I started dozing in the seat.  Then the nurse called us back, and we went to the room.  I got into my little gown and we waited for the doctor.  We saw the ultrasound machine hooked up with my name on it, so I knew we were going to get to see the baby.  Well, the doctor came in and answered a few basic questions and then did the ultrasound.  She found the baby right away! We could see the head (very large), little arm buds and little leg buds.  We also saw the yolk sac.  She took a few pictures too.  We could even see the heart beating.  Then, she let us listen to the heartbeat!!!  It was beating 170 beats per minute.  She said that was a good strong heartbeat.  Then she looked around at some of my other lady areas to make sure everything was cool (which thankfully, all my lady areas are good).

Baby Cook's first picture!  I won't put it on Facebook but I am going to show it off here!

Well of course I started crying.  But these were happy tears.  The nurse gave me some tissues and Chris squeezed my hand.  It made feeling like a crazy person so worth it.  While this part of the pregnancy is not currently magical and the happiest time of my life, after seeing the baby and knowing that it is really in there, it’s all worth it.  I know I can handle 6 more weeks of craziness.

So then my doctor explained how my next few appointments were going to work.  This appointment was simply a confirmation of pregnancy.  All she did was the ultrasound to see the baby, take the baby’s measurements and determine my estimated due date, which is March 27, 2012.  I go back in two weeks on 9/1 for a nurse visit, where I do lab work, and we give family histories.  Then, I go back two weeks later on 9/15 to do my first OB visit and full physical.  After that, I go every four weeks until I hit about 28 weeks.  I am really excited.  Now everything seems real.  It was hard to believe I was really pregnant before (despite all the crazies).

So despite all the non-magical and unhappy time this current trimester is, seeing the baby and hearing the baby’s heartbeat makes everything worth it.  And I am sure these next 6 weeks will fly by and it will be the end of September before I know it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Husband: Larry the Lemur

My wife has been literally too tired to blog for over a week now, so I’m going to step in in her absence and give you all what you really want: a random story from my childhood. I apologize in advance, because this pregnancy blog post has seemingly nothing to do with pregnancy until the very end...although having a kid sure makes you think about your childhood an awful lot, and that’s where most of this is coming from.

This particular story actually involves another story which was written by a 10-year-old, bowl-cut version of my current self. As with most 10-year-olds, I had spent the previous seven years of my life fine-tuning my Saturday morning routine. By age 10, I had it down to the second. For the other six days of the week, I may have been a typically messy and hyper kid, but on Saturday mornings, I was a fine-tuned machine.

7:46 a.m. – Wake up, literally leap out of bed, sprint down the hall to the stairs and take 3 steps at a time to get down to the kitchen. Did this with total disregard to the fact that I was wearing nothing but tighty-whities. Maybe by age 10, my parents had instilled enough sense in me to at least put a shirt on, but I can’t really remember.
7:46 a.m. (6 seconds later) – Pour first bowl of sugar lumps cereal for pre-breakfast meal. Preferably Apple Jacks...Froot Loops, Honeycomb and Corn Pops would also suffice, but were always met with a slight twinge of disappointment. Frosted Flakes were a major fail, and Cheerios…ugh. No self-respecting kid would be caught eating any cereal that was less than 65% sugar.
7:52 a.m. – After downing first bowl of cereal, tip bowl up and savor the sweet, sugary, lukewarm goodness that is the milk dregs of cereal.
7:53 a.m. – Pour second bowl of cereal. Not too full because it had to make it back up the stairs to the cartoon sanctuary that was the bonus room.
7:55 a.m. Turn on the TV. Watch the end of whatever crappy cartoon they ran that early in the morning (Pippi Longstocking was sheer torture, even for 2 minutes). Usually my brother Zack joined me at some point, but I can’t quite recall when (see below).
8:00 a.m. – 11 a.m. – Pure cartoon-filled, sugar-high-enhanced bliss for any 10-year-old (or 6-year-old in the case of Zack). At one point in my life, the morning started out with SilverHawks, which is one of the most underrated cartoons of ALL-TIME. Always SilverHawks until they canceled it (one of the saddest Saturdays of my life). Then it was on to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Ghostbusters, Masters of the Universe (He-Man to everyone else in the world), G.I. Joe, and other lesser heralded favorites such as C.O.P.S., Camp Candy and Captain N: The Game Master. 
He-Man should have used the Power of Grayskull to
remove the last six words of his show's title.
None of this has anything to do with what I originally started writing about, except this: TV execs are brilliant. They knew that for those three hours every Saturday, television sets had the attention of every kid in America. I can attest because I don’t remember ANYTHING about Saturday mornings except the cartoons. I can go on for hours listing my favorites. Can I tell you what my parents did every morning? No. What time my brother got up? No. When and if I ever put on pants? No.

I am now convinced that during a typical 30-minute cartoon spot, only about 12 minutes of that was actual cartoon. The rest was filled with toy commercials, ads for other shows (which always looked epic) and station identification disguised as other cartoons (tell me you don’t remember these).

At some point, they started sneaking in educational shorts during commercials. THEY TRIED TO TEACH KIDS ON A SATURDAY. It worked. I was helpless. Blindsided. Never saw it coming. I will never forget the first time I saw the 2-minute spot telling me about the magical land of Madagascar and the fascinating, but endangered monkeys that lived there: ring-tailed lemurs. 

Raccoon + Monkey = Awesome.

Yes, it seemed like the premise of yet another poorly scripted, even more poorly dialogued cartoon. But it was real. Lemurs were AWESOME. I became obsessed. My goal in life from ages 10-12 was to either own a lemur or move to Madagascar and save them from the forest fires that were ravaging their homeland.

This, 700 words later, brings me to the point.

The cereal-fueled, cartoon-zombified 10-year-old that you’ve just come to know won a writing contest. The biggest writing contest that Springfield Elementary School had to offer. I still have the trophy and the original manuscript. Entries from the entire fifth grade were voted on by other fifth graders in Mr. Schantz’ 5-6 class. Had the teachers been in charge of the contest, they probably would have chosen something with a little more…“substance.”

Remember how I said I was obsessed with lemurs? Guess what I wrote about. Below you will find my essay, entitled Larry the Lemur. It may not have a plot, a conclusion, paragraphs or “any coherent theme,” but it does have one of the greatest characters of all-time.

Larry The Lemur
By Chris Cook
Mrs. Eager
Fifth Grade

A wild animal I would like to have
as a pet would be a ring-tailed lemur.
I would name him Larry the Lemur.
He would swing from lamp to lamp,
jump out the window, and land in a tree,
but he would be trained to come
back. He would eat fruit, meat, spagetiO’s
and drink orange juice. He would live in
my room in a box with a matress
and a little comforter. He would wake me
up in the morning by jumping around in my
room listening to rock music, and watching
MTV. I would teach him how to do
Math, spelling, Wordly Wise, science and
health so he could do my homework
for me. At the end of the day, we
would sit down, eat spagetiO’s, drink orange
juice and watch “The Simpsons.”

Thank my parents for saving this.

I probably wrote that in four minutes. I didn't quite meet the one-page limit, so I used the extra space to draw a picture of a couch. That's where Larry and I would sit every afternoon to catch up over a steaming bowl of Spaghetti-O’s (Mrs. Eager actually took points off because I didn’t spell that right. Twice.).

Sadly, fifth grade was the last year my illustrations counted toward the page limit.

Why in the hell did I tell you all of this? Because with the help of my wife/co-author, I have tapped into the part of my brain where Larry the Lemur once lived. Since we got our dog Oscar four years ago, we have come up with a ton of stories about him that we’ve started writing down so we can share them with little Susan/Charlie. Seriously, we have at least 20. Oscar has friends. They go on adventures. He learns lessons.

Since we’ll be telling these to a kid, we can be as goofy as we want. It’s very, very fun to do together. Some of you are undoubtedly sitting there thinking how weird it is that two grown people sit around and make up stories about their dog. Well, to you people, I say this: if I was worried about people thinking I was weird for wanting a lemur when I was 10 years old, I wouldn’t have this sweet trophy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Husband: The stages of fetal development

We are heading into the seventh week of pregnancy. At this point, the baby has started to sprout arms and legs. Right now, it just has four nubs and a head, resembling a budding lima bean or mutant potato. Also it has a beating heart, but it’s on the outside of its body, and holes that will eventually become eyes and ears. Awwwwwwwwwww…..

If I ran into a human-sized version of our baby on the street, I’d probably mess myself and run away. It’s like something out of a Rob Zombie movie. Except it’s growing in my wife’s belly. Which is also like something out of a Rob Zombie movie.

It’s supposed to get cuter. Soon it starts to look like a manatee, which is definitely a step up. Then it reverts back to a Beavis-like state before finally assuming human form.

This is available for purchase. Talking to you, What to Expect editors.
I kid, but MAN I CAN’T WAIT FOR IT TO GET HERE. The first thing people ask when you tell them you’re pregnant is, “When is it due?” (end of March). Then, “Are you going to find out the sex?” (yes). And finally, “Do you want a boy or a girl?” I honestly want both.

Dear Karma: If you read this blog, please don’t take me literally. Just one baby is fine for now. Also I’m sorry for the velociraptor/MerMAN/manatee/Beavis jokes.
Wife and I have talked and ideally we want two babies (EVENTUALLY), one of each. As a man, you’d think I want a little boy pretty badly. I do want a little boy, but I want a little girl just as bad. I have a lot of co-workers who have little girls, and I can definitely see myself joining that club.

Wife has tried a few old wives’ tale methods of figuring out the sex, and all have pointed to girl. One involved peeing on baking soda. A pregnant woman’s urine sure is useful. These tests are only about 50% accurate though, so I could have flipped a coin, thrown darts at a wall or used one of those paper fortune teller things and been just as accurate.

It's a Girl!! Also, you smell like the zoo.
I’ve read that during pregnancy, the food that a woman eats can affect the kid’s food preferences later in life. Anecdotally, that seems to be true. My mother-in-law craved spicy food when she was pregnant with my brother-in-law, and now he puts hot sauce on almost everything he eats. If that’s the case with our baby, it will like the following:

•    Shark Week
•    Chipotle
•    Early bedtimes
•    Turkey bacon
•    Massages
•    Dancing. In public. During 6 a.m. walks around the neighborhood.
•    Not Ke$ha. Not ever in this house.

The baby probably also wonders what in the hell that random whining/crying/torture-in-progress noise is. The sound of what you’d think is a dying animal with its foot caught in a bear trap. That, in fact, is our dog, who when he doesn’t get his way likes to make the neighbors think we string him up by his tail and watch him swing from the ceiling fan. For the record, we don’t do that. Also for the record, we figure we got all of our bad parenting out of the way when we raised our now-spoiled dog. Here’s hoping.

The baby: just one more person for Oscar to boss around.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wife: Exhausted and Nauseous

Well, I think we can all acknowledge that my husband is much funnier than I am. I don’t have as many witty things say about all of my fun pregnancy symptoms (and let’s face it, he is definitely the better writer). I also don’t have a lot of baseball analogies to compare it to. I am not even sure if there is anything to compare it to. Let’s just say this, it’s a lot harder to find it hilarious about feeling like you’re going to puke, the thought of seafood making your stomach churn and going to bed at 8:15 while the sun is still up. But I’ll do my best.
They say that every pregnancy is different. Women experience symptoms at a different time, and at different levels. Some women experience certain symptoms, others don’t. I have been reading What to Expect When You're Expecting (hereinafter “WTE”) and it gives a rundown of my potential physical and emotional symptoms for each month. For example, I am currently 5 weeks and 5 days, or in my second month. WTE lists the following as my possible symptoms: fatigue, lack of energy, sleepiness (definitely); frequent urination (at least three times during the night); nausea, with or without vomiting (this just started on Sunday and has been extremely special); excess saliva (more like puddles of drool); constipation; heartburn, indigestion, flatulence (oh yeah), bloating; food aversions, cravings (if I see a shrimp, it’s not my fault if you end up wearing my last meal); breast changes; occasional headaches (Tylenol, the only approved drug for pregnant ladies, is about as effective as pissing into the wind); occasional faintness or dizziness; a little rounding of your belly, your clothes feeling a little snugger.
Symptoms include: gas with constipation, followed by vomiting!

Some of you might be thinking, “I can’t believe MJ just mentioned she has gas.” Well, it is the one symptom that I wouldn’t let my husband crack on. And it is the one symptom that apparently all pregnant ladies have. And like morning sickness, it can hit at any time during the day.
Sorry office colleagues.  My bad person one treadmill down.

Some women, about 25%, don’t get morning sickness. This, by the way, was incorrectly named by someone who never had it, as the waves of nausea can hit at any time of the day. I shouldn’t complain too much about MS, as all I have had so far was nausea on and off. Thankfully it hasn’t been constant. And eating actually makes me feel better.

I have been able to eat most of the same things. No real cravings and I have definitely held back on eating for two, considering one of us is the size of a sweet pea (I know, it grew!!!)
Huge growth from poppy seed!

I didn’t start this post to complain about all my symptoms. I have just felt like a roller coaster of emotions and physical ailments over the last week. And apparently it will last for about another 8 weeks!!! And is likely to get worse. But, hopefully they will go by fast. 

The baby has also had a couple of field trips the last few days. Last Thursday, I had to visit a client in prison. It was my first time visiting one of my clients. For those of you unfamiliar with the type of law I practice, I handle criminal appeals for indigent defendants. My clients have usually either already been found guilty by a jury or pled guilty. I represent them on their appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Kind of like a public defender but for appeals instead of trial. So my clients are located in various prisons across the state. We mainly communicate with letters. Only rarely do we conduct in-person visits. I was a little nervous (thankfully my mentor Barb came with me). I had a little nausea that day, so I was terrified of having another wave or worse, needing to puke, while I met with my client. Thankfully that didn’t happen. And as Jonathan in my office pointed out, it was also baby’s first visit to prison. I think we both handled it extremely well!

Baby also visited Greensboro this weekend. Chris and I went and hung out with my mom all weekend and brought Sadie back with us. We are watching her while my parents are in L.A. helping Philip get settled.

We have already picked out our baby names, even though it is another 12 weeks until we find out if it is a girl or boy. I peed on baking soda (an old wives tale for gender prediction) and it said it was a girl. So did the Chinese Gender Prediction Chart. I think I can honestly say we will be happy with either one. Anyway, the names are: Susan Louise Cook or Charles Richard Cook (aka Charlie). We are really traditional and wanted to go with family names. I just can’t bring a child into this world and saddle it with a name like Carmel Macchiato Cherry Cook. I just cannot do it to my child. It will just sound like a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor (Mmm, Phish Food does sound good right now). See if you can guess who the baby will be named for.
Without a doubt, the best Ben and Jerry's flavor ever!
I think it’s getting to be about that time – bedtime that is. But first, I think I will indulge in a little Weight Watchers Brownie Fudge ice cream cup. I have earned it!