Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Thing About Christmas

It's really important to me. Like, really, really Important. Yes, the Christ child and so on, but also Presents, Decorations, Music, Lights, a Chill in the air, and of course, a lot of Food (subcategories: Baking and Hot Beverages). You call it Commercialism, Materialism. Yep. I love it. Shiny, Pretty Christmas makes me happy in a way few other commercial and materialistic endeavors can.

I'm ashamed to announce that this photo contains the sum total of my Christmas decor this year: two measly strands of Christmas lights I dug out of the closet. One blinks, one burns steady. (And that's two measly strands of lights more than last year's sum decorative total.)

I decorated my dorm room freshman year of college. Sophomore year, I got a little two foot tall tree, two strands of lights (see exhibit above), and some Walmart glass ornaments. I made paper snowflakes, for Pete's sake.

My fellow sister missionaries and I spruced up our places during our time in Portugal. Packages came to facilitate this. So what's with my bum attitude these last few years? In no specific order:

Travel, for one. My parents are missionaries in another state, so Christmas by default must come to them. They are gracious and fly us all out for the occasion, but I find myself loathe to put up decorations in our apartment if I'm going to be gone from December 19 on.

Practicality, for another. I have a deaf, senile, partially blind animal whom I love but who every day proves that his peripheral vision is waning and his general lack of concern for anything in his environment is increasing. He's in a very obnoxious trampling phase (and has always loved to throw himself down on whatever is on the floor for an impromptu nap... bye bye presents). I also have a baby who rolls but doesn't know how to control said roll and has already managed to bump and bruise his way around our tiny living room. I'm not sure that a tree would be the friendliest addition to his life. Also, he loves to rip, scratch, and destroy, so presents under the tree are a precarious proposal as well.

Space. Two adults, a baby, and a dog, plus gear, in 750 square feet is getting a bit tight. We'd have to get rid of something to fit a tree.

Weather. I love living in Texas. San Antonio's been good to us. But 80 degrees and sunny is inappropriate December weather, unless one is in Cabo. Moving on.

Money. But of course. I've stopped working since Charlie's arrival, Mike is in the thick of PhD applications (Who needs $100+ at University X, Y, or Z to read an application? Someone does.), and while we are grateful for his TA position at UTSA, it doesn't exactly pay the big bucks. A Christmas tree with all the trimmings is a little out of the budget. I know there are little cheap trees out there, but I want a Real Live Tree, you know?

A word on trees: my husband drew a lovely little Christmas tree on a pad of paper to hang with some tape on the living room wall. So we did technically have a tree this year. It was the sweetest present he's given me in a while. And Mike gives wonderful, thoughtful gifts, too. I started to cry when I saw the drawing. I was brushing my teeth at the time. I drooled toothpaste everywhere.

My husband also decided to make a new tradition with me. I'm an Earrings Woman. The sweet boy bought me some bodacious Christmas ornament earrings this year. They are sparkly and I love the idea of getting a new pair each year.

Come to think of it, Mike does more for me than I do for myself when it comes to keeping the Christmas flame alive. He stood outside with me and held the baby at [a ridiculous hour that I'm too embarrassed to actually reveal] and humored me with suggestions as I put up the Lemon's Great Christmas Light Display of 2012.

So why did I develop this snobbish attachment to a Just-So Christmas?

Perhaps because I grew up in New England, where the notion of a White Christmas was spawned. (Or was it the Midwest? I'm not sure who's at fault.) I also grew up very aware of Martha's yearly yuletide decoration suggestions/mandates. Now in a world of pretty blogs run by women who must do drugs or something to make their homes so lovely and have a van full of kids and run their Etsy shops and so on and so forth, it's easy for me to despair and throw myself dramatically on the couch and stare at my baby and wonder how I could've fumbled so badly on his first Christmas.

Then I look over the top of the computer screen situated on a counter in my parents' kitchen, as my husband reads with a cup of oatmeal on the floor beside the Christmas tree my mom and sister threw up last minute this week. I smile that we're some place cool enough to merit oatmeal in the morning. Charlie plays with my sister's computer cord and tries to get it in his mouth, then rolls over to the window to look outside at the bright green grass. (No White Christmas for this cute little teething baby.) I'm happy that he could be with his aunts and that they love him so much.

I feel lucky to be with someone who tolerates my obsession with Christmas, and my depression when it doesn't look like Christmas at all in our apartment. My sweet husband who has agreed to two long trips in California in as many months with our delightful but noisy and sometimes fussy baby. And spending two Christmases in a row with my family. I'm blessed.

I look forward to Christmas 2013. I don't know where we'll be. Maybe somewhere with seasons?! Mike and I have committed to a stay-at-home Christmas next year, full of Santa and trees and music blasting through the house and way too much baking and generally an excess of sugar. It's going to be magical.

But it's done me good to have a few non-Christmases. It's hard to argue with focusing on the most important things.

Monday, December 3, 2012

We Went to Lubbock

Ostensibly, we went to attend the 2012 Western Literature Association Conference, hosted by Texas Tech. I contemplated taking photos of Mike while he presented, but I decided not to be That Woman who embarrasses her family for the sake of the blog. Also, I was feeding Charlie. So no photos of the conference. Sorry.

Anyway, a conference within driving distance meant Charlie and I could tag along with Mike. Wonderful friends let us stay with them for free (thank you, Shipleys!), and UTSA covered our other travel expenses, so it was a great mini-vacation and family history research opportunity.

I'm working on writing about our trip and posting photos pertaining to Mike's family history on our family history blog, Some Lemon Family History. So if you're interested in that sort of information (i.e., you're related to us somehow), go ahead and check that out.

For the rest of you, our trip in photos:

A grove of I'm not sure what. But it was lovely.
Hill Country is so gorgeous, one of my favorite regions of Texas.
The first sighting of cotton.  The Lubbock area is the largest contiguous
region of cotton production in the world. Says Wikipedia.
Switching drivers in Coleman, TX.
I'm sorry, this is the quittingest store name I've ever seen.
I insisted the superhero enthusiasts hop out for a picture.
The George Simms and Pauline Sanders Lemon home in Lubbock. Just a block from Texas Tech.
Mike's great-aunt Cherry informed us it used to be white with blue shutters.
Former site of the Pioneer Cookie Co., which Mike's great-grandfather founded at least as early as 1947.
We're not sure how old the building is, or if it's the same building that housed the cookie company.
Half the building is empty, and half is an upscale home fabric and trim store.
According to Nancy, one of the owners of All About Looks, the building was a car garage in a previous life.
Neat wall art next to the cookie factory site.
This neighborhood of Lubbock is called the Depot District. Apparently it's got a hoppin' nightlife scene.
On Saturday, the final day of the conference, we took off to Floydada, about 40 minutes north of Lubbock.
These are bales of cotton the size of shipping containers. And a lot of dust. It is WINDY in the panhandle.
Mike and Charlie at the Charles and Annie Sanders grave site.
We liked the name Charles regardless, but I love that Charlie's fourth great-grandfather was also a Charlie.
Then from Floydada we drove around Lubbock to Slaton, which sits about 20 minutes southeast of Lubbock.
Charles and Annie's son, H.G., and his wife, Edith (Mike's second great- and Charlie's third great-grandparents),
raised their kids here. More signs of life in Slaton than in Floydada, but not by much.
Slaton's famous bakery. We got shortbread cookies shaped like cows, a bag of gingersnaps, and two pumpkin donuts.
H.G. was a grocer in Slaton. We're not sure where his store would have been.
The address we have for the grocery store corresponds roughly with the back half of this building.
A sketch of Edith Courtney Sanders, Mike's second great-grandmother, hanging in her home in Slaton.
Edith's daughter-in-law (Mike's second great-aunt Jo) still lives there.
I hope to get back to Slaton for some high-res scans of the family photos.
The home is full of gorgeous details original to the home.
A photo of H.G. (left) and Charlie (right) Sanders.
Charlie is dead-end in our research. He did not want to talk about his upbringing.
We don't know where he was born, the names of his parents, or if he had any siblings.
Mike's grandfather wondered if Charlie, born in 1863, was a Civil War orphan.
By sheer coincidence, the Shipleys attend church in the same building Mike's grandparents did
when they first joined the LDS Church in the 1950s.
I tried hard to get a good shot of the wind turbines. They really do stretch as far as the eye can see out there.
Heading home. Perhaps grimacing at an oncoming tumbleweed.
We narrowly avoided several small ones, but a large one (probably about 4 feet tall) hit us head on.
No photos, but I must mention the Crafthouse. The Shipleys treated us to dinner there. It was my first exposure to gastropub fare. I loved the deep-fried soft-boiled eggs and the Coke glazed pork tenderloin with apple fennel slaw and butternut squash puree. We had ice cream at the Arrogant Texan. Also spot-on. What can I say, our hosts had excellent taste!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Texas State Fair

Blergh, brace yourselves for some random blogging. A few things have happened but have not yet been reported.

Such as:

The Texas State Fair.

Mike's cousin got married in Plano in October, so we decided to make a whole weekend out of the trip (the long drive seemed to justify it) and see what the State Fair was all about.

We stayed at my dear friend Simini's parents' home in the Dallas area. (Thank you, Jani!) I really like the Metroplex. Yeah, it's huge, but it's very pretty (read: green!) and there are so many grocery stores. Don't get me wrong, I like HEB, but it was nice to see a Kroger and some place called Tom Thumb. You know. Just... other stores.

Kroger calls shopping carts "bascarts"??? Insert off-color joke about illegitimacy here.

We went to the fair on a Friday, before kids got out of school. I'm glad we didn't have to fight any crowds. It was unholy hot, though. That was a bummer. At least they have the good sense to hold the state fair in October and not, say, July.

The Texas fascination with putting cowboy gear on their bathroom signs continues. (Remember that Spurs game we went to? Yep.)

So, state fairs. Fried food. Good: deep-fried bacon cinnamon rolls. Great: deconstructed deep-fried jambalaya. Bad: deep-friend pepperoni pizza.

Everything was pretty pricey. We pre-purchased our tickets, so we saved a few bucks there. But add on a $15 parking fee, and the fact that no food items at the fair are less than $4, and the whole enterprise becomes a little expensive. Mike and I both commented that for some families, a day at the fair is the one big thing the family will do all year.

And, excepting the food booths and carnival rides and games, most of the fair is quite commercial. I thought the car show would be a display of restored cars or hot rods. But it was just the latest line of all the big car manufacturers.

Michael was displeased. (That's the new Beetle with a map of Texas in the front and the state flag on the rear.)
Just looking at this picture reminds me how dang hot we were.

The Girl Scouts display at the Hall of State was fascinating and a high point for me. Also, AC. So.

Oh my gosh, I love this man.

Texas products, apparently.
Cute!
The food and dairy tent was a highlight, too. We sampled a lot of products but our favorite thing was the raw honey from the North Dallas Honey Co. (now Nature Nate's). It was so clean and fresh, not cloying at all. And the texture was thinner than standard honey. Delicious.

Jammin' on the electric bagpipes. Oh, Texas State Fair. You're so silly.

Mike snapped a photo of me and Charlie with Big Tex. He burned down a week later. Sad.

Pooped little baby.
The verdict: we're glad we can say we went, but small town fairs are probably more our style.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Charlie's Blessing Day

Charles Rhys Lemon was blessed in the Leon Valley Ward of the San Antonio Texas West Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, October 21, 2012.



His blessing focused on his role as a peacemaker and a friend to people who need comfort. I can definitely vouch for his calm, gentle temperament.



We feel so lucky to have this sweet little guy in our family.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Half Marathon and the Aftermath

This has been a difficult post for me to write. I've gone through several versions before deciding on this approach. I believe this is hard because the half marathon was hard for me. On physical and mental levels, it was the pits!
Physically, the race took a toll on my body. The weather was decidedly colder than expected. When I signed up, I thought, Great, the run will be at the end of October. It should be in the upper 50's at race's start. Instead, a cold front came through central Texas, so when I crossed the starting line, it was 47, with a biting wind. It did warm up a little, but the wind kept up.
By the fourth mile, I was struggling. The stitch by my kidney went away, but my thighs tightened up. I had not stretched well enough. Soon, the pains traveled to other muscles and joints. When I reached the turn (at 6.5 miles, the other half-marathoners and I turned back for the starting line), knees were swollen, calves cramped, and the inside of my right foot was rubbing weird. This would continue for the remainder of my time. I stopped several times to stretch, but the pain returned.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I Just Discovered Photoshop Express

Before:

After:

My eyes keep volleying back and forth between these two pictures. I'm dizzy now. I mean, one is obviously untouched, the other messed with to oblivion. Do either of them even look good? I don't know anymore. Sigh.

I'm not an arteest. I don't have an eye for such things. All I know is I hate seeing Ugly Photos on blogs. Then I look at my blog and see Ugly Photos. Double sigh.

I've resolved to fix this. I read about how to make your backgrounds blurry. Check. It's still hard to remember what to do with my camera in the moment, when that little subject of mine is being so incredibly adorable. Like, I know I want my aperture setting either way high or way low. But I can never remember which, and I never have the presence of mind to fiddle with the proper little set of numbers to get the right effect. You know what I mean? It's the pressure of the moment! I buckle under such pressure. I wish I could remember those setting guidelines when I'm taking the photos that are making history. Like all those hospital pictures? Triple sigh.

We don't have a super fancy camera. My mom found a bargain on a Kodak camera that's a step up from a point-and-shoot but not a full-blown DSLR (we weren't ready to commit to that big of an investment; in other news, can you believe Kodak isn't making cameras anymore?), so you can manipulate it like a DSLR with manual settings, but there's no switching out lenses, etc. Which is a good middle ground for us.

We also don't have smart phones, so there will be none of this Instagram business. Sorry, filters.

Quadruple sigh.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dear Charlie: September 19, 2012

Dear Charlie,

This morning, at 5:46 am, your dad and I enjoyed a celebratory breakfast of hot chocolate and cinnamon toast. I put six mini marshmallows in my drink, one for each hour of uninterrupted sleep attained last night.

That's right, my friend. I slept for six whole hours. At one time.

I've shed a few tears since you were born, despairing that I'd never sleep again. At least, not like a normal person. You're still not a consistent night sleeper, but last night, you were.

Unfortunately, we all got so much sleep because you slept in bed with us. It was completely by accident. We don't want to be a "family bed" sort of bunch. It's been important to me from the beginning that you sleep in your own bed, both for safety reasons and for my sanity. But the few nights we've gotten large chunks of uninterrupted sleep have been the nights when we both fall asleep, despite our plans to move you to your bed after nursing.

I've also gotten a lot of sleep, inadvertently, by falling asleep with you while nursing you on the couch in the living room. But it's not quite the same as sleeping in bed.

And our bed is tiny. We share a full size. So. You can't sleep with us for very long.

But I love watching you sleep. I love seeing this tiny amalgam of me and your dad sleeping with his mouth open like his papa. I love the little coos you make, and I love putting my hand on your belly and feeling you breathe in your sleep.

Your mama loves you, little bug.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What my 16-year-old self couldn't have known.

When I was in high school, I found some baby flannel in a bin in our basement. The squares were already cut, just asking to be sewn together into something snuggly. I decided to make a baby blanket.

I worked on this blanket for almost two years. After I sewed it up, layered it, tied it, and bound it, I decided to hand quilt it. Definitely not the recommended order to do these things. But that's how I did it.

Interestingly, during the time I worked on the blanket, my priorities changed. I went through a phase. I had always been a good kid. Like, a really good kid. I got along well with my parents, and adults in general. Polite, motivated, agreeable. Then I changed. There were a lot of catalysts for this change, which can pass unmentioned because they're irrelevant at the moment. Suffice it to say that by the time I started the hand stitching, I really didn't see myself ever having a life that included marriage or children, the temple or any sort of eternal perspective. That life, a life of restriction and small-mindedness as I then thought, did not appeal to me.

I'm glad I got turned around. To my parents' everlasting credit. Look what I wouldn't have now if my 16-year-old self had won out?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Bridge

Charlie's been sleeping happily on my chest for the last hour or so. He has a poopy diaper, but after such a rough night, I'm loathe to wake him up with a change. Bad mom, right? Yep. I'll pay for it when the rash sets in. Poor baby.

There's so much to say about a birth. Though having a lot to say is not the same as having a lot worth sharing. I've thought about writing down the blow by blow of Charlie's birth (all 22 hours of it). I've thought about writing a vivid description of my crazy new mother hormones. I've thought about writing about the trauma of squirting ointment into a newborn's left eye four time a day. I've thought about writing a post solely concerning postpartum nutrition and exercise. Can I just say how glad I am to have my body back? I could write a manifesto on diapers, or the simple delight of rolling over in bed. Or a darn good essay just about Charlie's hands. Which are exactly like mine. Which I love.

But this morning I think I'll address Charlie's role as a bridge of sorts. That's the word Mike used when Charlie was just a few hours old. I guess the word "bridge" is misleading because Charlie's not connecting anything to something else. But his birthday is sandwiched between two big days for Mike and me.

I was admitted to labor and delivery on Friday, August 17, my parents' 28th wedding anniversary. In fact, that morning, a few minutes after my water broke at 7 am, I texted my parents, "My water broke! Happy anniversary!" I was going to give my parents their first grandbaby as a present, thus clinching my position as favorite child. Score.

When we found out that Charlie was due on August 23, a few people from Mike's family wondered if Charlie would arrive on the anniversary of the passing of Mike's dad, August 19. Not that it would be a negative or upsetting thing if he did. But I think we all wondered about the baby sharing his birthday with such a sad day for the Lemon family.

And so, with the utmost diplomacy, Charlie came on August 18, between a very happy occasion and a very sad one. I spent a good part of my labor thinking of my parents, and the choices they made almost three decades ago to start their family and bring me into the world. I also spent much of Charlie's first few days thinking about his grandfather, Simms, whom he'll never know in this life, and mourning for my husband.

Charlie serves as a reminder of the swift passage of time and the fleeting nature of mortality. I know, because we've discussed it, that my mom has very strong memories of my birth, her first child. And I know, because we've discussed it, that my husband deeply regrets not sharing his experiences as a new father with his dad.

This general line of thought makes me pretty melancholy, yes it does. But it also makes me rejoice for the blink of an eye that is the life, and for the chance I have to admire my cute baby and savor being his mother. I know this time will be gone before I know it.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dear Charlie: August 26, 2012

Charlie:
  It feels good to actually title these blog posts to you. Before, your mom and I skirted around a name, for a couple of reasons. First, we didn't want to settle on a name we might not use. How embarrassing would it be, son, if you read these, and they were addressed to someone else? Once we did stumble on your name (Funny Story: We were walking the dog around a little community beside our apartment complex, when we decided to name you Charles Rhys. I assumed we were inspired, until a few days ago. Mom and I took you out for your first stroll. Feeling nostalgic, we went to that same community, where the first street's name is Charles Field! So, if you ever feel derisive about your name, you can mutter, "I was named after a street..."), we didn't want to broadcast it. Mom said, "Let's wait to tell people, in case we change our minds."
  But now, you're here, and your name is set. What a blessing you are! Charlie, you're amazing. Mom and I are not a little obsessed with you. When you came into this world, I burst into tears. I know that's not the manliest statement, but after you came out, mom and I just looked at each other, laughed, and started to cry. It took a little over 22 hours of labor, and it was an emotional and physical roller coaster. It's probably out of my field of experience to discuss the labor. I was there the entire time, but it was your mother who went through untold extremes. You should talk to her, and she'll tell you the whole story. It is not my place to give play by play, nor color commentary.
  Charlie, I love being your dad. Sure, you've peed on me a few times, and stay up most the night. You go through diapers as if you're an economic terrorist. My favorite (and I use that word quite ironically) moments is when I just finish changing you, and within five seconds, I see a look of consternation. I hear the moving of bowels, and I hang my head.
  All undiscretionary revelations of pooping aside, I find myself more restless at night, and not because you are awake. No, I find myself getting up to check on you. I want to- have to- make sure you're breathing. And every time I do, I'm reminded of a poem someone wrote in a poetry workshop. He made a list of worries, observations, and actions any potential father should become aware of. As I reach down to place a hand on your chest, I think on how incredibly observant Jason's poem is. You are breathing every time, but I have to make sure you're safe.
  I'm your dad.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Life and Death

It's 12:15 pm. I woke up a little over an hour ago. Rough night. I told myself I'd start working at noon. But here we are.

I've been mulling over an idea for a post about death for a while now. Which seems so morbid in light of the fact that I'm about to give birth. (Or so they tell me; after talking with my mom last night about blowing by her due dates and having a few inductions, I'm pretty sure I'll never get this baby outta me.)

An interesting aside: in Spanish and Portuguese (and maybe other romantic languages, but these are the two I know), the idiomatic phrase for "to give birth" is "dar a luz." Literally translated, "to give to light."

And we have a lot of ways of talking about death in English. Passed on, passed away, or, here the in the South, just "passed." We comfort ourselves with gentler words for harsh realities.

When I was a missionary in Portugal, a young man died on a warm summer evening in a tragic car accident. His sister was the driver. A miscalculation on her part ended her brother's life. The coastal city where my missionary companion and I worked had two wards full of people, especially teenagers, who loved these two kids. It was a time of deep grieving.

Funeral services were called two days after the accident. My companion and I were asked to arrive a few minutes early to talk to the youth while the few adults who could leave work during the day finalized funeral details.

When we arrived, the chapel was arranged for the services, and the room was filled with a dozen or so teenagers. No one else had arrived. The boy's body wouldn't arrive for a while.

We had been asked to come and counsel with the youth, but no one was disconsolate. No one was sobbing in a corner. No one needed pretty words. The kids just wanted to be together.

We sat and chatted for a while. The conversation became light and happy. Not irreverent, but peaceful and warm and calm. The dead boy's friends together, celebrating his life by living theirs fully. One boy had his guitar with him. Knowing I played the piano, he handed me some sheet music. "Will you play with me?"

The song was Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. I won't try to break down the meaning or significance of that song. I don't care to and I don't think it pertains. But we played it over and over. The kids sang in their varied competencies of English. They sang and sang. I don't remember much about the funeral that day. It started an hour late, and was as touching as it was sad. It was still a young life snuffed out too soon without any good reason.

But mostly I remember the music and the vibrant life surrounding the piano.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Make a Sandwich

  This post began with a simple request.
  Laying in bed, in pain from carrying a baby for nine months, Hilary asked, "Can you do me a favor? Can you make me a peanut butter sandwich, with apricot preserve?" A simple task, which I undertook with a firm resolve. I reached into the pantry, and found the off brand creamy peanut butter and wheat bread. I spread the peanut butter a little thick, because I believed Hil likes it that way. I opened the fridge, and retrieved the apricot jam. It was behind the strawberry preserve, and was a little difficult to open. But once open, I spread the chunky, sweet apricot jam on the other piece of bread. I tried to spread apart the apricot bits, so it would be even across the plane. I failed. Finally, I placed the two pieces together, and studied them for a moment. The sandwich looked off on the saucer plate, a little too large. Thinking back to my youth, I cut it diagonally, and placing the two halves on top of each other, I presented the sandwich to Hilary.
  (As a unnecessary confession, I admit to using the same knife for all the above steps. Peanut butter contaminated jam, or would have, if I had not licked the knife. The same goes for the cutting. Now, before any of you condemn me for being "gross," or "uncouth," I would ask you to become introspective, just for a moment. How many of you have licked the knife? Don't lie to yourself, and don't throw me under the culinary bus.)
  Perhaps I am becoming more sentimental during this time: I've heard the anxiety of becoming a parent does this to people. Yet, making Hilary's sandwich caused me to think of countless other sandwiches in my life. The lunches my mom prepared for me during grade school. I never fully appreciated them. Sure, there were quick "Thanks," but that was it. Sometimes I complained because we only had peanut butter or tuna fish. If memory serves it up truthfully (and 9 out of 10 times, it doesn't), I whined to get lunch meat, probably Butterball. I was, and still am, a child of advertising. I won a few times, but that did not change the gratitude level.
  A sandwich, after all, is simple. A minimum of one bread slice, some filling, and eat. I think know I take sandwiches for granted. It is not grandiose. It is not a dish slaved over for hours. A sandwich aroma does not waft through a home, causing mouths to water. No. The sandwich has been reduced to quickness and economy. Subway provides a case study to this marketing. The company even refers to their employees as "Sandwich Artisans."
  There is some truth in Subway's employee handle. There is an art in sandwich making, but it isn't found in the squirting of chipotle sauce. I dare say it isn't in the quality of ingredients, although I do enjoy Boar Head's more than most brands, and fresh baked sourdough over store bought Wonderbread. I submit that sandwich making artistry is found in the act, in the simplicity of preparation. Preparing a sandwich takes little training, but there are lessons I am just now unpacking and appreciating.
  Primarily, I have learned that sandwiches make a perfect vehicle to show your love for someone. My mom did not make sandwiches day after day because she needed to. She had taught me to prepare food. I believe she made them because it was a way for her to show love. I felt that same devotion as I cut Hilary's sandwich diagonally tonight. Sandwiches are just one thing I look forward to making with my children.
  As this post began with a request, so it will end with a request. You could call it a challenge, but that sounds condescending. Calling it National Make a Sandwich Day is beyond the scope of these thoughts, and frankly makes more of the idea than is really there. Invitation sounds better, so let's go with that. I invite you, whoever you are, to take time, and make a sandwich for someone. It could be a spouse, a child, boyfriend, girlfriend, roommate, whoever. Just make a sandwich. If you want, tell them you care, or just let the food talk for you. Leave a comment, detailing the sandwich (what was on it), and your thoughts while preparing it. Hilary and I look forward to reading your comments.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dear Baby: July 29, 2012

Hey Buddy:
  You're on the homestretch! You have incubated 36.5 weeks, and Mommy is feeling it. Sleeping has become a hassle for all involved (Mom, me, and you), because it takes all of Mom's strength to turn over. She's also become stir crazy. You are so big now (we went to our last meeting with the perinatologist. Your head is measuring at 40 weeks, and we're just imagining you coming through the birth canal. You're also six pounds, three ounces. Ginormous!). Added to the South Texas heat, and your mom has spent an inordinate amount of time inside. Thank the heavens she has a stay-at-home job; that way, she can relax in the glider, with the fan blowing on her, and the A/C kept to a cool 72. 
  So when she suggested going for a drive, we jumped on the chance. We hit all the "hot" spots: Spring Branch, Bergheim, almost to the Guadalupe River State Park (we didn't want to spend the money getting in, so we went to the edge), Boerne, Helotes, and back home. It was nice to just get out, and see the country. The Hill Country is beautiful. You don't believe me? Here are some pictures for proof!
We had to choose to go left on Highway 46, or right. We chose left.
  Do you see that, child? Where else could you go for nachos, or frog legs? The Antler Cafe, that's where! Granted, we aren't sure it's still there. We didn't check (until now. Here's the website.)
Rust Lane: it's in the middle of nowhere.
   Grandma Watkins sent us a fancy camera, so we can take plenty of pictures when you get here. Our little country excursion gave us time to tinker with settings. Mom wants us to have it just right before you arrive. Granted, most of the pictures are bad. It was a sunny day, so there was too much light exposure. However, these pictures turned out nice. Your mom was fascinated by these country mailboxes. She spotted some earlier during the drive, and when we saw these, we had to stop. According to her, these aren't as antique-looking as the first set, but you make due with what you get. That tree in the background was pretty awesome as well. It was completely hollowed out. I think you would like it, too: I don't know why.
Your pop, and your pup.
  Look at Sammy. Is he bored, or just concentrating on the road? We're worrying a little about Sammy. He'll be 13 in August. Your mom tells me his face was black in his youth, but I'm not sure. He's good with kids, but he's also old. He sleeps most of the day, but, little man, he was so excited yesterday. Sure, he slept a little, but for the most part, he parked himself on that middle console. We hope you have good memories with him, for as long as he's around.
  Well, that's the long and short of it. I hope you come sooner than four weeks from now. Mom's having very painful practice contractions, so just hurry up and start coming. I feel like I've met you. Sometimes, when I talk to you, you kick back. Still, I can't wait to hold you.

Love,
  Dad

ps- Mom and I finally took a baby bump picture. It only took 36 weeks, but hey, better late than never, right?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Names

Yesterday was our 36 week mark. We're down (up?) to weekly check-ups at the midwives office now.

One thing I love about seeing the midwives is their promptness. I'm usually brought back right away to have my vitals checked and my weight taken ("not a choice favorite" - Trale Lewous), shown a room, and within five minutes, I've got the complete attention of one of the midwives for as long as I need. It's great.

But there are those brief moments when Mike and I must entertain ourselves. The midwives have huge boards of photos and baby announcements from past patients scattered around the office. At yesterday's appointment, we found ourselves giggling at all the cute squishy baby faces, the little noses and tongues and crossed eyes. Because we live in an urban area and close to Mexico, there were a lot of Hispanic names and a lot of creative spellings of traditional names on those boards.

One name in particular caught our attention. A petite white lady and a burly guy named their little girl Harley Quinn.

Harley Quinn.

Mike thinks the couple named her in an act of nerdy rebellion. I think (and hope and pray) that they were ignorant of their decision to name their daughter after the bodice-ripper genre.

Did they know??

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dear Baby: July 19, 2012

Dear Baby,

35 weeks today! Can you hold on a little bit longer? I'm not sure I can. These Braxton Hicks contractions are getting frequent and strong. If they're just "practice" contractions, I'm not sure I'm ready to face the real deal.

For many, many weeks of this pregnancy, I felt awkward with my new belly. Lately, that awkwardness has escalated to a new level. We're akin to the Goodyear blimp, little guy, and should only be operated by trained professionals, which I am not. I feel like I have a full-size baby strapped to my torso. I mean, obviously, I do have a baby hanging from my torso, but my baby bump no longer feels part of me. I can't bend over. I can't see my legs. My tailbone is hurting again; I can tell you're chunking up because of all the resulting ligament pain. My fingers are little sausages. Walking makes my feet swell, too. In any room warmer than 73 degrees, I start to get a sweaty neck and upper lip. You know, real attractive like. I wake up every morning with swollen ankles and wrists, too sore to roll myself over and out of bed. I'm a hot mess, my boy.

Your dad and I went to a family reunion on Saturday for all the descendants of his great-great-grandparents Sanders. Needless to say, Austin in July didn't agree with my pregnant body. Though uncomfortable, I did suck it up so your dad, Uncle Will, Uncle Dan, Aunt Fleming, and I could eat at The Mighty Cone, an incredible food truck in Austin. (Once you are here and the weather cools off, I think your dad and I will spend a lot more time in Austin exploring its rich food culture. There was so much I wanted to try if I hadn't been eight months pregnant and if it hadn't been 100 degrees outside.)

At the reunion, I spent a lot of time on the small "air conditioned" porch fanning myself and talking to old-timers. But that was my real interest in going, anyway. I really didn't know much about your dad's family beyond the living relatives I'd already met. We nailed down lots of information and a few phone numbers to pursue. You have quite the family tree, little man. When we go to Lubbock in November for your dad's conference, you and I are going to put on our sleuthing hats and explore the area from whence your people came. We have a lot of old homes, factories, and grocery stores to photograph. Did you know your great-grandfather was in the cookie business?

Being pregnant makes me think a lot about heritage, legacy. On your dad's side, your grandfather and both great-grandfathers have already passed away. And though we're so excited for your arrival, it's made me and especially your father wistful for what might have been. You'll never know these three men in your mortal life. I don't even know them. I can't pass on any memories about them to you. I can't search you for quirks or personality traits from these people. Maybe your dad can do some of that for you.

It occurred to me that though I've never met my father-in-law, you are one-quarter Simms Lemon. Of course, your dad is one-half his father, but he is, in my perception, a distinct individual from his father. Somehow I feel like observing you from day one, I'll be able to discern a bit more about your grandfather. It also boggles my mind that even 40 years ago, neither you dad's nor my parents even knew each other. Now, their DNA has come together to create a completely new person.

Well, I'm waxing philosophical without direction. You have the hiccups and are headbutting my cervix. I know you have no control over it, but you seem a little mischievous to me. Go easy on me. This is all new and a little terrifying. The physicality of labor looms large on the horizon. Here's hoping your delivery isn't too intense.

Love,

Your mom

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dear Baby: June 28, 2012

Dear Baby,

We did it. Your dad and I graduated from a 4-day childbirth class. We are officially certified to be a part of your birth.

Umyeahright.

We did get a piece of paper saying we completed the course. And we did learn a thing or two about how labor actually goes down. But (at least in my humble opinion) we are still a bit unprepared for your arrival.

We're 32 weeks today. Hooah! We're getting close. You're getting strong, little man. I stayed in bed a while this morning feeling you kick me. You're head down, so I can tell when you're kicking up high by my ribs and when you're throwing elbows down low by my pelvis. Mostly you kick and retract, but sometimes you stick out your little foot and just leave it there for me to tickle. Weirdo.

But anyway, back to the birth class. It was, of course, very informative, and on our last day, we got to tour the hospital where you'll be born. It was so funny to see a parade of 10 pregnant women plus partners tromping around the labor & delivery floor. I squeezed your dad's hand in one of the labor & delivery rooms and asked him if he could imagine hanging out in there, waiting for you to make your debut. It feels a little bit more real now.

I did have a moment of panic, though, when I looked at a poster of a baby's head engaging in his mother's pelvis. It suddenly clicked that my body was going to feel some incredible, incredible pain. I've been going back and forth on what sort of pain management I'd like during labor. Since I've never had a baby before, I can't really fathom what it'll feel like. Which makes it hard to plan. My intent right now is to play it by ear, and your dad and the midwives are all on board with that.

This is your latest beauty shot. Your dad thinks you have my chin, and his nose. I think I'll need to see you first before I agree with him. I do love your little chin fats.

We think this picture of you is a little creepy. It was cool while the image was live, though, and I could see you blink at me. Well, you were blinking at a sonogram wand on the other side of several layers of tissue and skin, but... It felt like we made a connection, you and me.

As anxious as I am to see you and to snuggle you, I hope you stay in there as long as you need. We want you strong and healthy and chubs.

Love,

Your mom

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gratitude, Part 3

May the blessings of heaven rain down on the effeminate man at the perinatologist's office who expedited my paperwork and got me an appointment for Friday afternoon. We'd only have to wait 48 hours between appointments to hear more news.

Thursday morning, things felt different. Mike had held me the night before while I tried to turn off my brain and get some sleep. He had given me a blessing. We talked as much as we were ready to talk. When I woke up the next day, I felt peace. Still a little unsettled, but with a new perspective.

The overwhelming emotion I felt was gratitude. I had endured horrible morning sickness from week 5 to week 18, and suddenly I was so grateful that I had had the opportunity to experience morning sickness at all. If I could only be pregnant once, at least I would have the full experience. Mike and I had to try for several months to get pregnant. Though I was scared of what might happen with my placenta, I was thankful we even got pregnant at all.

I was thankful we moved to San Antonio. When we moved here, we felt like we should live in an apartment complex that wasn't very convenient to Mike's school. Though we're farther away from his campus, we're just a few minutes from the South Texas Medical Center, an enormous resource of experts and specialists. We live near people who can help us. We live near state-of-the-art facilities. We have insurance to cover it all. We are surrounded by people who can get us out of the worst case scenario. We are so lucky.

I was grateful we switched from our Elmer Fuddian OB to the midwife practice. Our midwife delivered this news in the kindest, most compassionate way. Any lesser bedside manner would have devastated me. I'm grateful we had a thorough ultrasound tech. She caught a potential problem. Maybe a different tech wouldn't have caught it.

I still had moments of intense fear. Thursday night, I started to panic again. I knelt by our bed and started to pray but broke down, sobbing. Mike came in. "I can't do this," I told him. "It's the waiting that's getting to me."

We crawled in bed and Mike held me and comforted me as best he could. He was worried too, but so grateful that I was healthy. It was the closest I had ever felt to my husband.

Friday morning, we were both on pins and needles. I felt too tired to think or talk about all the what-ifs anymore.

Finally, it was time to speak to the specialist. It is very difficult to give a urine sample when you're nervous, for the record. After a mountain of paperwork, a woman led me and Mike to an ultrasound room. We waited for about 20 minutes for the tech to come in. She asked what brought us in today as she flipped through my paperwork.

I explained the preliminary placenta accreta diagnosis.

"How many previous C-sections have you had?" she asked.

"None," I said. "This is my first pregnancy."

She frowned and squinted at my charts, muttering to herself.

"Well, let's start with baby. Do you know what you're having yet?"

The tech had fun determining our baby's gender. (This is a recurring characteristic among ultrasound techs, in my experience. And our little guy is an obliging exhibitionist.) She took us through all his anatomy again, showing us how perfect he was. 65th percentile for size. Slightly above average! Just what we want in our children.

"Okay. Let's look at the placenta now." The tech began to dig around in a long examination of my placenta. We watched her measure the circumference of each of the larger black spots on the screen. She scanned every last inch of the border of the placenta. The exam was so rigorous. It was actually painful after a while.

"Well, this is not placenta accreta," the tech said.

My first thought was HALLELUJAH! I was so relieved. No hysterectomy looming over us, none of the horrible possibilities we had imagined over the past two days. I squeezed the daylights out of Mike's hand.

I was surprised the tech said anything at all; I thought that would be the doctor's job. But hey, good news is good news, right?

"However, I've been scanning for 20 years, and I've never seen anything like this."

Well, great.

Our perinatologist eventually came to our room after conferring somewhere else with the ultrasound tech. The doctor, a stunningly beautiful woman of Haitian heritage, smiled at us as she picked up the ultrasound wand and started to look at my placenta. She explained to us that the dark spots, a common appearance of placenta accreta, were actually blood clots. She showed us the imaging of the endometrium. It was unbroken throughout the edge of the placenta. So no bonding between the placenta and the uterus.

But I did--and still do--have blood clots in my placenta. "We don't see intervillous thrombi very often. At all. I don't think I've seen it since I've been here." A recurring theme.

"We don't really know much about them," the doctor continued. "We don't know how they form, or why. There's no clear complication of thrombi, either. That is, we can't really predict if they will hurt you or the baby."

As best as she could tell, the blood clots are my own blood, not the baby's. Because the placenta is so critical to the baby's growth, the doctor said we couldn't do any sort of direct testing on it right now, especially while it was doing its job so well.

The doctor told us to return every four weeks for monitoring. If the baby's growth seemed to flag, i.e. if the placenta stopped doing its job, I would deliver at 35 weeks after a treatment of steroids to build up the baby's lungs. Barring any growth issues, we could expect to try for a normal, vaginal birth. Since our midwife group shares an office with its associate ob/gyn group, I'll be monitored by a ob/gyn specialist, in case things do go south during delivery and some sort of drastic intervention were required.

People, today marks 30 weeks. Baby is big and healthy and active. Every time I visit the perinatologist, the doctor and ultrasound tech shake their heads as they measure the blood clots. We know those clots very well by now. No one knows why they're there, but we know they never change size, which means no blood is leaking anywhere.

I wonder if I needed a little scare to fully appreciate the miracle happening in my body right now. If I needed a reminder to be grateful.

We're still not in the clear yet. Until the baby is in our arms and the placenta detaches properly, we can't be 100% sure that everything is alright. And until the placenta is tested after delivery, we won't know if I have a clotting problem (though all blood test results to date have been completely normal) or some other bizarre disorder that gives me a funky placenta.

What I am sure of is the great gift that it is to conceive and have all the million and one tiny factors come together for a healthy baby. I am so grateful for God's plan for me, even if it had included (or may yet include) a great devastation. I'm excited to meet our son. I'm grateful for blood clots. I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude for my sweet, affectionate, supportive, gentle husband. He has been a wonderful help during this roller coaster of a pregnancy.

I'm just grateful.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gratitude, Part 2

By the time we got to the car, I started to lose it.

I gave the keys to Mike (I usually drive us around) and called up my mom. We had been texting all morning with family, taking final guesses on the baby's gender. She was anxious to hear our news.

We started to leave the parking lot, because we have to pay $1 per half hour after the first 30 minutes of each visit. And somehow, even in a moment of emotional crisis, it was important to me to leave the lot so we didn't run up a "big" charge. Strange, I know.

Anyway, I told my mom we had good news and bad news. Why people choose to start off major announcements in a way that invites panic, I do not know. Why I chose to phrase things that way, I do not know, either.

I could keep my voice steady, even cheery, while I told my mom she was going to have a grandson. There were congratulations and expressions of excitement, I'm sure. I explained the complications, too, still fresh on my mind. We sobbed together. Never had 1,600 miles felt so far away as it did at that moment. I asked my mom to tell my dad. For some reason I couldn't bear the idea of breaking down over the phone with him on the other end.

When I finished, Mike called his mom and relayed the same news. Maybe my mother-in-law is made of tougher stuff, but she took it all quite calmly and said everything would be alright.

We didn't know what to do with ourselves. We went to a random Mexican supermarket down the street and wandered the aisles, holding hands, tears rolling down my cheeks. Neither of us was ready to vocalize the thoughts in our heads. I can't speak for Mike, but I was grieving for our unborn children. For the first time in my life, I felt angry about adoption, upset that I might not be able to have more biological children. I wondered what would happen if they removed my uterus. Would I have the proper hormone levels to breastfeed? Would I experience changes similar to menopause? Would I have problems being intimate? Would I resent our son for what might happen to my body?

I did have words of comfort for Mike. Somehow, though I was absolutely terrified, I kept saying things like, "Maybe we'll be lucky, and they'll be able to remove the placenta surgically after delivery." It had been explained to us that I'd have to have a C-section, and then my placenta would be examined immediately after. That way, the doctors could observe me right away and make their decision--hysterectomy or no--without delay. "Women have C-sections all the time," I kept telling Mike. "The baby and I are going to make it through, and that's all that matters."

But it wasn't all that mattered, not to me. Right after confronting my fear, I was filled with tremendous self-loathing. I was angry that my body didn't function properly. I felt betrayed by the fallibility of the organs that so shaped my identity as a woman. I was broken. Out of order.

I went through a short phase of regret. Maybe, just this one time, my body couldn't form a placenta properly. Maybe this pregnancy was the only one that would have this problem, and because of our chosen timing, we had negated the possibility of other children. I wished several times, but for only a split second each time, that I weren't pregnant.

That night, things looked ugly. For the record, Google is a pregnant woman's worst enemy. Searching placenta accreta opened my mind to a whole world of horror stories. Most women had to have hysterectomies as a result of their attached placentas. I couldn't find any testimonials of women my age. I really couldn't find anything but scary statistics and scarier reports of disappointment and heartache.

I was told to give the perinatologist's office 24 hours to process the midwives' request to take me on as a patient. Those hours were grueling. Mike and I slept poorly that night.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Gratitude, Part 1

On Wednesday, March 21, 2012, ultrasound imaging showed us that we were expecting a little boy.

On Wednesday, March 21, 2012, ultrasound imaging also hinted that this would be our only biological child.

Note: There is a happy ending to this story.

Our anatomy scan, performed a day before our 18-week mark, showed that our offspring was indeed male. We gloried over the four chambers of his heart and watched them beat in perfect symphony. We marveled over tiny bones, a round little belly, a huge noggin, a small upturned nose.

A boy! As the oldest of five girls, the novelty of a boy in the family rang through me. Mike squeezed my hand excitedly as the ultrasound tech explained all we were viewing.

I felt awash in the glow of motherhood. I had felt a few small movements before, but now I was finally looking at my child.

The ultrasound tech continued her exam, explaining she would next check out the placenta. Mike asked her what the big holes were on the screen. Everything looked like Swiss cheese. The tech muttered something, though in my euphoria I didn't recognize what she said. Honestly, I wasn't listening; why should I care about a placenta when there are small pictures of my baby's profile to obsess about?

Mike persisted a little, but the tech, in a totally professional manner, declined to say much more. About half our exam focused on the placenta. The tech saved many images of it, at least as many as of our baby. Eventually the scan ended. I wiped the gel off my belly and we headed back to the midwives' office to go over the results.

One of our midwives met with us in a small room. The walls were covered with pictures of babies, fruits of the delivery efforts of the office team. I beamed at Mike. We were having a boy! It was like finding out we were pregnant all over again. After months of morning sickness, I felt rejuvenated by the news.

The midwife held up several images of the baby, confirming everything we already knew: he was healthy and strong, a good size for his age.

"We're thrilled!" I told her.

She then held up a sheet or two of images of the placenta. "A normal placenta will look smooth and uniform. Do you see these dark holes?"

We nodded our heads. "I wondered about that," Mike said. "Why does the placenta look like that?"

The midwife asked if I'd ever had uteran surgery of any type before. When I said I hadn't, she shook her head and explained the symptoms of an uncommon condition called placenta accreta. It occurs when there is a lack of endometrium in part of the uterus, so the placenta bonds to the uteran wall instead. Endometrium fails to form over scar lines, hence the question about surgery. Older women who have had multiple C-sections are at greatest risk, since they often carry thick scar tissue. Combined with a low-lying placenta, these women sometimes develop placenta accreta. The consequence of placenta accreta is surgery of some form. The best case scenario is that the placenta is only barely attached to the uterus, requiring a minimum of cutting to release it. The worst case scenario is that the placenta is firmly attached to the uterus, necessitating a complete hysterectomy. An untreated placenta accreta that won't detach from the uterus can hemorrhage until the mother dies. Hysterectomies, though extreme, are often recommended since they are the best way to guarantee the mother's survival.

Apparently, the dark spots in my placenta indicated connections between the placenta and the uteran wall. Even though this was my first pregnancy. Even though I had no known scarring. Even though my placenta was high up on the right side of my uterus.

"You both need to prepare for the possibility that this will be your last pregnancy."

Mike remained silent. I tapped the counter with my finger. "But the baby is fine, right?" I asked. "Is he at risk because of this?"

"The baby is totally fine," the midwife said. "There's no reason why he won't be completely healthy. This condition isn't hurting him."

"Well, that's good, we just want a healthy baby," I said.

We sat in silence for a moment. Then the midwife addressed Mike. "Are you alright? You seem more shaken up about this than your wife."

"It's just a lot to take in." I could see that Mike was upset, but I was still so excited that we were having a boy and that he was going to be healthy.

The midwife referred us to a perinatologist, to see if I did in fact have placenta accreta and how to proceed. The rest of our conversation as a blur. We left the office, three precious ultrasound images in hand, and walked out to our car.

I don't know if the magnitude of what happened hit me in the elevator or somewhere on the blacktop outside, but I had to hand off our little pictures to Mike because I suddenly felt so ill. So completely gripped with the reality of being a hysterectomy patient at 25 years old.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dear Baby, June 2, 2012

Dear Baby,
  It's been awhile since Mom or I have written (let's face it. I've not written yet, although you have been on my mind). A lot of things have happened since Mom's last post, so I'll bring you up to speed.
  You have been kicking Mom in the ribs everyday for the last three weeks. You've become so strong that I can feel you. Earlier this week, I woke up early for work. I placed my hand on Mom's belly, and you kicked. I pressed down, and you responded to the pressure. We played like that for several minutes, and I felt closer to you than before. I kept thinking of Billy Madison, when Adam Sandler says, "He's going to be a soccer player." Maybe you will be, but for now, take it easy on Mom. You're kicking/punching her ribs with such force, that you might break a rib.
  You are quickly growing. The doctors thought Mom had a problem with her placenta, which means she visits a specialist every four weeks. They were wrong, but the plus is we get to see you. Last visit, the ultrasound tech and Mom saw you suckling. You are currently two gestational weeks ahead of schedule. So, you can either be a big baby, or you're coming early. Either way, come safe. You have one more trimester to fatten up.
  Child, you are also taking over apartment space. Since we last wrote, Mom found a nice stroller/car seat combo. When she picked me up from work, there they were: the car seat fastened in the back, and the stroller in the trunk. It was a new experience taking out the seat. It was a brief preview to upcoming events. This is the rest of my life, I thought, struggling to get the stroller out, while balancing the car seat. The only things missing was a diaper bag loaded with stuff, and you. I'm not complaining. It's just new.
  Coupled with these is a mini-crib your mom and I built. The crib was part of Mom's Mother Day/Birthday extravaganza, but we waited until after Uncle Dan and Aunt Fleming's wedding to build it. It is now placed next to our bed, on Mom's side. It is another reminder that you are coming. It's almost a sad confession that it takes furniture and accessories to remind me, but in my defense, I don't live with you inside me 24/7. At one time, I thought of you abstractly, but each day you become more and more real to me. I love talking to you. When Mom and I found your name, I whispered it to you, and you responded. I hope you like your name as much as we do. We love you very much. Keep growing, and we'll see you in a few weeks.

Love,
  Dad

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dear Baby: May 11, 2012

Dear Baby,

I miss your old man. He's in Ohio presenting a paper at a hip-hop conference. (Yes. Your dad. That white guy who sired you. I know.) I was in California visiting family last week, so we only caught each other on Monday night and Tuesday morning before he had to head out of town for the conference. It's lonely here without him!

Your dad had a bad car accident while I was gone. So bad that he should have broken at least a few bones, or required stitches. The car, which rolled three times across several lanes of traffic, was beyond totaled. I struggled to keep my composure when I saw the crumpled ball of metal that used to be our '07 Cobalt. By some great miracle, your dad walked away with a few bumps and bruises and a mild chemical burn from the air bag. That's it.

We are fortunate, you and me. We'd be in big trouble if he just disappeared. He's my best friend. And as much as I hate having him gone, it's given me some time to contemplate how important he is to me. He makes me laugh. He makes me feel beautiful. He makes me feel safe and comfortable. I know I'd be okay on my own, but I'm infinitely better with him in my life.

He loves you a lot. He likes to feel you karate chop my belly in the still hours of morning (when my bladder's nice and full, of course). Your dad talks to you, calls you by your name (yes, you have a name), and fantasizes with me about the things we want to teach you and show you when you finish cooking. He tells you over and over how much he loves you and how much he loves me. Aren't we lucky?

We're excited to meet you, baby boy. Don't come just yet. We still have some nesting and emotional preparation to take care of before you come. And go easy on me with the jiu jitsu.

Love,

Your mom

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dear Baby: April 28, 2012

Dear Baby,

Today I received a letter in the mail confirming that we had successfully registered for the Childbirth Preparation class at St. Luke's Baptist, where you'll be born (or else).

I skimmed the letter quickly. Pretty standard stuff. Then I read this short paragraph near the end of the letter (please ignore its semi-atrocious grammar; it isn't my paragraph, but I still feel guilty about it).

"Please bring the following to class: 3 pillows, a blanket, pen & highlighter marker and your partner. Please wear comfortable clothing for practice on the mats."

I could picture, so clearly, your dad and me in a birthing class. And it made me laugh-sob hysterically for about 30 seconds.

I think that means I'm getting excited.

Love,

Your crazy, bloated, hormonal mother

Tuesday, April 17, 2012