Hi from Hawaii

Right now I am sitting on a beach chair next to a pool, the sun is shining and the wind is blowing the tall palm trees.

After the last few weeks, this trip is exactly what our family needed. Of course, this trip was planned months ago, but the timing has been perfect. We haven’t spent this much time together as a family of 3 since my maternity leave when Future President was born.

I want to remember this feeling of relaxation. Of playing so hard we all sleep 11 hours at night. Of enjoying leisurely meals on the balcony. Our life is so busy and I feel like we spend most of the time in the car, commuting and transporting Future President around. The weekends are a small reprieve but at some point errands must be run and laundry done and the house cleaned, etc and etc.

Life is bound to be crazier when baby 2 arrives. So for right now, I’m soaking up the sun and enjoying the view and these precious moments of doing absolutely nothing except swimming and sunning.

When life gets crazy again in a few days, I want to just breathe and remember this view.

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Before and After

There are certain big, life-changing moments that I remember in vivid detail: where I was, who was there, what conversations were happening, what I was wearing, etc. For example: the living room I was sitting in when I got the phone call that my grandmother had a stroke, the first time we saw Future President at my 20 week ultrasound, and the moment right before I walked down the aisle, full of anticipation and joy.

And now there is last Wednesday.

I was joking with my boss as I left work, “I’m going to get an early ultrasound, because of my advanced maternal age. Hahahaha.” And I was really, truly joking, excited to see the baby for the first time, glad my husband could get out of work early to come with me, and I was so glib.

I actually had no idea why I was having an ultrasound this early, except for the vague reason of genetic screening. I had no idea what they were actually looking for, and marveled at the two arms and two legs, the brain and the heartbeat. But I started to get worried when the ultrasound tech left the room to speak to the doctor, and eventually the doctor came in to get a very important measurement. I had no idea what the tech or the doctor were talking about: nuchal translucency and nuchal fold were not phrases in my vocabulary. But there she was, taking a measurement of something at the back of the baby’s neck.

And then she said, “Why don’t you get dressed and we’ll go to anther room and talk about what I saw and explain what your options are.” And then she left the room.

She was dressed in a super cute pair of pink capris, with a bold print silk blouse tucked in at her slim waist. Her necklace was adorable and matched the ensemble perfectly. I kept staring at that necklace, thinking she was impossibly chic, and why wasn’t she wearing a white coat?

She came back into the sterile examination room with a blank yellow legal pad and wrote: 2.7mm=95%. And then proceeded to tell us that our baby had an enlarged nuchal fold, which could be an indication of a chromosomal abnormality: it could be Down syndrome, or something much worse, an abnormality that causes 100% stillbirths. It could be something else entirely, a very rare genetic disorder. But we had to make some decisions.

She outlined our options while I cried. My husband asked careful, analytical questions. After about 15 minutes, she told us she wanted us to meet with a genetic counselor, who would go into much more detail about our options and possible outcomes. And let me tell you, she did. The last time I thought about chromosomes was in high school biology class but all of the sudden, here in front of us were print outs with chromosomes and explanations of abnormalities. After an hour (an hour!), we were told it was time to make a decision. Blood work? CVS? Wait a few more weeks to have an amnio and detailed anatomy scan?

I couldn’t make a decision. As I drove home, I could barely see through my tears.

I decided to have a procedure called CVS the very next day, and then we waited. Waited for the results that could change the outcome of my pregnancy.

My heart broke when my husband told Future President that little baby was sick. “We should take him to the doctor!” he replied. “That will make it all better.” I had to leave the room so he wouldn’t see my tears.

We asked every question, the hard questions I never thought I would have to face: should we terminate? Could we live with ourselves if we made that decision? Which result would causes us to make that decision? If we do terminate, does the baby go to heaven? Do we want to know the gender if the results are bad? We decided one thing for sure: if the outcome was bad, we were never, ever doing this again.

On Monday I got a call: the baby did not have Down syndrome or trisomy 13 or 18. Did I want to know the gender? Yes! The genetic counselor was cautiously optimistic that the final results looking at all 46 chromosomes would come back okay, since that screens for very rare abnormalities. Yesterday, we got the good news that the baby’s chromosomes are normal.

We are not out of the woods yet. There is a possibility that the enlarged nuchal fold is caused by a heart defect and we won’t be able to rule that out for a few more weeks.

This has been the longest week of my life. I honestly don’t know how I would have coped without Future President, because he is the best distraction around. The few people who knew what we were going through have been incredibly supportive.

During my first pregnancy, I took a lot of things for granted, including that the baby would be fine. And thankfully for us, he was. The early part of this pregnancy was exactly the same. But this past week had me questioning every decision: why didn’t I take folic acid earlier? Why did I take the cough medicine and allergy pills (that my doctor approved)? I scrutinized every action, blaming myself.

If you are going through anything like this, please know that you have my utmost empathy. Whatever your outcomes and whatever your decisions, you are making the right choices for your family. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

Friday Reads

If Jamie the Very Worst Missionary isn’t on your to-read list, it should be. Her recent post, I Worry for the Mommy Bloggers, is great.

And you thought you spent a lot of money on your kid. You’ve got nothing on the guy in this story: The Most Insane Truck Ever Built and the 4-Year-Old Who Commands It.

I found this article about online Mormon missionaries very intriguing. If I was a missionary, I’d make a great online proselytizer!

The Trick of Life. Especially moving to me right now, as I await news that will determine my future in more ways than one, I will pray for people around me instead of dwelling on my own uncertainty.

Breaking the News to a 3-Year Old

We told Future President way too soon that he was going to be a big brother. I was only six weeks into my pregnancy, but I was excited. So we told him, “there’s a baby in mommy’s belly,” which he then told the very next day – in those exact words – to my in-laws. Since the cat was out of the bag, we told other close family and friends, whom we swore to secrecy. But how do you keep a 3-year old from telling everyone? You can’t. I now know firsthand that three-year olds can’t keep secrets. 

I was cleaning the playroom (formerly known as the living room) and discussing storage solutions for all the tiny Playmobil and Lego pieces with my husband. When the room was clean, Future President said, “Ready for baby! He’s coming tomorrow.” Time is an almost impossible concept for a small child to grasp, so I’m sure he didn’t get it when I explained that it was going to be a long, long time before baby arrived. Why were we worrying about messy toys right now? 

Future President periodically stops to chat with the baby, leaning close to my stomach: “Hi, Baby!” or “Good morning, Baby!” or sometimes he rubs my stomach. He also wants to name the baby Baby P, after himself, which I’ve tried explaining would be confusing but he doesn’t care. He insists that’s going to be the baby’s name. He’s also asserted himself very clearly, that he’ll “always be mommy’s baby” and he repeats this at least a couple of times a day. He plays baby a lot now, pretending to cry, crawl, ask for a bottle and breaks into baby talk frequently. At night when he turns the light off, he now crawls from the bedroom door to me in the rocker, telling me, “I’ll always be your baby.” 

For a long time, whenever he wanted a new toy, I would tell him to put it on his Christmas list or birthday list. Now I tell him he can make a list for the baby as the baby is going to bring him a new toy. I’m regretting that decision a little, because the baby is going to be bankrupt as soon as he/she is born as that list is growing longer by the day.

I am hopeful that since Future President will be four months shy of 4 when the baby arrives that things will go smoothly and the adjustment from one to two children will be easy for both of them. But I’m not ignorant. It could be awful.

Friday Reads

Read about This American Life’s experience working on the Veronica Mars movie, complete with pictures!

This working mom schooled Gwyneth Paltrow in the realities of working at an office job without the perks that come with celebrity, like lots of money and 24/7 child care.

Are the ABCs a sacred order, or like the dictionary and encyclopedia, are they doomed for extinction?

Apparently a lot of people don’t get the importance of why a dad should stick around during an entire (!) 3-day paternity leave, or why a woman wouldn’t just choose to have a c-section so her baller husband could be at the birth of their child.

This April Fools prank by Penguin is absolutely hilarious. I generally hate April Fools pranks but my husband convinced us to announce our big news on the infamous day of pranking: we’re having a baby!

The Last Forever

I am now 100% convinced I could never be a TV critic, because after last night’s series finale of How I Met Your Mother, I have all sorts of feelings but am pretty sure a blog post cannot convey how sad I am that 1) it ended the way it did and 2) I wasted my time on this last season at all. Anyway, I’ll try.

I’m not sad I watched the show, though. It’s one of the comedies my husband and I have enjoyed together, since the very beginning. And after nine years, which is how long we’ve been married, we both agree that the show did a fantastic job of portraying life after college, with the highs and lows of job loss, marriage, babies, breakups, and even death. Life after college is hard and the show didn’t shy away from portraying that, as well as the crazy, funny, and awesome ways to celebrate adulthood. 

The two scenes that made me cry the most:

  • When Robin said goodbye to Lily in the old apartment. “We’ll always be friends. It’s just never going to be like how it was,” Robin says. And I too mourned the loss of the way wonderful friendships once were, that are no longer the same because life goes on. 
  • When Barney met his daughter. I’m not a fan of how that daughter came to be (suggesting that some things never change and some people revert back to their immature selfs) and how Barney spoke of No. 31, but NPH knocked it out of the park with the emotional meeting of his true love. 

But who am I kidding? I cried most of the way through. 

My absolute favorite episode of the series was Season 8, Episode 12: The Final Page, Part 2, when despite all of Ted’s accomplishments, he is still alone. Barney reveals that his playbook has been all about getting Robin to say yes to his marriage proposal. Marshall and Lily spend time away from their son for the first time, and it doesn’t go exactly as planned. It was such a bittersweet episode. 

Here’s what I said about it when it aired in December of 2012.

How I Met Your Mother is one of the best shows on TV. At least from the perspective of a married couple that lives with the husband’s parents, has one child, and sort of figures life has to turn around one of these days. Right? 

In the last few seasons, HIMYM has rightfully turned a bit dour. It’s taken an emotional downward spiral as Ted continues to wonder where and if he will meet Mrs. Right. Robin wonders if she and Barney are actually meant to be together and Barney gets engaged to the wrong woman. Robin’s career takes many wrong turns before she finally lands on her feet. Ted’s career also careens in many directions. Ted, Robin and Marshall all sacrifice the lofty ideals of their young adulthood just to pay the bills and to work. Lilly and Marshall experience heartache at the loss of his father and the joy at the birth of their son. Marshall loses his job and then gets a new one, but one that doesn’t pay enough that Lilly can stay home with Marvin.

And while the show is NOT realistic in the sense that these young 30 somethings live in mansions by NYC standards and wear fantastics clothes (did you see Robin’s owl sweater a few episodes ago? Yeah, that was Burberry. $1200.), it touches on so many themes that tell me the writers just get it.

The economy sucks. People are out of work, underemployed, selling their souls, doing what it takes to get by. This week’s episode was so wonderful. The song that played at the end, “Let Your Heart Hold Fast” by Fort Atlantic was so perfect. Ted is still all alone. But we know it will get better. We do. 

“So let your heart hold fast
for this soon
shall pass
like the high 
tide takes the
sand.” – Fort Atlantic

I’m not content that Ted ended up with Robin, because I really don’t think that she is Mrs. Right for Him. I’m not happy that Barney has only sort of matured after we spent an entire season (and more!) being convinced that Robin and Barney should be together, only for their marriage to end because Robin was traveling a lot for work. I’m very sad that The Mother died and six years later, the kids were a-ok with their father moving on without a twinge of sadness. 

Did you watch the finale? What did you think? 

 

Friday Reads

The Overprotected Kid is an interesting article about how “kids these days” get too much supervision from parents and other adults. When I was a kid, we would spend hours in the jungle behind our apartment building, climbing on large boulders and swinging on vines. We were even stalked by rabid dogs. Before the 8th grade, I was riding a public bus to the library all by myself. And yet I’m horrified to think of my son doing any of these things. Maybe we are too overprotective!

Speaking of parenting, check out this hilarious parody, New Parenting Study Released. Hilarious because: see above. I read them, too! ALL.THE.TIME.

In Search of Oxford is a fabulous travel essay and brought me back to what was honestly one of the top five experiences of my life: living in Oxford.

An old essay I keep thinking about, The Richness of Empty Evenings, makes me anticipate silence and worry less about making gourmet meals (let’s face it, that only happens once or twice a month!).

Sacred and Profane revisits the Waco siege and posits whether a different negotiation tactic would have ended in less bloodshed.