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The baby has arrived!

Man, what a crazy weekend it's been!  Last week, I had Tuesday through Thursday off, which was nice as I was using those day to get some last minute things done before the baby arrived (such as installing a car seat).  These are things we'd been trying to do for a couple of weeks now, but Holiday demands with family kept interfering.  I got a lot of things done on Wednesday, including coming up with a couple of storage solutions for baby clothes and items since we have no nursery for a little while.  I was very pleased with what I came up with.

On Thursday, I woke up feeling pretty awful.  But I took grandma out to lunch as promised.  We also did a little baby shopping before I dropped her back off with mom and dad.  I wanted to spend more time, but I had laundry to do and was still not feeling well and was hurting.  Later that night, I noticed that the Braxton Hicks were really strong and I was trying to figure out how I was going to get past them in order to work effectively the next day.  Went to bed early but woke up around 11:30 still in a lot of pain.  Kept waking up every half hour after that and around 2am I decided to call the doctor emergency line and see what they thought.  I was told that since my doctors appt earlier that day had shown no changes and my cervix was still closed, that I was most likely in pre-labor or practice labor but if I felt that bad, I could always go to the hospital.  I spent the next hour timing the contractions at 5 minutes apart so at 3:30 I finally went back upstairs and woke Matt up.  When we got to the hospital, they said I was already at 4cm dialated and was most certainly in labor!  So they got me set up in a room and Matt ran back home to get a hospital bag together (I was supposed to pack it Thursday night, but didn't because I hurt so much).  In the meantime, I was in so much pain from the contractions that the only comfortable position I could stay in was sitting up, which did not allow them to monitor the baby's heartbeat and stuff like that.  So I opted for the epidural.  I'm so glad I did- I was so much more comfortable and it allowed me to somewhat enjoy the process a little.  Everything after that seems like a fuzzy blur- time went by really fast.  They let me eat a little Jello, which was nice as I was feeling weak from lack of food and sleep.  Before I knew it, it was 12:30 and they wanted me to start pushing.  I didn't feel like I was doing anything effective but because I was so weak from lack of sleep, pushing made me nauseous.  Sadly, I ended up throwing up during pushing, but I suppose that is just how it goes sometimes.  Matt got much more of a front seat than he originally wanted, but he was a great coach and a lot of help, handing me water and anything else I needed.  It started hurting again when the baby's head started to crown- that's a lot of pressure down there!  But at 2:29, out he came, weighing 7lbs 2 oz and measuring 20 inches long with a beautiful head full of blonde hair.  I was happy but too tired to feel much else.  Not too long after that, Matt texted dad (who was the only family member he kept in contact with all day and who knew we were in labor- dad is the only one we could trust to allow us to keep this private without barging in) and let him know the news and that it was okay to tell mom and grandma.  They all showed up with Ken sometime around 5 or 6pm.  Matt was doing his best to get ahold of his mom but she forgets her cell phone all the time and he wasn't able to reach her until visiting hours were over.  So she had to wait until the next day to visit.  Matt stayed with me at the hospital the first night, but went home on Saturday night so that he could work on getting things ready at home for Ben's arrival.  Andrea helped him a great deal, for which I'm very grateful.

We headed home yesterday and spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what to do with this new baby and how he now fits in to our home lives.  It's a strange adjustment and a weird feeling when they kick you out of the hospital like "okay, good luck now!" and you're like "okay, now what?"  Last night was pretty brutal because Ben would not fall asleep unless he was with us or we were holding him.  As soon as we put him in his bassinet, he would start crying again.  Made for a very long night.  I spent all night throwing up- again from sleep deprivation.  Matt stayed home today because he was exhausted, but took the baby this morning in order to let me get some sleep, since he said I was up all night with Ben.  So sometime when I was passed out this morning, Matt figured out that if he feeds Ben while he's in his bassinet or his nap nanny, that he'll fall asleep there and we don't have the problem we had last night.  As I type this, Ben has been asleep in the nap nanny for the past hour or hour and a half while Matt has played Assassin's Creed III and I used the time to eat, make some more bottles (I have decided to supplement formula during the day so I don't have to deal with trying to breastfeed around Andrea and Faisal and also so Matt can help me feed Ben and still breastfeed at night in our room and in the morning) and balance the checkbook.  We have our first pediatrician appt in about an hour.  I plan on talking to him a bit about getting through the night and see if perhaps he has any other tips.  So far, it sounds like Matt's idea is a good one. 

I love to watch Ben, though.  It's fun to look at him and try and pick out which features are mine and which ones are Matt's.  I've already decided that he has Matt's little ears (thank goodness) but my (and Ken and dad's) eyes.  I think his hair is more like Matt's because it looks like it will grow in wavy, which means it will probably also be thick.  I think the nose may be mine (poor kid) but that could change since newborns are always a bit squished at first.  The mouth I'm not sure about yet.  At first I thought it was Matt's but now I think it could be mine- not sure yet.  He's a neat little guy, though- very active when he sleeps and very curious about his surroundings when he's awake.  I think poor Jack is not sure what to think quite yet.  He likes the baby, but he's not fond of how much of our time the baby takes up and the fact that he now has to share my lap.  He's also not sure about all the noises the baby makes yet.  Poor Jack- this is a big change to be asking an 11 year old dog to make, but I hope he's able to take it in stride!

Current craziness

We moved Faisal and Andrea into our place last weekend.  It's been interesting for all four of us working to adjust to the new lifestyle since then. 
We ended up moving them into the second bedroom because we figured Faisal might not be able to work stairs very easily after his back surgery.  So for the moment, there is no baby's room- he'll be rooming with us for a while. 

It was all pretty cut and dry for Fais to have his surgery on the 26th.  However, he got a call from the doctor yesterday saying that they found some artery blockage by his heart and they don't want to operate on him until they can get that resolved.  So he's going in tomorrow to discuss that.  Fortunately, workman's comp will be covering that as well, since they're considering it a preventative measure to his back surgery, so that's good.  We were worried that they would be faced with huge heart surgery bills and wasn't sure how that would change their length of stay.  So for now, it just sounds like we're waiting to get answers about how they need to proceed with his heart.  Will it require surgery?  Just treatments?  We hate not knowing and in the meantime, poor Fais has been scared out of his mind, not that I blame him in the least.  It's a pretty drastic thing to have to face at only 28.  But the most we can do for him right now is be here and be supportive.  Matt's taking a half day from work tomorrow in order to accompany Fais to his consulting appointment.

In other news, not much going on with the baby yet.  I'm doing my weekly dr appointments now and so far, I'm not dialated and it seems like he hasn't turned so it would seem that he's still pretty content to stay where he's at for the moment.  I'm just ready to be done working for now.  I'm fairly uncomfortable and having to walk in the snow and ice makes me nervous because I'm scared to death of falling right now.  But they won't let me start my leave early, so I guess I just have to keep working until I drop a baby.  *shrugs*  I'll mostly be glad to be on leave because I'm sick to death of all the nosy, rude and intrusive questions.  I look forward to having some of my personal life back to myself again.

Trying to understand

I knew that when I said yes to marrying Matt, that I was agreeing to what some might consider an "unconventional" marriage. Being that he has both ADHD and dyslexia, there are certainly more challenges that will be present in our lives together. I know that with his dyslexia, Matt deals with a lot more difficulties at work and judgments that he is stupid or lazy. I think because of this, he often gets passed up for promotions or opportunities to advance. Two weeks ago he finally got his first raise in pay and position and this was after working in his field for seven years. There are also many issues I find myself having to work through with him. Yes, I am his personal spell-checker (good thing that was actually one of the few subjects I excelled in during school!) but I also find myself in the role of counselor and/or physchologist. Much of what I do during our discussions is address his anger over things he feels he cannot control, such as when he sees people he cares about making potential mistakes in thier lives, and helping him to understand that while it's good to care about them, that he should not feel he is responsible for their actions and that everyone is entitled to make their own decisions, good or bad. Another topic is that life is full of grey areas, whereas his beliefs tend to be very black or white. He's come a very long way in reaching many of these realizations over the past eight years, but sometimes I wonder about his mode of thinking. Is this behavior that he's learned from his parents? Possibly. I see much of both of his parents in him sometimes. But more often I wonder if it has anything to do with either his dyslexia or ADHD. I've read that many marriages to someone with ADHD often end in divorce because the other partner just can't seem to understand or cope. I don't believe I've ever found myself in that kind of situation. I think one of the things that helps us is communication. The other I know, is a great deal of patience and recognition of when you're dealing with symptoms of ADHD (such as Matt's ability to take on six or seven projects at once and jump from one to the other without completely finishing one first). Support, love and understanding go a long way here. And I tend to find that many times I have to put my own personal feelings aside in order to help him cope with his. Not always easy and sometimes I have to go off by myself afterwards and have a cry session in order to cope with my own feelings and stress that come from doing this in order to keep him from feeling as though he's burdening me with his problems.

Now this is not to say that I don't have my own problems. Just like everyone else on my mother's side of the family, I suffer greatly from depression (this pregnancy has been quite the emotional mood-swing rollercoaster) and from that, also anxiety attacks. When I was about 23, I realised that I had been suffering from anxiety attacks since I was about seven and that they were initially brought on by swimming lessons. Growing up, I had no idea what they were- all I knew is that I would get violently and physically ill for both things I was dreading (starting Jr High at a new school or the aforementioned swimming lessons) and things I looked forward to (a trip to Knotts Berry Farm or a Metallica concert) but as soon as I avoided the event/issue, I would feel better. It was frustrating and stressful and I would cry because I had no idea what was wrong with me and it frightened me. My parents reacted by insisting it was "all in my head" or telling me to deal with it, many times with exasperation or annoyance. When I finally realized what I had, I was determined to deal with it without resorting to medication, so I developed breathing exercises as a form of self-calming (Uncle Russ would later tell me that I basically used meditation to re-center myself and applauded me for figuring it out on my own). When I started dating Matt, I found that these attacks started to gradually diminish and eventually stopped. It is now a rare occassion in which I experience one. But during our first few months of dating, I told him what they were, and he would sit with me and help me calm myself until I could resume normal activities. He was incredibly understanding and I credit him a great deal with their disappearance.
However, the depression is something I still try to cope with on a regular basis. I know it baffles him, but he is very patient and attentive when he knows I'm dealing with it.

I know all of our little "quirks" that we bring to our marriage can make things that much more difficult and challenging at times. But I also believe that it makes us stronger as a couple for overcoming them together. We know that there is no "cure" for any of our ailments- we just have to ride them out together and utilize that much more patience and understanding. I do worry about Ben, though. Poor kid- he's getting hit with a double whammy from both of our genes! But that just means we'll have to be that much more vigilant and having been there ourselves, we should be that much more able to recognize any signs that he may be experiencing the same things we've gone through. And hopefully, to keep him from experiencing those feelings we felt: that we were different, dumb, faulty, broken, or not normal.

A Public Service Announcement.

Dear Spectators to my pregnancy:

I understand that I may be starting to show but please, stop telling me this every other day.
While I am happy to be incubating a tiny human, I am not thrilled that I am looking larger all the time. Please stop reminding me.

Thank you.

Lock up your daughters...

...we have a little boy on the way!

And I couldn't be more over the moon about the whole thing. I have had a feeling, ever since I found out I was pregnant, that this was a boy. I appear to be carrying low and the gender predicter on thebump.com had predicted a boy. So I was thrilled to see the little extra appendenge on the ultra sounds on Monday. The amusing thing about this so far, is that almost everyone I talk to (especially women) are puzzled that I really wanted a boy. That's not to say I wouldn't be just as thrilled with a girl- I would- but there's just something so much fun to me about boys. I grew up a tomboy- my favorite things were climbing trees, playing sports and catching critters. So the idea of a tiny version of Matt running around that I can share all these fun things with is just wonderful. Boys are full of mischief, fun and excitement. When/if we have a little girl, I will tackle trying to balance her out amidst this sickening princess culture that they all seem to be forced into these days. But for now, I will enjoy my little man. Also equally exciting is the fact that he will be named Benjamin Roy, so I can name him after my father- which is truly important to me. My father has long been my hero and parenting inspiration and it means so much to me to carry on his name.

Also found out that another set of friends that have a one year old are expecting again- due in April. So that adds another baby to our group! With their one year old, (on the rare occassion we see Vince and his three little girls under the age of five) Rob's five month old, Jen is due in November, Sarah in December and myself in January- plus the new little one in April- our get togethers are going to start looking like a daycare took over pretty soon! Amazing how all these babies seem to be arriving at the same time. I just wish I was closer to Cali, so Wes and Benji could play together! Maybe next time we head out to visit.

Sudden realization

I had a small surreal moment earlier today when I realized that I am in my 30s, pay a mortgage, have a house, dog, husband and car- and have a baby on the way.
Was also amused b/c I realized that I have entered the stage in life where my fridge is covered in baby/kid pictures.

KC weekend

We drove out to Kansas City Friday night after work so we could finally meet our new niece, Kennedy. The drive out was a bit nerve-wracking b/c about halfway there, we hit a rain/snow storm that made the roads a little unfavorable and visibility very difficult. We took it slow and still made it to KC by 10:30pm, which wasn't too bad.

We had a nice visit with Liz's family, though. We all went to the bowling alley on Saturday to waste some time, but for the most part, we pretty much just hung out at their house and caught up on things. Matt got to experience a glimpse into both sides of parenting: handling a two month old baby and disciplining a 15 year old teenager that thinks he knows everything. He said by the end of the weekend, he was getting used to being around a baby that small and didn't find it quite so intimidating anymore. I was glad to hear it and felt pretty much the same way. It is going to be quite an adjustment fitting the baby's schedule into our own, but I think we'll be able to handle it okay. We're getting some good practice with Kennedy right now, though! She's a cutie and very chatty and active. If she's annoyed about something, she'll let you know and the faces she makes while doing so are really funny! I look forward to seeing how her personality grows in the next year.

We came back today and are looking forward to sleeping in our own bed again tonight. Matt goes back to work tomorrow, but I took the day off, since I have two floating holidays for this month I need to use up very soon. I plan on getting Jack in for his yearly shots tomorrow and getting our taxes started. Will work on laundry, dusting and filing as well. Then, if I have time, I'll enjoy some Skyrim. Matt's on it right now because I went out to get the grocery shopping done. That's fine. I should be able to play tomorrow.

Blindsided

So, I'm checking facebook today and see a post by Aren, saying that if we click to this link, we can follow his progress on his health. I figured, that since it's January, it'd be another blog about how he's wanting to get into shape- because Aren's always been pretty focused on staying in shape and healthy. So I click on the link.

Apparently, he's been fighting bladder cancer since 2010?!

He says that this is supposed to be a treatable cancer, but that they need to remove his bladder and such and make a new bladder with his colon with the help of his kidneys? However, when he went in to discuss the surgery this last week, they discovered the cancer had spread to his bones. So he can't have surgery until his bones are cancer free. So he will begin chemo treatment for the next 4 to 5 months.

I know he was supposed to get married this year, but am unsure how plans are going to that effect.

I'm just sitting here balling my eyes out because this is kinda hard for me to think about. Yes, it was a long time ago, but he was my first love. We had the kind of fun, carefree relationship that I've never had with anyone since. I think some of that comes from being young with virtually no responsibilities- some of it comes from your first real love- and some of it comes from the excitement of learning... things... with that person. It's why Aren will always hold a special place in my heart. I don't know that we would have stayed together if I had moved- he's become a different person and so have I. We may have grown apart, eventually. But I have no way of knowing. But I do believe that at his core, he's still that same happy, bubbly, and goofy guy that I loved with that huge smile. It's really hard to think of him going through this kind of thing. And it makes me mad that this evil thing that took my beloved uncle and mentor is going after another good person. I hate it.

The only thing I can really do is offer my support and try and be there for him as much as I can from out here. I know he has a fiance now, and I'm glad. And I'm sure his mother is beside herself with worry over this. I can only hope for the best from this.

Good mood food.

Slight upper from the last post.

I have been in such a state of fluxing funk and depression for the past year or so, that I had forgotten completely how good it feels to have people raving over your food.

We had a food day today to celebrate the Cardinals making it to the World Series (STL is a huge baseball town) and I agreed to bring in my buffalo chicken dip and strawberry cheesecake dessert bars.

I've been getting continuous compliments, raves and even a marriage proposal from my Team Lead.
Who's a girl.
Lol.

Excitement!

I never know how to head these silly posts....

So we survived our stint house-sitting while mom and dad were on vacay.
We had a relatively uneventful rest of the week. Finished shampoo-ing the carpets at our place and they look fantastic and feel great to walk on in bare feet again! Side note: anyone who knows me knows that since I grew up a SoCal sun-worshipper, I prefer to walk around barefoot and am just not comfortable when I get home until the shoes and socks come off.

Since Matt was still sick, we played things pretty low-key. On Friday night, we watched Sixteen Candles. It's one of my favorite John Hughes movies and Matt said he'd only seen bits and pieces of it before. He loves the same JH movies I do, and had wanted to see if this one was just as good, since I enjoy it so much. His concensus is that he really enjoyed it. We both decided that Robert Pattinson is attempting to be the new Jake Ryan. However, Jake Ryan is emotionally believable and doesn't come off as smug.

On Saturday, Matt had to work until noon, so I spent those extra hours trying to catch up on all the sleep I lost throughout the week. Matt's mom called and woke me up around 10:30, though, so I didn't get to sleep as late as I really wanted. Oh well. When Matt got back, we packed our things and moved our personal belongings and food back to our own home. We were ecstatic to be back in our place and to celebrate, Matt took a shower in our own shower. After that, we decided to go out and test drive a couple of cars. We thought we had been decided on the Mazda CX-9 at one point. However, I was never fully comfortable with the price and the gas mileage. Matt had been giving me a lot of grief about the latter issue for the past month, saying I was silly for wanting a larger car but keep the same mileage. I told him I at least wished the CX-9 had better mileage than 24mpg. I currently get about 30-32 with the Elantra and I drive quite a ways to work each day, so I felt this was a valid point.
Then, when gas prices started shooting up a couple weeks ago, I wanted to cry, feeling as though my new car was slipping away from me. There was no way I wanted to pay $80+ for a tank of gas! We'd be spending more a month in gas than we would on the car payment, which is plain silly. But Matt kept brushing this aside, saying "there's really nothing we can do about it".
Until he filled his car up with gas last week.
And spent $42 on a tank.
All of a sudden, he comes home that night and says "uh, we need to talk about your new car".
So we sit down and discuss what have now (ha) become valid concerns. There was no way we'd logically be able to justify buying the CX-9 anymore. Would I be happy settling for a sedan again? Not really, I said. I've been "settling" ever since I got my drivers license. I'm ready to drive something I actually want to buy and still want to feel like I'm driving a "grown-up vehicle". He mentioned the Mazda 3 hatchback. I took a look at it and said I liked the design and idea of it. I then mentioned the Hyunda Touring, which our friend Ryan has and seems like it could be ideal. Matt also said he wanted us to consider the Honda Civic, which is what Ken currently drives. I told him it's the only sedan I would consider b/c it gets great mileage, Ken loves his, and the fuel gage looks like a health bar and that if I put gas in my car, I could pretend I was casting regen. Because I'm a dork like that.

So, on Saturday, we decided to head over to the Honda dealership up the street and take a look at the Civic. Even though I know how much Ken loves his, I had a hard time getting excited about it. It didn't seem like much room in the back and when I got in the driver's seat I was practically hitting my head on the roof of the car (I'm not sure how Ken avoids that since he's about 6'2- maybe he slouches?). But, envisioning all the money I'd save in gas, I drove it anyway. I felt like it was somewhat underpowered when driving it and wasn't all that impressed. It just didn't feel like "me". When we got back, Matt found out it had a timing belt and so we pretty much crossed that one off the list. We were hoping to avoid the extra $500-$600 that comes with needing to replace a timing belt every 60K miles that I currently have. However, we had also checked out the interior of the CR-V while waiting for the sales guy to bring up the Civic- and we really liked what we saw. I liked that I could just slide comfortably into the seats when getting in- there is no bending down or climbing up into the seats. I liked that even though it's not a full sized SUV, it felt roomy. The dash and steering wheel felt of much higher quality than in the Rav4. It also didn't suffer from an overabundance of buttons on the dash that you sometimes see in vehicles these days. I got in the backseat (I always test the backseat of cars so I know whether it would be torture or not if we drove our friends/family around) and there was plenty of room back there. The trunk/cargo area was very exciting, as it had lots of space, the bottom floor lifts up to reveal the spare tire, and there's even a cargo shelf that fits over the top in order to hide what you're storing. All I could think of was "yay: baby-changing table on the go!" I had a flashback to when I was a kid, watching mom change Ken's diaper on the cargo shelf in the hatchback Escort, thinking what a great idea it was that the car-maker had included it in the design. 28mpg. Not as great as now, but certainly not as bad as the CX-9. Matt told me that he's pretty sure that since I have a "light foot" when I drive, that I'd probably get about 30 on the highway. And since we're used to putting down about $10K to $12K downpayment on vehicles, this was very much in our price range. Also, it has a timing chain, which means no replacement of a dumb belt! I definitely had to drive this car. So we sent the poor sales guy back down the hill to look for another test drive. He came back and popped the hood for Matt to check out. I looked over his shoulder and nodded at the appropriate times, attempting to look knowledgeable. When I got bored with that, I hopped in the driver's seat and fell in love with the fabric on the seats. Feels like that odd cloth/suede material they use on all couches these days. But I love that stuff anyway, so I was happy. This one had a moonroof, and I decided that since Matt has a moonroof in his car, I'd like one, too, since it appears to be standard on the EX model (the EX-L model has heated seats and the computer/navigation system, but I don't feel like I need either of those). So we all got in and I test drove the CR-V.
And. I. Loved. It.
They had to practically pry me out of it with a crowbar so Matt could drive it, too. It just felt comfortable. Right. Like an extension of me. I've never ever had that happen with a vehicle before.
Now naturally, the sales guy wanted to talk numbers when we got back. We had told him we weren't there to buy that day, but to research. That we're working on trying to refinance our home first and that if we were to buy a car now, we would be "dinged" on our debt-to-income ratio for the loan since we would be going from having no car payments to having one car payment. But we stuck around because we wanted to see what they were willing to offer us. Turns out that since Matt works at a competitor dealership, they were willing to give us employee pricing and .9% apr, which was very cool. We went back and forth about five times with offers, but in the end, had to re-emphasize that not only do we not have all the money we need to make the downpayment we want yet, but we *have* to refinance first before we can even think of buying a car. They were very sad and we were very sad. However, I can't help but be fairly excited, knowing we're very close to doing this.

On Monday, we locked in the rate on our refi. We were hoping rates would go down a little more, but everything I've been hearing says they're going to continue to go up. At least this way, we're still saving $146 a month, which will help. The appraiser came out yesterday and mom was there to let him in so he could take pictures. I had gone crazy that morning, making sure everything was neat and tidy because I hate when I look at appraisals and people leave their homes an absolute mess. It's very much like looking through someone's medicine cabinet, because you get to see what their homes look like and how they live. And I can never understand if you know someone is coming by to take pictures of your home in order to evaluate it financially, why would you not take the time out to clean up the trash, hang up your clothes, or straighten up your countertops?
But the guy came and went, and for now we're waiting to hear back what the value comes back as. I emailed the appraiser last night and sent him a list of all the improvements we've done since we moved in.

So for now, we're trying to save money on our home so I can (finally!) have a new car- one that I actually want and is fun to drive. But also practical for our (eventual) expanding family.

Bad side to weekend was that apparently all of Matt's drainage from being sick this week migrated over to his ear. It was hurting him when we went to pick up mom and dad and by the time we dropped them off at home, it was so bad that he asked me to take him to the emergency room. I've had plenty of ear infections as a kid and since I have issues with sinuses, they've usually been related. However, Matt maintained that he'd never had an ear infection and doesn't have problems with sinuses. I also know how much ear infections hurt, so I wasn't going to tell him no. So we went. And spent two hours there just so they could tell us it's a sinus-related ear infection. Okay, so nothing really scary, that's fine. They gave us a prescription for antibiotics and vicadin (for the pain) and sent us on our way.
Matt is since doing better, although he says he still has a lot of crap in his ear. My thought is that he's fighting a sinus infection and unfortunately, it spread to his ear. He's been fairly tired this week and we're both trying to rest as much as we can. Him because he's getting over being sick. Me becauase I'm trying not to get sick.

And this weekend, he has to work until noon again, then we're driving to Hillsboro for Easter with his whole family. And then on Sunday, will be Easter with my parents (pretty sure Ken may be working). So this weekend will be another busy one!