Sunday, June 24, 2012

Killin' Me

Seriously, Hers.hey's??  You're killin' me.

I'm sitting here watching a little TV with my feet elevated to help keep the swelling at bay when a commercial comes on for Hers.hey's chocolate bars.  But not just Hers.hey's chocolate bars, it's a s'mores commercial. 

Crisp graham crackers, melty chocolate and gooey, roasted marshmallows.  I almost licked the TV.

Aren't I suffering enough?  My feelings are already hurt that I haven't gained any weight in the past 5 weeks.  I know why that's because I'm hungry.  All I want is a meal that actually takes away the hunger pains.  A cup of skim milk for breakfast isn't gettin' it done.  A single PBJ for lunch with a glass of ice water isn't gettin' it done.   A salad, a mini hamburger and a half cup of mac n' cheese for dinner isn't gettin' it done.

Unless the only thing I eat is steak, steak and more steak, I can see that I'll be hungry for the next 4.5-6.5 weeks.  Is that a light I see at the end of the tunnel or is that the train barreling down on me?

But really, is the s'mores commercial necessary, Lord?  Really?

Friday, June 22, 2012

I've been away from Quick Takes for quite awhile...but I am trying to get back in the blogging habit, so here goes.

I took yesterday and today off work.  We had planned a long family weekend way back in January, but it didn't work out.  Since Mr. Amen was supposed to go to India this week for work, we "cancelled" our original plans and I made a bunch of doctor appointments yesterday instead.  Fun, fun!  We'll try again for a long weekend in July.

Speaking of three doctor appointments, I'm glad I got them all scheduled one right after the other yesterday.  First up was my 32 week appointment with the regular OB.  It wasn't my doctor, but one of his partners.  He was nice enough.  I only had one question for him about stopping the baby aspirin that I take daily.  The Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist said I would need to stop taking it by 36 weeks.  That has me pretty nervous because I attribute this pregnancy's success to God and a daily baby aspirin.  He told me the research behind this recommendation is confusing and not exactly an easy answer.  After discussing it with him, he thought I should talk about it some more with the MFM and get some clarity behind her answer.  I was reassured that if I stop, I'm still on levoxyl and that is even better than a daily baby aspirin.

Next up was the hospital for a Non-Stress Test and an ultrasound.  I got there a little early, so I did the ultrasound early.  Baby girl scored an 8 out of 8 on her bio-physical profile within 2 minutes of starting the ultrasound.  It went so fast, the tech was kind enough to just screw around getting 3-D images of her face for me.  She's a cutie-pie...looks just like Junior.

After that, I went to see the Dietician for a follow-up on how the diabetic diet is going.  I wish there was a nice way to say to a medical professional, "I am not a moron.  Please cut with the it's really complicated crap.  It's not hard.  15g of carbs = 1 unit.  I get it.  30g of carbs = 2 units, 45g = 3 units, 60g = 4 units.  Move on."  And yes, I only had 2 "bad" numbers in the past 2 weeks from eating too many carbs in one sitting.   One was after going to Olga's for dinner when our power was out.  I ate pita snackers, my Olga sandwich (with pita), then nibbled mindlessly on Junior's pita when he didn't eat it himself.  Bad number expected and explained.  The other was Father's Day breakfast, when I made pancakes for Mr. Amen and indulged my hungry self by eating 4 of them with syrup.  Even worse number expected and explained.  Puhleeeez!  I may be hungry, but I'm not stupid.

What's that you say?  I just dropped that little India bomb in the first QT and left it there.  Yes, Mr. Amen was supposed to go to India this week.  Visa delays pushed his trip back one week, so he leaves this Monday instead.  Bummer.  He's stressed about the trip; it's going to be OK.  This is really a once in a lifetime opportunity and I'm excited for him.  It'll be hectic and tiring (for both him and me), but in the end, what a great item for his resume.  Plus, I've asked for a Sari (spelling?), no idea how you spell it, but I want an outfit.

Since I had the day off work, I kept my little monkey home with me for the day.  We went to see Grandmama and Papapa, went to the grocery store and then came home where he ate a Soy Nut Butter & Jelly sandwich, a banana and a York Peppermint Patty.  Now he's dressed as a superhero watching the gutter cleaning and bleaching guy do his thing outside.  Too cute!
Forgive the poor quality, camera phone doing duty.

After all this pregnancy talk, you should at least get a picture of my giant belly.  I think I've dropped because I can breathe much easier, but at 32 weeks, that's a little early.  Anyhow, my stretchmarks have stretchmarks and my skin feels like it's about to burst and baby girl seems to be trying to come out the top.  I just keep telling her to "keep [her] arms and legs inside the uterus at all times."  But I don't think she's listening.
Again, forgive the poor quality and the mess in the background.

Go visit Jen for more QuickTakes.  Such fun reading through everyone's posts - there are some really creative folks out there and great new friends to be made.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pregnancy Update - GD

This pregnancy is going well.  I’ve been tired, but still able to get up every day and get to work.  I’ve been sick, but still able to make dinners most days.  I’ve been crabby, but not too much worse than usual. :-)

With Junior, I developed Gestatio.nal Diabe.tes (“GD”).  I spent the last 2.5 months of the pregnancy hungry.  I did a pretty good job of controlling my blood sugars with diet and exercise alone.  And let me tell you, even though I LOVE me some food, I’ll happily give up food if it means I don’t have to exercise.  Because I HATE me some exercise.  It was a miserable autumn for me in Michigan with the restricted diet.  Autumn is my favorite food time of the year…all the apples, apple pie, caramel apples, cider, Thanksgiving food, comfort food…mmm, my mouth just started watering while I was typing that list.  And I couldn’t eat any of it.

With this pregnancy, I started the diabetic diet right away.  I started testing my blood sugars around 13 weeks and was pleasantly surprised to see them all in the “normal” range they recommend during pregnancy.  I also had a 3 hour glucose tolerance test around 17 weeks and I passed the test…barely.  After several weeks, I stopped testing because my readings were normal and test strips are expensive so I didn’t want to waste them.  Then, around 27 weeks I went in for the one-hour glucose test.  I failed.  By A LOT.  My levels needed to be 129 or below.  I got 158.  Yikes!

My doctor ordered another 3 hour test to confirm GD, but I declined and asked them to just assume that I have it and move on.  So I avoided the “pain” of the 3 hour test, but was sent immediately for a consult with a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist.  Oh, and an appointment with the Diab.etes Counselor.   Fun, Fun.

I had my appointment with the MFM doctor this week and it started with a nearly hour long ultrasound.  Normally, I would be thrilled to get to peer at baby girl for that long, but my belly is really sore and having that ultrasound wand pressed all over for an hour was unpleasant to put it mildly.  Baby girl looked good…they were spending a lot of time on her heart which got me a little freaked out, but they said her heart is fine, it’s just difficult to get good images this far along in the pregnancy.  She is a wiggly little thing though, so they also had a hard time getting good measurements because she wouldn’t hold still.  After the ultrasound, I spoke with the doctor who wanted me to start either insulin at night or an oral medication to help control my morning sugars which are about 15-20 points higher than they’d like them.  Oral medication, please?  She wrote the script and sent me for my non-stress test.  Ah, the non-stress test.  Sat back, feet up, monitors on, button in hand to press when baby girl moves.  That’s the life.  I could even watch TV while they do it.  So pleasant.

Then out to scheduling.  I had forgotten how many appointments are necessary when they diagnose GD.  I am currently 30 weeks pregnant.  I need to go once a week for a non-stress test and an ultrasound biophysical profile of baby until I reach 32 weeks…then I go twice a week.  Plus my regular OB appointments.  Plus work, if I can manage to squeeze it in.

The next day I went for my diabetes counselor appointment.  I didn’t need a monitor or instructions on how to use one since I already have one and know how to use it.  So I only had to meet with the counselor for a refresher on how to determine the amount of carbs in any given food item and go over diet.  The counselor was very nice and went over my history, food allergies, food preferences and self-imposed restrictions with me.  Then she crafted a “custom” meal plan for me.  I say “custom” because there was nothing custom about it.  She managed to include all the foods I am allergic to despite our having JUST TALKED ABOUT MY ALLERGIES.  She gave me a very generous 3 units of carbs at breakfast, which I had just told her I couldn’t eat that many first thing in the morning because my sugars are too high in the morning already and if I eat more than 1 carb unit my after breakfast sugars are too high.  Oh well, I decided to ignore it and just take the plan and leave.  Now I am supposed to keep a food journal for her with the time I ate, what I ate, how much I ate and my sugars in the journal.  I also have to keep my sugars on a separate journal for her.  And I have a third journal of my sugars for the MFM specialist that has to be faxed to her every Monday morning.

I also had been keeping my sugars on an electronic app on my phone.  I hate to give that up as it gives me cool graphs, averages over the day, week, month, etc.  Who knew I would get so into journaling during this pregnancy?!?!  I sure didn’t.  I don’t think I will.

I am likely to just do the best I can on diet (it’s been good so far) and just fill in whatever the counselor wants to see on the food journal.  I’ll say I ate whatever she wants me to eat.  As long as my numbers stay in the right range and my weight gain doesn’t get out of control…I’ll be fine.  As for the 2 sugar journals…I’ll fill out the one from the MFM doctor…and the counselor will just have to get used to it.  The counselor actually said hers is easier because it is two sided…I laughed…our fax machine doesn’t do two sided faxes, so how is that easier?  Whatever.

I took the prescription for the oral medication to the pharmacy to be filled.  I told them I'd wait for it and they said it'd be ready in 15 minutes.  Forty-five minutes later, they finally called me up to the counter to ask me if I am pregnant.  I looked down at my gigantic 30+ week belly, that looks extremely full-term, then looked back at her and said, "yes." She then asked how far along I was and if my doctor knows about the pregnancy because the medication shouldn't be taken within 2 weeks of delivery.  Yes, yes, my doctor who wrote the prescription, on the prescription pad that says "Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist", knows I am pregnant.  She even knows how far along I am if you can believe it!  I went through this same conversation with the pharmacist when I took the same medicine at the same point in my first pregnancy.  I know they are trying to be helpful, but what I really find helpful is people paying attention.  Just try it, you may like it.

So here I am, hungry again.  At least it is during the summer when my sole temptation is frozen custard at my favorite frozen custard place.  And that restriction is only in effect until I deliver, hopefully early, at the end of July or early August because I just don’t want to go all the way to August 15th!  So I’ll still get to have my frozen custard this summer.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Stay At Home Mom?

Here in the real world, I am a WOHM (Work Outside the Home Mom).  In my fantasies, I am a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom).

I work outside our home for a few different reasons. 

First, I still have student loans we are paying off for my master’s degree.  I wish we didn’t have this debt looming over us, but we do.  I don’t regret it.  Graduate school is where I met Mr. Amen, after all.  The payment is literally more than my car payment each month, so I work to make that payment.

Secondly, I work to provide a certain level of security to our family.  Mr. Amen endured a painful nearly 2 year period of unemployment before returning to work.  My steady employment was our sole source of income during that time.  It is also our source of health insurance.  And though unemployment figures appear to be getting better, I know that it is because more people have stopped looking for work altogether, and that is what is “lowering” unemployment…they haven’t found jobs.  Just last week, a dear friend’s husband was laid off…from a really good white collar job.  This is the 4th time he’s been laid off since I’ve known her in the past 7 years.  They have 3 children; two in private Catholic school and 1 in daycare.  They lost their health insurance with his job and will now have to get it through hers (not cheap!!).

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I trust God.  He’s never let me down before.  He always comes through for us.  I feel like one of the ways He’s provided for us has been through my job.  However much I may dislike that method, it’s the method He’s chosen for now.

But, like I said, in my dreams, I’m a stay-at-home mom.  I do creative activities with my 3 year-old.  I clean and organize my house; dust never gets a chance to collect on the shelves.  Mail is sorted and dealt with daily.  Meals are planned, coupons are clipped, bedtime is never delayed because we’ve run out of milk and a certain small person can’t go to sleep without his hot chocolate.  Grocery shopping is done leisurely during the week on Monday afternoon or Tuesday, after the store shelves are freshly stocked instead of on Sunday mornings at 8am before Mass or Thursday evenings at 9pm as the store is closing.  I plan thoughtful outings with friends and playdates for Junior.  I bake cookies, bread and crackers from scratch.  Laundry is done, folded and put away before 10:30pm.  It’s such an idyllic life.

EECK!!  Full stop.  My reality is something more akin to this:

4:50am:  Mr. Amen’s alarm goes off (he rides his bike in the am).  I am now awake (or still awake, as any 7-8 month pregnant lady can tell you).

5:15-5:30am:  Junior wakes and wanders into our room, where I lift him into bed with me and we try to lay still for a few more minutes before my alarm goes off.

5:45am:  My alarm goes off.

6:00am:  I am in the shower.

6:30am:  I am dressed and head out to get Junior ready for the day.

7:00am:  After having wrestled Junior into his clothes for the day, found his shoes, coaxed him into putting them on after stemming the ever-present flow of whine coming from his mouth, I can now concentrate on figuring out what I will have for lunch and packing it.  Honestly, though, we’re usually running late at this point, so I just start Mr. Amen’s breakfast and yell for Junior to go kiss daddy so we can leave.

7:15am:  Pack the car, seatbelt the child, leave for the day.

7:30am:  Drop off at daycare and point the car towards the office.

8:15am or so:  Arrive at work.

2:00pm:  Remember that I forgot to get something out for dinner.  Text Mr. Amen that my plan for dinner was something like grilled cheese & soup, pancakes & eggs, spaghetti or something equally as easy and non-remembering to get something out of the freezer like.

5:00-5:30pm:  Leave work in a mad dash for daycare.

6:15pm: Arrive at daycare. Sign accident/incident report of the day, because there's almost always an accident/incident report. 

6:30pm:  Arrive home.  Try to get Junior to drink something, take his shoes off and put them where we can find them in the morning. Settle him in front of the TV or a movie so I can get started on dinner.

7:15pm:  Eat dinner.

7:40pm:  Clean up dinner.

8:10pm:  Bath time and bed time routine for Junior.

8:45pm:  Hopefully Junior is in bed by now.  Decide which chore I want to do before I collapse on the couch.

9:30pm:  Start getting myself ready for bed, realize I have no clean pants/shirt for work.  Start a load of laundry.

10:00pm:  Bedtime, but let’s be honest, at this point it is more of a lay-real-still-for-a-few-hours-before-I-have-to-get-up-to-pee-without-actually-ever-falling-asleep.

So my reality is starkly different from my fantasies.  I will get a glimpse into the life of a SAHM when our baby girl is born later this summer.  When baby is born, Junior will continue at daycare for 2 weeks to give me a chance to recover from the delivery and settle in a bit with the baby.  Then he’ll be home with me and baby girl until I go back to work.  I’m excited to spend this time with him and the baby.  I have high hopes for everything we will do while I am home.  My dreams include, having a decent meal ready before 7pm each day; getting some things organized to help keep things clean(er) when I go back to work; daily mass as often as I can manage it; and remodeling the half bathroom off the garage.  I might also consider painting a few rooms.  The only room that’s been painted since we’ve moved in is Junior’s room, so we have a l-o-n-g way to go to get the house actually decorated.  Lastly, I’ll be working on meal planning, couponing and economizing to see if we could actually make it on one salary – that’ll really take some hard work as I’ve become overly dependent on convenience items which cost more.  The hope is that with a little more time to devote to couponing, grocery shopping, deal hunting, we can find a way to save.  I have a ton of questions in this area, but I’ll save those for another post.

I'm excited for the possibilities and scared that I'll love it so much I'll really suffer when I have to go back to work.  In the meantime, I'm asking the Lord if He might make a way for us to keep me at home permanently.  I am willing to accept whatever answer He may give with joy, knowing that His plan for my little family is the one that matters and will work out best anyhow.  So if it's back to work for me, then it's back to work...He may have someone there that will see Him through me or maybe it's just that He wants to provide for our family in that way.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Real Love

One of my favorite bloggers in the whole, wide world recently wrote a post dealing with the differing views atheists/secularists and Christians have about love. What it boiled down to was:
Secular view of love = involuntary emotion; random chemical reaction; biological response; transitory; a feeling you “get”, not something you “do”.
Christian love is an act of the will. Love is a choice. Love is a deliberate decision Love is willing the good of the other Love is an outpouring of self (“Self-donation”) to the other Love is an offering; in other words, a sacrifice.
 Leila continues, “love is not a feeling, although feelings do accompany love. Sometimes those feelings are ecstatic, blissful and peaceful, and sometimes they are excruciating, agonizing and raw. At other times, there are no feelings at all.

I needed to hear (read) this.

We’ve been married for about 5 years…and together for almost 13. While I do still get butterflies in my stomach when I think about or see Mr. Amen, to be completely honest, that isn’t happening every day. We’ve had our share of difficulties, especially since getting married. There have been stressors galore and the enemy has really tried to pull us apart. My feelings are not always so positive when he turns on the light in our bedroom after I am asleep, when he yells a question from the opposite end of the house and then is less than thrilled that I can’t hear him or that I don’t answer, when we disagree on how money should be spent or how spending should be prioritized or when he takes a 5 day pleasure trip outside the country over Mother’s Day weekend and the due date of our most recent pregnancy loss when I was 6 months pregnant with a broken toe and a leaking roof. My feelings told me something completely contrary to my beliefs and morals in these cases. My feelings told me that my love for him was fading…and that his love for me can’t possibly be the same as when we first married (his list of annoying things I do is also a mile long, I’m sure, but he doesn’t write this blog, so I’ll feel free to not list them here).

Thank God I don’t rely on my feelings about Mr. Amen to guide our marriage. I struggle some days with choosing to love. I am working on forcing my mouth to say nice words in a nice tone of voice because I know he feels loved and respected when I speak kindly to him. I am working on not leaving piles of paperwork sitting all over the counters because he feels anxious when things look unorganized. I am working on keeping a neutral facial expression when he talks to me about his mother because she is important to him and it hurts him that we don’t get along. I am trying to keep the toys picked up, the laundry on schedule, the dinners planned (taking into account his diet), the car clean, my clothes hung up and put in the dresser instead of strewn over the chair and hope chest in our bedroom, the floors mopped, learning how to pay the bills and keep track of our finances (he’s handled it since we married) and getting the basement organized, juggling roof repairs, childcare drop offs & pickups, doctor appointments, pregnancy hormones and a million other little tasks. These things are important to him and he’s asked me to work on them. At this stage of my pregnancy, with the cooler temperatures in Michigan being traded for warmer evenings and hotter days, most of these things are not high on my Oh-I-Can’t-Wait-To-Tackle-This list. I also work more than full time and am the project manager for three major projects all with due dates just before my newest little one’s due date. Additionally, I am finally getting some help at work; the higher-ups have decided at long last to hire a junior analyst for me. They hope to hire this new person soon so I can get them fully trained before going out on leave. (Good luck with that – they looked for me for over a year and they just posted the job last week).

If we relied on our feelings alone, our marriage would probably be in trouble multiple times a week. The thing about feelings is they ebb and flow with our emotions. So if the secularists are right, all these involuntary feelings and chemical reactions are causing me to feel like I love my husband or not. The world tells me that if it feels good, do it, but when it doesn’t feel good anymore, walk away. What a view of marriage that is! I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a relationship where when things get tough, one of us just walks away. I’m no picnic to live with; it makes me cringe to think about all the times Mr. Amen may have wanted to just walk away from me and our family because he didn’t feel like he loved me anymore. Feelings change. A marriage is supposed to be forever.

So the way I have to see it is that Love really is a sacrifice. It really is an offering. It really is self-donation. It really is willing the good of another. It really is a deliberate decision. And it really is my choice to love. So even though, I may get to a point where I don’t always feel it, I am going to choose love my husband right past that point. I’m going to keep making the decision each and every day that I love this man; that I want what’s best for him; that I really do think we have a better shot of getting to heaven with each other than without. And I will sacrifice myself for him. Every day.

That’s real love.