Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Parting the Clouds

Six weeks in.
Madden is starting to smile. I am looking forward to Christmas in Minnesota and I'm loving this invention called Maternity leave. My mom came to Australia and left again. It was great to have another set of arms to hold this little girl and jiggle her and settle her through some of that bad period. I would listen as my mom would talk with Madden about the weather, her future, her relatives, and on and on. It was so cute. Madden is a much more contented baby than she was just a few weeks back. She still returns to her feral state from time to time, but overall, life is SO MUCH BETTER.
At the end of my mom's visit, we even managed a three day trip to Tasmania. We took the overnight ferry accross the straight and Madden slept through. Now Eric wants to move to a houseboat!

I realize I never announced the winner of the due date guessing game... Christine Chovan was the closest with a vote that was just one day and one ounce off. Christine's guess was 30th/Girl/8lb, 6oz. An honorable mention goes to Amy Brenengen with a guess of the 30th/Girl/8 pounds 1 oz. Here is a photo of Christine, so that you can all look at her and say, "Congratulations, Good prediction Christine."

It took having a child to finally get around to it, but I did post a bunch of photos online. Pictures of our little girl, our wedding, and some of our travels around Australia can be viewed. The link is http://adventuresofeande.shutterfly.com/ and the password is Madden
(of course).

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wouldn't you like to be on a 14 hour flight seated next to us?

A solid month has gone by and I can't account for anything I've done. I've lived in baby world for the past four weeks. I birthed a baby, slept a little, and occassionally took a shower and fed myself. On the rare day that I decide to go somewhere, I can usually manage to get out the door by 3pm.

If you are one of the folks who has kindly emailed me, or tried to skype call me, I am getting them and I do appreciate it...but I can't seem to get ANYTHING done.

During the first week, I seemed to be able to do things, but for the past three weeks, we have been continually rocking and soothing a very unhappy little girl. Both baby and mom have been very weepy as a result. Finally, after a bit of trial and error, it seems that my child is allergic to whatever I'm eating as well as whatever formula has been given to her.

The diagnostic process has involved oodles of medication, formula, screaming, spitting up, pumping, lots of advice, herbal treatments, worry, frantic parents, lack of sleep, tears, reading of every child help book we can, and many doctors visits. Our sweet little girl can be so peaceful at rest and giggles and coos and squeeks...but when she starts to cramp up and arch, it's a long process to get things right again.
We are still experimenting, but it is SO time consuming. I can't feed her myself but want to keep up any supply I have and so I am pumping all the time. I feel like a cow. In the meantime, she is on this expensive formula that Eric and I refer to as liquid gold. It's the best solution so far until I can get her to stop rejecting me. Such emotion surrounds this!

Now I'm on some crazy diet that makes Weight Watchers seem easy.
The list of "can't have's" include all dairy products, soy, wheat, nuts, fish, and eggs.
If you are asking yourself, "Well, what can you eat." I would just like to say, "Amen to that."

Where is Mississippi Market when you need it?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tired and Happy

I have so much to say. So so so much! But finding the time to actually sit down and write a long entry is a bit tricky.

I have a notebook that I kept with me at the hospital...it has several phrases and things written in shorthand to jog my memory and help me to compose the blog of all blogs.

Have I written it yet? Ha!
Yesterday I was sitting on the floor playing with Madden when I caught a glimpse of the apartment in the mirror. In view was a stroller strewn with blankets and burp cloths, a couch filled with partially folded laundry, a room filled with bouquets of massive and bizarre Australian flowers, unopened mail galore, and a pile of dishes on the counter.

The whole scene made me laugh.

As I type this now, the setting in our place doesn't look much different. I keep feeling like there are 14 things I need to get to at any given time and but I accomplish none of them. And yet, if my child is fed, clothed, and content, I feel like I've achieved everything.

So...there is so much to say...but it will all have to wait.

I just have to realize that saying a little bit is enough for now.

That...and photos.

Hopefully photos will suffice.

Especially this last one...

Welcome, my dear Eric, to a house of women...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Madden Grace Tjossem

Here she is...finally she has arrived.

We can't be more excited.

I cannot stay and blog long because, I can't stand to be away from my girls.
I wanted to give everyone the essentials.

Date: Oct 1 2008
Time: 11:55 AM
Place: Royal Woman's Hospital, Frances Perry Wing
Weight: 3.84 Kilos (8lbs 7ozs)
Length: 51 cm (20 inches)

Both Mum and Bub are doing well.
I think that they are both doing better than me, I am still in a state of being blissfully overwhelmed.

I promise that we will blog again in a few days, I am on my way back to see the two lovely ladies.

Monday, September 29, 2008

41 weeks

41 Weeks. Really? This wasn’t supposed to happen.

Am I making too nice a home for this kid and he or she doesn’t want to come out?

We were SURE that it would happen this weekend. It hasn’t yet and doesn’t look likely.

Having no plans at all for the weekend was a bit odd for us. Each day we would just wake up and say, “OK, what now?” We managed to go and watch the Footy Grand Finals (like the Superbowl) broadcast on the big outdoor screen at Federation Square in downtown Melbourne. It was a sunny and hot day and I realize that we have suddenly stumbled into summer. No, we’ve been thrown into summer. That means every day I will be wearing the ONE and ONLY pair of summer capris that I own. Beige Capri pants and a purple T shirt is the look of the season apparently.

We’ve eaten out a fair amount this weekend…mainly concentrating on Vietnamese food (my latest craving). I realize that when my stomach growls it sounds like it’s coming from my spine. Where exactly are my stomach and intestines these days?

Today is Sunday and Eric and I wandered down to our favorite breakfast spot along the river. There were kids everywhere and many of them having tantrums. We began to talk about how most of our friends kids were pulling out from the baby and toddler years. We both have nephews and nieces in their 20’s and although some of our friends have babies still (bless your hearts for waiting as long as we did!), many have kids that are growing up now. We watched as they survived and “got through” those years. Eee gads! What were we thinking!

One of my friends who is trying to get pregnant wrote something wonderful about watching a kid in front of her at Kinko’s having a temper tantrum. She wrote, "How could I want something so badly that terrifies me so much?" I get that.

Another friend wrote me a kind email acknowledging that I had heard and witnessed many of the difficulties in raising kids and that no one really seems to talk enough about the joys of parenting.

People do talk about it “being wonderful”, but they leave out the specifics.
Perhaps it’s just easier to talk specifically about the times that are difficult.

Her exact words were this…”And the joy! the miraculousness of it all -- that is way harder to articulate than the challenges”

I needed that…thank you.


For those that are keeping score and wondering how their bet is coming along…There are officially still 6 of you in the running…

Unfortunately Eliminated...

Eric: 19th/boy/7lb, 4oz.
Hal: 20th/Boy/8lb,4oz.
Anna: 20th/Girl/7 pounds 2 ounce
Pep: 22nd (at 8:42 am your local time)/boy (Leo)/3.58 kilos (7.9lb
Beth: 23rd/Girl/7lb, 8oz.
Lori M: 23rd/Girl/8 lb,1 oz
Brandon: 23rd/Boy/45 pounds 11 ounces (8.5 for real)
Val and Steve: 25th/Boy/7 pounds, 12 ounces
Adam F: 26th/Girl/8lb, 2oz.
Nicolas: 26th/Girl/Weight unknown
Geraldine: 26th/Girl/7lb, 7.5 oz.
Linda G: 26th/boy (Noah or Levi)/7 lbs 8oz
Jenni: 26th/Girl/7lb,9oz.
Ann M: 26th/7lb 10oz./Boy (if girl name is Ann Elizabeth Tjossem after her aunt)
Amy S: 27th/Boy (Jean-Luc)/7lbs, 6 oz.
Laura O’B: 28th/Boy/8 pounds 3 ounces
Kristina: 28th/7 lbs. 8 oz./male

Still in the Running...

Jenn D: 29th/Boy/7lb, 7oz.
Mom Lampert: 29th/Boy or Girl (can’t decide)/7lb, 12oz.
Pete B: 29th/Boy/7.5 lb (born in the Conservatory with a candle stick)
Mark H: 29th/Girl/3.8 kilograms (8.4lb)
Christine: 30th/Girl/8lb, 6oz
Amy B: 30th/Girl/8 pounds 1 oz
Matt B: 30th/Boy/3.57 kilos (7.9 lbs)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tadpole Diaries #5

September 1

Our German friends had their baby six days ago. Yesterday we went to see them. We went in the afternoon after they were back from shopping for several hours at the mall. When we got to their house, all was in order and they were calm and relaxed looking. Rachel had the baby in one arm and was sipping a cup of tea. They had a 'home birth' with a private midwife present and all went just fine. 9 hours of labor. No problems. They said the kid was easy...sleeping 7 hours a night already. Rachel was back to normal size and wearing her regular jeans. She looked great. The breast feeding was easy. She told me all about the things I would need and wondered why I hadn't gotten a pump yet, and why I didn't have certain things. She was going to take a business trip back to the states with her kid in just 2 1/2 weeks time.

When I was ill and vomiting during the early months of pregnancy, Rachel was out sea kayaking. I'm far bigger than she ever got and so much more uncomfortable. To have her tell me she had a natural, somewhat pain free home birth without problems and subsequent quiet, sleeping through the night baby is just too much.

Enormous feelings of inadequacy welled within me. Was Eric expecting me to be in my regular jeans in 6 days? Should I already have the bottles/breast pump thing figured out. I don't even know how to assemble a bottle. And what do you mean the bottles have different flow rates? ugh.

An hour later, we were back in our car and driving away. I said something to Eric about how great they looked. Eric just sighed and stated that clearly, they had faked the pregnancy and just adopted this child. He assured me that he was pretty sure their situation was unusual. I told him that I just knew I wouldn't be in that much control and would probably need a great deal of support. I think we were both relieved that neither of us expected things to be this easy.
Sigh. Germans.

September 3
Went to the OB this AM. All is fine. The due date remains 24th of September and the baby is ready to go. Head down and dropped even though I can't tell. He says that I am having practice contractions but I can't tell that either. I'm hoping I don't notice the real contractions either.
My BP is a little bit above what is normal for me , but what is normal for me is barely a sign of life, so all is well. It figures that it would be a bit elevated as I worked until 9pm last night doing cases. My ankles were not recognizable by the end of the night. On the way home I called Eric and he began to feel sorry for me. I have a nasty cold, hack all night, pee every hour, have almost no voice, and then get stuck at work until really late. I told him not to be so nice because I was desperately trying to hold it together and if he was too nice, I was likely to get weepy.

Every day I want something different from Eric. Poor man
He has strict instructions to be sympathetic without being patronizing. I'm not even sure what that means myself.

September 4
Since Eric has become unemployed, he goes to the gym every day and/or goes for a run. He looks fantastic and I am in the worst shape of my life. Mismatched couple.

Also since he isn't working a regular job, Eric returned to his acting roots and has joined a talent agency in town. He's been appearing as an extra on a couple of really bad Australian TV shows lately and he's been an oil rig worker in a construction commercial. Yesterday when I came home from work, there was a post it note on our kitchen table that read, "2 changes of clothing, Satisfaction, near Southbank, 11:15AM, Brothel."

Ummmm...Did that say brothel?

Apparently that was Eric's next gig. He's an extra is some show called "Satisfaction" and it just happens to be in a brothel.

Can I say that I looked like the most understanding wife on the planet? Here I am at 9 months pregnant, dropping my husband off at a house of ladies.

September 5
As the date gets closer I try to tell myself to get excited, but I just keep getting more and more frightened of the labor and delivery part of things. Too many people have told me too many stories for too many years. And suddenly, I can remember each of these stories in full detail.
Yes, terrified.
People see that I'm pregnant, start telling stories, somewhere along the line say something like, "oh, I shouldn't say this...", and continue on anyway.

I'm quite certain that I won't die. I am certain however, that after 4 days of hard labor I will rip in half and never be the same again.

I'm also scared of something called 'forceps'. I'm frightened that they will do something to my baby, that they will hurt him or her, that they will let it go on to long, that they will leave me in a room and forget about me, that the pain meds won't take, that I will ask for an epidural and become paralyzed by it permanently.

I'm particularly emotional and sensitive about this right now. And I wonder why there has to be pain with childbirth. why why why?

September 6
Other than the fear of what's coming, I'm having a good pregnancy.

When I was sick those first few weeks and getting depressed...well...that was bad. Since that time, I'm larger, but my spirits are really good, I'm mobile, I still take walks, go to the gym, eat what I want...all good.

Sure there are discomforts. Straight back chairs are the enemy. I would like to have the ribs on my right side temporarily removed and getting up 8 times a night to use the toilet leaves me tired and understanding of all my patients that complain of prostrate problems. I also am so tired when I get up that I usually run into doors and end up with a few bruises on the arms. But, generally, I'm good.

When I think about all those people who need to be on bed rest, or those who go into labor really early, or those who lose a baby somewhere along the way, I know I am a very lucky woman.

I have a cold right now...a really bad cold. The kind that makes your nose all red, and ruins your voice for days. I've had it for a week now and I can't take anything for it. I can honestly say that is worse than the discomforts of being pregnant.
Pregnancy isn't so bad. Still scared of the delivery part...but pregnancy is OK.

September 7
Father's Day here - again. We celebrated US Fathers Day but now it's Australian Father's Day. Are we going to keep celebrating both each year? Eric and I walked about a mile to our favorite breakfast spot, had a good meal, nice conversation, and pleasant very slow walk home (it's uphill). Eric read all about his beloved Minnesota Vikings online, did a skype call with a friend of his and then took a long nap while I went to the grocery store and picked up some food and beer for him. That was father’s day #2 celebrated here. Waiting under Eric’s pillow is the Dr. Seuss book “Hop on pop” and a book of Sudoku for when we are in the hospital. He has yet to discover it.


I have one more week of work before I take leave!!!!! ONE MORE!!!!YEA YEA YEA. The joy this brings me is indescribable.

I have 'nested' at work for two weeks now. My file cabinet is organized and clean for whomever needs to access it. I have completed about a 12 page document outlining the process for getting things done in my accounts when I am away, and my email in box is actually able to be viewed on just one screen. Miracle of miracles.
I have given all my accounts the information that I am leaving and whom they should contact.
My car product stock has been counted and is all present and ready to return to our offices sometime this week. I'm ready.

However, it's now time to get things done at home.

We have the kid stuff we need as Eric has been doing the "nesting" on the home front.
However, there are several things I would like to complete before the baby arrives.
I have one week to do it...so here is my plan:

Monday: Answer about 75 emails in my personal account. Reply with fun, long, and witty responses to all whom have written. Additionally, send all written correspondence via snail mail and purchase creative and worthy gifts for the three friends whom I never got wedding gifts for during the last decade.

Tuesday: Make all doctors appointments for the year, including dentist, dermatologist, general practitioner, pediatrician, scheduled immunizations, etc. After this, take long walk, work out at gym, sit leisurely in cafe while reading paper, stock up at grocery store and then cook gourmet dinner complete with candlelight and music.

Wednesday: Write my first novel. Begin work on screenplay. Learn to use photo shop and print photos for albums, including a wedding book which has yet to be assembled and should probably be done before the baby's album. Take photos of cool and interesting things around Melbourne and post on blog for all to see.

Thursday: Get call from publisher. Contemplate offer while cleaning entire apartment. Cleaning should include washing all carpet and rugs, doing all laundry, washing windows and blinds, organizing all drawers in kitchen and bathroom, organizing bookshelf, organizing files, cleaning out refrigerator shelves, cooking 5-6 meals to be frozen for later consumption, scrubbing kitchen floor and doing gardening on patio.

Friday: Wash, dry, press, fold, and store all maternity work clothing since I won't be needing it anymore. Go through wardrobe and pull out all "possible" clothing that may work for whatever my new shape becomes???
Complete all documentation for Australian taxes since they are due in October.
Prepare all paperwork needed for US consulate offices to obtain baby passport and for Australian consulate for obtaining babies visa.

Attend OB appointment in AM, then go to breakfast, spend time with Eric and find cute outfit to attend evening surprise birthday bash in city for friend from work.

Collapse on couch and eat ice cream bars all day. Later that evening, have baby.

September 8
Eric and I tried to call our friends Amy and Troy the other day, but they didn't answer so we just left a message. Then...I received this email from Amy...

"Thanks for the phone call. Sorry we missed it! We were having family movie night which is generally loud enough for us not to hear the phone. Last night was Karate Dog with the main character voiced by Chevy Chase. Jon Voigt starred. I think he needed some money. We've already seen all of the Air Bud series. Did you know there are 5?"

I looked up "Karate Dog" on the Rotten Tomatoes Movie Web site and this is the synopsis...

Rated: PG
[See Full Rating] Martial Arts Action/Violence and Some Suggestive Content
Runtime: 84 mins
Synopsis: After looking into the death of an elderly man in Chinatown, LAPD computer expert Peter Fowler (Simon Rex) can only find one witness, and it's a dog named Cho Cho. At first this doesn't seem much help, until it is revealed that Cho Cho possesses the power to speak with people. The surprises keep coming, when it turns out that the super dog is also a martial arts master, intent on hunting down his master's killer and making him pay.

Is this what people actually watch with children? I copied her on the review and she sent me an email in return with photos from the movie.

Oh, by the way, besides the original "Air Bud" here are the other titles:

Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch
Air Bud: World Pup
Air Bud: Golden Receiver
Air Bud Spikes Back

That is just plain disturbing.

September 8
For years, I enjoyed taking my dog Tofte to the dog park. This is an activity that can ONLY be enjoyed by dog owners. It would be very boring unless you have one to keep your eye on. I would watch some dogs share with Tofte and it would make me happy. I would watch her get snubbed and I would feel bad. Some dogs were faster, others better mannered, others ill tempered. I loved it when I felt proud of her.

Is this a minor version of what a trip to the playground with kids will become?

September 9
I'm like a kid awaiting summer vacation. Four more days of work until I'm off. The air smells like spring and things are in bloom. C'mon summer! I keep calling it my summer holiday...then I have to correct myself and say, I mean maternity leave. Oops. Quite different, right?

September 10 (night)
2 more days!

September 15
Monday...I'm free from work. free free free.

September 16
Since becoming pregnant I have been craving sweets like a mad woman. I was never much into sweets...I preferred a good dinner and simple dessert. Now all I care about is the dessert portion. I've really tried to keep things in check, but right now I have visions of consuming an entire cake, or eating a pie from the center out. One could describe my incredible cravings as more of a fetish...I like to see cakes and pies in shop windows...I gaze longingly at the pictures on the cake and muffin boxes at the supermarket...if someone tells me they made a dessert, I want to hear all about it. I like to make bakery items as well, I've made about 10 dozen cookies, a pie, and 2 cakes in the last few months. I don't eat them, I give them away. Even that gives me great joy. Just the smell of cookies baking in the oven and watching Eric enjoying them is enough. What is this! Will it continue?
I can't take much more of it.
I've now started the bargaining portion of this craving. Well, if I WALK to the store, then I can get the ice cream bar. If I have the ice cream bar for breakfast, I'm more likely to burn off the calories through the day...

Tonight I really wanted mint chocolate chip ice cream...so I made Eric walk with me to the store. When we got there I decided it would melt on the way home and we should make a different selection. Then we had to do the neighborhood cake shop tour. Three stores. We went to three stores before I finally settled on a piece of flourless chocolate cake. Then, when we brought the thing home, it was all I could do to get through dinner in order to get to the cake. I liked it, didn't love it, and I didn't even eat my 1/2 piece. I think it was more about looking at it in the shop window. Bizarre.

Cursed Sweets Craving!

18 September
One of my co-workers who is on maternity leave gave me a bunch of her preggy clothing. She has no plans to have more children and gave me a pile of clothes with the words, "Take what you want, I don't need anything back, and even though most are summer clothes..you may find some things are useful to you throughout this winter." Yes, most things were for summer but I found a few suit pants and tops to be quite useful and kept them. The other items I gave away to the Thrift store. That was about 2 months ago. And yesterday, I took a bunch more items to the thrift store that I thought I might wear but didn't.
So..what happens today? Yes, I get a call from my colleague who says, "Oh, by the way, hold on to those clothes that I gave you because I have another pregnant friend and she could definitely use the summer items."
I can't lie about this one because it's not like I can "make up" the clothing. I had to tell her I only had about half the clothing anymore. Truth is, I probably only have about 1/5 of the items. But tomorrow I will head to the thrift store and see what items I can buy back. Painful.

20 September
Had an early Saturday morning doctors appointment that lead to me sitting in the care center with fetal monitoring equipment strapped to my belly. I expressed that the baby was moving less these days and so my OB sent me for monitoring just to be on the safe side. It was supposed to take just 30 minutes but we were there over an hour. The nurse kept coming in, looking at the printout, shaking her head and saying, "Oh, we'll let it go a bit longer.." Why do they do that! Everybody walking around and saying things in these soothing voices. It makes me think something is wrong when it isn't. We listened to the fast little heartbeat all that time - loved that as we had only heard the heartbeat once before. What was most interesting is that my "fake" contractions appeared on the monitor at regular intervals of every 10 minutes. Maybe that means something?

Finally, the nurse gave us the OK and we were off for the day. That was it, all was fine. No explanation of the extra time needed for the test...but reassurance that we could go about our weekend. Next appointment is the actual due date. I'm hoping I will see my OB in the labor ward sooner than that.

21 September
There is a strange power in being so close to the due date. Every time I call someone, they answer immediately and assume I am calling because I had the baby. My mother checks her email and the blog daily to see if we have posted anything. Really, Mom, you won't be notified via email. You WILL get a phone call and it will be the very first one I make. I promise!

The support from friends and family and the "checking in" has been GREAT. I love it. Just the number of emails increasing has been terrific. And please, everyone, stick around. Because I will definately need support once the baby is out and I am really confused about what to do.

I called Eric multiple times from the grocery store because I left the list at home by accident. When he noticed that he had missed multiple calls, the breathless phone call I got in return was really cute.

Like I said, I have never known this power.

22 September
Old wives tales for inducing labor include eating tropical fruits, drinking castor oil, taking long walks, having acupuncture, drinking brown sugar water, drinking rose leaf tea, eating chocolate, eating spicey food, going on a bumpy drive, meditating, taking a long warm bath, talking to the baby, and massage.
I have now eaten so much pineapple, I don't want to see another one. I'm avoiding the castor oil method but enjoying the nightly warm baths. I've had a steady diet of spicy food and taken several long walks but there has been no noticeable anything. This child apparently has it's own agenda and cannot be coaxed.

23 September
Not exactly what I envisioned for the morning...Eric and I doubled over the sink retching and calling the poison control center.

Both of us, in a freak accident that would eventually make us laugh, had ingested household bleach.

At some point yesterday Eric had realized that one of our water jugs needed a bit of cleaning and had poured bleach into the container. Later, the woman who comes in to clean our place, noticed the container, filled it with water and set it on the counter. Then, last night, I set the jug in the refrigerator to cool (or marinate as I would later learn).

Normally in the mornings, I sleep in a bit and Eric heads off to the gym. This morning we both slept in and so I got up and made us breakfast. As we sat at the table with our oatmeal, Eric pulled out the water jug and poured two large glasses.

The weird part is, we both took a big gulp of the stuff at the same time. It's not as if one of us could have been the guinea pig and then warned the other one. Nope, it was simultaneous poisoning.

Later, when I got my head out of the sink, I called my OB and on his advice then called poison control.. As he said, "I don't know what to tell you because no one in all my years of practice has ever called me with this question." He seemed more concerned that I not be 'cross' at Eric. I wasn't..hadn't even thought to be angry at Eric...but have now confirmed that my OB is rather protective of the male side of pregnancy.

It turns out that of all the household products we could have consumed, bleach is the least harmful. So, at least we have that going for us. Not that one should go around taste testing household products, mind you.

I still smell bleach, I still taste bleach, I'm still burping bleach, and apparently I will for a few more hours. Yuck!

Eric just called me from work and asked how I was.

Then he coyly stated, "So....what's for breakfast tomorrow?"

I'm sleeping in.

September 24, 2008!!!!!!
Today was supposed to be the day. It is 9:14 PM. I don't think the baby will be here before midnight. Now we know it is taking after me (usually late) more than Eric (always early).

Last night we decided to have a "last night out as a couple without children" and went for a movie. Now, sitting in a movie seat has been uncomfortable for me for quite some time. But there is a solution here and it comes in the form of something called "Gold Class Cinema." The theater has about 30 seats and they are all fully reclining lazy boys! There is a button in the middle consol that you press if you would like a beverage, popcorn, ice cream, mixed drink, or a roasted lamb dinner (seriously!). Let me just say it is heaven in a movie theater. I now don't want to see a movie in any other way. Check it out....



We went to the OB this afternoon and after being chastized for being a bit late (again, my fault), he smiled and asked, "So, how are my bleach drinkers?"

We took a look at the baby through his ultrasound and all appears fine and dandy, and cleaner (just kidding). He is encouraging me to wait. ugh. waiting. The pressure in my abdomen is unbelievable at this point. The difference in what I felt at week 37 and now at week 40 is HUGE!!!! When my belly moves now, I feel like it's going to take me with it. At week 37, my belly was heavy, now it feels like the kid is destined to be a 15 pounder. I've taken to calling it "Eric's massive offspring."

The only thing my OB did ask was that I don't deliver on Saturday since he has tickets to the Footy Grand Final. That would be the equivalent of letting one's superbowl tickets go unused. oops.

Now I have this feeling that the baby is destined to come on Saturday.

Eric and I spent the rest of the day wandering about the city, taking fun photographs, and enjoying a long walk on the beach. It was sunny, slightly cool and beautiful. It's strange not knowing if perhaps tonight will be the night, or if we will have yet another week to wander about exploring Melbourne and enjoying 'couples last night without baby.'

I do believe we are both ready for "couples first night with baby!"

Come on kiddo...we want to meet you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Your votes...

The predictions are in and the following is the comprehensive list...

I personally find it interesting that no one choose to vote for the actual due date (the 24th)! The 26th was definately the most popular of times.

My lovely husband voted for the earliest date, but alas that time has come and gone and I am still GREAT with child.

Some of you chose to give the weight in Kilograms...I appreciate it because it sounds deceptively smaller. Pete B thought this was a game of Clue and added that the child would be born in the conservatory with a candlestick. My mom couldn't choose a gender and added "Either one would be just great, honey". Nicolas wouldn't choose a baby weight without knowing the specifics of my diet. I can confess that my diet consists of a healthy share of ice cream at the moment. Others chose to provide a name, or offer their own name as a tribute (Auntie Ann). And to Amy B...I know that the 30th is also your birthday, but wow, I hope it doesn't go that long!

By the way...it was a relatively even split between male/female: 13 predictions for a boy and 10 predictions for girl.

Eric: 19th/boy/7lb, 4oz.

Hal: 20th/Boy/8lb,4oz.

Anna: 20th/Girl/7 pounds 2 ounces

Pep: 22nd (at 8:42 am your local time)/boy (Leo)/3.58 kilos (7.9lb)

Beth: 23rd/Girl/7lb, 8oz.

Lori M: 23rd/Girl/8 lb,1 oz.

Brandon: 23rd/Boy/45 pounds 11 ounces (8.5 for real)

Val and Steve: 25th/Boy/7 pounds, 12 ounces

Adam F: 26th/Girl/8lb, 2oz.

Nicolas: 26th/Girl/Weight unknown

Geraldine: 26th/Girl/7lb, 7.5 oz.

Linda G: 26th/boy (Noah or Levi)/7 lbs 8oz

Jenni: 26th/Girl/7lb,9oz.

Ann M: 26th/7lb 10oz./Boy (if girl name is Ann Elizabeth Tjossem after her aunt)

Amy S: 27th/Boy (Jean-Luc)/7lbs, 6 oz.

Laura O’B: 28th/Boy/8 pounds 3 ounces

Kristina: 28th/7 lbs. 8 oz./male

Jenn D: 29th/Boy/7lb, 7oz.

Mom Lampert: 29th/Boy or Girl (can’t decide)/7lb, 12oz.

Pete B: 29th/Boy/7.5 lb (born in the Conservatory with a candle stick)

Mark H: 29th/Girl/3.8 kilograms (8.4lb)

Christine: 30th/Girl/8lb, 6oz.

Amy B: 30th/Girl/8 pounds 1 oz

Matt B: 30th/Boy/3.57 kilos (7.9 lbs)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Watching the Olympics from a Different Point of View

I know that the Olympics are past us at this point, but I just want to make a few comments about watching the games from a different vantage point.

I must also note that I LOVE the Olympics. The national pride, the spirit of competition, the triumph of the individual, it all makes me weepy.

There was a great deal of buildup to the Beijing games and there were certain advantages about being two hours off the time zone vs. the 15-18 hour time difference the US experienced.

However, I don’t really know how we fared at the games. Frankly, I didn’t hear much about the US athletes other than the fact that Michael Phelps is amazing and our Olympic runners can’t hand off a baton.

Other than that, it was all about the Australians. But really, what could I expect?

Occasionally, Eric and I would spot an American flag in the background, or a person outfitted in a US uniform, but there would be no mention of this person. If an Aussie took bronze, the camera never lifted from that persons face.

They apparently don’t have the total coverage that we have in the US…gone are the background human interest stories that I so love. I think we were just supposed to “know” about these athletes. I now feel as if I do. The fever continues here. There was a parade downtown yesterday to welcome home the Victorian athletes and the medal winners are still present on every local TV program. The magazine covers are filled with photographs of the athletes and even the reality programs are getting in on the act with Stephanie Rice appearing on “Make me a Supermodel”.

We garnered as much information as we could from the internet regarding the standings of the US athletes, but we also understood the focus on the Olympians of our host country. The only mar on the events was the reaction to the senseless shooting of the Bachman's. Rather than it being about some lunatic harming two people, the initial take was that it was anti-American sentiment and the news reports encouraged athletes to wear their Australian colors when out in public.

Australians LOVE sport, the value it highly, and they are very very proud of their Olympic athletes.
It doesn’t really matter what sport an Olympian is competing in, it will be covered and watched. The TV coverage would leave the venerated gymnastics program to show the sport of “equestrian dressage” simply because an Aussie was competing. I didn’t even know that there were horses in the Olympics, or sailing, or fast walking...

The United States took home the most medals, but that is not how the rest of the world does the ranking. We never saw a statistic that put the US in the number 1 position. China took home the most gold medals and so they ranked themselves first…but Australia does a ranking by a different number. They rank medals per capita. So…if one does the math, Australia ranks higher than either the US or China in medals. (USA, by the way is #45)

This doesn’t make sense for a number of reasons, but when in a room with a bunch of Aussies, that point is hardly worth debating.

Go Athletes!

In case you are curious about who is number 1 in medals...... http://users.skynet.be/hermandw/olymp/reloly.html

Monday, September 15, 2008

Calling for Entries

The countdown begins…
Maternity leave has officially begun and the due date is just 9 days away!

Now is the time to cast your predictions.
The winner will receive one year’s free subscription to our blog (ha) and notoriety in knowing that you are the winner.

Here is how to cast your vote…
Reply through the “comments” section of the blog, or send an email to Eric at etjossem@gmail.com or me at lampert@rocketmail.com listing due date, gender, and weight. All official entries will be posted. The bidding stops on the 21st (Sunday), or before if the baby decides it wants to be known earlier. So vote early!

As an FYI, the actual due date is September 24.

The winner will be evaluated in this order:
1. Due date
2. Gender of child
3. Weight

All entries are welcome, but just know that you may not be on my good side if you choose to post a date in mid October, or a baby over 10 lbs.

Happy guessing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beyond Dick and Jane

Your baby name suggestions (through blog comments and individual emails) are IN. Some are very serious and well thought out, while others are causing me to question the lifetime of teasing they could bring. The list is compiled below:

For a Boy:
Jean-Luc (in honor of Star Trek)
Hartley (Hart for short)



or, for that special Aussie flavour:

Bruce ('Brucy')
Wayne ('Wayno')
Darren ('Dazza')
Barry ('Bazza')

For a Girl:


or, for that special Aussie flavour:
Noeline ('Noels')
Sharon ('Shazza')

We have been pouring through the baby-name books and have found a couple of names that we really like and actually agree on. One may be listed above and be from your suggestions…you never know. Yea!

The only thing that gives us pause is the description in one of our books, titled “Cool Names for Babies”. It seems that almost ALL of the names we like fall into the segment on page 41 labeled “Neo-Yuppie Cool Names”. After reading the description for this title and the subsequent list of names included in this category, we came to a stunning conclusion…we like many of the names in this section and you, dear friends, may actually have named your children with one of these choices. Read on to see if YOUR KID is listed in partial list of names we attached.

“Neo-Yuppie Cool Names”
There is a certain kind of name that is considered cool by that segment of the upwardly mobile yet politically correct population we might call neo-yuppies. Neo-yuppies – the newest version of the 80’s yuppies and 90’s bobos – like distinctive things but abhor ostentation - they have good taste but disdain convention; they appreciated the classics but prefer them with a modern twist. The names they like are to the left of the most popular list but far to the right of most choices in this book. You’ll see them on the rosters of upscale nursery schools and hear them in the playgrounds of affluent neighborhoods, and you may like them yourself. And why not? They’re good names, classic as well as cool, embodying style along with history. The only problem is that you may hear them far more than you want to in the years to come."


Love you all, my “Neo-Yuppie” friends.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tadpole Diaries #4

July 21
Who knew that the men were allowed to attend the breastfeeding class? I went alone and was surprised to see the seats filled with couples. Oops. Eric would have loved an entire class about breasts - what man wouldn't? Ha. I feel like I deprived him of the coup d'etat in the parenting series.

The class was 2.5 hours long and the instructor bore a resemblance to Mrs. Doubtfire. She had several stuffed felt breasts that she used for demonstration purposes. The couple next to me got the giggles early on during the session and all I wanted to do was laugh along with them.
At one point, the teacher passed out the realistic looking babies that we were to use to try in various holds. They actually name these "holds," The football hold, the cradle hold...etc.
The fake baby that I was handed was Asian in appearance. An Asian couple sat in front of me and they were given a very pale, blue-eyed child.

We all tried to pretend that it was no big deal but kept glancing at each others "dolls" and wondered if we should just make a hasty exchange.

July 22
I went to get into the car this AM and couldn't. I generally have the car for work and when I park our SUV in our VERY small garage, I have to move it far over to the left in order to get in and out . Even being ALL the way over to the left, so that the mirror touches the garage wall, the right hand drivers door only opens about halfway.

Yesterday evening, Eric drove the car and Eric parked the car. My flat bellied hubby could get in and out of the car but I turned sideways and had to scrape my belly against the wall and behind against the car. My coat has streak marks from the scrape.
Ummm, sweetie, do you think you could park the car WAYYYYYY over next time????

Aug 13
Someone from my work resigned today. We are seriously short-staffed and now we have lost a person. She was hired a year ago and was struggling to understand the material. She had difficulties in a few surgeries and when we sent her back to training, it became too much and she submitted her resignation today.

I feel bad for everyone on my team and the increased work load. Whether they like it or not, in five weeks time (or less), I'm taking leave. I'm taking my well deserved, love my baby, enjoy my time, stay up all night, be sleep deprived, worry about things, live in baby world time OFF!!!! Yippee.

When I think about all the times I've had to cut a vacation short or not take it at all due to work constraints, I feel like it's a normal part of my job. I've flown back from tiny airports at wee hours of the night just to cover cases. I've driven through blizzards and been snowbound in cities (Grand Forks) for two days. I've checked patients at 3 am just so I could get to the next place in time for a morning session. I was locked between two sliding doors for a good part of a Thanksgiving morning (that doesn't really fit in here, but it is a funny story). I had to trade call weekends and pick up extra days just so that we could get in our honeymoon last summer. I always panicked about things being covered and things going smoothly in my absence. I kept my cell phone on. I kept my blackberry on. I answered calls from my boss and called hospitals while hiking, camping, and skiing.

This time is different. I cannot postpone due to the inconvenience of anyone else. I will turn off my phone when I am sleeping. I will still return calls, but I can't be at the beck and call of work during this time.

That brings me joy and relief that I haven't felt since I started this crazy profession 6 1/2 years ago.

August 14
Many years ago, when Tofte was still a puppy, I had an interaction that I never forgot. It was a hot summer day, I was driving my little VW bug convertible and Tofte the puppy was sitting in the passenger seat. I was stopped at the intersection of Grand and Lexington when a woman in a minivan next to me rolled down her window and yelled, "You have my former life!" She went on to say that they used to have a convertible but sold it when she had her kids. She and her husband also had a golden retriever but they had just put it down. She paused for a bit and then laughed and said, "Look how the years change things." She was a perfectly joyful woman seated in a beat up minivan with the sounds of yelling children coming from the back seat.

At that moment, I loved my life.

Eric and I have friends here that have in many ways lived a parallel existence to us for the last year. They are an American couple that married just a few weeks before we did, and they moved to Melbourne a week before us. They came here with a transfer for her job and he had a bit of trouble finding work.
There are many similarities among the four of us, but one primary difference, they are ten years our juniors and like the woman in the minivan, THEY have our former lives!
They are busy all the time and travel almost every weekend. They go downhill skiing, take trips all over Australia, and fore-go sleep so that they can take in an extra day somewhere and get back on a red eye flight just in time for work on Monday.

I'm ready for baby and this is a whole new adventure, but I must admit that watching them and witnessing their freedom makes me a bit jealous. I don't know all the joys that this next adventure will bring, so I can only look back longingly and know what I'm leaving behind.
Bye for now last-minute-travel and dodgy accommodations, hello new life.

August 16
Our landlord put a new dresser in our apartment when we were away in the US. We were very happy about it as we now had a place to put all the new baby clothing. All the outfits were carefully washed and dried at my mom's before returning to AU and when we got here, they were divided by size and stored safely away in the dresser.

Something happened.

The dresser drawers are made with some sort of compressed resin/sawdust/formaldehyde material that began off-gassing. All of our cleaned and new baby clothes smelled toxic. I mean really really toxic. Like Rat-poison toxic.

Since we don't have a dryer and our itsy bitsy washing machine takes about 2 hours for a load, we made a trip to the laundromat.

For some reason the laundromat trip was a weekend highlight. I can't explain why. Was it the volume of baby clothing that we hauled with us? Was it watching all of these tiny little things going round and round in industrial size dryers? Was it the glances of those around us as Eric and I giggled while folding these tiny clothes? Was it the fact that even baby socks go missing in a dryer?

Anyway, all our little tots clothing is now safely cleaned and resting comfortably in the crib. The toxic dresser has been moved to the living room where it contains office supplies and various papers.

August 20
Most women in Australia finish up work between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy. I'm 35 weeks along and you should hear the comments. I think I'm the biggest and most unusual thing anyone has ever seen in the workplace. I'm all belly. Most people describe if they are carrying High or Low. Eric says I'm carrying the child "external".

We've been watching the Olympics (LOVE THEM!!!) and the commentators make references to the body types of the athletes. "Well, now, isn't she a chubby gymnast" and "He doesn't look like your typical diver...quite old looking." It cracks us up. Maybe it's an Australian thing. They feel rather free to comment on body shapes.

So, with that in mind, I would like to share my list of things that a person should and should not say to a pregnant woman.

Let's start with the Should's...
1. "Good luck" or "Best Wishes"
2. "You look so tiny"
3. "My friend so and so was so much bigger at that stage..."
4. "Congratulations"
5. "How are you feeling?"
6. "Are you sleeping alright?"
7. "You look radiant."
8. "What a cute outfit."
9. "When are you due?"
10. "Do you know the gender?" and a considerate "Are you telling?"
11. "Where are you having the baby?"
12. "What are you most excited about?"

And the things that it would be best to REFRAIN from saying...
1. "My goodness, you're huge."
2. "You look pale."
3. Any horror stories about baby delivery.
4. The word "Tear"
5. "Is it twins?" and then further insistence that perhaps it is twins and "maybe the doctor just hasn't told you."
6. Asking gender is fine, following it up with, "but what are you hoping for?" is not.
7. "When are you due, yesterday?"
8. Any comment that includes the word "waddling."
9. Remarks about how much smaller someone else was at that stage.

And the all too personal series...
10. "Will you be delivering vaginally?"
11. "Will you be breastfeeding?"

and the doomsday favorite...
12. "Life as you know it is about to be over, are you sure you want this?"

August 23
What a quandary.
What a major decision.
alright, I open up the floor for suggestions.

We already have a girl name all picked out. In fact, we had about 5 girl names that we really loved, but one came naturally and we are about 98% certain of it.

However, since we don't know the gender...we need a boy name.

That is SO much more difficult.
I don't know why, but it seems that there is much less creativity in the boys names and I go back and forth between something traditional and something more "out there."

However, the risk with a boys name seems just that much greater.

We have about 6 baby name books. Most have titles like, "600,000 names for babies or the much more creative "401,000 baby names." We also bought a survey book that lists people's opinions of certain names and another book titled, "Cool names for babies."

If we went with something purely Australian, we'd end up with one of the rather odd names like "Hamish or Lochlan". Don't fret, those two aren't in the running.
Alistair is out as well.

There is, however, an Aussie Olympian swimmer with a certain interesting name that we are considering.

Eric has a couple of favorites and so do I. Unfortunately we are having a hard time meeting in the middle on them.

So...post your (serious) suggestions and all will be considered.

August 24
This is the day that we left Minnesota last year. One year ago today. At times I think "Is that all? and at other times I realize how much can change in just one year.

For Eric, he's just wondering who the chick in our wedding photos is...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

We can never move to the UK

When mild mannered Eric manages to anger people into leaving a dinner party early, we know we are in trouble.

Last night we attended a party with a mix of Brits and Australians. It was an awkward beginning for the eight of us in attendance. There were introductions of names only and we all found ourselves standing around a kitchen counter hovering over an appetizer platter. There were moments of silence interrupted by the occasional inquiry. "So, where do you work." Nothing really seemed to engage anyone and conversations fell flat.

However, one person had arrived with a very professional looking set of poker chips and we knew that the silence between people couldn't last forever.

When dinner was finished and the table was cleared, the game carrying guest began to take out the poker chips.

In retrospect, that's when the we should have left.

The chips were distributed by color! "OK, you be the blue chips, you are the red chips, you two are the white chips." AGRRGGGHHHH. Values people, chips have values. One must respect these chips!

Over the course of the evening, any number of serious grievances that would have gotten us shot in Vegas began to occur. Hands were mis-dealt and then simply amended rather than re-dealt, people folded and then reentered the game whenever they felt like it, there were too many out of turn raises to be counted, one person declared a flush with a set of four, someone else declared a straight with a card missing from the middle. I began to feel like a rule keeper.

Halfway through the game, most of the chips sat at the end of the table between Eric and myself. When I returned from getting a water and a taking trip to the bathroom, I found that the chips had been "redistributed" as people were "running out."

I quickly and purposefully lost my remaining chips so that I could just become permanent dealer. Eric's pile of chips came and went as the person next to him gave him handouts. Finally, he missed out on a massive winning in the middle of the table because no one understood the concept of splitting the pot. Apparently in this off-label game, there was only one winner each time. HUH? Suddenly it was not a five card game, but a seven card game in those instances.

OK, we aren't poker gurus, but we know enough not to be completely dim about the game. This abomination of Texas Hold-em was too much for us, especially Eric.

With us both eliminated from the game, we watched as another person was about to become robbed of a huge win in a same 'split-pot' scenario. Eric, the defender of the innocent quiet ones, got a bit aggressive and HAD to point out the error of their ways and demand that they give some chips to a relatively quiet woman at the end of the table. Eric was outraged that they couldn't see that she had ALSO won. Mild mannered Eric was standing, rather loud and trying to manage the reorganization of the chips.

That was it. The British sensitivities couldn't handle any more. Suddenly the two Brits at the end of the table declared, "This is no longer fun and we are leaving." They were gone within about 3 minutes.

We left about 5 minutes after them and when I got to the car, I couldn't stop laughing.
The only thing I could say to Eric was, "Well, we can NEVER move to the UK."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What a Difference a Year Makes

One year ago we started something new. Now look, everything is different. We are happy and look forward to the next adventure that will be coming in a few months.
We decided to take a trip for our anniversary, besides it won’t be too long before Beth is not allowed to fly. There were already some apprehensive looks on the part of the cabin crew as we boarded our flight. Somehow they must have known in advance that we will be parents soon because they put us in the “family” section, babies and toddlers all around, and for good measure bratty teenagers behind us. We picked up on some parenting techniques, good and bad. We can only hope that our new one will travel well.

Tasmania was beautiful. We had found accommodation through the Lonely Planet guide, and they did not steer us wrong. Cute little theme cottages that are within walking distance of the center of Launceston. Ours was the “Welsh” cottage complete with a large tub and chamber pot. The tub is for use, the pot for decor. Beth pretended to sit in the parlor waiting for gentleman callers whilst I sipped tea in the kitchen.

Some friends had told us about Freycinet National Park and the excellent hiking there. I was a bit dubious about the hiking, but Beth reassured me that she is “pregnant, not an invalid”, and she is always up for that sort of thing. I love that about her. After the park ranger eyed the bump under Beth ’s jacket she told us that it is a three hour strenuous hike….it didn’t matter as we wanted to see the famous wineglass bay. The beach at wineglass bay was ranked by Outside magazine as one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world. Apparently since that ranking, many a tourist and family have shown up at the park headquarters and asked for directions to drive to the beach. The only problem is that the beach is only attainable through a strenuous 1.5 hour one way trip. There is no road. Showing up in beach gear with flip flops isn’t going to get a person very far. Maybe the difficult hike is what keeps the beach so beautiful.

The beach definitely was worth the trip. However, we both admit that we missed a GREAT photo opportunity. Last year at our wedding, Beth posed on the rocks at Lutsen with the blue waters of Lake Superior stretched out behind her. Now, I’ll include that photo, but I’ll also include a photo of the rocks at Wineglass bay. Why, oh why, didn’t we put Beth and her rounded belly up on the rocks and reenact the same photo. Exact title of this missing shot would be “One year later”.

In addition to the hike at Freycinet, we toured the natural beauty of Launceston and enjoyed a great lunch in a restaurant that was fashioned out of an old barn. Tasmania is green and lush and beautiful. It’s a bit like Portland , Oregon meets Alaskan fishing village. It’s only a short flight from Melbourne , but its island setting makes the climate completely different. It’s cooler, but more temperate year round and rainy. Launceston is the second largest city, but it felt more like a bustling little town. No traffic, no large buildings, a complete 180 from our mini New York setting where we now reside.

We are home now, and tucked in to our new city awaiting the arrival of our wee one. No airline will take Beth as a passenger from this point on and any travel we do will be by car. We are living vicariously through the travel stories of our other expat friends who seem to be flying everywhere.

For us….we have reached the milestone of one year of marriage and so much has happened so fast in our lives. Let the nesting begin.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Tadpole Diaries #3

June 12 :
Eric and I returned to Melbourne on another epic 22 hour flight. It’s nice to have each other on the flight and the selection of movies comes in very very handy. I can highly recommend the movie “Lars and the Real Girl”. Seriously. It’s a horrid premise, but the movie is about acceptance and dealing with difference and we both enjoyed it a great deal. It definitely was better than my other selection, “The Other Boleyn.” Two thumbs down for that one

I remained as awake as possible on the flight so that I would remember to walk around, drink lots of water, and exercise the legs whenever possible. (Pregnant women are prone to blood clots)
I wasn’t uncomfortable…it was just strange to be up when everyone around me was sleeping.

We arrived bright and early on a Monday morning but two of our bags didn’t. You just know it instantly when the carousel goes around and around and you spot some of your bags grouped closely together, but the others don’t appear in the next two rotations. It turns out one bag was sent to Brisbane and the other remained in LA.

We had to wait at the counter and describe the bags. One was, of course, the bag that contained almost ALL our new stuff for baby and us as well as some electronic goods that we probably should have carried on but didn’t have the room. Murphy’s’ law dictates that would be the bag that goes missing.

The other bag was our new baby car seat. The folks working at the baggage office looked distraught when we told them about the car seat. They explained how stringent the laws were in Australia and told us they would need to organize to get us a carrier for our use to get home. Eric just smiled at them and declared, “Oh, No worries, the baby is still in the carry-on stage” and he patted my belly. The baggage people then looked down at the rest of me and began to laugh. Then they assured us the car seat would arrive sometime in the next three months.

In case you are wondering, the bag of everything else arrived late that night and we were relieved to see it. The car seat arrived a few days later. Apparently it got a bit lost in LA. Hmmm…I’m picturing the car seat on a Hollywood tour….

Well, our lives have returned to the slower cadence of life in Australia and we certainly talk a great deal about the fun we had in Minnesota. It was two weeks of fast paced, filled days and fun with family and friends. Sigh. It’s always that fun there, isn’t it?

As Eric explained in his last entry, our return to AU wasn’t exactly glorious with him losing his job and me taking a rather impressive fall on our very first day back. I’m still nursing a bruised knee and elbow and Eric is madly searching for employment. Despite all of this, we remain incredibly happy. These pregnancy hormones are working wonders for my mood and Eric never really feels sorry for himself over anything. It’s a lovely quality that I admire in him.

June 18:
Today we went to visit our very first daycare center. We were met at the door by a very peppy teacher as well as the director of the center. They spilled over about the good attributes of the place and took us on a tour of the rooms. The rooms all have one way mirrors and we could watch without being seen. It was like a zoo tour with children at the center. The director emphasized the “natural” environment, lack of plastic in the place, fantastic outdoor facilities, and the vegetarian meal plan. They both talked about how they redirect rather than discipline children. They went on and on and we ate it all up. The place was like the organic food market of day care centers and we loved it instantly. Bring on the natural children we say!

All we need is someone to hold our little baby and to love it, and feed it, and pick it up when it cries. Who really cares about a natural environment? We are such Suckers!
Alas, we put our names on the waiting list anyway. The waiting list is apparently about a year’s wait. How can this be?

June 21:
I’m beginning to hate the “waiting list” for daycares. Three tours in and we still don’t have a place. We are starting to move farther and farther from our apartment.

One that we went to yesterday had a large sign on the door that read "There have been SEVERAL cases of head lice lately...please check your children". The word SEVERAL was all capitals and underlined many times.

When we left there my head itched all over. I couldn't help it.

Eric says "There will be no lice in our house...all children who get lice will have their head shaved and that's final."

However, at this point, we are even hoping the house of lice calls us with an opening for daycare.

June 28
Our first parenting class! Hooray. We were so excited about this class all week and we looked forward to the possibility of meeting other soon-to-be-parents. However, when it came down to the organization of the day, we completely blew it! We had planned our day out well…wake up, go to the gym, eat lunch, go to parenting class and then go straight to our friend Lou’s birthday party. It was to be a brilliant day.
However, I slept in due to bouncing baby keeping me up all night, Eric got into a very long skype chat with a friend, and we decided to blow off the gym. Neither of us ever looked at the time and we read the paper online, put away laundry and took leisurely showers. Suddenly, Eric yelled, “We have 20 minutes to get there!” It became a mad dash to get out of the house and to the hospital. The instructions strictly stated, “DON”T BE LATE as our doors close 30 minutes after the start of the session.” We arrived at 15 minutes late for class and the doors to the building were locked! We had to ring the room and have the instructor come down to get us. She was less than pleased with these tardy American expats.

We had to parade through the room and take our seats in the front. Eric’s chair had a real looking baby on it and he, along with all the other men in the room, had to hold the baby on his lap for the first hour of class. Everyone else’s baby was sort of cute and cuddly and ours had an odd grimace on its face and unnaturally blue eyes.

We watched video after video and heard graphic details about delivery and breastfeeding. I’m glad the days when men wait in the lobby and the baby comes to them all spic and clean is a thing of the past. But today they tell you so much information you feel like it could be a college major. Also, the amount of "what if's" are terribly frightening.
There must be a happy medium somewhere.

One of the other pregnant women next to us let out a big sigh during a “how to settle your baby” video. It garnered a few laughs from the room, but scorn from the teacher.
I suddenly didn’t feel so bad about being late – the teacher was rather stern about everything.

Eric and I both thought the class was to be 1.5 hours long, but apparently is was 3.5 hours long. We were now going to be late for the afternoon party. At the break during class, Eric went to call our friends but realized he had forgotten his phone. I didn’t have their number and they are not listed. So, to just keep this comedy of errors going for the whole day, we whisked out of class as soon as it was over, didn’t have time to stop at home and change out of our jeans, and we showed up two hours late for an intimate and rather dressy dinner party.

Can I just wake up and do this day all over again?

June 29
Got on the scale at the gym today. Thank goodness they measure me in kilos because I don’t really want to see this number in pounds. In case inquiring minds want to know…its 11 kilo’s. (or 1.7 stone) ugh.
I sat on Eric’s lap the other day and he let out a grunt. I guess the idea of throwing myself into his arms wouldn’t be such a good idea right now.

June 30
I’m reading the literature from the parenting class. Some essentials for our new bub include:

LOTS of bunny rugs,
Chubba chums for delivery
A cot
A good pram
Barley sugars (also for delivery)

Time to pull out the Australian/English dictionary.

July 2
One of my coworkers who is on maternity leave rung me tonight to see how I was doing. Just as she called, her dog started barking wildly in the background. “No worries,” she declared, “he’ll settle down, he just spotted a magpie.” The dog never settled down. Then, her 3 year old son began making loud car noises in the background. “Finn’s just being silly and he loves to be near me when I’m on the phone…I’ll just speak up.” Suddenly she was yelling to be heard over loud car sounds and frantically barking dog. At last, her 3 month old began to scream and she just kept talking. I couldn’t hear her anymore and found myself yelling into the phone as well. “Oh, hang on a minute, let me get my baby settled on the breast and we can keep talking.” About 15 seconds passed and she just picked up where she left off. Finally, over loud baby cooing, car sounds of a three year old and a now madly crazed barking dog, I stated, “Do you need to go and tend to things? We can continue this conversation later.” “Oh, no,” she said, “things are great right now and they get wild later, this is a really good time to have a chat.”

Really? That was a good time? REALLY????????

July 3
Last night I went to dinner with several coworkers. I have been comfortable up to this point, but last night I had something (a foot, a hand?) crammed up under my lower right rib. I couldn’t lean over to eat properly and I longed to tilt back my chair. Instead I sat bolt upright and tried to work the foot or hand or knee or whatever it was out of my rib. Today the foot was gone, but tonight it is back again. I still have 12 more weeks. Will this body part remain under my rib for the rest of these weeks? Ouch.

July 3 (later)
Citizenship. One would think that having a child in Australia would entitle said child to an Aussie passport. We assume this because we are American’s, and in the US, we give out citizenship at birth. Did you know that this is not the case in the majority of the world? In fact, according to my internet search, there are 5 countries that give out citizenship by birth alone. They are….(drum roll)….Canada, the US, Panama, Ireland, and France. Get us to France! Our child could then work in the EU! (Maybe this is what Brad and Angelina are thinking). Some countries only honor the nationality of the mother, some only the nationality of the father. It’s all very interesting.

I was hoping to give the gift of dual citizenship, but alas, it shall not be granted. At dinner last night, my coworkers were coming up with all sorts of schemes for citizenship. Some even offered to put their partners/husbands on the birth certificate in the spot where Eric’s name should be….

Don’t worry, Eric thought it was funny too. You can have a laugh about it.

Right now, I’m actually a hostage in Australia. I can not leave the country until late November at the earliest. I have health insurance only for AU and no company will give me travel insurance after 26 weeks of pregnancy. Then, I can’t leave with the baby until I have a valid US passport for the child. (Can’t you just see THAT little passport photo!) I’m an Australian hostage. Trapped on a large island.
That’s ok. I don’t know where I’d go anyway and I’m content to stay. This foot/rib thing wouldn’t bode well in an airplane seat anyway.

July 4
Happy Fourth of July everyone!
Or as the Australians say,”Happy day of your nations independence.” This, from a country where we celebrate the Queen’s birthday…how far away is mother England anyway?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Home and back again

I looked back at the blog and noticed that we have not been there for awhile. I suppose that it is time that we do that again.

First thing is our trip back home. We had such a great time. We felt like minor celebrities. Everyone seemed happy to see us and there were parties galore. We sneaked in a cabin trip, played poker, spent time with family in Red Wing, had a couple of baby showers, and attended a party for Beth’s nephew Sam who joined the Army. The problem with this is we feel like that is what is happening all the time and that we are missing out. To contrast, we come back to Melbourne and the phone never rings. I guess we will have to survive on the memory of the fun filled two weeks that we had home. Thank you again everybody.

We are back into winter now. It is not the cold that is a problem here, (I am sure that Beth might argue that) but it is the lack of daylight. The sun doesn’t really come up until about 8AM and the shadows in the afternoon start to get long about 3pm. It makes for really short days and lots of TV time in the evenings. Now that the winter solstice (remember we are in the southern hemisphere) has come and gone we can look forward to the days getting longer.

It was a rough first week back. On Tuesday I found out that the company that I was working for lost a big contract. So we had a big meeting about that. On Wed Beth took a fall while in the operating room. Normally it wouldn't be so bad she is pretty tough and can take it but:
1. She is pregnant.
2. She is wearing double lead suits to protect the child from radiation (I am still not comfortable with this, it may come out glowing).

She banged up her knee and elbow, broke the computer, and snapped a pen in half. To top it all off she was like the "help I've fallen and I can't get up" lady. There was too much weight for her to get up by herself, so people had to peal the lead off of her in front of the patient. The person having heart surgery even asked if she was OK. I think that it was probably more embarrassing than anything else. It was traumatic for her but she is still in amazingly good spirits. Go pregnancy hormones.

After she relayed this tale to me, it was my turn to tell her my news....I got laid off.

It wasn’t unexpected. I was the last one to start and I was working on a casual contract basis. Now it is back to the job search, and the whole banging your head trying to think, "what should I do"?

Any thoughts?

It has now also fallen to me to get day care sorted out. Day care here is governed by city councils. Even though we live in Toorak which is an inner city suburb of Melbourne, the city council is Stonnington. Huh? I have received the child services literature and have started calling and visiting different day care centers. We are looking for part time care for a four month old then full time a month after that. The problem is there is a two year waiting list for some of these places. I am trying to reason through that math. Did I need to get on a list last year for my four month old next year? If I take my spaceship and slingshot around the sun with enough speed can I still get on the list?

In filling out the paper work at one of the centers there are certain ways to get bumped up the waiting list:

  1. Already having a child at the centre.
  2. being of aboriginal descent

There were many others. Somewhere around 15 was “socially isolated”.

We are not sure what this means or what it does for us but Beth checked it anyway. We figured without friends and family around we fit into this category.

We have both been reading baby books and are starting to get prepared for the new arrival in a few months. It can all be very confusing. We have the pram… do we really need a cot?.... and what is a baby capsule? The good part is I think that I have figured out what “nesting” is, it is Beth making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Crying Fools

Her Turn:

Mothers Day almost came and went without a word from Eric. I’m not a mom (or mum over here) yet and we agreed not to do anything for either mum’s or dad’s day. Still, it felt a little weird that we managed to go out to breakfast, see lots of babies, and walk through the flower market and have Eric not utter a word about what’s going on in our lives. He was noticeably silent regarding the implications of the day and I actually started to feel a bit bad about it.

I really tried to let it go. After all, I was the one who said I didn’t need any attention that day and I couldn’t give him a hard time for my own oversight regarding my feelings. My mom called late in the afternoon to wish me a happy day. She asked what Eric had done for me and I had to sneak out of the room with the phone and explain that he hadn’t said a word all day. She tried to be bright and sunny about it, but I think even she believed it to be a bit atypical of Eric.
Finally, when the day was over and I decided to hit the hay around 11 pm, I peeled down the covers to find a good American magazine (Oprah) and a card. The Mum’s day card was written as if it was the kid talking and it said how happy it was to meet me. OK, so sappy…but I burst into an unexpected flood of tears. I didn’t even know I was that emotional. I thought I was a bit blue, but nothing of the magnitude required to cause this strong outpouring of feelings.
Apparently the card and mag had been there all day long. Eric kept thinking I would take a nap at some point and discover it.
I think I cried for a solid 20 minutes. I was laughing and crying and sobbing all while Eric threw Kleenex at me and laughed with me.

His Turn:

Last Sunday we met some friends for breakfast and they presented us with a wrapped up gift. We opened it up to find a little white onesie for the baby. It was our first-ever-baby-item. I was looking at it and pulled it out to have a good gaze at how small it was when I was started to hear Eric choke up. We had all been focused on looking at the onesie and when we directed our attention to Eric, he just waved us away and said, “I’m a little overwhelmed…it’s all so real…stop looking at me.” He had wet eyes and couldn’t face us. Luckily, he was trapped on the inside of the booth and so he couldn’t ignore us. He just kept choking up and admitting to being “touched, overwhelmed, and happy.”
Gotcha sweetie! Want a tissue?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tadpole Diaries #2

April 2
Whatever happened in the last week to my belly? It popped. I thought that I wouldn't be really "showing" until week 20. I'm at 15 and after the experience of post Bali gastro, I thought my stomach would be flat for several more weeks. But, no...overnight it grew. I woke up in the morning and my skin felt stretched out and taught across my abdomen. I took one look in the mirror and couldn't believe the overnight change.
I walked out to the kitchen and said, "Hey, Eric, look," and I revealed my abdomen. The widening of his eyes let me know that this clearly wasn't my imagination.

April 5
We had dinner plans tonight with some of our expat friends and I encountered a wardrobe crisis. We were going out to eat and I didn't want to be as uncomfortable as the night before when I wore my regular jeans to a comedy show. So...I pulled out my one and only pair of MATERNITY Pants! ARRHHHGGGG. You know, the very hip kind with the big soft stretchy band across the front. I then pulled on a long shirt and piled on a jeans jacket to hide the band as best I could. After eating a big bowl of Tom Yum soup, I couldn't have been happier to be in those pants. Those things are a godsend. I should have bought a pair of them years ago.

April 6
Today we ran some errands and ended up at the big American-looking mall searching for some maternity clothing for me to get through the work week. The two big department stores do NOT have maternity departments. Weird, eh? When I asked where the maternity section was, they looked at me as if I was diseased. "Oh, we don't have THOSE clothes" one of the young, well dressed, snobby girls stated.
We ended up in some upscale shop in our neighborhood and I got a pair of pants and a shirt. That should be good.

7 April
We visited a store called "kid central" on our shopping excursion and Eric found his way to the "pram" section of the store. When I came upon him, he was chatting with the sales clerk about a particular type of stroller. Eric had the thing on the ground and practically disassembled at that point. The saleslady was trying to discuss color choices, but Eric was checking out the "Manly" wheels and the independent front suspension. He was taking that thing around the store and trying a couple of quick turns and wheelies to check it's response. By the time I returned from trying on a pair of maternity jeans (SO UGLY!), Eric had selected to skip the parasol addition but definitely go with the attachable cup holder accessory.
Throughout the rest of the afternoon, Eric pointed out just about every stroller in the mall or on the street and made comments about it's "wimpy wheels, lack of apparent maneuverability, and absence of manly characteristics." Finally he spotted his desired stroller and I had to drive around the block twice so that Eric could get a better look of the thing in action. A guy was pushing it, so that probably gave it further credit.

I think we have a stroller picked out. I think I had nothing to do with it.

8 April
Had my 16 week OB appointment today. Awkwardly, Eric and I ended up on the same slow elevator with my OB on the way to his office. The elevator is one of those junior size ones - like the kind in Europe, or a really old building in New York City. Anyway, by the time we made it up to his office and plunked down in the waiting room, I had to confess to Eric that I was nervous about this man delivering my baby. My OB is very shy. Painfully shy - almost mousy. He slouches when he talks to me and can't look me in the eyes. After riding silently in an elevator with him for about 10 minutes I wondered what the hell he'd say to me when I was screaming in pain.
Eric's only comeback was, "I'm sure he's a lot better in his professional role."
Lord, let's hope so.

After the appointment, Eric and I walked to the coffee shop across the street where we shared a sugary muffin and enjoyed a coffee and chai while watching pregnant women pop in and out of the OB building and women's hospital across the street. Every belly was a different shape and size. The only thing that was evident is that pregnant women look really weird! It's a look that gave us both the giggles after a while and I decided that I should probably just embrace my own odd shape during this time as I'm sure to get laughed in the very near future by complete strangers watching me from coffee shops.

April 12
There was an open house for an apartment that we were going to look at today to possibly rent, but we forgot about it and missed it. It is easy to do as the rental open houses are only 15 minutes long. That's standard here.

If you want to buy a house, the open house lasts just 30 minutes. People don't have Realtors to purchase a home, only to sell a home. So, if you miss the open house, good luck ever getting in to see it.

Today Eric and I went to an open house and auction with our friend Natasha who is trying to buy an apartment. Her hubby was playing golf with friends and she thought handling the auction and her 2 year old daughter at the same time would be too much. So, we stepped in to help. What an experience to go to a home auction....an auctioneer stands on the street with a microphone and takes bids for the home. Housing is crazy here and the prices are through the roof. Most standard 3 bedroom, 2 bath homes in the city are no less than a cool million. This was an apartment...a small 700 foot, 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, no laundry, small kitchen on a busy street and it went for the asking price of 430K. Wow! " Do I hear 440? Going once, going twice..,." The majority of homes and apartments are sold by auction just like this.

After the bidding ended and Natasha had bowed out at the 390K mark, we went out for coffee. In our lives, coffee is a quick experience where one breezes in, orders, reads the paper while sipping coffee, and then leaves. In this world with a two year old, it's about taking the sugar packets in and out of their containers over and over without getting tired of that boring activity, pulling out various things from the diaper bag and flinging them to the ground while watching mom and company pick them up. Then the activity turns to wanting desperately to hold on to everyone Else's spoon and flinging spoon about madly while accidentally stabbing oneself in the eye with said utensil. With subsequent tears, crying and cooing to follow spoon incident, our two year old companion feels that wandering around the patio area and staring at other diners sounds like a good plan. Gentle coaxing child to return to table results in her grabbing the umbrella stand near us and shaking vigorously. Whatever leaves and such were on said umbrella are now raining down on various diners in immediate vicinity. Our table remains happily sheltered under the umbrella. Looks are thrown at us.
While walking out, the two year old hits her head on a table. More tears and holding. A Count Dracula stuffed figurine on counter provides adequate distraction from crying but child does not want to give stuffed Dracula back to coffee shop.
The 2 block walk to the car takes 20 minutes as we stop to look at every leaf and piece of paper on ground. Preventative measures are taken on two occasions as child attempts to run into street. Getting child into car seat is another 5 minute interval.
Total time elapsed for coffee: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

I'm beginning to think we should have just gotten a dog.

April 17
Tax day came and went in the US and we didn' t have to do anything except fill out an extension. Taxes will be a pain come July when we can process our Australian ones, but I'm happy to put it off until then.

Sitting on the couch last night, watching yet another episode of West Wing, the baby decided to make itself known. Eric likes to sit next to me on the couch and put his hand on my belly. He will sit like that for hours if I'd let him. But, as it would happen, the babies first kick happened when Eric's hand was on my belly. So, WE felt the first kick. Awwwwww.

I called Eric at work this morning and he was proud to tell me that everyone in his office now knows about the kick. Is this really the news that we've resorted to telling people? Apparently so.

April 19
Dreamed last night that I had the baby. It wasn't September, it was right now. Yes, I had a baby at 18 weeks and it was fine. It weighed 1.81 kilos, which is 3.99 pounds. But in my dream, I did the math conversion and came up with 3lbs, 43 oz. I know that doesn't make sense. Did I mention that I was sleeping when I did this conversion?
We named the baby Dell. Yes, Dell.
Perhaps I am spending too much time on the computer.

April 20
I have cried 5 times today - once when I heard some sad news from a friend, once when I got really frustrated with something at work (I hid in my car), once when reading a sad story in the on line startribune, once during the evening news, and once during an episode of the west wing. I could cry right now just thinking about it all. Hormone torment.

April 21
18 weeks along...
Spent part of yesterday on a wonderful bike ride through the city. There are gorgeous trails near our house and we have done an inadequate job of exploring them...until yesterday. It was a warm fall day, a perfect 65 degrees, and we rode through falling leaves along the shore of the Yarra river. This is one of those times when you kick yourself for not doing something sooner. Why did we wait so long to find that trail? I remember last summer in MN when I rode with Christine almost every weekend and it was like I was seeing Minneapolis for the first time. I had no idea we had all those beautiful trails in MN, and then I move away within one short summer of finding them. Now I discover this beautiful bike path near my home and I probably shouldn't even be on a bike.
Eric kicked my butt on the bike ride by the way. I was a huffing and puffing ball of goo who looked somewhat ridiculous in her bike shorts. I tend to be somewhat competitive and it did hurt my ego a bit when I had to say, "I'm tired, and I think I need to turn around and go home now." Whaaaaa.

April 22
Mother's Day is around the bend and if my card is going to make it to the US on time, I had better get it in the mail.
This gets me thinking about that particular day....
Mother's Day has been a strange holiday for me for the past several years. It's been a little bittersweet actually and I'm not sure I can explain it well, but I'm sure there are others out there who feel the way that I do. Surely I can't be alone here.
Mother's Day is a celebration of my own wonderful relationship with my mother - yet it is also a time when restaurants are filled with children and parents and grandparents. For the past several years, I felt like it was a holiday where I was somehow displaced...somehow "missing out". It wasn't self-pity so much as self-loathing. Where was my life going? Would I ever have children? Would I ever be a mom? I would look around at these happy but tired looking moms and their smiling (or crying) kids and get a tinge of jealousy. Certainly I would never have felt this feeling if I'd had kids in my 20's.
I get this feeling twice a year - Mother's Day and the day that I read about an event my high school throws for the alumni moms and their kids.... "Breakfast with Santa."

For many years, I have longed to be a full participant in these two days.

April 24
It's 9:30 at night and I am madly craving spice cake. Spice cake with cream cheese frosting. I want it so badly that I can taste it. How I miss the US and the 24 hour grocery stores!

April 28
In the middle of my work day, in the middle of a pacemaker surgery, at a time when it was impossible to leave for any reason, I desperately wanted saltines with cream cheese and kalamata olives.

April 29
The baby kicks a lot and it tickles and I love it. Generally it kicks whenever I strap on the lead suit that I have to wear in the cath lab. I pull it tight across my abdomen, double the layer with a second heavy lead over the belly and then pull on the lead vest. It's heavy and it hurts my back, but based on the scare that I had earlier, I figure I don't have any "points" left and I must wear all this gear to protect the kid. However, I think it squashes the kids living room and it kicks at the lead shield during the procedure. It provides entertainment when I am bored during a surgery. Mainly it seems to kick when we are using the radiation..how does it know? This scares me every time and I begin to wonder if I should quit tomorrow and stay out of that damn cath lab. During one particularly long surgery when I was clad in every sort of protective garment imaginable due to the patient having Hep C and HIV, I began to make a list of all the jobs that I could have that would be worse for me at this time in my life.
1. Worker in a Nuclear Power Plant
2. Flight attendant
3. Scuba Diver
4. Surgeon
5. Interventional Cardiologist
6. Jockey
7. Radiation Technologist
8. Interventional Radiologist
9. Astronaut
10. Firefighter
11. Policewoman
12. Paramedic

There are probably more, but that is the list so far. I made it to make myself feel better, but it didn't really work.

May 1
Eric and I are flying home for a visit on May 23rd. yippee. I've never started packing so early. We can hardly wait and have begun the countdown calendar.
In order to travel back to the US on Qantas airlines, I needed to get a letter of approval from my OB and we had to get travel insurance for all THREE of us. Weird.
Unlike our US health insurance, Australia insurance only covers us when we are within Australia or in New Zealand. Anywhere else we go, we need travel insurance. The Aussies don't understand why we need to get insurance to travel to our own country. "Aren't you Americans though?" They are perplexed. After having lived in this system for a few months, I can see how confusing it is for them. "We don't have public health care, " I have to explain, "All insurance is private." Thus begins a long line of questioning about what we do when someone doesn't have insurance...ahhh....the debate goes on. Are we the only country in the world like that? I feel like I'm in a Michael Moore movie.
So...I had to fill out some forms, guarantee that we would be back before I was 26 weeks along in my pregnancy since that is the limit for most travel insurance, and then pay a fee schedule for US travel.
Now my doc will be putting me on some sort of low dose heparin (blood thinner) and then I get to wear those sexy thigh high compression stocking for the 30 hour flight. Comfy, eh? I know that you are all jealous.
Forgive me if I'm a little cranky when we deplane in St. Paul.
Oh, and yes, the flight is 30 hours. The only ticket we could get takes us from Melbourne to New Zealand, to LAX and then on to MSP. It makes a person wonder if going the other way around the world would be faster.

May 2
Eric called from the grocery store. "Want anything special," he asked. "Gummy anything, " I replied. He came home with gummy dinosaurs and sour gummy snakes. Now I don't want anything gummy anymore.

May 3
My belly button used to look like a small upright oval, now it looks like a giant cheerio.

May 4

May 6
I'm klutzy and forgetful. I tried to do a nice presentation to a doctor this morning after seeing a patient and I ended up dropping all the papers on the floor...twice. The patient printout is a giant roll of information and the thing capsized out onto the floor like a giant roll of toilet paper. I tried to compose myself, but when it happened the second time, I just stated, "Sorry, I must have taken my awkward pill this morning." It got a chuckle, but I think the man just felt sorry for me.

May 7
20 Weeks! Halfway baby. We went to our official baby ultrasound scan today. It's like going to the premier of the best movie ever. We were seriously giddy and excited beyond reason. The kid was sleeping and laying on one arm while waving the other one. One foot was out, the other was tucked back. It sleeps like me. We got to see the fingers and toes, heart, brain, bladder, bones, and face. On close inspection of the feet, the kid had a giant big toe just like Eric. I asked Eric if he had endured a lifetime of ridicule due to his enormous toes. He stated that I was the only one to ever even notice it and he sounded mildly offended. Maybe that should be the last time I tease him about it.... Naw....

May 8
My coworkers want to know if it is a boy or a girl. When I told them that we didn't find out, there was mild disappointment. Then my coworker Donna declared that she had a magic crystal that would determine the sex of the child. She opened a silk bag and pulled out a pendant that she then rubbed on my belly and waved over me. (Yes, this was at work). She asked questions of the crystal and after serious deliberation, it was declared that I was having a boy.
Just for the record, crystal-totin' Donna says it's a boy.

May 10
It's Saturday. It's beautiful here with the leaves changing color for fall. Eric and I are excited for our trip home and even more excited for this baby. Despite the hormones, the cravings, and the general tubbiness, I'm really really happy. Ahh....second trimester bliss. Love IT!!!!