Thursday, June 25, 2009

Socially Unaware

I went to this luncheon today for work. It was all about social media – Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube – and how to use it effectively both personally and professionally. The guest speakers were two young women from Chicago who work for Google.

Overall, the content was really good. I learned a lot of new features about my favorite sites and even more about the sites I don’t use. Best of all, the speakers were entertaining and had a wide variety of funny videos that proved their points.

Unfortunately, I was seated next to a complete douche bag. He was one of those “with it” guys who think they’re super cool. He had two phones out and spent almost the whole lunch playing with phone applications.

I kept thinking, “Dude, you are trying WAY too hard to show everyone you think you’re way too advanced for this luncheon.”

He told me he owns one of the local hot spots in downtown Rockford (which he actually does, I learned later).

Anyway, about twenty minutes into the presentation, he put his head in his hands. He swiveled around in his seat and snipped nastily, “If that girl says ‘um' one more time, that’s it.”

Well, she did.

He got up huffily and stormed out of the room. He returned about ten minutes later, smirking, and spent the rest of the lunch making our table uncomfortable by mocking the speaker’s (few and far between) “ums.”

Also, his "friend" who sat with him (a bromance is brewing, methinks) made several sexual and extremely inappropriate comments about the female speakers - at a table with four women, including ME, who could clearly hear him.

Why are people such jerks, sometimes?

I had a wide variety of the peanut gallery at the table behind me, too. One woman kept flapping her flip-flop off the end of her foot. So, every ten seconds, I’d hear this “Thwack!” sound. She kept this up the WHOLE time.

In what universe do you NOT know how annoying that is?

Also, at her table was a woman who I think had whooping cough. I say this because she started coughing and clearing her throat (and not discreetly) as soon as she sat down. Now, here’s the thing – one or two coughs/throat clearings are totally acceptable. If you’ve got to do more than that, please, please leave the room.

It’s common courtesy. Constant coughing and crying children are distracting. Always. And you are NOT the exception. Ever.

Perhaps, the RUDEST thing I experienced was people leaving before the emcee closed the event. It was like a mass exodus, and the poor guy at the microphone was left to sputter thank-you-for-comings to the four of us left in the 300 person room.

The workshop was on social media, but the majority of these people didn’t even know how to be socially polite.

I always want to ask these kinds of people why they are like this.

Do they think they are SO important that they must crudely dash off, or answer that text immediately, or split attention between a speaker and the little, electric darling in their hand?

I don’t get it.

I hate it that people – real, actual flesh-and-blood people – get lost in the shuffle.

I hope the next workshop will teach people to be social. Period.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Free & Funny

I don’t know what mailing list I got on, but this is one I want to stay on!

Every couple of months, Kohl’s sends me a free $10 gift card good on anything in the store. Now, I know they only do it so I’ll spend MORE than $10, but I never do. In fact, last time, I got two bottles of body wash on sale for exactly $10, and they didn’t even charge TAX. So, it was completely free.

You’d think Kohl’s would stop sending me gift cards when their data tells then I am shamelessly milking their system. But they haven’t so far.

I love going in and wondering what free thing I’ll be wandering out with later.

Also, if you are ready for a good laugh, you’ve GOT to check out this website. I was crying with laughter after just a few seconds.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Wonder Woman Wipeout

Well, I’m stupid.

Altogether now – “How stupid are you?”

I am SO stupid that I have managed to seriously injure myself by simply not paying attention.

Allow me to explain.

This past Sunday, Brett went up to Geneva to spend Father’s Day with his dad. I begged off, since my OB has nixed any car trips over an hour this late in my pregnancy. While he was gone, I got a tremendous burst of organizing energy.

In the space of about five hours, I managed to completely pack my side of the study for the impending move. I also got a ton of personal papers shredded and put in trash bags. I felt amazing! I had been dreading the project, but after I tackled it, it went quickly. It produced a tremendous sense of satisfaction.

Near the end, I lifted one of the plastic containers up off the floor without thinking. Within about, oh, 1.2 seconds I realized the container was too heavy for me, and I staggered backwards before dropping it unceremoniously on the floor.

But, alas, it was too late.

In the middle of the night, I tried to get up to go to the bathroom. I was in HORRIBLE pain in my “nether regions.” It hurt to walk, to move, and even to slightly shift to one side (try going to the bathroom without doing any of that!).

As I hobbled back to bed, I realized I must have pulled a muscle (or all of them) with my stupid Wonder Woman move in the study. I was, however, able to go back to sleep. So, I knew it wasn’t labor or anything like that. I’ve been assured you cannot sleep though labor.

This morning, the pain had abated (a tiny, tiny) little bit. I didn’t want to unknowingly be putting Sam in danger, so I called my OB, and he said I’d better come in for a check-up.

I was (am still) so incapacitated, Brett had to help me with every tiny movement. It took me FOREVER to get ready.

They ran a battery of tests. The good news is that all the tests they ran on Sam came back with great results, and my OB was pleased. The bad news is that he concluded I had indeed pulled a vaginal muscle.

He was rather sweet when giving me the news. “Any other time, you might have hurt your shoulder or your knee, but unfortunately, this time, you hurt the muscle group that MATTERS!”

Yeah, he’s a comedian, my OB.

He recommended Tylenol for the pain, plenty of rest, and limited movement.

So, here I sit. In a lot of pain. Every little movement resulting in a torturous twinge. Regretting my stupidity and lack of attention.

Brett is waiting on me (the best he can), and I’ve got my laptop, a stack of People magazines, and a plethora of mystery books I can drown my sorrows in.

I hated taking a sick day from work to deal with this. I’m trying to save all my paid days for when the baby comes, but it just couldn’t be helped. I’m planning to try and go in tomorrow, even if I have to move at a snail’s pace.

I guess if nothing else, I learned that I can be pretty stupid and inattentive. But mostly, I learned that I am not now, nor will ever be, Wonder Woman.

Friday, June 19, 2009

PNC # 3: Correct Answer – D.) None of the Above

After watching the horror show of a “natural” (read: insanely painful and bloody) birth via video last week, we were actually looking forward to the three other birth videos at this week’s prenatal class.

The rest of the class seemed to feel the same way, and the mood in the room was quite relaxed as Dr Cuddy fired up the big screen. She told us we would be observing a narcotics-assisted, epidural-assisted, and C-section birth.

We settled in for what (we were all assuming) would be a walk in the park. After all, these women received DRUGS – how hard could it be?

The answer? Plenty hard!

The poor woman who had the narcotics-assisted birth didn’t speak English, so she had an incredibly hard time communicating her pain to the hospital staff. At one point, she was in so much pain, she couldn’t even summon the strength to talk at all – even in Spanish! Eventually, her husband (who spoke a little English) was able to explain how the narcotics would take the edge off the pain.

She opted for the narcotics at that point. It did ease off the pain – but not a lot – she was still in quite a bit of pain. BUT, she was able to have the sensation of needing to push and was able to help with all the pushing. Her baby was so sweet, happily yelling his lungs out as soon as he was born.

The woman who had the epidural-assisted birth was extremely uncomfortable, as well. She had a lower pain threshold than all the other women we’d seen so far (probably more like mine – I’m a complete pain wuss). She opted for the epidural which DID help her pain but also prolonged her labor.

Of all the mom’s-to-be, her reactions were the funniest. She did NOT want anybody touching her during labor, and when anyone would try to soothe her, she’d say, “Unt-uh!” really loudly.

This was the one and ONLY time any of us laughed during any of the videos. We were pretty desperate for humor at that point.

I imagine I was pretty annoying during this video. I kept leaning over to Brett and saying, “They did that with Candice.” “That’s what Candice said.” That’s what they told us when Candice was in labor.”

Yeah, I’m SUCH an expert!

The last birth we watched was the C-section. Only the mom-to-be didn’t receive the C-section until she had been in labor for 30 hours and pushing for over 3 hours. The baby still hadn’t budged!

We all felt for her – having to go through all that, and then end up being wheeled off for major surgery. Thankfully, her baby was delivered safely by a team of very nice and caring surgeons who were incredibly kind to her.

As the lights flickered on, the girl sitting beside me turned to me.

“Well, I didn’t like any of those. What’s our next option?”

I had to smile. It did seem awfully daunting that women can receive high-quality drugs and still go through so much pain. I teased my sister-mom, “Well, we can always check “D,” none of the above, on our intake forms!”

She smiled gratefully back at me. Perhaps the greatest thing I’ve experienced through prenatal class is the wonderful feeling of not being alone in my worries, fears, and uncertainties.

Dr. Cuddy asked for questions after the videos, and I asked one I assumed was pretty common. I asked about the chances of becoming paralyzed (permanently) if we chose an epidural-assisted birth.

Her eyes got really BIG, and she asked, “Wherever did you hear THAT?”

I was like, “From a LOT of people!”

There was a murmur from around the room as the other couples agreed they’d head it, too.

Dr. Cuddy assured us that it is NOT a common thing. In fact, she pointed out the distance between where the spinal cord ends and where the epidural is administered. I felt a lot better after her reassurances.

Dr. Cuddy had started off the class by saying, “Tonight we’re going to talk about pain.”

And, boy, did we! We learned about all the drugs you can opt for (or ones that can be administered), what the drugs do, what can result, and so on.

It was VERY interesting, although the downside to ALL the drugs was the fact that if you get the drugs – so does your baby.

We got to see and handle an actual epidural needle and tubing, forceps (scary!), vacuum pump, and fetal head monitor. I’m glad the class is so hands-on. It helps to see what the actual equipment looks like and learn the uses of the surgical instruments.

Next week, we’ll be taking a tour of the Family Birthplace at Swedes. Dr. Cuddy told us it was good we weren’t taking the tour this week. She said there is definitely a baby boom in Rockford.

Yesterday, 17 babies were delivered. The day before, 15 babies entered the world via the Swedes maternity ward. The nurses are quite harassed, and there is a constant “Any OB in house!” call going out over the intercom.

Brett muttered, “Looks like we all had a busy fall!” (for him, this is a pretty decent joke – I’m working with him, people, I promise!)

Next week, it’s back to rhythmic breathing!


Rinse and repeat as needed.

She's OUR Dr. Cuddy!

Lisa Edelstein

"Our" Dr. Cuddy from Prenatal Class

See the comparison?!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obstetrical Observations

It seems like only yesterday I had completely given up on ever getting pregnant. So, when I discovered I was - I was excited, thrilled, and completely unprepared.

One thing that helped prepare me was the advice and tips other women posted on surviving and enjoying pregnancy.

As my pregnancy nears its last month, I decided to put together my own list of the things that have “saved” me during my pregnancy. I know everyone’s pregnancy is different, but here’s what has really helped me!

Plus Size Motherhood Maternity

You cannot imagine how hard it was to find maternity clothes in plus sizes! I would have driven all the way to Chicago if I’d had to, but thankfully, there was a store here, at Cherryville Mall. We only splurged on a few basics (because everything was expensive), but every single piece has been worth it. The clothes feel amazing and have a great fit.

My maternity jeans are a definite must-have, and were purchased in perfect timing, since my office has recently started allowing casual clothes on an everyday basis.

The black pants (my Aunt Louise sweetly hemmed for me) are perfect for church and the days I HAVE to be dressy at the office or for events. The faux-wrap dress is so comfortable it feels like I’m wearing practically nothing, but I get tons of compliments every time I wear it – plus it’s my favorite color, black!

I think the best investment has been the two long-sleeved and one short-sleeved casual shirts. I don’t know what fabric they make these out of, but I would like to spend the rest of my life in it!

I bought the shirts one size up, since I planned to use them as sleep shirts, but they are so snug and flexible, I made a HUGE exception (for me) and actually wore them out and about. They are the most relaxed thing I own!

After trying nausea medication designed for cancer patients (it didn’t work) and a prescription that made me tired and groggy, I thought I was going to die from all the morning sickness. Someone finally asked if I’d tried plain, old TUMS. I hadn’t even thought about it, and at that point I was game for anything.

So, I bought a bottle and surprise, surprise – it worked. Granted, it only staves off the nausea for 10-20 minutes, but sometimes that’s all I need. I even calculated a morning routine that has SAVED my life!

In the old days, I would eat a big breakfast, take a shower, and get ready for work. After I got pregnant, I stayed on the same path and found myself sick “after shower” every morning.

Now, I take two TUMS and THEN take my shower. After my shower, I take two more TUMS. That usually conquers the nausea and allows me to get ready for work. Then and ONLY then, do I eat any breakfast.

Since I’ve started the routine, it’s been virtually morning-sickness proof. I still “feel” queasy, but since I don’t have anything in my stomach, it’s a lot less messy!

Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
People suggested I keep saltine crackers next to my bed for middle-of-the-night snacking and warding off nausea. For some reason, my stomach sent the crackers back up with alarming regularity, and I found I had to be really desperate to turn to crackers for hunger relief.

Instead, I tried Quaker Chewy Granola bars in Chocolate Chunk, S’mores, and Peanut Butter flavors. They have been a huge success! They calm my stomach and the sweetness factor makes them perfect for the 3 a.m. hunger pains. Plus, they’re low calorie!

Diabetic Socks
My feet and ankles look like baby whales these days. I was getting indentations in my skin from even my roomiest socks. We found diabetic socks at Wal-Mart. They were pricey but extremely easy on my feet and ankles. I can stay in them all day and not be the least bit miserable!

Bottled/Filtered Water
There is a lot of debate on this. Several of my pregnancy books said tap water was fine. Other books/websites said to stick to bottled water. Even more resources suggested bottled water was WORSE than tap water when it came to FDA guidelines.

Stymied, I asked my OB. He said to DEFINITELY stick to bottled or filtered water. So I have.

Fortunately, my office provides free filtered water (via the fabled water cooler). So, I’ve been able to have as much as I want all day long! This saves on the bottled water we have to buy for home.

Since I’ve given up my beloved Diet Coke (and all diet and regular sodas with caffeine), I’ve dedicated myself to drinking more water. It was tough at first, but persistence has paid off. My body is so used to copious amount of water that it practically cries out for it now.

Before, I could finish four to six Diet Cokes in a day – usually two at lunch. Now, if I have a non-caffeinated soda or root beer, I find myself only able to finish about half to two-thirds of the serving. It’s like my body KNOWS it’s a treat. I try to drink a full glass of water with every soda, and I find that works best for me in terms of balance.

I never knew water could taste so good!

Room Humidifier
I’ve suffered from pregnancy rhinitis since the beginning. I was (still am) blowing my nose ALL the time. It was horrible – the cold that never seemed to end. I would wake up during the night all stuffed up, unable to breathe, with dry, cracked lips.

Several websites suggested a room humidifier. Let me tell you, it was the BEST $40 bucks I spent. The humidifier has been an absolute godsend. Not only does it help ME sleep, Brett sleeps ten times better, too!

I still blow my nose all the time during my waking hours, but a good (partial) night’s sleep more than makes it bearable.

B-12 Complex

I know I am more medicated than the average pregnant person. I’m on meds for high blood pressure and insulin for diabetes, plus all the regular prenatal vitamin packs. However…

I have a health nut friend who gave me a HUGE bottle of B-12 Complex vitamins. I was grateful, since I knew folic acid was good for the baby’s development. The bonus was that the “complex” also provided nutrients that help manage stress!

To my skeptical surprise, taking just 3 “B’s” a day, has kept me calm and serene though most of the day. I am NOT a health nut (as you all know), but this stuff WORKS. I feel much more positive, and the vitamins act as a shield against all the stress. It has also prevented panic attacks from overtaking me, as I think they may have, otherwise.

Chocolate Milk
Okay, it’s a treat. I RARELY had chocolate milk growing up. Same for Brett. Just a couple of months into the pregnancy, I had a craving for it. We picked up a gallon and have kept restocking it since!

I let myself have one full glass in the morning – hey, it DOES have calcium! – but that’s it. I also try to balance it out with regular (more healthy) low-fat or skim milk.

It’s perfect for popping my pregnancy pills in the morning on the occasions when I don’t have time to eat, since it coats my stomach and allows the pills to do their jobs.

Plus, c’mon, I mean, it’s CHOCOLATE MILK and freakin’ delicious!

Apple Juice
I am a little picky here. The apple juice I CRAVE is Simply Apple and is in the fresh juice refrigerator case at the supermarket! This stuff is SO good – but it’s still juice (and $$$), so I limit myself to one glass a day, and often switch it off with chocolate milk. I know it’s chock full of natural sugar (still sugar), so I am careful with it.

But a nice, tall glass is just perfect if the weather is hot. And Simply Apple is so sweet, usually one glass is all I need, anyway.

Baked Cheetos & Little Debbie Brownies
I have tried to eat healthy as much as possible, but these are my treat allowances. These are the two things that ALWAYS sound good, even when nothing else does. I don’t put limits on these (or my plain bagels and plain cream cheese). I don’t think I’ve overdone it yet, but sometimes they have SAVED me from starvation when everything else sounded oh-so-gross!

Body Pillow
Thankfully, I already had a body pillow, so I didn’t have to go out and buy one. Putting the body pillow between my legs has helped me sleep so much better. I still HATE having to sleep on my side (I’m a belly and back sleeper by nature), but the big, fluffy pillow makes it much easier to doze off!

Well, those are just my tips and tricks! I hope they do someone else some good, too!

Friday, June 12, 2009

PNC: Part II – Scary Movie

You know how in all the Hollywood comedies, the young, pregnant couple gets freaked out watching the “birth video” during their prenatal class?

For once, the movies have it right.

Brett and I attended Prenatal Class #2 this past Tuesday. We knew in advance we’d be watching one of three birthing videos. We just didn’t know exactly how traumatizing it would be.

We got to class early and settled in as the other couples started arriving. We are all still strangers to one another, even though we’ve been breathing rhythmically in each other’s laps for practically over four class hours now.

Our uncanny Dr. Cuddy look-a-like teacher went over the first stages of labor using a chart showing the “points” in labor. Before she could even start explaining, we (the women) were all gaping at the “transition labor” graphic. While the other stages showed a clean, simple arc, or soft curving slopes, the transition labor graphic was elevated above the others and had sharp, pointy spikes at the top.

One of our teen moms said, “I think I’ll skip that one.” We all nodded, as if that were an option.

Dr. Cuddy tried to reassure us that transition labor, while the most painful, is the shortest stage of labor. This did not reassure many of us, however, and soon Dr. Cuddy was distracting us with humor.

She told us stories of women who didn’t make it to the hospital in time. She told us about one father who’d had to pull his car over in the middle of winter, in 20 degrees below, crank up the heaters, strap his three year old in the front seat, and deliver his son in the backseat.

Another woman was on her way to Rush Hospital in Chicago. She was crossing the giant glass skywalk over the Interstate when she went into labor. She delivered her baby on the skywalk, her feet pressed up against the glass, giving her child a very unique birth story, and drivers below something to talk about in therapy.

When Dr. Cuddy had us all back in good spirits, she dropped another bombshell. She talked about the babies’ heads and how big they could get. The skeletal plates in the babies’ heads shift to accommodate their entrance out of such a small opening, but the head, she told us, is the hardest part to birth.

She talked about how head size is related directly to simple genetics. Mouth agape, I turned to stare my husband.

Have you ever really looked at Brett’s head? It’s gigantic. It’s like looking at Mr. Potato Head, with a whole other body attached. Not to mention his Neanderthal-like brow bone. He could break concrete using just that bone.

Dr. Cuddy’s sudden laughter brought me back out of my trance.

“I wish you could all see yourselves right now,” she squealed. “Every class does this!”

I looked around and saw all the other women glaring at their husbands. “Every woman thinks, ‘Why did I marry such a big-headed man?’” Dr. Cuddy teased smiles back out of us, as the men in the room tried not to look insulted.

Finally, the moment of truth arrived. Dr. Cuddy set up the video equipment, lamenting that we had a different room than she normally uses. “Usually, I’m able to put the video on the big screen,” she told us. “But, we’ll have to settle for watching it on a TV today.”

Thank God for small favors.

She told us the video for this class was of an “un-medicated” birth. The lights were turned down, and soon we were watching “Works of Wonder.”

The couple’s names were Chris and Paula.

I have to hand it to them. Even though their little Douglas in no doubt finishing his final year at Harvard Law (perhaps the video fund helped him get there), it takes serious chutzpah to let someone film your labor and delivery.

I have to say that I rejoiced, and I mean, REJOICED to see that mom-to-be Paula was…overweight! She looked just like me (and just like me pregnant and naked, although I didn’t know we were going to be seeing quite that much of Paula).

Acting as the narrator for the video, Chris seemed very much like my own gentle giant, although he was shaped more like Santa Claus and sported a Grizzly Adams beard. His pride, joy, and love for his wife was clearly and sweetly evident throughout the whole process.

Before stuff started to get gross (and I mean, gross) there were a few things that made me laugh.

The midwife’s name was Biddy. Seriously. Biddy! I don’t know how I could have resisted in the throes of labor not to scream out, “Shut up, you old biddy!”

The potential goldmine for comedy with a name like Biddy is highly irresistible. Especially for a sarcastic so-and-so like yours truly.

The second laugh came when Chris was being oh-so-pleasant with the nurse, telling her a story. Paula, who was in a LOT of pain at this time, yelled, “Shut up, Chris. I don’t want to hear your stupid stories when I’m in labor.”

I had to stifle a laugh, since I know what that means. All women everywhere know what that means.

It means that Paula barely tolerates Chris’ stories when she’s NOT in labor. Every wife has been THERE. Must have been nice for her to speak her mind for once.

Points in Chris’ favor, as he simply stopped talking and went back to rubbing her back and feeding her ice chips. I was really starting to like Chris.

As the labor process wore on, Paula was obviously in increasing pain. The only relief was when she was in the shower. She sat in there for a good portion of the video, with Chris joking (smartly out of Paula’s hearing) that they would “never” get her out of there.

Eventually, Paula got out of the shower. She began to change positions and after Biddy (Biddy!) said it was time to push, she started to push.

At first the pushing was normal to watch, I caught myself thinking, “Well, this isn’t so bad.”

Everything was covered, and at this point, Paula was still in her gown.

But then everything changed. Paula’s pain went WAY up (making those transition labor spikes look sissy in comparison). Off came the gown and all the coverings. I was staring at a person’s most private parts and watching what was happening was way worse than any horror movie I’d ever seen.

I managed to tear my gaze away from the grim spectacle on the screen to look around the room. Most everyone was mesmerized by the video. Almost all had the alarmed and surprised look corpses acquire in rigor mortis.

However, the mom-to-be across from me was staring straight at me.

At first, I thought she was doing what I was doing, gauging reactions to the blood fest spewing forth from the screen. I gave her a smile and a friendly head nod.

She gave no sign of having seen me, and just kept staring.

It took me a moment to realize she wasn’t seeking sisterhood or friendly smiles. She was doing everything in her power NOT to watch the video. At all.

I sympathized immediately. But, then Brett nudged me with his elbow, and I was forced to turn back to the Texas Birth Bloodbath on the screen.

By this point, both Biddy and Chris were encouraging Paula to reach down and “touch the head.” It was apparent that Paul did not want to do this. She wanted to keep pushing, but she bowed to pressure, and did as she was told.


Just when I thought Paula was never going to make it, faithful old Biddy reached right in “there,” and pulled. A little round head and a body slipped out as though it had just been waiting for the right time.

Tears sprung to my eyes as Biddy cleaned off the squalling infant and handed him gently to Paula. Biddy, Chris, Paula, and I were all bawling by this point. It was so amazingly beautiful. A miracle in every sense of the word.

I had thought myself prepared to watch the video. After all, hadn’t I been there for Brielle’s birth?


I stayed safely above the sheet with Candice, fanning her, and handing out encouraging comments. I had no idea what was going on anywhere else. And now that I do, I can’t believe women do this more than once.

Dr. Cuddy turned the lights back on, and I wasn’t surprised to see tearful faces reflected back at me. Maybe these women could blame their emotions on pregnancy, but I had cried at Brielle’s entrance, so I know I’m just a sucker for watching babies be born.

I can think of worse things.

Dr. Cuddy assured us that the next two videos in the series – epidural and narcotic-assisted births – are much less graphic.

Well, they’d have to be, wouldn’t they? I mean, I can’t believe the FCC didn’t slap an NC-17 rating on this one.

As we emerged from the hospital, back into the fresh, non-bloodied air, I asked Brett what he had learned from the video. What fascinating tidbit he plans to take into the delivery room.

He said, “Well, I sure as heck won’t be telling any stories.” And restored my faith in that big-headed, Neanderthal-browed man I married.

I told him not to forget the ice chips, either.

In conclusion, I’d like to again tip my hat to Chris, Paula, and little (or maybe not so little anymore) Douglas for sharing their story – their humor, their pain, and ultimately their bliss.

Thanks guys.

Maybe someday the nightmares will stop.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Pregnancy Poem

People in my condition, oft excited to meet

Plump thighs and chubby feet
Rounded cheeks and dimpled knee

I just wish they weren’t on me.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tumultuous Tuesday Thoughts

My thoughts are all a flutter.

I wish I could explain better. Most of the time, I have a very orderly brain, especially when it comes to writing.

I’m able to rehearse what I want to say in my head, formulate a post, and then edit as I write. However, lately I find my thoughts jumping from jetty to jetty in the sea sludge of my brain.

I apologize for the haphazard tone of this post. I’ll understand if you’re too bewildered to comment.

So, in no particular order, here are the items taking up valuable thinking space in Ann-Marie’s mired mind:

1.) Should I delete the blogs at right that are not updated regularly? I understand that not everyone is a blogging fiend, such as yours truly, but if a blog hasn’t been updated in six months or a year, then it really starts to annoy me.

2.) It seems to be a tough time for so many people right now! Prayer requests have been pouring in.

My former middle school teacher had a sudden heart attack. He’s still relatively young and fit, so it came as a real shock. Thankfully, the doctors were able to save him, and he is recovering. But a heart attack is still a life changing event.

One of my dearest friends from high school just learned her father is gravely ill. She’s flying here to be with him, but the outlook does not look good. My cousin’s father-in-law has also been stricken and is quite possibly facing the rest of his life in a vegetative state. Another friend is dealing with her mother’s terminal cancer finding.

Two distant friends and a dear family (in my extended family) are struggling with difficult diagnosis of their children. Two babies and one toddler are looking at serious medical health problems, most likely life-altering conditions.

Two more families (in my extended family) are painstakingly working through separation and divorce proceedings. Their marriages are crumbling or have completely dissolved, leaving much inconsolable hurt and devastation in the wake. Four innocent children now have to bear a burden they should not have to shoulder.

3.) Our love/(mostly) hate relationship with Secund Staffing continues. They are once again protesting Brett’s unemployment claim.

I told him I’m sure it’s not personal. They probably have a policy to challenge anyone’s claim every so many days. But my husband takes everything personally, including global warming. He has been (I think unreasonably) angry and obsessed with their interference.

Please pray he will be able to calm down and address the unemployment agency clearly and confidently during his appointment this week. I pointed out that the LAST time this happened, they were VERY understanding and didn’t revoke his unemployment.

But he’s still mad as you-know-what.

4.) I am almost outlandishly at peace. It’s like God has settled a mantle of unmovable certainty on me.

Let me explain. You all know how I was freaking out recently (and not all that recently)? Well, the other day I was at a graduation party, and one of my family members began to interrogate me.

It’s not as bad as it sounds – we’re Rehfeldts; that’s what we do.

Anyway, she began to challenge me on the whirling dervish that is my life. She said, “Aren’t you worried about your job? Brett’s job? Where are you going to live? What if you have no income? What if the baby has health problems? What are going to do? You must be so worried!”

As I listened to her list EVERY single “what if” and complaint I’ve made (myself) over the past few months, I realized something profound.

I’m not worried anymore.

I told her, “Well, to be honest, I’m not worried. I believe God will take care of us.”

The words seems to come from somewhere outside of myself and felt foreign. Yet powerful. I DID believe it.

She said, “Well, I know you SAY that, but you still must be worried.”

I found myself shaking my head, happily. “You know? I’m really not.”

I left her there, looking skeptically at me.

And yet, I found myself rejoicing that the burden of worry had been lifted completely. I felt free, like a bird wanting to soar into the open air. I was striding confidently where I could see no path. And yet I knew there was one. The Trailblazer was far out in front of me, lighting my path, one step at a time.

At that was the truth that freed me. I can only take one step at a time. I can only take one day at a time. God has taken away my controlling, selfish need to plan ahead and is now leading me by the hand, one small stretch at a time.

I’m getting used to it, and even coming to love it.

However, while God has granted me peace, Brett is still struggling to get to that place. The other night he opened up to me. It was like uncorking an unhappy bottle of champagne. All the worries, stresses, and troubles on his mind spilled out like wave curls to the floor.

I listened patiently and nodded. I’m still surprised at how supportive just nodding can be.

The truth is – this was a conversation we’ve had many times before.

If you’d told me, during the Great Marriage Trial of ’06 (GMT), that I would one day be grateful for what I learned, I would have laughed hysterically in your face.

But as much as I HATED that trial and the accompanying emotional torture, as close as I came to walking away from my marriage – God’s grace saw me through, and I emerged from the Refiner’s fire equipped in ways I could never have imagined.

I smile to think of how “small” that trial was, compared to the snarling, ravenous behemoth of trials we face now. But God knew THIS was coming and prepared me through the GMT! He preps His own.

So, instead of reacting the way I used to – arguing, yelling, and trying to single-handedly combat negativity and depression – I was able to calmly listen and speak the Truth in love.

It wasn’t easy for Brett to hear the Truth. I don’t suppose it’s easy for any of us when we’re not at the place of acceptance. But he listened and tried to absorb what he could.

I SO want him to be happy. I want him to experience the peace that I currently have. But he’s not there. Yet.

That’s one of the other things I learned through GMT.

In and of myself, I can’t change anyone. Not a single person. And certainly not my husband. I can listen, love, and encourage – but NOT change, not FIX.

Because it’s not my JOB. It’s God’s.

Giving up that “control factor” (one I never really had anyway) was the single greatest lesson I learned from GMT. I have found it comforting and freeing to place that responsibility solely in God’s hands and step back to watch Him work.

And that’s what I’m doing now.

I’m stepping back, thinking of all these prayer requests, all the uncertainty in my life, and just watching Him work. Waiting for the fireworks to light up the sky, and the Done by God signature to be scrawled across the heavens.

It’s going to be one amazing show.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Another Pregnant Pal!

Here is a photo of me and my cousin Jason's wife, Jennifer, taken at my cousin Leah's graduation open house this weekend. We are both expecting boys and are just a week apart on our due dates! I'm so excited to know Sam will have a playmate just around his age at future Rehfeldt gatherings. Now, we just have to wait and see which one will be the troublemaker. Why do I have a feeling I already know the answer to that one?

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Beginning of the End

Last night Brett and I attended our first pre-natal class at the SwedishAmerican Family Birthplace.

We were both extremely excited to be there. When you’ve waited nearly ten years for a baby, every little thing is significant and momentous. The knowledge Sam is due next month (next month!) has made us apprehensive and in need of instruction and reassurance.

We were the second to last couple to arrive. There were nine couples already there. At this point, we were all strangers with nothing in common other than the fact we were 1.) all having our first baby and 2.) looked absolutely terrified.

I had already met our Registered Nurse instructor, since she taught my breastfeeding class. I warned Brett ahead of time that she was a younger, hotter version of the already smoking hot Dr. Cuddy on House.

Still, he was impressed enough to whisper, “Wow! She DOES look like Dr. Cuddy!”

About three times.

I get it. I GET it. She’s hot.

As we were seated, I looked around the room and took stock of my compatriots. There were eleven couples all together. I was pleased to see that many of the women looked to be about my age (whew! not an “old’ mom after all!), and several of the men looked even older than my nearly-40-year-old baby daddy.

Three of the women were quite young, still in their late teens, single, soon-to-be moms. I was encouraged by this, however, since they had all made the choice to keep their babies and obviously had a support system of family and friends to help them start their journey.

In a country where there is a murderous alternative to keeping your baby, these courageous young women stood out as examples of making the right - albeit tough - choice. I applauded them in my head.

The rest of us were married couples. Dr. Cuddy had us go around the room and share our names, due dates, and what we were looking to learn in the class. We were very surprised to learn that, out of the eleven couples there, ten of us are expecting boys!

Our lone girl-bearer joked she was going back to her OB to demand another ultrasound!

Dr. Cuddy took the floor and began to explain how the birthing process works. She had a table full of props, the most interesting of which was a stocking cap marked up to resemble a uterus.

I will never look at a stocking cap the same way again.

She took us through the process, at one point pulling a baby doll through the opening of an actual skeletal pelvic bone.


In the first hour, we learned about basic female anatomy and the changes our bodies go through in pregnancy. There was a great pictorial chart which showed the many changes to a pregnant female body enthralling even the men in the room.

When Cuddy asked us to list our pregnancy ailments, I was surprised to hear the men speak for their wives.

“Her back hurts.”
“She can’t sleep.”
“Her joints ache.”

These men were paying attention! Good for them.

I mentioned my swollen ankles. Dr. C picked though our complaints and listed causes and solutions. It was a relief to hear these women were experiencing many of the same things I have been.

We took a break about an hour into the class. As the eleven of us toddled off to the bathroom, we insisted our girl-bearer go first. “Ladies first,” we joked.

As we stood shoulder to shoulder in the little bathroom, another woman pointed to the “Maximum Capacity – 15 Persons” on the wall.

“We’re exceeding the limit,” she said laughing. “There’s 22 of us in here!”

After the break, we headed back for the second half of the class. Dr. Cuddy talked about the different kinds of pregnancy pain – what’s normal and what’s not.

At one point, she referred to our collective aching breasts as “the girls.” While the rest of the class was mature enough to take this in stride, my husband nearly spit his Sprite out through his nose.

Embarrassed, I leaned over and whispered viciously, “Grow up! You’re nearly 40, not 14!” Then, I rolled my eyes as he continued to smirk into his soda for the next five minutes.

Why does the rest of the world get George Clooney, and I get Seth Rogen? Huh? Why?

A few minutes later, he topped himself. Dr. Cuddy was talking about what she referred to as the “grossness of pregnancy” which included a discussion on hemorrhoids.

Brett leaned over and whispered, “You should ask about that.”

“Why? I don’t have hemorrhoids,” I pointed out.

So, I was shocked a split-second later, as he raised his hand and asked about the best way to treat the oh-so-nasty ailment. Twenty pairs of eyes honed in on me, as Dr. Cuddy talked earnestly to ME about treating them.

It took everything I had not to scream, “I DON’T HAVE HEMORRHOIDS! He’s just trying to get free medical advice from you, a hot nurse.”

Instead, I held my tongue and let the whole room look at me and think, “Oh, that poor fat lady and her hemorrhoid problem!”

I think it says a lot about my love for my husband that I was willing to fake being a poster child for Preparation H in front of a roomful of strangers I will have to see every week for four more weeks.

I’m pretty sure that is what the Proverbs 31 woman would have done.

Dr. Cuddy showed us the various positions that can ease the weight off our aching joints and back muscles. At one point, she hauled out an exercise ball and bounced on it.

I had to laugh when the girl next me elbowed her husband as he watched the good doctor bounce energetically up and down on the ball.

“We’ve got to get one of those,” he said hypnotically, his eyes transfixed on Lisa Edelstein’s body double.

Eventually, it was the moment we had all been waiting for. Dr. Cuddy asked our “labor support person” to go get the mats in the back of the room. Soon, we were spread out all over the room, our partners behind us, as Dr. Cuddy prepared the room.

She dimmed the lights and put on what she referred to as “cheesy relaxation music.”

“You know, the kind that got you here,” she said.

She explained that we were going to practice rhythmic breathing techniques to help manage pain during labor. “Don’t worry,” she assured us. “Next week, we’ll talk about the drugs.”

As she took us through the different pain management options, I was impressed by her balanced viewpoint.

She told us every labor and delivery experience is unique. Some of us might end up delivering via C-section and not need to use any of the techniques; others would have a 45 minute labor and need very little pain management; even others would try for natural childbirth only to discover a low pain threshold or a danger to the baby present without using drugs.

The most important thing, she told us, was to possess as much information as possible. Then, we could walk into labor and delivery informed of our choices and possibilities. We were assured that having a wealth of knowledge would bring comfort and security to us through the whole process.

She encouraged us to be flexible and adaptable, no matter what the situation.

We settled in around the room to begin practicing the breathing techniques. We were in a crunched part of the room, and one of the men had to lean so far back, he was nearly in my lap.

For part of the time, I felt like I was practicing delivering him. Poor guy.

Dr. Cuddy taught us about cleansing breaths and then took us through 4, 2, and 3 count rhythmic breathing. It was amazing. Not only did it relax me, but Sam starting kicking vigorously.

Other women around the room commented on the same thing, and Dr. C informed us that the babies love all that extra oxygen.

The partners in the room were instructed on how to massage our shoulders and necks or - if was distracting us from our breathing - to NOT touch us. Most of the men looked extremely uncomfortable touching their wives in front of the crowd, but Dr. C reminded them most people are home alone when labor starts.

As we went through the breathing exercises, I felt a burst of nostalgia. My mom and dad went through Lamaze classes when they were pregnant with me. Mom made several good friends through the class. She often talked about the fun she had in Lamaze class, and I grew up hearing the stories.

Although, as our instructor had pointed out earlier, Mom didn’t get to use her class information, as I made a hasty entrance into this world on the frosty morning of August 20, 1978.

Still, I imagined that the women behind and beside me could have been – in another generation – my mom and dad’s friends. I was bristling with joy over repeating the positive cycle of shared experience.

After we were all breathed out, the class was over. Dr. Cuddy mentioned the Boot Camp for Dads, and when Brett exclaimed over how much he’d enjoyed it, three guys signed up on the spot!

Maybe Swedes will take a little off our bill for the referral?

Brett put away our mat while I packed up our pillows. We headed out to our car, talking about what we’d learned, and looking forward to our next class.

I was especially pleased because everything Dr. Cuddy said matched up perfectly with what my pregnancy books said, and I was glad Brett was finally learning what I’ve been reading about for the last seven months.

When we got to the car, Brett smiled at me. “I wonder why I’m suddenly in the mood to watch some House reruns?”

Then I did something the Proverbs 31 woman probably wouldn’t have done.

I threw my TUMS at him.

Let’s Pretend

When I found out I was pregnant, I signed up for a weekly e-mail – “Your Pregnancy This Week” – from

I’ve really enjoyed the e-mails. Each week I learn something new, plus each edition features notes on the baby’s measurements, why my body does what it does, and advice from doctors.

At the end of every e-mail, there is usually a funny statement. This week’s funny coda was titled, “Let’s Pretend,” and included the following:

At your baby shower, pretend you understand how the diaper disposal system works.

When installing your car seat, pretend your partner doesn't seem like an extra from The Planet of the Apes.

Pretend it was the dog who farted.

Pretend that onion rings are part of the "best-baby" diet.

Pretend your prenatal vitamin is buried at the bottom of the ice cream container.

I laughed especially hard, because I could identify with every one! So, if you see me pretending to know how a diaper disposal system works at my shower, don’t be fooled!

(And, just so you know, I’ll probably also be the Planet of the Apes one when it comes to the car seat!)