Sunday, July 26, 2015

Week 38: The Nursery and Pregnancy in Review

Yay!  Finally the nursery is complete!  Well, almost.  If you ask me, I'll say there's still more to do.  For the most part though everything is set up and organized - ready for baby.

I made the welcome home banner with paper from old Trader Joe's bags.  I was slightly superstitious about putting it up when it may still be a few weeks before Micheal decides to move out of my belly.  However, in the end I decided that it's one less thing for me to worry about once labour begins. 

The "M" I got from Michael's.  They have all sorts of wooden letters, perfect for monogramming just about anything.  I had to sand it down and paint it myself, but overall it was a super quick and easy job to accomplish.

Once Micheal has been home for a while I'll take the banner down and I'm going to make him his first painting - the loch ness monster, to be hung in that same spot. 

I'm sure you've noticed, but our nursery theme is, "under the sea" with a secondary theme of "forest creatures".  As our little one grows and starts sharing his personality I'm sure these themes will grow and change along with him.

I wish we were able to paint the walls, but since we rent it all has to stay white.  We did our best to incorporate colour into the room though.  I sure hope the little guy likes it.  I actually sort of wanted to avoid so much blue as the stereotypical colour for boys.  With the sea theme though it kind of just became a thing.  I've been slowly trying to get some more greens in there.  I'm tryin'. 

*I just wanted to say thank you to all of our family and friends who have helped us with getting started.  We truly appreciate it so much.  Without you guys Micheal would probably end up sleeping in a cardboard box.*

Seriously, everyone has been so great and supportive.  From lending me maternity clothes to organizing a baby shower to gift cards for groceries once the baby gets here...everyone has just been so thoughtful.  It means to so much to us!!

Now that the nursery is all set up and ready to go I thought it would be a good time to take a moment and review this journey.

First Trimester: December -February

My first trimester was rough, really rough.  I ended up breaking the news around 8 weeks instead of the more socially acceptable 12 weeks because I was just so miserable.  I was sick all of the time.  I also had to eat like clockwork every two hours.  It didn't really make much sense because of the nausea but for whatever reason not eating would throw me into an equal pit of despair and vomit.  Every morning that I left for work I had to make sure that I had enough snacks packed to last me the entire day.  Not just in the morning, but all day long.  I was also unbelievably exhausted all of the time.  Once 7/8PM hit each night I was down for the count.  I started to withdraw from people and sought solitude at work.  I hated being so moody all of the time for what probably seemed like no reason.  So that's why I decided to break the news early.  I was relieved that if I were cranky, sick, or exhausted that people would finally understand why. 

We knew that if we were having a girl that we wanted to name her Lile.  I'm named Catherine Lillian after my grandmother, Lillian Catherine and I thought that it would be nice to keep the tradition alive.  If we were to have a boy though we weren't entirely sure.  Roibeard had previously suggested Michael after my dad, which I thought would be  nice, but also didn't quite feel right.  Then one night we were watching an Irish film together and one of the characters was named, "Micheal", pronounced, "Me-Hall".  We instantly fell in love and knew that it would be perfect.  There's a fada over the "i" and the "a", but I don't know how to do special characters in blogger (sorry).  Roibeard definitely wanted a little boy, but I would have been happy either way.  Little girls get the cuter clothes, but I've always been a bit of a tomboy, so I thought a little boy would be nice too.

Around January I went to my OB/GYN to get checked out.  They confirmed the pregnancy and made me come back a week later to double check my blood count just to make sure the baby was alive and growing.  I went back and all was good.  They explained that they didn't do any prenatal care at their clinic though and gave me a list of places to go.

And so began my near two months of doctor woes.  I looked up the list of places that the doctor gave me and they all had terrible (and I mean terrible) reviews.  So I started investigating on my own.  Keep in mind that I was working around 60 hours per week at this point, so if I tried to call a place on my day off and I wasn't given a response I'd have to wait another whole week before I could call them back.  It was non stop back and forth between the doctors and the insurance companies.  Neither one wanted to be helpful. 

Finally, I gave up and called one of the places that the OB/GYN had recommended.  I called on a Friday and they told me to come in the following Monday.  Since it was a walk-in clinic Roibeard and I left first thing in the morning.  It was a bitter cold day in February and there was a terrible blizzard that we had to fight through.  So we get to the clinic, head on upstairs...and NO ONE is there. Not even a janitor.  Our souls were crushed and we were cold, tired, and cranky.  We decided to give it a few minutes as we weren't too eager to head back out into the blizzard.  Finally a few more people come in and take a seat and wait, but still no one who works there.  I think about 30 minutes passed when finally some of the nurses came in.  They apologized and after checking their emails informed everyone that the staff was on a "snow day" and they only came in because they failed to get the memo.  So they took me back and made me take another pregnancy test.  They informed me that I was in fact pregnant!  I laughed and asked them to tell me something I did't already know.  They took me into a room and explained that they couldn't begin treatment as the hospital that they work with was out of network.  The clinic was in network, but the hospital wasn't...go figure.  So they took all of my info, made copies of my insurance card and i.d. and told me that they would be in touch soon.  They were going to check if I could receive my prenatal care there and just deliver from a different hospital. Rarr.  I was upset, but agreed.  I waited two weeks for them to call back.  It never happened.  So I called to see what was going on and the woman that I spoke with said that they had no record of me ever having come in.  I explained that it was the day of the blizzard and that they took down all of my information.  She insisted that they had nothing, no insurance card, i.d., paperwork, not even the results from the pregnancy test.  She was rude and impatient and said my only option was to come in and take another pregnancy test and go from there.  WTF?!  I was nearing my second trimester at that point...I didn't need another pregnancy test!!!  I needed treatment.  Ugh.

So back to the drawing board it was.  I called my insurance company again and asked them for more doctors.  Again they weren't very helpful, but gave me the name of a clinic.  So, I called the clinic, but they claimed that doctor was out of network and I'd have to call the insurance company. Rarrrrr!!!  I had just called the insurance company!  I finally (after an hour of arguing) got them to agree to at least schedule me for an appointment.  Their first available appointment wasn't until the end of March.  I told them that in the meantime I'd call my insurance company and sort things out.  They were very reluctant, but finally agreed.  I was relieved that I had an appointment but still stressed knowing that it may not lead to anything.

Finally, one day on a whim I decided to call my insurance company one last time...just to see.  I actually got a decent human being on the phone who was so helpful and gave me the name of a nice clinic really close to my apartment.  IN NETWORK!!!  I held my breath as I called them...worried it was too good to be true...

And they were happy to take me on as a new patient!!  I had an appointment booked for early March and all of my insurance info cleared, both with the clinic and their hospital.  Oh my gosh!!  It was a true weight lifted off of my shoulders!  I was just so happy.

Second Trimester: March-May

We finally made it to our first prenatal check up in March and the second that I heard our baby's heartbeat and saw him on the
sonogram for the first time I started weeping.  It was amazing.  This weird little parasite that had been growing inside me was no parasite after all but our amazing, sweet, little baby. 

We had an additional ultrasound scheduled with the hospital because my last menstrual cycle had been very irregular and they were unable to determine a due date. 

In the meantime I was still experiencing a lot of morning sickness.  I was so sure that it was just never going to end.  On the plus side I was beginning to have more energy again and was feeling more social.  I was finally starting to develop a cute little baby bump and was enjoying trying to dress it up as much as I could.  It was still freezing outside at this point and so I had to wear a lot of open sweaters and cardigans.  My pull over sweaters looked ridiculous as they had taken on the appearance of belly shirts.

It was around this time that I stopped going to my yoga classes.  I was doing my best to stay healthy and fit, but it was getting to the point where it was starting to do me more harm than good.  Instead I tried to make sure I walked to and from the cinema at least 4 times a week.  I had reduced my hours at the café and started working a little more at the cinema.  It would vary between 40-50 hours/week.  The schedule was tough to keep up with, especially now that doctors' appointments were thrown into the mix and my caffeine intake was so limited, but somehow I made it through.

We finally had our ultrasound appointment at the hospital.  We found out that we were having a healthy baby boy!  Yay for Micheal!  We were also given a due date of August 10th.  Only five days before my birthday.  I don't know if it's a Leo thing or if it's just me being a brat, but I don't want to share my birthday. (You hear that Micheal?!  If you come five days late you're pretty much going to be grounded for life!)

Anyway, around half way through my second trimester the morning sickness finally ended and the acid reflux started up.  Out of the frying pan and into the fire.  Seriously, why does tv and film trick you into believing that pregnancy is this amazing time where you can just eat all of the food you want and then some?  Cheese always made me sick from the beginning (still can't have it), but other things that I've gone through phases of not being able to eat are: sweets, rice, pasta, pasta sauce, tomatoes, hummus, apples, bananas, eggs, avocado, nuts, breakfast bars, and bread.  Some have been worse than others and some (like sweets) I am finally able to eat again.  I still have to take a bottle of tums with me everywhere I go.  To this day most food makes me feel at least a little bit ill.  If I can get through a meal with minor stomach upset I consider it a victory. 

My ankles started swelling around the middle of my second trimester and I started experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions here and there. They were mild, but still unpleasant. My hips, back, and legs were really taking a toll at this point and I was getting sciatic nerve pain regularly.

BUT little Micheal was always on the move, kicking regularly, and every time that I felt him it would make me forget all of that awful pain. 

In May we started taking our birth classes and learned quite a bit.  We took prepared childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant care.  The classes freaked me out quite a bit, but somehow made Roibeard completely calm.  They let us take a tour of the hospital, which was really nice.  I can visualize the birth process more clearly now that I have seen the rooms.

Also in May we had our baby shower back in Michigan.  It was a really nice shower thrown by my mom and aunt.  We got a lot of amazing stuff for the babe and the process of getting the nursery together slowly started.  Unfortunately this meant closing the door to the room and keeping the cats away.  They are still pissed about this.

Third Trimester: June-August

Once my third trimester hit I really started having a difficult time getting around.  Work became really difficult even though I was only working at the café 4 hours/day at that point.  It was becoming more and more difficult to wake up at 5 AM every morning. It was becoming more and more difficult to fall asleep at night.  Also, it was non-stop rain every day.  So on top of my pregnancy pains I was dealing with severe pain from my previous back injury.  I was starting again to withdraw and became less and less social once again.

I also started feeling Micheal kick less and less each day.  This was difficult for me as stated above, his little kicks had become my coping mechanism.  I was so sad that he was fading from me.  My doctor reassured me that this was all normal though.

Once summer hit my ankles and feet went from being normal preggo ankles and feet to being severely swollen.  For the past month my legs have joined them and everything is swollen to the point where even my doctor is concerned.  They are monitoring me to make sure that I'm not developing pre-eclampsia.  Fun stuff. 

Also once summer started the over-heating started.  I've always been one to deal well with the heat and always welcome it over the cold.  Pregnancy completely changed that.  I'm still glad it's not the dead of winter...but the sweat....oh my gosh...the's so disgusting.  I sometimes have to jump in the shower not to wash, but to just run cold water over my body for a few minutes to bring my temperature down.  Other times I just stand with the freezer door open.  Yesterday Roibeard caught me with a paper towel stuffed in my bra.  I had a bunch of ice wrapped in that paper towel.  Trust me, when you are pregnant you will find creative ways to cool yourself down.  Stuffing ice down your bra will just become a normal thing.

Anyway, we are now at the tail end of July and so so so close to D-Day.  Right now I'm only working at the cinema and only just a few days of the week.  I really don't think that I could handle much more.  Over the past two weeks the Braxston Hicks contractions that I have been feeling since my 2nd tri have become (at times) excruciating.  I've also had the joy of experiencing a few normal contractions in my back as well.  Oh my gosh...terrible.  Really really terrible.  It's such a mind f*** at this point as I never know if it's the real deal.  I downloaded an app on my phone for counting contractions, so every time I feel them I start the counter.  Sometimes they get stronger and regular...but so far nothing that has remained consistent for an entire hour.  At my last appointment I was told that I'm now 2 cm dilated.  The placenta moved into a good position and the baby's head is facing down.  So everything is ready.

Having never been through this though I'm starting to get so antsy about whether or not it's time. 

A few changes in my behaviour as of right now are:

Today I finally slept.  Like, really slept.  13 hours to be exact.  I felt groggy and drugged when I finally woke up. (Up to this point I have not been able to successfully sleep through the night and have been heavily "nesting" even when I should be completely exhausted.)

I'm on and off either ravenously hungry or want nothing to do with food ever again.  It changes every few hours.

The baby has really dropped and I'm "carrying low".  Hooray for being able to breath again!!!

I'm increasingly cranky and/or depressed every day.  I'll just start crying or become unreasonably angry for no reason.  Even the cats have gotten on my nerves a few times.

And of stated a million times already...those pesky practice contractions. 

Like just about every mom out there, now that I'm at this point I want nothing more than for it to be over.

Even with all of the pain I've been going through I still have my mind made up about not having an epidural.  I've started working on breathing exercises and different labour positions. I have started to focus on visualising the birth in my head. I have started visualising little Micheal being placed to my chest and that first contact being made.  I know a lot of people think I'm nutso for not wanting the pain killers, but I've dealt with awful chronic pain for a long time now.  I know what works for me and I need to be able to move around to get through it.  Being stuck on my back unable to move or feel the bottom half of my body just sounds awful to me.  I'm in no way criticizing anyone who chooses an epidural.  For me though I need that pain to guide me.  I keep telling Roibeard that his job in the hospital is to keep reminding me that my body was made to be able to do this. 

So we'll see.  Oh!  I forgot to mention that Roibeard has started reading to little Micheal.  The little guy just loves it!  These are the positive thoughts that I hold onto when I think about how I'm going to get through this. <3

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week 37


Well, we finally made it to the lake for beach day!  I mean it's only mid-July after all.  Chicago summers just seem to keep getting rainier and rainier.  The day these photos were taken we almost had to turn around because we started feeling drops.  After many failed attempts at beach day though I was determined to make this one work.  It was a bit chilly, and way too cold to swim, but at least the rain only lasted a little bit and we were able to enjoy ourselves and relax. 

I got my maternity swimsuit from Target (and I really hope that I'm able to wear it more than once).  It's a cute design - I'm really loving the simple black and white stripes.  However, it's like the person who designed it put all of their time into the shape of the belly and forgot about everything else.  Like, maybe some snaps or hooks on the bottom for easy access in the restroom?  Or a much, much more supportive built-in bra?  Seriously Target.  Come on.  The dress in the above photos is also from Target's maternity line.  As for that one I have no complaints.  It's navy and white nautical stripes are perfect for summer.  The sleeves are a nice touch and the skirt hits at just the right length.  So in the end I did break down and buy a few maternity pieces.  Only a few though.
With only three more weeks to go I'm not 100% sure how many more of these posts I'll be able to do.  I went to the doctor last week and was told that I was 1 cm dilated.  Eeeeeekkk!!  I was freaking out after I got this news.  Did it mean I was starting labor?  I'm not ready yet, there's still so much to get done!  I quickly found out that there was no need to worry and that most women are 1-2 cm dilated for several weeks.  Phew.  I felt so relieved.  However that same night I woke up in the early hours of the morning in pain like I have never experienced in my life.  At first I thought that I was straight up giving birth right then and there.  I had awful contractions and I could feel the baby's head against my pelvis.  There was so much pressure and discomfort that I didn't know what to do.  My tongue was really sore as I must have bitten down on it really hard while I was sleeping.  Also, one of my hands was so swollen that it looked like a cartoon glove.  I just lied there and moaned, unsure of what to do.  I was so tired and didn't want to be going into labor.  The moaning helped with the pain.  I also tried to work on my breathing which helped to calm me and keep me from screaming, "I'm in labor!!!" and waking up Roibeard.  After a little while the contractions settled down and became irregular again, so I knew it wasn't the real deal.
Still, that whole day gave me quite a scare and ever since I keep worrying that I'm going into labor.  Hopefully Micheal decides to wait a bit longer so I have a little more time to prepare for his arrival.  I'm just worried that the last few weeks are going to be so full of these random pains and that I'm going to find myself not wanting to do anything for fear of going into labor too far away from the hospital.  I've already had to tell Roibeard I couldn't accompany him downtown for that very reason.  I'm probably just extra paranoid, but since this is my first one I have no idea what to expect.
Soooooo....we'll see what next post could very well be from the other side.  See you there.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My 10 Year Journey as a Barista

This post is coming a tad bit late as my last day at the café was at the end of June.  Things have just been so crazy lately that I haven't had time to update.  I've been working a bunch at the cinema, preparing the nursery, running last minute errands, and Roibeard and I just threw a potluck to celebrate our final days before we officially become *gasp* parents!
My café job was in the west loop, which was a 50-60 minute commute for me 5 days of the week.  Once the baby gets here I'd like to be a little closer to home, so I'll need to find a new job after I've had a little time to recover.  I'm not entirely ruling out another barista gig, but I am going to keep my options open and do what I can to get a job that will be stable and best allow me to support a family.
Oh and I apologize for the blurry quality of these photos.  Roibeard had to take them while I was "in action", so the focus isn't exactly the best.

So first of all, I should probably explain what exactly it is that I do.  This has been especially confusing to my family over the years who are still convinced that I am a waitress. 
To clear things up:
I am not a waitress, although I sometimes am required to offer table service when a large group comes in.
I do not work at Starbucks.  I do not speak Starbucks lingo.  If you want to talk about coffee with me I'll do so for hours, but the second you mention a non-fat, decaf, venti frappuccino, you've officially lost me.
I do not work in fast food.  Not that I'm criticizing anyone who does work in fast food.  It's just not what I do for a living.  There is no magical button that I press to prepare your drink.  Instead, I prepare your drink with patience, skill, and love. <3
My job is sort of a cross between being a bartender and a wine connoisseur...but with coffee and espresso.  First and foremost it's my job to know my customers and to make them feel welcome.  Got the Cheers theme song in your head yet? Good.  You're on the right track to understanding what I do. 
Second, it's my job to know my stuff.  I am an officially certified barista.  I did my training in San Francisco, and they take their coffee culture seriously over there.  It's my job to know things like what flavour notes are typical of various regions, how long an espresso shot can sit before it dies, what is going on chemically with the espresso when you are extracting a shot, when a shot is over or under extracted and what this will mean in terms of a drink being more bitter or sour.
Finally, my skills are what will result in your smooth, velvety milk that will expertly integrate with your shot and form a beautiful drink.  Baristas need to know all about texturizing, aerating, and expanding your milk.  We need to know which milks work best and how to work a steam wand around milks that have less fat and more sugar. 
Does my job require me to be pretentious?  I don't consider myself "pretentious", but I do consider myself picky.  I want your drink to be perfect.  You probably paid upwards of $5 for your drink, right?  So please don't ask me to make you a large cappuccino, make your drink extra hot, or rush me when I'm making your pour-over.  These things will ruin your $5 drink.  I will do all of the above with a smile/grimace if you ask me to.  On the inside though...I will be crying.
Don't get me wrong, it took me awhile to become queen bee on the espresso bar.  I first starting making specialty coffee drinks because the cinema that I worked at had a working machine and it was part of my job.  I really didn't know much back then and more or less made everyone the same drink regardless of whether they ordered a cappuccino or latte.  It was all the same to me.  As time went on I got better.  I learned how to tamp and how to steam a bit better.
Then I moved to San Diego and had one of the craziest jobs ever.  I worked at a place that was a café, wine bar, cigar shop, antique store, and tea room all in one.  We offered wine tastings and hosted tango nights.  The owner was very eccentric, fond of Turkish music, and a bit of a creeper.  He also was very specific about the way in which his drinks were to be served...extra dry cappuccinos with foam exactly four inches above the cup and a small sprinkle of cinnamon for instance.  Coffee and espresso drinks at this location were a form of art, but not a skill.
It wasn't until I arrived in San Francisco that everything that I had learned up to that point was just thrown upside down and my world was rocked.  I did my training with one of the top roasters in the country.  Looking back I'm so grateful for that as I've since learned that classes like those actually cost around $500.  Mine were all free though because it was part of my job.  (Yay!)  I almost....almost....walked out on the first day of training.  We did a cupping and learned how to do pour-overs and I just thought the whole thing was ridiculous. 
The truth is though that I couldn't have been happier that I decided to stick with it.  I'm a very process oriented person.  It's why film appeals to me, why I ended up being good at baking, and how I came to be obsessed with coffee and coffee culture.  I just loved learning all of the chemistry behind making an amazing drink, I loved all of my little latte art creations, and most of all I loved meeting so many wonderful and amazing people during my time as a barista. 
If this is the end, then I can certainly say that I've had a good run.  <3