April 25, 2011

Pitiful, truly...

Apparently, I'm not one to suffer and wait if there's anything I can do to 'make' something happen. I checked on Craigs List and found a woman who's selling her Doppler for a fair price. The Doppler is a microphone that I can use to hear the Baby's heartbeat. I keep waking up and feeling scared that something's wrong, so for peace of mind for the next month, I'm going to go for it. Though I feel very silly, I'm also extremely grateful that I live in a country where such things are easily available.

Anyone else hearing the hovering doom of an Alpha Mom? So much for my relaxed, hippy version of myself. I should have known that would prove to be a myth. I blame it on the design world and Silicon Valley where I've become too dependent on gadgets (right, that's all this is, right? NOD and smile, people, nod and smile.)

Edited to add: Bought it. Took a while to find the heartbeat, but it was there! Phew. Jrex is fully convinced that I'm nuts, but it was worth it to just feel peaceful last night.

April 21, 2011

Now is the paranoid time

I'm at 15 weeks. There's another woman at work who is due two weeks after me and she looks pregnant. Granted, she started a little more voluptuous, than me so when she gets even curvier, it's more obvious. For me, if I gain a cup size, it's NOT significant since bigger than not much is only a little. ;-)

The point being, I'm not showing yet at all. My pants no longer fit, except the baggy, drawstring ones, but that's easy to chalk up to bloating (there's PLENTY of that!). The nausea is still there, but it isn't as bad as it's been. It's a little too easy to feel like it's all in my head or that the baby has stopped growing. Last week when we got back from Texas, I was convinced that since things were going well, something had to go bad; I called my doctor and asked to come in to listen to the baby's heartbeat. The nurse has a slow morning so she let me sneak in before work. The doppler microphone they use is a little wand that gets pressed into the stomach and has to get mushed all around to find the tiny little heart (size of a pinky finger). Four LONG minutes of deep sea ocean sounds followed before she finally found a little whump whump whump sound. 145 bpm--all good. Now I have two weeks to go before the amnio and ultrasound. I'm trying to just trust that everything is fine, but it's HARD!

Tuesday I chatted with an old college friend who lost her 36 week old baby two months ago. They'd known that the baby had a severely underdeveloped heart, but were hoping for a healing. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Given all the grief surrounding such a loss, she and her husband are doing remarkably well. They've truly pressed into God's grace together in an amazing way. It makes me feel sad that it's so hard for me to do that. I guess it showed me how much I still have trust scars in my relationship with Him. Not just from the miscarriage, though that's a significant part.

My Mom always used to say that she loved God, but that she didn't trust him to do her good. It made me SO mad growing up. He was so obviously good and took such good care of us (we never went hungry and the mortgage always got paid) that her lack of faith felt like an affront to my seven year old heart. I get it now. Enough battering from life and it's harder to trust that the way I want things to go is the way He intends.

It's especially poignant this week. Historically, this is the week to remember Jesus' last week before he got killed by the Roman occupiers. On Sunday, he entered Jerusalem to the loud shouts of an excited crowd. They greeted him as a conquering hero: throwing their coats down so he wouldn't touch the ground, waving arms and palm branches. In their minds, NOW the Romans would be kicked out. NOW God had sent the Anointed One to make things right. NOW was the time for their liberation. Well the second two were true, but Jesus' target was much bigger than what his people could see in front of them.

When Jesus proceeded to get arrested on Thursday night and then get beaten by both the Jewish leaders and the Romans without fighting back, their disappointment rose up and they vehemently cried out for him to be crucified on Friday. Given a choice between him and another rebel, they picked the other guy. It really hits home for me, what do I do with my expectations of Him? How do I interpret his promises and how do I assume it's supposed to look? And then what do I do when it's not what I'd hoped for? What's the deeper stuff in me that He's trying to expose and heal? How often do I just keep moving and numbing and hoping the lesson will fade away instead of requiring me to wade through toward resolution?

Much of my life for a long time has been about waiting. Pregnancy just takes that to a new, more intimate level. There's nothing I can do but trust, though trust and hope are painful places to dwell. Yet in this place, there is healing that God wants to do in me. As I write this, I'm realizing that. May I press into grace in the way that my friend has been.

It's certainly the right week to do that.

April 15, 2011

Please sign here...

This has been the week of PDF documents. I don't know how people used to buy homes in new states (or countries) before the internet. My father's Mother once took a train solo from Michigan to northern California to find and buy a newspaper business and a house in the same trip. I guess she must have signed all her forms and written her checks while she was there? (A note to those of you who think I'M independent or crazy for being willing to be alone in Texas while pregnant. Yikes, I've got nothing on my grandmother for independence.)

The house passed the home inspection, BUT... there are some issues that need to be addressed in the foundation (cracked joists, wooden support beams resting on the ground and absorbing water). Dallas homes have no basements, so the foundation options are slabs of concrete, or in older homes, post and beam construction. Ours is post and beam. The foundation expert will crawl around down there and give an estimate on Monday.

In other house drama, the inspector recommended a roofing inspection. The roofer (who is a really honest guy, according to my realtor) said the previous roof was installed improperly (not enough overlap in the shingles, exposed nails, some flashing issues) and recommends a new roof. There are a bunch of other relatively minor things (the oven only has one temperature: 375 degrees, etc.), but between the top and bottom of the house we've got some big ones. We're going to ask for all foundation repairs to be completed, for a couple minor safety issues to get addressed, and then propose splitting the cost of a new roof.

We'll see what the seller says, but it's making me glad we didn't do a counter-counter offer on the initial asking price to try to squeeze the price lower. It might mean we have some wiggle room now.

I think that the house and the neighborhood have actually tipped me towards excitement about moving to Dallas. All my fears of big hair, makeup, fancy clothes and murder (thank you soap opera Dallas) are dying down. It's a good city with lots of restaurants and museums. Knowing there's a quirky side as well is highly comforting.

My other comfort is knowing two other couples from Baltimore who've now ended up in Dallas. One of them just had their second baby while we were there. We got to meet him and hang out in the hospital with them. They live 20 minutes north of where we'll be living, but they have a POOL, so I predict our kids will grow up playing together. The other couple are hikers, foodies and all around interesting people. They aren't into kids and she's deathly allergic to animals, so I'm not sure how that will develop, but we saw them twice this last trip and had a lot of fun with them. Both couples have promised to take good care of me while I'm alone in July and August.

PLUS (I missed the text until it was too late) but I had a text from one of my aunts while we were there saying, "Where are you now? We're in Dallas." I saw it three hours after she sent it and saw the follow up that said, "Sorry we missed you, we're heading up to Kansas now. Love and prayers be with you." I like the fact that I'll get to see my Mom's side of the family more often than I have in our coastal lives.

It makes it interesting now when coworkers come up and say with sad sympathy, "I heard you're moving to Dallas! I'm so sorry." It's easier to just nod and smile than try to defend Dallas, but I'm amused that I find myself arguing with them in my head.

April 13, 2011

This is ridiculous!

I'm already in a battle of wills with this baby. Seriously!

I'm of German/English extraction. This means that I grew up with dessert as a regular part of the meal. When I talk about dessert, I mean cake, ice cream, chocolate, basically something fattening and sugary. I even have a 'dessert stomach'. When Jrex and I go out for dinner, I'll finish half my meal, declare I'm totally full, yet still have room for dessert. It's one of my more bewildering features as far as he's concerned. It was only after marrying into the Korean world, I discovered fruit could even be considered dessert. I might opt for a couple squares of chocolate after, but I've learned to enjoy the fruit course.

Purely based on what makes me nauseous, this baby is already more Jrex's kid than mine. I can eat anything spicy (Indian, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Mediterranean and Mexican) and not feel at all nauseous. If I try to eat a Thin Mint? I feel gross and ill. Cake? Same. Pastry? Yup.

The good side of this deal is that I haven't yet gained weight. If the kid is going to make me eat fruit and veggies all the time, I might be able to keep my weight gain around the 25 pound mark. The bigger perk is that I am gaining SO much ammo for after the kid is born. If Jrex tries to blame the kid's quirks on my side of the family, I can argue that from the womb this was his kid more than mine. (Rubs hands in evil anticipation...)

Despite all that, I keep trying to own my own body. I like dessert, dammit! You don't get to take over the world, yet. Sheesh, you're only 4 inches long.

Baby wins every time.

April 9, 2011

Home Sweet Home!

We made an offer on the first house we saw on Thursday. Just to confirm our choice, we did look through the other houses on our list. All of these were in Oak Cliff which is the funky, bohemian neighborhood south of the river here in Dallas. Nothing compared. In fact, this was actually cheaper per square foot than many of the others (though it was close to our upper end).

The offer was accepted yesterday! We'd asked for a June 30 close and $15,000 off the asking price, he countered with closing May 30th, $6500 off, and then renting the house back from us with a possession date of July 1. Done!

Forgive the excessive photos, but I love looking at houses, so I'm sharing the fun with you. (my fun = your torture, right? bwah hah hah. evil laughter)
Most houses in Dallas don't have great porches. This one has room for a porch swing and table and chairs on the left and then our sky chair hanging on the right. My mom always lusted after wrap-around porches. I really wish she could enjoy this one with us.

Note the doorbell. It has a little bronze label under that says "Pull" and it rings a physical bronze bell inside the house. Jrex and I have joked about having a house where we could feature a suit of armor as a decor element. We could almost get away with it in the foyer:

Now into the kitchen. Those doors lead to a fenced back yard.

This eat-in area is to the left as you enter the kitchen. We finally have a great place for friends to hang out while Jrex does his magic. The stove is an island, so it allows for cooking as entertainment.

Why, yes, there's a wine fridge! When we said the house was perfect for us...

Mudroom at the back left of the kitchen.

Dog Door! That's my personal 'sign'. I kept thinking about how we could let the dog have an inside/outside life. Done.

Powder room opens off the passageway between kitchen and dining room.

Now back to the front foyer, this is the view when you look left after coming in the front door. We LOVE all the ceiling fans. AND all the windows in the house are new, double-paned glass and they can be opened. The sad truth is that here in Dallas, many people go directly from heating to air conditioning and lots of the houses don't have functional windows.

View back out to the foyer.

Turn to your left and you see this:

Working from home is seeming fairly appealing!

Now back to the foyer and let's go upstairs. This is the view from the top of the stairs.

Looking up into the hall, on the right, the master bedroom. Next door on right, utility room with washer/dryer. Ahead, full bath. Two doors on left, first would be for kid room, back is the guest room.

View into Master Bedroom.

And yes, it deserves all caps...
Working wood-burning fireplace. Walk-in closet on left. It's big enough that Jrex looked at it and claimed the back third for his office space. Master bath on the right.

The left rear third of this opens up and there's an area that's definitely big enough so we can put in a desk. Elfa shelving by the Container Store. All modular.

We're kind of hoping the seller asks if he can take the chandelier with him. Note the little cupids on top! It's just so us, don't you think?

And now, the master bath:

Dual sink and a jetted tub! Mommy needs her alone time now, kiddies, go bug your father.

I love having a water closet! Means the bathroom can end up becoming family time (as I've heard it does), but you can still get some privacy.

Future nursery. Across from the master bedroom.

I already think of this as Mom K's room, though other guests will be welcome to use it, too! ;-)

Utility room.
Now back downstairs, through the kitchen and out to the back yard.

I'm really excited that the house feels perfect as is. I don't need to paint anything or change any fixtures. Nada. The backyard though... I think one of our first projects will be to tear out the rickety back porch that's there and get a deck installed. We'll have a table, chairs and grill up there. Then pull up the brick that divides the yard in very strange ways, put in stepping stones, ground cover and probably a little play house/structure where the patio is now. If you turn around and look to your left from this view, you see the garage:

Behind an automatic gate, we'll be able to fit both cars into the cleanest garage I've ever seen in my life! It will never be so pristine again... There's even a 220 volt plug on the wall in case we opt for an electric car. Through the door you see on the left is the workshop. It's insulated and with the ceiling fans blowing, felt cool even though it was 87 degrees and humid yesterday. It's got it's own circuit breaker, so we can easily install a window AC unit if we need it.

Exercise room (maybe we'll eBay an elliptical machine and weights), carpentry workshop and art studio!

I've developed a serious case of 'pregnancy brain' this trip. Sure enough, I forgot my purse in the house. The seller came home and called our realtor, "I think she feels really at home here because she left her purse in the living room." We got to go back and meet the seller (which made me really happy.) He's moving cause he broke up with his partner and the house is too big for him now. He's had it for five years and done all the wall paint and fixtures as well as planting all the trees and transforming the yard. The guy before him was a woodworker who put in the front foyer and the kitchen. Both men seemed to be incredible craftsmen!

I can't tell you how happy and humbled we both feel. This whole process has been incredibly clean. After so many years where many things were uphill battles, it's a little freaky to have everything aligning and moving smoothly. We'll take it though!

April 4, 2011

The cultural slant

To answer OTRmama's question, of course Mom K thinks it's going to be a boy! So does her pastor. She does keep saying she'll be happy no matter what, but she's already picked a Korean boy's name that means "God has made" or "God provides". It's traditional for the parents to pick the Korean name, so I'm fine with her having selected a name, it's just cute that it's only a boy's name. We'll pick the American first name and go with the Korean name she provides as the middle name. Ironically, we have a girl's name we really like, but not a boy's name yet.

My sister offered to come help for the birth and we've asked Mom K to come after that. I'm glad we're doing it that way since there are a ton of Korean traditions around the birth experience that I'd prefer to avoid. The biggest one is the belief that your whole body has to stay hot. Any cold air will cause arthritis to enter into your joints. Every part of your body is stretched out and until it pulls back together you have to stay hot. SO, no bathing after childbirth. Sponge bath only while you lay in bed swaddled in blankets. Hot drinks. Hot soup. Even in summer. Sure, I'm due in mid-October, but I'm thinking that Dallas will still be warm then. Plus, I'll risk the arthritis, but I know I'll need to take a shower after giving birth. I was there for my sister's labor and it's not the cleanest process in the world!

Mom K is thrilled to be invited to come and help. I know I've had a hard time before with her coming for more than 8 days or so, but I've heard from a lot of people that after a baby, you don't care who it is, you're just glad to have extra hands. I'm hoping that's true! With her around I'm sure I'll be fed a ton of seaweed soup (lots of iron) and red meat. She's a great cook and I do love Korean food, so that will be fine. We'll just have to supplement with occasional salads (since Korean fare tends to be a bit meat heavy).

I'm also collecting her advice. She's given me the usual suspects: rest, eat, no stress. The advice I enjoy most comes when she exceeds my expectations:

"Sun Ae (my Korean name), you live on the second floor (like I might have forgotten). When you go down the stairs, you can't run. You have to go slow."

"You have to get a four bedroom house so you have room for a baby, an office and a house guest."

"You have to read the Bible more than ever. It will help the baby."

On the work front, we've ended up going with a hybrid booth that uses half the ideas we gave them, but doesn't go all the way. We were invited to the table to hear what all the franchises within the big organization want to see in their special rooms. That was a big deal since they haven't done that before. I've been officially listed as the Creat1ve D1rector on the project and the client is thrilled to have me in that role. So that's all good.

Tomorrow I'm meeting with our General Manag3r to discuss next steps and timelines. I get to find out if she intends to keep me on full-time. I also get to tell her I'm pregnant. Fortunately, Jrex and I timed it perfectly (not on purpose...) since the work schedule for post-October is really empty. I've written out job descriptions for the people I'd like to hire in my place and done a timeline for when I need to do interviews and when to hire someone (late May). It's coming up really fast.

Sunday I met before church with the junior high youth workers and the women ended up praying for me and all these life transitions. Then in the afternoon, I went to my small group (which is all married couples with kids). In an unusual twist, the Dads took all the kids out to play so four of us women were able to share and pray for each other. What was cool was that the group in the afternoon ended up praying along very similar lines as the group in the morning. Beyond the usual health and smooth transition stuff there were a couple other threads that are private, but were really neat to hear.

oh yeah! In other good news, Jrex has been in Orlando since Friday night at the Amer1can Assoc1ation of Cancer Research3rs. He was a speaker in a symposium that was run by his advisor. It went really well and he said a bunch of people complimented him on his part of it. I'm so proud of him. So many things in both our lives that have felt stuck are starting to move. It's an exciting time. Feels like we're clicking up and up toward the top of the roller coaster (in a good, anticipation of fun times way).

Thanks for all your excitement and your prayers! Life feels good right now.

April 2, 2011

One plus one equals three

Well, at long last, the news you’ve been waiting for. Not only are we moving to a new city this year, buying a house, and starting a new job (Jrex), we’re ALSO going to juggle becoming the ‘rents.

Yup. I’m 12 weeks pregnant. (pause for cheers and hugs)

We just had the second ultrasound. I’ve been wanting to post about all this for a mere 10 weeks, but the superstitious side of me was scared that if put in writing, it might not happen. Somehow seeing something that resembled a human on this last ultrasound has helped me feel more comfortable with the idea of starting to hope we might meet this little person. It was really cool to see a head (huge!), spinal column, arms, legs and a steady heartbeat.

The doctor said the baby is 5-6 days ahead in terms of size (5.63 cm), which means that thus far, we’ve got a big baby. Jrex reminded me of his mom’s travail in birthing him. His head was really big and it took her two days to push him out; as he puts it, he was a ‘butterball’. I guess it’s good that I’ve got these handy Germanic hips if the kid’s going to take after Dad.

Since I’m an old lady, I get to do an amnio in early May. My OBGYN had her first kid at 38 and as she put it, “By the end of the genetic counseling session before the amnio I’m thinking, ‘I get it! I’m really old. Let’s move on!” She’s very bummed that she won’t get to deliver the baby, but is insisting that she still gets to be one of the godmothers.

Because of the baby, we’re doing the move in two parts. End of June the movers take everything and Jrex and I drive out to close on the house. Then I get to nest with a vengeance while he comes back here to finish up his work. He’ll come back in late August to have a couple weeks off before starting work September 6th. I’m due in mid-October so we’ll have time for a couple quick prenatal classes and then wham! Welcome to the land of diapers and sleepless nights.

Overall everything is going really well. I’ve been properly ill. I love the description in The Girlfriend’s Guide that it’s not ‘morning sickness’, it’s ‘progesterone poisoning’. If actual illness is a 10, my nausea never got to 10, but I had many, many days where it was a perpetual wave between 6 and 8.5. My wonderful husband made me food and was patient and nice about it all. Fortunately, that phase seems to be ebbing a bit.

So, ‘real life’ begins with a vengeance, huh?