Tag Archives: baby

Our Number Two Turns Two

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January 12, 2012  |  Mabel Claire Brunner

 

You, my dear child, were sent here by someone who really knew what they were doing. You fit into this family like a well-oiled glove. Nothing about you seemed to not belong. Your humor, your grace, your ability to get your point across using only your eyebrows and the tip of your nose…you were one of us from the get-go. And we welcomed you with open arms that cold January day.

Today you turn two. You’ve become an insanely talkative, playful and smart little bugger! Your dad and I could not be more proud of you and the person that you are. I almost don’t dread the 5 a.m. growling wake-up calls (“Moooooooooom”) from your crib anymore because, from the moment I turn on the hall light and you get a glimpse of who is coming to get you, our day starts off on a bright and joyful note. You have never failed to greet me with a smile and immediate conversation about the “guys” in your crib (and you will name them all before you can be removed…”Nemo, Mikey, Raph, Molly, Millie, Dorrie, etc. etc. OMG etc.”). When you wake up, we eat breakfast together. You like Special K with berries, but really you only eat the berries and leave the flakes (I don’t blame you much). If you can’t have pop for breakfast (which you can’t), you love juice. Usually during breakfast you will tell me about your family or whatever little bits you remember from the day before. This morning, I heard all about grandma and grandpa, your Sully cake and then we counted to 9 without the 3, 4 or 5, of course. We chased balloons in the living room and threw all the ninja turtles in poor Chloe’s dog bed before turning on Mater Tales and settling in to our Dora chair. Even TV doesn’t distract you for long (our best shots are Bubble Guppies and UmiZoomi) because you’d rather use your energy playing monster or running from room to room with your hands behind your back like Donatello, which is wonderful! 

Some days you go to Amy’s Daycare. Amy loves you and you love her, but we all know the real reason you adore her house – Noah. Don’t deny it, little girl. You’re smitten, and he’s cute 🙂 You play hard there with your buddies Georgia, Ella, Lula and Baby Mila and we are very comfortable with your days there. But, man, the days I get to spend with you? I tear up just thinking about them. Yes, they have their difficult moments. Nearly once a day, you and Coen get in some sort of brawl due to wanting the same toy, and my obvious pointing out of the six million other toys in this house goes unnoticed, so you both get to duke it out in the privacy of your own room. Your brother is patient with you and loves helping you learn. In your car seats, he will often have you repeat after him. “Mabel, say A. Say B. Say C.” Sometimes you jump ahead and you’ll say “D” before he prompts you, and I smile because I know you’re already smarter than he thinks you are, but it puts a small nick in his big brother armor. When you get frustrated, your default is to scream. And, you, my small one, are not quiet. You will do it in the middle of a restaurant, a grocery store, or an elevator. It is all tied to your independent and determined demeanor, which I love about you but definitely had to learn to embrace after raising that cool-and-collected brother of yours. You are just starting to try things on your own without fear. You’ve always wanted to – I could see it in your eyes. Just yesterday, you did the frog slide at the splash pad by yourself and only took a couple tumbles (shook yourself off…no tears…typical) and got right back at it. And similarly, but without the potential for accident, you will open the cupboard doors and bring out the snack bin over and over and over and over and over until you finally get one parent to open those darn Teddy Grahams. Determined, I tell you. And charm might have something to do with it too. But, that charm doesn’t always work, especially on your peers. When you play with your cousin Ruby, I am often reminded of the saying by Margaret Atwood: “Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another, they are not cute. They are life-sized.” Some day, you will be best friends – I promise. For now, you will do everything in your power to protect your space. I guess bullheaded could be added to your descriptive adjectives as well.

Things you enjoy: taking baths, playing monster, swimming, Ninja Turtles, Thomas the Train, the Peanuts collection, making pretend “pea soup,” greeting your brother in the morning (“Hi, buddy Coen!”), neighbor Kayla, sleeping in your brother’s bed, talking, and talking…and talking, being naked, blueberries and strawberries, sitting in the big chairs at restaurants, climbing (literally anything), fruit snacks and applesauce, watching home videos on daddy’s iPhone, plane rides, car rides, inserting tokens into games at Chuck E Cheese (but not actually playing the games), smelling flowers, dumping out puzzle pieces and refusing to put them back, and dogs.

Things you don’t enjoy: Carnival rides, snow, wearing coats, and cake. Yup. That’s about it.

You, our strong and beautiful Mabes Babes, have such a way of bringing joy into people’s lives. The way you use your comedic timing to make us laugh at the most unexpected times, the way you walk with such confident diaper butt that passersby point and giggle, the way you adore, replicate, and physically love your brother to the point that he needs to push you away, the way you talk. Oh my, the way you talk. We don’t call you “Pebbles” for nothin’. Everything about you, child – the good, the bad and the ugly – You are ours and we are yours. If that isn’t God’s work at its finest, I don’t know what is. 

Happy birthday, baby girl. May all your dreams come true.

 

January 12, 2014  |  Mabel Claire Brunner

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Ruby (came on a) Tuesday

“She would never say where she came from
Yesterday don’t matter if it’s gone
While the sun is bright
Or in the darkest night
No one knows.”
~ The Rolling Stones, “Ruby Tuesday”

My little sister had a heckuva pregnancy. Pretty similar to my last one with the vomiting and the lethargy, but with (what seemed to be) a massive amount of additional hormones! There were times she felt alone. There were times she felt like a first-time mom-to-be who was pissed that her body was falling apart and her husband “could never understand.” There were times she felt confused, afraid, abandoned, inadequate or unsure. And I always got a phone call at these times, and with every one, I hung up and prayed that the day would come quickly so she could experience all the new wonderful times and have all these old questionable times fade into the distance. That day came…six days past due date. Not as quickly as I had prayed, but regardless…

Pretty mama-to-be, ready to meet her little girl

The story of my new niece goes like this.

Julie was overdue by four days, so when my phone rang at 11:45 pm on October 14, I had a feeling this was it. She had what I couldn’t tell was fear or excitement in her voice as she told me she was having contractions and Lance was going to take her to the hospital. Months earlier, I was honored to accept their request to be in the delivery room to help welcome baby girl into the world. I was anxious and fearful of the unknown (being that my children failed to exit via va-jay-jay like babies are rumored to do). She told me over the phone that I didn’t have to come to the hospital yet because they had to determine whether her water was broken and there was a possibility she might be sent back home. I doubted it, packed my own bag, threw my hair into a ponytail, put on a sports bra, kissed my husband and sprinted out the door knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway. I arrived at the hospital and made my way to the Family Birth Center, slightly embarrassed to realize I beat them there. I walked around looking for a soda machine to kill time. I felt silly. Finally, I got a call from Julie that they were getting things checked in Triage and that I could come down if I wanted to. My feelings were dithering because I didn’t want to be an imposition during these memorable moments. I wanted Lance to have his time. But I wanted to support. So, I said a big-sister “screw it” and went.

After determining she was there for the duration, the staff moved them to a room in the Birth Center. This would be the room where everything went down – well, everything except the physical birth of the baby, but more on that later.

Me and Lance enjoying some time together while waiting…and waiting…

It was a true test of patience waiting for her to dilate. Around 4 am, my parents arrived (to no surprise). They helped to keep the mood light, telling fun stories and keeping things calm. With every contraction, we held our breaths and hoped for the best. Julie was already so strong (also to no surprise). That first day was a bit of a haze – I know we sat through lot of abnormally-painful contractions and determined she was experiencing the misery that is “back labor.” I remember shopping in the gift shop, purchasing lots of coffee, and getting paninis with my parents in the downstairs cafe for dinner. I recall my husband bringing our kids for a visit and explaining to Coen that he was going to have a new cousin soon. I text messaged lots and lots (and LOTS) of people who were checking in on the status of mom and baby.

One of the moments I recall most fondly from that day was when Julie was nearing push-time and family was waiting in the lounge unsure whether they could continue to visit or not. My Aunt Dawn came in to give a final good-luck hug and broke down in tears. She looked at me and said, “It’s just so wonderful when your babies have babies.” I cannot yet imagine it, but still…I believed her. I’m already so proud of my kids at their young ages. When they grow up and start a family with someone they love unconditionally and you just know they will be raised with an over-abundance of care, kindness and compassion – how can there be a better feeling than that? Thanks, Dawn. You made me teary for the first time during the whole ordeal.

Followed by a close second: Mom was in the room with us, and she knew it was almost go-time, but I could tell she didn’t want to leave. And I didn’t blame her one bit. “OK, I’m going to go now and you’re going to experience all this horrendous pain but there’s nothing I can do about it, so yeah, peace out, kid,” said no mom EVER. Mom had back labor with my brother and told me earlier that day that was her biggest fear for her. When it became a reality, you could just read the fear in her eyes. She kissed Julie good luck and gave me a hug. I held on to mom. And held and held. I don’t know if it’s because I knew she was scared, or if it’s because I was scared, or both. She told me to coach as best I knew how, and I told her I’d take good care of them. It’s rare that I see my mom cry, so I knew she was distressed. Who could blame her? I get frazzled when Mabel’s foot gets caught in her crib rails, and that’s not even in the same pain ballpark as pushing a human out’cho lady parts!

Mom, Dawn and I surrounding Julie with love, love and more love

At 11:40 pm on October 15, the nurses told her she could start pushing. Lance and I manned our posts, one on each side of the bed, apprehensive of our roles and scared out of our freaking gourds. In the next three hours, my sister pushed and groaned and cried. She remained positive for much longer than I ever would have, and in moments of pride, would even make jokes (like when the nurse complimented her latest push and she responded in an Elvis voice, “Thank you, thank you very much”). She wailed in a way I’ve never heard a human wail because she thought her back was breaking. We heard all the cliche TV-sitcom phrases including “I can’t do this anymore,” “I need more drugs,” and “Why aren’t they just using the vacuum?!” Every three minutes, I held up a leg and supported her neck and I remember after two hours, no sleep and no food caught up with me at the most inopportune time. I was going to throw up. I grabbed a stool and sat on it between contractions, doing everything I could to draw zero attention to my side of the bed. Lance looked at me from across the bed and mouthed silently, “Are you OK?” I nodded and we were right back to it. No time for rest. No time for distractions. No time for ANYthing but focusing on crossing that finish line.

In this babython, Julie was running hard but losing steam. She had two worried cheerleaders and a coach who kept leaving the room. Seeing the frustration grow in her face, I told the nurse that she needed to stick around and rattle off some sort of mile-markers – give her something to aim for. Being there for someone so close to you makes those moments easier because your similarities give you the answers you need since you’re doing for her exactly what you’d want her to be doing for you. Did that make sense? Basically, you know what they need to hit their end goal. TELL her what’s happening, even if it’s nothing. Is anything progressing?  Tell her. Something. Anything. And they did.

They told her that baby girl wasn’t going to come out on her own and she needed a C-section. First person I looked at was Lance. Stone-faced. No expression. White as a ghost. Discouraged. I feel the same way, bro. Nothing is harder to hear. And poor Jules was beyond distraught, sobbing because you’re angry they didn’t say that hours earlier or that you put in so much work. After all your efforts. After being told everything was looking good. After trying SO darn hard. It’s not going to happen that way.

Julie just kept saying she wanted the baby out. I think she felt some relief amidst all the anguish. Lance and I got our scrubs on so we could join her in the operating room. I sat down on the long bench in the room and put my head between my legs, staring at the floor. That’s when it happened – I cried. And I cried and cried and cried and cried. It was a helpless cry that stemmed from the past 30 hours, watching one of the people I love most in the world go through hell and high water to see what she’s been anticipating for nine long months. I knew the baby was going to come out safely – I wasn’t afraid. I was exhausted. And disappointed. And hungry. And tired. And caught myself wondering if there was anything I could’ve done that would’ve made the whole process easier for her.  Julie snapped me out of it when she screamed in my direction, “Nic, are you low?” Leave it to her to be concerned about my well-being when hers was still in turmoil. I snapped back, “No, I’m not low. I’m just catching up on my emotions.” Nice to know sisters can still bicker even at that stage in the game.

Big Brother Lucas gives Lance and Julie some much-needed support

Lance sent me out to report to the family. I didn’t know if the timing was right since I was still gasping like a hyena on oxygen. I pushed open the doors and saw both moms waiting in the entryway, staring at me with blank zombie-like eyes. “After all that…,” I raged…”After all that, three hours of pushing and back labor, they’re telling her she has to have a (curse word curse word) C-section!” I caught Lance’s brother’s eyes welling ever so slightly. This is a guy who could easily be mistaken for an NFL linebacker, and to see him emotional was just the justification I needed to realize I wasn’t completely out of line here. I told them we’d be back with a baby and off I went.

Scene: The Operating Room. I stood back a few steps to let Lance hold her hand and talk to her through the oxygen mask. Long story short, they tried two doses of numbing medication to no avail. The second time she shouted, “I can STILL FEEL THAT!” I lost it (again) right there under the bright surgery lights. I sputtered loudly, “What the HELL?” Sensing my tension (or maybe she did it as a preventative measure fearing I was going to beat up the anesthesiologist?), a nurse came over and gave me a frail, tender hug. I know I asked  her why Julie had to be in so much pain and when it was going to end, but I don’t think she gave me an answer (probably also afraid that, by saying “to get a baby out” and “soon,” would’ve led to more swinging. She may have been right.). After attempt #2, they told us she had to be put completely under to successfully cut her open. And that was that. To the hall we went.

Julie being wheeled off to surgery with Lance staggering behind

Standing in the hall with Lance was the part I was most hesitant to document in this blog. Not because it was necessarily good or bad, but because it was indescribable. In those moments, I watched a man’s heart ache – crying with his forehead against the wall – because he loves his wife so much that her unbearable pain was his unbearable pain; I saw a man – always so pulled-together and level-headed – completely lose his cool and swear uncontrollably out of sheer frustration and fear. And then, 12 minutes after we were booted from the room, I witnessed a man become a father – his tears of fret transforming into tears of pride in a matter of seconds. We entered the small room lined with scrub nurses and incubators and I stood paralyzed by this little girl’s perfection. Crushing my gigantic camera into my hipbone, Lance embraced me with such a sense of relief I could literally feel it in his arms. To prevent  further paralysis, I started snapping photos. The greatest gift my sister gave to me during the birth of Coen was the pictures she captured when Nate first met his son. I wanted to reciprocate. I took photos of her feet, her hands, her chin, her wrinkles. I took photos of her skin – first purple, then red, then perfect. Lance stood back and watched the nurses clean her off, wipe her down, check her inners and outers. I remember Nate telling me he didn’t know if he could touch Coen during this time, so I leaned in and told Lance, “You can touch her if you want.” I took photos of their first connection. In that moment, I was dumbfounded with love, so tremendously honored that I got to be there for it all. There really are no words.

A father’s first touch – October 16, 4:17 am

Her name was Ruby. She was born on a Tuesday.

In their lyrics, The Rolling Stones want to know where Ruby Tuesday came from? I got a good glimpse and I know that this child came from love…

…She came from a mother’s dedication and unwillingness to quit.

…She came from a father’s heart, beaming and refilled.

…She came from 24 hours of contractions, three hours of pushing, two loving parents, and one adoring auntie. No, I didn’t help “make” her, it’s true. But, I witnessed the beginning of her life and vowed at that time that I would do anything on God’s green earth to protect her, keep her safe and happy, surround her with cousins, love and laughter.

Me and Ruby

My little goddaughter. Ruby Marie, born on a Tuesday. You brought a special light into our lives and I look forward to seeing what you’ll do with that light as you grow older. Aim high, be strong, don’t quit, play smart, speak your mind, marry kind, follow your heart, live full. And laugh. Never forget to laugh. I love you, little one.

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What doesn’t kill us…

You know that fear you feel when you wake from a nightmare and you’re convinced the killer is still in your closet? Or that pain you get in your chest when your best friend’s boyfriend cheats on her…again? Or that pit-of-your-stomach-instantaneous-gut-rot that overwhelms you when the car in front of you runs a red light and gets blind sided by a semi going 60? OK. So, maybe those are dramatic comparisons, but in the moment, I swear I felt them all today.

This evening, I was watching Coen by myself. He was getting sleepy, so I made a bottle and sat with him on the couch. Our dog decides now would be the perfect time to scratch, whine, and bark at the door to go outside. I hesitate, but decide she (obviously) can’t hold it. I sat Coen up with his bottle and made the six foot sprint to the front door to let her out, and that’s when it happened. I can still see it when I close my eyes, only now it’s in slow motion, like a scene from a thriller movie that is meant to send shivers down your spine. Stupid slow motion makes everything worse. He reached out for his mommy and when I wasn’t there, he tumbled forward, landing on his forehead, neck bending backwards on the wood floor. Nothing even had time to process. In fact, I am pretty sure I slammed the poor dog’s ribcage in the glass door as I bolted to his rescue.

I picked up my sobbing baby from the floor and held him so tightly to my chest, there was probably a suffocation hazard going on. As he screamed in my ear, about a jillion thoughts ran through my head. What if he’s paralyzed? What if he’s got brain damage or a speech impediment or dyslexia? What if he grows up like that guy in Memento? Oh, the horrors! I realize this was all a little unlikely and I was being slightly overdramatic, but a mother’s mind is entitled to run rampant when there is damage done to their children! So, I did what every mother would do…and panicked. I started to run around the house with him attempting to whisper a soothing “It’s OK…It’s OK…” (which probably came out more in the tone of “Oh my GOOD GOD, I’m going to jail for unintentionally paralyzing my baby and he’ll have to drink from a straw and speak using a voice machine and will probably be cross-eyed for eternity!”).  I ran my fingers up his spine and tested his grip and moved his neck from side to side. In hindsight, this is pretty ridiculous since I basically failed anatomy and I’m not even close to having a doctorate in medicine, so what the heck was I feeling for anyway? You’re lucky I know where the spine is! But, it was nature’s instinct surging through me and, though irrational and stupid, I was obeying.

I determined his legs were working, his toes were curling, his fingers were bending, and his back was arching. I breathed a sigh of relief as I laid him down for his nap and called Nate to tell him about today’s Failed Motherhood Challenge. Once again (you’ll notice this theme throughout my blogging), he was a calm voice of reason and logically said, “Kids are flexible for a reason.” Is that true? If kids are flexible for a reason, mothers should be more resilient to pain and heartache for a reason. Seems unfair.

I talked to my neighbor who has a 9-year-old girl, and she remembers the first time her daughter face planted out of her carseat like it was yesterday. Apparently, it’s scar tissue that doesn’t fade (kind of like those marks on your new stomach!) and it sticks with you forever. Her daughter is fine (and actually just ran over to show me her report card full of ‘A’s), so we’ll just chalk it up to “an experience that had to happen eventually.” My kid will be fine too. He has thick skin like his mama and plenty of back-up brain cells from his papa, so we’ll be alright. Lesson learned (the hard way, but learned nonetheless).

I have almost completely forgiven myself, though my rationale isn’t 100% returned (I wanted to keep him up all night in case he had a concussion in his sleep…again, I’m no doctor).  And, I was forced to admit to my father-in-law via Skype that “his mother” was the answer to his question, “What happened to his head?” So, there’s proof. Big, red, blotchy proof. That will fade, which is more than I can say for that damn slow motion replay running through my head every 5 minutes.

I am well aware that my future holds potential for much more dastardly catastrophes. Mental preparations must be made for the possibilities of falling off a bike, tripping down the stairs, touching a hot stove, sports injuries, fist fights, break-ups…the list goes on. And, you can rest assured that with each and every obstacle he encounters, I will feel like my nightmares are merging with reality or like someone just stomped on my heart.

Nietzsche said “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” My baby may be the one getting dropped on his head, but for some reason, I came out stronger. Maybe new moms remember that first time so clearly because it opens the gateway to a lifetime of mentally-exhausting, time-consuming, heart-wrenching, pain-staking strength training. The membership may be a bit pricier than Gold’s, but the payoff? I hear it’s remarkable!

My little guy is "strength training." Those shoes look good on him, Jules.

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The Battle of Guiltysburg

Crying will get you far in life, especially as a woman.

There. I opened my first blog with a general sexist stereotype. But… it’s true. No debating it.

  • Caught going 55 in a 30? “But officer (sniff), I just broke up with my boyfriend.” No ticket.
  • In trouble for missing a deadline at the office? “Oh, bossman (tear), I’m just so overwhelmed with my workload right now.” A raise.
  • Just having a rough time of the month and there’s no one else to take it out on but your husband? “Honey, I just (sniff, gulp, tear) need you to understand me better!” A hug, a dozen roses, and most likely a full bed to yourself for a night.

Really, it’s amazing where tears and drama can get you in this world. And, I shamelessly utilize this method whenever convenient or beneficial. I’ve never had a hard time with it. I’ve never thought of myself as pathetic or needy. As it is with most things in life, if used sparingly, it proves to be quite advantageous. Nearly 30 years of playing the waterworks card and I’ve only recently discovered the pain and guilt it could potentially cause others. Add it to the list of lessons motherhood has taught me. A lesson in plain and simple GUILT. And, boy, does it hurt.

As the mother of a 9-month old boy, I have already heard a good chunk of guilt-ridden wails. I’ve seen countless scrunched-up faces of displeasure. I’ve experienced numerous sleepless nights of nursery-filled crocodile tears. And, each of these happenings causes one of two things:

  1. My mothering skills are strengthened in a way that will allow me to withstand anything and love uncontrollably, all while thickening my shell of protection against naivete and bullshit. OR
  2. My heart bursts into a blistering, blathering cesspool of self-condemnation and the rest of my body follows suit shortly thereafter.

99.99% of the time, I experience the latter. And, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Being maternal can be a curse. It can cause you to turn into an irrational, overprotective crazy person. You just want the best for you child, but somewhere along the way you become Piper Laurie in “Carrie.” Guilt and over-protection will do that to a person. One minute, you’re simply wishing for your daughter to be careful at her prom. The next, she’s locked in a closet screaming anti-religious mantras hiding her dirty pillows from the world (if you haven’t seen “Carrie,” DO IT!).

Tonight, I listened to Coen cry for 45 minutes. We know he isn’t hurt or sick, but he is playing us to come pick him up and hold him. We know this from many, MANY nights of trial and error. He cries to get what he wants. He’s a smart kid. And, who am I to judge? I am guilty of the same crime. The thing I’m learning is that you need to pick your battles. That is important in the game of parenting. They will win some, you will win some. (They will probably win more, but overall, you need to be selective.) So, tonight, I sat up in bed and cried to Nate (so the lucky guy got to deal with 2 bawling babies simultaneously). I cried out of GUILT. I cried because the mother in me wanted to go pick him up and hold him close to my chest until he settled down. I cried. And I cried. And I cried.

Finally, he went back to sleep, and I was able to think clearly again. I remembered that we let him cry so he can learn to self-soothe. I recalled all the books and articles that firmly state this is hard, but necessary. I heard the voice of our pediatrician saying that it’s normal to feel pain, but you are feeling much worse than baby and he will still smile at you in the morning. OK. As long as he doesn’t create an escape rope made of crib sheets and run away overnight, I think I’m going to be fine. And, in the long run, so will he. But, in the moment, those tears are like a knife to the heart.

I will try to remember this feeling next time I get pulled over by the Twin Cities fuzz. And maybe, just maybe, I will suck up my 15-mph surplus without a choked-up girly guilt-trip. However, if the price of the ticket is more like a samurai sword  to the heart, screw it. I’m cryin’.


Now, as a sidenote, check out the little stinker we’re raising! The first 5 seconds remind me of his mother…

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Yo’ mama is so whipped…

This past Sunday morning, I laid in bed listening to the crying baby across the hall, and instead of popping straight up to retrieve him and stop the tears, I took a minute to daydream. I fantasized about being young and lounging around the house watching Saturday morning cartoons. I remembered those lazy college days when you could actually create a class schedule to avoid 8 a.m. classes (and you still went to your noon class in slippers). I even thought of a not-so-long-ago past when Nate and I could cuddle together before getting up for work, if even for 10 minutes. No noise. No rush. No stress. No, well, I’ll just say it….No baby.

As I took the pillow off my head and stumbled down the hall, these memories washed away (far too quickly) and I stood there, face-to-face with that grinning, 25-inch, 17-pound reminder of what my life is today.

Ah, this new life. What a drastic turn it has taken. I can’t even begin to explain the many various obstacles we’ve experienced, and overcome, not to mention the ghastly effects these obstacles have had on both me and Nate. What obstacles, you ask? Oh, I’ll TELL you what obstacles.

Physical: OK, let’s start shallow. Three months after baby was born, I dyed my hair dark brown. I thought it would detract from the fact that my butt hasn’t gotten any smaller and all the pants I’m stuck wearing either don’t button in the stomach or could fit a small country in the crotch. Well, I’d say it boosted my confidence for about a week. My new life is filled with LOTS of smiles, but the face that goes with it no longer has the application time for lip gloss and bronzer. Instead, I am happy if my eye makeup doesn’t wear off in the shower so I can “reuse” it that day. I’ve started shaving my legs again (three cheers for Nathan!). And, just last week, I sucked it up and took myself to the mall to buy size not-to-be-mentioned pants so I owned some that actually fit where they were supposed to, creating slightly less humiliation amongst my office of pretty people. I still manage to wear ironed clothing and put on deodorant and match my socks and every so often curl my hair, so I’m not going to say I’ve completely mother-morphed, but I have had a few down days here and there. If you ever catch me sporting a fanny pack, however, please just do us all a favor and put me out of my misery.

Mental: Now, you all have to promise not to judge me when I tell you my worst “where was my mind” moment, OK? Promise? OK. Just last week, I thought it would be lovely to take Coen for a crisp, fall walk in his stroller. And, of course I can’t leave the dog behind out of sheer guilt, so she came along too. I wrapped him up in a blanket, put a hat on his head and socks on his feet, and out we went. I set him in his stroller, tied Chloe to her leash, and we were off on our picturesque little family jaunt through the neighborhood. You should know that Chloe tends to pull on her leash at times (bad training on my part), and she decided this day she was going to go squirrel-sprinting the second I was trying to get the stroller up a bumpy curb. It all happened so fast, but the stroller flew forward, the dog took off, and the baby….the baby….um…the baby FELL OUT! He just slid right under the tray, back first, then head first, then bellyflopped onto the sidewalk. I watched the event unfold in slow motion, the whole time thinking, “NO WAY did I forget to BUCKLE HIM IN!” Yes way, Nicki. Yes. Way. After a couple minutes of consoling, he stopped crying and came out scratch-and-dent-free, but the remorse has yet to leave me. Where was my mind? I wonder that a lot these days – I’ll repeat a story four times to the same (patient) neighbor, drive half-way to work without my career-required laptop, shoplift the sunglasses I tried on my head, forget to call my mother back, neglect to flush the toilet, burn the pizza, miss a meeting – you name it, I’ve done it. We’ll be lucky if we all get out alive.

Emotional: Well, this is the toughy for me. When I started writing this blog, I was sitting here listening to my little boy “cry it out” in his crib for the first time. We had his four-month checkup this morning, and I asked the doctor why he wakes up every 2 to 3 hours to eat and she said, “Because you let him.” Hmm, interesting. “So, you’re basically telling me my baby’s got me whipped?” Nod. Great. Now what? We discussed it a little more and Nate and I decided that, for our own sakes, we needed to let him soothe himself to sleep at night. No more running to his side when he squealed, no more rocking him when he fussed, and definitely no more feeding him when he howled at 3 a.m. According to Dr. No-Nonsense, Coen is of an age where he should be able to get through the night without needing extra food or attention. Interesting, since WE were convinced he was just a whole lot hungrier than a normal baby. Pfft, amateurs. As if hearing that wasn’t heartbreak enough, she proceeded to inject him with two different vaccinations – one in each chubby leg. Having a child really opens your heart to those hidden strings you never really knew existed. And, my oh my, mine have gotten a workout today. Listening to him cry, sitting 20 feet away and doing nothing about it, my legs were shaking, my eyes were welling up, and my pits were sweating (What? I’m still hormonal! Give me a break.). This kind of torture should be used on female prisoners of war. I guarantee they’d talk! Eventually, he cried himself to sleep, just like the Doc said he would. I’m not looking forward to midnight…and 2 a.m…and 4 a.m….Being a mom is hard. Emotionally, very, very hard.

Tonight will be a true test of my ability to handle this new life. I’ll try my best and do what I can do, but I will NOT beat myself up if I just can’t do it. They can’t expect me to shut down all of my maternal instincts, especially when they adjoin my crabby, middle-of-the-night instincts, just like that. If he cries bloody murder in the middle of the night, I might cave. And, I might be tired in the morning. What’s another day, right?

And, tomorrow morning, I will most likely awaken to coos, cries, and kicking just like every other morning. It will most likely be at an hour that I can barely stand to type. And I will most likely cover my head with a pillow for 30 seconds, take a deep breath, and eventually stumble down the hallway to confront the cause of it all. But, let me tell you, when I get there, that pint-sized “reminder” will flash his heart-melting smile and I will buck up and face another sleep-deprived day with my goobering, beautiful little man who I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, he has decided to start crying again and I need to go lock myself in the basement closet. Yes, I am one whipped mama.

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So, apparently, it’s mine.

Welcome back, friends. It’s been awhile. 16 weeks and 6 days, to be exact. Don’t be mad – just think of it as a summer vacation from school, only instead of going to the waterpark and playing baseball with my friends, I sat in a hospital bed for 4 days hopped up on bloat-inducing meds that were supposed to loosen all my woman parts so I could cry and scream and threaten divorce, get my stomach sliced open with a tool from the Paleolithic Era, and, oh yeah, bring home a baby boy. HA! And you used to complain about the mosquitoes at summer camp…rookies.

Well, there you have it – the new love of my life. His full name is Coen Jeffrey Brunner, born June 25, 2009 at 5:20 p.m., 22 inches long with a full head of midnight black hair. Nate and I became parents after a long and grueling ordeal, not surprisingly documented hour-by-hour on Nate’s social media sites. Apparently, my entire office was out of commission due to the constant “refreshing” to 42 Facebook pages. Sorry, boss. My bad.

Without going into too much detail, I was induced on June 23 with Pitocin and Cytotec and whatever else was flowing through the 900 tubes attached to my body. I got a catheter. I got an epidural. I got a lot of full vases from friends and empty promises from nurses. I got to 6 inches. 6 inches in more than 45 hours, and he took a wrong turn. My baby TOOK a WRONG TURN! Plan B: C-section. Sign me up, Scotty! A quick 15-minute surgery (in which I only accused one doctor of “never having done this before”) and out he came. Mr. Wrong-Way entered the world with a bright red face, scrunched little eyes, and dark black matted hair. My sister and Nate got to take him to the nursery to get him cleaned up and to be the first people on this entire planet to hold him. I, on the other hand, was more passed out than [fill in D-list, slutty celebrity name here]. But I knew, once I woke up, I was going to meet this new little being…the cause of all my trials and tribulations of the past 9 months.

Sure enough, he was everything I knew he would be. A good sleeper, a great eater, and one helluva smiler! Amazing how your life can do a complete 180 overnight. The life that once consisted of spontaneous happy hours, compulsive online shopping, and long stress-free bubble baths has turned into grabbing bites of cold pizza with your one free hand while balancing a bottle with your chin after having paid the nanny the money you had hoped could be used to buy that much-needed “transition” outfit since your old clothes still won’t zip and you need stuff to wear to work to hide the formula spit-up smells that are still embedded in the work outfit you wore yesterday since you haven’t had time to do the laundry yet. But, don’t worry – you’ll still get 4 quality minutes of solitude in the bubble bath until he starts to cry again. Hey, that 4 minutes is better than nothing! It’s a balancing act to which you are quickly forced to adjust. List-making becomes second nature. Deciphering cries becomes a sixth sense. And, what you used to consider “easy” may as well get comfortable in the backseat, because it’s going to be there awhile.

Every new mother has stories. Some mothers experience fear, some frustration, some happiness, some awe. If you’re a normal mother, you should have said “yes” to all of those emotions. I sure did.

…I remember looking at Coen in our hospital room the second night of his life. Nate was sound asleep on my bed and I was wandering around the room the best I could post-surgery. I had our little video camera and I spoke to him softly over his heavy baby breathing, “Baby, I don’t know what I’m doing. But, I’m going to do my best.” That was FEAR.

…I remember right around his 4th week, just when the body starts to recall how wonderful life was with uninterrupted sleep, I couldn’t get him to stop wailing for 45 minutes. At that point, you are undeniably the worst mother in the world (in your own head), and all logic and rationale floats right out the window. I screamed at Nate and told him I can’t do this anymore. Then, as if screaming wasn’t “6-years-old” enough, I took the baby and ran across the street to the neighbor’s yard, sobbing and staring at the sky wondering why God trusted me with this teeny tiny, and completely dependent, human being. That was FRUSTRATION.

…I remember the week Coen learned to smile and what a sense of joy that brought to both me and my husband. Finally, a sense of worth. All this feeding and changing and changing and feeding was paying off. Our little boy was happy! It was in the week that I had my first hysterical laughing fit, one-on-one with my baby. I heard some gassies going on in his nether-regions, so decided it was time to change a poopy diaper. Mmmm, every mother’s favorite chore. I set him on his changing table and took off his diaper. Yup. Mommy was right. He had pooped. Then, as I was sliding the diaper out from under him, Mount Coen erupted! Poop shrapnel fired everywhere! Nope. Mommy was wrong. He wasn’t done.  I dodged the line of fire, and when I sensed he was finished, I looked up at his face and there it was…the biggest dimple-filled baby smile I have EVER seen. How can you be angry at that? We laughed and laughed and laughed. That epitomizes HAPPINESS.

…Lastly, I remember just a few weeks ago…we had just laid him down in his crib and were doing our nightly routine getting ready for bed. Both of us, exhausted and barely mobile, looked forward to our heads hitting the pillows. I poked my head in to Coen’s room to make one final check before bed. I’m not sure if it was his new robot pajamas or the Disney lullabies in the background or the extra batch of post-prego hormones I developed that day, but something took my breath away. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Then, I felt Nate’s arm around my waist and his head on my shoulder and heard him whisper, “This is our family.” Wow. AWE.

I have had more than 3 months to get my head around the fact that I have a family! Not a family I was born into, but a family that I created. (Well, if we’re being scientific, I guess “we” created.) Sometimes, I still catch myself looking out the window waiting for his mom to come pick him up. I am somebody’s mother. I have a son. Now that I am slowly getting over the shock of it all, I decided it was time to start writing again. So many times in the past 3 months, something has happened and I run a paragraph through my head and laugh out loud, but never had the time to actually put it down in print. The fountains of pee that regularly adorn the changing pad, the packing up of adorable outfits he never had a chance to wear, the interactions with his extended family (e.g. learning about the corrupted political system from his Uncle Brandon)…

There are so many moments his life has already created. It’s time to start (b)logging them. Mommy’s BACK!

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One miserable month…One amazing gift

The Last Month. I could write an entire series on The Last Month, only I would change the series name from The Pregnancy Diaries to A Month of Fiery, Evil, Miserable Hell on Earth. I think it would be a big seller, don’t you? I’m just being honest, and who doesn’t like honesty? Even if it means hearing the worst of the worst of the worst. I promise it will end on a high note!

Oh, the last month. We made it! My husband is relieved that it’s so close, but I worry it’s more to get me back to normal than to meet his son. Maybe it’s a little of both, but with my constant complaining and sudden 2 a.m. teary outbursts and a complete and utter inability to do ANYthing on my own anymore, I’m guessing it’s about 30/70 – 30% being “to meet my son” and 70% being “to shut her up.” It truly is amazing what has occurred in the past 30 days. Yes, hitting full-term was a very big deal. A wave or relief swept over me as he could now join the world at any minute and be healthy and happy. We made it. I have grown him for 39 weeks and we made it. WE MADE IT! I have to admit that I feel like I was pretty strong and self-sufficient up to this point. But, man oh man, when it rains, it pours and when your overdramatic to begin with, a slight drizzle can become a freaking monsoon in a heartbeat. My mama monsoon season has lasted 30 straight days. Here is an inside look into the life of Last Month Nicki:

Three weeks ago… I woke up with my first “contractions” in the middle of the night. I thought it was just the urge to pee, but it turns out that my body corrolates the two (peeing and contractions), so every time I woke up to pee, I laid back down and got pretty severe cramps. It was like getting your period 7 times a night, without the mess, of course. This is when the lack of sleep started. My new nightly routine came out of left field: Go to bed at 11. Get up at 12:30. Pee (not NEARLY enough to make the trek worth it, in my opinion). Stumble back to bed and wake up husband to move dog who felt the need to keep my pillow warm while I was away for 30 seconds. Lie back down. Cry because the contractions were hurting. Cry harder to wake up husband. Husband awakes. I feel like I fulfilled my duty by making us BOTH suffer from lack of sleep (hey, I can’t do this alone!). Fall back to sleep. Then, repeat this series at the hours of 2 a.m., 4 a.m., 5:30 a.m., and 7 a.m. And, this has yet to subside. Same routine, different night.

Two weeks ago… I started lacking a real concern with my physical being. Not my internal or well-being, but my physical being. Examples: I have not shaved my legs or armpits in over two weeks. Washing my face has become “optional” at bedtime. Pajama pants have been worn to work on more than one occasion (I don’t think they noticed, and if they did, at least they were kind enough not to say anything). Oh, and (this is classic) the other morning I woke up and got undressed to hop in the shower and spotted a GIANT puddle of dried toothpaste sitting directly in between my boobs. Are you KIDDING me? It must have just crusted on there from the night before, but, seriously, who doesn’t NOTICE something like that!? I got a pedicure at least. That made me feel sexy for, like, an hour. Red toenail polish can do wonders for the pregnant woman’s psyche.

One week ago… this lovely little boy decided to “reposition” himself into a position that must be comfortable for him, but it is KILLING me. At first I thought it was just a pulled muscle in my back. I operate like my mother in the fact that I have a hard time sitting still, so at 9 months pregnant, I thought it would be a swell idea to paint our side door and do some weeding. Brilliant. That’s me. Absolutely brilliant. I woke up the next morning unable to move my back and it has stayed that way ever since. Doctor Obvious said I should ice it, heat it, and try to get some sleep. “Wow, I’m sooo glad you were able to help me out with that. I’ve just been running laps around my house and smoking cigarettes on my patio while praying to the sun gods to release the tensions in my ribcage.” Duh. So now, in between my trips to the bathroom, incessant crying, and brutal contractions, I get to deal with back pain. And, I gotta tell you, there are NO good infomercials on at 3 in the morning. I’ve learned to keep a disc of Will & Grace in the DVD player so I can just hit Play when I’m unintentionally depriving myself of much-needed sleep.

Currently, I am sitting here at my kitchen table, 58 pounds heavier than when I started this diary and in miserable pain, but I have a light at the end of my tunnel. We scheduled our baby to be induced this coming Tuesday! I keep reminding myself that I have a maximum of four days left of my current life and soon our family of two will become a family of three and there’s no stopping it. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and I cried for seven hours straight the day I scheduled the appointment. I think I called my mom three times at work bawling for no real reason…mostly because I didn’t know WHAT to feel – anxiety, fear, happiness, worry, hope, joy, and pain. Mix all of those with a fresh batch of hormones and the “I’d like to schedule my baby’s birth for next week, please” conversation, and yes, seven hours of tears IS possible.

But, a large part of those tears are tears of the unknown..tears of relief that I will soon MEET this handsome little bugger that’s been dancing on my bladder for nine months… tears of the inevitable joys of this unknown land called motherhood in which I am about to reside. This last month has been torture, yes. It has not been pretty. I have not been pretty. Nate has not been pretty. Even Chloe the Dog has not been pretty. We all sludge along through our days blinking back sleep like zombies, trying to enjoy our last evenings of together time. But, the gift that is coming will be worth it. I know this. And, not because it’s what EVERYONE says (“oh, it’s so worth it…the second you hold him, you forget all the pain, blah, blah, blah”), but because in those few reflective moments that I allow myself, I can FEEL it. When I’m up at 4 a.m., I find myself touching my stomach and talking to him, telling him stories about his grandparents and how his mommy and daddy met and asking him if he has dimples and wondering what he’ll be when he grows up. I tell him about his Aunt Julie and how funny she is. I explain that Nate’s sisters may look alike for a few years, but if you study them long enough, you’ll learn which is which. These are conversations that I know I will remember (even if he doesn’t) and this is how I know I’m ready to welcome this little person into my life.

And, whenever I do feel like I can’t handle it and the lack of sleep is too much to bear, I read an excerpt by Jeanette Lisefski that my mom sent me in a card from the book “Becoming a Mother.” I share it with you to help tie all my thoughts together:

He slips into this world, and into my arms, placed there by heaven. Through joyful tears I whisper in his ear, “We are glad you are here. We waited so long to see you.” He opens his eyes, and I am transformed – a timeless moment filled with the infinity of what life is. In his eyes I see total recognition, unconditional love and complete trust. I am a mother. In that instant I feel, and in my heart I know, everything I need to know to guide him. We look for ways he looks like us, and ways he is uniquely himself. We have nothing to say, but our hearts and minds are full of thoughts – of our hopes and dreams for him, of who he might be, of what gifts he brings with him and how he might touch the world. It is hard to close our eyes to sleep.

This is probably the final blog post I will write pre-baby, so I ask for your prayers, thoughts, advices and encouragements. Soon, all of these obstacles will be over – the sausage feet, the beer deprivation, the urinating in softball fields, the spilling, the burping, the nausea…and so much more will be beginning. I cannot wait to introduce you all to Baby Boy Brunner!

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My hump. My lump. My lovely baby bump.

OK, the finger pointing can begin! I know I deserve it. I’ve been MIA, pregnant-style, for more than a week and that’s just not fair. But, I’m laying my excuses here on the table for you: A) I’m 30 days from D-Day. B) I have a lot going through my mind. C) I am T-I-R-E-D when I’m A-W-A-K-E. And, D) This blog is supposed to be humorous and, trust me, there is a lot less humor in things when it gets down to the wire. It’s like you hit mile 25 in a marathon and all you want to do is walk and/or vomit because the reality of what you’re really doing is washing over you. But, you still have one mile to go, so you TRY to smile and sprint it out, but you just want to lie down on the pavement and wave a white flag as if to say, “I came. I tried. I did not conquer.” So, please accept my apology for being slow on the postings. It’s more of a nervous thing than anything. The reality of mommyhood is like a cloud hanging over my head. Sometimes it lets a little rainbow through and sometimes it pours buckets, but as unpredictable as it’s been, I thought it safer to not attempt blog-writing. That being said, I’ve had this one running through my head for weeks…Enjoy!

My stomach. My blockage to all table-served dining. My newfound bodily obstacle course. My catcher of all things colorful. I recall complaining about how big my stomach was in month six, and I could slap myself for being so ridiculous. Month nine. I’m there. That six month belly would look like an ant hill compared to what I’ve got going on under my shirt today. It’s more than a “baby bump” – it’s a “camel hump.” I have no idea where it came from and when it got there, but it’s sooo there and, day-by-day, I’m learning of the irritating handicaps that come along with it. People think they’re “brushing past me” but they’re practically knocking me over (I know, the size is disillusioning). Getting up from a deep slumber proves to get more complicated the bigger you get too. It’s like, the ONE time in life I would be thankful for the abs I DO have, and I have NOTHING to work with! Sitting up? Really? I can’t SIT UP? Nope. I literally roll off the side of the bed four to six times a night now because my potato sack of a mid-section lacks any muscle whatsoever. It’s really a good time. The constant sensation to urinate + a forty-inch stomach = a daily unpleasant Nicki.

But, the worst and most embarrassing big-tummy effect is the inability to pull myself up to any sort of table anymore. You learn it when you’re two years old – place your napkin on your lap, pull yourself up to the table, use your silverware, and eat over your plate. I’ve always followed these rule but watching me try to do it now has GOT to be hilarious.

1) Place Your Napkin On Your Lap. Ummm…what lap? I fan my napkin out as large as it will go and place it on whatever thigh area I have showing (slim to none, usually). But, I’ve learned that really does no good, so do I face looking like a complete headcase in a public restaurant and wear it as a bib? I have not done that yet, but I have attempted to do the full-stomach coverage where I pull the napkin up to my boobs and see how long it can stay in one place before it just flops over onto the table into my plate of food. My record is about 12 seconds (and those were spent holding completely still – shhhh…don’t wake the giant!).

2) Pull Yourself Up to the Table. This, my friends, is why I’ve become a booth sitter. Sure, it’s harder to get in to initially, but no one can judge you when you are slightly far from the table because, hey, the booth and table are cemented into the ground and I just can’t help it. But, at a table, you have all the power to pull your chair up as tightly as necessary, which for me, is, errr, not so tight. I go as far as I can, but once that belly button hits the table’s edge, I’ve got about 12 inches of potential exposed stomach spillage area.

3) Use Your Silverware. Silverware is made for people who dine properly, elegantly, and non-pregnantly. Balancing something on a skinny fork is much more difficult when your only direction is not straight up from the plate and into your mouth. When you’re prego, you’ve got to go up, around, and in. This is not easy when dining on items such as corn, beans, cereal, macaroni, or anything else that really SHOULD require a utensil. Silverware has become one of my greatest enemies, and lately, if you catch me eating in my own home at my own table in front of my own self, you will see (washed) fingers digging through the milk bowl for the last of the Fruit Loops. It’s just so much easier when you’re hungry, robustly round, and most importantly, alone.

4) And, finally, Eat Over Your Plate. Your mother taught you this one, right? Lean your chin in ever-so-slightly and scoop the food into your mouth. That way, in case anything falls out, it will land on your plate and no one will notice you lost some unless they actually saw it happen. Screw that. You think THAT would be mortifying? Woe is you!! Try thinking that you are doing well at eating over your plate at an in-law’s picnic and looking down post-meal to see strawberry juices, corn-off-the-cob, four humorously-placed ketchup blobs, and cake frosting spread like a Jackson Pollock painting across your new white shirt that you bought special for this fun family event. Try that on for size. We all know how embarrassing it can be to spill a little coffee on your work shirt first thing in the morning. Now multiply that be a trillion and that is how I feel after every dinner out.

Nate has learned quickly that I no longer think it very funny to be the homeless man’s dreamcatcher. I miss the days when I could wear something nice and come home with it looking the same. Maybe it’s preparation for baby. I guess that’s what I am using as an excuse for a lot of things nowadays. Why do I need to get up to pee six times a night? Well, it’s good preparation for sleepless nights with baby. Why do my hormones make me so exhausted? Well, you won’t have a lot of energy left at the end of the day when baby comes. Why do I clumsily miss my mouth and bring half my barbecue ribs home on my belly-top? Well, a baby will puke, drool, and poop all over your clothes, so you better get over being so vain now. Easier said than done, but I’m trying. I’ve always been vain when it comes to my clothing (I’m a girl – remember that before you judge me too hard), and giving that up will be quite a challenge for me. I’m not going to lie and say I won’t get angry at the little guy the first 100 times he rolfs on my favorite scarf or gets poop on my SAK purse, but I will try my hardest to understand that he is clueless and has not one ounce of vanity in his tiny little body, and that can be a good thing. I will try to take pointers from Baby Brunner and just roll with it.

I know I will bask in the irony of this ridiculous complaining when I’m sitting at a slightly unkempt Denny’s restaurant celebrating my little boy’s 2nd birthday, trying to teach him to place his napkin on his lap and use his spoon to eat his ice cream. And, I’m pretty sure I’ll be soiled in cheeseburger grease and boogers, but I hope it will not be quite as big a deal as I’m making it today. I will still have my name-brand dress-up clothes hanging in the closet, but will choose to wear them for adult nights only. And, when I slip on my favorite silk dress and sit down for a decadent dessert at The Cheesecake Factory, I will look down at my stomach as Nate pushes in my chair and smile because, hey, look at that – I can eat over my plate.

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There’s an oven baking a bun in my oven

My husband and I got married on October 6…a nice, crisp fall day, or so I thought. I was anxious for red and orange leaves to match the cinnamon vests and thought I might even get chilled in my long strapless gown. Well, the day came and we hit a record high of 89 degrees. In October? You’ve GOT to be kidding me! Halfway through pictures, I not only wanted my strapless dress to be bustled – I wanted to rip out the extra layers of fabric, convert it to a mini-dress, and sit on an air conditioner. But, to keep up appearances for this wonderfully blessed event, I kept my dress on, reapplied deodorant and mascara, and danced my butt off.

Two years later, I’m walking around in the same temperature, but now I have a fetal heater growing in my stomach. I’m raising a boy scout who, I swear, practices building fires in there at least twice a day like he’s on freaking Survivor. He’s earned his badge already, people! We’ve all suffered enough! End the madness!

Apparently, these so-called “seasons” don’t agree with me. An October wedding? YES! I love the fall air. A June baby? YES! I’ll beat the heat. Wrong, and WRONG! It’s like God finds some sort of sick humor in testing how much back sweat I can create before I completely lose my mind. The last two days have been record highs for May in Minnesota. The first day I tried my hardest to stick it out, but being pregnant on sweltering days turns you in to a horny vampire, of sorts. You try your best to block the unwelcome rays of sunshine and happiness from your home, you confine yourself to a dark room in the basement and don’t move for an extended period of time, and when all else fails, you take an ice cold shower to help ease the tension. See? A horny vampire. And you thought I didn’t know where I was going with that analogy!

Yesterday I knew it was going to be an equally hot one, and I wasn’t sure my hormones were up to the task of behaving. I plopped myself on the couch when I got home and slowly stripped off my work clothing piece by piece. I’d been dying to do this all day, but figured Nate would care much less than the entire Member Services Department. Eventually, I was down to a sports bra and underwear, letting it all hang out in front of the big picture window in our living room as if to say, “Hello world! I’m pregnant and bloated and leaving butt sweat everywhere I sit, so go ahead and look if you want to, cuz I no longer give a damn!”

I took my cold shower around 10:30 pm and Nate had the brilliant idea to sleep downstairs in the guest room where it’s slightly cooler. You see? This is why I married the boy – he’s always one step ahead of me. And whether it’s because he really does love me and appreciates what I’m going through, or he just wants me to shut up and quit my b*tching, it was a brilliant plan! We carried our 17 pillows and our puppy downstairs and laid down on top of the covers. I remember doing this last summer and thinking THAT was bad. Man, if I had a clue what I’d be feeling a year from then, I’m pretty sure I would’ve complained a lot less. I guess it’s always something, huh? I mean, if it’s not heat, it’s pain. If it’s not pain, it’s cold. If it’s not cold, it’s thirst. If it’s not thirst, it’s hunger. If it’s not hunger, it’s heat. And the cycle continues.

But last night before we finally fell asleep (it took me an additional half hour and one more strip show), Nate rolled over to me, put his hand on my tummy, and cooed ever so sweetly, “Soon…soon.” He could tell I was near tears because my everything was sweating, my feet resembled those of a Sasquatch, and I was tossing, turning, and pillow-flipping like a crazy woman. “Soon…soon.” For some strange reason, these words which I would normally roll my eyes at and mumble a “whatever” to really calmed me down. Soon the temperature will go down and the wind will pick up. It IS still spring, after all. Soon we will have central air. Nate didn’t sell that motorcycle for nothin’! Soon I will no longer be 20 degrees hotter than every non-bellied person in my office. Soon…soon.

And as I lay there with Nate, I placed my hands on my little internal heater and realized I only have five more weeks with this little boyscout. Soon he will be screaming in the room across the hall. Soon he will be here, with us, in person, live in living color! This heat wave may make me miserable and cause inflation in places I didn’t know were inflatable, but it’s helping me to become a stronger mother.

Although it may feel at times like I’m overcooking my baby, I’m really keeping him safe and comfortable in his little uterine home. THAT is my job, through the sweat and the tears. I’ve never been very handy in the kitchen, but in five weeks he will enter this world and gaze up at his parents with a look of gratitude because I will have cooked that little bun to absolute perfection.

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One shirt, two shirts, three shirts, FLOOR!

clothesPile1_FullThe pile grows higher every day. Higher and bigger. That pile of clean laundry rises daily from a Large to an Extra Large, and from an Extra Large to a…dun dun DUN…Extra EXTRA Large. We’ll clean on Sunday and by Friday, our bedroom floor is the new home of 22 wrinkled shirts, 3 pair of dress pants, 4 tanktops, random miscellaneous undergarments, and a pair of pajama bottoms that I swear fit me last week!

I guess what they say is true. I will continue to get bigger. My baby grows a half a pound a week from now until the finish line, and considering the cheeseburgers and chips that I eat regularly for breakfast, I’d say I’m destined to gain at least one pound a week. Six more weeks = Six more pounds (minimum – let’s not fool ourselves. Reference: cheeseburgers and chips). Six more pounds means I am sure to grow out of at least one more pair of work pants and pretty much ALL of my tanktops. As of now, my mornings go something like this:

Get out of shower. Have outfit picked out in head. Try it on. Throw at least half of it on the ground because either A) my stomach pokes out the bottom or B) My breathing/circulation has come to an abrupt stop or C) you can visibly see my newly-formed cankles. Undershirts that fit me literally YESTERDAY now creep up to right below my belly button. Not so professional, I must say. And, even though I’m starting to care less and less about my physical appearance at work, I still have my standards, and they don’t include donning my stretch marked midriff to my department or camel-toeing my way to nickname hell.

Once half the outfit is on the floor, I rummage through the other “longest tanktops I’ve got” and see if any of those will suffice. No. No. No again. Unbelievable how much shirt space this kid consumes! Finally, I find one that reveals limited skinnage and decide to roll with it since I’m already near tears and it’s not even 8 a.m. yet. Then, I find a top to cover it but care much less about that choice since I’ve already got the hard part taken care of. On to pants. Pants are always a pretty miserable experience for women. I have one pair that still fit me comfortably, all decked out with the lovely gut cover that jacks up to your fatty prego boobs and “holds in” your stomach. Well, it finally happened. My stomach can no longer be held in. The top of the waist band actually sits at my waist now. Last month, it was jacked to the max. Unbelievable! At this rate, with one month remaining, by the end those pants will be long retired and I’ll be wearing sweatpants to work. Really? You’re going to mess with THIS, Mr. CEO? I don’t think so.

Once I’ve got pants and a shirt semi-securely fitted on my disproportionate body, I am usually desperate for some accessories. Accessories ALWAYS fit. It’s a wonderful thing. Grab a new colorful purse, mix and match necklaces, and finish it off with a cute pair of shoes. But wait just a minute…why is it that my shoes DON’T FIT? Yesterday morning I actually tried on a pair of shoes and threw them across the room because they were too tight. MY SHOES WERE TOO TIGHT! Are…you…kidding….me?! A couple F-bombs later I was a mess of tears and felt the need to start all over with the dressing process. But I decided why bother, right? I can only rotate three shirts and one pair of pants so many times before people start picking up on it. And, those old tattered flip-flops have become my new go-to-shoe. If I ever see the day when I can’t squeeze in to those, someone just put me out of my misery.

One month to go. One hot summer month. Today hit 90 degrees (a record high – yes, I AM lucky. Thanks for noticing). 90 degrees and no central air. 90 degrees and two ceiling fans and 45 extra pounds of weight. I guess days like this are when I  should be thankful that none of my clothes fit. What better excuse to walk around in your skivvies than a 90 degree day, no A/C, and a gigantic baby-filled stomach? It was a beautiful thing. Now, if only I could get away with that at work. I imagine it probably wouldn’t fly, but there would definitely be no better time to test it out than now. Even I’M not that gutsy. Guess that gives me just one MORE reason to look forward to the weekends.

And with every day of failed outfit-making, I get one day closer to the end. And, I certainly don’t expect to get into my size 8 jeans again right away (although a girl can dream), but I would be just as satisfied being able to pull up the pants I wore last month without a blasphemous revealing of buttcrack. It’s the simple pleasures that I live for now, one day and one desperate outfit at a time.

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