Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Prescribed and proven

I just get a kick out of this "prescription" for pregnancy...I needed it for insurance purposes, so this is what my doctor handed me. Funny huh?

So my doctor's surprisingly legible handwriting...we are due 9/11...about 12 more weeks to go.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Slow, sweaty but steady!

Since everyone who knows me knows how much joy, relaxation and energy I get out of running and since I talk a lot about how this pregnancy has affected my running, I thought I should post a picture that proves me and the Bean are still out there pounding the pavement.

We are so slow and run for very short distances now - most women runners who are pregnant stop somewhere around month 6 or 7, so our date with walking may be coming up soon, but for now we are still loving the steady rhythm we create together...but we do scare onlookers with that huge belly leading the way and sweaty me lurking behind.

In addition, we try to keep active biking and gardening. Just this past weekend Jacob and I rode on borrowed mountainbikes and I loved the soft ride in the whispery woods...funny time to take up an action sport like that, but I enjoyed it!

Next up, swimming, walking

Anyways, enjoy this unflattering photo of me (it's the belly that counts)

Pregancy Week 25

Update from
Wow! Your baby is almost 9 inches (23 cm) long—almost half his birth length! While his weight is still low at about 1.5 pounds (0.68 kilograms), he could survive if he decided to make an “entrance” into the world now! Your Baby: Among the most prominent changes this week take place in the skin, which gradually becomes thicker and less transparent. It’s still wrinkled, as if there is more than he needs, but your baby will literally “grow” into his skin as time passes. Your baby’s heartbeat may be strong enough now that other people can hear it when pressing their ear to your belly!

Personal note: Bean won't be measured any time soon, but last time about a month ago he measured at 10 inches and weighed 16 ounces, so we're doing very well in the development department. Our checkup today revealed a perfect heartbeat of 142/minute (Bean not me) and a nice and high uterus. No sugar in my urine and no complaints from me. We are blessed with good health and we are very grateful for it!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Belly the camera!

Since Summer if officially here I decided to - belatedly - post two photos of my belly on the beach back in April when Jacob & I, and Jacob's folks, Cindy & Ronnie took a week off to frolick on the beautiful shores of Alabama... I hope these will make you smile...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A blessing in a baby

Recently, I took a look back in my meager journal - when life is good, my need to write seems to slow - and I found my first entry from when I first found out that we were pregnant.

I marvel at how insecure and how scared I was. Worries over worries - a speciality of mine - dominated the page of scrawled anxious-looking, new business, new marriage, small rental home, all those things seemed insurmountable during week No. 3 of The Bean's pregnancy.

But in the past 5 months or so, we have been blessed, not just by a growing belly, but also by a growing recognition that life is a constant challenge, but not a hopeless cause. We have been showered with goodness from the Lord and through Him from the people around us. Family, friends and acquaintances are stepping up in ways that they don't have to - throwing us baby showers, "rescuing" someone else's castoff fabric for the nursery, encouraging me to continue to exercise and making me laugh even when I feel dowdy and huge. They are researching strollers, calling to inquire about my latest observations and experiences, or they simply just are happy for us.

They support us with generous contributions of costly baby must-haves, and give me the equally priceless gift of their time, experience and resulting wisdom of infant care and toddler rearing. I have received boxes of hand-me-downs, so spotless and cute I can't believe anyone would part with them. Sometimes it's a simple smile from a stranger that reminds me that God is good all the time, even when I seriously doubt the fortune of my current situation.

I might have an achy back but a compliment about my appearance or a well wish directed a human being in the making can straighten that out in a second.

I'm starting to truly appreciate those gifts given so joyfully and freely, so selflessly they shine next to anything done out of obligation. When you are the recipient of such kindess, you can choose to feel uncomfortable (how will I ever repay these people?) or you can simply cherish them for what they are, reminders that giving can make one as happy as receiving and that people, loved ones and strangers, are God 's creation I admit my natural inclination veers towards the first. I want to repay, dollar for dollar, cent for cent. I don't want to owe too much, who knows when I can pay you back?

But I have this feeling that a heartfelt thank you, a hug and my excitement about some offering or another are what these wonderful people want from me. They aren't giving me their time, money and hand-me-downs to score points, they want to help simple as that. While I was running the other day - my knees grumbling over the extra 20 lbs. - my mind wandered to something my friend Brynn had told me to remind myself now and then.

I'm only pregnant for the first time once in my life.

It has been a blessings-filled 6 months so far. I am overjoyed. Thank you Lord and everyone.

You can take this girl out of Switzerland...

Yesterday, Jacob, Bean and me - rushing out of my school job 15 minutesearly - took a 2 ½ hour drive to Charlotte, NC so that I could undergo - for the third time in as many years - the ordeal of fingerprinting atthe regional processing center of the U.S. Immigration andNaturalization Services.

It's been a long, sometimes entertaining, costly and not always scenic journey.

I filed my first application toward citizenship almost 6 years ago. I have lived in the United States for almost 15 years. I have filed taxreturns for 14 of those years.

I have adored the particular Americanbrand of well-meaning expansive friendliness that,at least in myopinon, is born out of the sincere belief of Americans that this is the GREATEST COUNTY ON EARTH (no other country claims this as far as Iknow). I have wanted to STAY FOR GOOD for at least a dozen of my yearshere.

As my own mother once observed. I never quite fit in in Switzerland. Ifeel at home here. I will always be a little bit Swiss, but also a lot like any American around me.

Even if I'm a sleeper or otherwise harbor threats, rest assured my presence in this great country is well documented with a set of 12 beautiful prints of my digits (as well as palms - not the toes tough) repeated three times over. In addition, I had the "pleasure" of sitting through an interview with an immigration officer, who grilled me about my life (picture naked light bulb and sweaty brow and you are close). I have also had to provide extensive documentation pertaining to my financial background, my career curiculum, my education, my American circle of friends (I still have those letters many of you so kindly wrote for me), my criminal record, as well as a set of X-rays of my lungs.

Whatever it says on Lady Liberty about the sick...clear lungs nowadaysare a requirement for legal immigration.

My favorite among all these, must be choosing between "yes" or "no" on a particularly amusing questionnaire regarding my voting habits in my home country, suspected prior involvement in espionage, terrorism orprostitution. It took all it had not to spice up my sheltered and tranquil upbringing in Switzerland ...

Despite all this - and a 5-hour roundtrip to the city with my urban-phobic wonderful husband yesterday - I'm determined to cross the finish line toward American citizenship sometime this year.

I want to be like Apple Pie, take adrive to the levy, be a member of the land of the free and the home ofthe brave...and most of all, I want to vote and be a proud member of this great society of free and friendly people.

The application process is arduous, slow and tests my patience everturn of the way, but I also understand that if I REALLY WANT TO LIVE HERE and nowhere else, I have to show the willingness and dedication to go through this without too much griping...from my stumbling start, with my wonderful host parents to today, I have never wavered, never not paid a fee, never not shown up to another "invitation" to stick my fingers under a scanner and be photographed from especially unflattering angles.

It's the price you pay to be here quare and LEGAL.

I look forward to the day I'll be of the same nationality as my husbandand son. I will likely cry the first time I cast a ballot and get one of those "I voted" stickers, and - Carol this is for you - I'm excited about that theme party we're going to throw, once I get that little Star-spangled banner and get to recite my pledge of Allegiance.

I'm also thinking about getting a bumper sticker:

"Legal and processing fees - $7,000
Number of years on the way to citizenship - 6
Sets of fingerpints given - 3
Becoming an American Citizen - Priceless"


"I'm an honored to be a student of American citizenry"


"It's the legal in immigration that's important, stupid!"


"I'm a legal immigrant, what tax amnesty do you got for me?"

Next up. Taking the citizenship test. I have to study 100 "basic" U.S.Goverment related questions (see some examples in the sidebar). Jacob and I crammed yesterday. Maybe we'll go on Jeopardy to dazzle everyone in the U.S. Goverment category.

Now what's more American than that?

Pregnancy Week 24

This from

You weight gain is beginning to accelerate to about one pound (.45 kg) per week, so symptoms like lower back pain and swollen feet may increase. Resting periodically for 15 to 20 minutes can help.

Your baby is getting heavier to carry, and you may feel the stress. At the same time, you may experience profound joy, knowing your little bumpkin is growing healthy and strong! Your Baby: Your bundle of joy is looking more angelic every day, gaining weight and filling out! Your baby is also starting to produce white blood cells, which will help fight infection after she leaves your body and enters the world. You may be surprised to notice that your baby responds to the sound of your voice or even the touch of your hand on your tummy by quieting down or occasionally increasing activity as a way of communicating with you!

Personal note: No swelling here, no aches I can't deal with (yet)...and I do drink my water - I'm not sure if I'm excited about the "accelerated weight gain" but I guess I'll take what comes my way...and live with it.
The Bean is kicking hard these days and while it keeps me up at night, sometime during the day it feels like a love offering "Mom, I'm here too, pay attention to me." When I stroke where he hits me, he usually slows down. Sweet

Friday, May 18, 2007

From A- to C+

That title has a double see, as I'm getting bigger in the bust, I'm also getting dumber...

If you get offended by anything just left of PG, stop reading here.

I am unable to find any direct scientific evidence of this, but based on my own experience, I am comfortable to theorize that in the context of pregnancy, the increase in cup-sizes happens in direct correlation on the decrease in IQ.

I'm fond of telling people that I'm planning on having my pregnancy bra bronzed along with The Bean's first booties, I am enjoying my new curves that much.

At first they scared someone of rather flat female charms, they suddenly made a perky appearance and quite literally refused to budge - it impacted my running, ability to wash dishes, bend down, pass people, ride my bike - I even "caught" a bug in my bra on a recent lazy day in the backyard.

They make me smile whenever I catch sight of them - in store windows, the mirror, when I drop my chin - yup, there they are, magnificent. I've had a couple of almost wardobe-malfunctions along the way - once you have these babies, certain outfits that used to be perfectly stylish become very risque. I once taught an entire morning with my jacket was the only decent thing I could do.

They do fill me with hope that I will be a nourisher along with a nurturer for The Bean - I'm excited to give them meaning - beyond my shallow, vain self-admiration.

On the downside of things, I can no longer claim in good concience to be smart or even clever. I say dumb things, I do dumb things and most of the time it doesn't even bother me.

So far I have managed to:
- Say yes, when I mean no, or the other way around, more times than I care to admit. It's always accompanied by a lengthy stuttered account of something that has no merit on whatever the question was.
- Walk into my bank, right up to the counter acting like I had never seen a deposit slip in my life
- Struggle with the digits of my phone number when I leave messages
- "Forget" my cell phone, purse, sunglasses in several places several times. I didn't miss the cell phone for three days
- Try to remember the formula for Celcius to Fahrenheit in front of my class - with little success..."well kids, 60 degree Celcius is really hot" was my lame exit strategy
- Suddenly forget how to spell "character" as well as "exagerate" on the whiteboard, again with my students loving it
- To wander aimlessly, then suddenly turn with a purpose only to wander aimlessly again...

But don't worry, I think I can hang in there for a couple/three more months. I rarely drive and if things get any worse I'll start wearing everything on a lanyard with a return address taped to my forehead.

After all this may be my only chance being a bombshell ever and I'm happily oblivious to the price I have to pay.

Teaching & Learning

Our class photo:
Front Row from left: Me (yup, that's me in my "teacher getup"), Savannah, Julian, Hannah, Mason, Anthony
Middle Row from left: Brooke, Anthony, Carolina, Jonny-Joe
Next Back Row from left: Ashley, Diamond, Valerie, Jennifer and Tyriq
Very Back Row from left: Cheyenne, Kaitlyn, Noah, Cierra and August

When we arrived in North Carolina a little more than a year ago, I didn't really have a "career plan" in hand or in mind, so instead - after a summer-long stint as a camp secretary - I headed out and answered any help-wanted ads with my fancy resume in hand.

It wasn't as easy as I assumed it would be. No one was too impressed with my glossy portfolio or willing to pay me what I had last made in "glitzy" Vail, Colorado, instead I was offered part-time menial labor jobs - those or commuting about 30 minutes to Asheville looked like the only options for a little while. I refused to drive. I wanted to make a living here in small-town Brevard.

I did get a break when Brevard Elementary School's officials decided to hire me without any previous experience in the field of education and put me in a classroom with 19 giggly 5th graders, who found my halting teaching attempts amusing and my "weird" accent, extremely funny ("say 'two' again Mrs. Dinkins," was a repeat request)

So since September of last year, I've been working mornings in public education, struggling with time constraints, a class body as varied as a box of chocolates (and about as sweet when they want to be), more frequent and endless tests than anyone wants to correct and the fact that I had a fleeting idea of "how to teach."

With my dismissal coming up in less than a month (I'm choosing not to go back after The Bean is born, I am feeling weary yet warm-fuzzy about public education.

In order to teach or mentor anyone, you have to have humility, courage and be willing to learn all the time. You have to be quick on your feet and willing to admit mistakes. Your reward will be few and successes will often be false. An "a-ha" moment only comes once in a while, and when it does you have to seize it and hold on to what matter how nontraditional the method...
So we have counted dry beans and glued them into charts. We've written many drafts with me color-coding types of mistakes, we've poured water into gallons and liter containers to learn about the metric system and we've pasted just about anything onto posterboard along the way.

My students were wonderful. Sweet little souls - certain days I could see that clearly, other days it took all I had to keep myself from wanting to shove them in a closet and lock the door...

In fifth grade"
- your attention span is just slightly longer than that of a fly of any kind
- A bug on the ceiling, a classmate picking his nose, a pencil shaving on the desk are serious competition for a teacher vying for students' attention.
- Kids don't lie, not really, they just try to make the truth work in their favor...
- A lengthy excuse is almost as good as getting homework done...
- Knowing EXACTLY how many lines you have to write is VERY important!
- Knowing your multiplications is crucial, but some still try to make up for it with fingers and toes
- A calculator is a work of wonder and a protractor is a tool of much shagrin
- No one wants to know about geometry or history
- Everyone wants to know about any of the following: Today's menu choices, time of recess and frequency of bathroom breaks
- It's not talking back, it's just that there is so much to say
- Two-step directions are a stretch, three-step directions are beyond possible
- Students still think the world of any adult who takes the time to talk, joke and "learn" with them, males have an automatic's takes a man to be a father figure...

In a way, that makes me think God designed this time in the classroom for me as preparation for what kind of a parent to The Bean I want to be:
- Kind but strict
- Loving but not full of false flattery
- Involved, no matter how trivial the trial
- Present, not preoccupied
- Patient - I can pull my hair out later, if I really still want to
- Determined to raise a child who can play by himself, wonder out loud, be grateful for anyone who tells a good story from a book or memory.
- I want to raise a child who can sit still and play with abandon, who values wisdom and abhors boredom.
- I want a child that sees life as the opportunity it is, and aims to a fullfilling dream somewhere between Rocket Science and Carpentry

I am grateful I got to go back to school.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Me and Bean in May

Here we are - that's me behind that huge belly, which I'm toting around about 15 inches ahead of me. The Bean, alive and kicking me mightily especially at dinner time, is enjoying his front row seat in all this.

17 more weeks (or so) to go. I can't even imagine to what proportions I will grow. For now I've officially gained almost 20 lbs and I am starting to feel the strain in my back, knees and ankles. I do believe that regular excercise (I still run about 3-4 times a week and ride my bike to work every day and for longer outings with Jacob once or twice a week) will see me through the worst of it and that once I can't run anymore I will find stress relief and enjoyment in swimming and walking as well as some strength training.

All I read points to a better third trimester, easier labor, and a healthier baby if you excercise, so I keep waddling goal for now (and it might be too ambitious) is to run an easy 5K race on the 4th of July and call it quits for the running after'll be hard, I haven't been without running for the past 6 years...

Until then me and The Bean enjoy the extra bonding time when we're out and about. I can just tell in my gut that he enjoys being jostled around, and I do love having company wherever I go...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A year to remember...

Jacob said something yesterday that made me think...

"We're going to be bored in our third year of marriage..." It came as a dry response to me rumminating about us buying a house, moving into it and welcoming a baby all within a span of three months ... and then, in typical Geraldine-fashion, I launched into a lengthy account of what all we would have ahead of us in The Bean's first year...crawling, walking, potty training, speaking, tantrums, piles of ripe diapers...

Yup, it's true. Our first year - which we celebrated with stale but still tasty wedding cake on April 22 - was chockful of new things and firsts. New marital status, new jobs, new homestate/hometown, first own business, new truck (not new, but to us it is), first pregnancy...whew, let me catch my breath..

It wasn't all easy or fun. We suffered through insecurities, false starts, slim paychecks, big bills, a moldy house and some days we'd rather not remember.

But overall, I'm pleased with what we accomplished so far - and to be sure, we couldn't have done it without each other. I, by myself, would have lacked the courage to do most of what we seemingly confidently but rather cluelessly heaved on our plate. Jacob, without me, would have lacked the care for details, to see some of accomplishments be sure reading through tax law texts designed to NOT be understood, is a labor of love... and so is putting up drywall all by yourself, but we got athriving business to show for it.

I'm grateful to the Lord for keeping us afloat and giving us the hope to keep going.

And I'm pretty sure we're going to find ways to fend off boredom when we get to year 3.

A home of our own

It's (almost) official!

We are in the process of buying a lovely home in the leafy bed-and-breakfast neighborhood of Brevard. Harking back to the last century, 1,400 sf. large and complete with a shed, a generous backyard and a wrap around porch, it exhudes old-time Southern charm to me.

It also comes without keys, you couldn't catch a marble on its uneven floors and several of the stately windows look like they haven't been opened since the Great Depression...oh and we'll have to make due without a washer/dryer for a while...

...but if it all works out we would have a very comfortable place to house our little family, including a wonderfully spaceious nursery for The Bean.

Wish us luck or pray for us, we're trying to close on it by end of June/mid-July.

Pregnancy Week 23

Update from

Your baby weighs about a pound (.45 kg) and is approximately 8 inches (20 cm) long. No more fruit comparisons—now he looks like a perfect, little doll! Your Baby: Although his skin is still wrinkled, it’s starting to plump out as he continues to gain weight and develop more fat. He looks more and more like a “real” baby now, but sometimes the fine hair covering your baby’s body grows a little dark around this time.

Personal note: Bean will always be The Bean to me, even if he is starting to look like a baby and giving up any resemblance to a legume. As of two weeks ago, The Bean was 10 inches long and weighed about 16 ounces. So we are ahead of the average - of course. If The Bean takes anything after his Dad he will have to get used to being covered in dark hair, ha! ha!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Stitching together a future for Bean

I'm making a quilt for my baby.

It's a sweet little country farm scene, complete with a tractor, cows and a red barn. I'd like to say I designed it, but I just "stole" it off the Internet, from some company that sells outrageously expensive nursery accessories.

I absolutely adore making it. It's a way to get ready for The Bean, to mark the time it will still take and the time that already lies behind us. One stitch at a time, I create something that will hopefully be lasting and meaningful for years to come. It's about joining different fabrics and making them make sense in a pattern and becoming beautiful as a whole - kinda like starting a family.

I'm not alone in this huge undertaking (I've never made a quilt before and even though it's a small one, 5 months isn't all that much time). My mother-in-law, Cindy, took one look at my printout and patiently listened to my vague description of the task ahead and was ready to help - that's the kind of woman she is and I admire her for that.

So now we pass it back and forth. She has all the "professional" tools and the sophisticated sewing machine and much more know-how than me. I have all the time and sitting prowess to do the by-hand work. She has the patience to find the perfect fabric, draw and cut out cute little cows. I have the neatness and endurance to hand-piece together a barn, plank by plank.

I'm so exited about this project I have to share it with anyone. I look forward to having something tangible to do in my hands, for the days when my belly precludes me from doing anything more strenuous than getting up and waddle around. I look forward to someday soon hang it over the rails of The Bean's crib, step back and pronouncing us ready to care and raise a baby.

There is something extremly comforting in making something so simple, yet time-consuming - just because we can - kinda like growing a baby.

Much to-do about to-dos

I have a short list of things I want to "do" in this life. The list has no rhyme or reason and gets updated and changed at my every whim - after all, it's my list:
  • Running a marathon - check that, 4 hours, 10 min. 23 sec. Huntsville, Ala. Dec 9, 2006
  • Sipping a mint julep in a ridiculously big hat at the Kentucky Derby - remains up high
  • Riding my bike behind Jacob for a really long time - like across the country - still ahead
  • Taking my American family to Europe and showing them history - hopefully in the near future
  • Baking the perfect apple pie and winning a pie-baking contest - This one remains...elusive...I've tried, it's the crust that trips me up
  • Re-inventing myself and my career aspirations about every 10 years - accountant, journalist, teaching assistant, check

As people who know me well will readily attest to, I'm methodical in a way that borders on tedious. I like lists, I like to check them off. I make budgets, I tally them up. I have a menu plan that doubles as shopping list. I adore New Year's resolutions and inventory them at the end of the year. I sort my clothes according to color and have a system for how I load food stuff into my fridge. I never leave the house without my bed made - if he wasn't the man he is, I would probably drive Jacob crazy with my neat-and-neat needs. But he remains calm in the face of absolute rigorous order - he is very special.

So here are some new "to dos" on my list (these will make anyone who knows me reasonably well, laugh helplessly and it fills me with rising trepidation, whenever I think about them)

  • I will be less orderly and regimented for at least a year - the first year of Bean's life
  • I will leave a mess be a mess, when other priorities call, ahem cry...I might even leave the dishes in the sink overnight for a while
  • I will not freak when I forget things
  • I will find the humor in not being prepared
  • I will not have the cleanest kitchen on the block
  • I will truly live in the moment more and worry less about what lies ahead

Yup, I'm going to do all that, on top of raising a baby. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

My loyal running buddy

The Bean and I are logging some miles together...

I won't say we're breaking any distance or speed records. We are getting a good share of stares as we lumber along heavily. I've long lost the lite spring in my step.

I think Bean has a good time when we're out in the evening. We try to avoid the hot hours of the day, we only go for 30 minutes on most days, maybe 40 if we get inspired or lost in thoughts.

Dr. H tells us that exercise for someone of pre-pregnancy marathon fitness like me, is perfectly safe into the third trimester...In fact he invites it.

Everything I have read so far assumes a direct correlation between better labor and good overall fitness. I'm encouraged by that...although sometimes I wonder if people who see me waddling down the road want to call me in for pre-natal abuse...shaken baby syndrome comes to mind...However, the fluid that surrounds Bean acts as the perfect buffer, keeping it all soft and smooth and full of stimuli for him.

The only things I have to watch out for are overheating, over-exertion, dehydration and damage I might do to my knees and hips since my ligaments are looser and I'm carrying around all that extra weight.

So we take it easy. We stop when we get to hot, and someday soon, we'll start walking on the inclines because I will be breathing too hard. I will consider swimming soon too. I have started to pick level running routes, preferably along several public bathrooms or construction site port-o-potties (my newest discovery during a recent run in full-bladder inflicted desperation.)

Easy used to be a frowned upon word in my vocabulary. I used to equate trying hard and tireless discipline with success. I have never been a fast runner. But I can be steady and go the distance.....or used to anyway. Now I think back to those precious moments when I would take inventory and everything would come back smooth and working...and I would suddenly be aware that I wasn't even breathing beyond my normal resting rate - those were sweet moments of gratification...all that discipline was paying off. I breathe hard no matter what. It feels like a funnel is inserted in my lungs and sucks out about half of what I inhale to an unknown place...I feel like I'm trying to skip up Mount Everest. My pace has slowed to accommodate that - I'm running loops that used to take me 25 minutes in 32 or 33 minutes now....along with endurance my other main motivation for running - weight control and body image issues - have gone by the wayside.

At 124 lbs, I don't have much control over anything with exercise alone (although Dr. H keeps mentioning 130-135 lbs as the top-out weight). And body issue - well, without a waistline I wouldn't know what issues to start with.

I look bulbous any day, no more fat days, all my days are pregnant days.

Now me and The Bean head out for other reasons. I have to remind myself that this is bonding time, prayer time, thinking time, this is one thing I can do to work toward an easier time in labor. This will help me bounce back post-partum. I don't look smooth or fast, but I'm keeping up my strength. I still pack on the pounds, but with the right diet, the are the nourishing kinds of pounds.

And if nothing else, without fail, five times a week, I get my fair share of I hitch up my running shorts over my big belly and keep going...

Oh man, a human...

Bear with me, I only slept about three hours last night...

I'm getting rounder and most of all, noticeably denser and tighter in the mid-section, the fact that I imbibed in REAL coffee at 9 a.m. (it's teacher/teacher's assistant appreciation week and I felt VERY appreciated by our PTO's thoughtful gesture that involved a brown paper cup with a mermaid printed on it...) probably didn't help either. I was running high on that caffeine - after weeks of complete abstinence - and had trouble settling down despite an hour-long bike ride at dusk with my birthday boy husband.

Anyways come 2 a.m. last night I was wide awake, lying there ...wandering aimlessly through my mind's landscape.When I decided to get up and drink some water and read for a little while, The Bean got up, too.

In the last couple of days the cute, silky flutters from the first movements since mid-April have given way to much more decisive nudges. He usually gives me a good thumping around dinner time, when I drink or eat something really cold or right after I settle down from excercise and sometimes when I lie still in bed. He kind of ping-pongs around in his own world, maybe bored by my lack of movement.

It isn't just more forceful - forceful enough to startle me out of sleep now, but it's so... human - hu!man! What felt all cute and fleeting before, now suddenly conjures up a clear vision of a knee or a head poking me.

The Bean, I realize with rising panic, he is a human being, just like me! Maybe it's that mystery force that inevitably seems to inhabit night time and attach so much more meaning to everything, but I feltfear rising in me.Me, myself and I, still so selfish, will have to care for another human being - not a puppy I can put out back in the yard after some roughhousing, or a doll I can put up on the shelf until next time I feel like playing. Just like myself, this being will want my constant attention.

My throat tightens at the entire truth hits met.

I love company. I'm happily social and gladly rise to the challenge of entertaining crowds when the chance arises. I'm not shy, never have been. I see eyes on me and I start talking, even if I have nothing to say. I can't help it.

I love being married. I adore my easy companionship with Jacob, its constancy. It lives by words and silence, it is fueled by proximity, it grows through trust.

But I treasure alone time. I love my lonely runs, rolling up the past day behind me and considering the new challenges ahead of me, speaking to God or listening inside. I love grocery shopping by myself. Sometimes I take silly pride in being fast and efficient with my list, sometimes I luxuriate in this anonymous time by slowly studying labels of things that will not be going home with me.

It took me some time to learn this, but I whole-heartedly cherish silence and aloneness now.

And in five months or so, those two things - my selfishness and my need for alone time - will be called into question. In fact they may simply be wiped away for a while - a long while. When you're 37, the next 12 to 18 years sound like a life sentence...

I will fantasize about cruises and wear sensible shoes by the time The Bean is legally independent.

I don't want to sound hopeless, but fear conjured up in the small hours of the night is real.

Somewhere around early dawn I found hope in my prayer against my fear.The perfect antidote to fear is honesty.

I won't lie about how I feel and what I love about this baby of ours. I won't pretend that everything is swell, if it's not. If you ask, don't be surprised if I say "I'm lousy, I haven't slept in a day and a half and I don't know what this baby wants from me. We don't get along" This won't come natural to me. I like to please and I hate to admit inadequacy - I loath it.

But don't feel obligated to change my circumstance for me. That is not what I'm seeking with the truth as I perceive it. Simply validate my honesty by listening. You can cheer me up or share a similar memory with me, you can make me laugh or tell me that you understand or don't. Being able to give the truth voice (that's straight from "The Red Tent" if you've read it) makes it more bearable - it's by divine design. I believe that is one reason God has made us relational creatures.

If you don't have children aready, someday will validate your honesty - you won't have to pretend all that spit, poop and sleepless nights are balm to your senses.

That's my sleepless night and what I learned from it. Blessings be.

Pregnancy Week 22

Fresh from

You and baby are both getting anxious to meet each other! Your baby is kicking up a storm, and you feel like you’re getting bigger every day. Your Baby: Your baby weighs over 12 ounces (.35 kg) and is more than 7 inches (18 cm) long! Baby's eyelids and eyebrows have developed and her muscles are growing stronger—something you can feel by the strength of the movement in your tummy! Your baby is probably moving more regularly now—not just once in a while! After birth, she'll recognize the songs you sing or play for her now, resulting in a soothing effect.

Note: Bean, at our last checkup in April weighed almost 16 ounces and measured 10 inches in length...but the kicking is right on.

Monday, May 7, 2007

A spaceship for a stroller

My Mom is on a mission... find The Bean ("Die Bohne" in German) the ultimately and perfect mode of transportation.

My folks have generously offered to contribute a stroller to The Bean's necessary stack of stuff.

I assumed - wrongly - that we would pick a color and a type, maybe look for a used one - and they would either make a purchase or hand over a check.

Wrong. My Mom - I'm so proud of her and the grandmother she is going to be - has taken on this task with great enthusiasm and seriousness. She is reading up on strollers, visiting baby stores, and in her own words she is "getting stroller-smart." I realize I have failed to see the excitement that has been building up quietly a continent away in small, neat Switzerland.
They want something very special and only the best for their first grandson.
Something that will last, that will be smooth, of great quality and outfitted with every safety feature imaginable, not to mention something that is utterly chic - because that's what all things European are.
We're likely going to compromise somewhere along the way...some of the models my Mom is researching are not going to work for my needs (swivel front wheels for one) and others look so "spaceship-like" I'm not sure we'll be able to push them down the street with a straight face, but I'm once again grateful as I have said before, for that strong network of support that Jacob and I - and The Bean - have in our parents.
Both sets will stop at nothing, I believe, to promote health and happiness for The Bean - It's a source of great comfort to me to know that no matter how long it will take us to "get this parent thing down" there will be a tireless family behind us, ready with advise and any other means necessary to ensure The Bean's well-being.
Likewise, we have received offers and help in many different ways from great friends. Girlfriends who are mothers already share their wisdom, friends who are now fathers cheer Jacob with stories of misery that soon will turn humorous. Other friends and family members have offered help with moving, or offered to organize showers. All of them, with every conversation and gesture, make this pregnancy a very special experience for us. We are grateful.
I'm not sure about that whole village, but I draw confidence from having that network of family and friends to make this monumental change in our lives a good one. Thank you.

Happy birthday, Big Daddy Jacob!

Today is Jacob's birthday. He is 29 or in his own words, "hanging on to his 20s by a thread."

His next birthday will be different in every way - new digit of 3 and 3 will also be the number of members in our little family.

I told him this morning - as he winced at my enthusiastic singing - that next time he hears this it will be a duet - and one of us may just be crying ...

My IQ is decreasing at worrisome constancy, I do things like wander into the bank without a deposit slip in my hand, acting as if this is the first time I've ever deposited a check. I cannot for the life of me keep track of my purse AND my waterbottle at the same time. I park my car at akward angles in a nearly empty parking lot or attempt turn-arounds in no-no places...I don't think I'm a danger to others or myself - yet, but I do catch myself saying or doing incredibly dumb things that I would normally have no patience for in others...

On the up-side of this, I've noticed that I have a greatly enhanced capacity to rumminate..I can ponder a single subject at length and with the kind of determination, akin of a "slow" person's fascination with, say, a shiny doorknob.

So the other day, while I was trying to make preparations for Jacob's little birthday get-together - the red velvet cake came out tasting good, see picture above - I got to thinking about fatherhood...about how my sweet husband of only 29 life years is up against a task, I find intimidating on a good day and daunting on a bad one.

Unlike me - the mother - he doesn't have a list of to-dos dictated by nature. He doesn't POSSESS the built-in ability to nourish The Bean once born, he doesn't have that hormone-induced need to PROTECT The Bean close, he isn't changed physically by the pregnancy, he is left "outside" in the truest sense of the word - I have a baby growing under my heart and many hormones infusing my every thought, he has a view of our baby growing and thriving- a frontrow-seat - but still off stage.

His bond with The Bean has to be created by him from within, with little clear designation from nature.

This morning I heard a clip on NPR featuring presidential candidate Barrak Obama saying that "the ability to father a child doesn't make a father, raising one does..." It caught me off guard, it aptly illustrates what my hormone-addled brain can't say quite that clearly.

Bearing a child is no small task, raising one is a bigger, much bigger task.

I have no doubt that Jacob will be a great father, he will seize the opportunity to mentor his child and rejoice in play alongside him. He will be calm in the face of "danger," he will be patient with misbehavior, he will be kind and thoughtful - and he will do all of this without loosing too many sleepless nights about it.

Unlike me, a creature of endless self-analyzation, Jacob will draw on a deep well that taps into his own vast experience of being a son, his amazing memory of a content childhood, his confidence bestowed in him by his own father, and his honest, close relationship with God.

I may have the built-in ability to provide nourishment to The Bean, but I know - and am comforted by the tought - that Jacob will be able to provide so much beyond that; He will have nourishment for The Bean's spiritual being and help him develop life-skills.

It's been on my mind, that we often focus on the mother-to-be. Her health, her mental state, her plans for the nursery, her aches and pains, her registry etc. Help me focus some of that attention on Jacob, as well. He is "left outside" the whole physical transformation for now, but he is gearing up for an incredibly big job.

It will be a beautiful thing to watch this come about - and I for one am grateful to have a front-row seat to it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Giving Bean his due (date)

We didn't plan this...
Not just this pregnancy, but the due date.
It's a date that has become a three-digit abbreviation for terrorism attacks.
Our baby boy is due on 9/11.

I have to admit, I mischieviously love cataloging the reactions I get whenever someone asks me. No one, of course, is prepared, so everyone hastens to a "consoling" retort.
Even our doctor beat me to the punch, assuring me that only 5 percent of all babies are born on their due date.
Ever since, the reactions have reached from a helpless raise-the-white-flag, I'm-stumped "oh, my" to the ever defiant, but still patriotic "it's not such a bad day, after all." I'm perfecting a tight look as I anxously stutter the three numbers, just to see the askers struggle...I know, it's bad, but it is too much fun...I do tell people pretty quickly that I'm OK if he is born on 9/11.

To us it means nothing. Not to belittle what happened on 9/11, but if it happens to become our baby boy's birthday, that will take first priority - for us. When he is old enough we'll try to explain why his birthday holds such significance to people outside of his circle of family and friends but mostly we'll be busy blowing out candles, eating fistfuls of cake, and holding the noisiest little-boy birthday party on the block...I don't think anyone can fault us for that. After all, a baby born on that day, signifies that we as a nation push on, move on, live on, and make ammends, and hopefully have learned something along the way.

Just out of curiosity, I "researched" what "disasters" befell mine and Jacob's birthdays, and this is what I found: On my birthday in 1883, Alfred Packer was convicted of cannibalism (not a pretty thought), while 1,198 people drowned in the icy waters of the Celtic Sea in 1915 when a German submarine successfully torpedoed the Lusitania on Jacob's birthday...

...but to our mothers those headlines meant nothing when the water broke (at least we hope so)

Anyways, I can promise you that I will not tip-toe around or hold my breath or otherwise try to avoid labor on 9/11 this year...if I haven't delivered by then, I'll be so big that neither will be possible.