Friday, March 14, 2003

Spring Break… Friday, March 14 (Mommy's Journal)

Well, here we are at Day 7 of Spring Break. I had high hopes for a restful week, but once again vacation is ending and I wish I had ANOTHER week just to recover from this one! It’s been a whirlwind week—a quick trip to Kansas, then home and straight into home-shopping. Today we’re going to look at round 2 of houses, and we’re starting to get really excited. James is dreading the moving part of it; it’s weird for me to think about not being able to help much with the actual work part of it. Last time, James and I moved everything out of storage and into this house by ourselves in one day. This time, we’ll have to bribe our friends to help. Hopefully they’ll take pity on a pregnant woman!

I’m excited about living closer to my school and the church, and I’m also excited about putting together the home where Kayci will start her life. She’ll actually have a closet (those are very rare out here in the Heights; her current room has NO storage). It’s the little things, you know? J
It’s funny—I’ve made several journal entries about the DEC audit we just went through at school, the search for a priest, and my trip to Kansas. I just can’t think of anything interesting to post on the website. So, feel free to come over and read my journal for the rest of the story! 

Weight news: last Friday, we went in for our 6th month checkup. Everything’s great. Kayci’s strong and healthy, and right on target for size (my mom thinks she must be huge, so that was a weight off!). I’m doing well, and yes, I’ve actually gained weight! I think it must be all of the fast food I ate while preparing for the DEC audit, and the fact that all of my time has been spent at school for the last month going over final details. Anyway, I gained 8 pounds last month! Now I’ve got to get back on the healthy eating and exercising wagon to make sure that doesn’t happen again J. But I was excited—I was starting to wonder if I was doing something wrong!
My mom finished Kayci’s quilt last week; now she’s starting on baby blankets. Once we move, she’ll bring the sewing machine over and put together the crib bumpers and bed skirt. We have the rocking chair; James is going to strip it and see if it can be stained to match the rest of her furniture. We’ve got lots of little projects on hold until we figure out our living situation.
Speaking of “on hold,” this will come as a shock to most of you, but I haven’t cleaned house in ALMOST 2 WEEKS! Between DEC and Kansas, I didn’t have the time or energy. Now that I’m back, James keeps telling me “it’s okay—we’re about to have to clean it all and pack anyway. Wait ‘til tomorrow…” But, there are dishes in the sink and folded laundry on the dining room table, and I’m getting tired of messy. I guess I’ll break down and get things back together before I go back to school on Monday. My goal is to start my “mommy schedule” next week—be at work at 7, leave by 4. We’ll see how it works out, but I really want to get in the habit of getting home early so I can work on house or baby stuff before we go to the park or the Y. Also, I know in a month or so I’ll be worn out by 4, and I want to have some built-in rest time. We’ll see how it goes! 

James will be back from his bike ride any time now; I need to go iron and get dressed for our meeting with the realtor. Later today we’re going over to Ronny & Amy’s for dinner—we haven’t played with the kids in forever, so we’re excited. We talked about going to the Bob Bullock museum in Austin tomorrow, but now I’m thinking a quiet day at home sounds good. I’d like to rent some old movies and just veg on the couch—guess I’d better get busy on the house today so I can enjoy being lazy! 
As I’m writing this it’s early May and the time since my last journal entry has been a blur, but I’ll try my best to remember what’s been going on.

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Pregnancy Journal, Misc... Part 3

The MS150 – OR- Getting to Austin the Hard Way
During the month of March and the first part of April I was training for the MS150, which is an annual bike ride from Houston to Austin benefiting the National MS Society. I was training, and ultimately riding, with David Smith and David Powell, two of the guys from our church and also members of the worship band. 

So on April 12 we set out, along with 11,000 others, in this massive sea of people and metal on our journey. I’ll save the details of the ride for another time and place, but I have to mention that I was incredibly moved on the ride. I guess the prospect of being a father really changes the way you think about things because I’m not the most emotional guy in the world. I think the only movie I’ve ever cried in was “The Bridges of Madison County”- and then only because my left arm had fallen asleep and I was afraid I might have to amputate it.

But riding along, I would pass (or be passed by, as was most often the case) someone who had a sign on their back that said they were riding for (insert name here). I thought, “wow. That’s great. What a nice guy.” Then I ran across a guy who actually had a picture of his family on his back- himself, his wife, and two good-looking kids. 

Underneath he had written, “riding for Sarah- wife and mother – diagnosed with MS April 2002.”

The very thought of this mother being diagnosed with a debilitating disease sent chills down my spine. Even though we were out on the road, in the middle of climbing a hill, I couldn’t help but tear up. I finally realized that I was about to bawl like a baby and re-focused on the task at hand, which at the time was not running into this really fat lady that I was about to pass. But it really hit a soft spot for some reason- much like I would have done if I had smacked into that fat lady.

My sister was diagnosed with Leukemia just days before she turned two, so I was pretty accustomed to being around sick people. I had actually become pretty numb to it. But that was 20 years ago (holy crap- I’m telling a story from 20 years ago!) Now, the very thought of something bad happening to Kayci terrifies me. I try not to dwell on that, but the thought does cross my mind occasionally when I’m watching some health report on the news or when I see a young cancer patient. I consider those people among the bravest in the world- so young, with so much to see and do still- fighting for their very existence. I pray every chance I get that Kayci will turn out healthy. I imagine that most parents do. I’ve seen the other side, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
So all of a sudden the MS150 became about a lot more than just a butt-kicking challenge to ride 182 miles on a bike. It suddenly became real.

Then, later in the ride, there would be wheelchair-bound people with MS on the side of the road cheering us on and thanking us for riding. That made it that much more real. I almost lost it then, and even now the thought and image of those people moves me to the point of tears.

Well, training for and riding in the MS150 has taken care of my weight problem. I now weight 68 pounds and am getting hate mail from Calista Flockhart.

Packing & Moving – Instructions for Spouses of Pregnant Women
When planning to move and packing up your house, it is vital that every crappy job be justified in your mind by making it about your baby. By having your family and friends come over to help you pack, it saves her stress and therefore puts less stress on the baby. By cleaning the ceiling fans- scrubbing them so they damn near shine (also known as Kristi clean), it saves her from having to get up on a chair and do it, avoiding the possibility that she’ll fall and hurt the baby.

Packing with a hormonal 7-month pregnant woman is NOT easy. During the entire process, I didn’t feel as if I could do ANYTHING right. Chalk that one up to the baby, also. I started packing my office up early for the move. 

Suddenly I was in trouble because that wasn’t a priority. I should be packing other parts of the house. Okay. Then, when it came time for the movers to come my office was still not packed. I was in trouble again. So I went into my office to pack up. Well, I was doing wrong. It seems that now I had played around and there wasn’t time to pack my office the way I wanted to- going through stuff and throwing away things as I went. Now I was only to “throw stuff in boxes and sort through it later.” Well, hell.

Looking back, I can’t really recall WHAT I did during the packing phase. I sort of remember packing nick-nacks from the living room into boxes, but that’s about it. I know- because Kristi told me exactly 397 times- that she packed up the kitchen and cleaned all the floors so I could shampoo the carpets and polish the wood floors. I honestly have no idea how I contributed to the move, other than renting a truck and calling the movers. I probably walked around in circles mumbling incoherently to myself like Ozzy does on the Osbournes. 

But I’m sure I only did it for the baby. I mean, really… Babies need to learn how to mumble somehow.

How to Travel 1500 miles with a Pregnant Woman
In typical James & Kristi fashion, two days after we moved- with lots of stuff still in the old house yet to be moved and a new houseful of nothing but boxes- we loaded up the car and drove to Kansas for Kristi’s family reunion. It’s roughly 600 miles to Iola, Kansas from Houston and the trip- pre-pregnancy- takes about 11 or 12 hours, depending on traffic and how many stop we take.
Well, with a pregnant lady in the car the bathroom breaks increase exponentially. In addition to that, we have to stop to walk for about 15 minutes. Then there’s meal stops. 

So basically, the once 12-hour trip now takes 3 and a half weeks.

That’s not to say that the trip was bad. It was actually a very nice trip, but it just seemed to take forever getting there. Kristi was a trooper, though. I know she was uncomfortable most of the time, but she didn’t complain. I, on the other hand, would have been complaining the entire time if I were in her shoes. They probably would have had to put up a soundproof divider between the front and back seat, like in a limousine. 

The only tip I have for traveling with a 7-and-a-half month pregnant woman is the same I would give to someone who just adopted a Bengal tiger- keep her well fed, well watered and as comfortable as possible. And if she says she wants to stop- by God stop ASAP.

The Tale of the Baby Monitor

Kristi and I went to Target to pick up a couple of maternity shirts one night with a gift certificate that Melissa gave us as a thank you for letting her pretend to sleep on our couch while being constantly barraged by Buddy and Big Kitty. On our way toward the front we decided to go ahead and make our normal cruise through the baby section to ooh and aaw at all the cute baby clothes. As we were about to leave, we happened to pass by a shelf of baby monitors. At the very beginning of her pregnancy, Kristi saw a monitor that could also be used as a pre-natal listening device but hadn’t seen it since. Lo and behold, sitting on the top shelf was the very monitor she had been looking for. We picked up the box and immediately noticed that it had been opened and most probably returned. So we decided to scan it using one of the little scanners on the aisles.
Naturally, it wasn’t in the computer. Then Kristi happened to notice the remnants of a Wal-Mart price tag on the side of the box. We knew immediately what had happened… someone had bought it cheap at Wal-Mart and returned it at Target to make a few bucks on the transaction. So we took the box to Customer Service to see if they could tell us how much it was.

I smelled blood in the water and when the customer service lady couldn’t find it in the computer, either. I knew it was time to haggle. 

Haggling is a lost art that runs deep in my family. Kristi and I once got a grill for $2. My entire living room in college was furnished for $5 (a $3 book case and $2 recliner). My dad even talked a guy out of a glass-top table for my college dining room for $10.

The customer service lady finally called her manager over to determine a price for the baby monitor. The manager wanted us to find a monitor on the shelf and use a price from one of those. Kristi and I were never a better team:
Kristi: “This one’s been opened. Besides, it was really cheap when you used to carry it.”
James: “Yeah… look how dirty this is. It’s obviously been used.”
Kristi: “And look. This is a Wal-Mart price tag.”
Manager: “Well, it’s not in the computer.”
James: “I’ll give you three bucks for it.”
Manager: “Uh…”
James: “I’ll even go as high as five dollars.” (I was joking, of course, but you never know…)
(long pause)
Manager: Okay, charge them $4.48 for it. But the problem comes if you try to return it since it’s not in the computer.”
Kristi: “Believe me. For four dollars, we’re not going to return it.”
James: “We’ll even promise not to return it.”
Kristi: “You can even write ‘Do Not Return’ on the box.”
Manager: “Okay.”

We paid cash and got the hell out of there before they changed their mind.

When we got home we hooked it up and put the baby monitor on Kristi’s belly. I moved it around a little and we heard various gurglings and thumps. After a minute or so I took the monitor away. As soon as I did, Kayci kicked. Not just any kick, but a HUGE kick. Kristi’s belly actually moved! I saw it. It looked like somebody trying to kick through the inside of a waterbed. I actually saw a place raise where she kicked.

We couldn’t get her to do it again like that, so we figured we probably pissed her off pretty well with all the poking and prodding. Kristi felt her move inside, but I never did feel her kick again that night. And I’ll bet she went and hid behind Kristi’s spleen or something because we never really could hear her heartbeat that night either.

Daddy’s Weight Check – Wednesday, March 5

178 lbs (Kristi gets weighed again on Friday the 7th… more on that later)

Sunday, March 2, 2003

Feeling the Kick – Sunday, March 2

Kristi’s belly has been getting really big the past couple of weeks. And the cool thing is that you can really feel where Kayci is now. Sometimes she’s down low on the right side, sometimes she’s up high. Sometimes she goes deep inside and you can barely feel her. One night last week Kristi woke me up in the middle of the night and told me to “feel my baby.” Naturally, I placed my hand on my belly. But she grabbed my hand and put it on her belly instead. Kayci was straight up and down. It was really cool. It almost felt as if Kristi had swallowed a dachshund. It’s amazing to me how much that little girl moves around in there…

On that subject, we went down to Kristi’s parents’ beach house to spend the night. When we woke up this morning, Kayci was still asleep apparently, but she was big and down low. I’ve been very jealous for some time because Kristi can feel her kick and move and when she wakes up. But I always try to feel her anyway. So this morning lying in bed Kristi announced that Kayci was awake, so I put my hand on The Belly. 

I had only had my hand there for a few seconds when I felt this little push from inside. It was very definite. Now, other times I’ve thought I’ve felt Kayci, but I was never sure it was more than some kind of violent pregnant-lady gas thing because it didn’t really feel like anything. But this was a kick. It was hard! Not so hard that it kicked my hand away, but it was a definite pressure… a message from the inner depths of Baby Land. Kristi confirmed that when she said, “did you feel that?” Apparently, Kayci was hungry and not too happy about it…

I kept feeling for a little while longer, but never did get the same type of kick again. Finally, we had to get up, but I was happy knowing that I had actually felt a kick. Mommy’s baby monopoly is over!!!