Friday, February 25, 2011

But wait... what about paying for it all?

I mentioned that my health insurance was lapsing before the end of the summer.  And after a little research, I found out that our new health care legislation wasn't going to do anything to help me till 2014 [not trying to get political, that's for a different blog...].  So what's a girl to do?  The only logical thing she can do: re-enroll in school!  We found out that it would actually be much cheaper for me to take a couple of classes, pay an up-charge and be covered by the "enhanced" student health plan offered by the University of Montevallo.  So I signed up for a couple of classes that I knew would be interesting to me:  US History (up to the Civil War/War of Northern Aggression) and Art History of the 20th Century.  I never guessed myself to be a history buff, I always hated the classes in high school and my first go-round in college...  But I have found, in my dotage, that if you can actually reference historical events, your conversations and arguments tend to be more relevant. I guess they're right, with age comes wisdom.  And besides, whoever they are, they were right...  History is always repeating itself.  I found it very interesting the parallels between the early decades of our country and where we are now.  If only our leaders would go back to take an intro-level history class or two, they might see it too.  Oh, wait, sorry... Stepping down from my soapbox now.

The other ulterior motive behind going back to school, though, was for me to have time to relax and be pregnant.  I wouldn't have to worry about finding a job and stressing out about that.  There was also the added bonus of my newly-found over-achiever status:  anything less than an A would be unacceptable to me, so I would also boost my cumulative GPA.  I was honoring the advice my dear, sweet Grandaddy gave me years and years ago:  The day you stop learning something new everyday, you should just cock up your toes and die.  And I'm far from ready to shuffle loose this mortal coil [hat tip: Monty Python], so back to school with me!  The next thing I knew, it was December and I was almost eight months pregnant!

Hayden was quite taken with my professors.  He would be a wiggly, squirmy little dude and as soon as my professors would start to lecture, Hayden would calm down!  He's quite a good listener, and still is.  In fact, that's how he came to us:  Michael had to leave on a three-day road trip and had told Little Man to stay put just till at least Sunday.  And when he got home on Sunday night, Michael knelt in front of my [enormous] belly and started talking to Hayden.  He said, "Ok, Little Man.  You can come out now!  Daddy's home and he's ready to see you!  The weather is better now so you can come on out..." [it had been snowy and cold, it was now in the 70s and sunny].  I'll be dipped if the little bugger didn't listen to his daddy and make his way out two days later!  And the bond these two share is simply magical.

I'm a firm believer in imprinting.  When a baby chick is hatched, the first thing it sees, it thinks that's its mother.  Well, since I had a c-section, the first person Hayden got to spend any appreciable time with was Michael.  I know these two will be like Mutt & Jeff for the rest of our lives. 

Love at first sight

Snuggle buddies

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The saga continues...

So we found out I was pregnant at the end of June.  I mentioned that Michael and I had started charting, ahem, important dates on our calendar, just in case something did happen, we'd know when.  After a quick check back at the calendar, we found our exact date of conception (something my mom laughs at...  "We have no idea when you or your sister were conceived!"  Gee, thanks for that mental image, Ma.  And you're welcome for my sharing it with you!)

After the initial shock and disbelief passed, reality sank in.  My health insurance was expiring at the end of the summer, if not sooner.  After a quick flurry of research, we discovered two things:  1.  No one will insure a woman who is already pregnant and cover the maternity expenses, and 2.  It's really bloody expensive to have a baby without insurance.  Quite a pickle.  But I put on my best Scarlett O'Hara and decided to think about that tomorrow...  After all, tomorrow is another day!  Our next big problem loomed...  Who to tell first?  And how?!

Our decision was made pretty easy by the fact that we were heading to Louisville to spend time with my family for my birthday.  It was a pretty momentous occasion, as most of y'all know (I'm sure if you're reading this blog, you were probably at the party!) because it was the first birthday I'd spent in Louisville since pre-9/11 [another story for another entry].  But it was also momentous because it was the last big party we were throwing at The Compound.  I was ready to burst with the good news of our little bun in my oven, but it was way too soon to tell everyone.  So if you were at the party and didn't find out I was pregnant till several weeks later, I'm really sorry!  I wanted to tell you, but I couldn't.

All that being said, the occasion presented itself with Mom and Daddy buying a new house (now dubbed Compound 2.0, as it's a major upgrade).  Michael and I decided to take them out to dinner, and since I'd never been, I suggested we go to Morton's Steakhouse.  When we sat down and got situated, I asked my parents what they were planning on doing around mid-February and Mom said, "Oh, I don't know?  Having a baby?"  I said, "Well, actually, yeah!" And again, if you're reading this, you probably know my mom (or at least have heard stories...) and her overwhelming sense of subtlety and decorum.  She yells out, "No $#iT?!" and starts crying.  Daddy starts misting up.  Hubs starts tearing up.  And of course, me being a big ball of hormones and nerves, I start to cry.  We have a lovely dinner and head back to the house to continue spreading the good news to our family.  Michael called his parents and his brother and sister-in-law and, of course, everyone was happy for us!  As my sister put it, who's going to actually say, "Oh, well.  It's a baby.  Big deal."

There was also one other person who found out before my parents:  my sweet friend Jessica.  She had just had twins in November 2009 and knew the struggles I was having with getting pregnant.  She and her mother let me borrow a cherished family heirloom, "for luck".  Mama Lolly's sister had brought back an African fertility goddess statuette after a trip to Africa some 30 years before.  Upon receiving the gift from her sister, Mama Lolly got pregnant with Jess about six months later.  Being the good mom that she is, she passed along the statuette to Jess when she and her husband decided to start trying to get pregnant.  Very soon after that, Jess got pregnant with her miracle twins!  So these two lovely women passed on the goddess to me...  And lo and behold, one week later I conceived our son.   I guess I'm lucky it was just the one baby!  I made it a point to return the statuette to Jessi the day we were taking Mom & Daddy to dinner.  Mom was happily playing with the twins and my niece Maggie in the next room and Jess asked me to let her know when we were done with the fertility goddess, that her sister-in-law had a need to borrow it.  I told her that I had, in fact, brought it with me that day- and that it worked!  We both started to cry and hug and I have no idea how we survived not tipping Mom off to something being up. 

The next afternoon, Michael and I met up with my sister for lunch and to tell her the Big News.  She knew...  We're pretty close, but she just took one look at me after I told her we wanted to tell her something and said, "I'm going to be an aunt!"  We laughed and said yes...  We also cautioned her not to tell anyone else, that we were keeping this very, very quiet because it was so early.  As soon as her boyfriend Dave showed up to meet us for lunch, she turned around and blurted, "I'm going to be an aunt!"  So much for secrecy!  That night, we all went to dinner with my grandparents and Daniel (Maggie's dad) and we found a fun way to tell them about the pregnancy:  Their 60th anniversary was on Valentine's Day 2011.  So I wrote them a little note on the back of the specials menu that said: "Shhh, it's a secret.  Happy early anniversary!  We're having a baby in mid-February!"  My grandmother read it, and quickly snapped the paper up to her chest so no one else could see it.  She just stared at me.  She then passed it over to my grandfather, who almost blurted it out to the whole room!  We also told Daniel that night...  Slowly our good news was going public.

I have no idea how I survived the next weeks in Louisville without bursting at the seams.  My first trimester was really a breeze.  No major morning sickness, but I had to have my McDonald's Chicken McNuggets at least once a week and had to (had to) have ice cream before 4:00pm every day.  My daily naps were also awesome.  I did have a minor problem with some spotting, and I completely freaked out about that.  Lucky for me, my old OB/GYN (who is now just a Gyn.) was still around and told me to go see her husband's partner if I needed reassurance.  Sadly, Michael had already left to go back to Birmingham (while I stayed home to help Mom with the move) and he wasn't there for this amazing experience.  The doctor's office was very quick about getting me in for the ultrasound.  So quick, in fact, that it scared me a little...  Why the rush if it was probably nothing?  But I get back into the room and Nurse Vicki showed me the first images of our baby...  I heard his heartbeat, strong and fast, and burst into tears (I'm welling up now at the mere memory).  She handed me some Kleenex and got my cell phone out so we could call Michael- he couldn't get to his phone fast enough so I had to leave him a voice-mail, but he called me back and was able to still hear the heartbeat.  We both cried, we were so happy!  Dr. Link saw me afterward and let us know our estimated due date of February 20, 2011 and that the little bugger looked to be well implanted and progressing normally. 

Now, with the first major hurdles out of our way, and the reassuring news that the baby was fine, we slowly started to tell our nearest and dearest our amazing news. 

The little bugger at 8 weeks

We dropped a bomb on them, baby!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Maria von Trapp once said...

Let's start at the very beginning. It really is a good place to start.

I'm Elizabeth. I live in a sticks-tastic suburb of Birmingham, AL and have been in Alabama for the past eight years. Before that, I lived in and around Louisville, KY. I'm a Spanish degree holder, twice over now, and an aspiring high school Spanish teacher. I'm sure there will be posts on that in the future. But this is my intro- so here ya go...

You probably know me by one of my several nicknames: Liz, Lizzie, BooBoo, Buffy, Ginny's Sister, Michael's Wife, Margaret and/or Bob's daughter. But it wasn't until a week (and a few hours) ago that I gained a new nickname: Hayden's Mom.

My wonderful husband, Michael, and I have been married for over five years now and have been trying (well, not actively preventing- so I guess passively trying) to get pregnant for several years now. After a disappointing stint with one of Birmingham's "best" OB/GYN practices at one of the Southeast's "premier" hospitals. I knew for a long time that I would have issues getting pregnant. Thyroid disease runs rampant in my family (thanks, Mom!) and I knew that I had it by my symptoms. I mean, how else could someone whose activity and food intake levels stay the same, watch their weight go up over 100 lbs in less than ten years? My hair was falling out and [gentlemen, avert thine eyes if you're squeamish about Women Troubles] my periods were about as on time as Delta flight out of Atlanta. When I brought all this up to my doctor, they said they'd run tests on my thyroid levels, but I know they were just patting me on the head and appeasing me. The tests came back and said my thyroid levels were just "a little off". They gave me a prescription for the smallest dose of thyroid hormone possible and told me the reason I was having problems getting pregnant was because I was overweight. I tried to get them to understand that I was overweight because there was a problem.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2010. My friend recommended I go see her doctor about my thyroid... Go figure, a specialist?! He runs a battery of tests and- lo and behold- my thyroid was more than "a little off". Armed with some new prescriptions, and a plan to quit drinking and officially go into Baby Making Training, I blithely informed my darling husband that this summer would be the Summer of Baby. He laughed and told me that was why he loved me so much... It had already been an eventful summer: I completed my teaching internship and second Bachelor's program at the University of Montevallo (Magna Cum Laude, thank you very much) and was on a very intensive job search. Not to mention, I'd committed to myself to quit drinking (gasp, yes, I know) until after I had a baby. I was getting serious. After all, I turned 33 this past July 4th and darling Michael hit the big 3-7 just this January. We started keeping track of, um, Things, so we'd know when Something happened if it ever did.

I took a pregnancy test on June 27 (2010), just on a whim. I'd been feeling a little off all week: queasy and sick-ish at night, [guys, look away again] my boobs were sore and getting bigger (and if you know me, that was a scary prospect) and I was just plain exhausted all the time. I was in for the shock of my life... Here I was, a week away from turning 33 years old, and I saw my first positive pregnancy test. Disbelief doesn't even begin to cover my feelings. I did what any rational woman (LOL) would do, I called for my husband from my seat on the throne, "Honey? Could you come here?" He was just waking up, kind of, and said back to me, "Whatever it is, I didn't do it..." To which I calmly replied, "Oh, but I think you did."