Saturday, December 29, 2007
But I don't feel reflective. I haven't been spending this last week looking back, but looking forward. I'm excited for a potentially deployment free year (cross your fingers!) I'm so grateful that Tommy's found a good back office job. (Oh! Annoucement! Tommy got a back office job! He'll be working something called Personnel Security, which has to do with assisting people in getting Top Secret clearances and things like that. It's great because he'll be working a regular 8-4:30 Mon-Fri type of schedule. And it'll look great on his resume!)
I'm excited for my new job as Caleb's mom. I'm looking forward to hanging out with him and seeing him grow and change throughout the months. I can't wait till he reaches out to grab things and learns how to sit up and, most of all, begins to laugh! It amazes me already how much he's changed. He's not that skinny little helpless newborn anymore. He's a plump little pooper who spends his days squeaking and cooing and kicking his chunky little legs. He's already so much fun, and I can't wait till he's more interactive!
We're hoping to make a trip home (both SC and NE) this summer. We started saving while I was working at Keesler and already have quite a chunk set aside, but I can't beleive the prices of tickets! Plus, we have to think about the cost of boarding the dogs or paying someone to house/dog sit. As much as I want to go home and show off my COOLEST BABY EVER!, I hate the thought of all that money we've been (and will be) saving being spent at the click of a mouse. There's a part of me that wants to horde that money and make it into something much bigger than a trip home...like a down payment for a house when we move back to the states in three years. And yet, I so desperately want to go home and see everyone and share Caleb while he's still a baby. We'll see!
I'm excited that this upcoming year will be so drastically different than this year. I won't start off the year homeless. I have a family to enjoy. And hopefully we'll get to do some day trips around the country this year. I want to enjoy living in England and start to see some of the things I haven't had a chance to see yet, like Bath and Stonehenge and Brighton and Scotland and Ireland!
While I'm grateful for all the changes that occurred in 2007, I'm looking forward to a 2008 where I won't be pregnant and alone in a foreign country. I'm hoping I will become a better mom and wife this year. And I'm hoping to become a better Kelly all around. I want to write more and really invest in the creative side of myself that has been dormant for so long. I want to awaken the side of me that makes me feel most like myself.
So, good-bye, 2007! I'm glad you were here, but I'm glad you're leaving, too. Let's get on to a new year!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
But even more fun is seeing Tommy with Caleb. It was so cute the first few days when he was still a little scared to hold him. The first time he carried Caleb in his car seat, I couldn't help but laugh at the awkward way he was carrying it. It's been fun teaching him how to make a bottle, how to take the car seat out of the car, and how to sleep through Caleb's non-stop nocturnal grunting and squeaking.
I just love seeing them together! I love how silly Tommy is with him, and how much Caleb enjoys it. It's so wonderful to finally get to experience our family as a complete unit. I'm looking forward to our first Christmas with Caleb.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
It's been a long deployment, no doubt. Doing pregnancy alone was challenging, but I was blessed with a pretty easy pregnancy. And thank GOD for my mom coming at the end to be here for Caleb's birth and to help me with the first couple of months!
This was, by far, the hardest deployment yet. We had only been here in England three months when Tommy left. I had barely started at my job and new almost no one. Our house was still so new to me that it didn't feel like home. And the time difference between here and the states made phone calls a little challenging. The first few months were probably some of the loneliest of my life.
But here we are, nearly at the end of the deployment! Zeus no longer waits and whines at the door every night, but I know he'll jump out of his skin to greet Tommy when he walks through the door the first time. And I can't WAIT to see my husband's face the first time he sees and holds his son. I've been waiting for that for MONTHS!
I'm just so glad it's finally almost over! Now if only I could keep my husband for a solid year or so, I'd be set.
In other news, Caleb slept in his crib in his own room all night for the first time last night! I was so proud of the little booger. He'll be 2 months old on Tuesday, and I'm looking forward to seeing how much this little turkey weighs by then. :) More than that, though, I'm really looking forward to being a family when Tommy gets home.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Zeus is not a dumb dog. He likes to play dumb, but the fact of the matter is that he's a devious, mischevious, devilish dog who, above all, loves trash. There's no trash can that can keep him out. Once a trash bag is half full, the only options are to lock the trash can behind a door or just go ahead and take the trash bag out. He also loves digging thought purses and attempting to get things off of counters, but his true passion is dumpster diving. He seems to love the thrill of the hunt as much as the victory of capture.
And there's nothing too disgusting for Zeus. Keep in mind, this is a dog who, as a puppy, ate his own, errrm...mess. I used to laugh at pet products that advertised that they could make a dog's feces less appealing to its owner. Tell me: what is less appealing than crap itself? In my book, nothing. Nothing trumps the nastiness of poo. If a dog is content to make a snack of it, there is nothing you can do to make it taste any less gross than it must already.
Fortunately, Zeus has outgrown the foul habit of removing his own waste from the scene of the crime. But no amount of yelling, can shaking, and chasing around the house has discouraged his trash habit. It's actually one of many areas in which he has trained me better than I have trained him. I know to push all of my trash as far down in the bag as possible. I know if it's too high, he'll get into it, so I better deter those efforts by just removing the temptation. I know the only safe trash can to throw food away in is the kitchen trash, and again, that's only until it's about 3/4 full.
But this week, Zeus has surpassed even my lowest expectations. Not once, but twice the little devil has broken into the bathroom on the 2nd floor to tear apart the worst of all trash...dirty diapers. And he skips right past the wet ones for the really nasty ones. Then he proceeds to rip it to shreds. Twice I've opened the bathroom door and unexpectedly encountered a very guilty dog and bits of diaper and poo all over the floor. I can't begin to tell you how disgusting this discovery is.
Now you should know that I've been trying to avoid this since the baby was born! I was worried Zeus would be attracted to such little treasure troves, so for the most part, all diapers go into a Diaper Genie diaper pail. Diaper Genies are so wonderful they not only keep the smell of poo in the pail, they are also so cleverly designed that Zeus can not break into them! But since we live in a three story town house and the Diaper Genie is currently on the top floor, occasionally a diaper makes it into the bathroom trash can on the 2nd floor. But I'm wise to his ways! So I close the bathroom door every time!
Until this week, I had no idea that the bathroom door doesn't latch properly. It closes, but will not latch. So with enough pushing from a long nose, the forbidden room becomes a diaper harem for a sick little dog. That little trash can becomes a candy store, full of horrid delights that make me sick to my stomach. And I end up cleaning up the mess.
Honestly! What' s a girl to do? I can't fix the door! I guess that trash can will just now be permanently off limits for diapers. All diapers must be secured in an approved diaper pail. No diaper is safe.
The fact of the matter is, this dog has me trained. And it's not just a little embarrassing. Now that I'm not working, I'm really hoping to spend some time reenforcing what little training they had as puppies, and hopefully giving them a few new lessons as well. They've had it good around here...too good. It's about time I became the alpha dog in these parts again. If not, I shudder to think what Zeus may graduate to after he gets bored with dirty diapers.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The bad news is, it looks like Zeus has epilepsy. Prior to last month, he had never had a seizure in his life (that I'm aware of.) In the last seven weeks, he's had four. They are so scary, and I feel so helpless when it happens. The worst of it is how long they are. They last around ten minutes, and that's usually followed by about five minutes where he's somewhat more of himself, but still too wobbly to really stand up.
So I took him to the new vet today, and we've put him on Phenobarbital twice a day. We'll be going back to the vet in two weeks to see how he's doing, and then a few weeks later to check his blood levels. Hopefully the Phenobarbital will reduce the frequency and intensity of the seizures. I just feel so terrible for my poor pup. I want to reach inside his poor little body and just fix whatever is off. But since I can't do that, I'll just hope the medication with help with whatever is causing this.
Other than the seizures, he's just fine. Loves to get into trouble, loves to get into trash. He and Zoey have taken really well to Caleb. I have to discourage them from trying to kiss him, but other than that, they are really gentle with him. I'm so glad that they aren't acting out because of his arrival. I hate that we don't go on as many walks now, but maybe when the weather warms up in the spring we can all go out again.
Monday, November 19, 2007
i can try and try again to teach this sweet boy to latch, to teach him that milk is just as good from the source as from a bottle. i can give myself pep talks, i can imagine a future where he eats at the source. i've tried herbal supplements, prescription drugs, and every type of medela-made breast feeding accoutrement sold. at the end of the day, though, i can't force my body to make milk.
it's been an emotional journey, to say the least. while my head KNOWS that i've done my best and then some, my heart aches at the thought that his sweet little face will never nurse from me. i can look back and quanitfy all of my attempts and tell myself, "you've tried. that's all you could do." but there's still a space inside that is still mourning this loss.
on the one hand, it's a releif to have my body make that decision for me. it's been exhausting, both emotionally and physically. i've been pumping about 8 times a day using a medical grade pump on loan from WIC. let me tell you, that pump is not gentle. but because my milk supply never fully came in, pumping has never been enough. so each feed invovles not only pumping and feeding him breast milk, but topping him off with formula. then my poor mom washes all the bottles and pump supplies so we can try again in a couple of hours.
so while it's nice to know things are going to get easier once i wean myself off the pumping (to avoid engorgement), it's hard to let go of something you've tried so hard to overcome. in the end, i'm proud to say i didn't give up, and that caleb got more than six weeks of partial breast milk. in the end, i know i did my best and gave caleb my best. i know my heart will catch up wth my brain. but in the mean time, i mourn the end of this effort.
Monday, November 12, 2007
I met with a lactation consultant last week who had told me as long as I have milk, it's not too late. I kept thinking about that over the weekend, but didn't want to get my hopes up. I still don't want to get them up. But something about quitting gave me me a bit of freedom. I am no longer reporting to the pediatric nurse every week, and I feel I have the freedom to try without any expectations. It's hard to explain, but there's releif in knowing I don't have to report any success or lack there of to anyone but me. It's just between me and Caleb now. We still haven't turned the corner, but I feel like I can finally see the corner out ahead of us on the horizon. It is possible.
Caleb began smiling during his fourth week, which absolutely melts my heart. In fact, he even smiled for his daddy during a webcamming session last night! I was so happy to share that with Tommy. He also began rolling over from his belly to his back unassisted today! Very exciting stuff!
The dogs are doing well with him. I don't know if I've blogged about it yet, but Zeus started having seizures the week I brought Caleb home. It's absolutely terrifying and heart breaking, but because they are happening so infrequently (Thank God!) the vet did not recommend medicating him at this point. Hopefully they will continue to be infrequent...or just disappear! He's only had three so far. It's just so awful to be able to do nothing to help him. I hate it.
Tommy should be home in about a month. Because of the hard time I've been having with nursing, mom decided to stay a little longer. YAY! She was scheduled to leave December 5th, but now she'll be leaving on Christmas Eve. I'm so grateful for her support. I don't know what I'd do without her. Now she'll get to spend Christmas with both of her grandsons! :)
I'm doing well. I have my final post-partum check up this week, which makes me kind of sad. I LOVE the OB/GYN clinic here, and I hate that after months and months of regular care I'm now spit back to Family Practice. It was nice to be so well looked after during my pregnancy.
Emotionally, the last five and a half weeks have been a roller coaster. As overjoyed as I am to have Caleb, it's also very overwhelming. The nursing issues have made me a real mess more than once. I thought pregnancy hormones were difficult! Boy, they are nothing compared to post-partum hormones! That is one cocktail of crazy sauce!
Anyway, I'm feeling more and more like myself every day, and I'm loving this little booger more and more. I'm so happy he's here, and I can't wait to share him with my husband! :)
Friday, November 09, 2007
In the days leading up to Caleb’s birth, I began to get so jealous of any other women I saw (or heard) in labor on the Labor & Delivery ward. I was having mild Braxton Hicks contractions, and other than my swollen belly, I had no signs that labor was imminent. My now weekly appointments were anti-climatic, as every exam showed I hadn’t dilated even half a centimeter yet. I felt desperate to meet the kicking baby who had taken over my life and helpless to kick start the event.
The morning before my due date, October 3rd (my mom’s birthday!), I discovered I was beginning to lose my mucus plug. It was very exciting to think we were finally starting the process! I knew it could still be days, but at least there was some indication that we were on our way.
I had an appointment that afternoon with a new doctor. I dropped mom off at the base gym on Lakenheath and decided to drive to Mildenhall to check my mail. I had a feeling that it was going to go down, if not today, very soon. So I wanted to check my mail because I knew it may be a while before I’d have the chance to do it again. Before I left Lakenheath, I decided to eat lunch at Popeye’s. I hoped it would be my last pregnant meal, and it was! I was already beginning to experience more contractions.
On the drive over to Mildenhall, my contractions got stronger and more frequent. Because I was driving, and because I didn’t want to get my hopes up, I didn’t pay close attention to how frequent or how long, but I’d say I probably had about 5 or 6 in an hour. I checked my mail, and drove back to Lakenheath to pick up mom.
By the time we got to the appointment at 2:40 pm, my contractions were a little less frequent. My blood pressure had been slightly above the normal range for the last three weeks. However, each time I went to L & D for a half-hour BP screening, and everything would be fine. My BP was again high, and because I was only one day shy of my due date, the doctor started talking about inducing. It was pretty scary. I really didn’t want any medical interventions this early in my labor because I knew once you start down that path, it’s hard to get off it. I had an idea that I’d like to try to do my labor naturally (without meds) if possible, but with the doctor talking of C-Section possibilities, it seemed less likely. When he left the room, I began crying and was so relieved that my mom was with me.
The doctor came back and said that they were going to go ahead and admit me and induce me, so I walked from the OB/GYN clinic over to the Labor & Delivery ward down the hall. This was a little after 3 pm. First thing they asked me to do was strip down and get into one of those super-sexy hospital gowns. I wasn’t even allowed to leave my wedding ring on! Then they hooked me up to a few different monitors. The doctor from my appointment had been talking about a type of suppository pill they would place inside of me to ripen my cervix and get my labor going. But the monitors indicated that I was having regular contractions, so it was too late for that plan of action.
Instead they decided to go ahead and give me Petocin (a medicine designed to increase the frequency and intensity of contractions) and to give me a Foley catheter bulb. The later is something they inserted to mechanically dilate my cervix. Sounds awful, right? Well, it was about as fun as you’d expect. My contractions instantly got much worse. Mom and I were doing our Lamaze breathing, and I had her put out a picture of my husband and my nephew Ben as my focal points.
I continued trying my best to stick to my plan of natural child birth. The staff let me use a stability ball, which helps to ease joint pain and encourage the baby to come down the birth canal. They also brought in a rocking chair for me to rock on. The problem was that my monitors wouldn’t stay put when I used either of those. I didn’t care much about my monitors at that point, and was beginning to care less and less about decorum and modesty. Just about everyone had seen bits and pieces of me.
At about 6 or 7 pm, Dr Adams came in to check the progress of the catheter bulb and did an exam. I had dilated to 4 centimeters, so she broke my water to encourage my labor to progress further. The contractions really kicked it up a notch then, and the “hee hee hoo”s were plentiful! Mom was a great labor partner. She really kept her cool and didn’t nag me at all.
By 9:30 pm, it was all I could do to keep breathing through the contractions. I had already asked for IV drugs (I think they gave me Stadol, which helped me sleep between contractions but really didn’t do much to ease the pain.) I finally asked for the epidural. The anesthesiologist arrived at about 10:00 or 10:30 and I finally received the first epidural around 11 pm.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well. The right side of my body could effectively feel very little. But the left side of my body was still feeling the full strength of the contractions. The anesthesiologist monitored me for about an hour and made minor adjustments to the epidural before deciding he needed to do it again. Great! So I sat back up on the bed, hunched over mom’s shoulder so he could take the first needle out of my spine and stick the next one in. It was so hard to remain still during contractions so he could do his job, but I guess I did alright, because the next epidural took just fine! After that, I could barely feel the contractions at all. It was such a relief! I was able to get some sleep, which I really needed. I was so tired by that point.
Dr. Adams came back in around 1 am to do an exam, and I was almost fully dilated. By 2 am, I was fully dilated and ready to go. That’s when the real fun began!
The first labor position she had me try was on my side. I laid on my left side with my right leg up in the air supported by mom. Dr. Adams told me to push like I was having a bowel movement when the contractions came, so I did just that. Both she and the tech told me how great I was pushing, so I kept it up. Every time a contraction came, I pushed like I was on the toilet, and they would get so excited and tell me what good job I was doing and that this baby would be out in no time!
Unfortunately, that was not the case! I don’t know how long I had been pushing when Dr. Adams discovered that the baby was sunny-side-up. Instead of being face down, which allows the narrowest part of the baby’s head to push through the canal, the baby was face up, so that the widest part of his head was trying to make an entrance, but it was stuck behind my pubic bone.
I rotated to my right side and pushed from that side for a while. Even though I was pushing correctly and using all my strength, the baby still wouldn’t budge. Dr. Adams suggested that I get on my hands and knees and push that way. I had read that this position could sometimes encourage a sunny-side-up baby to turn just enough to come out. I pushed this way for a while, but no luck.
After I don’t know how long, she asked if I had the strength to squat, and I said I’d try. So they brought out what looked like a small jungle gym bar that they put into the bed. They took off the very end of the bed, and when the contractions came I would literally pull myself up (with help from mom and the nurse) from the bed and hang from this bar while squatting on the lower part of the bed. It actually felt like it was doing some good and I was progressing. But still Caleb wouldn’t come.
After two hours of pushing, Dr. Adams recommended a vacuum extractor (a suction-cup type device they attach to the baby’s head. A tech provides vacuum suction while I push through a contraction.) I had already lost my minimal medical intervention labor, and I knew that I myself had been delivered with the help of vacuum extraction, so we decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, two vacuum attempts later, Caleb was no closer to being out.
Dr. Adams said at this point I could either keep pushing, she could try forceps, or soon we’d have to think about a C-Section. I really didn’t want a C-Section or forceps, so I thought I’d just bear down and get that baby out! I kept pushing and pushing and pushing. When the nurse said I’d been pushing for three hours, I knew I had to make a decision. I still wanted to avoid a C-Section if at all possible, but I knew I couldn’t push for much longer. I finally caved to forceps.
Dr. Adams prepared the forceps, and I kept pushing just hoping maybe we’d get lucky and Caleb would pop right out! When I saw the cold metal forceps, I began to thank God for the epidural! Yikes! Well, once everything was ready and Dr. Adams got the forceps in place, I pushed with all my might at my next contraction and she pulled with all her might, and next thing you know, Caleb had popped right out! I was so relieved I began laughing and crying and just felt overwhelmed to finally be done. It was just before 6 am. Mom cut the umbilical cord.
The techs took Caleb to the warming table and began aspirating his nose and doing their work. Mom was keeping an eye on him, and I was trying my best to see him from where I was. A minute later, the phone in my room rang, and it was my husband! He had been calling periodically throughout the night to check on me, and his timing was perfect now. He was within minutes of Caleb’s arrival.
The techs had to take Caleb to the nursery because of his rough journey out to make sure all was well. In the mean time, I remember Dr. Adams telling the anesthesiologist to numb me up good so I could feel nothing from the waist down. She began working to repair the tears, and I chatted on the phone with Tommy. I was so tired, though, that I kept falling asleep. Finally I told him I had to get some rest and slept through the rest of the repair, which took about an hour.
Mom had followed Caleb to the nursery to keep an eye on him. His poor head was so misshapen from the forceps! Because his breathing was a little labored and erratic, they kept him in the nursery for most of the morning, which was so hard for me. Because I had received so many drugs at the end for my repair, I couldn’t leave the ward for a few hours. I kept begging for them to bring me my baby, but he had to be cleared by the pediatrician first.
I was bound and determined to get off the L & D ward and into the maternity ward, so when they asked if I could stand, I said, “Yes!” I followed a nurse into the bathroom to go over cleaning and care, but I felt really woozy and strange. When I got up off the toilet to leave the bathroom, I passed out! Next thing I knew, I had three doctors and a nurse picking me up off the toilet and helping me walk to my bed. So much for getting off the ward! Finally the pediatrician cleared Caleb and a nurse brought him to my delivery room until we could leave the ward. It was so wonderful to see his little face! He was so tiny and perfect, aside from his poor misshapen head! I was so relieved to finally have him out of my belly and in my arms.
It was a long night, and one I hope I don’t have to relive again. But it had the best end result: a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Caleb Hunter Kazmierski was born on October 4th, 2007 at 5:48 am. He weighed 6 lbs 12 oz and was 19 ½ inches long.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Likewise, I am now suffering from nursing envy. After a difficult labor that introduced a series of problems, Caleb and I have been having the hardest time with breastfeeding. In some ways, I feel like we are still at square one, four weeks into this mess. I've had to supplement him with formula just to get him back up to his birth weight and to wake him up. (He was an abnormally sleepy baby at first.) My milk supply still really hasn't come in fully, and it's been a struggle.
Now I get pangs of jealousy when I hear other women talk about breast feeding, see them nursing, or read about a woman who has SO much extra milk that she's selling it! I can't explain why this is so important to me, but I really want this to work. Normally, I'm a easy quitter. I hate being bad at something, so I'll just call it quits. And at least once a night (usually about 3 am or so), I give serious thoughts to bringing an end to it all. But for some reason, I can't give up...not just yet.
So I've been meeting at least once a week with a nurse at the pediatric office who is training to be a lactation consultant. Much like my experience without internet, it's taking quite a bit of troube shooting to try and get us on the right track. Every week brings new challenges, and new ways of approaching those challenges. I'd like to say each week brings hope and promise, but really, we're just circling around the same territory...a fussy, ineffective eater and an insufficient milk supply.
I hope that we'll be able to eliminate these problems and finally turn a corner in this journey. But I have to be honest with myself. Even if my milk supply jumps up over night, is it too late to really build a working nursing relationship? Has he had too much from the bottle? Do I have any stamina left?
I don't know. I do know that I've given this my all, and I hope to do so for a little longer at least. I have hope that if I just persist long enough, we'll have a break through, and it will have all been worth it. But if that day never comes, I know that there is nothing I haven't tried and it was certainly not for a lack of effort.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
It's true! Caleb Hunter Kazmierski was born on October4th at 5:48 am after a grueling 15 or so hours of labor (three hours of pushing). He had a difficult journey out as he was sunny-side-up (face up instead of down.) He came nicely down the birth canal, but refused to budge past my pubic bone, so after two hours of pushing, the doctor attempted vacuum extraction twice without success. I pushed for another hour, and finally agreed to allow the doctor to try forceps. One push with the forceps, and out he came!
It was a long night, but I'm sooooo happy to have him here! He was 6 lbs 12 oz. He has his daddy's long runner's legs and long feet, and a head full of light brown and dark blondish hair. Dispite the forceps entry, his head swelling has gone down and his bruises are gone. He's perfect!
Unfortunately, I came home to a house with no internet. No better time, eh? Hopefully our new broadband router will be here tomorrow and we'll be reconnected with the world! I'm sorry I haven't been able to get on. Hopefully I'll have time to upload a few pics while I'm on base today.
Thanks for all the love and support!!!!! I promise to be back on when I can! :)
Monday, October 01, 2007
i have my 40 week appointment on wednesday, which seems really unnecessary to me. i spent four hours at the hospital on friday, about an hour and a half today, and all is good. do i really need to come back in two days to do all the standard, "all you allergic to latex?" and "any loss of fluid?" questions? i mean, if something changes at this point, i'll call L & D. i can see coming back in a week. two days seems just silly.
the dr said everything looks great, and that the only thing we need is for this baby to come! to which i replied, "tell me about it!" he did say if i go too much longer, we'll have to discuss the possiblities of inducing labor. obviously, i'd much rather caleb make his own escape, so hopefully he'll come this week.
there was another lady in labor as we were hanging out in L & D. she was in two of my baby classes, and isn't due for about two more weeks, i beleive. she was in very early labor with minimal contractions, but because her water had started to break, they wanted to keep her there. anyway, i get a little pang of jealousy any time another woman goes into labor or i hear about a baby's birth. it's strange to have labor envy, but there you go!
another thing that is strange is how for weeks and months, you want to do everything possible to avoid contractions, cramping, loss of fluid or anything that might indicate labor. then all of the sudden, one day, it becomes perfectly okay! you go months grateful for no signs of labor, and then suddenly want those signs to appear like nothing else.
okay, that's really it. my blogs have gotten longer and longer lately. even my quick updates have multiple paragraphs!
Friday, September 28, 2007
L & D was SO busy today! the nurses kept saying, "must have been a full moon." i guess there was a full moon on wednesday. anyway, there were a number of pregnant women being checked out for various reasons, and one woman actually giving birth! we were in L & D for about three hours, and listened to her labor and push for over an hour. i'm not going to lie, it was slightly terrifying! we saw her brand new baby girl being wheeled down the hall shortly after delivery. that part was exciting!
anyway, they hooked me up to the fetal monitor and something to monitor my heart beat and any contractions, as well as a BP cuff. i was hooked up for about a half an hour, and then they cleared me out of the exam/labor room because another woman needed to be monitored. mom and i waited in a room down the hall for the doctor, but the doc was pretty preoccupied with the birth going on, so it was a bit of a wait.
when we did get to see her, she said my blood and urine samples were good and did not indicate any signs of pre-eclampsia, which is great. since i've had no headaches or changes in vision or other symptoms to indicate pre-eclampsia, she didn't seem too worried. she also did an ultra sound to make sure there were no problems with the amniotic fluid, and she said that looked great.
i'm scheduled to return to L & D on monday morning to check that all still looks good. since my visit, my contractions have increased slightly, but i'm still up to no more than three an hour. however, at this point, i'm just happy to see SOME progress! hopefully soon we'll be done waiting.
after we finished up at the hospital, we did check out the Lakenheath bazaar, which was kind of disappointing. i didn't see anything i wanted (well, except for some belgain waffle cookies, but no good Christmas gifts, which was what i was looking for.)
it was a long day, and when i got home, i had a small situation with a neighbor which was all kinds of awkward and uncomfortable and pretty much left me feeling like a huge jerk. it's no big deal, to be honest, but given my over-emotional state of being right now, it's just no fun to have to look at yourself and wonder if you are the jerk you feel like. bugh.
anyway, i'm just really glad mom was here today. it would have been a bit more worrying to have to hang around L & D for four hours and wonder if everything's okay without someone to talk to. and i was so wiped by the end of the day, it was great to have someone here to drive home. i'm so grateful she's here. it really does cut some of the loneliness which would probably have made me an emotional wreck otherwise. hopefully my appointment on monday goes well, if we even make it till then! if we're lucky, maybe Caleb will show up sooner! :)
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
here's a list of why having my mom here is GREAT:
- she made me cheesy scrambled eggs for breakfast yesterday.
- she made yummy italian chicken and pasta for lunch today.
she encourages me to take naps when i start fading.
- she entertains herself and figured out how to find and watch Law and Order on our Sky box.
- she mixes well with people. whether we're at church or a deployed spoused event, i can leave her alone and come back five minutes later to find she's made a friend.
- she helps me with the laundry.
- she makes coffee every morning! i try not to drink it every day. you know, supposed to limit my caffeine intake and all. but even just the smell of it when i wake up is so nice!
- she reminds me of all the stuff i forget. and i forget a lot! i'd like to chalk it up to pregnancy brain mush, but really, i was just as forgetful pre-pregnancy.
- she lets me sleep in and doesn't make me fell bad when i wake up late!
- she puts up with my crazy dogs. it's so funny to see them worming their way into a snuggle spot with her on the couch. haha. :)
- she's a great walking partner. weather and schedule permitting, we've walked the dogs almost every day she's been here. it's nice to have someone to chat with on the walks.
anyway, it's just been great having her here, and i know i'll appreciate her even more during and after labor. i'm so glad to have her here! :)
Saturday, September 22, 2007
They did the whole shower in Caleb's nursery color scheme (blues and browns.) And my former assistant branch manager, Kim, made her fan-freakin'-tastic homemade cake! (Forget stinkin' Betty Crocker, Kim should have her own line of divine cakes. I would certainly pay for them!) Even the games and favors were so creative and well-thought out. If I could have designed a baby shower in my head, this would have been it. It was perfect! The only thing missing were friends and family from the states, but that's inevitable!
I was so blown away by the generousity of my friends. Not only that, but there were a handful of stay-at-home moms I just met last week who came and brough wonderful gifts, as well! I feel so humbled and blessed and grateful. It's hard to put into words!
I received so many adorable outfits, packages of diapers, numerous health and hygeine care items, a Bumbo chair, a high chair, a Boppy nursing pillow, many rattles and toys to help stimulate learning and development, bottles and liners, pacifiers, and more. But more than that, it was so wonderful just to feel the love and support of friends, and to be able to have my mom there to share the day. It's such an exciting and intimidating time, but to know there are so many people around me to support and encourage me as I flail my way through this just makes my heart give a little sigh of releif.
I've been so blessed with a wondeful pregnancy. My only real complaint has been my husband's absence, and when you think about it, even that isn't so bad. There are so many women who do not just pregnancy alone, but also have to raise the baby alone. Even some married women really don't have a loving support system at home. My husband may not be here now, and he may leave again. But I know in my very soul, in my bones, that he loves me and our soon-to-be-born child more than words can express. I know that he supports my decision to stay home and care for Caleb and that he'll be the dad that's worth writing a thousand essays about.
When I look back at the last nine months or so, I feel such a sense of gratefulness and appreciation. And when I look forward to Caleb's birth and the many years to follow, I feel such excitement and humility that I have the amazing opportunity to live this life. Wow.
Friday, September 21, 2007
mom and i have spent the morning cleaning the house. and i don't mean straightening up, i mean cleaning. it's the kind of clean i'd be proud to have my husband come home to, and that, my friends, is a high standard of cleanliness! the floors are swept, mopped and vacummed. the bathrooms are scrubbed down and sanitary. everything has been dusted, and i even cleaned the windows! in the words of radiohead, "everything is in it's right place." (that song inevitably gets stuck in my head every time i clean the house.)
i even took to the backyard and did poop patrol! talk about clean. (for the record, i'm really proud of myself that in my last month of pregnancy i am still able to do about 90% of what i would be doing normally. i'm also really proud of the fact that i did four hours of walking around cambridge earlier in the week without passing out!)
i've finally packed my labor bag and have started making the list of numbers to call when caleb arrives. i've picked out a "going home" outfit for caleb. i need to buy a BT phone card, but i'll probably do that on one of our walks downtown. we've been taking the dogs for extensive walks almost every day, which is good for all of us.
i had the battery replaced in tommy's car on wednesday, and my coolant leak was taken care of today by the same garage that replaced the radiator. THey fixed the coolant leak for free! jackpot! tommy's car has been gassed up as of yesterday, and i'll gas mine up today so that while i'm in the hospital, mom can drive either car without any worries. (she's legally allowed to drive, but she's not allowed to gas up on base, because gas is rationed. and there's no way we're gassing up off base! WAY too expensive!)
we did the laundry last night, and i even washed my bedding. the dogs got a bath last week, so they'll be good to go for another month or so, especially given that the weather is starting to cool off and they are spending less time outside. i've reread the labor chapters in my books, practiced my breathing, and blown up my stability ball (which is supposed to help ease discomfort during labor when used in various positions.)
my check list is just about done. the only thing left to do is wait for caleb to feel ready to evacuate.
i swing between sheer impatience and wanting him to wait until he's ready. i figure he'll know when it's time and my body will know. no hurry. we haven't even hit 40 weeks yet. but the waiting gets to me sometimes. i'm so ready to meet this little guy!
in the mean time, i guess i should go ahead and have some lunch!
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
fifteen days left till my due date. i feel like caleb is entirely too comfortable where he's at to make an early escape and suspect he'll stay there as long as possible.
i had my 38 week appointment today. my blood pressure was a little higher than my average, but still within a healthy range. caleb's heart rate is still strong, and he's still head-down and ready for birth, should he ever choose to leave his current home. no dilation yet, which doesn't surprise me. my contractions have been very irregular and not very intense yet, so i didn't think it was going down this soon.
in some ways, i just want to meet him already. in other ways, i'm glad i have a little more time to prepare and to enjoy my mom's company before the real work begins! i guess one of these days i should actually get around to packing a bag for the hospital! i've brought the bag out and put a few things in it, but i guess if ever there was a time to get serious, this is it!
spent the afternoon in cambridge with mom yesterday, which was great! we did about four hours of walking, which really took it out of me! we visted two church and King's college. cambridge is such an awesome town to visit in the fall! there are so many more colleges and churches to see. i'd love to bring the dogs out there one day. there are SO many parks to explore!
today we went back to the mid-week market in bury st edmunds, and also wandered around the abbey gardens. took a few pictures, so hopefully we'll get those up soon. i'm introducing mom to the world of flickr so she can share her pics. :) by the time she leaves here, she'll be a technological genius! haha!
Friday, September 14, 2007
Tomorrow we're attending a Red Cross class designed to prepare you (as much as a class can) for labor and life after birth. Lots of breathing techniques and the like, among other things, I'd imagine. I've reviewed the workbook that goes along with it and expect to learn a lot.
In the last few weeks, my pregnancy symptoms have shifted. My hunger, as previously mentioned, is insatiable. I've started experiencing mild (not troublesome) swelling in my hands, ankles and feet. In fact, I put my wedding band on the wrong hand and couldn't get it off for two days! I'm not sure I'll put it back on just yet, because my little sausages of fingers are just too chubby.
Additionally, I've had a flare-up of carpal tunnel syndrome. This is something I've never been formally diagnosed for, but have had symptoms of off and on for a few years. It's never been worrisome enough to need real medical treatment, but I did invest in a drugstore wrist brace a few years back. I haven't needed it in years.
Apparently, though, pregnancy can cause this sort of thing! Something about the swelling and fluid retention of pregnancy increasing pressure on the nerves in your hand. It's ironic that I made it through six months of working at a credit union and with the repetitive motions of counting out people's money and working on a computer all day with no symptoms. But as soon as I stop working, my poor left hand starts falling apart! I've started icing it down with a pack of frozen peas and wearing that stupid brace again. Pardon any typos. (As if they wouldn't have been here anyway.)
Sleep is, of course, complicated. I have a series of pillows placed strategically around me to help support this strangely contorted body of mine. I've also started putting the dogs in their crate at night. They're really good about sleeping in their, and they like their crate. I just didn't want them to associate the baby's arrival with them being "grounded" to their crate at night. I wanted to give them a few weeks to get used to that routine before we introduce the next chapter of chaos.
(This is in no way related to anything else, but we encountered the most beautiful whippet on a walk in Thetford the other evening! It was like a statue, it was so gorgeous. An 8 month bundle of energy, I just wanted to eat it up! And boy did it make me realize how chubby my own pups have gotten! Hopefully these evening walks will help bring their weight back down.)
Anyway, it varies from day to day, but tonight, I am SO ready to meet Caleb. I'm ready to bring him home and nurse him and rock him to sleep. I'm ready for the dogs to meet this squirming bump in my stomach. I'm ready for my mom to be able to hold the grandson she flew thousands of miles to see. I can't wait!
My due date's in 20 days. I'm hoping for something shorter than that, and I have a feeling I'll become the most impatient woman alive for the next couple of weeks. But soon, he'll be here! The wait will be over and the real adventure will begin!
Monday, September 10, 2007
So, mom is here! I picked her up on Saturday with no problems (other than an exceptionally long line through Immigration), and she's been doing really well with the jet lag! In fact, I think I'm more tired than she is! Ha. The dogs are excited to have a guest and are doing their best to convert her to a dog person. Hehe.
Had my 36 week appointment today, and it went well. Baby's heart rate was good, my fundus measured at exactly 36 cm, my blood pressure looked great, and his head is still positioned down, so he's ready to go! I also got scheduled for some baby/birthing classes and made numerous visits to different offices on base (Family Advocacy, WIC, Red Cross) that weren't possible while I was working. For being my first day off, it was really busy!
Mom and I took a long walk (with the Z's, of course!) down to the town center of Thetford today. Her first three days in the UK have been gorgeous! Sunny and mild. Perfect.
We've also put together the Graco Pack 'n' Play that my coworkers generously gave me when I left Keesler on Friday. (Seriously, they are so cool.) And we've started setting up the nursury. This is the fun stuff! :) I really wish my husband was here, but if he can't be, there's no one else I'd rather share this time with than my mom!
I think mom is amused at how much I eat. I've heard lots of women get full very fast at the end of their pregnancy, which is understandable since there is so much less room in your belly than you're used to. Well, not me! I eat pretty much normal sized meals and snacks, but all the stinkin' time! Seriously, I eat just about every hour or two hours. And when I'm hungry, I am SO hungry! Like dangerously hungry! It's nuts. And then I relapse back into being tired. I'm in a constant state of hunger or fatigue.
Anyway, it's nice to have my mom here. Now Caleb can go ahead and show up any day! ;) Only 24 days till my due date!
Friday, September 07, 2007
it was a busy day, fraught with ATM issues, so the innevitable end didn't really strike me until i had sold all of the money out of my cash drawer to another teller and saw my completely empy cash can sitting on the counter. that was it. even if i wanted to, i couldn't do another transaction for another member. every penny, every pound was gone.
on the drive home, it really began to sink in. i am done working. this is not a temporary state of unemployment between moves. this is the big one. there is no defined date of re-employment. come monday, there is no routine, nothing special i need to wear or prepare, no lunch to plan for. there is nothing but an open calendar with only a dr's appointment at ten.
this is what i wanted, right? this is what everyone wants! to not be a slave to the alarm clock. to not be told what to wear and where you can or cannot consume food or liquids. to have time to do things you want when you want them. to have freedom.
so why does it feel so scary?
i feel my heels digging in at the thought that not only am i no longer employed, but now there is absolutely no denying that this baby thing is happening. my full-time job is now mother.
and i am terrified.
i have been so excited about everything coming together, but for some reason, this last peice has revived all of the intital fears i felt the day we learned i was pregnant. i feel unprepared and inadequate in every sense of the words. i haven't read enough books, i haven't attended enough classes, i haven't had enough practice. i am not enough.
i know i can do this. for crying out loud, think of all the mothers in third world countries that can't read and have no classes to attend that raise perfectly healthy and well-adjusted children. if they can do it, surely i can in my pampered western culture with every resource available to me. but even though i know i can do this, and even though i have the best help in the world coming tomorrow, i can't help but be scared. it's like pre-wedding jitters. that gnawing anxiousness that preceeds what you know is a fantastic new journey.
anyway, this is just a long way of saying i'm sad tonight. i'm sad i won't go to work on monday or any day after that. i'll miss my coworkers and having a job in general. and i know this is a good thing. as much as i hate the idea of not working, i hate the idea of returning to work when Caleb is only a few weeks old even more. this is what i want to do. but it's doesn't make it easy to do.
Monday, September 03, 2007
anyway, it felt great just to get in the car this morning and cruise up the A-11 into norwich. it felt like a mini-road trip, and my life has been sorely lacking road trips this year. it took about 45 minutes to get into norwich from thetford, and then i had to que for parking for a half and hour! it was nuts. i finally got a parking spot, and checked out the Castle Mall, which is really nice!
the funny thing is, i'm so used to the complete lack of selection on base, that when faced with so many options, i totally froze! i kept picking things up, trying things on (maternity jammies at Mothercare) and making plans to purchase items (such as cute baby clothes), but i couldn't bring myself to actually buy anything! part of the problem is i still think "ya know, i'd pay twenty bucks for this shirt, but twenty pounds is the equivelent of fourty bucks. and this is NOT a fourty dollar shirt." and the one time i finally found a pair of earings worth buying at a dcent price (GBP 2.50), the line was so long, i couldn't justify standing in it for a pair of earrings.
but i did have a fantastic smoothie! :) and hopefully the next time i go into norwich, i'll do something decidely less American, like go tour the cathedral, or just wander the streets.
anyway, it just felt good to get out of my house, do something off base, and attemp something slightly adventurous on my own for the first time in a long time. i was so proud of myself for finding the mall and finding parking and finding my way back home again. it made me feel like ME. i never want to become someone who's afraid to try new things and go new places, even if i have to do it alone sometimes. i don't want to hole up in this house and let the sadness of deployment eat away at me until i'm no longer myself. i don't my husband or the lack of my husband to define who i am. i want to get out and find little peices of kelly all over england.
the countdown to mom is on! five more days! :) i know she's feeling anxious about leaving home for so long, and i feel like the luckiest daughter in the world to have a mom who loves me so much she'd leave her own life behind for a few months to help me in this next adventure. i can't wait for her to get here! :)
Thursday, August 30, 2007
i'm nervous and excited and scared and ready and completely NOT ready all at the same time. a friend of mine has loaned me a book about childbirth which has lots of encouraging stories in it. i'm actually a little surprised that i'm reading it, since i NEVER read books on loan from friends. but for the first time, i've started to realized i CAN do this.
well, for one thing, i HAVE to do this. no going back now!
but, when you stop to think of all the ways your body prepares for this moment, all the ways in which it makes way for this baby to come out and the baby prepares for that journey, it's really amazing. my body was made to do this. i've taken to patting my belly and telling Caleb that we can do this together. that all he has to do is get in the best position possible and i'll do everything i can to make it the easiest journey out possible. we're in this together, i tell him.
i can't wait to meet him!
i'm feeling SUPER pregnant this week. large, clumsy and uncomfortable. i tried to chase my dogs around the park the other day, and i'm sure i looked like a lumbering elephant. after about one minute, i was exhausted. i really hate the two flights of stairs in our three story town house right now. HATE them. and i really wish i had a doggy door for the dogs to let themselves out.
my sleep is back to it's bizarre state of constant interruption that it was before i was pregnant. between frequent bathroom trips and a resurgence of old skool kelly dreams, i have been waking up more times than i care to admit. last night i woke up at least three times to address people in my dreams. i even turned on my bedside lamp to help one of the people in my dreams find something in my room. i woke up two hours later with the light still on. i don't know if they ever found what they were looking for.
next friday is my last day of work. i've decided not to return to work right away. maybe some time next year. we'll see. on the one hand, who doesn't look forward to a final day of work every time the alarm goes off in the morning? on the other hand, i like the routine and the income and i'll miss my coworkers. it's strange to not know when i'll ever get a paycheck again. i like contributing to our income.
so here we are, not too far from the finish line. i can't believe how close it is already and how many changes my body and this baby have gone through. i can't believe i've housed a growing human for thirty five weeks in my womb. i can't believe that soon i'll get to see his tiny face and hold him in my arms. i can't believe i'll be responsible for making him the best possible Caleb Kazmierski.
i can't believe how lucky i am.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
So here is the timeline of AAFES frustrations:
June 3rd - Purchased futon and futon mattress for mom to sleep on when she vomes and ordered a crib and dresser/changing table combo at the AAFES Furniture Store on RAF Feltwell. The furniture store agrees to hold onto the futon and mattress until the crib and dresser come in for one delivery. They say the crib and dresser will be in in about 6-8 weeks.
July 31st - Eight weeks has passed. No word on the crib and dresser. I call the Furniture Store and am informed that the crib has arrived, but the dresser has not. They estimated it will be in in a couple of weeks.
August 14th - Two more weeks have passed. I call the furniture store and am informed that the dresser is now out of stock from the shipper. They don't know when it will be in. It could be as late as Christmas. There are eight people on the waiting list for this dresser.
August 15th - I actually go out to the Furniture Store to see if there are any other crib and dressers in stock that I can buy in place of the ones I've ordered. There's nothing. Just two really ugly cribs, and another crib with a dresser/changing table attached that is currently out of stock. So I'd have to order it. And wait another 6-8 weeks. I agree to keep the original dresser on order, pay for the crib, along with a vanity I see while I'm there. I set up deliver for the crib, vanity, futon and futon mattress for the next week.
August 19th - I have to go back out to the Furniture Store because instead of charging me for the crib and vanity, they have charged me for the futon and mattress. Again. I've already paid for these things...back in June. Get everything straightened out and accurately paid for, and confirm delivery for Tuesday on all paid-for peices.
Today - I had to take an entire unpaid day off of work, which was not easy, to wait for the delivery. They won't even tell you if it'll be an afternoon or morning delivery. They just tell you to be available from 8 am to 6 pm. So I wait. And wait. And wait. I check my receipts a hundred times to make sure the correct address is on there and that there is a contact number in case they can't find the house. In my gut, I just know something will go wrong.
3:15 pm - The delivery guys finally show up. I open the door to see the crib and the vanity. No futon. No futon mattress. The delivery guys (who are contracted out and don't actually work for AAFES) know nothing about a futon or mattress. They bring in the crib and vanity, and leave. I scream and stomp up and down the stairs for a few minutes. Then I call the Furniture Store, nearly in hysterics, explaining that I had to take an unpaid day off and wait all day for this delivery just to get half of my order. "It should have been there," says Dave. "I KNOW it should have been here. I paid for it. But it's not here, " I explain. Dave says he'll research the matter and call me right back.
Luckily, Dave is a wise man and realizes he's dealing with a hysterical pregnant lady who's about to be pushed to the brink. He calls back ten minutes later to find out how to get to my house and personally sends out two AAFES warehouse workers to deliver the futon to my house. By 4:45, I have received all of my order.
Well, except for the dresser/chaning table. But we'll have to wait a few months on that anyway. Assuming it actually does come in at all. At this point, I just have to pretend it will.
But the crib is finally here. Once I get some help putting it together, I can start decorating the nursery. And the futon is finally here, so mom will have somewhere to sleep when she gets here in a couple of weeks. And hopefully the dresser will come some time down the road. It'll all come together, sooner or later. But boy, they sure don't make it easy on you, do they? Sheesh.
My mom and I were talking about our time in Italy recently. When people ask me how it was to live at Aviano, I always wax nostalgic and remember golden afternoons of walking to Lindy's house and picking figs along the way, traipsing around the hills just below the Dolomite mountains we lived below, and school field trips to places like Venices, Florence and even a journalism conference in Germany. Military members and their families always want to know what other bases are like, and I always tell them, "I'd go back in a heartbeat. I'd PAY the military to send me there!"
And it's true. But talking to my mom the other night, I realized that going to Italy now would be drastically different than living there the first time. Of course, I knew it would be different. I mean, I'm not in high school any more, and none of the people I knew still live there (well, except for Lisa, but she's moving to Turkey soon! And Lindy's parents, but even they are retiring!) But as I was talking about the inconveniences of international living, and my mom was listing all the things that were huge hassles for her to deal with. I realized that all of the things that drive me crazy about living in the UK would, for the most part, be true of Italy, too.
Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying my experience here so far. I'd be enjoying it even more if I could do some more traveling, but it's tricky to plan trips when you're pregnant and alone. But there are things about America that I really miss, like electrical plugs in the bathroom for your hair dryer or flat iron, or a means of venting your clothes dryer that doesn't involve dragging it out to the middle of the kitchen and leading the vent hose out the window.
At the same time, these are what make up this experience. If it was convenient and comfortable, it might as well be the States. Learning to live without air conditioning and figuring out what to do when an ambulence comes cruising up the road is what makes this international living. It's what makes this interesting and challenging.
I'm looking forward to my husband's return so we can take day and weekend trips around the UK. There's so much more of London that I still want to see, and I can't wait to make it to Bath and Brighton, among other places. But there's plenty of time for all of that. We're eight months into a four year tour. I don't want to spend the next 40 months looking forward to going back to the states and miss out on all of the opportunities over here. I want to make memories and take pictures and come home with a toddler who calls soccer football. So maybe it hasn't been the easiest assignment yet. But here's to making it a rich a rewarding experience all the same.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
i like Clean Kelly. she's a little psycho about the cleanliness, but i wish she'd be around more often.
when i was younger, the trifecta of cleanliness was to go to bed in clean pajamas on clean sheets in a clean bedroom. it was a lovely, if rare, peice of heaven.
these days, there is one more element that completes the quadfecta (is that a word?) of cleanliness: clean dogs. so tonight i will be hitting the sack in freshly washed pajamas on freshly washed sheets in a clean house...AND with freshly bathed dogs!
i was so ambitious today. i cleaned the house, did all of my laundry (not just washing and folding...but putting it away, too!), did poop and weed patrol in the back yard, cleaned out the dogs crate, AND gave the Z's a bath. how motivated was i?! seriously, i deserve an award!
i wish i knew how to bottle this concentrated energy and motivation. if i could somehow come up with a motivation pill, i'm sure i'd make millions. or at least finally finish the wedding scrapbook i've been "working on" for over three years now! that thing is truly the bane of my existence. i NEED to put it behind me.
maybe the next time Clean Kelly wakes up, she'll bring Creative Kelly with her. surely there is a team that cannot be stopped!
Saturday, August 04, 2007
the older i get, the harder i find it is to make friends. without the mandatory social settings of school, youth group and the like, it's difficult to connect with people on anything other than a superficial level.
and yet, i've found myself really blessed to have found some fun people here in the UK early in our tour. naturally, the first couple tommy and i became friends with left this month. i miss josh and michelle and eflie! but i've been able to hang out with some coworkers that are really fun. and even more exciting is discovering old friends in new places.
recently i found an old friend of mine on myspace. kristy was one of my closest friends in jr. high, back when my dad was stationed at Tinker AFB in OKC. we kept in touch for years after we left OK, but lost touch about the time i graduated high school. i was thrilled to find her on myspace, and even more excited to discover that she and her husband are stationed right here in the UK, on the same base where i work!
and while it's great to rediscover old friends and start the process of making new ones, there's a nagging feeling in the back of my mind which has never been there before.
i've heard non-military members discuss why they don't want to become friends with military members and dependents, "because they are just going to leave!" but i've never been bitten by that bug. inevitable PCS's (permanent change of stations - mil speak for moving) have never really been a thought in my mind when getting to know people in the military.
but when you live overseas, if there is one date you know, it's your DEROS (Date Eligible for Return From Overseas – the date you're schedule to head back to the states.) unlike CONUS (continental US) assignments, OCONUS (overseas) assignments have tour lengths. our tour is four years. of course things can change, and people can extend. but most people live by that DEROS. I know people who have countdowns to their DEROS on their myspace profiles!
as exciting as it is when you first find out you're coming to the UK, it's just as exciting to think about returning to the states and seeing your family and eating a giant Joey Bag of Doughnuts burrito at Moe's. no matter how cosmopolitan and worldly you pretend to be, the bottom line is, you're still American, and you miss the convenience of a 24 hour Wal-Mart, no matter how much you hate to shop there.
so when you make military friends in the states, a part of you hopes they'll be around a long time, even though it's highly unlikely. but when you make friends overseas, you have that firm deadline when you know they'll be leaving. its a dark cloud on the horizon you pretend to ignore. having just recently arrive in the UK, i haven't met anyone with a DEROS later than ours yet. we'll be the last ones standing. and while i know there will be more people to come and fill the ranks, a small piece of me can't help but already mourn the loss of people i've just met.
of course, if I let each and every DEROS prevent me from making friends and living life, i'll just become a hermit whose only friends are my husband (whose gone most of the time anyway) and my dogs (who are very friendly and comforting, but aren't very good conversationalists.) it's an unfortunate but very real part of military life: people will leave. you will leave.
fortunately, we live in a comfortable time where the internet and places like myspace make it much easier to stay in touch with our friends and acquaintances, but that doesn't really lessen the initial sting of departure. all you can do is make the most of the time you have and hope to run into them sooner our later.
there comes a time in a deployment when (from a spouse's perspective) life falls into an easy, dull rhythm that makes time pass until your husband returns. you find a nice pattern of waking, working, taking care of the house and dogs, and going back to sleep. there's the quiet, constant ache of missing your best friend, but it's a chronic pain that can be medicated with business, distraction and numerous phone calls or IMs with family and friends.
but there are times during a deployment when one night can feel interminable. this can be preceded by a bad day or week, leaving the wound of your husband's absence exposed and feeling as fresh as the day he first left. this is understandable, as your emotional antibodies are weakened by the stresses of life wearing down your mental defenses.
and yet there are times when the ache arises unannounced, with no preceding warnings of bad days or missed phone calls. there are times when the unshakable sadness of being alone creeps up on you so unexpectedly that you are completely unprepared to deal with it. on nights like that, the few hours between work and sleep can stretch on for years. the silence of the house fills every void in your mind and body until you can hear nothing else. no amount of phone calls back home or television or internet or reading can distract you from the sense that, despite how well you've been doing, this just plain sucks.
i miss my husband.
this has been a long deployment so far, and we're not even half-way done. on nights like this, i look back at the naive girl who barely batted an eye when her boyfriend, on one knee in the Jacksonville airport, asked her if she was prepared for all the baggage that came with being a military wife. i thought my experience of growing up a military brat would prepare me for this lifestyle as a spouse. and while i do feel it has given me a better understanding of the general workings of military life, understanding and experiencing it are, of course, two different things. i knew it wouldn't be easy, but there was really no way to know how hard it would be.
tomorrow i'll wake up and be fine. it's supposed to be a sunny weekend. i have a hair and nail appointment, and may stop in Bury St Edmunds to check out the market and Mothercare. it's been a while since I've done anything off base or out of my house. i need to remind myself there is life off of military installations.
but tonight i'm reminded that it's okay to miss my husband, and to truly feel his absence. i couldn't live like this every day. i'd be a mess. but every now and again, i need to feel his absence to truly appreciate how wonderful it will be when he returns. i can't wait to have him back, to get to see his face the first time he sees our child. i can't wait to have my best friend here to make me smile and drive me nuts.
so tonight, i'll let myself have the indulgence of being truly, deeply sad that he is gone. because i know how fortunate i am to know he'll be coming home soon. and that's enough.
Monday, June 11, 2007
it's been a challenging three years, to be honest, primarily because his job. this is our third deployment since we got married, and it doesn't seem to be getting any easier for either of us. i miss him more now than ever. i wish he was here to feel the baby move and help with the preparations. i wish he was here...just to have him here. i hate going to bed and waking up alone. even the dogs don't like to sleep in his spot. we're saving it for him.
hopefully the next few month will go quickly, and i'm praying he'll be home in time for Christmas. we've missed every one of our birthdays and anniversaries, and i know he won't be home for the baby's arrival, but i'm not prepared to give up Christmas this year, too.
i love you, thomas j. i hope you get a chance to call today, but if not, i know we'll talk soon. can't wait to see you again in a few months. happy anniversary.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
i got a new shipment of oldnavy.com maternity clothes in today. fabulous! i loved every single peice and only have to exchange two camisoles for largers sizes. (a medium shirt i can do, a medium camisole i can not!) i also stopped by Proud to be Pregnant, a little boutique in Bury St Edmunds specializing in maternity clothes and FINALLY found the perfect bra! this has seriousy been an agonizing search, and i was so excited when i found it that i bought two! hooray for new clothes and finding great bras!
then i picked up some cherries and stawberries from the market. seriously, summer is the best time to be a fruit lover! mm! i love LOVE cherries. it makes me so happy when they are in season.
and then i drove home on the A134 with my windows down, blasting BBC Radio 1, which was playing great music this afternoon! great radio days are like receiving an unexpected package in the mail - you just feel like the luckiest person in the world to hear a string of songs you'd love to sing at the top of your lungs. i've really been bitten by the British pop rock music bug. i'm loving the Fratellis, the Kieser Chiefs, and the Halloways among others.
took the dogs for a walk this afternoon. the walks are getting shorter and shorter. we only went for a half hour, and i was exhausted by the end! i guess the fact that i had been walking around Bury St Edmunds all afternoon in the sun may have contributed. but there was a day when an hour-long walk was nothing. the strangest thing is that the longer i walk, the weirder my belly feels. it's like towards the end, the baby settles right to the front of my belly, almost pressing outward, which is such a strange sensation. by that point, all i want to do is sit down!
then i finished the day off with a freezer pop! i haven't had one in years and bought a box the other week. snipped off the top and enjoyed a watermelon freezer pop. they are even better than i remember! and only 25 calories! :)
okay, i need to go paint my toenails so i can show them off in my new old navy sandals! have a great weekend!
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Mm. Massage. I should get one of those soon!
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. According to the technician, we're having a boy! She showed me his little wee wee (although, to be honest, it could have been anything to me. I mean, I could see it when she pointed it out, but I would have never found it on my own! I guess that's why she's the expert!)
He opened and closed his mouth a few times, moved his arms around a bit, and even looked us right in the eye! The technician capture a great shot of his face where you can actually see his eye looking straight ahead! Even crazier was seeing the eye move around on the screen, as if he was looking around, wondering, "What on earth is pressing on my head and rolling all around me right now?!"
I had a chance to talk to my husband this evening. Hooray! He's very excited about the boy. I guess it's a good thing it turned out to be a boy, becuase we really had no good girls names picked out! And Tommy has a huge list of boys names. Now to narrow them down!
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
my baby is most active on the drive home from work. i rarely feel him/her move on the drive to work or even at work. but the half hour drive home affords lots of time to think and to enjoy these funny little twitches in my belly. the more the baby moves, the more i can't wait to hold it and see what he or she will look like.
on the drive home tonight, i was missing my husband but thinking about what an awesome dad he'll be. so i got to thinking about all the reasons i know he'll be a fantastic father. i have a sneaking suspicion he'll be more of a natural at parenting than i will, much like he is with cooking. and i know it's totally self-indulgent to brag on my husband, but if self-indulgent isn't the primary ingredient for a blog, then i don't know what is.
so here it is. the reasons tommy is going to make a fantastic father. he'll probably kill me for this.
1.) he's so affectionate with our dogs. if he's this affectionate with a dog, i can't imagine how much more so he will be with his own child.
2.) he's got a secret silly side. it's my favorite, favorite thing about him because it's so rare and so few people get to truly experience the depths of his goofiness. but i know that a baby will bring it out to its fullest. and what kid doesn't want a dad that can truly get down and get goofy?
3.) he's very generous. i'm constantly in awe at how much he truly enjoys giving to people. don't get me wrong, he loves to have things, but he loves to share them just as much. i know he'll do more than just provide for his family, he'll go out of his way to try and give us what we need and more. he's the best gift giver i've met.
4.) he so good at bringing out the best in people. i can't wait until he's an NCO because i truly beleive he'll be great at leading people. he recognizes potential in people and really tries to make a way for them to succeed. he'll be that kind of dad that believes his kids could hang the moon if they wanted to.
5.) he's always wanted to be a father. in fact, it quite frightened me when we weren't really even dating and he was talking about his family plans! but he's got such a desire to be a great father and provide a great childhood for his kids. i've said it before, but if it were up to him, we would have had two kids by now! i can't wait to see him live this dream.
there are plenty more reasons why i think Tommy is born to be a great dad, but these are the first that come to mind. i can't wait till he comes home to me and the baby and we can enjoy our life as a family together!
Friday, May 04, 2007
there i was, driving home from work in miserable friday traffic, and i finally found a good song the radio. (seriously, fridays are the worst days for radio here. i hate driving home, and it always takes a good ten minutes longer than the other days! not to mention monday is a british bank holiday, so everyone is out on the roads, trying to get somewhere cool.)
so i started bopping around to Crazy in Love, wondering what our baby will be like and hoping i'll be a good mom. then baby just started moving around and rockin' along! i know it's super dorky, but i was so thrilled. i can't wait to meet this little booger and dance around with him/her!
should find out the sex of the baby at the end of this month. ee!!
Thursday, May 03, 2007
I felt the baby move for the first time last night! At least, it's the first time I can really say, "Yeah, that was definitely baby and not my imagination." And it felt nothing like a fluttering or quickening I had been expecting from all my baby books.
It felt like my heart was beating in my uterus! Suddenly there was a little thump. And a moment later, another one. It was crazy and strange and exciting! I put my hand down on my lower belly, and I could feel it, feel this little person inside of me doing...who knows what? Kicking? Stretching? Raising the roof?
To be honest, I've wondered if I felt the baby move before, but I've never been sure. Is it baby, or is it gas? Many times, physical manifestations confirmed the latter. My tummy is always gurgling, so I was never quite sure. But last night, there was no mistaking that this baby was awake and ready to rumble.
I left a voicemail for Tommy to let him know and he called a little later. It was fun to share it with him, but not nearly as much fun as it would be in real life, I'm sure.
Had a good day yesterday. Feeling a little more sad today, although I'm not nearly as bad as I was on Wednesday. It comes and goes. I'm looking forward to a day when these hormones even out and my emotions aren't so close to the surface they feel ready to rupture at any moment. Have a feeling it'll probably get worse before it gets better, though...
Saturday, April 28, 2007
I'm not really sure if anyone is reading this or not, and if you are I assume you alread know the two biggest news items in my life right now. A) I'm 17 weeks pregnant with our first child. B.) Tommy just left last week for another deployment to Iraq. (I can't ebelive it's only been a week. It feels like a month already! Ugh.)
On the deployment front, Tommy is doing well. Technivally he's in the states (NM to be exact) for training right now and will see the sand sometime next month. I have my good days and bad days, but work keeps my mind off of the loneliness for now. Zeus is taking it harder this time than on previous deployments. Some nights he just stands by the front door and whines. Both dogs get SO excited when they see a man in BDUs (battle dress uniform - the brown and green camoflauge uniform Tommy usually wears to work.)
On the pregnancy front, it seems to being going well so far! We've heard the baby's heartbeat twice already and will have another ultrasound at the end of May, which will hopefully tell us the baby's sex! I'm feeling pretty good. I'm tired and sleep a lot, but my morning sickness is only about once or twice a week, so I can't really complain. I'm just starting to show, which is fun. In fact, today I'm weraing a maternity top and jeans!
Other than that, I'm doing well. Went to Cambridge today with a friend. W were hoping to hit Babys'R'Us, but they have closed it to remodel it into a Toys'R'Us, which is a little disappointing. But we did check out the mall, which helped to eas some homesickness! I bought a cute maternity top at Mothercare. Yay!
Still waiting to feel baby movements. I'll let you know when it happens!
Hey, if anyone is reading this, let me know! I'm just trying to decide if I'm giong to keep up with it or not. If it's only mom reading, I'll just call her with updates! Thanks! :)
Saturday, March 31, 2007
It's really one of the first nice days we've had on a weekend since we've been here. In fact, it's so nice, I decided to finally venture outside of our little neighborhood and go exploring down the main road by our house while I walked the dogs. It was a nice, long walk.
It felt great just to be out of the house and moving. I haven't gotten much exercise since I got here, so it was nice. The dogs LOVED it. They wanted to stop and sniff every little thing. I even found a nice pub up the road that serves food and has a nice patio with outdoor seating. Maybe we'll grab a bite soon.
Anyway, I just love days like today where you are genuinely able to enjoy the weekend. Sure, I have things to do, but nothing pressing, nowhere to be. And I love the first few days in spring that really feel like spring. We've had a few, but I've only been able to see them outside the window from work. But these early spring days always make me feel like a part of me that has been slumbering all winter is waking up again.
I'm excited to spend my first spring and summer in the UK, even without air conditioning. We're really settled into our house now, our internet and phone are finally working, I found a decent job. It's starting to feel like we're really living our lives again.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Westminster Abbey was my favorite stop. It's so huge and sprawling, and the architecture is amazing! I've seen European cathedrals before, but this one just kept going and going and going! There were chapels and chapels full of tombs of deceased kings, queens and other British notables (including Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens!) It's just amazing to walk through a building so steeped in history. It is the site of the coronations of all British royals since King Edward I (I think.) He commissioned a coronation throne in 1297 that is still used to this day in coronation ceremonies. 1297!
We drove into the outskirts of London and then took the underground into London proper. Since the Victoria line was closed from Blackhorse station to Kings Cross station, we had to take a bus to get to the train. And the other lines were pretty packed. We did a lot of standing. Despite the face that it's winter and their is less BO in the air, I'm pretty sure someone farted on every train and bus we took. Seriously! Who thinks it's okay to do that in such cramped quarters?!
Anyway, it was a good trip. Hopefully we can go again soon when it's a bit warmer. There's still so much I want to see! We'd like to see a play at some point. (Currently Ashlee Simpson is starring in "Chicago." Huh. And Daniel Radcliff of Harry Potter fame is in some play where he's nude! Aaiiee!!) And we're hoping to take a weekend trip to Bath and Stonehenge soon. Can't wait!!
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
I'm working as a teller for a financial institution on RAF Lakenheath (the other USAF base about three miles from RAF Mildenhall, where we are stationed.) So far, I'm pretty excited about the job! I've been working for three days now, and I think it will be a good fit with my personality. I'll be done training at the end of this week, and then onto the teller line! Wish me luck! :)
Friday, February 23, 2007
RAF Mildenhall is in a rural area of England in East Anglia. We're about two hours north of London. Cambridge is about 30-45 minutes away. We haven't really explored there yet. We went once with one of Tom's coworkers, and frankly, I'm terrified to drive there. Maybe we'll catch the train, if we can figure out where the station is in our town.
We live in a town called Thetford, about a half hour from the base. That is to say, its' a half hour if you don't get stuck behind a slow lorrie (semi-truck.) The road to the bast is a single carraigeway (one lane on each side) with almost no lights. It's windy and narrow, as are most roads here. The national speed limit on most roads is 60 mph, which is entirely too fast for some of these curvy roads, if you asked me.
The water heater in our house is only on at certain times, and we haven't figured out how to change that yet. So we have to make sure to shower first thing in the morning or remember to turn out the hot water heater about a half hour before we plan to shower.
We have a garage behind our house. (It's not attached.) The garages here are too small for cars, really. I mean, you could squeeze your car in one, but then you can't open your doors to get in or out. So most people (including us!) use them for storage. Which is handy, because there are no closets and very little storage at all in the houses.
Almost every British national we have met has been so friendly. And of course, I'm enamoured with how they end every converesation with, "Cheers!" or "Brilliant!" So far the only exception to the friendliness has been in dealing with customer service over the phone, which is on par with phone customer service in the US!
The dogs are adjusting well. We haven't seen too many dogs in our neighborhood yet, except for a few big ones. Our landlord decided to lay gravel in our backyard instead of sod because he didn't want the dogs digging up the grass or tracking in a lot of mud. However, the Z's are a little scared of the gravel and seem to think that they will sink into it like quicksand! So far Zoey has taken to going to the bathroom on the sidewalk. Just as well, I guess. Easier to spot and pick up.
Okay, Tommy is ready to go home. Hoping to get internet at home in a couple of weeks! If you have any questions about what it's like here, let me know!
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Additionally, because we're the first occupants of our house, we have to pay to have BT come out an make the line active. And, because we're Americans with no prior British address, they can't run a UK credit check on us so we have to pay a deposit. Only, because we don't have a UK credit card, they won't accept our deposit by phone, so I have to mail it in. We can't schedule a technician to come out until they receive the deposit.
Here's where it's really cute. Because we can't get our BT line set up, we can't get television or internet set up! Ridiculous! So for at least the next two or three weeks, we have no TV, no internet, and no land line. I feel like I'm living in the dark ages!
Other than that, things are well. I had my first job interview yesterday. Seems like a good position. Hopefully we'll hear something soon!
Saturday, February 17, 2007
the house isn't small, really, but the stairway is SO narrow. naturally, our box spring won't fit up the stairs. our choices were: a.) sleep with the mattress on the floor, b.) buy a new box spring (the brits make box springs in two peices just for their narrow stairways), or c.) buy a new bed frame that does not require a box spring. after carefully reviewing our options, we bought a new bed frame. luckily they were able to deliver the next day (today). it's a very nice frame (real wood! not like that american pressed board stuff we're used to) and we got a great deal on it. also, it was easy to assemble. thank goodness.
no internet yet. we tried setting something up with BT (british telephone), but it was looking like it would take a month and a small fortune to get a technician out to the house. we're looking into other options. in the mean time, checking my email requires a drive to base. please be patient in waiting for responses! :)
the dogs are loving the new house. lots of stairs to run up and down, and lots of sunny spots (when the sun actually comes out!) there's still no grass in the backyard, so i'm still walking them like in the apartments. hopefully some grass will grow in soon. they've really returned to their normal selves in no time. you'd never guess they were gone.
well, there's a lot of unpacking left to do, so we better head back to the house. woo.