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Anne's Pregnancy Journal

31 weeks 5 days
~ Kayaking Fun, Wedding Anniversary, Ridiculously Tired

This week seems to be a cousin to last week. Seems that planning things is dependent on energy, and that is depending on a 3 1/2 lb dynamo in my belly! Or, maybe itís been the torrential rain weíve been having. Either way, Iím learning to deal with uncertainty.

Saturday came with an early start to go teach the second half of Kylene and Daveís HypnoBirthingTM class. It was early enough that I drove somewhere else Ė as in, I have no idea where I was driving on automatic, somewhere, but not Dave and Kyleneís. Somehow, I managed only to be 15 minutes late. That was a good thing. I knew that the end time for this class was fairly firm, since Matt and I had a wedding to go to in the afternoon.

Iíve been very pleased at how efficiently weíve gotten through the material. Even so, it ended up making sense to schedule a 2-3 hour follow-up in a couple of weeks. There something about giving ďsoaking time,Ē to borrow a colleagueís phrase, before moving into the completion of the work. Since some of the last things we do are birth rehearsal imagery, I opted to hold that for the follow-up so the fear release work we did would have more time to integrate. Dave and Kyleneís mothers will join us for the follow-up. Apparently, theyíre dying to know more about HypnoBirthingTM, and since the heavy lifting is done, it seems like an appropriate time to bring them in and bring them up to speed. That should be fun!

We certainly had fun at Anita and Mattís wedding that afternoon as well. As usual, the bride was glowing, and the groom looked blown away by love. My hubby, Matt, and I managed to go to the wrong fire hall at first for the reception, which we quickly figured out when, as we are walking in, we hear the best man raising a glass to Mike and Stephanie. Oops! Fortunately, we were only a mile away, so we didnít miss anything.

When we arrived at the reception, our friend Joe had already pulled our place card and grabbed seats at the table. Joe was the only person there that I knew, and of all the people to be there, I was glad for him to be there! His sense of humor kept my stamina up. The wedding was nice, but thereís not much else to tell about it that pertains here. It was a wedding. However, having Joe there was an unusual opportunity, which made the afternoon rich and valuable.

Joe was the best man at our wedding, and in truest sense of the phrase (maybe not historically Ė he is married, so he would not have been able to fulfill the job of being the groom if the groom was not able to do so, consistent with the origin of the role). He has been a close friend and confidante to Matt throughout the years, and there are few whom I trust more to offer good advice to my husband. When Matt and I needed some support in remembering why we were together, Joe was right there. Heís the one who offered the Apache blessing at our wedding (text at the end of the entry), and heís the one I trust to keep Mattís head straight.

To that end, at some point while Matt was up getting refills on drinks, I asked Joe if he and Matt had found a chance to talk about fatherhood yet. Joeís daughter, Alex, was our flower girl, and I admire the way Joe and Keri have worked together to parent Alex. Apparently, Matt and Joe have not yet had their talk, which might actually be a good thing. There are some things that I have been concerned about regarding Mattís process of connecting (or not) to this pregnancy, me, the baby, reality, etc. I was really going out on a limb mentioning this stuff to Joe. I didnít want to interfere, but I also needed some measure of reassurance that Matt would get good advice. Joe gave that and more. Because Joe also is one of Mattís business partners, I have the assurance that Matt will be supported at work as a new father, as well. Thatís HUGE.

One of my largest concerns has been Mattís comment that heís pretty sure he can take a day or two off when the baby is born. A day or two. Oh boy. The midwives tell me to expect at least one week not traversing stairs, like the ones between the bedroom/bathroom to our kitchen. Uh. Ok. When Barry (the third business partner) needed time off because one of his parents died (unfortunately, they both died within 9 months of each other), there was no question that he could take a week off work. So Iíve been really perplexed that Matt hasnít felt like he can do more than a day or two. I expressed that concern to Joe (along with several other that I wonít bore you with), and he promised to set Matt straight. Thank goodness!

We chose to get an early night in preparation for Sundayís excursion, so when the alarm clock went off at 5 am Sunday morning to leave for kayaking, it was only mildly painful! Fortunately, the biblical proportion rain of the previous day had given way to crystal clear pre-dawn skies. I ordinarily do not relish the dawn hours. Iím too much of a night owl to be up that early and like it. However, there is something magical about the silence of those early hours, which, I am told I will learn to love when combined with early morning breastfeeding.

The drive to Delaware Water Gap from Wilmington is a good 3 hours with stops, so after meeting the other folks at Mattís office at 6:30 to drive up, and a halfway stop for breakfast we made good time to the outfitter. Matt and I have our own kayaks, so we only needed to pay for transport, while the other opted for rented canoes or kayaks. By about 11:30 am, we were on the river at Bushkill. The skies had clouded over a bit by then, and it was certainly chilly (somewhere in the 50ís), but I happen to think that our fall foliage is prettiest against grey skies.

The poor weather of the previous weeks (we had record rainfall this first half of October) had kept most other folks off the river, so we were peacefully floating downstream without seeing many other people. I had been apprehensive about the trip. I was considerably larger than our last paddle and more easily winded. One obvious issue was getting in and out of the kayak. Well, getting in wasnít so bad Ė I just flopped down. Getting out required major assistance! Our pullout for lunch was the first opportunity to experience the major maneuvering required to get me out of the kayak. That record rainfall also had the Delaware River running higher and faster than usual, so we moved pretty quickly, reaching our original endpoint at Smithfield by 2:30. We had been debating going a little longer, but hadnít come to a conclusion, so we got out and considered the options. Some of the other folks on the trip were cold and tired and ready to go home (mightíve had something to do with the fact that one of them was sitting in the middle of the canoe, not paddling or moving much at all for 3 hours).

The one remaining hardy soul in the group was up for continuing on, and I took a quick assessment of my physical state. I was pretty sure that I couldnít do more kayaking, but perhaps switching to a slightly different stroke in a canoe would be ok Ė after a hefty snack, of course! It was only 6 miles more to Delaware Water Gap, and weíd already gone 10 miles quite easily. Why not? Our companions, except for Rich who stayed on, helped get our kayaks up on our car, and we took the rental canoe the rest of the way downriver. This greatly confused the outfitter, who was picking up another group at Smithfield and couldnít figure out how we were going to get to the Gap by 4:30. If we had been inexperienced paddlers, that concern wouldíve been warranted. However, weíre pretty darn good. In fact, even pregnant, I can totally toast most of our friends on the river.

Admittedly, we took a pretty hearty pace to ensure that we arrived at the Gap on time, but it felt really good! I hadnít been in a canoe in several years, and I was really enjoying paddling with Matt. We do very well together when our activity requires that we find our groove together. I think that bodes well for parenting! At least I hope so . . . Anyway, we made it to Delaware Water Gap by 4:35, which gave the outfitter the chance to good-naturedly scold us for being late. He was really surprised we made it mostly on time. We took the ride back to our cars at Smithfield to ask him about the regulations and recommendations regarding bringing children out. The outfitter wonít run trips with kids younger than 2, and they recommend only rafts, not canoes or kayaks until the kids can solidly swim by themselves. Well, that makes sense, and it means I probably wonít see the river much next year!

Well, my excellent energy and enthusiasm for the river was only slightly dampened by the discovery of a sidewall blister on one of my tires (thanks Chris!), which is a high risk for a blowout. With kayaks on top of the car, pregnant lady in the car, and a three-hour drive ahead, we couldnít ignore it. So, we got Thai food. (OK, it sounds lame, but after 16 miles on the river, the tire could wait a few more miles of careful driving until we got food in our bellies, and this place was GOOD.)

When we got to the restaurant, it wasnít open yet, so we took the chance to clean out the trunk of my car so that we could get to the spare. That was the first opportunity for me to realize I might have overdone it. After leaning into the trunk for a few moments, I felt like someone had tried to electrocute me via my lower back. Fortunately, Iíd packed the maternity support belt, just in case, which helped tremendously. That, and Matt opted to hand stuff out to me, instead of letting me reach in for it. Good man!

Just past the restaurant was a gas station, where we stopped for Matt and Rich to change out the bad tire for the spare (fortunately, Subaru does full size spares.) I was totally wiped out by the time we got back on the road, so Matt did most of the driving. The three-hour return trip, combined with being a passenger did cause some ankle swelling, but not enough to be problematic. We finally got home about 10 pm, and were fast asleep by 11.

Monday morning I headed up to my Dadís for the day. Matt had a video shoot in Atlantic City Monday night, so I opted to overnight at Dadís. I had no idea how much the kayaking had taken out of me, and I never would have had the energy to make the 90 minute trip home in the evening. All in all, staying was a very good choice! For some reason, Dad also mustíve picked up my brainwaves as Iíd driven past V&S, our neighborhood steak sandwich shop. I hadnít eaten there in a long, long time, and when I got to Dadís he suggested a Barnes & Noble run and then lunch from V&S. SOLD. I canít remember the last time a steak sandwich tasted that good, and I think it was made that much better by splitting the fries with Dad, just like when I was a kid. Ahh, nostalgia can taste so good!

After lunch, I was hoping to be helpful to my Dad, but my energy started draining away. I opted to go downstairs to the guestroom, which has become my room when I visit, to take a nap. I found myself more fatigued by Smallumusí odd position combined with an apparent penchant for punching/kicking directly into the one sore ligament or tendon on the right side of my belly, the primary reminder of my overzealousness on the river. I zonked out for a good two hours, only being roused by the doorbell, thinking Dad had also fallen asleep and had missed it. Turns out by the time I heard it, registered it, and got upstairs to check, the water guy was already halfway through his work. I mustíve been so tired that I fell back to sleep between hearing the bell and responding to it.

Iím finding that I get ambitious about what I want to accomplish, and my energy levels just donít match my to-do list. I took our wedding proofs up to Dadís, since we still havenít chosen our album from them yet. Unfortunately, I forgot the list of what to include. Oops! Just as well, I was still tired enough not to be very effective at much anyway. Fortunately, my Dad doesnít seem to mind. Heck, he takes naps, too!

I was up early on Tuesday morning to head back for office hours. Once again, I had the privilege of working with truly wonderful clients who really seem to get it! I scheduled a shorter day this day, however, because this is my second wedding anniversary, and I didnít want to give up dinner with my husband. I was doubly glad for the shorter day, because I was still mightily fatigued from Sunday, and was a total space cadet all afternoon. The time gave me a chance to rest so I could enjoy the evening with Matt.

Now, you may or may not know this about me already, but Iím a foodie. I used to cook for a living, and I have an appreciation for the preparation of food as an art form. (Although, Iíve also been known to scarf down the fake orange mac and cheese made from a box.) Iíd heard wonderful things about a restaurant in Wilmington, 821 Ė named for its Market Street address. We had never been there before, and given budget, wonít for a long time, but the meal was exquisite! (If youíre not into detailed food descriptions, youíll probably want to skip ahead to Wednesday now.)

821 specializes in menus built on ingredients from local growers, often grown as naturally as possible. Although you can order ala carte, the best way to experience their cuisine is through their 3, 4. or 5 course prix fixe option, which is what we chose to do.

Foie gras is not recommended for pregnant women, due to the typically high concentrations of environmental toxins in organ meats. Given the chefís commitment to natural foods where possible, I felt that it was probably a good gamble. Besides, itís not like you get a lot! So, I started my meal with a lovely foie gras torchon with warm mission figs and baby mint. When I say baby mint, I mean baby. The leaves were perhaps only 2 mm in diameter. The foie gras itself was perfectly buttery and combined with the mission figs and round of toasted brioche. Matt made the mistake of asking what foie gras is before he took the morsel I offered. On finding out that it is fattened duckís liver, he declined. What a pity, but hey, more for me!

I have friends who would have looked at that two inch round tower of decadence and wondered why anyone would bother to eat in a place that has such small servings of weird food. The short answer is, because itís art. The chef who put this menu together has a gift that I only aspire to. The composition of these dishes allows the ingredients to come together alchemically into a completely unique sensory experience. That is something I enjoy immensely. This was one of those meals that you eat in tiny bites and chew until itís gone, just so you get full enjoyment out of every last tasty particle.

The foie gras was followed by the ďpoor manís lobsterĒ (monkfish) roasted and served over grilled country bread with lobster beurre blanc and micro chervil. This course was a bit heartier, and something Matt was willing to enjoy. (He had chosen the house-made mozzarella with crispy smoked tomato ravioli, micro basil, and tomato balsamic to my foie gras, and at this time was enjoying the pepper crusted yellow fin tuna carpaccio with one-eyed susan and wood roasted trumpet royales.) Itís somewhat unusual to see monkfish and lobster together on the same plate, and so it was a rare opportunity to compare the taste and texture of the two.

Next, I chose the grilled quail with bone marrow bread pudding and pomegranate vinaigrette. Again, Matt would not taste the bread pudding on principle, but it was delicious, rich, and a wonderful complement to the delicately roasted quail. The pomegranate vinaigrette provided just the right brightness to keep the dish from being too heavy. Mmm. So nice! (Mattís choice was the wood roasted day-boat scallops, creamy potato cake, with grilled leeks and beurre blanc. The bite of it that Matt shared with me proved to be equally as tasty as my plate.)

While Matt dined on the braised short rib with smoked polenta and wood-roasted mushroom vinaigrette, I happily chowed on my grilled hangar steak with sweet potato risotto and balsamic butter. I will certainly remember to try to replicate the balsamic butter. It created a perfectly balanced glaze for the succulent chunks of beef. And, when they said sweet potato risotto the dish came garnished with delicate crispy threads of sweet potato the width of button thread.

Matt and I had not decided whether to order dessert at the start of the meal, but our server was wonderfully helpful, and she let us know we could decide later (the menu suggests deciding ahead of time). Even though we were stuffed from so many small but tasty dishes spread out over several hours, it just wouldnít have seemed right to skip dessert. (We did pass on the cheese course Ė not as much fun when you canít have the wine with it!)

We returned to the warm mission figs from earlier in the form of a heavenly tart made with some of the most perfect puff pastry Iíve ever seen. It was sauced with 25-year-old balsamic vinegar reduction and more micro mint, topped with pistachio ice cream, and bits of pistachio brittle. When I made the dinner reservation, the restaurant had asked if there were any special celebrations they should know about. I mentioned that we were celebrating our second wedding anniversary and had our first child on the way. The server brought our dessert with a Happy Anniversary message piped on the plate in chocolate and told us dessert was on the house. Apparently they would ordinarily bring out sparkling wine for us, but given my condition, wanted us to be able to celebrate with something we both could enjoy. Now THATíS my kind of restaurant!

When we returned home, we were both so exhausted that we pretty much fell asleep right away. Ah well, I guess being too tired for romance is good practice at this point. Again, not exactly how Iíd planned the end of the evening, but so it goes.

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Wednesday morning I woke remarkably early, only to crawl back in bed for a crying jag in Mattís arms at 7:30 am. His snoring lately has at times driven one of us into the guest room (him if we can anticipate it, me if we cannot). I had spent the second part of the evening in the guest bed, returning to our room for early morning cuddles. I was suddenly struck with deep longing, feeling all kinds of grief for the time we have not been able to spend together lately, overwhelmed with the immensity of change that is upon us with the impending arrival of our child. Matt was understandably perplexed, but he still did a great job of just holding me and comforting me. There was some humor in it: he had been fairly solidly asleep when I started to cry, so when he woke and asked me why I was crying, and I sobbed ďI just miss you so much,Ē he got really confused and said, ďbut, Iím right here?!Ē Perfectly logical at the time!

He held me until he had to get up to go to work, and the next two hours, I slept like I havenít slept in months. I finally woke when my friend Jen called to see if Iíd like her to stop over on her way home. Sure! Rachel, another friend and healer, was also scheduled to come over for lunch and a walk, and the guy from the heating company was coming over to give an estimate on a humidifier installation, so I definitely needed the wake up call!

That day turned out to be one of the best days Iíve had with my girlfriends. Jen and Rachel had never met, and it seemed like the day had been re-engineered so that could happen. We all had fun hanging out. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but I often feel like my social circle is very small, and often difficult to find common time to connect except for very few in that circle. To have two friends over at the same time, from different parts of the circle, is unusual and wonderful. Some of the fears Iíve had about not being able to stay connected to my community were eased in that morning, because I know that these are women who are committed to maintaining friendships, and who wonít just let that disappear because there is a baby in my life. Eventually Jen needed to go home, Rachel and I went for our walk, and I spent the rest of the afternoon in a nap. I knew Matt would be home in the evening, and I wanted to be able to enjoy that time with him.

Generally speaking, Matt and I did have a nice evening together, even somewhat romantic! Unfortunately, the increasing size of the belly, combined with some fatigue made the, uh, expression of intimacy a bit more challenging than Iíd expected. That brought on a fresh bout of tears, partly because I misconstrued something Matt had said to mean that he felt it was my fault. Not so. He was just generally frustrated, and I was already feeling vulnerable regarding my changing shape. I havenít struggled with body image during my pregnancy, in fact, I feel very beautiful most of the time. But when shape, size, and body mechanics change how Iím able to do things, I feel clumsy and unwieldy. Combine that with an emotionally charged moment, and itís a blueprint for waterworks. Oh well! I guess weíll put our creativity to use next time to find comfortable ways to be intimate.

Having gone to sleep last night after starting and ending the day in emotional upset, Iím exhausted today (Thursday)! I have no energy again. I mean, I know I overdid it on Sunday, but this is ridiculous. Iím going back the drawing board with my goals and schedule for the day so that I can take it easy and try to get my energy back.

Well, I did say this was a week of learning to deal with uncertainty, right? I guess I must still have things to learn...

Apache wedding blessing:

"Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth.

Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at one time or another, remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives -- remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight."

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