Nov 20, 2013

the second tri.

As my second trimester comes to an end next week, I thought it appropriate to share some of the fun/not fun things I (we) have experienced over the last three months. I wouldn't recommend reading this if you're not interested in pregnancy, because that's literally all I have to talk about.

  • Increased energy.  I would say the worst thing about early pregnancy is not the constant nausea, but the overwhelming fatigue. I never truly understood "fatigue" as a symptom in any illness until I experienced it firsthand...those first few weeks are hard on the body as it uses all it's resources to literally build a baby.  After months of struggling to keep my eyes open, focus at work, and make my commute home so I could crash on the couch and do nothing but lay there and snap my fingers for my husband to hand me popsicle after popsicle (first pregnancy craving, but I'll elaborate on those in a sec), I woke up one morning feeling light, refreshed and ready to conquer the day. And I have every morning since. I have been warned that this bout of energy will disappear in my third trimester, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.
  •  Sneezing and drooling....weirdest symptoms ever. I sneeze at least 3 times every day. I Googled it, skeptical that it would be related to pregnancy at all (but I knew it wasn't allergies because my sinuses were clear and I have had no nasal drainage....just huge, uncontrollable sneezes) and was shocked to see that it's actually a symptom of pregnancy. No big deal, but it does feel awkward when I'm taking care of cancer patients and a big sneeze comes on in the middle of lecturing them to avoid sick people.  I've reassured more than a few suspicious patients that "I'm not contagious, I'm not even sick".  Apparently the body also generates excess saliva when pregnant, something that's been real cute. I feel like I need to carry a bucket around to catch it all. I have to focus on not letting myself daydream or become relaxed in any way (at least not in public) because if I'm not careful, I find myself with little streams at the corners of my mouth..lovely, I know.
  • Speaking of Google, it's been my best friend and worst enemy through all this. I can't stop Googling every question that comes to mind, no matter how ridiculous...and there is always an answer...sometimes reassuring, sometimes terrifying. And I have a LOT of questions. I don't know how people ever made it through pregnancy without Google.
  • Finding out that my "mother's intuition" needs some work. I went into my anatomy scan 90% certain we were having a boy, only to be (pleasantly) surprised to find out the little peanut was a girl.  For some reason a girl is so much more intimidating than a boy to Neal and I, but we are both so excited. After we found out, and were waiting for the doctor to come in for my check-up, Neal just sat there with an exasperated look on his face and started debating out loud with himself about which sports she will be involved in (because he had it all figured out for his son) and I had a laugh at his stress over the possibilities.
  • I made a bargain with Neal that if I climbed the highest peak in Jamaica (which isn't THAT high, but is still a 14-mile round trip hike with 3000 feet of elevation gain... unappealing to a practically sedentary pregnant woman) I would get to pick out our baby's stroller. So maybe I wheezed my way through the hike and thought I was going to go into pre-term labor on a mountain and would have to have a Rastafarian innkeeper as my doula, but it was so worth it. The view was gorgeous, I had an amazing time with my husband, and I get my stroller. And I'm even being a responsible wife and am waiting for Black Friday sales.
  •  Cravings: Aforementioned popsicles, egg rolls, beef, apples, and the saddest one...a Snickers Blizzard from Dairy Queen. It's sad because it has not yet been satiated. It started a month ago when I was triggered at the airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We were running late to board our flight back home, but as we passed a Dairy Queen in the terminal I knew I had to stop. I didn't care that there was a long line, I didn't care that the menu showed $8.00 for a blizzard, I was drooling at the sight of the pictures (okay, I do drool all the time these days) and knew I had a Dairy Queen gift card to burn. I grabbed the gift card out of my purse and told Neal I would meet him at our gate. He took all our stuff with him and I waited patiently in line until I ordered a LARGE Snickers Blizzard (in my defense this was at like noon and our short layover in Atlanta wouldn't allow us to grab food (or so I thought), so I knew it may be 9 PM before I had a chance to eat again). When I handed the cashier my gift card she tried to run it and said "actually, we don't take these here". I started to panic because I didn't have my wallet with me, just the gift card, and the line behind me was so long I knew I didn't have time to wait and order again, and I didn't even have my phone to call Neal. I looked longingly at the photo of the Blizzard and RAN to the gate, where my husband was sitting with our carry-on luggage, and was relieved to see that they hadn't begun the boarding process yet. After quick deliberation, I took what I thought was my VISA debit card from my wallet but was actually an American Express credit card, and sprinted back to the Dairy Queen, waited in line AGAIN, ordered the Blizzard AGAIN, and was AGAIN informed that "oh, we don't take these here". WHY I did not learn my lesson about leaving my wallet with Neal I have no idea, but I actually began to tear up as I sulked back to the gate and we had to begin boarding. There have been several other unsuccessful attempts to feed this desire since we've been back in the States, most recently on Monday night, when we pulled into the drive thru at 9:01 to find they had closed at 9:00.  Neal took me to Braum's instead because they are open late, but it just wasn't the same. I know someday, when the time is right, I will get my Snickers Blizzard and I will relish every last bite.
  • I felt her move for the first time while watching an episode of my guilty pleasure, "Intervention." It felt like there was a little fish was in there who had flipped its fins ever so slightly. That tiny movement made this whole thing feel so much more real. Each week her kicks have become stronger and harder. A few weeks later Neal felt her move for the first time while in Jamaica. And then just the other day we discovered we could watch my belly move from the outside as she performed flips and rolls on the inside. It still blows my mind.  
  • Every single night I have a bizzare dream about this baby, usually related to my feelings of inadequacy and lack of preparation (having to use a t-shirt to swaddle my 16-pound newborn because I don't own any baby blankets, not having a clue how to feed her, resulting in her angry cries of "MOM!", her being born with a monitor on her back because she's part of some secret agency, etc...). I usually wake up in a sweat and it takes a while to realize she hasn't actually arrived yet.  Occasionally I do have a nice dream where she doesn't have a mustache, but looks up at me with her father's big green eyes, and those I do not mind. 
The fact that I am 2/3rds of the way done with this process is totally scary, because we still have so much to do. When I schedule patients 3 months out and realize that woah, my baby should be here by then, I feel a mixture of delight and nausea. Ultimately, we're so excited to meet the little one and just hope she arrives healthy and free of facial hair.

Obligatory belly shot...pregnancy has turned me into a shameless selfie snapper... I know I'll regret it one day.



Aug 11, 2013

welcome, little lutz.

Our summer has been fantastically busy and fun. We have adventured, family-ed, traveled, graduated, worked, and...discovered we are expecting our first child. Yes, we are ecstatic, and yes, we are still slightly in denial at times even though we've known for months.

Today I was reflecting on the havoc that was my first trimester. I am terrible at journaling and decided I needed to document some of the highlights (lowlights?) on this here blog. Read, don't read, do what you will, but I have to warn you, the following may contain TMI:

  • Finding out was pretty great. I was on the phone with my friend Kimberly, and half-heartedly taking my fifth pregnancy test within 2 days. (This being month #4 of constantly thinking I'm pregnant). As I walked back into the bathroom, mid-sentence, I saw two pink lines on the screen and began hyperventilating and freaking out, she began screaming and freaking out, and the wait for Neal to come home from work began. I will never forget how the minutes seemed to last hours as I stared out our back window like a dog waiting for his owner to come home. I gave him the positive test in a gift bag (creative, I know) and he had his own episode of laughing, crying and freaking out. It was one of greatest moments we've shared together.
  • "Morning" sickness....which is the absolute least-accurate term for the plague that is nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Yes, it begins in the morning, but it continues all day long and through the night until the next morning, just to start all over again. It's horrible, disgusting, and unattractive. What makes it so irritating is the fact that "morning" sickness doesn't care that you work full-time, or have a huge life-determining test to study for and take, or that you're trying to grow a baby who needs those crucial pre-natal vitamins you can't keep down. The worst part though? I have turned into a whiny pregnant lady who saves most of her complaining for her husband. I wish I could say that this lovely phase is over now that I'm "out of the woods" aka. done with my first trimester, but it's decided to hang around. Thankfully, I'm down to 3-4 vomit episodes per day compared to 15+. Hallelujah.
  • One would think with all the sickness that I would be like some of those women who lose weight in the first few months (like my gorgeously pregnant cousin Kayla). Nope. With the constant throwing up I am ALWAYS hungry, and for everything under the sun. At my first pre-natal appointment my OB glanced at my pre-pregnancy weight, then at the weight her scale had shown that day, and quickly began to rattle off a long list of fatty, greasy foods she didn't want me eating, and threatened me with a c-section if my baby grows too large to deliver. As she named the foods on her list I slinked lower and lower in my seat and avoided looking Neal in the eye, as he knows exactly how many drive-thrus I've visited since day one of pregnancy. When we got home I stood on our scale that showed 5 pounds less than the doctor's office, and determined that I would only accept OUR scale to be accurate from this time forward. 
  •  Hormonal rage... I've actually been pretty proud of myself as I've read countless stories of pregnant women's emotional breakdowns. Neal makes it pretty easy to remain happy and content...he's a wonderful, dedicated husband, always treats me with kindness and respect, and helps me to snap out of it when I'm feeling sorry for myself. However, I did experience what may be the first of embarrassingly petty arguments to come (of which I can definitely play the "I'm pregnant and hormonal" card for). A few weeks ago, Neal decided he was going to make his favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe from his childhood. As mentioned above, I have been easily excited by the thought of all food lately and the 6-pound bag of chocolate chips we bought at Sam's sent me daydreaming about warm, gooey, soft chocolate chip cookies. It was a Sunday evening, and after dinner he began searching online for the recipe. He found it, printed it off, and as he was adorning his cute man-apron, I read through the recipe and noticed that "oats" and "walnuts" were among the ingredients. I like oats, I like walnuts, and I like them in cookies. But all weekend I had been fixated on the thought of traditional, straight-up, plain chocolate chip cookies. NOT oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I mentioned to Neal in a (at this point) jokingly whiny voice, "I thought you were making regular chocolate chip cookies." He replied, a bit defensive, "these ARE regular chocolate chip cookies." The disappointment of the change of cookies left my mind and annoyance at this statement entered my increasingly icy cold heart. "No, they are not regular chocolate chip cookies. They have oats and walnuts. Do you really think of oats and walnuts when someone says "Have a bite of this chocolate chip cookie?" "Well, yes, I do." We debated for probably a good ten minutes on whether or not traditional chocolate chip cookies contained oats and nuts. I felt myself enraged that he wouldn't just admit that he knew that he was wrong about the fact that his recipe was not one for a "typical" chocolate chip cookie. I didn't care about what I was going to eat at this point, just that I was RIGHT. In the middle of this silly, silly argument, my husband wisely shrugged and walked away to the kitchen to begin his baking extravaganza. After a few minutes of cold silence I slumped after him and asked in a very un-friendly voice if I could help him bake the cookies. He said "thats okay, I can do it" and with a dramatic sob I ran to our room and shut the door. I don't know that I have ever done that since we've been married. The silliness! Anyway, I could hear him chopping walnuts and could tell it was taking him forever. I felt evil satisfaction that he was stuck doing such a tedious task by himself. I pouted in our room for a good half hour when all of a sudden, the chopping stopped and a few minutes later our bedroom door opened and I was attacked by a paper airplane. A few excerpts from the note from my adorable husband:  "So sorry for starting (he didn't start it. I started it.) an argument about something small and insignificant. You're probably right that the majority of chocolate chip cookies do not feature oatmeal and most probably also exclude nuts.....Also I'm sorry for asking to bake them by myself...I'm sure that hurt your feelings. I think part of me wanted to surprise you with the finished product while you have a different end in mind (aww). I forgot how laborous they are, so I would love your help....I am very sorry and love you very much. Thank you for being so patient with your imperfect husband."  Nothing like a paper-airplane-apology note from someone who didn't do anything wrong to make me feel like a big pregnant meanie. Needless to say, I helped him finish, and the cookies were amazing. Delicious. Thank you for reading story #1 of embarrassing, unfortunate hormone rage.  Please don't judge me.
  • Seeing your baby on a sonogram is pretty freaking amazing. I've never really "got it", never understood why people will post sono pictures on facebook. You can't even tell what's what, wouldn't even know it's a baby if it didn't clearly say "it's a boy!!!!!" underneath. But when it's yours, and it's heart is beating, and it's moving around like crazy, your own heart stops beating for a second. And you feel unbelievable joy.  And you want to stay in that sonogram room forever.  And you may or may not creepily hug the little printed-out picture so many times that your only copy is crinkled and bent. And you want to show it to everyone with a pair of eyeballs. So, facebook sono posters, I understand you now.
And that friends, is my first trimester in a nutshell. 

If you're wondering, little Lutz is now officially the size of a plum. Neal agreed to buy one for me this week. Is it disturbing for me to eat the fruit that supposedly resembles my baby?

Don't care.

http://www.fitho.in/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Plum-Fruit.jpg

Apr 22, 2013

Grab a glass of milk for this one...

 

 
 Last weekend my aunt Wendy invited us to participate with her family in a local half-marathon/5K/mile walk event called "Link for Life" in downtown Wichita. The purpose of the walk is to raise awareness of suicide prevalence and the help that is available for those around us who struggle. We participated in the family WALK (I'll go ahead and blame nursing school for my lack of physical activity over the last two years. Nursing school is such a great excuse for everything.), which was for those who have lost a family member to suicide. I loved it. It really shocked me how many people came out and participated in the walk... it made me really sad and motivated to do something to reach out and spread awareness. Someday I will blog about my brother and his death...I have been saying that forever, but it will really happen one of these days when I have a lot of time on my hands (aka post-NCLEX) and am most likely in an emotional state (yikes). It's so important for the community to understand mental illness and to be aware of the resources available...anyway, here are some pics from that....
 

 

 

It was a bit chilly...

We are sleepy cousins.




 





The walk ended in Cowtown, so we played around there for a bit. Thanks, Wendy, for the invite. It was awesome!
 
 
It was also Neal's birthday. I didn't do much, but I did make this cake.
 
 
There was chocolate/peanut butter in everything-the batter, the frosting, and obviously...the toppings.
 
 
Happy Birthday, Love. You're the best.

Apr 6, 2013

Here comes the sun.

We had a chill Easter.  I wanted to be a fun wife and have a decked-out Easter basket for Neal, but procrastination got the best of me. Fortunately, he was still excited when I handed him a Wal*Mart sack with last-minute candy inside. He's so easy to please. ;)

My dad was out of town so we missed hanging out with him. I tried calling Eli a few times (he moved to Provo, Utah last August) and never could reach him...he told me later he didn't even realize it was Easter until the evening of. Sad, huh? Anyway, after church, we went to my aunt Wendy's house and ate fantastic food, watched some basketball, and took a group nap in the basement.









Also, we received a call from Neal's brother Kent Sunday night letting us know that he is engaged!! ....to Miss Stephanie Fugal, whom we just love. He proposed with an Easter egg hunt. They're getting married in June and I'm just so happy for them. They're a super fun pair, if you don't know them, you should be jealous.

Springtime is the best. The air smells so good and it means I can finally take a ride on the awesome bike Neal bought me for Christmas. Welcome back, sun.





Mar 24, 2013

Lutz Catch Up...


I know, I know.  I can't believe I'm actually using my new last name as a pun, something I vowed never to do--especially as I've made fun of Neal for it on several occasions-- but it turns out he's right...it's way too irresistible not to...."Lutz party! "Lutz get married! "Lutz stop using Lutz in place of the word let's!" I could seriously go all night, but I'd rather bring our friends and fam up to speed on the last seven months of our life .

Our wedding day (week?? month?!) was an amazing experience...and a lot of the credit for that goes to all the people who helped us on many different levels. I can't even begin to expand on the love and support we received as we struggled to coordinate the many events surrounding our day, and it just turned out great. I'll just say this (and I think I've mentioned it a time or two on this blog)--we have the best, best family and friends. Hands down.  We had three separate receptions (yeah...intense) because Neal is from Idaho (the reception there was more of an open house), we were sealed (I'll get to that in a minute) in Utah, and of course I wanted to have a reception here in Kansas. We tried to keep it as chill and minimal as possible, but when you're planning three different parties in three different states, it can be hard to keep it chill and minimal.

In the LDS faith (or as we are more commonly known, Mormon), we believe in the concept of eternal marriage and families.  Instead of making vows to be true and faithful to one another until "death do we part", we can instead choose to be "sealed" during a temple ceremony for "time and all eternity." My faith in the principle of eternal families is what has brought me peace and comfort following the deaths of my mom and brother...I have been sealed to them (parents can also be sealed to their children), and know that we will one day be together again. Sealings take place in LDS temples, and there any many around the world. We chose to be married in the Manti Utah Temple, because my ancestors helped build it, my grandparents were sealed there, and c'mon...it's a gorgeous building. The ceremony was short and beautiful. I will never forget how I felt that day, especially in that moment.

We decided to delay our honeymoon for a few months because I had taken a week and a half off for work already, school was starting back up soon, and we just wanted to re-group after a crazy summer/trip. Our first year of married life thus far has held all the stereotypical things that come to mind when you think of newlyweds; small apartment, burnt meals, sharing a vehicle (my car was stolen a week before we left for our wedding, and I then totaled Neal's two days after we were home...yeah.), date nights consisting of trips to the dollar movie theater, etc.  Our favorite dessert is a spoonful of Kroger ice cream and our fridge is always stocked with Ginger Ale. We are both very, very indecisive and when trying to figure out how to spend an evening together, we often write the following on scrap pieces of paper and draw from a hat: "Netflix," "Board Game," "Read," and then do whatever is chosen. We are very aware that we are very lame. But we're okay with it. In fact, we love it.

In December we went on our honeymoon. We drove to New Orleans, LA, and boarded a cruise ship to Mexico. We explored Mayan ruins, went scuba diving, ate a lot of food, made friends with two other couples on board, and had a great time.

We just returned this from a visit to Utah over my spring break. We packed a lot into five days (including the 32-hour round-trip drive)-- A Jazz game, Real Salt Lake game, our niece's missionary farewell, our nephew's engagement party, snowboarding, a trip to the Jordan River Temple, and visiting all the family and friends we could. I think my body is still recovering from the trip (mainly because I'm rusty at snowboarding and fell multiple times)...and the crazy thing is, I think we may head to Colorado next weekend to visit Neal's brother and his family...We really like driving. And by "really like", I mean that we would prefer to rent a car for less than the cost of one of our plane tickets. The other day I realized that we've taken four roadtrips over 2000 miles in the last 12 months...yikes.

I am in my last semester of nursing school and will graduate in May.  I have been working at Central Care Cancer Center as a medical assistant for two years now, and will continue working there as an RN after I've taken (and hopefully passed, although I'm pretty sure I will have an anxiety attack and fail) my boards. I positively love my job. I love getting to know the patients so well and connecting with them and their families, and forming a relationship with them through the process they endure following their diagnosis.  Neal recently was hired at Central Care also--as a marketing and PR manager--for all 11 clinics. We are really excited about his position, because we were so unsure of which direction we should head after I finished school--we didn't know if we should stay here, look for jobs elsewhere, considering grad school, etc., we just never felt sure of what to do. So this opportunity made that decision much easier. I love the company I work for and am excited he has the chance to do so also.

I teach the 4-year olds at church, and Neal teaches the 15-year-olds. We love our ward, and have made many new friends here over the last year. Wichita has been good to us.

I'm feeling very tired, and Neal is looking particularly snuggly right now, so I'm going to wrap this up with a few pictures of the last few months:





Manti





 
 
 
 
Are you for scuba?



Neal's fearless 5-year-old niece shredding it on the Utah slopes!

Terrible quality, but I had to document my first NBA game.

Two days post-nuptials. Sorry Neal.

"Feel better" eggs. I have the best husband. I bet I'll get a plate of these when I fail the NCLEX.

Moving in....
 

 

Awesome statue outside the dino museum.
 
I had to end on the dinosaur picture because I've had this thing for dinosaurs since I was little. I can't wait to have kids so I can throw dino birthday parties (since Neal vetoed a Jurassic Park wedding).