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    How’s a baby going to come out of THAT?

    May 29th, 2008

    When I was about 5 I remember having a huge argument with one of my friends. The topic? Where babies came from. You see, at that time, I firmly believed that babies came out of your belly button. My friend’s theory was a little more … graphic. In my defense, the baby lived in the belly, there was a belly button whole that didn’t seem to have much other use (aside from lint collection) so it made sense.

    Where's it going?Well… ever since my belly started growing, my belly-button started shrinking. I don’t have a “before” picture, but here’s an after:

    Now, how’s a baby going to come out of this I ask?

    At this rate, I’ll be minus a belly button by the time we’re done. Or does it pop-out like the turkey thermometer when it indicates I’m done baking?

    On a side note, here’s a belly pic from this past Saturday. 26 weeks and growing!

    Belly - 26w

    P.S. In my mother’s defense, I will say that I was well educated on how babies GOT there. I just must have skipped/ignored/psychologically blocked-out how they got OUT.

    The secret to getting into daycare

    May 27th, 2008

    …. is apparently to register before you conceive.

    You know those horror stories you hear about how to get into the right preschool you need to register as soon as your child is born? Well… I think we’re living in one of those. Apparently moving out of the city means that we moved into the land of “the breeders” and the waiting lists for daycare are 20+ families long and 11 months out. And we’re not even trying to get into “the right” (read ippidy) preschool. We just want a clean, organized, attentive day care provider.

    Now, I know that S and I are starting on this process a little late, but we don’t need a day care provider until January of ’09, so I figured starting to call places with a 6 month lead time “should” be ok, right? Apparently not! I called 21 daycare providers today off of a list I received from work. Of those, 3 lines were disconnected, I left a voice-mail for 3 to call me back and 11 didn’t accept children under the age of 2. That leaves us with 4 that did take infants, but didn’t have any space in January.

    One of those centers told me their next opening for an infant was in late April/May of ’09. So let’s do some math: late April/May of ’09 puts us 11 months out. That means that a family would need to register before their child is conceived. Ok, ok, I know that a mom can get 6-8 weeks maternity leave from work before she needs care, but that’s still right around the time you get your pee-stick line.

    So we’ll keep calling until something works out. I’m not stressing out yet, but I find this process sad. We’re pretty open to day care facilities, in-home providers and nannies. The last option is last on our list considering how expensive dedicated family nannies are. I also draw the line at Au Pairs. I don’t have anything against the Au Pair program, but I’m hesitant to establish a bond between them and G only to have them leave and be replaced in a year. I have many other reasons, but I’ll stop here.


    In other news, I had my 3hr glucose diabetes follow-up test today. The drink tasted better than last time (don’t ask me how). I got pricked 4 times and now the bruises on my arms make me look like I have an intravenous drug habit. Hmn… I wonder what work will think tomorrow? My OB should get the results in the next few days. I better pass this thing! I leave this topic with some food for thought (literally): if we are supposed to digest 100g of sugar in 5 minutes, why not just give us a slice of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake? It’s at least tasty!


    In other, other news, we’re now in the 3rd trimester. At 26 weeks, I’m now cruising into the last stretch. It’s scary, it’s exciting, and … did I say scary?

    Oh… and I failed by 1 point

    May 23rd, 2008

    Oh, I found out today that I failed my glucose test by 1 point. Normal range is less than 140 plasma glucose mg/dL and I have 141. Yey me!

    I failed a test!

    May 22nd, 2008

    Yesterday morning, bright and early I got up and went to our local blood-sucking lab for my gestational diabetes test. I had to drink an overly sweet drink in 5 minutes that progressively tasted worse (to me) with each gulp, wait an hour and then have my blood taken. All of this, to find out I have to do it again 🙁

    That’s right: I “failed” the 1 hour glucose test. By failing, I mean that my results came back high. This is a potential indicator for gestational diabetes. I’m not particularly concerned about it: I know gestational diabetes affects 4% of pregnant women and a significantly higher number than that fail the 1 hour glucose test. If it turns out that I do have it, it should go away after birth, G will be OK, and I can manage my insulin either through diet or meds. Like I said – I’m not too worried. I won’t be unless told to worry anyway.

    Our OB, concerned that the results could have been thrown off by my 15 hour travel the night before gave me two options: repeat the 1 hour test (I get do-over’s here) or go in for the 3 hour test. I opted for the 3 hour one. If I do the 1 hour, and it comes in high again, I’ll have to do the 3 hour one anyway. I might as well spare myself one potential nasty drink visit.

    For this next version I have to not eat for 12 hours (which will be hard), get my blood taken, take twice the dosage of the yucky drink, and then have my blood taken 3 more times on the hour. Any of this sound fun? Good – then you can trade places with me ;p

    Got Milk?

    May 21st, 2008

    Have I mentioned that my aunt and cousin run a distribution center for baby clothes? What this means is that we came home with a bunch of super cute clothes for G.

    My favorite of course is this:

    S is insisting that this will be G’s daily feeding outfit. Too cute, no?

    And Yes, I will be the mother that will be giving her child a reason to seek therapy for the funky outfits she made him wear down the line.


    May 20th, 2008
    Buy a seat

    Now you can purchase a used Lufthansa seat of your very own!
    My question: Why? What in the world would you do with it? It’s not like it’s the most comfortable seating in the house.

    Here are some thoughts though.

    • Perhaps going forward, while booking with Lufthansa, if you own one you can get a discount on your fare.
    • Persons of “large” size, if asked to purchase an additional seat, can use your own.
    • Facing said seat about a foot away from the closest wall of your home and sitting in it for 8+ hours is a good way to practice for a coast-to-coast or over-seas flight. For an extra authentic experience invite a rowdy neighborhood child to kick you in the back and scream as often as possible. Extra points if you get one that purposefully doesn’t recline.
    • For a way to make some extra cash, take last example, refer to it as a “ride” and charge an admission fee. (Actually, no joke, there are “flights” now that do just this – they never leave the ground, but let you hang out in an airplane seat for a while)

    I’m now running out of material, but please… feel free to add your own.

    Saying Good-bye

    May 19th, 2008

    I think forever in my mind will be burned the image of my grandfather waving to our taxi from the dining room window. This could and probably is the last time I would see him in person. A few weeks ago he was diagnosed with cancer. Although its skin related, the growth is large, on his head, will require surgery, and quite frankly all of us are concerned that his body just won’t be able to handle the treatment.

    The significance of my time with my grandparents on this trip didn’t really hit me until S and I took our last ride away from their home. Much of this, to be honest with you, was caused by the fact that I said my Good-Bye to him several years ago. At that time he was diagnosed with a tumor and the doctors gave him only a few months to live. 4 years later he’s obviously beat their expectations, but I just haven’t allowed myself to get close to him again. I went through our visits with them staying calm and feeling mostly numb until those last few minutes.

    My grandfather really is one the most wonderful people anyone could ever know. He is honest to a fault, trusts a hand-shake agreement as much as a signed document, entirely selfless and would give the shirt off of his back to help a stranger out. Hugging his frail body on this last hug is such a contrast to the strong man I remember growing up.

    I didn’t take any pictures of him on this trip. To be honest, I didn’t want to. I just didn’t want to remember him the way I saw him over these last few days, and as S pointed out, he probably wouldn’t want to be remembered that way either. This is the way he liked to be thought of:

    and this is the image I’d much rather think of anyway.

    The part that makes this Good-Bye so terrible is that in a very selfish way I fear that I could not only be saying Good-Bye to him but my mother as well. With my grandfather gone, my grandmother cannot remain on her own, which implies that my mother, their only child, would need to be there for her. My grandmother, who doesn’t speak English, doesn’t hold a US citizenship can’t easily be moved to the US. She doesn’t exactly have the easiest personality to get along with (to put it mildly) and putting her in the apartment environment that my parents live in, with nothing to do, is simply asking for trouble. Having her live in our home with us, is no good solution either.

    There is just no good solution to what my family will do here! Although my grandmother isn’t in the best of health, she has years left in her and I think it’s unfair to loose my mother to a place so far away. Like I said, I’m being completely selfish. Although, I see my parents but a few times a year, knowing that they are a short flight away gives me comfort. A 14-18 hour travel plan to see her doesn’t! My mother and I are very close. She’s been more of a best friend to me than a mother. We talk at least every other day and there are so few things about me she doesn’t know I could probably count them on one hand.

    My father also depends on my mom more than he would admit. I worry about his heart health and what my mom’s absence will do for it.

    I really like knowing that I can resolve the obstacles I face in my life, and there just isn’t a good one here. I find the situation frustrating and saddening and I just don’t know how to fix it.

    Pregnancy & Birth across Borders

    May 18th, 2008

    It’s interesting observing how different countries observe pregnancy, labor and parental leave. For example, in Bulgaria giving birth in anything but a hospital is considered insane, but C-sections are elective and “fashionable” choice.

    A father-to-be in Bulgaria may be present at the birth (if it’s not a C-section) if he wants to provided the family pays extra for doing so. Many guys here don’t do this, but mostly because they don’t want to – not because it’s financially prohibitive. It seems like in the US, the presence of the dad is expected and not elective.

    The US also has the most restrictive maternity programs I’ve encountered so far. In Bulgaria you can take up to a year paid after your child is born, and another year unpaid, following that while your job (not just a job with your company) is protected. Some women also get written out of work after two months of pregnancy.

    Compare that with our US-based 12 weeks of unpaid Family Medical Leave Act!

    Home v. 1.0

    May 17th, 2008

    I’m really unsure how to feel about this most recent trip to Bulgaria. Each time I visit I am reminded that I am just a tourist. This isn’t something anyone has explicitly said to me, but although I can speak the language (using at best the vocabulary of a 10 year old), most everything to me is unfamiliar and unknown. In addition, because I visit so infrequently and spend such little time here (about a week or so per visit), I have to re-learn things each trip: what services are available, where, or how to get around for example.

    I will say that this visit was the easiest from an ease of mind perspective. Since Bulgaria joined the EU I feel safer here. This is S’s second trip out here as well, and on this trip I didn’t feel like we would have to limit our conversations in public in order to avoid being charged “the foreigner” rate.

    I also noted how expensive everything has become… to me. The dollar value right now is certainly not helping, but with an exchange rate of $1:1.3 lv. money doesn’t go nearly as far as it used to. 6 years ago I bought an amazing pair of Italian boots for $30. I think now it’s cheaper to just get these back in the states. At least with being pregnant I am really not tempted to go shopping for myself.

    The food here as always is wonderful! I get to eat many of the items I grew up with. Each day is like a treat of things that taste marvelously nostalgic. For example, Bulgaria produces this wheat drink that I simply can’t get enough of. It’s non-alcoholic, and because it is an acquired taste, it’s not really made outside of the country. Given that it doesn’t travel well and that the process to make it is complex it just means I get to drink it only while on Bulgarian soil. S doesn’t like it, which suits me just fine: more for me 🙂 Then there’s the food that my grandmother makes. This is comfort food for me. Of course the woman won’t let you leave the table until you gain 5lbs at each sitting, but that’s a separate story altogether.

    Each time we visit our goal is to visit my family and try to fit in a touristy adventure when possible. Our tourist attraction this time was a day-trip to Koprivshtitsa. Located about an hour and a half our of the capital (or 3 hours if you slow down for the pot-wholes and get a little lost) this town is regarded as one of the country’s national treasures. Established in the 1300s (yep Bulgaria is a very old country), it is most popular for kicking off the Bulgarian revolution against Ottoman rule in April of 1876. Many of the homes here are restored to their original construction for the time period and several of them are turned into ethnographic museums illustrating how people lived each day. It produces structures such as this:

    I wanted to take S to Plovdiv (one of the former Bulgarian capitals), but given that it’s much further away and we had very limited time, I’m glad that things worked out the way they did.

    When in Rome

    May 13th, 2008

    Ever wonder why languages purposefully change the pronunciation of countries and cities? Why Rome and not Roma? Why Florence and not Firenze?

    Our only sight-seeing day in Rome was met with overcast skies and occasional showers. We made some street vendor very happy by embracing our tourist title and buying an umbrella as soon as we got off our bus. However, this 5 Euro accessory saved our trip by making S a much happier boy. I think how I feel about being hot is how he feels about being wet. If today turned out to be a “good” day as opposed to a “miserable” day for him (his words) than this umbrella was definitely worth the exchange rate.

    The metro here is very easy to get around! I highly recommend it as the method of getting around here. Driving around here is scary. Not Bulgaria scary (more on this later), but scary none-the-less.

    I started my Rome trip with very low expectations of how much we’ll be able to do while here. I told myself that as long as I got to see the Coliseum up close I’ll be a happy girl. Well I saw this and more, so I chalk this trip as a success. We saw a taste of a lot (for a day) and I’m looking forward to a longer trip out here. I love old cities with tons of history behind them and citizens that embrace their heritage. Rome is just that! In a two mile radius you experience everything from structures pre-dating Christ to the Renaissance and beyond.

    Our day started with the Coliseum — it’s an amazing structure that even more amazingly was completed in only five years. We walked by St. Constantine’s arch, then up Via Dei Fori Imeriali past the Roman Forums. We went to the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish steps and ended our journey at the Flaminio metro station. We wanted to eat at a restaurant our friend recommended, but it didn’t open until 7. By the time we reached it, it was only 3pm and we were beat. We scrapped the recommendation, but as the restaurant in our hotel was quite tasty it was a good consolation prize. Besides, our room awaited me with a nice and calming bath and a place to put my feet up.

    I think on our next trip to Rome I’d like to do the Vatican, a more detailed tour of the Coliseum and a day bus tour. I would also love to see the Catacombs.

    All I gotta say is that G will be getting his own mileage account as soon as he gets his first plane ticket. This will be a well traveled child! With my family living abroad he won’t be able to help it.

    Next up? Bulgaria!