Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Growing and growing and growing and...

16 weeks, 3 days:

And another, just because I like the faceless head effect:

As a point of reference, below I am 23 weeks pregnant with Carter and actually looking SMALLER than I am now at 16 weeks. Yikes. (and strange, since my weight gain so far is the same as it was at this point the first time around.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Ahem. I am going to complain, and that's how it's going to be. There. Consider yourself forewarned.

Yesterday morning I was applying mascara when I suddenly felt the sensation of something falling into my eye - the same perpetually sensitive, irritated eye which was infected not two weeks ago. I blinked a couple of times, and everything seemed fine - no discomfort. I went about my day.

Late yesterday afternoon, I glanced in the mirror to discover a glaring red eyeball - AGAIN. However, this time the redness was mostly localized to the upper right portion of my eye, near my iris. Hmm...perhaps I got something in it after all. Maybe there is something trapped underneath my contact lens. I will get home, take it out and be all better.

Not so. Once I arrived home and removed my lens, the redness actually increased. Then I took a shower, and it dissipated somewhat. Then it seemed to increase again. Sigh. I went to bed, hoping it would be better this morning.

Bright and early, I rushed to the bathroom mirror for inspection. A little better, but still red and certainly not normal. After dropping the Roo at daycare, I went straight to the eye doctor, for the THIRD TIME in two weeks. At this point, I was thisclose to having some kind of complete nervous breakdown. Yes, perhaps a red eye doesn't merit a nervous breakdown for most people, but how about multiple red eyeballs, multiple times, over many months. Throw in some pregnancy hormones and there you have it. Thisclose to Crazyville, USA.

Apparently, the verdict is that my eye is inflamed due to my contact lens - I cannot for the life of me repeat the word the doctor used - sclerosis? no, that sounds like a skin condition, that can't be it. Oh, well - basically, my eye is hating my contact lens now that I'm pregnant. Apparently, this is quite common, although my eyes were hunky-dory (oh god, that's an oldie but goodie - it's official, I am becoming my mother) throughout pregnancy #1. The good news: it's not an infection, so I'm not contagious and don't have to worry about spreading anything to the Roo.

So? Just wear your glasses, you'd say. Alas, no. Not an option here. You see, ten years ago I had LASIK surgery, but they could only do my right eye. The left eye has a higher prescription (blinder than blind) and a thinner cornea, so LASIK was not an option. I decided to have the right eye done anyway, because one eye that can see is certainly better than none.

In the midst of the operation, I heard THIS lovely tidbit from the eye surgeon:
"Uh-oh....Nurse, hand me that cornea."

I lay there, my 21-year-old self strapped to the operating chair, my eye wedged open Clockwork Orange-style, terrified. I wasn't certain what was supposed to happen, but I was fairly sure that "uh-oh, hand me the cornea" wasn't part of it.

Sure enough, the doctor had botched the operation, as clearly evidenced by the look of utter terror in the eyes of the nurses when they let me out of my constraints. Fortunately, he put a fake contact lens on my eye overnight and the cornea fused right back on. Now my vision in the eye is almost perfect. I can see the alarm clock in the morning. I can see faces. I can function. But glasses? Glasses aren't an option, since one lens would be coke-bottle thick and the other would be normal. Not only would it be aesthetically atrocious (think one tiny eye and one normal eye, Igor-style), I've been told that it's not actually possible to make. But 'til now, I haven't needed 'em. For ten years, I've been truckin' along with no issues, popping my one contact in and out every morning and night without a care in the world.

Until now. This pregnancy hates my eyes, much like my last pregnancy hated my teeth. Other mommies tell me that I'm so lucky because I've never had morning sickness, but ladies, I think I'd rather barf day and night for the next six months than be half-blind with a red eyeball. Just sayin'.

So I have some drops for my eye, which will hopefully clear up the current inflammation, and then I apparently have to be super-militant about reducing my contact lens wear and letting my eyes rest. If that doesn't help, the doctor suggested potentially switching to a hard lens (gasp! only my VERY blind parents wear these!!), as they apparently do not cause the same inflammation. But he said, and I second him: "I hope it doesn't come to that."

I am not ashamed to say that I broke down crying in the eye doctor's office this morning. Silly, I know - but months of eye issues plus pregnancy hormones have simply broken me down. I know it's trivial in the grand scheme of things, and I'm lucky to have a wonderful, healthy for the subchorionic hematoma during the first trimester, and subsequent marginal previa evident at my last ultrasound.

Oh, did I fail to mention those? Well, if we're complaining, let's just get it all out now, shall we? Yeah, it hasn't been all rainbows and butterflies this time around, folks.

At about nine weeks, I had a little spotting. Nothing crazy, just some light pink stuff, but of course I freaked out, as I am wont to do. I went back in for a second ultrasound, and they found a very, very small (fortunately) subchoronic hematoma, which is basically a blood clot between the outer layer of the uterus and the placenta. Apparently this slightly increases the risk of miscarriage, so I was told no sex, no exercise, no lifting ("no lifting" to the mother of a toddler - haaaaa!), etc. etc. until my next ultrasound three weeks later.

Flast-forward three weeks: Happily, blood clot is GONE - absorbed back into my body, which is common. Hurrah! But wait - there's potentially another reason you were spotting - your placenta is really close to your cervix. Hrmph. Don't worry - this is common at this stage, and the placenta will rise as you get further along. It won't be placenta previa - we think. But for now, no sex for six weeks, until your next ultrasound.

So there you have it. Certainly nothing horrible, but this pregnancy hasn't been without its little bumps along the way. Toss in the janky eyeball and it's a just a PARTY.

Okay. Complaining done. I am purged. Over and out.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Retail Therapy

Today, Los Angeles marked the first day of spring by unceremoniously dumping torrential rains upon our sunbleached heads, as if to say "Take that, SUCKAS!!!!" We commemorated the occasion by seeking refuge at our local mall, along with 98% of the general population within a 50-mile radius, to indulge in a little retail therapy.

I have been on a bit of an (extremely out-of-character) shopping kick recently, hellbent on spending a good chunk of my (measly) bonus check on home improvement. Anyone who knows me well would tell you that this is decidedly not befitting my well-earned status as Cheapest Bitch Alive, and truth be told, my newfound spend-thrifty ways even perplex me somewhat. My sister-in-law suggested it could be nesting, and although it seems several months early, I suppose I could just go with that. But the truth is that, as someone who can rarely justify spending money on herself (aside from food, because by damn, I love to eat - although really, at the end of the meal, what do you have to show for it besides a bloated stomach?), I have discovered that a few upgrades here and there can do wonders for one's sense of well-being.

It started with my sudden need to rid our bedroom of its ancient, wobbly bedside tables. We searched high and low for suitable alternatives that would work with our fancypants (read: long-ago gift from someone generous) bed and chest of drawers and provide some extra storage space for our bursting closet. To my surprise, we ended up at our tried-and-true standby: IKEA.


Inexpensive, yet works perfectly with the pricier stuff we already had. Love, love, love.

While we were at it, I decided that our duvet cover - a fantastic, long-loved red paisley Pottery Barn purchase from my single days - definitely needed replacing. Roaming in the bedroom textiles, I found it, the antithesis of the busy red paisley: white and crisp, with delicate vines in various greens creeping up the comforter cover. It is serene loveliness, perfect to herald the beginning of spring, and with matching pillow shams to boot. AND on sale half-price at $14.99. I would show you a picture, but it's gone from the IKEA website. Thus the $14.99.

I've had an antique mirror, rescued from my deceased grandmother's home, hulking in the corner of our bedroom for the past two years. Yesterday, my husband finally hung it on the wall over our chest of drawers, marking the first item we have hung on our bedroom walls in over two years of dwelling in our current abode. I know, pathetic, huh? But with these small upgrades, our bedroom suddenly went from a ramshackle disarray of laundry piles and discarded toys to "WOW! Grown-ups live here!" I feel fancy.

You might think that would be enough, but well, you'd be wrong. While visiting last month, my saavy mother discovered something that the two of us airheads hadn't yet noticed - one leg of our dining room table had basically detached and was about one small push away from totally collapsing. Ah yes - another shining example of excellent parenting. I'm fairly sure "do not allow table to fall onto child's head" is somewhere in the book of baby-proofing that I haven't read.

We set out posthaste in search of a replacement table, but again, a good one proved hard to find. We looked high and low (and we live right by Los Angeles's La Brea furniture row, so that's saying something, kids) and couldn't find anything right. Everything was either cheap and junky-looking or ridiculously pricey. What to do?

That's right - IKEA it is, yet again:

It must be said that this photo simply does not do justice to the glory of our new table. It truly looks like it wandered out of a high-end gallery and into our two-bedroom apartment. It seats at least eight at its current size, and then pulls out to reveal two additional wings for added space, allowing it to sit at least a dozen people (and really, when the hell am I going to have more than a dozen people over, I ask you? Answer: no time soon). Yes, I'm a little in love with my new table.

Think that's enough? OH NO! Lately I've also been on an anti-Teflon kick, and decided that it was high time to replace the two decaying nonstick pans that are probably pumping carcinogens into our bodies with each egg we scramble. In the rapidly escalating anti-Teflon fury that consumed me, I became paranoid that EVERY piece of cookware that we have must be coated with the evil junk. Aside from the two PTFE and PFOA-packed nonstick offenders, the rest of our cookware was an expensive gift from our wedding registry, which I chose long before I had even a remote inking of toxins, health, the environment, yadda yadda. It probably went something like this:

"WHEEE!!!! Lookit that set! It's awful shiny! I'm gettin' MARRIED and I wants it! YEEEEEHAH!" (and beep beep beep goes the registry gun)

I don't know why I'm a hillbilly in this scenario, but you get the point. So I did some frantic googling and was overjoyed to discovered that there is not one DROP of Teflon in our very nice Calphalon set. Huzzah!

Still, my mother insists that stainless steel is the way to go, and she both works in a cookware shop and kicks serious ass in the kitchen, so I'll take her word for it. In our consumer roamings today, we found ourselves in the Macy's Home department, in the midst of a massive sale. And that's how I came home with this fine addition to my cabinets, my Calphalon Stainless Steel 10" Skillet:

Hello, my shiny new friend. Welcome to our home. Won't you cook me dinner?
It was originally $79.99, but marked down 50% to $39.99, with an additional 15% off for using my Macy's card, for a whopping total of $33 or so. I believe a WOOHOO! is in order.

Just when I thought I was done, I ended up in the bedding section, and discovered the most glorious set of sheets on a super sale - 620 thread count, soft as my baby's bottom, butter yellow (love) - originally priced at $175, on sale for (drumroll...) $59.99. Holy bedding sale, Batman!

I walked out of there exhausted but happy, with sheets under one arm, frying pan under the other, and a toddler wedged firmly on my pregnant hip.

To summarize, we now have proper bedside tables that won't topple down and crush our noggins in the middle of the night, a pretty new duvet and sheets to warm our tired selves, a table to eat like royalty, and a pan to cook culinary masterpieces. All this, and I still have plenty of bonus check left over - but that's going straight into savings. Mama's got a house to buy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

So we're having another baby. YEEHAH!

Now, my reaction to discovering this news in early January can best be summarized as: WHAAAA? Eeek! Errr...WHOA! Yikes. gulp

We were going to start trying for said baby sometime early this year, thinking a two year, three month or two-and-a-half year age separation would be nice. But after one festive December evening involving a lot of chocolate and a flagrant disregard for birth control, apparently the universe thought differently. Carter and his brother or sister will be almost exactly two years apart. What can I say? I - ahem - REALLY enjoy the holiday season.

So here I am - just shy of 15 weeks along, though looking more like six months in. I'd always read that your stomach pops early with subsequent babies, and let me tell you - they are NOT kidding, folks. I waited until the second trimester to spread the news, and it was not easy, given the impressive baby gut I've been accumulating over the past few months. At work I took to wearing lots of open blazers and long scarves, yet still saw suspicious coworkers eyeing me carefully. It was such a relief to finally announce the pregnancy and assure them all that I hadn't just suddenly developed some kind of thyroid problem.

I'm feeling fine, with no morning sickness or queasiness to report, much like the first time around with the Little Roo. Thus, I can only assume Little Fetus Draitser is another boy, though we'll know for sure next month. That's right - we're finding out the sex this time. I don't need any more surprises, people.

Carter has been particularly clingy and Mommy-oriented since I got pregnant, which our pediatrician assures me is par for the course. We had told him about the baby, and then he came to Mommy's 12-week ultrasound, where he was fascinated by all the blinking lights and beeping machines at the hospital.

"There's the baby," we told him, pointing to the fuzzy little figure squirming and kicking up a storm on the small screen. "That's your brother or sister!"

"Doooooowwn!!" he replied, desperately hoping to be let loose to find an 87 bajillion dollar machine to bang on.

He was, however, momentarily very distressed each time they had Mommy lie down on her back on the exam table, and began to cry and wail protectively. From that day on, the clinginess increased tenfold, and lately it's all-Mommy, all the time (oh god, the exhaustion...). The daycare tells me he talks about Mommy all day - "Mommy. Mommy?? Mommy..."

Oh boy. This is going to be one wild ride.

(to be continued when I am not slammed with paperwork at my desk on a Friday afternoon)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Plague Strikes Back

Well, there's only one thing that would cause me to take five days to write after posting about my pregnancy (yeehah!), and that's SICKNESS, and lots of it.

On Monday, I woke up with one flaming red, oozy eyeball. What's that, you say? What the hell is wrong with your janky eyes now? Yes, you'd really think I spend my spare time rooting face-first through dumpsters for all the problems I have with my eyes, but the fact is that I seem to be cursed with the most sensitive set o' peepers on the planet. And blind as a bat to boot. Jealous much?

Carter's eyes were fine, so I dropped him off at school and rushed to my trusty eye doctor. I trust this man - after all, he's the one who finally alleviated my chronic blepharitis and dry eye last fall with a little bottle of magic drops, which I used only after much reassurance from said doctor that they were safe for a breastfeeding mom. Knowing my neurotic, hypochrondriac tendencies (hey, I'm a doctor's daughter) he looked at the offending eyeball and we then spent about ten minutes discussing which medication would be safest for treating a pregnant lady. I left the office with two prescriptions - a drop and an ointment - filled them at the pharmacy next door, and popped a drop into my eye when I got into the car. By damn, I would kick this eye infection's ASS! Pinkeye would be sorry it ever messed with me!

...and then I glanced down at the insert that came in the little eyedrop box. PREGNANCY CATEGORY C. Bad things happened to rabbits in clinical testing. In other words, potentially harmful - not for pregnant broads.

A situation like this can best be summarized by: WHAT THE F___________K????

I raced back into the office and demanded to speak to the doctor. "Category C?" he said. "I'm sorry - that really surprises me. But don't worry - you'll be fine. It's just one drop."

As I walked back into the pharmacy where the doctor had told me they would refund my money, I heard him on the phone with the pharmacist. "Oh, no - not during pregnancy" the pharmacist said, shaking his head. By the time he got off the phone, I was approaching tears. He was pleasant and reassuring, insisting that one drop was nothing, that I would be fine, that all the tests were done with massive doses on bunnies anyway, and "bunnies get everything." Uh huh. Thanks.

So I left the good (BAHHHH!) doctor's office with the little vial of eye ointment (Pregnancy Category B, thank you very much) that would hopefully cure all my eyeball evils, and went back to my office to begin obsessing about the potential damage I could possibly have inflicted on Baby D (AKA "ALOOL" - more on that later). Fortunately, with a few swift clicks of the mouse and some handy math skills, I discovered that in order to even meet the "no observed effects level" (the level at which NO reproductive toxicity was displayed for animal studies - about one-sixth of the amount that the poor messed-up bunnies received), I would have essentially had to pour two full bottles of the eye drops into my eye in one sitting. So yeah - I'm pretty sure we're okay.

In short - not a fun way to start your week on a sunny Monday morning, eh? Well, it got even more fun when I picked up a very feverish, limp and sleepy baby at daycare that afternoon. We had just been to the pediatrician for his 18-month check-up on Saturday, two days prior, at which he was healthy as an ox (a 23.4 lb ox), and now this? Oh, glory.

So there you have it - for the past couple of days, we've been at home recuperating - me from my janky eyeball, and Carter from his wonky fever. Things got even more fun yesterday morning, when he woke up with yellow crusties in his eyes, and one corner looking a little pink. The plague spreads! Fortunately, our ped called in a prescription for him and he was able to return to school today, non-infectious. But let me tell you - nothing says fun like prying your kicking, screaming, wailing toddler's eyes open to administer drops FOUR TIMES A DAY. Nothing.

Things are looking up today. My eye has cleared up considerably, and I can now wear my contact lens instead of stumbling around half-blind. Carter's fever is gone (and the ped thinks it was a reaction to his shots from Saturday. Hrmph.).

Fingers crossed that we're all well by the weekend and can focus on fun brewin' a baby.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Possibly the Best Muffins Ever

I have to thank my mom for this one - she sent me the recipe years ago, clipped out of Health magazine. I stuck it in my recipe book and forgot about it until after the Roo was born, on a day when I was feeling bake-ish and happened to be overrun with brown bananas. The result? Light, fluffy, sweet treats that are actually good for you (4 grams of protein in a muffin?! Nice!). Plus, it has to be one of the easiest muffins recipes ever - and muffins are pretty easy to begin with. I made two batches this past weekend, and our little family (even Carter!) has been gobbling them up ever since. Enjoy!

Banana-Oat Muffins

2 mashed ripe bananas (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg
1/2 cup fat-free milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup white whole-wheat flour (I use the Trader Joe's brand) or whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup sugar (you could probably use agave instead, but I would use slightly less than 1/4 c. since it's sweeter than sugar)
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 375ยบ.

2. Combine bananas and next 4 ingredients (through vanilla) in a medium bowl; mix well, and set aside.

3. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Whisk together flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl.

4. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until they are just combined.

5. Spray 9 muffin cups with cooking spray (or use paper liners), and spoon 1/3 cup batter into each cup (cups will be full).

6. Bake 16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Nutritional Info
FAT 5g (sat 1g, mono 2g, poly 1g)
IRON 1mg
SODIUM 178mg

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Two Favorite Noggins

The Roo's special treat: watching Sesame Street videos on You Tube. His obsession with the Sesame critters began last fall, when we bought him these beloved books - he learned all the character names and insisted on us reading them to him during every meal (let me tell you, nothing says fun like the 15th reading of "Grover's Opposites" at 7:15pm on a Tuesday night. NOTHING. But hey, it helped him start learning his shapes, his colors, his numbers - the whole bonanza o'toddler smarts).

We never have the TV on at home, but we've Tivo'ed countless episodes of Sesame Street, thinking he would appreciate it someday. So far he loses interest in the show after about five minutes (five minutes of shouting "Elmo! Elmo! Abby! ABBY!!" at the screen), so now he only gets the occasional video. Frankly, I never thought I would let my kid watch TV (even a two-minute video) so young, but he loves it. And who am I to deny him his Abby Cadabby broccoli song?

5:30am is not Good Morning

Curse you, 18-month sleep regression.

For the past several mornings, Carter has been up to his old waking-up-at-5:30am shenanigans. At the beginning of January, he magically started sleeping in til (insert harps and chorus of angels) 6:20am! Sweet fancy Moses, it was glorious.

This development happily coincided with two magical events: 1) I dropped the morning feed in our very, VERY (oh child, will you never stop?!) slow weaning process, and 2) (drumroll!) the Roo had SIX teeth come in in five weeks. Ages ago, I wrote about about Carter's general lack of interest in food, which I have since connected to teething - endless, awful teething - and the subsequent disdain for chewing anything except the remote control, our cell phones and the occasional cracker. But lo and behold - suddenly, my ever-teething, never-eating child had a mouth full of chompers, and better yet - an appetite! He actually wanted food for the first time in seemingly ages.

And food he had - as much as I could stuff into his little body. For several weeks, that boy ate, and I knew the glory that other parents with eating children (as I call them) must know every day. It was marvelous.

...and then two more teeth reared their little heads, and so it began, all over again. Now I'm waiting desperately for his top and bottom incisors to make their appearance and complete his set - at least until we have the two-year molars to contend with.

Back to the sleep - at first I was blaming the recent early morning wake-ups on the same scapegoat I use for every other issue with all things Carter - THOSE EVIL LITTLE DEVIL TEETH. But then I happened to pop over to Polka Dot Hippo the other day and was amazed to learn about the 18-month sleep regression.

Ah. So THIS is the kind of toddler trivia that eludes me in my pursuit of watching Parenthood (what? at least there's kids in it) on Tivo and falling asleep on the couch in a puddle of my own drool instead of, oh, reading parenting books. Hrmph.

So here we are again. 5:30am and - SHEBANG! "Mama....MaMa...MAAma...MAMA! MAAAAMAAAAA!!!!"

We are going on day four of this lovely development, so this morning I took a different approach - ignoring, in a desperate attempt at extinction (I think that's some kind of sleep-book terminology that I dredged from the innermost recesses of my musty brain).

After a few minutes of this, the Roo tried a new tactic: "Up. Up? UP! UPUPUPUPUPUUUUUUUUP!"

Stay strong. Resist the urge to make it stop - DEAR GOD MAKE IT STOP!

And then, the kicker: "Please. Pleeeeeeease? Please! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!" get the idea.

I almost broke at this. My little charmer, with his fancy manners. But no - by damn, the Roo must understand that Mommy simply does not function prior to 6am.

And suddenly? SILENCE. Not sleep, for either of us - but for fifteen glorious minutes, I listened to my son babble quietly to himself in his crib: "Carter. Booger. TWO. Two boogers." (Yes, about a month ago my son discovered that there are two little holes on his face shaped perfectly for cramming small fingers into. Then he SOMEHOW learned the word "booger" - thank you, HUSBAND - and it's been a nose-pickin' party ever since...sigh).

Around 6:05 it started again - "MAMA!" I waited until this round stopped so that he (hopefully) knew he did not WIN, and in I went, to rescue the Roo from his crib prison and share a banana muffin (recipe to come!) with him while watching Abby Cadabby's broccoli song (his recent obsession) for the 87 zillionth time on You Tube.

Now the question is - did my (admittedly half-assed) Cry It Out do anything? What new wonders shall tomorrow morning bring?