Week 15 — Tri-Two: Happy Birthday, Willie!

Terry -- Week 15Willie Nelson has been on a loop in my house today.  It is, after all, his 80th birthday.  Right now I’m listening to Funny How Time Slips Away.  Ain’t that the truth?

I’m also listening to the new Kenny Chesney album — Life On a Rock.  He has a great duet with Willie called Coconut Tree.  Love it.

Willie Hugh Nelson.  How southern is that to have his actual first name be Willie and not a shortened version of William?  Jonathan is always laughing because my cousin Jenny Lea’s name is Jenny, not a shortened version of Jennifer.  Her mother’s name was Peggy, not a nickname for Margaret.  I suppose in the south they figure if you’re going to call someone a name, there is no sense in complicating it with a long version no one will use.

My Mom did not subscribe to that theory.  I have a formal name (Teressa) shortened to the version everyone uses (Terry).  I suppose this is because her parents named her Kay.  Just Kay.  No middle name.  They named their other two daughters Kathie and Ann.  No middle names.  I always assumed my grandparents picked simple names because their names were Ruby Worsham (he went by RW) and Louise LaRue … I can’t say I really blame them.

By the way, it’s week 15 of my pregnancy.  The nausea has been teasing me.  I will go two days without incident and then I’ll spend an entire afternoon in the bathroom.  I keep telling myself I’ve waited years to feel like this.  Perhaps by the time it’s all over I’ll start believing it?

This week I have been researching baby stuff.  A majority of my friends did all of this so long ago … so I feel like a pretty late bloomer talking about diapers and car seats.  I started off with this huge list of things all of the various websites told me I needed.  Initially, I put it all on my list, but as the days wore on and I compiled my research, the list dwindled.

I look at all of the amazing inventions and things that have been created to give your baby the best start in life, and it gives me pause.  I wake up asking myself; what do the Dumplings need?  Really need?  What do we need to give them what they need?  

Jonathan and I were watching the Louis CK HBO special, Oh My God, last night.  He did this segment (which I have posted below) and I was laughing so hard because it is so true.  It’s worth watching.  It gets a little crude at the end, but he has a point.

We live in a world now where everything is over-documented.  This is both good and bad, I think.  It’s a matter of knowing how and when to use all of the methods of documenting constantly at our disposal.  We often spend so much time documenting each moment we forget to actually live the moment while it is happening.  When Louis CK makes the joke about parents holding cameras, phones and iPads in front of their faces to record the dance recital of their child — I pause.  Please don’t let that be me.

Know when to document and know when to live the moment.  Videos will never do the real thing justice.

Am I laughing at this, while over-documenting my own pregnancy? 

I hope not.  But maybe I am?

I often over-think things because I am weighing all of the options.  The pros.  The cons.  Looking at all sides.

While taking my afternoon walk, it occurred to me that if we are documenting everything, ultimately we are documenting nothing.  All of us have boxes of pictures.  But there are pictures and then there are PICTURES.  Pictures you look at all the time.  Pictures you carry in your heart every day.  And then … the pictures that sit in the box.

I want to keep the Dumplings life simple, while making sure they have plenty of PICTURES.  The kind they carry in their heart, not in a box … or in their case, on their hard drives, or in their clouds.

Today, as I sat feeling queasy, I read the Dumplings Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go!  This version of the book was written specifically to be read to your babies in Utero.

“You’ll find that this world’s a great place to begin, but it could use some help – which is where you come in.  So now, as my voice burble-urps in your ear-with a bump-thumpy sound that is not very clear-the words I am saying you hear in your heart, and know that I wish you the very best start.  It’s a scrumptious world and it’s ready to greet you.  

And as for myself … well … I can’t wait to meet you!”

I’m sure they won’t remember it, but I want them to know I did it anyway.

Perhaps I am over-documenting?

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Dear Dumplings — Week 14: What Do I Want? What Do You Need?

Dear Dumplings:

I only have one day left in week 14 to write you a week 14 letter.  Somehow this week just got away from me.  Tomorrow you will be 15 weeks along! I can hardly believe it.

As I write this you are getting close to 4 inches long!  You’re bigger than a peach.  They tell me you can grasp at things and suck your thumb.  I also hear you’ve started break dancing.  I’m not supposed to be able to feel that yet, but I can.  I think it is because there are two of you in there.  It feels like pressure on my tummy and sometimes it tickles.

We’re getting better with our eating this week, and except for the turkey, we’re pretty strict vegetarians.  I don’t know how we went from bacon to lentils … but that’s where we are.  It’s far from perfect, but I can feel that we are in the home stretch.

The big accomplishment this week was starting the baby registry list.  I was dreading this mainly because it seems so overwhelming.  And it is.  There is the stuff people tell you that you need, the things you think are cute and you have to have and then there is the stuff you need.  I think ours, like most new parents, is an eclectic mix of all these things.

I’m here to tell you now, we’re not spending $400 for a high chair (we’re spending $30).  Though it looks like when you outgrow your infant car seat stroller set up, we’re going to have to spend much more than $400 on something like the Onyx Baby Jogger City Select Stroller with Second Seat.

Baby Jogger City Select Stroller with Second Seat - Onyx

I like this one because it does this when you are getting along:

Baby Jogger City Select Stroller with Second Seat - Onyx

And this, when you are not:

Baby Jogger City Select Stroller with Second Seat - Onyx

In all seriousness, I have been combing blogs and lists and reviews.  This snazzy little number came up on the most lists as a rock star stroller, but your Daddy and I still need to go to the store and “test drive” them.

I found this website called BabyLi.st.  It allows you to shop anywhere on the web and put everything in one master list.  I like it because it also lets the gift giver purchase the item anywhere at the best price they can find.  Ultimately, I am using this tool as my own master list, so we don’t forget anything.  I was told to register for only a few toys and no baby clothes.  I did add a lot of white onesies, which they tell me are not really clothes, but necessities.

I’m sure this information is not all that interesting to you … your Daddy did not appear all that enthused about it either (though he loves to tell everyone I am doing it).  I can tell, despite his protestations, he is excited and ready to go to the store and play with strollers and car seats.  It’s important that your Daddy knows how to work everything before you get here.  He can be mechanically challenged, but don’t tell him I said that.  In all honesty, so can your Mama, after all, some of this gear looks complicated.

When you get here on the other side, you’ll probably be happy we did all of this research.  I’m sure we’ll make a few purchase mistakes, but I hope we get the big ones right.

Something you might be interested in knowing … we are going to go with cloth diapers.  I had cloth diapers as a baby and they have come a very long way since 1969.  I have read more than anyone ever needs to read about cloth diapers.  Covers vs. Pockets.  Inserts vs. Diapers.  In the end, I have opted for some of each.  We’re starting with bumGenius and Thirsties … we’ll see how that goes.  Right now I am going on reviews from other Moms and maternal instinct.

Hopefully, I actually have maternal instinct.

I have picked out your baby beds and your linens.  I don’t know what I am going to use for a dresser.  A part of me wants to get a raw one and paint it with non-toxic paint and get some cool knobs.  I think I am going to go for the changing table on top of the dresser and not an actual “changing table.”

Your room in this house is very small, so I am trying to just do the basics, since I know we’ll be moving, hopefully before your first birthday. Once all of these swings and bouncy seats take over the house, we might be moving before your second month birthday.

Grandma Kay (we’re not going to call her Grandma Kay — I have a much more interesting name I want you to try to learn, which she’ll pretend to hate, but secretly she’ll love it, especially when you say it) is going to come visit us later in the summer and help me put it all together.  She’s good like that.  Even at 43, your Mama still needs her Mama.

We have a lot of work to do on naming all of your grandparents.  Of course, it does not matter what we tell you to call them, you are going to come up with your own version of the name anyway.  Mawmaw got her name from me because I could not (or would not) say Mamaw.

Do you know how lucky you are to have so many grandparents?  I think it is wonderful.  I can’t wait for you to meet them.

I did buy some things yesterday.  I couldn’t help it.  They tell me you’re going to be able to start hearing our voices in a few weeks, so I had to buy some books.  A dozen books to be exact.  Kids books are cheap, and anyone who knows me knows that your book collection is almost as important as what diapers we are going to use.

I saw all of these goofy speakers you can put on your belly and play messages and music for you.  I’m not putting any speakers on my belly, but I will read to you and sing you some songs, like I’m already doing.

Here’s our book list:

  • Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go!
  • The Going-To-Bed Book
  • One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
  • Are You My Mother?
  • Goodnight Moon
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • My Very First Mother Goose
  • Guess How Much I Love You
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends
  • The Giving Tree
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • The Little Prince

The last two are kind of important because after I had gone on my book buying spree, I found these:

Where the Wild Things Are Mobile

The Little Prince Mobile

The Little Prince Mobile

And yes, these are your mobiles.  I have not actually bought them yet, but I will.  I don’t know whose is whose and it really doesn’t matter.  I love both of these stories.  They are perfect for boys and girls.

I realized after two days of online “shopping” for you that a lot of what we choose to buy and bring into your world has more to do with what we love than what you love.  In fact, it has everything to do with what we love.  That’s how things get passed down.  It’s why Where the Wild Things Are and The Little Prince will be timeless classics forever … because Mamas like me want to pass the love of them on to babies like you.

There will be plenty of time for pink princesses (if Harper happens to be a girl) and Star Wars action figures, super heroes, as well as USC Trojan (from your Daddy) and TCU Horned Frog (from your Grandpa Roy) paraphernalia — but for now, we’ll stick with the classics.

Hopefully you’ll come to love them as much as I do.

Love,

Mama

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Week 14 — Tri-Two: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Terry.

Week 14

This picture was taken in our hotel room at the Hyatt.
Next week we’ll return to the regular “location.”

It’s funny.  I think back to when I read, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.  I remember it as the book about the girl who gets her period and is excited about growing breasts to fit into her new bra (We must, we must increase in our bust.)  And yet, it was about so much more than that.  The real conflict of the story was somehow buried in my memory bank and all that remained at the forefront were the bathroom humor parts you giggled about with your girlfriends.

Rather than remembering her religious conflict, I remember bras, periods and maxi pads —  and the even more salacious scenes between Katherine and Michael in Forever by Judy Blume.  I know I read Forever way before I probably should have.  I also went to Six Flags and the mall unescorted by adults way before I probably should have.  I had a Skipper doll named Ginger who grew breasts when you turned her arm.  Huh? (We must, we must increase in our bust.)  I chalk all of this up to the fact that it was the 70’s.  I say it often — we’re all lucky we made it out alive.  

It’s week 14 and my tummy has definitely “popped.”  I suddenly have this belly I have to navigate.  My belly button looks different.  It looks like I have a muffin-top when I wear jeans.  I’m not at a place where anyone would dare ask me if I was pregnant for fear of being slapped.  And yet, a part of me is ready to stick it all out there and really be publicly pregnant.

Last night Jonathan and I went to Souplantation for dinner.  Exciting, I know.  I only mention it because for the past week I have had to take a drug called Zofran before every meal in order to get the nutrition I need for the Dumplings.  But last night … no Zofran.  No nausea.  I kept waiting for it to arrive, Zofran in hand, but it never did.

This is progress.

The interesting thing about being pregnant is how in tune you are with what your body needs.  Your body is literally talking to you all day long.  Eat this.  Drink that.  Avoid this.  Sleep NOW.  Eat grapefruit.  Right now my body has me convinced that all onions will kill me, as will all chicken with a breading.  Emotional eating is not possible.  Your hormones are surging, your body is expanding, things are moving around inside — as natural as the whole process is (give or take a few bumps in the road) there is nothing mindless about it.  I have never been so in my body and in the moment.

Today I met with Brenda, a blogger at Secret Agent Josephine and an amazing artist.  She is going to be designing the masthead (top of the blog) for the new Terrilox blog design.  I got a sneak peak of what she is planning, and I am very excited.  We spoke for awhile and one of the things that came up during our conversation was religion.  You always know someone is a kindred spirit on some level when you can have an unemotional conversation about religion.

This brief conversation got me to thinking about Are You There, God?  It’s Me Margaret.  As I was driving later in the day, I begin to ponder her religious conflict between Christianity and Judaism.  Her mother was Christian and her father was Jewish.  At the time, I honestly do not think I had ever met a Jewish person, or if I had, I did not know it.  I did, however, have a Jehovah Witness in my 5th grade class.  I only remember this because she wore dresses and was not allowed to dance.

I know the lack of a defined religious dogma in my life left me always searching, and in many ways it has made me more connected.  More curious. And given all the work I have done to get to this point, my faith is pretty solid, and for this I am grateful.

Later in the afternoon, I went to Ellen’s yoga class for the first time in two weeks.  No nausea.  No fatigue.  I found myself completely surrendering to the mat, trying to navigate this growing bump in the front of my belly.  I was so happy to be there, I tried to embrace the struggles brought on by the added weight on the front of my body.

Towards the end of class, as we’re down on our mats in bridge pose, I begin to think about Margaret’s internal religious conflict and wonder about the Dumplings?  I’m not going to get into a deep contemplative blog about the role faith will play in our family life and how it will manifest as the Dumplings grow, but it is on my mind.  Jonathan and I will be navigating these waters together.  As two Jewish people with secular tendencies — not overly religious by nature — we both see the journey ahead.  For this, I am again, grateful.

I’ve always believed each person has an individual relationship with God.  Throughout all the searching I have done in my life, I was always talking and praying; solidifying our methods of communication.  After all, it’s a relationship, not a religion.  The ritual of religion is important, but ultimately the quality of the relationship we have with God is what sustains us.  Even if the relationship is no belief at all, it’s a decision not to have one.

I came home and found this excerpt from the book, which I vaguely remembered as I went in search of it:

Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret. I’ve been looking for you, God. I looked in temple. I looked in church. And today I looked for you when I wanted to confess. But you weren’t there. I didn’t feel you at all. Not the way I do when I talk to you at night. Why, God? Why do I only feel you when I’m alone?

Like I said, it’s a relationship.  How faith is represented in the home is how children come to know God.  Like everything else, they watch you.

So, God, if you are there, it’s me, Terry.  I’m pretty sure I’ve found you, but I am so very far from a model student.  I’ve looked in churches, temples, synagogues, on yoga retreats in Maya Tulum and even at the summit of Macchu Piccu.  And, like Margaret, the times I feel you’re presence the strongest are when we’re alone.  I hope over the next several years you can help us navigate the journey to know you for our children.  We think it’s pretty important.  Make that very important.  Thank you.

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Dear Dumplings: Week 13 — Meet Raylan the Cat

Dear Dumplings,

Well, today you are 13 weeks and 3 days old.  How about that?  I hear you’re about the size of a peach.  That’s a pretty good size, I think.

Daddy and I went to see Dr. S. this morning and there you both were.  Harlow, for the first time you were fast asleep.  I think you were snoring.  Actually, I am not even sure if you can snore yet, but if you could snore — that’s how asleep you were.  Harper, you were playing all over the place.  It was good to see you kicking your brother in the head.

Did I say brother?

Yes, I did.

Harlow is confirmed to be a boy.  Harper, unfortunately the jury is still out on you.  It’s a 50-50 split between the two doctors.  I could not see anything, so I am not sure what they’re observing on that screen.  But, on your brother, I saw exactly what they were looking at.  He’s ALL boy!

In other news, you’re getting a big brother.

Meet Raylan.

Raylan the Cat

Raylan the Cat

My dream of having a “kid” named Raylan is happening.  You should feel blessed it’s a cat and not one of you.  Eventually we will find a red tabby Maine Coon cat and name him Crowder.  You can’t have a cat named “Raylan” Givens without a partner named Boyd “Crowder.”  We’re both secretly longing for a red tabby in honor or Boomer, but we don’t want a flat-faced tabby.  No one can ever replace Boomer’s face, so why even try?  In the meantime, you’re Grandma Sandy is bringing us Raylan all the way from Colorado and we are thrilled.

Hopefully you’re not allergic to cats … or dogs …

After all, we are still on the hunt for Igor the dog, too.

Every week I write these letters and I get to this place in the middle of the letter where I want to tell you something meaningful and profound.  Some life-changing advice that you will carry with you throughout your life.  I’m not sure I will ever be able to meet that expectation.  Carrying something with you throughout your life is a tall order; especially considering how many letters I plan on writing. I’ll settle for things that resonate with you.  Things that make you think.

It’s amazing how your entire life flashes before your eyes when you find out someone is going to call you Mama.  One of the first things Daddy and I did was start watching our language.  I told your Daddy he’s going to have to find some more creative expletives when he is mad at the Los Angeles Kings or the USC Trojans or the Cincinnati Reds.  He’s working on it, though the Kings are trying his very last nerve.

As for me, I just have to be a kinder, gentler, driver  — I’ll leave it at that.  Specifically, I need to be more patient with people driving the Prius.

Every time I think about what kind of people I hope you’ll be, the one thing that always pops into my mind is; Kind.  The second thing that comes to my mind is; Easy-going.  I can’t imagine that your Daddy or I could possibly raise unkind children.  As for easy-going … it’s going to be a complete crap shoot, I think.

All of us are born with things we’re inherently good at.  I like to call them our gifts.  We all have lots of them, and sometimes it takes years to discover all of our different blessings.  I can’t wait to find out what yours are; if you’re introverts or extroverts.  I have always wondered if all of this gets worked out before we get here?  Do you have some sort of conversation with God where you talk about what you’re here for and then endowed with the gifts you need?  Or do you decide all of this?  Free will and all.

These are the things your Mama contemplates while drinking Dr. Pepper.

Yes, in a moment of weakness, I had a small Dr. Pepper today with my turkey sandwich.  I promise I won’t do it again, but honestly, I think both of you liked it because my stomach was so happy.  Of course, it could have been the fact that I went to the doctor this morning and asked for nausea drugs and I got them. Lunch was amazing today and I have not had that feeling about a meal in a long time.

I told Dr. K I felt weak having to ask for drugs, but he assured me it was not weak.

Last week when the doctor told me that the most important nutritional year of your life was this one, I got a little freaked out about everything I was putting in my body.  But today, they told me my weight was good (I gained 1.5 pounds in 2 weeks), my blood pressure was perfect — all systems were go.  Apparently, all of this nausea was not keeping Harlow from sleeping or Harper from playing.  I heard your beautiful heartbeats and when I got home I rested a little easier.

As I sat down to type this letter, I was listening to The Avett Brothers.  The Avett Brothers are one of my favorite bands and the song Live and Die played on a loop as I typed this.  The song keeps your toes tapping and the lyrics leave you wondering exactly what they mean.

You and I, we’re the same.
Live and die, we’re the same.
You rejoice, I complain,
but you and I, we’re the same.
Live and die, we’re the same.
You and I, we’re the same.
Hear my voice, know my name,
you and I, we’re the same.

My final analysis is the song is about our oneness.  Our sameness.  I love it.  I hope it makes you think.  I’ve added it to the lullaby list.

Love On,

Mama

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Week 13 — Tri-One: An Amalgam of Sorts

Week 13It’s official.  I am 13-weeks along and just when I thought I was feeling better, today happened.  I won’t bore you with the details, but it wasn’t pretty.  In all honesty, it would bore even me if it weren’t making me sick.

This week the Dumplings are roughly three inches long.  Tomorrow we go for another ultrasound. The good thing about being a woman of advanced maternal age who is pregnant with twins — they are constantly wanting to check on and take pictures of the babies.  I do not mind this at all, of course.

Since I last wrote, I have completely redesigned the fireplace mantel area in our bedroom.  Now I am moving on to the bathroom.  I even went so far as to go to Home Depot and purchase a cable staple gun.  You should see this thing, it’s very serious.  I feel like the cable guy. Jonathan says nothing perks me up faster than finding knick-knacks for a shelf.  I hate to admit it, but he’s right.

I wonder if this is the nesting gene everyone keeps talking about?

Boston, 1991 No, I didn't really drink this many margaritas ... I don't think.   And yes, I have a perm.

Boston, 1991
No, I didn’t really drink this many margaritas … I don’t think.
And yes, I have a perm and a cigarette.
(I’ll delete this before the Dumplings can read blogs.)

Yesterday was Patriot’s Day.  It was Tax Day.  It was a tragic day in a city I love.  Boston. Boston is where I started to become an adult.  I say “started” because as much growing up as you do in college — the real growing up starts when you leave that little nest.  I met friends I have had for more than twenty-five years (did I just write 25 years?) and despite distance and time, every time I see them it simultaneously seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago.  It’s where I learned to be completely silly.  Where I learned to hold my tequila.  I also learned to drink White Russians — I was way ahead of The Dude in The Big Lebowski.  By the time The Big Lebowski was released in 1998, I was no longer able to look at a White Russian, much less drink one.

I never learned to hold my Kahlua like I learned to hold my tequila.  It took me awhile to let go of the perm, but now I am a free woman.

I have been avoiding the news since I found out I was pregnant.  I get some highlights and digest what I can, but generally I try to stay away from news channels and things that make me anxious.  Bombs going off as people who have trained and planned and worked towards this all-American event was so unfathomable to me; and yet it wasn’t.  I hate that I know there is evil in the world.  I don’t contemplate it too often because it serves no purpose, but I do know it’s out there.  Yesterday I was confronted with it again as I tried to take in the events of the day without overwhelming myself.  All I could think to do was pray for the families hurt by this senseless violence.  I hope they catch whoever did this, not only for the families, but for our nation.

Today I got an email from a very good friend of mine.  It had a link to a trailer for a documentary called TWO:  The Story of Roman & Nyro.  I watched it and got teary eyed.  Love always brings tears to my eyes.  Families bring tears to my eyes.  When you’re pregnant lots of things bring tears to your eyes.  People who want to be parents should be able to be parents and when you watch Roman & Nyro — even in this five minute trailer — you know they are on this earth with the parents they were meant to have.  I know the ache to have a child, as many women and men do, so when I see that dream fulfilled for people, it makes my heart happy.  I hope watching this will make your heart happy, too.  The boys are adorable.

Jonathan and I had to go to the Social Security Administration today.  I will only have you ponder this.  Why are they only open 9-3 for four days per week and 9-noon one day per week?  Your tax dollars at work.  Luckily we got there before three.

While driving we were listening to 70’s music.  Charlie Rich sang The Most Beautiful Girl In the World and I knew all of the lyrics.  Mawmaw had the 8-track.  Her 8-track collection is also why I can sing Gordon Lightfoot.  Today we heard Bread, Boston, The Association, Supertramp and as we pulled into the driveway Stevie was singing Superstition.  I love Superstition. I am listening to it as I type this.

Whenever Jonathan and I sing 70’s in the car, I imagine us looking like this.

Jonathan and Terry 70's Birthday Party July 2011

Jonathan and Terry
70’s Birthday Party
July 2011

I met Stevie Wonder when I was the Talent Executive on the TV Land Awards one year. They did a tribute to Soul Train and Don Cornelius.  Stevie sang Superstition.  When he showed up for rehearsal, we had to tell him rehearsal was running behind.  He was very nice about it, but he said in his very sweet voice, “I know the song.  I’ve played it before.” That always makes me laugh for some reason.  Roseanne Barr was there that night as well, and all I can remember is her dancing and singing that song.  The editors were constantly cutting to her in the final show because she was so into it.

When I think of moments like this one, I miss working in talent booking full-time.  But then things happen — like Queen Latifah cancels on me three weeks before an event — and I don’t miss it.  That is what I am dealing with this week.

As I started typing today, I realized it was going to be an amalgam of my week.  I did not really have a theme or one specific story.  It was a week full of impressions.

Lately every impression I have makes me think about the Dumplings.

I think about the events in Boston and I wonder, What kind of world will they grow-up in?  And then I step back and think — a beautiful one; especially if they think it’s 1975 until they are 10.  Honestly, there is way more good in this world than evil.  Evil always seems to take the spotlight in the most horrific and sensationalistic ways like it did yesterday.  I don’t know if that will ever change.  It’s up us to be the good — show our children the good, make them aware of the evil and teach them not to live in fear, but in love. All we can do is LOVE ON.

I think about college; drinking too many margaritas and White Russians — getting bad perms and smoking cigarettes.  I decide these are just great examples of how not to be like Mommy.  And yet, I think about Boston Conservatory and all the good in my life that came from leaving home and blazing my own trail.

And finally I think about 60’s and 70’s music and start making my playlist for the delivery room.

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Dear Dumplings — 12 Weeks: Baby Bucket List

Inka Trail - Day 3 - Terry

Mama, Macchu Piccu 2004
Yes, it was on my Bucket List

Dear Dumplings,

We saw you this week on Mon­day.  I have an entire 35-minute video of the scan.  I have decided not to post it because, well, in all hon­esty you both look like space aliens.  Please don’t hold this against me when you’re 40.  When you get old enough to view this video, I am cer­tain you will agree.  Don’t worry.  I am sav­ing it for you.  Two copies.

I have to tell you, it is pretty amaz­ing what you can see at only 12-weeks and 1-day old.  Har­low, you are still the mover and the shaker.  Harper, you are quite the lit­tle zen sleeper.  We think we know both of the sexes, but it’s not 100%.  When we are sure, I’ll write about it.  In the mean­time, the doc­tor said you are both per­fect.  He lit­er­ally used that word.  Of course, I could have told him that — but don’t let it go to your head.

We saw all the hemi­spheres of your brains, your spine, you lit­tle eyes and noses.  Really, you look just like lit­tle alien peo­ple.  Har­low, I think you have your Daddy’s neck.

This week you are a lit­tle bit big­ger than a key lime and weigh slightly more than a 1/2 an ounce each.  You are appar­ently begin­ning to demon­strate reflexes with grasp­ing, suck­ing and hic­cups.  I won­der what I am doing to give you hic­cups?  I do not enjoy hic­cups.  I can’t imag­ine you do either.

We get to see you next week, too!  I am hop­ing we can con­firm your sex.  I am ready to start sewing.

Before I ram­ble any fur­ther into this let­ter, I just want to thank both of you.  Thank you for choos­ing me to be your Mama and your Daddy to be your Daddy.  It’s an awe­some respon­si­bil­ity, and one I will never take lightly.  I’ll also try to not over-think it, but I made need some help on this.

We all three went to Chaz’s yoga class for the first time since the night before Dr. K trans­ferred you into your Mama.  We did go on a yoga retreat about a month ago, but as far as my reg­u­lar flow yoga class — Wednes­day was my first go at it.  It was hot and sweaty and hard.  I had such a good time on Wednes­day; I decided to go to Ellen’s class on Thurs­day.  Today is Fri­day and we are tired.  I can feel all of those mus­cles in my arms scream­ing at me.

There were moments in both yoga classes when I thought; what am I doing here?  I should be home drink­ing a banana shake … or bet­ter yet, we should be asleep. 

All of that incred­i­ble strength I had in my upper body at the end of my 67 days on the mat was lin­ger­ing.  It was not totally gone, but given the fact that my breasts weigh more and my tummy is pop­ping out — yoga is going to take some get­ting used to in this new body.  I could feel you rum­bling around in there through­out the class.  I think you like yoga.  The good news is, I was not nau­seous.  I had the energy to get through it, even though I had to mod­ify some things and do more Child’s poses than I ever did before.  But that’s okay, because you know what?  I’m build­ing a cou­ple of per­fect dumplings.

As I type these let­ters I keep think­ing about what I would want to know about from my own Mama or my Maw­maw or Memom?  What would I ask them if I were a dumpling in the womb?  I don’t know really.  I can only think about what I wish I knew at 43.  Dumplings aren’t sup­posed to have ques­tions yet; they’re too busy in there learn­ing to hic­cup and wave.

In life, each chap­ter arrives at dif­fer­ent times for dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Some peo­ple get mar­ried early and have a baby and then they go back to school and become a den­tist (like your Grandma Kay).  Some peo­ple go to school and get estab­lished in their career and then they start a fam­ily.  Some peo­ple decide they’re hav­ing too much fun on their own to mess with all of that fam­ily stuff.  And some peo­ple, like your Daddy and me, do a whole bunch of things for a long time and then we have babies.

I hon­estly do not think there is a right way or a wrong way — as long as you obey the law and all.  There is your way and ulti­mately, that is the best way for the jour­ney you are trav­el­ing in this life.  We each have a unique path, and for this, we should all be grateful.

I was look­ing through some old papers the other day and I found my Bucket List I had writ­ten when I was about 27-years old.  A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die.  I have always liked hav­ing a bucket list.  I think goals and dreams are good for peo­ple to have, it keeps you young and active and always work­ing towards some­thing.  Maybe some­day you’ll have a bucket list of your own?

As I looked through my old Bucket List, I decided it needed some updat­ing.  I am not going to share it all with you today, but I will tell you about the first five things on the list.  Before start­ing on the triv­ial (but fun) stuff — I wrote down the five most impor­tant things to achieve in my life.  I decided if I never swam with dol­phins or went on a African safari, I would be okay.  How­ever, the first five items are more of my life’s work, as opposed to a sim­ple list of things to do.

1.)  Make health a top priority

2.)  Raise healthy, happy, curi­ous and kind children

3.)  Find our for­ever home and make it our dream home

4.)  Work towards liv­ing debt free

5.)  Try to honor God, our par­ents and our his­tory in every­thing we do

See, these are all things I never thought about when I was 25 — per­haps I was start­ing to think about them at 35, a lit­tle.  As I wrote them down, I thought this is my life’s work; not a Bucket List.  So that is my ‘Life’s Work’ List, which may or may not be a new sort of list.  I have no idea.

Just remem­ber as you go through life, peo­ple will impart all sorts of wis­dom and ideas about how you should and why you should do cer­tain things.  There are some impor­tant things I wish I had known and done, and as you get older, I will focus on telling you those.  If you are any­thing like your Mama, you will prob­a­bly nod and smile – then do what­ever your heart is telling you to do.  Your Daddy was a lit­tle bet­ter at lis­ten­ing to his par­ents, so I secretly hope you are more like him in that regard.

Even now, as I get ready to bring two per­fect dumplings into the world, I real­ize friends and fam­ily and ran­dom peo­ple on the street are never done giv­ing you advice and ideas.   After only 12-weeks I have already received count­less emails on how to get you to sleep, eat, stop nau­sea, where to shop, how to shop and so much more.  I am thrilled for the infor­ma­tion, and I have luck­ily found a way to file it so I do not get overloaded.

Every week I find more amaz­ing blogs of cre­ative women doing inspir­ing things.  This week I found a web­site called Aes­thetic Nest.  Wow.  She really knows how to throw a cool birth­day party.  When that time comes, look out!

In the mean­time, we’ll keep going to yoga and attempt to make healthy food choices – and most impor­tantly, I’ll try to savor all the moments I can between the nau­sea and exhaus­tion.  It is slowly but surely get­ting better.

I hope I didn’t over­load you today.   Maybe it was a lit­tle too much shar­ing for one let­ter.  Ah, well.  Get used to it.

Love,

Mama

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Week 12 — Tri-One: My Husband Is a Saint

photoSo here it is, the official 12 week photo.  Suddenly my tummy popped out like a small melon and I can no longer suck it back in.   I am nearing the end of the first trimester.  As of Sunday, April 14th, my second trimester begins.  I have to say, as enjoyable as building these little dumplings has been thus far, I am ready for a new phase.

I am glad I have been writing every week because somehow, despite my best efforts to savor every moment of this, the past several weeks have been a blur.  I have been in a constant state of fatigue or nausea.  Trying to feed me was worse than trying to feed a picky five-year old.  It was worse than trying to feed my husband — those of you who know my husband really understand this statement.  The things I love to do — write, yoga, read — were almost impossible to enjoy.  I seemed to be forever in search of the perfectly bland meal; never completely satisfied.

Can I bring you something?

I don’t know, I said.

How about a hamburger?

No cooked flesh!  

How about soup?

Maybe.

How about tomato soup with cheese toast?

Maybe.  Yes.  Okay.  

This has been our almost daily conversation for the past six weeks.  He keeps asking questions and making suggestions and asking questions and making suggestions until something sounds like it will not make me hurl.  And even when I think I have him making the perfect meal for me, there have been times where after one bite I am pushing it back in his face like a bratty child.  Or worse, running to the bathroom.

So, why is he a saint?  Let me count the ways.

  • He is always trying to put me to bed and make me take a nap.
  • He rubs my tummy every single day.
  • He will not let me touch the 409, or any cleaning product for that matter.
  • He drives to get me banana shakes at all hours of the night.
  • He drives to get me pudding at all hours of the night.
  • He drives to get me anything I want at all hours of the night.
  • He has suddenly started cleaning.  It’s like having a live-in maid.
  • He has suddenly started cooking.  It’s like having a live-in cook.
  • He tapes random things on the DVR that he knows I will love — and I do.
  • He listens to all the doctors instructions and enforces them.

As for the last one … let’s just say he is trying to enforce them.

So, doctor, what should she not eat?  Jonathan asked.

Sugar.  There is no place for sugar.  We know now that most important year of nutrition in a child’s life is this one.  

Jonathan looks at me and then at the bag of jolly ranchers sticking out of my purse.

I think about the Lucky Charms, the Chef Boyardee, the banana shakes, the pudding, the cookies … and I think to myself, I have already screwed them up beyond repair.  I then glance at the recommended diet and wonder where the chicken n’ dumplings, biscuits and gravy and chicken friend steak all fit into the diet …

We had our first trimester visit with the perinatologist yesterday.  This doctor does a scan of the babies every trimester to make sure everything is going well.  After all sorts of scanning from every possible angle, we were told we have two perfect babies.  We even know the sex of one of them, but until we have a confirmation on both, we are keeping quiet.  Perhaps we will know next week when we go back to the OB?  I hope so.

This new doctor gave us a packet of information on the diet I should follow throughout my pregnancy.  There are no banana shakes on my food list and this was quite distressing.  In fact, there is no sugar on my food list.  Sugar has been pulling me through some very dark places lately so the thought of saying goodbye to it had me worried.

I was relieved to read when I got home that I could enjoy ice cream, a small piece of cake or a cookie once a week.  Has anyone read the tagline for my blog?  I am always ready for dessert … not occasionally, once a week ready for dessert.  Always.

Jonathan asked questions, read the packet and took mental notes.  He was all-in on the new diet plan.  He took this packet of dietary information and the doctors orders of grass-fed beef and cage free chicken and cage free eggs and organic milk very seriously.

Without warning, banana shakes were removed from my menu.  Tonight I found myself at Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt with banana frozen yogurt covered in walnuts and blueberries.  Last night I had strawberries with kiwi for dessert.  My banana shake runs are becoming a distant memory.

This new doctor also gave us an exercise plan.  Jonathan took me out and exercised me this afternoon.  As I sit typing this, I am almost asleep.  He’s creating a routine for me.  I have been ordered back to yoga starting Thursday.

My once completely accommodating husband has suddenly turned into my personal pregnancy trainer.  I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this yet.  I’ll let you know next week.

All of this is so new to us.  I feel like we are suddenly members of some secret society.  The grown-ups with kids society.  Or the grown-ups getting ready for kids society.

Given all we have been through to get here, it would be very easy to get overwhelmed with everything being thrown at us, but we aren’t.  In many ways it’s the most in sync we have ever been.  Throughout the infertility journey I felt as though I was on a deserted island.  I kept waiting for the moment when I could exhale.

Now I read the books talking about labor with twins and all of the unknowns I have to look forward to, I am calm.  I look at Jonathan and he is calm.

After our appointment yesterday, we can both really exhale.  Together.  We have two healthy, strong babies with strong heartbeats.

God is so very good or has a crazy sense of humor.  I’ll let you know the answer to that when they get here and I’m dreaming of sleep.  In the meantime, I have some baby blankets to make.

 

 

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Dear Dumplings — 11 Weeks: Your First OB Appointment

The Dumplings 11 weeks, 3 days

Dear Dumplings,

This is your 11 week, 3 days picture.  We went to see the new doctor today, Dr. S.  She was very nice and so thrilled to see both of you on the screen.  I miss Dr. K, it’s going to take some time for me to adjust after eighteen months together, but I’m happy with our choice.

This week you are now slightly bigger than a fig and your arms and legs are moving all over the place, especially you, Harlow (the top baby).  I would hope you might give your brother or sister a little more room down there.  Every time we see you, you are waving. I can already tell you have a ton of your father in you.  You can’t sit still.  They say I am not supposed to be able to feel you kicking, but I beg to differ.  I feel you doing something, and from the looks of you on that ultrasound, you’re quite a kicker.

Now as for little Harper, you seem more zen like your Mama — except, of course, when your Mama is not at all zen.  So far I have only seen you in this peaceful state.  You might wave a little arm, but you seem much more content letting Harlow run the show up there. I do, however, wish you would stretch out a little more and perhaps start kicking back. Someone is going to need to show Harlow what is what eventually.  You have 20+ more weeks to go!

They tell us your sex organs are forming, but still not visible for confirmation by ultrasound.  She made a guess on Harlow, but we are going to wait until the ultrasound in two weeks to confirm before we talk about it.  Or should I say, I talk about it.    Your Daddy seems to like for me to do all the talking.  He spends most of his time trying to figure out how to feed us.

Speaking of feeding us.  I have debated about writing this next paragraph because there is going to come a time when we are in the grocery store and you will beg me for some ridiculous cereal like Apple Jacks … or Lucky Charms.  I am going to look at you sweetly and say, You had all the Apple Jacks and Lucky Charms you will ever need while you were in Mama’s tummy.  Enjoy them for this brief moment in time because they are not a household staple.

In addition to the bizarre cereal craving.  I did consume a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli and a can of Spaghetti-o’s.  I am very confused by this behavior.  Under any normal circumstance I would never notice, much less buy these products.  I barely ate them as a kid.  I am completely off the hamburgers.  Any meat now makes my stomach turn.  In fact, most things make my stomach turn.  Except Lucky Charms and Apple Jacks — oh, and Honey Nut Cheerios.

Last night I did manage to eat a chopped salad and three pieces of cheese pizza at Barone’s.  Barone’s is a San Fernando Valley institution.  Your Grandma Wilcox went on dates there before she got married!  The pizza is square and they use jack cheese instead of the traditional mozzarella.  We love it.  I loved it a little too much last night because when I came home I could not move.  I could not even think of swallowing my vitamins.  I fell asleep on top of the covers on the bed.  Daddy woke me up around midnight and I finally managed to get the vitamins down.

I know it sounds like your Mama is complaining a lot about the nausea and the eating issues.  And I do, but I just want you to know that when I see your little legs kicking and your arms waving — I say to myself, Canned ravioli and marshmallow cereal never killed anybody.  It has, perhaps, rotted a few teeth.  

This week in the world everyone is wondering what to do about North Korea?  North Korea is one of five communist countries left in the world, and by far the worst one of the bunch.  They starve their people and block out the rest of the world.  There is a new leader, Kim Jong-Un.  He is the son of the old leader, Kim Jong-Il.  Right now he is threatening to use nuclear weapons on the United States.  Who knows what he is capable of?  No one really knows, so there is a big build up of military ships all around the Korean peninsula.  One of his alleged targets is Austin, Texas.  I guess he knows what cities would really cripple this great nation — Washington D.C., San Diego and Austin … maybe he is trying to stamp out the best BBQ and Mexican food?

I’m sure it’s a build up of nothing.  That always seems to be the case with North Korea.

In more important news (to your father), baseball season has started.  This is your Daddy’s favorite time of year.  Vin Scully is back announcing for the Dodgers again and all is right with the world.  Ironically, your Daddy is not a Dodgers fan, he is a Cincinnati Reds fan.  Your Grandpa Wilcox is a Reds fan, so is your Daddy.  That is how that works.  Your Mama is a Texas Rangers fan, though I will admit I am not a huge follower on a daily or even weekly basis like your Daddy.

We are going to be taking three trips before you are born.  The first one will be to Washington DC on May 2-6.  The second one will be to Chicago on May 30-June 4.  The final trip will be to Texas at the end of June.  Mama’s friend, Stacy, is throwing her a baby shower in Texas!  Your Daddy is coming and we are going to look at some neighborhoods.

Every morning your Daddy puts his hand on my belly and tries to feel you.  It’s so cute.  You can’t feel anything much when you place your hand on my belly just yet, but I can feel you wiggling around.  I know it has to be Harlow.

Despite my nausea and fatigue, I am enjoying every day of growing you.  I am sorry if my nutrition choices are not all that stellar.  I am hoping to get better once this passes.  It was a good sign that I was able to eat a salad last night, I think.

I just got some material to start making your first baby blankets.  I thought I would start small and get used to my new sewing machine.  It has lots of bells and whistles on it.  I found some patterns for some simple dolls and really cute clothes.  But one thing at a time …

I love you both and all of that hormone you are producing to make me feel sick.  I love it because I know it means you are strong and growing stronger.  I know it is going to go faster than I could possibly imagine, but I can’t wait for you to join me on this side of my belly.

This week I’ve been singing you lots of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Patsy Cline.  I was singing Karen Carpenter too, but your Daddy thought they were too depressing.  I guess, but she sure did have a beautiful voice.  I still sing them when he’s not home.  I also sing Ring of Fire, just because I like to sing it.  Johnny Cash is always good.  I hope you don’t mind.

Harlow, please stop kicking and crowding Harper.

Love Always,

Mama

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Week 11 — Tri-One: You’re Gonna Miss This, We All Do

Terry Week 11This is the official 11 week photo.  I am starting to show.  I actually like that I am starting to show, but right now I am in that awkward stage where if people do not know you are pregnant, they think you have just gained a little weight.  I am ready for people to look at me and know I am pregnant as opposed to pudgy.

The thing that is showing a little too much is the gray hair on my head.  I cannot wait until the second trimester so I can visit my hairdresser, Tracy.  My roots and I miss her terribly.  Right now I am a little too salty up top and it makes me feel as old as I am.  I like to live under the illusion that I am really only 33, which is how I feel.

This week the dumplings are as big as figs.  I have two little figs growing in there and on Wednesday we are going to get to see them again.  I cannot wait.

In the meantime, for your viewing pleasure you must see Jonathan as a baby.  His cousin read my last blog post and sent me some scans she had of ‘Jonny’  — the only people that call Jonathan ‘Jonny’ are his cousins, Stacy and Jennifer — and their kids.  It’s so cute.  I wish these were color (those are coming when I get the slides converted), but these are too cute not to share.

Jonathan Wilcox Baby Pic #1Jonathan Wilcox Baby Pic #2

The smile in the second one is priceless.  I cannot wait until all of the color slides are digitized.  I am taking them to Costco this week!

The thing that has been on my mind the most this week has been traditions.  When you think about Passover and Easter — or any holiday really — even Valentine’s Day — there is always the opportunity to create tradition.  I have seen tradition streaming up and down my Facebook newsfeed all week.  One of my friends created a Passover musical called, Plagues.  Other friends have Easter decorations, hunts, cookies and pictures galore.  I have a friend who has the Valentine’s Day tradition of buying everyone in her family new pajamas for Valentine’s Day and taking a family photo in them.  Another friend has family Olympics every summer when they go to the lake.

Every family has traditions around food, holidays and other family gatherings.   These moments always bring pictures full of smiling, happy children — unaware someday they will long for the simplicity of these simple childhood moments.  The pictures are also full of parents hoping they might realize it sooner.

I’m not sure if they ever do.  I’m not sure they’re supposed to.

The one thing I know about tradition is that kids love it (even if they don’t realize it is a tradition just yet) — and they often remember it differently and in way more color than the adults around them creating the said tradition.  Sometimes I am not even sure the adults know they created a tradition until the kid looks at them wondering where it went?

Jonathan and I were talking this weekend, and he looked at me and said, What is your obsession with a farm, with space — where is this coming from? What are we going to do with it when we get it?  

Coming from someone who grew up in Los Angeles, this was a reasonable question.  Our childhood’s were so vastly different.

I finally had to admit that one of the greatest traditions I had as a kid was going to Arkansas and roaming around that farm.  Yes, I made cookies with my Mom and my Dad — and did all sorts of little things with my parents that would qualify as traditions, but going to Lead Hill, Arkansas was the biggest of traditions.  The foundational tradition that was responsible for a lot of who I am.  I blogged about Arkansas ad nauseam during 60 Days On the Mat, but I never really tied it into anything I was trying to give our children until Jonathan asked me this question.

As I think about the things I had that I wish I could give my kids — this is the first thing that pops into my mind.  I loved being there.  I was never calling my mother begging to come home.  My Mawmaw was a complete blast, she was like a hillbilly Auntie Mame, and when I was young, the whole vacation seemed like a party.  Even going to farm school and sitting in the back of the classroom listening to rednecks learn about farming techniques was a barrel of laughs.  It was amazing how something so simple could bring me so much joy.

Somewhere inside my 43-year old brain, I think creating a family homestead on a piece of land will give my kids a glimpse and that life.  Of course, I can never give my kids a glimpse of that life without Mawmaw, and there was and will only ever be one of her.  We will never own a 500 acre farm, unless one of us wakes up with a degree in agriculture.  Jonathan will never sit on a John Deere tractor and run a hay baler.  Nor will I, for that matter.  I will, however, gladly ride around on a riding lawn mower.

So, I sit searching for how I can pass on that experience?  How can I pass on that little piece of my life that was so special?

The truth is you can never give your children exactly what you had because they are not you.  They would never see it through the same eyes that you saw it — even if you could give them a similar experience.  They have different grandparents, different generations, different interests — they’re different people.

We all know, trying to recreate anything is never satisfying.  Living in the past is always a recipe for depression.  Anytime we try to recreate, relive or long for some moment in time, we are cheating ourselves of this moment in time.  The most important moment in time.  As a yogi, I know this, and yet I cannot resist letting my mind wander to farms and catfish ponds and camping with Uncle David.

I think back now to things my Mom and Dad would tell me about when they were little, and it’s not until I started to think about raising our children that I really began to appreciate all of the stories.  I started to appreciate their perspective.  Now I wish I could go back and interview my great-grandparents and my grandparents.  I wish I could somehow capture a piece of who they were as adults that you can never even begin to comprehend until you are at least 30.

Children aren’t supposed to get it all when they’re kids, or even when they are young adults.  We almost have to be selfish to grow-up.  For a long period of time we are selfish and then we wake up one day and realize how fast it is all going and we start pulling on reins trying to slow it all down.  We start longing for what was.

As I talk to the little dumplings, I dream about creating a homestead that is bigger than your average home lot, but not really qualifying as a farm.  I am not sure if they will ever get to feed a baby cow or chase cows from one pasture to the next or catch a catfish in a pond, or catch a horse from the pasture using Nilla wafers and then ride him around the field until their Mawmaw is screaming at them to get off of him.

They’ll have their own childhood memories.  I just hope I can make most of them good ones.  I am sure I will screw up some tradition I did not even know I started and I will probably start some tradition they will wish I had not.  I guess the important thing to remember in all of it is to be flexible and be present.  Try not to take any of it too seriously.

And it is true, they will miss ‘this’.  Whatever ‘this’ turns out to be.  We all do.

Stacked
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