The Hot Pot Blog

February 27, 2011


Yesterday we saw flowers, sunshine, and temperatures in the high 60’s.  Pollution levels were better than they had been in weeks and the oh-so-rare breeze in the air compelled us to throw open the windows, take a sun-drenched 2.5 hour nap on the couch (ok fine, that was just me) and free our pale white toes from the oppression of winter shoes and boots, at least for the day.

We even ate dinner al fresco:

Bleach-enhanced baby greens with leftover “Irish Chili” (some might call it “beef stew”) from our friends’ fantastic chili cook-off party.

It was a weekend of highs… (sunshine! breezes! dinner at Japanese restaurants with cool people! chili parties with cool people! a new peanut butter brownie recipe!)

…and just one low-like item: sucking marshmallow goo up into the mechanics of my hand mixer and thereby destroying it and my planned s’more birthday pie.

After devoting 4 hours to the first two steps of the pie (gingersnap crust, bittersweet chocolate filling), the drama was all enough to make the crazy pregnant lady throw up her hands, scream curses words at the deities of 220 volt electricity…and then grab a fork and dig into her tragically unfinished masterpiece.

It was freaking delicious.  And luckily enough was unharmed by the mixer disaster that I delivered a good half a pie to the intended birthday girl.  I’ll share some photos soon.

Happy almost spring!

February 26, 2011

17-almost-18 Weeks “Your Showing!”

Warning to all those who are completed uninterested/nauseated/reasonably terrified of procreation/annoyed with mommy blogs or otherwise unlikely to enjoy reading my naval-gazing pregnancy notes: you should probably skip this post.

Our regularly programmed pithy comments and sappy reflections on life in China will resume next time.

A lot of people with blogs and baby bellies seem to make a habit of posting weekly about their pregnancy and using the space to update readers on a set of pre-determined questions and markers.  I’m a sucker for reading those things but I’m not up to writing them.

Instead I’m going to randomly post updates from time to time on the things I’m currently fixating on as I stare into the mirror after work shouting at Chris to look at how huge my midsection  and how it is must be expanding at the speed of sound. So yes, here we go, what I’m fixating on at 17.5 weeks:

As you may have guessed: my baby belly. Its huuuuuuge. Look at that!  It’s like I swallowed a cantelope!

(Pardon the weird lighting, we don’t really do “natural light” here in the ‘du…)

Ok, fine, maybe its not that huge.  But after weeks of everyone was saying “oh you don’t look pregnant,” I’ve all of a sudden got people at work petting my belly and squealing.

And weird or not, I’m calling that progress people.  I’m not a terribly large person to being with, so rocking the “pudgy” look for first 15 or so weeks was a bit unnerving.  I’m loving the whole baby-shaped look of things now, it’s just awesome.

And luckily, my meager wardrobe still contains a fair number of extra-long knit shirts that I can stretch to fit over the expand0-bump.  I can still wear my normal pants with a belly band, but maternity pants do fit and they are far more comfortable than I’d like to admit.

I know eventually I’ll have to order some maternity clothes, (or go Chinese-style and start wearing moo-moos and overalls to work) but I’m trying to put it off as long as humanly possible.

For now though, it’s just all about reveling in the bump, enjoying the evidence that I’m actually growing a human being in there.  I love that when I bend down to put on my socks and shoes, or roll out of bed, there’s all of a sudden this big ball of baby in the way.

And there’s something totally weird and cool about hugging Chris and feeling the bump of our baby pressing up against Chris’ stomach where there used to just be an empty space that we never noticed before.  If that’s not a metaphor for something, I don’t know what is.

On the “bliss” that the 2nd Trimester is supposed to be:

People talk about the 2nd trimester as if its some sort of combination amazing weekend away at a spa/out-of-body religious experience.  Supposedly, you are supposed to have glowing skin, massive amounts of energy, a knowing beatific mother-to-be smile, comfort, and a new found love for the whole world.  Sunshine and rainbows.  Puppy dogs and ice cream.  Hmm ice cream.

Maybe when they say the 2nd trimester is wonderful, what they mean is those-few-weeks-after-the-beginning-and-before-the-end-of-the-2nd-trimester are wonderful.

So far the fabulous pregnancy acne that attacked around week 6 has yet to make a full retreat (though it is marginally better and I’m grateful for small victories).  The tummy troubles of the 1st trimester have been replaced with the tummy troubles of the 2nd trimester.  We don’t really need to go into detail on those.  I’m not the walking zombie I was during the 1st trimester, but I’m still in bed, passed out, by 9:30 every night.

And perhaps most disconcerting: those round ligament pains they talk about?  They really hurt!  And they are scary!

Because, lets be honest, the last thing a pregnant lady wants to feel on a Saturday afternoon is pain in her baby-making regions.  Especially when one is say, 17 weeks pregnant rather than 40 weeks and in labor. (Apparently pain is somewhat typical at that point?)

It didn’t help that while cutting up crostini the same day of the ligament-pain debut, I nearly fainted.

Did I mention this was the weekend my nurse practioner and BOTH American doctors at our clinic were out of the country?

Cue panic attack.

Can we talk about the jargon on medical and pregnancy websites for a second?

I mean seriously, how much more vague a description for round ligament pain does “dull and longer-lasting pain in the area of your bikini line” get?

Is dull a euphemism for “someone else would call this mild discomfort pain-not pain, you big baby!” or does it rather mean “something painful like a cramp but not a cramp (which would be bad and dangerous)”

And long lasting?  What does that mean?  4:30-500pm on the Friday before Memorial day weekend is long-lasting, sitting through the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or an NBA basketball game, could also be described as long-lasting.

Hell, 5 minutes feels like a long time when you’re a pregnant lady has to pee or one who is wondering whether she should be rushing to the emergency room for what she can only assume is “a completely normal symptom in the 2nd trimester.”

See what I mean?  While the 2nd trimester is in sooo many ways much nicer than the first, it’s not like the worrying and feeling like crap all magically evaporates.  I’m still waiting for my puppy dog.


Knock on wood though, I seem to be ok and we’ll find out for sure at my appointment next week.  After a great deal of emailing with my mother (neonatal NP), debating whether to bother our Chengdu NP while on her birthday/vacation, and researching the sh*t out of round ligament pain and all sorts of stuff, we came to the conclusion that walking around all morning and then standing around baking and folding laundry all afternoon was too much for my wimpy little ligaments.  The fainting?  Most likely a side effect of my normally low blood pressure not playing well with my current huge, with child state.

I’m also currently fixated on when I’ll feel the baby move.

Technically, I think I’ve already felt the baby move a little bit.  On our last morning in St. John we ate breakfast at the airport and I ate what will probably go down in history as the most outrageously unhealthy breakfast I’ll ever consume: a massive greasy, deep-fried johnny-cake stuffed with ham and cheese.

The thing is, I think baby really liked it.  Evidence: I’ve been craving doughnuts and cheese ever since, AND immediately after eating, I felt this very pronounced swishing sensation low on my right side.

It was awesome, I knew it was Thumper, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever felt.  I couldn’t stop grinning like an idiot.  I’m pretty sure all of the retirees around us were all very amused.

Thing is, that was pretty early-only the end of 15 weeks.  Since then I think I’ve felt tiny, tiny movements but then I can’t be sure.  It might just be my pulse or gas (lovely) or my imagination.

So I can’t wait until Thumper is big enough and strong enough to start kicking me for real.

Another fixation: weight and diet.

Before I got pregnant, I really liked my diet. I’m a big believer in the “everything in small, sensible portions except water and veggies” philosophy (water and veggies should, obviously, be consumed with abandon).  I usually ate a big breakfast, snacked on fruit and granola bars at work, ate lots of veggies for at least one but often 2 meals a day, meat once or twice a week, and I always saved room for a small dessert after dinner.  I felt really healthy and I liked how I looked.

When I got pregnant, a lot of things changed.  The raw vegetable dishes and pickles that I used to love became off-limits (grown in night soil and not well-cleaned) and so I stopped eating salads or veggies that I couldn’t wash in bleach at home.  The hole-in-the-wall Chinese places I used to love and where I’d eat most of my daily intake of vegetables started turning my stomach.  I stopped wanting anything for dinner but toast.  I started remembering exactly how high the pesticide loads are on produce here in China.

Against this back drop, I also read alot about pregnancy nutrition.  For some reason, a lot of this literature trends rather puritan-as if only an irresponsible mother would even think of eating anything besides organic veggies and whole-grains and lean proteins.  God forbid you steal one of your husband’s french fries, those have trans fats.

Everything I read made it clear that I, simply by virtue of being pregnant, was in serious danger of gaining too much weight and that, if I consumed more than anymore than 300 extra calories a day, (from organic whole-grains, lean proteins, blah blah blah) I would basically be condemning myself and my child to life-long obesity and diabetes.

Seriously, I do the best I can to eat right here, but I don’t live in a yuppie D.C. neighborhood anymore, I live in Southwestern China.

If I want whole-grain bread, I have to bake it myself from scratch.  If I want a salad, I have to clean and bleach my lettuce and hope it still doesn’t make me sick.  If I want peanut butter without hydrogenated oils in it, I’m going to have to grind up the peanuts myself.  If I want organic, it better be growing in a pot on our tiny balcony because even our organic coop farmer can’t control what his neighbors spray or what factories dump into the groundwater.

I do this sort of stuff (minus the peanut butter, I love my Jiff) but frankly I can only do so much without practically burning as many calories making my food as I would gain from consuming it.

Ok that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point.  If I could wander down to Whole Foods for some organic yogurt and pre-washed spinach in a bag, I would, but I can’t.  And I still gotta eat.

Furthermore, I started this whole journey at a really healthy weight, on the low end of normal for my height.  I ate really pretty healthily.  Why would pregnancy change those fundamental facts about myself and my body?

Which is all to say, I’m kind of over caring about the whole super-woman nutrition thing.  But I’m also not.

I eat when I’m hungry and I stop when I feel satiated.  Lately that means I eat slightly larger portions than I used to but other than that, I eat the same way I always have, minus a few servings of vegetables since I get lazy and don’t enjoy spending my week nights dipping greens in bleach.  Plus, now I chug a glass of milk everyday, something I’ve never done before in my life.

I have no idea if how I eat is “enough” or “too much.”  I know what a healthy size portion used to feel like for me, but I have less of a grasp of what 300 calories worth of ma po doufu looks like.

For now I’m just going to keep going with what I’m doing until someone tells me otherwise.  Nobody has yet, but I do wonder about the whole thing.

Whether its a boy or a girl

Chris and I are headed to Singapore next weekend for a spot of medical tourism.  We’re going to see the dentist, get my triple-marker blood test done, oh yea and GET AN ULTRASOUND.

We’re hoping to find out the sex of the baby (technically an illegal practice here in China).  No waiting for the big day to find out for me, I’m sick of the “I wonder if he/she will love his/her 1st post.”  I’ll be equally excited for either a boy or a girl, but right now the pronouns are a killer.

At first I was convinced this baby was a girl, now lately I think it’s a boy.  Only another 6 days until we get to find out!!!

Bid List

Ok, sure, on the face of it, this isn’t baby related but, let me tell you, it totally is.  We just turned in our bid list and are now anxiously waiting to find out where our soon-to-be family of 3 is heading in April 2012.

Will we be somewhere with a great community of young families?  With cleaner air and easier access to top-notch emergency medical care, like we noted in our preferences?  Will we be somewhere with affordable child care so that I can work if I want to?  (And will I be able to?)

Will it be some place that requires we buy a new car and drive it a lot?  In which case we’ll want to make sure we get a really good car seat that fits well in whatever car we hope to buy.  Or, if we end up somewhere we don’t want to bring a car, all of a sudden the car seat becomes a lot less relevant in our day-to-day lives (but still of course important!) and buying a stroller that can easily be hauled in and out of a metro system, or a carrier that doesn’t destroy our backs, becomes much more relavant.

Here in China, a stroller doesn’t matter much because we aren’t likely to use it that often (with everyone driving on sidewalks in our neighborhood, that kid is going to be strapped to my chest until it can walk), will we be headed somewhere similar where our stroller sits collecting dust most days?

It’s a seemingly silly thing to wonder about, but will we be somewhere that has bath tubs or is our kid destined to take showers forever like he/she would probably be here?  I loved bath time as a kid, and I’m bummed our kid will probably have outgrown the size of our tiny kitchen sink here by the time he/she actually gets to China at 6 weeks old.

Will we be somewhere that Thumper can have his/her own room instead of sharing the guest room as will be the case here? (don’t worry guests!  If you come visit us, baby will sleep in our room, not yours!)

So yea, there’s all of a sudden a lot more at stake in this bidding cycle and we are hoping to find out where we are headed next in the next 2-3 weeks or so.  Between that and finding out the gender at the end of next week, these next few weeks are going to feel sooooo looooong.

That’s all on the baby front for now, until next time!

February 22, 2011

HTML, R&R, and other abbreviations

This post is brought to you by the letters H, T, M, and L.

As in I’m finally taking baby steps to learn how to do all of the behind-the-scenes stuff that I usually just let wordpress do for me.

Here’s hoping I can turn into a total programming goddess churning out gorgeous CSS style sheets like nobody’s business by the time we leave for our next post.

I now know how to make words bold and italicized, and create a list with a header:

Things I did This Weekend

R&R has done amazing things for my ability to tolerate Chengdu again.  I stand by my previous statement that I don’t think this is a place I could ever love, but time away has helped me rediscover all of the things I do like.

Things like dan dan mian for lunch and $10 dinners at the best kept secret Korean spot in all of Chengdu-known to approximately 10 foreigners total.

I may have yet to find a hair dresser who understands the concept of “layers” but the fact that my $11 haircut comes with a 20 minute head massage really makes an unsuccessful trip to the salon still feel worthwhile.

And of course, the smog and pollution are no better than when we left (possibly worse) but some sunshine fought through the haze today and the glow felt almost warm.  Vendors are selling tulips on the flower carts now and, knock on wood, I think spring is just around the corner.  Just in time.

I promised one more abbreviation in the title of this post so I’ll share a quick story from work today.

One of my Chinese colleagues was tasked today with ordering a new flag for our big outdoor flag pole.  She came into my office with a catalogue to ask what size an outdoor flag is supposed to be.

I stared blankly for a second before confessing that I had absolutely no clue, none.  So sorry.

Sometimes when I give these sorts of answers to our staff, I get an equally blank stare back and I imagine them asking themselves, “what kind of American is she?  She doesn’t know any of the sports words we need her to translate, she doesn’t get any of our American pop culture references AND she doesn’t know how big flags are supposed to be?”

Of course this may not be the case, but today, in response to my lack of response, my colleague said, “ok well maybe I’ll just go ask Christ.”

“uhhh excuse me?”

“Yea, I’ll just go ask Christ.”

So that is how all-knowing I’m expected to be?  If Danielle doesn’t know, just go ask the big guy upstairs?!?!?  And since when did my colleagues get religion??

Later I found out “Christ” was going to have the current flag measured and get back to us. Hallelujah.

Now I just have to figure out a tactful way to let it be known in my section that Americans don’t generally use “Christ” as an abbreviation for “Christopher…”


February 19, 2011

A Few Photos From Charlottesville

Nothing long-winded here today folks.  Just a few shots from my morning walks around town.  Including the one above from Charlottesville’s Free Speech wall.  We talked a lot of Egypt with Chris dad and all of the powerful stories coming out of that place.  Who knows what the future will hold, but all of those people coming together to protest peacefully was so moving to me.  Especially coming out of a place like China.

On a less serious note, the only other thing I’ll say in this post is, if you get the chance to visit Charlottesville, come hungry. In Green Bay I indulged in all manners of excellent homemade goodness.  In Charlottesville we ate out in style.  Italian food, mediterranean, Southern, brunch, bagels, yummy sandwiches and the best (and only) Caesar salad I’ve been able to eat safely in months.

Charlottesville will also go down in history now as the place where I ate the best cheesecake I’ve ever had in my life: the chestnut cheesecake at Tavola.  I will be writing to Bon Appetit in hopes of garnering that recipe.

For some reason it rained a lot while we were in Charlottesville, hence all of the sort of gloomy pictures.

Chris dad graciously took us to Monticello for my first visit to the house on the hill.  We’re weren’t allowed to take pictures inside but wow!  The tour guides were terrifically knowledgeable and that house is just pure genius.  It was a dark rainy day and somehow the whole place–without a single light bulb on–felt bright and airy.  There were so many fantastic little systems and pulley devices and ingenius quirks to the house and the tour was just so much more captivating and marvelous than I would have ever imagined.

The only photo I left with was of the gnarly tree above but trust me when I say a trip to Thomas Jefferson’s home is well-worth taking.

February 18, 2011

4 Days in Wisco: Or how I ate a lot of food and what I miss about small towns

I took approximately zero pictures while I was in Wisconsin.

I had high hopes of capturing the small town-ness, the grit, the ice, the snow, more snow.

But either snow is just not that interesting or I spent too much of my time stuffing my face with all of my mom’s delicious cooking. I plead guilty to the latter.

Seriously, she made me 5 batches of guacamole, homemade bread, homemade plum jam from my parent’s tree out back, her amazing gumbo, steak and potatoes, a gajillion kinds of dips (I have no pregnancy cravings except chips and dip it seems, soo weird), and THREE kinds of pie.

You should know that, when confronted with 3 different kinds of pie and only 4 days in which to eat them, it’s vitally important to taste-test thoroughly so you can better decide which one to focus on with the time you have.

Unfortunately, the Chocolate French Silk (luxuriously rich), the Apple (made with Dutchies from my grandfather’s farm) and the Strawberry (where has this pie been my whole life!??!?) were all equally perfect and I ate accordingly.

I’m not saying it was just the pie, but when I stepped on the scale at my OB appointment, I had gained 5 pounds.

My mom also stocked the fridge to the brim with all of the delicious healthy foods I’ve been craving here in China.  Organic fruits and veggies, salad greens, organic greek yogurt.  It was insane.  It felt like a whole-body cleanse with all of that healthy food (and errr…pie) combined with clean air and the comforts of home.

The food, and our time spent shuffling through the snow, was all enough to make me really start looking forward to my 12 weeks of enforced quality Green Bay time coming up this summer.

Because I think the further you get away from home, the more you appreciate those little wonderful things about it.

I’ve been running from Green Bay for years like it was some cheese-headed bogeyman with a bratwurst boomerang.  As a kid, the sameness always bored me, it felt confining.  The dead quiet on the streets after 10pm freaked me out a little. It was always sort of expected that I would “get out of dodge.”  So I did.  It ended up being a good call.

I love living in big cities where I hear people on streets at all hours of the night.  I like being just one ethnicity in a mix of dozens or even hundreds.  I love museums and public transportation and yuppie farmer’s markets and being able to pick from one of 15 different cuisines on a night out to dinner, all of them seemingly cooked by people who’ve brought their recipes with them straight from the homeland.

In the years immediately after I left home, I’d always spend a lot of time during my visits noting the city’s deficiencies, every reason why I was soo glad to have left.

Now though, in my wise old age (har har) coming home feels very different.  Maybe its that this foreign service lifestyle all but guarantees that I’ll spend the next 10-30 years of my life globe-hopping far away from Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Maybe impending parenthood makes me nostalgic for the idyllic memories of my own childhood.

Whatever the psychoanalytical reason, on this past trip home I opened my eyes to the lovely little things about my cheese-headed little homeland for the first time.

It was really our trip to the dentist that did it to me.  My dentist in Green Bay is the father of one of my sister’s friends from kindergarten.  He comes to my parents holiday parties and I think my dad and him play golf once in awhile.  Talk about small town.

When I didn’t bring enough cash to cover the appointments (debit cards incurring a 5% charge of course in this tiny operation) the receptionist just waved me off saying, “oh honey, just drop it off whenever you have time.”

When I came back the next day to pay, prepared to apologize profusely, there was no explaining to the front desk why I was there.  It was just, “Hi!  Why don’t you come on back where Betty can get you all taken care of.”  And of course, Betty already knew everything about our lives in China and wished us well in our travels and congrats on the baby on our way out the door.

That friendliness is everywhere in a small place like Green Bay.  Over platters of pancakes and steaming mis-matched mugs of coffee at the local diner one morning, Chris and I relaxed, slunking (made-up word alert) back in our booths to take in the warm cozy scene around us.

There were grey-haired guys with potbellies and packer jackets next to us arguing local politics in the booth next to us, leaning on their elbows to make an eager point about this or that local council.  There was a couple in their late 50’s in the booth behind us, patiently taking mom out for breakfast.  Teenagers in school sweatshirts and messy hair lounged by the door over doughnuts, appropriately adolescent perma-scowls adorning their faces.  And of course the smiling, good-natured waitresses keeping our coffee cups filled to the brim as she bustled around calling out to her regular customers by name.

“Isn’t this nice?” I asked Chris, wholly expecting some sort of sarcastic worldly reply worthy of our  more cosmopolitan status.

“Yea,” he said simply, “it really is.”

Green Bay isn’t the sort of place to go out for amazing cuisine and it’s a landscape of blinding white in more ways than one.

And, as amazingly wonderful as my childhood was in Green Bay with a neighborhood full of kids running around, lemonade stands and en masse mac’n’cheese dinners, it’s not exactly the one I envision for Chris and I’s children.

Nevertheless, going home reminded me that there are some wonderful things about living in a small town that are harder to find in a big city.

Friendliness and familiarity can feel suffocating over time, but there’s also something cozy and comforting about being entangled in a tight web of living, breathing people who know you-not through your twitter page-but through your parents, or grade school, or so-and-so’s cousin’s boyfriend’s sister.  It’s a place you can’t be an island, no matter how hard you try.

Being home means running into people I knew from the 2nd grade, now working or with a baby at home.  It’s about going to Starbucks with my dad and catching up with those old beloved coworkers who introduced me to some of my first adult beverages after hours.  It’s about driving past the houses of once-best friends and teenage crushes and feeling  twinges of old hurts and lessons learned rise unbidden into a lump at the back of my throat.  It’s about remembering all those hazy summer days spent pounding the hot pavement, wishing we were old enough to drive and stopping for towering cones of the creamy frozen custard at the neighborhood hamburger-fries-and ice cream joint called Zesty’s, bizarrely named for the owner’s poodle.

I don’t know what the point of this whole long blog post is.  If you are still here at the bottom of this photo-less ramble, I appreciate your endurance and patience.  I guess all I mean to say is that I appreciate where I came from now in a way I didn’t before.

And I promise not to get so long-winded about Charlottesville.

February 15, 2011

And We’re Back

From this beautiful place.

Chris says hi:

In the aftermath of our whirlwind U.S. tour, I’ve got so many stories and pictures to share here.  Everything from insane sights over Siberia, to an “enhanced pat down” to a drunken cab driver flinging us down the side of a mountain, beautiful white sand beaches and 4 kinds of pie (deep fried key lime pie = deeply, disturbingly, delicious).  Plus the bid list just came out(!!!!) and I’ve officially got something of a baby belly going on.  Well, at least enough of one to hold up a pair of maternity pants pretty well.

I swear I’ll get to it all in good time but for now the jet lag makes me feel like it’s week 6 of this pregnancy all over again so, after a few more minutes of obsessive post research, I’ll be off to bed.


February 6, 2011

On our way to the beach…

Pardon the radio silence over here on Hot Pot but I’ve been too busy soaking up America to find a wireless hot spot.  Oh, ok, and taking long afternoon naps, hanging out with my family, eating a lot of pie, taking photo walks, and now gorging myself on all of the local, organic, free-range meats and salads and cheeses that Charlottesville, VA has to offer. 

This morning I had cream cheese and blueberry stuffed french toast at the iconic Blue Moon diner, followed 30 minutes later by a fresh-from-the-oven everything bagel from Bodo’s.  We also had fantastic meals at Orzo, Tovola, Feast, and Revolutionary Soup.  So much delicious salad and cheese and pasta and bread!  What can I say?  Charlottesville is foodie heaven and I’m happy here to use the “I’m eating for two” excuse to it’s full potential. 

The only thing I haven’t really had here is wireless, which means no pictures and no posts.  The wireless desert will continue until our 1 night rendevous with New York City next Friday because tomorrow we head to St. John’s in the U.S. Virgin Islands for a few days of snorkeling and sun. 

If you’ve ever wondered how you could possibly afford a tropical island getaway, look up Cinnamon Bay campground on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  You can camp on the beach for 30 bucks a night (or rent a cottage for a little over $100), mere feet from the clearest blue water you’ll ever see.  It’s perfect, and your payment supports the National Park system which we think is pretty cool.

So that’s the news from our Whirlwind America trip thus far.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a football team in the Superbowl to be rooting for…

February 1, 2011

FAQ When People Find Out I’m Knocked Up

1. How are you feeling?

Now?  Much better thank you!  Had you asked me 6 weeks ago, I may have told you Thumper was going to be any only child.  Just kidding.

Most people ask about the infamous morning sickness.  Truth is, I didn’t really have any, thankfully.  Rather than throwing up, I just felt nauseous all day long and lost the will to eat anything but toast.  I seriously lived on toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner for weeks on end.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so gross and unhealthy in my life.  BUT I never threw up.  And for that I am seriously grateful.

What I did have was “fatigue.”  When I read about it on all the baby websites they make it sound so innocuous.  As if “fatigue” simply means you’ll go to bed a few hours early after spending the day as a normal, functioning human being.  HA!

My experience?  I felt (and looked a little like) a zombie for about 8 weeks.  I would wake up at 7:15 after 10.5-12 hours of sleep and feel like I’d just been run over by 3 cement trucks in quick succession.  At work, I’d stare blankly at my screen (sorry boss!) until lunch when I’d close the door and take a nap.  After work, I’d eat my toast totally exhausted, lay on the couch with Chris and shuffle over to bed by 8.

I didn’t blog, bake, cook dinner, see friends, write, exercise, or do anything that couldn’t be done horizontally for weeks.  We even cancelled the Open House I’d been planning for months because I just stay upright long enough to work on it for even a few hours.

I’ve always been good at powering through on little-to-no sleep, but this “fatigue” was a different animal entirely.  All in all though, I pulled through and mercifully, the fatigue and nausea started to subside around week 10/11.  I know so many people have it wayyyyy worse so I feel pretty lucky.

2. Was this, you know, planned?

Some people get really pissed off by this question but it doesn’t bother me so much.  Our social circle is full of people from all stages in life– some married with kids, some in committed long term relationships, some still enjoying bachelordom at it’s finest– so it’s natural for people to be curious.  An aside: have you ever told a young, single man that you are pregnant?  I’ve told like 5.  Quite possibly one of the most fun “awkward turtle” experiences I’ve ever had.  Watch as their eyes scan the room for the nearest possible exit.

Kids are something Chris and I have talked about for a really long time.  Originally it was something we were planning to wait about another year on.  And then, something changed.  At one point on our honeymoon in Malaysia, we both sort of looked at each other and realized it was something we wanted to do sooner rather than later.

Of course then, because it is us and we like to hash out our decisions over and over and over again, we spent a couple months debating the finer points of whether now versus 8 or 10 months from now made the most sense, hedging our bets by ordering some prenatal vitamins from Amazon.  For some reason, we came to the conclusion that maybe we should wait, I can’t honestly remember what our rationale was but I both know we were sort of sad about it.

Then one night, not long after, we changed our minds.  Or rather, we went back to the answer we’d been feeling so strongly since Malaysia.

2 weeks later, we found out about Thumper (what we are calling our little Year of the Rabbit baby with the thumpin’ heartbeat).  And we couldn’t be happier.

3. Are you going to find out the gender? (And do you think its a boy or a girl?)

Yes.  Are you kidding?  Have you met my husband?  The man does not do secrets (or waiting for stuff) very well.  The only thing that is keeping him going crazy with anticipation right now is the fact that we are also waiting on the bid list for our next post.  2 exciting things at once!  What could be better?

Chris asks me whether I think its a boy or a girl and I can’t decide.  I always default to calling Thumper “her” but that might just be because I am a girl, so it’s more natural to me.  Then, the other day, I woke up in the morning convinced we are having a boy.  Next day, a girl.  Weird.  We’ll hopefully find out for sure when we go to Singapore for a check up at the beginning of March.

4. What will you deliver?

In America!!! I’ll be heading back to Green Bay towards the end of June at the last possible moment before the airlines won’t let me fly anymore (34 weeks). The bad news is that this means Chris and I will be apart for at least about a month at a point in time where I’ll likely be unable to tie my shoes without help.  The good news is that he’ll be there for the delivery and for up to 6 weeks afterwards while we hang out at my parents house learning how to be parents and doing the ungodly amount of paperwork required to bring Thumper back to China with us.

My parents are fantastic, already excited about having their beached whale of a daughter coming to loaf on their couch for 12 weeks.

I’ve warned them that, from what I’ve read, it seems like newborn babies cry a lot, especially in the middle of the night.  For some reason, they claim they knew that already.  (I’m skeptical, with angel children like my sister and I, could they really know? 🙂 )

They say they are just happy to put us up and have unlimited access to their first grandbaby for 6 weeks before we promptly whisk him/her away to the other side of the world.

Wow, what did I do to get such great parents?  I’m just hoping we can be even half as good.

5.  You don’t look like your showing yet!?

I drafted this question a few days ago when I could still zip up my jeans, if not button them.  At that point I was sporting something akin to a “beer belly.”  Less than a week later, the situation is a little more serious.  I can’t decide if I just look fat or if I truly look pregnant yet, but I’m currently running around with my pants permanently unzipped and hidden by a long tank top (classy).

My only bump-size worry right now is trying to determine how much of this new-found girth is due to a Thumper growth spurt and how much is due to my mother cooking the most insanely deliciously food for me the last 3 days…

And finally, one blog specific question I’ve been thinking about a little…

Will this turn into a pregnancy/baby/mommy blog?

I don’t know yet.  While I think Thumper will definitely be mentioned in blog posts and will probably be the subject of many of them, I don’t think I have the discipline or interest in providing a weekly pregnancy update and baby bump photo.

Don’t get me wrong, I love reading other people’s pregnancy updates.  I’m really grateful that so many people write so honestly and in-depth about their pregnancies and raising kids.   In fact, they’ve been great for keeping me sane and calm thus far.  I just don’t know if I have the fortitude to do them myself! 🙂

That being said, Thumper will probably be getting a lot of screen-estate and there may even be a bump shot or two in the mix.  Sorry!  We’re excited! Can’t help it! 🙂

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