12 Weeks

Since I’m 12 weeks now, I think I’ll start doing this little survey every couple weeks. For reference, here is my 9 week post. Frankly, I can’t believe I’m 12 weeks already!

12weeks

12 weeks, Baby #2

How far along are you? 12 weeks…seems like a milestone! I’m definitely bigger, but I still don’t think that the “bump” looks visibly pregnant. Maybe just like I enjoy beer a little too much. ;)
How big is the baby? According to my BabyCenter App, it’s about the size of a lime. 3 inches, ½ ounce.
Weight Gain? 5lbs, same as McKenzie the first trimester.
Maternity clothes? A mixture. Since I’m getting bigger sooner with Baby #2, I’ve already bought a couple things: 1 pair of skinny jeans from Motherhood, and 2 long tunic shirts from there, as well. I figure if I can wear them til September, it’s worth the money to be comfortable. I’m mainly wearing yoga pants/sweatshirts around the house, and leggings with the tunic tops when I venture out.
Stretch marks? No not yet, but I have a feeling I’ll get them. With McKenzie I got them on my hips & inner thighs…but nothing on my stomach, thank goodness. Hopefully it stays that way. My friend who had twins recommended BioOil to me (she said she went through 2 bottles her entire pregnancy), so I’ve been using it every night before bed.
Sleep: Could be better. I wake up to pee at least 2 times, then I have a hard time falling back asleep. Blah. Warm milk helps with that.
Best moment this week? Spending quality time with McKenzie & Jon before he leaves. We’re also pretty close to having names picked out! Which was important to me to have done before Jon leaves. They’re not set in stone, but we like them both a LOT.  [[Hint: for a girl it would start with an “E,” for a boy it would be a “B”…neither are conventional, and both are surnames, but easy to say & spell with good nickname possibilities (meets all our criteria!). Just like McKenzie.]] Guess away!
Movement? None yet, but I hear you can feel it as early as 12 weeks with Baby #2.
Food cravings? Belgian waffles. Orecchiette pasta & calamari from Lombardino’s (best Italian food in Madison, hands down). Cheerio’s with fresh strawberries. Chocolate milk.
Food aversions? Steak or meat of any kind. *gag* When my hubbs makes it for himself, I need to leave the room.
Labor signs? Nope. Stay in there & grow, wee one.
Gender? Too early to tell. =(
Symptoms? Intense food aversions, and I’m moody. I’m also extremely “backed up.” It’s awful. Warm water with honey helps a little, but I’m pretty uncomfortable. If anyone has other suggestions, I’m all ears. =/
Belly button in or out? In. With McKenzie it just went flat…it was never an “outie.”
Wedding rings on or off? On.
Happy or moody? Depends on who I’m talking to. ;) I’m definitely “set off” more easily, and more likely to speak my mind when I’m peeved.
What I miss: Wine night with our friends. =(
What I am looking forward to: Thursday is the 2nd part of our First Trimester Screen, so we get to see the baby again via ultrasound. I bet it’ll be a lot bigger this time! We will also get the results of the blood-work taken by the genetic counselor, so hopefully all’s well with that. And I’m debating a private ultrasound to determine sex at an earlier date…apparently, they guarantee an accurate result at 16 weeks, and it’s relatively reasonable ($65). I just want to know so badly! And perhaps have a bit of control over something. Oh, and I can’t wait to watch the Walking Dead this week. Yep.

So, will ya help us win dinner & a carriage ride for V-day?

Well, it appears pregnancy insomnia has set in early. I don’t remember having sleep issues until the 3rd trimester with McKenzie, but here I am: wide awake at 3:45am. [Insert expletives here.] What better time to clean & do a little blogging? At least I’m productive, I suppose.

Jon&Nic

Our reception at The Pasta Tree, gotta love the “clinking” glasses. ;)

ANYWAY. So, there’s this little contest going on at our favorite restaurant, The Pasta Tree, for Valentine’s Day: they’re giving away a 1-night stay at a boutique hotel in downtown Milwaukee, a horse-drawn carriage ride to/from the restaurant, and free dinner (all valued at $600). All I had to do was share our “Love Story” on their Facebook wall…how awesome would that be?!?!

Now, not only did Jon & I go on many, many dates to this incredibly romantic restaurant, but we happened to have our wedding reception there! Granted it’s an hour-and-a-half away from Madison, but it is seriously “our” place. Only 2 people have posted anything, and obviously it would mean a lot to us to win…especially with Jon leaving next month, and all that jazz. I think we have a pretty rad love story (long, blog version here), but obviously I’m a little biased. ;)

Soooooo, to anyone who reads my little blog: would you please, please take the time to “like” and/or comment on my photo-post if you have Facebook? Pretty please? It would mean a lot to me. And you don’t even need to “like” their page, just our photo. It doesn’t say anything about the most “likes” winning, but I figure it can’t hurt. =) The contest is Feb. 1st-8th, so we should know by next week! I’ll keep y’all posted, wish us luck!

And then our dog ripped her tail off…well, just the tip.

Last night, our crazy, happy Yellow Lab (Cali) ripped the tip of her tail off. That might sound like a joke, but it was anything but funny. Oh. My. God. Blood was EVERYWHERE.

Miss Cali Lou

Miss Cali Lou. Poor Girl.

So here’s what happened: We had just gotten home and I was rushing to snatch Eddie (our Elf on the Shelf) out of McKenzie’s room. Out of nowhere, Cali let out a yelp. I glanced at her, but she looked fine…she’s always had a high pain tolerance, but if she whines, you know it’s bad. I quickly stowed Eddie in a kitchen cabinet. Then Jon walked in the door behind me and said, “Why is there blood everywhere?!” And there was. Good God, it really was everywhere.

The offending closet door...

Offending closet door…

I quickly ran Cali down the the stairs and outside from our 2nd floor condo…when she was finally outside, I noticed her tail: WHERE THE HELL IS THE TIP OF YOUR TAIL, DOG?!?!?! There was blood pooling on the sidewalk. [Insert mini-meltdown here.] Now, I’m not “afraid” of blood, but between helping our poor injured doggie, and cleaning our entire blood-spattered house, I was suddenly extremely overwhelmed…

Jon came downstairs to comfort/bandage Cali, while I went upstairs to try and figure out what the heck happened. When I came back in the house, it literally looked like a scene out of Dexter…blood ALL OVER the couch, the recently professionally cleaned carpets [groan], and 5 feet up the walls.

I went into McKenzie’s room, where the initial “yelp” occurred, and looked around. Blood spatter was everywhere, but I couldn’t locate a specific spot where it originated. Then I saw the closet. Now, McKenzie has bi-fold closet doors with little horizontal vents in them. OH SH*T. I walked over and there was blood on the closet…AND THE TIP OF HER TAIL WAS STILL STUCK IN IT! *gag* It made me queasy, so I left it for Jon to deal with. I’m such a great wife. Haha.

tip

Yes, the tip of her tail is in a baggie. =(

I ran down and gave him gauze and bandages, then began the chore of cleaning the blood from the house. It literally took a TWO HOURS to clean everything. I had to whip out the Little Green Machine and scrub the carpets (a great investment if you have carpets in your house…and if you don’t know, COLD salt-water removes blood the best…from clothes, carpet, etc). Then I scrubbed the walls. I didn’t mean to be insensitive to poor Cali, but you have to be fast…once blood sets it’s practically impossible to get out.

Meanwhile, Jon wrapped her tail and put her in her cage, then carefully removed the tip of her tail from the closet door. Then he and McKenzie scrubbed the common hallways of our building and washed the blood off the sidewalk, while I finished cleaning the inside of the house.

After the cleaning was done, I called the local emergency vet. I was concerned because there was a little bone in the missing tip, and exposed nerve endings can be extremely painful. So Jon went to sleep (since he had to be to work at 2:30am), and I took her to the emergency vet.

After they examined her, they suggested either: 1) suture it closed and hope it doesn’t re-open, or 2) amputate another inch so there is enough skin to properly close the wound. EEK. We went with option 2, since I’d rather do it once, and do it right.

IMAG0327

Resting up after her partial-tail amputation.

A $500 vet bill and an overnight hospital stay later, Cali is now at home and resting in a painkiller-induced sleep…minus 2 inches of her tail. I can only guess that in her excitement upon our arrival home, she wagged her tail just right against the closet and it got stuck in the horizontal slat, then she pulled away and the tip stayed lodged in the closet. Poor girl. Send her your positive thoughts her way for a quick recovery!

A Love Story.

May 2003

Once upon a time, in early May 2002, Girl met Boy in study hall. It was her Freshman year of high school, and Girl thought Boy was pretty cute. He was older and he could drive, so that was awesome too…but not only was Boy cute, he was sweet and respectful, which Girl appreciated very much.

On their first date Girl and Boy watched a movie, complete with Twizzlers, which was supervised by her terminally ill (yet very protective!) daddy. Girl and Boy would talk on the phone til 3 in the morning, go on long walks in the park, and fell in love pretty much immediately. Their first kiss was May 21st, 2002 and they were 15 and 17, respectively. The rest is history.

Almost a year later, Girl’s daddy passed away in March 2003, and Boy was always there for Girl. He took two days off school to be with Girl. He sat next to her at the funeral and held her hand. Boy’s family was very supportive of Girl, too, and always there for her as well. But only three months later Boy left for Bootcamp because he had joined the United States Marine Corps, and Girl was very sad. Girl missed him very much and wrote him letters all the time.

Bootcamp Graduation

Boy graduated Bootcamp in September 2003, and became a machine-gunner with 2/7 Weapons Company, stationed in the Mojave Desert in California. Girl still missed Boy very much. He bought his first cell phone so they could talk on the phone all the time, and they did. They saw each other on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

But they found out that Boy would be deployed to Iraq less than 5 months after graduating Bootcamp. Girl was scared and missed Boy more than ever. He left on Valentine’s Day, 2004, and they celebrated their 2 year anniversary in May with a long phone call. He was an accident in July which resulted in Boy calling Girl from the hospital with internal bleeding. She was terrified. Boy was resilient, though, and completed his 7-month tour, returning in September 2004 at the beginning of Girl’s Senior year of high school. They went to her Homecoming together, and his Marine Corps Ball. Since Girl had turned 18, she would fly to visit him whenever she had a chance, whether it was in L.A., Palm Springs, or Las Vegas. They loved each other very, very much and knew the long-distance was worth it.

Married June 17th, 2005

In February 2005, Boy flew home and surprised Girl. He proposed! Her Mom and sister were both willing accomplices in the surprise, and very supportive. Girl was over-the-moon! But then Boy found out that he had to deploy to Iraq for a 2nd tour in July 2005. Girl and Boy were both sad. They were going to wait to get married until after he returned, but eventually decided to “take the plunge” before he deployed. They got married less than a week after Girl’s graduation from high school on June 17th, 2005, after 3 years of dating. She was 18 and he was 20, and they were very happy.

Less than 3 weeks later, on the 4th of July, Boy left for his 2nd deployment to Iraq. Again, Girl was scared and missed Boy horribly. She knew he was in Fallujah and constantly in danger, so while Boy was gone she tried to stay busy. She was accepted to a top-tier university and decided to start her higher education in the Spring. Girl wanted to have a “normal” college experience, so she lived in the dorms. She had a great roommate and they had a lot of fun, but she was very studious as well. Girl was always faithful to her beloved Boy, and eagerly awaited his calls. ((And if anyone has ever said otherwise, they were fucking liars…mmmmmm-kay?))

Fallujah, Iraq 2005

Girl did very well in college, but after 1 semester, Girl could not bear to be away from Boy voluntarily any longer. 2½ years apart was enough! She decided to put school on “pause,” and she moved to California so she and Boy could be together at last. Boy returned safely from his 2nd deployment in late January 2006, but 3 of his good friends had been killed in action, so it was bittersweet. Girl was happy to have Boy back, and they were both very happy to be together again.

Girl had gotten Marine Corps base housing, and prepared the home for his arrival, meaning she bought a bedroom set. ((Heh, heh.)) Boy and Girl did a lot of furniture shopping together, and overall enjoyed each others’ company. It was refreshing to be together and they were still very much in love. This was the beginning of their married life together, without a war keeping them apart. In Spring 2006, they welcomed two puppies into their little family, a golden retriever and a yellow lab. Girl, Boy, and The Dogs were a little family. But it was not always happy. Boy was often irritable and volatile…an often unseen after-effect of war. This was a difficult time for Girl, but they changed and grew together, and never gave up on each other. They were still very much in love.

Girl & Boy 2006

Luckily, Boy did not have to deploy anymore. After 4 long years, he was honorably discharged from the Marines in June 2007. Boy and Girl moved back to their home state, and decided that they would finish college together. The adjustment was hard, but they supported each other completely. Boy got a part-time job at UPS to help pay the bills and provide health insurance, and fortunately the GI Bill helped with the rest of their expenses.

Girl was able to attend classes full-time, and was excited to be back in academia, but Boy was having trouble transitioning from a combat Marine mentality to the “civilian world.” Boy missed his friends, and it was a difficult change from the Marine Corps Infantry lifestyle. Mentally, the change was tough on Boy. Having been there with Boy, and experiencing it first-hand, Girl supported Boy and encouraged him to move forward and make progress. She listened. She didn’t pry or push. But she was always there, his constant. It was a very private and personal struggle.

35 weeks, July 2008.

On December 14th, 2007, they found out Girl was pregnant. This was a BIG surprise for Boy and Girl, since they had just started school again. The timing was not ideal, as their steady military income was gone, but Boy and Girl had been together for 5½ years, married for 2½ years, with two 7-month combat deployments behind them…so they knew if they could handle that, they could handle anything.

In March 2008, they learned that they were expecting a Little Princess. Girl was uncomfortable and felt like there was a parasite in her body draining all her energy. Boy was nervous and wondered if he would be a good Daddy, but Girl had no doubts that he would be an amazing father. They became more and more excited each day, and eagerly awaited the arrival of their Little Princess.

Little Princess, born August 24th, 2008

Nearly two weeks past her due date, Girl had become convinced that Little Princess was trying to torture her, but on August 24th, 2008, Little Princess made her arrival at 7:54pm. She weighed 7lbs. 11oz. and was 20 inches long. Little Princess was absolutely perfect, and Boy and Girl were amazed by the Little Princess they had created together. So Little Princess joined Boy, Girl, and The Dogs, and their little family grew.

Little Princess was a mercifully well-behaved little baby. Girl loved to play dress-up with Little Princess and give her lots of cuddles. Boy loved to tickle Little Princess to make her giggle, and give her lots of kisses. The birth of Little Princess also helped Boy change his outlook on life: he felt hopeful again, where he had previously been struggling with the mental implications of combat. Boy was constantly striving to overcome any war-related issues he had, not only for himself, but also for his relationship with Girl and Little Princess.

Little Princess, 4 months

Boy and Girl continued to go to school, which was very tricky with Little Princess. Boy and Girl both switched to part-time, but they alternated school days and made it work. They were both very determined to reach their goals, not only for themselves, but to set a good example for Little Princess. Little Princess was a very loved little child. Soon she was babbling and walking, and before they knew it, she turned 1….and then 2. Boy and Girl just loved watching Little Princess grow up.

Soon after Little Princess’s 2nd birthday, Girl’s mom became gravely ill, with a combination of heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, and lung failure. Girl was very close with her mother and was devastated. Boy was an amazing and supportive husband, and he encouraged Girl to go spend as much time as possible with her mother, even though she was far away in California. But Boy was sad too, because he had known Girl’s mother for 8 years, and also because he knew that Girl was sad. Eventually, Girl’s mom came home from the hospital for hospice care and she passed away 6 days later on October 3rd, 2010.

Girl & Boy, Caribbean Cruise 2011

Little Princess was too young to understand why Girl was upset and sad, but Boy was a great husband and Daddy, so he always tried to cheer Girl up. He told her he loved her all the time, and always let her know she could talk if she wanted. Girl was grateful. But within the next few months, Girl’s remaining 3 grandparents died too, and it was overwhelming. Boy was vigilant and always let Girl know that he was there for her.

But Girl and Boy always made time for each other, they would go on dinner dates and grown-up vacations together. Their relationship was very important to them, so they made it a priority in their lives.

Over the next year, Little Princess turned 3. Time was flying. School kept Girl busy. Her hard work paid off. In December 2011, Girl graduated from college with her bachelor’s degree in English Linguistics, and minors in Women’s Studies and TESOL. She was very proud of herself, and Boy was very proud of her. He told her all the time. And Girl also knew her parents would have been proud, which made her feel good.

Girl Graduates College, 2011

Boy was going to graduate soon too (within the year), and Girl and Boy planned on moving back to California to get grown-up jobs. They loved the weather there, and Little Princess could play outside all day long if she wanted to. So, Girl started a photography business because she didn’t want to get a job and have to move right away, because it seemed impractical. Throughout the year, Boy kept busy with his last couple semesters of class, and Girl worked on her business. Boy had come very far recovering from the traumas of war, and Girl and Boy loved each other more than ever. They could still talk until 3 in the morning.

First Day of Kindergarten!

As for their Little Princess, she was growing fast…too fast! In August 2012, Little Princess turned 4. The next month, Little Princess started 4K kindergarten. Girl and Boy wondered where the time was going. And Boy started his very last semester of college. Then their plans for California changed.

The military had always been an ever-present thought for Boy. He knew that he missed it, and Girl knew it too. He missed the camaraderie, the structure, the “Man Shit,” the teamwork, the leadership, and the sense of purpose. In Fall 2012, Boy decided he wanted to join the Army (the Marines were downsizing and no longer taking prior service). Girl wanted Boy to be happy, and she was very supportive of Boy. She knew that nothing would ever compare to the military for him. Plus, Girl had her bachelor’s degree, so she wouldn’t need to work at the PX for minimum wage, or live vicariously through her husband’s accomplishments.

On November 8th, 2012, Boy officially enlisted in the Army, with Girl’s blessing. It was going to be a new adventure. By this time, Boy and Girl had been together 10½ years, married for 7½ years, and knew that together they could handle anything.

Now, Boy and Girl were not perfect, by any means, but they worked hard at their relationship. They tried, and continue to try. They communicated and never tore each other down. They refused to ever give up, and never will. They will always be there for one another, loving and supporting each other, through anything, no matter what. ‘Til death do them part.

Boy + Girl = Forever

A break from all things political…

Here is a short, heartwarming story…at least I think so:
When I arrived at school today, McKenzie’s co-teacher approached me and said, “I just have to tell you something that happened last week. We were all walking back to the classroom from outside, and I fell behind because of my bad leg. All the students and the other teacher were already around the corner, and McKenzie came back for me and said ‘Don’t worry Miss Mary, I’ll wait for you.’ I just had to tell you, she is such a little treasure. The most genuinely caring child I’ve ever met.” This woman has been a teacher for 30+ years…talk about making a momma proud! Maybe it’s because her Daddy’s a Marine: “leave no man behind.” Haha. ;) But seriously, I am so thankful for that little princess. She is literally our pride & joy.

A Deathiversary

There are just some days when memories are so vivid. Some happy, some painful. Like today. A “deathiversary,” as I call it. The anniversary of either of my parent’s deaths is always hard. Always. I can’t help but feel like I was cheated, losing both parents by the time I was 24.

I was 16 when my dad died of a horrific disease known as Lou Gherig’s Disease (ALS) at age 45, and two years ago today, my mom died of multiple organ failure at age 54. In the following 4 months, I would lose my remaining 3 grandparents as well. Talk about a stressful year.

4 months before she died.

Anyhow, both my parents were amazing people, and I have nothing but fond memories of my childhood. Even though they’re gone, I know I’m lucky. I know they did their best to raise independent, intelligent, kind, creative, loving daughters. I’m so happy with my life and I’m proud of who I am today…I feel strongly that both my parents would be too, and that makes me smile. I’m incredibly fortunate to have had them in my life, even for a little while, and I know that.

My sister, Mom, Stepdad (Jeff), and myself at their wedding in 2006.

I was SO close with my mom. She was my default “call” on a long drive to talk. We talked every day. I knew her not only as a mother, but as a person…and I’m so grateful she was my mom. She was compassionate, caring, and always put herself first (to a fault). When I was a teenager, we had our differences, but who doesn’t? And nothing was unforgivable. She was my constant supporter, cheerleader, and best friend. She was hilarious and had a dirty, dirty mind (so funny to learn about your parents!). She was the strongest, most positive person I know, and she intentionally and consciously looked at life with a “glass half-full” attitude. And I will always admire her inner strength…she went through several battles in life that would have broken or scarred any other individual. She was a fighter. I love my family so much, and I’m so proud she was my mom.

Parasailing in Mexico 2009.

I remember after she died (both my parents, really), the worst part is feeling like life goes on. The world keeps spinning, even though your world has stopped. If you’ve ever lost someone close, I’m sure you know what I mean. The worst thing you can say to someone is: “I know how you feel.” It’s such a selfish thing to say! Everyone experiences things differently, so even if you lost a parent too, you cannot presume to know how I feel. Urgh. Never say that to anyone who has lost someone, please. Under any circumstances.

Anyhow, today on her “Deathiversary,” I think about that day two years ago. About how she was at home with hospice on a ventilator and the nurses knew it was coming. Her heartbeat slowed. Her breathing slowed. And we all held her hand as she took her last breath. I remember I felt an overwhelming sadness, and a sense of relief…she was no longer in pain. I still think of her all the time. It would be impossible to forget with the daily reminders…a mug I have from her sailing days in the ’70s, Dancing with the Stars, Andrea Bocelli, Santana, books she bought McKenzie. I find I have a hard time getting rid of things she got McKenzie. But that’s just it…I’ll always miss her. The world feels like it stops, but life goes on. And you just live, because you know they would want you to.

Mall of America, 2007.

On another note, my sister wrote this and it echos my sentiments exactly…it’s just beautiful and perfect:

Dear Mom,

I’m done being mad at the world because you’re gone. I’ve cried countless times in the past two years and will keep crying because I can’t hold your hand, because I can’t hear your laugh or encouraging words, because I don’t find paper towels in my clothes you borrowed, because you’re gone and I miss you every single day, but I won’t be mad. You were the best cheerleader in the world. You taught me about love, about holding my head high, about persistence, about determination, and about life. But I still need to keep telling myself I’m glad you’re gone. You’re not suffering. You’re not in pain…I love you mom. Always have. Always will. I hope I can be as amazing as you were. I hope I can be that cheerleader for [my daughter]. I hope I will turn into that voice in her head telling her to keep it up, to keep going, telling her she’s loved. I’m so sad that your gone, but refuse to say goodbye, and never will, so I’ll see you later.

I love you with all my heart and soul.

♥ Your Daughters

My mom holding Abbey (my niece) and Jeff holding McKenzie.