Friday, March 30, 2012

See our baby move!

This last week has gone really well, minus a few emotional/ hormonal episodes!

Suz: "I'm feeling pretty BLAH today."
Ben: "Ok, we should do something fun. What would you like to do?"

Suz: "I don't know..."

Ben: "Hmmm... what do you consider fun lately... 
Let's go buy baby clothes and talk about bad NC drivers!"

 Ben knows these few weeks are crunch time for me, so he has made an effort to take his morning calls at home then come back home for lunch most days. Thanks, honey :)

I'm also really proud of starting to make and follow to-do lists! It is so easy and something every one of you probably already does, but I realized I've been having trouble sleeping due to a lot of stresses from the day that seem to get forgotten then pile up. You know how something seems too insignificant to actually do during the day, yet that nugget becomes a boulder of importance when you're ready to put the day behind you? I hate that feeling, but it loves me!

Writing down the insignificant things (knowing I'll remember the big things) and then crossing them off my list is such a rewarding feeling. Making dentist appointments for us both a month in advance- check! Doing 3 or 4 simple things a day that aren't work-related helps me feel like I've accomplished more and that I'm being a good wife to Ben, since most of the items have to do with a grocery item we ran out of and need or laundry and other chores. I haven't been feeling too "wifely" lately, more concerned with my own work and the pregnancy and taking care of myself, so accomplishing a few little things (then pointing them all out to Ben) really help me feel like I'm giving back to him and our household and helps me stay in control of my own life, mind, and emotions. Recognize your limitations, then celebrate the little things :)

As far as Dragon (no, we aren't any closer to a permanent name) is concerned, he is just fantastic. He doesn't seem to have a schedule, but will move randomly throughout the day strong enough for me to always feel and sometimes for Ben to feel. In fact, we can now see him move!

Check this out: You can see the baby moving at 23 weeks! The most movement is between 15 and 40 secs. on the right side.
Made at 23 weeks 2 days pregnant
Song: The Lucky Ones by Tim Myers

I had noticed the I could see his movements the day before while we were each working on a computer, but Ben couldn't see it :( (Maybe because of the angle- I was looking straight down?) So I made this video last night to show Ben after he was finished studying! What a great surprise. And now it's one of my favorites, even though it's of my own belly! 

You see me breathing deeply, though, because I was getting so excited! I know these are the things that really build our connection, and I truly appreciate it. I am not one of those women complaining that the baby's movement keeps me awake at night!

Here is another one that is much shorter: 

Song: Paradise by Coldplay

I also went to my midwife today for an appointment and we both passed with good results!

 Strong heartbeat
Moves a ton
50% weight
90% height

Finally a whopping 3 lbs. past pre-pregnancy weight! 

4 weeks until our next Type II ultrasound...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness

I met a man who really inspired me today.

He wasn't on TV, wasn't a public speaker around town, not a friend or religious leader, he was just a man I saw at the grocery store.

He wasn't even a "normal" man, in fact.  When I first saw him I gave a weak smile as he said hi, which was more contact than plenty of others were making with him. I think we were all stunned and scared off by this large man in a motorized cart with eyes focusing in two directions and drool hanging from a distorted mouth.

I saw him a second time toward the end of my shopping trip and remembered that he had said "Hi" earlier and would probably appreciate one in return.  I smiled widely this time and said Hi before he could.  This time, however, he stopped his cart and moved to the side to talk to me.

"Can I make you a flower? I like to make flowers for beautiful women." 

He pulled out one of many sheets of  bakery paper he had in his cart and began to twist it into a rose for me. I wasn't expecting a flower or a compliment, especially since I did not feel beautiful this morning! I haven't been sleeping well the last few days and still felt pretty groggy while getting ready to leave the house. I"m at the stage of pregnancy where my belly is prominent but not quite into maternity tops, and I felt like I couldn't find anything to wear that I would look and feel good in. Since I didn't feel good, anyway, I had also decided not to wear any makeup, knowing my racoon eyes would probably scare the dead!

"You are a beautiful woman.  I love your smile. You have beautiful eyes. They smile when you smile. Thank you for letting me make you a flower so I can try to brighten your day as much as you've brightened mine." 

He talked with great difficulty while occasionally wiping white foam from his mouth and explained as I smiled that he had suffered nerve damage in a car accident a few years ago.  I realized at that point that I'd been talking as if he were a child-- it was a natural reaction I get when I"m around someone with special handicaps, but I realized that though he didn't have the functions I did, his brain was fully developed and he deserved to be respected and talked to like a person.

I told him that he had, in fact, made my day with his compliments and happy demeanor, but he wouldn't accept it.

His name is Tommy.  He reminded me of President Thomas S. Monson, whom I know goes by Tommy to his friends and family.  One of the things I love most about President Monson is his love for others.  He is constantly talking about service and the importance of serving our fellow man.  I was ashamed at first that I had been reticent to meet his gaze, but after such an uplifting experience with this total stranger I think I'll remember his and President Monson's example to love and serve all of those around me.

Because you never know who you meet is going to completely make your day.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Bad Dream

My mom encouraged me to keep writing what I feel and what's going on as a form of therapy, especially after I told her that other moms who have experienced a loss or had questions about the gospel have contacted me through the blog. I may be able to reach others and help them and myself, she said.

Well, I need some help.

So here's some honesty.

I woke up almost paralyzed from a nightmare this morning. Here in Greensboro we have had terrible rain/ wind/ hail storms the last week or two as Spring has rolled in. Around 6:30 am I woke up in a panic because the noise of thunder and flash of lightning were so loud, bright, and long-lasting it was as if they were at our doorstep.  I could almost feel our house shaking.  I flailed against Ben in my shock.  He had woken up moments earlier from a recent clap, and was expecting my surprise.  He comforted me and gave me a hug until my body could stop shaking.  I did fall back asleep, knowing we didn't have much time before we'd need to get up and get ready for church.

When I fell back asleep I had a quick but powerful dream.  In it I was older, but felt strong, healthy, beautiful, and happy.  I was with a friend waiting at a nail salon, and I felt so satisfied with my life.  That is a great feeling.  We saw some buses pull in front of the glass windows of the salon, and hoards of children in matching school outfits filtered through the room.  I was confused at first, then remembered that Eleanor, in the fifth grade, was visiting around town on a school field trip.  We happened to be in the same place! Seeing her with her friends made my happiness and comfort even stronger. My friend and I laughed at our children.

Suddenly the building became a war zone, and bombs started to fall around us. Parts of the building structure collapsed around us, and most of the children and other adults were scattered, dead, around me.  I, who had so recently felt complete peace, strength, and happiness, was suddenly overcome with shock and sadness as I saw that Eleanor was among those who had died. I stumbled toward a remaining wall to brace myself for the onslaught of emotions.

At that moment a man entered from an untouched portion of the building and said something in jest toward me. I immediately began to sob as the realization of what happened hit me, and he started to apologize- thinking that his teasing was to blame.  Before I blacked out I heard my friend say to him, "It's not you.  She just lost her daughter."

I woke up in that terrible sleep deprived, not sure what's real, scared state.  I wanted Ben to know what I had seen, but all I could say was, "So sad... Eleanor... Bombs." I couldn't pick up my head or move my arms; I must have been so tense in my dream. He asked if I wanted to stay home from church, but I knew that being around my fellow Saints and hearing testimonies would be the only thing to drag me out of my stupor.

During sacrament meeting I was still in my daze.  The dream had been so real. I started to feel sorry for our son, who has the hurdle of my love of Eleanor to get over. It's not his fault, but, as much as I desperately want to, how could I love him as much as I love her after all she and I went through together? She is such a part of me, and just when I think I'm close to embracing motherhood of another child a memory or emotion of her will catch me off guard and I have to start over.

I do not want to go through that loss with another baby.

Just when I was feeling like I'd have to start over in my bonding with him I felt our son kick in such a strong way it felt like he hurled his entire body toward my skin. I positioned Ben's arm around me so he could feel, too, then started to tear up because feeling the baby move is something I never felt with Eleanor, and is the most wonderful sensation in the world. I was suddenly so happy, and so grateful that he gives me that gift.  I know those are the things that are slowly growing our bond, and everything will change when we give him a name and hold him in our arms.

But until then...?

Though I'm pretty good at staying on top of my feelings, being logical and thinking positively, sometimes I am still haunted by Eleanor's past and my fear or love for her takes over what should be my focus on being a good mom to my son. I need some advice from you seasoned parents... How did you start to love your second child as much as your first?

I hope it won't always be this hard.

This is a song from one of my all-time favorite bands, Keane.  I added this song to my repertoire of music to help me when I felt sad, but it has never felt so appropriate. I love music for doing that.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ben: Mountain Bike Extraordinaire!

I've recently posted about slack lining and other spring activities we enjoy enjoy, but I can not stress enough how much we love exploring the plethora of public parks tucked around every corner of Greensboro! Our last home, Hickory, was named a top 10 US city twice in the last five years partly because of their outdoor park system, so I was prepared to really hate letting that go when we moved.  We have been so impressed by the abundance of outdoor activities here, too, though, and are starting to think NC may just be the perfect place: so far both cities have had numerous parks, gorgeous weather and flora, and within hours to mountains for rock climbing or camping in one direction and my coveted Outer Banks beaches in the other!

See all of the green and blue? Just a segment of the different parks and lakes around Greensboro!

One of the parks Ben stumbled upon was Country Park, which, like a few other parks, is attached at either end to different parks but offers it's own unique  attractions. We got to Country Park by driving to the very back of Jaycee Park.  Jaycee Park houses a city rec center, soccer and baseball fields, and an old wooden sign welcomes you to Country park behind the baseball field which contains a paved walking/ biking path that circles 4 miles around two beautiful lakes the butts against one of my favorites, Guilford Courthouse Park, which is known for historical sites, war reenactments, and walking paths around old cemeteries and statues. Sound confusing? We love it because they are all close by and so different!

We discovered Country Park recently, though, because Ben wanted to find good mountain bike paths.  He read that this one was great, so we brought his bike and I brought a book and we spent about 2.5 hours there on Wednesday!

Mostly because he discovered this...

A well-protected, built-up mountain bike/ BMX natural jump park! Or whatever they call it. 
Ben says there was an indoor jump park like this in Cleveland, but who wouldn't rather be outside? 

It has a variety of things, like paths to bike over made of fencing, logs, boulders, and a teeter-totter. 

He says mountain biking at Country Park in Greensboro is his new favorite place. 

And lots of built-up ramps and jumps that are forbidden to walking or skateboarding.

I knew Ben loved mountain biking, and I've heard stories of some of the races he entered as a teen and tricks he could do, but I had no idea how good he really is!

By about 6:00 pm the park got a lot more crowded, and there were 4 or 5 {plus two kids} bikers using the jump park. I watched them all make the run, but no one was nearly as good as Ben. Everyone would stop and watch him when he went! This video doesn't even show how fast he was going or how high his jumps were very well. 

I guess I thought mountain biking meant riding a bike through a hiking trail. Not so, my friend! Ben was truly exhausted after a 5-mile wilderness bike and running this jump trail a bunch of times. It means biking over stuff, keeping balance, gaining speed, perfect angles, and conquering fear. 

He's amazing, isn't he?

Enjoying Spring in NC!

We have had incredible weather the past couple of weeks in North Carolina. It had been in the dreary 40s and 50s, or lower, all winter, then suddenly plateaued in the 70s overnight! This was perfect timing, since Ben and I both consider fresh sunshine to be a vital nutrient and this is an emotional, hectic time for us. We make an effort to do something outside EVERY DAY, because it helps lift our spirits and especially helps me concentrate on the future and staying positive.

I have scheduled an hour or two of outdoor time for myself every day where I either walk or sit and read in one of the nearby parks. In the afternoon Ben and I then get out for a second time together. Sometimes I prepare dinner in to-go containers and we picnic, or we'll both bring books and he can use it as study time, or we do something active.

Here are some of our recent activities:

{21 weeks pregnant}

Ben is incredible. He found a 4-leaf clover on St. Patricks Day after only looking for a few minutes!

We are very lucky :) 

Kayaking @ Lake Higgins
22 weeks pregnant

Lake Higgins is a really relaxed lake beside Lake Brandt. It was mostly being used by fisherman this time, since fish (apparently) spawn this time of year. Lots of drifting boats and fishing poles to paddle around, but no speedboats or water skiing allowed! Woo Hoo!

 Mine is the green SOT, Ben's is the beige playboat.  

It felt SO GOOD being back in my kayak! It has been almost a year since we've gone-- I was pregnant with awful morning/ motion sickness, we moved during the summer, and Ben needed shoulder surgery, so we were kept out of the water. I'm so glad we found a nice place to go, though, because the need to paddle had been driving me crazy!

Doesn't being outside make EVERYTHING better?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An Ultrasound Update

It's been a while since I gave an update... Have you noticed? It isn't because we're boring, lazy, have nothing to say, or don't take pictures... quite the opposite. Our extremely eventful (and fun) week started with a blast of information that has taken me this long to process!

So let the updating begin :)

On Valentine's Day, the day I turned 17 weeks pregnant, Ben and I went to get our first Type II ultrasound. I get ultrasound scans done every time I visit my midwife clinic, but one department at the Women's Hospital of North Carolina (the only one in NC and conveniently located in our backyard) has a very thorough, Type II level of ultrasound machine and experts to read the scans. The scan went well, we found out we were having a boy and everything was fine. Phew. They did, however, schedule me for another ultrasound within a month because "he was a little too small to see everything."

I found out at my second appointment, last Tuesday, that the real reason they'd asked me back was because of some abnormalities with his heart they wanted to keep track of. Luckily his heart had grown enough to confirm that any issues had cleared up with his recent development, but this time scans showed another abnormality with his brain!

I am scheduled for yet another thorough ultrasound scan in 6 weeks, and assured that many of these abnormalities clear up by that stage of development.

The bad news, though, is that these are markers for a severe disorder that would probably lead to stillbirth.

So the question now is, is this genetic, and could it be what happened to Eleanor? Are we at an increased risk for another stillbirth?

I didn't get a Type II ultrasound with Eleanor- only a standard anatomical screening- so we will never know if she, too, had issues with her heart or brain. But this is around the developmental time that we lost her, so every day I feel Dragon move we consider a celebration. I'm so grateful to be past the 20 week mark, when a baby is considered stillborn instead of miscarried and recognized by the medical community and the church as member of your family, and can't wait to get to 26 weeks when a baby is viable! Luckily the clinic I see is very, very supportive and understanding and they invite me in any time I want to be reassured and are always available when I have questions :) 

Ben didn't come with me to this second ultrasound (we thought nothing would be wrong, and we had had to wait for over an hour last time-- that is valuable work time for him!), so we spent the afternoon talking things over and enjoying the beautiful spring weather. 

Ben brought out the slack line and we walked to a great spot in the park, Latham Park, next to our house. 

Something about walking the slack line helped me feel much more in control of an out-of-control situation. It was a great activity for our day- feeling unsteady, but knowing I can rely on my inner strength and stability. 
I love how I felt when Ben took this picture :)

This is my hope :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Our Baby has BUMPED! 20 week update

A couple of weeks ago Ben left on a business trip to China, and I visited family in Utah.  We were apart for almost 2 weeks, and when Ben picked me up from the airport he could see that a lot had changed in that amount of time: "Wow! You have a baby bump!"

And it's true.  I've been "showing" for a long time, but these last couple of weeks Baby Boy O'Brien is really making himself part of our world!

I still haven't gained a pound (but I haven't lost any, either), but our latest ultrasound (I have one every 2 weeks) shows that he is measuring so long that his height growth almost puts him at 2 weeks ahead of my newest due date! Haha... Gotta love the long, skinny genes (not jeans.) of our families!

We have a really amazing app on the iPad called "Hello Baby" by Pampers. The only thing the app really does is show a baby's progress week-by-week.  This picture is {supposedly} actual size for a 20-week baby!
I have already started feeling him move, which seems early for 20 weeks, until I realize that something this big is living inside of me! No wonder! Maybe it's just me, but this image seems huge!
~ 6.5 in. long
~7.5-9 oz. 

Words cannot express how much we both love this baby.  We think he loves us, too :)

How Dragon shows he loves us:
- Came to us so quickly after losing Eleanor
-We saw (too small to hear) his heart beating at my 6 week ultrasound. That is really early to even see a heart formed! Brought us a lot of comfort right away
-I've never been sick or had any symptom but fatigue! I was practically on my death bed with Eleanor, and having another hard pregnancy would have made this journey much harder. 
-The one day Ben was out-of-town and I was really nervous about the pregnancy was the first time we heard his heartbeat at home using our Fetal Doppler. This was at 11 weeks when the heart can be too small to hear even at the doctor's office, but I was so worried I tried for about 30 mins to find the heart beat on my own. After saying a prayer with Ben that his heart would get stronger quickly, I heard the heart beat as soon as I tried! Thanks, Kiddo :)
-Have been feeling him move (internally) consistently since 14 weeks. Never felt Eleanor's flutters until 18 weeks. 
- He is growing even more than schedule! It is so comforting to go to a doctor's appt and hear that he is another 2 or 3 days ahead of schedule because he is so big and strong. Yay! We are now almost a week ahead of schedule!
- Felt him move (into my hand) at 18 weeks on the second day I was ever really worried about his health, even though we had recently been told we wouldn't feel kicks until about 24 weeks due to another anterior placenta.  It is the most wonderful feeling :) 

When Dragon Moves the Most: (Showing his personality)
- When Mommy eats Asian food
- Hearing the motorcycles at the circus
-When on a plane that takes off
-The Super Bowl
-When Daddy calls on the phone or talks to him

He is already such a blessing, and really does help us as much as possible-- whenever we are concerned or happy he wants to comfort us or be a part of it :)

Thanks, Little Guy! 

So, so, so glad I am already feeling him move and his heart is strong enough to hear so we always know he is healthy!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Best Weekend Ever!

Ben has had a break between graduate school quarters this week (He got an A in his accounting class! Hooray!), so we've had so much fun together! We got to catch up on TV shows we enjoy but never watch, sleep in together, hang out with friends, etc.

Our freedom culminated in an amazing weekend. Ben typically studies for a couple hours every morning and evening, plus almost all day on Saturday, so this weekend we really lived up having Friday night and Saturday to play :)

F.R.I.D.A.Y. night
We went to a great Greensboro restaurant, The Red Onion, which makes gourmet hot dogs with some friends from church: David and Sharon. 

Their menu is amazing-- you first choose the type of dog you want, then the toppings style.  You can choose from pre-selected combinations or make up your own. So far my favorite is the California Dog: a Nathan's dog wrapped in bacon (yum) then topped with a crunchy cabbage cole slaw with chili, lime, and avocado. 

They are cheap enough to order a couple special dogs each, and I have yet to eat one I hate!

We walked around downtown Greensboro after dinner, and stopped in for amazing deserts at Cheesecakes by Alex.  None of us got cheesecake, but I can tell you their crumb cake was delicious, and only $1.85!

It is a local legend bakery, but this was our first time going.  I am so glad we went, though! I just know we'll go frequently! 

Since March 2nd was the first Friday of the month, Greensboro celebrated it's monthly First Friday night! Many local stores and museums had poetry reading, interpretive dance, and musicians play for the crowds.
We stopped into one newly opened hair salon who used First Friday as an opportunity to open the newly renovated doors to the public.  It seemed like a cool salon, but I was way more impressed by the live artist and guitarist playing Beatles and Johnny Cash!

Me, Sharon, and David

Ben got a pic of the guitarist by making it look like he was taking a picture of me... I didn't know that's what he was doing...


Saturday was Perfect! We woke up lazily and spent the early afternoon reading together in the office.  Ben read a couple chapters in a textbook to get ahead in a class, and I read my current book, a biography on the marriage of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt (who are fascinating people!) This may sound boring, but it was heavenly to just share space and have the freedom to interrupt one another with something really interesting we had just read about. 

Saturday afternoon we went rock climbing at Greensboro's indoor rock gym, Tumblebee's. 
I have been wanting to go rock climbing for a while, and Ben's shoulder has healed well enough that it's safe again, but it is still too cold to go "real" climbing in the mountains. I was actually unimpressed with Tumblebee's, even though they have some of the best routes in the SE, but that may be more to do with my loyal personality-- I just much preferred the gym I'd been going to in Columbia, Stronghold!
But we still had tons of fun :)

That's right, Baby, you've been rock climbing!

I got tired really easily, so the best I could do before my muscles gave out was a 5.8-5.9 route.

There are a lot of precautions to take when climbing pregnant, like sticking to top-rope instead of bouldering, and to be careful not to hit your belly hard on the rock face, but I found this a really enjoyable pregnant activity.  I mostly used my arms and fingers, and my belly really stayed out of the way! The harness was comfortable, and the belay rope pulled it out, anyway!

After the gym we hurried home for showers and right back out the door for a movie.  We stopped at the Four Seasons Mall to get a Classic Cinnabon roll, something I've been craving for a while now! I used to work at Cinnabon for a year in high school, and could eat or take home whatever I wanted, but I haven't had any since. This baby knows his roots, though... and he said, "NOW!" 

How could that not make your weekend better?

Then it was off to the Sedgefield Cinemas for $1.5 showing of Sherlock Holmes! Unfortunately I fell asleep during the movie (I have mentioned that I am always tired, right?) but it was still the most perfect weekend ever!

On Monday it will be back to the busy study schedule.  I"ll miss you, Ben!