Saturday, April 25, 2009

April 24th, 2009 - It's a human!

On the 23rd, Paul picked Flossy and Ginny up from Baltimore and drove them down to Arlington to spend the night with us and go to the sonogram with us the next morning. All of us went to the doctor's office (Maternal and Fetal Health at VHC) and they were kind enough to drag 3 more chairs into the room so that the whole family could sit down. By the way, the chair hauling was performed by our technician who happened to be at least 5 months pregnant (has to be a cool job! She checks her baby out once a week!).  She moved the chairs while Paul was in the waiting room, so if you want to yell at someone, call her staff...

After answering some questions and filling out some paper work, the technician slathered on a healthy dosage of jelly and our baby appeared on the big screen. We were immediately shocked because s/he looked like a person! It had only been 5 weeks since we were staring at a turtle/UFO looking blurb on the screen. Now, we could clearly see a head, body, arms, and legs. Our baby's profile was also there for our viewing pleasure - a little nose and forehead. The baby seems to already have Paul's energy level - s/he was bouncing around as if it were a trampoline. The baby seemed to "go to sleep" for a minute or so and would then start bouncing and moving his or her arms and legs again. We heard the heart beat again as well - all good signs that the baby is doing just fine. 

We were there for a nuchal translucency screening to assess our baby's risk for Down Syndrome. Although we won't get the official results for over a week, the doctor said that everything looked good. 

After the appointment, we went up to Great Beginnings in Gaithersburg, MD ( It's one of the largest baby stores in the country, so we thought it would be fun to check out the stock when Ginny and Flossy were there. After a lot of debate, we settled on a Munire nursery room set and put the order in. It takes 10-14 weeks for delivery (!) so we still have some time to get the room painted before it arrives. We made one other purchase... Baby Bargains! It's our new favorite source of baby-related information. 

We had dinner at Paul's cousin Danny's restaurant, Crush (, near Towson Town Center and told Danny, Michelle, and Paul's aunt Bonnie, who were all working, our baby news. (If you live in Maryland and haven't been to Crush, you should go! The menu is fantastic and we've never had anything we didn't love.) It was great to spend Flossy's 91st birthday with her and get to see the fourth generation of Paul's family all in one room. A very exciting and tiring day!

April 18, 2009 - The 4th Generation

At long last, Ginny (Paul's mom) was coming into town for Flossy's (Paul's grandmother) 91st birthday on the 24th. We headed up to Baltimore to go to dinner with Ginny and Flossy and break the news. Paul was very anxious for his family to know. We told them in a similar fashion to Shonna's mom (framed sonogram picture). The only difference was that they had no idea what they were looking at. When they finally realized what was on the print, the room was filled with screams, tears, hugs, and kisses... in that order.

We went to Ocean Pride Crab House a few blocks from Flossy's house. Shonna has been craving crabs ever since she read that they are one of the best proteins to eat when you're pregnant. They have pretty good crabs, but if we weren't celebrating with family, we may have mentioned that a couple of the "jumbos" were so light they were almost empty before we broke them open. That said, we had a great time, and the crabs were tasty. Its just tough to truly enjoy crabs after you've had the biggest and best at Seaside in Pasadena Ok ok, enough restaurant plugs...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

April 14th, 2009 - Mr. and Mrs. Pac Man

We had our second prenatal visit at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington with the Arlington Women's Center on April 14th. The two main OBs in the practice are Dr. Gustavo Rossi and Dr. Mary Crowther ( There are also two younger doctors: Holly Masel and Kathryn Born, and a midwife, Karen King. When we selected Arlington Women's Center, we were using the Washingtonian Magazine's Best Doctors report and looking for a practice as close to Arlington as possible. There were two doctors that I read about who I was initially drawn to - Jane Piness (also at VHC, but in a different practice) and Mary Crowther. I first called Dr. Piness's office but she didn't have an opening until late July for new patients. That would probably be a little too late. Dr. Crowther was able to get us in pretty quickly. On our first visit, we met with Dr. Crowther and immediately really liked her. She has an English accent and Paul thinks she sounds like Mrs. Doubtfire. She paid attention to Paul, answered all of our questions, and didn't scare us with a long list of things we couldn't do or pass judgment on being curious about a scheduled c-section. She explained that we would rotate through all of the doctors in the practice to make sure we would be comfortable with all of the doctors we might be working with.

During our second visit, we met with Dr. Rossi. We were his last appointment of the day, and he looked like he'd had a rough day! He was very friendly though and had a great sense of humor. He told us that he was going to try to get a heartbeat for us, but warned that it was probably too early to be able to hear anything. He told us not to panic if we didn't hear anything because it wouldn't mean anything. About 30 seconds later we were listening to our baby's heartbeat! It was coming in loud and clear. That probably didn't mean anything either, but we like to think that it means that s/he is really strong!

The doctor also went through our results of our sonogram with us. Apparently they'd found a cyst on my left ovary. He said that the doctor probably didn't mention it because it's fairly common. They commonly develop to produce progestone until the placenta takes over. They'll check it again on the 24th, but he expected that it would go away on it's own. In describing how it happened, he described the process of the egg being fertilized as when "Mr. Pac Man meets Mrs. Pac Man." We also learned that Dr. Rossi has delivered nearly 5,000 babies! So far, we love our clinic. We're really happy with both Dr. Crowther and Dr. Rossi. They have a lot of experience and spend time answering all of our questions. They've also done a great job of making Paul feel like part of the process (we've read about men being ignored during prenatal visits). It's a nice, new, clean facility andwe're very lucky that we could walk (or waddle) there if we had to.

The Old Man's Observations:

"Checking out the talent in the waiting room ;)"

I wake up before our 1st visit with Dr. Crowther, and I feel like its a cross between Christmas and the morning before a job interview with Maybelline. I'm excited about the new information that will soon be opened up to us (like tearing into your first gift under a tree), but I'm also preparing for a series of probing questions asked by Dr's who couldn't give a crap that anyone with a Y-Chromosome is in the room (I got this from reading one of the 35 books Shonna has purchased over the past couple of weeks.)

So back to waking up... Lately, the first thing I think about after I get up is to make sure I nourish our new fetus. I of course have to eat IMMEDIATELY, so if (s)he is anything like me, (s)he will be pissed if food isn't consumed ASAP. I usually make a bowl of cereal for both of us (actually the 2.0047 of us). At this time Shonna is either struggling to get out of bed (90% of the time), or frantically running around the house because she's late for work. In other words, Shonna either wakes up with a bowl of cereal on her chest, or I hand it off to her football style.

This particular morning, our appointment is not until 10am, so things are unusually calm. We eat, shower, and head to the appt. (only a mile from the house). We walk into the office, and while Shonna makes her way to the window to take care of administrative paperwork, I start checking out all of the expected mothers in the waiting room. Its not what you think. First, I find myself analyzing their bellies, calculating how long I figured it will take before they pop. Second, I wonder WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING HERE because not only is Shonna the only mom-to-be in the room without belly fit to rub for good luck, she is the only one who doesn't look pregnant at all... I have one hot pregnant wife :)

April 9th, 2009 - "Is this what I think it is?!"

Paul and I really wanted to tell everyone about the news. Mainly to share our excitement with the people we love, but also just because it would be so much easier if everyone knew! It would explain some of the strange behaviors (not drinking caffeine, always being tired, not being able to remember anything). We'd hoped that we'd get the okay from our doctor to spread the word after the first sonogram. In fact, losing a week of the pregnancy meant we should wait even longer. The doctor suggested that we wait until at least 10 weeks to tell our families. By 10 weeks, we would have a 98% chance of a safe pregnancy (i.e., the risk of miscarriage would be down to 2%). As much as we hated to wait, the timing was actually good for us - it meant that we could wait until 10 weeks and tell our parents in person. Neither of us were very excited about sharing such important news over the phone. 

We'd been planning to visit my parents the second weekend in April to visit and deliver another surprise - a himalayan kitten. We secretly had the kitten for 3 weeks just waiting until we could get to Washington state. W also didn't just want to tell our parents. We wanted to something a little different, so we decided to make a copy of the sonogram photograph, put it in a frame, and wrap it up. We flew out the night of April 8th. My mom met news of the first surprise in the car on the way back from the airport. I sat in the back seat with her with the cat carrier between us. She was excited to see that I brought Remy (my youngest cat) for a visit. I explained that this one was actually for her ("Charlotte," now named Pasha). She already seemed overwhelmed by her first surprise.

We decided not to tell them until the next day. It was late at night and we didn't want the news of either surprise to overshadow the other. The next day we went out to Target to get some wrapping paper and to look for "I love Grandma and Grandpa" bibs. We didn't find the bibs, but we did find a scrap book for my mom. When we got back, we sat my mom down in my dad's office, gave her the gift bag, and told her to open it. She grabbed the picture frame first, and as she opened it, she said "Ooh, I love pictures!" She turned the frame over and looked at it for a second before exclaiming "Is that what I think it is?!" with a laugh. She started repeating that with tears in her eyes, laughing more. Dad was left confused, repeating "What? What is it?" Mom couldn't be bothered with getting him caught up. She was positively giddy at this point - crying and laughing and hugging Paul and I. We finally passed the picture to my dad who still wasn't sure what was going on. "What is this? What the hell is this?," not sure what he was looking at. Paul told him that it was our new pet turtle.

It was hard to wait that long to tell them, but we wouldn't have missed that reaction for the world. My mom kept saying how special this baby would be and was very happy to hear how well Paul was already taking care of both of us. We asked them what they wanted the baby to call them. Dad immediately said "Grumps." Done! All of us laughed and thought it was pretty appropriate. Mom's future name was less clear. She suggested "Grams" (vetoed), "Granny" (quickly vetoed), and reluctantly offered "Mom mom" (very luke warm). Paul suggested "G-money," which just may stick. Other names that might last are Nana (although Paul expects that Flossy will have first rights to it) and Nonni (Grandmother in Italian). 

Friday, April 17, 2009

March 23rd, 2009 - Meet Testudo

The benefit of being new to having a cycle was that the doctors weren't very confident about my projected due date. Basically, they thought there was a chance that I could be a month farther along than initally thought. We figured that was a virtual impossiility, but we'd read that they would do a dating sonogram if they were unsure, so we didn't try to persuade them otherwise. We were really anxious to see our baby to make sure it was all real! On March 23rd we got to go in for a dating sonogram in Fairfax. 

The technician showed us the baby and pointed out the yolk sac. The first thing I said was that it looked like a turtle. Some parents might have been put off by the idea of a non-human residing inside them, but as a proud pair of graduates from the University of Maryland, we thought it was pretty funny. We quickly started calling our little embryo "Testudo." The other thing we learned was that based on it's size, rather than being 8 weeks and 2 days pregnant, we were only 7 weeks and 1 day. We'd somehow lost a week of progress! Our new due date was (and is) November 8th, 2009. 

The doctor came in to confirm the results of the sonogram and was kind enough to show us our embryo in 3D. We now had 5 pictures of our future son or daughter - 2 normal sonograms where it looked like a turtle and 3 3D sonograms where it looked like a pimple. Hard to imagine that we were less than a year away from our 9 mm long embryo being a little person. The sonogram definitely made it all more real. I started being much more aware of my stomach and Paul also started paying more attention to it (he likes to say "hi" to the baby). We can't wait for the next sonogram (April 24th) where they'll look for evidence of Downs Syndrome. We're just excited to see him or her again and make sure everything is okay!

February 27, 2009 - 4th time's the charm?

We took our first pregnancy test on February 21st. Negative. We took another test the next day (still late). Still negative. Clearly it wasn't happening this month, so we decided not to take any more tests. When I was still late three days later, we decided to take the last test we had in the house -- yet another negative! After dismissing the lateness to the 10 years of birth control getting out of my system, we got through the rest of the week and decided to go out to dinner on Friday night (The 27th -- my dad's 70th birthday). After dinner, we decided to stop at the CVS to pick up another package of tests... just to be safe. Imagine my surprise to see "Pregnant" on the digital reading! I called Paul upstairs to look. Our immediate reaction was that it was a false positive. After 3 negatives, it seemed to be the outlier. I started chugging water so that I could take the other test from the box. Negative. Now we were really frustrated! Paul went back to the store at 2 AM to get another box of tests. We took the next one in the morning and got 1/4 of a positive. That was it. No more tests until we went to the doctor. I called on Monday morning to schedule the appointment. After I got off of the phone I took another test just to make myself feel better. Another positive. This time I had a feeling that we were really pregnant. By the time all was said and done, we'd taken 7 (!) home pregnancy tests with only 2 1/4 positive.

The doctor confirmed it with a urine test - a "quick positive." After they told us the nurse commented that she could feel my heart racing and my blood pressure was high. Imagine that. 
We soon had a lot of lab work done to confirm and we were given a due date of October 31st. We were simultaneously so excited and so scared. We really wanted to start a family, but after hearing so many stories of people struggling to get pregnant, we never imagined it would happen so fast! And so began our adventure...