Tuesday, December 16, 2014


An image from the production "Diary of Anne Frank" came across my facebook feed today. I played Margot, Anne's older sister, in this particular show. The image features the menorah candles and also the music box Anne's father saved and kept for her mother as a gift when they were forced into hiding.

Today is the first day of Hanukkah. I am not Jewish, but there is a small part of me that feels as if I am. Margot became a part of my soul when I was privileged to portray her up in Brighton, Colorado. The hugeness of the story and what happened to the families in this story will never leave my heart.

During our intermissions, the audience as usual was allowed to get up, get a snack, stretch their legs. We, the actors, were not allowed to leave stage. This was hauntingly symbolic of the fact the Franks were not ever allowed to leave the Secret Annexe. The choice to keep us onstage for the entirety of the production was helpful in driving that point home (both to us and to the audience).

Anne and Margot singing for Hannukah

I was also privileged to sing with my stage sister, Sarah, two traditional Hanukkah prayers  (if you've ever heard her sing, you'll know how huge of an honor it was). This became one of my favorite scenes of the whole play. As I rehearsed and then performed the songs/prayers over and over, they too sunk deep into my soul and became part of me. So as I listened to them again today (more than a year after performing them), I got dangerously close to tears. When you play a part onstage (at least in my experience), it is not just "pretending" to be someone else. Who they are absorbs into your heart in a way that is inescapable. They sang these songs together as a family during their Hanukkahs in the Annexe, and we as actors sang them together and became a family of our own.

Monday, December 8, 2014


I am currently eating my breakfast (at a faster speed than I ever would have pre-Peanut) and thinking about what I should write about. Thinking about how people were right and that life, although certainly difficult at times, was less complicated while pregnant versus after she arrived.

Currently, at three months old, her naps average forty minutes and it's been almost that. I am waiting for her to wake up, both dreading it and looking forward to it.

You see, I've never loved anyone more in my life. She made her grand entrance on September 14th and immediately broke my heart into a million pieces, then put it back together again.

Lately, she's learning that she can use her voice and is babbling and cooing quite a bit, all the while staring into my eyes and smiling.

 She is learning that she can stretch out her tiny body and touch the end of the baby bath we put her in every couple days. 

She is sleeping through the night and yet also shortening her day naps. I'm not sure what I prefer actually-- I love the sleep during the night but now it's hard to get any chores done around the house.

People keep telling me to cherish and treasure these  fleeting moments while she's small, and I know why they do. It is hard having such a tiny thing totally dependent on me. I get scared I'm not doing the right thing, and the thought of  her being sad, hurt, or needy for anything makes my heart break even more (if that is even possible). The sheer amount of time spent meticulously caring for such a creature engulfs most of my time. That kind of responsibility can be draining and cause you to lose sight of the miracle that is laying right in your arms, staring up at you.

And so everyday I try to remember this advice. To not get caught up in the ordinary or stressful and think about the fact that time is going by so fast. I promised I'd never use this cliche, but... It really does seem like we just brought her home from the hospital.

Friday, October 31, 2014

"How are you sleeping?"

In every new phase of life, there are questions. Not only in your own mind, but coming from other people. And some come more frequently than others.
These questions sometimes make me think more deeply about the subject matter simply because of the number of times it's brought up to me.
The most frequent question I get lately (having a 6 week old baby) is, "How are you sleeping???" Extra question marks included on purpose. They stand for the silent thoughts the person is thinking while they ask ("They aren't sleeping at all, I'm sure.").
I will say that in the first few weeks that was true. Infants' stomachs start out literally the size of a shooting marble. That means they have to eat frequently. Like, really frequently. Every two hours or more frequently.
Around the clock.
So yeah... A little sleep deprived the first few weeks. After that though, we gradually and gently inched her onto a kinda/sorta schedule. We found she started wanting to eat more around every three hours. So we woke her up around the same time every day and then fed her every three hours. If she was hungry earlier than that we fed her earlier. But mainly we found that she wanted it every three hours with a few exceptions.
We have also been helping her recognize the difference between day and night (she had them a bit confused at first... Can you say party all night long??? Yeah...). Thankfully she is sleeping more hours in the night now and wakes us up when she is hungry. That includes a five or five and a half hour stretch most days of the week (which feels amazing).
So in response to the question, "How are you sleeping???" I am happy to reply, "Better these days." I hear that it only gets better from here. And makes me think pretty deeply about the days to come... Looking forward to the days of 6, 7, even 8 hours a night. Gives me hope for a day that I might have boundless energy once again... You know, the kind that doesn't beg for a second and third espresso throughout the day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Birth of the Mini, Part Two: I Love Modern Medicine.

You came back! Does that mean you are ready to hear part two of The Arrival of the Mini?
All righty then. Picking up from where we left off (metaphorically leaving my life as I knew it dropped on the tile floor behind us as the nurse wheeled me down the hall to labor and delivery). Where was I? Oh yes. My uterus was trying to kill me.
Literally every bump in the hospital corridors (from tile to carpet and vice versa) made me want to yell at the nurse, "Watch what you're doing, lady! HOLY HELL!" I didn't though, because I was starting to get kind of freaked out. I was having this baby! And soon!
They dropped us in our room, and straight away had me change into one of those awful gowns they give all the patients. Seriously, hospitals? These things are huge, one size "fits" all, and as if that wasn't enough to deal with there are SNAPS that form the arm holes. Snaps. Now, I worked in daycare for years and I know my way around snap closures-- but these are insanely stupidly designed. I almost put my leg through one of the "holes" I created. Two (yes, two) nurses had to come into the bathroom and help me put it on.
But I digress. The pain, a good solid 7 in the car ride over, had crested to a consistent 8 as I labored in a tub of warm water (helpful, but honestly... really not much at all), and bouncing on  a birthing ball (looking back I think that particular method made the pain worse. They should just say, "Hey, try these things to ease the pain," and, chuckling/rolling their eyes, saunter out the door. Because there is literally not one thing they can do to help besides get the guy who administers the epidural).
A couple weeks prior, I had created a playlist on my phone called"Hospital Relaxation" (can I get a good chuckle out of those that have tried this? ha!). During the first couple hours at the hospital I became the stereotypical dancer and put Claire de Lune on repeat. It was the only song that didn't make me want to stab my eyes and everyone else's eyes out for those few hours. I then proceeded to tap out the tempo through every, dang, contraction. I counted to five on my deep breath in, and a slow eight as I slowly let it out. During the moments the pain and my body were totally out of my control, it gave me a sense of being able to be in control of my world for a few moments. Strangely enough this was the most helpful technique to distract me from the pain.
The contractions were coming every two to three minutes by 1 am. Casey sat by me and tried to help by massaging my back like we'd learned in birth class. It was nice but honestly nothing helped too terribly much. I was getting pretty vocal by 2 am. Our nurse  had come in twice to check my progress. Both times she said, "You're gonna hate me. But you're only one centimeter and a scootch." To which I replied, "SERIOUSLY?!?" Labor is no joke, people. The second time she checked me I had not progressed any further. I had the impression I needed to be further along to be officially admitted (not to mention get the epidural), so I just dealt with the situation at hand, hoping that I would progress. Around 2:30 am she came in again, took one look at my wilted form hanging over the bed, sitting on the useless birthing ball, and said, "Wow, you look miserable." Thank you, Captain Obvious. Then, she became my favorite person in all the land as she continued, "Do you just want your epidural?" (Upon arriving in my room, she had asked if I had a specific birth plan. I replied that my birth plan was very simple: To get an epidural. )
The clouds broke and sunshine beamed through as a luminescent spotlight on this beautiful creature. I said in reply, "YES PLEASE." She said she would check with my doctor and left the room.
Another reason I LOVE my doctor? Oh yeah-- he approved the epidural and they officially admitted me. I remember asking, "You're not going to send me home, are you?" with palpable fear in my voice. She said, "No way! We wouldn't send you home with your contractions this close and hard."
I got the epidural at 3 am as my amazing nurse supported my upper body (which needed to be tilted forward as the needle was inserted). I have never been so grateful for a nurturing presence in my life. As much as I wanted the epidural and knew I needed one, I was pretty terrified. At one point she actually rested her head on my shoulder while I leaned into her, which did more to alleviate my fears than anything else she did. It was a beautiful moment. The process of the epidural was far easier than I had imagined and I was again very grateful for that very unexpected gift from God.
After the pain meds began to flow I was able to "sleep" a bit. There's nothing like feeling the medications kick the ass of some of the worst pain you've ever felt. I love modern medicine.
 It wasn't a deep sleep however, with the blood pressure cuff inflating and deflating what seemed like every ten minutes, complete with it's annoying beeping to end each cycle. However light a sleep it was though, I was glad for it after those harrowing few hours.
My doctor arrived around 6 am and examined me quickly. I had progressed to 3.5 centimeters, hallelujuah (and all the angels rejoiced!). He's a busy guy and works at two hospitals, so he left to tend to some other patients across town and said he'd be back in a couple hours to break my water if need be. That's exactly what happened. I was able to doze off a bit again. Again-- I love modern medicine. For me, it prevented me from hating every moment of the birth process and that was worth millions to me.
Around 8 am they broke my water, a strange sensation and experience, if you've never been through it. This caused me to progress a little further, but not quite enough because around mid morning they gave me pitossin to progress me the rest of the way. Physically it was a strange few hours-- my right leg was more numb than my left and I had fun poking it and not feeling anything. As a dancer the experience of losing control of my lower half was strangely fascinating. I was ok with that non-control knowing it was also numbing the pain. Casey was there with me the whole time, catching a few z's here and there, and really helpful in keeping me grounded. I loved having him and only him there in the room, it kept my emotions from causing me to totally check out or become distracted from the task at hand.
At some point my (new) nurse checked me and she said, "I can feel your baby's head!" That's when it became real I think. This baby was coming. For reals. Then, the contractions got even stronger (thank you pitossin). I knew I was allowed to push the button next to my bed, the one attached to the epidural, or as I like to call it, the sunshine-happiness juice. Suddenly I got all ballet dancer on the situation and decided to try to tough it out. Half an hour later, my nurse asked me what the heck I was doing-- and that I should just push the button. She had somehow gotten to know what I needed in the few short hours I had been in her care. So I pushed the button and things got manageable again.
Around 12, something miraculous happened! I got to 9 centimeters! They called my doctor, who had gone home because he hadn't thought I'd progress this fast. As I progressed quickly to a ten, the nurse began to coach me in how to push and when to do it. She also brought Casey into it and told him how he could help. It was awesome to have him right by my side, assisting with everything.
Then the time came for the first push.
Because of the sunshine-happy juice, I couldn't feel the contractions coming until they were already happening for a few seconds. She let me know when they started and when it was time to push through them. My doctor arrived about fifteen minutes into the process, and began coaching me as the Mini made her way (slowly) down the birth canal. He was an amazing coach. As a ballet dancer I am used to and prefer "tough" corrections and encouragement. He fit the bill perfectly, as he said loudly during the pushes, "Go go go go go! Keep going! KEEP GOING! GO GO GO!"
I am grateful for the muscles I gained as a dancer, as I had to locate them to push even through the fact I was numb in those exact places. They kept saying I was doing really well, and that I was making their job easy. I wasn't sure whether to believe them until, between pushes and contractions, they began discussing a co-worker of theirs and where he went on vacation that summer.
I pushed for about an hour. Around the forty-five minute mark I began to believe she was never going to come out. At that point my doctor said he could see the head, which fueled me to keep going in my tiredness.
At 1:42 pm, he had to prompt me, "Look! Look down, Gina," as she made her way into the world. I saw her face (which was slightly gray) and I could not believe I was seeing my baby. As I continued to watch, I noticed her face wasn't moving. My heart dropped in fear. Then he said, "Ok, the cord is around her neck, no big deal, happens all the time. We're just going to pop it off," and in about five seconds flat, he did. Soon after, she began crying. That was my cue. My heart broke open in such relief, I simply lost it. I started crying and couldn't stop. They put her on my chest and she immediately quieted. This was when I knew she really KNEW me, that she was mine. Casey cut the cord which was also extremely special and symbolic.
After that, she was cleaned off, weighed, etc, and I craned my neck to see all that was going on. I was so distracted that I didn't even notice much of the post birth procedures that went on involving me directly. She was here! She was so quiet and sweet, even as she was being given her first shot.
We soon knew that Scarlett, the name we were convinced was right for her, was not anywhere near fitting for her sweet personality. Adeline, a name further down our favorites list, seemed perfect for her. Rose became her middle name (a family name on my side and also happens to be my middle name as well).
I loved that our hospital let us bond with her for the first few hours before rushing us out of the room. Those first moments were some of the most incredible I've ever experienced. I wasn't sure if I would bond to my baby right away, and I didn't believe everyone who said to me, "You just fall in love with your baby the second you see her. You'll see. It's hard to explain." Well, if you were one of those people-- you were right.

First moments after Adeline Rose being born.
 She was perfect-- 5 pounds, 15.5 ounces and 18 inches long, and perfectly healthy. I had never been so grateful for anything in my life, as evidenced by my tears that didn't stop for quite a few minutes.

Adeline's second day of life in the hospital.
And that's how it happened. Sweet Adeline arrived September 14th (a week early) and has cracked open both mine and Casey's hearts in a way that can never be fully explained. We love her more than words can describe (even at 4 am).
Thanks for reading. If you've made it this far I commend you! Stay tuned for more of Adeline Rose's adventures in the world.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Birth of the Mini, Part One: The Problem of the 7's

I've taken entirely too long to write this blog. I have a good excuse, though-- the mini-human that was in my uterus is now on  the outside. And I have, for a few weeks, had numb and tingly fingers (thank you, post-natal carpal tunnel) which makes typing not so fun. But back to the story!  This is how Mini made her grande-- yes, I used an "e" at the end of that word on purpose-- entrance into this world.
Leading up to the 14th of September my Braxton Hicks contractions had been a constant "friend," getting chummier and chummier with me, as if I'd had a DTR with them and told them I wanted our relationship to go to the next level. People kept telling me, "That's good, that means your body is getting ready!" I had been having them since about week 25, so I was feeling pretty ready to have them stop if you know what I mean.
Saturday, September 13th was no exception. Woke up huge and crampy. Rolled out of bed. I had a feeling maybe Casey and I didn't have much more time totally alone. I informed him that we were going to have a coffee date later amidst all the baby preparation in the nursery. He readily agreed. So it was set!
Off we went, late afternoon to Starbucks. We sat outside and shared a Pumpkin Spice frappuccino and pumpkin cream cheese muffin, where I told him that I was nervous about labor. I told him that I felt like I was waiting for the worst experience of my life. Casey is amazing, in case you didn't know, and an equally good listener as well as encourager. We left Starbucks later with me feeling a bit better. Not much, but a bit.
As we pulled up to the house, suddenly all the muscles in/surrounding my uterus pulled together so violently that I doubled over in the passenger seat. This was a Braxton Hicks like no other. I wasn't worried, however. I just figured that was going to be the new normal. Awesome. I let it pass and went inside.
About 6:30 pm, we were both in the nursery organizing and cleaning ("nesting" as some people like to call it-- I just call it being prepared). I got another one of those doozy Braxton Hicks contractions. Then, fifteen minutes later, another.
Then, ten minutes later... Another.
My stomach dropped and I kind of knew right then something different was up. But I'd heard stories over and over about how women go to labor and delivery hoping it was their time, and get sent home because they weren't dilated/ready enough to be admitted for real. I figured that would be me. Yep. Probably about seven times. So I simply pulled out my phone and started timing the contractions.
By 7:30 they were about 6-7 minutes apart and getting more intense. I was on the floor of my bedroom, putting the final touches on my hospital bag (yes, that included a sparkly headband I wanted to wear during labor-- don't judge). When they started getting to be 5 minutes apart I thought it would be a good idea to call the doctor, because I wasn't about to go to the hospital unless he said it was likely I'd be admitted. Being sent home in this kind of pain felt like a fate worse than death.
"On a scale of one to ten, how painful are the contractions?" he asked.
"Uhhhh... Maybe 4 to 5?" I replied.
"Ok. Well we don't want you to go to the hospital just to be sent home, I have a patient who was having pretty good contractions, went to the hospital, then they just stopped while she was there. That was last week. She's still pregnant. Let's wait till your pain level is consistently a 7. Then call the service and they'll let me know you are on your way."
Now, I love my doctor. He is amazing. But at that moment I wanted to punch him. LET ME GO TO THE HOSPITAL!
Instead I attempted to eat a little dinner then sat on the bed timing my contractions and recording the times and pain levels on my phone (I still have that note saved), breathing through them. It was getting more and more painful. Casey went into "super nesting mode" as he called it, on the nursery (the drawers were sticking on the dresser and that wasn't ok) and checked on me every ten minutes or so.
Eventually I got to 7's. Constant pain in the uteral (yes I just made up that word) area.
About 10:45 pm, I walked into the bedroom where Casey was sitting and (yes) doing our taxes. "I think maybe..." I attempted to say, as my uterus gave a huge "HELLO", almost a 9 level, and I doubled over, bracing myself on the bed.
"Yeah... I think it's time to go," Casey said. We gathered our stuff, tucked the birds in (who knew if we'd be back that night) and got into the car.
Getting to the main entrance in record time, we found a parking spot. We had to walk across the lot to get to the (dark) entrance doors. We arrived, then both stopped in our tracks. Why were all the lights off?!? Yeah... Turns out you have to go to EMERGENCY when you are having a baby that late. I had never been to emergency, so we had to search for that entrance which took about five more minutes. Which is kind of funny now. Not so much at the moment as you can imagine (picture me getting super testy and yelling as we drove in circles, "WHERE IS EMERGENCY? SERIOUSLY???").
We finally found it luckily. Casey dropped me off at the entrance and went to park the car, which was somehow not what I'd imagined. I went in and they asked how they could help me. "I think I'm in labor," I said.
"You THINK you're in labor?" he asked.
"Yeah. I'm PRETTY SURE I'm in labor," I said, getting a bit testier. Seriously? Just get me a wheelchair!
It's true they make you fill out a form before you are admitted. But it was short. And they got me to labor and delivery in record time. With every bump in the wheelchair causing my uterus to scream a little louder.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the birth story, called, "The Birth of the Mini: I Love Modern Medicine."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reflections on Impending Motherhood, by a 39 Weeks Pregnant Human.

I had a dream last night that I had already had Mini. It was one of my typical weirdo dreams where things don't really make sense in any of the circumstances, but for some reason I accepted everything as if it was normal.
For example, in my dream we were staying in a sort of adult orphanage-looking building (there were at least ten beds in each stark looking room), and for some reason I left her in a random room to sleep the night before. And then the next morning I couldn't find her and had to go to each room and explain to everyone that I had lost her and had you seen her? No one was being much help of course.
Then, when I did find her, I was frantically searching for water, bottle in hand, so I could mix the formula. Because she hadn't eaten for like seven hours. Which is bad. But she was just sleeping peacefully on my shoulder like nothing was going on, and of course AGAIN no one was being much help in getting me water.

This is kind of what the bedrooms looked like in my dream

Totally normal situation right?
Clearly it was a stress dream about motherhood. I've worked with infants before quite a bit-- but never one younger than 7 weeks old (the preschools I worked for didn't allow babies younger than that). Babies that young are so helpless and I think I will be mostly fine considering my experience, but there's no denying they are super tiny and vulnerable. There's also no denying that looking first time motherhood straight in the face is intimidating. The sheer amount of preparation can feel kind of isolating-- the mental preparation, the emotional realization that this little person will be totally 100% dependent on YOU for survival, and not to mention in my case the stress of frantically (while dealing with pregnancy aches and pains) preparing what feels like massive amounts of frozen food for Casey and I because knowing myself I will have no energy to cook at all post birth.
I am so grateful for people who have reached out to me in the last few weeks to let me know they are thinking of me. Part of me though, realizes that it will really be me and Casey in those moments when Mini won't stop crying, or those times the house is a wreck and we can't imagine conjuring up the strength to even gather up the dirty clothes to throw them in the laundry. I know there will be a lot of time when it's just Mini and I during the day, and I will feel the full force of how my life has changed so dramatically.
I half jokingly told Casey yesterday that I've been mentally/emotionally preparing for motherhood since I was 20-- not sure if that's a woman thing or a Gina personality thing. I just like to be prepared. And in those years of preparation, I know one thing for sure-- nothing will totally prepare me for this-- for the hard times as well as the moments of overwhelming joy that comes from having Mini in our lives.
You say to me that those moments of looking into that little face (hidden from you for all those months of pregnancy) smiles at you or relaxes into sleep in your arms, makes all the craziness worth it. I'm sure that you are right.
And I must admit, I'm so looking forward to that. And also I'm looking forward to not living in an adult orphanage when this happens.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Walking is Hard.

Mini's room is painted! Now we can finally begin the "should the diaper pail go here, or here?" and "how in the frack does she already have so much stuff??" phase begins. I must say I am very relieved. There's just something about not having the changing pad set up that was making me kind of pregnant-style crazy. I know. I could change her on a blanket on the bed, or floor, or couch. Or anywhere really. But still.
Speaking of crazy... It's a huge understatement that these last nine months have been humbling.
I don't think I realized before how much I was used to going all day long, getting so many multiple things done. These days I have grand plans to do just a few things (things that normally should just take the energy of your typical tortoise). Here's the problem: I even find it tiring to walk from one store to another if they are not right next to each other. The other day Casey got his hair cut and I had about half an hour to kill. Target and Ulta are all the way across the (in my defense, very large) parking lot. Because I'm a (*cue sarcasm font*) pregnancy ninja, I walked all the way across the lot. Also, because I'm kinda in love with Ulta.
Later I felt like I had run a marathon. Or, should I say, waddled a marathon? I promised myself I'd never waddle if I got pregnant. Yet... here I am. I blame the Braxton Hicks contractions. Let's just say, we aren't super besties.
I'm now 36 (and change) weeks. Really-- Mini could come any time. You can't predict or control what the little girl will do. "Get used to it," I can hear you veteran parents saying.
Again... humbling and a bit crazy-making for this planner personality.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Now This Is For Reals, Episode 3: Pre-Registering at the Hospital?!?

Nothing says "This is really happening" like pre-registering at the hospital for labor and delivery.

The hospital we pre-registered at for Mini's birth.

It's kind of a pretty hospital, right? (I wonder if there's a Starbucks.) I have been going to my OB visits right next door to this hospital for most of my pregnancy. In fact, there is a sign right next to office door that says, "Main Hospital" with an arrow pointing to the right. That gives me a strange sense of security when I walk in for some reason. It's like having an extra towel at the pool. Probably won't need it but it's nice to have it there just in case.
So last night we pre-registered online for the birth of Mini. I'm hoping this gets us out of filling out any paperwork when the time comes. Because really? Paperwork while you're in labor? To quote Brian Regan (in his case, referring to the lack of valet parking for emergency at the hospital): "If that isn't the biggest oversight in the universe..."
Pre-registration means I'm ACTUALLY planning to birth this child. And... something about that part isn't quite real yet. I've gotten used to the bump, I've gotten used to the exhaustion, and I've almost gotten used to not being able to dance like I used to. I'm not used to the idea of the whole giving birth thing. It's like trying to imagine riding a rainbow unicorn over the ocean to the magical land of Narnia. Part of me is saying, "Nah. That will never happen."
I know, she has to be born somehow and somewhere, right? But making plans to enter the hospital for this very purpose makes the thought flash through my brain once again: "NOW this is for reals."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Now This Is For Reals," Episode Two: My Couch Has Attachment Issues

In my series illustrating that this is indeed for now "reals," I come to my second installment.
The couch.
It seems my energy level and the couch are in cahoots. There are days that I am not sick, I am not injured, I am not in the Twilight Zone, but I am physically unable to do much of anything but be on the couch doing various things. Might have something to do with low blood sugar (as my diet is constantly changing, I feel like I'm running to keep up with its new needs everyday), my slight anemia (already being treated for it), or just plain growing a human. While on the couch it's super fun to feel Mini's movement though, so not all is lost. It's like God is giving me these "no energy" days to have quiet moments to feel what she's up to.
Through these times, my green couch has become a good friend. However, friends can sometimes be dangerous if they get too close. Specifically, the couch seems to be the jealous type-- it physically sucks me into itself and won't let me get up. I'm thinking of hiring a psychotherapist to come over and talk to it about its issues.
It doesn't change the fact I need it though, so it's a complicated relationship.

When I'm snuggled down into the couch and don't physically have the energy to get up, I think about the amount of time I used to spend on the couch versus the amount of time I spent in the car and in the dance studio. It is vast. Then I can't help but think:  Now this is for reals.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Now This Is For Reals" Episode 1: Baby Laundry

I now begin a series which I have christened "Now This is For Reals." Each episode will contain a description of a moment or experience that has thrown me fully into the realization (however brief) that THIS IS FOR REALS. God willing, a baby is indeed coming. And I'm going to be taking care of her.
Baby Laundry: There's a first time for everything. Today I threw in a load of baby clothes laundry... for the very first time.
I don't know why I was so nervous about it. They are just mini-sized clothes. But I was worried the colors would bleed, I was worried the temperature would be wrong, I was worried I'd immediately lose a baby sock.

I know I'll get the "hang" of it. And it's not like if I happen to ruin a onesie or two (HA! get it?), she will have nothing to wear. We have tons of them already.
Anyways, as I was throwing in the tiniest clothes and socks I've ever seen, and getting a whiff of the Dreft (special baby detergent? Who knew?), I had a moment.
"Uhhhhhh.... THIS IS FOR REALS." Why else would I be doing chores for a person unless THEY EXISTED? And they would soon BE NEEDING CLOTHES TO WEAR otherwise they will be NAKED?
And that was that. I then walked back upstairs and the moment was over. But keep a lookout for Episode 2 of "Now This Is For Reals," coming soon to a brain near you (mine).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Spaghetti and Vampires.

I know what you're thinking... "There's no way she's going to pull those two subjects together as neatly as she hopes to." Just wait.
When something amazing happens to me I like to share it with you all. And something very amazing happened last night. As some of you know, I lived in Italy for a bit in my early twenties, where I gained appreciation for some mind-blowingly delicious food. I also learned how to not dress like a sloppy American (no offense to Americans... it's just in Italy I realized a baggy t-shirt and shorts don't really cut it as "fashionable" or flattering to my frame at all. Come to think of it I don't really know anyone that looks good in what I used to wear pre-Italy. WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME I WAS DRESSING LIKE ONE OF THOSE BROWN PAPER BAGS THEY USED TO GIVE YOU AT THE SUPERMARKET??!?).
One of the pastas I learned how to make authentically was spaghetti alla carbonara, which deliciously integrates pancetta (bacon's exquisite second cousin twice removed), eggs, and parmesan cheese folded into its al dente spaghetti noodles. Last night I successfully made this dish for the first time since I've been back from Florence. Unless you are allergic to joy, I don't see how you could NOT like this dish. Even if you are allergic to gluten you can go get the gluten free pasta and make this dish and be happy.
Just in case I've convinced you, here is an image of the food from heaven, and the recipe that is so similar to what my Italian friends taught me that I can't taste the difference:

Heaven in a bowl- spaghetti alla carbonara

Link to the recipe by Tyler Florence: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/spaghetti-alla-carbonara-recipe.html
Still wondering how I'm going to tie in vampires? Well it seems that Mini loves food as much as I do right now. Because, approximately 20 minutes after a meal in which I have eaten something especially yummy, I feel the strongest kicks/punches/backflips I have felt thus far in the pregnancy. This happened last night after the carbonara. And is literally happening right now this second (I just ate some blueberry/lemon bread). Have you read or seen the Twilight movie where Bella gets pregnant with a half vampire baby? And the baby, ridiculously named Renesmee-- but that's another post for another day-- is so strong that her kicks crack ribs and she basically almost pushes her way out of Bella's body. That's what Mini's kicks feel like lately when I've eaten some good tasting food.
Still worth it. Once you taste this pasta you will agree with me.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Space of Her Own

We bought paint the other day. For Mini's room.
For a long time, Casey and I have loved the idea of a light gray and white room for the nursery. I like the color lavender as well. So we split the difference and are planning on doing light gray with a lavender accent wall.

The cans are sitting in front of me in the living room, next to the couch. I'm imagining what her room will look like in those lovely colors. Then I look to my right and see the ugly blue color that came along with our house in our bedroom. Ugh. I hate that color. Not to mention there are white spots, some of which I covered up with pictures, that can't just be painted over, you have to paint the whole room. Therefore the reason we have lived in aquamarine blue hell for about four years.
I sometimes notice subtle changes going on inside myself lately. Like I'd rather buy clothes for Mini than myself. Like I'm actually excited about this diaper bin we got for our baby shower. And the latest one is that I would rather work on her room than ours, and give her pretty gray and lavender walls than fix ours.
No further deep thoughts about this, I just have heard that this happens when you have a child. Some sense of unselfishness kicks in. Which honestly I'm a bit relieved to see-- before I got pregnant, I was worried I was "too selfish" to have a child. This is a common fear among women (and men) from what I know.
So when we started organizing all the baby stuff and planning the colors and buying the paint... And I wasn't super annoyed that we weren't buying stuff for us, or me... I found out I wasn't as selfish as I thought. Maybe Mini is making me a better person already.
Also another side-effect of having kids, from what I heard.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's a...

It's a bird... It's a plane... It's...
A girl.
For all you that I haven't slipped with various statements such as, "She's really kicking today" or "When she arrives..." etc, the news is out and it appears we are having a female mini-human.
It's an interesting thing. The first (very early) ultrasound I had revealed a little peanut that I could hardly see on the screen. Amazingly I could see the heartbeat even though she was just 6 weeks old at the time. That same day I started feeling as if she was a girl. No rhyme or reason behind it. I just had a feeling. And I am not one to prescribe to the "if you feel it, it's true" camp, but apparently in this case I was right.

Not surprisingly, I began wondering whether she will want to dance or not, specifically ballet. Being a professional dancer and dance teacher, it is a huge part of my life and I can't imagine being alive without dancing nearly everyday. Dance has become so integral to my existence and identity it is difficult to separate them in my mind.
Even more surprisingly, I find myself in a mental 50/50 split on whether I'd like her to want to be a ballet dancer. Especially in the professional world, even in the best of jobs/circumstances, it is harsh. I am not kidding around when I say I truly believe it is one of the most stressful careers a person can choose. I'm talking physically, mentally, and especially emotionally. I would hazard a guess that most professional dancers don't do it for the money (dancers, unless you are with a large company, are often paid less than poverty wages, yet go back year after year for more). They do it because they, like me, can't imagine their lives without it despite the fact you often feel sucked dry by the lifestyle of the career. It is the artistic air they breathe.

Me at about 8 years old, in my first Nutcracker production. I was a "Tiny Tot" (one of the children under Mother Ginger's skirt in Act 2)

It's funny to me that I'm already thinking about this as she is still in utero. I know intrinsically that I won't be able to stop her if she wants to do it. And, of course, I won't. The performing profession is full of joy, incredible highs, and personal growth. It also happens to be a career that asks so much of the performer. It asks for your heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears. It asks for everything.
Mini will have her own mind, desires, and expectations for life. Parenting is sure to be an experience that will test my abilities to let go and just observe as she tries many different things. She will succeed at some and fail at some. I am so curious about who she will be, what she will look like, and what she will choose day by day.
And being at thirty-two weeks currently, it seems I won't have long to wait to find out.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Just Sayin.

Noisy toys.
This might be the one time I go all Little House on the Prairie on life... Let me explain.
From my early twenties to my late twenties, I worked on and off in daycare and preschools. These places are littered with toys that make cute (cute meaning annoying) noises, music, etc when a certain magical button is pushed.
Needless to say, hearing that kind of noise/"music" can be highly annoying when it is constant. I'm just gonna put it out there, at the risk of already being called a bad parent (hey, Mini isn't even here yet!). My opinion is that pingy type of music isn't really music compared to the amazing wealth of real beauty we have at our fingertips in this world, especially in the age of iPods, iPhones, and instant technology.
Not to mention, when you work in an infant room for months at a time, the constant exposure to this type of sound is a little like water torture. Not that I've ever gone through water torture, but I imagine the first little drip-drip-drips you think, "This isn't that bad." Then it gets a little worse. You get annoyed at the whininess of a certain toy and make sure you turn it off whenever possible. But with eight babies running around in one room  (well, crawling/rolling) that task becomes nearly impossible. All at once you realize that this noise is never, ever going to stop.
And this is why I, as I prepare for the arrival of our Mini, am hoping to play Mozart, opera, Glenn Miller, Beatles, Sinatra, even Florence and the Machine in our house before I just let the toy/swing/bouncer music entertain. I want Mini to know what real music sounds like. I want Mini to appreciate the beauty and complexity of an aria, the insane FUN of big band, and the beautiful sound an actual piano creates. From birth I was raised in a home that was filled with opera, the Carpenters, Frank Sinatra, and Beatles (I can still sing every lyric of most of their songs) among others. I thank my mother for exposing me to it early and forming my musical tastes well. We also sang nursery rhymes, songs from Sesame Street, and Disney. Those are beautiful and helpful too. I just think musical appreciation starts early.

A mini Gina looking at a flower.
And also, those toys just drive me insane. And an insane Gina is no good for a brand new Mini.
Just sayin.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why Having a Baby is Like Taking on the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Week 31 and counting. More and more I'm getting the feeling I'm in some crazy heavy duty "change" training-- since January 21st (the date we found out we were with Mini) there have been so many life changes. So. Many. Changes.
Physical: Cravings, pains, growth, regression.
Mental: What the what? You say I'm going to have a baby? Surrre. *brain clicks off and thinks about "real" life circumstances. Like I'm hungry. So I go get a snack.*
Emotional: WHY AM I SO EMOTIONAL ALL THE TIME??!? Get me some ice cream! Or at least some chips and salsa!
***Ok, so it's only been like that about 10% of the time. In fact, up until now, I've been proud of how non pregnant-zilla I've been...but worth mentioning.
Career-wise: So... basically my life looks nothing like it did before. Before I danced most days, all day and got paid for it. Then I'd go teach some littles how to dance later in the day. But that has become impossible. Because of the physical changes and the need to adjust to them. Happily I am still taking class (though not all of it all the time), and feel I am much healthier and more "me" physically, mentally, and emotionally when I do so.
I really believe all this is preparing me for the big granddaddy change of all. This new little life who will be joining us in less than ten weeks (most likely, unless it's later... pleasepleaseplease don't let it be later) will change everything, forever. It is hard to comprehend. I have listened carefully to all the words people have lovingly said to me, such as "It will change everything, but it's worth it" and "Life as you know it will never be the same" and "Get ready to never sleep again." I don't like the last one so much.

Peter Strand as Cavalier and me as Sugar Plum Fairy in Ballet Ariel's Nutcracker 2012.
And honestly, as much as I try, I will never be totally ready. I know this. It's one of those "change as the change comes" trainings, like dancing the famously difficult role of Sugar Plum Fairy. You jump into rehearsals hoping you won't collapse from the sheer weight of the technical demands and expectations the role brings with it. Somehow, miraculously, you get through the rehearsals and shows. Of course, unexpected things happen onstage that you have to deal with moment by moment (similar to babies, no?). And yes, it is all worth it. It's hard, but the payoff? Well, why do you think professional dancers consistently go back for more? Those moments onstage when the sweat and pain transform into magic and you do an unexpected triple turn or hold the position you've been struggling with in the studio? The shows you enter into the character and never exit until you step offstage? Priceless.
That role was the scariest of my life. If you've never experienced it, instead just think of the scariest thing you've ever done-- something that a lot was riding on emotionally, physically, mentally, and career-wise. I often say to myself, "Self. If you got through that, you can certainly do this." And then I feel better.
Because at least, when I change Mini's diaper and try to get the crying to stop... I don't have to do it while looking like I'm happily and confidently floating through a fantasyland of sweets. And then there are those promised moments I hear about, when your baby falls asleep in your arms, the bonding times, the first smiles and laughs-- that's the payoff. This is real life, people (involving real life people). And I think I'm mostly ready for it-- that is, as ready as I'll ever be.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Magical Pregnancy Unicorn?

I really thought I'd be one of those "magical pregnancy unicorns" (quoting the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" movie) who, despite the fact I am smuggling a basketball under my clothes, does not need to alter her daily activities at all from pre-pregnancy. Watch the below video from 1:39-1:45 to get the full effect of what I'd been hoping for (although the whole trailer is pretty hilarious as a whole if you feel up to watching it).

I thought I'd be able to do my full ballet class everyday (I've heard of other professional dancers that have done it... And heard they are in class the day they deliver wearing pointe shoes) and rock it. I thought I'd at least be able to get out of bed for it.
I thought I'd be one of those people who "didn't even show till a few weeks before delivery." Ha!
I thought I'd be one of those magical creatures who could go all day, everyday, shopping and preparing, cleaning and nesting for the cutest little bundle ever to grace the earth (coming to a house near you very soon!).


I thought I could sail through at LEAST month seven without batting an eyelash ("Oh my, what's that you say? How do I do it all, with panache, even though I'm growing a human? Oh I don't know, I guess I'm just AMAZING.").
I was wrong.
You know all the stereotypes of pregnant women? I have personally fulfilled more of these gems than I'd like to admit. Ok, fine, I'll admit to sitting on the couch and eating ice cream straight out of the container when I should be doing something else, because I simply do not have energy. I sleep for hours. Or try to (my diaphram is getting a little squished). Despite the naps, I am still exhausted. Plus then, I wake up early every morning, not because I'm awesome at it. Because that's just what my body is doing these days.
Not to mention the mental and emotional. I went into a toy store yesterday. Out of my own volition. For no reason at all other than "I think I need to buy Mini a toy." I'm pretty sure I've never had an urge to go into any toy store, at all, before this unless I was supposed to buy a toy for my nephews or a friend's kid. I really can't walk by the baby section of a store without at least just "taking a look" in case there is a clearance sale on, well, anything.
Expectations! Where do they get us? I now claim nowhere. This time of my life has been so interesting and mind boggling (especially feeling a mini human kicking around inside). But just in case there are other women out there who might be encouraged by my experience I will say it straight up-- it is also also exhausting. I am learning to accept myself where I am at right now. I am learning to let go. I am not doing well some days. But it's a process, and one that I am sure is preparing me for the one ahead God willing.
Some people tell me, "Oh I miss being pregnant! You'll see!" To which I often respond, "ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?!?" I know I'll be grateful for this experience, someday-- much like I was grateful for all the physically exhausting rehearsal hours leading up to performing a lead role onstage. It prepared me and made it possible for me to perform well.
But someone, please, get me another pint of Cold Stone over here-- I just finished my last one. I'll be right here on the couch.

Monday, July 7, 2014

I Found The Ultimate Answer. (I Don't Care What The Question Is)

I have something amazing and beautiful to share with you all, something I just recently discovered in my 29th week of pregnancy. It's so incredibly good that I could not keep it to myself. It's something only having a baby could allow me to experience on such a deep, personal level.

Yes. Cold Stone Creamery.
I have experienced the wonder of their mix-ins in the past, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would order a "like it" size with my favorite toppings (usually brownie bits or oreos, don't usually stray from the formula). But this is a whole new thing. Did you know Cold Stone will mix up a whole special custom ice cream creation in a take home pint (or more) so you can enjoy it for days to come? Did you? I'm not sure you did.
My father in law is in town, and he and Casey are working on some house projects that must get done before Mini makes an appearance. I am forever grateful for their hard work, and wanted to get something special for dessert that would properly express my gratitude... Plus, I had a crazy desire for salted caramel ANYTHING.
*I realize this blog is turning into an enormous ad for Cold Stone. I'll try to fix that: Hey, did you know you can also get this kind of custom ice cream at Maggie Moo's, and other places that I don't know the names of? Or do it yourself at home? See? There. Fixed.*
After shopping at the grocery store (which conveniently was right next to Cold Stone... What? I had no idea!... Ok, ok, I picked that grocery store location for that very reason), I strolled into the delicious cool of this wonderful ice cream palace. I had planned on just picking up a pre-packed pint, but they weren't selling quite what I wanted.
That's when I spotted the empty pint containers on the counter... And the rest is history.
This happened (not my actual ice cream):

And then, this happened at home (not the actual bowl I used):

Casey and Malcolm loved the ice cream concoction I created (salted caramel ice cream, with extra caramel sauce, graham cracker pie crust, and chocolate shavings as mix-ins). How could you not? It's freaking salted caramel! SOOOOO delicious.
Ice cream is the answer. I don't care what the question is.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

First Day at the New Gym Syndrome

I don't have to do a ballet bun in the immediate future. So I chopped my hair. Yep, just like that. AND I went all punk too. See below:

Fine, so maybe it's not "all punk" compared to other punk-er cuts. But I've never done a color other than highlights before, much less a red streak. And I just felt like doing it. And who's stopping me? Huh? Huh? NOBODY.
We also finally joined the gym across the street from our place. And now I'm wondering what took us so long? It's frickin' ah-mazing to go across the street, work out, then be home in like, ONE MINUTE. Here's what I benched today:

Just kidding. I did something way, way (wayyyy) smaller. Bonus, I followed the time honored tradition of the "first time at a new gym person"-- I wandered around like an idiot and used all the machines wrong. They have a machine that looks like an elliptical but APPARENTLY the feet/legs just move back and forth (not in circles). I got on this and tried to go in circles for a full minute before I gave up and tried the machine next to it which was clearly a traditional elliptical. Whatever.
Mini seemed to like the experience, judging from the kicks and moving all around while we were there. They even have a small room with a wood floor where you can stretch. It's nice to have that separation from the rest of the gym who typically look at me like I have three heads if I even attempt to stretch to a degree that will actually, um, help my muscles relax.
A pretty good week. Especially after getting this in my fortune cookie at Panda Express (can you say ORANGE CHICKEN?? I am obsessed lately. Maybe it's a week 29 thing):

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Introducing: The Tiniest Planker In the World.

Well, I'm glad ONE of us is getting some consistent ab work.

Little Mini Human has taken to planking. Yep. PLANKING. In utero.

How do I know this? It's the only conclusion I can come to when just one particular section of my abdomen pushes out with enormous pressure (they say Braxton Hicks contractions involve the whole belly, which I have experienced, and this isn't the case in these situations).

If you aren't familiar with the ab exercise planking, here is a picture to educate you (this one has a few different options for the position, and from the feel of things I am pretty sure Mini has tried all of them at one point or another):

Alternatively, I guess it could be possible Mini is performing the downward dog position made famous by yoga:

What do you suppose the Mini is thinking? I have to wonder if the dancing I've done so far this pregnancy has inspired a whole fitness regime in there. After all, the journey down the birth canal (barring a c-section) must take some strong baby core strength, right? What's wrong with planning ahead a bit for the trip?

Listen to me, though, little one: There's plenty of time to plank on the outside. I will even buy you your own little baby yoga mat, whatever color you like. Just stop stretching out that little utero-apartment in there.

It kinda hurts.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

It's a Whale of a Time.

Lately, I've felt I just cannot get out of bed.
Not because I felt sick, not because I was too tired (even though I am).
It's because I'm huge.
*insert comments from various people who hear the last statement: "JUST YOU WAIT TILL MONTH 9!!! THEN YOU'LL REALLLLLLYYYY FEEL HUGE!" Yep. Thanks for the reminder.*
So back to my whale-like state, or at least feeling like I'm in a whale like state. I have now officially gained over 20 pounds since January. Maybe that doesn't sound like much to you... And to that I don't know what to say... But it feels like an enormous amount to this person (I'm pointing at myself if you can't tell).

Getting back to this morning. There are two techniques I use to get out of bed these days:
  1. Roll to my left side, let my legs fall over the side of the bed, plant feet firmly on the ground, and push myself up with my arms-- at least one of them tingly because it fell asleep sometime during the night.
  2. Lay there for awhile thinking of alternate ways to get up other than the "log roll" that is recommended to those women who do not desire any more damage to their widening abdominal wall. Get frustrated because I can't think of any. Sigh heavily, think about the times I was able to nimbly use my abs to sit up straight from a supine position. Sigh again. Finally... roll to my left side, etc etc (see #1 for the rest).
Life is strange sometimes. You deal with physical, emotional, and mental changes over the years you spend on this earth. It's what life is all about. But I never thought one of the issues I'd have is how to get out of bed every morning.
Oh, also, putting on shoes is getting to be kind of a problem. More on that in a later blog post.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gravity, you are not my friend.

Gravity has been plotting against me lately.
I don't know if you remember an earlier blog post about dropping things more consistently-- like my fork, my bag, and my new favorite, ice cubes-- but it has increased tenfold. My hands just seem to think they have a firm hold on something... But they don't. I dropped an entire fourth of a watermelon on the floor the other week. And this morning had a close call with a dozen eggs. Thank goodness somehow I held onto those.
I am officially in my third trimester today. It's the beginning of week 28 and we could quite possibly have a baby Mini on the outside in a matter of ten weeks.
*insert breathing sounds here* HEE HEE HOOOOOO! HEE HEE HOOOOOO!
...Ok, I'm fine now.
Another way gravity is not exactly my bestie lately is getting out of a sitting position. Especially when I'm nice and snuggled down in the couch. Man, that thing is hard to get up out of! And, having to think about the "right" way to get up to not irritate my abdominal wall, I have to use my brain too. What is this, pregnancy school? Ha.
The last and final proof that gravity hates me has showed up in ballet class. I used to be a good jumper. That was one of my better skills-- I'd use my leg and core muscles to achieve that "floaty" quality at the top of a jump or leap. Yeah, that's pretty much gone. I'm happy if I get more than an inch off the ground. But at least I'm still doing it, right? Right.
It will be interesting to have my body back after Mini gets here. I'm looking forward to floating at the top of a jump, getting up off the couch in a nanosecond if I wanted to, and not dropping random fruit all over my kitchen floor.
And mojitos. Yeah... Mojitos.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

...So you better get this party started.

Apparently there's a rager going on in my uterus at all hours of the day and night. The patterns of activity inside the "party pad" as Mini likes to consider it, are fairly well established.
  • Mornings... Right when I roll over as I wake up I feel the following: Kick, kick, kick, kickety, push, KICK KICK. Fairly tame but surprising for first thing in the morning.
  • While I eat... Usually not much happening. Fairly quiet. Maybe a gentle PUSH here and there.
  • Ten minutes after I eat (especially if I have eaten any form of sweets)... Kick! Kick! Kickety pushpushpush kick KICK! So I guess Mini has a significant sweet tooth like me.
  • Random times during the day... KICK KICK kick kick. Push! Kick. I figure it's a way of letting me know the party is still going, but not in a huge way. Just maintaining the festivities.
  • Laying down for sleep at night... Kick. Kick.....Kick. KICK KICK KICK PUUUUUUUSHHHHHHH PUUSHHHHHHH PUSSHHHHH (ie, "I'm trying to break out of this place, but it seems straight out your bellybutton isn't the way. Oh well, I'll try harder"). Very active when I am ready to go to sleep. Which makes sense when you realize the party's just getting started.
  • When I wake up in the middle of the night, go to the bathroom, or even just turn over... KICK KICK KICK KIIIIIIIIIIIICK BODY SLAM KICK BODY SLAAAAAAMMMMMMMM!!! "Iiiiiiiii'm coming up SO YOU BETTA GET THIS PARTY STARTED!!!" Apparently, Mini feels even just a turn over in the bed it's time to partay. With a big AY. 

Watch and listen to the Pink video to get the full effect of what happens in the party pad (a.k.a., my uterus) at 2 am, or 4 am, or 6 am (sometimes all three).

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I Have a Soccer Ball In My Belly.

"How are you feeling?" is by far the most common question I get lately as my belly grows. And grows. And grows.
"Do you know what you're having yet?" is the second. The answer is: We are hoping for a human baby. OH, you meant the gender! We are keeping that little tidbit private until our gender-reveal shower in July!
I will answer the first question however, with two simple words: Belly Problems. My body has been changing rapidly (at least it feels rapid to me) and dramatically over the last two months. I consistently misjudge how far I stick out in the front. For example, here are the things I've run into lately-- some of which I have LITERALLY run into:

  • When Trying on an Ergo Baby Carrier: We were in Babies R Us and I noticed a big old hole out the bottom of the thick belt around my non-existent waist. I got really worried, thinking, "Isn't the baby going to fall out??" Luckily Casey, who often functions as my brain when I'm tired at the end of the day, reminded me I indeed have a significant baby belly. After I give birth that will hopefully go away. Then the Ergo will fit, and voila, baby won't fall out the bottom of the thing.

It, of course, fit Casey just fine and dandy. What's in there, you ask? A 7 pound bag of beans. I knew that would come in handy someday.

  •  When Making Food in the Kitchen: While chopping, pouring, or stirring I often find something gets in my way when scooting up close to the counter. Oh yeah. It's that inflated belly with the cuteness inside. Learning to be careful, especially when scooting at a higher speed.
  • When Expecting My Body to Feel the Same Despite the Fact My Uterus Is Now the Size of a Soccer Ball: Yes, a soccer ball. Let's just pause for a moment and think about that. Isn't it weird my insides haven't exploded all over the place already, and that the other organs are so polite as to just "scoot out of the way" for the uterus? The uterus must be some big cheese of organs for this sort of royal treatment. Of course there are issues as far as how much I can eat at once. Small meals and more often is the way to go... I've found. Also, the muscles have already gone through some major changes and stretching, which involves some (sometimes a lot of) discomfort. Did not expect that to be my number one complaint, but when you think about the physical implications of pregnancy, maybe I should have!
  • When Not Expecting to Feel Heavier: NEWS FLASH!! The belly is heavy. I know, I know, it's gonna get worse (why do people say that kind of stuff anyway? That's like saying "you just wait until you have the swine flu" to someone who has a cold). But it doesn't change the fact that it feels heavy now. I'm carrying around about 18 extra pounds total at the moment, not all of that belly. And it makes me exhausted a good amount of the time. Especially during small jumps in ballet class, which I'm still enjoying attending.

After ballet class at 25 weeks. 

So how am I feeling? In a nutshell, tired. I've found I can choose TWO major things to do during a day. That's all. I try to squeeze in three and it feels like I've run a marathon. I often look at the picture of myself as Sugar Plum Fairy up on our mantel and think, "HOW IN HOLY TARNATION DID I DO THAT?!?" So please don't be insulted if I tell you I can't make it out... I must have already been to Ikea and gone grocery shopping. Or vacuumed, and then gone out to the store to find a shirt that actually fits my huge belly.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Under Construction

Have you ever missed your exit on the freeway? And you know already that the next exit is two or more miles away?
You're just on the freeway, moving along at 65 plus miles an hour, and you can't get off. There's nothing you can do about it.
This whole growing a mini human experience feels a bit like that. Not in a bad way (because when you miss your exit, you desperately want to get off but can't). I don't want to get off this train. Pregnancy has treated me fairly well so far. But there is a distinct feeling of being on a runaway train-- physically, emotionally, financially, and mentally.
Example: My normal attire almost daily for at least an hour and a half is a skintight leotard and tights/shorts. My stomach area started out totally flat, even at about seven weeks along. Then slowly but surely, the bump began to grow.
"Duh," you are thinking, "That's what happens when you are pregnant." But wait a minute-- up until January, my career has been to a) Stare at myself in the mirror, b) Scrutinize my body shape/poses, and c) Sculpt my muscles, lines and positions toward the unreachable ballet ideal. And the appearance of this small but growing melon right in my center kinda sorta throws me off. Mentally and physically. And to be honest, sometimes emotionally as well.

Imagine you are an accountant. Your job and life is to add, subtract, multiply, etc. One day your mind begins to change without you even realizing it. At first it's barely noticeable-- you are making tiny mistakes (ie, like my belly pulling my weight forward in ballet class) in your calculations, occasionally putting a wrong number in the spreadsheet cell. Slowly but surely, the mistakes get a little more frequent and pronounced. Your calculations are pretty much always off. By a lot. And you know it's going to be like that for 10-ish months. You basically must change your entire lifestyle and way of doing your career.
That's what this feels like. A strange, yet wonderful Twilight Zone where there is a cute little mini human inside my uterus. This mini human has begun to totally change my life and outlook in so many ways. I wouldn't have it any other way, but I'm tellin ya... what a perspective shift.
I'm learning to accept my limitations with humor instead of frustration. I have learned to naturally modify my daily ballet class without getting irritated about it. I know and understand this runaway train isn't probably going to stop until around September 20th (my new due date), and I am going to continue getting bigger. And bigger. And heavier too (adding to my already aching calves).
And that's ok. Because, as my good friend Beth told me early on, "You get a prize in the end." What a beautiful way to think about this short period-- looking out of the window of the train and enjoying the scenery instead of just waiting at the door to get off.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Mini Human Is Planning a Break-Out

Mini human at 20 weeks, planning the escape from the womb by feeling out the periphery.
This is what a 20 week old mini-human looks like, apparently. One that is pushing with all its might against the placenta like there is a lifetime supply of chocolate on the other side... Which, ironically, there is. Maybe the mini is smarter than we thought.
We had our "long" ultrasound the other day (which turned out to be not so long... kind of disappointing but we got a few more pictures and a few video clips out of it, so not so bad I guess). Mini was moving and pushing around inside there, almost like a mime tries to push its way out of an invisible box. It was so nice to see that movement and hear the heartbeat. Strangely, as I watched the pushing and moving on the screen, I could not feel a thing-- although in the few days since then I've felt much more movement than I have in the whole first half of the pregnancy.
The good news? Everything checks out normal and good, I cannot tell you what a huge sigh of relief came out of me when they informed us of Mini's general good health. The bad news? I'm only halfway done and I'm all of a sudden looking like I have a small watermelon hidden under my clothes.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I Felt That.

Current mini-human status: 20 weeks along. He or she is apparently the length of a banana (what!?!) and a little over half a pound. I'm feeling movement coming from inside my uterus now as well... All part of this weird ass experience they call pregnancy. Below are my personal phases of feeling movement so far (more to come, from what I hear):

Phase One: "Oh, that was just gas."
Phase Two: "That felt a little different from gas. Was that something? Nah, probably not."
Phase Three: "Ok, that definitely was super strong and weird... I think that was a kick. But I'm probably just imagining it and wanting it to be a kick. Never mind."
Phase Four: "WHAT. WAS. THAT."

Phase Four is mainly where I'm living right now, because I've learned to ignore the little flutters, being a self proclaimed realist. Also, let's be honest: Who wants to get all emotional over something you ate half an hour ago?

Half the time I feel something I am analyzing how far it was over to the side of my abdomen, which I understand is where some sections of my intestines have moved. If it's fairly close to the side I often blow it off as digestion. More often these days, however, I get the little flutters and what feels like taps (like when someone taps you on the shoulder) near the center. As we speak I'm feeling some little taps near my belly button, but just a little below it. I just ate, which is often when I feel stuff happen. Especially when I'm eating chocolate.

Not my belly, image found on Pinterest-- so funny, especially being at 20 weeks: halfway done.

Many moms tell me they felt this was the time they worried less about the baby because they could tell they were moving around. I'll agree with that one. Along with this though is when you don't feel movement for a while, then you worry a bit. Apparently my placenta is placed directly in front, which my Dr. said will decrease my ability to feel "consistent" movement.

Still- kind of an "alien" experience, to feel someone completely OTHER doing little kicks and punches and somersaults inside of me.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Baby Weight?

If you've never been pregnant, and would like to feel like you are, try strapping a few extra pounds to your stomach and spin around a bit. Then add the desire to spin gracefully without falling over and you've got "Gina's Current Situation In Ballet Class." Turns/pirouettes are sometimes easier when my new baby weight is pulling me in the right direction... Other times it can be bad. Very bad. Not to mention, not graceful. Here's me today after class (fighting with all I've got to keep my arabesque at 90 degrees/hip level-- not giving that up without a fight):

20 weeks along in ballet class.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Real Bump

"Wow, you finally have a baby bump!"
So, apparently I'm "showing" now. There's no hiding behind baggy clothes anymore (in fact, the baggier the item is, the bigger I look because it extends the bump down further than it really is... thereby making me into a human tent). I find the more form fitting the garment, the slimmer I look. For example, in ballet class I removed my flowy tunic-type tank top and just went with my leotard and shorts-- and found that I look significantly LESS pregnant.

Me at 16.5 weeks (about 3 weeks ago)
The comments are coming in at a faster rate than before, which is expected. What isn't expected is that I'm getting different types of comments regarding my size. One day I find people say that I have a big bump, and the next people say I look tiny for almost 20 weeks. Team"Big Bump" seem to be people that know me and know my body-- i.e., people who see me almost daily and have for years, in ballet class. The leotard is not the most, um, FORGIVING thing to wear when gaining weight shall we say.
I went to the dentist the other day and they found out I am about 19 weeks along. The tech promptly said, "Wow you look great for 20 weeks." Not exactly sure what that means, but was nice to hear. The tailor I brought some pants into noticed my bump and said, "You have baby?!" I nodded yes, and she said, "Must be TINY baby!" At first it was confusing to hear such insanely different comments, but understandable when I think about how well each of these people know me and what I normally look like. My older ballet students recently told me they could tell way back in February that something was up-- props to them for being so observant!
Thankfully I am used to people randomly commenting on my body so I barely bat an eyelash when I get these comments. I know they bother a lot of pregnant women (and I am not ruling out the possibility that in the future I might get tired of it all), but for now it's fine with me. I don't even mind when people touch my belly (I'm a physical touch person). Somehow it makes me feel like this baby is already loved and cared for by others.
And that's a good feeling.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Long Awaited Confession at the Nail Salon

First off... If you've never seen this video (which I can't imagine that you haven't), you must watch it NOW.

I have been going to the same nail salon, near one of my workplaces, for about five years. And every single time, without fail, they ask me when I'm going to have a baby. After of course, asking if I'm married. When I tell them no, I don't have a baby yet because I'm a ballet dancer and fitting in a tutu is kind of a job requirement, the same conversation always ensues. They first say, "Oh that why you so skinny! I wish I was that skinny!" while patting their stomach or pinching their side (which are actually very slim). Then, I just smile and look awkward, because what do you say to that?
It's kind of amusing how acquring pretty nails sometimes requires you open your personal issues to the more friendly staff. And the even friendlier staff like to share their own lives too. "I have three kid by the time I'm 30," is something I'd sometimes hear, "...and my daughter still live with me! She likes clothes so she spend money on that instead of house." Yep, I did hear that last part at one point.
So the other day, I visited the salon because I desperately needed a manicure. They assigned me one of the quieter ladies so I thought I might get away with not discussing my family choices (especially because I was wearing a longer wrap jacket which sort of hides the belly). No such luck.

not my nails, but I'm thinking now I might have to try this.

The very friendly lady who always harassed me about having babies walks by and says, "You still dancing?"
Here we go, I thought. "Not as much," I said, shaking my head, waiting for the axe to fall.
"Why?" she asked, then half a second later her face lit up. She pats her stomach, taking a couple steps toward me, clearly asking if I was with child.
"Yep," I said, smiling (let's get this over with).
The mild pandemonium that ensued was pretty entertaining, and also pretty fun. They asked me how far along I was, when I was due, and all the other typical questions. I was happy to finally be able to give them the answer they clearly had been wanting for years. They also shared some stories about their pregnancies and that was fun to hear as well.
And I'm willinng to bet a good deal of money that after I have the mini-human, the next question will be, "When you have second baby?"

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What do YOU want to be doing at 80 years old?

I found this video just perusing my Facebook feed. Little did I know it would make my whole day. Going along with my "Capable" theme of yesterday's blog, I don't know if I've ever been so inspired. Take a watch at Paddy and Nico.

This is what I want to be doing at 80. Ok, maybe not on Britain's Got Talent (my American-ness kinda gets in the way for that), but I want to be DANCING, flipping, and loving life to the beat of my favorite music, daily.
And right now? I want my child to continue to hear the music and feel the movement even before he/she is born.
It makes me miss my beautiful Grandma Kay as well, who did swing and lindy hop dancing back in the day and was my inspiration for one of my characters in "Birth of Rock and Roll" with Ballet Ariel a couple years ago.
I will carry on the tradition. Don't you worry, Grams.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Jennifer and Robert Mason, photo by Richard Calmes

Isn't this amazing? We don't see a lot of images of pregnant women dancing out there, and far fewer in ballet. Pointe shoes paired with a baby belly are virtually impossible to find. Which is why I get so excited by this picture above (Jennifer and Robert Mason, photo by Richard Calmes).
As a dancer, I get my heart and soul's life blood from dance and movement/exercise. My body has always functioned better when I'm "in shape" or exercising through the art form of dance. My ballet classes, rehearsals, and what not keep me sane and physically healthy.
I have done a ton of research in what is safe as far as exercise during pregnancy, and what I found surprised me-- that I am, my body is, capable of doing much more than what the "stop doing everything normal, you are a baby oven for nine months so don't do ANYTHING" stereotype says. I have had amazing examples around me for models of fitness during pregnancy (one friend who danced on pointe till the day she delivered!).

This is me after ballet class a few weeks ago (approx. 14.5 weeks pregnant).
I am listening to my body and my Dr., and also continuing in what I'm capable of, for both myself and the baby. Turns out that a good amount of exercise is way better than staying on the couch (for both parties), not to mention facilitates an easier labor process... That's enough motivation to keep me in class for sure.
There are a lot of myths out there, but also a lot of truth. I'm grateful for the truth-- and will be continuing to listen to the fact that pregnant women are capable of a lot more than even they think! The truth literally has set me free in this case, which brings me so much joy.