Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Much Needed Saturday

Well, it's been quite a week around here. All of this diabetes hullabaloo has taken its toll on both of us, and on my students! I've missed two days in the last two weeks and my kids are starting to feel "overworked." Their words, not mine. It's that time of year where we all get on each others' nerves anyway, so I don't blame them. They certainly deserve a break and we have lots of fun things planned for next week, so don't worry, the fourth graders will be okay!

As for me and Sylvain, we really needed today. We woke up this morning to two inches of fresh snow on the ground and a cancelled Bradley Class, which was so nice! I took my time making eggs for breakfast while he shovelled and salted the sidewalk and driveway, then backed his car in so he could take me to the pharmacy to load up on blood monitor supplies. As we slid our way out of our street and up the main thoroughfare, I closed my eyes and thanked God for a wonderful husband. I remember when I was little, Mom had to dig her car out of the snow all by herself, and if she had to go to the pharmacy for supplies, she would have had to drive herself there. Her misfortunes in life have taught me to never take my husband for granted, because I could be doing it all by myself. All of this. By myself. And that would stink.

I spent the better part of the day studying for my National Board exam coming up in a couple of weeks. I have no idea if I'm studying the right stuff, but whatever. I studied. I feel productive. We watched the UK game, I spoke to a friend on the phone, we ate dinner, watched a movie, and now we're ready for bed and I'm just so thankful for this long, quiet day at home. I finally feel normal again after days of depression and anxiety. I finally feel "balanced," or as balanced as I'm going to get with this giant belly. My blood sugar numbers have all been normal and I'm getting the hang of the eating schedule, although I still don't like it very much. Today was the day that I finally believed that everything really is going to be okay. All is well. We have so much to look forward to and this little bump in the road isn't going to mean a thing when it's all said and done.

P.S. I thought about changing my banner picture, thinking it's awfully ironic that a gestational diabetetic lady would have that one front and center, but those cupcakes are just too cute for words!

P.P.S. Oh my goodness, I just re-read my post and I would like to clarify that I did not mean to imply that my mom ever took her husband for granted! I should have worded that better. She certainly did not. What I meant to say is, I was lucky enough to watch her take care of a home and two kids by herself, which taught me to be a strong, independent woman AND it taught me to appreciate the kind of help a husband brings to a family. Oh heavens - Mom, I love you. Sorry if that wasn't clear!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Look at My New Toy!

I spent all morning at the hospital learning about gestational diabetes and I have to say, the science behind all of this is fascinating! I learned how to count my carbs and plan my meals, and I learned how to jab myself in the finger hard enough to DRAW BLOOD four times a day. I get to use this little baby...

Oooooh, shiny!

The big blue "pen" has a tiny drum inside with six tiny needles (and those babies aren't cheap), then the little canister has the strips that soak up the blood (again, it gets pricey when you do it four times a day - good thing this will only last for ten more weeks). The giant video game-like gadget beeps a bunch and then pops up a number when it's done doing...whatever the heck it does inside there.

I'll try to explain this meal plan and blood sucking schedule as succinctly as possible, so bear with me:

Before Breakfast - check blood sugar (lovingly referred to around our house as "BS.") It has to be between 60 and 90 mg/dl - I don't know what dl stands for. If it's low, I have to start getting up in the middle of the night to eat something. I'm fairly certain I'll never be too low.

Breakfast - 2 carbohydrates (15 g of carbs = 1 serving, so 30 g at breakfast). These carbs have to come from a starch (most likely toast) and a milk. I also need 1-2 servings of meat or protein, which I can get from an egg or peanut butter, and 1 serving of fat, which comes in peanut butter or margarine. Looks like my only two choices for breakfast are: an egg with toast and milk, or a slice of toast with peanut butter and milk. Notice how neither of those opitons include cereal (no matter how high fiber) or orange juice (this is where I drop to the floor, kicking and screaming and throwing a major hissy fit). *Hefty sigh*

2 hours after breakfast - check bs, it has to be lower than 120 mg/dl.

AM Snack - 1 carb (15 g), 1 meat/protein. Luckily, I have South Beach Diet granola bars that will be perfect for snacks. Exactly 15 g of carbs and lots of protein. Hoorah!!

Lunch - 3 -4 carbs, and now they have to come from 2 starches, 1 fruit, and 1 milk. I also need 2 servings of meat/protein and 1 fat. I guess I'll be packing lots of sandwiches, salads and soups for lunch. Lean Cuisines are OUT - they have way too many carbs and prepackaged stuff doesn't digest well.

2 hours after lunch - check bs, it has to be lower than 120 mg/dl. This will be the tricky one, since I'm usually in the middle of teaching writing at this time. I might just make my students stop everything they're doing and WATCH ME! The boys will think it's cool.

PM Snack - 1 carb (15 g) and 1 meat/protein. Cheese, peanut butter crackers, granola bar - snacks will NOT be a problem!

Dinner - 3-4 carbs, including THREE starches (this was hard to do tonight) and 1 milk, plus some non-starchy vegetables. I also need 3 servings of meat/protein and 1 fat. Our usual dinners include meat, veggies and starch, but we don't eat nearly enough starches - usually just cous cous or homemade garlic bread. This will be a good place for me to start loving lentils.

2 hours after dinner - check bs, it has to be lower than 120.

Bedtime snack - 2 carbs (30 g) and 1 meat/protein. I have no idea what I'm going to do here other than more peanut butter. I refuse to eat half of a ham sandwich before I go to bed! Tonight I'm having yogurt. I have lots of popcorn, but those aren't nearly enough to cover 2 carbs and a meat/protein. Sheesh! I'll have to wait and see what my morning bs tells me. As long as I'm in the 60 - 90 range, I'm not going to worry about what I eat at night.

So there you have it, folks. And now....for the SHOW!

Jabbing myself in the fleshy part of the finger.
It really doesn't hurt at all. In fact, learning how to do it was not unlike learning how to put your contacts in for the first time. You flinch for a second because you think it's going to be terrible, then you hear a click, and you're all, "That was it? That was so wuss. I'm about to give birth, I can handle this crap."

If you're into vampires, I guess this might be sexy. I'm not, I think blood's gross and should stay inside our bodies at all time. Alas, it is pretty fun to squeeze out a little drop.

The vampire machine soaks up the blood and...wham, bam, thank you ma'am! It flashes a giant number at you that you hope is less that 120. Tonight I was 102! Hip Hip Hooray!

So far today, all of my levels have been just fine. It looks like this is going to be one big diet and blood sucking party for ten whole weeks. "Invite your friends! Rachael's gonna stab herself again!" The good news is, I'll learn how to eat better, and who doesn't want to do that? Oh, and the better news is...
I'll have a healthy baby!

And I can just hear myself saying, "Young lady! Do you have ANY IDEA what I had to GO THROUGH to GET YOU HERE?" And she'll be all, "Yeah, mom, you had to poke yourself in the finger four times a day. I KNOW, you TELL ME ALL THE TIME!" Ahhhh....that'll be the day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm Just Too Sweet for My Own Good!

Well, it's official - I have Gestational Diabetes. (It sounds so ugly!) I'm not even borderline, either. I flat out FAILED every blood test by a lot of points. I knew this was a possibility and I've been preparing for it ever since the first test, but I still cried after talking to the nurse this morning. It's not fun, all this talk about monitors and glucose and insulin. I immediately called my Mom and she was able to calm me down a little bit, but it sure did make for a rough day. My poor kids were probably wondering why their teacher was acting like a nut-case on the verge of tears all day.

I have to go to a class on Thursday (at 9am - who holds a class at 9am for people who work?! I know I'm not the only working pregnant woman going to this hospital - get with the program, people!) where they teach me how to use the monitor and check my blood sugar levels four times a day. I have to eat at least six times a day, 3 meals with snacks in between, and I have to meet with a dietician to figure out how many carbs I'm allowed to have and how much protien I should eat. Then, if diet doesn't control my blood sugar levels, I have to start taking insulin shots and seeing a special "at risk" doctor (here's where I start crying because that FREAKS ME OUT). There's a chance I could have a monstrously huge baby, which isn't the worst thing in the world, but let's face it, that would be scary. "At risk" doctor + big baby = C-section. I know I have to be ready for that and I'm not happy about it.

The hardest part about all of this is the enormous feeling of guilt I have over the whole thing. Perhaps I should not have had my Starbucks latte every other Friday morning. Perhaps I should not have eaten that entire package of Rice-Krispie treats from Kroger's bakery during week 15. Perhaps I should not have had that cream soda float when everyone else was drinking beer so I thought I deserved a treat. Perhaps I should not have been drinking a huge glass of orange juice every morning (oh, that one kills me - I've been loving my OJ). When I think about my eating habits, I always thought I was eating healthy, especially when it came to carbs. We have NO simple carbs in our house! All of our pasta and bread is whole wheat or multi-grain, none of my cereal is the sugary kind - it's all Fiber One and Rasin Bran around here - and I pack granola bars to snack on at school every day. Sylvain cooks super nutritious dinners every night, but apparently, that's not good enough. I feel like a complete failure and I haven't even become a real mother yet. I'm not supposed to feel this way until I find drugs in my daughter's sock drawer!

I know this is a totally managable problem, and I know that we'd be lucky if this is the biggest problem we have. Lots of people have told me not to worry, everything's going to be fine, I just have to change a few things and all will be well...but still. It sucks. I've been feeling so healthy all this time, and I don't feel any different physcially, but when I hear the words "gestational diabetes" I feel unhealthy, like there must be something wrong with me.

Lucky for me, my husband is just as much of an information-a-holic as I am and his first reaction was, "We'll read all we can about it and make the best of it." It also helped that my Mom sent me a gigantic email with four numbered points about how "not so bad" this whole thing really is. I know I'll feel better after this class with the dietician on Thursday. Until then I'll just stare blankly into the refrigerator and second-guess everything I put into my mouth. Oh well. I guess it could be worse.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Quote That I Love

I found this quote today while I was updating the baby book:

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." ~Elizabeth Stone

I love Valentine's Day because I love to celebrate the marriage that I have with my husband and try to do it on every occasion possible, but we get to add a heart to our celebration this year and I couldn't be more excited! Our celebrations aren't big, we usually just go out to eat or something, but I walk around all day with stars in my eyes as I think about the way we met, the dating period, the engagement, our wedding, and all the fun that has come after. I am so blessed and lucky to have found this kind of a loving relationship, and each year we get to add another layer of love to our foundation. This year our love gets to take a new shape - one with fingers and toes...and a little heart of its own that we get to fill up. Does it get any better than this?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More Words for Baby

Dearest Little Cupcake,

I think it's about time we talk about the fact that you're a girl. I think it's time I make my confession - when I heard you were a girl I was a tiny bit scared out of my mind. I immediately flashed back to all of my own failures and mistakes as a daughter, a sister, and a wife. I thought about all of the things I've said and done that hurt my family's feelings or disappointed them in some way, especially when I was a teenager. "Oh, heaven help us," I thought. "We're having a girl. I hope she's a better girl than I was." This tiny bit of fear was stuck in my mind for quite some time, even while I was getting excited about picking out girl clothes and decorating your room. How can I teach you to be all of the things I am not? Patient, quiet, thoughtful. How do I show you what a good daughter, a good sister, and a good wife look like? After I worried about it for a long time, (that's another thing I hope you don't learn to do - worry!) I realized that we both have a saving grace - your Daddy. He is all of the things I've never liked about myself, and he's taught me how to be those things as an adult. I know that he can teach you how to stop and think before you speak, how to wait for the things you want, and how to take care of yourself and those around you without being selfish. We are both so lucky to have him.

Once I had that realization, I started to become much more comfortable with your girl-ness. I was able to think about all of the things I love about being a girl! We come from a long line of strong, smart, beautiful women who have a lot to teach us. I especially admire my mother, my stepmother and my grandmothers who are all very different, but who all have something important to show us about being women. They are inspirational, to say the least, and I can't wait for you to meet them! If we can both follow in their footsteps, we're going to be just fine. I'm so thrilled that you get to grow up in our family.

I do have one important thing I want to teach you. I can't wait to teach you how to write! I can't wait to show you how to make your letters and write your own name. I can't wait to show you how to put a sentence together and how to pick just the right words to get your point across. I also look forward to watching you find your own voice in the world as a woman and a writer. The other day, I was reading through all of my old journals from high school and college, and suddenly a thought hit me. I remembered why I've been writing everything down. I've been writing for you. My journals, while very private, are filled with my own thoughts about my mistakes and my triumphs - the lessons I've learned about being a girl, living in the world, finding my own happiness and walking down my own path. I remembered one particular day when I was studying in England. I was sitting on my bed in my dorm room, furiously scribbling about boys and love and how to sort through that whole mess and I remember stopping in my tracks and thinking to myself, "I hope my daughter reads this someday." See! Even back then I KNEW I wanted a daughter!

So, baby girl, I think what I'm trying to say is, even though I'm still a little scared, I'm ready. Even though some of my girlhood was a bit rocky, even though I've made plenty of mistakes, I've come through it and I am very proud of the woman I've become, yet I realize I still have some growing to do as a woman myself. You and I can do a lot of growing together. We'll look to the women in our family for guidance, and we'll lean on Daddy when things get a little tough. We have lots of love surrounding us, and I know that our journey together will be a wonderful one.

Keep growing, little one, and stay safe. We can't wait for you to get here!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I've Been Wondering When This Would Happen

Today a stranger asked me when I was expecting. I've been waiting for this to happen so I could finally feel good and pregnant, not just fat and ugly! I said to her, "You're the first stranger to ask me!" And she said (I'm not making this up, people!), "Well, I have a two year old, so I can tell. You're thin everywhere else and you've got 'the belly!' " I wanted to jump over the counter and KISS that lady! OH, she just made my day. That experience made me think way back to the beginning of the school year, when I had to lecture some students on pregnancy question etiquette. I actually said to them, "Don't ever ask a woman if she's pregnant, because she might just be FAT!" I've come a long way from that day to this one, both in size, shape and attitude! This whole prengancy has been one wild and amazing ride, I'm almost (almost) sad that I'm approaching the end. Then again, I can't wait to see this beautiful baby girl!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Baby News

It's been a while since I've posted any baby updates, mostly because there have been much more exciting things going on around here and partly because there hasn't been a whole lot of action on the baby front. However, there are two big milestones that I want to record for prosperity's sake!

First of all, the sweet little girl decided to give her daddy a gift on our anniversary! All through the holiday season, Sylvain and I sat next to each other with his hand on my tummy for a few minutes each evening (when she's most active) waiting for him to be able to feel her kick. Every couple minutes I would say "Did you feel that?" and he'd say, "No," then I'd ask again and again until he'd finally say, "I don't feel anything!" and leave. I was always disappointed. When we were staying at the B&B in Harrodsburg for our anniversary, Sylvain was watching soccer and I was taking a nap on the giant king-sized bed (mmmmmm, king-sized naps). Since I was lying in front of him, he just put his hand on my tummy and waited while I was half-asleep. I didn't say a word because I was so tired. After five minutes or so, she gave the biggest kick I've ever felt and we both snapped our heads around to look at each other. I KNEW he had to feel it, but I was afraid to ask, so I just smiled. He said, "Was that you?" and I said, "No! That was HER!" and he laughed. That was the only time he's felt her so far, but we don't try as hard now that we've had our little moment.

Our second big milestone - hiccups! I started feeling hiccups yesterday afternoon while I was taking a nap (I do a lot of napping these days, especially on Saturdays!). It felt just like a little kick, but it was very rhythmic and right in the middle, instead of on the sides or at the bottom of my belly, where her kicks are usually felt. I guess that means her lungs and diaphragm are in working order, so that's good news!

I go to the midwife this week for the dreaded Glucose Screening Test. I have a bottle of that orange stuff in my refrigerator and I have this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I look at it. I'm not afraid to drink it, I'm afraid they're going to tell me I have Gestational Diabetes and that would be TERRIBLE! I know it's very managable and it's nothing to worry about if I do have it, I just know it means I can't drink as much OJ or eat as much ice cream, and that would make me incredibly sad. Speaking of ice cream, I'm also not looking forward to finding out how much weight I've gained since my last visit before the holidays. NO I WILL NOT post it here! I feel like I've gained four hundred pounds, but when I look in the mirror, it does appear to be all "baby." My butt still looks normal, as does the rest of me, I just have this giant basketball inside my shirt. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what Thurday brings!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Oh my goodness, I'm so excited - and kind of over-the-top scared. A local news station is coming to my school to do a segment on a program that MY CLASS started! Ack! This is so totally cool, and at the same time, absolutely terrifying. Here's the deal:

Some of you might remember my posts from last year about Three Cups of Tea, the book that I read to my kids about Greg Mortenson: climber turned humanitarian in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Side note: he was up for the Nobel Peace Prize, only to be overshadowed by my students' #2 hero, President Obama. Their little hearts were so torn!) The kids last year absolutely LOVED the book and we participated in "Pennies for Peace," a penny drive to raise money for schools in that part of the world. Last year's penny drive was a raging sucess, and we raised $600 in two weeks. This year I read the book to my kids, who also wanted to organize a penny drive, so I did my best to put this project completely in their hands. Oh heavens, what a hard thing for a teacher to do. All I did was put them in teams and I gave each team some guidelines, then let them work their little tails off for three weeks to prepare for this penny drive. Then, at the end of the day's reading lesson, I'd record what each team did so that everyone knew what the heck was going on in our classroom. Here's a sample of a week's worth of work:

Not too shabby for 22 fourth graders, most of whom are...."underprivileged," if that's what you want to call it. I like to call it "unfamiliar with anything that happens in the real world," or sometimes, "motivationally challenged," or even other times, "the kids with the crappy end of the stick of life." Anyway, they worked hard. And I was very proud. Listening to them work in groups while I got to sit in the middle of the chaos almost brought tears to my eyes. They came up with two slogans from the book: "Pennies can move mountains!" and "Books, not Bombs!" and if you ask any of them why we should help build schools in "Af/Pak" they'll all tell you, "If you educate a boy, you educate an individual; but if you educate a girl, you educate a community." And then they'll explain to you why that's true.
So, this local news station called our principal and said they want to come feature our school on a segment they do every now and then called "School Cribs." They asked her if our school was working on any sort of community project and she said, "Yeah, we're in the middle of a penny drive, let me refer you to Mrs. F." Then she comes to me and says, "By the way, the news is coming to do a segment on Pennies for Peace," and I'm all, "Oh, that's wonderful! Let me know what I have to do," on the outside, while on the inside I'm all, "Whuuuttt???? You mean my kids have to SPEAK PROPERLY to someone they've never MET BEFORE? Oh dear God, how are we going to do THAT?! I'm not a MIRACLE WORKER, LADY!"
Long story short, I have until Jan. 20th to help my kids put some coherent thoughts together. I'm not really "prepping" them (flashbacks of Sarah Palin), so much as "teaching them about public speaking." It will adventure. I'll let you know how it goes! (Cross your fingers.)