Well, now that the news of baby #2 is out in the open, I hope my dear readers will forgive the dearth of posts lately and the less-than-stellar writing quality. Maybe I'm the only one who can tell, but I re-read a few recent posts, and, well, I did much cringing. Really, Ashley? Practically repeating the same thing another paragraph later? Comma splices? Passive verbs? Eh, whatever.

The past 2 months have been rather challenging. The "first-trimester slog," as I call it, has not been spectacular. I can almost see the light at the end of the nausea/exhaustion tunnel, and because I'm closer to the second-trimester second wind than to conception, I'm feeling far more optimistic now than before of, well, reaching the second trimester. Which begins in exactly one week, by the way.

I hesitate to whine too much, because this is not a difficult pregnancy. Not even close. The first-trimester slog is just a difficult PART of pregnancy. To boot, work has been really bad and extremely stressful lately--it's not anyone's fault, it's just the nature of the busy season, I suppose. But suffering through a morning routine and a long, windy commute with morning sickness only to arrive at work and deal with problems and deadlines all day makes for little motivation to get up in the morning.

We've also been building a deck, which means my dad is currently living with us. (He drove here from Seattle. Yes, he DROVE.) It's a huge relief, having a deck of this size and magnitude in the hands of somebody who I know will build it right, and who has our best interests in mind. When you're spending so much moolah on something, that's a huge relief. It's also nice for Charlotte to see her papa, and she now goes to him for things when Mommy annd Daddy say no. She LOVES seeing him as we pull into the driveway. "Papa! Papa!" is what she yells until somebody frees her from her car seat.

That's all well and good, especially for Charlotte and our deck budget, but it does require more effort for dinner and clean up, tons more laundry to do (Mom, now I know why you had six full laundray baskets at any given time when I was a kid), and the grime from construction is impossible to stay on top of. My poor Swiffer vacuum literally can't recharge its battery enough before I need to Swiffer up sawdust again. Don't get me wrong--my dad is low maintenance to an almost embarassing degree--but there's just more stuff to do, you know? And when you're laying on the couch, clutching a mixing bowl in case you can't get to a toilet fast enough to puke, having someone say, "What's for dinner?" while your two-year-old yells, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" and your spouse has disappeared to go examine the deck for the billionth time right around when the kid needs to take a bath, you can't help but want to scream, "CAN SOMEBODY ELSE HANDLE X, Y, AND FRIGGIN' Z TONIGHT?! PLEASE?!"

That gripe asiade, Chris has completely taken over handling Charlotte when she wakes up in the middle of the night (she kicks off her covers and gets cold) and on weekend mornings, which has helped me attempt to get a little extra sleep (no small chore when nature keeps calling at all hours of the night). And when we get to school and I'm too nauseous to deal with drop-off, he handles it solo while I bask in the stillness of a not-moving car in the parking lot, willing my stomach to settle.

In short, the mountain of tasks each day seems so much larger than I have energy for. I know it's temporary, and I definitely know our little Pumpkin (its current name, as our baby will be an October baby) is worth it, but day after day of feeling like crap and like all the little things are slipping away from you, making the list of un-done things longer and longer---well, it just kind of drains you. I'll say this much: I have a much better appreciation for people who are chronically ill. I mean, this is just temporary for me. In fact, I've felt better in the last three days than I have in a long time, which tells me that second trimester is just about here! I genuinely believe the worst is behind me.

You might also do some math and realize that the family-wide stomach flu we battled several weeks ago coincided with my first-trimester morning sickness. Through that treat of an ordeal, I honestly couldn't tell where the stomach flu left off and morning sickness picked back up. Also, my bug lasted exactly twice as long as Chris's (14 hours), which was awful. My half-baked theory is this: You know how digestion slows way down when you're pregnant, to allow your body to pull more nutrients for the baby? I think that same trick slowed down the virus moving through my gastro-innards. Regardless, I was TERRIFED for Pumpkin. Every time I threw up (which was more than I could count), I thought of Pumpkin and how much we wanted him or her and how I hoped he/she was hanging on. When I could manage it, I called the nurse at my OB-GYN's office, who was very sweet and said to not lift the two-year-old she could hear yelling in the distance (practically impossible, by the way), to drink Gatorade, to head straight for the ER at the first sign of blood, and to hope for the best until until they could verify things at my scheduled ultrasound.

I lost a lot of sleep, worrying about the stomach flu and Pumpkin. My main solace was that stomach bugs stick to the gastrointestinal tract and avoid the baby. I was SO sick for SO long, I just couldn't imagine a vulnerable embryo surviving. But hang on my little Pumpkin did! Chris and I were overjoyed when we saw the little one, his or her heartbeat stubbornly beating at the 8-week ultrasound. I didn't want to take my eyes off of it! The OBGYN confirmed that everything looked great. "At this stage, " she said, "It's all or nothing. There's no reason to think that the stomach bug hurt your baby." Music to this mommy's ears!

In other news, Charlotte had her hearing test, which found "sluggish" ear drum activity in both ears, and her left ear could not detect low tones. Although this sounds bad, it actually confirms that the ears are the cause of her language delays (rather than a cognitive or oral-motor issue, for instance), and the surgery in April is expectd to rectify it, possibly with some short-term speech therapy. We'll test her hearing again after the surgeries to confirm that she can actually hear again. In the meantime, she's very chatty, just extremely difficult to understand. She can point out any animal or object in her books when I ask her, but she really struggles with saying the names of things. I'm detecting some shyness even, when I ask, "What's that?" because (I believe) she knows what it is, but she doesn't trust herself to say it right. She'll kind of turn her head into my chest and avoid answering, unless it's a word she can easily say, with hard sounds (e.g., "duck!"). I am VERY anxious to get these procedures DONE.

What else? Well, until this weekend, the weather here has been gorgeous: 70s and low 80s, with lots of sun. This translates to LOTS of outside time for Charlotte, which she loves. The weather has made us pine for that deck to be finished, so we can hurry up and use it before the muggy buggy (ugh, gnats!) weather launches.

So, there you go. We're plugging away, one day at a time. We are, of course, so excited to be expecting a second baby, and despite lots of nausea and perhaps one teary (accidental) meltdown in my boss's office, things are going very, very well. April will be a big month, with Charlotte's surgeries, another (important) ultrasound, and my annual conference at the end of the month, after which my work life should dramatically improve. Things are good!


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