Saturday, December 31, 2011

30 Weeks

Dear Mia,

Today I am 30 weeks pregnant.  Wow, time is flying!  Everyone keeps asking if we’re ready for you yet and I’d have to say no, that we still need these next few weeks to prepare!  You’re still due on March 10th but I know you’ll enter the world when you’re ready, regardless of what the doctor says!

Pregnancy has been a rollercoaster ride for me.  We found out we were pregnant with you about 5 weeks after you were conceived, and I immediately started feeling sick about a week later.  I was so nauseous and weak that I was convinced I had the stomach flu.  There was no way this was morning sickness!  I was so sick that I took a few days off work and I even went to my doctor, hoping that he’d confirm my home diagnosis.  And he did!  He said that yes, I probably did have the flu and I’d feel better in a few days.

Well, the days came and went… and I was still sick morning, noon and night!  I realized that the doctor was wrong and that I was having a severe case of morning sickness, not the flu!  I felt sick to my stomach every waking hour of the day for 7 weeks.  This took a toll not only on me, but on your Dad as well.  He did a great job taking care of me and picking up the extra responsibilities around the house when I couldn’t get out of bed.  However, it was still a very stressful time and once the first trimester was officially complete and I started to feel better, I was VERY relieved!

The next few weeks were very easy for me.  I was hungrier than usual, sometimes eating 6 small meals a day instead of my usual 3.  I was starting to gain weight and grew a little baby belly so I switched to maternity pants which were much more comfortable and less constricting.  I was still able to do all of my usual activities, and other than the slight physical changes taking place, I still felt normal.

As the weeks wore on, I was able to do less and less.  Bending over to pick up dog toys became a struggle, yard work became impossible and caused me a lot of back pain, and sleeping was even problematic!  But I adjusted as necessary, and again, your Dad stepped up and took on the extra responsibilities around the house that I just couldn’t handle anymore.

Around week 27 I noticed that at the end of the day my feet had started to swell and it was painful for me to remain standing for long periods of time after I got home from work.  However, only a week later the swelling became constant and spread to my face and fingers.  I was unable to comfortably wear work shoes and my wedding rings.  They were both becoming too constricting.  Thankfully I’d previously purchased a pair of black winter boots that I was still able to wear comfortably, and I switched to wearing those to work every day.  I don’t think my boss likes my new fashion statement very much, but there’s not a lot I can do about it!

I’m now 30 weeks along and I’m in full pregnancy mode!  My belly has grown (as you’ve grown) and I’m now wearing all maternity clothes.  I’m still wearing the black boots (I’m even wearing them now!) and special socks that don’t have elastic in them so they won’t constrict around my legs.  My walk has turned into a waddle, partially in response to the feet swelling, but also because I lean backwards slightly to counter the extra weight of my belly.  I don’t wear my wedding rings anymore and I considered buying a fake ring to wear in the meantime, but I couldn’t find one I liked.  I just love my real rings so much, nothing else felt right to wear.

You won’t be here for another 8 weeks, so it’ll be interesting to see how much more my body will change between now and then.  I know that I’m experiencing all of these changes because my body is helping you grow, and making more and more room for your little body, so it’s all worth it.  I’d do anything for you, Mia!


Friday, December 30, 2011

Pregnancy Tests

Dear Mia,

Today I had to go to the doctor’s office and take a glucose tolerance test.  I had to fast for 12 hours, drink a sugar concoction, and then have my blood tested to see how my body reacted to the sugar drink.  The test will let me know if I have gestational diabetes, a condition that occurs in about 4-7% of expectant mothers.  If it turns out I have gestational diabetes, I’ll have to learn to control my blood sugar through diet, exercise, and, if necessary, medication.  It’s nothing to worry too much about.

August 5, 2011

I’ve started to consider the OSF St. Joseph Medical Center as my second home.  Ever since our first doctor’s appointment when I was roughly 10 weeks pregnant, I’ve been coming here at least every 4 weeks.  At every appointment I get to hear your heartbeat, Dr. Dutta gives me advice about what to expect, and I can ask questions.  I’ve also had blood drawn, two ultrasounds, and now the glucose test.  Thankfully everyone here is very friendly and I’ve only had good experiences.  Also, everything has been 100% covered by our health insurance, so we haven’t had to worry about paying any co-pays.  That’s a nice relief!

October 14, 2011

I’ll be going back to Dr. Dutta on Wednesday for another check-up and she’ll let me know the results of today’s lab work.  I’ll start seeing her every two weeks for now, and then ever week after that until you arrive!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Toby's Tribulations

Dear Mia,

I'm sorry, baby, but I have some bad news for you.  Toby is very, very sick and he might not be around as long as I've promised.  Toby's heart is not working the way a normal, healthy heart should, and despite our best efforts, it will probably stop beating altogether within the next year.

Last weekend Toby started coughing and we thought he was trying to cough something up.  As the days went on the coughing got worse, he began to act very lethargic, and he stopped eating.  And you know someone's really sick in this house when they stop eating.  Your Dad took him to the vet on Tuesday thinking that maybe they'd be able to give him some antibiotics for the cough and we'd be on our way.

However, the vet noticed that Toby had a very rapid heartbeat (an arrhythmia and tachycardia).  They thought the irregular heartbeat and his other symptoms could have been caused by some sort of toxin that he'd eaten.  However, further tests showed that he had excess fluid in his lungs (pleural effusion) and one side of his heart was larger than it should be (atrial enlargement).  Our regular vet recommended we take Toby to the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital (somewhere we've been WAY too many times in the past few months) where they could perform more advanced testing.

After days of observation and testing, the veterinarians at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital diagnosed Toby with having atrial fibrillation as a complication of chronic heart valve disease and a severely dilated/enlarged left atrium.

  • Atrial fibrillation:  An abnormal heart rhythm where chaotic electrical activity in the upper two chambers of the heart result in the muscle quivering instead of achieving coordinated contraction
  • Heart valve disease/mitral regurgitation:  When the mitral valve does not close properly when the heart pumps out blood, so there is regurgitation of blood back into the left atrium
Toby now takes five different medications each day in the morning, afternoon and evening, and he's being monitored by the Veterinary Teaching Hospital with follow-up visits.  His most recent visit was on Monday night, and they ran another test to make sure the medications are doing their job.  They were satisfied for the most part, but asked us to increase the dosage of one of his medications.  We're going to take him back to the vet again this weekend to have his blood levels checked.  We hope that they will find his condition has stabilized, and we'll only have to take him back for checkups every two or three months.

Daddy counting out Toby's pills

Your Dad and I have talked about it, and we've decided to pursue all necessary medical procedures to ensure that Toby lives the best life possible.  We're going to help his heart by giving him medications and we're going to have him checked by the vet to make sure the medications are doing their job.  We're going to love him, and give him hugs, and let him sleep on the bed (ok, just sometimes) as long as we, and he, can.  

Toby in 2010

We're doing our best to make sure Toby is as happy and healthy as possible, for as long as possible.  Toby's going to want to meet you, Mia, and we're doing our best to make sure that happens.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Nursery Remodel

Dear Mia,

Believe it or not, I barely bought you anything during the first three months of my pregnancy.  I focused mostly on finishing the rest of the house- hanging picture frames, buying lamps, and arranging knick knacks.  We'd only been in the house a few weeks so there was still plenty for me to organize and straighten before I even started thinking about your living space.

That changed the day we found out you were a little girl.  It was like the ultrasound technician was gave me a green light to buy as much pink, bow-clad baby stuff as possible.  But every time I went to hang another newborn onesie in your closet I was reminded that we needed to upgrade your space!  As I'd mentioned previously, I'd been using this space as a scrapbook studio and this was the original paint job.


The room is very small and there's a sloped ceiling so my first thought was that the paint colors we chose needed to be much, much lighter and brighter.  I wanted the paint to open up the room.  With the expert help of your Grandma Snipes, we ended up using Sherwin Williams paint in Minuet White, Wisteria and Brave Purple.  

We came home from the store, unloaded all of the supplies we borrowed from Grandpa Snipes, and got to work!  First we sanded and patched holes (with the help of your cousin, Aaliyah) and then got started on the trim.  We decided to paint all of the trim white except the chair rail which we painted Wisteria.  That was your Dad's idea and it looks WONDERFUL!

We let the trim paint dry overnight and then the next day your Grandpa Snipes came over to help us with the walls and ceiling.  We painted the walls above the chair rail and the ceiling the same color- Minuet White.  We painted Brave Purple below the chair rail and in the closet.

Daddy, Aaliyah & Grandma Snipes
We let the paint dry, removed the tape, and then your Dad did some great touch-up work around the window, door frames and on the trim.  The room instantly transformed from an extra bedroom into your nursery and I couldn't be happier with the final result.  Everything is coming together so perfectly!

I should also mention that your Uncle Josh came over to help with the nursery remodel as well.  He installed a light in the closet with a switch so now we can see your beautiful wardrobe.  It makes a huge difference!

Next up:  furniture!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Savvy Shopper

Dear Mia,

When your Dad and I found out we were pregnant with you we couldn't wait to share the news!  After our initial doctor's appointment, we told our immediate families and a few close friends- one of which was your Aunt Kirsten.  I said to her, "Don't worry, nothing will change!  We'll just put the baby in the shopping cart and go to TJMaxx!"  Because that's how my mind works.  Don't worry, I can still shop with a baby!

Aunt Kirsten & Momma in 2002
Turns out, I can also shop while pregnant!  This past Friday was Black Friday, historically one of the busiest shopping days of the year.  I'd been preparing for weeks, stalking my favorite Black Friday deals websites for leaked copies of printed advertisements.  On Thanksgiving your Aunt Sara brought over a paper and I made my way through the ads, cutting coupons a circling sales I didn't want to miss.

I was up and out the door at 6:00 am on Friday.  I hit a few stores before meeting Grandma Snipes at JoAnn Fabrics.  They had a great deal on fabrics and your Grandma had also generously given me a coupon for an additional percentage off.  However, the JoAnn Fabrics in Champaign was out of your nursery fabric... and they told me the warehouse was empty too.  Cue panic attack.  Mia, I have a tendency to get overly dramatic (your Dad can elaborate on this subject, I'm sure) and I knew I had to find that fabric, that day, somewhere!  Your nursery has been completely designed around a 2" swatch of Trendi Sorbet, and I was not about to choose a different fabric.  So I scratched the rest of my Black Friday plans and roped your Dad and Grandma Snipes into a little road trip to the store in Bloomington-Normal!

Hours later, and we have your fabric!  Not as much as I was hoping to buy, but enough for your crib skirt and valance.  I was also able to purchase some coordinating fabric to cover your new rocker at a great price.  Overall, a Black Friday success story!  Just wait 'till you see the finished product.  You're going to LOVE it!


Monday, November 28, 2011


Momma & Easton
Dear Mia,

This past Thursday was Thanksgiving and a perfect time to reflect on our lives and give thanks.  And Thanksgiving this year came just days after your cousin Easton was diagnosed with cancer, a very serious disease, and one that caught everyone by surprise.  This year I am thankful for medical professionals who chose to give up their holiday with friends and family so that they would be available to help those in need.  I am thankful for these dedicated men and women who were able to rush Easton into surgery and treat his disease almost immediately.  Because of their quick action, these selfless doctors, nurses and surgeons might have just prevented the disease from spreading further.  We'll have to wait and see, but I have a feeling that because it was caught early and treated immediately, Easton will not need to undergo any additional surgery or procedures.  A little Thanksgiving miracle.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Puppy Love

Dear Mia,

While it's true you'll be our first baby, you will be coming home to four fur brothers.  Buddy, Toby, Wilson and Oscar- the most spoiled, loved and cherished set of dogs you'll ever meet.  And you're going to love them so much, too!

Buddy is large and in charge. He's the oldest and the most ornery of the bunch, always giving me and your Dad a hard time. Toby is our protector but he also loves to play ball and wrestle with your Dad. Oscar is attached to me at the hip and gets so excited when we say his name that his entire body wiggles. Wilson is the most reserved of the bunch, always very cautious of strange sounds and new people, but he's a great cuddler and loves to chase Oscar around the yard.

Your Dad and I each grew up with dogs and I'm so excited for you to create memories with these built-in best friends. Your Dad grew up with Sheba, a beautiful Alaskan Malamute, and I grew up with Pokey and Nelle, two West Highland White Terriers.  We have so many stories to share with you about all the crazy adventures we had with our pets.

Me & Pokey
Daddy, Aunt Courtney & Sheba

Mia, you are going to love growing up with our four dogs.  My prediction is that you'll love Buddy the most at first because, well, everyone does.  Buddy will cuddle with you for hours and give you sloppy kisses in return for a little belly rub.  He'll be a great partner in crime, too.  When you're old enough to sneak junk food contraband from the counter he'll gladly eat your wrapper for you.  (Because let's face it, he'll eat anything.)


Toby will be your protector.  He will know where you are at all times and will guard you with his life.  But Toby will also be your tickle monster because I'm sure he'll be just tall enough to lick you, and your highchair, clean after each meal.  He'll love to stick his big head up under your high chair tray and try to lick food off your chest.  I just hope you don't end up feeding him too much!


Oscar will be obsessed with you from the moment we bring you home from the hospital.  He'll wiggle and wiggle and lick your little face until we make him stop.  He'll follow you around and will get in your way when you're learning to stand and walk.  I'm sure he'll trip you more than you'll trip on your own.  You might not love Oscar at first because he's so excitable, but I can guarantee he'll grow on you.  Which dog will you dress up in your doll clothes?  Oscar.  Which dog will you stuff into your baby carriage or shopping cart and take for a walk around the house?  Oscar.  Which dog will snuggle with you under your covers?  Oscar.  And he'll love every second of it.


Wilson.  Well, Wilson will probably spend your entire childhood in the next room.  He'll watch the way you accidentally step on Buddy's ears when you walk by, try to ride Toby like a pony, and put a dress and hair bow on Oscar, and he'll decide he'd rather just nap.  Wilson will approach you the way he approaches everything else- with great caution.  But don't worry, he'll come around, and in time you'll be able to stuff both corgis into your double doll stroller.


Monday, November 14, 2011

A Closet Story

Dear Mia,

This past weekend your Aunt Kirsten drove down from Lisle for a visit.  We spent quality time at TJMaxx on Saturday and then went to dinner with your Dad, too.  On Sunday we woke up nice and early and got to work on the closet in your nursery!  (I'll go into more detail about your nursery renovation in another post.)

When we moved into this house in June of this year, I was using this room as an office and scrapbook studio. The closet situation didn't bother me at the time because I just piled my stuff inside.  But as soon as we found out we were pregnant with you, and you'd be using this room as your nursery, I knew the closet needed to be upgraded!  Here's a before shot with just a small sampling of all the clothes we've already bought for you!

I had done some research on closet organization and I knew I wanted a system that would be adjustable as you grew.  I also knew that the aged drywall wouldn't hold any shelves by itself- I'd need to choose a system that would secure to the wall studs.  (And I knew this because when your Dad tried to remove the original shelving he put huge holes in the wall on accident!)

I ended up choosing the Rubbermaid Configurations 4-to-8-Foot Classic Custom Closet Kit and it couldn't have been a better choice!  We installed the top bar by securing it into the studs and then hung three vertical strips from the top bar.  Next we clicked in the shelf brackets and the top shelf.

We then added additional brackets, shelves and bars for your hanging clothes.  

Lastly, we added fabulous fabric-covered bins that I bought on clearance at Lowe's.  (Mia, I have so much to teach about about never paying full price!)


There's room on the top shelf for different supplies like extra diapers and wipes, two levels of hanging clothes, and two shelves that hold the new bins.  On the right side of the closet there's still plenty of room to stack large supplies or bins of toys. 

We hope you like it!  Aunt Kirsten and I learned a LOT about stud-finders, levels, how to pry anchors apart so they'll actually go into the holes we drilled, and more!  Oh, and see how your wardrobe keeps growing?  I can't help myself!