Sunday, April 28, 2013

And so it begins...

There are many things we are going to need to do to make space for Chirphead in our 1-bedroom apartment.  I figured that I could start by clearing out some space in my dresser for our upcoming roommate.          (This also forced me to get rid of some of my clothes.)

We have started to make other changes to the apartment, but that has mostly been trying out new furnature configurations slowly to help Indy adjust.

A baby dresser in Mommy's dresser.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pregnancy And CFS - The First Trimester

It is no secret that I have had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) for a long time.  I don't often talk about it publicly but I am very open to talking about my experiences.  I therefore thought it would be worth keeping track of how I am managing the increased fatigue that comes with pregnancy and eventual motherhood.  I know that these stages are difficult for all first time parents, and adding persistent chronic fatigue and corresponding anxiety issues to the mix can make things complicated.  


Before Keith and I considered getting pregnant we talked about it with my doctor.  She was very supportive and encouraging that I would be able to handle the crazy tasks, both physically and emotionally.  Nothing about my condition prohibits me from becoming a mother.  I am also thrilled that this is one of the life goals that my disease HASN'T taken away from me.  (I am also excited to be able to say "I'm a stay-at-home Mom" when people as me what I do rather than "disabled" or "taking some time off."  Being a mom is a non-awkward explanation for not working outside the home.)  Being a stay-at-home mom was never my plan as I attended Wellesley and then completed my PhD at Harvard, and I still hope that someday in the future I will be able to work a full time teaching position.  However, I know that I will soon have a little baby who is ready to learn from me and I am so excited for the next chapter in our lives.  

Secondly, I know that it is going to be hard.  Keith is extremely supportive and we have talked about plans for dealing with the extra chores that come with parenthood.  We are aware that there are many things that will come up that you cannot plan for, but we plan on taking things one day at a time.  It is very possible that we will need to extra help, whether that comes in the form of a cleaning service, dog walker or a babysitter some afternoons.  

Pregnancy Symptoms 

I have been very lucky in the pregnancy symptom department.  (Poor Keith has dealt WONDERFULLY with my random crying and mood swings!)  Here are my experiences with some of the more common pregnancy symptoms.  
  • Morning Sickness - Between Weeks 5-7, I had some afternoon/evening sickness that I was able to manage by napping.  The nausea was very light and very manageable   I think that if I were on my feet all day rather than resting on the couch, I may have found it more burdensome  but since most days there was nothing urgent to attend to, I didn't mind it at all.  By week 8, this rarely happened.  
  • Aches and Pains - Sorry if this is TMI, but my boobs are now HUGE (not that they were ever small before.)  They are a bit tender, but that comes and goes.  The first few weeks I knew I was pregnant (weeks 4-5) I had pretty constant aches in my lower abdomen, but rarely was it more than just a slight discomfort.  Unfortunately in week 6 I started having HORRIBLE lower back pain to the point where I could not fall asleep due to being so uncomfortable in every position I found.  Thankfully this was done by week 7.  
  • Fatigue - Week 3 (before I even knew I was pregnant) I had increased fatigue to the point that it concerned me.  I was feeling so frustrated... until we got that positive pregnancy test.  Suddenly everything made sense and the frustration I was feeling evaporated.  I'm pregnant, I'm supposed to be tired!   Since then my fatigue levels have gone up and down.  I am able doing a little less physically because I am extra tired, but it is much better than it was in those really early weeks of pregnancy.  The biggest difference from pre-pregnancy is that I am now doctor encouraged (and self encouraged) to nap.   I am HOPING that my experience dealing with fatigue is helping me function and cope with this better than the average person, but we shall see.  
  • More Fatigue - Weeks 10-14 - After a brief break, the fatigue got a bit worse again.  I am sleeping around 12 hours a day (between night time and naps).  Thank goodness this is something that many pregnant women experience, and not just me!  I do tend to be a little crankier (poor Keith), but this is also somewhat related the mood swings mentioned briefly above.  
  • Cravings - I'm not sure if I'm having pregnancy cravings, but if I start thinking about a particular food it suddenly becomes very important that I get it QUICKLY.  Keith has been very supportive of this, running to the supermarket or a drive through to pick something up for me if if I'm too tired to go myself.  The thing I've been craving the most?  Steak'n'Shake burgers.  

Ultimately, I feel that my pregnancy symptoms are extremely managable, and the experience of being pregnant is pleasant!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Indy Hates Guests (and A Sleepy Puppy Photoshoot)

Keith and I frequently refer to Indy as an inside joke, we love him, but others don't get it.  Indy is approaching his second birthday, and remains to be extremely defensive of his parents.  (Note, we are not that worried about him welcoming the baby, we expect that this "protection" will extend to Chirphead.)  At the PetSmart Pet Hotel, he loves the staff when we aren't there, but bark at them when we drop him off.  At the Vet, he is head-shy when examined in the room with me, but is much better when I'm not arround.

Ryan's flow chart of Indy's behavior.  
Indy is getting much better at barking at strangers while we go for walks and runs.  We try to notice the people first and then talk to him until the person has passed.  He gets praised for ignoring strangers.  The big issue is when people come into our home.

Before a guest comes to our house, we warn them that Indy doesn't like other people in our home.  (Even people he loves, like our super, will get barked at when the have to enter our home.)  We tell them that he won't bite, but he will bark a continous alarm that can be very disconcerting.  People often don't undertstand why we make Indy to be such a little brat.... until they come over and realize that we were right. Slowly Indy will calm down, and then become annoying in another way: demanding pets.  Indy requests attention from our guests in a manner that goes FAR beyond what he does when it is just me and Keith at home.  And of course, if the guest stands up Indy is likely to start barking again (but for a much shorter time.)

We are still learning how to best get Indy to accept people in our home.  The following things help the transition from barking to demanding pets go much faster:

  1. Go for a walk with guests before entering the apartment.  The apartment is terratory that must be defended, but if Indy crosses the threshold with guests he has already met and sniffed, he is less likely to freak out.  A walk around the whole block is best.  
  2. When you enter our apartment, ignore Indy.  We have noticed with strangers on the street that if they make eye contact he is more likely to start barking.  Inside, Indy will eventually calm down and start sniffing you, but try to hold off trying to pet him until he is rubbing against your leg asking for it.  
  3. Treats.  When Indy sniffs you without barking, we give him treats.  First from us (Keith and Rebecca) and then from the guest (once movements no longer freak him out.)  Giving him treats while he barks only rewards the barking behavior.  
  4. Have the Guest send Indy to Jail.  Once Indy has calmed down and is in seeking pet mode, you will likely need to stand up at some point, which will likely start another round of barking.  This past weekend we discovered that if the guest tells Indy, "Go to Jail" he LISTENED, and then got much more comfortable with these guests standing up.  This is helpful for showing that the guest is dominant.  (We would not recommend trying this before Indy has accepted you while sitting.)  
  5. Indy will forget - He may wake up in the morning and forget that you were here and that he already met you.  The good news is that each time you are "reintroduced" he will calm down MUCH faster.  
  6. Indy will remember -  The good news is that if you have visited our apartment before, Indy will remember that he likes you.  Indy has remembered people who visited us over 9 months in the past, and has gone up to the wiggling.  Combining this love with a quick walk before entering the apartment and we get a relaxing, wonderful visit.  


Indy is exhausted after guests leave.  He spends most of the day with guests seeking pets, whereas with us he will usually sleep all day.  A sleepy puppy is a lot of fun.  I wrapped Indy up in a sheet for fun, and he stayed that way for hours!  He kept stretching and then settling in a new pose as if begging me to take his picture.   

Baby Registry Information

It's a boy!!

Due Date: October 2013
Location: Evanston, IL

Babies R Us - Under Rebecca Brown and Keith Brown; Registry #49493620.   Note, we seem to be unable to share a perminant link, if it doesn't bring you to our registry search for Rebecca Brown Evanston or the registry # you will get to our registry link. (under Rebecca Brown and Keith Brown) - This list contains the items that we need that Babies R Us doesn't carry.  There are also a lot of books that we would love to read to Chirphead that were our favorites growing up.  

PetSmart Gift Cards - To get Indy extra treats and playtime while he is staying in the PetHotel during the birth.

We cannot wait to meet Mr. Chirphead!  We love dinosaurs and ocean themed baby items.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hoth Version 1.0

As the culmination of the birthday advent calendar Rebecca put together for me, I constructed the Hoth base Lego set. Since the very first time I saw the Star Wars trilogy, the Empire Strikes Back was always my favorite, and the scenes on Hoth ranked the top in that movie. I think I was drawn to the snow scenes because of fond memories playing in the snow with my brother.

Indy was very interested in the construction process. Luckily, he never got his paws on any Lego pieces

Once the base was finished, I added in the rest of my sets and figures. It was a sight to behold. 

Much like the movie, the rebels didn't really stand a chance. 

I'm going to vote for Indy being a Wampa this year for halloween. I also plan on using basic blocks to make a more impressive Hoth base for future epic battles. "Imperial troops have entered the base!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston Marathon Monday - April 15, 2013

I saw a lot of things Monday that I had hoped to never witness in my life.  Someday, I will need to tell my baby that it was there, too.  I plan to tell it that even when there are people trying to hurt us, nothing can damage the community of Boston.  The community and spirit of Marathon Monday continued past the bombs as neighbors turned to visitors to offer kindness and support, as first responders did everything in their power to help those who were injured and keep the thousands of others in the vicinity safe.  Monday, we witnessed more acts of kindness and courage than acts of evil.  I am proud to be from Boston.

Dear Baby,

Your dad and I were born in Boston.  Keith lived in Middlesex county until we moved to Evanston where you will be born.  I moved away when I was 3 years old, but returned at least twice a year and always considered it to be home before returning for college and graduate school, making MA the state where I've lived more than anywhere else.  In the two years we've lived in Evanston, we've returned to Boston many times, including for the 2012 and 2013 Boston Marathons.  In 2012, we went to cheer your Uncle Alan and Auntie Caroline.  In 2013 we traveled to cheer for Auntie Laura.  Keith has run the BAA 5k three years in a row, but this year we missed our chance to register to run my (and your) first Boston 5k.

Keith and I spent the morning in Newton near the mile 18 marker with your Great Grand Papa and Pinto.  (Pinto was quite an attraction, many runners asked him for rides the rest of the way, and at least one stopped to pet him!)  We were right next to some people playing music, so we got to dance while we cheered.  Laura ran towards us grinning with her arms in the air, and we cheered with pride.  Once she had passed, we quickly packed up and then waited for a gap in the runners where we could cross the street.  We squeezed onto the green line train to head to the finish line to meet Laura.

We got off the train at Hynes, as the Copley stop was closed as is usual for the Marathon.  We pushed through the crowds towards the finish line, unsure if Laura had just crossed or if we were going to be able to see her along the final stretch.  Keith and I were one and a half blocks from the finish line when we saw the explosions.  They sounded like cannon fire, and we were momentarily confused since we didn’t expect celebratory cannons at the race.  The air filled with smoke and the street filled with screams as people ran both towards and away from the site.  I felt frozen, and Keith urged me to move.  We didn't want to leave the area without Laura.  We were able to reach Auntie Claudia who had a text from Laura saying she was stopped a half mile from the finish.  Before leaving Boylston St, we lent our phones to a few runners so they could try to reach family, but cell service was already spotty and most calls weren't going through.  We kept trying these numbers as we walked towards home, keeping an eye out for Laura.  Keith recognized her by the zebra print bow in her hair when she was corralled with hundreds of runners next to Mass Ave.  As we shared the little water, coats and blankets we had on us, residents of back bay came with sweatshrits, water, and trashbags for the shivering runners.  We waited for over an hour before the Boston Police directed the runners toward the park and we were able to get a ride home from Claudia.

This is our story, this is your story because you were there, too.  This is when I learned far too early that I am not going to be able to protect you from the evils of the world.  Being smart and responsible is not enough to keep you out of harm’s way.  We are so lucky, but others were not as fortunate.   I am very shaken by what I witnessed Monday, but I am also awed by all of the good that I saw.  I am heartbroken, but my spirit is not broken.  Many of the runners want to run again, and many spectators won't let twisted people keep them away.  I will be back on the sidelines of the marathon.

It is hard to put into words the pain I feel, to tell you about the tears and the nightmares.  But I want you to know that it is okay to be sad and scared when something bad happens.  It is part of healing.  It is also important to think of the good you see despite the evil, it is important to not let those trying to cause terror win.

For me the marathon has always been about a community coming together for support.  This support that I have felt for years as a spectator was even stronger after the bombing.  Responders rushed to assist the injured and protect those of us who were close by but unharmed.  Spectators reached out to the runners to give them water, clothing, and phones to contact loved ones.  Neighbors came out of their homes with trashbags, sweatshirts and blankets to give to the shivering runners corralled at Comm and Mass Ave.  People circled the city in their cars offering the stranded rides home.  There was a lot of fear and heartache, but very little panic.  The mood on the street was more anger and defiance.  We will not let those responsible win.  We will be back.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chirphead's Ultrasounds

We had our first look and listen to little Chirphead at 7w5d.  The heart rate was 160 bmp.  It was the most beautiful sound we'd ever heard!  

Chirphead's size was right on target, so they did not alter the projected due date.  

We saw Chirphead for a second time about a week ago (at 12w2d.)  It was great to hear (and see) the heartbeat again and to see our little one WIGGLE and jump around Rebecca's uterus. In the ultrasound we learned: Chirphead has two arms and two legs and measures 7 cm from head to butt. Chirphead is stubborn - it kept its hands over the face hiding its nose and wouldn't lift its head!  

Thus far, Chirphead is growing perfectly and all tests have come back perfect.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Coming this October

Keith and Rebecca are proud to announce that we are expecting our first child this October!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wisconsin Vacation with Mom Brown

Keith and I have dying to take Indy on vacation... but taking him on a plane comes with its own set or issues.  (His crate is now SO BIG to fit the "must be sit without ears touching top" that it cannot fit in our car assembled.  Not to mention how we would carry it through the airport.)   If we were going somewhere for long enough it would be worth it... but for now, ROAD TRIP!  

Mom and Keith on the lake
Mama Bev has been wanting to go up to Kohler WI with us for a long time now.  There are many great golf courses for the summer, but in the winter there are also a lot of activities.  Better yet, they have a DOG FRIENDLY HOTEL!  We packed Indy's bags, picked up Mom from the airport and were soon on Indy's first ever vacation.  

If you have never met Indy, then you may not know that he likes to bark.  A lot.  Right outside the hotel there was a huge bear sculpture, and poor Indy thought it was going to attack.  It took a long time to get him willing to look away from the bear so I could snap this picture.  

The hotel was really great.  We didn't know what to expect from a pet friendly hotel, but the room was large and very comfortable.  Unfortunately, Indy was a little uncomfortable by the whole experience because he wouldn't lay down and had zero interest in his toys.  We thankfully brought his (smaller) crate to give him a safe space to be, but he was pacing the room whenever he was free.     We only stayed here one night, if we were there more nights Indy may have gotten used to the room and calmed down.  

The best feature of the room was the access to an outside door.  It was WONDERFUL to let Indy out while staying in the Room.  

We were in Kohler, so you would expect great things from the appliances.  I have NEVER IN MY LIFE seen a shower like this one, but as intimidating as it was at first, I now want one in my future home.

And this is just one side of the shower!
Indy may have been a little uncomfortable in a hotel room with new smells, but he LOVES the snow.  He had so much fun walking (and slipping) on the frozen lake and around snowy Wisconson.  

Dog bones, what could be more fitting for a picture?  

The hotel welcomed Indy with open arms, even if they did spell his name wrong.  In addition to his crate, we brought a sconic egg that is a bark deterrant for when we left the room.  He was a very good boy and didn't bark very much!

Indy may not have wanted to play with his toys, but he was still happy to go "In" various places in the room.

We wish that Indy were more welcoming to guests in our home, but we are so happy that we were able to successfully take him somewhere with us without major inconvenience or incident.

One of the best parts of the road trip was having Indy snuggle up against me for 2.5 hours.  (When he wasn't sitting directly in my lap.)  

Thank you, Mom, for such a great vacation!