Friday, September 28, 2012

28 week updated update

(of course I forgot a few things!)
An amazing thing happened two mornings ago: I squeezed the tube of toothpaste! I hadn't been able to do that for about two weeks with that stupid thumb pain. I still can't bend it very far on its own, but if I push down and bend it, it doesn't hurt. My hands are still painful, but I think that in the last couple days it's gotten less intense. I'm not sure why--maybe from drinking more water? Maybe my body is just being nice and doesn't want to torture me forever? Whatever, I'll take any progress I can get.


I've visited the chiropractor twice now, and WOW, what a difference. My left back/hip joint basically stopped hurting two days after the first appointment. My front hip was still flaring up some days. Then, last Sunday, I unpacked a bunch of boxes and even though I didn't lift or move anything heavy, all the bending got to be too much. I could barely walk the next day--the back of my right hip was out of joint and very painful. Whoops. Happily, my next appointment was for Monday afternoon anyway. And lo and behold, on Tuesday, the pain was gone. Hallelujah! My front hip still hurts when I'm lying down, but overall the pain has gone way down.

Tonight we went to the Portland Art Museum--it was our first real outing! It felt good to be walking around again. Partway through our visit, I noticed my hands--when they were hanging by my side I could feel fluid pooling in them (sort of tingly and pulsing), so I spent the rest of the time holding them up on my belly. Also, my back and hip starting hurting and I had to slow way, way down. So I clearly overdid it; next time I should probably keep track of the time and only be up and moving for maybe an hour and see how that goes. 

I also went to a dermatologist last week (referred to one by the OB) and she prescribed some clindomycin, which is a topical acne treatment that's safe for pregnancy. It's a relief to finally be battling my skin back, but it's an uphill battle after a few weeks of no treatment. :)

Oh! We also finally got the official results from my sugar test, from back in Brooklyn. All is fine! They also checked mineral levels, and those are fine too. That made me feel good that I've been taking the extra iron supplement (in addition to the prenatal, which has iron).

My belly button seems to be edging its way toward popping. The top part of it at least is starting to stick out, and the rest is feeling pretty flat. Also, I think I'm developing a light linea negra, but it's only on the top part of my belly, not below my belly button (although maybe there's one there; I just can't see it!).


After three weeks of no growth around my belly circumference, this week it's finally grown another two inches--44! As always, see the full series of belly shots at the link to the right.

We had an ultrasound this week, the first one since early August. It was great to see the fetuses (the "b" word still is a little too real for me! :D). Overall they seem to be doing fine, though they're not huge (which explains why I'm not huge). There's a 23% size discrepancy between the two of them, which is borderline iffy, so we'll have another ultrasound in three weeks. Really, I would prefer to have one twice a week!

I do feel plenty of movement (though there are times/days when it seems like it's more of one than the other), and I love putting my hand on my belly to feel whatever's going on in there. It's fascinating and one of my favorite things. :)The movements are big enough to be visible or move things that are touching my belly. I finally got a video capture of one--take a look!

video


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Moving On In

 Backing up just a bit, there was a big move! Our POD container arrived on Thursday midday. We weren't able to schedule movers at the last minute for that day and we were leaving again the following afternoon. Happily, my mom and her boyfriend came down to help us out. And thank goodness, because I was very nearly useless. The POD was unloaded in about an hour, and then everything got moved into the appropriate rooms in the house.


 Our empty living room:


And then with some piles of boxes:


 Our empty bedroom--it's even bigger than our big room in Brooklyn!

 Office/Guest Room with the Expedit desk set up:



It was a really long, tiring day, even for me not doing that much. It felt great to get into our bed in our new house for the first time...but the bed was really uncomfortable. I realized that I hadn't remembered or found the foam mattress topper that I usually have on there, which I figured was the reason. At the end of the weekend, I bought a new topper and when we went to put it on, we realized that the bed was upside down! The plush part is only on one side of the mattress, and the bed had been set wrong side up. Duh! It was so very more comfortable after that!

The next morning we refueled with my mom's waffles topped with fresh blackberries. Delicious!

 Our hard-working guests also set up our new media center, desk chair, and dresser.

Me finishing up the back panel:
 

It was a HUGE deal that they were there. It would have cost several hundred dollars for movers to unload the POD, and then we'd still be stuck with setting everything up. With my belly and my hands, I would not really be able to do much of anything to help, which would mean Mister M would have had to put everything together and it would have taken like a week. Instead, we had almost all the big stuff up and ready within 24 hours. Amazing! We were and are so very grateful.

Now that we've been here for a couple weeks, and more boxes have been unpacked, things are starting to look more homey. Next up, photos of the rooms as they currently look!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

what a difference

People ask me what brought us here and/or why we moved. I usually answer something about a lifestyle change.

Now that we've been here for two weeks, there are some things about this new lifestyle that are pretty great indeed. It's a lot of small things, but the ease of doing so many things is such, such a relief. These things aren't Portland-specific exactly, but we haven't really taken advantage of Portland itself yet.

--The dishwasher! The first couple days we washed all of our dishes in turn. And as you might expect after years of handwashing, they have never been so clean and shiny. (And also sanitized!) Also, I can be a little lazy about dishes, so putting things right into the dishwasher is pretty sweet--it does all the work for us!

--We have to drive everywhere. We were in a super, ridiculously convenient location in Brooklyn and could easily walk to any errand we needed to make. Here, we can't.

--The flipside to that is the garage. Oh holy garage, you are my favorite. It's a designated parking spot, protected from the elements! And there is storage, so much space! On Sunday evening, we made a run to the grocery store. And then we drove right back, pulled into the garage, and brought the groceries right into the kitchen. I could never go anywhere on a Sunday evening in Brooklyn with a car, because as I learned the hard way, it would take 45 minutes to an hour of driving in circles to find a parking spot.

--This was our Brooklyn Costco experience for the last three years: Go only on a Wednesday, because that's the day the car had to be moved anyway, and I wasn't about to move the car on another day in addition, and going on the weekend only makes me homicidal. Drive up to the front of the building and double park. Make 3-5 trips between the car and our lobby, piling our stuff on the front table by the elevators. Once everything was in, put everything into an elevator, and Mister M goes with it upstairs, where he either puts everything in the hallway just outside the elevator, or makes 5 trips between the elevator and our apartment. Meanwhile I go back to the car and look for a parking spot, which could take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes.

Now? Go to Costco any day of the week (though avoiding weekends is still probably a good idea). Drive home. Park in garage. Take everything inside. The end.


--We haven't done much of it, but being able to do laundry in our very own basement is also pretty fantastic. Any hour of the day, any day of the week, no worrying about machine availability, no counting out quarters, no having to run to the bank to stock up on quarters.

--Bathrooms! Plural! If one is taken, guess what? There are two more! It's amazing! (Partly because I haven't gotten into cleaning all three of them yet...)

--We can play music and use hammers any time of day--no one below/around us to be disturbed by noise!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

27 week update: Ouch

 (check out the full series at the link to the right) 

When were at the new doctor's office last week, I got on the scale and it was official--180. One hundred eighty pounds. That's THIRTY pounds gained--and not even seven months along! I think the Brooklyn doctor originally suggested 35 pounds of weight gain for the entire pregnancy. Oops!

The thing, though, is that other than my hips getting bigger (at least 4 inches already!), and obviously my chest too (EIGHT inches), and my belly really isn't that big (still measuring the same belly-button number for three weeks)...so I'm not sure where that big number is coming from. I really don't look (or feel!) like I've gained thirty pounds. But all the same, that's kind of a scary number. The Portland doctor didn't feel like it was anything to worry about, and in fact she said it could double by the end! I'm nearing the third trimester (for some reason I thought it was this week, but I still have two more weeks I guess), which is when the most weight gain happens for mom and babies. It's intimidating thinking about what is to come--I have no idea what I will look like or feel like. I suppose it's all going to go downhill as I get bigger?

-

Everyone did and still does exclaim at me that we did this big road trip while I'm pregnant. My response has been a suppressed eyeroll and, "It's just sitting! It's not like I'm walking across the country."

The timing turned out to be perfect as well as lucky. Lucky because I'm still carrying pretty small for twins (in my own uninformed-but-internet-reading opinion), so I wasn't uncomfortable. Timing because at the time I was pretty able to move around. If I had been any bigger or already aching, it would have been even tougher to sit and get up and down.

As it was, every time we stopped for a break (every 2-3 hours), I struggled to get up and straight-up hobbled like an elderly person for a bit. Then I would loosen up a bit and walk a little more normally. But the sitting part was fine. I kept a pillow behind my back and leaned the seat back a bit, and I was comfortable.

I brought my pillows with me, and every night brought in my body pillow to our hotel rooms. That really helped me sleep better, to have the same kind of leg/knee/foot support I was used to at home. 

-

At our last OB appointment before we left, I remembered to ask about skin treatment and benzoyl peroxide. She said don't use it, because it's an unknown how it might affect a fetus. So I stopped my normal treatment routine and my face (etc) exploded. It's a constant battle with my skin anyway, so all these extra hormones are surely not doing my face any favors. Which means I look a fright and of course worry that I've poisoned these babies. Sigh. PDX OB referred me to a dermatologist, and I'm hoping she will be able to help!

-

I mentioned awhile ago that my hands had swollen. I may have mentioned some discomfort too. My feet also got a little swollen and hurt for awhile.  Soon, though, my hands started hurting, and they still do. A lot. Everything hurts--bending, gripping, pulling. (Surprisingly though, knitting did not hurt last month! It did this week though.) It's not the joints; it's the in-between, meat-y parts of my fingers. Our Brooklyn OB tried to tell me it was carpal tunnel, and PDX OB started to as well. I told them both no way--no pain in the wrist, I'm on the computer a lot but I don't actively type that much or that often, and all of my fingers hurt, including the pinky (the nerve that gets irritated with carpal tunnel syndrome does not affect half of the ring finger or the pinky). I know that hand swelling is normal, since there are extra fluids running around my system. But nowhere do I read that people have this kind of pain and discomfort. I suppose that if I knew it was common and/or if there was something to do about it, it might be easier to deal with, mentally (obviously I have to deal with it physically all day anyway).

To add to the fun, last week I did something to jam my right thumb. It's been over a week and it's still very painful. It doesn't bend all the way and the bottom joint is painful to the touch. Occasionally it will bend too far and I will gasp out loud.

AND, for at least the last two weeks, my back has been hurting. Yes, yes, that's par for the course with pregnancy and a growing belly. But this is different; it's the back of my left hip.  If you feel at the very bottom of your back, you can feel joints on either side of your spine. On the left it feels like it's been out of joint, like it needs to pop back into place. I've tried my normal tricks to no avail. It left me hobbling and limping--at first only a little, but for at least the past week, all the time. Then my front left hip flexor started aching, so I was limping twice!

The Portland OB referred me to a chiropractor that specializes in women and children, and I went on Monday. I was really hoping that she would be able to pop that joint back in and I would feel instant relief. That wasn't the case, but she did a little massage and I realized how tense my whole lower back has been. Makes sense, I suppose, not having been walking normally for a few weeks!

Yesterday afternoon I was walking up the stairs (there's a half-story between the living room and bedrooms), I realized that it didn't hurt! No more back hip pain! A miracle!

I will go back for two more adjustments, but what a relief to be able to walk more normally again! Now I just need to get that hip flexor to behave and maybe I can try to go for some walks around the neighborhood.

So yeah, the last couple weeks have been tough with everything hurting. I realize that things are still going so well and that this is really still an easy pregnancy. No complications, no problems, nothing. Things could be so much worse. But not being able to do anything with my hands without pain, not being able to walk...when we met with the doctor last week and I was describing my issues, I felt myself starting to tear up. Not sure if it was frustration or pain or what. But looking at another two months of this is...not fun. Getting walking back is good, but I imagine that soon enough everything else will get even more uncomfortable anyway.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Leg 9: Oregon (the end)

This was our final leg. It was also our shortest driving time--less than five hours. So we purposely had a leisurely morning and figured we'd stop along the way. There was actually some kind of Oregon Trail Pioneer Park soon after we started, but unfortunately it was closed. By this time we had come far enough west that we were out of Martian country and back into trees, at least for a little while. We were still on I-84, which we'd picked up before Boise the day before. That freeway actually follows the Oregon trail at a northwestern angle and meets up with the mighty Columbia River.



This made me think about a wonderful book I read as a teenager, Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo. It's a historical novel of her entire life, and it is so completely fascinating. Obviously the Lewis and Clark expedition is a huge section of the book, and one of the parts I remember most is the end of their journey when they reach the mouth of the Columbia, and it's teeming with people and fish and big water.

Obviously we weren't anywhere near the mouth, and by now the Columbia has been tamed many times over by dams. But every time I see it, I think of what the river must have seen and wish I could see it like that.

Anyway! It was also exciting to reach the Columbia because it meant we were that much closer to our end point. And then Mt Hood appeared! I love mountains, and Mt Hood is an especially pretty one (though of course Mt Rainier is always number one in my heart). And the combo of mountain and river made me quite happy.

Add to that the lines of wind turbines along both sides of the river, and I was enthralled. We saw wind turbines in Iowa, Illinois, Wyoming, and now again in Oregon, and every time I was struck by how beautifully elegant they are, and how exciting it is that people are harnessing nature's power without pollution. Even better that it's happening both on land already in use (farms/fields--turbine footprints are quite small!) and on land that seems to useless. It really adds something to the landscape. I hope all the states continue to grow their wind farms!







We arrived in Portland before 5pm. It was a Tuesday. We checked into a hotel for two nights, since our things wouldn't be arriving until Thursday. Though it was exciting to reach our destination, I was mostly sad to see the end of our adventure. This whole thing was a transition into this new life, a middle ground of being of nowhere, and arriving in our new city meant that it was time to face the reality of all that's coming, and a new kind of permanence.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Leg 8: Idaho

I can't lie, I was disappointed to be anywhere after the day at Yellowstone--anything was going to be a letdown. The fact that there is a whole lot of nothing in Idaho does not help.



We took I-20 to Craters of the Moon National Monument. The road went straight for awhile and then skirted a series of brown mountains. Eventually we got to Craters of the Moon National Monument. Spoiler alert: it was still empty!


This is where a series of volcanoes erupted/exploded all over the plains of the Snake River basin. The mountain-y bits are still technically there, but they're really small and unassuming. One would not guess that they barfed endless fields of lava for miles and miles.

Surprisingly (or not, really, since volcanic soil is quite rich), many trees and plants have sprung up. (Some died, like this, but plenty seem to be thriving.)

Seriously, endless miles of lava and nothing.


After a couple hours looking at various views of lava, we continued our journey westward. We passed into Oregon and had dinner, and then drove another hour to a motel in La Grande for our penultimate night.


On the way we apparently drove onto Mars.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Leg 7: National Parks!!

This was the leg I was looking forward to the most, and one of my biggest reasons for doing the cross-country drive in the first place--Yellowstone! Mister M had never been (I've been through I think three times? The last one was a half day on my 2005 cross-country drive), and I have this much nicer camera now, and who knows when we will next be able to visit this kind of natural wonder.

So we got up early, had breakfast (one of the best features of the Hampton Inn!) and headed out of Jackson toward the Grand Tetons.

 

As you can see, there were a lot of low-lying clouds in the morning. We stopped by the first visitor center and looked around, got our National Parks passport stamp, and the clouds starting burning off. We stopped at several turnouts along the main road to gawk and take photos. We went to Jenny Lake and followed the little trail to the lakeshore.



The clouds eventually all went away and we had this to see. So beautiful! Especially after the boring/barren landscape we'd been seeing for a week!


More driving north, and then, finally Yellowstone!

Of course we started with Old Faithful. We arrived at the visitor center at 2.30, and the sign proclaimed its next eruption would be approximately 2.40, so our timing was perfect! We found a place to watch and waited for probably ten minutes or so until the steam finally became a tall spray. It was a really short one, timewise, though--I remember them lasting a lot longer. Regardless, it's an impressive thing to see. 


Mineral Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring--I hadn't seen this one before. It's the huge, multicolored one you always see in photos from above (like this), and it's so huge you can't see most of it from ground level. You can see and hear the water bubbling and there are huge gusts of steam that race off the surface. 

Otherwordly trees

Fountain Paint Pots was our next stop. The bubbling and popping is so neat!

Our last stop was the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon.
 

Just before that, we saw this elk grazing near a parking lot.
 

On the way out we saw a bison!
 

We saw another one in a meadow too, and later I think I saw a bear further up this river, and then again further on, another bison and another elk grazing in a meadow. Earlier in the day, two huge deer leapt across the road in front of us. 


We exited the park around 8pm (after a 45 minute traffic jam, probably caused by those animals either crossing the road or causing the drivers to stop and gawk), which was later than we'd planned. But the time was so worth it! 

We ate dinner in West Yellowstone, which is just over the Montana border.


Then Mister M drove fast along the dark roads to Idaho Falls for the night.

It was the longest day we had, though it was the fewest number of miles, and it was definitely the most naturally fascinating!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Leg 6: Wyoming

The best thing about Wyoming was that it was blessedly cool. Look at those beautiful clouds! We hadn't seen clouds for almost a week at this point. Wyoming definitely has some big-sky country to it. Also, most of it is completely and utterly empty.
 

We did drive past this huge row of wind turbines set along a ridge. Gorgeous!

Finally we entered the Bridger-Teton National Forest and feasted our eyes on GREEN!


We arrived in Jackson nice and early. Because it was Labor Day weekend and also it's just a busy place, we decided to book a hotel a couple days in advance, and pay full price. We used Priceline for almost every other night (or a cheap motel a couple nights), but there was no way that we wanted to risk that in a place as popular and limited as Jackson. We stayed at the Hampton Inn, which became my favorite hotel this past year with all of my work trips. It was charmingly western--check out this fabulous antler chandelier!


We had plenty of time to walk around the town square (which is pretty much all there is to see of Jackson) while it was still light out. We grabbed a drink at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and took pictures of each other sitting in the saddle barstools. There's also a display case of a stuffed bear that some badass killed with his hands and TEETH. Good lord! 

We had dinner on a tavern patio overlooking the square:
 


We were quite tired and went to bed early in preparation for a big day of national parks the next day!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Leg 5: Nebraska

Leg 4 actually finished in Nebraska. We ate dinner at a Mexican place outside Des Moines, Iowa, and then continued on. Originally we'd planned to stop in Omaha, just over the border, but decided to push on to Lincoln, 45 minutes further west. (We did this the next three legs, to make the next day's drive a little less. I suppose that continuing on longer might have counteracted that a bit.)

Iowa was all corn in rolling hills. It was actually quite lovely.

 

 Omaha's welcome


So for Leg 5, Nebraska started off with some corn, but on flatter land, and then the land turned to scrubby ranchland, and then to scrubby wasteland of nothing at all.
 





 It was nearly 100 degrees that day in Nebraska. Zero clouds to mitigate the relentless sun, and no trees or anything to provide shade.

My little car finally had to protest. We had already noticed the coolant temp gauge had gone up from a quarter to a half, but it hadn't gone anywhere near the red zone. However, eventually the overheat light came on. Still no red zone, no steam or smell coming from the hood. I tried not to panic. Mister M read the manual and it said to stop driving immediately. Of course I couldn't do that, as I was on a freeway in literally the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, the exit for Potter was only a couple miles down the road. We turned off the AC and pulled into a service station. The light went off and we ended up staying there for about half an hour to give the car some rest. We consulted quickly with the technician and he said it was probably ok to keep going.

Potter, Nebraska 

It was eighty miles from Potter to Cheyenne, where I'd already called a Midas. Nebraska's speed limit is 75mph, which is awesome, but for that eighty miles, I stayed between 60-65, and we kept the air-conditioning off, the heat up, the windows down. The harsh plains wind blasted my left ear as I made myself stay calm. No warning light came back on, the coolant gauge stayed about the same.

We made it safely to Midas. I had them do an oil change and a coolant flush. I hadn't added any coolant in who knows how long, or a coolant flush. This is a bad job by me, and it made me a little scared and very grateful that my little car had made it so far without any problems.

The Midas guys in Cheyenne were fantastic. We actually went to a second location after the first was done, so they could fix the gasket that was still leaking. (This was the THIRD TIME I had paid to fix the same leaking gasket! Gah!!) So it was another chunk of money, but well worth it. Now I knew the car was good, functioning the way it needed to, and I felt safe continuing on the journey.

But even better than that was a new friend I made there. The resident kitty walked in to the waiting room and after less than a minute of walking around and meowing at us, climbed up on my lap, padded up my belly, and started kneading and purring. She was so soft and cuddly and friendly! I loved her!

That night we drove on to Laramie, with a full moon and downright chilly air. What a relief to be out of the hot midwestern sun!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Leg 4: Iowa

After a short return after a forgotten item, we drove northwest and finally hit I-80 West into Iowa.
We pulled off just over the border to go to our first Steak n Shake! 
 
I had this ridiculous s'mores shake.


Following lunch, we went to find the Mississippi River. This town didn't have a terribly picturesque riverside park, but it sufficed for our photo purposes.


I realized a month or so ago that I had only been taking those headless weekly belly shots and ignoring the life I was leading while pregnant. Now, I hadn't had been having much of a life lately, but starting on this roadtrip I sure was! So I have purposely been trying to get a few shots of me and my belly out and about, doing things and going places. I think that will be a fun thing to look back on for me and the littles--where I took them before they were out. :)

Anyway, later on, we stopped by the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. Mostly to get another stamp in our National Parks Passport. But we stayed for a few minutes and looked at some of the buildings.

 The teeny tiny house where he was born:

Parts of the whole village are preserved or rebuilt, which is kind of neat. Here's a blacksmithy built in the 1950s with materials from the 1870s. (Hoover's father was a blacksmith.) Check out the different size shoes--far left is a donkey, second is a 'normal' sized horse or pony, and third from left is a draught horse!