Sunday, January 31, 2010

Baby Shopping 2.0

I got my very first bonus check on Friday. It was fairly small, but still very exciting and unexpected. The old automatic bonuses for first and second years were taken away when the economy crashed- our base salary never changed or froze, but the bonuses are now at the firm's discretion. So if the firm has a good year the whole class gets one (the same one), and if it doesn't we don't get anything. Luckily, 2009 was a good year.

Half of the bonus immediately went to savings and the other half has been dedicated to baby accessory shopping. The fun kind of accessories - we have the basic furniture and toys, but now I get to buy a few of the things I wanted when we had Landon but couldn't afford. Also, while Landon slept in his crib in his own room from the first night we came home from the hospital, our master bedroom is now on a different floor from the nursery, and we need something for the baby to sleep in downstairs.

First up was all the the bedding I picked out the day we discovered baby 2.0 is a girl. I still love it and can't wait for it to arrive.

Second was this 11x14 print from an etsy shop which highlights the inspiration for choosing the bedding. I'm going to frame it and hang it between the doors in the room:

Third were these 8x10 wall cards from the same etsy artist. I love the simple nature theme and think they will look great lined up across the room from the crib. (Since we're not painting the room, I'm big on art for the walls.)

So that's what I purchased immediately on Friday. I'd obsessed over them enough in ten days to equate about three months of hemming and hawing; JP had long since refused to look at any more links I sent him regarding baby decor. Now there are two things I'm still researching. One is a bassinet for our bedroom. I want it to be simple and pretty, but also sturdy and well made so that we can use it for baby #3 or other family member's babies. (Man, my brother and sister are going to be so lucky whenever they have kids- we have everything and will be done by the time they get around to it. We had to buy nearly everything ourselves.) It also has to blend with our bedroom because I just finished decorating that and we are not marring the beauty with some plastic monstrosity. This is my favorite so far:

I like the simplicity of the look, the positive reviews, and the fact that it rocks and the basket comes off the top. I do not like the price- it costs more than 2x what we paid for Landon's crib, though it does include the bedding set. The problem is other ones I look at are even more expensive or cheaper to the point of cheapiness. I still remember the white bassinet both my sister and brother slept in when they were newborns, and my sister and I put our dolls in it for years- I know whatever we buy will get a lot of use.

The second item is a jogging stroller. We used the Graco stroller frame for Landon's infant car seat when he was a baby and it was my single most favorite baby item ever. I have never understood those clunky travel systems. When he got bigger we switched to an inexpensive umbrella stroller which works fine for most things, but there are times when I really wish we something a little more rugged. Plus, there's always hope that I'll take up jogging right? We wouldn't want the stroller to get in the way of such a healthy decision.

I solicited recommendations from those I work with and many suggested the Bob.

Once again I like the look, the extremely positive reviews, but very much dislike the $400 price tag. That's a lot of money for a stroller. That's a lot of money for just about anything. And then I wonder - should we have a stroller that accommodates two children? But we so rarely use our stroller, and when we do, it's on some outing that both JP and I are attending. We could both push something. And Landon likes to walk or ride his Spiderman big wheel, so if it's just an evening walk around the neighborhood, baby girl will be the only one being pushed. Is it worth having a mammoth stroller for the few times we may like it? But if I'm going to spend that much money on something, will I be mad that it doesn't accommodate Landon as well?

I'd been secretly hoping my in-laws might offer some sort of gift for baby 2.0, but they've been so bizarre about this whole pregnancy, basically refusing to ask about me or the baby ever, and changing the subject as soon as we told them she was a girl, that I've decided I don't even want anything from them. If we can buy it ourselves we will; if we can't, we'll do without- we have all the necessities anyway.

In the mean time, I'm thoroughly enjoying getting to research and read baby product reviews, and I love even more to hear people's recommendations, so if you have any thoughts on bassinets, jogging strollers (especially the double v. single debate), and other things maybe you added to your collection for baby #2, please let me know!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Firstborn

Landon and I went on a date to CiCi's pizza last night. We had so much fun "cheering" our pizza slices (ever since the family reunion/birthday party at my parent's house he always wants to say cheers and clink glasses at dinner) and talking about his day - actually conversing - that I had a moment where I nearly got choked up thinking about this kid before me. He still has a bit of baby in him, and I love everything about this older model, so it's not really sadness, it's more like gratitude that we're here and this is so easy and I love it so much.

(after dinner, in his "fighterman" hat that he later wore in the bathtub)

There's always a lot of talk amongst parents on how best to space out your kids. And while I can understand the advantages of having your children close together- whether purposefully or on accident, I am so glad that I've been able to enjoy Landon's toddlerhood with him as an only child. In the past year and a half I've watched him change from an immobile baby who communicates by yelling at me in crying form, to a walking, talking, running, dancing, laughing, hugging, adorable little boy. And I've loved every second of it.

He won't remember all the time we've spent together- or all the times he's made me laugh or clap while he shows off a new trick, but I will. And after his first year when I loved him but didn't exactly love motherhood, I'm so glad we waited until now to add another. I already feel I have to step back from him just a little bit - because picking him up hurts my back or because I'm just so exhausted at the end of the day I want him to go to bed so I can turn catatonic on the couch, and I don't like feeling torn between my toddler and my pregnancy. I know our baby girl will add a new level of love to our family, and I look forward to it, but it's been a very special past 18 months with Landon.

And speaking of the little guy. He usually wakes up around 8, so I don't set an alarm clock- I just wait for his head to appear by my pillow with a "Hi Mama!" or until I hear a call from the top of the stairs. I slept terribly last night so I didn't wake up on my own until 8:30 and was shocked to see the time. I logged in on my work laptop and answered some emails and them climbed up the stairs to see what was delaying him. I found this:

The dump truck was not on his bed when he went to sleep, so he'd gone to get it whenever he woke up, put his puppy and shark in the truck bed, and was reading them "Dear Zoo." As I opened the door I heard him say, "Then I go an elephant!! but it was TOO BIG."

I can't wait to see him read it to his little sister.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Frozen Moments

There are so many little moments with Landon that I try to freeze in my mind forever. He's such a marvelous mix of sweetness and curiousity that JP and I can spend hours repeating the things he's said and done to each other and laughing. I think this is why we yell at each other less about politics- we're too busy recounting the way Landon tucked his puppy and shark and car and golf ball and plastic horse and big dump truck into bed with him.

We always read 2-3 books as part of bedtime. After eleventy million recitations of "B is for Bulldozer" and freak-outs that "LOOK MAMA! a snowman!" on page 8 and "yes, Landon, the snow man is STILL THERE... on the page where it is permanently frozen forever," I misplaced the book in a stack downstairs and brought up a few new options. Change is good. Piggies was the first up and if you don't have this book you should get it because it's a delightful little bedtime stories that ends in kissing your wee one goodnight, and the illustrations are fabulous. Now I'm sure this little memory won't come across as well in blog format, but I need to record the story to go back and read later when Landon is a man of the world at thirteen and makes me grind my teeth in frustration more than he makes me melt with the adorableness.

So we're snuggled in his bed, being introduced to the various piggies, and the book says, "Sometimes they're hot piggies" and Landon immediately cries, "mama! we gotta blow on them!" just like when his food is too hot. He blew enthusiastically at the page and then announced they weren't hot anymore. Phew.

On the next page the piggies are "cold piggies" and Landon exclaimed, "they gotta put on some pants!!".

Okay, it cracked me up at the time.

Then after our reading was over (we finished out story time with Dear Zoo, a forever classic, and Bark George, which had dominated our reading routine for months last year), Landon snuggled in his bed while I sang him our song. He held my hand and when I was done with "Sunshine" he said quietly, "Mama home. Daddy home. And Lanan home." And then after a little sigh and a pause, added "and Tex home. and Rosie home. and Yilly home." I gave him a kiss, he let go of my hand, and I walked downstairs feeling very peaceful and happy. It's the same feeling I used to get when I was camping as a kid and fell asleep with the warm knowledge that all of my family was under the same little roof. There's a coziness and contentment to knowing you're all together and safe and sound at the end of the day and it was the first time I'd heard Landon remark on it -- that subtle difference between a house and home. We were all home.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Appointments and Reflections

I had another perinatal appointment this morning. All is well - my NP was very pleased with the ultrasound results my OB sent over last week (the two offices work well together, it's nice) and congratulated me on my baby girl. I described baby #2's nursery to her as I got my shot (thanks to and a very legally unproductive few days last week, I now have all the wall decor picked out too) and finished up my appointment with a renewed promise to look into prenatal yoga. It's annoying to have to drive over there every week, but it's probably good for me to sit down with someone for 20 minutes to talk about my week and my pregnancy. It's like therapy and prenatal health care all in one!

Everything with work is also good. My case is still full steam ahead for a March 1 trial, but it's a controlled steam and I love being so deeply involved in preparing one of the most famous litigators in our state for a jury trial. Several people have asked how it's been as a pregnant BigLaw associate, and as I found when I was a pregnant law student and then pregnant summer associate, it's just not that big of a deal. At least not in any negative way. Nearly everyone in my section has children, the majority of our associates are female, and since I interviewed here back in 2006, not one woman has failed to return from maternity leave. To me that says a lot about how female attorneys here feel they can balance their career and their family. Two of the last three women to make partner in our office have three children, so it's not a big black mark against you the way I've had friends describe in their firms. Of course these women are also brilliant and kick ass attorneys, so it's nice when that gets to matter more than the number of children you've birthed. (As a side note, both of those women have stay-at-home husbands; I'm not yet sure you can have that kind of career and that number of children without one stay home, or at least part-time working parent, but figure it's a puzzle I don't yet need to solve.)

This doesn't mean I don't worry about having a second child and being an attorney. I've worked hard and done well in my 17 months here. I've been rated in the highest possible category in my reviews and I'm always requested for work. I've done this with a toddler and never missed a dinner or bedtime (unless I'm traveling, which is usually rare). I like my cases and love the roles I've been able to carve for myself. From a career perspective, I don't like that I will be totally out of the loop for 3 months. Of course from a mommy perspective, I'm glad for it. (Another side note: we get 3 months paid maternity leave, an optional additional 3 months of unpaid FMLA leave, and/or 3 months to phase back in to full time by working 50%, 60%, and 70% for a month each, while being paid at 60%. Without knowing JP's job situation I plan to return full-time after 3 months. I would be only the second woman in my section not to take the full 9 months to come back to full-time and no one seems to believe I will actually come back after that little time off. And not that I'm not grateful for the option, but after Landon's babyhood, 3 months sounds like a very long time. I'm sure I'll talk more about that later.)

My biggest challenge right now is forcing myself to step back from (or at least stop volunteering for) things. And it's not hard so much because I'm afraid of retribution from my firm or the partners I work for, it's hard because I really do like what I do and I'm not sure how or what to slow down. It's not like I bill 200 hours a month on a regular basis. I feel like I already draw pretty bold lines between work and family time. And my biggest challenge is that I apparently can't tell when I'm stressed. I've always been busy- from high school as a varsity and US national swimmer taking 5 honors classes, to college with swimming, being a liberal arts honors program major and pre-med through my electives and working, to law school and a baby -- this is what I do. I'm happy. As I told the partner who sat down in my office last week after she heard about my worrisome perinatal appointment, closed the door, and said, "you have to help us know when you are doing too much." I really don't know what that is. I need a red warning light somewhere on my person. I feel like these cases are MY cases and I do not like the idea of being pushed away from them. I know everyone means well and the partner assured me, with an air of near annoyance, that my reputation will in no way suffer because I have a high risk pregnancy. The work will be here when I get back and people will want me to do it. But it's hard to feel like I'm giving up my place, even temporarily. How can it not matter, even a little, that I'm suddenly saying no to things?

These are just the things that float around in my head. In reality, I will of course do what I need to protect this pregnancy and my little girl. There is nothing that matters more than that. But it's easy to rank the priorities; it's harder to live them when you're not sure what you should be doing (or not doing) on a daily basis to make sure they're in proper order.

In the meantime, it turns out that 2 1/2 might be even more delightful than age 2, and I'm enjoying every single second I spend with Landon. I've also loved reading all your comments on the name post- thank you for making my blog such a fun community to be part of. I believe we have named our daughter (and by "we" I mean I, without objection from JP), though we're not ready to share it yet. I'm oddly pleased that it's not among your suggestions, lovely as they were, though her middle name is. I also need to post a pregnancy pic soon- my belly is now an entity unto itself and I finally look pregnant to all those who see me. So much better than that squishy in-between phase.

Friday, January 22, 2010


As I've previously mentioned, our baby girl has no name. We still have 20 weeks to figure this out (or 15, if she's like Landon), but now that she's a she, and seems so much more real because of that knowledge, I don't like that she is nameless. Our hypothetical second baby boy was named. He still is named in fact, and until I'm certain he won't exist, either because we decide against having a third child or because that third child is a girl (oh my god, how will I name two female children?), I'm not sharing it. But I never had many names on my girl list, and the few I had were immediately pulled off when I thought of actually naming our baby. My daughter, possibly the only daughter I will ever name.

JP and I went through the list of the top 200 girl names last night and between the two us vetoed all but 2. And we're not in love with the two. You see I'm very picky about names. I don't like names that are made up, names that have bizarre spellings, names that are unique to the point of weirdness, names that are overly common (i.e. not in the top 25; I was so pissed when "Landon" sky rocketed from 73 to 23 the year after he was born), and names that can be shortened into nicknames (ex: William because I don't like Will, Bill, or Billy. Both JP and I have names with very common nicknames and we both hate those nicknames and how frequently people try to use them. Now that the 80's are over people don't try to shorten mine as much, but people are constantly trying to give JP a name he doesn't respond to).

So it's tricky. I actually love names- hearing about them, reading lists of them- I have to stop myself from asking for people for their middle names and sibling names when I meet them. And it really freaks them out when those names come up and I remember them months later. But for as much as I like names generally, I like very, very few when it comes to actually attaching them to my children.

Ironically, Landon's name came quickly and easily. It's the name of a private school where JP grew up (side note: tuition is $28-29,000 A YEAR. per child. for all the years they are in school from third to twelfth grade. who can afford this?) and he mentioned liking the name fairly early in the pregnancy (his only remotely acceptable suggestion). Then the first time I felt our baby boy kick after our sonogram I exclaimed, "Landon just kicked me!" and his name was set. That has not worked this time as she's been kicking me all morning and inspiration has failed to strike.

I do remember a week or two of deep name-doubt after Landon was born. I'd stare at him and think: Do I really like his name? Do I just think I like it because I've been calling him that for 4 months? Does he look like a Landon? What does a Landon look like? Landon. Lan-don. Lannnndonnnnn. Maybe it sounds weird? Oh my god my child has a weird name. How hard is it to change a birth certificate. Do I like any other names? Oh, he's awake, never mind, it's fine.

For the record, I do like his name, though I can't help but wish I'd thought of the name we're holding for potential boy #2 back when I was pregnant the first time. Landon loves his name and delights in making us write it over and over for him to point at and say, "That's my name!" He even made a joke about it on our car ride home from the Houston last weekend. We'd just stopped at Dairy Queen so I could get a chocolate dipped cone and french fries (hey I'm pregnant, no judging). Landon asked for a fry and I said, "sure sweetheart" as I passed one back to him. Without missing a beat he said, "No mama, I'm called Landon!" and then laughed hysterically. My toddler made a joke! They grow up so fast.

So, a name. We need one. I'm sure we'll think of something, I just hope it's sooner rather than later. I like being able to refer to the baby bouncing around in my belly as something other than pronouns.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Baby Girl

It took me approximately 2 hours to adjust to the idea of having a girl. And that's really what it was- an adjustment. It's not that I was unhappy with the idea, I just had this picture in my head for the past 4 months (or really, 4 years) of two little boys running around my house and I had to shake it out. Doing a little online window shopping helped dramatically. By the time I left work yesterday I had billed 0.6 hours, but my baby girl had a full registry of items at Land of Nod.

It all started because I perused a few baby bedding items at Landon's nursery was trucks and trains, and while I fully believe that my little girl will love playing with her brother's wheeled vehicles, I wanted something a little more feminine for her nursery. Plus, we've already bought all the big ticket baby items, so I can have a little fun with redecorating this time around. But I quickly rejected nearly all of the "girl" decor- it was too cutesy, had too much pastel pink and purple, or involved some sort of licensed character. Or, barring all that, it was too white. We're not painting the walls of the nursery (which are currently white), so I want some color in the bedding to brighten it up. In desperation I turned to Land of Nod and immediately found the perfect set.

It is called "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning" and reminds me of the songs my mom and grandma used to sing me and the way I sing "You Are My Sunshine" to Landon every night. I love the vibrant colors, the non-girliness, the sentimental value, and the fact that it allows for fun girly touches to be added without suffocating the room. By the time I'd added all the pieces to my registry (a registry created mainly for me), I was giddy with excitement for our little girl.

Then I found these butterflies to hang from the ceiling above her bed and changing table and got so excited I called JP immediately and made him look at them. So big! So delightfully whimsical! I love them. I decided to call it a day and go home- I'd been so productive, even if I had only done 40 minutes of real legal work.

And even though sonogram images are a little creepy (JP has dubbed the first one "alien face"), here are some pictures of my baby girl.

I have the one proudly exclaiming "girl!" but it felt a little invasive to splash it up on the internet. Poor thing should have some privacy.

This one with her stretching her leg is my favorite- I think she looks like a dancer. Or maybe that's just because I have no dancing talent whatsoever and think it would be awesome if my daughter got all that I didn't.

Here she's swimming around upside down. It was so fun to watch her flipping around up on the ultrasound screen.

Also fun? Saying "her" and "she" rather than "it" or "the baby". For me the 20-week ultrasound is when I make the mental switch from "I'm pregnant" to "I'm having a baby." My daughter. Now we just need to come up with a name...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's a...


I realized right when the ultrasound tech made her announcement that I was more attached idea of a baby boy than I thought (I think mostly because I already had the name picked out and I'm really sad not to use it) and I think JP is still in a daze. But everything looks great and we are So excited. It's going to take a few days to get used to using "her" and "she"- even after finding out I kept referring to "his head" or "his leg" on the screen. But baby girl Lag Liv looks fantastic and everything is measuring perfectly.

Everything with me also looks good - both the placenta and cervix look exactly as they should so that was a big relief. We met briefly with the high risk doctor who is also the ultrasound reading specialist (I'm sure there's a fancier name for that) and he affirmed that he saw nothing concerning in the images. My OB was also pleased, and once armed with the sonogram pictures, was far less concerned about the weekend bleeding. But because it is so important to get to 28 weeks, she still advised for us to avoid intercourse until then. I am also to avoid vigorous exercise (I assured her that was not a problem as I'd been avoiding it since I was pregnant with Landon) and should delay the big shopping trips and nursery decorating plans until after that 28-week mark. She said my current schedule shouldn't be a problem and I shouldn't be too worried, it just seems wise to avoid introducing anything extra to my days until we reach a safe point and I'm totally fine with that.

So it was a great appointment. I still can't believe we're having a girl- Landon's going to have a little sister! I need a name- our hypothetical boy was named, but I've got nothing on the girl list. I also need to start shopping (online shopping) for non-frilly, non-overly-cutesy girly things.

I'm just so, so happy everything was picture-perfect. And I can't wait to watch that little girl wrap JP around her baby finger.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

High Risk

I was going to write a nice post about my date with JP last night, and how in the middle of dinner I suddenly felt a surge of pride that we've been together for 8 1/2 years and have found a way to thrive after some very difficult times. Here we are at 26 and 28, homeowners, financially secure, nearly through two separate rounds of graduate school which we're paying for ourselves, and the proud parents of one very happy little boy. And when it seems like everyone we know has a grandparent they can call up whenever they need a little extra help, we did just about all that on our own. I looked at JP and said "I'm proud of us" even though it felt a little silly to say, and I really was. And I was so happy about how much I still love just talking to him and how much we make each other laugh. It was a fun evening.

But this morning I had my second pre-term prevention appointment to start my progesterone shots. As will be the routine, I started out sitting at a little table in the exam room to chat with my nurse practitioner. She was glad to hear my trial had moved up, glad that I had committed to my prenatal massages, and again strongly encouraged the prenatal yoga which I'm going to make myself do even though I hate yoga and all things involving stretching because I am the most inflexible person on the planet (ironically, something that could be improved if I would just stretch).

Anyway, and this is about to venture into TMI territory but it's too much a part of my next 6 months not to discuss, I mentioned that I had some - well kind of a lot of - bleeding during sex on Sunday. I said it quickly, hoping it would not be a big deal, but the look on her face quickly abused me of that notion. It's definitely a deal, probably a big one, and means NO sex until after the baby is born. In June. IN FIVE MONTHS. And then there's those recovery weeks immediately thereafter... I can't drink, my waist is gone, I can't take the good drugs for my headaches, I lose many a fun weekend afternoon with Landon to naps -- and now my sex life is gone as well. That hypothetical third child is starting to look a little hazy...

And of course most worrying of all is how concerned my NP was. I got my shot and she did an exam and said everything seems fine, but I need to continue to try to take it easy. I left upset about the mandatory celibacy but otherwise okay. How bad could it be? The bleeding had stopped on its own, I had no cramping, and now I wasn't going to be doing the thing that caused it. But then my OB called this afternoon to say that my NP called her with concerns and to see if she agreed that we should move up my ultrasound currently scheduled for Friday. My OB agreed and asked me to come in at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

I'm excited to find out the sex a few days early, but I'm stressed about my doctors' obvious worry. It's a good thing, of course, to have a team of medical professionals I like and trust looking out for me like this, it's just that my appointments with them and their reactions to things stress me out far more than anything else in my life. And that's ironic since the whole goal with this pregnancy is to reduce my stress. Part of the problem is that I don't find my life stressful. I like it and I'm happy nearly all of the time. I understand that I need to step back and that nothing is more important than a healthy baby, but I feel fine and that makes it very hard to know when I'm pushing things. As I've also said, I like what I do and find my average work days enjoyable, so again, it's hard to draw lines when I don't know what my body apparently finds to be too much since my mind thinks everything is great. I'm sure I'll get a few more guidelines on that during my OB visit tomorrow.

An important side note is that the baby is absolutely fine. I listened to the strong, steady heart beat this morning and can feel him/her kick around in my belly frequently throughout the day. The concern is that something is happening with my cervix or the placenta to cause this bleeding and that's what they want to look at in the ultrasound tomorrow.

I also had a whole post to write on my thoughts about having a boy or a girl but I thought I had until Friday to do it. For the record I really want a boy, though I'll also be thrilled with a girl. I'm very glad the choice is out of my hands. I've always pictured our family as consisting of two boys and then a girl. I know that if I find out I'm carrying a little girl tomorrow, I'll be so happy for her, but still so sad for the little boy I spent 20 weeks thinking was in there. I don't think the fact that he might never have existed at all will stop me from mourning him, even as I celebrate the news of Landon's little sister.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

to PapaGigi's house we go

On Saturday morning I re-packed my suitcase for the fourth time in two weeks and piled the family in the car to head to Houston. Many months ago my uncle the pilot (and only family member not residing in Texas) decided to bring his family to visit the Texans over the MLK weekend. All my Houstonian family members decided to keep the weekend free, so my grandparents thought they'd drive over from San Antonio, and next thing we knew a full family reunion was in the works. My sister and brother finangled to get off work and all 22 of us converged at my parent's house, all together for the first time since my wedding in 2005.

Landon was SO excited as we started our drive. He clapped his hands, made up songs about "PapaGigi's house," and asked us about "Houston" every 3 seconds. Until we hit Brenham (home of Blue Bell ice cream and halfway through the 3 hour drive), then he was a little subdued, but still happy about all the farm equiptment and cows he could spot out the window. By the time we hit Katy he was over the whole thing and I heard a little voice from the back say, "mama, I just wanna go home." Luckily we were only 30 minutes away.

As a surprise to my grandparents we hired a professional photographer to take a group portrait of the full family - after all, now that my oldest cousin is 17 and they're all getting closer to moving away from home, it's going to keep getting harder to get everyone together. My grandparents were very touched; my grandpa even cried during our little family meeting, so of course so did I.

We also celebrated their 80th birthdays. As you can see, we're a little bit Swedish (and that Dala horse has a bit of a sweet tooth).

Landon waited very patiently for his piece of cake (one of the many side benefits I keep discovering about daycare) and then dug in, filled with enthusiasm for his great-grandparents. Or maybe he just really likes cake.

Regardless it was a great little trip, made even better by our return home this afternoon and the day off I plan to spend AT HOME tomorrow. It will be my first day this year spent in my house with my family and no suitcase to pack. My big plans include a long walk with Landon, JP, and the dogs, an afternoon cuddle with JP, and a leisurely grocery store trip where I don't shop as quickly as possible from a list drafted in order of grocery store aisle. I'm going to think of things to cook while I'm shopping. There may even be some meandering and investigating of new ingredients. It's going to be crazy.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Massage Therapy Rx

I got back to Austin on Wednesday in enough time to sit down for dinner with my boys and snuggle with Landon in his big boy bed (a transition which could NOT have been easier- we just stuck him in there about a week ago and he's taken all his naps and 12 hours at night ever since- I still have such residual fear from his "not-easy" days that I totally dreaded this switch to a new room and new bed). I got to hear all about his two days with daddy and daycare then received lot of kisses, including two from his pound puppy. It was great to be home.

Thursday morning wasn't quite so good - when I was heading out the door to work Landon cried and begged me to "no go to Dallas". I tried to explain that I was only going to my office and I would be back for dinner, but to no avail. I was able to pick him up from daycare early and we played together all night, so he now seems to believe that I will be sticking around.

The judge moved up our trial to March 1st. This is bad in that we will be very busy until then, but good in that I will be 25 weeks pregnant rather than 30, and we were probably going to be busy until trial started regardless of whether it was March or April - at least now the prep ends sooner. I'm still very conscious of all the specialist told me about pre-term labor, and by the end of my fast-paced, high-stress emergency hearing, I was doubting whether I could (or really, should) be on the trial team. To that end, I'm doing what I can during the prep time to take care of myself. I will be receiving the weekly progesterone shots, which from my research are highly effective in delaying pre-term labor, especially in people like me with no other risk factors (i.e. no multiples, no diabetes, not overweight, not over 35 -- just labor probably caused by stress or other environmental factors). I was cognizant of the tension in my body as I sat in court or at the computer until the wee hours of the morning and took breaks to walk around or stretch. I ate well. I drank a lot.

And today I treated myself to a 60-minute prenatal massage. By mid-massage I had worked out the financials to allow myself one every two weeks, with the option of going weekly once we get in to the trial. I'm not shopping, I have no time to run errands, and I haven't bought new clothes or shoes in weeks - this will be my "fun" expense until I am no longer pregnant. Due to a membership program at the wonderful massage place near our house, my first hour-long massage of the month is $49 and any additional are $39. My therapist was very experienced with prenatal massage and was perfect for me - no talking and a firm touch. I think this will greatly help my headaches, back aches (we sit on a wooden bench in court), and whatever other stress I don't think I have but my body apparently holds on to. And they're open till 10 at night and on weekends so I can schedule them outside of work.

I feel good. I feel like I'm doing what I can to be healthy while still working in this job that I love on a case that is very important to me (and to the firm, which in turn, is great for me). If I need to step back more I will - each of the partners is well aware that I'm pregnant and that I am being monitored for early labor, but I'm hoping that won't be necessary.

I'm 19 weeks and everything is going well. I still don't think much about the pregnancy- it just sort of "is." Last time I was constantly reading message boards and articles about pregnancy and fetal development- this time I periodically rest my hands on the beginnings of my belly and smile. Then I turn back to my work or my Landon. My biggest problem has been finding enough clothes that fit to wear to court- I'm going to have to invest in a maternity suit soon...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Keeping the Spousal Spark Alive When You're Working Non-Stop

I am still in Fort Worth and totally over the thrill of business travel. As a girl who grew up camping, hotel rooms held a certain allure well into my early twenties. But I'm done now. I want my own room, my own bed, and my own big, snoring husband next to me. Apparently my key to restful sleep is kicking him periodically throughout the night. There is no one to kick here and I'm sleeping terribly.

And because I miss JP like crazy when we are separated for more than 8 hours, we've been emailing each other frequently throughout the day. Today's exchange made me hide a smile at multiple times during the hearing.

Me, 8:49 am: "Hey sweetie, hope the morning went well. I miss you."

Him, 9:14 am: "Hey babe! Morning went great - he slept in. About to steam clean the carpets!!! Love you"

Me, 9:17 am: "I find it very sexy that you are so excited about that."

Me, 2:42 pm: "How is the carpet cleaning going? Looks like we'll be heading home tomorrow!"

Him, 4:13 pm: "Cleaning was magnificent! I love you. Glad to hear you're coming back to us soon."

I do too, I am too, and I can't wait to see the carpets.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


After an insane, amazing, exhausting week at trial in which I billed nearly 90 hours, our Austin-based legal team pulled back up to the office at 7:05 last night. I walked in our front door at 7:13 and Landon greeted me by sprinting around the corner yelling, "MommyMommyMommeeeeeeeee!" and leaping into my arms. He talked nonstop for about 20 minutes and I heard something about bikes, daddy, parks, and daycay - it sounded like he'd been having fun. The house was clean, the dogs were underfoot with tails wagging, and my god it was good to be home.

It's not easy being away- I miss JP, miss my Landon, and miss our usual routine, but it's not as hard as I feared it would be. It helps enormously that I know JP is taking care of everything at home just as I would (and maybe even better- he's stricter about eating healthfully and putting away toys at the end of the day), and that Landon is happy and loved in his competent hands. It also helps that Landon can talk on the phone now and I get to hear about his day and receive some telephonic kisses. Of course this also makes it harder- at one point when we were talking JP said, "umm, he's leaning over the phone (which was on speaker on the couch)... I think- oh, he's giving it a hug!" That did make my eyes a little teary and I had to remind myself that I was only away for two nights.

The other thing that helps is being insanely busy, knowing I'm needed, and loving my job. Being an integral part of a prestigious team of super lawyers on a case of critical importance to our client (and a client who's of critical importance to us) is pretty amazing. The second chair at the trial is the firm-wide head of litigation; first chair is one of the most famous litigators in our state. Getting to watch them in opening arguments and cross- and direct-examinations of a witness was awesome. Watching the UT game up in the hotel suite of the super famous partner and hearing his stories of litigating through the years was icing on the cake.

While the partners were crafting their arguments, I, along with the two paralegals and senior associate, were frantically gathering docs, labeling exhibits, and drafting outlines to prep witnesses. Because this was a temporary injunction hearing, we only had a few days to prepare and the arguments and witness list changed well past midnight before the first day. I didn't get much of any sleep Wednesday night, but Thursday was much calmer. We were out of court by 5, eating a delicious dinner with the legal team and clients at 6, and then watched the first half of the game with the group. By 9:30 I was back in my hotel room, in bed, eating room service dessert and reading a book. It was delightful.

Being pregnant didn't have much of an effect on me, other than not be allowed to lift any boxes (everyone is very vigilant about my physical restrictions) and not being able to partake in the $200 bottles of wine our client ordered at dinner on Thursday (though I did have a sip- he owns a vineyard and knows his wine, wow that stuff was good). But it has affected my day off. I went to bed at 10 last night and slept all the way until 8 a.m. Then, after a pancake breakfast at home, I laid down on the couch and accidentally slept another 4 hours. This would never have happened pre-pregnancy and obviously my body doesn't trust me to get sufficient rest so it simply knocks me out instead. Effective, if inconvenient- I had things I wanted to do today.

This weekend is about family and relaxing. I have my 18-week check-up on Monday before we return to Fort Worth for another 2-3 days of testimony. This time it shouldn't be nearly as busy or stressful since our documents are organized and all our exhibits have been admitted. I will have to miss my first progesterone shot, but there was a snafu at the pharmacy and it turns out it wouldn't have been ready for my Tuesday morning appointment anyway. I'm moving it to Friday and will continue them weekly from there- I'm also going to ask about JP administering some of them. I suppose I should check with JP on that first- he's not quite so comfortable with medical things as I am.

I started to feel the baby kick while sitting on the wooden bench in the courtroom- I got a big smile on my face right as on of our witnesses was being grilled by the other side. Feeling the baby move is the only thing I enjoyed about pregnancy last time; it's so fun to have a little secret dance going on in my belly while everyone else is focused on the judge. Landon just woke up from his nap (in his big boy bed!!) and we're headed to the park- Happy weekend to you all!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Full Throttle

I have billed 60 hours so far this year. This year that just began 5 days ago.

The opposing party in my biggest case (the case that I am very attached to that caused me to switch from corporate law to litigation) filed a motion for a temporary injunction late in the afternoon on the 31st, and I have worked nearly non-stop since then. We had a Motion for Continuance yesterday so I drove the partner, senior associate, and paralegal to Fort Worth at 6 a.m. to attend the hearing. We got a whopping two day's extension -- an extension that is causing three of the partners to miss their planned trips to the UT Championship game in Pasadena -- and spent the rest of the day strategizing in our Dallas office (the partners are spread among various offices so we took advantage of being in the same city for the day). We got back to Austin around 11 p.m. last night and head back to Fort Worth tomorrow to prep our witnesses for the 2-3 day hearing.

It has been insane. We're basically putting together a mini trial on the most important issue in our case in two days. This case has four heavy weight partners but only two associates (a 7th year and me) so ... well, it's been insane.

The completely crazy part is that I haven't minded this at all. I love this case. It is fun and fascinating, extremely high stakes, and touches on every corporate law topic you could throw into a law school exam question. I like each partner on it and it's nice to have such a substantive, visible role as the only person who really knows the documents, exhibits, etc.

So the work part is good. The home part is also pretty good. I miss Landon, but I was home this morning and left the office at 7 tonight after being told to do so by a partner who remembered Landon goes to bed at 8. I worked from home on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, so Landon spent lots of time playing next to me and showing me his toys and crayon creations. Both boys are feeling fine and have been since Saturday evening (thank goodness for that). JP doesn't start class again until the 19th and Landon's daycare is back in session, so JP is very happy as a part-time stay-at-home dad.

Ironically my biggest source of my stress came from my initial pre-term labor prevention program appointment which was supposed to be all about reducing my stress. To back up, my OB recommended I enroll in this program offered through the Texas Perinatal Group since I had Landon at 35 weeks with no indicators or risk factors. And because I would love a full term pregnancy with no time spent torn between a baby in the NICU and a toddler at home, I was happy to go. Today was my first appointment, which I almost changed because of the overflowing inbox of emails and task lists, but I once read an article about signs of a workaholid and one of the signs was canceling doctor's appointments, so I forced myself to walk away from my computer and drive across town. Once there I met with the Nurse Practitioner, who I will see every visit (I will probably never see the perinatologist as I am not high risk and will continue to see my OB), and we walked through my last pregnancy, my picture-perfect delivery, and my bruised baby with broken ribs and his 12-days of NICU time.

I loved the NP. I really like my OB- she never makes me feel rushed and she is exactly what I need for this pregnancy. But it's nice to sit at a regular table, in regular chairs, and just chat with someone for 45 minutes about my last pregnancy and this pregnancy and how we can keep this baby baking for as long as possible. I feel like she fills a hole left by my midwife with her low key manner and long appointment times.

All that said, I nearly started crying when I got back in the car. I really am at risk for another early baby, possibly even an earlier baby. I will be getting progesterone shots starting at 18 weeks (next Tuesday) which have been shown to delay preterm labor. These need to be given WEEKLY at an appointment with the NP where we will also talk about my schedule and rest and any symptoms I may start experiencing.

Weekly. I have a three-week trial out of town in the month of April. I have another big hearing out of state in March. I already have regular visits with my OB. I'm supposed to see a headache specialist. Each of these appointments take nearly 2 hours out of my day.

I need to take breaks, to relax and breathe periodically. I need to drink more. I need to be more aware of my body and signs of stress. She told me after talking for about twenty minutes that I downplay my stress - I looked surprised and said how on earth can you know that? She said it was because I kept laughing when I talked about all that was going on in my life. Then I admitted to the tooth-fracturing tooth grinding habit and my headaches. I was prescribed prenatal yoga.

She was really very warm and positive, it was just in the middle of this crazy week at a time in my pregnancy when I basically just ignore it (I literally go hours and maybe days at a time forgetting I'm pregnant) and I can't really change my schedule, and even worse- don't want to, I felt overwhelmed and like a horrible mother who needed to be told to put a sticky note on her computer screen to reminder her that "nothing is more important than this baby".

Then I worked another 7 straight hours, came home to a dinner prepared by JP and non-stop hugs and kisses from a very charming Landon, and reminded myself that yes, my life is busy, but I do take breaks because I have this wonderful family I require time to enjoy. I pause to soak in the moment because of them.

And then I looked back at my blackberry with its 20 new messages and also realized that maybe these weekly appointments won't be such a bad idea...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

When Balance is a Verb

I woke up yesterday at 7 a.m. to fifteen new emails regarding my biggest case and an emergency Temporary Injunction hearing scheduled (by the other side) for Tuesday morning. I have worked almost non-stop since then, though I did take a park/hamburger break yesterday evening to watch Landon run about Zilker park and then refuse to eat a hamburger. I ate it for him, along with the enitre basket of fries JP and I were supposed to share. And then I worked from Landon's bedtime until midnight, starting again at 8:30 a.m. this morning with an all hands conference call.

But just before that 8:30 a.m. call, I went upstairs to get Landon only to find him covered in puke. He's thrown up less than three times since babyhood so this was most unusual. I cuddled him while we both got in the bathtub to clean him off, leaving JP to the sheets (in my delicate condition I can't handle getting that close to puke, unless of course it's already on my child and then mothering instincts conquer the urge to dry heave). By 8:28 we were back downstairs in the study. Landon's hair smelled like Johnson's baby soap, and he stayed wrapped around me like a little monkey for the duration of the 90 minute call. Afterward we gave him a sip of very watered down powerade which he threw up five minutes on the kitchen floor. This was repeated 30 minutes later when I stupidly gave in to his requests for a small cup of milk.

In between puke cleansings and clothes changings I have revised a Motion to Quash, drafted a summary of a deposition, started a Motion to Compel, and agreed to head to Fort Worth on Monday morning for the 3 days of hearings. Just after I sent the email saying I could attend, JP handed off a sleeping Landon and ran into the bathroom to throw up himself. Thankfully, his involved no clean-up because I'm not sure who could have done it.

Landon is now sleeping soundly in his bed (updated with a nice plastic cover under the sheets), JP is sleeping in our room (sans plastic cover, he better make it to the bathroom), the dogs are sleeping under the desk, and I am working as quickly as possible so I can assist whichever one of them needs me when they wake up. It is moments like these when I fantasize about having a grandparent with lots of free time (i.e. not my parents) and a willingness to help with unpleasant things (i.e. not my in-laws) living near by.

But it's fine. I don't mind the work- it's necessary and every partner on this case is working even more than I am to prepare for this last minute emergency. One was already in California for the U.T. game and is having to fly back to attend the hearing. I am not fancy enough to have these kinds of vacation plans, so all it's doing is delaying when I can go to Victoria's Secret to buy these pants which I just realized I need.

As a co-worker jokingly said a few days ago, "We're overpaid 350 days out of the year. We're paid what we are because of the other 15." This is one of those 15 and I accept it as such. It would just be nice if a bunch of vomit hadn't been thrown in the mix as well. An inauspicious start to 2010 to be sure!