Still in Memphis

Day’s Verse:
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4 (I’m just leaving this up until The Boy comes, a reminder for myself.)

I think this XKCD pretty accurately depicts how Ian and I — and our parents, and probably some extended family and possibly some friends — are feeling about imminent* The Boy’s arrival.

We have an estimated date of delivery, but unfortunately, like the super-cheap ground shipping option, that’s really a date range. “Expect your package any time in the next week,” so then you come home every day and eagerly look at your front porch, and nope… not there. You check the tracking number online and doggone it, still listed as in Memphis! You know the package must be making its way toward you, possibly by steam locomotive, stagecoach, or foot relay, and you know it’ll come eventually. Still, you can’t help hoping that today’s the day, and you can’t help feeling a little disappointed when today ends and now it’s tomorrow. Except that maybe that’s the day after all!

As a result, we go through our day like Calvin anticipating the arrival of his beanie (click the link for the entire beanie anticipation series, which I think sums up pregnancy pretty well).

I will quickly note that the last week or so I’ve figured out how to use Tylenol to manage the pain that plagued me at the beginning of the month, and we’re doing very well. Just waiting, and I have nothing on my calendar for the week (for good reason), so it’s looking reeeeeally long.

* As in, due tomorrow; my OB did warn me that many first pregnancies go past their due dates, to which I say:

House of Pain and Hope

Day’s Verse:
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4 (Yes, I did this one recently. It’s still applicable. Maybe I’ll just leave it up for a while here.)

It has been a long while since I last posted, but not because life is boring. The last week I’ve gotten a taste of what some women deal with throughout pregnancy, and I am so deeply grateful that I’ve had an incredibly easy pregnancy all the way to 8.5 months.

For me, pregnancy’s mostly been about slowly doing a bit less than usual, but no dramatic changes in functionality. Yes, I’m more tired; I can’t ride my bike like I used to; standing up requires infrastructure and planning; I have had a variety of annoying physical symptoms that I won’t go into, but nothing that slammed on the brakes. Well, last weekend, we went from that happy land of mild discomfort and curtailing of activity to serious, significant misery.

On Sunday afternoon, the back pain started. I’ve had sort of achy back, of course, but I’m used to that — it’s the commonest complaint among all adults, practically de rigueur for pregnant women, and living with fairly severe scoliosis it’s just part of life. So when I say “back pain,” I don’t mean “My back aches consistently,” or even “It hurts and I notice it pretty often, but I can live with it.” I mean incapacitating, please-kill-me-now, vomiting-from-agony kind of pain. At first, short bits of stabbing pain that I could pause and breathe through, but later that transitioned to continuous moderate pain (don’t mistake this for easily bearable; I mean a 6 or 7 on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being dying of ebola) punctuated with intervals of absolute agony. I have never felt anything so unbearable in my life — and it just kept going indefinitely. Nothing I did seemed to have any impact on it. Ian took off work and did everything he possibly could to help, and in fact was heroic in his consistency, faithfulness, and willingness to do whatever I needed. Finally, on Monday night last week Ian took me to the ER, which shows our level of desperation. They gave me narcotics (Ian had to tell me to do it; see below), but no real solutions.

After talking with the ER doctor, my OB, and my PT, we still have a couple theories but don’t have any satisfactory explanation. The symptoms initially made the ER doctor think kidney stone, but subsequent tests imply that’s not it (the definitive test is high-intensity X-ray to the kidney, not an option with The Boy right there), so the ER doctor went with a “your kidney’s probably getting squished by the baby that’s taking up 90% of your torso” theory. My OB, however, dismissed that explanation, and preferred my PT’s take: That the weight and position of the baby, plus the extreme ligament stretching going on, is putting huge strain on my back and probably compressing some very small, very sensitive spinal joints right at the transition zone.

The ER doctor prescribed Vicodin, and my OB encouraged me to take that option. But to me, the idea of taking narcotics for the two weeks leading up to labor and then doing a natural birth… it seemed ridiculous. Plus, I hate being doped up. This is a deep, visceral, and not totally rational response that normally isn’t an issue. Now we are, in fact, finding out exactly how much I hate being doped up based on the amount of misery I’m willing to go through to avoid taking narcotics.

A week later, the pain continues, but I’ve figured out some palliative techniques: Tylenol, instead of heavier guns, which at least takes the edge off; taking long, hot baths; sitting or laying in specific positions suggested by my PT. Hot baths help the most, but unfortunately you can’t sleep in a bath, and in fact you can’t do much of anything else, either. Also, our tub is very small and it’s not easy to get into comfortable positions in it. Fortunately, Mom is letting me come over daily to use their voluminous soaking tub.

The upshot is that, in addition to having to curtail or entirely back out of a number of commitments, I haven’t actually slept the night through since last Saturday, and poor Ian’s sleep remains fragmented and disturbed, too. Much as we’d like to go into labor well-rested and ready, that may just not happen. Instead, we’ll just endure and trust that this, too, will end. Team Ferguson has overcome a lot of obstacles in the past, and this is one more that keeps bringing us closer together. The baby’s happy as a clam (a very squished clam), and I have faith that once he’s born, we’ll look back on this and know it was worth it. I also trust that there is a loving God, and as a result the baby will come early or on time.

We’ve Been Waiting for this Day

Day’s Verse:
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4

All these years of joking about “Get in the kitchen and make me an X,” and “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen,” and finally we have the opportunity to capture this moment.

BPItK 1

I purposely wore what we fondly call the boob apron for this shot (in addition to emphasizing the boobs, I’d call your attention to the fact I’m in a skirt and barefoot), but sadly it obscured the pregnant belly. So here’s another one, showing the pregnant part.

BPItK 2

I certainly hope Ian appreciated this moment, because it’s not likely to come again any time soon. I appreciate the irony of the whole situation. Now, if I had any say, we’d move on to the next phase. Things are getting unduly intrusive and bothersome this last month. Technically I’m in the middle of Week 36, and full term is 39 – 40 weeks. None too soon, if you ask me. I just hope he doesn’t decide to stay comfy in there through Week 42, which isn’t unheard-of. Ugg. On the bright side, twice women have given me their seat on the bus when it was standing room only.

Forward Progress

Day’s Verse:
Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
2 Corinthians 3:18

Despite our best efforts at avoiding baby-fever, with about 5 weeks left before our due date, we’re having to face the reality that this baby will be born whether we’re 100% prepared or not. Because we are who we are, Ian and I hate to approach anything unprepared, so the next few weeks are looking a little busy. That’s okay, actually, because it means we haven’t spent the last 6 months obsessing about every last detail of my pregnancy and our impending parenthood, and as a result feel pretty relaxed about it all. People have been becoming parents forever, long before the plague of how-to parenting books and baby products tsunamied over our society. We’ll do fine.

All that said, it’s apparent we will need to put the boy somewhere when he gets home — I need my sock drawer for socks — so here’s what we’ve got.

Standing in the doorway looking to your right, you see:
Baby Room (4)

Looking pretty much dead ahead, you see:
Baby Room (3)

This would be the baby’s view from the crib, once he has distance vision and before the family myopia kicks in:
Baby Room (6)

Baby Room (5)

This is the wall opposite the crib.
Baby Room (13)

The only major furniture addition would be a rocking chair (Mom and Dad’s) in the last corner. Special thanks to Gary and Deborah, whose crib this is; to Michele and his wife for the dressers; to Melinda for the mobile; and to my mom, for coming and painting in the clouds.

And, tangentially related, an obligatory picture, post-processed in the latest popular style.
Onesie

In other progress-related news, we’re looking at refinancing our house already, although we just signed our mortgage two years ago. The mortgage process was agonizing and horrible and far too recent to have faded in my memory, but we’re looking at going from 5.25% to between 3.75% and 3.5%. That’s too tempting to pass up, with monthly payments that’d free up a good bit of cash (once we break even after paying off the old mortgage’s moderately draconian early-termination fees). This means that in addition to juggling working, social commitments, and baby preparations, we’re going to spend the next few weeks struggling with some of the more complicated financial activity a normal household can engage in. This is good news for the weeds in my garden and the nastiness in my toilets, which get a good long reprieve to establish unbreachable redoubts.

Oh, yes, the next month is looking like a lot of fun.

Living This Day

Day’s Verse:
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Matthew 6:34

Baby Room Puppy
A biking buddy of mine gave us some baby room furniture and a couple of (I have to admit) really cute pull-along toys. I think that I would have loved this kind of thing when I was little, given that I towed around a roller skate on a string pretending it was a puppy.

We also have, in fact, acquired a place to put the baby when he’s born: A Ferguson family classic, a crib Ian and Caitlyn used, currently sans anything soft to make it bedlike. It’s got a drop-down side, which isn’t recommended these days, and frankly I wish it didn’t for an entirely selfish reason: I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how it’s intended to go together. This is a piece of furniture with 7 pieces total. I’ve done Lego creations more complicated than this, albeit with instructions. And yet I remain puzzled.

I’m afraid this will be the story of my life in the future. I can change my own bike tire, run a lawn mower, drive a car, use a computer… but not figure out baby equipment.

Fortunately I know this is just a tiny piece of the future. One of our friends, Jane, came over yesterday with her 3-year-old (I think; sorry, Jane, if that’s wrong) son Colin. She’s pregnant with their second child, a daughter, and it was nice to spend some time with her. It was like a little glimpse into what I hope our future holds. Colin was smart, curious, quite polite and obedient, and delightful to spend a couple hours playing with. The play toy in the park actually looked fun when he played on it, and my little Kenworth truck hotweels collection got more love than it’s had in years. I appreciated the reminder that I do enjoy young children who aren’t infants, and I look forward to spending the time with our son when he’s a little bit older.

Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy what I’ve got: Increasingly slow but trailer-free bike rides, walks with friends sans strollers, evenings out that don’t involve a babysitter or time limits, mealtimes when I feel like it and of foods I prefer. It’s learning to take life one day at a time, appreciating and savoring what I can do and experience today, and being prepared for the future but not anxiously worrying about it.

Disparities

Day’s Verse:
You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.
2 Corinthians 3:2-3ish

Our son is due in a month and a half — that’s right, August 14, a mere 50 days from today — but because I continue to wear the same clothes, I keep having weird disparities between my mental image of my body shape and reality. I keep underestimating how much space I’ll need to squeeze between things, for example, so instead of just slipping through that crack, I find myself awkwardly caught and looking ridiculous. At this point I never forget I’m pregnant, but my mental image hasn’t quite caught up with this yet.

As a result, I think of myself looking like this:
Before

When I actually look like this:
After 2

This is like one of those “What’s different between the pictures?” activities they have in Highlights for Children. Setting aside the obvious, like a different background (since I couldn’t go to Mt. St. Helens for picture #2), you’d be absolutely right if you said:

  • Tires
  • Gloves
  • Under-saddle bag
  • Water bottles
  • Katie’s legs are way less buff and tan than last year

But of course you’d really be missing the point.

Continue reading “Disparities”

Carpe … Sun

Day’s Verse:
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel!
2 Corinthians 1:3

Yesterday the weather gave us a break in the form of one of those rare, perfect Seattle summer days. They don’t come often, at least not in June, but when they come it’s glorious. Fortunately, Dad had already planned on taking the day off, so we decided to seize our opportunity and do a bike ride somewhere we never usually ride. We decided to ride from Kingston to Port Townsend and back, a route that looks like this:

We didn’t really rush to leave super early in the morning, because it wasn’t that long of a ride and we started fairly close to home. Actually, a little more rushing would probably have worked out a bit better, since we ended up arriving just in time for the 9:30 ferry. Our original plan called for parking in Edmonds and walking our bikes on the ferry, a much cheaper proposition than driving on. But we arrived in time to purchase our car passage onto the ferry and then drive on, one of the last two or three cars on board. If we’d parked, we would have had to wait for the 10:40 ferry. It worked.

On this trip, I tried out my phone’s camera, and it’s okay. Not great, and I learned that I should never zoom in. Zoom is pure digital, and as it gets “bigger” the image just degrades. I can crop for size after the fact if I want less in the image. Without further ado, here’s what we saw.

The view of the Olympic Mountains from the ferry:
From the Ferry

Once off the ferry, we parked (another hassle of having the car) and got rolling fairly quickly. It was a gorgeous day, sunny, warm, and only very lightly breezy, hardly any wind for being on the water. Part of our route took us across the Hood Canal Bridge, which had a nice wide shoulder suitable for biking. The only downside was that periodically the cement paving was broken by ridged metal grates, which had been covered over in a 2-foot-wide section along the edge for bikes. I’m glad it was dry. In wet weather, I would’ve felt downright nervous about riding across that long expanse of slick metal. But on this day, the views from the bridge were spectacular.

On Hood Canal Bridge

We avoided the highway as much as possible, sticking to side roads. Mostly that worked fine, and we had minimal traffic on the way out to Port Townsend. Along the way we went through Port Ludlow, a bizarre planned community that seemed like Suburbia West. No retail or anywhere to work, just extremely large, expensive homes in planned developments for retirees nestled around the bay. It kind of creeped me out, in a way.

Just After Port Ludlow

Anyhow, we made it to Port Townsend and along the way met another group of cyclists, who Dad rode with for a while:
In Port Townsend

Here’s Dad on the dock in Port Townsend.
Dad in PT

And here’s me (on the other side of the dock).
Katie in PT 2

The view from the dock itself was spectacular, and my phone does have the very neat “panorama” feature that let me capture it, at least a bit (zoomed in, the quality is rather poor, but it still gets the point across).
From the Port Townsend Dock

We took our time and split a pretty decent mini-sized pizza at a place that had country music playing, car racing on TV, and bikes hanging from the ceiling. The mini pizza was 8″, four slices, and we agreed that even not on a bike ride, I couldn’t imagine wanting more than half of that anyway.
Pizza Place

This was an out and back ride, so the good news is we knew where we were going on the way home. The bad news is that we had a spectacularly exciting, and fortunately totally bloodless, encounter with a large (70 to 80 pounds, I’m estimating) dog that liked chasing bicycles. The summary story is that we rode by a house and saw a dog come streaking out at us. It dashed perpendicularly into the road right in front of Dad, who actually hit it with his front wheel. I was behind Dad and off to the side, already slowing down because upon seeing the dog, I immediately predicted it would do that very thing. So Dad hit it, but in a demonstration of excellent bike handling skills, he managed to swerve and stay upright. The dog, when hit, pivoted on its rear legs and streaked back to the safety of its yard, fortunately away from the direction of Dad’s swerve. I was far enough back that I was never in any danger. To add to the excitement, a car going the opposite direction slammed on its brakes so hard that it filled the air with blue burned rubber and that exciting squealing noise. We didn’t even stop to see what happened once Dad regained his balance, but just kept on going. I think Dad wanted to give the dog’s owner a piece of his mind, but it was better to keep moving on. For all we know the owner could’ve been mad at us for hitting his dog.

After that, Dad got his heart back into his chest and the ride resumed its more normal, uneventful pace. By the end I think we both felt fairly tired of the short, moderately steep rolling hills that characterize the Olympic Peninsula. Overall, though, we had fun riding somewhere different, not for speed or intensity, but for simple enjoyment.

We arrived in Kingston in time to get ice cream, walk around a bit, and join the queue for the 5:30 ferry home. Here’s the ferry pulling into the dock. By the time we arrived back at our car, some clouds had started moving in, foreshadowing the drizzly weekend to come. However, rain held off and the temperature remained comfortable for eating post-ride ice cream.

Ferry at Kingston

Kingston Ferry

Goodbye, Kingston. We had fun.
Goodbye, Kingston

Edit to add: This morning I went out to get my bike ready for a ride up to Snoqualmie Falls and I immediately saw this in my rear tire.
IN MY TIRE

When I pulled it out, it turns out half the thing was actually embedded in there.
In my tire 2
Boy, I’m sure lucky I made it back to the car yesterday. I must’ve run it over just before we finished. I was starting to feel like my rear tire was a bit squishy, but I figured it was probably just that end-of-ride fatigue. Hah! Of course, now I have to wrestle with the darn tire to change the flat.

PS – If you feel the picture of me doesn’t really make me look pregnant, try this one.
Katie in PT 1