After we discovered Junior was, once again, head down, the doctors sent me home. I have made arrangements with my midwives to deliver with induction at the hospital. At first, I didn’t know if I could stand the suspense.

Turns out I’m just fine with it.

At 7:15 a.m., Dan and I stopped at Pamela’s for California French toast (with bananas!) and blueberry crepes. It was heavenly, although for a breakfast place, I’d have thought Pamela’s would have better coffee. What’s up with that?

I drank decaf, because after breakfast, we went home, where we promptly passed out. As you may imagine, neither one of us could sleep last night. I got three and a half hours from 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., and Dan slept from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. So: yeah. I was unconscious before I was in bed, I’m pretty sure.

A nap was never so beautiful.

Spent the day just enjoying time. (Well, okay, also finishing up a couple of things.) I took the girls to go see Tangled, and I am so glad I did.

First: it’s a neat twist on the Rapunzel tale. Second: It was Kate’s first movie, and she was, literally, entranced by it. Every time I looked over at her, she was intent on the screen, her mouth hanging open. We did have to leave briefly — one part got a bit intense, and she said, “We’ll come back when it gets better.” And we did. Third: The 3D version is AMAZING. I hadn’t seen any new 3D movies before Tangled, and I get what the fuss is about now. Too cool for school. Fourth: I bawled my eyes out, as did the girls at one point. I dont know if my own tears can be attributed to seeing the movie with my daughters, sleep deprivation, hormones, or some combination of all of the above, but it was totally worth it.

And now, for take two. I feel like I’m on familiar ground, going in for an induction. This is what I know, this is what I’ve experienced. The relief of being back here (knock on wood) is exhilarating, frankly.

I’m more ready now. I really feel that way. And I’m glad to feel that way, on surer ground.

So Much for the Girl Scout Motto

I got up this morning at 7 a.m. In part, I was thinking that an earlier start in the day would help me get an earlier start on bedtime tonight (providing I’ll be able to sleep at all, of course). In part, I was also thinking it would be at least an hour of quiet to myself before our lives changed forever (again).

Instead, Kate was down in the kitchen with me at 7:17 a.m.

Ah, well, so much for that idea.

Tomorrow morning is our scheduled induction. One way or another, it’s probably going to be Bud’s birthday. He keeps going between being head down (good!) and in a transverse lie (not good). Wednesday, when we scheduled the induction/possible c-section: transverse. Friday at the ultrasound: head down. By Saturday night, felt like he was transverse again.

If I could describe that feeling, I would. If you’ve been pregnant, you kind of know how a head-down, soon-to-be-born baby feels in your pelvis. A transverse baby… Let’s just put it this way: baby’s head is very hard, and I can tell when it’s in there sideways as opposed to down. Just trust me on that. Let me add: doesn’t feel very comfortable. Not a lot of room in there for a baby who’s aimed the wrong way.


Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas in the Catholic calendar. It is one of my favorite times of the year. I got a lot of peace from Mass today, and I am working hard to keep that feeling with me through today and into tomorrow.

Advent is about preparation: Preparing for the birth of Jesus, for the celebration of the birth of our Savior. As I sat in church today, with the sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows, I couldn’t help reflecting about the theme of preparation.

As most women are, I’ve been pregnant nearly 40 weeks now. And after deciding on a plan of birth for the safe delivery on this baby, we’ve had about four days to really finish preparations for Bud. There seems to be a lot of clothes to sort through, laundry to do, and so on. I went out last night to pick up diapers and some other things we’ll need before coming home. Dan is installing infant seats in both cars as I type this; I have a couple more odds and ends to wrap up.

You’d a thunk we’d have this down by now.

In some ways, Dan and I are about as ready as we can be. It remains to be seen how cooperative Bud will be tomorrow morning. All-in-all, though, we’re about as ready as one ever is to grow one’s family. The idea of having a baby is different from the reality, whether it’s your first or your sixth (I imagine) – that cliché, “A baby changes everything” is a true cliché for a reason. I don’t know what our family of four will be like as a family of five (with a guardian angel Gabriel).

But I am really looking forward to finding out.

Meatless Monday: The Thanksgiving Thursday Edition

Somehow or another, it turns out that I am baking for Thanksgiving. Which is weird, because — hello. It’s me.

I am making two things (and bringing a pumpkin roll my mom gave me last weekend when she was here). I’ve had some mini puff pastries in my freezer for some time, so I searched around online, and decided to make these chocolate and marshmallow tarts. The kids can fight over them!

I am also making sweet pumpkin cookies from the moosewood restaurant new classics cookbook. With a few of my own tweaks. (This is my second time making these cookies, and they went over so well the first time, even with the kiddos, I decided we’d do it again.) Makes about 42 cookies.

1 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree*
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips**

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and mix until well blended. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt, and add to the mixing bowl. Stir well to form a soft batter. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a large, unoiled baking sheets, allowing a little space for the cookies to spread as they bake. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cookies just begin to brown slightly on the bottom. Use a spatula to transfer to a cooling rack or plate.

* These call for pureed pumpkin, but I got SO MANY butternut squash from my CSA, I decided to bake ’em up, puree them, and use it in this recipe instead.

** The original recipe calls for a cup of chopped toasted peanuts and a cup of raisins, with a 1/2 cup chocolate chips as optional. I decided to forget the peanuts and raisins, and went straight for the chocolate. Hey, I’m pregnant, and I was pregnant last time I made them. Sue me.


Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful for in-laws who trust me enough to ask me to bring dessert, but know me well enough to not expect pie.

I am grateful to my whole family, as always, for everything.

I am grateful for the best midwives and doctors in Pittsburgh, and for having a plan, even if I’m a little scared of the plan.

I am grateful for my friends, IRL and on-line, because I know they are all looking out for me, wishing us well, and praying heartily for the best outcome.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Have a grateful day.

Another Unsolicited Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I

I’ve heard some critics complain about the fact that Warner Bros. decided to split the final Harry Potter book adaptation into two parts.

I get the idea from their snarky remarks that their inner cynics are getting the best of them. Is Warner Bros. in for a giant payday times two? Hell, yeah. Are they being manipulative of the fans?

This fan says, “NO.”

Look, I will pick a book over a movie any day. But I have really enjoyed the Harry Potter movies. It has been fun to see the actors grow up onscreen (especially hotties Rupert Grint and Tom Felton — I feel dirty even admitting that); it is fun to dissect the way the movies differ from the books; and going to see the movie versions has been something my husband and I make a point of doing together. (No, he STILL has not read the books, something I chide him for often. Honey, take a break from the Scrubs reruns!) (And I think we missed HP & the Goblet of Fire in the theaters. I know we missed one.)

Although in general, I think the screenwriters have done a good job of adapting the dense books for the screen, I was critical of the last movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I had some concerns that they were going to have to stray far afield in these last two movies in order to cover the bases.

I am happy to report that my fears from that last review are unfounded if Part I is any indication. By splitting the last book into two movies, they can fit in more of the story in without rushing along. Part I did away with extraneous (to a movie) details such as having Harry Potter disguised as a Weasley cousin for Bill and Fleur’s wedding, for instance, and still covered ground up until… well, I’ll let you see for yourself. I thought the movie was going to end sooner than it did. I’m glad I was wrong.

As we were filing out of the theater, Dan joked, “Uplifting as always”, and I understand his point. The books and movies have gotten progressively darker, and Part I is no exception. If he had read the books, he would know the payoff, but he hasn’t, and he probably won’t. From a guy who LOVES The Lord of the Rings (“three movies about walking”), and which have some pretty damn dark elements to them, I would think Harry Potter would get a bit more of a pass. (XOXO, honey!)

Anyhoo, if you are enjoying the Harry Potter franchise, this movie will not disappoint. I had to give Dan a couple of clues as to what certain things meant (notably the sliver of mirror Harry carries with him), so non-readers may have a harder time sussing out everything going on. Having read the books, I know what’s going to happen, but I admit that it’s fun to see it up on the big screen.

Can’t wait until July, and Part II.

An Unsolicited Review of Davio’s Restaurant

Saturday was my father’s 65th birthday, and to celebrate, he and Mom came down to Pittsburgh. They were here to spend time with their grandchildren (my brother and his wife have four boys); Sunday he was going to the Steelers’ game — good one! — and to really complete the festivities, he wanted to see Dr. Bro, SIL, Dan, and me for dinner.

After talking about the options, SIL and I decided Davio’s in Beechview was a good choice. The food is always highly rated, and it is a BYOB joint, which we all love.

We had a great time. Davio’s is not very big, maybe about 15 total tables, including about four 2-tops, four 4-tops, and a couple 6- and 12-tops. But it doesn’t feel crowded, and tables aren’t butting up against each other. Wait staff has plenty of room to move around, and you’re not overhearing conversations from other tables. (Laughter, yes, and we were probably the most guilty party on this score.)

Dan and I missed the ordering of appetizers because the movie we went to see (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1) let out at exactly our dinner reservation time (8 p.m.). But it looked like they ordered a seafood app, that Dan had, and a cheese and olive dish, that he and I finished off when we got there.

The bread sticks are served with several dips and oil; I only tried the bean dip, which was good and garlicky. The other was a Roquefort or gorgonzola dip that I couldn’t sample. The bread sticks were crunchy and cheesy, less Olive Garden, more cracker-like.

Our dinners came with salad, and the salad either had fennel in it or the dressing was flavored with anise. After a couple of bites, my father, brother, and I put it aside; we really don’t like anise (or, for those who aren’t familiar with that flavor: black licorice).

The menu is heavy on meat, which is fine if you are a meat eater. Dan had the DelMonico rib-eye; my father had the elephant’s ear veal; and my brother had the pasta with meat sauce. They were all very pleased with their dinners. My SIL and mom had fish dishes they really liked.

I had the choice of pasta with marinara sauce, pasta primavera with garlic and olive oil, or the pasta marinara with some grilled veggies. Marinara primavera, I guess.


The marinara with grilled veggies — don’t get me wrong — was very, very tasty. The server had asked if I wanted or didn’t want any particular vegetables, and I asked for no peppers or onions, which spell heartburn for me now. The grilled zucchini, eggplant, and yellow squash were lovely, and the sauce was garlicky with no hint of onion or sweetness. (Some red tomato sauces either use sugar or onion, neither of which I approve of for a marinara sauce.)

But at a place that prides itself on outstanding food, I would think Davio’s chef(s) would come up with something a little more interesting for vegetarians (who don’t eat fish).

As an aside, my mother, Dan and I stumbled onto Davio’s some ten or so years ago (maybe more; Dan was pretty sure that we weren’t even engaged yet). They had a tortellini appetizer that I asked for as an entree, and it was amazing. No such luck this time around.

The green beans, which came family-style with the dinners, were buttery, rather than done in garlic and olive oil. My mom really liked them, but I did not; everyone else said they were okay.

The desserts, all of which are made on the premises, were outstanding. We only ordered two, for sharing: the cannoli, whose creamy filling was flavored with orange zest, and a mascarpone cheesecake topped with blueberries, which was light and fluffy.

My other beef with Davio’s (see what I did there?) is that they allow smoking right outside their side door, in a small alleyway there. Now, I know I am super sensitive to smoke because I’m a former smoker AND I’m pregnant, but toward the end of the meal, it was getting obnoxious. I wish they had a policy for people to smoke further away from a door because I was very distracted. For the record, though, when I mentioned it to my father (a former smoker as well) he said he didn’t notice it. So, again, it may have just been me.

The best part of the evening, of course, was the company. Several bottles of wine were shared. I had about a 1/2 glass of one of them, the name of which I can’t recall right now. It was an Italian red of some sort. I’ll have to ask Dan. We laughed and told stories, and made fun of my Mom a little bit (as always). At one point, after listening to my brother hold forth on something about which I feel the exact opposite way, I remember turning to my father and saying, “How did you end up with three such radically different children?” [This story from NPR may explain some of it. I’m going to have to look into this.] He laughed. We told jokes, and talked about my sister’s upcoming nuptials, as well as worked out some logistics of Thanksgiving weekend.

In short, Davio’s seems a lovely place to mark a special occasion or impress a date. Bring a bottle of good wine or two; the food will take care of itself. If you’re a vegetarian, maybe call ahead, and let them know you are coming. When I have done this other places, I have been rewarded with something more remarkable than a pasta dish with vegetables.

Random Thoughts: A Little Progress Edition

Last night, I asked Flora to take a shower by herself.

And (more surprisingly) she did it. When she first got in, she pointed out that she couldn’t reach the showerhead, but I said she just needed to stand under the water. She thought that was pretty cool. I think I’ll have to monitor her water/shampoo/soap use for a little bit — she used WAY too much shampoo last night — but I’m encouraged that she’ll soon be showering on her own (with a little help from me).

Is 6 too young to shower by herself? For the record, she won’t be alone upstairs; I’ll have her shower after I bathe Kate, as I’m getting Kate dried off and in her pjs. What do you think?


The girls seem to be getting up a little earlier in the mornings. They used to stay in bed until 8 or later on the weekends, but since school and DST started, they’ve been up between 7 and 7:30. The good thing about it, is a lot of times, they putz around on their own without bothering me and Dan. Sometimes they will come in around 7 and ask, “When are you getting up?” And I will usually mumble something about 8 a.m. (Flora can almost tell time on a digital clock now.)

I’m going to start leaving cereal and bowls within their reach on the weekends. They’ll figure it out. Not that I’ll be sleeping in very long — I’m sure Bud will have his own schedule.


On the Bud front: after being head down again for about two days, Bud went transverse again. The good news is my fluid improved even more, and he continues to grow. He turned once, and I hope he’ll do it again. Fingers crossed.


On one hand: Yay, women breaking stereotypes: See (former) professional cheerleaders who are now scientists and doctors cheer for science. On the other hand: Are they sexualizing science, and is that all right? Not quite sure the message here. It’s okay to say, “You can be smart AND beautiful.” It’s okay to say, “People who like science and math aren’t nerds.” But packaging it in hot pants and knee-high boots with pom-poms… I just don’t know if that’s the way to go. What do you think?

The Steelers do not have cheerleaders. And I will argue  it’s because our beautiful denizens are too busy with their other careers, from teachers and writers, to nurses, doctors, engineers, and technology innovators.


The girls have taken to hugging and kissing “the baby” good night these days.

Last night, Kate approached my belly as I was sitting in the glider in their room.

“I gotta talk to the baby, Mama,” she said.

She lifted my shirt off my belly.

“Hi, baby,” she said. “When are you going to come out?”

She put her ear to my belly. Then she looked up at me, beaming.

“He says tomorrow!”

Week 37

I went from thinking about possible induction or C-section today — and I do mean today, as in the answer to my daughters’ question “When is the baby’s birthday?” would be “Nov. 16” — to hearing some great news: Bud is (once again) head down. Plus my fluid came up. It’s still low-normal, but less low — more normal, I guess.

Now, he just needs to stay head down. After we heard the good news, Dan said, “So is there any way to make sure he stays there? Duct tape? Superglue?”

I was like, “Stay away from my belly.”

The biggest pain was that I had scheduled an 8 a.m. appointment to get me to work no later than 9-9:30 or so.

Instead, there was a rush of births (in Labor & Delivery, imagine!) this morning, so everything took way longer than usual. For example, it took 45 minutes for me to get hooked up to a monitor for my NST. And then I was on it for, like, an hour and a half.

Ah, well. The important thing is we’ve got some more time with all the good news we have today. As long as Bud continues to cooperate, we can take C-section off the table (as an immediate go-to option). I am pretty relieved about that. I’ve made it through a number of pregnancies without needing one, and I would like to keep that record.

(For the record: nothing is wrong with having a c-section. Healthy baby, healthy mommy. I just would prefer not to have one at this point in my medical history.)

(That said: if things change yet again, and it’s medically necessary to have a c-section —  sign me up.)

Braggin’ A Little

Last week, I had my very first parent-teacher conference, for Flora. It seems a little silly to me to be analyzing a kindergartener’s progress (or lack thereof) in school, but at the same time I recognize that now is a good time to find out about problems (if there are any).

Mrs. D could not say enough nice things about Flora. She talked about how “bright” Flora was — that was her exact word. She extolled her interest in and grasp of mathematical concepts; she praised her phonics and reading ability. Socially, she is doing great, not only making friends easily (her daddy’s influence, without doubt) but also standing up for herself when/if she is getting flak from other students. (I guess a couple of boys in Flora’s class are cutups in general, and Flora is very clear about when they are bothering her, and to knock it off.)

Her one weak point — and if you’ve been reading for any time, this will not surprise you — is her ability to focus in the face of distraction. For example, if she brings in something for show and tell (every Wednesday!), she needs to put it away right away. Otherwise, she has trouble focusing on the work she should be doing. She has a little trouble listening to instructions the first time, but ultimately, she completes her work and tasks in a timely way. So: she rated a good under “listening skills.”

I was delighted by my conversation with Flora’s teacher, obviously. Thinking about it a few days later, I have to admit that the “stand up for herself” part of the conversation is the part that caught me most off guard.

At home, Flora withers under teasing, criticism, or disapproval from me or her father. Or even other parental adults in her life (i.e. grandparents). She cries very easily; if disciplined, she will sob about how “bad” she is. So to hear that in another setting, where she might be teased (granted, by her peers) that she will stand up for herself was interesting (and encouraging).

Now, I don’t know if it’s an adult versus peer thing. Or if maybe it’s about the time that I’m interacting with Flora. It’s evening, and if we haven’t had dinner — forget about it. Like her mommy, Flora is a little grumpy if she is hungry. Plus, it’s a long day for a 6-year-old, and it gets dark early, and, frankly, like many a kid these days, I’m sure Flora is tired. (Hell, I’m exhausted by the time we all get home.)

I think, too, it’s appropriate that in public, Flora acts vastly different than she does at home. I have heard from many an adult (and babysitters) that Flora is sweet, well mannered, and fun to be around. And I’m not saying that she’s not sweet with me or her Daddy, or fun to be around. But she also — with me — can be demanding, whiny, dramatic, and difficult. As I mentioned in her birthday letter, she melts down at the drop of a hat (faster when she’s hungry and/or tired).

And, that’s okay. She is a bright and affectionate little girl, and it’s so nice to hear she’s doing well. It’s amazing to watch her grow and change and adapt to the world around her. I’m a lucky Mommy.

Week 36

The news from this week’s ultrasound was not as rosy as it’s been.

There is still lots of good news:

– The baby’s growth is very good. They estimate his weight at 6 lbs., 10 oz., which means he’s already bigger than the girls were at term. The sonogram tech said they may be off as much as a pound and a half, “but you’re not having an 8 pound baby.” Which is just fine with me.

– Placenta is good and healthy looking, as is the umbilical cord.

– Heart rate is good; all systems are go.

The not-so-great news:

– Amniotic fluid is in the low-normal range. Not ideal, but not a huge reason for concern at this point.

The real bummer:

Bud is in what they call a transverse lie. This basically means instead of being head down (which is the position we want him to be in for labor and birth) he is laying sideways across my uterus.

This is not good.

On the bright side, he WAS head-down as of two days ago, when I had a midwife appointment. He wasn’t engaged yet, which is probably why he shifted. Also, the amount of fluid — again, low-normal — makes moving him back a little tricky at this point.

If he doesn’t pop his head down into my pelvis (to stay there this time), we have to take the possibility of having a c-section very seriously.

Our current course of action is: monitor movement over the weekend; get an NST Monday or Tuesday to make sure Bud continues to do well; I already have a midwife appointment, as well, so that’s covered; go back to get an ultrasound in a week to check on the fluid situation again.

When the fluid increases, the doctors or midwives can do an external cephalic version (doesn’t that sound pleasant?) to move the baby into a head-down position.

My goals:

– Drink more liquid! I will be returning to the regimen of 8 oz. of water every 15 minutes, which is what I was on with both Flora and Kate.
– Rest when I can. This will be a little trickier. I will find a way.
– Find some exercises that can help get the baby head down again.
– Talk to my chiropractor to see if she has any tricks up her sleeve to get things opened up to move the baby.

I am healthy and Bud is healthy, and a healthy outcome is all that matters. We’ve got time for things to change.

Good thoughts, people. Prayers. I’ll do my part, and Bud will do his, I’m sure.