Wednesday, June 26, 2013

SC Trip #2

After spending the first six days in Columbia, on Thursday we drove the couple hours to Greenville SC and spent a few days seeing friends.  We stayed at another Homewood Suites, which was nice.  We arrived Thursday afternoon and got settled, then Thomas had a gathering with work people which I skipped so he could hang out and not be locked into leaving at 7pm.  Benjamin and I ate dinner at the hotel, it was pretty good, fried chicken and beans and rolls.  He was terrible though, just cranky and out of sorts, and it was a rough night.  But it was good for Thomas to see people and catch up.

Friday was pretty low-key, we had some ChickfilA for breakfast and met up with a friend for lunch.  We ate at Corona's, our favorite Mexican place.  It was so great to have "normal" Mexican food, which doesn't really exist in Arlington and definitely not in Amman.  I love cheese dip, and it was heavenly.  Thomas took Benjamin back to the hotel for his nap and I got to hang out with my friend, and we hit up a thrift store and shopped around Target.  It was great to catch up and have a relaxed day.  After she left, we went downtown and ate at Sticky Fingers, but the BBQ was definitely not as awesome as the Palmetto Pig in Columbia.  But Benjamin enjoyed his hot dog and it was fun to be back in my favorite town.  Seriously, if I could live anywhere, it would be Greenville SC.  If you haven't been, and the opportunity arises, check it out.

Saturday we ate brunch with friends and had the best time hanging out with our old crew from 5 years ago.  Among the four couples there were just two kids before Thomas and I moved away, and now there are... oh math time.  Four plus two plus two plus one... 9?  Yes, nine children.  I'm so thankful for friendships that endure despite distance and long periods of non-communication.  It's so fun to get together and see everyone and their kids and just enjoy the gift of community.

Enjoying fellowship at the coolest house around.

My favorite picture ever, taken by the immensely talented Cheri Ritter.

Saturday afternoon I got to see another girlfriend and it was great fun, wandering around different stores and just catching up and talking.  We all ate at PF Chang's for dinner and I was shocked that Benjamin was so hungry he ate some crab wontons, and then also ate the skinny and lightly brined carrots and cucumber meant as the garnish.  He's a funny one.  Sunday morning we met another friend and her husband and two kids for brunch, which was fantastic.  I hadn't seen her since her wedding shower a few years ago, so it was great to reconnect and see how much life has changed for us both. 

After that we hopped in the car and drove to North Myrtle Beach and bunked down with my parents at their condo.  It was fantastic to just relax and enjoy the ocean and outlet shopping, and eat delicious seafood.  Benjamin was very unsure about the whole beach thing on Monday, but today he was crying and fighting Thomas when they would come back out of the water.  We never even made it to the pool, just hung out at the beach for a couple hours at a time. 

Happy buddy!

Doesn't look like much, but Goodfellas is amazing!

Thus ends the second installment... stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

SC Trip #1

After many many many hours of traveling, we finally made it!  Our flight from Amman was delayed a full hour, so I was really nervous we'd miss our connection in Frankfurt.  Thomas was very cool and calm and we actually made it with time to spare.  We decided at the last minute not to use the car seat on the plane, and just let Benjamin sit in the seat by himself.  He ended up napping for a good hour and half on the four hour flight and he was really good the whole time.  I tried to get up multiple times and make the trek to the bathroom to keep active and moving. 

Post-shower, pre-plane, 28 weeks.

In Frankfurt we had to go through security again which made my blood boil, I was ready to slap everyone I saw.  They patted me down (because you gotta watch out for the pregnant ladies?) and made me drink the rest of the water in Benjamin's Camelbak bottle.  Argh.  But we got to the gate and checked the stroller and got settled, with about 30 minutes left.  People even boarded after us, which surprised me.  Thomas paid to upgrade us to Economy Plus, and we had seats behind the bathrooms, basically like the bulkhead.  It was great to have extra legroom to stretch out.  But the armrests were solid because they had the tray tables inside, so we couldn't raise them up like we did on the Amman-Frankfurt flight and let Benjamin stretch out to rest.  He did pretty well considering, but definitely had some loud crying moments.  We just fed him goldfish and raisins and kept him pumped full of water.  The other bummer was the lack of changing tables in the bathroom, I guess it was an older aircraft.  Thomas was a trooper and did all the diaper changes on the 9 hour flight. 

After landing in Chicago, we moved through immigration and picked up our checked bags, then did customs, then dropped them back off.  What a hassle, I'm going to avoid flying through there again if I can.  But it was doable and we made it.  The confusing part was figuring out which gate we needed to find, I think the departures are listed around the baggage pick-up, but we were so focused on getting through we didn't see them.  So we took the tram around and eventually Thomas figured it out, but it was annoying that the tram stops don't have departure information right as you get on and off, you have to go upstairs to see the board with all the information.  And after around 20 hours of traveling, I was losing patience.

We made it to the gate, after doing security again.  Our layover was four hours, I wanted a cushion in case of random delays, but we had plenty of time to sit and rest and eat some McDonalds.  It was crazy to just sit and people-watch.  I've never seen so many leg tattoos in my life, is that a thing now?  And on all ages, genders, etc.  Fascinating.  The plane from Chicago to Columbia was super tiny, just one seat on the left and two on the right.  Benjamin totally lost it on that flight, and I snapped at the flight attendant which she told me I couldn't hold him in the single seat in case of a loss of cabin pressure.  Ooooh I was steamed, I was exhausted and cranky and just wanted to get away from the crying beast.  I apologized to her as we got off the plane, I felt so bad.  One upside was the flight was mercifully short, they were late getting to the gate but made up the time and we arrived on schedule.

It was great to get into the Columbia airport and see my parents and Thomas's parents.  Despite being awake for an unholy number of hours I felt reinvigorated and so glad to be on "home turf".  My parents loaned us their car, as the Volvo we were going to mooch (from my brother) had broken down on their way to pick us up.  We're still waiting to hear the status on that one.  I feel bad making my parents survive with just one car, but they say it's okay.  Thanks, parents!

Benjamin excited about new Lego toys in the hotel room.

The weekend was low-key, and jetlag was pretty bad at first.  We're still working on getting Benjamin to sleep in later, but 7am is better than 2am.  And I've somehow become a morning person, wide awake hours before I would normally be conscious.  We've eaten some excellent food, Chickfila and Zaxby's and Taco Bell and Rush's, and today we ate at a BBQ buffet.  Oh man, it was almost criminally good and I felt like I would have new stretch marks afterward. 

We've been to Walmart and Target, and I was expecting to feel overwhelmed, but I honestly don't think I'm having any reverse culture shock.  It's just a profound feeling of gratitude to be in a place where I can brush my teeth with the tap water and everyone obeys traffic lanes and lights, and I don't feel like I stand out as a foreigner.  I love being back home. 

Playing with Dad's old cars and trucks.

Sacked out, with lots of owls.

We went to the Riverbanks Zoo today, which is amazing and really nice.  We only spent a couple hours but it was really fun and Benjamin had a pretty good time.  We fed the giraffes but Benjamin was really scared and got freaked out.  But later on, he said he liked it.  He's been having a good time hanging out with Grandma and Granddad, Thomas's parents.  They have lots of toys, and he especially loves the boxes of toy cars that belonged to Thomas and Priscilla.

Zoo time!

Thomas feeding a giraffe.

Benjamin liked the giraffes, until the feeding part.

Get me out of here!


Sweet angel.

That's it so far!  Back in a few...


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Not What I Expected

Warning: this will include mention of the female anatomy.  So, watch out.

Today I had my 28 week appointment with the doctor.  It's a little early, my last one was only about three weeks ago, but I needed to get cleared to travel and it's always nice to have that reassurance of the baby moving around onscreen.  However the last visit showed that the placenta is very low, and this visit he measured how close it is to the cervix: one centimeter.  This doesn't immediately impact plans for delivery, but if it doesn't move upwards in the next few weeks, the odds having a c-section greatly increase because it's dangerous to go into labor with the placenta so low. 

This freaks me out no end, Benjamin came three weeks early but I was able to deliver "normally".  I was just worrying about breastfeeding and getting my pump in time, etc, but now this adds a whole other level of stress.  Please pray for me, that I will trust God and put every potential outcome in His hands.  He is in complete control, as much as I like to think I have a say in things I can't change what will happen.  I can only give it all to Him and pray that everything will work out so I can delivery safely and have a healthy baby at the end.  Which is obviously the main goal, whether or not I can nurse or deliver naturally shouldn't be such a concern, but those things do matter.  So, please pray alongside me that the placenta will migrate upwards and everything will be safe and healthy and uneventful.

Part of what upsets me about this, from my cursory internet research (terrible idea, I know) is that this can be caused by having a D&C.  Since Benjamin was born vaginally and with no complications, other than being three weeks early, I just assumed this pregnancy would be fine and I would deliver normally, possibly even without an epidural.  But I'm forced to recall the sadness and despair of my miscarriage, and subsequent procedure.  And thinking that might force a c-section and tough recovery, and basically all hope lost of breastfeeding, is pretty sad right now.  (Compounded by hormones.  Yikes.)

Anyway.  This is a downer of a post.  Please pray, and thanks for bearing with me.  I know I'm incredibly blessed to be pregnant and have the hope of a new little boy to bring home.  I thank God for His incredible goodness and hope for continued and unearned grace and mercy.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Random Pictures

After much rumination, I've come to the following conclusion- Fast & Furious 6 was less entertaining than Fast 5.  Consider yourself edified.

Thomas and I got to check out the new cinema at Taj Mall last weekend, Emy graciously babysat so we could catch a movie and eat dinner afterward.  The movie theater is very nice and new, only opened about a month ago.  There's even a VIP theater where you get butler service and each seat is basically an easy chair.  Maybe sometime we'll check it out.  I still like the Baraka Mall theater, but it's so easy to just park at Taj, watch a movie, then have tons of restaurant options.  We got a quick meal at Fatburger then walked around with our shakes for a while.  It's so nice to have date afternoons occasionally.

I went to a baby shower for a friend Saturday morning, it was really great to hang out with some ladies and eat brunch and have fun.  It's weird that I'm basically in the third trimester now, and baby is super wiggly and active.  I'm extremely grateful for this child and am praying that traveling to and from the US will be safe and complication-free, and that this baby will arrive at 40 weeks.  (Benjamin came right at 37.)

Attempting to dress up for the shower.  26ish weeks.

Mixed signals at the restaurant.

Benjamin's new sunglasses finally arrived, after being misdelivered at first.  The sun is so intense here and it's always sunny, it's probably good for him to have a little something over his eyes.

Best baby in the world.

We're so excited to be leaving for SC soon, I'm dreading the flight and ensuing jetlag, but it will be so worth it to visit with family and friends.  Please still be praying for Thomas's dad, for successful treatments, healing, and strength.