Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Final Thoughts

Farewell 2008!
I started to write a heartfelt post about what 2008 has meant to me and how it was truly one of the best years of my life...but I got a little lost in my own words for some reason. I am just not in a creative mood but feel like typing.
Being that it is December 31st at almost 8pm, I decided to just copy this from a friend (thanks Jess):

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
Got pregnant, hiked in southern Costa Rica, took a 12 seater plane across Costa Rica, bought a new car.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I do not make resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
YES! Everyone. Anne Marie, Jody, Jaime, and a newer friend, Jessica.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, not close to me but I did attend two funerals.

5. What countries did you visit?
Costa Rica and the Bahamas

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Confidence in my job/career path.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
July 9th- our courthouse "wedding day" and Dave Matthews.
August 9th- our actual wedding day...actually, the whole vacation will be etched in my mind forever.
September 16th- the day I found out I was pregnant.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Planning a destination wedding and learning how to handle certain conflict with family.

9. What was your biggest failure?
My workout schedule, post positive pregnancy test. Fail. Big fail.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Besides morning sickness, no.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Probably the trip to Costa Rica that Dustin and I bought collectively.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband's, for putting up with me through a lot of hormones and the way he handled a delicate situation.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I would like to vent and answer this honestly, but this is the interwebs and it can't be a safe thing to do.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Wedding trip, savings.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Costa Rica, as always, and getting pregnant...well, excited and scared shitless.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
"Steady As We Go" Dave Matthews

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier
b) thinner or fatter? way fatter ;-)
c) richer or poorer? richer, actually

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Volunteer work.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Complain about issues that will never change.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With family and some friends, eating a lot.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Yes, with my unborn daughter.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Dancing With the Stars (don't laugh at me)

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No. I don't hate anyone.

24. What was the best book you read?
I didn't actually finish a book this year, as sad as that is.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?, thanks to my fifs. LOVE it.

26. What did you want and get?
The fact that my dog stayed healthy, despite his grim diagnosis. So far, so good.

27. What did you want and not get?
Nothing, really.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I don't think I saw any movie from this year! Oh wait! Juno!

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 32 and my mom just had a little dinner party for me. I had just found out that I was pregnant 4 days before that!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Staying in Costa Rica for about another month and seeing more of my friends and family.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
I don't even know what this means.

32. What kept you sane?
My husband, my friends and my parents.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
"Fancy"? Wow, that's a word that I don't use too often.
I always "fancy" looking at Matthew McConahay.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Probably the issue of gay marriage. I won't get into it but the fact that Amendment 2 was widely accepted in Florida severely disappointed me.

35. Who did you miss?
My grandma. Always. She has been gone for 6 years now and it still doesn't feel "normal" without her.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Well, I actually met her in 2007 but we became close friends in '08. Tiffany. I love her and her friendship has been priceless this year.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
To not have such high expectations for other people. They do not live in my world, they live in their own.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
It's more like the whole song, "Steady As We Go" by Dave Matthews. of course:

I'll walk halfway around the world
Just to sit down by your side
And I would do most anything, girl
To be the apple of your eye
Well troubles, they may come and go
But good times, they're the gold
And if the road gets rocky, girl
Just steady as we go

Any place you wanna go
Know I'll be next to you
If it's treasure, baby, you're looking for
I'll search the whole world through
I know troubles, they may come and go
But good times, they're the gold
So if the road gets rocky, girl
Just steady as we go

When the storm comes down you shelter me
When I don't say a word and you know exactly what i mean
In the darkest times, oh, you shine on me
You set me free and keep me steady as we go

So if your heart wrings dry, my love
I will fill your cup
And if your load gets heavy, girl
I will lift you up
Well troubles, they may come and go
But good times be the gold
So if the road gets rocky, girl
Just steady as we go

Friday, December 26, 2008

The last week of 2008...

I cannot believe that Christmas has come and gone already. I have to admit that I'm actually excited for the holidays to be over this year. I love them and all but they're a lot of work and I'm just really excited to be closer to Lily's arrival (yes, that is still her name and yes, we decided to go with the traditional spelling).

Today begins the beginning of my 19th week of pregnancy. I'm almost half way there, which is so amazing and time seems to be going so fast. By the way, if anyone is doing the math, pregnancy is 40 weeks, which means 10 months, not 9. I don't know whoever said that pregnancy is 9 months and why we were misled for so long. It's 10. Stop the lying.

I'm feeling good. I get tired easily but other than that, nothing to complain about, for once! I am really liking this part of pregnancy and quickly forgetting about how miserable I was in the first trimester. My friends told me I would start to feel this way but I did not believe them until now.

I can feel her moving more and more everyday. The best way to explain it is that it feels like muscle twitches in my lower abdomen. I have only felt it on the outside a few times, which is so weird and great at the same time. My friend Tiffany was the first to feel her kick on Christmas night. Dustin hasn't even felt it yet!
Not a huge change from a week ago, size wise but I'm definitely showing now:

Our Christmas was very nice. Dustin and I did Christmas Eve dinner here for 14 of us. I was exhausted and I've decided that my mother made entertaining look way too easy throughout my life. I really don't enjoy being the hostess but it was still nice and Dustin did a lot of the cooking (surprise, surprise), which was great.
Christmas day we went over to the in-laws for lunch, opened gifts and then went to my parents for dinner, just the four of us and then went over to our friends house for dessert . It was all nice and quiet and relaxing.

As always, everyone was so generous, especially my husband. He is amazing. He painted me this picture for my office of one of our wedding photographs, where we're standing on Manuel Antonio beach in between two giant palms. He won't let me take a picture of the painting because it isn't done yet but it's gorgeous. Here is the photo he painted it from:

Here are some of my other favorite gifts:

Dustin had this made for me. It's a sapphire, which represents me, and two emeralds, one for him and one for Lily. Let's hope she doesn't stay in until June!

An Eco watch, also from Dustin.

My mom and dad made this memory box for me. They filled it will all of my childhood things, from birth until college. It was one of the coolest gifts I've ever received. There are old report cards, letters I wrote, craft projects I made, my baby book...just an overall great idea. My dad is working on a home video to go along with it.

It was a great Christmas, for sure. I booked another trip to Costa Rica for September, which was Dustin's big gift from me. He was so excited, he cried.

That's about it for this week. Bring it on 2009.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sugar and spice and everything nice...

We'll see about that!

It's a girl!
This picture was taken from my detailed ultra sound, taken at the end of my 17th week. She is sucking on her thumb!

We're so excited! I knew it was a girl. I just had an instinct the whole time. Dustin is so excited to have a girl on the way, it makes me tear up to think about his reaction. I will spare you the rest of the ultra sound pictures. Most of them are very alien like and they even scare me.

Yes, we did find out the sex earlier than we expected to, but not without a little stress to go with the excitement. I'm going to tell this story more as a public service announcement, not as a "poor us, it was so stressful" story. I think pregnant women to be should know our experience. This is a long story so get a snack.

At my 12 week appointment, in the beginning of November, I was handed a lab form on our way out of the office by the nurse. Mind you, this was right after our first ultra sound and we were on cloud nine because everything was looking good. The nurse said to me, "Here, take this to your local lab between the dates of December 7th and the 17th. It's for genetic testing". Ok, I thought, this must be some routine test that everyone does. I never thought to question it due to the nurse's blase attitude and the mere fact that she said "take this". To me, that meant "do this". I will explain why I told this part of the story later.

As a quick side note, I have been very careful this whole pregnancy of not over researching. I have not dove into any books, googled anything at length or called my doctor more than once with questions. I just know for my own mental health that I need to keep the research to a minimum.

That being said, I went ahead, on the 8th of December, and took the lab form to complete the test, as instructed. A week went by and I did not hear anything from the doctor's office. I assumed that no news was good news but I still thought it to be very weird that they didn't call me either way. On the 16th of December, eight days after I took the test, I called to check on the results...

The nurse practitioner called me a couple hours later, about 2pm, as I'm walking into the mall with my mom to Christmas shop, to inform me that "there was a positive on your test. It was for Down's Syndrome".

I couldn't breathe. I couldn't walk. I couldn't talk. I had to sit down.

Now, she followed these statements up with "please do not worry. 98-99% of the time, these are false positives and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the baby". This did not make me feel any better for some reason. I was already in tears and immediately left the mall, as quickly as I had just walked in. I was directed by the nurse on the phone to come in at 11am the next day for an ultrasound to check for "markers" for Down's. I had so many questions, but I couldn't speak to ask them.

My only saving grace at that moment is an old high school friend of mine, Joni. Joni is two weeks ahead of me in pregnancy and we have been keeping in touch through Facebook. She JUST went through this same exact scare two weeks ago. I immediately thought of her because after her ultrasound, they said that her baby looked just fine. Although I hate that she went through all of that anxiety and worry, at that moment when I was talking to the nurse about my "positive test", I found comfort in Joni's story. That was the only thing that was giving me comfort.

As everyone can imagine, the rest of that day was filled with so many tears, fear, anxiety, stress, deep breathing, phone calls, emails...I was looking for any and all reassurance that this could turn out ok. I even started trying to find all of the wonderful things there would be about having a Down's baby. I logically knew that it was not the worst thing in the world, but at the same time I had an animalistic response to protect this baby and I so wanted it to be ok.

The next day, we had the hour long detailed ultra sound. They looked at every aspect of the baby, the heart, kidneys, bones, gallbladder, etc. It was amazing. She is gorgeous already. Bonus: she did not have one single marker for Down's Syndrome. Not even anything questionable. The genetic specialist that preformed the ultra sound reduced my risk significantly from 1/158 to 1/300. She has pretty great odds of being completely healthy. And by the way, the fact that the test was "positive" really just means that there is an increased risk just by the make up of my blood chemistry. The doctor said that I could do the same test again and it could come out completely normal. Ummm, ok? Why do the fucking thing then? Ugh.

After a lot of talking to friends and family, it became clear to me that the blood test I had taken was OPTIONAL. It was not mandatory and come to find out, a lot of women opt not to take it, due to 1.) most would not terminate the pregnancy and 2.) these false positives are out of control. Turns out that so many people I know had a false positive. I was so mad at myself for not researching this more. I wish I would have never taken that test. This baby would be perfect in our eyes no matter what. Why go through this worry??

Moral of the story: AFP genetic testing= bullshit. My two cents, do not take the fucking thing.

Last night, we celebrated our healthy little girl by going out on our first date since I've been pregnant. Yes, it has been 4.5 months since we've gone out on an actual date, sad I know. Here's pictures to prove it (the proof is in the fact that I do not have sweats on and Dustin is wearing a shirt):

Her name at the time of this blog entry:
Lilly Ocean Nichols

We love you already baby girl. Merry Christmas to us. You were the best Christmas present I've ever received.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

17 Things About Me...

...that you might not care about learning but I'm going to tell you anyway. I was tagged by one of my freaky internet friends to do this, so I will. Talking about yourself is good for the soul...right?!

1.) I have a baby blanket that my grandma made for me when I was about two. I still sleep with it. I usually keep it in my pillowcase. There is basically nothing left to it and I cannot quite pinpoint why I cannot get rid of it but there is a large possibility that I will have it until it disintegrates. And no, I do not bring it with me when I travel and I can sleep just fine without it.

2.) When I was in high school, I was on a dance team called the Dazzlerettes. We were a small group of juniors and seniors that danced for community events like parades, festivals and charity events. I sucked terribly at dancing and I really never knew why I made the team but I had a blast doing it and I miss dancing like that.

3.) I have always had a passion for writing. Nothing in particular but I always had a knack for it and excelled at research papers, etc., in college. Sometimes I wish I would had pursued it as a career but then I remind myself that deadlines make me stress out so it would have not been a great option for me.

4.) My degree is actually in Social Work and I graduated when I was 21. I'm very proud of my college years, mainly because of my volunteer work. I volunteered an insane amount of hours to domestic violence shelters and the department of juvenile justice. I am not proud of abandoning the field but financially, it was impossible to stay.

5.) I worked at Hooters for two years in college and I am actually proud of that too, as self centered and shallow as that sounds. It was a really fun job and I met some great girls there. I was also friends with all of the guys in the band Creed because their girlfriends worked with me. That was my brush with fame and my "name drop".

6.) I had my first restaurant job when I was 12, washing dishes (by hand) one night a week at an Italian restaurant. That is when my love for restaurant work began and nine years later, I ended up waiting tables at that exact same location (under a different name), to compensate for my social worker salary.

7.) I am not a big fan of garlic. I find it too over powering.

8.) Before Dustin and I even started dating, I would walk by him at work (at that same restaurant mentioned above) just to try to smell him. I love his smell.

9.) Most people know this but for those who don't, I don't drink alcohol. I just don't like it. There isn't any bigger reason than that. I don't like the way it tastes. Not beer, not liquor, not wine. It's just not my thing. If I do have a drink, it has to be really sweet and I won't drink more than half of it. I have not been drunk since I was 15.

10.) I am an only child and even my extended family is very small. I am the youngest out of all of my first and second cousins. For these reasons (and more, obviously), I am very close with my parents.

11.) I love, love, love college football (primarily FSU, of course). I could sit on the couch all day on any given Saturday and watch games. I am into football WAY more than Dustin...but I hate watching NFL.

12.) I am abnormally disturbed by vomiting, whether it's myself, someone else or even on T.V. I have even had panic attacks if I see someone vomit, as if I am afraid that something terrible is going to happen to that person. I don't know where this fear orginated. I am extremely bothered by it and I don't know how I will deal with my sick child.

13.) I love the smell of coconut, pineapple, Christmas trees, coffee and eucalyptis. Not all together.

14.) I once "sprained" my ankle when I was a freshman in high school. I realllllly milked it because the guy I had a crush on had a broken leg and I wanted to be on crutches too so I could have something to talk to him about. I could have gone without the crutches.

15.) I'm a homebody. Although I like going out to be social, I love coming home, putting on sweats and curling up on the couch to watch a movie or screw around online.

16.) Although I love certain aspects of my job, I miss being a waitress. If someone told me I could make the same money as I do now waitressing or managing a small mom and pop restaurant, I would go back in a heartbeat.

17.) I hate going to the movies, cooking, getting gas, folding laundry, painting my toe nails, and yard work!

Ok, so that was technically more than 17 things. I got a little carried away. At least no one can say they don't know anything about me!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ahhhhh, it's that time of year...

The end of the year always gets crazy, work wise, for me and this year is no exception. It's been pretty nice to be busy, especially since my energy level is better. I always like to be busy and have projects. I have a lot of work related challenges coming up and although I am a little nervous about all of it, I haven't been challenged in this job in quite some time. I think it will be a great thing. Let's put it this way, I will MAKE it a great thing. Please take note of my overly optimistic tone about my job. I've decided that in these uncertain economic times, one can never be too optimistic. My mantra is "be thankful you have a job".

I just came to the realization that it is almost the second week in December and I should really start Christmas shopping, so I did. I didn't get very far but I always like Christmas shopping. Shopping, in general, has always been therapeutic for me, even if I just go and spend $10. The biggest shopping related annoyance during this time of the year is the crabby people that seem to be on some miserable mission. You know the ones, with the scowls on their faces and they usually tend to leave their cart in the middle of the aisle so you can't get around them. Yep, a sign of the season, for sure. Their roboticism tends to bother me and I feel sorry for them. A friend of mine suggested to her husband that they go to their local mall on Christmas Eve and stop these crabby people to give them a hug and say "Merry Christmas". I thought it was a fantastic idea.

So, this week is my 16th week of pregnancy! We had our monthly check up on Thursday and everything was great. We got to listen to the baby's heart beat, which was 153bpm (or 'one fitty tree' , as Dr. Cohen says). I'm still measuring a week ahead of time and my belly proves it!

Now that I'm feeling better, my goal is to start some sort of exercise regimen again, even if it's just walking 3-4 times a week. I just feel like part of my lack of energy has to do with my low level of activity. We'll see how that goes, but that's the plan! We have our "big ultrasound" to find out the sex on January 7th. I'm guessing a girl for some reason.

Here is the belly picture for the week:

Bear always wants to know what's going on!

And for shits and giggles, here are a couple of Thanksgiving pictures:

Other than all of that, we'll be decorating our tree tomorrow, which is always fun for us...well, for me! I don't know why but every year when Dustin digs out the Christmas boxes and I start going through them , there are always things I forgot that we have and also things that I wonder why we have. Every year. It's only a year, not 5 years. Why is it always such a surprise?