Little Acorn

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Friday, September 28, 2012

maternity photos: the awkward and the awestruck (29 weeks)

My amazing cousin (practically sister) Jeanann Wilkinson of J Wilkinson Co Fine Art Photography was supposed to come up this weekend to take some belly shots. I debated even doing this because I'm not really into those maternity photos that highlight the overdone hands-making-hearts-on-bellies (sorry to those who like it!). Or worse... those super-inappropriate-and-awkward-carwreck-status-can't-look-away photos like the ones I found here. What.

Oh my GOD! I just went to the pregnancy page on Awkward Family Photos and have to share some of these. I am cracking up so bad a little pee came out! Snort.

"She didn't want to keep them waiting."


"What about me?"

 "Yes, now there is."

Giggle. But luckily Jeanann's work is no where close to these scary gestures. No, her award-winning talent is right up my alley--completely natural, dewy, real, and beautiful. And that's all I wanted, something to capture the time when acorn was so tiny and a part of me, when I reassuringly felt her all day with me, when she was mine and mine alone. I thank God every day for this blessing, this resolution of suffering, this magic. And I want her to know just how much we pined over her and how much we already achingly love her.

But of all the rare days to rain in Austin, of course it has to be Saturday! So we have to reschedule. Boo. Nevertheless, it got me looking around for some photos I was inspired by, those shots that have this lovely, glowing, natural quality to them. Here are a few super-sized inspirations...and they are not awkward in the slightest!

 Pregnant Diane Keaton (from the film The Family Stone)

Photography by Kristy Carlson featured here.

Photography by EPlove featured here.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

nesting like a mother wren (29 weeks)

Good Lord, this nesting urge is strong! Over the past week I have been unable to concentrate on anything else at home (and, er, a bit a work) other than getting the nursery prepped. I was having a hard time hunting down bargains at thrift stores because, frankly, I sometimes don't want to settle on a nasty old glider just because it's cheap. Snob? Well, not necessarily. I love re-purposing and upcycling things, using old pieces with meaning and charm. And I'm all about a bargain. But for some reason, I have this feeling, this urge, that because we worked so hard to get our little acorn I just want the few things I can control to be perfect for her. It's a compulsion almost and I have to watch it because if life has taught me anything is that nothing is what you expect, nothing turns out how you thought it would, and life is messy, making perfect a dangerous illusion.

But for what little I can control at this point, I want to be satisfied with the outcome. And after obsessing over Craigslist items, and seeing nothing but cringe-worthy gliders, odd dingy quilts, and worn-out rugs I finally got fed up and said screw it. I buckled down, did my best online research, and (knock on wood) came up with some fab pieces that I hope we'll really enjoy using in acorn's nursery. 

White Crinkle Quilt and Shams 
It was on my radar to look for a simple white quilt and shams for the guest bed in the nursery. I assume white linens can be pretty tricky with a booty-exploding little one, but I kept thinking how relatively simple white should be to clean (wait, can you safely bleach linens around a baby? ugh, maybe not). Well, I also thought that it will allow the crowded room to feel fresh and open and it will keep the focus on acorn's vibrant crib (and away from the fact that it's a guest bedroom!). I happened to come across this simple and reasonably priced white crinkle quilt set from my fav, Target, and stopped the search dead in its tracks. I ♥ Target for making it easy!
 Golden Euro Shams
I also found these yummy buttery Euro shams. They should pair nicely with the yellow-striped roman shades and the vibrant floral accent pillows (material shown below). It's hard to match things up over the internet, though, so who knows...these may be going back.

Babyletto Nara Glider
Ugh, gliders. I did some seriously in-depth research on gliders. And it wasn't pretty. I pulled another nerdy get-out-my-little-spreadsheet maneuver to compare cost, size, and comfort for tall people (surprisingly, most of these things aren't made with the tall parent in mind). I finally settled on a Babyletto Nara Glider in Ecru Suede. It's supposed to be pretty comfortable for tall people with its larger dimensions and has a reasonable price tag. Well, relatively speaking, considering I wanted something on the stylish side, something like the gorgeous Luca glider. But in the end, I couldn't justify Luca's steep price and shorter stature, so I'm hoping (crossing fingers) that the cheaper, larger Nara is as comfy as people say it is.

Here it is in a fabulous raspberry-and-mint nursery I found on this blog. I love how it has sleek, modern lines, but still has an overall classic feel. Plus, it doesn't look like nursery furniture, so hopefully, we can transition it into another room down the road and get our money's worth out of it. What's funny is that the customer-written reviews say to not shy away from the luxe white color because it's stain-resistant and breast milk is the same color, making it a breeze to clean up. But they forgot to mention puke! Or, God forbid, poop! Hmmm...I'll just keep repeating to myself that it's stain resistant...

 Dahlia Rug
I also had a hard time figuring out a rug. Anything that inspired me (like this amazing golden wood-grain rug) was frustratingly out of stock, so I kept looking. And looking. We're talking hours of obsession. Scary, actually, how my focus would not relent! I was starting to become desperate, but was still stubbornly hanging on to the notion that I'd know it once I saw it. When I finally came across this Dahlia Rug, I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew we could have a winner. I like how the dahlias mimic the same shape in the floral accent fabric above and the fact that it's a subtle gray and white, not a crazy yellow or another accent color, so this neutral can easily transition into another color scheme if/when the yellow-gray combo gets tiresome.

So there you have it. I think (oh God, I hope!) my nesting obsession has come to an end. At least for now. Whew, what a load off! Now I just need to...oh no...paint the old bedside tables and my Jenny Lind chest from when I was a baby, paint the trim, put up the accessories and shelves, organize the closet, wash baby clothes, buy baby toiletries, install the window treatments, and assemble the lovely bedding my sweet MIL is making for little acorn. You know, just a few more things...eek!

Monday, September 24, 2012

yoga for the body and mind (29 weeks)

So after all that useless inward thinking last week I decided to get off my booty and go to a yoga class. A few of my friends had recommended it, but I didn't think much of it at the time. When I realized my hips and back could probably benefit from all that stretching, plus it would get me in a better mind set, I tentatively and nervously showed up at the prenatal class and ended up LOVING IT! 

I got a kick out of it at first. It was all a bunch of waddling pregnant ladies who were about to pop, awkwardly making their swollen way to the floor for stretching poses. Some of them (including me) were having a hard time getting back up as if they were up-ended turtles, legs flailing and carapaces rocking back and forth. It was also a forum to talk about pregnancy, about feelings and concerns and even fears. And we were led into a more peaceful presence by the dewy yoga teacher, who was quite lovely. She constantly reassured the pot-bellied crowd, making everyone feel at ease and talking about some of the pregnancy issues people may be having. It was a time for relaxation and gentleness and nurturing for the mothers-to-be. I may have balked at this endearing scenario in years past, but I went with the flow and soaked it all up with sponge-like determination. 

I actually couldn't wait to go again, to feel nurtured and mindful of the miracle growing in my belly and so I set aside some time again on Saturday to go to a second class. But something happened there I did not expect. As I was stretching my torso towards the wall, I happened to lean my forehead against its coldness and my eyes started to moisten. I realized that I am here. At this very moment, I am able to do this. I am able to nurture this growing child, to wrap my hands around her home, and to comfort and stretch and relax the body that has disappointed and failed me so many times in the past. 

I became wholly appreciative of my surroundings and within. This gratitude escapes me sometimes, leaves me, hovers well above, and I quickly forget the preciousness it exudes. But I left there with a warmth so tender and bright again and floated all the way back home on the thermals of the miracle inside.

Week 29
Shocker alert...I'm out of my pj's for once!

Friday, September 21, 2012

notes on a body (28 weeks)

You know, I really don't like this so-called social media we have at our disposal sometimes. It can be an amazing way to share joyful news, but it also can be quite detrimental. I used to cringe with lurching stomach after scrolling through nothing but baby announcements, photos, and parenting stories. Mind you, I was dealing with deep infertility issues, which scarred me to my inner core and it was often suffocating to be trapped by all that scented happiness.

I sometimes think about infertility as being such a narcissistic and abyssal endeavor. It feeds on you, closes in on you so tight until the only focus is on yourself, on how you are going to manage all the pregnant ladies in the office today, how everyone has a family but you, how life's not fair to you, how your ovaries didn't work again. It sucks you in, swallows you whole, and spits you out into vast nothingness. It viciously turns you inward and turns you against yourself.

So when you catch a break and your fertility treatments finally and shockingly work, you think you're never going to have those heartbreaking and selfish feelings again. That chapter is closed. It's still in your closet, but folded neatly away and tucked out of sight for good. There should be nothing but gratitude and sheer happiness and bubbly acceptance into the "club" from here on out. But that's not how the world works, is it?

Now I find myself comparing my body, my habits, and philosophies to these, er, "club members" as if I have entered into a new stage of craziness. I saw a picture on facebook of a woman I knew from high school who is two weeks behind me. She is petite and lovely, skinny as a rail, no  ounce of fat on her tiny backside, and had the cutest belly sticking straight out like a balloon stuffed in her shirt. I slowly turned my head, strained my neck, and attempted to peer over shoulder at my ever-widening booty. Resignedly returning my focus to that picture I thought, damn that girl looks amazing! And damn, how did my ass get so...HUGE? Ha. But in all seriousness, I have to admit it made me pretty sad to realize I'm probably not doing this pregnancy justice after wanting it so badly for so long.

Don't get me wrong. Overall, I try to be pretty healthy, safe, and sensible, while not being obsessive. I wouldn't dream of endangering my little one and I am very protective of her, but I wouldn't be honest with myself if I didn't doubt the way I have handled certain aspects of this pregnancy. Shockingly, sweets are my downfall, to my utter detriment actually. And I barely feel I have time or the energy for a long walk, let alone go to yoga, swimming, or God-forbid jogging. Shudder. So yes, my booty is competing with my belly. Yes, it is winning as if I'm about to deliver twins back there! And yes, I still have three months to go. Gulp.

Granted, I don't have the same genetic make-up as these women who only gain weight in their cute little bellies. I am predisposed to cellulitic thunder thighs, to nickel-hit ham hocks, regardless of what's in my uterus. And I concede that my body isn't built like other women in structure either. My 6'1" frame towers over my friends and hides little acorn pretty well in an extra long, smaller-bumped torso. It's just a completely different playing field for me in terms of proportion and shape so why even compare assets with these ladies? It's so trivial, so meaningless, so...narcissistic.

Obviously, I still have a lot of learning and letting go to do. I have to concede that it's still okay to enjoy this wondrous and miraculous pregnancy, even if that means not being the shape I'd like to be. I need to ignore these so-called trivialities and focus on being comfortable with my genetics, my body structure, my choices, and lifestyle. I need to balance being oppressively healthy with the sheer pleasure of sneaking a slice of naughty apple pie. And I need to widen my tunnel-vision from my belly to the rest of my neglected growing parts, to stop being so cruel to them and give them the same acceptance I have so eagerly bestowed upon acorn's home. After all, it's just a body. It's now just a vessel to bring our fighting miracle into the world. Nothing else should matter as long as acorn is doing her backstrokes and handstands in her pool of warmth and life. Man, I can't wait to meet this little Amazonian.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

of woodland rooms & creatures (28 weeks)

My mother and aunt came up to help me paint the nursery/guest bedroom on Saturday morning. We painted it a lovely, soft neutral gray. The color "stone" was, err, borrowed from Restoration Hardware's collection (can't go wrong with those swatches, man!) and put in a Sherwin-Williams low-VOC, one-coat professional paint (it was aaah-mazing). I wanted to surprise Ryan while he was out of town and he absolutely loved it when he came back and the room looked so fresh and prepped for lil' acorn. Luckily my trim was already a decent sour cream color, so we left well enough alone.

I have to say I am absolutely loving the crib we ended up getting. It was quite reasonable and has this vintage, sturdy, boutique look about it. Thanks, Stacey, for helping us find it! We got the changing table too, but that may have to be substituted for something more practical due to space issues. Note the adorable "woodland" themed play mat my sweet friend Kelly got for us! Our first gift and it was such a lovely surprise! Thank you, lady!

It's definitely more crowded in this room than I originally anticipated with the queen-sized guest bed, chest-of-drawers, and now a crib, changing table, and supposedly a glider. I should have known better, considering we have four big windows, two interior doors, one closet door, and one exterior door. Just no wall space! And yes, I have four doors in the nursery. Yes, one of them is actually a front door (thank you 1930's Austin architects!). Yes, I want two of them gone. Badly. And no, they're not going anywhere. Humph...

So we may need to consolidate furniture and opt to remove my beloved antique chest shown below. I mean, where the Hell is this so-called "glider" supposed to go? I don't think they had a glider requirement in centuries past. Nor a boppy? But they are nice to have around...

Anyway, I exerted myself too much with this small exercise and really tweaked my back, so the rest of my weekend was shot. I missed a good friend's boat party and was so bummed. Plus, I had to deal with a little devil in my roof, so the weekend was sheer exhaustion.

Our pest control guy set out a Havahart live trap for whatever had noisily found a home in our roof. I was convinced we had inherited an opossum. In my dreamy haze one night I could have sworn I glimpsed through sleep-crusted eyes a medium-sized mammal with a skinny tail shimmying down a tree near the window. And that could only be opossum, right? Rat-bastard more like it.

But no, I was definitely dreaming because it was not a docile little opossum we caught, but a mangy evil, pissed-off raccoon! The little bastard kept me up all Saturday night, screaming and flipping the cage. At least the beast was in the cage and not in my roof any more, but seriously! I was convinced the whole neighborhood was up watching the Kardashians at 4AM right along with me!

I had to wait for Ryan to get back to let him go because no where in those damned baby books does it even mention handling wild animals. Huh, wonder why? While I'm a certified wildlife biologist and wouldn't have hesitated sans-baby, I have to concede at the very least to this commonsensical restraint. Alright! No handling of wild, potentially rabid animals while pregnant! I get it!

I, however, couldn't resist making the pathetic creature at least a little more comfortable until Ryan could release him. So I made, er, "Rocky" some peanut butter and granola-topped apple slices and lovingly shoved the tasty morsels through the cage, in the rain, while he hissed, as he growled. I also made a tent for him so he could be sheltered from the downpour and sat there watching in anticipation as he got to work licking only the peanut butter and throwing away the apples...sigh, so typical. 

Call me an animal whisperer, a devoted nurturer, or just plain crazy, but I'm just not afraid of these snarly little guys. I understand how frightened and miserable he was and tried to make it manageable for a wild nocturnal creature to be trapped like a rat in the daylight. I felt like I was terrorizing him, invading on his little raccoon plans, regardless of whether they included destroying my roof. Simmer, Crazy!

By the time Ryan got home, Rocky was passed out from sheer exhaustion and a peanut butter-induced coma. Ryan wondered out loud whether he'd need his gun when he dropped the animal off and we both glanced back at the snoring beast and chuckled. Ryan and his friend, Charles, drove out to a wooded park and dropped off the ol' 'coon near the trees, where he proceeded to run straight back towards the guys, trying to hide beneath the truck. Poor, disoriented Rocky. After a few yelps (from the guys) and nudges to the raccoon, he ran off without so much as a wave or a thank you. Just a smirk and a hiss. Ungrateful rat-bastard.

Week 28  
The Belly Expansion Project finally arrives at the THIRD trimester! 
Can't believe my lucky stars!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

the name-off (27 weeks)

This past week, Ryan and I were obsessed with and exhausted by our newly invented name game. We were really getting stumped on baby names over the past few months. We'd each mention a name and we'd "put it on the list," but the list would keep growing and we'd still be stuck on our favorites. Mine was Stella Marion and I wasn't budging. Ryan's was either Sydney, Finley, or Rea and he was just as stubborn.

One night last week Ryan turned to me before going to bed and said, "you know, we really need to get a move on the naming thing. I'm starting to get antsy." We talked about it for a while, the reasons why we were getting stuck, that we weren't compromising on names we liked and instead, were holding onto names that the other couldn't get on board with. So Ryan came up with this brilliant plan to eliminate names in a bracket-type system similar to the college basketball play-offs during March Madness. Of course, we morphed it into a completely different beast, but you get the gist.

p.s. I'm really just recapping this for my own memory, my own curiosity, to recall how ridiculously sports-fanatical and scientific we tried to be when figuring out this name thing! ;D

The Name-Off
The rules: each person takes turns adding six names in Round 1 for a total of 12 names. Then each takes turns eliminating names until two are remaining in Round 1. This goes on for five additional rounds, collecting a total of 12 finalists. Each name is allowed only three entries throughout the entire six-round process. On the seventh round, those names that were entered in three times (basically, our favorites that kept being eliminated) went through the same process, narrowing this second-chance list down to two that also moved on to the finalist round. So the final round included now 14 names, 12 from the regular rounds and 2 from the eliminated-favorites round. We both had the opportunity to eliminate two additional names in Round 8, narrowing the finalist list to 10 names. Sounds complicated? Bored to tears? Let me tell you, rules were thrown in and out as we went along and it started to get pretty convoluted. Trust me, you're getting the seriously edited version, that's how nerdy we roll!

But...then we stopped being so scientific and we simply let fate decide (because that's cooler?). Out of the 10 finalist names, the first to be drawn three times out of a hat was the name. Period. Okay, so with nervous anticipation, we began. Low and behold, Nina was clearly Fate's choice, drawn first and hard, in an eerily persistent way, even after a "do-over." Just Nina-Nina-Nina. Okay, Fate! We get it! But we just looked at each other with uncertainty and said, "Uh, well? Should we keep going?"

Lauren was next to be drawn three times. We looked at each other again in stunned silence. Should we continue for a third time? I mean, obviously, these weren't the names either of us were rooting for. But to go against our let-Fate-decide rule and pick out the name anyway seemed to defeat the purpose. So no, it was over. The last 5 days of exhausting name-gaming came down to a shocked couple of underdogs that no one had even placed bets on. Well, if it's good enough for college b-ball, it's good enough for us. Ryan reluctantly resigned to the finality of it all and said, "okay, well, then Fate has decided. Our baby will be named Nina Lauren Greuter."

I'm still adjusting to the idea and I think it's growing on me each day. If I can't have Stella Marion, if Ryan can't have Sydney, Finley, or Rea, then this is a good compromise. Names we liked, but were not pining over. Names that were worthy enough to make it through our rigorous elimination system, but are the underdogs (and I love a good underdog story!). Names that start to grow on you with every utter of tongue. So I started mulling over the sound of it, saying it, researching the name in more detail. 

I mean, I have always been fond of the name Nina. It's one of my favorite singer's names, Nina Simone, and a nod to my talented and beautiful cousin, Jeanann, who has the same nickname and is like a sister to me. But as it turns out, Nina is so much more than that. It's as international and as ancient as you can get. Nina means "grace" in old-world Hebrew, "pretty eyes" in Hindu, and "little girl" in Spanish (although the ñ in niña is a completely different letter, people!). Nina also has Russian origins (nickname of Antonina) and is extremely popular in Germany (our heritage). In addition, Nina is an Incan goddess of fire and a Babylonian goddess of the ocean. My ears perked up when I heard ocean. Digging further, Nina was actually the Babylonian goddess of creation, typified in the "teeming life of the ocean." 

What. That's exactly how I described all the fertile couples I struggled to cope with way back in this post... "We are surrounded by a sea of fertile couples on this island. We are isolated with no movement forward, no progression, no growth, no real connection. Just standing there, frozen and high above the rest, looking out over the sea of families, an ocean teeming with life and growth, surrounded by something we can't drink or touch or even reach for, their happiness lapping at our shores and eroding our hearts."

What's even more interesting is that I found the "teeming..." phrase in the book, The Lost Language of Symbolism by Harold Bayley. Low and behold, I happened to look up and gasped. The chapter title that included Nina's description was entitled, The Star of the Sea, a discussion on the origins of the symbols surrounding the Virgin Mary when Christianity began. How ironic is that? The name that squeaked by, the name that Fate was so relentless in choosing, is intimately connected with the phrase I have grown to love, the phrase that had become so powerful to me, the same meaning for Stella Marion, my original favorite. This is wild! It makes me think that everything is connected somehow, always has been. And if you squint hard enough, those invisible fibers that keep us close and tied together, they are ever so slightly shimmering.

Very interesting indeed. The name Nina represents the very thing we wanted, the life we so desperately craved. She is the life, the family, the happiness, the fertile ocean, the abundance of growth, the place where my favorite creature, the leafy sea dragon lives (her Chinese zodiac is a water dragon!), our stella maris, our star of the sea. Everything. Is. Connected. 

She is our little girl, full of grace, with pretty eyes that light up like fire. I could spin this however cleverly I want, however much I need to justify it. But I also have to hand it to the name for its familiarity while being uncommon, for its ease of spelling and pronunciation, and for its ancient roots while still seeming fresh and new. It's surprisingly a good name with deep meaning to me now, with strength and character. So that's enough for now. That's proof enough to me. Nina's growing on me and I hope we can use it to name the little acorn who's growing inside me.

 Week 27