Book Review: The Witch’s Daughter

Paula Brackston’s The Witch’s Daughter had the unfortunate privilege to be the first book I read after I was pulled out of my Divergent coma. Not to say that this book was bad, but it was definitely no FourTris love affair …

The book first takes place in the 1600′s where Elizabeth Hawksmith and her family of farmers live a normal life in their small community in England. Her mother is a known “healer” in the community and aids those that are suffering and also assists as a midwife. The plague then strikes their village and wipes out many people in their community and fingers begin pointing that the plague is driven by witch craft. Elizabeth’s mother is fingered as a witch and is sentenced to death after she and Elizabeth are the only one’s in their family that survive the plague while many other people perished. Upon her death, Elizabeth’s mother tells her to seek out Gideon Masters – a peculiar man that lives in the woods, that can help her.

After her mother dies, Elizabeth does seek out Gideon who she finds out to be a Warlock set on making Elizabeth his lifelong companion. She then spends the next 300+ years of her life running from his grasp and in fear of her soul/life being taken by Gideon and his evil ways.

The book moves from time period to time period and takes the reader on Elizabeth’s voyage of re-defining herself and making a new life when she can, all on the heals of Gideon who disguises himself in pursuit of her. Sometimes raunchy and disturbing, I think the author did a good job of developing Elizabeth’s character but failed at providing back story to Gideon and his motivations. It also wraps up pretty quickly at the end with minimal explanation of what eventually happens to Elizabeth or Gideon. It’s an easy read with some rough chapters to get through – in terms of the actions that Gideon’s character partakes in. So, if you’re game for a wild and raucous ride, you might want to give this novel a chance.

3 Hour Glucose Tests Are For the Birds …

This past weekend I had to take a 3 hour glucose test since I failed my first one. All pregnant women take a glucose test to monitor how their body handles sugar and to determine if there’s a risk for gestational diabetes which can cause a boatload of issues during pregnancy including an increased weight for baby called “macrosomia” which can lead to child obesity and risk of type 2 diabetes for your newborn … no one wants that and it’s good to track how your body’s blood glucose is processing while there’s still time to adjust your diet or take medication, if needed. Mom’s pregnant with 1 baby usually have their first glucose screen between 24-28 weeks but like all things – if you’re pregnant with multiples, you need to have the screen earlier. Mine was scheduled for my 20th week and was a non-fasting test. You go to the doctor’s office, down a nasty super sugary drink and wait an hour to have your blood drawn. No news is good news and I thought I was in the clear until the next afternoon when I received a call telling me that my glucose was 164 and I needed to come in for the 3 hour long test. Bummer.

I scheduled by 3 hour appointment for Saturday and dragged JP along with me. I was really nervous and worried leading up to the appointment because no one wants diabetes and the fact that it doesn’t just affect me but also affects our girls made me even more nervous. We arrived a little early for our appointment (as usual) and quickly checked in – I wanted to down that nasty sugar drink as soon as possible. This time I had to fast so I was starving and knew that I wouldn’t be able to eat until that afternoon. We checked in and had a seat and quickly saw a lot of other patients start to funnel in after us which was strange because the office is usually quiet during our normal visits. One of the ladies behind us was there for a weekly MRSA swab which is insane … and she was pregnant.

They did my first blood draw as soon as I got there and then gave me the choice of lemon lime or fruit punch glucose juice. Both are nasty choices. But the lemon lime last time tasted too much like flat sugary sprite so I opted for the fruit punch and guzzled it down. I was pleased to learn that I only had to drink 1 of the drinks and not 1 every hour. They then drew my blood every hour for three more hours. To say my poor little veins went through the ringer is an understatement. The three hours went by fast, though, and I think it’s because my lovely wife accompanied me to the appointment. We read our books/magazines and chatted most of the wait time which made time go by much quicker. I’m happy to report  that I passed the three hour test, though!! I’m extremely relieved and excited about that! They said I may be retested again at 28 weeks but we will just see what the doctor wants to do as I move further along in my pregnancy. High five for no gestational diabetes!!

nursery progress ... the purge

nursery progress … the purge

On Sunday, we woke up to some beautiful weather. It was warm and sunny earlier in the day – so we woke up, had some breakfast and then both of us seemed to be in the mood to clean our apartment. I think we are starting the “nesting phase”. JP hit the nursery and cleaned out the closet and just purged the room. I hit our bedroom and did the same thing, mainly focused on dusting and gutting all of the clothes that needed to be cleaned and put away from the winter season. I also scrubbed my bathroom but had to stop after about 95% of the way through scrubbing the tub because my wrists were hurting. We still have a ways to go but are getting there … I can’t wait until the nursery furniture is all put together and in it’s place! It’s crazy how priorities and activities take such a huge change when you’re pregnant. We are so focused on our girls’ arrival in the next few months that all of our weekend activities usually revolve around them or preparing for them. We are so excited!

That’s a Wrap on Week 20!

We are getting spoiled with the weather today and tomorrow – yes, Spring has finally Sprung in Chicagoland and we may get to see the mid-70s this Saturday! What! I’m excited.

I just finished Week 20 of my pregnancy and I think the babies had an overnight growth spurt. My belly has been sore and I’ve been pooped all day … it gets like that every few weeks, especially when the girls are adding some length to their frames.

I’m still the outcast at prenatal yoga since I’m the only one that is totes down with a planned c-section delivery. Our doctor recommended it (profusely) since I’ll be a first time mom and because one of the girls is breech. We were told that unless I go into labor early, the girls will be in this world by my 37th and a half week. I’m absolutely fine with that and probably would prefer a c-section delivery because as much as 12 hours of hard labor sounds amazing, it does not sound amazing that I have to safely get two little lady turtles out of me. Plus, what if the epidural wears off. Nightmare. (not to say that you can’t deliver naturally and it be amazing … it’s just not my preferred cup of tea)

I’ve had some mini-panic attacks this week with JP has had to calmly “talk me off a ledge.” It’s just that with 16 weeks until the girls are here, we have a ton of stuff to do and plan for … and it’s hitting me hard. From finishing the nursery, to finding a pediatrician, to ordering a breast pump, to adding the girls to our health insurance and about a billion other things we have to do – it’s catching up with me. I know we will get there and we have plenty of time to continue prepping and working on things, but there’s a lot to do.

I’m excited for our twins to arrive but some days I’m SUPER excited. Like I just want to hold them and meet them now. I realize now is a bit unrealistic as they are not even a pound yet … but I just can’t wait until they come into the world and complete our little family.

We are still waiting to find out if I’ll be on a modified bed rest starting in week 24. That’s coming really fast and I’m not excited if I have to go on it. So we will see. Our OB has brought up bed rest a few times but her colleague from the same practice told me that I might not have to go on it. She said it can sometimes have the adverse impact on a mother than not being on bedrest. Only time will tell on that, eh? It’ll be a pretty lonely summer if I’m stuck at home. Have any of you had to go on bed rest? What did you do to pass the time?

 

Gender Reveal

I’m excited to share that our twins are:

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We had our 20 week ultrasound over the weekend and were able to see all of the anatomy of the twins – the technician checks everything from their growth, to their bones, to their internal organs and make sure everything is in tip-top shape. One of the most memorable moments of the 20 week ultrasound is of course, the peek at baby’s gender (for those of us that want to know!). JP and I have been dying to find out – along with our families – so we were super eager to see what our little turtles are. JP has been calling them turtles since we first got pregnant and it kinda stuck. I hope they enjoy that because I’m pretty sure they will be “the turtles” even when they are grown adults! :)

Since our appointment was bright and early on a Saturday – we were riding the baby high all day long. Of course, we couldn’t wait to share the news with our families and closest friends that our turtles were both “lady turtles” and instead of doing a big Facebook announcement – opted for an Instagram pic (do you follow me? @shlee528) instead.

We are over the moon and so excited and have already talked about how fun having two girls will be! 17 more weeks until we get to meet these pretty ladies!

Finding Your Yogi

This blog has kind of turned into a baby blog – my apologies – that’s my life right now. Hopefully, you still find it all very entertaining :)

I had my first prenatal yoga class on Wednesday night after work. I signed up about a week ago to help with stretching, preparing for birth, exercise, and to help alleviate some of the back pain and stuff I’ve been feeling. Growing babies are no joke and the havoc they are wreaking on my body are just the beginning. I’m hoping that weekly yoga classes paired with chiropractor visits and back massages will help this mama make it through the next 17 weeks.

Let me preface this with letting you in on a not-so-secret secret – I’ve never done yoga in my life. In fact, one cardio class I did once had a cool down where they incorporated some yoga techniques at the end and I nearly fell asleep. But since I cannot do much exercise, I figured that yoga would be a great way to stay limber and tap into my zen. I arrived at the class about 5 minutes before they were set to start and after checking in, took my shoes and socks off and placed my belongings in the cubbies in the front of the studio (I figured that’s where they went because there were about 5 other rando pairs of shoes there). Then I walked behind the wall to find 5 or 6 women balancing themselves on exercise balls waiting for class to begin. It was eerily quiet and for not having been to a class before – I wasn’t really sure all of the materials I needed. It seemed like there were a lot of things these ladies picked up and brought to their little stations. Luckily, two women came up to me and asked if it was my first class and then helped me find all of the items I would need for my session. I’m very thankful for “nice  girls.”

When class started, our yogi started off with some advice around eating dates to help get labor started … there are several women in our class that are in their final few weeks of pregnancy and they are ready to pop! We then did introductions for my newbie self – and I do not remember any of their names – with me going last. I’m the only one having twins and am a bit bigger in the belly than the moms that are a few weeks ahead of me. Lovely.

We started class with some breathing and I had to keep poking my eyes open to see what our yogi was instructing us to do. Eventually we got into some poses where I eventually realized how :

a) not flexible I am      b) how much arm planks are done in yoga    c) how much my belly really truly makes it hard to move

Once the class was done, we had a doula come in to talk about hyno-birthing … which in theory sounds like a great concept to me. You are practicing some natural calming techniques to get your mind, body and spirit completely calm and in tune with labor. There are books, CDs and things that you do to truly zen out and it’s supposed to help with labor and allow  you to labor longer at home so that you’re not faced with having a long labor at a hospital or being given intervention (ie. epidural) when you do not need, want or require it. As for me and hyno-birthing – I think I’ll pass. I’m just not on-board with laboring at home for 15 hours and would rather do it where I’m surrounded by medical professionals. But that’s just me and I’m not dissing anyone’s decision to natural, water or hyno-birth. You go girls!

I was so pooped after class that I passed out – which is awesome because I’ve been having some pregnancy insomnia. I have a lot to learn and practice over the next 7 weeks and really need to get this flexibility/stretching thing under way if I want to get these babies out when they are ready!

Have you tried prenatal yoga? Are you a hypno-birthing pro? I’d love to hear your opinion!

Movie Review: Divergent

So – by now you’ve probably picked up that I’m obsessed with the Divergent series. I got through all three books in about 4 days time and was super jazzed to see the movie when it came out on March 21st. A synopsis of the book can be found via my review here. The movie follows the same premise with the same characters and boasts Secret Life of an American Teenager alum Shailene Woodley as the heroine, “Tris” and Brit Theo James as the dashing “Four”. I think both were pretty perfect for their characters and really brought them to life without being cheesy like  some YA book to movies can be.

Shailene brings a bit of innocence and adventurous spirit to Tris, while Theo broods very well and emboldens his Dauntless faction while maintaining some of his Abnegation origins.

The movie is about 2.5 hours long and is crammed with as much as they could get in during that time. They completely bring the factions to life and transform the city of Chicago into a dysotopian otherworld. There were a few things that were changed during the movie that I don’t really know if I completely agreed with – like the way that Tris overcomes the fears in her fear simulation, and they never showed the reason that she was attacked by three of the other trainees because the movie didn’t have Tris finishing in 1st place like the book did. They also changed up the ending – with Four not manning the control station, nor really addressed why Tris was so upset murdering her new friend Will when she had no choice … it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out since it’s such a heavy part of her actions over the next two books.

Some of my favorite parts, though, were when Tris was lining up to take her test and watched the Dauntless-born catapult themselves from the moving train, going up on the ferris wheel with a fearful Four (he’s afraid of heights) in which she responds, “I didn’t think you were afraid of anything!”, and the scene below:

It was a great movie and if you’re a fan of the books – it’s definitely a must-see. It doesn’t give as much back story as the books do … so it might be worthwhile to deep dive into the first book. It’s a quick read and will give you tons of information that I think the movie lacks.

My First Accosting

The pregnant belly is a beautiful thing and is pretty hypnotic and enticing to pretty much every human being on this planet. Many moms and mom-to-be’s have horror stories of when they or their belly was touched by a random stranger which is an unwelcomed thing. We joke that when you’re pregnant people lose all sense of boundaries and the term “personal space” loses all meaning. Luckily, I haven’t had any rando belly touchers yet but I know it’s only a matter of time. But this weekend, I did have my first awkward encounter with someone I barely knew super excited for my pregnancy.

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JP and I got to a local diner for breakfast sometimes and have been going there for years. We usually receive a smile and “welcome” from the owners when we arrive but really nothing more than that. This weekend, though, they noticed my baby bump and when JP got up to pay our bill they congratulated her as she walked by and grabbed me. Now – this is a pretty small place so all eyes were on us … no joke. And the owner grabs my arm and shakes me in her excited joy and then wraps an arm around my shoulders and launches into a million questions – the word “twins” always brings out more joy and excitement in people, too.

Now I don’t really mind the attention and  the excitement – it’s awesome having people you barely know so truly happy for you. But the whole half-hug grab and jiggle thing is kinda strange, especially when you don’t know how to react or how far this touching union will go. I left unharmed with a little warmed heart at her happiness … but also with a full-on wariness of what lies ahead as I start getting even bigger.

blimeycowgifs:  “Can there be anything more awkward than the side hug?”