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#MicroblogMondays: Over

I went to see my OB for my postpartum check-up today. I know Poppy was born a whole six weeks ago and the “fourth trimester” continues for yet another six weeks, but seeing my doc made me feel like my pregnancy and postpartum period is officially over. I’m sad.

I’m obviously so glad my baby is here, but I’m sad the magic, mystery, and anticipation of pregnancy is once again over. Sad that I won’t be back to visiting that office of wonder (and nerves and worry and stress) for another year, maybe more. Maybe never, if that’s what God and destiny decide. Sad that I don’t have an extra excuse to escape from my family once or twice or four times each month.

And sad that, soon enough, all of this will be over once and for all. Forever.

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Update: 37 Weeks and Not Yet Ready

I’m 37 weeks now, which sounds and seems INSANE, and it’s time for another update. There’s so much happening around here! Let’s make this easy. Bullet-point easy:

  • I’m feeling really, really good so far. I think I look HUGE, but I feel fantastic. So far, no hemorrhoid flare-ups. The nausea is FINALLY gone. I’m tired, but not overly so. Still sleeping pretty well at night. No swelling. Sometimes achy, but it comes and goes. I’m good! And it’s amazing. Earlier in this pregnancy, I was miserable. Now? Not so much. And fingers are crossed that this continues right up until delivery day…
  • I had another prenatal appointment today. My blood pressure has been mostly really great (around 105/65). Until today. Today, it was 130/70. That’s not that high and my doctor seemed un-phased by it, but it’s got me feeling pretty down. I remember my last pregnancy and the high BP numbers and the multiple NSTs and twice weekly appointments and growth ultrasounds and tears and stress and worry… We’re in the home stretch of this pregnancy now, much later than I was when my BP first went in the crapper while pregnant with Skittle, so I’m feeling fairly confident that this won’t get out of control. But still. I really just want everything to go smoothly. Just this once. Guess we’ll just wait and see what next week brings.
  • I’m starting to worry that, after this baby comes and especially after my mom goes home (she’ll be with us for five weeks, starting on Sept 30), I’m going to feel very isolated and alone on a day-to-day basis. I don’t have a lot of local friends, and even less since my mother’s group kind of fell apart and Lillian ended our friendship. And it will be cold/flu season, which means even less opportunities to see the friends we do have because it seems someone is always sick. So I’ll be at home all day with three kids and no adult conversation and possibly trapped there for weeks on end because of all the germs…that sounds like a desperately lonely place to be in. And I’m not sure what to do about it. ūüė¶
  • I’m not quite ready for this boy to arrive yet! Hospital bags are packed and I’m making progress on the nursery, but it’s not DONE. And I really want it done before he gets here! And I want to make some truffles to put in the freezer, finish some party decorations for Cupcake’s 5th birthday (in November) so that I don’t have to complete them after Poppy’s arrival, stock up on a few more baby boy clothes, prep the diaper bag, crochet several more baby hats (I’m going a little crazy with that!), and fit in a few more nights out with friends. I’m planning for him to arrive a week or two after my due date, which of course means he’ll be coming early, right?! Really hoping that’s not so!
  • Because this pregnancy has seemed to drag, I’ve been expecting to feel very ready for it to be over. For this baby to be here. So far, that’s not the case. Instead, I’m feeling a little sad that this time is coming to an end. I’m excited to meet our son, but sad that this magical, mystical, mysterious, precious experience is nearly over. We plan to try for one more baby after this one, but my child-bearing years are drawing to a close. I don’t have many (or maybe any?) times that lay ahead where I will get to relive this. That’s a relief, on one hand, and very, very bittersweet on the other.
  • I’m also feeling that I’m still struggling a bit with the thought of having a boy. Remember this post? I thought most of those feelings had passed. And maybe they had, but now they are returning as we get closer and closer to delivery day. Does this make me an awful person and an awful mother? I fear it does. I’m ashamed and embarrassed to feel this way. It’s very hard to admit that I do, even on this blog. Or especially on this blog. I’m now clinging to the hope that, should we be so lucky to have a fourth child, it will be a girl. But if it’s not? I fear I’ll want to try for a 5th. Or a 6th. Or a 7th. Until I get just one more baby girl. Which is ridiculous, I know. And I hate feeling like that. Feeling like we HAVE to have another baby in order for me to be happy and our family to be complete. Even more, I hate feeling like any baby — this one or the next or the next — is not enough. Because he is! This baby is enough. More than enough. A miracle. A gift. A dream come true in a multitude of ways. I owe him better than my heart is giving right now, and I hate that. I hate me…and yet this is honest. Maybe more honest than I’ve ever been. This probably deserves its own post rather than a simple bullet point, but I just feel like I have to say this right now or maybe I never will. I love this baby — and that’s a plain and simple truth too — but I’m scared I don’t or won’t love him enough. I’m scared that this mixed bag of feelings will make the bonding more difficult, that I won’t bond as quickly, as deeply, or as fiercely. I’m scared that my ingrained, cultural, stereotypical ideas of what it means to be a man will keep me from giving this sweet child all my affection and the freedom to feel his emotions as he should. And I’m scared that this is just the perfect storm for some form of postpartum depression to find its way into my life after Poppy arrives, especially if he ends up being a difficult baby or I begin to feel as isolated and lonely as I fear I will. Please don’t think I’m a horrible person. Or maybe you should, because that’s what I deserve. But my great hope is that a natural birth and some prolonged skin-to-skin contact will make me more bonded to this baby boy than I ever imagined possible….that I will feel my undying love for him instantly in the very depths of my soul and all of these fears will be washed away with the tears I will surely cry. I pray for that every day.
  • On a much happier note, we spent our recent holiday weekend on a beach getaway on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. It was positively lovely. We spent time exploring the beach every day. I crocheted on the deck of our rental house while the girls napped. We drove into the mountains, took a little hike and met some wild deer. We also fed some domesticated deer, and smelled some yak breath, and got slobbered on by bison, and more. (That was all at a game farm — don’t think we have wild bison and yak roaming around here!) We relaxed, and ate too much, and laughed, and played, and snuggled, just the four of us. It felt like the grand finale to being a family of four…a sweet, happy ending. A perfect ending. I couldn’t have asked for much more.

So that’s it for me! For now. But I’ll be back with more updates soon (I’m sure?) and a letter to Poppy (I hope). Hoping the start of September is being good to all of you! And tell me, who is excited for fall? And who’s sad for summer to end?!?! It’s surely a mix of both here, though I do love me some pumpkin spice lattes, warm sweaters, candy corn, and changing leaves…

And now I’ll leave you with a few photos from our little weekend getaway:

So many deer in the mountains!

So many deer in the mountains!

Cupcake and Honey, stopping to enjoy the view on our mountain hike

Cupcake and Honey, stopping to enjoy the view on our mountain hike

Gorgeous view from the mountaintop!

Gorgeous view from the mountaintop!

Oooo, those eyelashes! I'm slightly obsessed with photographing them.

Oooo, those eyelashes! I’m slightly obsessed with photographing them.

Lady in Red...

Lady in Red…

Hello, Mr. Yak.

Hello, Mr. Yak.

The view from our back deck...see the lighthouse in the distance?

The view from our back deck…see the lighthouse in the distance?

Crocheting with a view

Crocheting with a view

One of Cupcake's favorite parts of the trip...finding and burying treasure on the beach.

One of Cupcake’s favorite parts of the trip…finding and burying treasure on the beach.

My sweet little family, our puppy Junebug included.

My sweet little family, our puppy Junebug included.

Cupcake adored her walk with Junebug on the beach.

Cupcake adored her walk with Junebug on the beach.

morning sunrise

morning sunrise

The view from our front porch...see the hot air balloon?

The view from our front porch…see the hot air balloon?

a crane, at low tide

a crane, at low tide

Honey...calf-deep at

Honey…calf-deep at “low tide”

One of many hand-in-hand walks Skittle and Honey took on the beach

One of many hand-in-hand walks Skittle and Honey took on the beach

The 6-Week Good-bye

Tomorrow, Cupcake turns three. And Skittle will be six weeks. Both of my girls are growing up. Gulp. My babies are still babies, mostly, but every day they are getting older. Getting bigger. I’m thankful that they’re both thriving, but it’s a hard pill to swallow. I wish there was a way to bottle their babyness, so that I could return to it whenever I feel nostalgic for these sweet, early days. I guess that’s what photos are for, though.

Today, I went in to see Dr. Smiles for the standard postpartum checkup. My blood pressure is back to normal and I have fifteen pounds to lose to reach my pre-pregnancy weight. We had a nice chat with Dr. S. About family and the holidays. I asked about the spotting that continues. He asked about my plans for birth control. (“Uh, none?” I said.). And then we went on our way.

As I walked out those doors into the rare November sun, I felt my breath catch as I tried not to cry. I hate good-byes. I’ve said it before (many, many times), but I’m not so good at letting go. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember this post, where I talk about returning to my OB/GYN after a few months at the infertility clinic. It felt like going home. And now we have to leave them again. Not only because this pregnancy is over, but because of my husband’s new job, we have to switch insurance carriers. Which means my OB is no longer in-network. Which means we are being forced to move on.

That’s hard for me. I feel so much affection and fondness for Dr. Smiles and his staff. They have walked a long road with me. One that included two complicated pregnancies, a miscarriage, and one of my experiences with infertility. They’ve fielded my hundreds of questions. Offered their condolences when necessary. Provided tissues when the tears began. Dr. S and I do not always have the same philosophies and I have not always agreed with or liked the answers he has given me. But I have always respected him and always trusted him. He’s well-read and current on the most recent research. He supported me in my endeavor to achieve a natural birth and, when I thought I needed one, a family-centered cesarean. My husband really likes him. He’s almost all I have ever wanted in a health care provider. And now I have to leave him behind.

It sucks.

It sucks so much that Honey and I are considering abandoning the health insurance offered through his employer and making use of Obamacare. There are some good options for our family of four. We hesitate only because our deductible will increase twenty- or thirtyfold (no joke). But our monthly premiums will be cut in half (which is no small sum) and, most likely, we will get to keep all of our doctors. So maybe it’s worth it. We’re undecided.

Which is okay. We have time. I’m not due for my annual pelvic and paps until March. And I won’t be needing prenatal care again until some time after that. Well…unless, as my doctor suggested, some incredible act of God occurs and we get an unexpected miracle. “Anything can happen,” Dr. Smiles reminded me during his birth control spiel.

Yes, Doc. I know.

But “anything” only happens to other women.

Other women get pregnant without trying.

Other women need the Pill.

Other women get those kind of pleasant surprises.

Not me.

Not ever.

That’s what I wanted to say to him. But I didn’t, of course. I didn’t because there was no point. He didn’t needed to be force-fed my infertility baggage.

And maybe, admittedly, I didn’t say it because a little part of me hopes that Dr. Smiles is right. That anything can happen. That it can happen to me. He has been right about other things. Maybe this, too, can be one of those things. To get pregnant without temping, without OPKs, without obsessing, without worrying, without praying… To get pregnant without even thinking about it… What a dream.

Sigh.

I have endured two separate periods of infertility treatments. I have suffered a miscarriage. And despite all of that, despite everything that speaks to the contrary, I still hope for the next time. That the next time will be different. I suppose it just goes to show… Hope withstands everything.

“Hope is the thing with feathers–

That perches in the soul–

And sings the tune without the words–

And never stops — at all –“

(Emily Dickinson)

An Update on All Things Skittle

Well, this has been The Week of Medical Appointments, with two visits to my OB, blood work, and an ultrasound. Not to mention the many trips I have made to Fred Meyer, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and the mall just to check my blood pressure.

I am happy to say, though, that I’m in a much better place than I was on Monday, when I was incredibly worried about preeclampsia and felt like my body was a ticking time bomb, just waiting to destroy my dreams of the perfect birth, or much worse, kill my baby. For now, though, those fears have been relieved.

My doctor also seems to view my high blood pressure in a much more positive light. After reviewing the BP readings I have been getting outside of his office (in the 120s/80s), as well as my blood work and the ultrasound, he feels pretty confident in saying that I do not have preeclampsia at this point. It appears to simply be pregnancy hypertension, which is a much easier thing to deal with — especially because no where else am I getting the outrageous blood pressure readings (yesterday it was 154/77) that I do at his office. I don’t quite understand why it’s so high there, but I’m glad that my doctor is willing to accept and believe that I am getting much lower readings everywhere else. He does want to keep a close eye on me, so I will probably be going in twice a week now, and he wants me to continue to monitor my BP outside of his office, but he’ll take no further action at this point and seems rather unconcerned now. Thank God.

However

There are a couple other issues that he is worried about.

One is Skittle’s position. When I first arrived at the ultrasound, I came with a full bladder and Skittle was head-down. The moment they had me empty my bladder, though, she turned sideways. Sigh. I haven’t written much about it here, but I’ve actually been concerned about a breech baby for some time because I often feel hiccups near my ribs. Yesterday and today, though, I have felt them in my pelvis. So it appears that our little miss is still turning every which way. I’m not exactly sure how she has the room to do that, but it may have to do with the fact that I’ve still got plenty of amniotic fluid for her to dance around in. Either way, Dr. Smiles says he has a “hunch” that she will probably turn head-down as she prepares for birth. But if she doesn’t turn by 39 weeks, then we’ll have to talk. About the “C-” word. Oh, dear.

And yet, that’s not even the biggest problem. The big whopper that seems to have my doc very nervous is Skittle’s growth. He scheduled the ultrasound to check on the baby’s size because growth restriction can be an issue if there is preeclampsia. However, little Skittle is definitely not having that problem. And she’s not so little. At 36 weeks and 6 days, she is estimated to weigh about 8lbs 10oz, though that’s only a very loose estimate and can go 20oz in either direction — or even more (from what I have read and heard from friends). The ultrasound tech told me that she thinks they have a tendency to overestimate and when I told Dr. Smiles he said, “Uh….yeah.” Twice during my appointment, he looked at me and said, “I just cannot believe you are carrying a 9lb baby. You’re too small!” And he’s not the first person to comment on my “small” belly (which doesn’t feel very small to me!). So while he seems skeptical of Skittle’s approximate weight, he also seems nervous that she could, indeed, turn out to be a big baby. And so the “C-” word was mentioned again. That word has been used way too much in the last few weeks.

Another ultrasound will be scheduled for two weeks down the road to check on both Skittle’s position and size. That’s going to be one nerve-wracking appointment because it’s going to either crush my dreams for a natural birth or let them grow. I am prepared to fight against a Cesarean if needed, but I’m not much of a fighter and I don’t really want it to come to that.

Dr. S did say that, best case scenario, I will go into labor in the next week or so and we won’t have to worry about any of this (as long as Skittle does indeed turn head-down). I am now technically considered full-term now (37 weeks), but I think that seems unlikely. And yet, it won’t stop me from trying.

And so begins Operation: Evict Skittle….

P.S. If you’re feeling up to it, you can pop on over to the Skittle page for a couple photos from our ultrasound yesterday.

Good News, Bad News

Well, folks. There’s good news and there’s bad news, but it seems to be heavy on the bad news today. Or at least the bad news is heaviest on my heart.

Good News: I have successfully managed to eat a whole lot of protein this last week, anywhere from 80-100g/day, in an effort to lower my blood pressure.

Bad News: I’m sick of protein. I miss fruit. I miss chocolate. I miss popcicles. But after meeting my protein quota, there’s just been no room for anything else in my stomach. And I don’t even know if it’s working!

Good News: My weight at my doctor’s office is sufficient, but not over-the-top. I gained two pounds in the last week. With all the protein I’ve been eating, I have not been able to maintain my caloric intake in quite the way that I have in previous weeks.

Bad News: I’ve still gained more than is technically considered healthy. I’m up about 36lbs, when it should be 25-35. Oops!

Good News: My blood pressure has been all over the map in the last week when I have taken it outside of my doctor’s office — at Rite Aid, at the mall, at home. It has ranged anywhere from 141/88 to 130/88 to — on Saturday — 114/74 (and just two days before it was 136/84 on the same machine!). Thankfully, it has never been as high as the readings at my doctor’s office.

Bad News: My BP at my prenatal appointment today hit yet another record high for me…155/84. I wanted to cry.

Good News: I have never had high blood pressure in my life. In fact, I tend to run very low.

Bad News: None of that really matters now, does it, when it’s not just me who this BP stuff is affecting.

Good News: Skittle is doing well. Kicking and active with a good heart rate that increases just when it should.

Bad News: I had to take an unexpected non-stress test today, sitting there for 20 minutes with an antsy 2-year-old and a husband who should have been at work and never even told his boss where he was. (See the above good news to know if Skittle passed or not!)

Good News: There is still no protein in my urine.

Bad News: I had to have my blood drawn today to check for preeclampsia and its severity, I have an ultrasound scheduled for Wednesday to check for Skittle’s growth, and I have to return to see my doctor on Friday for a follow-up.

Good News: I tested negative for Group B Strep, which thoroughly shocked me since I tested positive with Cupcake.

Bad News: Group B Strep and having to take antibiotics while trying to have a natural labor was the very least of my worries. I would take GBS any day over preeclampsia!

Good News: I felt baby hiccups in my pelvis for the first time in over a week today, which temporarily relieved my mind about a breech baby.

Bad News: All of last week, Skittle’s hiccups were under my ribs, which gave me a very different reason to worry about a C-section. And, as she has proven over the last few months, she can change her position at a moment’s notice, so she may not be head-down for good. Or maybe she’s not even head-down at all? We’ll find out at my ultrasound this week.

Good News: I have not yet resigned myself to giving up the birth experience of my dreams because, at this point, we don’t know what will come of any of this and I want to believe that things can improve or at least stay stagnant. I’m choosing to believe that this is the worst of it.

Bad News: I still have a way of getting ahead of myself…of envisioning an induction or, even worse, a c-section and I’ve shed my fair share of tears over the whole thing.

So that pretty much sums it up. Sigh. I return to see my OB this Friday for another blood pressure check and to discuss the results of my blood work and ultrasound with him. Until then, I know nothing more. But I do hope you all have had a better start to this week than I have!

Freaking the F— Out…

…and trying not to.

Yesterday, at 35w5d, I had another prenatal appointment. And my blood pressure had sky-rocketed. It was on the rise two weeks ago when I went in, but then it was *only* 136/77, which was much higher than two weeks before, but not so high that anyone was worried, especially because I have a tendency to run that high in early pregnancy and it has always gone back down on its own. Plus, I was nervous about discussing my birth plan with my OB and so I chalked it up to that.

But yesterday, my BP was 149/75. I’m not happy and, in fact, I’m rather concerned. My doctor is not happy either, but he says he’s not concerned. Yet. We’ll monitor it and see what happens. The good news is that my urine is free from protein and, though I have had some swelling in my feet and hands, my weight gain is perfectly healthy (I gained barely a pound in the last two weeks). I return to my OB on Monday for another prenatal checkup.

And even though my doc doesn’t think I should start worrying yet, of course I have. I’ve cried. I made a trip to Rite Aid to use their BP monitor (141/88 last night). I used my at-home manual BP monitor several times (readings anywhere from 132/85 to 145/90). And I’ve googled obsessively. Not good, friends. Not good.

As far as I can tell, the baby and I are primarily safe right now. My BP is high, but not severely so and I’m not yet showing any signs of preeclampsia. However, I have a 25% chance of developing pre-e in the next 4 weeks until my due date and that could pose definite risks. As could an even greater rise in my blood pressure. We’re talking growth restriction for the baby, stroke for me, placental abruption, and/or a good possibility of an induction or c-section if this gets worse. Which really makes me blue because I am desperate for a natural childbirth this time around, since I didn’t get that chance with Cupcake (thanks to placenta previa).

The worst part is that it seems there is very little I can do to lower my BP. My friend Lillian encouraged me to try the Dr. Brewer Pregnancy Diet, which I just cannot fully get behind. Adding salt to everything I eat? Eating 3000-4000 calories a day? Stopping exercise? No, sorry. Not willing to try that and risk causing other problems. However, I think I will give the protein component a shot. Basically, I’m supposed to have a high-protein snack every hour I’m awake and aim for about 100g of protein (or more!) each day. Not easy for someone who is primarily a vegetarian and who has a bird’s appetite lately. But I’ll try. That, and increasing the amount of water I drink, are my only hopes. Well, and prayer. I’ve been praying a lot.

I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining or ungrateful. I’m not. I’m still so happy to have Skittle growing and kicking inside me. But I’m scared. Scared for Skittle’s well-being and scared that my dream childbirth experience, the one I believed I actually might have a shot at this time, is dying. Maybe I’m worrying unnecessarily. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. But I just want the worrying to end. I want to know that Skittle and I are and will be okay.

Today, more than ever, I am ready for her to be here with me, safely in my waiting, aching arms.

Odds ‘n’ Ends: Kat, Idaho, Choosing a Name, and More

Just a few things I wanted to update all of you on today, now that we’re home from Idaho and things are settling down again:

KAT

The e-mail from Kat is still sitting in my Inbox. Unread. This is so unlike me, to wait this long. I am usually one for instant gratification. I’m impatient. I can’t wait for anything. Except, Katie over at Our Growing Gardunn mentioned that this sort of “should I or shouldn’t I?” is like making a decision to POAS. And I always waited for that. I would wait a week past my missed period before testing. In this circumstance, I don’t know exactly what I’m waiting for.¬† I guess, I’m just waiting until I have the time and emotional energy to read that e-mail. Hopefully, that sense of readiness will come today. Or tomorrow. I will read it soon, I promise, and then I’m sure I’ll blog about it too, for better or worse. Stay tuned!

IDAHO

Our road trip to Idaho, our ol’ stomping grounds, was busy and HOT but pretty fantastic. The drive was long and my poor feet were quite swollen by the end. I think I probably pushed it a little too hard and didn’t take as many breaks as I should have. I had a couple days of panic when I felt the baby wasn’t moving enough, but then there would be an explosion of kicks and I’d feel better. It’s still such a roller coaster for me. On Saturday, we attended my cousin’s wedding, which was a lot of fun. There was family there whom I hadn’t seen in 2-5 years, so it was fun for them to meet my daughter and to see my bulging belly. The ceremony was in direct sun in 95 degree heat and started 45 minutes late, so we were melting, but they had water and soda available, which did help, and I let Cupcake and her daddy go play in the shade, so at least they were cool. I always get quite weepy at weddings, but this time even more so. I felt so reflective and so emotional thinking about my own wedding day just over five years ago and all that Honey and I had gone through since then, and how far we’ve come. How incredible it was to be there with my wonderful, adoring husband and my beautiful daughter and to have one on the way. It felt a bit like a “full circle” moment. I am just so blessed and so thankful to be where we are today.

CHOOSING A NAME

I had great hopes that my husband and I would choose a baby name on our road trip, because we had¬† lots of time to talk with very little distractions. And we DID spend several hours discussing it, but we still haven’t made a final decision yet. My problem is that there are SO many names I love and, because I don’t know that I’ll have countless children whom can be christened with each name, it’s hard for me to narrow it down. My husband’s problem is that he doesn’t love the name that is my top choice (though I think he’s finally caving), but he does love weird and crazy names that would curse any child and that I veto immediately. So for a while we were at quite the impasse, but I think we’ve finally made progress and have it narrowed down to three choices. I imagine we’ll make the big decision very soon — this week, I hope! We’re keeping the name secret from all of our friends and family (and my mom reads this blog), so I won’t be announcing the name here until after Skittle’s birth, if I ever do, but I do have a post planned to discuss our process for choosing a name. It’s tough!

PRENATAL APPOINTMENT

I had another appointment with my OB yesterday. He did tell me that I officially passed my 3-hour GTT, which was good to hear. I also talked to the nurse about baby movements and she said I should feel at least 5-10 movements every hour. But I have been monitoring Skittle for a couple weeks now and that’s not how it always goes. There will be 2-3 hours where I feel only 2-4 movements each hour and then suddenly, I’ll get 25 kicks in twenty minutes. So I’m having a hard time trying to gauge when to worry and when it’s just Skittle’s normal pattern. Any advice? For those of you who are pregnant or have children, what were you told about fetal movement? It seems everyone gets a different story. And also…I’m now at the point in pregnancy where I start seeing my OB every two weeks. I can’t believe it’s that time already! It feels like another milestone.

ROYAL BABY

Can I just say how very exciting it has been to watch all the media coverage of the royal baby’s birth? I know it’s kind of silly, but England (and especially London) is one of my favorite places on Earth and I have always been fascinated by the royal family, so it’s been fun to follow Kate and Wills as they prepared for this big life change. And it’s exciting to think that, just as I grew up “alongside” William and Harry, so will my children grow up alongside this new generation of royals. But now I long to return to London all over again! Even all these months and miles gone by, it still feels like home to me.

I hope all of you are having a blessed, safe, and happy week. Up next: a post about my e-mail from Kat…if I ever get the guts to actually read it!