Thursday, June 23, 2016

That One Time We Took Our Kids to NYC, Day 1: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

{Kate and Elli looking at the Statue of Liberty}

I've had an itch to visit the Big Apple for several years now. Chalk it up to nostalgia and the fact that half the shows and movies I love are set there. I've been once before, almost exactly 15 years ago, and every other city I've been to has paled in comparison with the history, the architecture, the bustle, the culture, and the density of The City That Never Sleeps (except London. Ah, London!).

Our dear friends who we've been meaning to visit for ages moved to Manhattan a few months ago and graciously acted excited when we announced we'd like to crash in their two bedroom apartment for a few days. Bless them.

We flew out of Vegas crazy early on Friday, 5/27. Despite the fact we'd woken them up at 4:00 AM, the girls actually fared pretty well on our flight. We barely made it to the gate on time--I think we were the last ones on the plane--but everything went smoothly. We broke down and bought a couple tablets specifically for this trip (five hour plane ride with a four year old and 21 month old!), and we brought an obscene amount of snacks, and we made it through mostly happy even with the four of us crammed into three seats since we were too cheap to buy Jayne a ticket.

{Jayne with Kiyomi and Alex}

Kiyomi met us at the airport and helped us navigate the subway system and our luggage to her apartment (yes, she's a saint). We grabbed some delicious NY-style pizza and decided that since our kids were still kinda holding it together, we'd drag them out on the town.

{Manhattan skyline. One World Trade Center is the highest building with the antenna}

While I'd have loved to go to the Ellis Island museum and see the Statue of Liberty up close again, we opted for the more kid-friendly route of taking the Staten Island Ferry: it's free, it passes close by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and you get a gorgeous view of Manhattan. We sat on the side deck of the ferry, luxuriating in the perfect breeze, and watched the sun spill a trail of orange light over the water as it set across the bay. Kate had recently learned The Star Spangled Banner for her preschool graduation (her teacher is ambitious), and I got her to sing most of it with me as we slowly cruised past the Statue of Liberty.

{It took Kiyomi exactly 30 seconds to completely win Jayne over. Both of the girls absolutely loved her.}

Wrestling three exhausted, cranky kids + two strollers through the subway system and back home was a bit of an ordeal, but we managed.

To recap: here are the various modes of transportation we used on this day:

Airport tram
Aerial tram

Before our trip was over, we'd also take a cab and a bus.


{Ellis Island} 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Pregnancy, Take Three

{Photo by Katie, beginning of May 2016}

I'm right in the thick of the uncomfortable stage of pregnancy. My belly seems to brush up against everything, I'm constantly winded, and bending over to pick things up is the worst thing in the world. Sleep is fitful, and this man-child keeps me awake with his aquatic gymnastics. As I type this, I can see my abdomen ripple as he ricochets around in there. His antics are fireworks inside me.

This pregnancy has been different; though at 28 weeks, I'm finally feeling about the same as I did with my first two pregnancies: ungainly, easily fatigued, but mostly human.

The week after Christmas, Jay came down with a mild flu: malaise, some intestinal distress, exhaustion. He felt better after a couple days. A day or so later, I caught what he'd had just in time to travel to Texas to visit Jay's parents for New Year. It was a relaxed, easy visit, which was perfect because I spent most of my time huddled under blankets with chills and feeling exhausted and vaguely nauseous. We watched movies and played games and ate a lot of food. 

We came home, and I didn't feel much better. After having malaise for nearly two weeks, I started to wonder if the illness would ever pass. One morning after Jay had gone to work, I decided I should take a pregnancy test. I was certain I wasn't pregnant, but I needed to rule it out all the same. 

Ten minutes, two pregnancy tests, and four pink lines later, there was no denying it. I did some quick calculations and determined I was seven weeks pregnant.

Jay came home for lunch that day and told me he thought his receptionist had whatever it was I had because she wasn't feeling well. I had my arms wrapped around him when I said, "I'm pretty sure she doesn't have what I have. At least, I hope she doesn't." And then I gave him a meaningful look, and a broad smile spread across Jay's face. 

"Really?" he said. "You're sure?"

"Pretty sure," I said.

He laughed and squeezed me. "You're happy?" I asked. 

"Of course! Aren't you?"

"I don't really know what to feel," I said. "I think I'm in denial."

Five months later, and I'm still not completely over the denial. 

It took over a year to conceive both Kate and Jayne; with Kate, we finally hit on the right drug cocktail of fertility meds; with Jayne, the previous drugs didn't work, so we were scheduled to begin expensive and extensive testing when we found out we were expecting--she was planned, but not expected quite yet. But this time, it was truly a surprise. I never thought I'd experience a surprise pregnancy--for better or for worse--and it threw me for a loop. 

The first trimester was rough and unlike anything I'd previously experienced. I constantly felt like I had a fever (though my temperature was normal or only slightly elevated): chills, aching/sensitive skin, metallic taste in my mouth, exhaustion, nausea. Some nights, I'd lie in bed and shake with chills. I basically sat on the couch all day, feeling like I had the flu. The girls played together and entertained themselves, and Jay picked up my slack without complaining.

I gradually started feeling better starting at around 16 weeks. Around 24 weeks, I realized I no longer had a hyper-sensitive gag reflex and could even change diapers without dry heaving. Every day, I'm grateful I'm feeling better.

I still don't get much done, but it is amazing to feel mostly like myself again, even if I am lower-functioning. This may well be our last baby--though never say never!--and it is weird to view this pregnancy through that lens. While there is much about pregnancy that awes me, and while I'm incredibly grateful I've been able to have the experience, it's not a condition I'll miss.

It's true that I wasn't ready for another baby so soon (Jayne and this boy will be darn-near exactly two years apart--closer than I'd prefer), but my brushes with infertility have given me some hard-earned perspective. "Whenever they come," I used to say when people asked when we were going to have babies, and I still feel the same way.