Feathered Aspen

20 Weeks


November 12, 2011

Yesterday, we drove to St. Joseph’s hospital and met with the ultrasound technician, a small woman with a thick, Eastern-European accent. “Okay,” she says, “we look at baby now. You want to know a boy or girl?” We nod our heads.

I lie back on the table, and she skirts blue-colored jelly on my belly. With the wand in hand, she turns to face her monitor. Joshua and I watch the monitor on the wall in front of us. Irina finds the baby sitting curled up, the head, knees, legs, and arms closest to the surface of my belly, with the head somewhere above my left hip bone and the feet above my right.

Irina begins taking measurements, and all the while, Joshua and I hold hands, trying to divine the form emerging, watery and skeletal. At times, we can distinguish a perfectly formed leg or arm. We see 10 fingers and 10 toes. We watch the baby’s jaw work as it sucks its thumb.

Irina announces notable body parts as she measures them: tibula, ulna, palate, spine… In the midst of these observations, she seemlessly announces, “and she’s a girl.”

We watch a little more as our baby – who is now a she – kicks her leg and rolls onto her side. Irina mutters pleas with the baby to move just so for a measurement of the heart, but there is no such luck. Before, Irina lifts the wand, she turns on the sound, and we listen to the heartbeat, loud and strong at 140 beats per minute.

As I clean blue gel from my stomach, Irina prints out photos for us and begins running a report. When she hands us our photos, she smiles and says, “good baby. Healthy baby. Baby girl!” We’re pleased as can be, and I push any Gattica-like discomfort from my head. It feels a bit strange to measure the cranium, palate, the size of the brain. I reminds me of that French colonial artist that did beautiful busts of African women, but in reality, the reason he had endeavored to create busts at all was because he was determined to prove that their cranial measurements held the secret to their intellectual and emotional inferiority. Nevertheless, I am happy to discover that our baby is perfectly average in nearly every measurement, clocking in at about 50 percent for nearly every measurement.

After our ultrasound, we meet with the nurse midwife. I like her immediately, and we tell her about the incident on Halloween. After a few days hiking at altitude with Ashlee, we came back, and on that Monday, I experienced what must have been my first Braxton-Hicks contraction, coupled with the some serious super-pubic and round-ligament pain and cramping. I called the midwife, worried, and she urged us to go to the ER.

Once there, a nice ER doctor who reminisced about his residency in the boondocks of Idaho where the obsetric stirrups were lined with sherling pronounced me in good health. He did a quick ultrasound (so quick that neither Joshua or I saw anything) to find fetal movement and a heartbeat. Everything looked good, and he also did a pelvic, just to be sure. None of the tests came back with anything to be concerned about, but he did come in just before he let us go and asked if I was a runner. When I said that I was, he nodded as if everything had come together. “No more running,” he told me. “You can swim or do the elliptical instead.”

Well, as we’re telling our nurse midwife this story, she’s looking more and more displeased. “Running is good for you, the baby, and labor. With all due respect, this is an ER doc, and he may not be very up to date on pregnancy. Don’t go crazy, but there’s definitely no need to stop running.”

My only other question is silly. At 20 weeks, my belly is officially convex, but it’s nothing to write home about. At intake, I stepped on the scale, and I’m exactly 6 pounds heavier than I was at my first appointment at week 9 (but I still haven’t broken 125 pounds). When I tell people that I’m five months pregnant, the look immediately at my stomach and mutter sounds of disbelief.

While I’m certainly pleased that I haven’t ballooned into a beheamoth of pregnancy too soon, I have worried that there might not be enough room for a 10 oz. baby the length of a banana. Here too, the midwife had only reassurances. “Your weight gain is fine,” she says, “and I’ve measured your uterus. It’s all the way up to your belly button. You’re fine. Your exactly where you should be.”

Before we leave her office, she takes out the doppler so we can hear the heartbeat once more. Joshua squeezes my hand.

On the way to the car, we’re giddy. Joshua says that her feet looked like runner’s feet, and I laugh. I thought the same thing 🙂 We say Lily a few times, just to try and make it seem real. Joshua accuses me of wanting a girl from day one, and I grin and deny it. I just knew she was a girl from the moment we found out we were pregnant.

Driving home, we call future grandparents, announcing Lily’s debut. I feel a couple good kicks, and her nickname comes to me, Little Hen. Henri for short; Hen for love. Joshua and I talk about middlenames. Georgia, our runner-up name gets put on the back burner (Joshua’s now convinced that we’ll only have girls, so he wants to save it. “Then I can call our littlest Georgie,” he says.). We want either a family name or the name of a heroine. Starbuck, our favorite heroine from Battlestar Galactica comes up again, but we agree that we don’t want to risk confusion with a certain dispensary of coffee. Rumphius, the name of the Lupine Lady in my favorite child’s book comes up, but I don’t like the way it sounds. For now, we’re up in the air.

There’s a whole lot else up in the air too, because…


Yup. On Monday. We signed our names and initials a few dozen times, forked over some cash, and bought us a house. We now live in the tiny (half a square mile-tiny) first-tier suburb of Edgewater, and while it pains me to admit that we got pregnant and then bought a house in the (shhhh) suburbs, I console myself with the fact that we live roughly five blocks outside of Denver proper, and it’s a quirky, working class suburb where people own chickens and tattooed mamas walk down the sidewalk, holding hands.

The house was built in the 1920s as a vacation home for Denver socialites, wanting a place in the “country” to come and be by the lake (Sloan’s). It’s a Sears and Roebuck kit, and it has beautiful wooden, craftsman details in the molding and the gorgeous, sunny front porch. Other perks: two bathrooms, one with a claw foot tub and one adjoining the master bedroom, salvageable wood floors in three out of five rooms, and lots of big, beautiful (and new) windows throughout. The basement is unfinished, and it’s because of this that we got a deal and a steal. In an area where hardly any homes have unfinished basements, there’s a great deal of room for appreciation when we refinish the basement.

Anyway, we love our new home, and there is a SHIT ton of work to do. Luckily, the bones are good. We get a new roof (free for us, not the seller), and the pipes and electricity were good to go. Pretty much everything else needs to be touched up and given some love. The floors, for one. Pergo in the bedrooms had to go, as did the carpet in the hall and living room. Ugly laminate flooring in the kitchen had to be pulled up, and the second bedroom had to give way (and wall) for a dining room.

Since Monday, Joshua has ripped up all the floors, knocked out the wall between the living room and second bedroom, and put in glass french doors. We’ve dropped a pretty penny at Home Depot, ordering carpet and installation for the bedroom (where the wood floors were beyond repair) and buying cork flooring for the kitchen (which Joshua plans to install). We also bought a carload of paint. As the unskilled labor in this marraige, painting is my domain. To date, I’ve painted the bathroom a bubblegum pink, and I don’t care if you don’t like it. It’s very 50s, and I love it, so there (Joshua likes it, too, and so do the Ps). I’ve also painted the master bathroom a vibrant green (as in, Wow! That’s green!). In the bedroom, the Ps pitched in, and we have managed a very elegant, very grown-up ochre/gold (or Sugar Maple as it was written), soon to have stenciled poppy accents in Vanilla Custard (creamy white).

And we had to move.

I’m sure most have similar feelings when it comes to moving: fear, anticipation, despair, denial, and anxiety. We were no different. In fact, although this whole home-buying thing has been in the works for a couple of months now, we didn’t start packing until last Saturday (denial), and with Joshua working until the wee hours every night since we bought the house (he says that his hands throb at night, and he’s pround of his new hang-nails and calluses), we hardly put a dent in anything moving-wise all week (including Sunday, because we had to work). So, basically, besides six to eight hours of work last Saturday with the Devanes helping, we’d done practically nothing.

And then came Saturday (today). We woke up at 7 am and fretted a bit. Joshua and I drove to Golden to pick up an armoire I had found on Craigslist*, and then we drove back to pick up the UHAUL by 9 am.

Back at the house, we met up with the Ps and David who, for six hours straight, packed up the UHAUL and unpacked it again. We released David after 6 hours, promising him a case of beer, but the Ps insisted that they were “in it to win it.” For three more hours, we scoured the house, packing up the rest of the kitchen, cleaning the floors and the bathroom, the refrigerator and the oven.

By 7 PM. We were finished. The house is DONE. Sure, we can only move into the basement of our new house, and therefore, our new bedroom is hanging out admidst a forest of boxes, furniture, and stray shit, but at least now we only have to worry about one house, instead of two.

Anyway, we’re super, super greatful for the Devanes who helped us pack up on Saturday, the Ps who helped us paint all last night and move all day today (and paint a little bit more, too), and David, who used his new skills as a UPS package handler to move, move, MOVE all of our shit into the new house. There’s no way we could have gotten it all moved in this amount of time without them.

*Holy Shit. By the way, we totally SCORED on this particular Craigslist find. It felt ridiculous to spend 45 minutes we didn’t have on moving day to go and pick up yet another piece of furniture to move, but was it ever worth it. It’s probably 100 years old, has gorgeous art nouveau carving and molding, and a super cool movable hanger and mirror with shelving inside. The woman sold it to us for 60 dollars, and as I was looking at it, I could tell it was the real deal. I gave her the money and scooted out of there, quick, so she couldn’t change her mind. It’s BEAUTIFUL.

FALL BREAK (October 26 – 30, 2011)

The party starts when school ends at 1 PM on Wednesday. We’ve had RAP tests (Regular Assessment Period – kind of like really important unit exams in every class) this week, and school lets out early. Joshua picks me up, and we drive through the snow to Mead St. Station, a pub-like place with some seriously good food. We order lunch and crank out grades.

Later that night, I pick up Ashlee from the airport. She’s here for four nights and four days, and we start the trip by talking up a storm.

The next morning, we go in search of bagels for the Hi-Rise and biscuits from the Rise and Shine. By the time we’re back, Joshua is ready to go and the car is packed, so we bundle in the car for a trip to the mountains.

Past Vail, we drive through Eagle and then on towards Sylvan Lake. We’ve rented a yurt for three nights, and with a dusting of snow over the hills, it promises to be a beautiful trip.

Once we arrive, we unpack in the one room yurt, relishing the heat that belches from the gas stove in the corner. Before it gets dark, we go for a run up one of the trails, dodging icy streams and patches of slick mud all the way. We climb for a while, and after a bit, we come to a wide meadow with picturesque wooden fences, the mountains behind, and a pink sunset falling over the horizon. The snow sparkles, and we agree that it is perfect.

That night, we make dinner and play games around the table. Settler’s of Catan makes us all vicious land barons, but before the end of the night, we’ve made amends.

The next day, we go for a long hike through the deep snow. The trail is forested, but the landscape is beautiful just the same. We talk and talk all the way through this private winter wonderland.

Back at the yurt, we make more food and relax, reading and talking for company. We have another night of good food and games, and then we fall asleep.

On our last full day, we drive out past Sylvan Lake up to higher altitudes. Along the way we pass hunters in their orange wardrobes, and we worry about the rifles strapped to their backs. For our hike, we climb up along a ridge, and as we get higher, we can see the Mount Holycross Wilderness, tall snowy mountains, and a wide, meandering river in the valley below. It’s absolutely beautiful, but we rave to Ashlee, promising even more spectacular views in the summer when we can get higher – above tree line.

For dinner, we drive into Eagle, an odd place that looks as though everything in the entire town has been built within the past 10 years. After much searching, we find a little grill for some grub, and we’re pleasantly surprised by the relatively gourmet fair. On our way back, we stop for a bottle of wine (for the non-pregnant people). At the yurt, it’s games again as usual, this time abetted by the juice of Shiraz. Naturally, the sober one wins 🙂

On Sunday, we drive back, but before we arrive in Denver we stop at Bertraud Pass and hike up over the tree line. Here, we finally get the views that we’ve been raving to Ashlee about, and she is suitably impressed. We live in the most amazing place!

That night, we’re sad to see Ashlee go, but it’s back to Denver airport and then on to work the next morning. All in all, an excellent Fall Break.

Author: Ellie

Wife, Mom, Adventurer...

3 thoughts on “20 Weeks

  1. It is good to see you writing again. I love to get caught up on your lives. Thanks:) Keep the postings coming.

  2. It's been so long since I've played Settlers!! Thinking about it makes me want to go buy it right now, as an early xmas present. Or a soon-to-be-Master thesis defense present.Your house sounds beautiful, and I'm glad to hear that everything's going smoothly for the kiddo:)

  3. Pingback: A Year of Adventures « Feathered Aspen

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