Twenty weeks--the halfway point (give or take)! The big news this week is that we had our 20-week ultrasound this morning, and it's a boy! Whoa!
We actually had a little false start related to the ultrasound--we showed up at the doctor's office on Wednesday, and they told us to come back today. Turns out I'd written down the appointment date wrong. Bummer! At least I was only off by a day, so we didn't have to wait too much longer to find out.
The baby was in a funny position, so the tech had a hard time getting a good profile shot. We're actually going to go in for another ultrasound in two weeks (mainly to get some more pictures of the heart, since it was hard to see, given the baby's position), so maybe we'll get some clearer overall baby pictures then. We also have a picture showing pretty clearly that it's a boy, but I figured I didn't need to share that with the whole Internet :)
The tech didn't have a lot to say other than remarking on how cute the baby was (I'm sure she always says that) and how hard he was making her job by being in the wrong position. But everything seemed fine, based on what she said and what we could see. The baby has all the right internal organs and the right number of limbs, which is a good start :)
My two favorite parts of the ultrasound (apart from having the question of boy vs. girl answered) were seeing the baby's little spine and arm and leg bones (it's just reassuring that our baby has a skeleton, I guess) and simultaneously feeling the baby kick and seeing him move around on the ultrasound. Pretty cool!
So yeah, a boy! Not what I was expecting, but I'm sure having a son will be awesome. I guess ruffly pink dresses are probably out, but I think I can still have some fun with his wardrobe. Definitely lots of stripes and zig zags, and plenty of hats and jackets with ears. And maybe I can sneak in some floral prints. This is Portland after all; I think I can get away with a little bending of baby gender roles :)
I think the toughest boy-related decision we'll need to make (at this point in time) is whether or not to circumcise. If it were just a religious thing, it would be an easy choice, since we're not religious. But since it's also a cultural thing, it's more complicated. I think we're leaning toward not circumcising, but there are definitely arguments for both sides.
For some reason, knowing the baby's sex kind of drove home the fact that this baby is going to grow up to be an adult someday, and we need to figure out how to raise this little guy so that he fits in and is able to make friends, but still make sure that he's sensitive and caring and feels comfortable being whoever he wants to be. I hope we do a good job and are able to raise a good man, whatever that means. I think we can do it :)
Some other highlights from week 19:
The belly continues to grow, which is great! My belly button won't be an innie for much longer :)
This past weekend, I dropped off my deposit for the hypnobirthing class, and in exchange I got this book, which I read over the weekend. I was pleasantly surprised by how well reasoned it seemed. And there were no healing stones mentioned in the book (maybe those are an in-class bonus).
The basic idea is that standard, non-complicated labor is painful because women are afraid. The author--who is a woman, by the way--offered some historical reasons for this, plus there's just general social exposure to scary birth stories, especially now that we have all these online pregnancy forums to read! This fear triggers the fight, flight, or freeze instinct, which diverts blood away from non-essential muscles, including the uterus. As a consequence, the muscles of the lower uterus tense up and strain against the muscles of the upper uterus during contractions, which results in pain and prolongs labor, since the cervix can't thin and open as effectively. If the woman is relaxed, the upper and lower uterine muscles work together, contractions don't hurt (there's still pressure, just not pain), and labor tends to be faster. So the hypnobirthing approach is to reach a relaxed state via a combination of self-hypnosis (breathing and visualization) and massage. Even though you're super relaxed, you remain lucid and can interact with people as needed.
So I have no idea if any of this is true, but it seems reasonable, at least. I'm willing to try it. It requires daily relaxation practice (starting after we've taken the classes), so that the self-hypnosis cues work quickly and automatically when they're triggered during labor. It'll be interesting to see if self-hypnosis actually works for me. It's totally outside my scientist comfort zone to do this kind of thing, but if it works, that would be awesome!
Our house has been pretty chaotic for the past few days, because we had almost all of our plumbing re-piped. The pipes that were there when we bought the house were aging galvanized steel, so we decided to be proactive and replace them with plastic (PEX) pipe before the baby comes. And conveniently enough, our house's 28-year-old water heater started leaking this weekend, so we had the plumber replace it with an energy-efficient heat pump water heater while he was doing the other work. We knew the water heater would have to be replaced pretty soon after we bought the house, since it was so old. I'm just glad it didn't catastrophically fail and flood our basement in the middle of the night! Anyway, not a cheap week for us, but it's definitely good to get all this squared away now.
The plumbing is pretty much done (just a few loose ends to tie up after our city inspection tomorrow), and then we just have to have a plaster man close up the six holes that were cut in our stairwell wall and kitchen ceiling as part of the plumbing work (Patrick cut three of the holes over the weekend to save us a little money, and it looked like pretty exhausting work). We're actually thinking about leaving the holes open for a while longer, since we might get some rewiring work done within the next few months, and they could make that work easier. (The rewiring is another item that has been on our house to-do list since we bought it, and we're finally being spurred into action by the impending baby arrival). I'm sure we'll get used to having holes in our walls pretty quickly, but it might be unnerving for visitors!
Also, check out our new laundry sink! Patrick found it for free a couple blocks from our house a few months ago, and the plumber installed it in the basement for us and restored the faucet, since it was broken. Now Patrick has a place to wash his grimy bike hands and paint brushes and stuff. I like it!
I wanted to put in a good word for our plumber--Craig Anderson. He was very friendly and knowledgeable, and all of his guys were friendly and worked hard to get the job done on time. We definitely recommend him if you're looking for a plumber in the Portland area.
Also, I don't think I ever mentioned that our porch work is done. It was finished a while ago (back in October), but we never got around to taking after pictures because the rainy season started right at the same time. I'm sure we'll be able to enjoy our porches more once spring and summer are here! Maybe I'll post pictures then...
We also had our basement wall parge coating redone a week or two ago. That was noisy, smelly work, but it's good to have it out of the way.
We could go on like this for a long time (our housework to-do list is pretty long, since the house is 104 years old), but I think we've almost finished all of the big ticket items, and the rest can probably wait a few years.
The lack of reliable water for the past few days kind of put a damper on weekday cooking, but we made some good stuff during the weekend. We're still having fun exploring Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone--all of the following dishes are from there unless otherwise noted.
1. Spicy stir-fried tofu with coconut rice. This was my least favorite recipe this week. There was nothing wrong with it, but it wasn't super exciting. I think my main problem with it is that one of the spices that we used was kind of gritty, which made the texture of the dish unpleasant. Maybe I would have liked it better if we'd used finer spices. The coconut rice was good though.
2. Our breakfast on Saturday was buttermilk pancakes with caramelized bananas and hazelnuts. I made some modifications to the basic buttermilk pancake recipe in the book--instead of buttermilk, I used a combination of 1% milk, cottage cheese, and 1/2T lemon juice (since that's what we had on hand), which actually worked just fine. I also added chopped hazelnuts to the pancake batter, and then I mixed the banana slices with a little vanilla sugar, put those on the griddle first, and then covered them with the batter. Very nice!
3. For weekend lunch, we had golden tofu with quick peanut sauce, leftover coconut rice, and carrots with hijiki. The tofu with peanut sauce was awesome, especially considering how easy it was to make (apart from the oil splattering everywhere when I fried the tofu). The carrots with hijiki were a little too sea-vegetabley for me (never thought I'd say that--I love sea vegetables!). Next time I'd use more carrots and less hijiki.
4. Cabbage and mushroom galette with yeasted tart dough. This was yummy but not super filling. It needed some side dishes to be filling enough for dinner. I'd definitely make it again though. The yeast dough came together surprisingly quickly.
5. All-bean chili. I made this in kind of a hurry during our plumbing adventures, and it turned out watery and bland. I think part of the problem was that the pot I used was too big, which meant that when I covered the beans with 4 inches of water, it ended up being too much water. All was not lost though--I drained the beans and used them to make nachos (chips, cheese, beans, sour cream, and green onions). Yay, nachos for dinner!
6. I also made a little something from Dorie Greenspan--World Peace cookies (or Korova cookies, depending on which cookbook you use). These are among my favorite cookies, and they're pretty simple to make. I want more!