So, we headed off to Fairbanks on Tuesday for our OB appointment. Yeah, I know you want baby news, but you have to wait. You have to hear about our drive first.
Well, the fact is that I was in my new "no-caffeine" haze... not by choice, but suddenly my favorite necessity of life is making me gag. In our house, coffee is not an option. It is issued to you at birth. Seriously. Don't believe me? Here's a story for you.
We had recently brought my second son home from the hospital, and he had spent the entire night up wailing due to colic (which also seems to be issued to our family members at birth). I had been up all night. I was tired. When I finally got the little bugger to sleep, my oldest son pitter-pattered down the hall in footie pajamas, rubbing his eyes and saying, "Milk, mama."
This was our ritual. Warm milk for him, piping hot coffee for me, and spend about thirty minutes glaring at Matt Lauer and (then) Katie Couric on the Today Show until our ability to thrive kicked in.
We had just settled in with our respective cups of warmth and hunkered down for a good snuggle on the couch when the little bugger (son #2) woke again, in a colicky mood. I sighed, set my coffee cup down, and prepared to attend to the wailing wonder, but my oldest son stopped me.
"Wait, mama", he said. I waited. He tiptoed over to the bassinet, peered over the edge, and said, "Ben, in this house, there will be NO crying before coffee." Then the sweetie wandered back over to the couch, picked up his sippy cup, and snuggled into me, telling me to drink my coffee.
Yep. Coffee is a big deal in this house. My fascination with it came from my baby sitter, who in order to bribe me away from my own mommy in the mornings, would hand me two Oreo cookies and tell me if I was very careful, I could dunk them in her coffee. (I don't eat Oreos any other other way, either!) Even Beans has had her taste. She likes to drink the last little sip out of mine or J's cup. And when she does, she makes the cutest face with the widest open eyes you've ever seen and says, "YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM."
Oh, I hate morning sickness. I especially despise morning sickness that can make my favorite beverage smell like dirty socks.
Ah, I digress...
So, in my decaffeinated state, I almost ran over a road worker. THAT was great, let me tell you. I won't divulge the details of THAT argument with my husband, but we did spend the rest of our travels pretty much in silence.
In my defense, if I had been able to stomach a cup of coffee AND if Delta Junction's section of Richardson Hwy didn't look like a littering of traffic cones and road signs, I might have been able to determine that the poor lady in the hunter orange vest holding the stop sign was actually there. As it was, she really did blend into the rest of the construction scenery. (Which J admitted, after we were talking to each other again.)
Well, along our silent drive, we saw some amazing scenery. And as much as I hate fussing with my sweetie, the silence added a real depth to what my eyes were taking in.
For starters, we saw a fox cross the road. I slowed to let him pass, and as we passed him, he looked back, perking up his ears and giving a flick of his white tipped tail. Man, I wish I had brought a camera!
Speaking of wishing for a camera, Alaska (at least my part of it!) is postcard perfect right now. Our drive looked like we were traversing an ocean of yellow and gold, with specks and patches of green where the black spruce jetted up among seas on birch, aspen, and whatever-else-is-growing-out-there. Gone are the patches of red from the fire weed, and what's left of the wild flowers are dried into shades of brown clumps. The leaves are scattering off the trees in a hurry, making it look like it was raining gold along our drive.
Moose are present, but much more skittish, probably due to the fact that hunters are still blasting away in the forests. J is jealous, and counting down the days to being allowed to buy an in-state license for hunting. Looks like Santa will be bringing J rifles and ammo. No guessing what HE wants for Christmas!
Arriving into North Pole (we stopped in to visit some friends) was like driving into a different world. I am always surprised how each visit to "town" makes me cringe now. And driving into Fairbanks was even worse! Noisy and congested by Alaskan standards... I know I probably wouldn't last long in a city "back home" (lower 48) now!
We visited for a bit with some friends, then headed to Pagoda (honestly the ONE really good Chinese place in all of the Interior) where we chowed down on lunch. Funny thing about my being pregnant... J seems to get all the cravings. He wanted Chinese, so we went. Beans was happy to munch on those neat baby corn things (what ARE those things called???), fried rice, chow mein noodles, and was even brave enough to test out the General Tso's chicken (which she promptly said, "NO NO NO" and spit out).
Stuffed full of vittles, we headed into Fairbanks and made a quick stop at the thrift store (I desperately need WINTER maternity clothes!) before heading off to the doctor.
Um, I hated the doctor, to be quite honest. And I'm looking around. Truth is, there aren't many options though, so I may be kind of stuck. But seriously, I have a BIG problem with a doctor who runs an hour behind schedule, then spends my appointment ignoring my questions and staring at the clock like she has someplace better to be.
Just my humble opinion, there folks.
Oh. But you want the news. Well, the baby is great. A good heart beat, and looking like a little bean with arms and legs. The doctor has no explanation for our troubles last week, and said that everything looks good. It was a relief to see the ultrasound for myself, and see the little Nugget's heart thumping away.
For Family: Um, I do not have confidence in this doctor to handle the preterm labor issues if we have them. She was a bit of a ninny and really didn't give ANY indication of how she handles preterm issues OR what kind of game plan she wanted to set up if we start having problems down in Delta Junction.
J and I figure that God knows what He's doing, and He's gonna do what He's gonna do. Since we are kind of in a "wait and see" mode, we are just kind of trusting God to handle things.
Meanwhile, we'll be looking into what other options we might have for doctors.
I cheered myself up after my doctor appointment by stopping at Blueberry Baby, a cloth diapering, natural parenting store in town, and really perked up my spirits by finding some itty-bitty-teeny-tiny little tooshy covers for the new baby. I know, I know, they are just going to hold pee and poop. But they are adorable and SO LITTLE. I suddenly FELT pregnant (and not in the yucky morning sickness way, but the really excited to be getting another little one kind of way). With a small sampling of teeny diapers in tow (I'll check them out and decide if I can sew my own itty-bitty ones or need to order a few more), we headed to Walmart for the dreaded shopping.
I should add a disclaimer here. I detest going to Walmart. Not because I think it's an awful store. It's okay. And when your options are limited, it's certainly acceptable. But as a personal opinion, I do find Walmart to be the most effective method of birth control ever.
Seriously. One step into Walmart and you see a dozen moms screaming at their kids, and a dozen more kids running rampant through the aisles, and a handful of really unenthusiastic employees... it's hard to get excited about going to Walmart.
When J and I go, we always have such high hopes. We get "Walmart Amnesia"... kind of like that "Mommy Amnesia" where you forget what a painful experience the birth was and want to have another baby. Well, that's what happens when we go to Walmart. Every time. And every time, it ends similarly to labor and delivery... with me yelling obscenities at my husband and vowing I will never step foot in Walmart again.
Especially when we get to the checkout aisle. After discovering that 90% of the things on our list weren't even at the store.
Every time we go, I wish we had just gone to Freed Meyer. (Not to leave other chains out, but when we lived in the lower 48, I used to wish we had just gone to Target instead.) The extra $1 per item would have been worth not dealing with 100 moms screaming at their kids that they could not have candy, or the "if you didn't stop that right now" empty threats that are so popular there.
With THAT headache behind us, I was relieved to get back to the sanctuary of my friend M's house. She's such good company, and walking into her home is like walking into your home... welcoming, inviting, maybe a little noisy (she has three kids), but you can tell everyone (including her visitors) are loved. M and I chatted about doctor visits, babies, and all kinds of neat things while our husbands did guy stuff out in the garage. I'm not exactly sure what that is, I just know it involved looking at a boat, drinking beers, and before the night was over, cracking open the gun safe and talking about dead animals.
My husband even tried to convince me that I should just spend the night with M and let him go tromping in the woods to hunt with M's husband. And when I told him no, I was begged by her husband.
Well, I had to burst J's little bubble on that one. Beans doesn't exactly do sleep-overs very well. Which means I'M not exactly good sleepover material right now either. I eventually forced J back to the minivan, promising he could go be Rambo next week (when I wasn't exhausted and ready to go home) and started the trek home.
Um, after a brief stop at McDonald's to quell MY own cravings, that is.
Funny thing... when I'm NOT pregnant, I can't stand fast food. You couldn't pay me to eat a hot dog when I'm not pregnant. When I'm knocked up, I HAVE to have them. I've been thinking about McDonald's since the last time we went to town. And already looking forward to the next trip to town for my french fries.
That craving met (and truthfully, I spent most of the drive home feeling miserably sick), we headed on our way down the highway.
We didn't get to see much, as it was getting pretty dark at 8 pm when we left for home. By 9, and along the unlit Richardson, it was pitch black, other than a handful of stars. We stopped at a pull-off by the Salcha River to nurse Beans (who was wailing in the back) and I was amazed at how different night is here in Alaska.
There's an amazing serenity. Darkness is different here... it swallows you (and your headlights) up whole. The stars and what little light from the moon we had that night reflected off the river's current, casting shards of light on the water. The snow on the mountains reflected the light, so much that it provided an eerie contrast to the dark of the smaller hills, the water, and the roadway. The snow makes the mountains look enormous in the dark.
I heard someone recently say that being in Alaska's vast wilderness makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger. I found the opposite to be true. As I sat, nursing Beans and J silently gazing out the window, I was suddenly aware of how little we are, how insignificant, and for a moment, I was strangely lonely... not a feeling I'm used to these days. I was suddenly missing friends and family, and longing for a big holiday gathering of people, craving some noise to fill the vast emptiness of the mountains and the water.
Beans dozed off, and once she was safely buckled back in, we finished our journey home. It took a LONG time. As the night got darker still, our speed slowed to a crawl through the mountains. Not sure of the curves in the road and ever fearful of my van seeing a moose before I do, we must have travelled no more than 45 miles an hour most of the way home.
Beans, J and I were relieved to get home. Beans especially was relieved to be snuggled into some warm jammies, nursed, and tucked in for bed, and J and I were quick to fall in right behind her.
For Those Back Home:
Nights are getting longer now. Sunrise isn't until after 7 am (and getting later every single morning), and the sun sets before 8:30 (and getting earlier every evening). Snow is heading down the mountains quickly, and it doesn't look like it will be much longer before it reaches us. Today's temp was 50 degrees, and tonight is supposed to get pretty chilly.
When I bought Bean's Halloween costume, I'm glad I ran into a local in the store! I was advised to get it a couple sizes too big, so her SNOW gear would fit underneath her costume. Snow, on Halloween. How weird. But it should make for some interesting looking spooky scenery!
OK. I'm off to work on my crochet project, and hopefully get it done really soon. I hate being stuck on the same project for too long. And if I take any more breaks on it, this baby blanket won't get finished until the recipient (one of the new moms at the fire station) is sending her new little one off to college.
Then, off to bed for me. I've got a long weekend ahead of me, with J working 5 days straight this time around.
Until I have something else interesting to report...
Happy Moose Trails!