My birthday

I woke up this morning, and as per usual, my parents took a long time to come. It must have been at least 2 minutes. 

Dad took me back to their bedroom, and they tickled me under my chin. I hate that. There’s a dank, dark nappy brewing just for them. After a while, they got bored of tickling me, and so I ate Dad’s iPhone for a bit and he played me some music. 

Eventually, they took the hint and fed me. After that, Dad tried to put me back in the gravity test lab. I wasn’t having a bar of that. I’d run out of test subjects, and more to the point I had just got up, so I body slammed the rails until he came and got me again. The spy machine helps amplify the satisfying “thunk” my feet make when I hit them against the side of the test lab. 

At least I found Mrs Udders the Cow hiding in a corner of the test lab. She entertained me as I dropped her outside the test lab. Again. I am pretty sure I’ve run out of gravity test lab subjects. I will have to get more from the back of the door the next time Dad picks me up. 

After being fed banana and apple goo again, Dad put me in the play house. There were few gravity test lab subjects that really interested me in the play house. The garbage bin behind the seats had my name on it. I crawled through a tiny gap between the chair and side table, but got stuck again – my nappy makes my butt just too big. Will need to take the nappy off soon to get more wriggle room. Being in stealth baby ninja mode, I made it all the way to the bin after a bit of a struggle. I must have been too quiet because Dad came and got me out of there as soon as I had a lemonade can. I must fake them out better next time. 

I was a bit tired after that. Dad gave me a bit of Mum’s pancake. That’s so much better than my food. I will have to see about getting more of that. What! It was a trick! They put me back in the gravity test lab! And wah! No test subjects! Oh so tired. 

& clunk &

I woke a bit later on my face. This is never good. Still no test lab subjects! Wah! Wah!

Dad came and got me, and changed me. I’m still brewing something special for him. 

They fed me again, and then got me dressed in yet another outfit. I’m not a Barbie doll. Dad is changed, and Mum is rushing around. This can’t be good – we must be going out. The last time I went out, they gave me a bunch of injections in my legs. I still have to pay that back.

Talking about pay back… voila! 

Oooh outside. I love outside. So many more test lab subjects if only I could get my hands on them! 

The car seat. Hrmmph. Oooh car keys. We’re off. 

Oooh baby gym! Yay!

All my friends are here. Awesome. I think I’ll walk today.

May 08

I will make May’s entry brief, partially because it is hard to recall most of the events plus I am so far behind on many things and we are heading to New York in 2 days (you can read about it in June’s post) and I have a lot to do!

Mackenzie’s milestones and events for the month were as follows (being that she was 5 months):

  • She is starting to teeth, although to date no tooth has broken through. The doctor feels that she will unfortunately be one of those babies who suffer over a long period before the teeth break through. So we are helping her out when she needs it with pain relief and Orajel, plus many extra cuddles!
  • She can recognize her bottle at a distance and knows what it is and that it belongs in her mouth so she puts her hands out for it. The same can be said for some of her favorite toys if you are holding them at a distance.
  • She can reach for and grasp items successfully.
  • She is starting to roll but gets frustrated and gives up.
  • She can sit up on her own for long periods at a time unless she is tired and then she tends to fall over a lot. We bought her a 54 square inch play mat which is 1 inch thick so that she can play with confidence and when she kerplunks as we call it, she doesn’t hurt herself. You can see a photo of this in the May photos – see link on right side of the page.
  • She began swimming lessons with 3 of her mom’s group friends which she loves. We (well I) put her under water the first lesson and she was fine. Over the month her skills grew and she now falls in off the edge of the pool with no assistance from me and swims under water for 10 seconds or so before I pull her out. She is a natural! We do have video of her first class so once again click on the links on the right side of this page and beware that there is footage of the other 3 babies also as Andrew came for the first lesson so all mommies could get some footage of their little ones.
  • We had to buy her a summer wardrobe as now the weather has warmed up. It gets very muggy here so we purchased a lot of dresses which are light and many are backless. We were able to get a full wardrobe for less than $100. Clothes are so cheap here it’s great.

It was Mother’s Day during the month as many of you would have experienced. My day was fabulous although the weather didn’t co-operate, it was wet so a lunch picnic was out of the question. The day started with breakfast in bed (icecream & fudge!) and flowers and gifts. Oh and a sleep in of course. I was treated to a massage (in house) and then allowed to have a bath during the day. We spent an afternoon watching back episodes of Lost and I changed no diapers or did any feedings. We were due to have dinner out but Andrew began to feel unwell so we ordered in. All in all I had a wonderful and relaxing day.

On Memorial we went to the Wicher’s (one of Andrew’s bosses) place again for a gathering. They have a big street party for all friends and work colleagues which is great. They had a person who draws charactertures of people so we had one done of Mackenzie which you can see in the photos. All in all we had a great day, the weather was hot but at least the storms didn’t come in like last year. Towards the end of the day we had to leave as Mackenzie’s teeth began to bother her.

A couple of medical appointments to update you with during the month for Andrew. He saw an Endocronologist for his diabetes. Although he has very low level type 2 diabetes she placed him on medication to help prevent him from developing anything worse. He also saw a Urologist to plan for a vasectomy. We desperately want more children but I physically cannot have another pregnancy without risking my health and that of the baby given the medications I am on and the extreme 24 hour morning sickness and weight loss I had. We were extremely lucky that Mackenzie didn’t suffer any ill effects from the medications so to risk that again would be stupid. So the surgery is set for July 3rd.

Andrew also spent time in Malvern PA without us as I didn’t want to miss swimming classes and our mom’s group gathering, plus he only went for the 4 days so it didn’t seem worth it.

So that was our month. As I write this June has been hectic and exciting so look out for next months post and photos!  

 

April 08

The month started with Andrew flying to Colorado Springs unfortunately without Mackenzie and I as the flight times with a reasonable price tage were at ridiculous hours. I was upset that I couldn’t get to see Michelle again and that she couldn’t see how Mackenzie had grown. It also felt strange being alone with Mackenzie for the first time and doing all that was required to look after here alone. But I coped (as I knew I would but it still felt stressful) and we had a great week together. I had the Moms Support Group (whom is now named the Fabulous First Time Mommies – FFTM) over as per usual on the Thursday and I spent another of the days at one of the moms house so I could spend some adult time with someone and Mackenzie was able to play with her friend Ellen.

The next week Andrew and I went on our first date night, leaving Mackenzie with a friend of mine and her 2 year old daughter. Turns out we had a great time but Mackenzie was upset the whole time we were gone and cried and cried. I wasn’t sure whether it was being away from us or the constant attention a 2 year old can give a baby so I wanted to try again with another friend (one of the moms from the FFTM) as Mackenzie knows her better. Around a week later I left Mackenzie with Rebecca whilst I had a massage and she was fine. So I realised that as long as she was around someone she was comfortable with we could leave her for date nights.

The Mackenzie update for the month is as follows:

  • She is now laughing and giggling constantly. She first giggled on april 2nd which Andrew missed and can now sit but falls over after a few minutes.
  • She attempts to roll over but gets quite frustrated and gives up very quickly.
  • Her 4 month check up went well – she weighed 16.7 pounds which is in the 95% percentile, and her height was 24 3/4 inches which is in the 75% percentile. The doctor wasn’t concerned with the lack of rolling over due to her size and said it will happen when it happens.
  • After her 4 month shots she developed a cold which hung around for a while so we lived on nasal decongestants for her and the occassional Tylenol for her sore throat.
  • We bought her a mirror which attaches to the headrest in the car so that we can see her in the rear vision mirror. It also has animals around it which light up and play music to entertain her.

Andrew had a Monday off work due to some excess overtime so we decided to head to Washington DC for the day to see the cherry blossoms. Unfortunately we were 2 days too late (they are very fickle and known to appear one day unexpectently and then disappear) so we wandered around the Lincoln Monument and the World War II Monument. We soon learnt that with baby in tow things take longer than expected given the amount of times we need to stop and feed her and allow her to sleep. So our plan of visiting the Air & Space Museum has been put on hold until a day off in July.

Our FFTM group held a weekend brunch at Bethany’s place so that all of the working moms could catch up with the rest of us and the men could all meet each other also. It was a nice day to see how everyone had grown and also to meet the men so that we could all feel comfortable in group situations in the future.

In April I attempted to try and meet many of the stay at home moms in the apartment complex I often see around and about. I put a flier together to meet at the club house as a once off event so that we could then arrange to meet at people’s houses that would be convenient. I was quite disappointed with the turn out of 3 moms, all of whom had toddlers so it would be hard for us to have anything in common as our children would be looking to do different things at this stage. The only good thing to come out of it was meeting Maggie who lives in the apartment behind me. She has a son Grayson who is only 6 weeks younger than Mackenzie. She decided to join the FFTM’s which is great. Since then she and I have become great friends and call on each other most days to hang out with each other. I am looking forward to developing our friendship and for Mackenzie and Grayson to be able to play together. Continue reading

February & March 08

Mackenzie – Here is a summary of her growth & development over the past 2 months

  • I cannot start anywhere but with poor Andrew and his first vomit when changing a diaper in early February. He was afraid that with his bad gag reflex this may be an issue but to date all was well. Until one particular diaper change which wasn’t anything unusual but for him something wasn’t right and he had to make a run to the kitchen to throw up! I was laughing so hard I forgot to go and rescue Mackenzie who was left on the change table with a crappy diaper. So funny!
  • Mackenzie had her 2 month check up on February 11th which included some immunizations. Her weight was 11 pounds 7 ounces which is in the 75th percentile and her height was 23.5 inches which is in the 90th percentile. Basically she is growing well, the formula is servicing all her needs and she is happy!
  • In early February, she developed a weeping and swollen left eye followed by some vomiting late at night so after speaking to the on call doctor it was suggested that due to her age and the vomiting that she needed to be seen at the hospital that night. So our poor little girl experienced her first emergency room visit. The doctor said she had pink eye (conjunctivitis) but it was the vomiting that was more concerning. So we were asked to stay for several hours, feeding her Pedialyte in small increments until they were okay with her to go home. She required the Pedialyte for 3 days and she wasn’t happy as she wanted “real” food. The eye wasn’t really getting better, so she was reviewed in March and given a stronger cream and is better now. Her weight in the ER had grown to 14 pounds 12 ounces but she lost nearly half a pound whilst unwell.
  • Due to her weight and length she has now outgrown her bassinet which means I can no longer put her down for her naps in the lounge room near me, she must now take all of her naps in the nursery. When it begins to get dark I put the light on so she can distinguish between night and day. She has now progressed to sleeping around 11 -12 hours at night which is pure bliss for us. We put her down after her last feed at around 10pm or so and don’t hear from her until anywhere from 9am onwards. However this doesn’t work on the days when I need the car and Andrew is working. On those days, Mackenzie has to have her first feed before we set out (I stay in my pajamas - who cares?) so I am experimenting with an earlier bedtime of 9pm onwards.
  • She has begun to discover her fingers and hands but not yet her thumb by itself to suck. She isn’t into dummies / pacifiers as yet and maybe never will. Poor Andrew gets confused now as he used to take the hand sucking sign as a signal for feeding time but now that she does it for pleasure and interest he always thinks she’s hungry! (AJV: She takes after me, so she is hungry!)
  • As Mackenzie loves her baths with me we decided to take her to a pool so that we could determine whether we should start her in swimming lessons now or wait until the traditional age of 6 months. We had to get her own membership card and photo which is quite hilarious as she will only look like that photo for a month or two. Anyway despite the wading pool being very busy, she took it all in her stride and loved it. She was so busy looking around at everything that was going on (she is quite a sticky beak) and wasn’t concerned with the splashing of water around her. So we will enroll her in classes beginning in May and hope she does well and enjoys herself.
  • In February she began to stare at items and try to grasp them with no success, but now in March she is able to grab that item and bring it to her and put in her mouth which is where everything ends up!
  • All babies spit up to a degree, obviously some more so with colic and reflux problems. Mackenzie doesn’t have any concerns, partly due to the formula she is on which contains rice cereal (hence the quick weight gain compared to babies who don’t experience rice cereal until they eat solids) to prevent spit ups, so to have 2 severe vomits during the month was quite a shock as we don’t expect it. The first one got into all of my medications so I had to get refills and the other went all over me and her the morning before her first swim. In general she has daily minor spit ups but these were major vomits, just awful.
  • Her first laugh was on March 13th and I was in heaven. I was home alone after a day of not feeling great after a busy day out (I still have to take things easy as my back is a constant source of pain and I still suffer arthritis related exhaustion) this was just what I needed. Thankfully Andrew heard the 2nd time before he went away for a business trip. It’s just priceless when these milestones occur as all mums and dads will attest.
  • Our main concern regarding our precious daughter at the moment is that one night the alarm on her sleep sensor monitor went off. Basically for those without children, it is a monitor which not only allows you to hear the child but also detects lack of movement in the crib after 15 seconds and then sounds an alarm. This is a great weapon against SIDS and one I put first onto my to buy list. Anyway, it went off so we both raced into the room and shook her awake. This was an enormous fright to us and we were on the door step of the doctor’s office first thing that morning and without an appointment we were thankfully seen. They initially suggested she may be congested after giving her a full checkup to ensure there was no chest or lung concerns etc and that we elevate the bed slightly and clear her nasal passages before sleep. So this we did but to no avail, it kept going off and some nights it occurred several times. It’s really hard to say how many of these times she actually wasn’t breathing versus deep sleep as we just shake her instantly as we are scared; it’s very hard to take those few seconds to assess the problem when you are standing there over her crib.
    So I spoke to the doctor again and he commented that at this age babies have a tendency to sleep very deeply and if the sensitivity of the monitor is too low it won’t be able to distinguish between that and no breathing. So we played around with the monitor (by this time sleep was impossible) and we think we have a happy medium. Whilst Andrew was away this last week (will comment on in April blog entry) I had one night where it went off 6 times, 3 times she had woken herself up by the time I got there, once she wasn’t breathing so I shook her wake, others were deep sleep.

    So where are we now? The monitor no longer detects the deep sleep scenario which is great but that means when the alarm sounds she isn’t breathing and this has still happened several times. It is hard to describe how we feel about this and the subsequent sleep deprivation and fear. My sister Amanda had the same experience with her first boy Jarrod and it latest for around 3 weeks and then ceased. We are hoping (and I am praying) that will happen for us also.

Howard County New Moms Support Group

In February one of our weekly meetings was at the local library to show us all the resources that are available to us. The library world has sure changed since I was young. This library allows food and drink, plus talking and noise of all things. Their children’s area is fabulous and they even loan out toys which have been cleaned between each use. Seeing as we aren’t here permanently this will be a great place for me to utilize for Mackenzie for books, DVD’s, toys and more. The library also has regular story times for specific age groups in an enclosed room so that kids can sprawl out everywhere. All in all it’s a great place and as it’s only a 20 minute walk from our apartment, it’s a place we will be visiting regularly as the weather improves.

Our final meeting arrived but as a group we decided that we all needed the support and friendship this group was providing so we are continuing to meet on our own. Now that we are continuing the meeting we needed some organization, so I nominated myself to be the organizer for the group, arranging outings and scheduling the calendar and so on. A lot of our meetings are here in our apartment which is fine whilst the little ones aren’t on the move, plus we ensure we alternate weeks with events out of the house. Half of the moms have returned to work so we are also planning weekend events so we can still keep in touch and some events will involve the partners also.

Internet Mom’s Group

We attended an infant’s playgroup during March organized by the Internet Mom’s Group I am also a member of. Previously this group focused on events for toddlers and upwards but now many members are having second children and are looking for events for their infants now that the older ones are at school or preschool.

Although Mackenzie was the youngest one there we had a good time. This event unfortunately is in the afternoon on the same day as my Support Group Mom’s so I don’t get to attend all of them.

The only downside to being a member of this group is that most of the members are based in southern Maryland around 30-50 minutes away as the woman who started the group lives in Silver Spring, 35 minutes from us towards DC and VA so many moms and events are that way not towards the north and Baltimore which makes attending regular events quite difficult.

Malvern, PA

We spent 2 weeks back in Malvern PA, the same place where I spent a lot of my pregnancy, stuck in the hotel room vomiting. This time instead we were stuck in the hotel room for different reasons. The first week Mackenzie was recovering from her pink eye and vomiting so we needed to stick close due to cold weather and getting her back into a routine. The second week I developed tonsillitis so I wasn’t well enough to do anything.

 The weekend in between we came home as Monday was a holiday. Since we also had a hire car (Andrew had driven up the day before me as Mackenzie & I had her 2 months appointment on the Monday) meant I had to drive home whilst sick with tonsillitis. So I followed Andrew the whole time and we took a lot longer than we normally would, even with having to stop for Mackenzie.

Mackenzie travelled well and adapted to sleeping in the port a cot in the hotel rooms lounge room. She was also a good traveler in the car which was great, giving us no problems so long as we stopped when feeds were due.

Whilst away, it was Valentine’s Day which was also my Mum’s 60th. We had plans to have a nice romantic night out (with bubs in tow) but with the tonsillitis I couldn’t eat anyway so we stayed in and got takeout, not very romantic but practical. We were also unable to go to Marrakesh (our favorite restaurant ever, talked about in previous blog entries) this visit due to snow as the roads into Philadelphia are awful at the best of times, but in snow it would have been a nightmare. Next time maybe!

Other items of interest these past two months are the decision to get our groceries delivered. This saves our time on the weekend or me trying to with and infant. It is very cheap and convenient, with all items placed in the kitchen for you to unpack. I love it. I was also very happy to discover that our local supermarket has begun to stock custard and Ribena in the upgraded international aisle. The custard however is in a tin, but beggars can’t be choosers!

Lastly, Easter came and went for us as it’s not celebrated here as a national holiday despite the country being predominately a Christian Nation so Andrew worked. So it didn’t really feel like Easter at all. I miss the Good Friday appeal in Victoria and having family meals on the Sunday or Monday, plus the footy games. Although I am watching our international channel and seeing many of the games which is great.

So, once again a long entry, my apologies. I will try and make sure I post April’s as soon as the month ends as I find it hard to remember 2 months worth of stuff. We have more photos & videos of Mackenzie but as at the time of posting this they aren’t on the Internet. They should be up next weekend so you can click on the links at the right side of this page under the heading of Links for the photos and videos.

January 08

You can find photos and short videos of Mackenzie at the following locations:

Photos:

http://picasaweb.google.com/vanderaj

Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/vanderaj

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone spent the holidays with family and friends and enjoyed themselves immensely, downing a few glasses of champagne or similar. Here in the USA we had a quiet night in. We had considered finding some fireworks nearby but it turns out that we would have had to schlep into either Baltimore or Washington DC, both of which are an hour away give or take and with a newborn it just wasn’t practical. So with Mum and Dad we sat down and watched the proceedings from New York’s Time Square and celebrated with a glass of bubbly each. Must say it tasted so good after so long without any alcohol!

So with a smile I bid farewell to 2007 and welcomed 2008 which is bound to be a much better year indeed. For a week at the start of the month, Mum and Dad went to a resort in Pennsylvania for a break. Mackenzie and I were originally going to join them however I felt that it would be better for Andrew and me to spend that time alone with Mackenzie so that we could experience what it would be like when Mum and Dad returned home. That way if there was any concerns we had we still had some time with Mum and Dad here after their trip to perfect things before they left for good. Upon their return Michelle and her daughter Justine (from Colorado, exchange student when I was 17, considered as my sister) came for the weekend to visit us and especially Mum and Dad whom she hadn’t seen for around 7 years.

So the house was certainly a busy one, but at least Andrew and I found time for a date night which actually marked the anniversary of me emailing him via the internet dating website. We thought we would take the chance while we had it for a night out together before we no longer had the baby sitting support. Then the time came to drive to the airport in Washington DC to say goodbye to everyone. Andrew was unable to come as he had a special project at work to complete so it was quite hard for me to have to say goodbye to my parents and then drive home. What can I say about my parents that would even begin to cover the gratitude and thanks that Andrew and I feel about the time they spent with us and the support we received? We really couldn’t have gotten a lot of things achieved without them and of course it was nice just to be with them again and spend time as friends. Thanks again Mum and Dad!!!!!

So with Mum and Dad returning to Australia, Andrew and I are now alone with Mackenzie. Andrew still marvels at the fact that the hospital actually let us walk out with her! But seriously, we are doing well and handling the responsibility of looking after her and now the house (that was Mum and Dad’s area whilst here) well. With my improved health (it looks as though the arthritis may be in remission!) I am able to do much more around the house which is quite invigorating as I hated having to basically be on bed rest last year, vomiting all day and watching TV.

Mackenzie is growing and developing well. She is due for her 2 month check up on February 11th so we will find out her weight then but we estimate her to be around 9 pounds (AJV: 10-11 lbs!) which is a great growth rate from the 6 pounds at birth. She continues to sleep and eat well and rarely cries (only when she is over tired, is unhappy at how long it is taking for the bottle to reach her mouth, or a very dirty nappy), so Andrew and I are extremely blessed and lucky and continue to touch wood each day that she remains that way. She has progressed to sleeping around 6-8 hours each night as long as we give her the last feed of the day as close to midnight as possible. Last night, however she somehow managed to sleep 9 hours, I was very surprised to see the time when I was finally awoken by her cooing.

Now that her nursery has been set up properly (previously the futon couch was being used my Mum and Dad so space was at a premium) she spends her nights in the crib and during the day she sleeps in the bassinet she was using in our room for the first 6 weeks which we have now relocated to the lounge room. This allows her to be able to sleep under any condition (she is right next to the TV and stereo, both of which are frequently on during the day) so that we do not have to change up our schedule in any way to accommodate her sleeps. This is best for her also – so that she can adapt to any environment.

She has started to respond to our voices and smiles, smiling back at us which is just priceless and melts your heart. She loves to make noises and coos regularly, especially when she is playing on her floor play mat. We have taken some video of this which should be available on the website per the above addresses soon. She also took her first adult bath with me during the month and she was in heaven. She loved the feeling of floating so we are hoping that when the time comes to introduce swimming she will love that also.

A few weeks ago I reached the 6 week mark post giving birth, the time you return to the OBGYN for a check-up and hopefully receive the all clear to resume all activities. Only a week prior however I needed to be seen as some of my internal stitches from the cesarean had become exposed and needed to be cut away. There was no pain involved or blood and gore so don’t worry. I passed my check-up with flying colors, the OBGYN was very happy with how well I had recovered from the operation and I was given the all clear. This certainly made Andrew a very happy boy indeed!

Whilst in the hospital during my pregnancy I was greeted by a volunteer who worked for the Howard County Mothers Support Centre. Basically they are an organization funded by the hospital to help support all mum’s (being expectant, new, 2nd time around etc) in whatever way they require. Some of their services include assisting mums on bed rest, providing child care options and things such as preschool groups. I was told about a program whereby every 3 months they start a new group called the Howard County New Mum’s Support Group. The idea being that any mum who has given birth within that 3 month period is welcome to attend a weekly meeting, the premise being that it helps first time mums meet other first time mums enabling emotional support, networking for mum’s and babies as well as a learning portion. The initial meetings run for 12 weeks and each week the moderator has someone come in for part of the meeting to talk to us about something of interest to us. For example the first 2 speakers covered sourcing child care and a baby nurse to answer all those nagging questions we all have.

This group has around 10 members currently and I love attending. I have connected well with a few mums, one of which is new to the country like me, plus it’s a great way to feel normal – that is other people are going through exactly the same things you are. Given that I don’t have my mum or my sisters close by for support, this group is proving to be priceless. Plus it forces me to get out of the house every Thursday for a few hours, even if you are having one of those days where nothing is going right and you can’t be bothered!

The first week we met there was a severe snow storm, we received 4 inches of snow; and it was quite a treacherous drive home, worrying more about the little bundle of joy in the back of the car than anything else! You can see the photos via Andrew’s sites above, under the heading of “Hands in the Air”.

The location of our new apartment is across the road from the main shopping mall in Columbia. This enables me to walk each day (weather depending) with Mackenzie across to the mall for a walk around to get some fresh air and exercise, stopping for a hot chocolate before heading home. In general the mall is a safe location, yes it has crime such as car and store thefts, but I feel safe walking around. Only a few weeks ago though this changed with a stabbing occurring in mid afternoon (Mum and Dad were still here and with me at the time) right outside the entry to the food court. Prior to living here, this was the entry Andrew and I would park at and enter the mall. Granted crime can happen anywhere and at anytime but this made me a little nervous, especially about the route I take walking home which passes the bus stations where many vagrants congregate. So I have decided that from now on I am going to walk to the mall via another direction which passes town houses and the restaurants surrounding the mall perimeter. This only adds around 10 minutes to my journey and lets face it, I can do with the added exercise!

During the month I FINALLY got my Maryland state license. I had attempted a few times last year to achieve this but each time I was either unable to walk with the arthritis or unsure whether I could last long enough to not vomit during either the written or driving portion of the test due to the morning pregnancy sickness. The main reason I am so excited about this is that up until this time I had no photo identification in the name of van der Stock. I was unable to update my Australian license or my passport before we left for the USA so it became a hassle on many occasions when I was unable to prove who I actually was!

The process itself though is quite a joke. The written exam is only 20 random questions of which you must get 17 correct followed by a 10 minute driving test in the parking lot of the MVA (Motor Vehicle Association). No actual driving on the road itself is required, no wonder so many drivers in this state are useless, love to tailgate, fail to signal and are in general just plain rude. But before I continue to abuse them too much, I actually failed my first attempt at the driving portion of the test! How embarrassing! I was trying to hurry and get it done whilst Mum and Dad were still here as I was unable to have Mackenzie in the car during the test, a very hard thing for a mum to co-ordinate. Anyway what I did wrong was what is called a “rolling stop” at the very last stop sign before completion. I was so upset with myself not only for failing but for having to disrupt Andrew’s plans one day to get him to attend the next test with me to look after Mackenzie.

Thankfully this time I passed (I was extra careful at the stop signs, only 3 in total) but then came the debate with the clerk about the spelling of my surname. They refused to split van der Stock into 3 words even though that is how Andrew’s license is spelt and all other forms of cards I have such as my bank VISA. Apparently our marriage license has Vanderstock being one word so they would only spell it that way. Quite ridiculous really, it’s not like we are asking for a different name altogether! So yes I have photo identification which is great, but it’s still not in the correct name so I hope this doesn’t cause yet more problems!

Well, this entry has certainly turned into a long one, but two last things to mention are as follows. Andrew and I changed our primary doctor this month as our prior one was hardly ever available and wouldn’t take emergency visits so if you had a sore throat and needed to be seen, you would have to wait up to 2 or 3 days. This was totally unacceptable for anyone, let alone someone with all of my health complaints.

So we are now seeing a great doctor who works in the same building as Mackenzie’s and the 2 practices are linked together which is great. Also on a health note, Andrew has been diagnosed as a Type 2 Diabetic. That means that at the moment it can be controlled by diet which is good news, especially for someone who hates needles so much. It also means that if he can get some weight off here is a chance for him to reverse this condition. Now that life is settling down more we are trying to find a routine that works for us in relation to meals and exercise so that we can support his quest as much as possible to lose some weight and regain his health.

Well now I will sign off. I hope everyone is well and I look forward to continuing to hear from you all via email. I love to hear about what you guys are up to and about Australia in general.

Love Tanya

Welcome – Mackenzie Lynne van der Stock

Well my pregnancy is finally over, thank god! It was 9 months of pure hell but the result was oh so worth it. Mackenzie Lynne was born on December 11th 2007 weighing in at 6 pounds 1 ounce. The day began with a routine ultrasound which Mum & Dad came along to, when the specialist came into the room to inform me that my amniotic fluid was dangerously low and seeing as I was 38 weeks I wouldn’t be going home but instead being admitted for induction. So I was taken down the hall to Labour & Delivery and admitted to room 3 where we proceeded to wait for the doctor who was busy doing rounds in the wards. Once she arrived she explained what would be happening which was that I was to have cervidel administered (a cervix softening device which stays in for 12 hours) and then the next morning I would have the IV medication Pitocin started to begin labour. In theory it sounded good but what happened was totally different. Within an hour or so labour began and after another hour the pain was too much that I was given IV pain relief. But by then the contractions were actually one continual contraction which was concerning the doctor. So it was decided to give me the epidural so that my body could relax, everyone still thinking that “proper” labour wouldn’t begin until after the 12 hours. The epidural instantly relieved the pain and I was feeling great when everyone rushed in the room and started checking me at which point my water broke. Then the worried looks began and I realised that Mackenzie’s heart rate was dangerously high. Within a few minutes it was decided that I needed an emergency cesarean and things happenend in a hurry. So only 4 hours after I was admitted I was in the theater having my baby.

Unfortunately the epidural wasn’t strong enough for the cesarean so I was given a high dose of pain killers in the IV to knock me out without being under a General Anesthetic as time was of the essence. This meant that I was so sleepy during the procedure that I wasn’t aware of Mackenzie’s birth and was too sleepy for hours later to really appreciate what had just happened. But thankfully Mackenzie was born with no problems due to the high heart rate which was great and Andrew who was by my side the whole time raced out to inform my parents of the good news. Mackenzie was taken to the NICU following the operation for observation due to the fact that during the pregnancy I had to remain on medications for my arthritis which may have affected her at birth. We are pleased to report though that she had no major problems with the medications but remained in the NICU for 5 days which is standard procedure. I was released after 4 days and found it extremely difficult to leave my baby at the hospital, even though it was only for 24 hours.

So now Mackenzie is home and thriving. She is a fantastic sleeper, we have to wake her to feed her during the day which we do every 2-3 hours which means she sleeps up to 7 hours during the night. She is placid and easy going which means we are able to go out and about and do things we need to without having to worry too much about her. She sleeps next to the TV in our bedroom and isn’t perturbed at all by noise, a legacy of spending time in the NICU which has constant sounds and alarms going off.  At her first doctor appointment she was deemed to be in perfect health which was great news for us. I am recovering well from the surgery having to not worry about the possibility of infection as they now use glue to seal wounds. My weight is remarkably lower than pre-pregnancy, thanks to the constant vomiting I endured during the pregnancy. I am now at a weight I was during the days of playing netball which is a long time ago so it is a nice blessing although not a diet I would recommend. As I am not breastfeeding (the specialist thought this best as I am still on the many medications) I will need to watch what I eat to maintain this weight and once I am given the all clear at my 6 week check up I can start walking with the pram each day to try and lose more.

So Mackenzie has been certainly the focus of the month but other things did happen. Mum and Dad arrived from Australia for a 7 week stay which has been fantastic. They arrived in time to see their first grand-daughter enter the world. They have been an amazing help to Andrew and I, doing everything around the house so that we can focus purely on Mackenzie. Dad has also organised the house by doing the last of our unpacking and buying shelves etc to sort things out so that now our apartment is well organised. It will be extremely hard to say goodbye to them at the end of January, not only because I miss them dreadfully, but it’s sad to think Mackenzie won’t get to know them that well until we return in 4-5 years to Australia. They have loved their time getting to know Mackenzie, taking her for regular walks in the pram and cuddling with her on the lounge when she should be asleep in the bassinet.

Andrew has been on leave for the last 2 weeks which was great timing and will return to work on January 2nd. His work have assigned him for 6 months to a particular client which means no travel. This will allow him to spend time with his growing daughter and give me a chance to establish a routine before his travel begins again. If Mackenzie continues to be so easy going I would like to travel more with him next year as I was too unwell for most of this year to do so. Andrew is besotted with his daughter and is a wonderful help, getting up most nights during the first few weeks to allow me to recover. He comments regularly that changing the nappies is hard as she is so small and a wriggler at the most inopportune times but he is doing well and getting better by the day. Considering he had never changed a nappy before she was born. She will certainly have him wrapped around her fingers as she gets older.

Christmas was a relatively quiet affair here which was nice. It was mum and dad’s first Christmas outside of Geelong so we wanted to eat out rather than have anyone slave over the stove. Last year we celebrated with one of Andrew’s bosses but this year they travelled to Arizona to be with family so we found a great golf resort which was having an English style buffet. It was a nice meal and very affordable at that. The evening was spent watching the Boxing Day test match live from Australia thanks to the fabulous cable TV we have. Gifts were exchanged and I received a lovely perfume box set, some vases and chocolates. Mackenzie fared very well but most of her gifts were to welcome her into the world. Thank you everyone who has sent us cards and gifts, they are most appreciated.

So for now that is the latest in our life. Mackenzie has certainly become the focus in our life and we love it that way. Once again the photos can be viewed by clicking the following http://picasaweb.google.com/vanderaj/Mackenzie/ as I have yet to load them onto my web site. We will add photos to this site on a regular basis so view when you like.

Sep, Oct & Nov 07

GO CATS!!!

So I am late once again, no real excuse other than I have been so unwell with this pregnancy that I rarely have enough energy to sit and type what’s been going on. So I will shorten this entry, mainly because it is quite difficult to remember back over 3 months what has been happening.

September saw our move from the crime riddled apartments to a much safer environment which helped ease Andrew’s mind when he travels. The actual move itself was a disaster with the movers getting lost and wanting to charge us all of this extra time. It was also quite hard to get unpacked again so we lived with many boxes for quite a while. But we are settled in now and love the new place. The management company is the one who originally managed our prior apartment so their level of service is top notch. The apartment has a much better lay out making it feel so much larger despite being the same. The environment around the apartments is nicer also and so far the people also who more regularly say hello.

The best news of the month was undoubtedly the win by the Geelong Football Club in the AFL Grand Final. Thankfully I was able to see all of the finals and the grand final as with the move we were able to change cable companies and access these games. The company also has cricket channels so I am well and truly set up now. Anyway back to the football, it was a superb result for the club who had an amazingly successful season, also winning the Reserves Premiership, NAB Rising Star and the Brownlow medal. The actual game itself was a whitewash, we thoroughly thrashed Port Adelaide. Even Andrew joined me to watch the game. It was quite surreal watching it from here and not being able to be a part of the celebrations. The last time I was overseas when we were in the Grand Final I flew home (only for us to have our asses kicked) but this time it certainly wasn’t an option at 6 months pregnant.

October saw many more regular visits to the OBGYN and ultrasounds to monitor the baby as with my constant morning sickness there was concern about her weight development. She was tracking as underweight but still in safe zones which was reassuring. I also managed to contract bronchitis this month which is not fun at any time but when pregnant and medications are limited, it was a case of sweating it out in bed. I also made a couple more trips to the hospital being admitted for constant vomiting and the inability to keep food and water down. I spent a lot of the month looking at my stomach and wondering why I didn’t “look” pregnant when I came across an article that discussed the often not talked about issue of weight loss during pregnancy and how that can affect the size and shape of the stomach. The main crux of the article was that you shouldn’t compare yourself to other pregnant women as each person is different and dealing with unique issues. This article really helped my state of mind and came just as I needed it. What also helped me this month was Andrew taking me shopping. Up until this point I had been wearing the clothes I had in Australia before I lost 30 kilos so they weren’t really highlighting the fact that I was pregnant, I just looked frumpy. So he took me to a shop where I was able to purchase clothes that not only showed off the pregnancy but also my smaller figure. I will be forever grateful to Andrew for this, it made such a difference.

Andrew celebrated his 37th birthday during October. We decided to try out a restaurant called the Melting Pot which is a fondue restaurant. It was superb, a 3 course meal of different fondues starting with cheese and ending with chocolate. The restaurant itself is very intimate with each booth closed off to everything else and featuring its own stove top. The price dictates that this isn’t an all the time meal out but fabulous for special occasions.

We were treated to a Baby Shower luncheon by Aspect Security, Andrew’s employment which was great. I was asked what items we needed to as I had been preparing a list for my own benefit with prices etc I just forwarded that, expecting maybe 1 or 2 items. When we arrived it turned out they had purchased around 75% of the items. We were quite shocked and thrilled with our loot; I took some photos so check them out.

Both Andrew and I had a full body scan by the Skin Doctor here to check our moles and lumps and bumps etc. I was given the all clear however Andrew required the removal of a mole at the back of his thigh. The removal itself wasn’t painful but the location made for some discomfort whilst sitting and rising from that position. He was given the all clear thankfully when the pathology was tested.

This month saw Andrew’s last business trip so that he could be nearby in case something happened with an early labour etc. I travelled with him to Malvern; Pennsylvania and spent a very boring week stuck in the hotel vomiting constantly. I will be so thrilled to have this baby and be rid of this “morning sickness”.

I started physical therapy treatment in October as my back which was injured in a work place accident years ago became a lot sorer with the added pressure and weight of the pregnancy. Also the doctor thought my arthritis might benefit from regular treatment also. So I started a regime of 1 session in the pool and 2 in the clinic. I found that my back responded well to the regular exercise however the ankles found the work too demanding so we decided to give up on working on the ankles and focused entirely on my back. This I continued until mid November when I was put on bed rest (more below about this).

November was dominated by pregnancy issues including a query of preeclampsia, a hernia on my side and the worst being pre term labour which started at 34 weeks. I was originally in hospital for the inability to keep fluids down and whilst in the hospital it was discovered that I was actually having regular contractions. The doctor decided that it was probably not best to allow the labour to progress at this point so I was given medications to cease the contractions. Thankfully the medication worked and I was released home to be on bed rest. Andrew began to work from home so that he could look after me and keep me fed and watered as much as I could keep down. His work have been extremely supportive during our pregnancy, we are very grateful.

Thanksgiving was celebrated here in the USA but unfortunately we didn’t get around to joining in the festivities. We had no plans with friends as we never know day to day how well or unwell I am going to be. I had heard there was one restaurant open so I thought we could have dinner there, turns out only their pizzeria area was open so Andrew was unable to have a traditional Thanksgiving meal which I am upset about. We will certainly not make the same mistake next year.

The day after Thanksgiving was my 32nd birthday, celebrated very low key. We spent the night at home (as per usual) as I wasn’t well enough to guarantee being able to sit at a restaurant and not throw up everywhere. So we ordered in one of my favorite home delivery meals (Indian) and I treated myself to some champagne. Andrew made me a birthday cake which was really sweet of him and as I was on the phone to my best friend Lucy, the two of them sang me Happy Birthday.

So that’s where things stand as of now. I am into the last month of the pregnancy and eagerly awaiting the arrival of both our daughter and my parents from Australia who will be here for 7 weeks.

July & Aug 07

It’s a Girl!! 

Well I am late once again with my updates for July & August. Life just gets away from me, especially being pregnant and unwell to boot. This month is no exception with 2 hospital stints I will explain further on.
The month of July began with America’s national holiday – Independence Day. The weather on the day was very unsettled and stormy so we decided to not risk standing outside to watch fireworks which may or may not go ahead. Instead we had a nice dinner with Luke & Laura followed by a movie. During the movie we could hear the bangs of the fireworks so they obviously went ahead. So hopefully next year the weather will be better and we can see how the fireworks compare. 
Andrew and I went to a Mother’s group BBQ at one of the homes of the Mom’s. It was a family event so it was great to meet some of the husbands, and the kids went crazy playing in the sprinklers as it was once again another hot and humid day. During July I was unable to attend several outings the group had organized due to my health, missing a day at the zoo among one of the events.
Andrew traveled a bit this month, with a trip to Memphis and both of us heading to Malvern, PA for 2 weeks. I was very unwell for the majority of the time and ended up having to leave a few days early to get medication from one of my doctors. Whilst there however; we went to the Tutankhamen exhibition in Philadelphia which was fascinating however way too busy. Due to my arthritis I hired a motorized scooter which made getting around the exhibits quite difficult but given the amount of time spent hanging around I was quite pleased to be not putting so much pressure on my ankles. That evening we went into the city and found the most amazing Moroccan restaurant called Marrakesh. It was within an old townhouse and decorated traditionally with materials and cushions. We were in a room upstairs and served a wonderful 7 course meal. I hadn’t been able to eat much all week but the food was so good that I was able to eat some of each course which was just so delicious.
This month Andrew finally got a Maryland state license which is great so that he now has photo identification other than his passport. I, once again, was too unwell that day so I will go and take the test when we have settled into the new apartment so that the address is current. 

August didn’t begin well. One evening I was in extreme pain down my left side which wasn’t settling with rest and the pain killers I had at home. So a call was placed to the on call OBGYN who requested I come into Labor & Delivery. After some tests and examinations, I was found to have a Urinary Tract infection as well as kidney inflammation so I was admitted to the Maternity Unit. I was in hospital for 4 days receiving antibiotics and pain relief. This episode was very disturbing as the whole time I was quite distressed, worried about the safety of my baby. Only a few days earlier I had been told that my cousin Kathie had given birth to her son prematurely and that he hadn’t survived. So it was quite hard to see reason at such a time. Thankfully the nursing staff and my doctor were very understanding. My love and thoughts have been with Kathie & Ronnie who have had to endure the unthinkable.     
Given all my health concerns, I was referred to a Perinatologist to review my care. She was very thorough and helped settle some concerns Andrew and I had. At the end of the day it certainly isn’t preferable for my baby to be experiencing the medications I require, but that she will be okay. The main concern we will face is potential withdrawal issues when she is born but this should be managed quite well and thankfully at our local hospital rather than in Baltimore. The day we saw the doctor was our 1st wedding anniversary. Boy doesn’t time fly!! We had all these grand plans initially of being able to recreate our wedding as Andrew was once again due to be in Las Vegas however the timing wasn’t quite right. Then we thought we would spend the night along the coast at a nice B&B however on the day I was so unwell that I was lucky to not have been admitted to hospital. So we spent the night at home with pizza and playing scrabble! For a present Andrew gave me the most beautiful opal necklace. For many years I have worn an opal ring which belonged to my mum’s mother and he knows how important that is to me so to think of that as a gift plus be able to find one here in America was so special to me. I was in tears at such a thoughtful and special gift. For him I had a photo from our Las Vegas wedding put onto a canvas and blown up. All in all we had a wonderful day despite my health.
In the lead up to week 20 of the pregnancy, I once again experienced terrible pain around the kidney region so I was admitted again to hospital. This time they found that I had a kidney blockage which managed to resolve itself over time once again with antibiotics and pain relief. Whilst in the hospital we had our 20 week ultrasound which was a detailed anatomical view of the baby. At this time we also discovered that we are having a girl! We were so happy, especially Andrew who secretly wanted a girl. She will certainly be a daddy’s girl. The latest ultrasound and picture of me are within the pregnancy folder via the photos link.
My cravings to date have been minimal given I don’t eat very much. I have lost around 26 pounds so far but when I do manage to eat my preference has been for tater tots (potato gems), potato chips and tacos at a place called Taco bell. I have found that my taste buds are constantly changing and something I feel like one day I can’t stand the next.
The month ended with a 2 week trip to Colorado Springs in Colorado. Andrew was required to teach a training course to their client FedEx so it was a fantastic opportunity for me to catch up with my “other” sister Michelle. When I was 17 Michelle was an exchange student to Australia and we have been like family ever since. The last time I saw her was in 1992 so I was so excited to see her. My OBGYN wasn’t too keen on my traveling however the way I justified it was that if I didn’t go I was going to be alone for 2 weeks whereas by going I would have someone with me 24 hours a day to be able to help look after me.
Seeing Michelle at the airport was emotional, especially given that we had spent the day traveling as there is no direct flight from Baltimore to Colorado Springs, we had to go via Dallas. Despite being sick most of the time I had a wonderful 2 weeks. It is hard for Michelle to be what is the equivalent of a single mother with a husband in the American Army. Whilst we were there he was in California on a training mission, and missed his daughters 3rd birthday. On the middle weekend Andrew, Michelle and Justine went to the Royal Gorge and you can see by the photos how amazing the view is. There is a suspension bridge across the gorge with a raging river down below. I was told it was a very hot and humid day so they did well to walk around the park for as long as they did. We also went to the State Fair which was great, but poor Andrew had to push me around in a wheel chair. At least he was able to sample all of the food as he certainly had enough exercise to work off the food! Whilst at the fair, we saw Chris Daughtry in concert with his band. I think he is known in Australia given I heard he was heading there so you should know who I am talking about. We also got to drive around the army base so I have taken a few photos of that also. It was a bit of a joke getting onto the base as given Andrew had USA identification he was allowed on but I required my passport and was considered an alien. But we managed to get on finally, all to go for a swim!
So that’s our life during July & August. September to date has been a crazy month with us moving and Andrew is traveling a lot also. But more of that later. Hope everyone is well.

May & June 07

We’re having a baby!! 

Sorry for the delay in posting May & June’s happenings but it was going to be hard to not mention the pregnancy and we were awaiting firstly confirmation of the pregnancy and then our first trimester ultrasound. So now that we have all of that cleared up I can fill you in on what we have been doing the past 2 months.

We found out I was pregnant at the beginning of the month in what was a huge shock. We had been trying for a few months but given we had been told by specialists in Australia that we had a 1:16 chance of getting pregnant we did not expect things to happen so soon. My reactive arthritis had flared again which in hindsight turned out to be due to the pregnancy hormones so the last thing I was thinking was that I was pregnant. But on a Sunday night I suddenly thought I should at least do a test and low and behold it was positive. My reaction was “Honey, we have a problem” as all I could think about was the medications I was on plus the MRI I had during the week. We had trouble comprehending what was happening so we sat up talking all night and strangely enough by the end of the night we even had names picked out!

So over the coming days the news was settling in and we began to feel excited and happy. I initially had many cravings but then out of nowhere the morning sickness settled in and since then it has been awful. I struggled to begin with to keep not only food but fluids down which lead to a couple of visits to the ER for rehydration and treatment for constipation. Now I am on a stronger medication which has helped me keep fluids down but eating is still a problem and at 17 weeks I have lost over 7kgs. I am hoping this will reverse soon and that I will be able to eat in order to feed this growing baby.

Our OBGYN here is great and we are pleased with the care we have been receiving. We had first trimester screening for chromosonal abnormalities and received the all clear for that. They also confirmed the due date which at this stage is December 25th although as I am considered a high risk pregnancy it is likely that I will be induced early. I have been referred to a specialist whom I will see in a few weeks time as to whether my care needs to transfer to them and if so that means I won’t be able to give birth at our local hospital but at one in Baltimore. I will also have my second trimester ultrasound where we will find out the sex of the baby, however we will be keeping this to ourselves.

So in general that’s where things stand with the pregnancy at this stage. My arthritis is still causing problems and I am fatigued all of the time so combined with the morning sickness I am still quite unwell and spend a lot of time resting or in bed. The belly has started to emerge and I actually feel pregnant now and growing out of my clothes and underwear. In the photos are our ultrasound pictures plus a latest picure of me and my stomach. As I continue to grow we will add photos as well as additional ultrasound pictures.

At the start of May Andrew had a weeks work in Buffalo NY so we travelled together and planned to spend the Memorial Day weekend in Toronto Canada. The day prior to our departure my cold took a turn for the worst and I was placed on antibiotics for a chest infection. So I spent the better part of the week in bed resting. We visited Niagara Falls (see photos) but only managed to see from the USA side as we planned to visit the other side on our way to Toronto. But we had to go to the ER late one night with me in pain, fearing the worst for the baby. It turned out to be one of the dehydration episodes and I was released with the advice to go home which we did, missing our trip to Canada. During the stay I also manged to get stuck in a lift which was a little frightening as it was very stuffy and I had no fluids with me. Thankfully the stay was brief and all is well that ends well. 

As we were now home for the Memorial Day long weekend, we went to a picnic at the Wicher’s home. It was a humid and muggy day but fun was had by all. I have photos of the moon bounce (jumping castle) in which the adults seemed to have more fun as well as them fooling around with hoola hoops. The weather turned quite foul not long after with gusting winds, rain and thunder. By that stage everyone was safely inside continuing to eat from the variable feast of foods.

During May Andrew went and had a sleep study performed as I had noticed many symptoms similar to what my father suffered before his sleep apnea was diagnosed. Sure enough he has a severe form of sleep apnea and now sleeps each night with the aid of a cpap machine. He doesn’t awake each morning as tired as previously which is a start. The other strange behaviour from Andrew is that he has started to watch baseball games! I never thought I could get him to watch sports, let alone USA based ones so this is strange. Thankfully I can still access football via the internet and with Geelong doing so well I really wish I was there to see the games in person. 

Andrew was required to be in Chicago for a weekend to assist in establishing an exam for colleagues in his field and as it was a fully funded weekend I was able to travel with him also. The weather in Chicago was extremely hot and humid so spending the days seeing the sights was very tiring, plus I was unfortunately relying on crutches that weekend as my arthritis was severe. It is an extremely beautiful city, and the architecture is amazing. The only down side to the weekend was the hotel. It is a 5 star hotel, beautiful rooms and food etc but on the Saturday night the lobby turns into a nightclub and despite being on the 30th floor, our room was shaking and no sleep could be had. It is a ridiculous notion for a hotel to become a nightclub so a very strong email was sent by Andrew to management at 4am. Their response has been sorry and here are some points for you to spend future stays for free. Yeah right, like we are going to trust that hotel or any others in the chain again. Bloody ridiculous.

There has been even more crime in our complex and we have finally decided that enough is enough, we are out. During May & June we had to call the police several times and on one occassion a couple of guys were arrested with over 1,000 rounds of M16 ammunition. Goodness only knows where they intended to use or sell that! But the worst of it was one night where we are nearly 100% positive that Andrew was shot at. There were a couple of cars idling in the car park around 3am so the police were called however for some reason they did not stop and speak to them so Andrew went out to see what the deal was and it looks like a warning shot was fired towards Andrew as he stood there waiting for the policeman to return. I was in the bedroom and ran quicker than I ever have when I heard the gun shot, fearing the worst. That sealed the deal for Andrew who is concerned about leaving me at home so often whilst he travels. So we spoke to the manager here and pretty much demanded to be released from our lease which she agreed to with 60 days notice. We are moving to a gated community which will help with our safety and it’s located across the road from the main mall and 2 minutes from all of our doctors and hospital plus there is no difference in travel time to work for Andrew. The apartments there are set out better plus we will purchase our own furniture which will help to make us feel more at home. We will also establish the nursery so that then we can sit back and relax during the last trimester.

In June I joined a mothers group called Stay at Home Moms which using the internet site called Meetup.com to arrange outings. They are primarily for moms with kids 1-5 years old but as they also have mom only events as well as family outings I joined now so that I could start to get to know people. This has made a huge difference to how I have been feeling about living in the USA. The group is based across Maryland and Virginia so some events are as close as 10 minutes away but could be as far as an hour away. They have several organisers based across the 2 states which enable a variety of events. I have been to some play dates in local parks, Bunco nights (dice game), dinners plus book groups. Some of the other events I wanted to go to but wasn’t well enough was a visit to the National Zoo, days out in Washington DC and pool outings. They have several events every day of the week so if you want to get out of the house there is always something you can choose. This will be an invaluable group for when the baby comes to enable me to get out and about regularly as well as socialisation for the baby.

So that’s where things stand now. We are thrilled about the baby but taking things one day at a time. Hope everyone is well and we look forward to hearing from everyone. Don’t forget to check out the latest photos.

Tanya & Andrew's life in USA