Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gal Pals

My Mom stayed with us most of our first week at home and Mike took off work as well, but this past week has just been me and my gal hanging out.  Mental note, don't watch the last few episodes of Oprah's final season on DVR while adjusting to post-partum hormones ... can we say water works?  Anywho, here are some outtakes of the pictures I sent to the Grandparents and Dad to let them know we're not only surviving, but having a blast.

Ready for a walk with my sun hat!

Bright eyes ... for some reason the look on her face here cracks me up!

Who doesn't think this little one is purr-fect?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anna Arrives … Part II … This will all be worth it, right?!?!

We arrived at the hospital around 1:30am and since I was pre-registered and my doctor had alerted them to my arrival the check-in process was a breeze. For those of you wondering how I made it to the hospital with my water leaking, I'll leave you with the following: a pair of Mike's boxer briefs, a washcloth and a towel. Sorry, that's probably too graphic for some of my readers, but it's the question my friends have asked me most often and I can't help but think someone reading may be in the same situation one day.

Anyway, I was checked into a labor room and the nurse came in to assess my situation. AKA making sure my water had actually broken and that I was in fact going into labor.

Anne was a 25 year L&D veteran and very politely asked "Would you say you passed at least one cup of fluid?"

"Ummmm, I'm pretty sure I passed at least a gallon of fluid and it's still coming out."

"OK then, you're having a baby!"

On the way to the hospital I started to have what I thought were contractions, but they were kind of mild, so I wasn't sure. After some background questions, I was hooked to a fetal heart monitor as well as a monitor that tracked my contractions. Low and behold, I was contracting! Nothing major, but I could feel they were getting stronger and coming about every 5 minutes. The machines were behind my right shoulder and easily visible to Mike and my Mom. Nurse Anne wisely pointed out to both of them that they'd be able to see the contractions coming a few seconds before I felt them and noted "you don't want to be the person that alerts her to them." : )

Upon an initial exam I was deemed to still be only 1cm dilated … we needed to get to 10cm. After discussing my situation with the doctor they decided to let me labor on my own overnight and would check me in the morning. "Get some rest" Anne told me. Easy enough, I thought … until I realized that having contractions every four to five minutes was a little interruptive of good REM sleep.

My Mom, who had followed us to the hospital, went back to our house to get some rest, relatively assured by the Nurse that a baby overnight was highly unlikely. Mike settled into his roll-out bed and I tried my best to get comfortable. I think we both "slept" for an hour and a half and I did find a way to cat-nap between contractions. Pretty sure that was also in preparation for having a baby … if there are 4 minutes that you can sleep, you do just that, ha.

Around 7am shift change Anne came in to see how things were going. Because of the risk of infection after your water breaks I was not being internally checked as often as patients with their fluid in tact. She said the doctor was going to come in shortly and he'd check me then and assess if we needed to push induction drugs. At that point I was getting pretty uncomfortable, but still handling the contractions with breathing techniques we'd learned in our birthing class.

Shift change led to a new nurse, conveniently also named Anne. She came in a few times to let me know the doctor was assisting with a few deliveries and was going to be delayed. Around 10am she checked me, I was 2 1/2cm dilated and I'm pretty sure she gave me the 1/2 just to be kind. She suggested we get up and walk the halls to see if that would get things going. So, walk we did. In the XL robe I'd purchased to use during the last trimester, the slippers I'd purchased to accommodate my swollen feet and what felt like an adult diaper to catch the fluid that was still leaking. We made it a few laps before a combination of fatigue and contraction strength forced us to retire back to the room.

The contractions were getting stronger and at this point my Mom had returned. I asked her to go to the gift shop to see if they had any stress balls I could use during contractions. Breathing was fine, but I needed something to SQUEEZE the heck out of … and I preferred Mike not have broken hands when our child came into the world. He'd need those to change diapers after all. She returned with this … and I will be forever grateful. Such a small material item, but I will forever hold a soft spot in my heart for this little apple.

The exact timing from this point forward gets a little hairy. After the walk I reported that contractions were getting stronger and nurse Anne has spoken to the doctor about starting pitocin, I think this was around 11am or Noon. I was told that I could ask to be checked anytime I wanted, but again, they wouldn't be checking me on a regular basis. In the meantime, we'd discussed pain medication options. The doctor preferred I get to 4cm before getting an epidural and if I wished I could be administered Nubain before then. Nubain was something I was told would "take the edge off" and possibly allow me to get some rest.

The contractions got much stronger and I was getting tired. Mind you I'd had nothing to eat since dinner the night before and was going on about an hour of sleep. My goal was to get to 4cm so that I could go straight to the epidural as it seemed silly to dose up twice. The best laid plans … As the contractions were getting more unbearable I winced out a request to be checked and almost cried when Anne told me I was 3cm. I'd had pitocin running at a steady and heavy drip for a few hours now, was going through what I surely thought was my uterus hemorrhaging, had been in labor for over 12 hours and was 3 measly centimeters? At that point I eeked out a request for the Nubain.

The drug came quickly, but sadly the promise of taking the edge off did not follow. I felt a little light headed and relaxed, but the contractions still carried the same weight. I was not a happy camper.

Around this time my doctor came in. I was tired. I was in pain. I was three freaking centimetres with no end in sight. I am a goal oriented person. I needed a time frame to know how long this would go on. I asked the doctor as much … "So, is there a chance it'll be midnight and I'll still be in labor? When do we explore other options?" Luckily he responded with what I needed to hear "Oh, no, you'll have this baby by the evening, I guarantee that."

I muddled through for a bit longer and for the first time was vocal during a contraction. A mix between crying and screaming and enough that my nurse heard me in the hallway and came into the room. She summons the doctor, immediately able to tell a difference in my demeanor and upon checking me I'm pretty sure that rays of light shined into the room and the gloomy skies cleared when he said "she's 5cm, let's get that epidural."

My anaesthesiologist was named Bill and although he was waaaaayyyy too chatty and a little annoying, if Baby Kelly had been a boy, there's a strong chance Bill would have moved to the top of the list. That epidural was amazing! At this point I will caveat my story by saying that my nurse, the doctor and the anaesthesiologist all told me that going through labor with a ruptured sack is much more painful than starting with one in tact … and they'd pushed a crazy amount of pitocin through me, y body just chose not to respond accordingly. I'm not saying that my contractions or labor were any worse than anyone else's, but those words made me feel better at the time and the fact that I was crying for medication.

I labored under the epidural for about an hour and even got some rest. Around 3:30pm the doctor checked me again and I was pronounced to be FULLY DILATED and ready to push!! At this point the Nubain was wearing off and I was TIRED. Luckily it took a few minutes for everything to get set up and I was able to cat-nap while Mike made the appropriate calls and checked-in with what was now a full team of family assembled in the waiting room. WE WERE HAVING A BABY!

Around 4pm we started pushing. Deep breath in, push for a count of 8, repeat 2 more times. Mike and Nurse Anne were awesome. Because of the epidural it was hard for me to tell if I was pushing correctly, but they assured me I was doing a good job. The time estimates for this part of labor vary; the estimate I've heard is that most women push for 30 minutes up to 3 hours. Of course I was hoping I'd be at the short end of the spectrum. Of course I was not.

I kept pushing and my team kept telling me I was doing wonderfully, but there was no real progress. I pushed for about 2 hours … and finally, around 6;15pm, we determined that this baby needed a little prodding, literally. At that point things moved very quickly. The special care nursery team was assembled, another nurse was brought in, the doctor set up his station and the anaesthesiologist was brought in to make sure I was still properly medicated.

The next 20-30 minutes were a blur of excitement and medical teams running like clockwork. Mike and Nurse Anne were still by my side. I still pushed during contractions, I felt pressure, but no pain. I knew that forceps were being used and I knew that a third degree episiotomy was being performed.

At this point it was all worth it.

At 6:53pm our little Anna Elizabeth was born. I looked over and was in shock at how perfect and tiny our baby was. If you'll recall, Mike and I both thought we were having a boy and as we looked at our little one, we both thought to ourselves "those privates look funny for a boy" as the doctor exclaimed, "It's a girl!"

Mike cut the cord and she was placed on my chest for a few minutes before being taken to the warmer for her initial tests and a quick cleaning.  To say it was love at first sight is an understatement.  I was tired, I was sore, I was hungry, but most of all I was in LOVE with our 7lb, 19.5inch angel.  And now I'm going to get a box of tissues to dry my eyes ... being a Mom is totally amazing and I'd go through all of this again in a heartbeat!

(After the fact we were told that little Anna's umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck two times, and although she was fine through the delivery, this is why she was "stuck" in the birth canal ... poor little girl!) 

A *wee bit* of a banana-head after a long delivery and forceps ... her head is perfect now : )

One of my favorites ... instant love!

Napping after a LONG day!

** Part Three will be much, much shorter and will include some funny outtakes from the day, so stay tuned.**

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Anna Arrives ... Part I ... Friday the 13th

** Fair warning, this is a long post ... hence why I'm breaking it up into multiple pieces ... read as much or as little as you wish and I promise I won't get super-graphic ... that said, for your expectant mothers reading, I'm happy to go into the details I deem important for your upcoming labor as you wish : ) **

Let's start at the beginning.  Well, the beginning of our little Anna's birth story at least. 

Friday the 13th. 

I honestly hadn't even realized it was Friday the 13th until earlier in the week when I'd called to book an appointment to have our carpets cleaned (of course after Tuesday's appointment, I had that pushed to Thursday ... heaven forbid we have dirty carpets when our little one arrived, ha).  In talking to a few close friends and letting them know there was a chance for induction that day a few asked "are you OK if Baby Kelly is born on Friday the 13th?"  At that point I would have been fine if Baby Kelly was born on the Moon ... I was at a pretty uncomfortable point and just waned a healthy baby to arrive sometime in the near future. 

Thursday was one of two official days of maternity leave before my due date (my firm gives us two weeks) and I intended to use it as best I could.  I cleaned up the house a bit, blogged, treated myself to a manicure / pedicure, bought a few last minute nursery items, made a Target run and napped.  Mike mowed the grass after work and then we went out for dinner at our favorite little Mexican place.  Nothing like shrimp fajitas to celebrate what could have been our last night as DINKS ("dual income, no kids" as the financial world thinks of us).
Almost 38 weeks and before our "last dinner"

Friday morning went to the OB's office together and after the usual weight, urine and BP checks we were shown to a room and I was set up for a Non-Stress Test (NST).  I sat with a monitor strapped to my humongous belly and pretended I was answering the Daily Double on Jeopardy each time I felt a kick.  Unfortunately, Baby Kelly wasn't a morning person and never had been.  Over 20 minutes and even stimulated with some juice, I only felt 4 kicks, 3 clustered together.  They assured me it was fine and the heart rate was steady, so no concerns.  The doctor came in, went over my stats and checked me (1 cm dilated).  Although my stats were still elevated, they hadn't gotten any worse and we decided the best place for Baby Kelly was in the womb for the time being.  I was to return on Monday for another NST. And, in the meantime I was to rest and take it easy ... sounded like something I could manage. 

Mike and I went to lunch after my appointment and then he went to work.   I headed for a few errands and a nap and then really settled into the fact that I'd likely have a few days to enjoy my pre-baby maternity leave.  I thought up grand plans.  I was going to make one freezer dish each day over the weekend ... Saturday was a nice bolognese sauce for pasta, Sunday was butternut squash soup and Monday was minestrone soup ... I even made a detailed grocery list for Mike.  I was going to watch a few chick flicks and episodes of Glee.  And nap. 

Because I wasn't being induced, my Mother and future SIL were coming to stay with us overnight.  They were going wedding dress shopping the next day in Cincinnati and decided to avoid and early morning drive and visit with us that evening.  They arrived after dinnertime and we had fun catching up.  I was pretty uncomfortable and remember getting up and just standing a few times while we were chatting and watching TV.  A few minutes before we all went up to bed my Mom (who I could tell had been a *wee bit* disappointed when I called earlier that day with the news of no induction) said, "Wouldn't it be exciting if you went into labor tonight while I'm up here?!?!"  I just laughed it off and scolded her for potentially jinxing us. 

Little did I know. 

Mike and I laid down to sleep around 11pm.  We had been keeping the cats out of our room at night (for a few reasons, including the fact that we planned on keeping Baby Kelly in the room with us after birth), but somehow Milo had snuck in and neither of us had the energy to kick him out.  So, we settled in, Milo in my nook, and chatted for a few minutes before drifting off to sleep to a rerun of How I Met Your Mother on TV. 

About an hour later, right at midnight, I woke up with a strong urge to use the restroom ... not uncommon at all ... but this felt different, like I had to get to the toilet RIGHT THEN.  I scared the crap out of Milo as I got up in record speed (well, for a pregnant woman) and then realized as I stood up that my underwear were already a little wet.  I knew I hadn't peed my pants and I remember thinking "no way could this be my water breaking.  NO. FREAKING. WAY.  I JUST came to terms with the fact that I'm NOT having a baby this weekend"  As I stood there for a split second, fluid started to leak onto the floor (we have hard wood upstairs, thank goodness) and I knew the universe was answering with "YES WAY." 

I yelled at Mike to wake up as I ran to the toilet.  He was dazed and at first didn't understand why I was so frantic; after all this was sure to be one of about twelve trips to the restroom I'd make that night if history repeated itself.  As I got to the toilet there was a HUGE gush.  Yup, my water had broken and I yelled out as such  (you may remember from reading here that my ultrasound a week prior revealed I had A LOT of fluid).  For some reason I thought the initial gush was all there would be and after a few minutes got up to share the news with my Mom and call my doctor.  Of course I dribbled all the way there and the way back (again, thank goodness we have hard wood) and was still in shock.  Mike brought me my phone and I called the OB's office. 

And, within a matter of minutes we were grabbing bags, checking a few last minute items and making our way to the hospital.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baby Anna ... Sneak Peek

Introducing ....

Anna Elizabeth Kelly
Born May 14, 2011
7 pounds, 19.5 inches
100% perfection

I will definitely share Anna's birth story here, but in the meantime I wanted to give you a sneak peek of our little bit of miniature perfection.  She is named for both of our maternal grandmothers and I can't imagine namesakes more perfect for out little angel.  Needless to say, she has us all wrapped around her little finger and I'm just not sure how my heart will ever find room for more love. 

A huge THANK YOU to my Mom (Anna's GiGi) for helping out this week, we couldn't have done it without you! 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Carefee to chemo to cankles in five years

In the summer of 2005 I was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), a cancer most commonly found in men over the age of 55. I was the youngest patient diagnosed at the time and the first patient diagnosed through a lymph node behind my nose. I was living in Charlotte, NC at the time, actively searching for a condo to purchase and planning to settle down there for the next several years.

Well, cancer changes things.

Shortly after diagnosis, I was fortunate enough to be offered a transfer by the firm back to Cincinnati. This wasn't something I had asked for and at the time of diagnosis there was no defined plan as to when I would start treatment, but the transfer was a blessing in disguise. It was a way to get me closer to home without me saying that cancer had won by controlling any part of my life. I moved back in September and by that time had undergone a bone marrow biopsy … that's where they drill into your hip bone to take a sample of your marrow … this particular procedure was done without any numbing agents other than a lidocane applied to my skin … it hurt like HELL. Anywho, the biopsy had revealed my form of CLL was very aggressive and upon meeting my new oncologist at the University of Cincinnati we determined I would start treatments in October.

I remember that day. The day we decided to start chemo. It was a Monday and I thought it would be a routine appointment. Rather he proposed I come back the next day to start the toxin flush of my body. I bartered and we agreed that I'd start in a week, allowing me time to wrap things up at work and arrange for a support system from Lexington. After we'd agreed on a timeframe I needed to give blood so that they could test and match to my brother, for purposes of a potential bone marrow transplant down the road. On the walk from the office to the lab I broke down in hysterical tears. It had finally hit me. I had cancer. I would undergo chemotherapy. I was 26 years old.

The following Monday I underwent my first round of chemo. My regime consisted of a "cocktail" of three drugs, Fludarabine, Cyclophosphamide and Rituximab, FCR it was called. In addition to the actual drugs, there were a myriad of pre-treatment drugs I took each day and a specific cycle and dosage of each that was followed to the T. The second day of treatment I underwent a minor surgery to have a "port" installed in my chest, allowing easier administration of the drugs and keeping me IV-free. The surgery was routine, but anaesthetic from the surgery made me queasy and I threw up in the OR as they were discharging me. No rest for the weary, though, I was wheeled up to the 4th floor, same as any other chemo day and underwent treatments. That day was a blur for the most part, but I remember continuing to throw up, I remember the other patients feeling sorry for me, I remember nurses taking care of me and I remember my Mom being there.

The next six months were much of the same. One week of intense treatment, three weeks of recovery. Through it all my friends and family were steadfast rocks for me. I received calls, letters, care packages and so much more. My mom was there for every treatment cycle and in between. She kept my house running, ensured I was nourished (even when NOTHING sounded good to eat), she made my bed daily, she provided a shoulder to cry on, she asked all the right questions of the doctors and the nurses. She was my rock.

I wrapped up treatments in March, just in time for St Patrick's Day, one of my all-time favorite holidays. I went in for another bone marrow biopsy in late April, this time with proper pain medication, and learned at a follow-up appointment on May 15, 2006 that there was no trace of cancer in the sample they analyzed. That meant I was in remission. I remember being in shock. I didn't really know how to react and I didn't for a while. I remember going home, seeing my Mom off to Lexington and letting it sink in before calling any other family or friends.

You see, there's no cure for CLL. In fact, they don't even have good studies on how it's treated if a patient sees it return … most patients are too old at that point to make another round of chemo worthwhile or beneficial and as such they truly die from CLL. Even though I was in remission, it wasn't if, but when the cancer would return. Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled and obviously celebrate this day, but it wasn't the feeling I expected. The first year in remission was the hardest. I was scared every day that I'd feel an enlarged lymph node. I was scared that the cancer would be back and I wasn't sure if I'd have the fight in me again. And, I felt embarrassed for not celebrating my victory as much on the inside as I did on the outside. I have since learned this is normal and through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) have met other young cancer survivors that have truly blessed my life and shared similar feelings and stories.

That said, there's great news that has come out of all of this … and this is why I TRULY believe that everything in life happens for a reason. I met Mike when I moved back to Cincinnati. Most guys would shy away from dating a girl four cycles into a chemo regime, but he didn't. He stood by me and has been there each follow-up visit, x-ray scan and even the every-so-often moments when I think about the cancer returning. Five years later we're married, homeowners in the 'burbs and expecting our first child (hence the cankles). Pretty freaking amazing if you ask me. My brother was deemed a "match" and should my cancer return and a bone marrow biopsy be the best deemed option, that's a huge advantage. And, I became involved with a wonderful organization, LLS. Through them I've been able to give back by sharing my story and through walks and marathons have raised over $20,000 to support their cause.

So, today I celebrate five years in remission. It's not a cure, but it's a pretty freaking HUGE milestone. I still see my oncologist every three months, still have yearly scans and still check myself for enlarge nodes regularly. But I also have a renewed sense that life is good and God is great.

And, if cancer comes back, I CAN and WILL kick its butt again.

**  The fine print ... I wrote this several days before posting and have since welcomed our beautiful baby girl, Anna Elizabeth, to the world.  She arrived just a few hours ahead of this milestone and has brought a new perspective to everything, making me cherish life even that much more.  It was amazing to hear the reaction from the hospital staff as I was giving my health history before and after delivery ... what a true gift life is! **

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Maybe Baby??

I had another OB appointment yesterday and my blood pressure was high, again.  My platelets were better per the bloodwork from last week, but my  feet, ankles and calves are still swollen.  Sooooo, I go back on Friday (as in two days) and if my blood pressure is still high, there's a strong chance they will induce me, meaning we'd likely meet Baby Kelly this weekend!  The good news is the baby looked great and is doing well, but my BP isn't providing the most ideal environment.  Obviously I want whatever is best for the baby, and if that means giving up the two weeks I'm allotted before my official due date by my work maternity leave program, that's A-OK with me.  I've actually been pretty good about taking it easy these last couple of weeks, which has been like a bit of a vacation in and of itself. 

So, I'm done with work and just wrapping a few things up around the house and trying to get a little rest in while I can.  The nursery is ready, bassinet assembled, car seat being installed tonight and excitement / anticipation are all an all time high.  For those of you whom I have a phone number for, you're likely on the text list for when our little one arrives.  Otherwise look for pictures on here once we are home and settled. 

And, since it's probably too late to take bets on the arrival date and time, if you haven't already shared your thought on the gender, comment away!  Mike and I still think it's a boy, but we'll see ...

** Update, 5/13/11 **
Saw the OB today and my levels are still elevated, but haven't risen any higher than earlier this week.  The baby looked really good after evaluation during a Non-Stress Test, so no induction this weekend.  I'm still on pre-eclampsia watch and go back Monday for another NST, labs and check-up.  I'm back to 1cm dilated and 50% efaced.  Until then, doctors orders are to "take it easy" ... I think I can handle that : )

Our little cherub at 37 1/2 weeks
He/she was moving his hand around during the scan,
you can see fingers in the bottom picture

What's Cookin': PW's Chicken Spaghetti (also part of Operation Stock the Freezer)

I had read about this recipe on a blog I follow and although it looked a little heavy, you can't go wrong with most of PW's recipes.  So, I added it to the menu for earlier this week and decided to beef up quantities of some of the ingredients so that I could freeze the extra portions.  I don't know if I beefed it up too much or if it's like the ziti that just makes a ton, but I filled three 8x8 containers, each serving 3-4 adults ... that's a lot of bang for your buck and effort. 

Because I was famished when we ate and I'm too lazy to properly present and photograph the leftovers, there's no picture, but the original recipe's pictures are better anyway.  I did make a few changes to the recipe ... I used three large chicken breasts (about 2 lbs, uncooked), a pound of pasta, added a chopped red pepper, forgot the piementos and added three chopped carrots (hello my name is Jen and I have an obsession with adding more veggies to any recipe I come across).  I saw in the original recipe post that she used Cream of Mushroom and Chicken soup ... I couldn't find that, so I used a can of each Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken and I added a little water to thin the sauce out a bit. 

Mike was intrigued by this dish and I could tell he was leery of the ingredient combination ... but, low and behold, it was a winner with him; proven by the heaping round of seconds he took : )

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What's Cookin': Lasagna Style Baked Ziti (Operation Stock the Freezer)

I have been chomping at the bit to start stocking our freezer for when the baby arrives, but a few things have held me back ... (1) Time ... and the fact that most dishes are only good for 3-4 months frozen, (2) Energy ... the last couple of weekends I've felt like a log barely able to roll out of bed much less cook a meal for just us, much less an extra meal, (3) Freezer space in our house is at a premium (we have a bottom freezer and I hate it ... love that we had new appliances when we moved in, but miss my side-by-side) and (4) Knowing that it has to stop raining at some point and we'll likely be able to grill often this summer. 

I finally took the plunge this past week and started with a dish that is a staple in my kitchen, Real Simple's Lasagna Style Baked Ziti.  Most of my six readers have received this very casserole from me after the birth of a child, so this should come as no surprise.  I've never actually eaten the frozen and reheated version, so I hope it's OK (and apologies to those that endured it if it wasn't or isn't).  I have, however, perfected the packaging over the years ... realizing the recipe makes a ton and most folks are only feeding themselves and maybe a house guest or two, I started portioning into two 9x12 containers, making it easier to cover with foil and close for storage. 

I'm going to cook my through a few more freezer meal recipes in my Real Simple Meals Made Easy cookbook, hitting on some soups for for summer lunches, and then PW's chicken spaghetti ... but, please pass any recipe recommendations you have along!

Lasagna Style Baked Ziti
1 lb penne or ziti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
kosher salt and black pepper
1 T Italian seasoning
1 24-26-ounce jar marinara sauce
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 15 oz container ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup grated mozzarella

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain it and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the beef, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and Italian seasoning and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon until it’s no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes.

Toss the pasta with the meat mixture, marinara sauce, spinach, ricotta, and the Parmesan.

Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 4 large ramekins. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Bake until the cheese melts, 12 to 15 minutes.

To Freeze:  Assemble, but do not bake, the casserole.  Cover tightly with two layers of aluminum foil.  Store for up to 3 months.

To Reheat:  Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or thaw partially in the microwave.  Cover and reheat in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour (less if you assemble into two dishes).  Uncover and heat until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes more. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Family Tradition

I look just like my Mom.  We have the same feet (fingers for toes), the same albino mole on our forehead and as I grow older I notice we have the same mannerisms.  Throughout the pregnancy I've wondered who our baby would favor ... there's no question the child will have dark hair, but I was hoping he/she would take Mike's skin coloring and perhaps my blue eyes.

When Mike's Mom saw the 3D ultrasound she immediately sent me Mike's hospital mug shot.  If there was any doubt who this child will reassemble, there isn't anymore ... definitely Daddy's boy or girl ... and I can't complain since I think he's rather easy on the eyes : )

Baby Kelly at 36 1/2 weeks

Baby Michael

Mike doesn't see the resemblance at all, but I think it's because he's too caught up in thinking he looks like an Eskimo ... side note, did you guys know that Eskimo is no longer PC, apparently  now they are "Alaskan Friends" ... anywho, I see it from the nose down and his parents and my Mom agree.  Of course this coming from someone who until Tuesday thought 3D ultrasound pictures were creepy ... I guess that all changes when it's your little one your gazing upon : )

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Baby Bump: 36 weeks ... it's the final countdown!

This is (most likely) the month that I'll become a mother ... C-R-A-Z-Y!  All is going well for the most part, but now the fun is really beginning : )  At my last exam there was a slight concern over an elevated blood pressure, low platelet count and swelling in my legs and feet.  Not enough to do anything that day, but enough to push me into realizing that this baby could come sooner rather than later.  Although the doctor told me to take it easy, I read that as "get your crap together in case you are induced or put on bedrest next week" ... such is the life of someone with OCD, ha. 

So, we spent the weekend making duplicate registry returns and stocking up on any of the basics we didn't yet have.  I washed all of Baby Kelly's clothing and blankets (and, yes, I am in LOVE with everything being so small) and we organized all of our loot in the nursery.  Oh, and I napped!  3 1/2 hours on Saturday and 2 1/2 hours on Sunday.  I'm not sure when the nesting is going to happen if I keep napping my free time away ... A friend noted that I live my life as a "nester," so we're probably good to go, ha. 

At today's appointment they did a BPP and Baby Kelly passed with flying colors.  He/she weighs in at a whopping 6 lbs, 15 oz and is a mover and a shaker.  The moving and shaking is mostly due to the fact that apparently I have provided more than enough amniotic fluid in the womb (more is better than less) and he/she has a literal swimming pool to perfect movements.  The excess fluid is also why the shots we got of the face were so clear and un-squished ... oh, and perfectly adorable : )  I was also warned to literally watch out if my water is to break on my own, ha ... maybe now is the time to look into an adult mattress pad?

Look at those cheeks!!

At one point we got a wink, but didn't capture on the pictures

I think this might be Mike's nose, but it's hard to tell

Today's appointment and seeing our little melon made it so much more REAL and I'd be lying if I said I'd thought of anything else since we left.  With the good comes the not-so-good ... my blood pressure was higher again, my platelets are still low and my legs and feet are still retaining a tad too much water, but again, not enough to warrant action.  I'm 1cm dilated and having contractions here and there, mostly due to the pressure of the baby and excess fluid.  The same tests and bloodwork will be run next week and in the meantime I'm to take it easy, elevate when I can ... and anxiously wait for our little one to arrive! 

Up next, a post on my Lexington baby shower that was truly a page out of Southern Living magazine ...