Momma Honu

October 13, 2011

Road Trips

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommahonu @ 10:12 pm

Earlier this summer, Joel and I sat down and made a list of several places here in the midwest that we wanted to visit again sometime before baby Honu is born.  We strategically got out our calendars and planned specific dates when we would take our road trips to exciting MN destinations like Willmar and Two Harbors.  But then, when our first road trip (to Sioux Center, IA) landed me in urgent care with a persistent sinus infection and our second trip (to Cable, WI) involved taking an unexpected detour to the ER with a painful kidney stone — I started feeling a bit anxious about going on any more long road trips.

So, about a month ago when we packed up the car on a Friday night for our weekend visit to the university where I completed my undergraduate degree (U of M, Morris), I essentially brought along a small pharmacy with me … my prenatal vitamins, the magical Unisom tablets, the extra strength Tylenol, nasal saline, cough drops, prescription pain meds leftover from the ER adventures, extra kleenex, and a basic first aid kit (since, in true pregnant-women-are-clumsy fashion, I had caught a toenail on a chair the week beforehand and almost ripped it completely off my foot).  Not that I’m superstitious at all, but I think somewhere in my subconscious I reasoned that if I were prepared for every possible “road trip hijacking” scenario — I’d somehow outsmart Murphy’s Law.  The following morning, as though it could read my mind, my kidney stone pain decided to recur as we were en route to Morris and hitch hiked with us for the rest of the trip.  Apparently, my pregnancy-brain logic wasn’t so logical after all.  😦  Although, I must admit that I was VERY glad I had packed the prescription pain meds in my travel-sized pharmacy.  Because kidney stone pain is … well, it’s a real pain in the backside.  Literally.

Since the ACT II episode with my kidney stone pain, I’ve had an ultrasound of my kidneys and bladder and learned that I have a 6 mm stone in my left kidney.  This discovery reveals that my stone hasn’t attempted to leave my kidney to pass through my urinary tract yet.  Hopefully, it won’t try to make that journey until after our daughter is born.  A 6 mm kidney stone is sizable enough to (typically) cause excruciating pain if it moves through the body (or more likely TRIES to move through and gets stuck).  Apparently, the pain intensity is comparable to labor pain.  How ironic!  There’s no way to predict whether the stone will stay put or attempt an escape, but I’m praying it will make itself at home in my kidney for at least several more months without too many further pain episodes.  If that’s the case, then there’s a good possibility the stone can be broken up into smaller pieces (using extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy … say that fast 10 times!) to make it easier to pass.  Otherwise, if it does attempt to make an exit before Honu arrives and the pain is intolerable, I’ll need to go in for a procedure called a ureteroscopy because the shock wave therapy isn’t safe during pregnancy.  In the meantime, I’m being advised to drink lots of water and carry my prescription pain meds with me.  Not that drinking water is terribly unpleasant, but it’s a shame that the treatment for kidney stones isn’t drinking mango lassis or chocolate milk shakes.  (As a side note, if you live in the Twin Cities, you should try the mango lassi at Ghandi’s Mahal restaurant in Mpls.  It’s $4 worth of delicious mango happiness in a glass).  🙂

my baby bump at 25 weeks

Despite my intermittent kidney stone pain , I’m happy to report that I AM enjoying many aspects of my second trimester of pregnancy.  Some of these joys of being a “mommy-to-be” include being able to feel baby Honu doing her Tae-Bo workout inside of me (I think she’s got a better roundhouse kick than I do!); having a noticeable “baby bump” that magically transforms everyone into smilier, kinder people when they’re around me (see the photo taken 2 weeks ago … isn’t it a beautiful baby bump?!); getting my appetite back (good thing apples are in season right now because that’s what I’ve been craving, so I eat at least 2 a day); exploring my “nesting” instincts (my latest projects have been designing the nursery curtains and starting to write in Honu’s baby book ); having a legitimate reason to buy new bras (don’t you just love the feeling of wearing a new bra without any the elastic stretched out yet?!); and shopping for adorable baby clothes (check out the infant Smartwool socks that Joel and I purchased on clearance at REI … oh my goodness, they’re just too cute for words!!).

Smartwool socks for Honu


AND, for the record, two weekends ago I overcame my road trip paranoia by traveling to the North Shore (a 10+ hour round-trip to the Lake Superior shoreline north of Duluth, MN) and hiking for several hours near Lutsen without ever needing to stop at a medical facility or even open the contents of my travel-sized pharmacy.  And Joel even patiently waited for me while I shopped for baby fabric for several sewing projects at a quilt shop on the way to our hiking destination.  So, now I’ll have photos of cute nursery decorations that I’m sewing to post in my next blog update.  🙂


August 15, 2011

Highs & Lows

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommahonu @ 9:17 pm

As a teacher, I have often over the years led the activity known as “highs and lows” with student groups.  I expect most of you have also participated in this small group activity at some point, so you likely know how it goes:  everyone takes a turn sharing both the high point of their day and the low point of their day.  This seems to be a simple way to check in with folks to get a sense for what’s going well for them and what’s not going so well.  So, for this update — I’d like to step back in time to last week Friday and imagine I’ve been invited to sit down with a group of friends to share my high and low for the day …

The High Point

ultrasound profile of Honu - 18 weeks

Joel and I found out that our little Honu is a girl.  🙂  We had our 2nd ultrasound (week 18) on Friday morning.  The detailed images of our growing daughter that the ultrasound technician was able to show us were absolutely amazing.  We not only saw her profile, facial structure, and limbs — but also identifiable areas of her brain, her entire spine, the chambers of her heart, and even several of her abdominal organs.

Both the technician and physician interpreting the ultrasound images agreed that Honu appears to be very healthy (weighing in at 8 oz.) and is developing beautifully.  Obviously, as her parents — this reassuring news was so good to hear! During much of the ultrasound, Honu tried to hide her face from us by moving her arms above her shoulders (as you’ll see in the 3-D image I posted of her right arm & head).  I like to think that she was raising her hand up to say “hi, mom and dad!”.  I have also been able to feel her movements internally several times during the past week, so apparently she’s active even when she’s not on camera.  🙂

3D image of Honu's right arm and head

The Low Point

On Friday afternoon, Joel and I were driving to go camping for the weekend.  After the first trimester of nausea and sleepless nights and the past several weeks of struggling to overcome what turned into a really bad sinus infection — I was REALLY looking forward to a summer weekend vacation, anxious to relax near beautiful lakes in Cable, WI.  About 2 hours into our road trip, I reiterated to Joel that the aggravating pain I had been having in my back left side (since early Fri. a.m.) was still bothering me quite a bit to the point that I was somewhat worried about going to a remote campsite to spend the night if I wasn’t sure what was causing such substantial pain.  Long story short — about an hour later after consulting with my mom and Joel’s dad (who have both had careers in medical professions) and making several phone calls to area hospitals in rural WI — Joel and I ended up hanging out in an ER waiting room in Rice Lake.

Emergency Room visit in Rice Lake, WI

I was in tears at this point, not so much because of the pain, but moreso because of how frustrated I felt about having our weekend plans interrupted by yet another physical issue beyond my control.  To pass our time in the waiting room (an hour and a half — which felt more like several hours) we read everything from National Geographic to Ranger Rick.  And then while waiting another half an hour to see the doctor in the exam room, Joel entertained me by blowing up a surgical glove, checking his own pulse using some electronic device that he probably shouldn’t have been touching, and taking pictures to document our ER visit.  (Don’t I look adorable in my hospital gown)?  🙂  When I finally did see the nurse and doctor — they were both absolutely terrific.  (Thank goodness — otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have been the only one of us in tears)!  By the end of our visit I was diagnosed with a kidney stone and sent on my way with pain medication, instructions to hydrate as much as possible, and a back-up plan for where to locate the ER nearest the campground if the pain became intolerable even with the meds.  By the time we left the hospital, it was almost 9:00 p.m. and our campground was still over an hour away.  So, we opted for dinner at Subway en route to checking into a hotel in Hayward for the evening (the one just across the highway from the Hayward hospital, of course).  🙂  Thankfully, the pain meds did the trick and we were able to go camping on Sat. – Sun.  I don’t think my kidney stone has passed yet since I’m still having intermittent pain, but the pain is becoming less frequent and intense — so I’m hopeful.  Apparently, kidney stones and infections are more common than usual during pregnancy due to pressure on the urinary tracts.  Who knew?!  Anybody wanna predict what unforseen, mother-to-be “growth opportunity” is awaiting me next?

July 28, 2011

Two steps forward, Three steps back

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommahonu @ 12:24 pm

When I posted my latest update about a week ago, I mentioned feeling less nauseous.  I am so thankful to report that this is the first of TWO significant improvements in how I’ve been feeling recently.  As of the past week, my nausea only makes an appearance when I’m being reminded I ought to eat.  And as soon as my stomach is satisfied again, the nausea subsides.  What a relief!  🙂

Over the past several weeks, I’ve also been taking the vitamin B6 and Unisom combination that was recommended to me by my cousin and a friend who both found this duo to be helpful during their pregnancies.  After experimenting (with my physician’s approval, of course) between taking half tablets vs. whole tablets of these medications, I have re-discovered the ability to sleep for more than 5 consecutive hours at a time.  I am still periodically awake in the wee hours of the night — making trips to empty my bladder or re-adjust the half dozen pillows that I can’t quite seem to ever find the perfect arrangement for in order to be fully comfortable.  (I know I’m prone to exaggerate at times — but I’m not exaggerating at all about the pillows.  Just ask Joel. There are FIVE on my side of the bed and ONE on his side.  If you want come visit us and stay overnight right now, you’ll have to bring your own pillow.  Just letting you know …).  🙂  Lately, however, I am often able to get back to sleep after these nighttime interruptions thanks to the brilliant scientist that first concocted a sleep aid with benedryl.  If I knew that scientist’s name and he/she is still living — I’d be really tempted to send them a very nice birthday card, probably even one of those expensive ones where you can record a song.  The song that comes to mind is “Zippity Do Dah”.  For real.  Cause that’s what I felt like singing the first morning I got out of bed after 4:30 a.m.

Unfortunately, my zippity-do-dah celebration lasted about as long as it takes to get annoyed by listening to one of those singing cards repeat the same song over and over.  Late last week — at just about the time I started calling my girlfriends to make plans to do all the fun things I haven’t felt chipper enough to do all summer  (you know … like go to the movies or out for lunch or to shop for maternity clothes) — BOTH Joel and I caught a flu or cold bug.  Joel got sick first.  So, within days of starting to feel quite a bit better myself, I was trying to nurse him back to health — monitoring his fever and making trips to the drug store for meds and kleenex and cough drops.  Then, this past Saturday as Joel was finally starting to feel like he was on the mend, I started feeling crummy.  And that’s where the “three steps back” begins …

Since earlier in the week I had been anxiously looking forward to finally being able to enjoy my summer vacation now that I was nausea-free, Joel wanted to cheer me up on Sat. afternoon and suggested we go on a low-key date.  Happier than ever to get out of the house, I put on a summer dress and a big smile despite having an extremely sore throat and a kinda foggy-feeling head and we headed out to a mall theatre.  We got our movie tickets ($21 — wow!) and then proceeded to go sit in the theatre to wait for the previews to start.  After being the only two people sitting in the theatre, watching the same 5 trivia questions replay for 15 min. — we decided to double-check our tickets to make sure we had the correct show time and theatre hall.  Let’s just suppose for moment that we were sitting in theatre hall 2 and our ticket stubs had hall 12 printed on them.  Whoops.  Thankfully, we had arrived early enough that we were able to scurry along to hall 12 and still catch the show.  Of course, the theatre hall where our show was actually playing was fairly full by this time.  So, in order to find some open seats quickly without disrupting the previews, we sat in the seats reserved for handicapped patrons.  I felt a little self-conscious — but just for the record, we made sure there were some handicapped accessible seating left available.  And honestly, I kinda feel like being pregnant is like having a temporary physical handicap.  I mean, clearly “pregnancy brain” is a legitimate handicap if you have a master’s degree and can’t even tell the difference between the numbers 2 and 12.

After the show, we went to a nearby restaurant (“The Good Earth”) for dinner.  The Good Earth is one of those restaurants where everything tastes amazing because it’s all fresh, organic, made-from-scratch food — and you feel like you’re splurging a bit because you pay for what you get, so it’s a little spendier.  Anyway, because my throat hurt so much, something very cold or very warm is what sounded good to me.  So, I ordered a $7 smoothie and $6 bowl of soup.  When my smoothie arrived, I took a big sip which was followed by a very nasty look on my face.  Joel asked me what was wrong, and I said, “This doesn’t taste good at all to me.  You try it”.  So, he took a sip and with a perplexed look on his face, said “Huh … it tastes good to me”.   So, I tried another sip — and it tasted just as awful to me.  Then I was torn.  Do I just not drink it and waste the $7 or be ONE OF THOSE pregnant women who is finicky and asks the waitress if I can have a different one.  Since I was already on a roll feeling embarrassed about mixing up the theatre hall and sitting in the handicapped seats — I figured I’d might as well suck it up and just ask.  So, I explained to the waitress that I was pregnant and that for some reason, the smoothie tasted funny to me.  She was very understanding and asked if she could have the kitchen make me a new one and how I thought they could change it to make it taste better.  And my reply was, “well, maybe add a banana … it just doesn’t taste fruity enough”.  (Just as a side note … it already had banana in it … so I can just imagine what she was thinking to herself after she charitably nodded and walked back to the kitchen with it).  Several minutes later, though she returned with a new smoothie that even had an orange wedge on the side of the glass (which I don’t think typically comes with the smoothie, since the first one didn’t have one).  And to my delight, it tasted terrific!  So, we were back on track to having an enjoyable date night.  And we did, until …

"Pregnancy pit stop" after a dinner date with Joel

About 5 minutes after we left the restaurant, Joel was taking a few back roads near Roseville en route to getting on I-35 and suddenly my gag reflexes kicked in.  At that moment, I started motioning for him to pull over.  Just as I articulated in words what I was trying to communicate to him with my flailing arms, he swerved to the side of the road and slammed on the brakes.  I bolted out the passenger door just in time to christen the construction sand bags lining the shoulder of the road with the contents of my extra fruity smoothie.  This was followed by then vomiting up my soup as well.  As I stood there, hunched over in the ditch in the aftershock of “strike 3” for the evening, my thoughtful husband appeared beside me offering me a Subway napkin and kleenex.  After taking a few moments to compose myself and mourn the loss of my somewhat spendy culinary selections — I couldn’t help but start laughing.  But it was one of those laughs that translated as, “I’m laughing right now because I’m too exhausted to cry”.  At this point, Joel kindly reassured me that although our date hadn’t gone quite as hoped, it was certainly memorable — and that he thought I still looked cute in my dress, standing there holding my kleenex packet.  🙂  So, we took a picture to document the evening and headed directly back home to put me to bed.  I’m posting the photo here with a disclaimer:  upon close examination, the orange wedge and some other contents of my smoothie are visible in this picture — so view at your own risk!

Since Saturday, I have been slowly struggling to get well again.  I’ve felt pretty miserable for most of this week and am anxious for the days to pass until I’m feeling like I’m having another zippity do dah day.  It may be awhile yet … as a good night’s sleep has been quite challenging again.  As you can imagine, Unisom doesn’t quite do the trick when you’re coughing and blowing your nose all night long.  This morning I finally gave up trying to sleep at 4:00 a.m. and instead drank a cup of decaf chai while making a list of friends and family I’d like to invite to my baby showers.  If you’re reading my blog, you’re likely one of those people whose name came to my mind very early this morning.  So, I suppose that means you’re right up there with the scientist that created benedryl-based sleep aids in my world of VIPs.  🙂

July 19, 2011

First ultrasound image

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommahonu @ 3:00 pm

10 week ultrasound image of Honu

I finally successfully scanned one of the ultrasound images of Baby Swanson.  Being a very early ultrasound (10 weeks), Honu’s features are somewhat difficult to distinguish yet.  If you look closely, though — you’ll notice the right arm is visible between Honu’s belly and face.  The thin appendage that’s extending from the left side of the image is the umbilical cord.  The circular, bright spot that’s noticeable near Honu’s chin is just an imaging mystery … who knows, maybe Honu also has some trapped air bubbles that are difficult to burp up?!  🙂

A huge thanks to everyone that’s posted thoughtful, encouraging comments in the past several weeks.  I really appreciate your kind words of reassurance and your prayers.  I’ve been feeling much less nauseous the past several days, so I’m feeling hopeful that the start of week 15 is a significant turning point for me.  Now, if we could just get the heat index here in MN to drop below 110 degrees!!

July 2, 2011

Twelve Weeks

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommahonu @ 11:42 am

Yesterday marked twelve weeks into my pregnancy.  Apparently, this is the point at which many pregnant women begin experiencing some improvement in the symptoms that have been their constant companion during the first trimester.  (“Constant companion” is the Minnesota-nice way of saying it.  In reality, the companionship of these symptoms feel more like what I would describe as a plague).  I’m hoping and praying that I’m one of the fortunate, expectant moms who experience this miraculous relief after week twelve sooner than later.  For me, the indigestion and insomnia over the past several weeks have been the most challenging symptoms of carrying baby Honu.  I’ve been trying to find some comic relief in the midst of it all … for instance, when Joel is coaching me on the belching techniques he learned back in junior high to help me try to dislodge the air that mysteriously gets trapped in my stomach.  :)But I must admit, I’m at a loss to find anything funny about lying awake at 2:40 a.m. with indigestion and nausea.

On the flip side, I continue to be amazed by the entire process of having a child growing and developing inside of me.  Last week, Joel and I had the opportunity to see live ultrasound images of little Honu.  I was in awe of seeing Honu’s tiny arms and legs — even at just 9 weeks old — moving freely about his/her body, as though appearing to be swimming in the womb.  We could also see Honu’s umbilical cord and facial features in profile.  And we listened to the baby’s heartbeat again:  a strong 159 beats per minute.  After reviewing the ultrasound, my OB confirmed Honu’s due date to be January 13th (the same date I had predicted).  At this point, January seems like an extremely long time from now.  But I’m sure the weeks will pass more quickly when I’m feeling a bit better.  (Notice, I said “when” — not “if”.  I’m trying to keep thinking positive thoughts).

We were given several photos of our ultrasound, so I hope to post one of the images soon.  In fact, we recently got a scanner that I can (in theory) use to scan the images to my laptop.   However, with my unique talent of somehow disabling every technological device I touch — I’ve decided to wait for Joel to connect it and teach me how to use it before I break something we haven’t even used yet.  Maybe I’ll also try to post a photo of my expanding waistline along with the ultrasound image.  Evidence of being pregnant with baby Honu has recently started to “show” — and I’m finding it both strange and exciting to see myself with a noticeable belly.  Depending upon what I wear, that evidence may be visible to some of you as well.  So, feel free to stare at my waist or even touch my belly the next time you see me.  I’m not self-conscious about it and am one of those unique midwesterners that is fully comfortable with minimal personal space!  🙂

June 15, 2011

Honu’s heartbeat

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommahonu @ 4:09 pm

Well — I think the “honeymoon” phase of my first trimester is history.  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been progressively more nauseous and tired.  Two weeks ago I officially banned the frying of any eggs in our kitchen and relocated Joel’s coffee maker to the front porch.  I just hold my breath when I walk through the porch on my way out the door in the morning.  🙂  Last week I joined the ranks of pregnant women that involuntarily regurgitate their food (thankfully, only after dinner … sound familiar, Mom?!).  And I’ve recently discovered that there’s a direct correlation between how much sleep I get and how nauseous I am.  So, now that school is out for the summer — my bedtime is 8:30 p.m.  Occasionally, I might even squeeze in a midday nap just for good measure.  (I think our backyard hammock is quickly becoming my new best friend)!

Morning sickness symptoms aside, all seems to be going well.  Joel accompanied me to my first appointment with my O.B. physician this morning.  Joel did great … helping distract me so I wouldn’t get too whoozy when they drew some blood .  (He even asked the lab technician for a “Well Done” sticker for me, which I’m proudly still wearing).  🙂  Near the end of our appointment with the wonderful aid of Doppler technology, we heard little Honu’s heartbeat for the first time.  (Yes, I DID use the word wonderful and technology in the same sentence — so, I haven’t thrown in the towel on singing the praises of technological advances altogether).  Listening to the fast-paced, whoosh-whoosh-whoosh was a bit surreal … realizing we were experiencing our first “live encounter” with our 10-week-old child.  Amazing!

Next week, I’m already scheduled for our first ultrasound.  Nothing of concern — my O.B. simply wants to confirm my due date.  Apparently, it’s much easier to determine due dates with greater accuracy early on in a pregnancy — so next Thursday will be our first opportunity to not just hear baby Honu’s heartbeat, but possibly also to see it!!  I know many women don’t have a chance to have an ultrasound until much later in their pregnancy (unless there are some complications), so I feel really grateful for this “no worries”, early-on ultrasound opportunity.

So … I’ll likely post another update late next week … maybe even with an ultrasound picture of baby Honu!  🙂

May 30, 2011

A New Journey

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommahonu @ 9:25 pm

Okay. Deep Breath.   I’m starting two new chapters in my life simultaneously:  motherhood and blogging.  I’m not sure which of these new adventures is more anxiety-producing for me.  For real.  Let me explain a bit further.

I just turned 40 in April.  This translates into being one of those adults living in the 21st century that first learned to type on an electric  TYPE WRITER.  Not a computer, much less an ipad or iphone  (the latter of which my 2-year-old niece already seems to navigate like a pro).  And when I wanted to document my favorite memories during my childhood years, I bought rolls of film and manually loaded them into my 35 mm Kodak camera … which I then manually rewound before bringing my film to Shopko to be developed.  So, adapting to the digital age has been a slow, somewhat challenging journey for me.  To be frank, integrating new forms of technology into my life is scary.  In part, because I somehow inevitably end up spending more of my time trying to fix some minor, technological chaos that “just happens” when I touch a computer keyboard than I actually spend creating something constructive.  (Or, I guess, to be honest — more time begging my husband or coworkers to rescue me from the chaos I unintentionally created).  And in part, because nothing about using technological tools seems second-nature to me.  Somehow, that segment of a DNA code that enables you to embrace digital media as fun and exciting is missing from my genetic makeup.  And as an expectant mother, I’ve been reminded that our DNA sequence is established for good very early on in our development.  So, this whole blogging thing is a BIG stretch for me.   (If we had visible stretch marks on our bodies for expanding our brains beyond  normal comfort zones — I can guarantee I’d have way more stetch marks from keeping this blog than I’ll have due to my pregnancy)!  🙂

Hanging out with a Hawaiian green sea turtle

Enough about my technological ineptness.  My intent for starting this blog is to document my journey as a new mom — both as a personal memoir and as an avenue for sharing this journey with friends and family that  are close to me.   So … let the documenting begin.

I’m 8 weeks pregnant with baby #1 who my husband, Joel and I have fondly nicknamed “Honu”.  Joel and I were vacationing in Hawaii just several weeks before conceiving baby Honu and one of the highlights of our adventures on the Big Island was swimming with sea turtles.   The word “honu” is Hawaiian for “sea turtle”.  After having had such fond memories of our inaugural sea turtle encounter,  we implicitly already smile thinking of our little one as an adorable, carefree swimmer in the womb.  And for other moms reading this that understand “nesting instincts” — I’m also excited about having a related turtle theme in our nursery for baby Honu!

Since sharing the wonderful news of expecting a baby (due the 2nd week of January, 2012) — the most frequent question I’ve been asked is, “How do you feel”?  I’m so grateful to report that the answer to this question to this point in my pregnancy is, “I’m feeling pretty good”.  Other than minor nausea when my body is telling it’s time to eat again, some back discomfort, and the periodic need to sleep more than usual — I feel great.  I’ve started having cravings the past couple of weeks.  Melted cheese & fried chicken.  And just this past weekend I had my first significant aversion to the smell of something that has never before bothered my sniffer:  the smell of aluminum screens.  (Bizarre!  We recruited my parents to help Joel put the screens on for the summer this time around.  Thanks, Mom & Dad).

Not  really much else to report yet.  I go in for my first prenatal appointment the end of this week.  In the meantime, I’m just enjoying the wonder of the journey that lies ahead of me.  And of course, envisioning all kinds of cute ways to decorate a nursery with images of turtles in vibrant shades of green.  🙂

Blog at