Boy oh Boy!

This past Tuesday we had our second sonogram to find out the sex of the baby and to make sure that he was healthy and growing.  The appointment before finding out the sex was nerve wrecking!  The doctor examined every inch of the baby, his brain, his spinal column, his heart, his stomach, and after about 20 minutes we were beginning to wonder if we would ever find out the sex.  It didn't help matters that our baby is extremely camera shy and would move anytime the doctor came near him with the ultrasound machine.  We heard the heartbeat and saw him kick and move around, and after what seemed like an eternity we finally saw it.  After months of waiting it was finally official ... we are having a BOY!  We are so excited and can't wait to meet our son in a few months.  

I have to be perfectly honest though, I am terrified at that idea of having a son.  I grew up in a household with one sister, and I don't know if I will know what to do with a son.  I don't know how I would take care of him, and how I will make sure he is well adjusted.  I mean, with little girls I would love to buy her dolls and have tea parties, but with boys ... I'll play with little toy cars and play outside with a football, baseball or a soccer ball.  I am terrified that I won't be a good mom to a son.  

I will be the first woman in his life ... and it is up to me to teach him how to respect and treat women.  I have always heard boys are easier to raise, but not having a point of reference, I don't know if I believe it.  

Whatever this new experience brings we will be very happy holding our son.  The heir to Cornel's throne and the one to carry out the legacy!  I just hope I am able to survive with three men in the house (Cornel, Jean-Baptiste and the baby of course!).

Here are some pictures of our little baby at exactly 21 weeks 4 days, from both the inside and the outside.  He is very camera shy and doesn't pictures very much.  But luckily we got a couple of good pictures.

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22 Weeks

Still in my fifth month and getting bigger by the minute.  We've had a jam packed week with the baby this week with lots of things going on. Adjusting to the fact that we are going to be parents very soon, and the countdown continues...only 18 more weeks until our little one makes his appearance.

As for the baby... according to the experts the baby is the size of a papaya and is settling into sleep cycles, snoozing about 12 to 14 hours a day.  

How far along? 21 weeks 5 days
Maternity clothes? I still have not put on anything maternity, but my belly is getting much bigger.  I am very thankful to Pilar who gave me so many of her old maternity clothes!  I still haven't worn any of them, but I am sure I will in the coming weeks.  I am also very thankful for the high wasted styles.  I bought a cute dress for traveling for ZARA and love it!  It has a stretchy top and plenty of room in the belly section, and the best thing about it is that I can wear it after the pregnancy!
Stretch marks? Still nothing yet, thankfully, but I have been lathering myself up in cocoa butter to try and prevent as best as I can.
Sleep: I have been sleeping much better, but it seems that the baby is on American time, and I am on European time since he is only awake and kicking in the middle of the night.  Although, sometimes, I can't tell if it is the baby or the cat, and I am too tired to find out.  
Best moment this week: This week has been much better than last week, and we got to see the baby on the ultrasound!  It is always good to see that he is doing well.
Food cravings: Still no real cravings, although, even if I had any everything in France is closed after 7 p.m., so I would have to suck it up anyway.  I have become rather fond of peanut butter this pregnancy, due to the protein.  I have always liked it, but always tried to eat in moderation...but now, there is nothing I won't eat with peanut butter - smoothies, bananas, cereal bites and fig newtons (it's like a mini PBJ sandwich, delicious!)
Gender: IT'S A BOY (and to quote Carrie Bradshaw from SATC, "I have a teeny tiny penis growing inside of me")
Labor Signs: Nothing yet
Belly Button in or out? Very sad to have lost my belly button ring, and hope to put it back after the baby is born.  I also just read that my belly button will pop out soon.  I seriously have no idea what that entails, but it sounds rather gross and painful.  Let's hope it doesn't happen for a while.
What I miss: I haven't had time to miss anything this week.  We have been so busy that I haven't had the time to focus on what is missing.
What I am looking forward to:  I am looking forward to vacation in two weeks.  We have an appointment with the midwife on Saturday, and I am looking forward to not working for a while!  
Weekly Wisdom: Nothing this week...check back again next week.

Well what a busy week we have had.  We had our first birth preparation class and I am not really sure why they begin with the labor.  They show pictures of your cervix and how it expands to push a baby through, and seriously if I didn't have to take these classes, this would have been enough to keep me away.  We talked about nutrition and other practical things.  The funny thing is that since these classes deal with practicality it was only the husbands that were doing the talking, while I think the women were just waiting for the class to be over.  It was very informational and I am sure the classes will become even more interesting as they progress.

We also found out the sex of our baby...and it's a boy.  First of all, it is rather amazing just to see the baby on the sonogram.  Sometimes it is hard to believe that there is a baby in there, but when you see him moving and kicking on the screen and you get to see and hear his heartbeating -- it is an unbelievable sensation.  With this said, our baby is very uncooperative for all of the sonograms we have had so far.  He either doesn't like the doctor, or really doesn't like having his picture taken.  Either way, it took the doctor a long time to find everything he wanted to analyze and finally half an hour later, he told us the sex.  A sweet baby boy, now we just have to come up with names.  We are very excited and now our house will be overrun with testosterone.

This week, we went to pick up three boxes of baby things from my friend Pilar.  We are so thankful to have so many things to help prepare for the baby and to get us started for the first few months.  

Other than that, nothing more to report this week.  Here is the picture of me at exactly 21 weeks and 0 days.  I will post the pictures of the sonogram in the next few days.

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21 Weeks

I am well into my fifth month and now I am just counting down the days to the many different events that I have in the near future, trip back home, moving into our new house and of course the baby. It is hard to believe that it is mid July and this year is more than half over!

As for the baby... according to the experts the baby gulps down several ounces of amniotic fluid every day, both for hydration and nutrition and to practice swallowing and digesting. And, these days, those taste buds actually work! Studies show that after birth, babies are most interested in tastes they've already experienced through amniotic fluid.

How far along?
20 weeks 5 days
Maternity clothes? No...not yet..I just need to keep it up a few more weeks! I have become very creative with my wardrobe and I am so glad I saved all those empire tops that were in style last year. I might have to cave in the US and pick up a pair of cute work pants, but other than that...I am still saving a fortune. Halfway there and not a cent (or centime in this case) has been spent towards clothes I will not be able to use again!
Stretch marks? Not yet, thankfully, but I have been lathering myself up in cocoa butter to try and prevent as best as I can.
Sleep: what sleep? This week has been horrible. I had more leg cramps in the middle of the night, and frankly it is so hot and uncomfortable that I don't get a lot of sleep. I miss air conditioning!
Best moment this week: this week has been roughand it is hard to find a good moment let alone a best one. I love our Saturday morning tradition and it is the only thing that keeps me sane...pain au chocolate and coffee at Garden Ice Café.
Food cravings: Still no on the cravings and I amstarting to wonder where they are! I haven't been much in the mood for eating so I guess anytime I get an appetite it's a good thing!
Gender: not yet...but 6 days to go
Labor Signs: Nothing yet
Belly Button in or out? Still in and very sad to be getting rid of the belly ring next week.
What I miss: I miss the modern comforts of life...central air conditioning, a clothes dryer and automatic cars and while we are it,being able to drive! But I guess none of these are baby related!
What I am looking forward to: The end of this week and finding out if the baby is a boy or a girl! Finally!
Weekly Wisdom: Watch your step and take the elevator.

This week has been rough for me, physically and emotionally. Yesterday I managed to fall down some stairs at the mall and luckily three strangers were coming up the stairs or I would have broken my neck! I have also been getting dizzy spells were I feel like I will collapse. No one tells you these side effects when they tell you how wonderful it is to be pregnant! I seriously feel like a stranger in my own body, where I could take the stairs at work and not feel like passing out, literally; or when I could take the stairs down at work without falling on my ass! What happend to those days!

And now..the picture of me at 20 weeks and 0 days, at the official mid point of my pregnancy.

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Happy 4th..I mean 14th of July

Otherwise known as Bastille Day or Fête Nationale here in France. This was the first time I had been in France to celebrate their National Day and couldn't wait to see what it was all about, and it was also a perk that this year it happened to fall on a Tuesday and we got to benefit from the four day weekend!

To be perfectly honest, I had no clue what Bastille Day really I did a little research. This was the day that the French Citizens stormed the Bastille Prison and started the Revolution against the Monarchy...which eventually led to the death of Louis XVI and Marie sad, and finally turned France into a republic. Interesting huh?

I assumed that July 14th would be a celebration similar to fourth of July in the US. Lots of patriotism, parties and of course fireworks. We woke up on Tuesday morning and headed to Place Jaude for the "big" parade.

It was nothing like I had imagined...really there was probably about 150 total at the entire parade and really it was just police cars and ambulances and firetrucks driving down the street. The weren't decorated and they weren't waving to the people. Very bizzare...they only thing that was a little patriotic was the old veterans holding up the flags as the vehicles passed by.

I guess the thing that was the most depressing was that there was little to no patriotism on their own National Holiday. Just a month ago during the rugby finals and the entire town was decked out in yellow and blue (the colors of the Clermont rugby team) but for their national day not a french flag in site. Although I guess it is not fair to judge the entire country by Clermont-Ferrand since it seems that in Paris that have huge Bastille Day Celebrations on the Champs-Elysee.

Since it was still early we decided to go out for a drive in the country and went to a cute little town called Saint Santurnin, which has a beautiful church and a castle in the middle. We noticed that for the first time in all of our visits the castle was open and giving we went in and had a tour of the castle, which belonged to the family of Catherine de Medicis.

The day was cloudy and a little cold, but the castle was very nice.

After the castle visit we were going to head to a small town with another castle, called Murol. Apparently in this town the 14th of July celebrations consist of an all day re-enactment of the French Revolution including the storming of the bastille to the decapitaton of Louis XVI and then of course the traditional fireworks at night.

While we really wanted to watch Louis XVI lose his head but the weather was not cooperating, and shortly after the festivities were cancelled due to the storms.

Well I guess I will have to wait for next year before I see a king decapitated by the guillotine, but better late than never!
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A journey through the south of France...

This past weekend Cornel and I had a long holiday weekend we decided to leave cold and rainly Clermont-Ferrand and head where else...the beach. It is never a hard choice when we decide to go to the beach, it is always Palavas next to Montpellier, a small town on the Mediteranean Sea.

We set out on our three hour drive and arrived right at lunch time so we headed out to the boardwalk and to our favorite restaurant. And what else do you eat at the seaside in France..sea snails of course. Even though they look a little strange; they are very good just remember to remove the little suction cup at the bottom.

After lunch, we finally headed out to the beach where I really tested the pregnant/fat game. Luckily no one threw me into the ocean thinking I was a beached whale. We enjoyed a nice afternoon at the beach and then headed to our hotel in Montpellier to enjoy a bit of the night.

Montpellier is a really beautiful town and unique in it's architecture in the fact that it is truly divided between Old Town and New Town. There are replicas of famous statues all over the city, and there is always something going on in the Place de l'Opera, be it dancers or singers; comedians...always some sort of entertainment. We took a seat at a cafe and enjoyed the shows.

After sitting for a while, we decided to get some dinner. We walked around for what seemed like hours since I let Cornel pick the restaurant. We walked by so many restaruants that looked so delicious but our search continued. Finally we arrived at our destinantion...Italian! Why not, since we had just been to Italy..but I guess anytme is a good time for pizza!

Early the next morning we set back out to Palavas and had petite déjeuner à la français. Coffee with croissants, pain au chocolat and a toasted baguette all with butter and jam. There is nothing special in the breakfast...but we had an amazing view...

After breakfast we headed to the beach...we had planned to stay there all day enjoying the sun that we don' see very often.

We weren't there very long before the craziest fog swept across the beach. It was still hot, just foggy. In all the years I had been to the beach I had never seen anything like it before.
Since there was no point in staying in a foggy beach, we decided to pack it up. It was still morning and we didn't go we set out for Nîmes. A town in the region of Provence that I had seen on TV and wanted to visit. Since it was only 50 KM from Montpellier, we decided to head out.

In France, you have to options when it comes to road travel...the National Road (RN) which are free or the highway where you can pay your life in tolls, so we headed on the National Roads. The drawback is that if you are in a hurry you can add up to a few hours on to your trip, but if you have the time and feel like get to visit the small villages spread throughout the country.

Which as exactly the case, driving to Nîmes we came across a town called Lunel which was having their annual San Fermin Festival called Pescelalune. It is their version of Pamplona and they celebrate with the running of the cows (yes you read this correctly) with horns tied on their head. There is no need to be cruel to animals afterall.

The streets were filled with people and there was live music everywhere, and of course souvenir Toros!The most random thing of the trip was seeing the Statue of Liberty in Lunel.

And yes, while I know the statue of Liberty was a gift from the French and they even have a small one in Paris...but I never expected to see one in LUNEL!

After this small detour, we headed back to our original destination of Nîmes. When I had seen it on TV, I saw this thing that looked like the Coliseum and wanted to see it! Apparently, Nîmes is very well known for the bullfights and the running of the bulls; similar to Pamplona.

It is also an ancient Roman village and still has the Gladiator Arena as well as the Roman temples. It is a strange mix of Italy and Spain in the south of France.

We started off by going on a tour of the arena, which is very well preserved. It has been everything from a gladiator arena to present day bullfighting ring and concert hall.
During the tour you also get to go underneath the Arena to visit the bullfighting and gladiator exhibits...

Here I am with the famous Nimeño II, a bullfighter from Nîmes who is apparently very famous.

And I have to admit that Cornel was much more enthusiastic when running away from the bull. If I ever go to Pamplona, I will surely die!

This concluded the tour of the Arena and we headed out to watch the 3D show at the Roman temple...but not before taking one more picture with Nimeño II.

After a full day in Nîmes we decided to have some dinner before driving the four hours back to Clermont-Ferrand. We had a typical Provence dinner at "Le Paseo"...
The thing I love the most about Nîmes, besides the history and the sightseeing, was that everywhere there was a strange mix of Spanish and French...and finally I felt at home, since when I don't know the French word...I try to fake it with a Spanish one. I can't wait to visit more of Provence and enjoy more of the south of France.
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20 weeks...halfway there

Well, I am officially halfway through this pregnancy, and while somedays it feels like I have pregnant forever, others it feels like  just started.  But in any case, it is now all downhill and I can count down instead of up and it is just a few short months until December.

As for the baby... according to the experts the baby's digestive system is busy creating meconium (a tarry black substance made of swallowed amniotic fluid, digestive secretion and dead cells), which will fill the first diaper after birth.  And speaking of the diaper situation... baby's genitals are now fully formed.

How far along?
 19 weeks 5 days
Maternity clothes? No...not yet..I just need to keep it up a few more weeks!   I have never been more thankful that I kept my fat clothes, I am saving a fortune!  Not to mention all the cute hip hugger clothes, are a huge plus since they go underneath my belly...thank you Hollister!
Stretch marks? Not yet, thankfully
Sleep: sleep is sleep....sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad.  When it's bad it is mostly due to the cat waking me up at 6 in the morning ready to play and has nothing to do with anything baby related.
Best moment this week: sightseeing through the south of France...and hearing the baby's heartbeat on the doppler...just to know he/she is alive and well in there
Food cravings: No cravings this week...but I did have to stop by McDonald's for one of their delicious cheeseburgers.  I am already getting my taste buds in shape for the delicious american food...yum
Gender: not yet...but 13 days to go
Labor Signs: Nothing yet
Belly Button in or out? Still in but was informed by my doctor that my belly button ring comes out before the big ultrasound in two sad.
What I miss: I miss the days of eating whatever I wanted without having to feel guilty.  I also miss the days when I didn't know what vitamins where and now I have to take 3 vitamin supplements!  
What I am looking forward to: Finally finding out in less than two weeks if it is a boy or a girl.  
Weekly Wisdom: Eat what you love and moderation of course.

Well, I had a doctors appointment today and I gained one more Kg (2.25 pounds) that makes 4.5 pounds since this pregnancy began... and I feel like a cow.  The doctor tried to take the baby's heartbeat with a doppler and after a few seconds the baby moved and the doctor had to follow him around just to listen to his heartbeat (which is at 153 beats per minute and normal).  This scares me a little, since the baby is already moving like crazy this does not fair well for when he/she is out in the world.  Something tells me that this baby is going to keep me running all day long.  As for the rest, I am now on yet another vitamin supplement, magnesium.  I am now up to three pills a day, my prenatal vitamin my iron supplement and now magnesium...I can hardly wait to see what is next.

This week we also went to the beach at Montpellier, where I played the fat/pregnant game.  Luckily no one threw me into the Mediterranean thinking I was a beached whale...and now here is my belly at 19 weeks and 1 day...

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19 weeks

According to the experts here is what's happening to baby:
Busy with hiccups, rolls, twists kicks and punches....she is the size of a mango

How far along? 18 weeks 5 days
Maternity clothes? No...but I am getting there. I really wanted to hold out four more weeks until I made it back to the US, but not sure if i will be successful. Luckily for me I have a lot of highwasted shirts and skirts that can close higher on my I think I can make it through for a couple more weeks!
Stretch marks? Not yet, thankfully
Sleep: sleep this week has been anything but normal...i woke up with the WORST leg cramp I have ever felt in my life! I seriously hope that they don't happen very often! I also wake up at least twice to go to the bathroom. I think I might start implementing nap time again!
Best moment this week: The baby keeps moving and it keeps surprising me!
Food cravings: No cravings this least nothing out of the ordinary.
Gender: not yet...but 20 days to go
Labor Signs: Nothing yet
Belly Button in or out? Still in
What I miss: I miss shopping! I used to love shopping for clothes and basically anything and I miss it so much!
What I am looking forward to:My doctors appointment next week to make sure things are going okay.
Weekly Wisdom: I think I am just going to start deleting this line because I never feel like I have anything worthy to say!

I think that I am far from the typical pregnant woman. I guess I am not sure what a typical pregnant woman is, but my daily life continues as normal. I wake up, go to work, come home, cook dinner and can go an entire day without noticing that I am pregnant. Howeve; there are the pregnant ladies that sit all day; rub their bellies; and truly get into the pregnancy role. I don't think that I could be one of these women...while I enjoy being pregnant...I just feel like these women are being overdramatic about pregnancy. I would feel silly being at a party while never keeping my hand off my stomach. I don't I said; I guess I am not typical at all. But sometimes being around women like this makes me feel like I am already a bad mother and make me feel guilty that I don't get overexctatic about the situation. I didn't know there was one particular way to act.

But in any is a picture of my belly at exactly 18 weeks and 0 days

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18 weeks

According to the experts here is what's happening to baby:
Has become amazingly mobile, passing the hours yawning, hiccuping, rolling, twisting, kicking, punching, sucking and swallowing. … She’s the size of an sweet potato!

How far along? 17 weeks 5 days
Maternity clothes? No maternity clothes, but far from my regular clothes. I have resorted to pants that were a little big to begin with, but I think I will be able to survive a few more weeks without maternity clothes
Stretch marks? Not yet, thankfully
Sleep: sleep is normal but I have to wake up at least twice to go to the bathroom and frankly it is just annoying...
Best moment this week: I got to feel the baby move for the first time and it was so strange to think that there is something really there!
Food cravings: No least nothing out of the ordinary. This week I had to buy fig newtons because I wanted something sweet that wasn't candy. I forgot how good fig newtons are!
Gender: not yet...but 28 days to go
Labor Signs: Nothing yet
Belly Button in or out? Still in
What I miss: I miss being able to button up my jeans...seriously it's the little things in life!
What I am looking forward to: Having a fourth of july barbecue...french style! Should be very interesting!
Weekly Wisdom: Again...I have no weekly wisdom to share..I'll have to work on this for the future!

At 18 weeks I am now officially beginning my fifth month of pregnancy! Time is flying by! I couldn't believe this week when I had three people randomly come up and touched my belly (or lack there of) saying I didn't even look pregnant. While it is very sweet of them the say that I don't look like a cow yet...I don't know when it became acceptable for people to just touch your stomach! I guess it is something that I will have to get used to; but I never thought about doing this to anyone else so I can't believe that anyone would do it to me.

And here is what they have been touching. My belly at exactly 17 weeks...

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