30 weeks

According to the experts, the baby is still the size of a squash. His skin is getting smoother and his brain just keeps getting more wrinkled. All those grooves and indentations increase surface area, meaning more room for that oh-so-essential brain tissue. He's also adding some brawn -- his grip is now strong enough to grasp a finger.

How far along? 29 weeks 5 days
Maternity clothes? This week has been exclusive maternity pants as always, but still mixing in my regular pre-pregnancy shirts. I find that sometimes the non-pregnancy shirts fit better and look nicer than some of the baggier maternity clothes with a lot of room in the belly.
Stretch marks? Still not a one. I have become a moisturizing freak putting on cocoa butter twice a day!
Sleep: This week has been horrible for sleeping, not because of the baby but because I caught a terrible cold and have found it impossible to breathe, let alone sleep.
Food cravings: No cravings this week. I haven't had much of an appetite but have managed to eat some hot oatmeal in the morning and very hot soup in the evenings to make my throat feel better.
Gender: Still a boy and the name has been made official.
Labor Signs: Nothing yet
Belly Button in or out? Belly button is still in! Still so happy, I am in complete fear of this phenomenon.
What I miss: I miss being able to breathe like a normal human being. I am hoping this cold subsides soon and I can get back to being happy and pregnant.
What I am looking forward to: I am looking forward to so many things this week. I am looking forward to my birthday on Saturday and having a small get together with family and friends. I am also looking forward to closing on our new apartment next week and beginning the moving process. I am not excited for the packing/unpacking moving aspect, but to get settled into our new home as a family.
Weekly Wisdom: When someone tells you to cover up or you might get sick, believe them! It is true! Also, make sure you get plenty of rest, even if you think you feel okay.

Like I said, this week has not been fun. I began to get sick on Monday with a sore throat and has progressed to today being completely and utterly unable to breathe or function as a human being. I was completely freaked out when I went to the infirmary at work and they told me to go home immediately and call my doctor since I could be doing some harm to the baby! I freaked out of course, and immediately called the doctor who took me in right away. After determining what I already knew, it is just a cold and not the flu (and not the swine flu) I just had to get some rest and drink plenty of fluids. After having done all that, I wonder why I didn't just get an MD degree, since he told me the exact same thing I had already known. Funny how Cornel believed it coming from him, but when I told him I just needed rest he said "Let's just see what the doctor says". So now, I am still in the same boat, unable to take medications and drinking more than my bladder can handle. I hope this passes soon!!

But in any case, here is the picture of my belly at exactly 29 weeks.

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What's in a name?

Everyone keeps asking if we have found a name for the baby yet, and the answer is yes. I have to admit that finding a name for our son has been very very difficult. I am sure that most parents struggle to find a name for their child, but for us it has been four times more difficult, literally. We had to find a name for our son that we not only liked, but that sounded good in the four languages that will be heard in our house hold, yes that is right four. We had to find a name that sounded good in Romanian, Spanish, English and of course French. While there were many names that we both liked and many that we didn't agree on, there was always one language in which it sounded horrible! We both immediately fell in love with the name Ethan, but the way it sounded in French was too similar to a lingerie store here, and I couldn't imagine what his childhood would be like.

It was a little more complicated than it seems to, since we wanted to find a name that was meaningful too. My sister-in-law had suggested Alexander. Since we got married in the town of Alexandria in St. Alexander's cathedral, we thought it was perfect, however, not for the first name. We searched on the internet, in books everywhere and discounted names like Kermit, Doctor, Lucifer.... we kept coming back to Ethan. And then, while watching a French T.V. program about babies, I heard the name Nathan. I didn't know this name existed in French, and then we thought hey why not? Once we found out that it meant "gift from God" and he would be born in December, it was confirmed. Our little Christmas gift from God...and therefore we have officially chosen the baby's name!

Nathan Alexander

It is such a relief to not have to keep calling him baby, or him, but now we can actually start calling him by his name! We are so excited... and now all that is left is to meet little Nathan in just 11 short weeks!

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29 weeks

According to the experts, the baby is now the size of a squash. His energy is surging, thanks to the white fat depositing beneath his skin. And since he is growing so fast (weight will triple by birth), things are getting kind of cramped in the womb.

How far along? 28 weeks 5 days
Maternity clothes? This week I wore more maternity clothes than I am used to wearing, only because I knew it would be a rough week at work and I wanted to be extra comfortable. I still have on pair of drawstring pants that fits that are non maternity and of course some of my blouses for work. I am so glad that I found the perfect way to mix and match so that I didn't spend a fortune on maternity clothes.
Stretch marks? Still not a one. I have become a moisturizing freak putting on cocoa butter twice a day!
Sleep: It is still pretty good, but I still wake up to go to the bathroom at least once a night. I am not really uncomfortable yet, but I fear the day is coming soon.
Food cravings: I really haven't had any cravings this week. In fact, I've been staying so long at work that I don't really have much of an appetite. I did eat a very yummy peanut butter and jam sandwich on black bread yesterday that was pretty yummy.
Gender: Still a boy and the name has been made official.
Labor Signs: Nothing yet
Belly Button in or out? Belly button is still in! Still so happy, I am in complete fear of this phenomenon.
What I miss: I haven't really missed anything this week. With my maternity leave coming closer I have been swamped at work trying to get everything done. I miss the days when I could relax and come home at a decent hour.
What I am looking forward to: I am looking forward to Saturday when we take a big trip to Lyon to order our baby furniture! After that I will be looking forward to the move and setting up the nursery.
Weekly Wisdom: Nothing this week.

I can't believe how fast time flies. Now with 11 weeks to go, the deadline is starting to seem real. I realize how much we have left to do, move into our new apartment, buy all of the baby furniture and set up the nursery.

This week I was also getting very nervous due to the fact that I hadn't felt the baby move as often as he used to. I started counting how many times he kicked in a day/morning/hour to try and reassure myself that all was okay. If I am acting like this now, what is going to happen after he is born! We don't have another doctor's appointment for two weeks, so I am hoping that all is okay at our next checkup.

Last week we had our third practical birthing class. It is all about breathing and stretching and ways to ease the pain and get through the contractions and labor. While it is a lot of fun to go to the class for an hour every week and breathe and stretch, etc. I find it very unlikely that when I will be in excruciating pain I will remember any of these techniques or more be coherent or willing enough to put them into practice. I suppose these classes exist for a reason, so I just have to try and do what I learned and hope and pray I remember in December. As for the classes, next week is a theoretical course where I will learn all about breastfeeding, sounds exciting, I know. I wonder how women in the middle ages or even 60 years ago where able to have and feed babies without all of these wonderful classes available today.

Here is a picture of me at exactly 28 weeks. I can definitely see the belly growing, I just hope not to gain too much weight in "other" places.

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Baby Shower

To start at the beginning, I had been very depressed that since living in France I would not be able to have a baby shower. I know that having a baby shower is not the most important thing, but it is something I had always pictured when I thought about being pregnant; getting to share those special moments with family and friends. While I have very nice friends in France, baby showers are not traditional and in fact they are seen as bad luck (celebrating a baby before it arrives), so I knew that there would be no such celebration as long as I was here.

When I told my mom how sad I was that I wouldn't be having one she suggested throwing me one while I was in the states on vacation. I was so happy, that of course I said yes! My mom was ecstatic in grandma planning mode, buying things for the baby, buying things for the shower, and then we got a slap in the face from my cousin's wife. She is also pregnant and when she found out that I was having my baby shower while I was there, she scheduled hers for two weeks before. This meant that some of our family would have to decide to go to hers or come to mine. I was devastated, not only because she could have had hers months later, but because this is my first child and I really wanted to share this special time with all of my family and friends. Especially since I was flying half way across the world to do it. In the end we decided to continue with the plans and let things happen as they would.

Since we knew it was a boy, planning the decorations were much simpler. My cousin is a fabulous party planner and she handled all of the decorations and arrangements, including the corsages that we would hand out to all the women, and of course my corsage of honor!

Since half of my family lives in Mexico, we decided to have the baby shower there and we rented a very nice small hall to accommodate everyone.

When we arrived the day of the shower to start setting up,I could not believe when we walked into the hall to start setting it up, all of the centerpieces and details were incredible.
My cousin had taken these simple vases and wrapped them in diapers with a little baby boy. Then there were the baby blocks that were filled with blue chocolate kisses, and of course the napkin rings which were blue pacifiers! Then of course there were all of the decorations that were hanging from the ceiling.

Then of course there was the fabulous menu, also created by my very talented cousin. For starters on the table we had homemade dips, cheeses and different appetizers.
For the main course we had stuffed chicken breasts with mashed potatoes, and for desert, you choice of cake! We had over six different types of cakes to choose from! My favorite was the typical baby shower cake which was chocolate with fresh strawberry filling! Delicious.

We played the typical baby shower games, but what made it more special was the fact that my friend Maricurz, whom I hadn't seen in over three years drove down from Tucson to celebrate with me. We have been friends since Jr. High School, and now I realize that true friendship really does last a lifetime. It was also great that my little sister drove three hours for the occasion, especially since we never got a chance to see each other while we were both living in Europe. I had to go all the way to Arizona to finally see her again! And then there were all the family and friends that showed up for the occassion, including my aunt, cousins and niece that made it from Tucson! I truly felt blessed on this day, and know that my son will be blessed to have all these people that love and care for him in his life.

Cornel, my dad and my uncle all showed up at the end for opening gifts! Since this was only Cornel's third trip to my family's, there were a lot of people who hadn't met him. He made his rounds, had some cake, and then came our favorite part...the gifts! We received so many great gifts; all things we needed - adorable clothing and accessories, including hats and bib that my sister hand knitted, a hand knitted blanket that my aunt from Hermosillo (five hours away) had sent.

The day and night had been perfect. I could not have asked for anything more. It was so much more than I could have ever imagined.

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28 Weeks

According to the experts, the baby is still the size of an eggplant. His lungs are mature enough that, if born right now, he has a pretty good chance of surviving (with help from medical technology). His skin is still pretty wrinkly (one by product of living in amniotic fluid) but will smoothen as fat continues to deposit.

I am now officially in my 7th month, only three more to go. We just have 12 short weeks until we get to hold our little boy!

How far along? 27 weeks 5 days
Maternity clothes? Still not exclusively and I love wearing my comfy pajama or yoga pants. These are definitely a great investment if you are not pregnant.
Stretch marks? Still not a one. I have become a moisturizing freak putting on cocoa butter twice a day!
Sleep: Sleep is still pretty good. I have no problems sleeping through the night, except for the 1 to 2 trips a night I make to the bathroom.
Food cravings: I am still detoxing from vacation and believe it or not I am craving healthy food, like oatmeal and yogurts and fruit. Hopefully this will help keep my weight in check the next time I go to the doctors. I am up 9 pounds this pregnancy (4 KG's), and I am hoping that I won't put on too much excess weight these next few months.
Gender: Still a boy and still very active.
Labor Signs: Nothing yet
Belly Button in or out? Belly button is still in! I am really, really hoping that it stays in for the next three months!
What I miss: I miss being on vacation and I want to go back!
What I am looking forward to: I am looking forward to the weekend with Cornel and my next birthing class on Friday.
Weekly Wisdom: Nothing this week.

This week has been the first normal week back home. After recovering from vacation and getting back into a routine. We went shopping on Saturday and Cornel picked up some adorable clothes for the baby to wear home from the hospital. We also went looking for other miscellaneous things that we didn't pick up in the US to get an idea of what we needed to buy and how much it would cost us. We also started making the list of things that my mom would have to bring with her when she comes in December.

I did start to panic when I didn't feel the baby move as often I was used to. Luckily his activity went back to normal. I can't stop worrying sometimes about him and making sure he is okay. It is so hard to be OK when I can't see what is going on and to check up and make sure he is still doing okay. It makes me worried that if I am acting like this now when he is inside the womb, how am I going to be when he is out!

And finally, here is my belly pic at exactly 27 weeks. The last week in my sixth month and in the second trimester!

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Sweet Home Arizona

I was so excited to go back to Arizona for two weeks. I hadn't been back since April 2008 before I made the big move to France and not to mention that I hadn't seen my parents since my wedding in June of 2008.

There is something so reassuring about landing in Arizona and seeing all the palm trees and cacti. And even though I complained when I lived there, something so soothing about the heat. It's the things that always stay constant, and no matter how many years I am away, I know that when I go back these things will always be the same.

My mom picked us up in Phoenix and took us to do what else, shopping! This time, however, rather than shopping for ourselves we actually went shopping for the baby and the baby shower! Since I told my mom that the Ikea by our house had so many cute things, she decided to take me to the Ikea in Tempe so I could show her, but hey, who doesn't love a trip to Ikea!

The next stop was Arizona Mills Mall, an Outlet Mall in Tempe. We found a lot of cute things for the baby, but decided to hold out until the baby shower and determine exactly what we needed, but it was fun to walk around in the air conditioning, and Cornel got to practice using his new camera!

After a full day of traveling and shopping, we began the four hour drive home to my parent's house.
During the next few days, we did nothing in particular. I was so happy to finally get to see my family after so long. It was kind of sad to see how much my nieces and nephews had grown since last April. It reminded me of my childhood and how I grew up surrounded by my aunts, uncles and cousins. It made me kind of sad to think that my son won't have this family support and he'll never know what it is like to have a built in network of friends. I can only hope that we make it back often for visits so he doesn't see these people as strangers.

Other than visiting my family, the first few days were spent at my parent's house, and the days were filled with baby shower preparations and other administrative details (I finally got my SSN switched over into my married name)! Let's also not forget the eating! Just like the trip to Atlanta, I also had made a long list of all the things I wanted to eat while visiting my parents. First on the list was a seafood restaurant in Mexico, where I got to enjoy Shrimp Cocktail, mexican style.... with lots of lime juice and accompanied by fresh guacamole! I am hungry again just thinking about it.

Since half of my family lives across the border in Mexico, we made daily trips back and forth to visit family, to eat and basically just to spend the afternoons. I don't know if Cornel enjoyed this so much, since every time we crossed the border, we were detained by customs until they could verify that his passport was legit. I guess they don't see too many Romanians in Mexico. While in Mexico, my mom wanted to go and see the doctor, since she was not convinced that our baby was a boy. So, we headed off to a sonogram clinic where they indeed proved for the second time that we were having a boy. They even gave us the photos and DVD. It was so special to be able to share this with my mom. Since she lives so far away, I know that this made her feel like a part of the pregnancy process.
I did feel guilty that we made it all the way to Arizona and Cornel didn't get to do any sightseeing, but rather just spend time with my family. In order to remedy this, we stopped by Tombstone, AZ to walk around and get a little taste of the Old West. In Tombstone you get to walk through the Boothill Cemetery and visit the graves of the people that used to live there over 200 years ago and their interesting headstones.

We also stopped in to see Bisbee, Arizona. An old copper mining town that really doesn't have much going on, but is really pretty to look at.

And of course, since my hometown is where Johnny Depp filmed the movie Arizona Dreams, and it is one of Cornel's favorites. I took him to see the house from the movie.

The trip took a turn for the worse of course, when I had to spend the day in the Emergency Room. I don't know if it was exhaustion or something I ate but I developed some sort of stomach bacteria and couldn't stop throwing up. We called our family doctor and he told me to go straight to the Emergency Room and get started on an IV. I was there for about 8 hours in total, before the antibiotics they gave me kicked in and I was finally released. I felt worse for Cornel, he was so worried that something would happen to the baby. Luckily both the baby and are doing fine. We were put on a very strict diet after that, and I could no longer enjoy all of the food I so wanted to eat. I lived vicariously through others, but my next trip back I will make up for all the things I didn't eat!

The highlight of the trip, however, was trying to fit all of the things we had bought back into our suitcases. My mom had already bought a ton of things for the baby, plus all of the things from the baby shower, and the kicker, the stroller/car seat combo that we had bought ourselves. I don't know how we did it, but we managed to fit it all into three suitcases and the stroller/car seat as checked luggage, with nothing going overweight! I give all the credit to my mom, who is truly a master at packing engineering!

Leaving Arizona was by far the saddest moment of the trip. It is never easy saying goodbye to family, especially since I don't know when I will get the chance to visit again. I am hoping that next Christmas we will be able to take our son to meet his family, but I am so lucky to have been able to go this time and get some much needed pampering and R&R.

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A trip down South...well, Atlanta

Well Cornel and I just got back from 3 weeks of vacation in the States, and it was a little bittersweet for me. It was amazing to be able to see my friends and family again, but so sad to leave them, and now I feel like I am going through the readjustment period all over again.

The trip started off with one week in Atlanta, where I got to spend time with my two of my greatest friends, Nate and Brent. Since they were working during the days, Cornel and I had to find ways to keep ourselves entertained. This wasn't too hard to do since I had one major objective while back in the states, SHOPPING! Our days were filled with trips to Best Buy (where Cornel got himself a very nice new camera) and of course the Georgia 400 outlest where I stocked up on a new Coach purse and finally bought some maternity clothes. There were also miscellaneous trips to Target and I had completely forgotten how much I absolutely love that store!

And of course, you can't forget the food. Weeks before our trip, I had already been making a mental list of all the things I wanted to eat and all the places I wanted to go. It was so wonderful to stop into Starbucks and have a Skinny Vanilla Latte again (decaf of course)!
I won't forget one of my favorite breakfast places in Atlanta, The Silver Skillet!
I was introduced to this place by Nate a long time ago, on one of our very hungover Sunday mornings. It is your typical diner style dive restaurant, where all the waitresses are old, cranky and full of bite. If you ever make it to the Silver Skillet for breakfast, I suggest going on a weekday to avoid the line, as for what to eat, make sure you try their Super Skillet breakfast, and always ask for biscuits!
The baby was definitely happy after this breakfast! I also got to eat at Willy's. There is nothing like American style Mexican Nachos! Sadly, I couldn't drink the Margarita, but Cornel was a trooper and he had one for the family!

The icing on the culinary cake was life fulfilling dream trip to the Chik Fil'A Dwarf House. When I first heard of this restaurant, I thought it sounded a little discriminatory, I mean really, a house for dwarfs? I had always wanted to go, but had never had the opportunity... luckily this year was different, and I was not at all disappointed!
When I got there, it made a little more sense that it was called the Dwarf House, since the inside motif is the seven dwarfs from Snow White. It is also all the food from a regular Chick Fil'A but in a sit down restaurant. I discovered the best part as I was leaving the restaurant, a DWARF DOOR!!
Just my size, and of course, Nate and I had to crawl through! This was truly the trip of a lifetime!

Other than eating, I also got to visit Atlanta for the very first time in my life. I had gone to Atlanta every weekend when I lived in Greenville, which would make it about three years of weekends but had never actually visited Atlanta. Since Cornel had been a tourist in Atlanta
about three years ago, he decided to show me around (ironic isn't it!). We visited the CNN center, which is a very interesting tour, however they don't let you take pictures. It is very interesting, especially when you watch them do a live broadcast! It looks nothing like it does on TV.

Then of course, there was the World of Coke!
What a great place...it is worth the price of admission just to try all 64 different coke products from around the world! Of course, I found the caffeine free diet coke machine and basically stayed there until my bladder could no longer take it!

Then of course, you get to take your picture with the infamous Coke Polar Bear (which is a little scary in person) and see all of the Coke Memorabilia and Coke Pop Culture!
My favorite, of course, being the American Idol Couch!! There is also a fun 4D movie you get to enjoy with these very cool glasses! However, since I am pregnant, I couldn't sit in the moving chairs, so for me the movie was only in 3D, but still fun however.

There is also the cute souvenir coke that you get to take with you!

After visiting coke, we took a walk through Olympic Centennial Park and just enjoyed the nice sunny weather, which we had hardly seen in Clermont-Ferrand.

While in Atlanta, we were also very fortunate to have the opportunity to see Sir Paul McCartney in concert at Piedmont Park! This was the opportunity of a lifetime, there aren't very many chances to see a Beatles perform anymore and really, who knows how long they will be alive or in singing shape! The concert was outdoors at the Park, it was a very and nice day, until the black clouds started rolling in, and then watch out! It started to pour and of course they had forbidden you to take any umbrellas, and so, woodstock style we partied in the rain with Sir Paul. Luckily it was warm and and there was very little risk that we would catch pneumonia! The concert was amazing and so much fun, especially once the old Beatles songs started playing!

The best part about this vacation, however, was my attempted arson of Brent and Nate's apartment. To start at the beginning, Nate is turning 30 this year in December (Happy Birthday Nate), but since I will be in France having a baby I won't be able to go and celebrate with him. Being the sweet and caring friend that I am, I thought I would surprise Nate with a birthday celebration in August! I went and bought gifts and an ice cream cake at Dairy Queen (they are delicious) and had everything ready for when he arrived home. I had cooked a nice Lasagna dinner and after dinner, I snuck into the room to light the candles on the cake. I didn't want to have to go back and get the presents so I attempted to carry the gifts and the cake out together.
Bad idea! As soon as I came out the cake started sliding and I held it up against myself to try and keep it off the floor, and I didn't notice that one of the candles had fallen into on of my beautifully wrapped gift bags. While everyone was so worried about picking up the cake, no one seemed to notice that the tissue paper and gift bag had gone up in flames! Once the cake was saved we tried to extinguish the fire with water from glasses and the hose in the sink. After a minute, the fire was out, but now I have a nice story to tell and the burn marks to prove it!!
After a week it was time to say goodbye to Atlanta before heading out to visit my family in Arizona. It was so great to spend time with Nate and Brent and see them again before their trip out to Europe next Spring! And, I can't believe I am saying this, but I miss the South. If and when we go back, I would strongly consider moving back in this area!

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