Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Week 34: Checklists and Nursery To Do's

This move came at a good time to relieve some of my nesting needs. Having an entire house to get settled provides plenty to do on the nesting front, however, it can also stretch out a few things that you would rather have buttoned up so you can focus on other things.

Like the nursery.

We shipped our nursery furniture in our household goods, still in the boxes it came in when we ordered it. It made for easy packing for the movers, but because it wasn't preassembled before the move, that meant the movers here were not responsible for reassembling the pieces along with the rest of our furniture. It was no big deal. Isn't that part of the fun for dear ol' dad anyway?

Right...not when DOD is busy trying to clean out and organize his new office, complete the mountain of in-processing tasks required in Turkey, contracts some sort of virus that leaves him alternating between chills and night sweats, and then hosts his boss in the office for a week to cover a couple of hearings.

I ended up putting together our glider and ottoman (which is probably why they both creak and pop), as well as any of the toys and rocker chairs and such that I could. I finally got Will to put the crib together a few weekends ago, but then the nursery sat in it's unfinished state until we were met with our last free weekend to get things done before I leave (we are going to Cappadocia for Labor Day).

So on Saturday I put a stop on all other activities until we had the dresser put together, everything put in it's place, moved the rug to the nursery, and got the pictures, shelves, and mobile hung.

We were making such good progress. In fact, we got all the way down to just needing to hang a few things when we came to a screeching halt, to the tune of our drill trying to penetrate our concrete ceiling. All of our walls in this house, and apparently our ceilings, are concrete. So now we have to put in a work order for CE (Civil Engineering) to come and hang our things. Alas, the nursery will most likely still be unfinished by the time I leave. I am really happy with how it's turning out so far though!

Getting Ready for Germany
It sounds crazy to start packing weeks in advance, but this is one trip where I do not want to forget anything. And packing for a month and a half (possibly longer) in Germany is no joke. Especially since it is now hovering in the high 50's/low 60's during the day there, and into the 40's at night. Quite a change from the 100's we are having here every day (I'll admit I'm kind of looking forward to the break from the heat). I'm down to limited things that still fit, and having never given birth before, I've really got no idea what I'm going to feel like wearing.

I've got checklists for myself, for the baby bag, for my labor bag, for Will's bag. I've got checklists for paperwork, travel, and finances. And somewhere in there I'm trying to find a good sitter for the dogs (I think we have found one fingers crossed).

I also planned a number of freezer meals to prepare this week so we wouldn't have to worry about cooking for a while once we get back with the baby. But my shopping list has created a situation where multiple grocery stores are required in order to complete it.

I surprisingly don't feel stressed, but I do feel like time is ticking away really quickly at this point. Part of me is looking forward to Germany because I keep thinking it will feel like a bit of vacation in an odd sense. A chance to just truly relax and wait on the baby without having to worry about moving, or settling into a new house and life, or figuring out how to navigate through Turkey.

Doctor's Report
This week's appointment went well. I'm measuring just slightly behind, but still gained almost a pound so baby is growing. I read that this late in the game the fundal height measurement can be a bit misleading depending on where and how the baby is laying in there. So it's not big deal if you don't measure right on track. We had a strong heartbeat, and I'm feeling LOTS of movement.

And some nice bump pics with my sidekick...in my PJ's :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Off Base Adventures: Karatas

Last Saturday Will and I decided to venture out to another beach. This time completely on our own.

Which is scary when you don't have a GPS.

We tried plugging it into our iPhones before the left the comforts of wifi at home, hoping the GPS would still track us the whole way...it didn't. 

We tried to follow the broken google maps route for a while before we turned around and went the slightly longer, but as it turns out, more direct route. 

Karatas is a small, lazy beach town located directly south of Adana. Will picked it out by randomly pointing a finger at the map, I had, however, heard of it from some of the other spouses because you can go there and purchase beautiful blue crabs by the cooler-full. 

Unlike Yumurtalik, we were pleased to see the town had created a nice park area next to be beach, and clearly believed in putting trash in its proper receptacle as evidenced by the bright orange trash cans located up and down the road, every 5 feet or so. 

My assistant, great for helping me tote my gear around...and oh so handsome :)

Also unlike Yurmatalik, we had to pay 5TL to park. Not sure if there were free spots somewhere else or not, but it was worth it to us to pay and have our car and stuff just a few steps away.

We walked around the few small streets before settling on the beach. Based on our window shopping fresh fish, bread, and chicken were the local specialties. 

The beach was much smaller than Yurmatalik, and maybe not quite as blue and pretty, but it was much less crowded and the sand was very soft. 

I think we sat on the beach for about 45 minutes before we both decided it was too hot and also way past lunchtime. So we loaded our stuff up and ordered up two "balick ekmeks" and were seated at our own little table by the sea. 

Balik means fish, and ekmek means bread. At one point I thought the combo of the words maybe meant seafood in general, but as it turns out it actually means fish bread. 

The guy chopped up the fish and a bunch of fresh veggies and herbs, and served it all on a fresh loaf of bread (that I'm guessing came from bakery across the street). 

In researching Karatas I had read a post by another blogger who said when he ordered his meal of grilled fish, the cook walked over to some fishermen just down the beach, got two fish, brought them back, cleaned them, cooked them, and then served them to the blogger. We had hoped for that experience as well, but from what we could tell the fishermen were off that day. 

After lunch we hopped in the car and drove around for a little bit before heading home. We happened upon a little market that had us drooling over all the beautiful produce. 

In South Dakota we were so hard pressed to find good fresh produce, and now that we have access to an abundance of it, we have to fight hard not to just go through and buy it all. 

I searched for a long time in SD to find pastured eggs...around here you can purchase them by crate for next to nothing. 

There were vendors with spreads of grains, nuts, and dried fruits. Most of the nuts we identified, but we agreed that we need to read up on our grains so we will know what we are buying. 

This one woman was buying this sack of mixed nuts and seeds. I can't imagine what she could do with ALL of those! 

We bought some of this mix. We're still not sure what all is in it, but it was a good savory snack for the drive home. 

We resisted buying much else because we had plans to go to the Sunday market the next morning to stock up for the week. 

On the way home we stopped by the mall, and prided ourselves on how much better we were getting at driving and getting around, where Will had his first experience with Turkish coffee. We had heard it was strong, but I'm not sure we truly understood what was meant by that description. Strong here means that it is equivalent to coffee sludge. As in you are pretty much drinking coffee grounds mixed with a little water. Will swore that after the first sip or so it was much better, but I still don't know that it will become a regular drink for us haha! Either way, it's one more thing to check off of our bucket list! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Week 33: Plugging Along Like A Papaw On A Rascal

If your deductive logic is off today, this post title means I'm slowing down. Like, a lot. I'm not sure if the waddling is in my head, or if I really do look like Randy from A Christmas Story walking down the street, but if you want to hang with me you're going to have to slow your stride down a bit.

My days tend to involve getting up in a haze because I've spent the night making about 372 flips back and forth. Most of the time the thought of food and the audible growling of my stomach propels me from bed. I eat, revel in the burst of real energy I'm feeling. Try to ride that train and get some things done for the next few hours, then around 2:00 in the afternoon I'm spent. It's nap time, and that's the only way I will have the stamina to get back up, cook and eat dinner, spend some time with Will, before puttering back out around 9:30.

It's really exciting right now :)

All-in-all I still have to say I feel good. In a sense of, I don't necessarily walk around hurting, and although my bump is definitely growing and providing a pretty big obstacle for normal activities, I don't exactly feel like the bloated blimp I expected to. I just feel like I'm running on a inadequate rechargeable battery. And my feet hurt all the time, but I think that may be due to the tile floor we have in our new house. I made it to a crossfit class once last week and was able to complete the WOD, although at a much scaled and slower pace. And I may have needed a nap afterwards, but hey, at least I got moving!

Getting the Storknesting Deets
This past week involved more tasks of getting settled and trying to figure out a routine. We attended a storknesting briefing to review all the ins and outs of my trip to Germany for the birth.

For new readers, a short recap: Incirlik is a very small base with a limited medical clinic. While they offer obstetrical care, they do not have the capabilities to handle actual births. And since the Turkish are of the belief that if you can afford a caesarean you should have one (they have like a 90% caesarean rate!), it's not really a good option to transfer care to the downtown hospitals. Instead, expectant mothers are flown up to Landstuhl (an Army base right next to Ramstein) sometime between weeks 34-36 (depending on your risk factor), where they wait until they give birth. Husbands are flown up 5 days prior to their wife's due dates. Then after the baby is born there is about a two week process of appointments and paperwork to get the baby's passport and visa so they can enter Turkey to go home.

It's a nice program in that they pay for your lodging and give you a daily per diem for food. During your weeks of waiting there are a number of classes you can attend, and the opportunity to meet and bond with the other storknesters. The lodging is directly across the parking lot from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center making it super easy for you to get to the hospital and your prenatal and postpartum appointments. And the hospital itself has years of experience servicing not just birthing mothers, but also a wealth of emergency situations as it is one of, if not the, first stop for injured active duty members deployed overseas.

The downside is that giving your husband only 5 days before your due date really cuts down on the chance that he will actually make the birth considering the vast majority of women don't give birth on their estimated due date. The other downside is that you don't have a choice of any other hospital. We've been told that the LRMC does tries to accommodate your birth plan as much as possible, but in reality they are an army hospital definitely functioning more in the vein on the "techno-medical" model of care (a term used by Ina May Gaskin in her book Ina May's Guide to Childbirth) where pregnancy and labor are viewed as conditions to be treated with medical interventions and drugs, versus the midwifery model of care that views pregnancy and labor as a healthy, natural process, and focuses more on the mother and baby and a holistic approach.

Many German hospitals are known for their specialty in births. Many put midwives at the forefront of their obstetrical departments, and birthing mothers are afforded every "luxury" to help them achieve a natural, drug-free birth. One of the best hospitals in the Landstuhl area is Saint Johannis. Nearly every review and birth story I've heard from this hospital has been full of positive experiences and very pleased mothers. There are beautiful, relaxing birthing rooms, and water birthing tubs available. I fought like crazy to be able to go to this hospital, but in the end it was a choice of sticking with the normal program and having nearly zero expenses, or going to St. J's and paying our own way for lodging, food, possibly some medical bills, and having to endure a year after on the Tricare Standard plan which would require us to seek postpartum and general medical care off base until we could switch back to Tricare Prime. We had to take a long look at the reality of the situation and ultimately decided that going with the normal program was a lot easier in the long run, and in the end probably wouldn't make a huge difference (other than to me mentally - which could make the ultimate difference, but I'm trying to be optimistic here).

My doctor here has been a great help by forwarding our birth plan on to the nurse that coordinates the storknesting care at the LRMC, and has asked that they plan ahead and try to help me achieve my goal of a natural birth in any way possible. We will also have a doula who has attended births at the LRMC with success, so I feel like we are doing, and have done, everything we can to give ourselves the best chance. Now I'm just praying for my own strength to get through it, because in the end it really comes down to me and my mental resolve and attitude (excluding potential unforeseeable medical emergencies of course).

The Benefits of the Bradley Method
On the note of my last sentence, I want to put in a plug here for our Bradley Method classes. I realize natural birth isn't for everyone. And honestly, choosing this route is choosing an uphill battle of sorts. It takes a lot of commitment, a lot of research, and a lot of determination to fight off the nearly constant bombardment of people and healthcare providers that think you are crazy for not "taking advantage" of modern medicine and technology.

Some people also prefer to function on a basis of blissful ignorance. I get it. I'm just not wired that way. If I am facing something big and scary, I need to know every single thing I can about it so I feel prepared to handle it. And giving birth is one of the biggest, scariest, most amazing things women go through in their lives. Our Bradley Method classes gave us an in depth look at the process of pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum life. Any fear I had was replaced with real knowledge and a wealth of ways to manage the pain and intensity. It's much easier to face and welcome a contraction when you understand exactly why it's happening, and how it is helping your baby come into the world. And oddly enough, the less fearful you are, the less painful (and often quicker) your labor will be.

Having this knowledge has already proven tremendously helpful in protecting our choices when we are being pressured by healthcare providers. It is an easy (and understandable) assumption that the nurses and doctors you speak with know what they are talking about. Just recently after being heavily pressured and questioned, and responding with the factual research I had accumulated and formed my decision on, I discovered that this assumption of knowledge simply isn't true in every case. In fact, after I had made my case (which I have had to do often during this pregnancy), I discovered this person actually had almost no knowledge of the actual procedure and repercussions of that she was trying to enforce, but was rather just going along with what she has been told to say, and how things normally take place.

At this point, I don't feel any fear or anxiety over giving birth. In a weird way I'm excited for the experience. I know it's intense. I know it can be unbelievably painful. But I also know women were created for this purpose, and I'm fully capable of doing it. I want to feel it all. I'm so thankful I'm not spending these last few weeks scared of what's to come, but rather wondering when this little one is going to make their grand entrance, and feeling lots of excitement.

In a way it's truly felt like I've been training. Working out and staying active as much as possible so my body will actually be strong enough to endure the marathon-like experience of childbirth, and educating myself (well ourselves) so we know what to expect and feel prepared. This is a very important, possibly one of the most important, events of our lives and we've felt it deserves the time and effort to develop a solid knowledge about what we are getting ourselves into. Talking to many people it seems most research what car they want to buy more than they research their pregnancy and giving birth.

OK, I'm off my soap box now :)

Here's a bump photo, albeit not the most flattering, taken at a new beach we ventured to this weekend (post coming soon!).

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Around Adana: The Women's Market & Fabric District

One fun thing about living in a foreign country, even a Wednesday spent in town can be an adventure full of new sights and sounds. This past Wednesday one of the other spouses was taking her sister who is visiting, to the Women's Market and the Fabric District, and invited me to tag along.

The Women's Market takes place every Wednesday in New Adana, under a football field sized metal roof. Here you can find table after table of handmade goods including knitted baby clothes, woven rugs and blankets, clothes, jewelry, and home decor. 

There is also a whole section devoted to food :)

After we spent a while perusing the goods (I'm planning to go back once the baby is born and pick up a few sweaters - they are only 10TL! That's less than $5 a piece!)

In the food section you can find an array of treats both savory and sweet. I had one of the slices in the round pan pictured above that cost me 2TL (about $0.95). I didn't get the name of it, but it was basically a puff pastry filled with an assortment of vegetables and possibly a little cheese. It was awesome. 

The most common food seemed to be these crepe-like delicacies called g√∂zleme - hand rolled dough filled with various ingredients including veggies, meat and cheese.  

Once they are sealed they are cooked till golden on these large circular griddles. 

The sweets tables were drool-worthy. There were pans of baklava dripping in honey, Turkish delights...

eclairs, chocolate glazed flan-type tarts...

what looked like pistachio cakes...

and these little Boston Cream Pie-esque things, one of which definitely went home with me. 

There were also booths where you could buy fresh made pasta and dumplings, honey, eggs, cheese, grains, and spices.

The people were incredibly friendly, not pushy at all, and let me practice on my Turkish. Knowing my numbers and how to say "how much" was VERY important. For your information, "how much" is "ne kadar." 

The fabric district is located in Old Adana, and is exactly what the name implies. 

On these streets you will find store front after store front busting at the seams with bolts of fabric. 

It's very easy to find someone to make just about anything you want here (most of the women at the Women's Market are more than happy for you to bring them fabric and request something). Whether you are looking for new curtains, a knockoff of your favorite dress, or just want to pick up some fabric to make some new throw pillows...this is the place to go.

One of the girls that went with us has been here just over a year and shops this district pretty regularly. She buys fabrics she likes, then takes them along with her favorite dresses to a seamstress she has made friends with here who copies the dress patterns and creates new dresses for the low price of 20TL. 

It was wonderful going out into the city. I was surprised how modern parts of it seemed, and was excited to see so many cool restaurants with awesome patios that I can't wait to try. 

A big thank you to Alex and Emily for letting me come along and showing me such a great part of the city. I can't wait to go back!