Wednesday, October 12, 2011

One Year Later: Waiting for a baby in Cleveland

I have two completely conflicting thoughts when I think about our first year of marriage. First, it has already been a year? It feels like just a few months ago we were getting engaged and planning the wedding. Second, it has only been a year?!? Every aspect of our lives has been completely turned upside down in this past year and I can’t believe we will have another year quite as dramatic as this one. Each week is a new “normal” with unique benefits and challenges. An amazing, fun year it has been though and I find myself regularly thinking I hope the old adage that the first year is the hardest turns out to be true for us. Every marriage has difficulties and adjustments along the way. I would be somewhat of a hypocrite to be Pollyana-ish about every aspect of this past year but I honestly feel there is no better person for me to be walking through life with. Even though in the past year I have become all too familiar with his sock wearing and discarding habits, his leaving the cereal bowl on the counter instead of putting it in the dishwasher pattern, and that he is quite possibly the messiest cook I’ve ever met (but I have to say a really talented one!) I am thankful each day for the husband I married one year ago.  

Summary of this past year: October – wedding and honeymoon; September – Rob auditioning in St. Joseph, MI; November – Rob auditioning in Westlake, OH and our first Thanksgiving; December – holidays in Nashville, TN and Orland Park, OH; January – our first New Year’s Eve and Rob was finally back in Des Moines; February – (11) found out we were pregnant, (14) found out we were moving to Cleveland; March – Jill job interviewing in Cleveland; April – Rob and Jill house hunting in Cleveland; May – Rob’s medical school graduation, Rob moves our stuff to Cleveland and heads to Chicago, Jill stays with parents in Iowa to work; June – Jill quits job, staycation in Chicago and (finally) move ourselves to Cleveland; July – Rob starts his new job at St. John’s; August – September – Visitors, visitors, visitors, baby showers in Iowa and Chicago, trip to Niagara Falls, and getting ready for baby!!

Those of you who know Robbie well know that he is in no way sentimental. Reminiscing about our first year of marriage was a very short conversation during a gorgeous fall walk on our anniversary. We did, however, manage to share our favorite parts of this past year. For Robbie it was our 8 day honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta. To me, that week was perfect and I regularly wish I could close my eyes and just be back in that time and place. I, of course, picked about six favorite memories. I just couldn’t help myself! It is amazing to me that the things people cautioned us against or said were a bad idea turned out to be some of my favorite moments. Just goes to show everyone is different and things work out differently than you might think. Some of my most vivid and favorite memories from the first year are visiting Robbie in both St. Joseph, MI and Westlake, OH. I won’t forget the old person’s home he was housed at in St. Joe, sleeping on an air mattress because his room only had a tiny twin bed, taking a freezing cold walk on the pier with sand from the dunes pelting our skin yet deciding this was where we wanted to be. I also will never forget the long, long drive to Cleveland from Des Moines with rain and ice the entire way and a cooler in the backseat packed with everything we would need for our first Thanksgiving dinner. Seriously, I brought turkey, sweet potatoes, cream of mushroom soup, stuffing, cream corn, broccoli salad, dinner rolls, and a homemade pumpkin-pecan pie all for the two of us. After almost 13 hours of driving I have never been happier to arrive at my destination! We played more Monopoly that weekend than I cared for and (confession) watched more Real Housewives episodes than any normal person should. Those marathon showings really get you hooked! I decided on that trip that I hated Ohio and would never move there…famous last words, right?? That weekend, however, was one of the best holidays I have ever had. It seems like those two months apart made the time we got to spend together all that much more memorable even though many people had told us exactly how difficult it would be! Having Robbie at home for New Year’s and celebrating by ourselves was, for some reason, also memorable. We were just enjoying finally being in the same place, home cooking together which is one of our favorite things. We made an amazing curried chicken with mango salad on the side and homemade mojitos. We laughed ourselves silly and didn’t even make it to midnight but it really didn’t matter.

Another of my favorite moments was, of course, finding out and telling Robbie that I was pregnant. Although it was too shocking at the time to be overly-joyous, I look back at that moment and just have to laugh. What a week of surprises that was and it changed the course of our lives forever.

Finally, watching Robbie graduate from medical school after four challenging years was so meaningful. I got to walk with him each step of the way from the MCATs to graduation so I know exactly how hard he has worked and the sacrifices he has made. At the end of medical school I read reviews from his two years of rotating through different hospitals and doctors and the comments from those who worked with him demonstrated exactly how much his patients and peers trust and respect him. I honestly couldn’t be more proud of him. Graduation weekend was a bittersweet farewell to the amazing friends we made throughout medical school and a happy gathering of so many people who have loved and supported Robbie along the way – family and friends. His graduation party back in Chicago was just another extension of the weekend. It was a happy reflection of how far he has come and an enthusiastic send-off to our new life in Cleveland for the next 4 years.

We celebrated our anniversary this past weekend in a low-key way considering I was nearly 39 weeks pregnant. Robbie brought home a gorgeous bouquet of lilies (my favorite!!) and roses. After nearly 6 years together he might not understand my flower obsession but when he does something, he does it right! They are beautiful and the whole house smells like lilies. Sunday evening we went to an upscale Cleveland restaurant called Luxe that turned out to have a cute outdoor patio where we were able to enjoy the gorgeous weather (just like our wedding day weather last year!). We are such foodies that we can think of no other way to celebrate than with really great food! Next we headed to Rocky River park to watch the sunset over the beach – not quite Puerto Vallarta but it was still a great sunset. In reality, I watched the sunset while Rob played with driftwood and dug a hole in the sand “for me”. Nothing has changed in the past year… I love my husband! He may not be sentimental but he will really be a great dad…The evening was finished off with dessert at Mitchell’s ice cream shop.

And with that, the final line of year one was written. It finds us in Cleveland, waiting for a baby girl to arrive.  As I write this, little baby Annabelle’s foot is pushing out against my stomach, trying to find her way out I guess. Year two promises to be no less eventful and I am sure one year from now I will find myself saying, yet again, where exactly did year two go?!? 
1st anniversary
Sunset at Rocky River Park
Sunset at Rocky River Park
Anniversary Flowers
Lilies and Roses
Anniversary Dinner
Dinner at Luxe

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Social Butterflies

Things continue to move forward for us at a breakneck pace. Can’t believe September is here and gone! October is an easier month for Rob since he is switching from ER to Pain Management and Anesthesia. He will spend two weeks on each and it is more typical 8-5 office hours Monday through Friday. St. John was really nice to ask before they made the schedule for this year if anyone had anything big going on during the year and tried to schedule residents for easier rotations if they had a baby or wedding. It is really nice for him to have an easier schedule after the ER month. We still have some big difficult months coming up like IM and ICU so I know we will have to get used to him being gone a lot but having him home to help with the final projects before Bella gets here will be really nice. This month we had so much fun hosting two sets of visitors to the Cleveland area and spending time with residency friends as well.

September 9-11 a group of our Chicago friends came out for a visit. Brian, Libby, Gil, Kara, Jeff, Little and baby Hunter made a trip out for the weekend. It was great showing them around the city and spending time catching up. Sadly, it rained most of the weekend but it did clear up enough for the guys to catch a round of frisbee golf while the girls grabbed a coffee at Root café. I didn’t remember to take too many photos over the weekend but it happened to be Jeff and Little’s 2 year wedding anniversary on Sunday so I did grab a photo of them when we were having brunch at the house and also got a photo of the whole family decked out in their Bears gear! (see below) Too cute! We really don’t get to see this group of friends often enough and loved that we got to see everyone before the baby gets here.
Happy 2 year anniversary!
Hunter on Jeff and Little's anniversary
Bears Family!
Hunter wants Mitchell's ice cream!!
The next weekend, my brother, Neal, and his girlfriend, Ashley, came out for a few days. They had a bit of a longer drive coming from D.C. but they made it out around midnight on Friday. Robbie had to work all day Saturday so I took them to to Cleveland hot spots including Westside Market and a store called Big Fun on Coventry street that I knew my brother would love. Big Fun has toys from our generation like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, California Raisins, Carebears, My Little Ponies, Atari and Nintendo games, and even Troll playing cards (which I bought to send to my sister since she used to collect them…long story here but I make fun of her about this whenever I get the chance. She was obsessed!). There are some other great little boutique shops on Coventry street that I thought Ashley would like so we spent the early afternoon shopping and catching up. As we’ve been discovering Cleveland I have been bookmarking places that I want to take friends/family and it is so much fun to have people come visit and check it off my list. Sunday we grabbed breakfast at Root café and got to hear about Neal’s latest book project. Book number three already - I am seriously so proud of that kid!! With Neal and Ashley so close I am sure we will be seeing them more in the future and I hope a D.C. trip is in the cards this spring since Rob has yet to see this fabulous city!!

Not so sure about Cleveland I guess?!?
Me (36 weeks), Neal and Ashley
I also got the joy of showing my friend Joslyn the trees a few weeks ago as they began to change colors. Living in the southwest has deprived her of one of my absolute favorite natural wonders: leaves changing in the fall! We went for a walk in the metro park last week and it was adorable. She is so excited about this season of the year and I love it because even after 28 years of life I get almost as excited every single year. I just love it! It was nice having someone along who didn’t get annoyed by my enthusiasm. When Rob and I go out for walks I think he starts to tune out my exclamations over every single tree that is turning. I just can’t help myself… I am glad over the next few years I will have a little girl to jump in the leaves and carve pumpkins with!!

After several months of trying to coordinate dinner with two of the other residents, Jess and Adam, we actually managed to get all three resident schedules to line up in order to grill out at our house. We had them over to our place last week for a brief dinner after Jess had to work late. It was great to see them and catch up but it is amazing how difficult it can be to try and coordinate 3 resident schedules! Jess and Adam are from North Carolina and as we were saying goodbye outside Jess asked if it was cold enough to snow yet. We definitely laughed at that comment and assured her it would get much, much colder before it snows!!

Jenay, Joslyn and I were able to meet up at Panera one day for a girls’ lunch and managed to snap a few photos since we never know when I might have the baby. Check them out below! Jenay is also really showing by now so it was fun to “introduce” our girl babies! Jenay and Chris were also able to come over to our place for the NFL season opener earlier this month which was a lot of fun. We don’t have too many channels on our TV but at least the big games come in clear!!
Me and Jenay with our girls!
38 weeks and 28 weeks
Joslyn, me, and baby Bella

Just this past week my friend Katie was traveling through on business and was able to make an overnight stop at our house. It was so nice to be able to go for a walk with her and catch up like old times. It was a fun surprise that work took her to Cleveland before the baby gets here so we were able to have girl time without a baby in tow!