The first three weeks

I started the NYC Teaching Fellow’s spring apprenticeship, and it’s been an interesting start.  The school I was assigned to was in East New York, 3 transfers, and if everything went perfectly, a little over 2 hours from my house.  Clearly, this was not doable with the baby, so I pleaded with the program to switch me.  Unfortunately, they denied my request, so after a bunch of brainstorming, we decided to purchase a car, decreasing my commute by 1.5 hours, but increasing the cost to $10.66 a day worth of tolls.  So after much scrambling, I rented a car, prepping myself to purchase a vehicle for travel.  And then, my amazing family in Virginia, said that they had a little old car that they no longer needed, and that if I could find a way to get it to NYC, I could have it.  So I found a place to ship the car, and ta-da, we became car owners for the first time in 2.5 years.

My school, however, was fantastic.  My cooperating teacher was also amazing.  I was sitting in on a 6th grade science class, where the teacher had four different sections, ranging from high learners to students classified as special education students with IEP (individualized Education Program).  Prior to my experience in the classroom, I assumed special education were students who were severely mentally and physically disabled.  However, that isn’t true; special education students run the gamut of different diagnoses, from moderate learning disabilities to bipolar disorder to asperger’s syndrome.  Each one of these students is assessed, and they are put on a plan, the IEP, that is appropriate for their learning needs. 

On day three, I get a call from the NYC Teaching Fellows that I was placed in the wrong school.  Because I was accepted into the Blending Learning Institute, I was supposed to be placed in an IZone school, where they implement a blended classroom.  The school in East New York was not an IZone school, and therefore I was being transferred to a school in the Bronx, 20 minutes via public transportation from our house!

So now I am at Mott Hall V, in the south Bronx, working with another great cooperating teacher in a blended learning classroom.  I am sitting in on a 7th grade class, 3 different sections, again with different learning needs and then two classes of 6th grade computer technology.  This classroom has a beautiful SmartBoard, and the students have access to MacBook Pros in most of their classes. 

I am just delving into the Blended Learning Institute, so as I learn more about the certificate program, I will post more. However, so far, I am finding the Spring Apprenticeship to be a great learning experience, and I have already had the chance to teach a couple of lessons (and getting great feedback on how to improve my skills). 

 

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Back to work!

I was selected to be a part of the 2014 NYC Teaching Fellow program as well as the spring apprenticeship. I will begin on March 17th, in a Title I school, hopefully somewhere in the Bronx.  The spring apprenticeship goes for 10 weeks, where I will shadow a fellow chemistry teacher and then eventually teach in her/his classroom; I would imagine it is similar to student teaching.  In the summer, I have a 7 week training program, and then I will apply for full time teaching positions that begin in the fall.  The program has a 98% placement rate for chemistry fellows, so I am fairly confident I will land a position.

In the next couple of months, I have to take three certification exams, register for classes (the program will help me gain my Master’s in as little as two years, but more likely three years) and do a whole lot of prep work to get me in the classroom.  But one thing is for sure, this is what I wanted when I decided to go back and study chemistry.  I’m so excited to be back in the classroom, and I am even more excited to be a part of a program that helps the students who need it the most.

And although I am really ready to return to work, I am going to miss Declan a lot.  I have no doubt he will have a blast in daycare, and he probably won’t miss me any where near as much as I will miss him.  I think I will blink, and he’ll be packing for college.

Wish me luck!

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Has it been 2+ months already?

So a quick post since it’s been a while, but I hope to get back to blogging in 2014 (really to keep myself in check).

Declan went in for his 2 month check up on December 18th, and we got great news… he was twice his birth weight:

10/13/13: 5 lbs 2 oz, 18 in

11/13/13: 6 lbs 7 oz, 19.75 in

12/18/13: 10 lbs, 22 in

So the kid is nice and hefty, growing like a mad man.

We had a wonderful visit over Thanksgiving; Jason’s parents got to meet Declan for the first time.  It was amazing to see them hold him and love it.  It was a surreal experience. Christmas was super low key, just the three of us, although we did brave the crowds to visit Santa at the flagship Macy’s store in Herald Square.  Oddly enough, it was 65 degrees outside in the middle of December.

Not sure if I mentioned that I lost my job, because they had to hire someone to replace me, considering I was out 7 weeks earlier than anyone anticipated.  However, that person did not work out, and I got my job back, LOL.  I will be starting again January 13th.  We are in the process of trying to find a sitter for two days a week, which is proving to be a little more difficult than anticipated.  Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Oh and you know how they say that the weight after you have a baby just melts off it you are breastfeeding? LIARS. All of them.  Although I don’t weigh as much as I did when I was pregnant, my body has gone through annoying changes and things aren’t where they used to be.  So needless to say, I’m in leggings, maternity and yoga pants for the time being. Jason and I are doing a modified paleo this month, so maybe the weight will start to come off.  I just have to really stick with it, as always the hardest part of any diet.   Also, Declan has issues with gas, and rumor has it that dairy could be the culprit.  If this helps him stay asleep at night, all the more reason to stay on the diet.   I hope to report back soon to keep you updated on how things are going.

In the mean time, look at this face:ImageImageImage

Watch out! TMI included within! Birth Story

As with every great man, there is a great story.  This is your final warning that this is a birth story…there is talk of goo, blood, excrements, etc so just know that before you start reading!

Thursday, October 10th, 10:00 am:  When you get in your third trimester of pregnancy, you are required to visit your doctor every two weeks, up until week about week 35ish.  So on Thursday, I had one of these two week check ups to make sure all is well with the baby (and mom).  Doctor checked everything including a urine sample (something all pregnant woman do at every appointment to check for protein in the urine an indication of infection or preeclampsia); I talked to him about how my hands hurt from pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome.  He suggested that I continue to use the braces morning and night, and that it was normal for this to be happening.  I peed and went on my way.

The doctor is about 45 minutes by subway on the 6 line from our apartment, so I always bring my Kindle to read.  Currently, I am reading Horns by Joe Hill (which will leaving a lasting impression on my memory thanks to this story).  I’m waiting patiently for an express 6 train, when I feel some wetness when I sit down, but nothing too alarming.  The 6 train arrives, I get on, and someone is kind enough to give up their seat for the large 33 week + 2 days pregnant woman.  I go to sit down, and WOOSH! a huge gush of water soaks my pants. I immediately freak out…and I immediately think, “Oh shit! My water just broke…on the subway!”

So I am sitting, pants soaking wet on the 6 subway freaking out, like really freaking out, trying not to cry or show any indication that something is wrong.  I ride the subway all the way to the Pelham Bay stop, get off and rush home, totally realizing that my pants are soaked (but thankfully there is no wetness on the subway seat or a puddle or anything gross like that). I get home, take the dogs out, and phone my doctor, who says I need to go in as soon as possible.  I change clothes and hail a cab by the subway stop (much faster than calling one).

The ride takes about 25 minutes and $35 with very little traffic.  I decided not to phone Jason, because 1) I know he was in class and 2) I didn’t know anything, and I didn’t want to freak him out if it was nothing. But by the time I get to the doctor’s office, I am a mess, crying, trying to make sense of what was happening.  The receptionists were very kind to me, telling me to relax, everything would be OK no matter the results.  I get called back immediately to see the doctor (remember, whom I just saw a couple of hours before), I explain the situation, and he tells me that he has to do an internal exam. This exam would tell him whether or not I ruptured my members by measuring the pH.  If the speculum tested a blue color, it would be amniotic fluid, no blue would indicate it was just natural bacterias, water, etc.  The paper did not turn blue, so his opinion would be that nope, I did not break my water, I just peed myself.  I was so unbelievably relieved, which is a funny thing to say considering the doctor just told me that I peed myself all over the NYC subway.

I left the doctor’s office, joking with the secretaries and feeling so much comfort that I was incontinent (say what now?).  I even phoned my mom and mother-in-law to tell them about the time I peed myself on the subway…we all got a good laugh at my expense.  I headed home and then, like a typical Thursday, I headed to work (I am a tutor at the Boys’ Club of New York in Harlem).

Friday was rather uneventful, except I was leaking on a regular basis.  I thought about buying some Poise pads, but I figured that regular pads would suffice until it got worse (if it got worse) .

Saturday rolled around, and Jason and I were trying to decide where we wanted to go for our anniversary.  On the 9th of October, we had just had our 9th anniversary, but because it was the middle of the week, we opted to wait until Saturday or Sunday night to go out.   We were both excited for sushi, because I really hadn’t had it much while pregnant (pregnant women are supposed to avoid raw foods, but I figured since it was the middle of my third trimester, and we would be going to a reputable place, that it would be OK to splurge), and sushi may be Jason’s favorite food ever (well I think ceviche is his favorite, but that’s neither here nor there, LOL).

After much banter, we decided that since Monday was Columbus Day, and we both had it off, that we would wait for Sunday night in hopes that the restaurants were a little less crowded.   This turned out to be a brilliant decision.  Around 8 pm that night, I went to the bathroom, and as I was leaving, I felt a trickle, so I went to the bathroom to change my clothes.  All of a sudden, a gush, and I thought I had peed myself again (despite having just gone to the bathroom).  I was embarrassed ran to the bathroom and drew a bath.  Jason came knocking asking if everything was OK, I said yes, just embarrassed, because it had happened again.  And I kept thinking to myself, “Do I really have to go through this for the next 7 weeks?  Because if so, I will have to invest in Depends adult diapers if so.”  I finished my bath, went back to the couch, and nestled with Jason while watching some dumb reality show (I’m sure).  And then it happened again, this time without moving, and I cried I was so embarrassed.  And Jason was so sweet, didn’t say anything, just told me to wait two seconds in the bathroom while he cleaned up the mess.  (so much love for this man).   But something was different, because when I went to the bathroom, there was blood, and every pregnant woman knows that if there is blood, you need to contact your doctor or get to L&D immediately.  I walked out of the bathroom, and said, “I think we need to go to the hospital.”

We didn’t even bother with phoning the doctor, and honestly, it didn’t even cross my mind.  The only thing I was thinking was I need to get to the ER now.  Jason attempted to call a cab, and their answer was, “Sorry we don’t have anything right now,” and after some cursing on both our parts, we decided to walk up to the Pelham Bay 6 station where we knew that there were cabs that waited out front all day and night.  We stopped by the ATM, and jumped into a cab and we figured we’d head to the closest hospital instead of going to the one I was scheduled to deliver at (since it was about a 35 minute cab ride to Manhattan, and I didn’t know if I was going to continue to leak all over or what, so we erred on the side of caution).

We get to the ER around 1:50 am, and the first thing we ask the nurses is if they take our insurance.  The nurses looked at us like we have three heads, and then responded with something like, “if we don’t will you go elsewhere? What the hell?!” (keep in mind there are three hospitals within a block of each other), and we said, “Yes!”  We’ve had so much difficulty with our insurance since we’ve been here, and the last thing we wanted was to get an ER charge that was out-of-network…god knows that health care coverage is outlandish in this country WITH insurance let alone without.  And at this point in time, we were convinced that it would just be a short visit (or at least that is what we were telling ourselves to keep us sane).  They did take our insurance, they checked us in, and sent us upstairs to the L&D triage unit.

It took a while to get seen, because one woman came in with a baby she delivered in a car and two other women checked in while in active labor.  I sat around for a while, no pain, but still a lot of fluid coming out from me, so I was visiting the bathroom quite frequently.  We were finally taken back, and I chatted with the doctor for a bit about what was happening.  She explained that they do three tests to see if my membranes ruptured: 1) an internal exam, 2) a pH strip test (same one the doctor did on Thursday) and 3) a swab and a check under the microscope.  First, she did the internal exam, and it immediately turned blue (blue is the color of amniotic fluid), second test, also turned blue, so at this point in time, she said she was fairly confident that my water did, indeed, break.  However, she wanted to finish the third test just in case, and sure enough, amniotic fluid on that test as well.

“So what now doc?”  She responds with, “Well that means you will have this baby within a week.  We will not stop you if you go into labor on your own, and if you don’t go into labor on your own by 34 weeks, we will induce.  ”   OH SHIT.  What did you just say?  Really? This cannot be happening? I’m not ready, Jason’s not ready…we have 7 weeks to go! Will our baby survive? What did I do to cause this? Is this my fault?

I start to cry, Jason looks terrified. She explains that I will be transferred around 7 am to L&D, but I will not be allowed to leave this hospital until the baby is born.  She asks if I am in any pain, and I responded with, “No, not really, maybe a few menstrual cramps, but otherwise, no. I’m fairly comfortable.”  She proceeds to do an ultrasound to test gestational age (I think she was hoping the Peruvian doctors were off on their dates), but the baby is measuring exactly 33 weeks and 2 days, healthy heartbeat, but low amniotic fluid levels.   She tells us not to panic, the baby isn’t coming tonight, and to try and get some rest.

There were two things that she wanted to get in me to help the baby: 1) antibiotics in case of infection and 2) steroid shot to help develop his lungs.  The antibiotics were administered at 6:00 am and the steroids at 6:30 am.

It’s at this point that Jason decides to call our families to let them know that Declan is making a early entrance into the world, so be prepared for a baby within the week.  After he makes those calls, he lies on the floor, trying to catch some ZZZs while I rest my head on the bed (I had a couple of lives left in Candy Crush, LOL).  After about an hour, I ask the nurse if there is anything to do be done, and they said that nothing is happening, but that they are waiting for a bed to open in L&D so I can get comfortable for the next week, but that there would be no baby today.   I told Jason to go home, get some rest, let the dogs out and then come back around 2 or 3 pm, and he could sleep and/or work in my room.  I figured there was no reason to keep him there, since there was absolutely nothing either one of us could do.  And I wanted him to get some rest just in case I needed him later in the day.

So Jason heads home around 7:00 am, while I am still waiting for transfer to my new quarters.  And then something changed…my menstral cramps started to get stronger and the sensation happened in a matter of minutes, pain rapidly increasing each time. It wasn’t until they started to come fairly regularly that it dawned on me that these were contractions (duh!). I called the nurse, and I let her know that I was having contractions.  She noted it in the chart, and then went about her rounds.  At about 9:00 am, I still hadn’t been transferred yet, but it was very clear that I was in active labor at this time, so I texted Jason to come back to the hospital.

At 8:45 am, the nurses assistant wheeled me to the recovery room, no one realizing how much I was contracting.  So they had to do a little calling, a little jostling to get me into a room.  They wheeled me into my room, while I was moaning in pain all the way down the hallway and the L&D ward.  Once they got me to my room, it was about 10 am, and I was DYING.  Literally, I thought I was doing to die from labor pains.  The doctor came in to check me, and I was 5 cm dilated.  She asked me if I wanted an epidural, and I said, “hell yes.”  (Keep in mind that prior to this, I was adamant that I wanted to try and labor naturally, pain free).   Then Jason showed up, took one look at me (and I think he could hear me screaming from down the hall way), and cried, he was so terrified for me…and I think the helplessness of the whole situation was horrible for him.  He held my hand (we also hadn’t taken a birthing class yet either, so neither one of us knew what to do at all…), rubbed my back, whatever he could do just to support me. I was bawling at each contraction, screaming like a maniac, just doubled over in pain.

They had a doctor from the NICU come in to talk to us about what to expect with premature babies, and that the first thing that they look for is a baby who comes out kicking and screaming.  I’m sure she said a lot of other things, but that’s the only thing that I heard.

Finally the anesticitians came in to administer my epidural. Because the procedure is sterile, they made Jason leave the room.  He took the time while outside the delivery room to phone our families to let them know that Declan was not going to wait a week to come out, that he would be there today.

Meanwhile, back in the room, the doctors had a helluva time getting the epidural in my back.  Apparently, I have really bad scoliosis, which I didn’t know (but explains a lot actually), so they had to stick and re-stick for over an hour to get the medicine into the right spot.  And frankly, I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the back sticks, even though he kept saying, “Just a little bit more, don’t move! Don’t move!  Almost there! Don’t move! Sorry for the sticks!” and the nurse was pushing down on my shoulders to make sure that I didn’t move through any of my contractions.   The contractions were so intense, so painful that was all I could think about it.  He finally got the epidural in, but it didn’t work.  So he hooked up a pump, and said that if the pain didn’t subside to click on the little button to administer more meds throughout the day.   The epidural did start to kick in, but only on my right side, but at that point in time, I would take any alleviation from the pain I could get, even if it was only one side.  Jason was then allowed back in, and he said that the bed and the floor were a bloody mess from the procedure…but he persevered and didn’t say anything to me then (he only told me after the baby was born).

The doctor came back almost immediately after the anesthetists  left to check my dilation, and to everyone’s surprise, I was 10 cm dilated, and she was ready for me to go into the delivery room.  However, they were having a helluva time trying to find the baby’s heartbeat (which apparently they were having trouble with the entire time I was laboring, but I didn’t realize).  She explained that she wanted to try to do a vaginal delivery, but that they were preparing the OR for an emergency c-section because of the heart rate issues.

They immediately wheeled me off, but Jason had to stay behind to get the gown and hat and he had to wait for the nurses to prep the delivery room for me.  Once they brought Jason into the room, they had me start pushing (and at this point in time the epidural had kicked in on both sides, woohoo).  They said to give them two good pushes, holding my breath and pushing into my bottom for 10 seconds.  After the second one, they said, “if you have it in you, give us a third!” and since I am an overachiever, I went for the third. Jason sorta laughed at the fact that I was so determined and held my hand so tight.

There were tons of interns in the room (it’s a teaching hospital), the NICU doctor and her team, my doctor and then a woman who was with the blood and cord donation program walked in, and since the doctor needed another hand to help me push, put her to work (and she didn’t even say that she wasn’t a nurse until afterwards).  I think, in total, I pushed for about 30 minutes, and then at 11:48 am, baby Declan Laurence came out kicking and screaming…Jason and I have never heard a greater sound than that.  We both looked at each other and broke down in tears…our baby came out kicking and screaming! That’s what the doctor said she wanted, and he did it!

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They cleaned him off, put him on my chest, and he sneezed.  There is no doubt who his father is, that’s for sure!   They wheeled him off to the NICU, while the doctor wanted for me to pass the afterbirth and clean me up.  She was very pleased with how things went and how quickly the baby came out.  I also had no tearing and no episiotomy, so clean up was rather quick.  She was also thrilled that his heart rate was totally normal, he weighed a lot, at 5 lbs 2 oz and he was long at 18 inches.  The kid was going to be a linebacker if he stayed cooking!

I was then transported to a recovery room to make sure that my heart rate stayed level and my temperature remained normal.  Jason sat with me in there, both of us relieved that it was over, but still nervous to hear about Declan.  After about an hour, the anesthetic came in to remove my epidural and pump and check my movement, followed by my OB.  Both reports were stellar, so I was wheeled back into my room.  At this time, Jason received permission to go to the NICU to see Declan.

Once he came back he reported that he was doing great, he was on a breathing machine CPAP to help him learn to inhale and exhale, but he did not need oxygen (a big big deal).  He was on an antibiotic drip and IV fluids and a tube to give him nutrients through his mouth.  Jason said it was one of the hardest things he had to see.   It wasn’t for a couple more hours until I could see him, but I was so happy to see him, regardless of the tubes and machines.

So that was the birth of baby Declan.  He’s doing fantastic now, and it appears that he may be able to go home either Monday or Tuesday (October 21/22).  We are so excited that he’s doing so well, and we will be even happier to have him in our arms (although the nurses keep telling us to sleep now, because those days are numbered…)

2013-10-16 15.49.57 2013-10-16 15.55.35 Photo Oct 16, 4 32 16 PM

Updated with some photos

So the movers are the biggest PITA ever, and our day bed is still missing in action.  A million thank yous to our dear friend Bailey who has taken on the daunting task of going through our storage unit, saving a few things like pictures/photo albums, DVDs and my jewelry (and then shipping it to us) and hauling the rest off to Goodwill (although Civic Theatre did get our old vacuum).   She might have managed to get a box or two of comic books out of it, and maybe she can sell it and make a fortune off of it them day (how’s that for karma?)…

However, we have some furniture now, and we seem to be settling in.  As a matter of fact, I have two interviews with tutoring companies in the next two weeks, so fingers crossed I will have a job by the end of September.

studyHere is what will end up being the nursery/spare bedroom.  See how we have two twin mattresses but no day bed?


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Here is the living area. We have one bookshelf that made it, but I am sure a zillion other shelves are in our future.

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And our bedroom (somehow the bed rails didn’t make it out of storage either).  We actually have enough room to put in a bookshelf or a small desk if we wanted to.

How about the AFP?

Here is the process for getting out the AFP from BBVA Horizonte.  I’m fairly certain it is pretty similar across the board, but check with your provider before anything else.

Here are the things you need in order to start the process:

1. Notarized copy of your passport (about 10 soles)

2. A bank account in the US with the account holder being ONLY the person whose name is on the AFP account (a joint US account will not work)—you need the account number, SWIFT or ABA/Routing number, name of the bank, name on the account, type of account (savings/checking) phone and address

3. A certificate of work from your employer

4. Your resignation letter to your employer, signed by both parties

5. The letter from your employer stating that you have paid all your taxes

6. A letter of guarantee: this letter comes from a random Peruvian citizen who is not affiliated with your employer (this is what tripped us up in the process).  You also need a legalized copy of this person’s DNI (about 20 soles for both items to be legalized).

7. A document stating that you have contributed to a pension plan in the US for at least 36 months (for BBVA, you can use the social security document, but you can also use a private plan as well).  This document must either 1) have an apostille from the US or 2) be legalized by the US Embassy in Lima (which costs $50).  Once this document has been legalized (or apostilled), it needs to be legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lima (I believe this costs around $37 and 23 soles).  After you receive both of these stamps, the document must be officially translated (you can find a list of official translators on the DIGEMIN website, and it costs about 20 centimos per word—the SS document costs around 500 soles)

8.  You need F-007, which is free on the DIGEMIN website, you can fill this out yourself

9. Copy of your travel documents for when you are leaving the country

10. And the paperwork you will get for surrendering your carne (costs about 21 soles) and this must be done at least 8 days before you leave the country (you will get a tourist visa stamp in your passport so that you can legally leave the country without an outlandish fine).

Once you have collected all of these documents (it took about a month from start to finish for us, because it didn’t seem that anyone knew the process, how to help us, there were broken links on the various websites, etc), you will bring them to your advisor with your AFP, and supposedly, the money will be deposited into your account.  We have been told that we have all the right paperwork, and the money will be deposited on the 2nd of August (due to the holiday happening in Peru right now, Independence Day).

The disaster known as apartment hunting.

Looking for an apartment in NYC is a nightmare.  Our first realtor was a jerk…he acted like he was doing us a favor by taking us to apartments.  We basically think that since we have a small budget, he didn’t have time to waste on us.  He showed us a variety of places, starting with two strange and small places for about $2000.  Neither one of them fit, and he really got annoyed with having to show us anymore, but he reluctantly did.  We didn’t see one we really liked, even though he really tried to strong arm us into an apartment with the trash dump right outside the front window.

On day two, he basically said that he had shown us all the apartments that were worth his time, and that if we wanted to continue, we needed to see a different realtor.  So we did, and the second realtor was very nice, showed us some great places, but sadly, both of the places we wanted were rented right as we were ready to put our offer in.

On day three, we decided to branch out to Queens to see what they have available.  We walked into a realty in Astoria (which is very charming and oddly enough we had several Irish waiters in Irish bars, LOL), basically pleading with them to find us a place.  After a lot of leg work, we were shown a nice apartment in Forest Hill for $2000 (at the very high end of our budget), but they would only take one of our dogs.  So back to the office we went, and we found a place in Pelham Bay in the Bronx.

The apartment in Pelham Bay turned out to be the apartment.  We were told that it was a 2nd floor walk up, but it turned out that it was just a small flight of stairs.  The apartment has all hardwood flooring, a living room, two bedrooms, eat in kitchen (well almost an eat in kitchen) and several very large walk in closets (which, from what we have seen, seem really rare in NYC).  The sup is OK with the pups and overly excited about the baby, LOL.

This shot is taking from the living area into the two bedrooms:

image(3)And this picture is from the living room, looking back at the front door and the kitchen (to the left):

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