Thursday, December 11, 2014

Biking with Baby in Holland

I took public transport or walked till about three months. By then my baby could hold his head up, and I felt my comfort/balance level was enough to bike safely with a front carrier. I also checked the Dutch rules, and they say it's 'unsafe' to bike with a baby carrier/sling, due to falling risks, but not illegal per se. The official advice is to use a car seat in a safety fastening n the back of your bike, or a car seat fastened in a cart/wagon. After the baby can sit up alone, a baby bike seat is fine. 

http://www.veiligheid.nl/tips-en-advies/baby-mee-op-de-fiets

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Zombies

If you're a female and you don't get enough sleep, you can choose to look like a zombie, or like a pretty zombie.

Since most males don't wear makeup, they don't have this choice.

Then again, since society doesn't hold males to the same standards it holds females, males don't have to wonder at all about whether they resemble zombies.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

November Moments - Posted or No

            1 November
                Me at 5am: You are sleepy, my son. Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

4 November 
My apologies to all the sleeping neighbors who were awoken by a happily screeching pterodactyl. On the bright side, the early mornings mean extra reading time of books from wonderful pterodactyl aunts....

7 November
Hearthfire on, vanilla latte, cuddlebaby falling asleep on our lap to Trans-Siberian Orchestra. ‪#‎urbanwinter‬

11 November 
My child, do not resist, for such is the way of the world. When thy mother is cold, thee must wear a coat.

13 November
A little concerned that when I search 'baby' on the supermarket website, one of the suggestions is "Turkey stuffed with apple and sage."

14 November
Me: This would be a great moment for you to take a nap
Captain Baby: I love those moments...I like to wave at them as they pass by.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bugs on the Lettuce.

Bugs on a head of lettuce.

Third World solution: Be grateful for fresh greens! Wash bugs off (or pick bugs off if there's water rationing.) Savour every mouthful.


Second World solution: Post a picture to Facebook to get some sympathy. Wash lettuce three times and gingerly eat half of it.
First World solution: Drive to store and complain until they refund your money. Stop for drive-through lunch on the way back. Throw the lettuce in the trash.

Friday, October 31, 2014

October Moments - Posted or No

October 
Full weekend. Happy anniversary and happy birthday to some of my favourite people, freshly pressed apple/pear juice, my manly man hacking the old fridge for the last time, and the little hobbit and me listening to Carmen while getting over our colds. And a surprise thunderstorm that tossed laundry onto yet another neighbor's balcony.


8 October 
First time on a bike since the little hobbit was born - looking forward to being able to tuck him in a seat and take him along! Faster than a buggy, cheaper than public transport... if only it was waterproof.


9 October
The good news is, we have a new refrigerator. The bad news is, Pippin is too small to make a house in the box.


19 October 
126+ pieces of paper to prove who our son is and what country(s) he's a citizen of. Glad the Kingdom of Heaven doesn't work that way. Nor require documents FILLED IN LEGIBLY IN BLACK INK OR YOU WILL BE DOOMED FOREVER.

23 October 
Sometimes my baby owl decides to wake up and stay up. For hours. At night. Sometimes I react maturely by pinching his cheek and cooing at him in Greek and accepting we can't all be adults all the time, koukla mou.

26 October

The problem with letting coffee back into your life on a regular basis is that 'regular' expands from one decaf latte a week... to one decaf a day... to a half-and-half latte daily... to a decaf and then a latte... and then a latte and a normal... and then two lattes and a normal....

29 October 
It's so embarrassing when you're in the middle of a pterodactyl screech imitation session... and then your mum kisses your tummy and makes you giggle so hard you hiccup. Humiliating.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Moments - Posted or No


2 September, 2014
Some days a little person wakes you up from your (short) nap and then insists on finishing his while collapsed on your shoulder like a potato. At these times it's important to remember that the only person who cares if your house is clean is you. Certainly not the potato, and probably not guests, as long as they get to hold the potato.

12 September
Urban babies take the metro. ‪#‎urbanbabies‬ ‪#‎babywearing‬

12 September
Baby asleep on shoulder, warm lamplight, tea, pajamas, and new book with a Ludovico Einaudi soundtrack. Hard to top this for a Friday night....


16 September
New hobby: leaving video messages on skype for family and friends when the little wiggly guy is feeling talkative.


20 September
Expensive cars and blingy clothes are so last year. Want attention? Walk around town with an adorable baby in a carrier. Not enough admiring comments? Bring along a friend with her own adorable baby in a carrier.


21 September
Watching the latest Transformers movie. Which brings up the issue of when dating is allowed. After seeing all the cute girl babies at church this morning, D and I may need to have a talk with our little guy....


23 September
Sometimes when I listen to classical music it gives me the pleasant delusion that my life is a haven of serenity. Today, Grieg and Bach are visiting.


26 September
Just to check - is it only appropriate for a mum to lock herself in the bathroom and eat chocolate when she's crying? Or can she do this randomly on a good day too?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Harbour Hospital

I'm charmed by this hospital. Since being pregnant and having Pippin, I've been to four hospitals in the area. A few months ago Faramir and I joked that before long we'll have visited every single one, and we're making good progress on that. So far, the Havenziekenhuis is one of my favourites. For one thing, it's relatively small, which seemed to translate to less patients and staff, and less rush overall.

Despite being under construction- or perhaps because of it - the atmosphere was cheerful. The men putting bookshelves together chatted with passing medical staff ("It's certainly not Ikea furniture!"). The receptionists exclaimed over Pippin's photo ID, and then even more when I pulled back his buggy shade so they could get a better look at the real deal. "Ah, so cute! And he was born the day after my grandson!"

The doctor I had the appointment with was professional and friendly, and was willing to dialogue over possible issues and solutions instead of just issuing a professional opinion. He even called in a colleague for a second opinion so we had more information to work with. The receptionists were efficient in registering Pippin and making a follow-up appointment.

As far as downsides of the hospital, one was that some halls and w.c.'s were closed. Navigating the first floor with a baby buggy wasn't as easy as I would have liked. The other was that the entire KNO ('Keel, Neus, Oor'; throat, nose, ear) area was shut while the staff was on lunch break. I was quite early for our apartment anyway, but it would have been nice to be able to sit in the KNO waiting room instead of down the hall.

All in all, a positive hospital experience; I'd give the Havenziekenhuis 4.5 stars.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

5 Minute Walk

This morning I had found an advertisement for some bottles and pacifiers from a seller on Marktplaats, a popular buying/selling website. Over the months I've found several similar ads, from "We bought too many size 1 diapers" to "My baby has grown out of these clothes." Sometimes I can go pick up the items for cheap, sometimes for no charge. When they're free, I like to take a box of chocolates as a little 'thank you' gift. Only, I've recently run out of my gift stash and needed to get some more tonight, as well as groceries. I tucked Pippin into his baby carrier, dropped a kiss on Faramir's cheek, and headed out the door. We passed a boy sitting on his doorstep by the mailboxes, next to a pile of letters, with a woman behind him as he talked to her in Italian. Translating? "If everything is not paid..."

It's about five minutes walk to the grocery store through my multicultural neighborhood. Three if traffic is light - no cars pausing on the side while conversation is made with friends on the sidewalk, no pack of teenagers casually biking along and ignoring the cars. Sometimes I pause to chat with 'The Purple Neighbor Lady" who is nearly always dressed in her favourite colour, leaning out her window or sitting on a bench and keeping an eye on the whole neighborhood. Sometimes I pause while dog walkers in front of me pause at the whim of their bulldog or chihuahua. But it's normally about five minutes to the store.

Today it took longer than that. Halfway there, I rounded a corner and almost bumped into a group of kids - a few preteens showing off their bikes tricks or cute jeans, and a few smaller kids running in circles or playing tag. One little girl with big eyes and dark glossy hair, likely from a Moroccan or Turkish family, stopped and stared at Pippin's protruding arms and legs. I smiled at her and bent down a bit so she could see that it was a baby in the pack on my front. "Oooooh!" she exclaimed and patted his head, before running back into the middle of the group and screaming someone's name. I waited. In a minute she ran back, half dragging another girl of about 7 years. "Look at the baby!" Still bent down, I watched as they both exclaimed and did some more patting. Pippin opened his sleepy eyes in confusion, which only added to their excitement. After a minute I stood back up, smiled goodbye, and headed on to the grocery store.

Sometimes I mind the delays in getting to the store. Today I didn't. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Neighbourhood Imps

I'm cooling down after a run, walking through my neighborhood with headphones in and tired muscles protesting. My attention is drawn by two policemen, in black sweaters and trousers, using a scanner to check license plates- an easy way to tell who has paid for parking. And who hasn't.

The beeping continues behind me as I reach the next corner and am accosted by five excited kids. I've seen them before during runs; a mix of black and white, girls and boys. I'd guess their ages to be between five and eight. It's not unusual to see kids of all ethnicities out playing on the sidewalks in our neighborhood. Having grown up myself with a big yard and the beach 20 minutes away, I wonder if they even know what they're missing, limited to concrete sidewalks and a few parks . And I wonder if their parents ever worry about them, in our area where there's a high housing turnover rate and it's not uncommon to smell weed.

"Mevrouw, mevrouw!" the kids say excitedly, clustering around me. I pull my earphones out. "Ms., do you want to feel fire?" I wouldn't be surprised if one (or more) has a lighter. Or matches. "Do you have fire, then?" I ask cautiously. Suddenly several of them hold out their arms, crossed. "Can we show you?!" they ask eagerly.

It seems harmless. I imitate their gesture and smile. Two of the little girls promptly hold my arm as I extend it; one of the boys crosses his and makes a quick rubbing motion across mine. I can feel a light friction as they look at me expectantly. "Did you feel it? Did you feel the fire?" "How clever of you all to make fire!" I compliment them, and they beam back at me proudly.

I start to walk away, still smiling, as they continue to their next prospect. "Meneer, meneer! Mister, mister!" I turn around- sure enough, they're approaching the policemen. "No, I'm working right now," says the one, not unkindly, and keeps scanning as he walks. The second one is more receptive; maybe he has kids of his own, or remembers his own days of roaming the streets with friends.

The last I see of the little band of kids, they're happily clustered around a patient urban policeman, showing him how they can make a fire on his arm.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Off to the Office

Today Pippin and I strolled our way down the road, under the bridge, up the hill, and around the corner to my old office. There he was.made a royal fuss over by my friends. Fortunately, it was a slow day at the nonprofit office, but I imagine a busy day wouldn't have mattered much to them anyway. The secretary, I., even answered the door for some clients while holding Pippin, and came back laughing that she had had to explain,"He's not mine! He's a colleague's!"

Since I've only come in on a project basis for the last year or two (and not even that for the last few months) there were a few new faces at the office. I shook hands with the one, as M. proudly explained, "She's been a volunteer here for a long time, but has been pretty occupied the last while...." "I can see why. Congratulations!" Another new face belonged to a male intern, and while he also shook hands politely, I felt sorry for him trying to do his work and use the filing cabinet while discussions about breastfeeding filled the air....

After an hour or so of catching up on news (and taking photos as Pippin was passed around) we exchanged cheek kisses and I headed out the door. Besides an adorable hedgehog outfit from my boss, Pippin and I brought another souvenir home. Three hours later, when D. walked in, Pippin still smelled of exotic perfume, despite the fact I'd changed his clothes and run a wet wipe over hos face and head (twice). But that's a small price to pay for all the smiles and cuddles he got and gave today.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Better in a Minute

I sleepily think about timing as I sleepily grope for a diaper. Our heavy curtains do their job well, blocking out the autumn city glow at 3am the way they blocked out the bright-til-11pm summer skies. I'm on the lookout for a small lamp or nightlight, but until then I turn my smartphone on and start changing Pippin by its light.

He wavers between anger and panic, convinced that every second of delay could be the end of the world. He's too young to understand that a 30 second soggy change now prevents a three minute blowout change later. It equally past his comprehension that washing my hands helps prevent hin getting sick, and that we pad from bedoom to living room so his papa can get some extra sleep and have more energy to play with Pippin tomorrow.

The most ironic moment of all comes when we finally settle on the couch, Pippin still upset. He resists as I try to replace his pacifier with a bottle. "Hey," I tell him softly, " the bottle is so much better." I know what I'm doing, even if he's freaking out a little. Finally he gives in and I smile sleepily, superiorly. He should just trust me.

And then I realise that he's not the only way who gets paranoid about timing. He's not the only one with vision limited to a few centimeters in front of him. He doesn't grasp that he is being taken care of, like always. He's not the only one who clings to what he has now, not caring if it jeopardises something better, later.

There's a lot to be learned at 3am, if you can stay awake long enough.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Worry

My mind is quick to run ahead with scenarios anyway, but now that we have a baby, worry crops up so easily.

Rolling over in the night, it's quiet and I wonder if Pippin is still breathing. After lying there a few more seconds, I go over and lay my hand on his chest and am reassured.

Am I dressing him too warmly? Not warmly enough?

What if he catches some disease when we're in the waiting room at the doctor's office?

He made it through all the pregnancy months safely, but what if ultrasounds missed something?

Is he getting enough to eat when he keeps falling asleep during nursing?

What if I miss seeing a car and it hits us while we're out walking?

What if I slip on a wet patch on the stairs and fall and crush him?

Cancer. Blindness. Autism. Broken limbs. Heartbreak. Accidents. Malnutrition. Isolation.

In my head, I know that even if something bad happens, God is faithful. I know that D and I are doing our best to take care of our little treasure, and that there's no way we can guard against every risk. It helps to write these worries out, because I can see them better for what they are: worries. Not facts. Not predictions. Just worries. And I'd rather spend my days thinking of all the good things that could happen, and trusting my own Father, than focusing on the scary things and trying to claim control of Pippin's safety. The one positive in all this is that I become more aware of and sympathetic to mothers (and fathers) who do have to deal with these things. There's nothing special I have done to deserve a bright-eyed, healthy little boy; the way he is is a gift, and one I don't want to take for granted.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Schedule Wrecker

They say that babies wreak havoc on a schedule. We're currently on vacation, but I'm finding it ironic how often our little Pippin manages to interrupt even the loosest of plans. "I'm ready to have my lunch," I think... and then he wakes up and wants his. "Great weather for sitting on the balcony,"I say to D, only to hear noises alerting us that a certain little person has woken up and wants attention. Not to mention the last minute diaper changes and back-up bottles prepared before trips to the store or someone's house.

I can't say any of this is unexpected. After growing up with multiple siblings and then spending years as a daycare teacher and nanny, I'm used to the natural disregard little people have for big people's plans. And we've been blessed to have lots of family around this summer - lots of arms to hold him so I can shower, eat a proper meal, and take naps. It's going to be interesting to see how life evolves after we're back to a normal schedule and D goes back to work. Just me and Pippin during the day, trying to find a balance of keeping him clean and fed and happy and get a few things done as well....

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Impatient and Grateful

A friend of mine wrote on her blog about how she missed being able to text back and forth with two of her formerly pregnant friends, who had graduated to "all blissed out and sleep-deprived with their new babies and I'm still (thankfully) pregnant." Only I'm lacking that whole thankfulness thing at this point because 38 weeks pregnant is plennnty of time for me and I've been ready for our little one to come since about six months in. At which point I had already stocked up on food staples, toiletries staples, and baby clothing/washing/tending staples. As well as having read a ridiculous amount of articles in Dutch and English on healthy pregnancy, natural birthing, and newborn care. Which left way too much time over for me to wait for the baby to actually show up, which makes it hard to be thankful about him taking his time.

I am thankful for lots of things, though. Such as popsicles (I'm averaging 1-2 a day) in our warm summer apartment. A generally working internet connection which lets me stay in touch with friends and my on-the-road family. Huge blessing - an expatriate moms group in my city that gets together for tea and makes me feel like it's ok to not know how the Dutch vaccination system works. A wonderful family-in-law for hanging out with, including a sister-in-law to take pregnancy photos with!


And, yes, I'm aware of the fact that my stomach (on the right) doesn't look that big. The side view is less adorable but more eloquent on that count. 


Being pregnant has had its special moments - baby kicks, smiles from strangers, extra hugs from family. I'm just ready to actually hold my baby and be 'all blissed out and sleep-deprived' myself, instead of just sleep-deprived, bored, and impatient as I look at the crib that's waiting for a little wonder to arrive....

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mum Time

Chilling out at the Hema cafe, watching a mum wrestle her baby into a front carrier. Out the window strolls the Saturday morning crowd, including a fair amount of children and strollers. I'm waiting for a new friend to join me for coffee - decaf, since we're both pregnant. We connected via a Facebook group for expatriate parents in the region, and decided it would be fun to meet up.

I'm excited about the possibilities with this group - playdates with our little ones, shared concerns and questions about parenting in NL. A pregnancy tea in a few weeks. Connecting for coffee, or shopping.
And I'm excited about this morning, sharing coffee and swapping stories about how we came to live here and our mutual hobbies. And, of course, talking about pregnancy, and surviving the last month or so before our due dates! It'll be a fun morning :)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Long Long Day

Exhausted this afternoon. Biked relatively quickly this morning to ch and back, had fun subbing with the 0-3 class, and made french toast for lunch around 2 once we got home.... And then crashed on the couch for the next several hours. Dozed off while leaning against D, then eventually sat up to do some transcribing - something at least mildly productive with my afternoon. Got hit by another wave of tiredness and had to lie back down for a bit. I had asked if D would cook if I peeled the potatoes, and then realised that even that was almost more than I could handle, so he's doing everything.... So grateful for him. 

Hoping to be in bed by 9 tonight, because while I'm used to the general tiredness, this is full body tiredness as though I'd been lifting weights or running 5Ks. And all I've done is bike today, and walk about 4k yesterday with D, and then random around house stuff. Well, and I swept the house today and that left me breathing hard too. Friday I biked to the hospital and back, and then to babysit and back. So I guess there's been exertion, but I have a hard time accepting that that may just be too much at this point for me. And that 7-8 hours is maybe not enough sleep at this point either. So somehow I need to learn to take it easier....

Encouraging bit from another pregnancy blog post
"Our house is operating under a Priority Policy-- if it must get done it will; if not, it won't. The harder side of letting it be has really been saying no." Grateful for the reminder that it's ok to be less than productive and for the house to be less than clean. To slow down without feeling guilt. Hopefully I can remember that for the next 10ish weeks..... 


So nice to hang out with the little ones today, holding tiny T and smiling over at chubby H-J... that'll be us soon! Rocking a sleepy baby on my shoulder as they suck their thumb...  keeping an eye on little bodies rolling over or reaching for toys. Good to have the reminder that it won't all be sleep deprivation and a messy house and colic for the first year :) I know there's going to be a mix of happy and hard times, but sometimes it's easier to focus on all the challenges and how I can prepare for them ahead of time. And then on days like today, I'm just reminded in a concrete way how precious babies are and how much love we'll have for ours :)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Stiffness and Questions

Stiff and sore again on waking. My goodness. But I managed to sleep from about 11 to 5, so that was progress. And then lay awake about half an hour, then slept til 8... then slept another half hour and then woke up, albeit grudgingly and slightly grumpily. Wondering how anyone lasts through 9 months of pregnancy, especially if they already have children. After a cuddle and some croissants and coffee, the day became tolerably decent. Found out that Cyprus was dropping their 'Iron Curtain' over the Easter weekend, which makes me happy. Lovely to read positive headlines instead of the constant war, debt, doom ones. 

D turned on jazz music, which led to us following a link to WFP.org - World Food Programme - and discussing adding that to our charity list. And then talking about whether we'd ever move overseas and do something hands on like planting gardens or building things, or teach ESL. What would be practical given our education? What would be the drive that would get us there - for a year of adventure in a new country with our little one(s), or a need to help people?

No answers at this time. Just cranberry juice and sunshine and a relaxing Easter weekend ahead.... And hopefully naps and yoga for me so I can wake up positive about a day.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dresser Fit For A Prince

In big apartment buildings here in the Netherlands, there's often a dumpster/castoff room in the basement where people take their trash or unwanted stuff. Other people can take things, or the trash gets picked up later. 

Yesterday while babysitting I just HAPPENED to go down to the basement to recycle paper, and found an adorable baby changing table/dresser. I'm not normally a big furniture person, or fancy person at all. D and I are both really down-to-earth and frugal - we tend to save our money, or use it on plane tickets for family and experiences and not on stuff. And we have honestly just been planning to use mostly multipurpose stuff when possible for the baby, because why would we spend thousands of euros for baby cribs etc. when we can borrow them or buy them second-hand....

 All that to say, our whole (tiny) apartment is very simple and pretty but not expensive, and we like it that way, plus the baby won't care  We don't even have a second bedroom, and while the baby would be sleeping near us the first few months for feedings anyway, I still feel kind of sheepish when people ask, "Have you fixed up a nursery all cute?" And we will probably move in the next year or so and have a baby/kid bedroom then. But right now, no, we haven't painted an adorable bedroom and filled it with stenciled walls and stuffed animals. And sometimes I feel like I'm just the tiniest bit not going to be a good mom because I'm not putting all that work and time and money into a too-cute baby room. 

And then I found this dresser yesterday, and totally fell in love with it (and I told that to my sister and she kind of laughed at me- "I've never heard you say you fell in love with furniture before. Pregnancy makes you interesting." Which is totally true - I do get more easily emotional about stuff these days.) And at first I messaged D that I thought we could take this dresser, and was all excited. And then I realized how big it was and that it was just impractical to try to lug up all the flights of stairs to our apartment, especially since I'm not supposed to lift heavy things. Plus we have a PERFECTLY FINE dresser that we were going to use. So I messaged D, "Never mind, it wouldn't work. No big deal," and tried not to be disappointed. Because it's not a big deal, right? And I hadn't even thought of putting 'cute baby furniture' on my to-buy (or dreaming about) list, because I knew we'd find or inherit something practical. No need to get all emotional.

And then D messaged back that he was willing to come in the car and we could pick the dresser up... no frills in his simple message, just a "sure, not a problem. we'll bring the car and get it." So we came back and got it, just like that. And it took a lot of wrestling because we also have a tiny car, and narrow stairways, but D made sure I was only helping lightly and not straining... and now it's sitting in our bedroom and looks oh so beautiful. I couldn't sleep before I wiped any dust out and put some newborn clothes in one of the drawers, just to see how it looked. And I only felt slightly silly, but super grateful for the God-smile of giving us something so luxurious that we didn't NEED, at all... but is so adorable. 


I feel like it says, "Welcome, little baby  We are so excited about you coming, even if we don't spend a ton of money on all the fancy modern baby bedrooms and toys and clothes." Which may be totally silly, and I know that the baby and D and I would still be just as happy if we were one of those cool trekking families that lives out of backpacks and travels across China or Africa. But for now, I'm just really really really excited about this dresser, which matches our room well and smells like fresh wood and is way cuter than anything I was counting on getting....


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Quiet morning here.


Quiet morning here. Well, except for the power tools that have been used on and off since 9am, ruining my chances of sleeping in a bit. And the banging noises from whatever house is being refurbished. But I have classical piano playing, and my (almost 19 week old) baby is cuddled in my belly, and I have a big mug of Earl Grey tea... so it's all good. Unlike the last two mornings, I didn't have to hurry awake, get dressed, and head out the door, so this is definitely relaxing in comparison. 

It's lovely to have the time to just sit and reflect.... I decided the other day I should start blogging again, especially through this pregnancy. I've been keeping a journal along the way, but there's something nice about adding thoughts to a blog and joining the other (expectant) mothers out there. 

Yesterday I weighed in and am now up to 58.8kg, from a starting weight of 55kg... it's funny to keep track of that just for the record and not because I'm emotionally invested in losing/gaining weight. Unlike a few weeks ago, when I was stressing myself out about having lost weight the first trimester, convinced that I *had* to gain 17+ kg (around 35lbs) for the baby to be healthy. It certainly makes eating less fun when there's no real appetite, just a feeling of guilt and a pressure to put that weight on quickly. Fortunately I found a Mayo clinic article that assured me that a smaller weight gain (11 kg / 22 lbs, or less) was absolutely fine. And then the midwife at the clinic reaffirmed that, and told me to just eat healthy and get enough exercise and not worry about the scale. So now I'm happily back to eating 'normal' (mostly healthy and then some snacks) and not worrying about the weight. 

The other happy thing lately has been feeling the baby move - I know a time will likely come when I wish it would *stop* moving long enough for me to sleep, but for now, it's still very exciting. Next week we have our 20-week checkup and ultrasound, and will get to know the gender. Friends have been asking if we want to find out, and, if so, if we're going to keep it a secret from everyone. I had enough difficulty the first trimester with not telling THE WHOLE WORLD that I was pregnant, so I don't have any problem with telling others once we know. Plus, I'm looking forward to being able to pick out baby names with D.....