Friday, February 22, 2013

32 Week Update

Well, maybe not quite 32 weeks, but close enough!  It's been ten weeks since my last post on maternity uniforms.  Today was the first day that I was in the full maternity uniform, complete with tent top.
When I was laying out my uniform last night, I realized that I could still fit into my regular (BMT issued) top.  I asked DH whether he thought I should wear my normal ABU top or the maternity, and he said to go for the maternity because of the "ride-up" factor of the normal one.  I went ahead and wore the new one, albeit a bit reluctantly, although I had just gone to the trouble of taking it to get my functional badge sewn on.  

Being able to still blouse my own pants and put on my boots unassisted felt like a big accomplishment this morning.  I want to blouse as long as possible, as well as avoid having to wear sneakers.  Anyone who's ever been pregnant knows that bending over to tie shoes doesn't happen much when you hit this point.  I do a lot of Mr. Rogers style shoe tying, with one foot crossed over my knee.  We'll see how I'm doing when the April UTA rolls around.  I will be 38 weeks by that point, so I may be singing a different tune.

The Fit
My maternity ABU pants still fit ok, and the elastic waistband doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would.  If you have a long torso or you're tall, it may bother you the way it hits your belly.  I thought it would bother me more, based on my first experience with them, but it's not bad.  I haven't had to remove the elastic yet.  If you've got a short or normal torso, it may go up as high as right under your bust.  My normal sand t-shirts still fit, and I still tuck them into my pants.  I've read about Airmen who don't bother tucking them in, but that seems a little unkempt to me after everything we've been taught about dress and appearance.

I'm still not a fan of the maternity ABU top.  The tabs on the side seem more decorative than anything else, which is just silly.  There's not additional buttons present to cinch the sides tighter, and unbuttoning the tabs doesn't really do anything much.  There's pleats underneath them, but they're pretty much pressed open, so they're worthless.  The absence of upper chest pockets emphasizes the bell shape of the top.

I've been shoving everything I can into my pockets, including all of the pens that would normally go in my pen pockets.  It seemed to work out ok today, although I kept feeling around to determine where I had stashed my stuff.  Shouldn't have been that difficult, since there's only four pockets total in both garments.  ;)  Blame it on my pregnancy-induced absentmindedness.

Current Gripe
If you're tall or have really long arms, the outlook isn't good for you.  My normally huge BMT-issued ABU top is a 16L.  So, when I ordered the maternity top, I sized down to a 14L.  Bad move on my part.  The 14L sleeves aren't all that long, and I wonder if the 16L would've been better.  My recommendation for anyone would be to stick with their pre-pregnancy size when it comes to ABUs.  As for blues, that's another story.  I tried on my white long-sleeved blouse for the upcoming awards banquet.  I'm normally a medium in blouse sizes, so that's what I requested.  With there being no long option for the blues tops, you're going to have to size up in order to get the sleeve length you need.  My medium was probably a good four inches too short in the sleeves, and I had to go back and buy a large.  I'll probably have to attempt to resell the medium, since it was already out of the package and I can't return it at this point.  It's a bummer when you know you're only going to wear it one time.  If you can try on items before you commit to them, that'd be ideal, but the maternity pickings can be slim at clothing sales.

That's all I've got for now, folks!  I'll have another update at 33 weeks, after the banquet and my debut in semi-formal maternity wear.  The beauty of having just been to the board is that my blueberry muu muu is good to go for the banquet - I just have to remove my name tag.  I purchased the above mentioned white blouse (that fits better, although still not quite long enough), had my stripes sewn on it, and just need to take it to the dry cleaner.  Everything else I have in my possession already.  I'm taking a much more relaxed approach to the banquet this year, since it's not my first.  Throw on the muu muu and roll out, you know?

P.S.  Forgot to mention!  I am not far out from my 34th week, which is the stopping point for participation in military duty as a Reservist, unless I live within 50 miles of my duty station [I do], and my doctor/my commander/I support continued participation.  I should've been more mindful of those numbers when I went to my last doctor's appointment, as I now I have to call them up to request that letter.  Otherwise, I've been really good about submitting my "she's ok, baby's ok" notes from the doctor to the on-base clinic. Luckily, I should be able to wrap that up on Monday or so, since they want it by next weekend - a little sooner than I'd expected.  Ultimately, I only have five more days of duty (that I'd like to do) before baby comes.  Where does the time go?! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Air Force Moms

Seems an odd topic outside of Mother's Day, but the timing is personally motivated.  Nope, not about my pregnancy either, I'll though I'll update those of you that are interested at the bottom.


My Loving Mother; 12/20/49 - 2/19/01
Today is the 12th anniversary of my mother's death.  She died at the age of fifty-one of ovarian cancer when I was just twenty.  In the past I've written tribute posts here on the blog, but I felt like doing something different this year.

To those of you that have a supportive mother (or mother figure) present/active in your life while you embark on your Air Force journey, embrace it!  I can't tell you how blessed some of my fellow flight members were to have proactive mothers who were involved during their time at BMT.  I watched as those trainees received lengthy letters from their moms on a daily basis, complete with pictures and requests for the names of trainees who weren't receiving letters, so they could write to them too.  These were the moms who made their trainees custom banners for the Airman's Run, cheering them on from the sidelines.  I had my own family/support team there, for which I'm very thankful, but I would've loved for my mother to share in that accomplishment. 

If you have a mother who wants to be involved during your time at BMT, or who is anxious and in need of some reassurance while her baby is away, I recommend that you direct her to AF WingMoms.  AF WingMoms is a comprehensive support network for loved ones (not just moms) that details the weekly highlights of BMT, an extensive amount of graduation information for those attending, positive support and encouragement ideas (PS&E), and AF family resources.  AFWM started on Facebook originally, so I encourage you to send your loved ones to their page as well.  From there they can network with a squadron group on Facebook, as well as a group that is specific to their trainee's flight (as well as their brother/sister flight).  It's a great way to network with others that are going through the same experience, and to keep each other motivated, just as trainees can keep themselves motivated in their own Facebook groups.

Whomever makes up your cheerleading team while you're at BMT, whether it be a large group of extended family and friends, or just a significant other, focus on those who've supported you through this dream and have encouraged you every step of the way.  While it's fun to prove the nay-sayers wrong, those that have stood by you during the process will continue to keep you motivated during the difficult times at BMT. 

More on my own journey to motherhood after the jump!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Commissioning Physical

One of the big to-dos for me after being chosen by the Deserving Airman Commissioning Program (DACP) board was to complete my commissioning physical.  Before my package can be sent to the Numbered Air Force (NAF) and Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) for final approval and blessing, I have to be medically cleared to proceed.  Makes sense, seems simple enough, right?

I tried to begin the process prior to the board and submitting my application (on someone else's recommendation), but I was told by an Airman involved in the process that due to the extensive nature of the physical, they don't bother starting until you've officially been approved by the board.  Ok, no big deal, I waited.  

As soon as the board gave me their blessing, I was back in contact with the folks at medical.  The timing coincided with my annual physical for the Air Force, so it all worked out nicely, or so I thought it would.  Prior to meeting with all of the doctors, I had to do a bunch of blood work and samples at the lab, which would require two weeks for results.  They want you to fast prior to doing these.  Oops.  Got that memo a little too late, but everything seemed to come back fine, so no issues there.  I also had to fill out the exact same paperwork I did for MEPS when I first listed

The UTA weekend of my annual physical was busy.  I had my schedule jam packed with a Change of Command ceremony, retirement celebrations, training, volunteering with the Development and Training Flight, and so forth.  I figured my physical would be a couple hours, tops.  I was dead wrong. My annual physical should've been a non-fly physical, since I work in an office.  I went in there without thinking about how the commissioning portions of my physical would affect the number of procedures/assessments I'd have to finish or the number of specialists I'd have to see. 

To cut to the chase, if you're going in for a commissioning physical, prepare for an all-day affair similar to when you went up to MEPS (if you've been through that process).  Make arrangements to bring something to read/do while you wait, and some food to tide you over until it's all done.  Being pregnant and sitting there all day was not a smart idea for me.  Fortunately I was able to call DH and have him bring me food.

Regardless of whether you've been in the Air Force for a while or not, they're going to run you through tests as though you're brand spankin' new and they're evaluating you for the first time.  That's what makes the process so long.  I did the following:

  • Blood pressure - sitting, standing, and laying.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Vision - the full battery of tests, including depth perception, color-blindness, and as I found out late in the game, dilation of the eyes to the point that they recommend that someone else drives you home.  Yeah, that would've been nice to know in advance.  If you're a contact lens wearer, bring your solution, case, and your glasses.  My eyes were messed up for a long time afterward, which was really frustrating with as much as I had scheduled for that weekend.  Oh yeah, contact lens wearers?  You may want to rethink that if you're in a rated position in the aircrew.  I have a six page document with a Letter of Understanding that must be signed if I wanted to wear contacts as an aircrew member, not to mention you can only wear certain brands, use a certain solution, and you have to have to go through this lengthy approval/follow-up process with your flight surgeon and ophthalmologist.  Really ridiculously involved, especially if you're like me and you've been wearing contacts for most of your life.  I think it'd be easier to wear your glasses.  
  • Hearing - I had to go in "the box," put on the headphones, and click the button every time I heard a sound in my ears.  Do yourselves a favor and make sure your cellphone is left outside the box.  Seems simple enough, but my head wasn't in the game and I made that mistake. 
  • Dental - Pretty straight-forward dental examine with a technician and a dentist, who'll double check your dental health and dental class (the DoD "ranks" your dental health on a scale of 1 to 4, which affects your ability to deploy, amongst other things).
  • Doctor - The doctor will sit down with you, reviewing your results and the forms you submitted prior to your physical.

The only parts I didn't complete that day were the glucose test (you have to fast for twelve hours prior to the blood work) and the chest x-ray.  I'm planning to do the glucose during my next UTA weekend, so I can do the majority of my fasting while I'm asleep.  As for the chest x-ray, I'll have to wait until my baby's born in order to proceed.  As soon as those two items are done, my package will be sent to the NAF and then AFRC.  There was a place on my physical checklist to see the OB/GYN, but I didn't end up having to do that since I'm pregnant and I've been supplying the clinic updates from my civilian OB/GYN regularly.

Hopefully this information helps those of you that are up for your commissioning physical!  Clear your schedule, bring snacks and something to do/read, and prepare to be patient.      

Friday, February 1, 2013

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #79

It's been forever since I've remembered to do one of these!  I know I've been neglectful over the last few weeks, so I owe you folks a little something.  Head on over to Wifey's if you want to get in on this link-up action!

1.  What's one thing in this past month that you would have changed?  Really, nothing!  I had a great January.  It was packed, busy, with a number of get-togethers and time with friends/family.  I guess if I had to change something, it'd be the part where I got sick.  Pregnant + sick = no fun.  I hate having to take time off work, when I need to be saving all of my sick days for my maternity leave.  Plus, I missed out on three hours of extra (paid) duties that I do at school.  Not cool!

2.  What was your favorite thing that happened in January?  Our trip to California was a whirlwind, but it was great to spend time with my dad, see our friends, and attend an amazing baby shower that a good friend threw me!  We have also hit our third trimester, which is exciting and scary all at the same time.  Only seventy-eight days until our due date, which is just nuts!  Where does the time go?!

3.  What are you looking forward to in February?  This Saturday we have our 3D/4D ultrasound.  I wasn't originally planning to do one, but DH insisted.  Since we made the decision to do it (and found a nice "winter special" coupon), I've gotten more and more excited about the idea.  I can't wait to "see" our baby and see him/her moving around!  DH is already ready for me to pop, although I'm perfectly content with having more time to get things done (at home, at school, in the nursery).

4.  What are your plans for Valentine's Day?  Nothing.  I'm working Student Union, which is one of my paid after school duties.  It's a nice way to pick up extra cash and fund the little things we've splurged on (like a new "grown up" washer/dryer with pedestals we bought when we moved into this house).  Plus, DH isn't one for holidays and Valentine's Day means little to nothing to me.  There's a local pizza shop that makes heart-shaped pies.  I wouldn't be opposed to picking up one of those, if I did anything.  I'll probably get him a card and leave it at that. 

5.  What is your best advice for a MilSpouse whose spouse is deployed for Valentine's Day?  Treat yourself!  Time to get that massage, get a mani/pedi, go out to a nice dinner with friends, or pig out on chocolate while watching that new movie your spouse would never want to sit through.