Monday, December 23, 2013

The Grinch's Heart is Officially Melting

If you don't remember, I've grown to kind of dislike Christmas. Nothing tragic happened to me as a child, but as I've gotten older, Christmas has been equated with stress and having no money and trying to find the perfect thing for people who have everything and high pitched music that seems to be worse than Chinese water torture.

Last year at this time, I was preparing for another Christmas that would stress me out and probably still hadn't finished all of my shopping yet because I always wait until the last minute. I had even written a whole post about being a Grinch. I had no idea that on December 30, 2012, my life would completely change.

That's a lie. I had a small idea.

See, last year at Christmas, I slept all week. I slept all night, I slept most of the day. I snored (which I never do!). I had crazy heartburn. I kept taking really deep breaths but feeling like I couldn't catch my breath. I knew something was different.

And something was very different indeed. I was pregnant!

So this year, a whole miraculous year later, while I watch my beautiful four month old baby girl sleep with this angelic little look on her face, Christmas has a whole new meaning. It reminds me of the happiness as well as the trepidation I felt last year around this time. It reminds me of how thankful I am to be a mother this year and how lucky I am to have this little girl. Not everyone gets a Christmas present like the one I got last year.

How could you be a Grinch with this little elf??
 LoLo loves Christmas and this year as he put up his tree, he kept saying, "This is for my little girl." He played Christmas music in the living room with only the light of the tree lighting the room. And it got to me. It started melting my little Grinchy heart. I may or may not have cried a little bit while rocking my little girl to sleep one night as the Christmas music played. I know I sound like a broken record, but this baby is so special to me and I know that this time of year will always be different now. This will always be the time of year that I learned my whole life would change forever.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mom, working

As you can imagine, life lately has been consumed by my little girl. I finally feel like I am starting to get to know her and to know what she needs. This little baby is so good. And I'm not just saying that because I'm her mother. When we're around people who have just met her, they always ask us if she's always this well behaved. My answer: yes, for the most part. She is has her moments, but overall, she is such a good baby.

She sleeps through the night. She rarely cries (only if she's hungry or tired). She smiles nearly all day. I can't tell you how happy I am. Alexia is the sweetest little girl.

Now can I be real for a few minutes?

About 5 weeks ago, I went back to work. The first day was tough. I dropped Alexia off at her new daycare (which we love by the way) and got back in my car. I let myself cry for 5 minutes on the way to work and then forced myself to stop. I knew that if I let myself cry any longer than that, I would be crying all day.

But once I got back to my desk, sitting in front of my computer, catching up on everything, chatting with my co-workers, a piece of me that had been lost for 9 weeks returned. I felt more comfortable than I had in a while. I knew what I was doing. I was good at what I was doing. I felt confident.

I felt like myself again. I've always known how much I love my work. I love what I get to do every day. I really missed work while I was on maternity leave.

I know some moms would feel guilty for feeling the way I feel. We've all been told at some point or another that we are letting someone else raise our child while we work. And while that is partially true, my daughter knows who I am. She smiles when she sees me. When I get home from work every night, I spend that precious time with her cuddling and laughing and playing. On weekends we spend time staring at each other and I give her way too many kisses (that's totally not possible) and tell her how much I love her.

Alexia needs a happy mama. I would not be a happy mama without my work. Staying at home is not something I'm good at. I was an awful housewife during funemployment. During my maternity leave, I realized I need some balance. I need to feel productive and I need to work my brain in ways that just aren't possible when I'm at home with a baby. Of course I realize how difficult it is to be a stay at home mom and how there is a different type of productivity that comes with that role, but I just couldn't do it. And I don't feel guilty about that.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chasing Sleep

Hi everyone! We're still here! My girl is 9 weeks old (a little over 2 months for those normal people who don't think in weeks).

So much has happened in the past month and every day I think to myself, "Ohhh I need to blog about this!" And I want to blog, but it just never felt like I had time. I'm now relegated to blogging while pumping. Please don't try to imagine that. It's as bad as it sounds.

Alexia is doing great. She's such a sweet little baby. She has her bad days of course, but overall, she has been so good. I really am so happy and know that she is so special. I won't lie and say it's all been easy. There have been times when I've questioned whether I could handle having a baby. 

2 month picture taken by Auntie Em
One night last week, Alexia woke up only 3 hours after she had gone to bed. Before that, she had been having some long stretches of 5, 6, or sometimes even 7 hours of sleep. On this particular night, when she woke up after only 3 hours, I couldn't help but cry. I was exhausted. I thought we were making progress. In that moment, it felt like all of that progress was lost.

I cried because a part of me misses my old life where I slept and got to feel selfish and got to decide how my day would go and got to shower before 3pm. Then I cried because I felt guilty for feeling that way. How could I miss my old life when my new life has Alexia in it? How could I miss sleep knowing that my life is so much better now that she is here?

I had to give myself a break. Any sane person would have a tough time with this sleep schedule... actually this schedule in general. There is no schedule. You do what Alexia wants, when she wants it. The past 9 weeks are a blur of feedings, little sleep, sleep at weird hours, trying to figure this little person out, tears, unbelievable happiness, and so much love.

Another amazing picture taken by my sister
And that night when she looked at me, I remembered why this was all worth it. There will never be love that feels like the love I feel with her. That tiny face looks for me and stares at me and knows me. Someday when she's older, I will miss that feeling and I will forget the sleepless nights and the long days. But right now, while I'm in the thick of it, "chasing sleep" as I heard one mother say, it can be hard to see the big picture. It can be hard to give myself that break.

But through it all, there is so much love. So many cuddles. So many little kisses on those perfect little cheeks. And knowing that this little baby is ours brings me so much happiness.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Birth Story part 2... The Name

So at the end of part 1, LoLo and I were whispering about what to name our brand new baby girl. I don't remember if I wrote about it here, but LoLo had come up with the names for our future children years ago. See, LoLo is pretty superstitious and had a dream maybe 4 or 5 years ago (before we were even married) where our children came to him and told him their names. There was a little boy and a little girl and when LoLo asked them where their parents were, they told him he was their father. So then he asked them their names and they told him.

The little girl told him her first and middle names. LoLo said for years that we had to use this name because he didn't want to mess with whatever spirit brought him the name.

You may recall our baby is Alexia Lidia. This name didn't come without a fight. See, the little girl from the dream said her name was Alexia, but her middle name wasn't Lidia (and LoLo forbids me from publishing what she said her middle name was!).

Thank you to my sister for this birth announcement!
For me, it's always been really important to use family names and to pass on the tradition of names. On my mom's side of the family, there are a few names that are repeated quite often: Lydia/Lidia, Marta/Martha (still pronounced "Marta"), Anne, and Carmen are a few.

My mother's name is Lydia, my middle name is Lydia, my great-grandmother's name was Lidia, my cousin's name is Lydia, and my other cousin... and I wanted my baby girl to be a part of that tradition. 

When the doctor showed us that we had a baby girl, LoLo and I looked at each other, knowing it was going to be a battle to decide the name. I used all of my best arguments... "Please! I just pushed a baby out! You saw what I had to go through! Please let me have a say in the middle name at least."

LoLo looked at me and said, "Really, Erin??" But he knew he'd lost.

Then he turned to the nurse and said, "Her name is Alexia Lidia Santana." 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Alexia's first all-nighter (almost)

I know I promised my next post would be about choosing Alexia's name, but Alexia clearly had other plans. 

Last night, Alexia decided it would be a good night to try to pull an all nighter. From 9pm to 5am, she slept for only 2 hours and cried and fussed for the rest of the time. Yesterday morning, LoLo and I both woke up with sore throats. We told each other we'd go to sleep early so that we could rest and try to fight off any cold that might be trying to make its way to us. Alexia must have been laughing when she heard us say that.

She's lucky she has this sweet little face!
 We brought her upstairs around 9 after she finished eating and were all ready to put her in her pjs and into her bassinet. I set her down on our bed and ran to the bathroom to get something. When I came back, I could smell that she needed to be changed. When I picked her up though, I realized her diaper had leaked. On our bed. I ran her to the bathroom and held her over the sink and she went again. LoLo stripped her down and cleaned her up while I took off the duvet cover and brought it and her clothes down to the laundry. No big deal.

Two hours later, at 11:45, Alexia was still awake. Now one thing you need to know about this baby is that she sleeps a lot. Like so much that she only wakes up to eat and then goes immediately back to sleep. Being awake for two hours is not something that happens with her. I kept trying to feed her but she wasn't hungry. She just wanted to fuss so we let her. Soon we figured out why when she spit up all over herself. Another change of clothes and another trip down to the laundry. Still no big deal. We got her comfortable and put her in her bassinet to sleep.

Two hours later, she was awake again. I figured we'd feed her and she'd fall right back to sleep like she normally does. Not last night. She cried and cried. We gave her a pacifier for the first time and she spit it out. We checked her temperature to make sure she didn't have a fever. LoLo rocked her in the rocking chair and even though it started putting him to sleep, she was wide awake. At around 3, she finally fell asleep. I put her in the bassinet and ten minutes later, she was screaming again. I couldn't help but cry. I didn't feel well and just wanted to rest so that I could get better. I didn't know why she was so upset.

At around 4:30 when I felt like I just couldn't take it anymore, I held her tight in my arms with her little face pressed up against mine and started rocking in the bed. She started falling asleep. I started to cry again but this time because I kept thinking about how much I loved her. How if this were anyone else messing with my sleep, I would be furious but because it was her all I could think of was how much I loved her.

It was a moment I don't think I'll ever forget. It was in that moment that I realized I'm really a mom. It was in that moment that I realized I love her more than I love myself.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It's a Girl!! The birth story

Most of you have heard by now that I had my baby. Alexia Lidia Santana was born on Saturday, August 17 at 2:32pm, ten days before her due date. She was 8 pounds, 15 ounces and 21 inches long. LoLo and I are so happy and love her so much already!

It all started Friday evening when I got home from work around 6:20. As I was driving home, I called my mom like I always do. When I stepped out of the car, I told her "Ummm, Mom? Either I just peed myself or my water broke." I ran into the house and up the stairs to the bathroom to make sure. There was no doubt. Immediately I started yelling for LoLo but he was downstairs in the basement playing a video game and couldn't hear me. I called his phone and he didn't answer so I just kept yelling until he finally heard me and came running. The first thing he said was, "Do I have time to take a shower?" Really LoLo? That's your concern? That question makes me laugh now but at the time...

I called the doctor and he said to take our time but to come to the hospital as soon as we were ready. LoLo took a shower, I finished packing my bag and the baby's, and we were on our way to the hospital.

We arrived around 7:15pm and were taken immediately to a labor and delivery room because all of the triage rooms were full. The room was huge. They checked me out and I was 1cm dilated. I wasn't having any contractions so they let me go down to the cafe to get some food, walk around my room, hang out with LoLo and my mom, and watch the Red Sox game. They told me that if my contractions didn't start by 10:30, they would start pitocin.

Hanging out before they started the pitocin.
 At 10:30, I hadn't had any contractions so they started the pitocin. I was so scared because I had heard that pitocin makes the contractions come hard and fast, but the contractions weren't too bad until the morning. By about 6:30am Saturday, I was 5cm dilated and the contractions were coming really strong. By this time, I was exhausted and almost crying with each one. It was definitely time for some pain medication. They gave me a temporary medicine that helped a little bit, but I knew I wanted the epidural. Around 8am, the anesthesiologists were able to come to my room.

Walking around before my epidural.
I'm not ashamed at all to say that the epidural was a miracle drug. I went from almost crying to falling asleep and only feeling a little pressure from the contractions. By 9:30, I was already 7cm dilated. At 11, I was 9. By noon, I was fully dilated. When the doctors checked me then, they told me to let them know when I felt like I needed to push. That was the second time that I felt terrified. I even asked if I really had to push or if I could just stay the way I was. The doctor's answer was "Well, the only way you're going to get this baby out is if you push. It's not coming out on it's own!"

Happy again after getting the epidural.
By 1:30 the nurse came back in and asked if I felt the need to push yet. When I said no, she said "Well, it's time!" It came instinctively to me. With each contraction, I would push 3 times for 10 seconds each. In between contractions, I was making jokes and laughing and chatting. I told you, the epidural was a miracle drug. I could feel just enough to know when to push, but all I felt was pressure. The nurse was amazing. To help me push, she twisted up a bed sheet and knotted each end. I held one end and she held the other. With each push, she had me play tug of war with her. In less than a half an hour, she told me it was almost time and she needed to get the doctor.

When the doctor came in, he made the same comment as everyone else who entered the room: "Wow! I can see the head and that baby has a ton of hair!" As I continued pushing, the doctor called over the medical student who was shadowing him that day. He told her, "Quick! Come here! You may never see this again. The baby is moving it's head to try to get out!" 

When they finally pulled her out, the doctor brought her up to my chest to show us that she was a girl. At first, her umbilical cord was in the way and LoLo and I couldn't tell if she was a boy or a girl. But a few seconds later, it was obvious. We were both so excited. LoLo cut the cord and the nurses took her away to be checked out. As LoLo and I stared at each other in awe that we were parents of a beautiful little girl, we whispered to each other about the name.

In my next post I'll tell you more about her name and the first few days of her precious little life. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Motherhood and pregnancy thoughts at 38 weeks

As a first time mom, I am going through this pregnancy completely in awe of what my body is doing. There is a tiny person moving inside of me. Taking my air. Taking my nutrients. And definitely taking my energy.

37 weeks
 As I experience all of these things, I can't help but think about all of the other women who have gone through this in the past. See, as a first time mom, I like to think I'm special. Look what my body can do! But then I stop and think about how pregnancy is such a universal experience. Women have gone through this without saying a word for years. Women in far off places have these same experiences, no matter where they are from. And often times, we don't hear about their experiences. Sometimes when I see women around me with babies, I wonder what their pregnancy was like. Did people get excited for them? Did they feel these same feelings as I do?

What did women do before they had message boards and chat rooms and internet sites about pregnancy? I mean, obviously I know that they spoke to each other and made bonds with other mothers around them. It's just so different though. I can get a question answered by other women around the country and around the world in less than a minute. I can reach out to other women when I'm feeling anxious or scared. I can write a blog post and have friends reach out to me with the sweetest advice and reassuring words. 

To be completely honest, sometimes I get sad that this is my only "first time" experiencing pregnancy. If LoLo and I have another baby, it won't be as big of a deal. People won't be so understanding towards me or so excited about my experience. Of course we'll be excited and will look forward to meeting another new baby, but it won't be the same.

I'm at 38 weeks along now and it feels so strange to me that I could have a baby any day. It seems so unreal. People ask if I'm excited and my honest answer is "I'm ready to not be pregnant anymore, but I'm not sure I'm ready to have a baby." Those two things are very different for me.

I can't believe our little family of 2 (3 if you count Bronxy!) is going to grow any day now. The days of just me and LoLo are almost over. Right now I feel sad about that... but I know that once I see that tiny little face, I'll forget it. And that day could be sooner than I think...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Impromptu Maternity Photos!

3 weeks ago, my sister and her husband, Adrian, came to Maine for a visit. Not only did they help to throw a perfect baby shower for me (I'll have to tell you all about that later), they also took some really great maternity photos for me and LoLo. My sister took the pictures and Adrian acted as her assistant (and puppy handler!).

I was so adamant about not taking corny maternity photos (no prom pose here and no bare bellies either) and I absolutely love the results. I want to frame every photo and put them all over my house. I'm so grateful for having a sister with such a good artistic eye who takes such great pictures.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Paris.... Finally!

Hello again, strangers. As promised, I've finally gotten around to getting a post together about Paris. You may remember that at the end of May (Memorial Day to be exact), I left Maine for almost three weeks. The first 5 days I spent in St. Louis, Missouri at a conference and the last week and a half I spent in Paris, attending a seminar held by my co-workers there. When I left, I was 28 weeks pregnant.

For most of the time I was in Paris, I was taking part in a seminar on the way the French see disability in their society. It was such an interesting topic for me because the French see disability as a situation, not something that defines people. In fact, they said that in certain situations, as a pregnant woman, I would be considered disabled since I could not perform all of the tasks of others. The seminar was great and helped me to see Paris from a really interesting vantage point.

A Moroccan cafe owned and run by a young deaf man

Home of Louis Braille outisde of Paris
Because I was so busy with the seminar, I had very little time to act like a tourist. Even when I did have the time, I was so exhausted and my feet and ankles were so swollen that I spent time resting and doing work. Finally, 2 days before I left, I had an entire day free to explore. I decided the best way for me to see the city without having to walk a whole lot was to take the Paris L'Open Bus Tour. The tour had 4 different lines that went all over the city and I took 3 of the lines and spent about 5 hours riding the buses.

Baby's first trip to Paris... see "it" there in my big belly?
I rode all over the city and enjoyed my little perch on the top of an open bus right in the front row. I saw all of the important sites:

Champs d'elysees

The Eiffel Tower

The Louvre

The Paris Opera

The Seine River

Notre Dame

Although it was a cloudy and dreary day, I got to see so much of Paris and listen to the history over my bright green earphones. It was a perfect solution for a pregnant girl who really couldn't walk much. Once I started getting hungry, I hopped off the bus and headed into a little cafe where I had some steak frites and a really tasty hot chocolate. I have to say I really love the cafe culture there!

Picture from cafe I went to the first day in Paris 

Typical Paris street... narrow and so cute with even the buildings having shuttered windows

I also really loved these little houses near my hotel in Bercy
I really enjoyed Paris. It is such an amazing city full of history and life. I kept thinking that I wished LoLo could have been there because he would have loved learning about all of the history. The cafe culture and the slow pace were perfect for me. People spent hours just sitting at the cafes chatting with friends and drinking coffee and eating croissants. No one seemed in a rush like everyone seems to be in New York.

I feel so lucky to have been able to take this trip. One of my fears when I found out I was pregnant was that I would miss opportunities to travel and to see the world. Although it was definitely tougher and more exhausting, I felt like I did a really good job traveling at 7 months pregnant and wouldn't trade my experience for anything.

Baby Santana, you can check Paris off your list.

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's about to get real up in here

It's official. At almost 31 weeks pregnant, I am just now getting anxious about this baby coming. And when I say anxious, I don't mean "Oh! I can't wait to meet this baby!", I mean "Please baby, stay in there until we are really ready". I know that sounds awful, and I know deep down, of course I want to meet our baby. But I'm scared. I'm scared I'm not going to be a good mom. I'm scared that I won't be able to keep our house clean (because who am I kidding, I don't keep our house clean as it is). I'm scared I won't be able to keep LoLo happy. I'm scared that Bronx is going to feel neglected and start acting out.

This past week has been a really hard one. I've cried a few times. I've sat here thinking, "I really should clean up around here" and then proceeded to take a 2.5 hour nap instead. I registered us for a childbirth education class and realized that the only weekend we could do it is the first weekend in August. 3 weeks before our due date. Which means there's always the possibility that we won't make it.

And I know LoLo is feeling anxious too. He's been ignoring things that normally he would have just done, like mowing the lawn. Our lawn is 3 feet tall. No exaggeration. I asked him this morning when he thought he'd be mowing it and he said, "I don't know...someday." and continued playing on the computer. When I asked him if he was just going to sit and play on the computer all day he said "Yeah, probably," even though he knows we have so much to do to prepare for this baby. The nursery is almost completely painted, but it has sat "almost done" for almost 2 weeks. (After I originally wrote this, he went outside and mowed the lawn and then came inside and cleaned the bathroom. Good husband.)

I know he's having a hard time and that he's getting just as worried as I am because when I get anxious, he is usually the one to come to my rescue and remind me that everything is going to be ok. But he's not doing that right now. He's stuck with his own emotions.

I have been really lucky to have a really easy pregnancy so far (knock on wood). I've coasted through with barely any pain and barely having to change my life. This week though, I finally started feeling some aches and pains. I finally wasn't able to tie my shoes myself because I can't bend over.  And I think it finally hit me. I'm having a baby.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

30 weeks...and why I'm the worst!

Why hello there, strangers!! I'm the worst blogger ever right now! It's been too long since I sat down and wrote for this here blog. But in my defense, I've been a little busy.

I spent 2.5 weeks away from home. At 7 months pregnant. Working all of those days except for 1. Spending 8.5 hours on a plane. Twice. Missing my LoLo and my little Bronx the whole time.

I owe you all pictures of my trip to Paris and I won't forget to put them up. But right now, while I'm still catching up from such a long time away, I wanted to give you a little update on the pregnancy. Somehow I am 30 weeks along! This time is flying, just like everyone told me it would. We are in June. Our baby is due in August. How is this possible?!

Over the past month or so, I've felt the movement more and more. This baby loves kicking and punching and dancing merengue. One night in Paris, I was laying in bed on my back and the baby was moving so much that I could see it moving around like a little alien inside of me. I would put my iPad on my stomach and the baby would kick it off. It was times like that where I was sad that LoLo was all the way back at home, still at work while I was going to sleep, missing those moments.

I'm feeling good. I'm sleeping well and eating well and overall pretty happy, minus a few emotional moments. I took the pictures above at the end of my work day so my ankles were a little swollen, but otherwise, I've been feeling great. I've gained about 9 pounds up to this point. I'm really happy with my weight gain and my doctor says it's totally fine since I started out with some extra pounds.

When I see this picture, I can't believe how big my stomach is. It doesn't feel like I'm that big. Sometimes when I go to sleep, I wake up having forgotten I'm pregnant. Then I try to get up and I remember.

When I got back from my trip, Bronx wasn't quite sure what to think. He definitely kept his guard up for a while before actually warming up to me and cuddling like he did before. Once he started cuddling though, he kept resting his head on my stomach. I'm actually really happy that he had so much time with LoLo while I was gone because Bronx has finally learned to trust him. It makes me so happy that these two bonded over missing me!

I promise that my next update won't be 10 weeks from now when I am holding a baby (writing that sentence just totally freaked me out!).

How have you all been??

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

25 weeks

Somehow I am already 25 weeks along. How is this possible?! Every day I am getting more and more anxious about this baby coming... in good ways and bad. There are days that I can't contain my excitement about meeting this little person who is half me, half LoLo. Then there are other days when I can't seem to keep my eyes open and I think to myself, "I had 10 hours of sleep last night and this is how I feel?? How will I feel with 2 hours??"

Still, things are moving along and I am feeling good. I passed my glucose tolerance test. My belly has gotten rounder. My parents gave me a mother-to-be card on mother's day.

And my favorite moment this week? LoLo finally felt the baby kick. And the baby kicked him in the face as he put his cheek up against my stomach. Now I really can't wait to meet this baby!

The picture isn't great, but it shows how I'm looking these days.

And because I think this is the cutest thing, my mother made a bouquet of mini cupcakes for mother's day and brought them to my aunt's house for our celebration. She is so cute and creative.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cinco de Mayo

Last year, I didn't have quite so many readers, so I figured in honor of Cinco de Mayo which is coming up this weekend, I would re-post my post from last year.

Every year around this time, I know I'm going to have to cringe at the many people who are "dressed like Mexicans". Every year I'm annoyed by the fake mustaches, the sombreros, and the ponchos.

This year, before you "celebrate" Cinco de Mayo, read my post and think about how you want to celebrate.

(stepping down from my soap box now.... happy weekend!!!)

Erin's thoughts on Cinco de Mayo

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Everyone has an opinion

Since I started telling people that I am pregnant, everyone suddenly has an opinion. I had heard that it happens and that suddenly people think they should/can tell you what they think about the little life growing inside of you, but I have to say I didn't expect people to be so blunt about their opinions.

In the past few weeks, now that it is more obvious that I am pregnant, several people have asked me what the sex of the baby is. When I tell them that we have decided to have a surprise, I've gotten some surprising responses. Several people have told me that that is "stupid" or "lame".

Really??? Did I ask what you thought about it? Do you really want to piss off a pregnant woman?

Love this!! via
 We have our reasons for wanting it to be a surprise. We didn't just decide that out of nowhere. It doesn't mean we don't care. It's also not up for discussion so your opinion isn't going to change our decision.

When it comes to pregnancy, I am relatively conservative. I don't want to know the sex until the day I meet the baby. I don't want to name the baby until I see him/her. I don't want to share our ideas for names with people either because, well, people love expressing their opinions about name choices too.

At the same time though, if another couple wants to find out the sex of their baby and name the baby the day they find out and tell everyone the name, that's their choice. I wouldn't make that choice, but that doesn't mean it isn't right for them. Or that it's "stupid" or "lame".
What is it about pregnancy (and, my friend pointed out, weddings) that makes people think they can freely share their negative opinions about your choices?