The factory is silent. Its assembly line stands motionless. Somewhere off in the darkness, a buzzer sounds. One by one, lights begin to flicker and illuminate on long-unmanned diagnostic panels, giving a sense of enormity and complexity and scale to the machinery. The low hum of power supplies warming up comes next, followed by the higher and louder whine of turbines and electric motors. A whistle sounds, and one by one, employees begin to file in and take their places at the controls. Purposed for a single task, whose time has now come, the factory slowly comes to life...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

NOW I get it... (sort of)


Back in the days before I had a kid, I used to marvel at some of the things I saw mothers do and say. My mother would give me the shirt off her own back (and has!) She has always said things to me like, "You'll always be my baby" and that no matter how I felt about her she would always love me. She also said that one day I would understand. It's starting to make sense now.

Now when I see other mothers, and other people's children, I'm much more sympathetic. Don't get me wrong: I still roll my eyes at uncontrolled brats and people who ignore their childrens' pleas for attention in favor of their iPhone. But now I feel much more understanding of why mothers act the way they do about their kids. I think, in an odd way, I even feel a little protective of other people's children now.

And the strangest things have happened to my everyday experiences. Now when I see someone on tv who is a victim of a violent crime, all I can think of is that person was once someone's baby. They raised that baby to a child, to a young adult, they went to school, had friends, and birthdays and went to the store and did all the things everyone does every day...to end up at this spot, murdered, at the end. This was the sum of all their days. Or the murderer -- they were once someone's baby, and maybe they didn't get enough love, or had a fractured childhood, and now this is where they have ended up. I find myself trying to picture everyone, from celebrities to the kid who bags my groceries, as a baby. We all started out exactly the same. How did we all grow up unique?

On the other side, there are the things I definitely still don't understand. As most of you know, I frequent quite a few internet message boards, including a couple for "moms" now. The people I don't get are the ones who use screen names like "so-and-so's mommy." It's the same way that before I didn't get the women who used screen names like, "so-and-so's wife". Is that now the whole of your identity? Who were you before you were a mommy? Did you always know you wanted to be a mom, and that's the moment you've been living up to?

Maybe it's because I didn't get married until I was 34, and I didn't have my first kid until I was 37 that I grew a whole identity around myself first. All the other things came along way after it was established. It was really hard for me to change my name when I got married because personally and professionally I had become who I am with this one name. And now that I have a baby, it is definitely a struggle many days to "find myself" in here, but I refuse to only think of myself as "Claire's mommy."

I'm not necessarily knocking those people for being who they are with that as their identifier, but I am still having a hard time "getting it."

ps... Bill and Claudia -- Did you have that baby yet?! :D

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Four Months (two weeks ago)




So I'm about half a month late with the four month update, but it's only because so much has been going on.

First, let's get the numbers out of the way:

WT: 18lbs 13oz (99th percentile)
HT: 25.75in (95th percentile)
Head Circumference: 17in (94th percentile)

So, she's still a giant baby.

Other noteworthy things she has been doing (if you watch the videos below, clicking on the "high quality" link at the top right of the video makes them a lot clearer!):

- She has ben rolling from back to front on her own for the past several weeks.

- She started trying solid foods last week with a fair amount of success. Sweet potatoes are her favorite so far.

- She's trying very, very hard to crawl, but can't quite get everything to sync up yet.

There's tons more and it's very exciting for us, but for most people, it's probably just going to sound like the usual baby stuff.

We've also been having quite a bit of difficulty with bottle feeding, but that's a post for a different day, suffice to say that we may have started seeing some light at the end of that tunnel.

I know this wasn't a very substantial update, but hopefully I will find more time soon!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery



So you may all recall my nursery design, lovingly hand-painted by a certain crazy 8-months-pregnant lady:


We got a comment last night on the blog post that highlighted the nursery completion from two random internet people named Bill & Claudia:
Hi, We came across your design, and thought it was amazing!

I hope you dont mind, we liked it so much, we copied it for our nursery. We dont take credit for the creativity, but it did take a lot of work.

We love the way it turned out. your color scheme was beautiful for a girl. We are having a boy.

you can see our room here

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bng78/4006420092/

and also a time lapsed video of the room coming together here

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bng78/4005643961/

Furniture is arriving next week.
Anyway, thanks for the design idea. you're very creative!

Bill & Claudia


I am sincerely flattered!!! (And, holy cow, maybe I really could do this for a living!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Continuing Adventures of Giant Baby

We took Claire to the doctor last week for a weight check just to make sure everything was going okay. Here were her latest stats:

Height: 25.5 inches
Weight: 16 lbs 11 oz (!)
Head Circumference: 16.25 in

According to her pediatrician, at 3 months old Claire is the height of an average five-month-old and the weight of an average six-month-old. However, her height to weight ratio is right on, so there's nothing wrong with her; she's just developing way ahead of schedule.

Hopefully we will have more pictures and cute stories forthcoming, as Claire will be going to the zoo with her cousin Alex later this week. For now, here's my recent favorite image:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Three is a Magic Number


So Claire turned three months old on Saturday. Somehow, we've already made it through the first quarter of the first year of her life without breaking her. We've fallen into a pretty stable routine by this point which Claire only occasionally manages to completely destroy.

Latest developments:

- Her face is starting to evolve into what I imagine she will look like as a toddler. She is gonna be cute.

- She has discovered that those two things on the ends of her arms, in addition to being great chew toys, can also be used to grab various objects and move them into her mouth (to be used as great chew toys).

- She is "talking" up a storm. She has periods of up to an hour where she will just babble on and on in an excited manner. We have no idea what she's saying.

- My prediction is that her first words will be "I love you". She is trying so hard to say that now.

- She is getting HUGE. We bought her a bunch of sleepers less than a month ago that she has already outgrown. When you stand her up, she looks bigger than many 1 year olds I have seen.

- She is regularly laughing and smiling when she sees her parents. This especially pleases her father, who is very insecure and needs constant validation.

- Desmond continues to be interested in her, but she continues to ignore him.

- She enjoys looking at picture books, but her tolerance is short.

- Her two favorite games to play with Daddy are the "push" game, where she lays on her back in Daddy's lap and pushes him away from her with her little legs while laughing maniacally, and "zombie baby" where Daddy holds her standing up in his lap and leans her in so she can "bite" his head or neck while Dad says "Nooooo! Save me from the zombie baby!" and Claire laughs maniacally.

There are TONS more, but the bottom line is that Claire is now fully interactive, which seems more rewarding than when she was input only (well, she always output into her diaper, but now there's other stuff coming out of her too! and not just drool and spit up).

Tune in next month (if anyone's still reading this). Who knows what she'll do next!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Expectations


As we round the corner to three months, I think I'm starting to get the hang of this "mommy" thing. Claire has fallen into a nice little schedule, I'm back to work, she's sleeping through the night, she eats like a horse, and keeps the meltdowns to about 1 a day. And even if she does melt down, I feel like I can handle it now. I have enough tactical defenses in the arsenal to be able to manage almost any situation with -- dare I say it? -- aplomb.

Still, I wonder sometimes if anyone had told me it was going to be this hard, would I have gone through with it? I'm definitely past the stage where I'm daily wishing for my old life back and feeling like I made a huge mistake. And we have an "easy" baby by comparison -- it's not like she has colic, or some medical condition, or I'm trying to raise her by myself. How do other people manage and not lose their minds, (or their marriages?)

Or is that why there are so many screwed up people in the world?

One of our friends came over for a visit last week. She's a sweetheart, and we always refer to her as one of those people who prove that Southerners are not as dumb as some people like to make them out to be. She's a pretty thing, and she's got the thick country accent, but if you talk to her for 5 minutes you realize that the pretty face also has a sharp tongue and a quick wit!

But I digress... Our friend came to visit and she asked us each what surprised us the most about having a baby. I had to think about it quite a bit, and I don't think I could narrow it down to just one thing. So here I present:

Top 5 Things That Surprised Me the Most About Being a New Parent!

5. Just how much a baby who is almost 12 lbs at birth will eat!
They made us crazy in the hospital. First, when you've just given birth, you're producing nothing but tiny drops of colostrum out of your breasts. The milk doesn't really come in for about 3 days. So in our case, they told us to supplement with 10 milliliters of the formula that they provided. After two days of SCREAMING baby we realized the poor dear was just HUNGRY so we fed her as much as she wanted! We asked the pediatrician if that was okay, and he said, "Yes. Of course. If she's hungry, feed her!" They had also told us in the hospital that we should WAKE her every two hours to eat. The doctor said, "No. If she gets hungry, she'll wake up! Of course if she is going 4 or 5 hours without waking, then I would worry. But as long as she's giving hunger cues, she's fine."

So a word of advice: maybe I shouldn't trust *everything* they tell me in the hospital if I have any circumstances that seem out of the ordinary. I suppose, in retrospect, that they were telling us what to do based on advice given to people who have 8 lb babies. I mean, when do they ever see and 11.5 lb baby?! They have no experience with that. The nurses also kept remarking how fabulous I looked for a woman who just had a c-section, and what a nice patient I was. After everything I had been told, I was worried about not being able to walk around, or eat, or that I would be too sleepy to appreciate my new baby. And except for some serious aching when I got up or down, I was pretty much fine the next day as long as I had some pain meds. But I'm a really good healer. Oh well. Live and learn.

4. How excited everyone else is about this baby too!
We put all the cards from the baby shower up on the mantle a few days after the shower. Since then we've been adding to them, and adding to them, up to and including this week! That's like 4 full months of excitement. Even if everyone didn't send a gift, they at least sent a card. That said, we got an amazing number of gifts -- we haven't had to buy more than the "big things" for the most part. Craig was opening cards from relatives of his he hasn't heard from in forever. There is just so much excitement around a baby. It's heartwarming and kind of stunning. Even my "heartless" sister is showing off pictures of the baby to waiters!

3. How much I would miss being pregnant.
As grueling as the third trimester was, I'm already waxing nostalgic about it. Feeling that little life roll around in there, taking naps and having an excuse to just lay about... It was kind of nice! Everyone was so excited around me all the time. When you're pregnant, strangers smile at you, and people are courteous and understanding, and everyone's curious about how you're feeling and how the baby is doing. But now? I'm back to basically not existing! Bah! But seriously, I miss that expectant feeling, of waiting for the big moment, of the excitement to come. I hear it's not the same when you have baby #2 either...

2. Post partum depression is no joke, and actually pretty horrible.
A friend of mine told me that the first three months with a new baby are "harrowing", and I think that's the most appropriate adjective I've heard to describe the situation thus far.

I understand that some people get the "baby blues" after giving birth. That's a cute little name for a temporary bit of insanity that makes you weepy after you have a baby and realize that it's a huge responsibility and who in their right minds gave YOU a baby?! That is not post partum depression. Try crying all day at everything every day for weeks, not sleeping, not eating...and I think I already mentioned the overwhelming feeling of having made a huge, irreparable mistake.

Because I have a history of depression, I knew it might be an issue for me. At one point in my life, I went through every kind of anti-depressant known, and then all the new ones as they came out, looking for the right fit. Eventually, I "trained" myself to not need them at all, and have been living SSRI-free for several years now. But because I knew I was prone to chemical imbalance, I advised them to prescribe me something while I was in the hospital. In retrospect, because those SSRIs take at least 2 weeks to really start working, I should have started two weeks sooner.

If I had started sooner, I probably wouldn't have worried my mother to death for a few weeks (enough so that my parents went back to NJ and then came back a couple of weeks later to give us extra help.) I probably would have appreciated those "tiny baby" moments in the first week or two more, and now I wish I had, because I know they're never coming back...

So my advice is, if you know you may need medication, take the medication. It actually helped reduce my crying jags and insanity to only once a day, and now they're practically non-existent.

But the number one thing that surprised me --

1. How much love I would have for this tiny little person!

Yeah, it's cliche, but it's cliche for a reason!

Don't get me wrong, I'm good at love. I love my family, and my close friends and my pets. I've deeply loved some of my boyfriends, and of course I totally love my husband. But this? This is a whole new level bordering on obsession.

If she makes the littlest sound while she's waking up, I'm all over it like white on rice to see what she's doing because I'm just so EXCITED to see her! The little faces she makes are cuter than kittens in a fluffy cloud universe. If she's upset, her shrieks are like tiny daggers into my heart, tearing out my soul, and I would do anything -- ANYTHING -- to fix it and make her happy again! And just one "Hi mommy!" smile from her and I'm a puddle of melted ice creamy love. I had no idea it would be like this. Just one of those things that, like they say, you just don't even have the capacity to understand until it happens to you.

Would I do it all again? Yeah, I think I would. At least the second time I will be more prepared...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Two Months!


Wow... if the first month seemed to go fast, the second passed in the blink of an eye. Here's what baby Claire looks like now:



And here are some things she's been doing lately:

- She now smiles and laughs in recognition whenever she sees me or Kathy, especially first thing in the morning or seeing one of us after being away for a brief while.

- She bats and grasps at objects near her face.

- She can support her entire core unassisted from the waist up while being held. She can also support her own weight, but her balance leaves something to be desired, so she won't be walking quite yet (this week, at least).

- She can push herself up onto her arms and has started to make attempts at crawling, but can't quite get traction yet.

- She "talks" A LOT! Usually happy little coos and gurgles, but she occasionally mimics something we day using her own versions of words, like baby Hooked on Phonics. Her favorite one to imitate is Daddy's "I love you" which from her sounds like "AH LAAAAAAAAH PHBBBBBBT!" using the same speech inflections and volumes as me.

- She's holding steady at about 14 lbs and 23 inches long or so, but she's eating like she's about to grow again. She typically takes in about 6 ounces of milk every three to four hours!

- She is officially sleeping through the night at this point, usually going down for 6-7 hours, occasionally as long as 8. We are obviously thrilled. If we get less than six hours of sleep on a given night, it's definitely not Claire's fault.

- Both Kathy and I are back to work now, which is why updates have been sparse. Hopefully October will find me with more time to fill everyone in on things.

If any of you are still watching our blog for updates, thanks for your support and patience! We love you! More soon... promise.

Monday, August 3, 2009

One Month?


Claire is one month old today.

Wow.

I mean, really... where did the time go? It seems like literally only yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital. A lot's happened, though, despite an astounding lack of blog updates.

- She's stopped screaming. The worst we get now is an occasional bout of crying which we're usually able to stop by picking her up. She gets fussy when hungry and grunty when gassy, but nothing like what we experienced during that first week.

- We went to Target! With the baby in tow. As ridiculous as that sounds, it felt like the biggest accomplishment to us after days and days of feeling chained to the house.

- She now turns her head toward the sound of Kathy's and my voices, and smiles in response to hearing or seeing us.

- She's still very regularly sleeping 4-5 hours, especially at night.

I'm sure there's more stuff, and we owe everyone an updated picture, but for now I'd say it's an accomplishment that the three of us are still alive! I can't wait to see what adventures month two holds for us.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mother Nature has a twisted sense of humor


I'm going to give it to you straight:

Breastfeeding is HARD and anyone who tells you it isn't is either deluded or just a boldfaced liar.

It doesn't help that we had an 11 lb. baby. From the get-go I've been behind the 8-ball. In the hospital her blood sugar was low so they recommended we supplement her with formula right away because colostrum probably wasn't going to do it enough to keep her out of the NICU. And since then, my poor breasts have been fighting an uphill battle.

More than one person has made the joke in the past, based on my well-endowedness in the breast area, that my babies would never starve! No one apparently accounted for the fact that I would have an enormous baby...

It's a constant battle of supply and demand.

We went to a lactation consultant yesterday though, and she said that we're doing everything right. The main concern is just to work hard to keep the supply up. So I'm trying things like fenugreek and "Mother's Milk tea" to help too.

I was able to finally buy some nursing bras at the lactation center. They are cup size "G." Yes, G as in "ginormous."

Cruel joke number two courtesy of Mother Nature:

I'm already starting to forget how tough pregnancy was, especially at the end. It's all I can do to remember the trouble I had doing chores while 9 months pregnant, scrubbing the toilet and the shower with a giant baby-filled midsection in the way. I'm forgetting how hard it was just to roll over in bed, or get in and out of the car, or, well...do pretty much anything with the world's most achy breaky pelvis. My brain is starting to think, "Oh well, maybe it wasn't that bad?"

And this is why the human race has persisted.

40 ml. to Freedom


Q: How much does an 11 pound baby eat?

A: A lot. More than you think. More than you've heard. More than your friend's baby ate. More than your baby ate. More than logic dictates anything that small should eat. Way more than 40 ml. but I just can't pass up a good Sublime reference.


Here's what our baby is like (apart from being adorable, cuddly, sweet-smelling, soft and occasionally sleepy). For those of you who've seen LOST, you'll get this analogy. The rest of you can probably skip ahead a bit (as in this entire entry).

You know in Season 2 of LOST, how Desmond lives in the hatch for three years pushing the button every 108 minutes? And at the two-minutes-to-go mark, he starts getting the friendly cash register beep sound signaling that it's time to input the numbers? And at ten-seconds-to-go, the friendly beep turns into an ominous buzzer type sound? And when the clock runs out, those freaky hieroglyphics pop up and there's that something-wicked-this-way-comes sound of a horrible, horrible thing that's just about to happen? And then the world ends?

Our baby is like that. She sleeps (when she sleeps) for periods of up to four hours at a time. When she wakes up, she's all smiles, making the occasional "I need to eat" gesture. Do not let this fool you. Get as much milk or formula into her as quickly as possible. If you do not, within two minutes, the sleepy-smiley baby will turn into what would sound to the untrained ear to be a vaguely annoyed baby. You do not know how close to the end of the world you are at this point. You now have less than one minute to get a bottle into that mouth or it's



time. If you ignore the previous two warnings, she will begin to let out such an ungodly shriek, you will swear that someone has just set upon a pillowcase full of kittens with a blowtorch. If she is anywhere near your head, your ears will ring for a period of several minutes to an hour. This shrieking will continue until you place a bottle in her mouth. If you're able to get the bottle into her mouth within about fifteen seconds, the screaming may subside and you may, in fact, have bought yourself 108 more minutes of peace. If you do not, the world will end. Which is to say, you will spend the next three to six hours trying to get her calmed down and back to sleep.

I maintain that God sent us this particular baby because He thinks we can handle it. But right now, after two weeks I feel like it's already been three years. If John Locke showed up right now, I wouldn't wait to see if he got the snowman riddle correct. I'd be on my sailboat immediately.

Just kidding, I love my daughter to death and most of this entry has been exaggerated for comic effect. Except the screaming. Oh, god, the screaming. I don't think I came close to doing it justice.

It's not all doom and gloom, though. Stay tuned for our next exciting installment wherein I detail Claire's first bath and how she ended up dirtier when she came out of the tub than when she went in!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Birth Story


This is a long one, so get ready!

Thursday, July 2, we went to the doctor to have the aforementioned NST and ultrasound. We had the same ultrasound tech we had for the last two appointments, which was nice because she remembered us.

We were really excited to see Baby Girl again! It was a little difficult to get all the measurements the tech needed to make an accurate assessment of our baby's size because of the way she was positioned, but she managed. Finally she brought up the calculated results, and said, "You guys are going to kill me..." And I said, "Why?" And she said,

"I have this baby measuring at 11 lbs. 3 oz."

After we picked our jaws up off the floor, we got some printouts of the heartbeat and a one-more-time verification that we were having a girl (!) and we went to the NST. It was uneventful, thankfully. And then we waited to see the midwife.

When the midwife came in (she was the same one we saw last time who formulated a "plan" because I didn't want anyone else to try to change course) she had quite a look of astonishment on her face. She immediately stated that because of Baby Girl's size she was going to have to counsel me on having a primary c-section. Not only would it be inadvisable to try push out an 11 lb. baby, we'd have no idea if I'd be successful and if I wasn't, I'd end up needing a c-section anyway. It would also be very stressful on the baby, and could cause shoulder dystocia or other birth complications. I was okay with the c-section, and I agreed that it would be the safest course of action for all involved. After a few phone calls to the hospital scheduler, we made arrangements to have the procedure on Sunday. Finally, we knew for sure when Baby Girl would be here! The midwife checked me for dilation/effacement but said that nothing was going on still, so at least we had a plan.

My mom and dad had come to our house a couple of days before to stay with us until the baby was born, so we went home to tell them of the news. Craig called and let his family all know. We made plans and waited.

Friday morning, July 3rd, I woke up around 5:30 am (like usual) and stumbled off to the bathroom. When I wiped I discovered I had lost a large mucus plug. I had lost one on Wednesday as well, but this new one was bloody. I didn't panic because I knew that was something I could expect to happen. I felt a little crampy, like I had light menstrual cramps, but it seemed like nothing to be alarmed about, so I went back to bed.

The rest of the day, I had light bleeding, like a spotty period. And then the cramping started getting more intense. It was very low in my pelvis, and at some point I thought I should start trying to time how long it was in between moments of real discomfort. When I timed it I realized they were almost exactly 20 minutes apart. Then they were 14. Then they were 10. Then they were 15 again. Not exactly regular, so I figured I could just keep an eye on it.

I went outside to talk to mom and dad for a while on the back patio. When I got up about 15 minutes later, I had a sudden urge to use the bathroom. I felt some kind of warm "leakage" but when I checked, it looked just like a tablespoon or so of the same kind of discharge I had been having all day, or maybe just a little thinner. I thought maybe it was just an effect from sitting in the sun too long. I went and took a shower. When I got out, I laid on the bed and started timing the cramping again. 14 minutes. 8 minutes. 10 minutes...

At this point I was starting to get concerned that I hadn't stopped bleeding all day, and Craig shared my worries. But because (in typical fashion) it was after the doctor's office hours already, I had to call and speak to the triage nurse. While we waited for a call back, Craig ordered some pizza for dinner for everyone. The nurse called me back, and I explained the situation. She said she would get in contact with the on-call doctors at the hospital and let me know what they wanted to do. But in the meantime, she told me, don't drink or eat anything. So much for my delicious barbecue chicken pizza...

When the nurse called back she said that the midwife (the same one who saw us the day before) was on call and she wanted me to come down and just get checked out to be on the safe side. So Craig and I left mom and dad to the pizza, and went down to the hospital to get me checked out.

I had a hard time getting out of the car at the hospital because of the pain. They were waiting for us at the front desk, and took us to the triage room. I got undressed and into a gown, hooked up to monitors, and we waited. The nurse said, sure enough, I was having contractions! When the midwife came in, she checked my dilation (3 cm!) and said my water was broken! They did a little litmus paper-type test just to make sure, and then said, "Okay, you're having this baby tonight!"

Whaaaaat?!

And then a flurry of activity began all around me. Suddenly there were 4 or 5 nurses in the room, each doing some thing to get me ready to go to surgery! I told everyone they had to wait a minute while I called my parents so I could get them to the hospital asap. We also hadn't brought anything with us because we were expecting I would just come down to get checked and then we'd go right home. I had no cell phone reception, so one of the nurses tried to help me use the hospital phone to call my dad. Meanwhile, I had a nurse on my left trying to (unsuccessfully) insert an IV catheter in my arm. I was trying to tell my dad what was going on while she was doing it, and I'm sure it came out with a lot of "OW OW OW" in it but she just wouldn't stop while I was trying to talk! When she finally realized it wasn't working, and went for attempt number two I asked her to just hold up one minute while I finished on the phone before she attacked me again. Honestly, the pain of her trying to get that done was probably the worst thing about the whole experience!!!

With my parents called and everyone getting me ready, they wheeled me to a suite where Craig was already waiting for me. They had decked him out in scrubs by now (he looked so cute!) and he had a look of nervous excitement on his face. The flurry of activity continued around us, until the doctor came in. He and the midwife were the same team that were originally scheduled for our c-section on Sunday, so he told me I messed up because I was supposed to bring him an omelet on Sunday morning!

I looked at the clock, and it was 9:45 pm. They said they were trying to get me into surgery by 10:15 pm. The doctor explained the procedure, explained about the anesthesia, made sure I was comfortable, and went to get ready. He said in less than an hour from then, our baby girl would be here!

The nurse anesthetist came in and introduced herself, and explained what to expect from the spinal. And then we waited until they said they were going to wheel me out to the OR. My parents didn't make it there in time to see me beforehand, and the nurses told Craig he would have to wait to come into the OR until the spinal was done, but they would come get him.

They rolled my bed into the OR, and asked me if I could get up on the table myself, which I was able to do. I had to sit on the edge of the table and wait. At this point I started shaking, which they told me was normal because of the temperature of the room and the IV fluids I was receiving, so they got me a warm blanket. When the anesthetist came in, they told me to drop my head down, slope my shoulders and arch my back, and that the worst part was going to be the injection he had to do to numb the area. Sure enough, that thing burned like crazy, but they told me to count down from five and it would be done. I did, but it came out like, "Five OW four OW three OW..." And then a few minutes later I felt the slightest little nerve pinch which must have been from the spinal catheter, and then we were done! My legs started getting heavy, and they laid me back on the table.

From then on I let them put me into position (like I had a choice!) and waited for the anesthesia to work. My feet started disappearing, which was really, really uncomfortable to me because I wanted to move them so badly! They put up the big blue sheets so I couldn't see my bottom half. Then they gave me a nose tube of oxygen to breathe, and warned me that my chest would feel heavy, and it may feel hard to breathe, but that was normal. They let Craig join me and he sat by my head. I asked him to rub my hand because my fingers were tingly, maybe from the oxygen.

The doctor came in and they confirmed my name and what I was there for. He said he was pinching my abdomen and asked me if I could feel it, and I said, "No." I really couldn't feel anything! Not even pressure of what they were doing. Hooray for spinal anesthesia! And then they got started...

The rest of the procedure happened quickly, and it was kind of a blur because I felt so lightheaded. I remember them saying they saw me have an enormous contraction while I was on the table, and they couldn't believe how pushed out my abdomen got! I remember them having to get out footstools to stand on so they would be at the right angle where they could deliver baby girl. Then they asked Craig if he wanted to watch her be born, and with uncertainty in his voice he quavered, "Uh...okay?" and peeked a little over the sheet. (The nurse told him if he needed to sit, his chair was still behind him!)

And then she was out! They asked me if I wanted to see her and I said yes, so they lowered the sheet a bit and passed her in front of me. I saw a bluish, wet, baby-shaped mass fly by, and then the nurses had her.

Then I heard her! The lungs on this child! She was certainly breathing, but she was not happy about it. Craig was back and forth trying to watch them with her, and worrying about me. They let him cut her cord. Everyone exclaimed that she had a lot of hair, and they were all eagerly taking bets on her weight. Everyone knew she was no 7 lb. baby for sure!

11 lbs 11 oz! 5300g. What a big baby! I'm so glad I had that c-section!

After that I believe the nurses had gotten my dad's camera from the waiting room, so there were pictures to be taken. They put her close to my head, and Craig huddled in, and I was crying from the excitement and the relief and WOW look at that beautiful baby we made! I could hear them still putting me back together on the other side of the sheet, but I was otherwise mentally occupied...

They let Craig take her back to the room while they finished up my stitches, and then they helped me onto another gurney and told me how great I had done. When they wheeled me back into our room, I was exhausted. I was still shaking from the anesthesia, but I was ready to hold my daughter!

My family came in. My parents were there as well as my younger sister and her husband. Everyone was excited to meet our new little baby, Claire.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Welcome, Claire Marie Collin!

Claire Marie Collin was born at 10:38 PM on July 3rd, 2009. She weighed in at a whopping 11lbs, 11oz and was 19.5 inches long. She and Kathy are both doing very well.





Note: we have tons more to share... when we get a free moment, there should be a few more stories forthcoming.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

One more thing


While Craig didn't leave me much room for writing anything less than: OMG WE HAD A BABY! (we didn't, yet, by the way) with his last post, there's a few things still on my mind that I wanted to write about...

First, the appointment we went to with the midwife two weeks ago. It was on June 18th, and it was with the same midwife we saw at the start of our first pregnancy. Oh, the surprise and excitement and confusion and elation we felt at that appointment!

The amazingly coincidental date of that appointment?

June 18, 2008. Exactly one year later to the day, we were seeing the same midwife, but this time our excitement has been a long time building, and we are still praying every day for a much more satisfying resolution...

Second, the appointment we had last Thursday. We saw a different midwife, but one we had seen before, who we like very much. She's warm, and positive, and seems to really care. She could sense my disappointment at still being pregnant, and see how uncomfortable I am, and was gracious enough to make me a deal. She said that if the baby still wasn't here by this upcoming Thursday, she would do some fetal screenings: an(other) NST, and an ultrasound to measure the baby, amniotic fluid, etc. If they determine I am carrying a large baby, like 10 or 11 lbs., we will make plans for a c-section. If she is less than that, the midwife said she is confident I can deliver the baby without surgery, but we will do some things to start the process moving along. She said she normally doesn't do that sort of thing before 41 weeks, but she'd be willing to make the exception for me at 40 weeks and 4 days! Whee!

So here we are at 40w2d, and I am mis.er.a.ble. I'm in awful pain no matter what I do. My ankles are a memory. I'm exhausted from lack of sleep and not being able to even sit comfortably. I want to be done with work and just rest until I have this baby... But no. She's "stuck" in there and shows no signs of wanting to come out. And I still have to work, and I still can't sleep, and I still have chores, and we've been doing our "homework", and WHY WON'T I GO INTO LABOR??!!

I got to thinking about it, and maybe my body just likes being pregnant. The way it hung on to the first pregnancy even though that baby didn't have a chance, and now this baby being overdue... It's got to be those sturdy peasant genes again or something.

I am trying to be positive, but I'm feeling really low at the moment. It's hormones, or fatigue, or something, but I'm crying all the time today.

Being that this is the last day of June, I suppose we are now having a July baby. Surprise!

I just want her to be here so badly I can't stand it! Come on, Baby Girl!!!

We are all packed and ready. We are just doing little things now to pass the time. Like Craig said, it's like waiting at the top of the roller coaster hill.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Eleventh Hour


You know when you ride a roller coaster? That initial climb up the long, straight chain to the top of the first steep drop? The coaster creeps up, *clack* *clack* *clack* and you feel your center of gravity shift as the first car creeps over the hump and starts its decent. You hold your breath... and the car stops. You're hanging there, waiting to go, and nothing's happening.

That's where we're at right now. The nursery's done. The clothes and supplies are bought, washed, assembled and put away. The classes have all been taken. The preparations have all been made. Everything's ready for the party but the Guest of Honor. (We've even pretty much picked out a name for her... we're not really superstitious either, but we've been seeing it in a lot of places in a "good omen" kind of way. We're still not telling, though. Wait for the birth announcement!)

It's hard to keep things in perspective at this point... to remember that our due date hasn't even come yet (but soon! Sunday or Monday depending on who you ask). It feels like we've been waiting for this baby forever. And in a way, we have. With the first pregnancy, and this subsequent one, we've been working on our kid for over a year. And in some ways, it didn't seem all that long, considering. But now? Now every day seems to stretch into an eternity, and two weeks from now might as well be December 25th.

But we're still here. And we're still managing. And we still haven't had the baby. But soon enough! As my boss told me the other day: no woman's ever been pregnant for three years straight.

He's right, I know, but it sure doesn't feel like it sometimes.

Here's to the next entry being the news everyone's waiting to hear, and here's to it coming soon!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My First Peeve


I think I've been a pretty easygoing preggo. I don't care if people touch my stomach. I show everyone my stretch marks. I don't care if you say I look huge, or I don't look huge, or that my ankles look like they've been injured. I don't care if you constantly ask me how I'm feeling, or if I've had that baby yet, or message me once a day at work to see if I'm still around. See? I'm laid back.

I do however mind when people ask me when I'm going to "pop."

I'm not a balloon. This is not air in here. Nor am I a blood-filled tick, or a zit. Yuk. All of those things bring up really unpleasant, Alien-movie connotations for one about to give birth, believe me. I am NOT going to "pop." I am having a baby. I can think of about 30 euphemisms that annoy me way less than "pop."

So please, refrain from making comments that remind me my abdomen looks like Jiffy Pop when you take it off the stove. (No, I will not don a layer of tin foil.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

(Final?) Nursery Update

Today marks two auspicious occasions. First, it is exactly two weeks from our baby's projected due date (though between you and me, I'm still hoping she's early). It also marks my triumphant return to the baby blog. I've been busy... perhaps busier than I have been at any other point in my left, except maybe college. Wait... especially college. There's no way to BS one's way through preparing to have a baby.

Let's turn back the clock several weeks (queue the "LOST" flashback noise). I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of our crib, hoping and praying that it wouldn't be broken or defaced in transit like EVERY OTHER MAJOR ONLINE PURCHASE I MAKE EVER!

Sadly, the crib was no exception.


If I were ordering something where a flaw like the one above couldn't potentially kill my only child, I could overlook it. However, in this case, logic dictated that we order a replacement. Kathy got on the phone with the manufacturer, and eight to ten business days later, we had our replacement. Thankfully, this one was undamaged.

I set to work at once putting the crib together. By this point, we'd made most of our other baby gear purchases, so we set to work decorating it at once. Here's a fairly detailed shot of our bedding (decorative only... we know that we need to take the crib bumper and blanket out of the crib when she's born... it's only there for show right now). Ignore the crib's position in the room... it's moved a few times since then.


We also bought and installed new rods, tiebacks and curtains, which you can see on the right hand side of the next picture. The rods have little pink glass spheres on the ends, and the curtains are an iridescent brown fabric, in case the pictures don't convey that.

Also visible in the picture below are the ubiquitous Diaper Genie II Elite and one of two refinished (by yours truly) and re-hardwared dressers. This one has been re-purposed into a changing table, complete with soft pink cover. Our goal here was to keep the actual pink to a minimum. Hopefully we've succeeded.


With the help of my Father-in-law, I hauled one of our purple living room armchairs up the stairs in lieu of a glider or rocker. It's comfortable and goes with the decor, so why buy something new, right? The lamp in the background was an unexpected $19 find at Target. If you can't tell, the bulb covers are several shades of pink, mulberry, brown and white. Finally, a small shelf for nick knacks (not quite completely filled up) can be seen here.



The other dresser, the first one's longer, shorter doppelganger, resides against the front wall of the room. You can see a lamp here which matches the bedding on the crib, as well as a mirror I'm not completely happy with yet. The one thing you can't see on this wall is an old IKEA table that's been painted pink with brown legs. Once a brown stripe has been painted around it, this will be our in-room internet access... something to do when we're up at all hours taking care of the baby.


This past weekend, my awesome brother-in-law Aaron came over and helped us wire the nursery for overhead lighting (90% of the rooms in this house don't have any, an issue we're out to remedy, one room at a time) and install a ceiling fan to help protect our little bundle of joy from the oft-worried-about (by me) SIDS.


So that's basically it. Aside from hanging a few photos, the nursery is complete! It only took several months of backbreaking work, but I'm sure our daughter will one day appreciate that her parents took the time to create for her a space that she could enjoy and continue to grow into. She'd just better not let her mom catch her hanging posters on that circle wall!

More updates soon, I promise!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nada


(I'm liking the title of this post for its multiple-language meanings...)

Went to the doctor yesterday, and he checked my cervix. No dilation, no effacement! Rats. The doctor gave us "homework" to do if we want to start moving things along though. I'm also going to start using evening primrose oil to try to help. It would be a little early for my mom and dad if she came before next Sunday, but it would be okay anyway. I think we're ready!

He also said she grew when he measured my abdomen! I gained something crazy like 8 lbs in the last week! That can't all be her, but my ankles and calves are so freakishly swollen that I know I'm also retaining a bunch of water. The doctor was nice though, and said that my ankles weren't even the worst he'd seen that day (no matter how bad I feel about them.) :P

She's still moving around frequently but her movements are much less "kicky." She's making a large lump on my upper right side which I'm thinking is her back or her butt. Every once in a while she PUSHES it out slowly but hard, and I end up with a giant, weirdly lopsided tum! When she does it, it's fairly painful (I've got a whole new set of stretchmarks from it!) and we say she's "cubbing out."

In other news, our friend from the VA Board (where Craig and I met) drew this lovely pic for Craig's birthday on Wednesday:


Thanks, mb!! :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Baby Pool


Not the kind you swim in, and we're not having a water birth or anything...

It's the guessing game kind, where you can enter a guess for the newborn's date of birth, time, weight, length, and a few other features. I found a simple-yet-nice site created by a guy who was having his own kid and wanted to get his family involved... He's created it for free, and kept it free, which is pretty cool in this day and age.

The link is here, but also in the title of this post, and in the link section on the right.

So the person who guesses the closest wins! What do you win? I have no idea yet, other than bragging rights, of course, but it could be fun! Craig and I will make our own guesses offline, since we are the keepers of inside information...

Enjoy!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Terms of Endearment


Ah, 37 weeks. I've carried this baby to term! Yay me! She is welcome to come out any time she likes now, except we're hoping she'll wait until after at least next weekend. We have many unfinished tasks...

My car is currently in the shop having its AC repaired. If the baby comes before that's done, we don't have a vehicle to bring her home in, as the seat belts in the back of Craig's car don't work (and even if they did, I don't think we could fit a car seat back there.) Contingency plans: we took the car seat base out of my car before taking it to the shop. Plan A is Mom & Dad's vehicle. Plan B is some other visitor's car. Plan C is rent a car.

Wednesday is Craig's birthday. It would be more convenient if we didn't have 2 people in this house sharing a birthday week. (June is going to be one hell of a month. Anniversary, Craig's birthday, Baby Girl's birthday, Desmond's birthday...)

We have a "preview" appointment at a pediatrician on Wednesday. It would be nice if we met one we like before she comes.

I have another prenatal appointment Thursday morning. (If she comes before then, obviously it won't be necessary!)

I'm supposed to get my hair cut Thursday. I would like to have "good hair" for all the pictures that will be taken post-birth.

And lastly on Sunday, I am going to the church for a pre-baptism class that they require of first-time parents. They only have them a couple of times a month, so if I didn't go this time, it would be a pain to reschedule.

Not to mention that the house is a mess, and I feel like we have so much to sort out still.

And I haven't even packed my hospital bag yet. That's a daunting task. I made lists for it though, and they are looong. You'd swear I'm going on a month's vacation. However, I just compiled it with every conceivable thing from every suggestion list I could find out there, so it will definitely require paring.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nonevents


At week 36, it seems like it's all over but the waiting, now.

From the pages of "Duh" magazine:

Babies are expensive!!!

Craig and I spent the last couple of weeks shopping for things we didn't have yet, and WOW -- have we spent a lot of money! Thank God for our nice tax return this year. I don't know how other people do it.

I tried to rationalize it this way:
Imagine if you took in a refugee who had nothing. Imagine what it would take to outfit this person with everything they needed: clothing, food, toiletries, etc. Then consider that they are a special-needs person and also require lots of specialized equipment to get around and just for day-to-day living. What would that cost? Probably more, actually, than what it costs to outfit a baby. (Baby clothes are cheap in comparison to adult clothes!)

We went to the doctor yesterday for a checkup. Baby Girl was kicking around just fine. Nice strong heartbeat, still measuring on track. They had me get in the stirrups to do a Group B Strep culture. Yes, they already found GBS in my urine at that 10 week or so exam, but he said it doesn't hurt to do it again at 36 weeks. He didn't want to check my cervix this time because he said it's too early. But after feeling my abdomen he said he thinks she's already facing downward, so that's a good sign!

My pelvis feels like it's coming apart, and my lower back is killing me most of the time. I feel positively geriatric. What was I thinking having my first baby at 37 years old?? I'm so jealous of the under-30 crowd at this point. I'm sure I would have had a much easier time if I had started earlier.

Physically, anyway. Because then the logic-brain kicks in and reminds me I was in absolutely no place financially or emotionally to handle taking care of a tiny human when I was younger. I really needed the time to figure things out about who I am and what I wanted to do with my life before I decided to have a kid. Not to mention the fact that my traditional sensibilities wouldn't have allowed me to have a baby without a decent father in the picture for her. I kept to the plan:
1. Financial independence
2. Career stability
3. Marriage
4. House
5. Baby

It just took a really long time to get there. But I'm glad I did it this way. Would I do it this way again? Probably. But I would like to have known then what I know now. I would have gotten here much sooner.

And speaking along those lines, and of nonevents...

Today is our third wedding anniversary. Craig and I have neglected to get each other anything. I think we both just sort of forgot with all the baby excitement, and it's fallen by the wayside. We'll probably just go out to dinner and have a nice relaxing evening at home. I told him his present is that I'm making this baby for him. And he says that HE made the baby. So I guess it was a team effort, and that makes for a nice anniversary gift, indeed.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Baby Shower!


Ooops -- the news of this is two weeks old! LOL

My sisters threw our baby shower for us. We knew that it was going to happen, because I had to provide a list of people we would like to invite, but they didn't tell us where or when it was going to be...

My parents came into town for Mother's Day, so my younger sister, Christina, proposed that we all get together at Dave & Busters, where her husband takes her every year for (step)Mother's Day. I wasn't suspecting anything really, except that we don't usually do anything for Mother's Day, so that seemed odd. But since my parents were around, I left the mental work on it at that.

We took the drive up there, and Christina met us at the door, and led us to a back room...

(Holy crap! Am I smuggling Thanksgiving turkeys in that shirt, or what??)

We couldn't believe all the people that came -- from as close as the street where we live, to as far as 3 hours away! (*not counting my parents who came from Jersey.)



The mom-to-be and grandmom-to-be were made to feel like guests of honor:


Being that I'm part Italian (thanks Mom!) my parents decided to show off their sense of humor:


There was good food, (Mexican buffet! yum!) and Christina made this AMAZING panda cake!


Of course there were gifts:








After food and conversation, everyone got to go play games in the arcade (which, imho, is way better than the typical stupid degrading shower games!) So a good time was had by all.

We really enjoyed seeing everyone (what may be) one last time before the baby is born, because who knows how long it's going to be before we see everyone again!!? We were stressing that we would like visitors after she's here because we will probably be welcoming of adult human conversation and activities once we get the hang of newborn care...

(All pics were courtesy of my dear brother-in-law, Aaron:)

(as Craig brought our camera, but then with all the excitement, we neglected to actually take any pictures!)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nursery Update #3


This weekend (and every weeknight last week) was spent doing nothing but painting the nursery. By Kathy, that is. As you'll recall from last week's installment, I'd taken myself out of the running due to the precision required at this point. In the meantime, I tried to take care of the housework, yard work, bringing water and supplies to Kathy, keeping the AC at a tolerable level for an 8-month-pregnant lady (hint: lower) and sanding and painting one of two pieces of furniture for the baby's room.

Sound like a lot? It was nothing compared to the work Kathy put in on the nursery.

As you'll recall, last week found her filling in the various circles she'd plotted out on the wall. This week, she continued to do that:




And continued to do that, adding three coats of paint to each circle...




Once all of that was completed, she began to hand paint a dark brown outline around each circle, starting in the bottom right-hand corner:



And continuing leftward...



I can't even begin to describe to you how tedious and painstaking this process was. She literally free handed each circle with a small paintbrush. From morning until bedtime on Saturday and most of today, she continued to work, until everything was outlined.




She's now in the process of painting the baseboard to cover the over painting. I told her that after this, she's not allowed to exert herself for the next two months.

Stay tuned for our next harrowing installment, wherein our hero (me) attempts to haul various pieces of furniture up a flight of stairs by himself.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lazy baby!


Last week I had to go for what they call a fetal non-stress test, or NST.

Baby Girl had been really active over the weekend. We were painting the nursery and running errands, and she was kicking away like normal. Monday we went to see the doctor (another doctor this time; I think we may have seen all of the midwives by now) and everything was measuring on track, and her heartbeat was in the 130s. But the appointment was first thing in the morning, and the whole rest of the day, I hardly felt her move at all. By that night I was getting concerned. We listened to her heartbeat on the Doppler, but it was harder to find than usual. I thought maybe she was turned around backwards and I just couldn't feel her like I had been, but I was still concerned. I told Craig that if she wasn't back to normal by Tuesday, I would call the doctors' office.

Tuesday was a busy work day in the morning, but I tried to get her moving like usual with a nice, cold, sweet, chocolatey Carnation Instant Breakfast. She wasn't having it. Barely a kick or two. So I called the doctor's office and one of the nurses called me back. She asked a bunch of questions about what I had tried, and offered that as the baby gets bigger I may not feel her move as much because she has less room to do so. But she said what they could do is have me come down and hook me up to the monitors and see how it goes, so that's what I did.

It was easy enough to do. They sat me in a big recliner (like the one in the lab they sit you in if you're going to pass out!) and hooked up a fetal heart rate monitor and a contraction monitor. She had a hard time placing the heart rate monitor because someone didn't like the belt it was attached to, and squirmed away more than once. Then the nurse gave me a button to push every time I felt the baby move. And we waited, and watched the machine slowly churn out a roll of paper with squiggly lines on it.

At one point Baby Girl was being kind of sluggish so the nurse said we could try the buzzer. She showed me what the buzzer felt like on my leg before she put it on my stomach, and sure enough it produced a small BZZZT and a vibration. When she activated it on my stomach, Baby Girl JUMPED. I think we may have startled her! Poor little muffin, just trying to get a nap in there, with us bugging her, hee hee.

After the test was over the nurse told me everything looked fine, but they were going to have me see the doctor anyway. Coincidentally, the doctor I ended up seeing is the same one we're going to go see next week. He was really nice, and told me again that everything seemed fine, and he measured me. He said that he is all for someone coming down and doing an NST if there is a concern because it's so easy and non-invasive to do, and it also lets everyone be reassured. So he was glad I called and decided to come down if I was worried, and told me to feel free to do so at any time.

So yes, Baby Girl was just fine, she was just having a couple of lazy days. She's been pretty active since. This week (31 weeks!) I've noticed that I feel her pretty much all the time in some way. It's a lot of rolling or small movements, but I have a feeling that with much less space to move around in, she's pushing against me more and doing less floating.

It makes me happy and excited every time she moves. Even last night when she had her foot square up in my ribs. It's totally worth it to know she's okay in there, and that she'll be on the outside with us soon!

(Also, for the record, I forgot to mention that the results of my glucose tolerance test were just fine, and I do NOT have gestational diabetes! Yay!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Nursery Update #2


Okay, so first let me start off by apologizing yet again for the delay between blogs. With the timer ticking down and less than nine weeks remaining until the baby is born, we're really starting to feel the crunch. That said, we've done quite a bit of work on the nursery over the past couple of weeks and I thought you might like to see how it's going.

Two Saturdays ago, we painted the ceiling and taped it up, along with the windows, in preparation for painting the walls:




The following day, Kathy and I painted around the edges and outlets (I'm providing these photos for reference, because it's harder to see the color in the later pictures):




Finally, we painted the rest of the room:




Very astute viewers, upon clicking the last image, will notice the very faint outlines of a few circles drawn on the wall. There's a very good reason for this. Kathy created detailed top-down plans and elevations of each wall in Visio, which we used to plan the layout of the room (with scale drawings of all the furniture). She also used the elevation of one particular wall to plan a pretty intricate pattern of interlocking circles. This allowed her to plan the radius of each circle as well as each section's respective color (you will see how this plays out in the next nursery update). Here are two of the plans (one showing size, the other color):



In the background, you can also see one of the individual pieces of string she used to draw the circles. Each one had the radius marked in red tape to avoid confusion.

Finally, once all of the circles were drawn, Kathy laid down the first coat of the lightest color. I didn't go near the project at this point (except to spot the pregnant lady on the stepladder) because my painting hand is not nearly as steady.




So that's where we're at right now... I know Kathy's working on another blog entry as we speak and I know there will be more coming soon from my end. Sorry again for the delay, but we'll try to keep the news flowing as we get it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back to School


Note: As so often happens in our shared life, the pendulum has swung back the other way. Kathy is now absolutely buried at work, so I will endeavour to take over the blogging duties in her stead. This means more big words (but also hopefully more jokes [not that quantity in this case is synonymous with quality]). Annnnyway...

Last night, we found ourselves attending our very first Childbirth Preparation class at the hospital (or rather, a small Maternity Education building right next to the hospital). For me, the jury was still out as to whether this would be a worthwhile experience. I was 1 for 2 with these courses after the (imo) abysmal CPR/Safety class and the amazing (again, imo) Boot Camp for New Dads.

We shuffled into the room, blankets and pillows in tow, along with about 6 other couples who were all interesting and different in their own ways. The nurse who would be officiating the class handed out name tags and collected fees. Then she addressed the class, giving us her name, home telephone and cellular numbers ("Call me any time if you have a question") and telling us, "I've been in nursing longer than any of you have been alive." A bold statement, but it turned out to be true.

She used no notes or textbook (she didn't need them). She'd been helping deliver babies since the 60's, she told us, and explained all that had changed over the years. She offered many colorful anecdotes, plenty of advice (always backed up with a sound medical rationale) and more than a little humor. This lady was amazing. I can tell you with no exaggeration that as of right now, she is the only nurse I want at the hospital when Kathy delivers.

She talked about the roles of the husband during labor (busting most of us guys' chops as she went along), what the actual process of labor would be like (long and not a lot of fun), and gave us an overview of what to expect from the class in the coming weeks. And like that, two and a half hours had passed before we knew it.

With just over two months of pregnancy left to go, it feels like we're finally entering the home stretch. Probably because we are.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Boot(ie) Camp


Regular followers of this blog will recall that my last experience with a childbirth prep class (Infant CPR and Safety) fell somewhat short of my expectations, to put it nicely. So I wasn't exactly looking forward to my return trip to the hospital (solo this time) for a "Boot Camp for New Dads" class. The previous class had felt like a disaster to me, despite being taught by a licensed (and female) medical professional. However, in the interest of learning everything I possibly could about this baby and how to take care of it, I decided to enter this one with an open mind.

It was hard not to picture a class called "Boot Camp" to be full of false bravado, b.s. stereotype-riddled misinformation and macho posturing. When I saw the "no girls allowed"-style literature I was handed upon entering the classroom, my fears seemed to be becoming a reality. However, I was to be pleasantly surprised.

The class essentially consisted of an instructor and three "veteran dads" (men with their own first children, ranging in age from 12 weeks to 6 months, in tow; they'd all been through the program themselves while their wives were pregnant) addressing any and all concerns we had about becoming fathers (and being good ones, especially in the shadow of our own [for better and/or worse] dads). Turns out the "no girls allowed" thing, more than being some sort of facade, was really an opportunity for all of us to say what was on our minds without fear of being judged by anyone who might already have their misgivings about letting us anywhere near her baby.

The instructor was a youngish guy who I instantly liked for several reasons:
1. He bore more than a passing resemblance to my brother-in-law Aaron.
2. Right out of the gate, he identified himself as a 9 year cancer survivor who had been unsure if he was ever able to realize his dreams of fatherhood (and whose wife was currently pregnant with their third child).
3. He didn't seem like a d-bag (I'm trying to cut down on swearing this month in the hopes that I can quit completely by May).

Much of the class consisted of the instructor asking the veteran dads about their experiences with their wife's pregnancy, labor, delivery, post-partum and their own experiences with fatherhood. We were fortunate because all three typical birth types were represented by the three guys: natural birth, induced labor, and c-section. All described their experiences in frank terms with no detectable posturing (and oftentimes a lot of actual genuine emotion). Watching them with their kids, it was clear that they loved them very much and were great dads (A's all around for effort, at the very least). It was very encouraging stuff.

Later, we broke into smaller group with the veterans, each of whom gave a few of us a guided tour of their diaper bags, along with a few recommendations of which products were worth the money and which we could do without. My veteran dad looked like a young Tim Robbins. Tim Robbins (I'm terrible with names and have already forgotten his real one) talked at length about his experiences, stopping occasionally to let us ask questions (I had a few about how much time he took off from work and how he and his wife shared the duties of getting up at night). He was incredibly helpful and positive.

Finally, we watched a video about shaken baby syndrome which, coupled with a very graphic demonstration of shaking via an egg inside a plastic jar was enough to make me live in constant fear of accidentally killing or maiming my baby. (I ran home after the class and immediately made a contingency plan with Kathy that involved my being able to hand our daughter off to her, no questions asked, if I ever felt my rage starting to get the best of me).

At the end of it all (the class ran three hours with a five minute break and we used up every minute and then some), I stayed after class to chat with the instructor for a few minutes about cancer and also met one of the other "rookie" dads, whose wife had gone through five(!) miscarriages and some intensive corrective surgery, complications and months of anxious waiting. He was now just weeks away from finally becoming a dad. I told him that I couldn't even imagine what he'd gone through. One miscarriage rocked the foundations of our world in a very profound way... I couldn't in a million years imagine going through that five times.

Finally, I said my goodbyes and went home, very impressed with the class I'd just attended. Put together by a bunch of guys with no medical training (and perhaps even more shocking to some, no female intervention), this thing had all the makings of an epic disaster, but instead ended up being the best ten dollars I've spent in quite a while. I wish I could say that I made a bunch of new friends who'll be with me through this new experience called fatherhood, but you know what?

I guess I kind of did.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fifteen and Four


With all the emphasis on Baby Girl's nursery and the furniture and supplies with which we need to fill it, there's been very little time to concentrate on names. After making a few fairly uneventful passes through the immodestly titled Greatest Baby Name Book Ever, Kathy and I decided that we would each come up with our own list of names, and then bring them both to the table for discussion/negotiation/dismissal and hopefully, the eventual acceptance of one.

I finally completed my journey through the land of Every Potential Baby Name early this morning, which left me with a total of fifteen potential first names and only four potential middle names (somehow, I find those easier to weed out).

As we've said in the past, we're not going to reveal any candidates, or our eventual choice, until after the baby is born. However, I will give you the alphabetical breakdown of my choices and then open the floor to speculation. Since I've already made my choices, this will not influence me in any way, but it might be fun to see what people guess.

Of the potential first names, there are:

1 that starts with the letter A
2 that start with the letter B
2 that start with the letter C
1 that starts with the letter D
4 that start with the letter E
1 that starts with the letter J
1 that starts with the letter O
1 that starts with the letter P
1 that starts with the letter T
and 1 that starts with the letter V

Of the potential middle names, there are:

1 that starts with the letter E
1 that starts with the letter G
1 that starts with the letter M
and 1 that starts with the letter R

So that's where I personally am at on the name front! I'll have plenty more stuff to write about soon, but for now, back to work!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Venus of Willendorf


I got out of the shower the other night, and that is what immediately came to mind.

(Here's a link for those of you who don't remember Art History 101...)

I went for the glucose tolerance test on Monday. This was one of the only appointments I've gone to by myself, but because it requires sitting there for at least an hour without much going on, it didn't make sense for Craig to come. We haven't gotten the results yet, but hopefully no news is good news.

I saw one of the midwives while I was there, and I think it's time for us to start rotating through the medical staff to meet everyone at least once before I deliver. This midwife was just okay; I was not overly impressed one way or the other. She did say that it is statistically likely that I'll deliver with a midwife (CNM) because they are the ones usually at the hospital; the doctors are on call if needed, but they are generally attending to emergencies, while the midwives handle most of the labor and delivery.

Baby Girl was all juiced up from that glucose drink, so when the midwife tried to use the doppler, she kicked it off! (whew, whew, whew, POW!) But the heartbeat was fine, I feel fine, everything is good.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nursery Update


As we fast approach the third trimester (by some accounts, we will hit this milestone next weekend... by others, the following week) one of the questions I find myself being asked most frequently by friends, co-workers and relatives is "How is the nursery coming?"
(Runners up include "How is Kathy feeling?" [She's fine, but gets tired and out of breath easily these days.] and "Have you decided on a name yet?" [No.])

So, I figured it would be good to give everyone an update on this now legendary room, along with a few pictures of the progress.

It would be good to start off by noting that what we now refer to as the Nursery was once called The Room Where We Dump Everything We Don't Know What to do With or Where to Put It. It's been a couple-months-long process sorting through the three-foot-high piles of boxes and loose assorted scatterings of God-knows-what, but last weekend we managed to complete most of that. I don't have a "before" picture, but you must trust me when I tell you that if you could get the door open at all, you wouldn't have been able to venture far inside before we went to work in there. I spent my work breaks and evenings last week moving the remaining pieces of furniture and boxes into our upstairs hallway, removing the old curtain rods and tiebacks, and patching and sanding holes. By yesterday morning, all that remained was to remove the switch plates and tape them up. The room looked like this:



I spent an hour or two priming the top and bottom borders of the walls, the corners, the areas around the light sockets and windows... anywhere it would be difficult to use a roller. After recently painting two other rooms in our house, the process had become almost second nature to me. However, I was missing one crucial component this time around: Kathy. She's not able to stand for long periods of time without discomfort and she wanted to spend some time working outside, so I tackled this project by myself. When I was done "outlining" the room, it looked like this:



By this point, I needed a break, so I stopped to mow the lawn and check on Kathy. Afterward, I returned to the Nursery, using a roller to put two coats of primer (one seemed a little see-thru [check out the borders of the walls in the pictures below for an example of what I mean], and I wanted that "cat barf" color as covered up as possible). This process took a couple more hours and involved dragging the drop cloth back and forth with all of my painting supplies on top of it because I was too lazy and impatient to pick them all up and carry them out of the room each time.

The end result (and the room's current state) is this:



Next on the agenda:

1.) Choose a color scheme and paint design.
We're currently using the following pattern from Target as inspiration for our color pallette... more on that in a later entry.



2.) Paint!
This is the fun part.

3.) Move our existing bedroom furniture into the Nursery.
We have some old white bedroom furniture which needs to be repainted and drug down the hall to its new home.

4.) Break out the checkbook for any remaining Nursery accessories and furniture.
Crib, changing station, diaper pail and many, many other things still need to be purchased.

5.) Check the calendar and make sure the baby's not been born yet.
I think we'll be okay here, but it's going to be close.

Look for a new update on the Nursery as soon as there's more to tell.

In other news, Kathy returns to the doctor tomorrow. I won't be accompanying her this time, as she has to take a three hour long glucose tolerance test and it's a work day for me. However, I'm sure she'll tell us all about it right here.