Thursday, December 17, 2009

3 Months

Happy three month birthday, Evelyn!

Suddenly, you are no longer an infant. You're a real baby who can sit up with a little help and support your own head, play with toys, and happily exist on your own for as much as 15 minutes at a time. Thanks, by the way, for working so hard on your neck strength. Our lives are way easier now that we can just sling you over a shoulder or toss you in your front pack without having to worry about your bobble head. Also on the making-our-lives-easier list: you hardly even cry anymore! Yesterday, at Baby Boot Camp you were happy the whole time, including the car ride. What? A dinner out the same night without one wail. Whaat? Is this a pattern? Are we ready to emerge into the wide world without fear of meltdowns? Just kidding, there will always be meltdowns, but seriously baby, you're spoiling us.

You're also enormous. Do you have the same trainer as A-Rod? Somebody must be slipping you something, because you had outgrown one of your 3-6 month sleepers BEFORE you turned three months old. This is not cool, daughter of mine. As much as I love shopping for clothes for you, I'm thinking we'll just cut holes in pillowcases for you, because it just doesn't make fiscal sense to buy you new outfits every 6 hours. Besides, you're so cute, you can totally rock a pillowcase. Hey, we'll even spring for some patterned ones! THAT'S how much we love you, kiddo.

You've already given us the best Christmas gift we could ever ask for; your sweet self. Add to that your sleeping through the night, the coos and gurgles, and your gummy little smile, and there's really nothing else we could ask for.

Love,
your Ma and Pa

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On our way to Jazz Hands!

Our clever little monkey has figured out that the little appendages at the ends of her arms (not that she really knows she has arms yet...) are hers, and that they can be bent to her will. Mostly, this involves stuffing her hands into her mouth, sometimes two at a time, but she has also been figuring out the whole cause and effect thing. For example, when she gets a fistful of Mommy’s hair first thing in the morning and pulls, this ensures that Mommy is fully awake and ready to cater to her whims. Mommy’s hair is going to be in a ponytail for the next six years.

Okay, so the hair grabbing is (I think) an accident, but during tonight’s bath, she was studying the faucet and then grabbed it and kept her hand there. It’s probably an involuntary baby thing, but she also brings anything and everything that’s near her hands into her mouth.


Here's a little video of her using her hands to startle herself by moving her toy into her face. It also serves to show just how easily impressed I am by our kiddo. Hey, it's my prerogative as her Mom to be absurdly proud of normal baby progress, alright? And that's what I do all day long, in case you were wondering: entertain the baby and narrate her existence to her in a goofy voice. It makes me really glad I went ahead and did the double major with Econ and International Studies in college.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanksgiving


This year, I have more to be thankful for than seems fair. Every morning I have to pinch myself, because how can this really be my life? I have the most beautiful and perfectly healthy baby that's ever existed, and the greatest husband in history. This is a man who comes home from work to take care of the baby and get her to bed (it's not as easy as it sounds, believe me), and shoos me out the door so that I can go play ultimate. He also rubs my shoulders and plays along when I blame the dog for certain odors.

And, um, I'm also thankful for the fact that I'm so punctual. I can still do a Thanksgiving post! It's just the first week of December. When I finally get around to posting Ev's cutie-pie Halloween outfit, then you can make fun of me for being late.

(This is about the only face that I can catch her making in photos because she's fascinated by the camera and stares at it intensely for as long as it's in her sight line. I've also failed to catch her "talking" because of the same deal; she'll be cooing and squeaking and gurgling up a storm, but the second she sees the camera, it's silent concentration. I'm not giving up, though.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chub monster



Unfortunately, I'm not a very good photographer. I also only seem to remember to take pictures after dark, and my lack of skill plus a point and shoot indoors with lousy lighting makes for some poor pictures. I'm going to be posting more anyways, because I know y'all are clamoring for more shots of the little darling, and it's kind of stupid to keep waiting for a better shot. Here you go! Many more to come, of questionable quality, but hey. No photo could capture her angelic qualities anyway.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two months


Happy two month birthday, my little poop monster!

Despite the fact that I tell you every day to stop growing dagnabbit! I just want to enjoy my tiny baby a little bit longer!, you persist in getting absolutely enormous. Thirteen and a half pounds! Granted, each cheek weighs a pound easy, which helps add to the total, but geez! You're in the 97th percentile for your weight. And you're tall, too... not quite 97th percentile tall, and not even 90th like last month. More like 80th. Which means that you're a very, er, healthy baby. So healthy that the doctor, upon examining your thigh when she was about to give you your shot, decided to use a bigger needle, because the one she usually uses for two month olds wouldn't make it through your layer of chub! I could have told her that. Your Dad and I snack on those thighs every day when we change you, and boy, are they plump and juicy. No wonder I'm still not back in my pre-pregnancy pants. You're growing so fast that I think I'll just put aside the clothes I was wearing before I got pregnant for you to wear. At this rate, you should be in them by the end of this year.

You're also brilliant. I think your biggest milestone this month was learning to smile. There's no better reason for getting out of bed than to say good morning to you and see your little face light up with that goofy, gummy, grin when you see me again after a long sleep. Your Daddy can't wait to see you when he comes home from work, too. Your favorite is the "Leg Game", where he wiggles your legs back and forth while singing a little song, and you make delighted faces and gurgle at him. I'm amazed how quickly you learned to love us and how much you enjoy just sitting in our laps as we chat with you. You can even follow us around the room with your eyes, and I'm pretty sure you finally figured out that the dog is a living breathing thing. I can't blame you for taking two months to pick up on his existence; he doesn't move much. You also love to talk with us, and you make all sorts of insanely adorable coos and gurgles as you tell us all about what's going on in your baby world. Honestly, I think that I'd be okay with you sticking with that level of "speech". At least then you'll never learn to talk back.

Your eyesight has improved immensely, too. Right now, you're particularly fascinated with the necklace I've been wearing. You spend at least 20 minutes every day contentedly transfixed by it, and I've promised to give it to you when you're older. It's enough to make a Mama cry thinking about how I'll give it to you and tell you all about how I used to hold you for hours and we'd just gaze at each other, and you'd stare and stare at that necklace and make me laugh. And, being a teenager, you'll probably roll your eyes and say, "Whatever." It's so hard for me to believe that someday I won't need to sit next to you, ready to catch you if you start to tip over or if your neck gets tired from holding your sweet little head up. It's probably a good thing; it'd be a little awkward by the time you're in college.

At least for now you're still snuggled up against my chest, your favorite place to nap. And if, after a big weekend at college, you do need someone to hold your head up during your 9 am Intro to Philosophy class, give me a call. I'll always be there for you, little one. You'll always be my baby.

Love,
Mom

Saturday, November 14, 2009

But what about the Polar Bears??

I found out today that I've been a terrible parent. It's not just the beatings, either. Ever since we got the whole nursing thing down, I've sometimes been WATCHING TV while I feed her. I'm expecting a knock on the door from the authorities shortly after I post this, because HOW COULD I? I just found out that because she's been hearing the sweet sounds of The Golden Girls and Lost, I have not only ruined her chances at getting into Stanford (although that went out the window that time when she was a week old and we were struggling with nursing her and I gave her two ounces of *gasp* formula) but am almost certainly raising a serial killer.

I know that I'm supposed to be talking to her all the time, ideally in Mandarin and Spanish to get her a head start, and I really do try to stimulate her all day when she's up. We look at colorful toys, and I even read to her already. We still haven't quite made it all the way through Pat the Bunny without her losing interest, but I'm trying! We do tummy time, and standing time, and singing and dancing in the kitchen time. (There will be no videos of the singing and dancing in the kitchen time. Sorry if your hopes have been dashed.) But honestly, after 5 days a week of doing these, um, fascinating activities, Sweet Baby Jesus, I just want to look at adults and hear them speak! I don't even care that they're not real, they're having conversations. With each other!

Oh well. Maybe when she's in college.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Champion Hula-Hooper?

Here is a little video proving that little Miss Evelyn is on her way to standing on her own two feet in this world. They just need to be a little bit farther apart, and the knees need to get less rickety. But she can be proud and hold her head up high! Most of the time anyway...


Monday, November 2, 2009

Blessed, blessed sleep.

I don't know what I did in a past life to deserve this, but we have the easiest baby in the history of babies. It's not like I've had a bunch of other kids to compare, but so many people scared me so thoroughly about how little sleep I'd get for months that I keep compulsively Googling "my baby is awesome and sleeps for 7 hours at a time even though she's only 7 weeks how do I know if my husband secretly sold her soul to the devil to achieve this." (You'd be surprised, but you get some relevant hits.)

But it's true; she's not quite 8 weeks old and she's already regularly sleeping for 6 and even 7 hours at a time. At night, no less! This means (drumroll, please) that I get to sleep for 6 hours at a time during the hours when most other adults are asleep. Let's just say that if called upon to say Grace at Thanksgiving dinner, I've got about a 45 minute speech prepared. She is also a fantastic napper. During today's nap I: put a load of laundry in, peeled and chopped all my vegetables for dinner, ate hot stuff for lunch, and am now goofing around and blogging. I could even read my book for a while if I want to! I'm pretty sure Alex did sell her soul, but you know, it's probably worth it. Or maybe it's the whiskey we've been giving her? Just kidding! We're only giving her beer. No hard stuff until she's at least a year old.

Honestly though, for those parents out there who might actually want to try to replicate this phenomenon, I think it's partly because we swaddle the bejeezus out of her. I know everyone swaddles, but we SWADDLE. If her swaddles were in the wash, I'd wrap her up in duct tape. We're new to the swaddle products, because we were trying to use blankets at first. We were both awful at it though, and why struggle with getting a tight swaddle in the middle of the night when there are fairly inexpensive products that stay snug even if you stink at wrapping babies? Right now, we're using the Kiddopotamus Swaddleme, but she's almost outgrown the one we have and can kick her legs out, which wakes her up. I just ordered the Miracle Blanket, which is more expensive, but according to the reviews gives a super tight swaddle even for bigger, wriggly babies.

And who doesn't love the word swaddle? It sounds like cute sleepy ducklings. Swaddle swaddle swaddle! Swaddle!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I swear, I'm a good parent.


The other day, as I was nursing Evelyn and stroking her back and head as I am wont to do, my hand got kinda wet and sticky. "Weird," I thought to myself, "Usually when she spits up it comes from her mouth, and not the middle of her back." Then I noticed that the spit-up in question was yellow and kinda gooey. And originated in her diaper region. (Nobody ever claimed that I'm quick on the uptake after seven weeks of sleep deprivation.)

Internet, I present to you our daughter, Evelyn Summer, aka "The Super Pooper." Of course, I bathed and changed her right away. Right away, after our little photo shoot.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cheeks! OMG!



As promised, the cheeks that launched a thousand ships. Alex and I have been known to come to blows over who gets to chow down on them at any given time. Can you blame us?

Friday, October 16, 2009

One month

Dear Evelyn,

Happy birthday, little girl! You are now one very big month old. I can't believe that it's only been 30 days since you were born; it feels like a lifetime. That kinda makes sense, though. Since now I wake up 2 or 3 times per day instead of just once, it's like having 2 or 3 times the amount of mornings! Or something.

You've changed our lives forever, and that's becoming more and more evident every day. I can't imagine doing anything but rushing over to your crib to kiss you and pick you up when I wake up every morning. Not so much at 3:30 in the morning, though. Sorry, you're cute, but not quite that cute. I've also never had someone spit up on my face before, or intentionally caught spraying baby poop with my hand. There's always something new with you, pumpkin pie.

You don't even look the same! You've gained a ridiculous three and half pounds, and grown two full inches which puts you in the 95th and 90th percentile for weight and height for your age. The tiny infant that we first brought home from the hospital is gone. What happened to her? She was so small that the straps on the car seat were a little too big even when they were tightened as far as they'd go. We've already had to loosen them up to make room for your chubby baby belly, and we're going to have to raise the shoulder straps soon.

It's taken a month, but your old Mom and Dad are adjusting, just like you are. We've left the house on a number of occasions now, and we've gotten our getting ready to leave time down to under two hours! We can't wait to see what you'll do next, and see how you figure out how to make us fall even more in love with you. It's hard to believe that we could love you any more than we do now, but every day you seem just a little more wonderful. Thank you, baby. You're amazing.

Love,
Your parents

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

She's walking!

Okay, so she's really not walking at all, obviously. She's still practicing turning her head back and forth to follow our faces, and that's giving her enough of a challenge. Still, there is this cool reflex that infants have called the step reflex, so when we hold her up by her armpits and put her feet down on the ground, she'll sometimes take 4 or 5 steps. The other day Alex came home from work and I tried to convince him that I had taught her to walk in one day. He didn't quite buy it, and now I really regret telling him about the step reflex. He would have thought I was the best stay at home mom EVER.

Judging by the goose-strangling sounds coming from the crib, Evelyn is about to wake up, which means that I have to make a PB&J* and fill a bunch of glasses with water and stash them around the apartment, because when she awakes, there is no paying attention to anything but her. There is no putting her down for a minute while I pour myself a drink: she demands that two hands be holding her at all times! And I must chatter to her and make eye contact constantly. She may not appear to be paying attention, but if I stop, she will know, and there will be screaming! We may go for a walk in the stroller, but her highness decrees that the dog MUST NOT stop and relieve himself, for that would make the stroller ride stop, and then, she has no choice but to scream.

It's tough being a dictator. After her afternoon nap, I've got to log her into her online support group with Kim Jong-il and Gaddafi. It's a good thing they're there for each other.

*Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are pretty much all I've eaten since Alex has gone back to work. They take about 45 seconds to prepare, they can be eaten one handed, they can be put down when screaming infants attack and still taste good in an hour, and they're filling. Thank you, peanut butter... I don't know what I'd do without you.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

We're back!

No pictures, no posting; I'm so lame, I know. By golly, all I've been doing lately is figuring out how to take care of a miniature human, doing absurd amounts of laundry (this kid can really poop), and oh yeah, MOVING. With a TWO WEEK OLD. We're done, thankfully, although by "done" I mean "I know where my toothbrush and deodorant are and that's good enough for me because the baby is crying. Again."

Actually, moving wasn't that bad. We had a ton of friends and one sister to help us, and other than the fact that the baby was enraged by the inconvenience of it all and screamed for most of the day, it was probably the smoothest move I've ever experienced. Still, even with a pack of awesome people to help and plenty of time, I would not put Move With A Newborn on my list of things that I ever want to experience ever, ever again.

The main reason that the move wasn't so bad was that as stressful and difficult as it was, I was no longer breaking down and sobbing constantly. That passed on about day 12, and I've never been more relieved. The first 12 days post-partum were probably the worst few days of my life. It's awful that I'm describing the first days with my baby that way, and I feel guilty for even thinking it, but there it is. Way to go, evolution. Whose idea was it to mess with the hormones and brain chemicals of women who just gave birth? As if having an infant isn't difficult enough, Nature decides to go and take away all of your serotonin for a couple of weeks, too. Hey, Nature? I need that serotonin to feel happy. When you take it and most of my estrogen away in the space of a few hours, it makes me cry. And have horrible sweaty hot flashes. And have crushing anxiety that keeps me awake even though I had only been getting about 3 hours of sleep a night. I didn't even have real post-partum depression; that's way worse, and lasts for way longer. This was just the very typical "baby blues." I think I might have to strangle whoever came up with the name "baby blues." I'm starting a petition to rename it "The Horrible, Devastating, Crushing Time That You Think May Never End But Then It Does And Every Morning You Wake Up And Are Happy Again Is Like A Twenty That You Find In Your Old Jacket Pocket." Much better.

So anyway, the internet is back as of yesterday, so look for pictures of Evelyn's rapidly expanding cheeks soon. She's not kidding around. Those things could squash Detroit.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dr. Lwin, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love the Epidural

Us, minutes after delivery.

It's been two weeks, and I'm finally getting around to writing about the process that brought Miss Monkey from the cozy confines of my womb into the cold and cruel world. For a few days, I'd been having a ton of Braxton Hicks contractions, and some even kind of hurt. The night before I really went into labor, I thought that I was starting labor after a couple of strong BH contractions, which in retrospect is kind of hilarious; BH contractions are like little love tickles from a butterfly compared to real contractions. Anyway, my real labor started at about 1:30 am, which was unfortunate because I'd only gotten an hour or two of sleep, so I was starting out tired. I tried to rest and relax during the early stages, but the contractions came pretty fast almost right away, and they were 6 minutes apart by 6:30 am. When they're 5 minutes apart, you're in active labor, and the hospital doesn't want to see you until then, but that looked imminent, so I took a quick shower, and Alex started to pack up the car.*

Apparently my uterus kind of sucks, though, because when I got out of the shower, the contractions basically stopped. I only had 5 contractions or so in the next couple of hours, but rather than going to sleep, I was keyed up and waiting anxiously for the next one. At 9 or 10 am, they started up again and kept going for hours and hours, never really getting much closer together than seven minutes apart. At 7 pm (for you non-math majors, that's EIGHTEEN HOURS OF LABOR LATER), I was on the living room floor sobbing because I was so exhausted and in so much pain and so frustrated because they were STILL 7 minutes apart, which again for you non-math majors is two whole minutes away from the goal, which is a very, very long time in contraction land.

So you don't think I'm a total wuss, I will tell you that the first twelve or so hours were fine. Not fine in the sense of, "I'm going to whip up a quick quiche between contractions for when we get home because I feel dandy" fine, but more like, "Okay, I'm in agony, but these only last for a minute and a half and I can do my breathing exercises and shift positions and make weird scary noises that make Alex think I'm dying but make me feel a lot better" fine. So it was tolerable, for the first TWELVE hours. Then, I started to ask Alex pretty much every time how much closer they were getting, and sadly, they weren't getting closer at all. They were even up to 8 or 9 minutes apart at times, after say, FIFTEEN HOURS, and that's when I started to lose it.

So, like I said, at about 7 pm, Alex finally called the hospital for I think the third time. I don't really remember the conversation, but I'm pretty sure he threatened whoever was on the phone with bodily harm, so they finally said to come in and check out why I still wasn't closer. They said that the worst that would happen would be that I would get sent home, which is funny, because I was NOT going to leave, even if it meant administering a C-section on myself the second I got into a relatively sterile environment.

Fortunately, the minute we got to the hospital, I had 3 contractions within 10 minutes. They checked me, and discovered that I was actually well on my way, and had been in "active labor" for a while (what they were really looking for when they said they were looking for 5 min apart). I chose to get an epidural after all because I was so spent after 18 hours of labor on 2 hours of sleep, and really, at that point, it was an easy decision. I was a little bummed not to have been able to do it naturally, but at that point, I was just wiped out. I'm so glad I decided on the epidural, because I had 8 more hours of labor to go. Fortunately, after the epidural, the rest of labor involved lying resting in the darkened room while Alex slept and I felt occasional pressure. Then at 3 am, I buzzed the nurse and told her I was feeling a lot of pressure and the urge to push, and she said, yup, you're ready!

At that point, they let the epidural fade a bit so that I could feel enough to push, and wow, that anesthesiologist was a genius. I was at the perfect level, where the contractions hurt, and I could really feel what was going on and felt in control of my legs and lower body, but not so much that the pain was so intense to be a huge distraction. I stunk at being in labor, with contractions that came and went the entire time, but boy, did I rock the pushing. The nurse actually told me not to push quite so hard so that the doctor would have time to come and deliver the baby. After about 15 minutes of easier pushing, my OB showed up and I went to town. Normally on TV and such you see the doctors and nurses telling the women to push, and keep going, and encouraging them... I was the one telling my doctor and nurse that HEY! I'm ready to push again! Let's get with the program, here, people, because I am getting this baby out NOW!

After about 30 minutes of serious pushing, out she came. I have never felt a more primal urge to do anything in my entire life. I was screaming and hollering like the Scots in the battle scene of Braveheart, and I have absolutely never worked harder at anything in my life. It hurt like hell, of course, but in a lot of ways was easier than labor. At least with the pushing, I was in control, and I felt like I was making progress and actually doing something.

Looking back, getting the epidural was the best decision I could have made, because I think if I hadn't had the 8 hours of rest to regroup and refocus my energy, I'm sure I would have gone into the delivery portion completely exhausted and it would have taken me three hours to push her out. As it was, I had a second wind, I knew the end was near, and I was able to put every last bit of energy I had into delivery and got her out very quickly. There were definite drawbacks to the epidural, though. I was confined to bed, and my blood pressure dropped very quickly which required medication. As I mentioned, my contractions also stopped and started, and I have to wonder if being up and moving around would have kept them coming, and would have allowed me to avoid Pitocin. Really, though, I would absolutely do the same thing again.

Anyway, out she came, which was quite the interesting sensation. Imagine: that area where you usually just pee? Whoops, a human just came out of there! She was pink and screamy, which was perfect, and they put her warm, slippery, perfect little self on my chest immediately. Alex was adorable, and was overjoyed and we were both just a big fat wad of cliches, which I can't seem to avoid while writing about this. About two minutes after delivery, while I was holding her on my chest and just enjoying how wonderful it all was, I turned to Alex, and said, "That wasn't so bad." And I guess that really sums it all up. I was in labor for 27 hours, completely exhausted, and had just gone through by far the most difficult and painful thing I'd ever experienced, and truly and honestly, when I had my perfect and healthy daughter in my arms, it really just wasn't so bad.

*And yes, I do mean "pack up the car," rather than "throw the one suitcase in and go". You wouldn't believe the amount of crap I brought. I had read all sorts of things saying you should bring slippers, and CDs and movies, and clothes for the hospital stay, and snacks and an exercise ball and on and on. Guess what? When you're in labor, you're in agony! You won't want your monkey-scratching CDs, I guarantee! And then, when you have the baby? You have a baby, and you won't even have the capacity to care about anything else. The best part was that I brought makeup. HA! I thought I was going to put on some mascara before people started taking pictures... Ah, I was so young and foolish then. I am glad I brought our own pillows, though. And the snacks. Definitely the snacks.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Progress!


Somebody call the newspaper, because Sweet Baby Jesus, I think we may have finally turned a corner. I got up and out of bed before noon today, put in my contacts for the second day in a row, and I'm wearing jeans and a real shirt instead of groggily wandering around the apartment in my pajamas with the top all the way unbuttoned. It's also been well over 24 hours since my last crying jag. Woot! I know, right? I'm waiting for the sucker punch later on tonight at 3 am, and I know I shouldn't even be writing this because it's tempting fate, but whatever! I've been feeling good all day, and I'm not hiding it anymore! Oh, and if that wasn't mind-blowing enough for you, Alex and I left the little monkey with the grandparents for a couple of hours, ate lunch OUT, and went to a store! Full disclosure: I didn't really enjoy my lunch because I had been away from Evelyn for a full 20 minutes by that point, and we were at least a mile and a half away from the apartment, and even though we all had our cell phones just in case, my stomach was in knots the whole time. But I was OUT.

Evelyn is now 11 days old (go double digits!) and her umbilical cord has fallen off. She's getting noticeably chubbier, especially around the chin, and is spending longer and longer awake and alert and looking around. She had at least two periods of being awake and alert for an hour and a half or more today, and is definitely focusing more with her big blue eyes.

Someday, I imagine that I'll have the time and energy to write something funny again. Maybe I'll try a little right now... This morning, as I was changing the monkey's wet diaper, she sprayed poop all over my hand. Is that funny? Yes? Adorable infant pooping on unsuspecting adult? Maybe we need a video. Oh, you know what else is funny? She was up and periodically screaming from between 4 and 6 am! Ha ha ha! Hilarious. I'm sure I'll have many other stories like that to tell y'all soon. For now, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sometimes...


Sometimes, when the baby has regurgitated pretty much all of what she just nursed for the second time in a row, you just start crying. Sometimes, when you read in your baby care book that the sleep deprivation will really start getting to you after three months and it's only been a week and you're desperate to sleep for more than two and half hours at a time, you just start crying. Sometimes, in the late afternoon or early evening when you are normally winding down, and you know there's just more of the same cycle of feeding, changing the constantly wet diapers, and trying to sleep for a couple of hours, you just start crying. Sometimes, when your tiny helpless infant is obviously uncomfortable and you just don't know what to do to help her, you just start crying.

And then, sometimes, when your husband is holding the baby, and her head smells so sweet, and she's quietly looking around with her big blue eyes and you're able to take a deep breath, it's all okay again.

We love you, Evelyn. You're worth it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Adventures in Poopland


Those of you who have had babies knew this was coming, and we knew it was coming, and yet, it took me a little by surprise: Evelyn's first projectile poop.

I was feeding the little darling, and about halfway through, it began. Since I was pretty sure that she wasn't smuggling a nearly empty ketchup bottle in her diaper, that PLLLSSSBTHH I heard meant a freshly dirty diaper. No problem, we finished, I got her up onto the changing table, and began wiping her down. Multiple wipes later (the kiddo has been eating really well), I was ready to put her diaper on, when PSSSBTH, out came a little more magical baby juice. Ok, no problem, another wipe took care of that. Ready for the diaper again. (Some of you exceptionally clever ones may see where this is going... I didn't.) PBBTHSK. Okay, I got it, we're just going to have to wait it out. I wrapped her loosely in her changing cloth, and brought her out into the living room to laugh over how very poopy she was with my parents. They didn't really think it was that funny until PPPPSSSSSKKKKBBBBTHHHHHHHLLLLLLSSSHHHHHH, darling Evelyn doused me from waist to lap with her magical baby juice.

I'm pretty sure those are the moments that everyone says to treasure forever, because they're just gone so quickly...

At that point, it was on. I thought that little Miss Evelyn was no match for Mama's biggest guns: the bath. My mom and I stripped her down, I changed, got a bath ready, and cleaned that poopy baby off. She squawked and screamed like we were torturing her, because OBVIOUSLY, MOMMY, I want to stew in my own poo! We washed that little girl all over, and just as I was toweling her off... any guesses, folks? Yep, you got it.

At least we know she's getting plenty to eat.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And now we present to you...

The Little Ninja Monkey



Evelyn Summer was born at 3:46am on Tuesday, September 15th. She weighed in at 7 pounds 14 ounces, and 20 inches long. And she has big feet. We knew that she was kicking Elena's ribs with something substantial, and now we have a more complete understanding of the bludgeons Evelyn employed.

We're getting to know her better with every moment that passes, but we already know what a blessing she is to our new family. Anyway, I'm sure that Elena will post lots of good stuff about her recent "experiences", shall we say, and of course our terrific new baby girl. Right now, though, she's a little tired and busy watching our little bundle sleep.

-Alex (aka Daddy)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Say no to plumping!


My mom and I were watching TV earlier, and she saw a Foster Farms chicken "No Plumping" commercial with the grotesquely swollen chicken sitting up on a doctor's examination table, and immediately said, "Hey, there's Elena!"

...Thanks, Mom.

I can't blame her, though. If I had a picture of myself on the doctor's exam table, I'm sure it would be an undeniably strong resemblance. The doctor is starting to think about a timetable for inducement as I keep on creeping past the due date. I have an appointment to be monitored on Sunday, to make sure that being overdue isn't stressing Baby out. I have another appointment on Wednesday to check on things, and I am guessing from her attitude today, if things aren't ready on their own on Wednesday, she's going to induce me. She said that my amniotic fluid was "merely adequate" and that it was getting pretty crowded in there for Baby. She stripped my membranes today, so hopefully that'll get me going this weekend. In the meantime... I still totally look like a plumped chicken.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Keep on rubbing it in, why doncha?

I've been getting weekly emails from my hospital telling me what fascinating side effects I can expect as my pregnancy moves forward (e.g., Week 23: You look like a manatee! Put down the Ben & Jerry's, or, Week 31: Your baby is now developing eyelashes and that part of the brain that will make her a horrible adolescent who will inevitably listen to something you won't even recognize as music!). They've been less than helpful for the past few weeks, because my baby is still INSIDE OF ME, you jerks. So yeah, tips on getting enough rest after giving birth, and how much milk/formula my baby needs is really not all that interesting to me now. How about some tips on overly strenuous exercises that might induce labor? Or how to perform your own C-section at home with vodka and a kitchen knife? That's the kind of advice I could use.

I'm really trying hard to be patient and wait for the li'l darling to come out when she's ready, but it ain't easy. Since she's obviously brilliant already, I'm guessing she's hanging on until tomorrow, because how cool would it be to be born on 9.9.09? I hear September 8th is a pretty awesome day, too. We've got a few hours... Go, Baby, go!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

40 Weeks


40 weeks pregnant! Pretty huge. This baby is ready to come out at any moment; she's dropped, I'm dilated, and she's DUE! When we're in the car, going over bumps knocks her little noggin against my pelvic bone. It's an... interesting sensation.

Alex has also gained a bit of sympathy weight.



He's just glowing, isn't he?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

US Open!


Well, it's the first week of September, and that special time is finally upon us: the US Open started! I've been keeping track of my pregnancy in terms of the tennis season since the Australian Open, which besides being the first major of the year, was just about when I figured out that I was pregnant. Then came the long break between majors, then the clay court season, then Wimbledon, and here we are at the end of the season and the end of my pregnancy. Well timed, USTA!

Okay, I know I'm not normal at all, and most pregnant women due at about the same time weren't thinking, "It's August, and the hard court season is starting to wind down. I hope that baby is getting ready!" Well, I did, and Baby, I'm sorry, but your Mommy is kind of crazy, and I hope that you're going to be okay with that. The sooner you realize this, the better things are going to be; Mommy REALLY likes sports. In fact, the only reason that I'm not going completely stir crazy while sitting around waiting for this baby to decide to come out is because ESPN2 is showing the early rounds of the Open for TEN hours per day. Which is just about perfect, if you ask me and my busted foot.

And now, because you asked so nicely, here are some of my thoughts so far:

  • If Roger Federer wins... Yikes. I'm really not sure if I'd be inspired, and think, "If the man can win a Major with newborn twins, I can do anything with just ONE newborn," or something more along the lines of, "Being able to measure your wealth in nine figures probably makes raising infant twins a little easier," and then be forced to resent him forever. Also, he and I were born 2 weeks apart, are just having our first kids at the same time, and both really like tennis. I really think he and his wife should come over for dinner. It'd be good. We'd get along really well. And then he could sit on our couch, and when he leaves, there would be like $400,000 stuck in the cushions, I'm pretty sure.
  • Go Kim Clijsters! I think she's one of the few (only?) highly ranked women on the tour who's given birth.
  • WTF is wrong with women's tennis? Honestly, it's been sort of exciting, but only because NONE of the ranked women can hold it together for an entire match. And don't get me started on choke artist Dinara Safina being ranked #1.
  • And finally, Venus? I think it's cool that you're designing your own line of clothing, but there's one wee little problem... It looks like you're designing your own line. Ugh. Cut it out. Eyeballs all over America will thank you. (And why doesn't anyone wear a white bodysuit anymore? Come ON!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

She's cooking!

At my doctor's appointment on Friday, the nurse practitioner told me that I was 50-70% effaced and 1 cm. dilated. I guess that means (by some definitions) that I am in early labor, or stage 1, but before you all get excited, nothing is imminent, and lots of people are at this stage for weeks before they give birth. (And hey, nurse practitioner? Saying "You'll feel a little pressure" isn't the most accurate description of a cervical exam. Just so you know.)

I have to admit that I don't feel very anxious or particularly impatient for this baby to get here. I want to make sure that she comes out when she's totally ready, and we've still got a few days until her due date. Of course I have no real clue because this is my first baby, but I have a feeling that it's going to be a while longer. I think that the fact that we're really going to have a baby isn't going to hit me until we check into the hospital; we're going to go in as a family of two, and come out as a family of three. I've had nine months of slowly getting ready for parenthood, and while I feel as prepared as I can be, having a baby has been something that's been abstract and in the future for so long that the idea that I could be a mom tomorrow or next week STILL seems incredibly unlikely. I mean, I could give birth to a large melon, and it would make about as much sense as giving birth to a fully formed little human does to me right now.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Waiting

I've been home from work with no houseguests for a day and a half, and I'm already going crazy with boredom. I only managed to be awake for two and a half hours today before I finished all the things that I had been planning on doing (showering, watching tennis, eating breakfast, doing laundry), so of course I called poor Alex at work. Where he was busy, trying to do work. (I hear a lot of people work at work, and are busy for most of the day. Weird!) I think he knows that from now until the baby comes, if I'm calling him at work all I'll have to say is "I'm booooooreeeeed," in the most annoying and whiny tone imaginable, but he has to answer. I could call him every fifteen minutes and tell him knock-knock jokes for the next 4 days, and he'd have to pick up every time because I could be calling to tell him that I was in labor. Poor guy.

Anyway, I think I've laundered everything in the house, my hospital bag is packed, and the dog doesn't want to play with me anymore. I'm pretty sure he's disappointed that I'm home from work. He'll pick up his head when I jump around shouting and waving his toys in the air, but he's got a pretty strict nap schedule to get through. You know things are getting desperate when your dog is like, "Enough. Can't you entertain yourself for 45 minutes?" The answer is NO. I don't want to watch TV, I don't have any movies I want to watch, I don't feel like reading anymore, the dog doesn't feel like going for ANOTHER walk, I don't knit, everything's clean, and I don't have a car until Tuesday. I know I should be relishing these last few days of peace and quiet, and fix up my cuticles, and read, and floss, because I'll never have time ever again starting really soon, but I don't LIKE it!

Harumph. Anybody want to come over and play with me?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Birthday? What birthday?


I keep forgetting my own birthday. It was yesterday, and thanks to friends and darling husbands reminding me all day, plus loving relatives calling, I was aware that it was going on, but until yesterday? Not so much. Last week, I received a package from a good friend from high school (Hi Hanna!), and I thought, "Oh, she must have sent something for the baby!" I was right, because who can resist adorable tiny infant clothes? But she also sent me a birthday present, which she has done every year, and which I always look forward to... until this year. I had totally forgotten that it was this week. This weekend, I made an appointment to get my haircut, not realizing it was on my birthday until they handed me the reminder card. My mom asked me if I wanted anything special for my birthday, and again, I thought, "Oh yeah... that's sometime this month, isn't it?" The day before my birthday I was talking about how old I was in relation to how old most people at my hospital have their kids, and AGAIN, it didn't dawn on me that my age would be changing the next day.

I'm not sure if it's just that I'm so insanely busy with friends coming to visit, finishing my last few days at work, and, oh yeah, that little thing, THE IMPENDING BIRTH OF MY FIRST CHILD. Maybe I'm finally getting old enough to not really care anymore. Maybe it's the whole brain shrinkage thing. Either way, happy birthday to me!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Practice Child


People sometimes ask if we think that Cash is going to be a problem when the baby comes. This is a perfectly reasonable question. Some dogs become overly protective of the baby, some dogs become jealous and act up with the addition of a new family member, and some dogs like to lick the delicious baby over and over again. Still... have you met our dog? He's the one who appears to be dead. Yeah, him, the one with his tongue sticking partway out of his mouth and the creepy half-open sleeping eyes.

The only things that cause him to react in a measurable way are either food or leash related, so we assumed that baby would be safe. We ran a test, though, to make sure. We found a sleep deprived couple with an almost-two-year-old, and invited them over for lunch. We would feed them quiche and vegetables from the farmer's market, and they would feed Cash their baby. They were okay with this; like I said, it was a two-year-old, and they needed rest.

The baby was really good with Cash, actually. She brought him all of his toys (and some other household items like coasters and decorative wooden horses) and plunked them down on various parts of his body, petted him gently (mostly not even in the eye!), tried to haul him around by the butt (she lost; he was about 4 times her size), and generally squeaked and was entranced by the huge furry creature that she was allowed to touch. As we had guessed, he kept an eye on her and the various presents that she was bringing him, but didn't do much more than sniff at her a few times. I'm pretty sure all bets would have been off if she had just been eating a cookie and was covered with deliciousness.

Honestly, though, he's been a huge help in preparing us for the baby. He's put us through pretty much everything that a new parent can expect. Waking us up throughout the night crying for no discernable reason? Check. Periodically refuses to eat? Check. Drooling uncontrollably? Check. Kept us up at night worrying about him? Check. Pee, poop, and vomit accidents? Check, check, and check. Despite all evidence to the contrary, is awesome and totally worth it? Check.

Thanks, Cashy-bear... you'll be our number one baby for at least a little while longer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The incredible shrinking brain!


Anybody need any quantum mechanics figured out?

Pregnancy makes your brain shrink
Liz Hunt Health Editor
Thursday, 9 January 1997

The brains of pregnant women appear to shrink during late pregnancy, according to research which offers an explanation for cognitive problems some women complain of before and after giving birth. The doctors at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London found that it can take up to six months for the women's brains to regain their full size.

Anita Holdcroft, the anaesthetist in charge of the study, said poor concentration, lack of co-ordination, and memory problems in late pregnancy may be linked to the changes in brain size she and her colleagues observed.

A set of three-dimensional images of the brains of 10 healthy women were taken, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in late pregnancy, six to eight weeks after delivery, and then up to six months later.

According to a report in New Scientist magazine, Dr Holdcroft and colleagues found that as the woman's body and physiology returned to the non-pregnant state, their brains increased in size. It is possible that their brains were swelling from a normal state but this is unlikely, Dr Holdcroft told a meeting of the Physiological Society in Sheffield earlier this month.

The findings follow a study of women who suffer very high-blood pressure - pre-eclampsia - in which a build-up of fluid causes swelling; potentially fatal seizures can follow. "We assumed that their brains would also swell but last year we found that they shrink," Dr Holdcroft said. When the study was extended to healthy women, it was found that brain shrinkage appeared to be a normal feature of pregnancy.

The investigators believe that the brain changes are more likely to be the result of changes in the volume of individual cells rather than in the quantity of brain cells, Dr Holdcroft told the magazine. In addition, the team found that the pituitary gland, which lies at the base of the brain, showed the opposite effect - increasing in size during pregnancy, when it is responsible for producing reproductive hormones - and then diminishing in size in the months after pregnancy.

(From The Independent)

Interesting stuff. As I was saying to Alex right after I read this, blarghety blooble. Kitty!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Week 36



This kid ain't messing around. I think I'm probably twice the belly diameter that I was a month ago. One bonus of having a belly this big: it makes your hips look girlishly slender by comparison!

Work it out

Yesterday I was stretching, and I noticed that my right arm was a little sore. I was trying to think what I could have done to make it feel like I had been working out my triceps, but I couldn't remember anything. Was there a vigorous round of Wii tennis I was forgetting? Had I gone to the gym? I asked Alex if he could think of anything strenuous I had done, and it took him ten minutes to stop laughing long enough to point out that I was so immobile that he had to put my socks on for me the day before, so no, he couldn't think of anything "strenuous" I had done. Unless you count drooling onto the couch while I was napping.

Then I remembered: the heavy weight I had been lifting was me. I am now so bulbous and unwieldy that every time I get out of bed, I have to carefully roll myself onto my side at the edge of the bed , swing my legs down, and then use my arms to push myself up into a sitting position. Ditto getting up off of the couch. It's also important to groan and grunt and hurk and uuunggh! as much as possible, or else Alex might not realize that 1: I'm pregnant, 2: I'm uncomfortable, and 3: therefore he should cater to my every whim... which mostly involve delicious, delicious Fudgesicles. Hey, hoisting myself off of the couch burns a lot of calories, you know.

(Also: we found the camera! I promise a belly picture in the next couple of days.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

No pictures, please


I really wanted to post a picture of what I look like at 36 weeks, but we seem to have lost our camera. So, I drew you one instead. Honest to goodness, I'm hoping that we'll find the camera soon and put a real picture up, because I look like someone surgically implanted a watermelon in my belly. It's good stuff.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Birth Plans

With the infant invasion looming, I finally started to think seriously and in more detail about what the birth process was going to be like, and what I wanted from it. Like pretty much every American in my situation, all I had ever seen of birth was what I got from movies and TV shows, and those were all either highly dramatic, with women in crisis being whisked into the OR as the husband is left behind, or played for comedy with the wife threatening her husband for getting her into this mess in the first place. And really, that's pretty much everything I knew about birthing: you go into labor, are rushed to the hospital, you scream, maybe make some witty remarks, and then the baby gets pushed out.

Alex and I went into our childbirth preparation class without a lot of expectations. I hoped that we'd learn a little about what we should expect and unexpected things that might happen, and knowing about them ahead of time would keep us from freaking out. Still, I figured: labor, scream, baby, done. Probably an epidural in there somewhere, too.

It wasn't until after our first class that I realized that hey... this is kind of a big deal, with a lot of decisions to be made. I started looking things up, got a few books, and (belatedly) tried to learn everything I could about the whole thing. I was lucky enough to stumble upon some women's stories of their experiences that seemed appealing to me, and then I got Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience, and that's when things changed for me. It's by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, and is basically the companion book to their documentary, "The Business of Being Born," which has been described as being the Inconvenient Truth of birthing. If anyone is actually still reading at this point, you're probably thinking, "Um, maybe taking advice from Ricki Lake isn't the best idea." And I swear, I'm not drinking the give-birth-in-a-yurt-and-wrap-the-baby-in-buffalo-skin Kool-Aid, although I do have a lot more respect now for people who choose to go different routes. And I do have some problems with the book; I don't think that it was a particularly rigorous or balanced study and I think that statistics were massaged and spun a bit. Still, the medical professionals aren't playing fair either, so I'm okay with it having an agenda and promoting it.

The majority of women go into the hospital, and the nurses and doctors tell them what to do. You get Pitocin to speed up your labor if the doctor says that you're not progressing fast enough, and you get the epidural because the nurses say that pretty much everyone who has taken Pitocin does, and if you aren't able to give birth within a few hours of that, you get a cesarean section because the doctor says that's the safest way to deliver the baby. Why wouldn't you do it this way? They're the professionals, right? And how many women know that there are other options?

Unfortunately, I still only have small bits and pieces of the story, but I'm pretty damned sure that the way birth is handled in the vast majority of hospitals is not the best way for every woman. The C-section rate in the US is over 30%, which is insanely high. There are a lot of factors in play, including malpractice liability pushing doctors to perform them and the fact that it only takes about an hour to perform a C-section from start to finish. Having Pitocin induced labor and having an epidural are both associated with a higher likelihood of having a C-section as well.

I don't want to get into too many details and statistics about the other drawbacks of having an epidural, but after learning about all of these things, I've decided to try as hard as I can to give birth without one. Now that I've made that decision, I'm wondering if I can do it. We can't afford a doula*, and as much as we learned in two childbirth preparation classes, the whole situation is going to be completely alien to both of us. And, 90% of the women who give birth at my hospital end up getting epidurals, so I'm guessing that the doctors and nurses will be coming in periodically asking me if I want one yet, since everybody else gets one. Will I be able to keep saying no when I'm in agonizing pain? I really don't know. At any rate, even if I do end up with interventions like the Pitocin, epidural, and C-section, I'll know that at least I know that I have a choice, and what those choices mean. And that's a lot farther along than I was two weeks ago.

*A labor doula is an assistant who can provide non-medical ways to deal with pain and anxiety during birth (like positioning, exercise balls, massage, breathing, and acupressure) amongst other things. Doulas are often involved in pre- and post-natal care, too.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Compliments

Dear pair of young men on Caltrain after the Giants game,

I just wanted to thank you. Not for splashing beer on me, because that wasn't my favorite part, but for the parts that came after.

It must have been fun for you and your 35 closest friends to celebrate your friend's 21st birthday at the baseball game. I'm surprised that you decided that the bunch of you were not drunk enough already, and continued the party on the train. I question your decision to drink more, but if you hadn't, I never would have met you, and Oh! What I would have missed.

Such a charming mix of utterly and completely pie-eyed drunkenness and chivalry! Like when you, No. 1, whacked your beer can down on the table with a mighty thump and it (surprise!) sprayed beery foam everywhere when you opened it. You, No. 2 noticed me squeegee-ing my arm down and made No. 1 apologize. I believe your exact words may have been, "Douchebag! You got BEER on her!" And No. 1, you were so stricken with guilt that the only way that you could think of to make it right again was to give me the rest of your beer. My polite protestations were falling on deaf ears, so finally Alex had to point out that I was pregnant, and not just trying to ruin your attempts at making amends.

If I thought you were sorry before, I was mistaken. I almost had to drag you up off the floor to stop the grovelling at my feet and self-flagellating. I'm not sure if you realized, but humans, even weensy ones who aren't finished gestating, can't actually absorb alcohol through the skin, so we're good. Your concern was touching, though. Once I managed to convince you that the baby and I were okay, one of you asked, "So, how far along are you? Like 3 months?" And then the other said, "I couldn't even tell." This, if you'll remember, was the part where I jumped across the the aisle and smothered you in kisses. (Note to self: in a few months, strike up conversations with massively pregnant women in the grocery store and ask them if they're in their second trimester yet. They might start tossing money and jewels.)

It was also pretty adorable when you started telling me about the people that you knew who were currently pregnant. It was hard to tell what you two were talking about, though, mostly because of the drunken incoherence and your apparent lack of experience with the whole pregnancy/birthing thing. I'm still curious about how your cousin who is five months along is one inch dilated. Besides the fact that dilation is measured in centimeters, you usually only talk about it while one is actively in labor.

Finally, I wanted to thank you for leaping to my defense when your friend tried to sit in the seat across from me. It was unoccupied, but it was awfully nice of you to shout at him that I was pregnant. It's true; I could at any moment have gone into labor, and what would happen THEN if someone was sitting near me? I'm certain we avoided catastrophe, though narrowly.

So goodbye! I'll always remember the awe-struck look you gave my belly as we left. At least I think it was my belly you were looking at... it was a little hard to tell, what with the head-wobbling and the eye-crossing.

Love,
Elena

Friday, July 31, 2009

Quiz


Take this fun quiz, and find out how much you really know about pregnancy!

1. How many pairs of pants that fit comfortably does a pregnant person need?

a. Four or five; a couple of pairs for work, a good pair or two of jeans, and one for the weekend. Cute skirts will round out your wardrobe.
b. Comfortably? Well, none. What is this 'comfort' of which you speak?
c. Does a muu-muu count?

2. How many frozen treats should be in the freezer at all times?

a. Maybe some Lite ice cream: you don't want to pack on the pounds too fast!
b. Maybe some regular ice cream: Lite ice cream is disgusting and pointless.
c. Five: Fudgesicles, real fruit popsicles, two kinds of Ben & Jerry's, and some Girl Scout cookies.
d. Well, it was five, but the pregnant one ate everything but a few of the cookies.

3. Starting in the 7th month, how often will the baby kick you in the ribs per day (on average)?

a. 40-50 times.
b. I lost count when I started sobbing because she just. won't. STOP.
c. Once. It's a trick question: her feet are permanently lodged in your ribs!

4. How many jokes about how huge the pregnant woman is can the husband make?

a. A few, it's important to keep your sense of humor!
b. As many as the husband can while the pregnant one is sitting on his chest. (Zero.)
c. One. Then the pregnant one EATS HIM WHOLE.

5. What are Elena and Alex having?

a. Boy
b. Girl
c. An ultimate frisbee player
d. Monkey
e. b, c, and d

6. What will be the most precious thing in Alex and Elena's lives once Baby comes?

a. Baby, of course.
b. The wonder that they are now a real family of their own.
c. The money from selling Baby on the black market.
d. Sleep.

How did you do?
1. b, 2. c (but give yourself half a point for d), 3. b, 4. c, 5. e (half a point for everything but a), 6. d.

Zero to two points: You need to hang around more bloated people. Go buy Elena some ice cream to make up for your failure.

Two to four points: Pretty good, but you could use some work. Go buy Elena some ice cream so that you'll do better next time.

Four to six points: Great! You are probably pregnant or have recently been sat upon by someone who is. Go buy some ice cream to celebrate and then share it with Elena!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Climb that Inadequacy Ladder!

When Alex and I went to our infant care class, we got a book from the hospital called "The Joy of Parenthood." I think the publishers should be a little pickier about their typesetters, 'cause I'm pretty sure the title was supposed to read, "The 'Joy' of Parenthood: The Myth Revealed," because the book is actually about the different ways that having an infant will ruin your life as you know it.

The very first page, after a perfunctory congratulations, assures you that it's perfectly alright and even normal to have exactly zero maternal affection toward your slimy, bald, bluish howler monkey. Page two holds this quote, which I am not making up: "You may find yourself crying and feeling like you are climbing this ladder of inadequacy higher and higher with every cry from your baby." (My question is: if I decide to take a header off of the inadequacy ladder, will the fall be enough to kill me quickly and painlessly?)

There are pages upon pages describing all the ways that your baby will be hideous and misshapen, and warning you not to throw it away, as there is at least a 50/50 chance that your baby will not be permanently coneheaded and crusty. This is followed by even more pages about silencing your infant's incessant shrieking, or barring that, coping mechanisms that will keep you from shaking the baby. From there it's a natural segue into the many ways to fail at breastfeeding, and then onto post-partum depression. Because really, by now, how could you be happy?

There is, however, chemical help! No, not the gin, although that will be awfully nice after nine months of teetotaling. We're talking about Oxytocin, the hormonal fairy dust that will make you love and care for your baby despite the fact that it looks like a blotchy pink Yoda. This magical product of the pituitary gland is apparently strong enough to make new parents genuinely happy! I can swear to the power of this stuff. I have been known to tear up during fabric softener and life insurance commercials. Um, and yogurt commercials. And at blank walls and silence. Okay, so maybe lately I've been mostly running around saying, "Baaaaaaaabyyyyyyyyyy! Oooooohhhh!" and then trying to snuggle the dog, who really just wants to nap and drool on the rug. Anyway, goo-covered or not, bring on the life-wrecking infant! The joy of parenthood doesn't scare me one bit.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Week 34


A recent picture of me in week 34 of pregnancy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I have the most amazingly awesome friends in history.

Saturday night was the Don't-Call-It-A-Baby-Shower, and people, the bar has been set high.

Instead of sitting around watching the mother-to-be awkwardly open endless pink-ribboned packages of booties and onesies, we stood in the front yard when 12 adult men and women nearly gave themselves aneurysms racing to drink beer from baby bottles. Instead of sipping tea while Great-Great Aunt Edna retold the story of how she gave birth to her eighth child out in the cow pasture, in a snowstorm, uphill BOTH WAYS, we drank home-brewed "It's a Girl Raspberry Ale." And instead of guessing how many safety diaper pins fit inside of a baby-wipe container, we took turns trying to bash open a papier mache baby bottle to get at the candy and nips inside. And you KNOW a baby shower has gone well when the police come to break it up.

In all seriousness, I can't think of the last time I felt so loved. Alex and I are incredibly lucky to have such great friends. Thank you, guys.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fast Times at Pre-Pregnancy High

Lately I've been having dreams about running and playing Ultimate. It might have something to do with the fact that I like to bring my cleats to bed and lull myself to sleep by caressing them and cooing, "I miss you," over and over. I used to have a much healthier relationship with my athletic equipment. For example, last Thanksgiving I did NOT lick my running sneakers at all, and instead just used them to run the Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 5K. I'm hesitant to call it a race, because although some people thought of it as such, I think the rest of the 6,000 people who 'ran' it were hoping to rationalize eating three different kinds of pie later on that day.

I started training for the race a good seven weeks beforehand. It was my first 5K, so my main motivation was to avoid embarrassing myself. (Okay... it's also because I'm insanely competitive. To me, there is no such thing as a "Fun Run". Running is something to be done faster than other people, or at least as fast as you can go without puking.) I printed a calendar with workouts listed for each day. I slowly built up the mileage. I did sprints. I had time goals. I did longer runs once per week. I even tried to practice running the course once, although I ended up in a Target parking lot (where the race did not go, by the way) and eventually walked back to the car, but I tried.

This year, I have two goals. One: to finish without walking (maybe). Two: to not scream, "I could have kicked your ass a year ago!" at the octogenarians with walkers whose dust I'll be eating. I was thinking I could duct tape my mouth shut, but that might interfere with the whole breathing thing. Meh, it's a secondary goal anyway. They probably won't even be able to hear me, what with the wind whistling in their hearing aids and all.

Somebody call me an agent, cause I have the next best-seller.

You'd be surprised at the lack of literature on disciplining your unborn child. Nothing on the internet, and the woman at the library was NOT helpful at all. You'd think I had asked her when the next meeting of the I Heart Hitler Club was.

But guess what, Baby? You've got a clever Mama, and just because it hasn't been done before, doesn't mean it never will be. Especially if you don't stop kicking that one monkey-scratchin' rib within the next 20 minutes. I've been more than patient. I know you don't have a lot to play with in there, nor a lot of room to move around, but guess what? That's a bone. It's a permanent fixture in my body. And no matter how many times you pummel it with your tiny little foot, it's not going anywhere.

So we can do this the hard way, or the easy way. You've got to ask yourself one question. "Do I feel lucky"?

Well, do ya, punk?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You're probably dying. Seriously, google it.

At about one o'clock yesterday afternoon, I was thinking to myself, "Gee, I think I'm finally feeling these perfectly normal Braxton-Hicks 'practice' contractions that a majority of pregnant women feel in their last trimester." At five o'clock yesterday evening, I was in the hospital hooked up to a blood pressure monitor, a heart rate monitor for me, a fetal heart rate monitor, and a doo-hickey that measures contractions.

What happened between one and five, you ask, that would cause me to be lying in a hospital bed with so many contraptions and wires hanging off of me that reading a magazine was difficult? Simple. Google. (Before anyone has a heart attack and calls my mom to tell her that I'm probably dying as we speak, everything is great. Baby's great, I'm great, my pee is great. (They checked.))
So I was feeling these sort of crampy little pains, and like I said, I figured they were Braxton-Hicks "practice" contractions. My doctor had asked me at my last appointment whether I had felt any yet, so I was expecting them. I googled the symptoms, and I found out that for most people, they're painless and feel like your uterus bunching up or hardening. Mine were definitely on the painful side, and I didn't really feel any uterus bunching, although honestly, how the hell do I know what a bunched-up uterus feels like? So then I googled some more, about what my symptoms might indicate, and people, I all but got red flashing lights and sirens that told me that I WAS PROBABLY IN LABOR RIGHT NOW.

I was still pretty sure that they were just Braxton Hicks, and that they happened to be painful for me, but I figured I'd call the nurse at the doctor's office anyway. She asked me a bunch of questions like, Have you been exposed to chicken pox lately? and, Have you been stabbing your abdomen with scissors lately? And then, SHE was pretty sure that it was just Braxton Hicks, but she wanted to talk to the doctor just in case. If I called the doctor's office and said, "I'm about 34 weeks pregnant, and I've noticed that my belly has gotten much larger, and I've got these weird movements inside," the nurse would tell me, "It's probably just the infant that you're gestating, but... Did you see Alien, where Kane has weird movements in his abdomen, and then the alien, like, totally rips through his chest and runs off, dripping blood everywhere? It could be that, and we really don't want you to sue us, so we're gonna need you to come in for some tests."

After an hour or so, they determined that I was having weensy little contractions, probably Braxton Hicks, that just happened to be kind of painful for me, and that I could go home. Duh. I think I just figured out what's wrong with health care in America: an explosive combination of people googling symptoms and doctors being deathly afraid of malpractice suits.

If the baby comes out looking like this, though, I am SO suing the hospital.


Monday, July 20, 2009

What's in a name?

Everybody's been asking what we're gonna name this kid, so I figured I'd give y'all the short list, and let you vote.

In no particular order:

Hepzibah (From the great novel, Silas Marner. I think this will give her a refined, intellectual air.)
Paprika (Great spice)
Pimenton (It's paprika, but smoked! From Spain! Exotic, no?)
Clytemnestra (From ancient Greek. And such good nicknames, too... Doesn't "Clytie" sound cute?)
Myrtle (She'd probably be the only one she ever meets. Also, rhymes with "turtle.")
Goneril (From King Lear. So many great names from literature!)
Pinky (She'll be small and pink at first, this seems appropriate.)
Bjorn and Ulv (Swedish for bear and wolf. This would probably work better if she turns out to be twin boys.)

What do you think?

Friday, July 17, 2009

No guts... no glory



My mom used to get horrible migraines when my brother and I were little, and if there's anything harder than taking care of little kids whose favorite game is Sibling Dismemberment, then it's trying to referee Sibling Dismemberment when even a wayward sunbeam can make you vomit. Once when my brother and I were about 9 and 6, Mom needed a little help from the Electronic Babysitter so that she could writhe in agony in relative peace. At the video store, she went for a nice safe choice, something that was a cartoon at the time... Robocop.

That movie is forever seared into my brain, which before that fateful day had been mostly devoted to My Little Pony, ballerinas and sparkly unicorns. Robocop originally got ELEVEN X ratings for graphic violence before they finally cleaned it up enough to get an R. (And what kind of genius went to a board room and pitched the idea for a kids version? "Hey guys, you know that new movie, the one that kept getting ratings that would have kept it from wide release? I think there's a real market for it in the 7-11 year old range." He's probably still trying to get Schindler's List: The Animated Series made.) Remember that scene where they torture him at the beginning, right before they kill him? Yeah, I still do.

Anyway, my point is that well meaning parents make mistakes. All the time. When we saw The Watchmen, someone in the theater had brought a little girl who looked to be about four years old with them. Besides the gallons of spurting blood and prolonged soft-core porn scenes, there was also, oh, THAT ONE PART WHERE A LITTLE GIRL GETS CHOPPED UP AND FED TO DOGS. Maybe their reasoning was the same as my mother's: if a movie is made from or into a cartoon or comic book, it's okay, right? We shouldn't be so judgemental of other people's parenting choices. I watched Robocop in my formative years, and I didn't end up a drug lord snorting cocaine off of... um, ladies... and their, um... lady parts. I mean, I gave it a go, but it really wasn't anything like it's portrayed in the movies. For one thing, nobody ever makes mention of all the bookkeeping involved in running a drug cartel. Unrealistic expectations... if you ask me, that's the real problem with the media and kids these days.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Safe and secure


She looks pretty happy, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Disconnect

What the doctor says: "Hm, you've gained 6 pounds since your last visit, that's a little high. Although, overall, your total weight gain is fine considering your height, especially since your weight gain was on the lower side last week. Everything else good? Good. I'll see you in two weeks for your ultrasound."

What I hear: "Holy shit, you've gained 6 pounds since your last visit? How do you even DO that? Are you mainlining lard? Well, that's it... you're already huge and unattractive, and you're never EVER going to lose this baby weight. This will start the cycle of you being depressed about your body, then overeating to console yourself, until in a few years, when your house catches on fire you end up on the evening news because you'll be so fat that the firefighters have to chop down your doorframe to get you out. Everything else good? Good. I'll see you in two weeks for your ultrasound."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dear Co-workers

Dear everyone at work,

How are you? You seem confused. I know that I used to see you all and greet you every day when I worked in the main lobby, and now you rarely see me. I can't help but notice that when we do have occasion to run into each other, your eyeballs drift to my abdomen. It's not just you - I'm pregnant. Very much so; you can tell by the many, many pounds I have gained that have deposited themselves exclusively on my belly area. I can also tell that you're dying to ask me if I'm pregnant, but you're afraid that maybe I've just become heir to a fortune that's dependent on how well the stock of Ben & Jerry's is performing. It's okay! Go ahead and ask me! If I really dislike you, I'll say no and watch you squirm in horror, but there are very few of you who deserve such torture.

I know that everyone says that you should never ask someone if they're pregnant, and I follow that rule myself. Still, if you're going to be blatantly eyeballing my gut, you might as well ask. If I was just getting fatter, your stares would be just as insulting as you asking outright. If you don't ask, I'm not really going to let you off the hook on my own. When we do run into each other in the break room, I like to keep our interactions confined to the usual: minimal eye contact, perfunctory greeting, maybe on Mondays/Fridays an acknowledgement of the past/upcoming weekend. Ditto elevator. There's nothing worse than starting a conversation only to have the other person get off on the next floor, forcing an awkward and abrupt end, or worse, the open-door linger. Nobody likes an elevator lingerer, and I don't want to be responsible for anyone having to wait an extra 20 seconds to get upstairs.

The only other solution that I have for you is to just carry around cans of cheap beer, and you can offer to chug one with me. Actually, you all should probably start doing that whether or not there are pregnant people you want to ferret out. It'd be great for company morale.

Love,
Elena

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Kids' Table

I went to a barbecue at a friend's house a little while ago, and I have never been more terrified in my life.

We walked in, and even though there was no wall separating the dining room from the kitchen, there may as well have been. The dining room/play area was full of pants-pooping toddlers and those who owned them, and the kitchen was full of the rest of the adults. At first I thought that all of the parents were three feet tall, but then I realized they were all of normal height, you just couldn't tell because every single one of them was constantly bending over or crouching down to pull Cheerios out of their two-year old's nostril, or to keep their one year old from bashing the 8 month old's head in with a Teletubby.

I hid behind Alex (about as well as a sumo wrestler can hide behind a telephone pole) so that I could sneak into the kitchen where the regular adults were. I was petrified that if they saw that I was pregnant, they'd reach out and drag me into their circle with their diaper-smelling claws to be mauled by their sticky, shrieking spawn. I wanted to hang out with REAL adults, who were drinking beer, liberally peppering their speech with cuss words, and planning on staying out past six pm. It's not that I don't like kids; in fact, I like them a lot. I wouldn't be having my own if I didn't want to be on nostril-Cheerio removal duty for the forseeable future. And, to be fair, the two groups of people really didn't know each other so it was perfectly natural for them to be separate. A lot of the kids were pretty cute, too, especially the one who figured out how to use the garden hose.

Still, I couldn't help but feel what I can only really describe as rising panic as I watched all the mothers entertain and feed their babies and wipe their kids' faces for hours. (And I do mean mothers... there were only a couple of fathers in attendance, and only one of them was helping wrangle his kid.) Is this really what I have to look forward to? Is "socializing" going to mean being in physical proximity to an adult while I'm entirely focused on my damn kid's bodily functions? It didn't help that one very well meaning mother was telling me all about how I'd never get to play Ultimate again because the baby will be napping from 11-2, and you can't do anything while the baby is napping, or else she'll get cranky! I got lots of other helpful information, including exactly what I'd be doing every day for the next two years, and NONE of it had anything to do with fun. She was telling me all of this with a wide smile on her face. I'm sure she's completely in love with her daughter, and no game of Ultimate will ever compare with the feeling that having my own child smile at me and drool on me, but I wanted to shake her and scream, "LADY, do you have any idea how completely insane you sound?"

I had to leave the room before I burst into tears over my lost freedom and youth. Luckily, Alex was there to assure me that he'd be happy to stay home from 11-2 every Saturday so that I could play Ultimate as soon as I felt like it, and I know that I'm going to make my own choices as a parent that will probably end up having little to do with all of the advice I get. Still, I'm just saying, Baby... you had better be awfully cute.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake


Alright, people. It's summer, and you should be eating strawberry shortcake. I don't mean the half-assed kind, with the weirdly circular Yellow number 5 cakes from the grocery store and Cool-Whip, but the real thing. It couldn't be easier, and I'm not even going to include a proper recipe because it's really so painfully easy that you don't need it.
  1. Macerate yer strawberries. This just means that you cut them up, sprinkle sugar and maybe some lemon juice (if you have a lemon*) on them, stir (maybe moosh some of them up a little, I like that) and let them sit in the fridge for a couple of hours while the juice comes out and mixes with the sugar to make a little bit of a syrup. Don't ask me about quantities or times, I've never measured anything in my life. I prefer to cook by the seat of my pants. You don't even really have to do this. Last time, I just mixed a little bit of sweetened frozen strawberries that I had thawed to make the strawberries a little syrupy and sweet. But, you HAVE to use mostly fresh strawberries.


  2. Make yer shortcakes. I just use the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box. (I always have Bisquick around because I reallllly like pancakes, especially blueberry.) The Bisquick recipe takes literally less than 5 minutes to do. I think I even know it by heart. 2 and 1/3 cups of Bisquick, 1/2 cup of milk (soy milk works fine), 3 Tbsp. of melted butter, and 3 Tbsp. of sugar. (I admit it, I cheated to check the amounts. I was almost dead on, but I said 2 and 1/2 cups of Bisquick.) Stir it together, just until it's well mixed. Plop 6 blobs on a cookie sheet and bake it at 425 F for 12-15 minutes. I soooort of measured these things, but only using a one cup measurer, and none of it was precise in any way, and I know that I put more butter in than 3 Tbsp. The shortcakes came out perfectly anyway.



  3. Whip yer cream. Put some whipping cream in a bowl with a little sugar and a teensy bit of vanilla, and whip it, either with a hand mixer or your arm. Doing it by hand is hard, but not impossible, especially if you freeze your (metal) bowl and whisk beforehand.



  4. Plunk 'em all together on a plate and be happy it's summer.

I have neither the camera nor the skills to actually take my own food photography, which is really really hard, so I found a picture instead. Thanks to the person I stole that from.


*Real lemon juice only. The stuff in the plastic bottle just ain't right, don't use it if that's all you have. And why do you have that icky stuff anyway?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Cervix Whisperer

Last night, at our first Childbirth Preparation/Lamaze class, I met the Cervix Whisperer. I am not kidding. She even has a website, thecervixwhisperer dot com. I didn't really have an image in my mind of what a cervix whisperer might be like (and if you're lucky, neither do you), but as it turns out, she is a petite, self-proclaimed ex-hippie with hair past her waist. The Cervix Whisperer knows everything about a lady's nether regions that one could ever possibly want to know, and she is NOT afraid to show you pictures. She was also not afraid to describe a fourth degree episiotomy.* I think that we are definitely in good hands, as she is probably one of a handful of people on earth who has seen more vaginas than Wilt Chamberlain.

Anyway, she was walking us through all of the different things that could happen during labor, telling us what to expect, what was abnormal and warranted a call to the doctor, and what wasn't. (Sadly, excruciating pain, gushing fluids, and involuntary pooping all fall under "perfectly normal".) We got to the part where we all sat on the floor practicing breathing, and she suddenly turned. The Cervix Whisperer, friend/earth-mother to women everywhere, told the husbands to pinch us. Hard. The husbands began frantically looking around the room at each other, telepathically asking each other, "Is this a horrible trick? We're not REALLY supposed to pinch the hormonal whales, are we?" She convinced them to do it, and told us not to whine about it, but to practice our controlled breathing while she coached us through a "contraction", and had the husbands pinch progressively harder until the peak, and then they backed off. I was doing my best, but I started laughing partway through because I thought that Alex was too afraid of my wrath to actually pinch me hard enough for it to hurt. We ended the exercise, and after a minute, she had the husbands pinch us again as hard as they had been during the contraction. I almost yelped in pain, and asked Alex if he had really pinched me that hard, and he swore that he had pinched that hard or harder. The second pinch took me by surprise, and it didn't increase gradually as it had during the exercise, but even so, just doing the calm and focused breathing made it hurt about half as much. Thank you, Cervix Whisperer!

Now, if only she could make it so that my contractions during the late stages of labor hurt only as much as a pinch to the arm, I think she could give Cesar Milan a run for his money.

*If you don't know what a fourth degree episiotomy is, do yourself a favor and DON'T GOOGLE IT, for the love of all that is good in the world. Especially if you think you might ever consider giving birth, or providing someone you love the, uh, "means" to give birth themselves. Google "cute puppies in baskets" instead, or "cute stories about cute babies."

Monday, July 6, 2009

31 weeks


This is me yesterday, at about 31 weeks along. My belly is still pretty low and pointy, and excellent for warding off unwanted hugs. I think the black shirt is incredibly slimming, because in real life, I look like a manatee with thyroid problems. My profile picture is now a front-on picture of the same shirt, which explains where I came up with the name for this blog.

The Stand-In

We put together the crib yesterday, and by we, I mean that I was often in the room messing around with iTunes while Alex figured out how to put the whole thing together himself. Without having any instructions. Oh, yeah, and I occasionally asked him if he was SUUURE that that really was supposed to go there? Cause that really just doesn't make sense. (Answer: Yes, it does go there. You can tell because the crib looks like a crib, and doesn't wobble at all.)

A point came during the construction that Alex told me he needed my help, and I immediately left the room for a snack. He deserves a lot of credit here, because if I had asked him for help with something and he hadn't started doing it before I even finished the sentence, I would have punched him in the stomach and then stuffed his favorite PS3 game down the garbage disposal. Instead, he very calmly asked where I was going, and casually mentioned that this was, in fact, the one and only time that he needed two minutes worth of extra hands. You'd think he wanted Baby to come out brain damaged because I postponed eating a handful of almonds for five minutes.

We got the crib together (thanks, Alex... you are awesome), and arranged the baby furniture in the second bedroom. Even with the adorable bedding in the crib, it didn't look quite right, so we looked around for a stand in baby so that we could really get an idea of how the whole picture would look. Cash was too big to hoist up, and anyway, he's surprisingly uninterested in being mauled by us when he's busy sleeping. When we first got our changing table, Alex was wondering what the straps were for, so I put the stuffed bear that he gave me for a birthday years ago onto the changing pad and buckled it in. Those straps work! We turned the changing pad upside down and shook it, and that bear stayed in. We spare nothing when it comes to ensuring our offspring's safety.

Anyway, we put the bear on its back to sleep in the crib, and we both stood there, pondering the upcoming miracle soon to come into our lives. After a minute Alex made the bear do a dead on imitation of our pending miracle screeching its head off, complete with waving arms and kicking legs. He also discovered that the plastic-covered, pee-proof mattress without sheets on it is perfect for sliding bears (and babies?) back and forth, bouncing the poor thing off the sides of the crib bumper. Also, should our zero to 24 month old show any propensity for break-dancing, especially when it comes to spinning on the head, that sheet free mattress is where it's at.

I know that Alex is incredibly excited for this baby to get here, though. Last night after he turned the lights off in the rest of the house, he went into the nursery, stood next to the crib and said (out loud!), "Good night, fake baby." I can't wait to see how much love he has for the real one.