Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nursery, Sweet Nursery

It's done.

Well, ok, there's more to do. I have a feeling there will always be more to do. Greg and I decided it was a good time to clean up the room and show off all we've done.

First:

The closet before.
What a waste of space.
Check out the bend in that shelf.
Room color and blinds before.

Now that you're sufficiently prepared - Here's a video tour of the room. Why yes, I work without a script.

We put a bunch of the gifts in the room but if you don't see yours, don't fret. We've still got lots of other items stashed elsewhere. As there's more to do, we don't want to fill the room just yet.

I did say this in the video but I think I should repeat it. After shooting the video we removed the bumpers and blanket from the crib, and we will get those swing tags removed from the stuffed animals etc before baby gets a hold of them.

The lighting in the room isn't great right now, and during the day it looks completely different.

Here are some stills:

New closet 1
New closet 2
Crib and alphabet cards

When Greg painted each of these boxes for the closet, he left behind an abstract creation, which seems to show the colors better than anything else.

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I can't say this enough - Greg deserves the vast majority of the credit. He did all the design and carpentry, all the heavy lifting, all the painting. I helped where I could with putting furniture together etc but he still did nearly all of it. He's still the best husband ever, and I know our kid will appreciate him as a dad.

I have to give thanks to Jenn Ski, who provided much needed inspiration.

And many, many thanks to those who've showered us with gifts, from registry items to your own inspirations, from gift cards to cash. You're helping us tremendously.

Friday, December 25, 2009

I was going to write about baby showers but I still have two more to go. Maybe I'll save that wrap-up for afterward.

I will say that even though I knew we'd need a lot of things, I am still surprised to see how much we need even after 3 very generous showers. Don't get me wrong, everything we've gotten so far is dearly needed, from clothing to toys to gadgets to larger items. Looks like the gift cards we've received will prove very useful, very quickly.

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I've had a cold for nearly a week now and it's driving me crazy. I can't take anything for it except hot tea (usually decaf with honey and lemon), throat lozenges, and nasal spray (which you're not supposed to overuse, so that's relegated to helping me sleep). It built up slowly and has been going strong for a few days now, though I think I'm past the peak.

To those of you that celebrate it - Merry Christmas. We spent the day doing household projects. Greg got the closet that much closer to completion. It's looking great and will be DONE as of this weekend, leaving me able to get the organization part done this week during my time off. I went through the kitchen cabinets and did some sorting there, finding a surprising amount of space for the baby-related kitchen items.

Next up...packing for the hospital. We're 5 weeks away from the due date.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

33 weeks



Yeah, I don't look much different from this angle than I did two weeks ago. I might even look smaller. I think that the two-dimensional photos really don't do my changes justice. Perhaps I should have been taking a few different angles each time, or even used video instead.

In any case, I'm feeling really dense in the belly these past couple of days so I think I'm about to see a growth spurt.

I think I'm getting the 3rd trimester down: Extra support for the belly while sleeping, check. Restroom visit every two hours or less, check. Bottle of tums in my purse for after nearly every meal, check. Less caffeine (since he seems more sensitive to it lately), check. Little changes in how I do things makes every move a little more comfortable.

More later about baby showers.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nearing 7.5 months

OB appointment this week was easy as usual. I did not gain much weight at all this past month. He reassured me that it was perfectly fine, I'm a small person, everyone is different, etc. I'm willing to bet that I've lost weight elsewhere as the baby gains density.

He took a culture for a bacterial test, measured the belly, and did a quick sonogram to check position. He's still head down, which is a good indicator that he'll stay that way, though there is a small chance he could still flip around. The kid kicked for the doc which pleased both of us.

I asked about some pain I've been having at the top of my belly, right in the center (below the sternum). I figured it was basic stretching of skin and the separation of the abdomen muscles. I mostly have it when I'm sleeping and need to roll over. It's taken some time for me to get used to rolling over slowly to avoid the stabbing feeling I get. He had a quick look and touch and verified that it wasn't herniated and was normal. It's a lot of weight to flip over, and that's basically where all the pressure ends up. His only recommendation was more pillows.

I also get quite itchy right there as the skin is pulled on and grows. Another normal result. Now I know why women rub their preg bellies so often. (That, and it's a natural place to put your hands.)

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We've had two childbirth classes so far and I'm enjoying them. The instructor works at our hospital and knows the ins and outs of the place, so all the information she gives is based on what we'll actually be dealing with. She shows us medical items used in the delivery room and discusses all the different circumstances. She's got posters, handouts, videos, and even the actual devices. Even after all the reading I've done, there's still a lot of practical things to learn. I favor learning things from books but getting to ask questions and get visual answers is another level of help.

There's been a small amount of breathing exercise, along with massage ideas for the coaches. What I've found inspiring so far is the different positions possible for laboring. You can stand, lean on a chair, walk around, kneel, even go down on all fours, whatever feels most productive. The more I see of the freedom they offer during labor these days the more heartened I feel. The flip side is that if you get an epidural, you can no longer stand and you are confined to a bed for the rest of the labor. Quite the trade off. I currently feel as though I'd prefer to own the discomfort and be able to move around as I felt necessary. (All pre-labor claims are subject to change without notice.) Of course, all this comes from hoping for a standard natural delivery.

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Our second baby shower was last weekend, a crazy co-ed affair with friends, and this coming weekend is our third, with my side of the family. Already I'm quite overwhelmed by all the support and love we're lucky enough to receive. Writing thank you notes is actually a lot of fun, as I get to say something loving to people who may not hear it enough from us. Greg has the shorter end of the stick - he's working very hard to get the nursery going, and it involves many things I can't do, such as lugging heavy objects and painting. I guess lugging my own "heavy object" day after day counts for something, but still! By the way, painting and closet transformations start soon. I'll take some before and after pictures so you can ooh and ahh at my husband's awesome handiwork.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bottle addendum

I realized I didn't mention bottles in my last post. As soon as we're sure the baby is nursing ok we'll start pumping milk and using bottles. This will give Greg and others a chance to feed the baby while I get a break.

Regardless of how well breastfeeding goes, we'll be using bottles.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Breast is best

I am nearly done in my breastfeeding research. Once again I'm happy to be having a baby now instead of 15 or even 10 years ago.

It's taken a long time for breastfeeding to make a full comeback, to the point where you can find hospitals who support it fully. It sounds crazy to me, but for an entire generation of women and their babies, breastfeeding wasn't only a socially awkward option, it was also not the medically sanctioned one.

I'm sure there are still hospitals that go by the old routine - baby is born, taken to the nursery, given a bottle of formula on the nurses' schedule. It's just easier for a large institution to do things their way. They can keep closer tabs on the baby, and the formula fattens the kid up much quicker than breast milk.

I've talked to moms from my parents' generation who say that nurses talked them out of breastfeeding, and read about an era when only 20 percent or less of babies were breastfed. Even in recent years, you might have a nurse who supported breastfeeding, and a doctor who didn't - and you'd have them whispering in your ear, "don't listen to that other person, this is what you need to do."

Now, there is so much support. Our hospital's standard operating procedure involves couplet care, where the baby stays with mom the entire time, if possible. They encourage the baby to latch on to the breast within the first hour of birth, and have a lactation consultant on staff.

La Leche League is an international group that works both in the basic one-on-one support new moms may need and is the first to speak up for the rights of breastfeeding moms and their babies. Even if your hospital isn't supportive, you can find someone nearby from LLL who is.

People wonder why breastfeeding needs this much help. Isn't it natural, instinctual? The answer is yes and no. New moms from my generation may have never seen breastfeeding before. They may feel uncomfortable with the concept. Much of breastfeeding is in your head, and if you're not relaxed, it'll be much harder. Babies also have to learn it, and without the guidance of a mom who knows how it works, the baby also may be frustrated and unable to latch.

All of this is easy for me to say now, having never tried it. I feel rather confident in my abilities here because my mom had such an easy time of it. My pregnancy has been as easy as hers so far, so I'm hoping my luck and genes hold out. I did see my mom breastfeed while I was growing up and I don't think I have any hangups about it. I've read 3 books simultaneously on the subject so I already feel like I'm prepared. Yes, I'm keeping in mind that nothing is as it seems and I should be prepared for all eventualities.

I plan on discreetly breastfeeding in public as well. I registered for a breastfeeding cover, which is basically a cloth worn on a hoop around your neck, to shield the nursing baby and breast from public view but still allow eye contact between the two of you. Hopefully I'll feel comfortable enough to do this most anywhere. Personally, I wish for a world where breastfeeding didn't have to be covered up at all, but I'm willing to make concessions for a world still recovering from the silliness of anti-breast thinking.

Even so, I can't say I fall on the activist side of things. I think my upper age limit for breastfeeding is much lower than some. If I do have a hangup, it's that when a child can actually talk and request breastfeeding, it's kind of weird. I know that many moms feel differently and that's fine...and I just might change my mind, but that's my current feeling.

Some women boycott Nestle because they do their best to sell their formula to third world countries where the water supply is very dangerous to babies. Free samples go to new moms and the doctors get endless freebies and incentives to push the product. Yes, some moms can't breastfeed, but proportion of bottle fed to breastfed is extremely high, as is the infant mortality rate due to bad water. The reports on this are not good and I'm not happy about it...but I admit, I've never been good at full boycotts. I will say that I can never look at Nestle the same way again, and given the choice, I will probably buy something else.


In the end I treat it as a simple decision, not a political statement. Breastfeeding is preferable. I will try my best to make it happen. If it doesn't work, we'll try something else, whether it's pumping my milk for bottles or going for formula. As the books say, you do the best you can for your baby, and that is always good enough.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Waddling along

Something changed in the last day or so.

The waddle is in full swing. My steps are small and slow. I almost want to take a video of me walking just to have it for posterity.

My lungs are more than cramped. I felt winded all day today. In talking to patrons at the library I had moments where I felt I didn't have the breath for my usual spiel. Forget "everything in moderation", now it's "everything in slow motion."

People are noticing. My coworkers like joking about it because I used to walk quickly everywhere I went, as if there were fires to put out. I think it's funny too - and especially funny how I've accepted my new body's limits without too much mental strain.

All this put me in the mood to delegate today. I am starting to peel off the layers of duties I've accumulated at my job over the years and hand them off. For instance, when I had to face a weekly task that involves much stooping down to low shelves today, I turned to a coworker and passed it on. I had thought I could continue to do this for a while yet, but today has disproven that. Check, another thing off my list. No guilt or worry involved, everyone can pick up the slack, because I sure as heck can't. Thankfully, my awesome coworkers are ready to catch all that I drop.

Sure, I'm not the person I was 6 months ago, or even 2 months ago. I'm not supposed to be, and I know it. Being restrained like this is practically an out-of-body experience. I see myself sauntering down hallways I used to speed through...and it feels normal. Much like how in a dream one would accept walking through a river of chocolate pudding.

Speaking of dreams - my vivid dreaming made a comeback. Last night I had a complete dream involving NASA's recent discovery of water on the moon, involving drilling for water, creating robot-run farming, encasing the moon in an envelope of air and establishing a human utopia there. When I woke up, I had to work to convince myself that moving there wasn't an option for us and our new baby. (With geeky sci-fi dreams like that, maybe the name should be "Tiberius" after all.)

Anyway, my tiredness and generally wheezy disposition come at an annoying time. Tonight we attend our first childbirth class, put on by the hospital. I'm excited to see what their procedures are and get that much closer to a delivery room mindset. Older friends and family assume it's a Lamaze class, younger ones ask what methodology they use, and while I'm sure it's a combination of things, I have to admit that I don't know exactly and we'll have to see.

At least it will involve lots of sitting down, which I could use.

31 weeks



Click the photo for a bigger version, as usual. (This resized image came out small this time but I don't have the time to fix it this morning!)

Plenty of people are saying now that I'm not very large for 7 months along. I think that when you lift the shirt you can see that it's proportionately large for my small frame. However, I'm not prone to do that in public. The other aspect is that the belly is tight and dense. I'm all baby (and baby-related tissues). People are surprised when I mention that I've gained almost 20 pounds.

Had a lovely time at my first baby shower last weekend. Everyone is so generous and sweet. I'm beginning to churn out the thank you notes, though I do take time on each to make sure they're genuine. I better get them done this week because I'll have another batch to do after next Sunday, and another the week after that...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. There has been so much loving support for us during this crazy time and I'm beyond thankful for all of you. Many thanks to those who simply read this blog - it gives me a fun outlet and your encouragement keeps me going. I'm about to enter the barrage of baby showers and holiday occasions where I get to see as many people as I can in person, and I can't wait. I'm already thankful for my full schedule, both this weekend and throughout December.

More updates soon. Have a lovely holiday with family, friends, and good food!

Monday, November 16, 2009



An overdue photo update.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Head first

Visited the OB yesterday. The basics look good, I gained a few pounds, blood pressure normal. He asked me how often the baby moves, and when I let him know it was at least once every couple of hours he was happy with that. If the baby goes quiet for 4 hours I'm to try get him to move by drinking juice or pushing on the belly a bit, and if he's still quiet I should visit the hospital. No worries there. I have a feeling he moves much more often than I indicated to the doctor, though on days where I'm moving around a lot I tend not to notice his movements as much.

We heard the whoosh whoosh heartbeat on the doppler again, which he said sounded strong and at 144 bpm, normal. Then he briefly switched on the ultrasound. Not an amazing view for us this time, but he saw everything clearly, and told us that the baby is now head down. This is great news. At least for now, I don't have to worry about when he'll turn, or if he'll turn. It is possible that he'll flip himself around some more but still, head down is good.

This month wasn't as big of a growing month as I thought it would be, and the evidence that it wasn't all in my head started to mount as I hit my latest milestone. The reactions of strangers has shifted. Now when I say I'm at 6 months, the response is "you're still so small!" Yes, I am, though I've gained about 15 pounds so far...anyway, I know that everyone goes at their own pace and growth spurts are different for each kid. The doc affirmed this for me.

He also went over some of the basics on when to go to the hospital, and his stance on epidurals. First, go to the hospital when the pain becomes too much to handle at home, regardless of dilation or time between contractions. I've heard many others tell stories of being turned away at the hospital due to not being far along enough, but this hospital did seem small enough that this wouldn't be an issue....plus, I have a pretty decent pain threshold, I think. In any case, I don't think I would stay at home if the pain were too much to bear anyway. Regarding pain relief, he wants the whole process to be as positive as possible. If you spend hours upon hours in awful pain it's not going to make for happy memories. He says it'll be up to me whether I need it or not, but his basic recommendation is that I have an epi early in order to allow me to save my strength for the final pushing. (Epidurals last for 2 or 3 hours.) All will be decided at the time.

So, no new tests, and the only homework I have is to sign up for birthing classes...and take it easy.

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Here are links to the registries:
Babies R Us
Target

And here are some sellers I've seen on Etsy that I dig...not to say we need these things, I just want to give an idea of the kinds of styles we like.

Gifts are fully appreciated but never necessary!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Regarding Registries and Reviews

I've been extremely busy the last few weeks. My free time was transformed, my thoughts were hijacked, and my conversation skills have diminished. I have been swallowed by the world of the Baby Registry.

Before I even began, I thought I had an inkling of how this would go. Back in 2002 Greg and I learned what being a married couple would REALLY be like by forcing ourselves to work together to choose our registry items. I can't count how many times we went out there with that barcode gun, quibbling over style and color, function and value. Before this duty was thrust upon us, all of our items were hand-me-downs, and our personal style was something we rarely discussed. It would have been more depressing than anything, mentioning what we liked but couldn't afford. Sure, our sessions with the Rabbi helped us understand the challenges of married life, but learning to mesh my more whimsical style with his more classic underpinnings did far more to make the place into OUR home. (I'll never forget the generosity of those that gave us all those wonderful things - it was a dream come true.)

Since baby stuff is a whole new realm for us to knock heads on, I flashed back to those days. I thought that the meat of the problem would be our own preconceptions of child rearing and style choices. What I didn't realize is that it wasn't us against each other anymore, it was us against the absolute mountain of options.

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If there were any doubts that I'm a nitpicky, anal retentive, indecisive perfectionist, my experiences in registering have washed them away.

I imagine that things were different 15 years ago. You went to the store, you chose what you wanted. Perhaps you bought an advice book or spoke to experienced parents first, but in the end, you looked at stuff and decided it was a probably a functional/quality/necessary/cute item and it would be nice to receive as a gift. Beep goes the barcode scanner.

What I'm sure most (normal) people don't realize is that today it's far easier to get lost...stuck in details...wander in the mist and question one's own self-worth while grappling with the all-encompassing questions, such as "will my baby prefer a safari or a woodland creature theme?"

There are So.Many.Choices. I almost wish there were fewer, as it was all those years ago. Sure, the high chair tray took two people and at least one bruised finger to unlock, the seat was designed to ensnare crumbs and grow fungus, and the kid outgrew the thing immediately, but at least you only had one choice, right?

(By the way, if you haven't read Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, as well as all those other current books about decision making, I recommend them.)

Even as the products have more and more killer features (wait, you mean I can get a high chair lets go of the tray with one hand operation, adjusts for height, reclines, wipes clean, and encourages the digestion of peas??) there are always different features for different products.

Baby bottles are a good example. There are three basic options to start - glass, plastic, or plastic liners. (Quick aside - pretty much all plastic baby bottles are BPA free these days. BPA was the big "bad for baby" scare in the past couple of years, and the dust has settled, so plastic is again accepted as a safe choice). Here's the rundown: Glass is easy to clean thoroughly, and there is no doubt that it is 100% non-toxic, but it weighs a ton and can break when dropped. Plastic bottles are lightweight and shatter proof, though some warn that you never know what chemical will be called out next. Plastic liner bottles are the most sanitary of all (being brand new every time) and much less washing is necessary, but you are buying and tossing a bag every time your baby needs a drink.

My very personal, very subjective take: Glass will shatter on our tile kitchen floor (and perhaps take a tile with it) and I have no large fears about the future toxicity of plastics. I dislike throwing away a bag for every meal, and I have no issues with washing bottles. Sounds easy, right? There, done, plastic it is!

See, but that's just level one. Your princess is in another castle.

Now it's time to tackle brand names. To figure out what's best for colic, for gassy tummies. Some brands have special vents that go on before the nipple, but washing them can be a pain. Some brands have special nipple shapes to supposedly mimic breastfeeding. I even found some new-fangled bottles that, I kid you not, look a little too much like the real thing. And of course there's always price to consider...

So, how do you decide what's important to you, when you've never washed a bottle, and your baby can't yet opine on which nipple they prefer? You read reviews.

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Reviews sound pretty straight forward. Either the product works or it doesn't. But after reading a few dozen reviews a few trends become clear.

First, no matter how many people say the product is awesome, there will always be a few outliers who hate it. I mean, HATE IT. After 8 reviews in a row saying the item is great quality and lasts forever, there will be one saying "fell to pieces when I assembled it, unsafe, would never let a child near it". After 10 people claim their babies fell asleep fast, one will say "my kid did nothing but scream, terrible product, this other one is much better."

The worry is that you may have more in common with the one outlier family than the other 85% of of the population. The best you can do is try to figure out, by the way the mom describes herself and the product, whether you can trust their point of view. For instance, if they use ALL CAPS, poor grammar and no punctuation, it's a clue that this person may not have the smarts to assemble a sandwich, never mind a complicated piece of furniture.

There's often a bit of give and take to the reviews, as some people post just to respond to others, saying things like "I don't get why there are so many negative reviews, these work fine if you just close them properly" amidst a few others yelling back, "THERES NO WAY TO CLOSE THESE WITHOUT LEAKS!!! DONT WASTE YOUR MONEY!!!!"

And of course, if they use "lol" in their review at all, their opinion is instantly discounted.


My absolute favorite reviews are from people who have NEVER USED THE PRODUCT. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. "I bought this for a baby shower, it's very cute, my friend loves it." "The bag seems to be high quality, I can't wait to use it!" This might actually be acceptable for certain items, but the very best of these are for items that you simply can't judge before use...like mattresses. If the baby hasn't slept a night on it, how can you judge it?

Here are some actual quotes from crib mattress reviews.

"it looks to be very firm and comfortable. we are expecting our first child this october."

"Ordered this from the website, but not expecting the baby for a few months yet."

"Looks and feels nice, highly recommenended by sales staff"

"Has a great coil count. Don't know how it will all translate once the baby arrives."

Some at least mention that it fits well in the crib, which is somewhat helpful if you've bought their crib brand...but then there's the best one of all:

"We have not put together our crib yet, so I'm not sure how snug it will fit, but I hope it does. Hence the 4-star rating."

These are direct quotes, people.

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Now that this is done (or rather, done for the moment, I'm sure we'll have to go back and register for more items) I can feel the gratitude already washing over me. I now have a basic list of all the things I'll need to make this process easier, and my amazing friends and family are going to consider buying them for me. I'll even get lots of fun things I haven't asked for (but that every family wants) - books and toys and adorable clothes and things I can't even imagine. As I have been reminded of over and over again throughout this pregnancy, I am one of the luckier people on this planet. All the silly reviews and obsessive nitpicking can't affect that.

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If you'd like to see the results of all this, the registries are at Babies R Us and Target. Just do me a favore and don't read too much into the choices.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In the clear

Just a quick update to say yes, I got the vaccine, and yes, I am fine, no reactions. I'm glad that's all done.

I'll post something soon about the madness of registering for baby stuff. At least, I'll get around to posting it when I get mostly done with registering! It eats up a lot of my free internet time.

Monday, November 2, 2009

H1N1 vaccine - for me, at least

I've been checking with my provider once in a while to find out if they have the H1N1 vaccine yet, and they don't. They also have no clue when they'll get it and no way to let me know if they do, so I was told to keep checking.

I was sticking with this method because I didn't want to use up a free clinic spot. I have insurance so why not use it? There are people who are at risk who have no other option, and I didn't want to take it away from someone else.

Thing is, the free clinics have been the only place to get them, and the roll-out to the rest of us has seen delays. (This is all California - things are different in other states.) Drug stores have been promised them, providers have been promised them, (I believe Kaiser did get some, but we're with Aetna) and nothing is happening yet.

Today there was a big news item saying that pregnant women only need one shot of the vaccine for it to be effective. Seeing this I knew I should act faster to get it. The more press this gets the longer it will take to get the shot.

I checked with Aetna's site which only said that wherever I get the shot, I will be compensated, but that they aren't the ones offering it. Since there seems to be no other choice at this time, I checked out the public clinic situation.

I found an appointment-based program for pregnant women. I called, sat on hold for less than 10 minutes, and got an appointment for Wednesday, first thing in the morning (I'm hoping that means no delays). So much easier than I thought it would be, after seeing the reports of long lines and places running out.

We're going to try get Greg an early shot as well, based on a few factors. If you are caring for a child less than 6 months old you're another front of the line candidate. Not sure whether that includes in utero, but having a pregnant wife should count for something.

Again, it's a bummer that I'm "taking a shot away" from someone who really needs it for free, but I've seen enough about the risks to feel more secure getting this done ASAP. I have close contact with dozens of people every day at our very public desk - otherwise, I might feel ok waiting for my provider to catch up.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

She's leaving work, bye bye...

It's interesting, telling people that I'm leaving work to be a stay-at-home mom.

I suppose that if I had done so in 1989 I would have gotten some flack from women for quitting my career, but these days I get nothing but positive reactions. Top responses include "Good for you", "You're lucky", "Wish I could have done that", "It's what's best for the kid". Most of these are closely followed by "you can always come back". In my profession it's especially possible to come back as a part-timer...that is, if the hiring freeze ever thaws.

That's the other interesting aspect. The City has a hiring freeze in place, meaning that no matter who leaves and no matter the reason, we can't hire anyone else. We've already lost people and things are beginning to get rather tight. Add in that another full-time person with my same title is retiring this December, and it makes things a little more personal.

With all this in mind I decided to let my management know as soon as I made the decision. I knew that they would make a case to City Hall to attempt to fill my position, and that this would take a while. I also knew that even under perfect circumstances it takes 3 months for the City to hire anybody, due to a lengthy application process, multiple interview panels, and full background checks.

So, I told them. I told my coworkers. I said, I'm planning to leave, and it'll be sometime in January. This was probably in early September. They assured me I had plenty of time to put in my paperwork, and thanked me for the warning.

After a while I called up Human Resources to figure out how all this works. I knew about the Family and Medical Leave Act which ensures that I can get unpaid time off and not lose my job. It's lovely - if you're coming back to work. But how does maternity leave work when the leave is permanent?

At first the HR person seemed to say I could get my sick leave and my vacation time via the Act. After a while I realized she was still working on the idea that I was coming back. When I insisted that yes, I was leaving for good, she finally said "Did you tell anybody? See, if you don't tell anybody, then we can give you all this, and then you can just quit from there." She then revealed that since I was stupid enough to make my intentions known, I would now lose my sick leave (all 34 days of it). I would get my vacation paid out, though.

I was horrified that in order to work the system, I would have had to lie to my coworkers for 6 months and put my management in a disadvantaged position. Without the advance notice, there would be no way to even make a case to City Hall, and my division would be totally screwed.

In talking to the library director, she said there was a person in Finance who had a baby, took the medical leave, and actually called from home to say she was quitting...and that this is the standard way to get your money. This had just happened a month ago, in the midst of all this hiring mess.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who say that I must do what's right for myself and my family, and if that means setting up my workplace and all the people I've worked with for 7 years for a world of pain for probably a year to come, then that's just fine.

I simply can't fathom it.

Working with my director and HR and searching my own soul, we worked out a compromise.

I put in my official leave date as February 12th, two weeks after my due date. This is the last possible moment I could be working. If I have to leave sooner (which I probably will) I will get a note from my doc and be able to use sick leave from that day to Feb 12th. Seeing as how I plan to work as much as possible simply because I'd hate to stay home and wait out the last few weeks on pins and needles, this isn't a dishonest scenario. As long as I am able, I'm going to be at work.

We'll see how things go later on...I may feel the need to take a sick day here and there, or just leave early...and I do have that kind of leeway, which is nice. It is a bit of a bummer to lose even some of my sick leave pay, but whatever. This job has been very good to me.

To answer your other question, no, I don't know how long I'll stay home. That depends on many factors. In the meanwhile, if anyone knows of any freelance web work I might be interested in, let me know...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

25 weeks



I keep feeling like the photos don't do it justice. Maybe it's just me. I really am big now. More later!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bebe Decor

Many have asked me if we've picked colors or a theme for our baby's room. Yes, we have.

T

A

S

These alphabet cards are by the artist Jenn Ski. We adore her style. Our taste skews towards clean lines and mid-century modern looks, so her stuff is right up our alley. You may want to check out her blog, which links to all sorts of cool things.

We purchased her flash card set of the full alphabet, and we intend to hang them in the room. Ikea has a clothesline-style wire with clips that we'll probably go with. In the future, these cards could be easily taken down and replaced with new looks for the room. We can even use them as flash cards! They have fun facts about the animals on the back of each card.

We'll take our color cues from these cards. I like how they are a good replacement for traditional baby pastels - colorful yet not hard on the eyes. We haven't yet decided on a wall color, but we'll probably go rather neutral and let the cards stand out.

If you clicked the link to Jenn Ski, you'd see she has an Etsy store. Etsy is a website where people sell items that are handmade. There are thousands of crafty people out there with beautiful, one-of-a-kind alternatives to the usual stuff. Yes, we are going to register for the usual stuff at the usual stores, but I'm going to also set up a Favorite Sellers list on Etsy and allow everyone to see that. It won't be like a registry where I choose items for you, it'll be more like an ideas list or a style guide. That way, when it comes to the non-essentials like cute baby outfits, you can surprise us AND be sure that we'll like it. :) (Ok, I take it back, cute baby outfits ARE essential.)

Here's another example of an Etsy store I like.

Mobile


Wonderland Studio
makes mobiles. If you send them your color palette and size requirements they'll make them to order. The one above is just an example, they've got many different patterns and sizes. I love these. They're designed to look cool no matter if you're standing next to them or laying in the crib. They may not actually be Alexander Calder originals but they sure look close.

Speaking of registries, it looks like we're going to make our first foray into baby stores this weekend. At 5.5 months, it's time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm OK!

After I received a few worried inquiries, I figured I'd let you guys know here - I'm ok. :) My cold has subsided and I was back to work today. Seems a lot of people I know got it. I never did get a fever, thankfully.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Big month.

Last week we did our standard OB visit. All the results from our technical ultrasound came back normal. Also, my 2nd diabetes test came back normal. I'm very happy about that. My completely average experience continues, thank goodness. I'm definitely a lucky person - or maybe it's the kid that's lucky.

The slight bad news is that I have a cold. My nose is alternately stuffy and drippy, and my throat is a bit worse for wear, probably from the nose draining. Can't take anything for it, since mucus is a baby's friend. I do not have a temperature, which is good, because as soon as I have a high temp I have to hit the doctor's office. At that point I either have the regular flu, which is dangerous, or H1N1, which is extra dangerous. Six percent of H1N1 deaths are pregnant women but pregnant women are only 1% of the population. I stayed home from work today and am keeping tabs on myself. No worries, pregnant women have colds all the time.

They say that this month is a big one. The kid doubles in size from one pound to 2 pounds, as he just grows in earnest, laying on the fat and density. I stand to gain 4 pounds this month, including all the surrounding stuff. He's making his presence known, moving around, kicking and pushing. Sometimes it feels like he's crawling up into my chest, others he sits low on my pelvic bone. I can usually feel when his position is such that he will kick for a bit, so I can let others put a hand on the belly and feel it. It's a lot like having the hiccups, where you feel weird somewhere in your abdomen for a while and then it goes away. I've had it happen that he moves, I feel the shift in weight, and then I am off to the bathroom, as he is obviously leaning on my bladder.

I know I've mentioned this before but I really hit a wall regarding bending over at the waist. At first it was merely uncomfortable. After a while I couldn't bend over more than 3 times in a row (or for a longer period) without feeling like my stomach was pushed into my mouth. Now I get that acid-in-the-back-of-the-throat feeling every time I fold my waist, along with actual pain. Ok, I give up, I'll crouch, every time I drop something! For me it's especially annoying because I'm the type to crawl under desks or bound up stairs. I can't do these things anymore. Opting for elevators and asking other people to reach for things has never been my style. Now I have no choice.

None of my old pants will close now, so I'm using my BeBand a lot. The BeBand is a "maternity band", a piece of spandex that helps keep my pants on even though they're unable to zip. It squeezes me pretty tightly, so I don't wear it every day.

I recently bought a pair of very-low-rise jeans at the Gap which I figured I could wear all the way through, since the belt line is lower than the belly. One day last week I put them on for maybe the 4th time and realized my legs had gained some heft, making them a tad tighter than I'd like. They're still the only pants I have that close naturally so I'm sticking with them as long as I can.

More and more, I'm getting the "when are you due" question, matched with the sly smile of conspiratorial motherhood. Once I get back in I fully expect an all-day barrage from library patrons, especially during children's events and storytimes.

What else...I'm hoping my cold won't set our baby room schedule back too far...we've got names chosen and the initials are TA...and we're still working on a Hebrew name.

Talk to you soon.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week 22



Just a quickie update. Took this 1.5 days ago already so I better get it online. Yup, definite difference now.

I'm taking more time for stretching and am more careful about how I lean down. This is especially true at work, where getting to a bottom shelf is a daily requirement. I've been working on squatting down instead of bending over and the muscles in my legs are already much stronger. This will come in handy in the delivery room, too...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Smile for the see-through camera

I'm sure you are on the edge of your seat about my technical ultrasound last week.

The reason I didn't race home and blog about it immediately is that it was definitely a technical ultrasound. We visited a different doctor, an expert at this specific task. He wasn't here to make the baby look pretty on the monitor, he was trying to get the best angles possible to measure the baby's proportions. To be honest, most of the time we were there, while I had some idea what I was looking at, it wasn't very eye-pleasing. Mostly a jumble of bones and limbs.

There were some cool moments showing the practically fully-formed skull complete with eerie eye sockets, the heart's multiple chambers pumping away, and the myriad bones and teeth that already look fantastic. Thing is, when you watch the video, it's not much to post or show off.

The doc did take some stills of the baby's face profile but I have to say they are no better than the ones I got back in late July. Add in that it's been a very busy week for us and you have no posts about that visit.

The GREAT news is that the doctor said everything was fine. He confirmed my OB's assertion that it was definitely a boy (along with the usual "nothing is 100%" caveats) and that all other measurable characteristics were proportional and well-sized for this stage. This is the important bit of the visit, not getting pretty video or photos to ogle.

While it didn't take quite the hour I was told it might, about 30 solid minutes of being pushed in the belly with that device left me winded anyway. He moved the wand a lot, trying to get better angles, and often jiggling and jabbing roughly to get the kid to cooperate. The baby had a hand on the side of his face and wouldn't move it for anything, though we wanted to see that both hands were ok. The doc asked me to cough, and I did, which wiggled the womb in an amusing way, but still, the kid kept his hand to his face. After a while the doctor said he'd seen enough anyway from as many angles as possible, and the hand was fine.

Perhaps I'll watch some of the lengthy video again and find some good short clips and string them together, but believe me, it's needles in a haystack. A very boring, confusing haystack. Maybe a screenshot of the skeletal structure would make a fun Halloween-themed post.

In any case, healthy baby. Healthy baby. :)

In other news - I went in yesterday for a second diabetes test. The first one was an hour long. This one was THREE hours long. I fasted overnight and got there first thing in the morning. They drew blood, made me drink the horrible sugar drink (I make uncomfortable faces just thinking about it) and I sat in the waiting room. They drew blood every hour, for a total of 4 needles, and I just felt weak and uncomfortable. When I got out of there I made myself eat something and took a nap in my car before going back to work. The rest of the day I didn't feel too hot, either.

I get very confused about diabetes terms and types, but I do know that I've always been one to need to eat on time, or I get weak. I used to attribute this to my lack of reserves (ie body fat) but now I'm not so sure. It's never been a big enough deal for me to mention to my doctor. Everything I've read says that if that is indeed due to a type of diabetes, it's the non-medicating type which is manageable simply by eating right and on time. It's especially not a big deal in pregnancy when "eating" is the prescription to a healthy baby and mom.

Anyway, we'll see. Whatever they come back with, I'm ready to roll on, since everything else has come so easily.

Enough for today! I have a backlog of things to talk about - more posts when I get a moment!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

BUMP in the night

We felt the first kicks on Thursday night.

We were talking about the very topic - and how I hadn't felt anything - while we were getting ready for bed. On laying down, I put my hands on my belly as we spoke, something I've done many times in the last month or so. Nothing.

I took my hands off the belly and relaxed another few seconds, and that's when I felt it. BUMP. Definitely something I had never felt before. A movement by something small inside of me. Not digestion, not gas, not my heartbeat or breathing, not anything having to do with my own rhythms, but a movement driven by a different source. Trying not to spoil the moment, I put my hand there, and BUMP, I felt it again, clear as anything.

I grabbed Greg's hand and put it there. BUMP. Yup, he got to feel it too.

Since then, I know what I'm looking for, and I notice it about 4 times a day. Unlike the first time, it's usually only one or two bumps before he takes another long break.

It's a little piece of amazing. A little person, inside of me, moving of his own volition.

I'm beginning to believe that even to a person who is raised among large families, where pregnant women and babies are prevalent their entire lives, the stirrings of another life inside your own body would be an entirely new, strange thing.

It's also a big reminder to me that time is racing by. If you're counting by months, the end of September is 5 for me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hospital Tour

Last Sunday we visited Orange Coast Memorial Hospital in Fountain Valley for the maternity tour. We gave ourselves plenty of time to figure out the place. Sections of this hospital are so new they're still being constructed, so it's a good thing we had the extra time.

It's a smallish place. Everything seemed steps away from each other. The lobby had a dozen seats max. There are 20 beds total in the maternity ward (more on that in a minute). The staff seemed friendly and the atmosphere personable.

When we arrived I was surprised to find that nearly everyone else there was a good 2 or 3 months ahead of me. Plenty of big bellies, including some that looked like they could drop a baby at any minute. I know we're the freaks who plan way ahead, but the idea of visiting at the last minute and finding out you possibly hate the hospital isn't something I could do.

We marched our tummy parade into a labor room. Medical machinery was definitely present but softened with wooden furniture-style accents wherever possible. The nurse talked about basic rules and we asked a few questions. Their nurses would work with you throughout their shift, no floating or rotating. They have a dedicated anesthesiologist and lactation consultant. They practice "couplet care", where the baby stays with the mother from moment one onward. If you want to breastfeed, they encourage latching on almost immediately after birth, which is recommended for bonding etc.

These answers were all music to my ears, all concepts that were soothing and helpful, all things that I'd heard were possible but that not all hospitals offered.

After the labor room we got to see a postpartum room. We'd get to stay for 2 days. The default rooms have two beds to accommodate 2 recovering moms, but usually people don't have to share a room. When we arrive we'll find out just how busy it is, and if we're lucky we'll get a room all to ourselves, allowing Greg to stay with me overnight on a reclining Lazy Boy chair. According to the nurse, August/September is their busiest time of year, and at other times it's "95% likely" we'd have a room to ourselves. If we arrive when things are busy and we want to guarantee a room alone we can pay more money for our own single room, which we'd definitely consider, as the rate really wasn't that bad.

So...on the whole, very exciting, very soothing, and I'm glad to check another step off my list.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

20 weeks



If you look at this pic and the last one together you may not be able to see a difference, but it's all in angles and lighting (and happenstance of momentary sizing as things fluctuate). I can tell you though that there is a definitely difference in the last 10 days. The expansion has shifted forward instead of sideways.

I keep laying hands on the belly to feel for the movement and while I think I might be able to feel something, it could be anything, really. Again, this is fine, due to the placenta force field.

In development news...at this point we change how we measure the fetus. At first it was from crown to rump, but now it's from crown to toe, so the official size has jumped to 10 inches. The proportions are about normal now, with finishing touches to things like skin layers and eyelashes. Lots of neat stuff is still to come - I'll save that for future updates.

I picked up some actual maternity clothes instead of loose styles, and it's really interesting. The cut of the clothes is designed to make you look pregnant, as opposed to just overweight. The first time I wore my first maternity top to work, someone actually worked up the courage to ask me if I was pregnant. Works like a charm.

I am still able to wear regular, very-low-rise pants so I picked up a pair (I'm wearing them in the pic). These should continue to fit afterwards. I'd hate to get a ton of those preggy pants with stretchy panels and not wear them ever again, but I may have to acquiesce later on. A visit to the local used maternity store was disappointing but I need to do more looking farther from home.

This afternoon we're headed to the hospital for our official maternity tour. I'm excited to see the facility, ask a million questions, and perhaps even meet other expecting couples in our area. A full hospital report will be forthcoming.

I just did a standard diabetes test (no results yet) and the super-awesome, high-res, hour-long ultrasound is this Thursday!

Otherwise - I feel great!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Week 19



Funny, in comparing this pic and the last one I took, seems like it's not that much larger but definitely a different shape. The belly button is practically in a different place!

I love how weird this continues to be.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Halfway.

Click here for the video of the gender reveal ultrasound.

:)

Watching it on the video I find it easier to see the revealing bits, though I wouldn't blame you if you did not. Even so, there are some good movement moments, and the bright white lines are bones, much more formed than they were a month ago.

A few other things were revealed at this visit.

As you heard at the beginning of the video, the placenta is towards the front of my belly, not the back. This means that baby movements will be harder for me to feel, which explains why I haven't felt anything yet. The placement of the placenta depends on where the embryo implants itself, so it's totally random. It's another good sign - the placenta is not towards the bottom, so it's out of the way of the birth canal.

I have a diabetes test coming up, which is standard. Babies do weird things to your blood sugar.

Also, another ultrasound, which is actually much more exciting than it sounds. It'll be a serious ultrasound, with much better equipment, and take a long time. What my OB does is basically look to see that things are generally ok, but this one will be much more technical, at a different office. I'm excited for the high resolution images.

I keep thinking this over and over - It's a BOY! People keep asking if we had a preference. All I can say is 1) I don't care, I want it to be healthy, 2) I grew up around baby boys so it's what I know and 3) I'm not a girly girl so I admit, I might be a little more out of my element with a daughter....but again, I don't care, I want it to be healthy!

And yes, we are thinking of names. :)

Other angles - this does mean that the Family Name continues - we get less hand-me downs from his close female cousin (though there is a male cousin in the mix as well) - we need to plan a bris.

The biggest news of all is that I'm hitting 19 weeks - HALFWAY. I'm already eternally grateful for the easy time I've had. Let's hope the second half is just as lucky.

Now hear this!

Just had an ultrasound.

Doctor says it's a boy! He was completely sure.

Video will be posted tonight, though it would be very hard for anyone else to tell.

Hazabebe readers get the scoop before anyone else!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sorry, gentlemen.

On Tuesday this week we have another doctor visit so I'll have news then, but for now, a post about bras.

My apologies to the men reading this (and perhaps the grandmothers as well!). But this is a bit of an important thing for women in pregnancy and I feel like addressing it.

Way before the belly showed, I went up a cup size, seemingly overnight. I have to admit, it's rather nice. I'm small-chested by nature so I'll take it. Oddly, I don't achieve more cleavage, they just grow farther apart, but it does give one more to work with.

I put off buying new bras for a while because supposedly they could continue to grow all the way through the pregnancy. However, it soon became apparent that the difference between an A and a B cup isn't just size.

See, there's a physics threshold. In the past, I have been able to get away without wearing bras, or wearing bras that didn't provide support. Naturally, a woman with a D cup needs more support than I did. Most women not only can't leave the house without a bra and look polished - they can't linger at home without one either, because it hurts.

A few weeks ago I realized that when I got home from work, took off a now ill-fitting bra and put on pajamas, I would be rather uncomfortable by the end of the night. On stay-at-home weekends the effects were undeniable. I think having a stairway in the house to jog up and down didn't help matters either. Gravity tugs on me a little harder now. The fact that they're new boobs makes it even worse than it would be for a tried-and-true B or even C cup, because my skin and muscles aren't used to the extra weight.

My first move was to do something I'd never done before - buy sports bras. For the men still reading (I know you're there!), sports bras are not much more than strong elastic in the shape of half a tank top. I'm not a particularly sporting person, and again, not a particularly chesty person, so I've never really had a need for one. Once I tried them on, I realized how awesome they are for women with larger boobs that want to, say, jog.

Now, when I get home from work, I can slip into one of these guys and not feel a thing up there. Some days, when my skin is feeling especially sensitive, I'll sleep in a sports bra.

Yes, the irony of buying sports bras to lay around the house is not lost on me.

That worked for a bit, but there was no denying the inability of my old, mostly useless bras to keep me happy during the day. Sports bras aren't really a public option for anything other than exercise because they do make one look flat-chested. Having achieved the chest, why would I hide it? Finally I broke down and went shopping.

Here's the thing - I've always hated bra shopping, more than most other clothes shopping (and I hate most other clothes shopping too). It's happened to me quite often that basic department stores simply do not carry my small size, and if they do, it's only in one or two styles. Yes, in the past I've been to Victoria's Secret, and they measured me, and I bought bras there. Even at VS, certain styles are not even made in my size. Just being limited in my choices irks me. The bras I've bought there have been about twice the price of bras elsewhere, and to be honest, I've found they are not any better for the money. But when you've got a special size, you eat it and move on.

To recap - places usually do not carry my size, and even when I do find a bra I'm often not happy with it. Add in the humiliation of my troubles beginning with being TOO SMALL and it makes for an experience anyone would want to avoid. (I've often thought of opening a small boob boutique - call me if you have investment capital to spend.)

When I was putting off my current shopping trip, I forgot one important fact: I'm no longer an A cup.

This was the best bra shopping trip ever.

I had my choice of style, color, fit. Underwire? Front closure? T-back? Satin, cotton, lace? It was as if I had finally been let into the lingerie section. I discovered that it really did matter whether I got full coverage or a demi-cup, a push-up or a plunge. I also had a look at bras filled with gel that would clamp my boobs together and make me look like I was topping a C cup. Tempting, but as I am still feeling sensitive, pushing things up and out probably wouldn't be worth enduring. There's time for that later. Besides, I found that my current, natural upgrade made me giddy enough.

I found a few solid bras for everyday use, one for ultimate comfort, one for a bit of a boost, and another for a little of both. I had to stop myself from buying everything else that fit. I've had these for about 2 weeks now and the difference is noticeable, both in how I feel and how I look.

My belly has already caught up with my chest, and pretty soon it won't matter if I get up to C cup territory, because the belly gets the attention. Just this little bit of a boost is a lovely side-effect that I enjoy lingering in for now.

And of course, there's always after the delivery!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Something is definitely happening



Yup, hitting the growth period. Here's what the baby is up to right about now:

Growing the first layer of fat
Practicing suckling and swallowing
Developing fingerprints

And...the ear is developed enough that it can hear by now! Rest assured we're giving the baby a briefing on current events at regular intervals. Ok, maybe it's more like "hey, future baby, you're a tiny baby!"

Still feeling good. It's all visual at the moment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mmm, sciency!

I just finished the book Making Babies: The Science of Pregnancy by David Bainbridge. The author is a biologist, not an obstetrician, so his point of view was completely different from the other books I've read. He contrasted human pregnancy to that of different kinds of animals, especially mammals. The range among mammals is pretty astounding, regarding all the steps of procreation. How many eggs, when are they released, how many are fertilized/rejected, how the body reacts during pregnancy, etc. Did you know that humans and Old World primates are the only ones with monthly menstruation? Dogs do have some form of estrus involving what looks like menstruation but actually is different. The whole "shed your lining" thing is pretty much just us. I guess dealing with PMS and the mess is preferable to going into heat once or twice a year.

I learned so much about the process going on inside. The transformation is rather amazing. The baby's eyes, for example, grow from the stalks outward, but the lenses actually start as separate pieces that move inward. My mind filled with visuals of lungs sprouting from the early esophagus and the rest of the tube growing in odd spurts to make the bends of the entire gastrointestinal tract.

Just as you begin to succumb to the awe of the perfection of it all you read about the "first kidney". The first kidney the baby develops is actually grown in its throat. No kidding. This kidney serves no purpose at all. Even as it is finishing it's formation, it is taken apart, and eventually completely vanishes. Our closest relative that actually makes use of this phantom organ is the lamprey. The second kidneys that are formed actually function as kidneys for a while, but eventually become the reproductive organs. Can you imagine transforming from filtering waste to producing eggs or sperm? It's only after that that the baby makes the real kidney set. Crazy.

It's a common misconception that babies go through different "evolutionary stages" in the womb. No, they don't start out as amoebas, become fish, lizards, etc. There are differences between our development and animal development from the very beginning to the very end. However, what they do have is similar starting points, rudimentary forms that have been completely repurposed. For instance, no, embryos do not develop gills. They do have primitive structures called "pharyngeal arches" that become gills in fish, but become all different specialized things in humans, from your thyroid to your facial muscles to pieces of your inner ear.

There are more amazing embryo comparisons than I can remember. You know how your basic fish has a horizontal line running down it's side? This line is a sensory organ that detects electromagnetic changes in the water around it, among other things. The basic structures that grow into this sensory organ in fish are present in a human embryo - and they become the taste buds on the surface of your tongue. Awesomeness.

Pretty much everyone has heard of amniotic fluid. It's the stuff the baby is immersed in. When the "water breaks", it's amniotic fluid pouring out. There's a test called "amniocentesis" which involves extracting some of it for testing. But what is the stuff? It's...well, it's fetus urine. The fetus does actually pass liquids, and it then swims, breathes, and lives in it the whole time. Yes, really. Obviously the type of "urine" the fetus makes is totally different than the urine it passes after it's born, but it still makes you think, both about how weird and how amazing this process is. (I know I read this factoid before I read this book, but this book hit it home.)

Other great stuff in there - detailed accounts of the history of prenatal science and the scientists behind them, including those that were debunked and those that were ahead of their time.

All that said, if I were to recommend this book, I'd mention a few caveats. Printed in 2000, it talks about the controversies of fertility science, yet the term "stem cell" is never mentioned, as it was all too new then. Also, I wasn't a huge fan of the author's tone. Everything was conflict - the baby struggling to survive, the mother struggling to bear the child. I know that these struggles are real but he did seem to harp on them.

Still, it was easy to look past the tone and read the hard science. I'll even give him a special boost because he talked a lot about what we don't know. There is still plenty to be learned, and this, too, is somehow comforting...though maybe in the 9 years since it was printed, all that was solved. Right?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weirdly normal

Ah ha, here is one of those things that the touchy-feely books tell you! Do not freak out over supposed small signs.

When I was queasy, I ate much of the time to help my stomach settle. Even after the nausea faded away, I still ate more snacks than I used to, still wanted more fruit. When I did get hungry I felt demanding - food now! But now I have found myself back to square one. As the early symptoms faded so did my visceral reaction to being hungry, causing appetite to recede slowly back to my previous, small appetite. Part of the reason I've stayed thin over the years is because I really don't want to eat all that much, and delay eating easily.

Of course as soon as I realized that this was true I started worrying. Is something wrong?? I became even more vigilant in checking all the possible signs of problems. Everything else seemed ok, but still, I started wishing my next OB appt were sooner.

Then, DING, it looks like I've begun the next stage. I think the baby has finished its basic formation and now it's starting to grow in earnest. The scale is starting to creep up. I feel a tiny bit bigger each day. Even my boobs grew another notch larger this week.

It's hard for me to make sense of this. Why aren't I wolfing down food at this point? Why do I feel so normal, except for the slight uncomfortable bit in the middle? Perhaps the kid is just ahead of me, and it will take my body a bit longer to figure out that my calorie needs have gone up. As it was, when I felt ill originally, it did take at least a few days for my internal metabolism to figure out that food was the answer to my tummy trouble, and another few days before any queasiness made me growl in hunger. Maybe this time next week I'll be back to stuffing my face. Maybe it'll take the real hunger of my adorable baby parasite stealing my nutrients to get my Pavlovian reaction going again.

Or maybe I should stop second guessing everything. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week 14

Here's the visual update. Click on the photo for full size.



Yup, definitely gained a few pounds. It's surprising how easy it is to hide it under a flowing top, but my tight shirts give me away now.

Not much else to say at this point. More as it happens!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My little nerf football

We had a lovely time in San Francisco/Oakland, staying with friends. They're about to have a baby in September, so it was quite an education, seeing how she's coping with the large presence in her belly. The kid moved constantly, and she moved her position constantly to accommodate. We later found out she was also experiencing the usual Braxton Hicks contractions, completely normal "practice" stretches which get the uterus limbered up. Incredibly exciting!

We also had amazing timing, as another set of friends who were due that week had their baby on Friday night...and we were lucky enough to get to see them and their 2.5 day old bundle on Monday. Luckier still, the baby was in sleep mode, which is easily the best out of the three mode choices (sleep, breastfeed, scream). We even got to hold him as he was totally conked out. Mazal Tov!

Needless to say, it was incredible to see these future stages first hand, even as my pregnancy remains a baby bump that people wouldn't dare to label pregnancy over mere weight gain.

My condition didn't hamper our trip at all. Even through the winding coastal roads we chose on the way up, my slight carsickness felt normal for me, and easily relieved by a walk and a snack. We made sure to bring snacks and drinks, stopping when needed. It's all precautions that anyone should take on any sizable roadtrip.

I can't say I've gained enough bump to even be worthy of another photo. Perhaps next week. For now I simply feel like I have one of those mini nerf footballs inside me.


When I bend straight over at the waist I can feel it: a soft, seemingly inert object inside of my digestive tract, about 5 or 6 inches long. It's already affected how I walk, how I sit, how I recline. My legs naturally amble wider, my toes pointing away from me. The aforementioned bending leaves me a little dizzy and breathless. I'm learning to bend the knees, but that squatting position isn't desirable either. The most drastic part is that my usual sitting slouch has gotten to the uncomfortable stage, where it only takes a few seconds for me to be annoyed enough to actually - wait for it - sit up straight.

At this early stage it's surprising how I already feel like I'm acting physically encumbered, even though the 5 or 6 inches refers to baby plus placenta and everything else, and no one notices anyway. Apparently this is more of the getting-ready-for-what's-next stuff.

Standing next to those that either have a moving belly or an actual babe-in-arms does make me realize that my inert football and I have a long way to go, especially as I am probably weeks away from externally obvious changes. Right now, the books say it's growing hair and hardening bone (including the bones of the middle ear) so it's not a time for getting larger.

Guess I'll just have to be ok with seeming a bit overweight for a bit longer.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ultra-sonic, super-visual!

Here it is, as promised, finally!

Click here.

In the first part we're hearing the baby's heartbeat as a whoosh-whoosh noise on the Doppler. When we first see the baby, we're seeing it from the feet upwards so it's a strange angle, then it flips around and you can discern the shape better. The doctor points out the spine and while it can be a bit tough at points to know what you're looking at, as it moves around you can tell it's a baby, for sure.

There's this great part at 1:35 or so when the kid does a little push up, arching the neck. Definitely watch that part!

The round of blood tests I did last week came back normal, phew. And according to that plus the ultrasound last week, they've changed my due date to Feb 3rd, my father-in-law's birthday. Two days sooner sounds good to me! Of course, nothing is for certain.

To answer some common questions I'm getting right now:
No, I can't feel the baby move yet. Maybe by about 4.5 to 5 months.
No, we can't tell the sex yet. They generally can tell by the 5th month.

It's always great hearing things are going well and being able to see the kid makes it all more real. Definitely a good 7th wedding anniversary.

To truly celebrate that, we're off to San Francisco this weekend, so there will be a bit of a gap in updates. I'll make sure to take it slow on our whirlwind weekend up north.

P.S. - I had to remove the countdown widget. Turns out it works in Firefox but not Internet Explorer. I'll hunt for a better one sometime soon.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Widget wha?

It may be a bit much but I finally found a baby countdown widget that will fit in my sidebar without any html messing. Remember that the size and development stats are generalities based on due date and as things progress it may be less accurate, but still, it gives everyone an idea of where things are at (and what the baby books are telling me). I've seen baby size estimates vary pretty widely depending on the book you read.

For those that don't know, and I know there are a few of you out there - a widget is a tiny program that automatically gives you a bit of information. For example, very basic widgets include clocks, or weather reports. Well, my baby countdown clock is the handy little program that you can see on the left hand side. All I do is put my due date in and it does the rest, calculating my time left and getting info on what the progress is. This week, it's ears and eyes moving into their proper places, which is good news, as it looked a bit like an alien on that last ultrasound! ;-)

Anyway, have a glance when you visit and you can see what's developing.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Turned the corner

The dreams, the dreams! They warned me about the dreams.

I have the most amazing dreams. These dreams are complete stories, with a beginning, middle and end, and they feel completely real. It's like living a movie.

What are they about? Well, I wish I knew. I have a bunch of them, every night. When the dream ends, I wake with a start, contemplate reality for a minute, and as soon as I'm back to sleep I've forgotten it. Sometimes I feel as if I'm dragging myself out of the dream because it's so freaky. I know it sounds like fun but many of them are rather bizarre. I think that any dream, played out in an entirely involving way, gets freaky.

The bits and pieces I do remember involve the most simple of every day things - the TV I've been watching, the people I've seen recently, the issues I've been thinking about - and some seem to get very allegorical and deep. But again, they're pretty much gone the next day. Still, it's a little scary.

--

I've definitely turned the corner. My energy is up, the nausea is completely gone. My sense of smell is still acute but it doesn't prevent me from eating anything in sight.

We're in nesting mode, cleaning and organizing, cleaning out closets. It's actually kind of nice having something to work on before the registering and purchasing can be tackled. So far, we've cleared out some storage space for future toys, and the hall closet for future linens, among other small organizational projects.

Other than that, things feel pretty normal to me, even as my stomach feels more dense each day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bigger already


I was feeling big enough for another picture. I wore that shirt to work. Three separate coworkers asked me if I was showing yet. Seemed I was always carrying something or sitting or rushing by, but it was obvious that the shirt made people think about it. When I stopped and pulled the shirt taut, yup, there it was.

I'm still feeling happy enough to show it off and talk about it to anyone who'll ask. On the other hand, I ended my day with a dizzying headache. Just when you think things are normal again...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Just a blood test....surprise!



Today I had a blood screening. They draw my blood to see what kinds of chemicals the baby is excreting. These act as early warning signs for things like Down Syndrome, spinal defects, and other scary possibilities.

I thought it was going to be just a blood test. But lo and behold, I'm getting what's called the Full Integrated Screening, which includes 2 blood tests (the second one is in another 4 weeks) and oh yeah, a nuchal translucency ultrasound, as they look for visual cues.

Ultrasound? Right now? I felt bad because Greg didn't accompany me, and I felt dumb because I didn't know it was going to happen, but as soon as the baby showed up on the screen all I felt was wonder.

The photos do not do it justice, of course. It looked like a baby, very unlike the jellybean I last saw. There were legs, an obvious head with featured face, and the whole thing bucked and jerked around, very alive. There seemed to be so much room in there for it to move.

In the center shot the baby is looking directly at the camera, with its early eyes and brain visible. At one point (no pic) the camera saw only the legs and feet. So cute!

The doctor poked and prodded me trying to get the wiggly baby in the right position. She measured a "gap" in the baby's neck and the size of the nasal cavity. She said both looked completely normal - phew - and that everything else looked good too.

I then had my anti-climactic blood drawing and left.

We're going in a week from today to visit the OB and he definitely said there would be an ultrasound then, so Greg will get to see it, and we'll have video. If it were farther in the future I would truly feel bad!

Otherwise, I'm feeling very lucky, in two ways. Our medical coverage is apparently very good. I didn't even have a copay for this test. We'll be up to 3 ultrasounds in barely 14 weeks of pregnancy. After hearing the stories of others I know this is often not the case.

Lucky also, in that all the signs have been good so far! :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Scare tactics of all kinds

Like most moms-to-be I already have a stack of pregnancy books. Some I purchased, some were gifts. I'm also beginning to eye the ones at the library, now that I'm outed at work.

It's interesting because people react so differently to the different types of books. Of course, everyone's different, and everyone needs a different voice to tell them the facts in ways that are comforting and informative. You can't even really use the word "facts" because every pregnancy is different. Most people have certain problems, but there is so much variation that there is definitely a need for the many different books out there. Ok, enough with the word "different".

My favorite so far is the Mayo Clinic book. I love a good thick reference work. The text is straightforward and, well, clinical. It covers most everything and fills gaps I've found in other books. What I want is cold hard data and this book supplies it.

Now many people find these types of books daunting at best, unreadable next, and frightening at worst. They don't want to know about the medical things that can go wrong. They want a personal voice with personal experience. While this does sound good on paper, it doesn't work that way for me. The more impersonal it is - the more it shows that my pregnancy is just like any other in the history of humankind - the more reassured I feel. The more I read of the possible roadblocks, the more informed and empowered I feel to deal with them should they come to pass.

Even so, I felt the need to give the other books a try. Perhaps I may need some reassurance from a person who's been there. Maybe I'll have my emotional days when a clinical textbook will just frustrate me.

At best, I find these books tolerable. At worst, I find them far more horrifying than any of the textbooks. These books tout themselves as more "real" or down-to-earth than the drier books. They often claim that the classic texts are full of lies or that in reading them these writers were given unrealistic expectations. They then go on to tell their stories of pregnancy that include all kinds of awful circumstances.

They also talk about all kinds of emotional issues that seemed bizarre and unhealthy to me, including not wanting to gain weight, having a spouse who is too shell-shocked to help you through this tough time, or just the basic concept of not wanting to be pregnant at all. The point of such stories is obviously to point out that they were wrong and that these are things some pregnant women deal with, but the other side of this is to show that lots of people feel this way and it's normal. Personally, I felt that trumping up these issues gave them way too much power. I found myself feeling the same way other people feel about the clinical books - I don't want to read about these possible problems, they scare me.

Part of the "friendly" aspect of these books is advice on how to cope with the everyday silliness of being pregnant. Some of it is funny, some mildly helpful, but I was shocked at the things people think constitute "problems" of pregnancy that need coaching.

In one such book, there was an entire paragraph given over to the idea that you should NEVER CUT YOUR HAIR DURING PREGNANCY. Yes, they used All-CAPS, as if it were warning you about some poisonous food that would cause a miscarriage. The reason for this admonition? No matter how annoying you think your longer hair is, especially late in your term, if you cut your hair into a short style you will look fatter in the face. God forbid! That is my biggest concern right now! Give me a break.

Don't get me wrong. As stated in the beginning of this post, I understand, everyone is different. As a woman who doesn't count myself as a girly-girl, as a "girlfriend", I find this transformation into a mom intriguing. Will I take on more "feminine" qualities? If my foray into these more sensitive books are any indication, the current answer is no.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hunger pains

Now that I've got lots of people on board with the blog, I feel compelled to update, though not much is happening right now.

I have slight twinges a few times a day in various parts of my abdomen. I know it's everything stretching and growing in there. They're extremely brief.

However, hunger is a different feeling these days. As soon as I feel like I could eat, I get thin stabbing pains. This works like the best training in the world to make myself gain weight. I feel pain; I then hunt down food and eat as much of it as I can. All I can think is: Make the discomfort stop and prevent it from coming back any time soon.

Even so, these pains seems negligible to me, and I can cope in situations where I don't have a snack immediately on hand. This encourages me to think that the aches and pains that lay ahead will also be more tolerable than I expect.

Beyond that, at this point it's hard to know how much of me is affected by the pregnancy and how much is just my usual small complaints. I've been avoiding caffeine here and there (probably cut my usage in half, and I never had more than a cup of something a day in the past, so it's well under recommendations) and perhaps my tiredness can more be attributed to that rather than baby-making. I do think I get dizzy more often, and that bending at the waist then standing up quickly is less of a good idea right now.

I have to admit feeling inclined to use baby as an excuse and then I feel bad about that...but everyone and everything I read encourages me to indulge myself and let others take care of me. Kind of hard to say no to that. On the other hand, I also know that the more mobile and active I act, the better I'll feel. Laying around is good for neither me nor the fetus (at this point, anyway - 8th month can be a different story). Moderation is still king.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Photo Number One - 3 months


Ok, here goes, me and my belly. No, I'm not sticking it out. I had been checking once in a while with a measuring tape at my belly button but now I know better. The bump is below that.

You're going to see lots of pics of me in my lay around sweats!

Photography

Everything I've read says that around this time my belly may not look like much and they've been right. I gained about an inch a month ago and it hadn't changed since. There are small variations that depend on how much food I ate or whether I went to the bathroom recently.

This week things seem to have changed. I think I've been bigger this week than I was last. Now that it seems to be on, I keep meaning to start taking a photo of my belly but I keep forgetting to do so before I eat. It could all be in my head. I was never one to know exactly how big my waist was at any given time, and now I stare at it a lot, imagining the construction of a placenta.

Anyway, must take a photo tonight (I already ate breakfast).

I've debated whether to take the pic with clothes covering the belly or not. I think it's cooler to see the belly. Perhaps after I see a pic of my revealed pudge I may feel differently.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Haz a bebe.

Welcome to Haz a bebe, my new blog. First post, testing, testing.

I'm pregnant, and as a member of this generation I just can't stand to not let the World Wide Web in on my every move.

I'm going to cheat and start by posting a copy of what I've said elsewhere in the past week, as we have let everyone in on the secret.



We had an early ultrasound showing a jellybean with a vibraty heartbeat! Our next one is in early August and I promise an HD video of the event. It should look like a tiny person by then.

Yes, this was planned, yes, we're going to find out the sex (usually not doable until 5 months), no, we don't mind whether it's a boy or a girl.

The first few weeks were queasy and exhausting, though I never did throw up, nor close to it. Thank you Mom for the awesome genes! At this point I definitely get tired easily, I eat smaller meals, and I snack as much as possible. Everything has been textbook and very encouraging. My worst side effect at this point is super greasy skin and the resulting breakouts. The next trimester is supposed to be full of energy and I can't wait to turn that corner.
The food thing is weird. Fruit is always appetizing. Often meat can turn me off. Most things I can eat anyway, I just stop looking at it and suddenly I'm stuffing it in my mouth like a chipmunk. I don't usually eat without thinking, now I do.

My initial hormone overdose seems to have mellowed out (or rather, my body is used to it now) so now I "crave" whatever I see. I see an ad for pizza, I want pizza. I drive by a chinese restaurant, I want chinese. I almost feel like pointing at the sign and saying "THAT!"

I have had some very vivid dreams (which I didn't used to) but I tend to wake up about 4am and go back to sleep intermittently after that (which I didn't used to either) so I forget the dreams in the process.

The first book I picked up was What to Expect When You're Expecting, which I liked. In reading reviews online and as evidenced in the conversation here, it seems that people respond to it differently (same goes for all other baby books). I prefer encyclopedic, biological books instead of emotional support ones, so I also picked up the Mayo Clinic book, which is awesome. I seem to be ok with reading about all the things that could go wrong - in fact I feel empowered with the info. My biggest annoyance with What to Expect was the cutesy conversational tone. Then my sis-in-law gave me a stack of her books, including the Girlfriend's Guide and Chicken Soup for the Crazy Pregnant Lady, so now I'm set if I have an emotional onslaught (which I probably will eventually).

We didn't think to bring our fancy HD camera to the first ultrasound. So instead you get to squint at a terrible cell phone video on which it's impossible to make out the little vibrating heartbeat, even if you know what you're looking for.



Enough old posts...more new stuff later.