Saturday, December 29, 2007

Talkin' Bout My Generation

Four Generations, originally uploaded by allthingssara.

Yesterday we drove up to Sacramento to visit my Great Aunt Roxie. Hank is her first Great Great Nephew (no such neices yet, either), and she was tickled to spend time with the baby. Aunt Roxie is my mother's mother's (Sophia) sister.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Post Xmas Haze

We are in a post-xmas haze around here. Henry's family has come and gone, we had a great time with them, and are still so glad they were able to make the trip again so soon after thanksgiving. We're feeling a bit zonked, though, but things are still really wonderful. Almost two weeks has passed since my last entry, and I didn't want much more time to go by before posting again, but I'm not feeling all that eloquent these days, so I'll just list some highlights.

Hank has become really smiley in the last few days. On xmas morning Henry and I were hovering over him at his changing table and he really and truly SMILED at us both -- real, full, giant, genuine, happy smiles! This was the best christmas gift. Hank has sort of smiled here and there, but this was the first 'hey! I know you and I LIKE you!' smile we've seen. Melted my heart.

On the flip side, today Hank had his first super sad face. He was bundled into his baby bucket ready to go out to breakfast, and he was so unhappy. His lower lip was pushed out over his upper lip, and he just looked soooo sad to be in his bucket. This face just broke my heart! Henry said to me "He's playing you like a two dollar fiddle!"

Another first in the last couple of weeks was rolling from front to back during tummy time! That's been pretty exciting. Especially when he realizes what he's done and wants to do it again and somehow has communicated to us that he wants us to put him back on his tummy so he do it again.

And of course it was Hank's first xmas. He made out like a bandit, the little devil. Everyone likes to give presents to babies.

In other news, breastfeeding is still causing me woes. I decided to stop taking the reglan, because I think it was causing me to feel somewhat depressed. I've been off it for 24 hours now, and I really do feel better already. I'm using fenugreek still (and smell like pancakes as a result), and have added blessed thistle and a mother's milk tincture to the routine. Those things seem to be helping and making a difference. However, I'm still finding breastfeeds really stressful. Hank pulls off a lot, has been having trouble getting a good latch lately, cries out while trying to eat, feeds very frantically, and pulls and chews at my nipples. It really leaves me feeling flustered. I find that when I give him a bottle I enjoy the time and the feeding so much more than I do when he's on the boob. As a result, I've rented a hospital grade breast pump and I am going to start doing some feeds with bottles of expressed breast milk instead of the boob at each feeding. I'm hoping that as a result I'll be able to relax a little about the breastfeeding, but at the same time I'm also sort of wishing that I could just make the decision to wean and use formula exclusively. Would that really be so wrong? There's a lot of guilt just in thinking that thought, but it is honestly what I've been thinking these days. There's a lot of pressure to breastfeed exclusively and to keep trying even when it can be so difficult. And the actually goal -- FEED THE BABY -- seems to get lost in some of that. I'm still grateful for the one lactation consultant who told me that my only requirement is that I feed the baby. Just feed the baby. So I just feed the baby. Some days he gets more formula, some days he gets more booby. Somedays it will be pumped, somedays it won't. And someday I'll just be able to make a decision about how he's fed.

In better news, a few days ago I realized just how head over heels in love I am with Hank. It is a totally different kind of love than I have ever experienced before, and it is so so neat. I really feel these days that I would do anything in the world for him.

Well look at that. I was feeling more eloquent that I thought I was.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Santa and Hank

Santa and Hank, originally uploaded by hjw3001.

Just wanted to add Hank's first picture with Santa. "Firsts" are coming fast and furious these days, and keeping track of them is fun. Another first this week was the first real bath. I had reall worked myself up into a lather over what this was going to be like. I was really anxious about how it would go -- would he hate it? would he get hurt or burned? Turns out he was just kind of amused by the whole thing, and very mellow. I don't know what I was woking myself up about because in the end it was nothing remarkable. It was fun however to watch Hank encounter the water. He seemed a little puzzled, but also somewhat familiar with it -- maybe he was remembering what it was like to float around in his amniotic sac?

Another first this week was Hank grabbing my hair and tugging it. He's done this a few days in a row now, so I am convinced it was not a fluke.

One Month Old!

Hank turned one month old yesterday. He celebrated by entering a growth spurt, which means nearly non-stop eating, sleeping when he is not eating, and generally just being pretty upset when not doing either. It makes me so sad to not be able to calm him, and I can't imagine what it must be like to have a baby who is colicky, as this is hard enough! I hope the spurt only lasts a day or two more, because it is starting to wear me out (which I feel sad saying, but it is the truth). I think we are probably in the home stretch as he did have one brief period this evening where he was his friendly, mellow self, and I was like "my sweet little baby boy, you are back!!" and then he got hungry and upset again. :( so we are just trying to keep him fed, calm, and clean, and hoping that he'll get through this all with flying colors. He's certainly gotten bigger in the last few days...

We also celebrated by picking up Grandma and Grandpa and going to meet Santa! It was so much fun! Hank was a champ -- he actually slept right through the whole thing. The Santa was really good with him, and held him really gently and carefully, and we got great pictures.

I also spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about the birth again. I re-read Hank's birth story and kind of marveled at all that happened on that single day, and all that has happened since then. On one hand it feels like time has flown by in the last month, on the other hand it feels like it was a reall, reeeeaallly long looooonnngg month... But life is good, and we really don't have anything to be complaining about.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Four Weeks Old!

"Holy cow, I'm four weeks old!!"

Not technically a month old yet, but we are celebrating already anyhow. I really can't believe we've gotten through four weeks. Those first couple of weeks were really so hard and so exhausting, but Henry and I are both feeling like we've gotten through it relatively unscathed. We both still have days where one or both of us is just exhausted, but for the most part we are functioning at a fairly high level and doing pretty well. I think we are a good team!

Hank's started to get a little fussy and keep wondering what's happened to my mellow little boy? We've been trying to master the Happiest Baby On The Block techniques, for the most part they work. He also like bouncing with one of us on the yoga ball, rocking in the glider, and (when he's already feeling calm) his swing. We still break out the ocean sounds CD from time to time, and sometimes he just really wants to be cuddled -- so I'll wrap him up in a meitai or a pouch/sling and wear him around the house until he conks out.

Earlier this week we took him to see an ear nose and throat specialist on the recommendation of the lactation consultant, who thought Hank might have a slight tongue tie which would contribute to some of the breastfeeding problems we've been having. The ENT, however, didn't think there was a problem, so was unable to help us. If there had been a tongue tie, we would have had Hank's frenulum clipped. The doctor offered to clip it anyway, but absent a problem, we couldn't see any reason to have Hank undergo surgery (albeit minor surgery). So the next day it was back to the lactation consultant who really has been quite helpful. I'm now holding him differently when he's at the breast and he seems to be getting more to eat that way. We still have to supplement, but I think I am finally OK with that.

Let's see, what else has been going on... On Monday night Hank went to his first concert! He went with us to the UC Choral Ensembles' Holiday Concert. He got to hear Grandma and Grandpa sing. Henry wore him in a meitai, and he stayed asleep and quiet for most of the concert. He really did so well, we were so proud. Also, Hank and I have started taking morning walks together. Usually we use our walk as an excuse to run an errand or two, and I am really coming to cherish the time we spend out and about. It really is fun for me, and I hope it is fun for him.

He's so cute... he's hanging out in his swing right now looking all around and totally mellow. Uh oh... I spoke too soon... the baby went off! gotta go...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Three Weeks and Four Days

Well, over here we can't believe we've made it through the first few weeks. We got through the first two weeks, which so many people had warned us would really be the worst, and things did start to get easier and more predictable. I'm still having trouble finding time for myself (hence me sitting here posting to the blog at 4 in the morning while the baby is sleeping --- and I should be sleeping too!!), but the trade off has been worth it for now and I am sure I'll be able to strike a balance one of these days. I've been feeling guilty because I haven't managed to make time to write and send thank you notes to all those wonderful people who have given us things for Hank, and have done so much to help us get through these first few weeks. Hopefully in the next couple of days I can manage to get started on that. Hank still sleeps a lot, and I'm getting more comfortable wearing him in a sling/pouch contraption, which frees my hands up for other things -- like writing thank you notes!

I've truly been overwhelmed by people's generosity and their desire to help and support us these days. It has actually really touched me deeply and I've been so grateful. This can be a really difficult time, sometimes feeling lonely, and it has helped so much to have people drop by with meals or just to say hello. I really don't know what we would do without my parents these days. Last weekend I actually spent a night in the emergency room, and Hank spent the night with my parents. We were really lucky to have them here, and although it was so sad for me to spend a night away from my baby, I knew he was safe and in good hands with my mom and dad. We've spent a couple more nights at their house since then, and those nights have been really restorative and restful for me and for Henry. Hank sleeps in the Pack N Play in my parents' room, and my mom brings him to me for night feedings, and helps out with the bottle and changing him. It has been good for me to spend the time there, and Hank has been having fun with his Grandma and Grandpa.

The emergency room, you say? Why yes... Last weekend I was experiencing excruciating back and abdominal pain, and when I started vomiting we decided something was really amiss. So Henry took me to the emergency room where they kept me all night long as they did some ultrasounds which ultimately revealed gallstones. I was much more upset about having to leave Hank for a night than I was about having gall stones! It actually really broke my heart. I knew he was in good hands, but I certainly had never imagined that my son would spend his first night away from me at only 2 1/2 weeks old. He did beautifully, though, and as for me, no surgery is necessary at this time. I'm modifying my diet a bit, and doing some investigation into whether the gall bladder problem played any role in how sick I was during the pregnancy. If I find out there is any link, I will schedule the surgery and make sure it is done before we try to have another child.

In Hank's world, he's just been getting bigger and bigger. The initial problems he had with losing weight have been reversed -- this week at his check up he had gained all the weight he'd lost back, and then some. I am sure by now he is over ten pounds. He's just getting bigger and bigger. I look at him often and think to myself, 'soak this in, Sara, because he's never going to be this tiny again.' I noticed in the last couple of days that his nose and his chin have both grown and are no longer the teeny tiny nose and chin I gave birth to. He's also starting to develop and show signs of becoming a full fledged human being someday. Two days ago he started to figure out that his hands are in fact HIS HANDS and that he can use them -- for example he actually pressed a pacifier against his mouth to keep it from falling out, and he grabs on to things (mostly our fingers) and holds on as if for dear life. He also follows things with his eyes from one place to another now -- things like his little toy elephant that jingles when you shake it, and a set of big plastic keys. My very favorite thing he's done lately though was to smile at me when I came to get him yesterday morning. He actually, truly, looked happy to see me. It just warmed my heart.

Breastfeeding remains a big challenge, but we are doing the best we can. I'm taking fenugreek and reglan and drinking mother's milk tea and pumping a few times a day. It seems that I'm making more milk, but Hank is still a sort of lazy sucker. He latches on like a champ (and actually reminds me of a little prizefighter entering the ring when he gets ready to latch on), but he gives up sucking after only a few minutes, so we are still having to supplement him. We are seeing an ear/nose/throat doctor on monday to evaluate his tongue tie. What we've been told so far is that he is borderline, and this could be impacting both his ability to feed off the breast efficiently, as well as my supply. Clipping his frenullum would go a long way towards solving the problem for both of us, and apparently is really easy on the baby. So we'll see.

I've got to start taking more pictures and video of Hank. Henry takes a lot of photos, so we do have the beginnings of a pretty good archive. He just changes so much, so quickly, every day --sometimes even within the same day he's changed and grown. It is amazing to watch this happen right in front of my eyes. We are so lucky.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

On Not Being Pregnant Any More

Now, I am not saying I miss being pregnant. Do not misunderstand! I am so glad I am not pregnant any more it isn't even funny. But I've been surprised by how quickly it all was over. Does this make sense? I spent weeks and months becoming more and more pregnant, and then all of a sudden it was over, and that has been kind of weird. Even though as an experience I didn't enjoy it very much, I was surprised after the fact to find how much of my identity had become about 'being pregnant' during that time, and how abrupt the shift to post partum has been. The physical sensations of being pregnant ended so abruptly -- the nausea was gone, the acid reflux over, the sciatica, the aches and pains, the belly itself. The only physical symptom that lingered was swollen feet and ankles, but a few days ago I noticed that my normal feet were back. Hooray! I missed my feet! Another thing that didn't go away quickly was the emotional stuff -- I've still cried a lot post partum, but that has more to do with the hormonal crash and sleep deprivation I've been experiencing (and even that seems to be abating now).

One thing I miss quite a bit, is feeling the baby move around inside me, especially the little windshield wiper action he used to make in my ribcage with his feet. I loved that that experience was mine and the baby's alone, and I kind of miss having that. There are moments when I feel a physical twinge inside me, and it feels similar to a kick or a tap, but I know it is just my body still returning to normal after all the stretching out, but I find that I have to remind myself of that.

Another thing I miss is all the time Munchie spent hanging out on my belly waiting for the baby to kick. She's starting to act normal again, but for the first week and a half or so she was not interested in any of us, hid a lot, and was not wanting to spend any time on any one's lap, let alone mine. I can't blame her, as it was pretty chaotic around here, but I really missed my cat! She's acting more herself now, and even sitting on us again, so I think everything is returning to normal in that department. Hooray!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Two Weeks!

Hank is two weeks old today! I am happy today to mark the milestone, as everyone tells me the first two weeks are the hardest -- in fact one girlfriend described the first two weeks as "grim". And truly, in many respects, the first two weeks were pretty grim, albeit interspersed with some really wonderful moments.

Henry, Hank, and I are all getting to know each other. In the calmer moments, we actually seem to enjoy parenting quite a lot, and neither Henry nor I can imagine life without Hank. There is usually one point in the morning where we are all together, no one is tired, no one is crying, and we are all feeling happy. This morning it was during "tummy time" -- we had Hank on the floor on a blankie so he could exercise his head and neck muscles, and at the end of tummy time we washed his hair again. We love washing his hair and combing it into funny shapes. He is pretty tolerant, but doesn't like it all that much, but we more than make up for it at the end by bundling him up in a towel and giving him all kinds of hugs and kisses. We love him so.

There's been a lot of hard stuff, too. The sleep deprivation has been a real challenge, but we seem to be getting through that fairly well. The hardest thing has been breastfeeding -- well, not the breastfeeding so much, as the fact that Hank still hasn't gained back any of the weight he lost after being born. We've seen lactation consultants and pediatricians and everyone has different advise. For me this has been extremely emotional and upsetting. We have to supplement every meal of my breastmilk with formula. The first time we had to do this it just broke my heart -- not so much that we were giving him formula, but that I felt like I was failing at feeding my kiddo. Like I said, this has been an extremely emotional and difficult thing for me to go through, but by the same token I also know that we need to do whatever we have to do to get Hank to put on weight and start growing. We go to Kaiser again tomorrow for a weight check, so hopefully we will see some forward progress. I will just fall apart if he's lost again, though.

Another hard thing has just been the hormonal crash I've been on. Luckily I was warned about this in advance so I was expecting it. But it has been quite a roller coaster, with lots of tears and headaches and (the worst part) night sweats and anxiety dreams from which I wake up thinking I've been nursing Hank in bed and can't find him in the sheets and blankets. I wake up soaking wet and freezing cold.

But like I said, for every hard moment there has been an equally lovely one. Everyday Hank looks older and wiser and begins to show signs of interacting with the outer world. He makes all kinds of new sounds, including this high pitched shriek that has earned him a few new nicknames -- Pterodactyl, Dinosaur, Mommy's Little Bird of Prey. And even when he's screaming bloody murder on his changing table, I'll look down at him and just sigh and say "he is just soooo cuuute!!!" Some days I can't even believe that I made him. I am completely in love. Other new nicknames include The Boob, Little Boob, Pumpkin, and Hiccupy Hank (which will also make an excellent cowboy name one day).

Over the last couple of weeks I've been remembering a couple of things I keep meaning to write down. These details are probably meaningless to anyone other than myself, but they were observations I made and when I notice these things again they will remind me of this massive life transformation.

1. Persimmons. Early in the pregnancy I looked out the bedroom window on to the neighbor's persimmon tree. It was still late spring, but tiny green persimmons had begun to grow. I remember looking at the fruit, and placing a hand on what would become Hank in my belly, and thinking, 'when those persimmons are ready to be picked, this baby will be ready to be born.' Throughout the pregnancy I watched those persimmons grow. In the last weeks the persimmons turned bright orange, and I started seeing persimmons for sale in grocery stores. The weekend before Hank was born the neighbors were outside picking their persimmons, and I just knew it was time.

2. Fingernail moon. When we were driving to labor and delivery the night before Hank was born, there was a tiny sliver of a fingernail moon hanging in the sky. This has always been my favorite moon. We had a fingernail moon grace our wedding, so these are meaningful for us. By the time Hank was born the next afternoon, it was a crystal clear perfect fall day.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Today I am thankful that it is Hank's actual due date, and that he has already been born!

Happy One Week Birthday to Hank!

Nov. 21, 2007

Dear Hank –

Today you are one week old! Your dad and I sang happy birthday to you at 1:49 this afternoon as we were driving down Broadway on our way home from seeing the lactation consultant. She’s helping us figure out what to do to feed you really well so you grow big and strong and stay healthy.

We can’t believe it has already been a week. We are all smitten with you and fall more and more in love with you every day. We are also so surprised to see how much you have already changed! When you were first born you would make little squeaky noises – now you tell ferociously loud, making me think you got the Raymond Family Lungs. You like to eat, and we’ve figured out how to get you to sleep without having us hold you – we play the radio on static. It is still hard for me to sleep, mostly because I want to be sure you are OK all hours of the night, but I am glad you are sleeping and growing. You have all kinds of funny expressions – when you are sleeping you squash up your face and look really angry – we call this Pissed Off Baby. And then there’s Suspicious Baby, where you squish your lips together, open your eyes really narrowly, and dart them back and forth.

We’ve got tons of nicknames for you too – Hank A Poo, Hank A Doodle, Doodle, Doodle Bug, Poodle, Noodle, Potato, Sweet Potato, Hot Potato, Potato Bug, Bug, and Buddy. My favorite is Potato.

I’m enjoying you so much, and already I can’t imagine my life without you in it. I can’t wait for milestones like recitals and graduations and your wedding.

Lots of love,

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Baby Hank Is Born!

On Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 1:49 pm Henry Raymond Wagner burst into this world following 4 hours and 49 minutes of labor.

The long story begins a few days before then, early in the morning the Saturday before, when I woke up to what I thought were contractions. We even went as far as to have our doula come over to assist, because we really thought this was it, and it seemed that things were moving swiftly. But by 4 a.m. the contractions had stopped completely, and we chalked it up to false labor caused by dehydration – par for the course seeing as I had still been vomiting that day, and the ‘episode’ was in fact inspired by a bout of nausea at 12:30 a.m. during which I threw out my upper back (as an aside, I remember thinking at that time that if labor pains were going to be that far up my back an epidural, if needed, would have to be started in my neck!).

The next evening we made a visit to labor and delivery so I could get IV fluids – I can’t believe that was the first time during my pregnancy that I went in for fluids! I felt like a new woman the next day, and Henry and I were able to get the last of the baby errands accomplished, and the last of the organizing finished. I spent the next couple of days cleaning and putting things away, and I was hell bent on finishing reading Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air”.

On Tuesday morning I refused to get out of bed until I had turned the last page. I knew that that morning I had to take a shower, finish cleaning the bathroom, clean out the refrigerator, and go to Whole Foods to pick up some things that our doula suggested we have on hand for early labor and recovery. I got through the shower and cleaning the bathroom. At about 11:15 I had just about finished cleaning out the refrigerator when I felt a gush, thought maybe I had wet my pants, and then another much larger gush, which made me realize instantly that my water had broken! Immediately I was seized with a surge of adrenaline the likes of which I have never experienced. I called Henry at work and said “It’s time! My water broke!” I called Treesa, my doula. I called my parents. And then I waited.

Henry made his way home after stopping at Whole Foods – he was laden down with rootbeer and comfort foods, and was nervous and excited as I was too. But nothing was happening. Every so often I’d leak more fluids, but contractions never came. Late in the afternoon I started bleeding bright red blood. We called Treesa to ask her about the bleeding and she suggested we go to labor and delivery to rule out any complications. There were still no contractions, but off to L&D we went.

At L&D they put me on monitors and everything looked fine. The midwife who worked with us, Adele, ruled out any complications and also agreed that although my water had broken, I wasn’t technically in labor yet. We discussed the pros and cons of staying at the hospital or going home. Even though we had everything with us that we needed for the hospital stay, we elected to go home. I had really hoped for a fully natural childbirth, and we knew that if we stayed that night, they would likely want to induce As Soon As Possible due to hospital policies concerning the length of time that had passed since my water had broken, and I felt like I still hadn’t given my labor enough of a chance to get started.

Before we could leave, though the OB/GYN on call had to come read me a riot act about all the bad things that could happen if I left, and warn me that I was Leaving Against Medical Advice, and made me sign all kinds of waivers. When we finally walked out the door I wasn’t sure what to think, but I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to die (which was one of the possible outcomes the doctor had mentioned in her diatribe).

We got home around ten and on Treesa’s advice decided not to try any natural induction methods, and just get some sleep instead. I had a hard time though because every now and then a contraction would wake me up, but they never got regular. At 5:00 a.m. I woke Henry up and said “We’ve got to go back to the hospital”. Even though my labor still hadn’t gotten under way, I had reached the limit of my comfort zone, and I couldn’t wait any longer.

At labor and delivery they were waiting for us, so we skipped triage and were taken right to a labor room. I saw Adele, who was about to finish her shift, as we arrived, and said to her “we’re back”. She came to our room to talk with us about the next steps. She helped me decide that a low dose of pitocin would be the right thing to do. We made a few phone calls to family, checked in with Treesa who was on her way (and also helped me feel a lot better about the decision to use pitocin), and then I spent a little time adjusting to the change in plans and getting comfortable with it (I admit, I was feeling a little disappointed about deciding to use the pitocin, and I was terrified that it was going to lead to a string of interventions ending in an emergency c-section, and this all took some getting used to).

At 9:00 a.m. they started the pitocin. I was happy to find that one of our nurses was Jennifer, the same nurse who helped me with the IV fluids a couple of nights before. She and the other nurse (also Jennifer) were both terrific and made me feel really comfortable. The midwife who would actually be attending the delivery, Lorraine, was wonderful from the get go, and also made me feel good about my decision to use the pitocin. Treesa arrived just as the pitocin was starting to work, and she and Henry made an amazing team right from the start. The labor pains were strong to start with and Henry and Treesa worked together to help me be as comfortable as I could be for as long as possible. At some point my parents showed up. My dad went out to the waiting room pretty quickly, but my mom wound up staying for the entire labor and delivery, something that I am very happy about.

My recollection of how things went from about 10 a.m. on gets pretty fuzzy, pretty fast. I know that at some point they turned the pitocin from a 2 to a 4 to a 6 and then back to a 2. I know that I detested the sensation of the monitors strapped around my abdomen and begged during each contraction to have them removed, as they sat right on the spot in my back that hurt the most during each contraction. I remember Henry and Treesa helping me to breathe each time the pain got to be too much. I remember projectile vomiting when contracting on my hands and knees. I remember being in the bathroom with Treesa and asking her if I was delirious and her telling me in a comforting way that I was just in labor and helping me get back in my body and back with my breath as the strength of the contractions continued to skyrocket and the pain became more and more unimaginable and indescribable. I remember being so surprised by how the contractions felt. I remember asking Treesa when I was going to start feeling empowered, like the women in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I also remember telling Treesa that Ina May could shove her book up her ass. I remember my friend Beth coming by with lunch for Henry and yelling that she couldn’t come in. I remember feeling like everything was spiraling so far beyond my grasp, and the terror that came with that. I remember saying to Treesa “I think I’m having a panic attack” during one of the worst contractions, Treesa placing a finger on my forehead and instructing me to open my eyes, look at her, and breath. I did, and it worked.

At about this time I also remember being told I was at 5 cm dilation and thinking there was no way I could make it to 10 if it was only going to get more intense from there. I asked Treesa to talk to me about an epidural, and hearing my mom ask if there was just some drug we could use to take the edge off instead. We decided to use fentanyl, and within seconds of the drip starting I was able to get a break for the first time in my labor. For the next 15 minutes I rode the contractions, which were coming with more intensity and velocity, but nearly slept between each one. And then all of a sudden I had to push in a way I’ve never had to push before, and I could not wait.

Henry tells me that the nurses and Lorraine sprang into action to get ready for the actual delivery. Someone did an internal exam to verify that I was in fact ready to push, but I was already crowning. Treesa took the camera and she and Lorraine coached me through the pushing. Henry had one of my legs and my mother had the other. I pushed through about 12 contractions and Hank was born, wiggling and purple, and just about the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. Henry discovered the sex and announced it was a boy as Hank cuddled and wiggled and hiccupped on my chest. The time was 1:49 p.m. He weighed 9 lbs 13.6 oz, and was 22.75 inches long.

I’d had some tearing, so as Lorraine stitched me up we got to know Hank who was so warm and squishy on my chest. Everything had happened so fast that I hadn’t even been able to take off my bra, so one of the nurses cut it off so we could be skin to skin and Hank could search out my nipple and eat for the first time. My mom told me during this time that as the baby was crowning all she could think was how big its head was. She also said Lorraine sort of massaged it into a cone as it was coming out, making the delivery easier (you’d never know this from looking at him – his head is a round as can be). They had offered me a mirror during the pushing, but I refused it, knowing I wouldn’t have the ability to concentrate on pushing if I’d had the distraction of watching the baby crown (so I reached down to touch his head instead, which felt like a water balloon). Lorraine worked the placenta out and showed it to us – it was huge! No wonder I’d been so sick for so long!

It has been a few days and I have been feeling so relieved that the entire experience – from pregnancy to delivery – is over. Simultaneously I’ve also felt so grateful for the people who helped me survive the experience. We returned to the hospital yesterday for Hank’s two-day check up, and just driving up to the parking garage I felt a surge of emotion – relief that I was not coming to make another pregnancy related visit, love for the child in the car seat next to me, gratitude for my extraordinarily loving and kind husband, thankfulness for my entire family. Tears were pouring out of my eyes. This whole thing has been such a ride that it has been hard for me to express what it feels to be at the end of it. I find it equally impossible to express what it feels like to be at the beginning of the rest of it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

At least, let the wild ride begin -- I'm not sure I'm feeling enthusiastic enough this morning to call it a rumpus knowing that in the book that leads to a big wonderful party. Currently I don't feel like we are headed for a big wonderful party at all, I just feel like I am headed for a world of hurt!

I'm really grateful that this was my last week of work. I'm officially on maternity leave and feeling really happy for that, as for the last few days I've been having intermittent contractions, and growing increasingly uncomfortable and irritable. The contractions at times have actually been quite intense, but nothing consistent or regular, and nothing that could be considered productive.

I'm basically copying and pasting the rest of this installment from a message board where I communicate with other pregnant women about what's going on for us (which I know is kind of a cop out, but you'll see why I am too tired to type much after reading the rest)...

We had just about the worst night ever around here last night... I went to bed around 11, woke up at 12:30 when Henry got home from train club, and found I was having another one of my irregular contractions. I also felt sooo incredibly sick. Somehow I managed to make it to the bathroom in time to vomit up everything I'd eaten since lunch (I wish I were exaggerating), while riding out a contraction at the same time. In the process I managed to throw out my upper back. We didn't know what to do, the pain was so intense, and I didn't even realize that I had thrown out my back, I just thought it was part of the contraction. I could barely breathe, and I certainly could not get on top of the pains that kept coming and going. Henry called our doula who told us to call labor and delivery, and who also came over. I was in way too much pain to talk to either the hospital or the doula.

By the time the doula arrived, I was having contractions about every three minutes, but they petered out after an hour or so. It really looked for a while there that we might be having a baby last night... When it was pretty clear that my body was done doing whatever it was going to do for the night, our doula went home with instructions to call her if anything started up again. She also counseled me to consider going to the hospital for some IV fluids, given how much I have still been throwing up. She also told me that if friday had not have been my last day at work, she would have forbidden me from going back.

It was 4 a.m. by this time, and we tried to get some sleep. Henry fell asleep almost immediately and slept like a rock. Thanks to the spasm in my back, I could not find a single comfortable place anywhere in our apartment, and I think I've had a total of an hour of sleep since this ordeal began at 12:30 (it is now 9:30 a.m.). It has been such an awful night. Heat didn't help the spasm, tylenol didn't touch it, a shower didn't work. I've coincidentally got a massage scheduled for this morning, so hopefully that will make a difference. There's no way now that we'll be able to check anything off our baby to do list, which of course has me fretting away over here, because our doula thinks we've got maybe two or three days before it is go time, and we are both way too tired (and I am in way too much pain) to even consider running any errands. If my massage therapist can just make me comfortable enough to lie down and get some sleep today, I'll be happy, and I guess I'll just have to deal with everything else when my body is ready to deal again. man. what a hellacious night.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Good Weekend

It is already Wednesday night, but I still want to record some thoughts about the good weekend I had a few days ago. Saturday I had an unintentional day of pampering -- manicure, pedicure, eyebrow wax, and new hair! I felt like a million bucks. I felt so good that I actually wanted to eat chinese food for the first time in I have no idea how long, and it was good! and didn't make me sick! It was great!

On Sunday three of my girlfriends threw a baby shower for me and the kiddo. We held it at my parents' house and it was really fun. Most of my closest friends were there and throughout it all I kept having brilliant realizations of how lucky this kid is, to be born into such a loving community. It has four adoring grandparents, two excited uncles, two very loving and fiercely protective parents, and a multitude of extended aunties and uncles who are also anxious to meet it. It was actually kind of overwhelming -- in a good way, but overwhelming nonetheless. It was also just such a nice opportunity for me to actually see people for a change. I've been feeling a bit reclusive lately, and I'd been looking forward to the shower as an opportunity to socialize and spend time with people I love. That's exactly what I got, and it made me so happy. Tons of love to Dana, Beth, and Jen for all the love they put into the plans and execution. It was perfect.

38 Week Rant and Rave

Oof, I just keep getting bigger and bigger, and I'm not sure that first picture begins to do this "bump" justice... will this ever end? I'll admit to some anxiety over the last few days about how close we are to the end, but the truth is I really cannot wait. I'm tired all the time, I pee all the time, my feet and ankles swell up to unrecognizable proportions in five minutes flat, I haven't slept properly in I don't know how long, I can barely stand up from any seated position (forget it if I'm laying on my back!), not to mention the continuing nausea and acid reflux... whaaa whaaa whaaa... I find myself wondering if I am more eager to meet the kiddo or just not be pregnant anymore... sigh... (and if one more person tells me 'you think you are tired now? you may never get a full night's sleep again', I will slap said person... see above!!) That being said, I actually am enjoying pregnancy now more than I ever was up until now. But I'm still going to rant about the discomforts! I'm entitled!

Rant aside, I really truly can't imagine how there can possibly be any room left in there at all... All I feel most times is baby. It is everywhere at once, and while I thought a few weeks ago that I could no longer bend in half? Well, now I really can't bend at all, so I can't even imagine what it is going to be like the longer this pregnancy lasts.

My leave starts on friday at 5, and I can't wait. I'm not making any plans at all for next week, in some weird hope that I'll actually have a baby, but I suppose I shouldn't hold my breath either. We've still got quite a to do list outstanding, but mostly I still want to get the baby space organized. It is almost there, but not quite. Munchie's new favorite hiding space is under the crib, and Riley keeps trying to use a shelf on the changing table as his hidey-hole, so I guess we are on the right track.

Friday, November 2, 2007


I've had some crazy dreams while pregnant and people keep telling me I ought to write them down. What better place than here?

1. The Take A Break From Pregnancy Dream. A few months ago I had a dream where I just needed to take a break. So I popped open a little hatch on my belly, reached in, and pulled out a perfectly clean, dressed, little baby. It looked like the baby that is in the looney tunes cartoons(not the one with the cigar!), had a big bonnet on, and was wearing one of those baby-creeper-gown things. We couldn't tell if it was a boy or girl, and we didn't look because we didn't want to spoil the surprise. We put it aside with every intention that we'd pop it back in the hatch in time to actually have the baby in November. People kept asking if we'd had the baby already, and I'd say 'no...., I just needed a break, so we took it out, and I'll be putting it back in in a couple of months...'

2. The Going Into Labor Dream. A few weeks ago I dreamed I was losing my mucus plug. The dream was so real and exciting that when I woke up I had to check to make sure that it hadn't actually happened! It hadn't, but it did get me really excited about labor an delivery finally being around the corner.

3. The Henry Calls Me And Tells Me I'm In Labor Dream. I'm driving alone in the Kaiser parking lot when Henry calls and says "you are in labor! you need to get home immediately to put the baby back in so you can give birth to it!" Panic and hilarity ensue.

I know I am forgetting some other good ones, but these have been the best.

So I am up in the wee hours again -- tossing and turning started at about three this morning and wasn't stopping so I just got up. Watched some TV, checked email, ate an apple, fed the cats, spent some more time in the baby space sorting clothing. I am so in love with all the tiny socks. I keep hearing that they aren't exactly practical, yet I love them so nonetheless. A coworker gave me some tiny sneakers, and I love those so much too. I can't wait to see the tiny fee that are going to wear those things -- they are going to be so wonderful! After I finish getting everything organized this weekend I'll take a few pictures -- the crib, which had caused me so much anxiety, looks cozy and inviting, and I'm just really liking spending time in that room right now.

We've got an appointment this morning with the midwife, and I need to ask her about all this swelling that just started a couple of days ago. My feet, ankles, and hands have just ballooned up beyond control, and they ache! The only thing that marginally helps is when Henry squeezes them -- oh sweet relief.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloweeney! 37 Weeks

Halloween has come and gone, and it was such fun. As tradition dictates, we headed out to my parents' house which is always right in the middle of all the action. We went through 20 bags of candy, as well as few packages of pencils and pens. My dad captured each kid who came to the door in a photo, that he then put on his website for everyone in the neighborhood to see. My mom brought a bunch of stuff home from Genentech as a surprise for Henry to use as a mad scientist costume, and that was a total hit.

November! November!

I never thought I'd see the day, but November is finally here! We get to meet our baby this month, and I can't wait. I feel very happy and positive today, knowing the big day is likely right around the corner.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shake Rattle and Roll! v.2.0

Oh my god, we just had one hell of an earthquake. 5.6 on the richter scale, and over 10 seconds long. It was centered about 20 miles from us, but we never would have known that while it was rumbling through our apartment building. This one was much bigger than the last one we felt -- the one that woke us up in the middle of the night. This one rolled through the building shaking everything. Henry and I were just glued to the couch, totally not sure what to do. I kept thinking it was over and then we'd be hit by another wave. It really was a scary one, and I was sure it was The Big One. Once it was over we went to search out the cats, who were both cowering under the bed. I was so glad that Riley had come home last night, and wasn't still out. He'd never have made it home after that! Things seem to have calmed down now, but holy cow, that shook us up (har har).

I was really happy to go to acupuncture tonight. My practitioner is finally back from her wedding and honeymoon, and I was so glad to see her. Her sub had been ok, but not great, and after my treatment tonight I felt better than I've felt in weeks. She's really been an incredible gift to me throughout this pregnancy, and I shudder to think what it would have been like without her help. We talked a lot tonight about induction, and although we did not take any steps to induce tonight, she agreed that as soon as I am ready, she'll start working the induction points. So exciting that she can do that. She thinks the baby will be early based on my pulses. We'll see if she's right! So far she's been right about everything.

Henry has started to put the crib together, and I stopped by IKEA tonight to pick up a few storage items. They have some really cute things there for baby rooms, so I also picked up a couple of mobiles and a rattle that looks like a big, blue fish. I'm really enjoying the nesting -- it is fun, and I feel all cozy when I'm doing things like folding teeny weeny socks and stashing them away, knowing that in a matter of weeks we'll be stretching them over the toes of our very own little person.

Monday, October 29, 2007


He's home! That was quite an adventure he had... He seems totally fine, aside from the fact that our normally orange buddy is now more gray than anything, with some big black spots. Actually, it looks a little as though he was sleeping on a barbeque grill.

We are so glad to see him, but he is soooo grounded.

Riley, Come Home!

Man, the Fuzzy Pumpkin has gone missing. We are pretty used to him spending the night outside. Usually he wakes us up at around 5:30 to be let in by howling beneath our bedroom windows. But today, he didn't! I came home to check for him at lunch, and no Riley. When I got home this evening, no Riley. Henry had left some food out for him when we left this morning, but it doesn't look like it has been touched. I feel very sad and worried, and I'm hoping hoping hoping that he is just on an extended walkabout and will be back soon. Of course, it is now the time of day that he likes to go out to begin with, so now I'm worried we won't be seeing anything of him until at least tomorrow morning.

Please, if you are reading along, think some good thought for the Pumpkin, and help send him home. We miss him so much already!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Posting From a More Sane Hour...

Fall colors have made it to the Bay Area and they are not too shabby! (ok so we have nothing on Western Massachusetts, but still... not so bad). My parents' maple tree has started to really light up in a bright red color, and it is so pretty right now.
My mom and I drove out to Sacramento today to visit my Great Aunt Roxie (maternal Grandmother's sister). We had a fun time shopping for the baby and having lunch on the town. Generally when we visit Aunt Roxie it is nearly impossible to get her to agree to let us take her to lunch -- she always wants to cook -- but today she relented, and it was really nice.
When I got home I worked some more on the baby space -- we are really amassing a lot of stuff right now, and I am a bit lost as to how to organize it all so that it will all be useful to us, won't go to waste, and will be easy to work into some kind of routine (whatever that is going to be!!). We'll see.


About a year ago Henry and I went to see a movie -- Night at the Museum -- that arguably was made for kids more than adults. The only kid at the showing was probably 8 or 9 years old, and wow, was he bored/tired/over it... He kept fussing, and making exclamations of exhaustedness, culminating in bursting out with "but I'm SO TIRED and and I NEEEED to SLEEEEEP!!!!" It was so funny (much funnier than the movie), and ever since then Henry and I have made the phrase our own... And that's how I'm feeling right now.

It is 3:24 a.m. I woke up wide awake at 12:56 and here I am, watching the same stupid dog show I've already seen probably eight times during various bouts of insomnia throughout the pregnancy. And my lack of sleep is bringing out my inner snark, and I am sitting here watching dogs run around in circles, and wondering if there is a requirement for female doghandlers to wear ill fitting polyester suits and have dumpy hair? And oh please don't let me get started on the shoes! (see, I told you, the snark is coming out).

I guess it has been a while since posting. Things have been pretty busy with more baby prep and just general life moving along around here. About a week ago we had a really good appointment with the midwife who checked my cervix and said it is starting to thin out already, and it looks like progress is already being made. Her exact words were "looks like your baby is looking for a way out!" She wouldn't promise that I wouldn't carry the baby all the way to 40 weeks, but she also wouldn't promise a slightly early baby. She agreed it would be OK to work with my acupuncturist to bring on labor, she also said that in two weeks she'd be willing to strip my membranes, which is a technique that if done right can bring on labor. I've finally started to have braxton hicks contractions that actually hurt, and lots or cramping sensations as well, so I think my body is getting ready.

While it is exciting to think about, I am trying not to get my hopes up too much about the baby coming early. Because, if it doesn't, I'll wind up way disappointed. Not only am I really sick of being pregnant, I have crossed a line from being merely curious to meet the baby to really, really wanting to see it, hold it, talk to it, squeeze it, get to know it, and begin the lifelong unfolding.

What I really can't get my head around tonight is that after waiting for it for months and months, this baby really is around the corner. November is only a few days away! Only three and a half weeks to go to the due date! How did that happen? I've only got two more weeks of work yet, and I never thought that deadline would come. Now it is looming nearer every second. On the home front, Henry put together a changing table last weekend and plans to put the crib together this weekend. We've basically moved all the furniture we need to move, and as a result, the apartment is basically ready. I've got a couple of projects in the works -- for instance I still haven't finished that quilt or the teeny weeny sweater, and now I've cooked up ideas for a couple more crafty projects I'd like to whip up before the baby comes. Is this the beginning of nesting?

Basically, I think we are pretty much prepared. I've done all the reading I plan to do on natural labor, and am feeling largely ready for that challenge. We meet with our doula this weekend to talk about our plans. We've taken our childbirth prep class and new born care class. We've got a couple more classes to take, and a few other logistics to arrange, but basically we are ready around here. (ok, talk to me again tomorrow when I am reeling from sleep deprivation -- I may feel differently then!).

Did I mention anywhere in here yet that I am actually really looking forward to going into labor? And that I am actually really looking forward to the experience of labor and delivery? When I tell this to people they think I am nuts, but I'm dead serious -- I think it is going to be absolutely amazing and mind blowing and I can't wait to experience it. I'm trying not to get too attached to any one "plan" in particular, other than healthy baby and mama when it is all over, but I have to admit, I will be pretty disappointed in the end if this kiddo can't be born vaginally. All signs point to 'yes', though -- the head seems to still be down, and every day I feel sharp pains way down deep in my body, that have been explained to me as being the baby's head butting up against the cervix. And it has found a new use for its feet -- swiping them across my torso, just under my boobs, like windshield wipers.

Monday, October 15, 2007

34 Weeks in the Woods

34 Weeks in the Woods, originally uploaded by allthingssara.

Henry took this picture when we were in the aspen groves along the June Lake Loop. It was hecka cold out there!

Yosemite in October

Henry and I spent the weekend in and around Yosemite. It was our last chance to get away before the kiddo arrives, and it was stunning. We drove up Friday night on the tail end of a rainstorm that had swept across California. Things were wet, but it wasn't actually raining when we got there, and the forecast was for sun for the rest of the weekend. The moisture in the air gave rise to a beautiful misty morning. A steamy fog was emitting from nearly every surface in the Valley on Saturday morning. We were glad to have gotten up and out early enough to see it, because it was really something else.

When we drove in we found that Tioga Pass was closed, which was disappointing because we had been looking forward to dropping into Mono Basin to prowl around the June Lake Loop, where we were pretty sure we'd find aspen trees in full fall glory. To our happiness the road was opened around 11, so we drove on up over Olmstead point, through Touolumne, and down the other side. After a quick lunch at the Whoa Nelly Deli (a.k.a. the Gourmet Gas Station), we went around the June Lake Loop, where the trees really were in full, blazing color. Some stands of trees were so radiant they were casting a golden light on everything in their presence. It was beautiful.

With the afternoon closing in on evening, we started our way back to the Valley. We were so incredibly lucky to get to Olmstead Point right at sunset. This is a spot with an incredible view of the entire Valley, with Half Dome smack in the center of it all. On Saturday night the Valley was filled with fog, like a bowl of soup, with Half Dome rising from the center. Alpen glow cast a pinkish light on the surrounding rock faces. We had never seen anything like it. Everyone up there was blown away by the sight.

On Sunday we had brunch at the Awahnee (swanky! fun!), and spent several hours roaming through the woods behind the hotel, meandering along the river bank, and enjoying the trees. The dogwoods were all a gorgeous shades of red and green, and the maples were all on their way to yellow. Walking under these trees was like walking in a kaleidoscope or stained glass window. Very lovely and breathtaking. After our hike we scored a couch in the Great Hall at the Awahnee and Henry wrote thank you notes for our shower in NY, while I worked on the tiny orange baby sweater. We hatched plans for coming back in the spring with the kiddo in tow, and schemed about all the fun we have yet to experience.

It was a terrific weekend.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Teeney Weeney Sweater

Not sure why I am starting this, seeing as I still haven't finished the quilt and goodness knows there are about 2,000 other projects I should be working on or thinking about (such as getting the car seat installed!), but I've decided to try my hand at knitting again and have started working on a tiny orange sweater. Hopefully I'll do a halfway decent job of it! I really want to get to the secondpart of the project, which is to make a matching hat with antennae. Too cute!

Ordinary Inspiration

I've been finding the weather really inspiring lately. We've had rain and dramatic skies and I've been dragging my camera around to get pictures when I see something beautiful. Back in January I started a flickr set called Everyday Inspiration to which I had intended to add a photo a day. That didn't last very long, but I think I should start using it again, because the world is a beautiful place, and sometimes we move through it too quickly.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

October -- 33 Weeks

Well, I just keep getting bigger and bigger.... I keep feeling like there is no way I can get any bigger, but we've still got several weeks to go, so I guess I still have to get bigger! Henry took this picture last Thursday afternoon. We each played some hooky that day to help with the wedding rehearsal for our friends Beth and Chris, who got married the following Saturday. After the rehearsal, which was at a winery up on Skyline in San Mateo County, we had some time to kill before the rehearsal dinner, so Henry and I popped down the other side of the hill to spend a little time at San Gregorio Beach. We got there at about 5:30 and the light was really something else. There were tons of birds flying about, and the waves were just crashing. It was gorgeous.

We had enough time to take in the ocean and snap a few quick pictures, but then we had to turn around and get back to Menlo Park for the rehearsal dinner.

But not before Henry tried to get around the mucky lagoon and get to the actual beach. I waited with some driftwood.

It was a terrific wedding. I can't believe I didn't take any pictures, though! Henry was acting as the videographer, and I actually got to be the officiant and actually marry my friends together. Whenever anyone asks me to do this, it is such an honor and a pleasure, and this was no exception. I've known Beth for several years now, and I just adore her. So to get to take a role like this in her wedding was really something special for me. And I guess I did a good job, because several guests thought I was a hired gun! There was much laughing when they found out that what I really do is get people divorced all day... Which of course got me thinking...

The next day, Sunday, we went down to the South Bay again (three times in one week is a lot for me! thankfully we've got a Prius) for the wedding brunch, which was also fun. Chris' groomscake was an elaborate reproduction of a BNSF locomotive in chocolate cake and fondant. And it had been saved for the brunch. So of course we had to go have a slice... After the brunch Beth and Chris were off to New Zealand for their honeymoon. We're all assuming they made it there in one piece because they promised we wouldn't be hearing anything from them until they get back home at the end of October.

And then it was back to work on Monday. Henry and I are both feeling a lot of pressure and stress at work, and are both looking forward to our leaves coming up. It is probably counter productive, but we are each counting the days until our leaves begin. There is still so much that needs to be done around here, but I just have to trust that this baby will stay put long enough for us to get all that stuff done before it comes roaring out. It would also be easier to fathom being ready if I could JUST FEEL OK PHYSICALLY for more than 10 minutes at a time. But at this point I don't think that is going to happen. Too bad, so sad... Today I was feeling not so good in a new way -- a little crampy, with some aching in my low back, but I didn't really feel any contracting, so I decided not to worry about it. If I'm still feeling that tomorrow, I guess I'll have to call Kaiser, of course they'll just want to drag me in and hook me up to the monitors. Now watch, I'll call them, go in for monitoring, and find out I'm exhibiting signs of preterm labor. I hope not, but that might get my leave started sooner than we've planned. hmmm....

Sunday, September 30, 2007

So... Where did I leave off?

Oh yes... with the Whole Foods Sneak Preview. We've been back several times since Monday evening. The actual opening was on Wednesday and we went for the breadbreaking ceremony in the morning, and then went back again in the evening to pick up some dinner. The place was a mad house. The lines to check out were so deep that it looked like the immigration stop when you fly into another country. SO many people. But clearly the entire neighborhood is happy the store is finally open. No more crummy produce or meat from Safeway! Hooray! And we can walk there. Awesome.

What else happened this week of note? On Tuesday I made a surprise trip to Labor and Delivery to have a peek at the kiddo. I was worried because there had been no movement for most of the day -- very unusual. So I called L&D, as I've been instructed to do at this point, and asked if this kind of drop in movement is normal or to be expected in anyway. I was expecting the nurse to tell me to drink some apple juice and lie down for a while and see if anything happened. But no, she went straight to "Come on in, and we'll check it out!" Yikes! So I hopped in my car and drove out to Walnut Creek. When I got there I found L&D. The nurses buzzed me in, and took me into triage. They hooked me up to the fetal monitor immediately, and to my relief that little heartbeat sound started woosh-wooshing immediately. That pretty much satisfied me right there, but the nurse was not finished. She hooked me up to another monitor, this one to make sure I wasn't in preterm labor. Double yikes! I was definitely NOT ready to think about taking a baby home on Tuesday... After being on the monitors for a while (probably 20 minutes?) an OB/GYN came in to look at the print outs and to talk with me about what was going on. She was very positive and thought that the monitoring showed that things were probably OK, but wanted to do an ultrasound in addition, just to check for other functions, and also to see if we could see any movement (because I still wasn't feeling anything). Thankfully the ultrasound revealed a little baby that was just thrashing away, pounding and kicking my placenta which was actually absorbing all the shock of contact, making it impossible for me to feel anything. We also checked out the lungs and heart, and everything was operating properly. The OB told me to be sure to call again, and come in, if I stopped feeling movement again, but we were all feeling pretty confident that all was OK.

On Wednesday it was back to Whole Foods for the official grand opening, but I already yammered about that. Henry was happy to find that they sell bagels that are actually made in NY -- they taste great, just like NY bagels. I guess the bagel shop ships the bagels to CA and Whole Foods finishes cooking them in the store in the mornings so they can be sold hot.

Thursday evening we had our hospital tour, which was awful. I was glad I had had a preview a couple of days before, because all I could focus on during the tour was how annoying the tour guide was. I don't know if she thought her job was actually to be a stand up comedian or what, but she put on this crazy act for the whole tour. From the get go I felt like her treatment of the tour was making a joke out of everything. It made me so uncomfortable that I couldn't even bring myself to ask any questions whatsoever, for fear of being treated like a straight man in a comedy club. I appreciated the fact that she was trying to keep the tour from being overly serious, but it was really taken to an extreme. I'm looking forward to the evaluation form coming in the mail. You can bet I'll be filling that one out and sending it in... And if I hear her voice in the hallway when I am in labor or in recovery, I'll be sending my doula out to make her go far, far away.

Friday morning was the day the lactation station was finally delivered. Hooray! Too bad it also coincided with a high-anxiety day. Fortunately the anxiety seems to have passed (for now), but I was just feeling so overwhelmed and scared about what it is going to be be like to actually have to take care of a baby. As much as I've had a pregnancy that I won't be sorry to leave, I am not feeling very ready to actually accept what that means -- the fact that there will be another person in this household who is going to depend on us for everything. That is terrifying! We've been working so hard to make room for things, and as I mentioned last week I had a bit of an anxiety attack when we picked up our babyshower gifts from Babies R Us. For a week I'd been staring at the huge box with the crib in it, and for a week the anxiety had been building. On friday morning we moved the box out of the living room and into our bedroom, which is when I really lost it. I'll make a long story short. We'll be setting the crib up, but not in our bedroom -- the room is just to small, and I felt claustrophobic even thinking about having it set up in there. It will be in a corner of my crafty/reading room, and I think that will be fine. My mom spent a lot of the afternoon with me on Friday and helped me get through this enormous freakout, and then helped me figure out where we could put the crib where it would be serviceable and would not cause me stress, and I felt a lot better by the time she left.

This weekend has been pretty good. Saturday was hectic -- I had not gotten much sleep in friday night (oh the insomnia!). I had acupuncture, and then went with Mom and Henry to the farmers market, got my nails done. I needed lasagne for dinner so we wound up at the Olive Garden, where I also managed to pull a muscle in my back that made it really hard to move and breathe. Fun! This morning Henry went back to Whole Foods to get me some arnica and some watermelon. The arnica seems to have worked fairly well on the muscle spasm, and the watermelon is just plain yummy. We spent the afternoon at Allyndreth's MBA graduation. Congratulations, Al! She's worked so hard for this.

And now we are staring down the barrel of another work week. I'm finding myself wishing that it was the last day of October, rather than the last day of September right now, but no... it is not. Too bad, because I would love to go on leave right this second. Day by day I get bigger and bigger, and more and more tired, and cranky too, making it really hard to do my job. But do my job I must, for another five weeks that is...

Since I still have this month still looming between me and the month where the kiddo is due, I am hoping that I can focus on the good parts of pregnancy from here on out, so that I end this experience on a positive note. I do think in some ways that even though so much of this has been so unpleasant, I will miss pregnancy -- I'll miss the movement deep inside me, I'll miss the peace and quiet that comes when it is just me and the kiddo inside during a restful moment, I'll miss the intense love rushes that I experience from time to time that are so all consuming.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Yum, Yum!

The controversial neigborhood Whole Foods is finally opening its doors! Hooray! Finally, a market in the neighborhood with good meat and produce. I am so happy about this. Getting the store built has been a project for many years, it began before I met Henry, and ran into all kinds of horrible red tape and neighborhood opposition. Personally, I think we need something like a Whole Foods, and am welcoming it with open arms. Tonight the store held a Sneak Preview for the neighborhood. Henry and I met up there after work and had a dinner of free samples and toured the new store. It is going to be amazing! It opens officially on Wednesday morning, and we are going to go to the breadbreaking and hopefully be two of the first 1000 customers. Yes, we are dorks. :)


I think at last count my cohort of pregnant friends on the internet have had seven babies in the last week. Seven babies!

Coo Coo Ca Choo!

So yesterday Henry and I went to a workshop put on my my prenatal yoga teacher called "Preparing for Birth." It was a workshop for partners to learn some yoga tricks to help mamas in labor. The workshop was really pretty cool. There was much more talking and discussing than there was yoga, but it was neat to see all these women I've been getting to know through my yoga class with their partners, and it was great to have Henry get a chance to meet my toga teacher, as she's been so helpful throughout the harder parts of this pregnancy.

Anyway, we learned a few poses that will be really helpful I think in getting me through contractions. But the last thing we did in class just about killed us both. So here's what we had to do -- I hope I can describe it in a way that does it justice, because it was just so funny! By the time we were done I was laughing so hard I couldn't speak...

One partner was instructed to lie in the fetal position while the other was to sit behind him/her and squeeeeeeze him/her as hard as possible. After doing that the squeezer was to put his/her hands around the crown of the squeezee's head, and push as hard as possible, while the squeezee pushed against the hands. Now, I've always thought I would draw the line at any type to exercise that encourages you to have a "rebirth" type experience -- it is just too out there for me... Anyway, this was close to bordering on that type of thing, and I had the giggles before it even started. Henry squeezed me first and ack -- it was awful! My hair was getting pulled, and my face was getting squashed into the floor, and I really had to pee, so of course I started laughing. And then Henry started laughing too. And when we are both laughing, it is really hard for either of us to stop, and trying to stop only makes us laugh harder. So then it was my turn to squeeze Henry, and I was laughing too hard to get a grip on him at all. When squeezing the crown of his head, my fingers just could not stay together, and his head came right through. So of course my first thought was "well shoot, if I dilate this easily, labor is going to be a snap!" And then, the Beatles song, "I am the Walrus" started playing in my head. But instead of the Walrus, it was "I am the cervix, coo coo ca choo!" And then I just started laughing even harder.

It was a good thing the instructor had condoned laughing before we got started, because there was no way we could have gotten through that without any laughing. And others in the room were laughing too. After the squeezing was over we had to go around the room and talk about what the exercise felt like and what it made us think about. We still hadn't recovered from our giggle fit, but somehow we wound up having to be the second couple to speak, but we were both still laughing too hard to talk about it. We were laughing so hard we weren't even able to make any noise or begin to speak. It was so much fun.

Which of course got me thinking... we spend so much energy dwelling on the PAIN and the CHALLENGE and the ANXIETY of going into labor. But isn't any of it going to be fun? And shouldn't we try to find something fun about it? Henry and I do great when we are laughing, and I hope that we get to laugh during labor. There must be aspects of it that are going to be fun -- I mean, it will be a really intimate and new experience for us both, and at the end we'll get to meet our kiddo! This is fun stuff! And I'm excited about it, and I am looking forward to it!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bringing Baby (Stuff) Home

Someone tell me I am not the only woman who has a mild anxiety attack when picking up her baby's crib and bringing it home from Babies R Us...

We went to pick up all the shower gifts last night, and whoa nellie was that a shot of reality. Henry had to sit me down in the comfy chair department until I could get my breath back together and (yes) stop crying. In the end, he dealt with the customer srevice people while I retreated to the maternity wear department to comfort myself with a new cozy sweater that I bought on the spot and wore out of the store.

I feel much better about things today, but let me tell you, Henry and I both had a flash of panic when we saw them wheeling out an enormous box and calling our names to come get it. It is the crib and Ihave never seen such a huge box. I am still notsure how Henry got it upstairs to our apartment last night...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rainy Saturday

Hooray! It is the first rainy day of the fall, and I am so happy about it. Since it is Saturday Henry slept late and I stayed in bed to read for a while and listen to the morning downpour. Riley got stuck outside and I went out at one point to rescue him, and Munchie just engaged in her usual routine of climbing all over us like a four year old on a jungle gym. All in all, an excellent morning.

Armed with new drugs from my new midwife I headed back to yoga for the first time in a few weeks. It was great to get all stretched out again. I'd just been too sick to go for a few weeks, but I think that is behind me now. Thankfully.

This afternoon Henry is off to hike in the damp woods, and I am making some headway on the baby quilt. I was going to crazy quilt it, and even started to do so, but lost my nerve. So I pulled it out of the machine and had to rip out what I had done already. Now, about and hour and a half later, I'm about 2/3 finished with stitching the faces together. I am thinking that making a quilt may have been a bit over-ambitious of me in terms of a first sewing project after several years of not doing any sewing, but hey -- hindsight is 20/20, right? The project is suffering a bit from me still learning how to use my new sewing machine (that's right, I bought a new Singer sewing machine!), but I am going to choose to think that the flaws give the project a "handmade homey" look. :)

Tonight it is off to Babies R Us to pick up all the gifts from the New York shower. We've spent so much time the last few weekends getting the apartment ready to move in new furniture, although I still fear we are going to have to size down a few of the items we are supposed to bring home in order to keep the apartment feeling something like a home and less like a storage facility...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What are you having?

Henry and I picked up a quick lunch at Ahn's on Saturday. When we went up to the counter to pay, I noticed two women were staring at me in a very analytical way. It didn't even occur to me that they were looking at my pregnancy. So when they asked "What are you having?" I thought they were talking to me about my lunch! I was so confused, especially since we had already eaten, so I said in an equally confused tone of voice, "well, I had a turkey burger...??" They laughed and laughed and said, "no, the baby! what are you having? I think it is a boy -- you are carrying high. But she says it is a girl. I hope it is a boy!" It was such a funny exchange.

Of course, it got me thinking. People keep offering different predictions, and often they are based on the same fact. For instance, I'm carrying high. Most people see that and say, 'I think you are having a girl.' But then sometimes someone will make the same comment, that I'm carrying high, and say, 'that is definitely a boy.' I just shrug and say, 'we'll let you know in November...' At the NY shower most everyone based on my shape was predicting 'girl'. Someone also predicted 'girl' because the shape of my face hasn't changed. Other girl predictions have been based on my pulse being stronger in my right wrist than in my left wrist. And then there was that dangle-the ring-over-the-belly-test. Result? Girl... so we'll see. I do have to admit that thanks to all these helpful and oh-so-scientific predictions that I have started to think of it as a girl, although my instinct in the beginning was strongly that it was a boy. So who knows?

Friday, September 7, 2007


Although it is not technically fall yet, I feel like the baby's season has arrived. Driving home from work today the streets of Alameda were full of crunchy, brown leaves and they were blowing all over the place. It hasn't gotten cold, but the nighttime fog has been leaving a chill in the air in the mornings, the days are starting to seem shorter, and the air is starting to smell like autumn. The birthing season has arrived.

I never thought I would think of fall as a season for birth -- I've always associated that with spring. But we found out about this pregnancy in the spring, and have looked forward to fall ever since with a sense of regeneration that I've never associated with fall. Now that the signs of season change are starting, and my belly is getting bigger, and the baby kicks grow stronger I am getting happier and more excited by the day.

I've written a lot about the toll pregnancy has taken on me, but I don't think I've written much about how it has felt to emerge from that state. Simply put, it has felt great! I've been surprised by how wonderful it feels to be pregnant, when the good stuff isn't obfuscated by sickness. The constant quickening and movement within has been startling and beautiful. Sometimes I am enveloped in a peacefulness that is very unfamiliar, yet so natural all at once. I get blindsided at times by rushes of love and gratitude for what is happening right now, love and gratitude for all the wonderful people in my life, love and gratitude for the fact that I am so lucky to have so much love in my life. All in all, it is a beautiful time, and despite the rough patch getting to this point, I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.

Long Time, No Post!

It has been a whirlwind since I last posted. I've been feeling good, and working hard, and we've even been to New York and back! We made a trip back east over Labor Day Weekend. Henry's parents had planned a baby shower for us so we blew a wad of frequent flyer miles for an upgrade to first class (we did NOT want a repeat of July's Red Eye Experience!) and flew off for New York. My parents joined us there and we had a really great weekend on family and celebration.

We definitely did not repeat the Red Eye Experience. First class rocked. The plane they had us on was one of the big ones that usually is reserved for international flights, so the first class section was really, really good. The seats were all electronic and could actually fold out into a bed. It was pretty comfy, considering we were on a plane! We were such first class newbie dorks -- every time the flight attendants started heading down the aisles with something new and exciting we would get all giddy -- hot towels! champagne! printed menus! loaded video players! warm cookies! milk! It was actually really fun :)

The shower on Saturday was terrific! Maureen planned it at a Mediterranean restaurant. The food was terrific and several of Henry's extended family members and friends of the family attended. They are all so excited about the baby. It was great to have an opportunity to see them all again, and they were all so generous with their gifts. I was grateful that we didn't play any baby shower games (they tend to fall into two categories -- gross, as in Smell The Diaper; and mortifying, as in guess the circumference of the pregnant lady). It was cool it was co-ed as well, Henry seemed to have a terrific time being showered, and I was happy to have him share the attention.

Oh, and the food was scrumptious. I am still wondering how they made the sauce that was on the ziti and eggplant dish, and wondering if I called and begged, would they share the recipe with me?

The next day we packed up the cars with picnic and beach supplies and headed up to Hempstead Harbor to spend the day at the club. I love this place. It is a funky old building built on stilts over the water. You can swim off a float and members keep their boats there. Families claim rocking chairs on the porch over the water and rock the afternoon away. Henry and I took a walk down the beach quite a ways, counting washed up horseshoe crabs and trying not to sink into the clay under the sand. We hiked up into the woods and back to the club, then went for a swim. It was so great.

My parents returned to California early the next morning, and Henry and I and Mike went into Manhattan to meet up with one of my "imaginary" friends -- a woman named Kate who I've become friends with through an online forum. We met up at Chat And Chew and had a great time. Kate is a few weeks behind me in her pregnancy and we gibberjabbered all through brunch and then all along a twenty block stretch of 5th Ave. It was so good to meet in person -- she was exactly what I thought she'd be and we had fun thinking about how the next time we see each other we'll have our rugrats.

Henry and I flew back the next morning. Our accommodations weren't quite as luxurious this time, just business class, but equally cushy. We actually both managed to arrive in San Francisco feeling awake enough to go finish the rest of the day at our jobs.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hellloooo 3rd Trimester!

Henry has me just where he wants me.... Barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen!

Yeah, right!

Finally! The end is in sight. I am so happy, I can hardly express it. I still continue to feel better every day, but I still have a challenging day here and there. For instance I did find out that I am slightly anemic, so I really need to work on my iron intake, which is a challenge for me. But I'm sleeping better (hooray!) and throwing up less (yippee!) and able to exercise more (yeeha!). I've been busy negotiating a maternity leave plan, reading up on natural child birth, and generally getting ready. Henry has been clearing out lots of stuff from his various collections by selling it all on eBay or Amazon. He is researching video cameras. Baby showers are being planned. We showed up at home the other evening and were caught off guard by a stroller having been delivered! Whoa! We must be having a baby! I've had my medical care transferred to a midwifery clinic in a nearby Kaiser, hoping it will increase my odds of succeeding at a natural birth. We are starting our childbirth classes, and scheduling appointments with our doula to start preparing for the birth. Things are getting exciting. The baby moves nearly constantly, although I can't tell how it is positioned. We still don't know if it is a boy or girl, but all the predictions point to girl (although my dad likes to remind us that so called "tests" such as the wedding ring dangling over the pregnant woman are "a crock of shit", which admittedly they are... but it is fun to speculate... so it will probably be a boy). Things are basically pretty good right now, and I hope they stay that way.

A really big boat

I saw this coming down the street towards me on my way to my last prenatal appointment. It was pretty weird, and quite a spectacle! I have no idea what it was, other than a boat, obviously, or where it was headed, but there was quite a fuss being made about it as it came down the road.

A Bridal Bath For Beth

ha ha.... Well, she didn't want a technical "shower", so we gave her a bath instead! Last weekend my friend Dana and I rented a minivan and shuttled five other girlfriends up to Sonoma for a day of winetasting and picnicking. Even pregnant it was decadent. We all gathered at my apartment for a continental breakfast and some obligatory gift opening, and then we made the drive up to Sonoma. It was so pretty up there! But hot... (swoon!), and the tasting rooms are not such friendly places for pregnant ladies... (nowhere to sit!). Dana outdid herself, preparing a picnic that was fit for royalty. It was fitting that we enjoyed it at Chateau St. Jean. I was delighted that we ended our day at Wildwood, a tasting room on Sonoma Square that was actually a lounge with club chairs and air conditioning. The place was calling my name! Imagine our disappointment when we showed up and it was closed! Dana and most of the other girls went off to fetch the van, but I stayed behind -- I had a feeling that by the time they got back, the tasting room would be open... and hurrah! I was right! We must have killed two hours in that place. The proprietor was heavy handed on the pours and the ladies got tipsier and tipsier as the afternoon wore on. I was happy because I had a place to sit, and had a great time too.