Friday, December 26, 2008

Baby Personalities

All caught up! Woo hoo! My Week Fourteen update can happen in real time!

In my New Mom's Group, it's been fun to see how different the babies are, even though they're all within a few weeks of each other in age. The Biggest. The Smallest. The Calmest. The Sleepiest. The Most Physically Advanced (eg, rolling over). LL has always had the distinction of being Most Expressive. When all the babies are lying on blankets on the floor, LL is always the one smiling and giggling and making eyes at all the mothers. The other women want to sit near us so that they can watch him, because it really is very entertaining. (Most of the other babies kick their legs and give an occasional smile, but nothing like the facial expressions and eye contact and giggles that LL does.) When the women are talking, LL is the one babbling continuously to try to join the conversation.

Being Most Expressive also has a dark side: when all the babies are crying, everyone in the room agrees that LL is the loudest. I had heard that a baby's cries always sound louder to its mother than to anyone else, so when LL's cries sounded really loud and his "I'm really pissed off now!" shriek sounded particularly shattering, I assumed it was just me. Then I noticed that in a room of a dozen crying infants, everyone was looking at us. And when the other women want to explain that their babies were upset, they say things like, "My baby was crying really loudly... I mean, like LL loud!" So I asked, and apparently, it's not just me -- his cries are objectively louder and shriller than everyone else's.

That's my LL. I use the word "expressive." Or "passionate." When he's in a playful mood, he's totally captivating. This kid can "talk" to me for 30 minutes at a time, babbling and cooing and giggling non-stop and being awfully cute. But you wouldn't like him when he's angry. There's a famous poem that my mom used to recite about me, with the line "When she was good, she was very very good. But when she was bad, she was horrid." (I really did have a curl right in the middle of my forehead, so it was particularly apt.) LL is the same way. He doesn't cry very often, and he doesn't cry very long, but when he does cry, he wants the entire world to know about it.

Among our friends, there are a lot of babies these days. They cover the full spectrum of baby personalities. At one end is Cranky-Baby, who is never ever happy. This kid is over a year old now, and never really got over his colicky start. He still cries at the slightest thing, and looks worried and mopey the rest of the time. At the other end of the spectrum is Robo-Baby. The calmest kid I've ever seen. We spend a lot of time with him, and I've only heard him cry once, and it only lasted 30 seconds. At first we thought he was just very content, but now that he's over a year old, I find it kind of creepy. The kid doesn't emote. He giggles occasionally when tickled, but mainly he just stares and soaks in the world around him.

Before LL was born, S and I said little prayers to not have a baby as miserable as Cranky-Baby. At the same time, we agreed that having a Robo-Baby would get kind of boring. LL is perfect for us -- he's overall a very happy kid, on the Robo-Baby end of the scale, but with a giant personality to go along with it. And now that LL is over three months old, his crying time has dramatically decreased, and his giggly playful time lasts even longer. He still has his moments, usually when he's over-tired, when I think that my eardrums will pop after just one or two torturous shrieks. But most of my day is now spent playing with him instead of soothing him, and we're having a grand ole time.

We're leaving tomorrow for a week-long visit with my family in the frigid Midwest. Reports on LL's second big vacation, and his first interaction with snow, when we return.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Week Thirteen (December 19)

Week Thirteen was just last week -- we're almost caught up!

LL is three months old! Thus, more professional photos. We also visited my tech start-up company, since there were still several of my coworkers that LL hadn't met. While there, LL posed for pictures with one of the robots, earning him a spot on the company's web page. There were some university visitors touring the company that day, and LL was introduced to them as a young intern. He's growing up so fast!

Week Thirteen was when we really started to get the whole nighttime sleep thing figured out. S responded to most of the nighttime crying, usually requiring only a minute or two of soothing. LL only needs to eat now once each night, and those are the only times I get out of bed. Finally, some decent sleep!

With sleep patterns coming together, we suddenly faced a different problem: poop. I'd read that breastfed babies can sometimes go up to a week without pooping. The previous week, I'd started to get concerned when LL didn't poop for 6 days, and I was all set to call the pediatrician the next morning, when suddenly the dam broke, so to speak. Four huge poops all in a row. LL had never looked uncomfortable or anything, so we assumed he was fine. This week, though, he again went several days without pooping, and by day 4, he was acting uncomfortable. Twisting his body, very fussy, reluctant to eat. The advice nurse gave us a progressive list of things to try, culminating in a glycerin suppository. The suppository finally worked that night, but he only pooped a little, and still didn't want to eat. Then the urine on his diaper started to appear bright yellow (it's usually colorless). These all seemed like bad signs to me. Also, I had taken LL to be weighed the previous week, after his growth spurt, because I was curious about how much he'd gained. When he wasn't eating this week, I took him to be weighed again, since I had the convenient baseline from the previous week. Infants this age are still supposed to be gaining an ounce a day, LL often gains slightly less, so I expected a 5-6 ounce change from the previous week. Instead, he'd only gained half an ounce. (And that included all the extra poop he was holding in!)

I called Dr. K, who had us start giving him bottles of diluted pear juice to try to get things moving. By Friday, he'd pooped one more time, but was still fussy and not wanting to eat. Poor guy! Dr. K was most concerned about his weight. At his two month appointment, LL had been right at the 50th percentile. We were told that the percentile itself isn't important; what matters is that babies are supposed to stay at approximately the same percentile from visit to visit. Unfortunately, LL's current weight drops him from 50th percentile to 30th, a huge drop in just one month.

I thought that maybe the weight loss was because of his increased sleep at night, but Dr. K assured me that it wasn't. So, we were under orders to keep an eye on him, encourage him to eat and poop as much as he can, and bring him in to be weighed again next week. Purely hypothetical question for the peanut gallery: do you know how to encourage a 3-month-old to poop? It's not pleasant for anyone involved.

Week Twelve (December 12)

That one good night of sleep last week was the precursor to quite the growth spurt, during which LL was constantly waking up to eat. It was exhausting, especially coming right after a very trying week at the in-laws and the clingy reprogramming days that followed it. By the end of the week, I was totally burnt out, more than at any other time in the last three months, leading to our sleep breakthrough, described here. We were on our way to better nights!

This week was also when we figured out what to do about day care. I'm going back to work in mid-January, one month away, so we needed to be firming up our day care plans. My top choice, sadly, won't have an opening until March or April, so instead we have reserved a spot at our second choice place. Visiting day cares and making a final decision was traumatic (it still makes my heart stop a bit to think about it) but that is definitely a full post on its own, so for the Week Twelve update I'll just say: we reserved LL a spot in daycare.

On a happier note, this week was LL's first holiday party! S called from work to invite us to a party that afternoon in his office, and LL had a lot of fun cooing and giggling at S's coworkers. Although it still surprises me how weird people are about Christmas. All of S's coworkers know that we're Jewish, yet almost all of them asked me if I was going to have LL's picture taken with Santa, and then looked at me like I was the worst mother in the world when I said "no." Why is it so hard for so many people to get the concept that we don't celebrate Christmas?

This week was also my first night away from LL. My New Mom's Group planned a dinner without babies! A group of us went out for Mexican food, leaving the babies at home with the daddies. The evening alone with LL was particularly easy for S, since LL was asleep when I left for dinner, and was still asleep when I came home. Evening out for Mommy; evening to stay home and play video games for Daddy. Everybody wins.

Week Eleven (December 5)

Week Eleven was all about recovering from Thanksgiving. As expected, LL was very clingy and needy this week, insisting on being carried around the majority of the time. His butt barely touched the floor during Week Ten, and he was reluctant to have it touch the floor this week as well, but without eight million relatives around, he only had me to carry him around. Also, after a week of not napping, he didn't really see the point in napping this week, either. I had to bring out the big guns -- my trusty sling -- to soothe him to sleep for every single nap this week.

Also related to sleep: this week, LL moved from the bassinet in our room to the crib in his nursery! We had planned to transition him next week, after he'd had some time to recover from Thanksgiving, so it was a total accident when it happened. I was soothing him to sleep one night, and he was yelling a lot about how he didn't want to sleep. After pacing around his nursery trying to get him calm, my back was hurting and I needed a moment to stretch. We had been using his crib as a kind of staging area for weeks, a safe place to put him down for a moment. So I put him down in the crib so that I could stretch my back a bit before picking him up again. I put him down... I stretched... and then I noticed that there was silence. And there he was, sound asleep in the crib. I slowly tip-toed out of the room, and that was it -- transition complete. He has slept in his crib every night since.

LL finished this week with his first ever one-wake-up night (as opposed to the 2-3 wake-ups he'd become accustomed to). I credit Charlie, one of the other little boys in my New Mom's Group. Charlie had been sleeping through the night since he was five weeks old (!), so on Thursday, I held LL up to Charlie and asked Charlie to explain to LL how it's done. That night, he only woke up once. Since then, every infant in our group who has had a "conversation" with Charlie has started sleeping better within a week. Charlie has magical powers!

Finally, one more milestone this week: LL adopted his first "transitional object" -- something he clings to when he wants to be soothed. His object of choice is a handmade burp cloth from one of my MIL's friends, white with blue stars and a hand-crocheted edging. He loves it, and no other burp cloth will do.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Week Ten (November 28)

LL's first Thanksgiving! The sucky parts of Week Ten are already covered here, so for this Week Ten update, I'll focus on the good parts:
  • First College Football Game: Not just any game, this was The Game. The big college rivalry game. We brought LL to a local sports bar to watch The Game, so I guess this was also Baby's First Pub. And our team won! Woo hoo! Guess the football jinx only applies to NFL games.

  • First Airplane Flight: And thanks to a layover, this was quickly followed by airplane flight number two. (And to get home, flights three and four.) I was really nervous about flying with LL, but he handled it beautifully. He ate and slept and ate and slept and ate. Not so much as a peep out of him all afternoon. We had been advised to either sit in the very front row of the plane (extra leg room, useful for changing diapers) or the very back of the plane (near the bathrooms, space to stand and bounce the baby if needed). Instead, we sat in the very middle, right over the wing. This placement put us as close to the engines as possible, and the loud white noise was irresistible for LL. The dishwasher puts him to sleep at home; a jet engine is a nice substitute while traveling.

  • First Reach for a Toy: LL had been watching and tracking toys before, but he hadn't tried to reach for one himself until this week. His target: a very cute and very soft blue puppy with easy-to-grab big floppy ears.

Week Nine (November 21)

LL turned two months old in Week Nine! This milestone meant two things. First, more professional photos! LL had a great time posing for his photos this time, so we got a lot of great ones where LL is all smiles. Second, he had his two month pediatrician appointment with Dr. K, which included the first big batch of vaccines. The vaccines went well -- the three injected ones made him cry a little, but as soon as they gave him the oral one he calmed down and happily sucked it down. So, oral vaccines join thrush medication and bad kosher wine on the list of bizarre things that LL thinks are delicious. Later in the day, I did give him a single dose of infant Tylenol (which he also loved) when he was being particularly fussy, but other than that, step one of vaccination seemed to go very smoothly.

LL's measurements put him right at the 50th percentile for weight, but at the 70th for length and head size. The big head we knew about (hence, the c-section). But long and lean I didn't see coming, considering that I'm more the short plump type myself.

We kept up the sleep log again this week, and our routine was really coming together. He was getting better about going right back to sleep after eating in the middle of the night, so more often than not, he was getting the 14+ hours of sleep each day that we wanted him to be getting. This was my second week home alone with LL, even more so since S had some out-of-town coworkers visiting this week. His long meetings at work meant that he left early in the morning and stayed at work late, not coming home until after I had put LL to bed for the night. I know that S hated not seeing LL much this week, but left on my own, I was really starting to build my confidence in taking care of LL. Confidence and a routine, just in time to leave for Thanksgiving and mess everything up....

One additional first for this week: LL's first Shabbat service. LL had been to several religious services, both for holidays and for his bris, but he had never been to a weekly Shabbat service at our synagogue. We brought him this week, for my grandmother's yartzeit. (A yartzeit is the anniversary of someone's death, when the prayer for mourning is said to honor the memory. This was the yartzeit for the grandmother that LL is named for.) He was alert and quiet through the entire service, except for one moment of silence during which he let out a giant burp. He's quite the delicate flower, our LL.

Week Eight (November 14)

It was good timing to regain all that independence during Week Seven, because I needed it this week when S went back to work. Week Eight was my first real time alone with LL for more than an hour or two. I was very nervous about doing everything myself without relief, especially since S was generally better at soothing LL than I was. Also, until this week, S had been changing the majority of the diapers. I'd been doing the diaper changes in the middle of the night, since S generally slept all night and left all of LL's care to me until morning, but during the day, he did more than his share of the non-feeding care. (Before LL was born, S and I had agreed: I was in charge of input, S was in charge of output.) Still, the week went fairly well. I was definitely exhausted, but S came home from work every day by 5:30, which helped. We also managed to bring LL to his first "dinner party" this week -- dinner at my cousin's house. As expected, LL slept the entire time.

We really focused on sleep this week, keeping a journal of when LL was sleeping, day and night. He generally was good about going to sleep around 7:00 every night, in his bassinet in our bedroom, but he was still waking up 2-3 times during the night to eat. Also, while he was very considerate about sleeping whenever we went out, he rarely agreed to nap at home, and I had my doubts about how deeply he was sleeping in restaurants and coffeeshops. I hoped that getting him to nap more at home during the day might encourage him to also sleep longer at night. ("Sleep begets sleep" according to the experts.) It worked a little, and by midweek, I'd established a pretty good rhythm with LL, with eat-play-nap cycles every three hours or so during the day.

This week's big milestone: LL discovered his hands! As we were driving home from New Mom's Group, I heard him spit out his pacifier. I braced myself for some crying, but instead, I heard loud messy slurping coming from the back seat. Fingers -- yum! From this point on, we only use the pacifier when we're soothing LL to sleep. When he's out and about, playing or observing the world, he relies on his fingers to satisfy his comfort sucking needs.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Week Seven (November 7)

LL's first Day Light Savings! (How's that for an important milestone?) Other firsts this week:
  • First Football Party: Well, first football party outside of the hospital. One of our friends actually built a Packers bar inside his house, so we watched the Packers-Titans game there. Sunday's party was quickly followed by LL's second football party, when we watched Monday Night Football at another friend's place. This week was also when we discovered that LL is a little football jinx. Every time he watches a game with me, my team loses. This trend continued all season. You can blame him for the Packers missing the playoffs this year.

  • First Visit to Mommy's Lab: I already wrote about this here but the milestone of being on a university campus for the first time is at least worth noting. If LL is anything like his parents, that's the kind of first that he'll want to know about.

  • First Election: S and I took LL with us to the polls. Despite all the reports of long lines in many precincts in our area, ours was surprisingly empty -- just the three of us and eight poll workers. LL totally charmed the workers, who posed for photos with us as we turned in our ballots, and they let him have his own "I Voted" sticker to wear. All day, when people saw the sticker on an infant, we told them that ACORN had registered him to vote.

  • First Long Sleep: I will forever be convinced that this is related to the voting. The night of the election, while S and I watched election returns on television, LL had his longest stretch of sleep in weeks, from 6:00pm to 1:00am, the start of a solid pattern of good sleep to start each night. We think that LL was so relieved at the imminent change in presidential administrations that he finally relaxed and slept. The election was called early for Obama, which meant that S and I slept peacefully that night as well.
This week was also my post-partum checkup with Dr. M. I was still fairly weak and tender and bleeding at this point, but that all cleared up over the next two weeks or so. Most important was that Dr. M cleared me of all the restrictions I'd been under since the c-section. I drove around running errands all week just because it felt so good to be a bit independent again.

Week Six (October 31)

Week Six was a tough one, since this was also Thrush Week -- the time when breast feeding suddenly and unexpectedly became painful. Thankfully, we met with a lactation consultant (a good one!) and the problem resolved quickly. LL also gained enough by this week to break the 10 pound barrier (double digits!) and was really starting to fill out and plump up.

For LL's first Halloween, we first had coffee with some members of my New Mom's Group. From there, we met S at his office for a Halloween Party, so that LL could meet S's coworkers (and show off his costume -- he was a peapod, very healthy). When we got home, we went trick or treating, just stopping by to visit two neighbors we're friendly with. Mainly, we just wanted to be able to say that LL went trick or treating. He promptly fell asleep when we got home, and then slept through all of the doorbells for the rest of the night.

Week Five (October 24)

After one week on our own, we again had a visitor during Week Five: S's sister stayed with us for several days, and was an awesome help with the cooking and laundry. She's single and has always sworn that she never wants to get married or have children, but watching her with LL, I'm getting the feeling that she's changing her mind.

LL turned one month old this week! In honor of the occasion, we took him to have professional photos taken, which we're planning to do on each of his monthly birthdays. The first photo shoot was a little tough -- he was cranky the entire time, so it was hard to get a good photo. After the photographer finished, we realized that the crankiness was because of a wet diaper. Oops! What a rookie parent mistake.

This week also marked our increased willingness to venture out of the house with LL. As a result, our very social baby had many, many firsts this week:
  • First Birthday Party: LL attended our friend M's birthday party at a restaurant, and slept the entire time.

  • First Coffeeshop: We had such a good morning on Tuesday, we ventured out and met up with a bunch of friends at our favorite local java joint. LL slept the entire time.

  • First Pho: (This one might sound bizarre, but it's tradition, so just go with it.) We have a group of friends who, for nearly ten years now, has been getting together every Thursday at lunch to eat pho together. It's a nice weekly tradition, breaks up the work week a bit, and honestly has been how I've met many of my closest friends. I hadn't been to pho for a long time, but this week we felt brave enough to go with LL, who slept the entire time. Noticing a pattern?

  • First Playdate: I've mentioned that our friends, C and S, were due with their first baby just one day before we were. Because LL was so late, their daughter was born 10 days before him (otherwise known as right on time). They had some health problems, though (first their daughter had to spend some time in the NICU, then C had to be readmitted to the hospital 3 weeks post-partum, very scary) so we weren't able to see them until Week Five. By now, they're all doing great and all at home together, so we were able to introduce the babies for the first time. And yes, LL slept nearly the entire time.

  • First Real Bath: Sitting in the bath: not so fun. Having water poured over the head: tons of fun! LL isn't so keen on baths, but showers are awesome.

  • First Tracking of a Toy: After LL discovered his mobile last week, we thought that he might be old enough to track toys with his eyes. We had a lot of fun slowly moving things in front of his face, side to side. His favorite: this stuffed bunny that my mom bought him, to go with the book Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale which I highly recommend. Great picture book.

  • First Reliable Social Smiles: LL had smiled before, but this was the week when he really figured out the social smiling, and it became easier to coax them out of him. He gets more and more smiley as the weeks go by!
Other fun this week: a good friend of ours was visiting from out of town with her two children, so in addition to getting together with them at our house for a quiet afternoon, we also got together for a giant gathering of children at another friend's house (three infants, two one-year-olds, and a two-year-old). It was quite hectic, and gave us a glimpse of what's to come once LL becomes mobile.

Finally, this very busy week also included the start of my New Mom's Group, which meets at the hospital where LL was born. Thirteen women, all with infants under three months old, meet weekly with a discussion leader to talk about relevant topics. Mainly, though, it's a way to meet other women in the same phase of life. I joined with my friend C. The group ended up being awesome. I've really bonded with many of the women in the group, we get together regularly outside of the weekly scheduled meetings, and we have a group mailing list that has been a great way to ask questions and share tips.

All in all, I will always think of Week Five as LL's real introduction to the world. Enough being sheltered at home: time to venture out!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Week Four (October 17)

On our own at last! Week Four was the first week without visitors, and it really did feel like the first time that I got to spend real quality time with my son. It was a fun week, too. LL noticed a toy for the first time, as we found him staring intently up at his mobile while lying in his crib. When we turned it on, he also gave his first true smile, which we were lucky enough to capture on film. Social smiles weren't quite reliable yet (it was still tough to coax them out of him) but given the right stimulation (usually his mobile or a brightly colored toy or tickling him on his cheek) it was possible. It felt great to finally get some positive feedback!

Overall, this was a quiet week at home. S and I barely left the house, relishing in just being home alone with our son. We didn't even have to cook, since the grandparents had left us with a freezer full of food. Good times! By the end of the week, I felt pleasantly replenished, and ready to face what turned out to be several hectic weeks to come.

Week Three (October 10)

One grandma left, and another set of grandparents arrived. S's parents were around this week. They did a little shopping and cooking as well, but they were much more interested in holding their grandson. S's mom also had the habit of running and picking him up every time he made the smallest sound, even if he was still sound asleep (which, inevitably, would wake him up). The result was that, outside of nursing time, I barely saw my son at all this week, and only when he was hungry or crabby. The stress of having people in our house, constantly, was starting to get to me. Not being able to spend any time with LL was even worse. This week was probably the post-partum low point for me. We were relieved to have the house to ourselves after this week was over, so that we could start establishing our own routines as a family.

The one time that we did have together: Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, for which we again attended the family service. (Yom Kippur also added to the post-partum blues, I think, since it's a very solemn day and always makes me rather melancholy.) When we told Dr. K, at LL's two week checkup, that we had brought him to a Rosh Hashanah children's service, she was a little shocked. ("Normally I tell patients to avoid large crowds and places with lots of kids until Baby is 5-6 weeks old. You went to a place crowded with children with a not-quite-two-week-old? You're awfully brave for first-time parents!") So we did have a bit of a discussion on whether to attend Yom Kippur services at all. Ultimately, though, we decided that we needed to teach LL what we value, right from the start. It felt good to be celebrating such a holy day as our little family of three.

More mundane milestone: LL's umbilical stump fell off! This achievement qualified him for a full bath, though we waited a bit and stuck with sponge baths for a while.

Week Two (October 3)

After a full house for the week of the bris, only my mom was around during Week Two. She was fantastic -- cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping for us while we took care of LL (though we did make sure that she got to spend some quality time with the little one every day, as a reward for her hard work!).

This week was also when we experimented with on-demand feeding. During Week One, we had been told not to let LL go longer than 3 hours without eating, which meant that we kept having to wake him up from a deep sleep in order to force him to eat. We were still figuring out the whole breast feeding thing, and it was hard enough with an awake baby, much less an extremely sleepy one. When we saw the pediatrician, Dr. K., we begged her for permission to let him eat just when he showed us he was hungry. She agreed to let us try it for three days, then come back and weigh him. If he was still gaining weight at a good clip even with fewer feedings, we could make the switch permanently. That night, he slept for 5 hours straight (woo hoo!) and after three days he'd gained plenty, so he's been making his own schedule ever since. (Though it would be several more weeks before he slept like that again!)

This week was also Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Me, S, LL, and my mom skipped the long morning service, wanting to avoid the big crowds, and instead attended the afternoon children's service. The rabbi did a special blessing for all of the babies born during the past year, so S and I got to bring LL up to the bimah, where we were singled out for having the youngest baby in the congregation. (When you're only 10 days old, the odds are in your favor that you're the youngest in the crowd.) There were about 25 babies on the bimah, and the rabbi had everyone look around at each other as she remarked that these would be the children who would share Hebrew classes, Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes, and all of childhood's milestones together. ("You're 10 days old. Meet your high school graduation class.") It gave me the chills.

One more milestone for this week: LL was read to for the first time. Grandma read Brown Bear to him, among many many others, all of which he dutifully ignored, but Grandma persisted anyway. Did I mention that Grandma is a children's librarian? Did I mention that, 3 months later, I'm still reading books to LL, and he's still totally ignoring them?

Week One (September 26)

LL is 13 weeks old now, a full three months. I should really be updating on a weekly basis what he's up to, how he's doing, things of that nature. He's changing so fast! I've been really sucky about updating so far, so I'm doing summaries of each week, and posting them all in quick succession over the next few days. My plan is to give a quick accounting of what was going on that week, highlighting important milestones and cute stories that I want to remember. Some of them are probably going to be pretty short, but some of the weeks so far have actually been quite eventful, so no promises on lengths. These might get tedious, since there's (hopefully) about to be 14 of them in a row, but I want to get this all down before it's lost forever.

We start with Week One, which was mostly spent in the hospital. Blech. Nobody enjoyed that. On the positive side, when LL was only two days old, he saw his first Green Bay Packers game. Grandma and Grandpa were already in town, and they brought LL an infant-sized cheesehead for the occasion. Grandma and Grandpa and S and LL and I watched the game from my hospital room, and the nurses even let us order in pizza. (The pizzeria manager was so tickled that we wanted a pizza delivered to the hospital maternity ward that he delivered the pizza himself, then stayed to ooh and aah over LL; it was very cute.) Too bad the Packers lost to the Cowboys.

People who flew or drove in from out of town during Week One: all four grandparents, Great-Grandpa, Uncle M, Auntie S, and Great-Uncle S. They were all here for the bris, the grand culmination of Week One. Considering that, between me and S, we have exactly one blood relative living within a several hundred mile radius, it was amazing to have over 60 family and friends at the bris.

One thing LL is going to have to get used to: our family is incorrigibly into puns and word play. This conversation happened the day before the bris:

Me: The mohel said he might be late, if there's traffic.
Great-Uncle S: If there's a line of cars ahead of him, can't he just "cut in" ?
S: He should be careful, though -- he wouldn't want to get "cut off."

Puns aside, the bris went great. LL didn't cry at all, and in fact we have some very cute pictures of him looking downright serene while the mohel was working. Probably because he was drunk on the baby bottle of sugar water and Manischewitz he was given before the ceremony -- yum! Our little drunkard gets his start.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sleep Breakthrough

Ever since we brought him home from the hospital, LL has been waking up every 3-4 hours during the night to eat. He occasionally does a longer stretch when he first goes to bed, but then he's up every 3 hours after that. That initial long stretch doesn't do me any good, though, since I don't go to sleep at 7:00 when he does. And the following 3-hours stretches are actually only 2 hours of sleep for me at a time, since the kid tends to eat for 45 minutes for each meal. (Our little gourmet....)

We had one good night last week Friday when he went to sleep at 6:00pm, woke up to eat at 1:00am, and then actually stayed asleep until 7:00am. I didn't benefit very much, though, since I was still awake from 3:30-4:30am, as my body refused to believe that I didn't need to be up. And the very next day, LL started a growth spurt, which lasted through mid-day Monday, during which he ate every two and a half hours, for 90 minutes at a time. (Yes, each meal lasted a continuous hour and a half!) It was totally exhausting, I got no sleep at all, and when the growth spurt was over, he'd forgotten that he was starting to sleep more, and went back to waking up every 3 hours.

Thursday morning, I completely lost it. I hadn't had more than four hours of consecutive sleep in five months (the last two months of pregnancy, plus almost three months of nighttime feedings for LL), and most nights my sleep was in two hour chunks. After feeding LL at 7:00am on Thursday, I handed him over to S and then broke down crying and sobbing for almost an hour. My breakdown included pointing out to S that I was pretty sure that LL was violating the sleep torture provisions of the Geneva Convention, and I was seriously going to lose my mind soon if something didn't give. I was just so exhausted.

So, Thursday night we tried The Experiment. LL had proven that he could go long stretches without eating at night when he wanted to, so we would try to convince him to just go back to sleep when he woke up. The plan was that when he cried, S would go in and try to get him to go back to sleep without eating. Change a diaper, put a pacifier back in, rock and sway and soothe... whatever was needed. If he was still crying after several minutes, I'd come in and feed him, but we'd let S try to manage without me if he could. LL went to sleep at 6:30pm. He woke up at 11:00pm and cried and cried, so I fed him. He woke up several more times (2am, 4am, 5am) but each time, S was able to immediately put him back to sleep, without involving me at all. Score! Mind you, I still woke up each time LL woke up, but I didn't have to get out of bed, and I was asleep again 5 minutes later. Good stuff.

Friday night, we tried the same strategy. Same pattern: asleep at 7:00, fed again at midnight, and didn't need Mom again until morning (7:30am). That's only one feeding in 12+ hours!

Saturday night, we decided to skip the crying at that midnight-ish wake-up. We'd put him to bed at 7:00, I'd feed him the first time he woke up, and S would handle the rest of the wake-ups until morning. You can imagine our surprise when his first wake-up wasn't until 5:00am. Yes, that's right, he slept from 7:00pm until 5:00am, continuously. And after I fed him at 5:00, he went right back to sleep and slept until his usual 7:30am.

Last night, we avoided even the 5am feeding. Asleep at 6:30pm, woke up at 7:30am. Not a peep in between. After four nights, I'm ready to say that this isn't a fluke. It still may not happen every night, I fully expect the occasional needy night, and who knows what happens when we travel next month to visit my family in Wisconsin for a week. But for now, life around here is great.

Oh, and did I mention how totally cheerful LL has been the past several days? Getting lots of sleep clearly agrees with him. He's all smiles and giggles, goes down easily for naps in his crib, hardly ever cries. I could get used to this! We're one happy well-rested family.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

Holy cow, LL is more than two months old, halfway to three! And wow, he's huge! I was looking at some of the photos from his first week or two and I can hardly believe how much he's changed. Crazy.

I've been meaning to write weekly updates on what he's up to, but somehow I can never find the time. During my pregnancy, I was really good about, at a minimum, writing a post every Tuesday when I "rolled over" to the next week. I've been meaning to do the same thing now every Friday, when LL hits his weekly "birthdays," but so far, I haven't managed to do a single one. I do actually have some of them written, though, from the early weeks, and I'm debating whether I should backdate them when posting them, or just append them all together as one giant catch-up post. We'll see.

In the mean time, I'll just mention that Thanksgiving kind of sucked. Last year, Thanksgiving sucked because we spent the holiday with S's family, including a close family friend who brought their 2-month-old along. S and I were in the middle of fertility treatments at the time, so I was hopped up on hormones, physically sick from the side effects, and depressed after more than two years of trying to get pregnant. Everybody was totally charmed by the baby, but I couldn't even bring myself to hold him because it made me cry. The entire weekend revolved around the baby, and with S's family pressuring us to have children. S's mom, in particular, kept holding up the baby in front of me, exclaiming about how cute he was and bemoaning the fact that her selfish son and daughter-in-law hadn't made her a grandmother yet. I was miserable the entire time.

This year, Thanksgiving sucked for different reasons. After last year's holiday, I kind of expected that LL would get the same treatment that our friend's 2-month-old received last year. Instead, my in-laws had planned all sorts of events that are impossible with a young infant. Last year, we spent the entire 4-day weekend at one uncle's house, and the baby (and his family) were staying at a hotel 5 minutes away, so they could return to their hotel whenever they needed to (though things were very calm at the uncle's house, so they rarely needed to). This year, S's family had us running all over the fracking city. After a day of airports and layovers and air travel, we discovered that we were expected to go immediately from the airport to a cousin's house 45 minutes away, have dinner there, and stay late before being driven home to S's parents house (another 45 minute drive). After much discussion and attempts at guilt trips, we put our foot down and just refused to go, because poor exhausted LL needed to just go home and go to sleep. Things got worse from there. (You expect us to bring a jet-lagged infant on family outings to art galleries and casinos? Really?)

So, the scheduling is the first reason that Thanksgiving sucked. The second reason was that nobody actually respected that I was LL's mother and needed to look out for his welfare. After struggling to get him to nap in yet another different location, I'd walk away for 30 seconds to get something to drink, only to return to find out that someone (usually my MIL) had woken him up so that they could play with him. Once, I finally got him to sleep, but he was in a bedroom at the far end of the house, so I needed to leave the door open so that I'd be able to hear him if he cried. The problem was that there was a cat in the house that kept trying to sit on LL and smother him. When I asked the people whose house we were at if we could put the cat in a different room for an hour while LL napped, I was told no, because the cat didn't like being cooped up. Yes, the cat's comfort was put ahead of my child's health. Sigh.

So, the only way for LL to nap was if I was with him and holding him the entire time, yet I had people reach over and wake LL up while I was carrying him, and whenever I protested that he needed to nap, I was told that I didn't know what I was doing, LL wanted to play not nap, and I was keeping him from his family. And then every evening, when LL completely melted down from exhaustion, everyone scolded me for clearly not meeting his needs (or else he wouldn't be crying). Consider this interaction with my mother-in-law:

MIL: Wow, he's really crying a lot.
Me: Yes, he's really over-tired.
MIL: No, I think it's probably something he ate.
Me: Um, really? Because he has a pretty limited diet these days.
MIL: Okay, then it's probably something that you ate that you shouldn't have. What bad thing have you eaten?
Me: We're staying at your house. I've pretty much only eaten the food you've cooked for us.
MIL: Oh.... So, then, maybe he's just tired.

Did I mention how happy I am to be home?

So, yeah, that was LL's 10th week. Today he's 11 weeks old, so I owe you 10 more weekly updates (including one for this week!). They're coming soon, I promise.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Yes, Every Time

When LL was 6 week old, I took him to visit my lab. I hadn't seen any of my labmates for two months, and I wanted to catch up and give them all a chance to meet LL. So, I arranged with my advisor to keep open one of our weekly lab meetings so that we could visit. (He actually emailed out a "talk" announcement as if it were a normal seminar... something along the lines of: "Nicky will be presenting this week. I don't have a talk abstract, but I hear she'll be bringing a live demo.")

I've mentioned it before, but it's worth repeating: the members of my lab, from undergrads through grad students and on up through post-docs and full-time research staff, including my advisor, are all, without exception, single guys. Specifically, single nerdy techie guys. For the majority of the meeting, LL was lying on a blanket on top of a table in the middle of the room, with all of my labmates gathered around him, asking me questions. Not holding him, not cooing at him... just kind of staring down at him in confusion and asking me questions. At one point, one of them reached out and poked LL in the stomach, just to see what would happen. I handed LL to one of the guys to hold, and he awkwardly obliged for a few seconds before commenting that he couldn't tell who was more uncomfortable, him or the baby. I did get my advisor to hold LL for several minutes, but only after promising him that LL would not be scared of his beard. (He wasn't. And I now have several priceless photos of LL laughing hysterically while my advisor made funny faces at him.)

When you bring a newborn infant into a group of normal people, you get questions like: How's he sleeping? What color are his eyes? Isn't it great when he smiles?

By contrast, here is a representative subset of the questions that I got from my labmates:

Why doesn't he have any teeth?
Every time he makes a mess, you have to clean it up?
Why won't he look at me?
What can he do?
When will he [ talk / read / stop crying / stop drooling / eat pizza ] ?
So, he was inside of you, and now he's not... how did that go?

I actually had a lot of fun visiting the lab, but it was a stark reminder that my life is divided into two very separate spheres right now.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mommy to the Rescue!

LL had a totally "off" day today. His late-morning feeding was at an odd time because we were meeting out-of-town friends for brunch and wanted to feed him before we sat down to eat ourselves. Then he was so fascinated by the restaurant that he didn't want to nap like he normally does in loud busy places. He fell asleep when we were driving home, but woke up when we took him out of the car, so it was way too short of a nap. Once his morning routine was that far out of whack, he never got back on track. He was over-tired, so he cried. He got himself all worked up, so he was too upset to eat well. Without eating well, he was unhappy, so his next nap was fitful and he remained over-tired. Lather rinse repeat.

By early evening he was hysterically crying. Giant sobs punctuated by shrieks. Awful thing to listen to. I finally got him calmed down, and attempted to soothe him with his last meal of the evening and our usual bedtime routine. It all went okay except that he refused to close his eyes. He'd lie quietly in his bassinet for a few minutes, then burst out sobbing. After the 8 millionth time calming him down and attempting to put him to bed yet again, I sat next to his bassinet for a bit. He was quiet and calm, then suddenly he started kicking his legs and rolling around, followed quickly by the sobbing and crying. And then, a loud fart. And he was quiet again.

It probably should have happened sooner, but right then is when the lightbulb went off in my head. All day, I had been blaming his fussiness on us forcing him to attend brunch, but it suddenly occurred to me that he was just really gassy. Yes, he was over-tired, but it all stemmed from being uncomfortable. And I had totally misread the signs. Poor little guy.

I brought him over to the changing table and spent a good 10 minutes bicycling his legs and pulling his knees up to his chest. I've never heard anyone fart so much in my life. (He's pretty small... how in the world was he holding in that much gas?!) After 10 minutes he let out a huge sigh, then smiled up at me with the sweetest little expression of gratitude. Problem solved.

S is proclaiming me a hero for figuring out what the problem was, and I'll admit to feeling a bit triumphant. LL is not even two months old, he has very limited means of communicating, but his totally in-tune mommy deduced the problem and figured out how to solve it. Go me! At the same time... it took me all day. And it was probably something I ate that gave him the gas in the first place. Apparently I'll take my triumph tinged with guilt.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Baby Science

Many people are familiar with the quantum physics paradox of Schrodinger's Cat. Briefly, a cat and a vile of poison are sealed in a box, with the release of the poison linked to the detection of radiation. The paradox says that, because of quantum mechanics, before one looks in the box, the cat exists in a state of being both alive and dead. Once the box is opened, however, in order to check the status of the cat, one sees the cat in one of the two states, not in both at the same time. This paradox is often interpreted, in lay terms, as an observer's paradox: the act of looking at the cat, in a way, forces the cat into one of the states.

That's all well and good, as far as high school physics is concerned. But are you familiar with the lesser known paradox of Schrodinger's Baby? It goes something like this: a quiet baby in a darkened room exists in a state of being both asleep and awake (ie, if the baby is quiet, you don't really care which state the baby is in). However, the act of walking into the room (or in some other way spying on the baby) forces the baby into the awake-and-waiting-to-be-picked-up state. Even if you make no noise at all.

From my own field of theoretical computer science, there exists a problem known as the Halting Problem. It says that, for certain types of computer systems, if you ask a question of a computer, you may never know the answer, because the system might take an indeterminately long time to respond. A simplistic analogy: remember calling someone on the telephone before there were answering machines? If the person answered the phone right away, you knew they were home, but if they didn't answer, how many times should you let the phone ring? If they don't answer after, say, 5 rings, you can't conclude that they're not home, because maybe they just haven't gotten to the phone yet. No matter how many times you let it ring, you can't actually conclude that they're not home, because maybe they would have answered on the next ring. The only way to be 100% sure, in fact, is to let the phone ring forever.

Which brings me to the Baby Halting Problem, in which we attempt to determine whether a baby has finished pooping. How long do you wait after the last grunt and fart before concluding that it is safe to change the diaper? No matter how long you wait, you might still be surprised by the sudden arrival of more poop once the baby is naked on the changing table. The only way to be sure is in fact to wait forever, which is supremely uncomfortable for the baby, and results in an infinite amount of poop.

The Baby Halting Problem actually has a second, less messy statement, in which we attempt to determine when a baby has been successfully rocked to sleep, as opposed to just faking it by closing his eyes and lying slack-jawed in your arms, waiting to surprise you the moment you attempt to put him down. The formalization of this alternate statement of the Baby Halting Problem is left as an exercise for the reader.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's Not Simple Like Knee Surgery

For today's topic, I'm going to briefly turn from the adorable newborn pretending to sleep in the next room, and instead focus briefly on me and my recovery from major abdominal surgery (as I am constantly being told), which has been a bit up and down.

My L&D hospital stay marked the first time I'd ever been admitted to a hospital for any reason, as well as the first surgery I'd ever had. To put it mildly, I was impatient to get home, get recovered, and get busy developing my new "normal." In the hospital, I was up and out of bed as soon as the nurses would let me, and I never looked back. I had horrible swelling in my feet and ankles, even worse than during my pregnancy, probably because I flatly refused to get back into bed and elevate them. The swelling didn't go down until somewhere around week two. (On a related topic: I have no shoes that fit. My entire pre-pregnancy shoe collection is too small, and my pregnancy shoes are about half a size too big. It sucks. But I digress.) Also, I hate how I feel when I take strong pain killers, so after the c-section, I was only on Advil. In retrospect, not my smartest decision.

For weeks after LL's birth, I felt okay when I was just sitting still, or even walking, but "transitioning" between states really sucked -- standing up, sitting down, shifting in a chair, getting in and out of bed... those were all excruciatingly painful for the entire first month. I also developed a horrible rash across my abdomen from the tape used to hold down the surgical sheet during the c-section.

Anyway, I apparently over-exerted myself during that first week, which caused repeated bouts of increased bleeding until my family intervened and ordered me to sit down already. (Or so I'm told... my labor and delivery are clear as a bell in my mind, but the two weeks immediately afterward are really blurry.) We had a rotation of family members staying with us for the first three weeks, and between them and S, I was carefully watched and kept from even pretending to do anything remotely strenuous. (Driving, lifting things, carrying things, bending over, sitting on the floor, kneeling.) There were advantages: I probably wasn't as exhausted as I could have been, and my incision seems to have healed quickly. Also, S got very good at changing diapers, since I had a hard time bending over to do it, so he's still handling the majority of the poop in our household. There were also, however, disadvantages: my abdominal muscles are completely non-existent now. The result right now is that I'm practically incapable of doing anything with my abs, and my back is really sore from compensating.

I had my 6-week post-partum doctor's visit this week, and I'll admit that I expected to be healed by the time this visit came along. Instead, the area between my incision and my belly button still feels really really tender, I'm still having a lot of vaginal discharge and bleeding (making me continually anemic, which is adding to the fatigue), and I still have to steel myself a bit to stand up out of a chair, get up off the floor, or roll over in bed. Dr. M says all of the above is normal, and when I asked when I could expect it to go away, he kept shrugging and saying, "A few more weeks." Sigh. But at least I'm now cleared for any and all physical activity, so I can start trying to build my abs back into shape. Never before in my life have I been excited to start exercising!

Also, good news: I've lost 23 of the 28 pounds I gained during my pregnancy. The bad news: once I lose those last 5 pounds, I get to focus on the 12 I gained during fertility treatments. And after that, I should really address the weight that I should have lost before even trying to get pregnant. But, um, yeah, one step at the time. For now, the frustrating thing is that, despite the weight loss, I'm still not really fitting into any of my pre-pregnancy clothing. My shirts are too tight around my breasts, which are huge from breast feeding, and my pants are tight around my hips, which is ironic, considering that my hips weren't wide enough to birth LL. At the same time, my maternity clothes are all way too big on me -- the shirts balloon down around my belly, and the pants continually fall down off my waist. Given the continued tenderness around my incision, I'm preferring the too big over the too small, but I feel hideous in everything I own. Blech.

Okay, enough about me. Next post returns to LL: his bris, his ongoing parade of admirers, and our attempts to get him onto some sort of sleep schedule.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Turn Around! He's Right Behind You!

You know that moment at the end of horror movies, where the bad guy looks like he's dead but you know he's really not? He's lying on the ground, perfectly still, and all the good guys start to relax. The camera slowly pans over the face of the bad guy, and all is quiet, when suddenly POP! The bad guy's eyes fly open!!! He was never actually dead! OMG! Heart pounding!

I go through that every night now. I rock and comfort LL, he seems to be asleep, I put him in his crib. His head lolls gently to the side, totally at peace. And then, as I stand there looking down at him, he does this crazy horror flick move where his eyes pop open and his head snaps to attention. I've tried standing at different places around his crib, and no matter where I am, and no matter which way his head is facing when I put him down, he always manages to be focused squarely on my face the moment his eyes pop.

It's kind of creepy.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Eat, Poop, Sleep, Repeat

Today's topic: our healthy boy

Other than a few small glitches, any of which would have been even easier to deal with if breast feeding had gotten off to a better start, LL has been in excellent health. (Being almost 9 pounds at birth will often do that.) He lost a lot of weight early on, but that was more my breasts' fault than his. All newborns lose weight immediately after birth, but he lost as much as they would "allow" him to lose before medically intervening. Then, he plateaued at that weight, refusing to gain. His pediatrician said that she wanted him to be back to birth weight by his two week appointment, and at that appointment he was... exactly at birth weight. Since then, he has gained weight admirably, averaging exactly 1 ounce per day, as recommended by the AAP. (He's quite literal, our LL. No overachievers here!) Now, at 6 weeks of age, he's well over 10 pounds, and quite comfortable in 3-month clothing.

LL also flirted briefly with jaundice, but we managed to quell the problem before it got too serious. His bilirubin levels kept rising for the first week, but never quite got high enough to merit intervention. Each time the pediatrician checked his blood, she'd give me a number above which she would be concerned, and each time, his number came in just a hair below. They told us the levels would drop if we could get him to poop more, which is accomplished by getting him to eat more, which wasn't happening because of the latch problems... so you can see why there was a lot of frustration and tears early on. The only "treatment" recommended for him, though, was sun-bathing, which is how we discovered that LL loves lying naked in the sun. I envision a future conversation with teenage LL about the dangers of skin cancer, but for now, this kid is quite the sun baby. The sun kept away the more serious jaundice long enough for us to solve the breast feeding problems, so it all came out well in the end. (And yes, he is now a champion pooper as well.)

There was a day or two there when we thought that he might be having problems with reflux or tummy upset, but it went away, so I'm hoping that it was just something I ate (spicy Chinese shrimp?) or a transient reaction to the thrush medication.

Overall, he's doing great. I am much relieved, because his sleep patterns are, um, not as great, and I was feeling so physically icky for so long after the c-section that I'm not sure I could handle it if he had health problems, too. So, after spending the first several weeks of his life focusing mainly on eating, we are now turning our attention to Newborn Issue Number Two: Sleep. (Thankfully, he's overall a very happy baby, so we've been able to avoid focusing on that other big newborn issue: crying.) Our attempts to get him to sleep are a whole other topic, though, so for now, we'll just say: healthy baby! Yay!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Got Milk?

I haven't posted in a long time, mainly because every time I wanted to write something, I'd think, "Wait -- I should get caught up on posting about the last 6 weeks first!" And then I never posted. So, rather than try to do a boring chronological story about everything that's happened since LL was born, I'm going to slice things a little differently. We're going by topics. Today's topic: breast feeding.

Week One was all about latch. Turns out I'd never really examined my nipples, so never discovered that they were both relatively inverted, which made it hard for LL to grab hold. After getting advice from every nurse who walked into my hospital room, and three lactation consultants (LCs), we were left with a bunch of conflicting advice and a whole lot of frustration. The first few days home were up and down -- one feeding would be great, the next feeding he'd never figure out how to latch. Then suddenly, at one week, things clicked. Weeks two and three showed awesome improvement. Then in Week Four, one breast started to hurt a little when he latched. By Week Five, I had shooting, burning pain in my right breast, the start of similar pain on the left, and it would ache even between feedings. I self-diagnosed thrush, got me and LL both on medication for it, and set about sterilizing everything in sight, but the problem kept getting worse. Today, we met with yet another LC, who confirmed the thrush, gave me additional advice on dealing with it, corrected some lingering latch problems, and answered a whole lot of questions. Things are again looking up.

Overall, despite the intermittent problems, it's actually not been as bad as I imagined. Many friends had told me horror stories about hating to breast feed and feeling near-constant pain in the early months, so despite the current thrush infection, I'm glad that the experience has been relatively pain free and rewarding. I haven't had to supplement at all, so to date, LL has only ever consumed breast milk. And Manischewitz, at the bris, which he loved. And, now, thrush medication, which he also loves, so clearly he doesn't have a very discerning palate. But, you know, mainly breast milk. I've also managed to pump a fairly large stock for the freezer, so that S can occasionally feed LL a bottle in the middle of the night while I sleep, though to prevent the thrush from reoccurring, we're going to have to trash much of that supply, which breaks my heart.

I can't leave this topic without a word about lactation consultants. I had heard stories from several friends about lactation nazis -- LCs who do little more than make you feel horrible and guilty about everything. So, I was initially hesitant to meet with one at the hospital. The nurses convinced me, though, that it was absolutely necessary to meet with an LC in order to figure out LL's latch problems as quickly as possible.

The first LC was bad -- she came into my hospital room and told me that she didn't have time to meet with me. That instead of wasting her time, I should just attend the hospital's breast feeding class, which meets on weekday afternoons on the maternity ward. I pointed out to her that I had given birth on a Friday afternoon, it was now Friday evening, the next class wouldn't be until Monday afternoon, and the nurses were convinced that I needed immediate help to correct my nipples. So, the LC glanced at my breasts, then told me that she definitely didn't have the time to deal with a problem like mine. Then she left. Yeah, you can imagine my state of mind for the rest of the day. ("My breasts are so bad, even a LC can't face dealing with them!")

The second LC was even worse. The nurses, horrified that the first LC hadn't actually worked with me, requested that someone else come to meet with me as soon as possible. When this LC showed up the next evening, she immediately started berating me for my bad manners for insisting that she see me that day, when she had many more important patients to attend to. When I finally got the chance to explain that LL was losing weight at an alarming rate, unable to latch, and my nipples weren't shaped right, she gave a big sigh and agreed to take a look. She then gave me a speech about how I should expect excruciating pain for a while, but I should just suck it up, because that's what mothers do. Um, yeah.

The third LC came to my room on the day we were to be discharged, following hospital policy. She was nice and calm, but mainly just negated everything everyone else had told us over the previous five days. ("The nurse told you to do WHAT? Oh dear. Well, it's not your fault, but really -- don't do that.") When she left, we were mainly just frustrated and confused.

When we got home, I sat down with The Nursing Mother's Companion, which had been recommended to me before giving birth. Reading that book and picking and choosing among the advice we'd gotten at the hospital eventually got us to the point where LL was eating well, but it was a frustrating week.

Which is why, a month later, I grimaced when S suggested calling a LC to figure out why I was suddenly in so much pain. But, LL's pediatrician recommended a particular LC to us, and we met with her this morning. And she was fabulous. Comforting and supportive and helpful. She met with us for an hour and a half, way beyond the call of duty. She answered all of my questions, and explained everything so that I know not just what to do, but also why. Awesome.

When we were in the hospital right after LL's birth, S told me that he got a lot of advice from friends and coworkers about what his job would be after the baby was born. Today's experience notwithstanding, he says that he definitely knows what the best advice was. I now pass it along to you, keeping in mind that I am a committed breast feeder:

The husband's number one most important job after his wife gives birth should be protecting his wife from the lactation consultants.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fertility Summary

This little timeline used to be a sidebar on my main page, but once LL reached several months, it didn't make sense anymore. So, I cut it out and back-dated it into an entry for sometime after LL was born, so that it would at least be recorded somewhere.

June'03: S and I get married
Aug'05: we start trying
Sep'06: we try harder...
Mar'07: we drive ourselves nuts trying
Sep'07: we finally see a doctor, the wonderful Dr. M
Sep'07: S's sperm analysis: normal
Oct'07: my HSG: totally clear
Oct'07: my bloodwork: normal
Oct'07: IUI#1, 50mg Clomid: canceled (no follicles)
Nov'07: IUI#2, 100mg Clomid: negative (two follicles, mature slowly)
Dec'07: IUI#3, 150mg Clomid: one follicle, textbook cycle, due 9/9/08
Sep'08: LL born 9/19/08!

Sep'09: we start trying again
Jan'10: IUI#1, 150mg Clomid: canceled (no follicles)
Mar'10: IUI#2, 200mg Clomid: canceled (one follicle, never matured)
Apr'10: IUI#3, 200mg Clomid: one follicle, late to mature but good enough! due 1/9/11
Jan'11: Kermit born 1/7/11!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Birth Story

I've been writing down notes on my labor and delivery for several weeks (3 weeks, in fact), and have finally gotten everything together. It's long, but I wanted to remember what happened, so feel free to skip sections (or the entire post) if it's boring.

We were supposed to call the hospital Thursday morning at 6:30am, to hopefully be to the hospital by 7:00 to start the induction. Our bags were totally packed, I had eaten the suggested "very light breakfast" (just a bowl of cereal), everything we needed was sitting in the car... we were ready to go! Instead, when we called, they told us to check back in a few hours. We called again at 8:30am, then again at 1:30pm, but they were still too busy to let us come to the hospital. We waited at home, with S doing random chores around the house and me watching movies to try to distract myself. At 3:30pm, we finally got the call from the hospital saying that we could come in. Finally, we were off!

We got to the hospital around 4:00. They immediately hooked me up to monitors for contractions and baby's heart rate, while asking me lots of intake questions and having me sign lots of forms. Much like the NST on Monday, the baby went back and forth between periods of reactivity and non-reactivity. A lot of the time, his heart rate would stay completely stable, not reacting at all to movement or contractions, even when the nurse "buzzed" him to try to wake him up. For short periods, he would react a little, but his heart rate stubbornly refused to go over the minimum threshold of 15 bpm above baseline. For a while, we weren't sure whether they were even going to go forward with the induction, but they eventually decided that he was "reactive enough" and they started the pitocin, letting us know that unless his reactivity improved, they would be upping the pitocin at a slower rate than usual, to avoid undue stress. Before starting, they checked my cervix, and everything was exactly as it had been the week before: just over 1cm dilated, 70% effaced, -2 station.

Despite the relatively low pitocin levels, after only 2 hours of pitocin, my contractions were coming every 2 minutes or less, lasting for 60 seconds each, and were already fairly strong. At that rate, I was getting basically no rest at all between contractions. I couldn't really concentrate on anything, but had the television on in the background to try to distract myself. I was also getting tired already, from not eating all day while waiting to be induced.

The nurses at our hospital believe in doing cervical checks as infrequently as possible, so I wasn't checked until 10:30pm, after more than five hours of labor. A new nurse had come on at 10:00pm, and she introduced herself by saying, "I'm Rachel, and I'll be the nurse delivering your baby! Well, actually, probably not, because you're really not going to be ready in 8 hours when I'll be going home." Hearing that you've got more then 8 hours to go, after you've already been contracting non-stop for 3-4 hours, is extremely discouraging, but it's even worse when it's said with such confidence despite never actually checking whether I was progressing. I asked her how she knew I wasn't progressing if nobody had checked, and she told me it was because I was still "too chipper." This pissed me off immensely at the time, but it turned out she was totally right -- I wouldn't be that chipper again for a very long time. And when she did check me at 10:30pm, I had made no progress at all, still only 1cm dilated.

I spent the next hour being extremely discouraged. My pain was increasing with each contraction, but I no longer believed that they were being at all productive. The nurse asked me if I wanted a narcotic pain killer, but I was determined to hold off on medication until I could do an epidural at 3cm. Instead, I wanted to try the other coping techniques I had planned on. Could I take a warm shower or bath? No, because they needed to continue monitoring my non-reactive baby, and the monitor couldn't go in the water. Could I walk through the hallways? No, because they couldn't switch me to the telemetry monitors because they weren't as sensitive, and they didn't want to miss something if the baby started experiencing further distress. They allowed me to pace back and forth within reach of the monitors (about 4 steps in each direction) which was of very limited help -- it basically left me feeling like a caged animal, which does very little to decrease pain and anxiety. I refused to get into bed, because lying down was excrutiatingly uncomfortable, so I alternated between pacing my 4 steps and sitting in a rocking chair for hours at a time.

S fell asleep around this time, and I was sitting alone in the labor room trying to breathe through contractions that were coming immediately on top of each other with no relief. By 1:15am, I was at the end of my rope from the pain. I called the nurse and told her that I needed the narcotic, which was administered at 1:30. It was supposed to last an hour, but I only got 45 minutes of partial relief. At 2:30am on the dot, I asked for a second dose. This one was even less effective, providing very limited relief and wearing off entirely by 3:00am.

S had woken up by this time, but no longer had any idea how to help. My pain for the last several hours had been a 10 on the 1-10 pain scale, and I was reaching the point where I didn't think I'd be able to cope. The nurse told me that I was allowed only one more dose of the narcotic, but she wanted to check my cervix again before giving it to me, since it hadn't been checked in the past 5 hours. She checked at 3:30, and low and behold, I had progressed to 3cm. Adding only 2cm during 5 hours of excruciating pain was discouraging, but it also had brought me to the point of "qualifying" for an epidural, so all wasn't lost. The nurse asked if I wanted an epidural now, and I gasped "Yes, yes yes!" over and over. The anesthesiologist arrived quickly, and the nurse went off to get a last narcotic dose to help me to stay still while the epidural was put in. (This was actually the most annoying part -- the nurse got locked out of the computer while trying to get the narcotic, which left me and S alone with an extremely shy anesthesiologist for what seemed like ages, with him holding the epidural drugs I was so desperately waiting for while he mumbled apologies that he couldn't give them to me yet.) Once he was able to start, however, the administration of the epidural was actually MUCH easier than I expected, and I was gratefully feeling the pain lessen dramatically by 4:30am.

The pain had largely returned by 7:30. The nurse determined that I probably needed a boost to my epidural, but first decided to check my cervix one more time. I had progressed a bit more, to somewhere in the 4-5 cm range, but more importantly, my water broke as she was checking, which promised to bring along faster progress. An internal monitor was placed on the baby's head (a big relief to me, since I meant one fewer strap around my belly -- those straps had been on continuously since the previous afternoon, and I hated them with a passion). Then, I was okay'ed for the epidural boost, this time from a different anesthesiologist. This event turned into the most surreal part of the delivery.... I THINK that the anesthesiologist was simply trying to confirm that the extra medication was working by asking me questions and judging how coherent my answers were. At least, I like to think that's what he was doing. I'm pretty sure that's how he started anyway. He asked where I worked. He asked what kind of work I do. I answered each question, and eventually assured him directly that I was feeling much better, the medication was working, everything seemed much better. But, rather than leave, he told me that he was fascinated by artificial intelligence, and started asking me in-depth questions about my research. Um... okay. I'd been having non-stop, no-break contractions for more than 12 hours at this point, and as much as I love my research, this wasn't really the time or place to be discussing it. When he switched from mild interest to actually challenging the research itself (my "favorite" of his questions: "But how would you know if it were really intelligent?") I was done playing along. I gave some sort of clipped answer in my best leave-me-alone-already voice, then turned to S and pretended the anesthesiologist no longer existed. I'm still shaking my head that the conversation ever happened. I really did not expect to be doing a thesis defense dry-run while in labor....

The next 4 hours are kind of a blur, but by 11:30am, it was time to check my cervix again. Yet another nursing shift change had happened, and I no longer believed that it was possible for me to have progressed more than a centimeter or two. To my surprise, the new nurse announced that there was no cervix left at all -- fully dilated and effaced. Finally! He called the doctor to check me to be sure that things were looking good (both me and my non-reactive baby), but told me to wait to start pushing until the baby dropped a bit more, because he was still quite high in my pelvis. We sat in that holding pattern for more than an hour. The baby was still having periods of non-reactivity, but overall looked good. He still hadn't dropped, but since he seemed to be holding up okay, they decided to have me start pushing, even though I'd be pushing him a very long way. Starting to push was fine with me -- after sitting around being fairly passive for so long, I was anxious to take a more active role.

The nurse was able to verify that I was pushing effectively and fairly strongly, especially given the epidural, which was still partially numbing my lower half. After 45 minutes of pushing, he checked to see how much the baby had advanced. He felt around for a while, then felt around some more, then frowned and checked even more. Eventually he came around to the side of the bed and explained the situation. He had felt all the way around the baby's head, which was firmly lodged in my pelvic opening. Normally at that stage, they feel around the head to see how many finger-widths they could fit between the head and the pelvic bone, to get a sense of whether the baby will need to turn at all to fit through. In my case, the baby's head was firmly against the bone all the way around, making direct contact around the entire circumference. And this was NOT the widest part of the head.

I remember trying to process this information, asking the nurse what that would ultimately mean. The answer: the baby was not coming out this way -- I would need a C-section. S and I looked at each other, and I could see concern and fear in his eyes. We asked a lot of questions, but it mainly came down to this: I could keep pushing if I wanted to, and it was theoretically possible that the head would deform enough to fit through, but the odds of it working out were very slim. (We were asking so many questions that, at one point, he looked at us and said, "Look -- this is a fairly common procedure, but you do need to understand that it is major abdominal surgery. It's not something simple like knee surgery." S and I looked at each other and burst out laughing, which confused the nurse until we explained that S had knee surgery less than a year ago, and the recovery sucked, and he's still not 100%. As I've been recovering these last few weeks, our constant refrain is, "Take it easy and give it time -- it's not something simple like knee surgery!") Anyway, at that point the nurse left us alone to talk while he went to get the doctor to verify his conclusion.

When the doctor checked, and confirmed the cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD -- a fancy way of saying "big head, small pelvis"), we asked her the same questions, and essentially got the same answers. I could keep pushing if I wanted, but it would probably not help. But there was one thing that I just couldn't get past: I wasn't exhausted yet. I was a little tired, but I had gotten quite the hormone-induced energy surge when I started pushing, and I hadn't used up all that adrenalin yet. If I gave in to a C-section (and yes, it really felt like it would be giving in) before I was truly exhausted, I was afraid that I would always feel like I gave up. I told the doctor that I was feeling pretty good, and we wanted to keep trying, for another hour or so. Her response: "Okay, we'll let you give it the ole 'college try,' but we'll need to recheck you at the two hour mark." So, I kept pushing.

When we reached the point of 2+ hours, the nurse checked again. The baby hadn't moved at all -- his head was still firmly lodged in exactly the same place. The only change was that the baby's head was starting to swell "alarmingly" (his word) from the unrelieved pressure, and he was showing more and more signs of distress on the monitor. I still had some energy to spare, but the stress on the baby clearly outweighed my desire to deliver how I wanted. I squeezed S's hand, and agreed to go ahead with the C-section.

After that, things moved very quickly. Forms were signed, belongings were moved to a recovery room, S changed into scrubs, and I was wheeled down the hallway to the obstetrics operating room. I was introduced to my third anesthesiologist, who went along with my request to keep up a running commentary on what the heck was going on behind that annoying blue screen. After just a few minutes, I was told that I would feel pressure, like someone was sitting on my abdomen. That pressure was quickly followed by several baby cries, the best sound in the world -- the arrival (finally!) of our LL. He was quickly rushed off to the nursery, with S in hot pursuit, leaving me in the operating room to listen to my (female) surgeon and (female) anesthesiologist discuss how awesome it was that they had such great families and careers because they both have stay-at-home husbands. (Told ya I lived in a liberal, progressive area!) As they were finishing up, I asked how big the baby was. The surgeon's response: "They weigh him in the nursery, not here, so I don't know. But I'll tell you this: he sure wasn't small!"

Not small, indeed.

Coming up next: my attempt to get my posts caught up to the present day. Annoying confusion in the hospital; at home with 8 million out-of-town family members; the picture-perfect no-tears bris; settling in, complete with grandparent slave labor; and finally, the three of us alone as a family.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Yes, I know, it's been forever since I've written. After weeks (yes, weeks) of sitting around bored, waiting to have a baby already, it's been a bit of an adjustment to be so freaking busy all of a sudden. LL is doing great, eating and gaining weight and pooping like a champ (that's the baby trifecta!). S and I are a bit sleep-deprived, but not as much as I expected -- we're managing to take turns pretty well, so that we each get a shot at a modest amount of sleep in a semi-regular basis. It helps that my parents were here for the first two weeks, and S's parents are here now, helping with shopping and cooking and laundry.

I promise that details about the birth, and the (on-going) recovery, and the bris, and the first few weeks home, will be forthcoming soon. Today, though, I have to talk about dreams. During the last part of my pregnancy, I had some rather peculiar dreams, but they were sort of hazy and fragmented. Nothing particularly significant. Since LL was born, however, I've been having amazingly vivid dreams. Most of them are standard I'm-a-new-mom stuff -- dreams where I forget the baby somewhere, or I lose the baby, or the baby gets hurt. It all seems like pretty run-of-the-mill material. There has been one dream, however, which stands out:

I'm sitting around a large table with ~30 other people, including the Baby Whisperer. The Baby Whisperer is slowly passing a screaming newborn infant around the table, so that each person can take a turn at trying to calm the baby. Since it's a fairly large group of people, there's a lot of down time while waiting for your turn to calm the baby, so the rest of the group has been instructed to solve the crisis in Iraq while they wait. (I told you the dream was odd.) When the baby finally gets around to me, the Baby Whisperer skips over me and proceeds directly to the next person. When I protest that I want my turn with the baby, she tells me that it's more important that I keep my focus on Iraq.

So, interpretations? Does the dream mean that my subconscious mind:

a) has no faith in my ability to calm a baby?
b) has far too much faith in my ability to solve international crises?
c) is far too obsessed with the Baby Whisperer?
d) rejects the idea that one can both be a good mother and successfully negotiate international diplomacy (take that, Sarah Palin!)?
e) all of the above.

I'm thinking (e). Though I must admit to being surprised that apparently I consciously want to remain with the baby, while I subconsciously am urging myself to return to work. You know that I'm a betting woman -- my money would have had those reversed....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

He's Here!

Our son, LL*, was born Friday, September 19, at 3:00pm. He weighed a ridiculous 8 lbs 13 oz, he's 21" long, and he has a surprisingly gigantic head. (Thanks for that one, kid.) He's healthy, and extremely cute, so all is well.

Full birth story (or maybe partially full... I'm not sure yet) coming soon. A few "highlights" in the mean time: 23 hours of labor, an extremely surreal conversation with the anesthesiologist around hour 15, 2+ hours of pushing, disturbing signs of fetal distress, unmistakable cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) that even had the hippy-dippy nurse-midwife apologizing, and ultimately a C-section.

We're home now, totally exhausted, dealing with the painful physical aftermath of both a long difficult labor and a C-section (me) and some jaundice and feeding issues (LL). At the same time, we couldn't be happier. More well-rested, yes, but not happier.

* Sorry, but I've decided not to actually include his name on the blog. Oddly enough, I don't want to type it here, but I'm okay dropping enough obvious hints that you can figure it out if you want to. It starts with an L, has only 4 letters, and is also the first name of the guy who invented blue jeans in San Francisco in the 1850s to sell to gold miners. Er... we didn't name him for the blue jeans guy, he's just the most famous person I can think of who shares the name, which is a good Hebrew name from the Torah. On the blog, I'll call him LL for "Little L___".

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Induction Morning

He's a stubborn one, our little Barack. Today is D-Day, and still no sign that he's planning to initiate this process on his own. Here at +9 days, we're no longer comfortable waiting for him to make his move. Induction it is.

The way inductions work at our hospital is that you call first thing in the morning and ask if they're able to take you. If they're already slammed (women in natural labor get higher priority than I do; another big thank-you shout-out to my body for letting me down once again), then they tell you to stay home. They'll call when more rooms have opened up, probably in a few hours. That's the situation we're in right now -- yet another holding pattern. Our bags are packed, the car is ready to go, the house is nice and tidy... there's nothing else for us to do but wait.

I'm off to continue pacing around the house, waiting for the phone call that will let me know that I can go give birth to my child.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bigger Pumpkin?

Sigh. After 40 weeks of comparing baby Barack's size to a different object every Tuesday, I am now left high and dry here at 41 weeks. I'm still pregnant, but there are no more size comparisons to be had. Why? Because I'm not still supposed to be pregnant.

I asked S how big he thought Barack was this week. I mean, what's bigger than a pumpkin? A large gourd? S's response: "Your baby is now as big as a one-week-old newborn." Thanks, dear.

Friends and family members have offered several theories on why the baby hasn't made his appearance yet. Two of these roadblocks were cleared away earlier today:

Problem #1: Perhaps the baby was waiting until he had a crib.

Solution: I called today to check on the crib. You may recall that we ordered it back in May, and it was due in by mid-August. Then the store went out of business, the order was transferred, the manufacturer started reporting shipping problems.... The expected date was pushed back to mid-September, then to late October. When I called today, I found out that the date is now mid-December. I had made my peace with using a bassinet for the first 6 weeks, but that's not something we can do for 3 months. I told the store to cancel the order and refund our deposit. I then asked them to place an order for our second-choice crib (one we liked, but not as much, and it won't match the changing table, and it's more expensive). Turns out the second-choice crib was in stock. They delivered it this afternoon. We now have a crib. Ta da! Barack now has somewhere permanent to sleep. You can go ahead and be born now, kid.

Problem #2: Perhaps the baby was waiting until he had a new car to ride home in.

Solution: We have a new car. (Yep, today was an expensive day.) We ordered a new car back in July, because both of our cars are old, tiny compact cars that can technically fit a car seat, but just barely. The car was (you guessed it) back-ordered, until early September. Then they revised their guess, to be mid-October. Instead, the dealership called this morning to tell us that the car had arrived. I haven't even sat it in yet (S drove it home, while I drove our old car) because, with my luck, my water will break in our brand new car. So, baby Barack also now has a nice comfortable new set of wheels in which to ride home from the hospital.

S and I have been joking for months about which would arrive first: baby, car, or crib. The final ordering: crib, then car, then (hopefully) baby.

Last note: our baby betting pool has now been decided. My mom had the latest guess, and even her guess has now passed, so she wins by default. I told her that it was her fault that I hadn't gone into labor yet, because she historically has won an awful lot of baby pools. Her response: "Okay, but I bet you'll go into labor tomorrow, before you need to be induced." I bet I won't. So we both put our money where our mouths are -- I bet her double or nothing for the entire size of the pool that this baby isn't going to be born before Thursday.

Less than 36 hours until I'm induced....

Monday, September 15, 2008

40w6d and Counting

Yep, I'm still gestating. I had an NST at the hospital today, and once we spurred Barack into action with some ice cubes and apple juice, he performed admirably. I've been having contractions since Saturday night, but nothing serious. The closest they ever get is 10 minutes apart, they're usually more like 30 minutes apart, and sometimes they disappear for hours at a time. They're uncomfortable, but not remotely painful. And they're short, usually only lasting 20 seconds at the most. In other words, other than being extremely annoying, they're not actually doing anything as far as bringing along the baby. We verified this analysis during the NST, when I got to point at the tape and say, "Those were contractions, right?" and the nurse responded with, "Those little blips there? Yeah, I suppose so." Then she confirmed that yeah, I'm probably not going to be in full-on labor anytime soon.

As of tomorrow (just a few short hours away) I'll be a full week past my due date. This sucks sucks sucks sucks sucks. I desperately want to have this baby already, but I'm also growing increasingly nervous about being induced. And I still have two more full days to sit around the house thinking about it, which means my anxiety level is only going to go up.

The only bright spot of the last few days was that the Packers looked awesome in yesterday's football game. And it looks like we're going to win our fantasy football game this week. As I was watching highlights last night, S walked in and mocked me with this: "That's okay, dear -- you stay on the couch watching Sports Center while I do the dishes and clean the kitchen." I told him that if he wants to take over the pregnancy for the next few days, I'd be happy to trade places with him. Sadly, he said no deal.

Now that it's not Sunday anymore, I'm out of distractions. I'm bored and exhausted and bloated and uncomfortable and nervous. Sucks sucks sucks sucks sucks.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Deadline Extended

S and I have been having a lot of discussions over the last few days about labor induction. I'm not thrilled with the idea of being induced, but I didn't realize until yesterday how totally terrified S is of the idea. Hard to define why... it just freaks him out. So, we talked to Dr. M this morning, and we've pushed back the induction two days. New plan: NST on Monday, to make sure that everything is really truly okay. If so, we'll wait until Thursday for the induction, at which point I'll be at 41w2d, or 9 days past my due date. I'm not thrilled with waiting that long (Dr. M was supportive, but also tossed around the phrase "fetal distress," which is hardly comforting) but S was so incredibly stressed at the thought of inducing too early that this seems like the best plan for us. So, baby Barack's new eviction date is September 18. If he wants to hand-pick his own birthday, he has to do it before then.

As for me... I'm fairly certain that Barack dropped further into my pelvis yesterday afternoon, because I'm suddenly feeling him somewhere between my knees whenever I stand or walk. Sharp downward pains whenever I move. Walking any distance more than the length of our house is now difficult enough that I'm essentially under house arrest. Bored bored bored. The phone calls and emails asking "Where's the baby?!?!", which I thought were kind of funny two weeks ago, are now just pissing me off, so I've stopped answering the phone. I don't remember ever feeling this anxious and uncomfortable ever in my life. But I also have not had a single real contraction that I'm aware of, other than some extremely light tightening feelings that are probably Braxton-Hicks contractions, because they're not painful at all.

Six more days of this, at the most. But please please please let me go into labor before then.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Still Waiting

Today was our last weekly appointment, in honor of reaching a full 40 weeks yesterday. No point in scheduling any more checkups. Dr. M thinks I'll be in labor by Monday, but just in case, we scheduled an induction for next Tuesday, September 16, six days from now. I am so uncomfortable and so worn down, and the baby appears to be so big (and still growing, as opposed to my pelvis) that we decided not to go past there. S wanted to wait until Thursday or Friday to induce, but I'm at my limit. As much as I would much rather go into labor naturally, on my own, I am just not willing to wait that long. So, Baby Barack now has a deadline. If he wants to avoid the dreaded pitocin, he needs to make his move before Tuesday.

The good news is that Barack and I are both still healthy. My blood pressure is actually dropping again, my weight is still on target (27 lbs total over a full 40 weeks), and Barack's heartbeat remains strong, as do his kicks. I have made a bit more progress since last week: 1.5 cm dilated, 70% effaced, -2 station. Better than a week ago, but at this rate, I'll be having the baby sometime around Thanksgiving.

Between napping and pacing around the house, I've been watching DVDs while sitting on a birthing ball. We have a fairly large collection of movies, so for the past several days, I've been watching anything that sounds even remotely appealing, just to pass the time. This approach has led to a rather eclectic mix of movies. How's this for a double-header: "Casablanca" and "Zoolander." I've watched "Crimson Tide" several times because looking at Denzel Washington makes lots of situations better. Young Harrison Ford has also featured prominently in several selections.

I've also been re-reading Harry Potter books. They're just the right mix of distraction and fluff.

But... these mindless coping techniques are starting to reach their limit of effectiveness. I had been hanging out with my friend C, who was due the same time as me, but she went into labor on Monday and had her daughter early Tuesday morning, so now I'm on my own. Waiting waiting waiting....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Yes, I'm still here, and still pregnant, at 40 weeks. I'm not exactly happy about it, but not a whole lot I can do about it, either. S and I have both marveled at how quickly I went from "Hey, pregnancy isn't so bad!" to "I seriously can't go on like this!" Because seriously -- I can't go on like this. Our five day triple-digit heat wave (once again, without A/C) is thankfully over, which is helping a bit, but I'm still so gosh darn uncomfortable that I'm finding it a bit hard to see the positives. I'm not sleeping, and I'm barely eating, thanks to near-constant heartburn. It hurts to sit, it hurts to walk, it hurts to lay down, it hurts to move. Even the smallest task, like getting in and out of a car, seems like a monumental undertaking. Everything about me is swollen.

It's strange to count down to a particular date for 9 months, and then that day comes and is just another day. Nothing is happening. And somehow, I had convinced myself that I would go into labor before my due date, so I never really wrapped my head around being in this position.

We have tried every old wive's tale that exists to try to induce labor. And yes, I do mean every single one. Even the incredibly uncomfortable ones (eg, spicy food does not induce labor, it just makes heartburn even worse). S has even taken to yelling at my cervix ("Dilate!!!") and my uterus ("Contract!!!") but they're both ignoring him. Still, it's healthier than yelling at the baby ("Leave!!!") which was his initial instinct. He does occasionally plead gently with the baby ("Please come out so we can meet you!") but it's only brought about swift kicks to my hip bones. We even tried the tempting-fate approach and hosted a small Monday Night Football party last night (Go Packers!) but alas, I didn't go into labor by halftime like I had hoped.

My 40-week appointment is tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be showing some more progress, but either way, we're going to have to have a conversation about induction. Suggestions on how to kick-start labor are more than welcome. Even silly ones. In the mean time, I'm off to continue bouncing up and down on a birthing ball.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Little Progress

One of the most common questions a pregnant woman gets asked, in addition to "Boy or girl?", is "When are you due?" In the beginning, I answered this question with a date. I'm due in September. After a while, when I was further along, I answered with relative time. I'm due in 2 months. Six weeks. Things like that. This past month, I started answering in days. I'm due in 18 days. Sounds close, doesn't it? I have now reached a new milestone; a new way to answer the question.

I'm due on Tuesday.

How bizarre is it that an answer of "Tuesday" is actually unambiguous? I don't need to specify which Tuesday, because it's this coming Tuesday. The very next Tuesday we're going to have. That's when I'm due. On Tuesday.

That's all very exciting, but baby Barack may have other plans. I had my 39 week appointment today, and though there has been some progress, it's not much. I'm 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. Rather than look at those numbers in absolute terms (one measly centimeter?!?) I'm choosing to look at them in multiplicative terms: I'm infinitely more dilated than the zero centimeters of last week! Doesn't infinite progress sound great?! The baby has also dropped a bit more, to -3 station. It might not seem like much, but last week I wasn't even on the scale, so this is definitely an improvement.

So, the good news is that some progress has definitely been made. The bad news is that this sort of progress doesn't necessarily translate into being any closer to labor. Dr. M is hopeful that I'll go into labor on my own sometime in the next week, but if I end up having to keep next week's appointment, he's going to want to discuss induction. Baby Barack seems to be in excellent health, but he also seems big, so nobody (including me) wants to let me go more than a week or so past my due date. One way or another, Dr. M wants the baby out of me by September 17 or so.

Otherwise known as: a week from Wednesday.