Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tess-o-rama and Welcome Cooper

Tess came over and played with us today, for almost the whole day! I am like a professional mom now. It was very exciting. Maija had to take Colin to the ER for a complication with the spinal tap he had yesterday. Scary stuff, I am very relieved that he seems to be doing better now. They dropped Tess off around 9:30 (I think) and Maija came over to pick her up around 2:30. Because it was on such short notice, she came without lunch or coat in her pjs. Now I do not say this as a criticism of Maija AT ALL, but only because I am so proud of my improvising and professional mom-ing ability. Tess and Benito and I walked the lake with Wenmei and Zachary and Cowboy, our neighbors from the childbirth class. Sadly, Maisy had to stay, because I could not manage the front pack, the stroller and the hound simultaneously. It was quite the feat to just get our little trio and the stroller down the stairs in fact, and an even more impressive feat to get back up. Tess very agreeably slept the whole way, wrapped up in my sub zero parka as a coat/blanket, and Benito not very agreeably slept half the way and woke up hungry and unhappy about it. It It was really hard to listen to him cry about it on the way back, but even so, I still think he has such a cute, inoffensive little cry. He is very sweet sounding, even when he is upset.

We got back around lunch time, so I had to figure out how and what to feed Tess. We do have a high chair, so I thought that would be the best plan, but of course I don't actually know how to use it. I also had to get it out of a closet upstairs, again a challenge with both children - one who can't be left alone due to the unchildproofedness of our house and stairs, and one who wants to walk around with you all the time. But I did get it, and even got it set up, and got Tess in it. Then of course I couldn't get the stupid tray on. In the end, I got one half on, and the other half just sat sort of cockeyed not clipped in. Tess seemed like she was sort of low for the tray, so I tried to adjust the seat with her in it, not a good idea. But even inspite of that she did eat some lunch, and then went down for her nap. I also had to figure out how to lower the pack n play for the first time, which was also successful. I thought Tess was sleeping, but when I went in to check on her, she had chucked her doll out of the pack n play, and was sitting up saying "mama, mama" over and over again. So I picked her up and we played in Benjamin's room, where she was really funny, diapering her doll, and watching Jammy on his little play mat. So, her mom picked her up more or less fed, and rested, and all in one piece, although with Jam in her hair. It was a triumphant day for me.

I still don't have the memory card back in the camera, so sadly no Tess picture here. My intent has been to use pictures from the day of post, and going forward maybe that will happen, but so far I have been recycling earlier ones. So today, instead of Tess we have "welcome Cooper". Cooper Fernstrom was born a few days ago, (I am so lame I don't remember which day exactly), and we are very anxious to meet him.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Garage Dilemma and Back to Work

So, two things were on the schedule today, which breaks my only schedule one thing rule. First I went in to work for a meeting, and second we had another contractor come and present a garage bid.

I have been sort of dreading going back to work, for no good reason. I actually really like my job, and I get to work on cool projects with people I really like. There really isn't anything to worry about, but I was worrying anyway. So I went in for a lunch meeting, and everyone was really nice, and it reminded me of why I like my job. So, I am much less apprehensive about going back. Although I am still worried about lumpiness and spontanesous shirt soaking lactation. Subject for another day.

Second thing for the day was the garage contractor. One of the problems with our very non-new construction house is its lack of a playroom/tv room/hangout space. Right now the tv is in the living room (not cool) and there is no good space for the tiny dictator to spread out his toys and play (also not cool). Not that he does that yet, but its on his 5 year plan. The idea has been to build a garage in back, where our cruddy old carport is, along with a shop/storage area. Then we could move the workbench and tools, and all the yard stuff - lawnmower, rakes, shovels, what have you - out of the basement, so we could finish the basement. So that has been the plan. Enter the contractor bidding process. We called 5 design build contractors, and ended up having 3 come out and bid the project. Yikes! Bids from 70k - 90k pretty much killed the garage plan. We definitely don't need 90k worth of woodshop.
Sooo, enter the revised plan, as of today. The new idea is to finish 75% of the basement as man land/ BAM land, and leave 25% of it as storage/shop. Then purchase a prefab Home Depot shed to store yard tools etc on it. Which runs about 88 thousand dollars less than the garage. Seems like a better plan. So, first step we will embark on is to start the great basement cleanout. We will be craigslisting a ton of stuff this weekend, and dissasembling the drum kit. Its a very exciting step! You all know how I love to get rid of stuff. I like it almost as much as I like getting new stuff. So if you are interested in weightbench, outdoor equipment or piles of wood, please let me know, as it will be leaving shortly. Yay!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the east

I spent today at Judith's house in Issaquah, hanging out with Auntie Cookie and Annie, going to Costco, going to Starbucks, shopping her closet, and generally schlumping around. I think it was Benjamin's first Costco trip, and Annie rode in the back seat with him and entertained him. We have told her it is her job to pass on all of the wisdom her big siblings gave her. I cleverly left when it started to snow, thereby escaping my prescribed treadmill time. Mwah ha ha. Anyway, the whole day was sooooo much fun. Why have I not been doing this every day of my leave? Pretty lame really. But it brings up a recurring discussion in our house about the possible benefits of moving to the eastside, and one house on one street in particular. They include:
  • new construction house
  • large greenbelt lot with sunny fenced yard
  • quiet street with playground
  • nice neighbors offering free daycare
  • proximity to hiking, general outdoorsyness
  • lower house payment
  • good public schools

On the downside we have some equally compelling arguements. Most notably commute time, and my generally snobby attitude that Seattle is superior to the east side. This is really agonizing for me, since I would really love to be neighbors with my big sis, and have a house that needed no improvements, no projecting, and had a sunny back yard. And raise the boy with his cousins, and his grandparents, who would inevitably move there if we did. But I also love my neighborhood, my easy commute, my proximity to tons of cool stuff. So I don't know what to do. For the moment the answer is to do nothing, especially since the house in question seems to have sold. But I do like to day dream about it.

In other news, we toured the Wallingford Child Care Center this morning. I don't know why I bother. The places are all the same. Seem very nice, teacher ratios, emergent play curriculum, peanut free, blah blah blah, 1-2 year waiting lists. But its in the neighborhood, and we are on the list. Made for an outing anyway.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Stupid PEPS....

.... is cancelled again today, this time because of snow. Starting next Monday instead. We'll see. It seems like fate might be telling me not to participate. I will boldly tempt fate and go anyway. So there.
In a freakish coincidence, the leader lives 3 doors down from Pat and Lee in Loren's friend Allison's old house. Its a small world.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Donuts, Little Debbies, Cookie Dough, Ice Cream, Eggos and Cream Puffs, or What happens when you go to the grocery store with 2 pregnant women

Well it has been a whirlwind few days since my last post. One thing that I do want to mention, before I forget, is that Benjamin discovered his mobile this week. Before he didn't even notice it, and now he will lay on his back and stare at it, and he fusses when the little animal parade stops going around, and playing its little song. He is getting all grown up! The neck control thing is getting better, but I tried him out in the Johnnie Jump up and he just slumped over and started crying. Apparently not ready for that one yet. He is still laughing once or twice a day, and he is really starting to chat with us more and more this week.

So as the follow up to the nanny chronicles, Sara emailed me after the trial run on Thursday, and Sam is allergic to Bailey, so she won't be able to nanny after all. Grrrr. So we had the second Marnie interview this afternoon, which was fine, so she is going to watch Benjamin on Thursday for a few hours as a test drive.

In other news, Hillary came to stay this weekend. Yay! The big excitement is that after much trying and many trials and tribulations (see for more details), she is pregnant. Wahoo! I have known about this for several weeks, and have had a heck of a time keeping it quiet so that she could tell people about it in person. In a fabulous and happy coincidence, Maija is also pregnant, and due within a couple of days of Hillary. I got to see them tell each other, and it was a classic moment that I will always remember. Those two and Judith came over on Friday night, and we went to Rositas for cheese enchiladas and strawberry margaritas (some virgin). Afterwards we went to the grocery store and purchased more desserts than I have ever purchased at once (see title), and ate them while we watched What Not to Wear. Hillary fell asleep on the couch, and Judith had to go back to Issaquah earliesh, but sadly, thats always been about our speed for night life. We can't all be crazy party people.

On Saturday Hillary and I went to Bellevue for Hillary's first ever scrap booking experience, and then spent the day shopping for maternity clothes. We had take out Thai and Maija came over, and I made them watch me try on all my work clothes and see what fit. It was like our own what not to wear. Lots of commentary about structured jackets and camies to hide a bit of a tummy. They laid in bed and tried to stay awake, I finished the cream puffs. Yum. Hillary had to go to Redmond to hang out with Traci this morning, but I have high hopes that Mickey will get a job here (interview February 2! Cross your fingers!)

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Nanny Chronicles

Yesterday was the first trial run with Sara the nanny. It was a long freakin road to get there. I like my job, and had always intended to go back to work, so I started looking for childcare when I was about 4 months pregnant. I was prepared (sort of) for it to be super expensive, but I wasn't prepared for it to be so bloody hard to find.

The first place I looked was Bright Horizons downtown. I thought this would be great, I could walk over at lunch and feed him, and it was really nice. And $1700/month. And had a 1-2 year waiting list. As does everywhere else downtown. Its crazy. I start looking into nanny shares, meet with a few people, don't really find anything. So we kept looking, and found a center 2 blocks from Loren's office, still very nice, around $1200/month, that thought they would have a slot for us in the spring. Great, we say, put us on the list. So after Benjamin was born, I started obsessive compulsively calling them weekly to check on our status. Not so good. It looks like there won't be a spot for us after all. $%^*&#!!!

At one point late in the pregnancy, Loren and I run into Jan and Allen at Home Depot. They have lived across the street from Loren's parents for 30 years, and are great. Jan is a substitute teacher, and mentions that she wants to be a "granny nanny" for an infant. I could hardly contain myself. She would be perfect. Beyond perfect! At that point I was looking for someone 4 days a week, since my mom was going to watch him Wednesdays. Then we devised a plan to have my dad drive Jammy to Issaquah on Friday mornings, so Auntie Cookie could watch him. We would pick him up Friday afternoons, and hang out for dinner, or trade babysitting with the Fernies so that we could each go on date night sometimes. So we needed someone for 3 days a week. Long story short, Jan could only do 2 days, and I spent months trying to figure out how to make that work. But there is just no way. I'm still hoping she will call and say she can do 3 days. Anyway, we keep on with the search.

I start looking at in home child care centers. All full. I get on the list for a center in our neighborhood, which I haven't even toured yet (I do that next week). And I start scouring Craigslist every day for nanny options, and nanny share options. Meet with a few more nanny share families, still no good. Send 50 bjillion nanny emails, meet with several nannies. Of course I can't afford a full time nanny, so I'm looking for one 3 days a week, that will bring her child along with her. The first one was great, but her son was a little hoodlum. The second one not so great, but her child was awesome. If they could have just swapped kids, it would have been perfect. So I keep interviewing people until I come up with a good option. Woo-hoo!
Sara is a first grade teacher on maternity leave. Totally capable, really cute and together, and right in my price range, adorable children. Yay! The only catch is that she has not one, but two kids to bring with her, and they are 2 months and 18 months. Yikes. That is a lot of tiny kids to look after. But clearly she wants to do it, and thinks she can manage it, and its a better child/adult ratio than in a center, so why not? Although she is coming from Lake Forest Park, and has to go back to work in September. But I like her, and don't have another good option. So I basically hire Sara.

I had some other interviews scheduled already, so I figured I should just meet with the people in case. And I meet Marnie. She lives about 5 blocks from me, has been a nanny and worked in day cares for several years, and has one cutie little 3 year old boy, Azariah. Who LOVES Maisy, always a plus. She is in fashion design school at night, her husband is in a band. Of course Loren is all excited about that. Marnie is a little more expensive, but could be around indefinitely, and I know would give Benjamin tons of attention. So I was really torn. But Sara had already been hired, and I liked her too, and she is less expensive.

So anyway, Sara comes yesterday afternoon, and watches Benito from 1:30 - 4:30. It was totally fine, he was fed and dry and happy when I got home, playing on the gyminee play mat thingy with Bella, the other baby. She had changed his little outfit when it got wet, and seemed like everything went really well. Sam, the 18 month old, was totally adorable, and kept running over to hug Loren's legs. Super cute. But I'm still kind of worried that in the 3 child scenario, Benjamin will lose out a little on the attention front etc. I keep having to tell myself, better than a day care, better than a day care. This morning I was feeling kind of resentful toward her, because it is becoming more and more clear that I would so like to stay home. I'm going to be totally jealous of the nanny, who will get to hang out at my house all day and play with my baby. There are lots of reasons why it makes sense for me to work, and lots of reasons why I want to, but I'm also surprised by how badly I want to stay home. He is just so sweet and little. It makes me teary eyed to think about leaving him every day. What a total wimp.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Laugh In

Yesterday was a big day around here! Many accomplishments to be had by all. First and most exiting, Benjamin laughed for the first time. Talk about sappy gooey melty mom moment. Oh my god, I can't believe I'm the mom in this story. Ok, anyway. He was on his changing table, which is inexplicably his most favorite happiest place to be. I had changed his diaper and was being goofy with belly zerberts and loud cheek/neck/shoulder kisses and he started laughing at me. Later he did it again for my mom, and then at the Matlick's for Andrea, Pat and Loren. So talented and advanced this one. It was completely adorable. We were at the in-laws for Grandma Pat's birthday, and her present was a big hit. We gave her a copy of the beautiful photo album book that Judith put together for us for Christmas. She and Uncle Morrie (now that there are two, Great Uncle Morrie, or GUM) and Marnie could not stop exclaiming about it. Marnie and Pat both want Judith to donate photo sittings to their various auctions. I think it would be great advertising. Everyone was very excited and admiring of the boy as well. Great Aunt Donna (GAD just doesn't work as well, does it?) is going to come by on Sunday and meet him, since she missed the birthday.

The other funny thing from yesterday was not a big accomplishment. I was on the phone with Auntie Weewee, holding Benjamin, who was in a fuzzy footed sleeper. I absentmindedly wrapped my hand around his little foot, and it felt wet, which I was not expecting. On closer inspection, it was poop that had somehow escaped his diaper, and made it all the way down his leg into his foot. Ewww! Much shrieking ensued, to Hillary's amusement, and I ran upstairs to change him. My mom was on her way over to go to Issaquah with us, and she arrived in the middle of this procedure. I would have just given him a bath, but we were suppoesd to be leaving, so I didn't have time. Instead I was trying to hose him down with diaper wipes. I had to clean between each of his little toes with the wipes. It was ridiculous, like flossing toes. He just happily smiled away, totally oblivious to how gross he was. What a boy. He has slept through 4 of the past 5 nights though (enter victory music a la theme from Rocky or Eye of the Tiger), so I will forgive him the extreme poopiness.
My big accomplishment was that I got back in the saddle, so to speak, and ran 2 miles. Woo-hoo! I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but given that the last time I ran was a disasterous pregnant Bloomsday in May, I thought it was pretty good. It was bitter cold and icy, so I ran on Auntie Cookie's treadmill, with her fun shuffle mix on. I so want a treadmill, I am totally jealous. Maisy stood behind it and paced and sniffed confusedly. She could not figure out what was going on. And as soon as I was done, Annie announced that I needed to take a shower. Its great when 4 year olds think you smell, from across the room.
Sadly, I lost yet another earring in the process. Before Christmas sometime, I lost one of the diamondish studs that Loren had given me several years ago, that I wear every day. I replaced them in the beginning of January, at the sale at Macy's, with another pair that was as close as I could find to the original ones. So, now I have to see if I still have the remaining one from the first pair, because maybe it will match the one that is left of the second pair. And I need to look into some kind of more secure earring backs, clearly.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My life as a dairy farm

I had always planned to breast feed Benjamin. I know all the research says it is the best, and is directly correlated to higher SAT scores and athletic prowess, or something like that. It also seemed easier to me than having to mess with mixing and heating formula in the middle of the night. So there was no question I would do it, as I fully expect him to get a college scolarship, which he will need both good SATs and athletic prowess for. It turns out its really hard! At first it hurts like nobodies business. And it feels like nothing is happening, and there is no way he is actually getting any nutrition, or anything at all really, out of it. That phase lasts for 2 days. And then your milk comes in. Which doesn't sound like a big deal right? Wrong! My breasts were giant, and hard as rock. It felt like I had 2 footballs in my shirt. And they hurt. I mean really hurt. I couldn't sleep, couldn't move hurt. I was petrified that it would stay like that for all of breast feeding, and I would have to give up and feed him formula, and he would wind up at a community college. I think this phase only lasted a day and half or so, but it really sucked. After that, it still hurt for awhile when he would start eating. It seems like a design flaw that nipples should be made extra sensitive, and also have to withstand this kind of abuse. But that went away too, and Benjamin and I got the hang of it. At first, he wasn't that good with finding the right place and latching on. He has this wobbly little neck, and this old man face, and he would get this glinty determined look in his eye, and his mouth would be wide open. He would do sort of a wobbly necked swoop and dive in, and than a really enthusiastic chomp on, and the whole thing reminded me of a snappy turtle. Pretty cute actually. Now that he is an old pro at it, I kind of miss my snappy turtle guy. Another draw back to the breast feeding is the constantly leaky breasts. I feel like my shirts are always wet. Very attractive. It looks like I peed my pants, but somehow got my shirt instead.

There are some pluses though. Breast feeding is definitely the best diet ever. He is just over 2 months old, and I have lost all but 4 pounds of the pregnancy weight. I have been eating better than normal, and walking a lot, but still, I thought it would take a year to get back to this size. So that rocks. My stomach muscles are another story of course, but I am looking on the bright side now. So, other good stuff about breast feeding. Well, you get to sit down and rest for lots of 20 minute stretches, where you can't feel guilty about not doing anything, because you are doing something, something very important. And it is a good time to talk on the phone or read a book, or just admire the baby. And the baby does some really funny things too, so he is fun to watch. Lots of times when he is so hungry he is anxious and fussy, as soon as he starts to eat his little eyes roll back into his head, and I imagine he is just like a druggie getting his fix. I don't have too much experience on that front, but thats how I picture it. And when he is done eating and full, he goes into this very stoned looking blissed out food coma. Its also excellent snuggle time, and a great excuse to make people bring you stuff. Everything always tastes better when someone else gets it for you, right? So thats nice too. Also, your body makes all these happy hormones when you breast feed, probably to trick you into continuing to do it. So I get to have a little blissed out, happy relaxed feeling too, and I probably look just as stoned as he does. Another bonus is that the littke guy seems to like me, as I think he realizes that I am the food wagon. So that is nice too.

Pumping is another story, totally unpleasant. First off, it hurts some. And I haven't figured out how to do it with no hands, so I can't even change the channel or talk on the phone or read a book. And the whole apparatus is very dairy cow like, not attractive at all. Pretty embarassing actually. And of course I have my pump set up near the front window. Our house is pretty high up off the street, so passers by etc. can't see in. But our neighbor across the street and 2 houses down are even higher up above the street, and I'm pretty sure have a great view of the whole thing. Woo-hoo! Free show for them! And I have no idea what the lasting effects on my body will be, not good probably, but thats a whole other discussion.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Scary Medical Procedures

Even though Benjamin is barely 2 months old, he has already survived quite a lot of trauma in the scary medical procedure department. The first one was the circumcision. Ouch! We did the back and forth debate about whether to snip or not to snip, and went around in circles. At the end of the day, it just seemed easier to circumcise him then to eventually have to try to teach him to deal with and clean the turtleneck. Also, research about not spreading stds as easily blah blah blah. So we decided to do it. He hadn't had a wet diaper at the hospital when his doctor was leaving, so she wouldn't do it. We had to take him in to the Swedish circumcision clinic, which was actually probably a good thing. Its this youngish guy dr, and basically all he does is circumcisions, all day long. So he at least knows what he is doing. Loren was a lot more concerned than I was about the whole thing, and asked the doc a ton of questions beforehand. In the event of an earthquake during the surgery, it would be more likely for the doctor to cut off his finger than any of Benito's important boy-parts. And the complications seemed all very fixable, and the recovery pretty quick, so that was all very reassuring.

As much as I did not want to be there for it, I figured if I was going to put the little guy through it, I had to be able to watch. It was more complicated than I thought it would be, actually. They have to strap him down, which sounds awful, but wasn't that bad. They wrap a little blanket over his chest, and tuck it under something, to keep his upper half from wiggling. Then there are wide pieces of fabric that go over his little thighs and get velcroed down. He got topical anesthetic, baby tylenol, and I was in charge of giving him a pacifier dipped in sugar water. He did cry, but not worse than when we changed his diaper, which he hated at the time, mostly because it made him cold, I think. It was really warm in the room though, so at least he had that going for him. I thought it would be one straightforward little clip, but they actually have to put 4 clamps on his little baby foreskin, and slice with a scalpel. It was pretty scary to watch. But everything was fine, and there were no problems.

It did make diaper changing more exciting for the next week or so. You have to make an ice cream cone of neosporin on the cicrumcision every time, and it was all red and ouchy looking. But he really didn't mind it, as far as I could tell. Combined with the umbelical cord stump, there was a whole lot to watch out for. The stump was really pretty gross, and would get stuck to his diaper, which I thought must hurt, but Benjamin never minded. He is such a tough guy. Now that there are no injuries to look out for, the diaper changing is much less worrisome. Of course now there are other things to contend with, like long range peeing ability, ever increasing wigglyness, and I won't even start on his poop producing capabilities. Its like he is working for a gold medal in pooping. I had no idea such a small person could produce such large quantities of poop so frequently.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. The other medical procedure was even scarier than the circumcision. The lactation specialist at the hospital pointed out to us that Benjamin was literally tongue tied. The frenulum, which is the little piece of skin that attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth, reached all the way to the end of his tongue. This can cause difficulty with breast feeding, and later on can also create problems with speech. Benjamin was a champ eater, and his doctor said that for the most part the frenulum stretches, and might not cause any difficulty with speaking, but also that it is a quick easy fix now, and more difficult later. Long story short, we decided to have it clipped.

I took him to the specialist that does this, and it took her one glance at his open mouth to say yes, we should clip it. The whole procedure took approximately 5 seconds. She has these little scissor looking things, that seem like something the dentist would use. It took her longer to put topical anesthetic on him than to do the procedure. The nurse held him on her lap, and they wanted me to feed him right after, since that helps calm him, and is somehow beneficial for the healing process. He was crying anyway, since he was hungry, so I wasn't to worried about that, and I knew he wouldn't feel it, because he was numbed up. So I didn't think it would be that bad. Wrong! They handed him to me when they were done, and he was wailing, which I am more or less used to. I tried to feed him immediately, but he was having trouble latching, understandable what with the numb tongue. And his mouth was pretty bloody, which had to taste weird for him. So the whole thing was pretty alarming for him. The part that just killed me was his expression. He had these eyes that were so scared. I had never seen him look scared before, and it was heartbreaking. And the thing that is supposed to comfort him, eating, wasn't working right. Very scary for a little guy. I was practically in tears, it was really hard to see. But it was very short lived. Maybe a minute. But it seemed longer. He did get latched on, and was able to start eating, which calmed him right down. In 5 minutes it was like nothing had ever happened. I would put it about on par with his 2 month immunizations, maybe a little worse. But now he is all better, and seems to have forgiven me for everything. Whew!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A parade of babies, and my boy the super genius

Last night was our childbirth class reunion, which far surpassed my expectations. I guess they must have been pretty low, now that I think about it. But it was actually pretty fun. It was way more interesting than I thought it would be to see everybody elses babies. They did all look really different, and totally confirmed my opinions about the supreme handsomeness of my boy. But it was pretty cool to hear everyone's stories. It made me feel soooo lucky about how well everything went with Benjamin's birth. Several people had emergency c-sections where it sounds like the baby wouldn't have made it otherwise. Scary stuff. But everybody turned out healthy and happy in the end, which is what matters. Also, someone brought the flower shaped sugar cookies that I remembered very fondly from class, which I ate about 4 of, and learned that you can buy them at the Ballard Market. So it was worth it just for that.

The other big news of the day is Benjamin's fantastic sleeping abilities! He slept from either 10:15 or 11:15 last night (ok, my memory sucks. Whatever) until 8:10 this morning. What a champ! And then he ate and went back to sleep until about noon, which actually started to worry me. Does he have the sleeping sickness? Does that actually exist? Or did Harrison Ford make it up? (Its in a line from Sabrina). But obviously I'm not that worried, and if he wanted to do a repeat performance every day from now through kindergarten, that would be fine with me. Clever baby.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Getting out of the house

Well this has been a big weekend for me and Benjamin so far, and its only Saturday afternoon! I went to see Juno last night, with Maija and Anne. It was a great movie. It was really well cast, with high school students that looked like they might really be in high school. The dialog was great too - way more like actual conversation than most movies, and waaay more like real teen agers than most movies. I laughed, I cried (I know, I am a total sap), I ate popcorn and milkduds. All around a very satisfactory evening. The last movie I saw in the theater was in October, which really isn't that long ago I guess, but it was still really fun to get out. Maija was at home with Tess by herself all week this week, with Colin in Boston, and she was maybe even more excited than I was. So that was big night out for me.

Then this morning we packed Maisy and Benjamin and 4 bags of gear into the car, and headed out to North Bend to go snowshoeing with Scott and Josie (and Zeus and Athena). It has apparently been too long since we have been out there, as we took the wrong exit and didn't notice. Loren finally called, and verified that they live on exit 32, and exit 34 is the home of the gas station bbq place that we like. Anyway, we got that all figured out, and got out to the trail, at Rattlesnake Lake.
It was beautiful out, crisp and clear and not too cold, with all the trees dusted in snow. Benjamin wore his little blue fleece bear cub suit, and was totally adorable (duh). He went for a ride with his dad in the Sherpani front pack, and Maisy tore around at top speed with Zeus and Athena. It was like traveling with a pack of dogs. Scott and Josie applauded us for not letting the boy slow down our outdoorsyness, which is great, because that has definitely been one of our goals as parents. Wow. Scary. We are parents. Anyway, we hiked/snowshoed for about 2 hours, which was all that Benito would tolerate. He was proclaiming his need to eat by the end, and I was speed walking to the car, so that I could feed him. We did consider other options - mobile feeding in the frontpack, and Loren suggested building me a nest of pine branches to sit on and feed him, but the car seemed to make the most sense. We finished it off with a fantastic South Beach diet brunc and Guitar Hero at Scott & Josie's. All in all, pretty successful for his first real outdoor outing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

We're Famous!

Last Saturday, Benito and I were models (guinea pigs) for Auntie Cookie's photography class. It was in a beautiful bed and breakfast in Tacoma, which, now that I think about it, is the furthest from 98115 that Jammy has been. The whole thing was kind of alarming, as you would totally get if you have ever had 10 strangers taking your picture simultaneously. It was all very paparazzi-esque. He was mostly a trooper, but definitely started to protest in the end, and was relieved to be done. So was I. It was too scary to look at any of the cameras, so I am looking at baby, or the floor, or closing my eyes in all of the photos. A lot of them turned out beautifully though, and you can view them on the instructors blog, at You can also see many more photos of us on Auntie Cookie's website, She is very fancy and impressive. The whole thing was pretty cool, and now I have to decide what to do with the pics.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Happy Birthday BAM - a long winded birth story

Be forewarned, this is a long one!

November 10, 2007

I planned to sleep in on Saturday, knowing this could be one of my last opportunities for lounging in bed. Loren got up at 7, or some other time that is too early to be reasonable on the weekend. I woke up and looked at the clock at 8, and felt what I thought might be a contraction. It didn’t hurt, and it didn’t have a very noticeable start and stop, it just felt like a little bit of pressure in my lower belly. I laid in bed until about 9, and had 2 more “is that a contraction?” contractions. Our plan for the morning was to go to the dog park, so I thought we should stick with that, since I wasn’t sure these were real contractions. I had been pretty convinced the baby would be late, and this was 10 days pre-due date.
So, we headed for bakery for a cinnamon roll and a latte, and then the dog park, and I had a few more sporadic contractions. They didn’t really have a clear cut beginning and end, and they didn’t hurt any, so I still wasn’t sure it was anything. After I had had enough that I thought they might be something, I did tell Loren. (I hadn’t wanted to mention it if they weren’t the real thing.) Maisy had a nice swim, and then it got a little cold and crowded so we headed home. I called Judith on the way home, and was going to ask her about the contractions, but she was on her way out, and I figured it was probably nothing, and I shouldn’t bug her with it. The other thing we wanted to do that day was get our new camera at Costco, so we decided to do that, since I still wasn’t really sure I was in labor, and we knew early labor would take a long time anyway, so it was a good project if I was in labor.
We got to Costco and found out they didn’t carry the camera in the store, only online, which was frustrating. Since we don’t get there very often anymore, and Costco is always fun to shop, we decided to wander for a while and see if they had anything we couldn’t live without. At some point during our wanderings, I realized this was the real thing, and even though the contractions didn’t really hurt yet, I definitely noticed them more. I started to get antsy and impatient, and decided we needed to go home. It was getting close to lunch time, so I got some frozen yogurt and Loren had a hotdog. I wasn’t very hungry and couldn’t eat much, which is weird for me, especially what with the frozen dairy and all. Loren seemed to be taking forever to eat his hotdog, and I really wanted to go, but I didn’t want to get in the car with the hotdog smell. Yech. (Impatience will start to be a little bit of a theme here.) He finally finished and we left.
When we got home, I thought I should lay down and rest, so I would have some energy for later. Loren installed the car seat in the car, which was one of our last necessary pre-baby tasks. I layed down for around 15 minutes, and my contractions, which had seemed like they were about 5 minutes apart, stopped. I didn’t like that, so I decided to get up and move around, and they started again. I did some straightening up – folding laundry and cleaning up, while Loren finished some of the last remaining door hardware install. At this point I was pretty sure it was real, so I called Maija, not home, Judith, still not home, and my Mom, not home. Hillary was home, and I told her I thought I was in labor. She was of course very excited. Loren was timing my contractions now, so as we wandered around projecting, I would say “contraction!” and then “done”, when it was over, and he jotted them down in a little notebook. Incidentally, he had put on a watch that morning, even though he never wears one. Coincidence? Psychic husband? Hard to say.
At this point I started pacing through the contractions, and breathing through them, although they still weren’t too painful. Around 2:00 the contractions had been regularly about 40 seconds, every 4-5 minutes for an hour, and they were starting to be every 3-4 minutes. Then I threw up the yogurt I had eaten at lunch. I decided it was time to call the doctor. Loren called, and the answering service said the doctor would call back within 20 minutes. I was pretty ready to leave at that point. I started doing the final packing, bringing the bags downstairs, making sure the lights were turned off, heat turned off, doors locked, ready to go. We hadn’t heard back by 2:25, and I just wanted to leave anyway. The contractions were getting more serious, and I wasn’t able to concentrate on much else. Loren still wasn’t convinced we needed to go, so I agreed to wait 5 or so more minutes and see if the doctor called. No call, and I just wanted to leave. I was upstairs getting the last bag, and I the door bell rang. I could hear him answer, and start to listen to a kid give a fundraising speech. I was mid contraction, and so frustrated I just wanted to yell at the kid to leave, and Loren to get in the car already. He bought some receeses from the little fund raiser and brought them upstairs to me, very pleased and thinking I would be excited. Very thoughtful, and well intentioned, but by then I just wanted to go!
We did get in the car at that point, at ten to three, in spite of not having heard from the doctor. We pulled onto the freeway, and traffic was backed up the on ramp, with the light metering merging traffic. The phone rang then, and Loren talked to someone who was in the room with Dr. Bridges, who was mid c-section at the time. He explained that contractions were 4-5 minutes apart, for an hour or so, and that they had slowed down when we got in the car and I stopped moving around. (At this point they were more like 3-4 minutes apart, and had been going an hour and a half, but that’s just the impatient and short fused laboring woman in me talking). Dr Bridges said we probably didn’t need to leave for the hospital yet. Loren relayed this to me when he got off the phone, but there was no way I was turning around then.
The contractions did slow down when we got in the car, but the ones that I had were a lot worse. Sitting down made them much more intense, and I was really uncomfortable. I couldn’t wait to get out of the car. I took my seat belt off and laid my seat all the way down, but I still couldn’t get into a position that felt good. We arrived at the hospital, and we weren’t sure which entrance to go in, or which garage to park at. We pulled up to emergency, and stopped a security guard who was walking by to ask him. He looked at me leaned back in my seat and hugely pregnant, and told Loren to drop me at emergency and then park. I didn’t want to, I just wanted to get the car parked and walk. We started for the garage and Loren stalled in the street to ask me what I wanted to do. Impatience and frustration again here, I told him as nicely as I could to just park the car already. We did get parked and I was much happier when I got to stand up. Walking across the street to the hospital, I had another pretty bad contraction, and had to lean over and grab a fire hydrant for support, to breathe through it. Apparently people were staring at me as they went by, but I was oblivious. We walked into the ER entrance, and they pointed us to labor and delivery.
We arrived at triage at 3:20, and I walked up to the desk and told the nurse that I thought I was in labor. She said “you have that serious look about you”, and admitted us to a triage room. It was about 1,000 degrees in there, and I was so hot and sweaty it was ridiculous. They took my blood pressure, asked how I was, all that, and I was getting so impatient to have them check me already, and tell me how far I was. I got undressed, but I couldn’t sit down, so I stood there in my t-shirt with Loren holding a hospital sheet around me. I called everyone again at this point, and left messages for Judith, mom and Maija. Again, I got a hold of Hillary, told her I was at the hospital, passed the phone to Loren during a contraction, and told her I had to go. They checked my blood pressure (fine) and baby’s heart rate (fine). Finally Darcy. the resident on duty got there and checked me. She was young and pretty and said I was 7-8 centimeters dialated, so I liked her immediately. Woo-hoo! I couldn’t believe how far along I was! Then the other doctor checked and downgraded it to 5-6 centimeters. Hmpf. They asked me what I wanted to do about pain, and I asked if I could just wait and see for a bit. They were fine with that, which surprised me a little, since I was sort of expecting to have to talk them into not getting the epidural right away. I think I was still in pretty good spirits, and being chipper and friendly in between contractions then.
5-6 centimeters was still pretty good, and they checked us into a room at that point, at 3:55. We had only been in triage for about a half an hour, and we had heard 3-4 hours in triage was average, so I was pretty pleased about that. I walked down the hall to the room in my t shirt and sheet, although I think I did put slippers on. Our room was Suite 543, and it was nice and big, much better than the one we saw on the tour. I was pleased with this at first, and then didn’t notice it again until about 1:00 in the morning.
The first thing I did after we met the nurse, Gina, was to change into a hospital gown. Ahhhh, so much cooler. The room was also not nearly as hot as triage, so that was good too. It becomes a little bit of one big long contractiony blur for me at this point. I remember the nurse asked me if I wanted to take a bath (no! Way too hot!), and I did still get to drink my water, which was nice. We were donating the cord blood to Puget Sound Blood Center, and they needed 6 vials of blood for that. She raised the bed way up and I leaned over it, so she could draw the blood and put the IV hep lock in my arm.
At this point I wasn’t so much having separate distinct contractions as one big long contraction that had peaks of worse contraction in it. By then I was definitely not just breathing but moaning through the contractions. They were so bad that I was pretty unaware of the nurse taking my blood, which is a lot for me, since I hate having my blood taken. Loren was really great, and doing everything he could to help. He would touch my arm or back trying to be supportive, and all I could say was “too hot! Don’t touch me!”. I tried to say it as nicely as possible, but it was all I could do to talk.
Somewhere around then I said I was starting to think about the epidural and she said “don’t give up yet!”. I tried to (nicely) explain that I wasn’t committed to having the baby without drugs, and I didn’t see it as giving up, but I’m not sure how it came out. After the blood taking was done and I could move around again, I tried a couple of different positions – on all fours, squatting with Loren supporting me. That really didn’t help at all. I was very impatient to get checked again and see if I was making any progress. I decided that if I was 8 or more centimeters, I might try without the drugs, but otherwise I wanted the epidural. They checked again at 4:40, and I was 7 centimeters. I said I wanted the epidural. The nurse called the anesthesiologist, who takes about 20 minutes to get there, and wanted to get me all set up and ready for when she arrived. She hooked me up to an IV, but didn’t give me a catheter, so I was happy about that. While I appreciated the thought of being all ready when the drugs got there, it meant laying down, which was awful. It was about an hour from when I said I wanted the drugs to when they kicked in, and I think that was the hardest part of labor.
The anesthesiologist arrived at 5:15 (thank god!). Getting the epidural is not the most straightforward procedure. It takes a few minutes, and required me to be completely still, through several poking needles, which is tricky while having really painful contractions. I had heard that it could take up to half an hour for the drugs to kick in, which seemed like forever at that point, so I was really happy when they started working basically as soon as the anesthesiologist was done, at 5:30. From then on, the whole thing was actually pretty fun. The huskies were playing, so we turned the game on, although not the sound. Jake Locker, star quarterback extraodinaire got carted off the field via ambulance, with a possible neck injury. Scary stuff.
Pat and Lee came at 6, and I told Loren it was fine if they came in to see me, since I was feeling so good at that point. They stayed for about 10 minutes, and then Dr. Bridges came back to check me. She said I was at 8 centimeters, and asked if my water had broken. I said I didn’t think so, but I wasn’t totally sure, as I couldn’t feel a whole lot. She then said “oops”, had broken it accidentally while checking. She predicted that I would beat the other women who were there that had gotten to the hospital before me. Whee!
Judith and my mom came by, and Pat and Lee came back and we all hung out at chatted for a while, took some photos, and it was all very fun. At 10 to 8 the doctor came back again and said I was at 9 cm, with a little bit of cervix left on the left side. The nurse also gave me a catheter at that point, which I had been dreading, but couldn’t feel, and actually was much more comfortable, as I had really had to pee for quite a while, but wasn’t allowed to get out of bed (the effect of the epidural is too make your legs feel like they are asleep, so you can’t really walk).
At 9, Dr Bridges came back again, and said I was at 10 centimeters, with no cervix left. She wanted me to “labor down” for an hour, which basically means let the contractions keep pushing the baby down further, without expending any of my energy on pushing. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to go right away, but the idea of laboring down seemed smart. I was basically in a race at this point with another woman in labor, and my big worry was that we would have to push at the same time, and the doctor wouldn’t be able to be there. Dr. Bridges said she would be back in about an hour, and to call her if I felt like I had to push.
Its going to get a little fuzzier at this point, as I took a hiatus from writing this, and am picking up again in mid-January. I never felt like I HAD to push, so we just waited for Dr. Bridges, who was longer than an hour. I think she came back around 10:30, and said we were ready to go. Yikes! Talk about giddy-nervous-disbelief. She set up a mirror so that I could watch. I wasn’t sure I wanted to, it seemed kind of weird, but I went with it, and it ended up being ok. I pushed for about a half hour before he was born. At one point she had me touch his head, which you could just barely see. It was wrinkly, and you could see a little bit of hair, and it was all very surreal. I think it took 2 or 3 more pushes, before his head came out. Now this was weird too, because she had me stop pushing, and they suctioned out his little nose etc., to make sure he could breathe before the cord was cut. The next push he was all the way out, and they put him on my chest. How unbelievable. I was in total awe and shock. Loren was standing next to me, holding his tiny feet. I don’t remember a few things that happened next. Apparently Loren cut the cord, I got a couple of stitches, and did the whole placenta thing. I was too entranced by the tiny boy on my chest to really be aware of any of that. I do remember that Dr. Bridges asked if we wanted to see the placenta, and I said no, and then, ok why not. It was pretty gross. I don’t remember the order that all this happened in, but here are a few more things that went on: Everyone came in from the waiting room to meet him. He got cleaned up, weighed, measured and foot printed. He got anklets and I got a bracelet so that we were all matched up for security. I got to order food (cheerios and a banana) from the hospital menu, and I tried to feed him.
After all the people were gone, and the baby stuff taken care of, the nurse helped me up (my legs were very wobbly) and to the bathroom, and I think changed my glamorous hospital gown to a cleaner and equally glamorous hospital gown. Then I got loaded into a wheel chair, and we moved rooms to the new baby wing, as opposed to the labor and delivery wing. There was a fold out couch for Loren, and the boy went into a little glass bassinette thing. We got a new nurse, and people kept coming in to check things, so we really didn’t get any sleep. Around 2:30, Maija came to visit. She had fallen asleep next to the phone, and didn’t hear it when Judith called to say the boy had been born. So when she woke up and checked the message she rushed down to see us, which was great. It reminded me of the 2:30 am trip Maija and I took to see Henry in the hospital when he was born. The nurses let her in the room, which was a little surprising, as it was no where near visitor’s hours or anything like that. I think that when she left we eventually did get a little sleep.
On Sunday morning, Dr, Bridges came in to check on us. The boy still hadn’t had a wet diaper, so he couldn’t be circumcised yet, which Dr. Bridges would have done that day otherwise. We did decide on his name that morning as well, Benjamin Adams. Just after we decided on Adams, the clouds cleared and we got a great view of Mt. Rainier from the room. That seemed to confirm that naming him after a mountain was the right thing to do. We had a little parade of visitors all day long: my dad, who had been at a tennis tournament in Oregon the previous night, the other grandparents, all the aunts, uncles and cousins, Maija and Colin and Tess, (who brought Kid Valley! Yay!) Cedric, Aunt Dale and Aunt Nadine, and probably some other people as well. Hillary and Mickey sent a gift basket, which was very sweet. Grandma Pat bought out the husky gear section of the gift shop. Sunday night the pediatrician on call from Dr. Brown’s office came to check him out as well, and pronounced him perfect (duh).
On Monday morning, we had a new nurse, who crazy enough, was Sun Hee, from my half marathon training group! She was awesome. We met with the lactacian specialist as well. By this time we were pretty ready to be done with the hospital. It still took us until the afternoon to get out of there. Driving home was definitely scary. When we got home, my mom had been there, and turned the heat on, and left Bagel Oasis for lunch. Yay! Getting home was a big “now what?” moment. It was hard to believe that they had let us leave the hospital with a baby, since clearly we were vastly under qualified for the whole thing. Yikes! I guess that concludes the whole birth saga. If you made it this far, let me know and I will buy you a latte. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jumping on the blog wagon

So, like everyone else in the world seems to be doing, I have decided to start a blog. A long time ago I read Annie LaMotte's "Operating Instructions", a great and hilarious book, and I thought, oh yes, someday when I have a baby, I will also write down clever and touching observations about it. As is turns out, I am vastly to lazy to keep up a journal (1 partial entry tapped me out), and I thought the ability to type it and add photos might make me more motivated. Its mostly for my own benefit, so I can look back and remember, so if its boring or nonsensical to you, tough luck, read something else. This will be an attempt to memorialize the last 10 months of the first year of my son's life. As I missed the first 2 months due to the aforementioned laziness. Well, I may actually try to recreate some of that as well, since I am doing whatever I want, regardless of order and regular thought processes. It will be a little bit of an exercise in non-linear thinking.

Anyway, Benjamin was born November 10th, and changed life as we know it. Its such an all encompassing change that its hard to know where to start. I'll jump right in to yesterday, at his 2 month doctor's appointment. We went to see the lovely Dr. Brown, who gets to stay his doctor because she always exclaims how beautiful and charming he is. The big highlight of these check ups is to find out how big the bambino has gotten. This time around, he is 11 lbs, 10 oz, so he is right neck and neck with the cat (Bailey , the 12 pounder) in their size contest. I'm not sure how the balance of power will shift when Benito outweighs Bailey, but we'll see soon. (Side note: when we brought Benjamin home from the hospital, the dog slid down one spot in the totem pole to the cat's spot, and the cat was bumped down as well, and now hovers around house plant status. And the house plants are now withering from neglect.) Apparently 11 lbs 10 oz puts him right above the 50th percentile for size. He is 24" long, which is closer to the 70th or 80th percentile. Dr. Brown was not very clear on this point. However she was very impressed with his ability to roll over. (Side note again: He can roll from his tummy to his back, which he did for the first time on Christmas Eve, when Auntie Cookie ( ), the big fancy professional photographer, was taking his pictures. )

The other part of the doctor's appointment, is not so much fun, it is the (scary movie music here) immunizations. The doctor leaves the room for this and makes the nurse do it, and I had to be her accomplice and hold his poor little legs. He gets 2 shots in each leg, and just wailed about it, it was tragically sad. He looked up at me afterwards with these big wet eyes, and gave me the "how could you, I trusted you" face. He is already a master at guilt infliction, clever fellow. He forgave me as soon as I fed him though, he is definitely a boob guy. I guess that will be it for today, now I will attempt to add photos!