December 30, 2016

Baby Christmas! Juliette at 4 months

Christmas-ing with a baby did NOT disappoint. 

I've previously stated that every baby hat should be required to include ears, because little babies who look like bears or cats are the unequivocal best, but I may need to amend that statement to allow for baby-sized Santa hats, which clearly are also the best.

Juliette is too little to "get" Christmas, obviously, but she still had a lot of fun with her new presents. The best one was actually a hand me down we've had for quite some time but she was too little to use until now - a jumpy exersaucer we brought out Christmas morning as somewhat of a coincidence. But holy cow we could not have given her a better present - she is IN LOVE with this thing. She already wants to be standing at all times, and this gives her the autonomy to do so and ALSO jump around, and turn in any direction she pleases - she is in heaven.

She's in a really fantastic phase right now where she is learning things so quickly you can actually SEE her figure them out. It's so fun. Her current favorite thing to do is blow raspberries - my parents got her started on it when they were down for Thanksgiving, and she has been devotedly practicing ever since. It's often the first thing she does upon waking up (after a big good morning smile) and I've heard her practicing them alone in the dark, in her crib. All that practice is paying off:


She's currently EBF, but we got the OK from the pediatrician to start her on solids if we want. I'll probably wait until ~5 months since she seems fine with the current set up, but she has started grabbing for anything we're putting in our mouths:

Caviar and beer... girlfriend has good taste ;-)

Of course, she wants to put EVERYTHING in her mouth, so I'm not sure how much credence we can give to her apparent interest in human food.

She is a nearly universally happy, cheerful baby (especially now that she SLEEPS! I know it's not for everyone but holy crap I want to marry Dr. Ferber.. more on that in another post, hopefully) - she's impressively laid back and easygoing. She doesn't mind being held by complete strangers, she rolls with the punches when her routine is changed, and overall she is just a really pleasant little person.

December 13, 2016

Babies: excellent for Christmasing

I've read and heard from a lot of folks that they're having trouble getting into the holiday spirit this year. This is VERY UNDERSTANDABLE because everything is basically a giant raging dumpster fire right now, so I can see how getting all festive and cheery is not quite in the cards. 

However, the combination of having a cute baby and a Real House to decorate for the first time has had the opposite effect on me, and I am all DECORATE ALL THE THINGS! TWINKLE LIGHTS EVERYWHERE! FESTIVE HATS ON CATS, STAT!

 The cats are clearly super into it, as usual.

One of the most exciting things about having a real grownup house is going Full Suburban and decorating the exterior for holidays. Back in October, we wrapped that ubiquitous gauzy spiderweb stuff on our trees and bushes for Halloween, and put a skeleton out under a gravestone that flashed "RIP" in the dark. And now that it's Christmas, we have lights!

Granted, these are not a lot of lights. We have a few years before we make it to Griswold territory, I think. Year One is for dipping our feet into the Christmas light waters. 

Indoors I've gone far more overboard. I've always enjoyed decorating my apartment or condo in previous years, but this year I had way more real estate to work with. First order of business: get a full sized tree!  

This is also my first foray into the world of fake trees, but so far I'm a fan. For one thing, the cats don't constantly eat it and puke it up, which in and of itself is enough reason to go fake for the rest of eternity. 

A wee strand of ornaments on our living room lamp. Above it is one of my favorite prints in the house: a painting we got while on our honeymoon in Italy, directly from the artist, who had set up shop at the top of the town of San Gimignano and was painting the surrounding landscapes out in the open air, with his dog by his side. 

And look! We now have a very legit mantle! We technically had one in our condo, but the TV was mounted just a few inches above it, so it was not good for decorating. Not the case here. ALL THE GARLANDS AND TWINKLY LIGHTS!! 

I just realized I didn't even take a picture of my dining room tablescape (ha. "tablescape." It's a grouping of candles. But a FESTIVE grouping of candles!) or the piano, which has a small army of nutcrackers keeping watch. You can just barely get a glimpse of the one full sized guy and one of the mini ones behind us here. (Also: say hi to my sister and brother in law!)

But of course, the MOST FUN thing to decorate is obviously the cute baby I have at my disposal. 

My mother in law apparently feels the same way, seeing as I received the following picture while at work last week (and subsequently straight up died in the middle of a meeting. This picture still cracks me up every time I look at it. I'm not sure why! Chris doesn't find it as hilarious as I do... I think it's her extremely put-upon expression):

To cap off the New Parent Cliché Bucket List, we took Juliette to visit Santa last weekend. I regret nothing.

 I think she looks like Grumpy Cat in this one. I love it one million.

(This was not at a mall, incidentally, since I become nearly instantly homicidal when inside a mall at this time of year. We have one of those sort of fake-city-center type outdoor shopping centers near us, and a) it's awesome and b) they have "selfies with Santa," where Santa is just sort of hanging out in front of a backdrop, and you come by at your leisure and take your own photos with your own gear. It's FANTASTIC - no lines, no build up, no pressure.

Although Juliette did take the opportunity to spit up all over her dress [and me] literally seconds before I passed her off to Santa. Better than AFTER Santa was holding her, at least!)

We did also get one of her smiling, because she really is a very happy baby:

To sum up: if you require some holiday cheer, I recommend coming to spend some time with me.

December 01, 2016

Baby! I had one! Here she is!

Y'all! We made a human!

Please meet Juliette, who came into this world a very expressive baby. 

She was 8lbs 10oz and 22" long upon arrival. And unfortunately for me, with a head in the 97th percentile for size. The better to house her giant brain, obviously!

I'm a teeeeensy bit late on this birth announcement, as she is currently almost 15 weeks old. But this week also marks my first week back at work, which means I'm finally in front of a computer regularly again, which means blogging! I couldn't deal with blogging from my phone for some reason, despite having the thing glued to my hand for the entirety of my maternity leave.

I have lotttttssss to share, including her probably-only-interesting-to-me-but-too-bad-it's-going-on-here birth story, and you know.. catching up on the first 3.5 months of her life.

For now I leave you with these more current photos of our little squish, who is the squishiest squish to ever squish.

August 05, 2016

So, a doula, huh?

(Quick update after this week's appointments: I am still exactly 0cm dilated, to my ob's surprise and bafflement, especially considering the sizing scan at the antenatal specialist Wednesday morning put baby girl at 8lb 5oz.

Me, to sono tech: Wait, 8lb 5oz RIGHT NOW??!!
Sono tech: Yep.
Sono tech, sympathetically: The meds they can give you are REALLY strong these days.

Fluid went down a teensy bit, putting me now at the very upper limit of "normal," which I'll happily take. Everyone - from my ob, to the sono tech, to the antenatal doctor - commented on my "cervix of steel" - having an 8+ lb baby consistently head down on the lady bits plus weeks and weeks of extra fluid should really have resulted in something going on down there. It's the whole reason I was at risk for pre-term labor in the first place! But all concerns turn out to have been moot, because cervix o' steel will not open up even the slightest wee bit to allow a baby out, apparently. COOL.)

I realize I just sort of casually tossed into a few posts that I was working with a doula, and since a few people in my Offline Life have asked why I chose to have one and how I chose this one in particular, (which were questions I had myself before picking one!) I figured it might be useful to share why I ended up with one, personally.

I've read and heard a lot of stories about women - first time moms, especially - who felt that their labor & delivery sort of got away from them, in one sense or another: they were pressured into a drug or a procedure (or even just a position, like staying in bed) because they simply didn't know they had other options, or that they were allowed to push back on the doctors and nurses. And I mean, why would you? I certainly will not be the most experienced person in the room when I'm trying to push a baby out, so why wouldn't I assume that the people who ARE the experts know what they're talking about when they tell me I need to start pitocin immediately, or whatever any particular directive may be? I don't know what I don't know, and I certainly don't know what my options are at any given time (and how reasonable those options even are, given how progressed I am or what complications might be present).

Basically, I am not confident that I can be my own best advocate in that situation. The thought of having someone else there who can be an advocate for me - who is also extremely knowledgeable about labor and birth - is extremely appealing. Because while Chris will of course be there, and extremely willing to advocate for me, it's not like he knows any more about this process than I do.

I want to make sure things are explained to me as they happen. I want to make sure I'm given all of my options, not just the one that a particular doctor or nurse prefers at the moment. I want to have someone supporting my labor, in addition to the excellent doctors and nurses who are working hard to get my baby out as efficiently and safely as possible. And if that person can also help physically coach me through labor? Even better!

(As one friend put it: you can always go to the gym by yourself and work out, and everything will be fine and you'll get exercise. But if you go to the gym and work out with a trainer, you will get a WAY better workout, learn a lot more, be confident you have the correct form, etc. I want a trainer!)

So once I decided on a doula, I was pretty lost on how to actually... get one. As per usual, google was my solution. I googled doulas in the area, read some reviews when I could find them, got some basic pricing info when available to get a sense of how much this would cost (incidentally: A LOT) and then reached out to two different practices to set up an intro call. The intro calls were all pretty similar, so I moved forward with one based pretty solely on feeling slightly more comfortable / friendly with her after chatting and after confirming that they offered a program that I thought would meet my needs.

The practice I went with actually assigns two doulas to each woman, so that you don't end up with a backup doula you aren't familiar with if two women go into labor at the same time, or whatever. They  came by for an intro visit at the beginning of the process, then more recently for a few hours after work to talk through what to expect when I go into labor, how to recognize the various stages, how Chris can help, when to call them, etc. We also talked about my birth plan (such as it is) so they know my preferences and can help push for them, if possible, at the hospital.

Ultimately, it's probably just a way to help me feel a tiny bit of control in a situation where I have verrrryyy little, but I'm ok with that.

August 01, 2016

Exit planning

OK! Enough wallowing and complaining! Let's talk about getting this fiesty little gal out.

(The wrap is very definitely helping, incidentally, which is hugely contributing to my ability to actually stop complaining about my abs for 30 seconds. We're down to "sharp pointy stick" pain instead of "hot searing poker ripping through muscles" so that's a pretty good downgrade. Yay hippie fixes!)

Last week at my ob/gyn appointment, right around 37w2d, my doctor had a frank discussion about Getting The Kid Out. With polyhydramnios, there are some potential complications to take into consideration, especially if my water were to break on its own. It appears that with so much fluid up in there, if it were to all rush out in one big gush, it could essentially sort of sweep out more than one would like - for example, accidentally detaching the placenta in the process, or what my doctor was more specifically worried about, umbilical cord prolapse. This is when part of the umbilical cord slips out - like, literally, is hanging down outside your body - which is Extremely No Bueno. Since it's the one and only lifeline to the baby while kiddo is still inside the body, once a loop of it pops out and is subsequently pinched by the cervix (especially during, say, contractions) it cuts off all oxygen to the baby. This is Incredibly Super Serious and requires an immediate emergency c-section - and you can imagine, if this happens at, say, work or home and not while already in a hospital, there is often not enough time to call 911, have the ambulance arrive, get to the hospital, and THEN have the surgery.

(WARNING: THIS PARAGRAPH IS KIND OF GRAPHIC YOU MAY WANT TO SKIP IT. I did some potentially ill-advised googling on cord prolapse once I got home, to see exactly what I was dealing with and also because knowledge and information are good for me in situations like this, and.. yikes. The [very few] stories I found of babies surviving cord prolapse in a non-hospital environment all had one thing in common: a) the mom had to realize both what was going on and the severity of the situation immediately [a vote of confidence in googling info!] and b) had to have another party literally shove the umbilical cord back into her uterus and HOLD IT THERE, MANUALLY, until they got to the hospital and could have surgery. I mean quite literally have someone with a hand INSIDE HER UTERUS holding the cord in there. So. Good to know. I let Chris know his job in this eventuality; he's thrilled excited ...aware.)

So spontaneous water breaking: not what we want! On the other hand, I am laughably un-dilated at the moment. Despite having Braxton-Hicks contractions regularly since 24 weeks, as well as an irritable uterus that responds with a sustained contraction any time I'm standing or walking, and regular bouts of every-five-minutes-for-at-least-an-hour contractions even while lying down.... none of the contractions are "productive" in the sense that they're having any effect on the ol' lady bits. Meaning I am not a "favorable" candidate for induction at the moment: if they were to induce me, my doctor's opinion is that it would be slow, grueling, painful, and still likely result in a c-section because my cervix is just not interested in letting a baby out right now.

This left him very torn as to what his plan was for me. Ideally I should have this baby before 40 weeks, because apparently the poly risks continue to go up as I go overdue; if they try to force the baby to come out early she will probably not cooperate without a c-section. The ABSOLUTE best case scenario would be for me to go into labor on my own sometime in the next 2ish weeks (not caused by my water breaking) although I am not holding out a lot of hope for that: both my sister and I were prettttty overdue as babies, and I don't know a lot of other first time moms who went early. Also I have the least cooperative possible kid in there. So his official plan was to not make an official plan yet, and to wait and see how I looked at my next weekly appointment, which - yay! - is today.

In the meantime, I did get an excellent piece of news at my weekly antenatal appointment late last week (I'm still going in 1x/week - separately from my weekly ob/gyn visit - for an NST and a sono to measure fluid levels): my fluid went DOWN significantly for the first time since they started monitoring it, so I'm now *barely* considered to be poly! I'm hoping this means the prolapse risks are also significantly down, and that it will also put my ob/gyn more at ease in allowing me to go over 40 weeks. I mean, talk to me once I AM over 40 weeks and I suspect I may be singing a different tune (one that sounds a lot more like GET BABY OUT NOW I DON'T CARE HOW SHE NEEDS TO BE EVICTED) buuuut over here on the non-overdue side of 40 weeks, in theory I would like to let things happen as naturally as possible and have my body go into labor naturally rather than via induction. (Everyone who has ever gone over 40 weeks, please feel free to laugh uproariously at me.)

So! The hope is still that I go into labor myself in the next just-under-two-weeks, but if not, going over 40 weeks may now be a more viable option. Or maybe I'll find out I'm dilated at my appointment today (HAHAHA yeah probably not). No matter what, I don't expect Contrary Baby to choose an easy exit - she's been having too much fun causing us stress for the entire pregnancy; I don't envision her birth going a different route :)

July 26, 2016

37 weeks and counting.. and only mostly broken

Before I got pregnant, I always joked that I was prettttty sure I was going to be terrible at pregnancy. Like, my body sucks at... well... most things. Life. Not breaking any time I play sports. Not burning to a crisp if there is sun shining somewhere on Earth at any given time. You know.

So I have honestly been pretty impressed with and proud of how my body has handled things. I'm growing a PERSON! And aside from the early OHSS situation, it isn't killing me! And sure, I've had a lot of abnormal test results and lots of scares and conditions that only 1% of people get, but they've all actually turned out OK and I made it to 37 weeks a few days ago, which means my doctors no longer consider me pre-term and WE DID IT, BODY, we sustained a baby for 37 weeks and it didn't kill us!

I am officially rescinding that statement. My body is, in fact, the worst.

To be fair, I suspect this is not an uncommon sentiment for 37-week-pregnant women. This is not a particularly... comfortable time in one's life. I have 30 extra pounds dragging on my joints all day every day. I've got a large kid AND way too much fluid in there. It's currently 100 degrees outside with a heat index of 112. I'm not supposed to feel awesome.

There's a difference, though, between "not awesome" and "jesus christ, body, can we just fucking handle this like everyone else for once!?" - which is where I am at the moment. Because apparently my stupid body can't just get sore and achy like normal pregnant women. No, for me, the abs under my ribs on the right side of my body? feel like they are being ripped in half, at virtually all times.

This is not normal pregnancy aches and pains. I HAVE normal pregnancy aches and pains, plenty of them. Trust me. This feels like a hot poker being stabbed through my skin into my organs. Repeatedly. The area is inflamed and tender to the touch on the outside of my body. If I engage that muscle - say, to try and turn over in bed - the pain shoots to acute levels that make me involuntarily cry out in pain. This is not heartburn or round ligament pain, which after much googling, is what virtually every woman who has experienced this symptom was told by their ob/gyn - or had it shrugged off as just one of those pregnancy pains we all need to go through, sorry! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(I got the exact same reaction from my ob/gyn office, who typically is really great at listening to my individual concerns. But I get the impression that once you arrive at a certain point in pregnancy, they're so used to hearing women say they hurt that they dismiss everything at this stage as normal.)

I was worried about more than just the current pain, though: how the ^@#% was I supposed to push a baby out with abs that were already so damaged that I couldn't roll over in bed?? So I turned to my doula, who thank the tiny baby jesus, believed that this was a real thing above and beyond normal discomfort. And who confirmed that it actually IS possible to pull / strain the upper abs, especially as the ligaments that normally hold everything in place continue to loosen in preparation for getting the baby out. (She also confirmed that this is something I want to get resolved before I go into labor, because yes it will suck enormous ass to try to deal with labor with pulled abs. Cool!)

And, luckily, she had a suggestion on how to get resolution: a bengkung belly wrap. This was actually something she had preemptively suggested for my post-partum recovery (which is the much more common use) since she noticed I had diastasis recti, or separated abs. But the wrap can also be used much like a more traditional belly band - although for me, less as a way to relieve pain in the lower back, and more to provide a kind of corset on the bottom of my belly to keep it propped up without as much pull and strain at the top of my stomach.

It's also really hard to get a picture of that front knotted part because it's way down under my belly.

..but hopefully you get the idea.

So, how's it working? Decently, I think. I wasn't sure it was doing too much at first, but then I didn't wear it all day Sunday and OH MY GOD THE PAIN by the end of the day. SO MUCH PAIN. So I definitely know it's at least stopping the situation from getting WORSE, which is good. I still have fairly constant pain, but it's more of a burning than an acute tearing feeling - like, as if I did indeed get stabbed by a hot poker, and it hasn't healed yet.. as opposed to the poker continuing to stab me repeatedly. Yay?

I'm still pretty worried about how this will work for the whole labor situation. Will it make labor even more unbearable than normal? Will labor pain totally overpower this, but when I finish birthin' the kid, learn that I have done serious / irreparable damage to the area? WHO KNOWS! Hopefully I can just get the region back to a slightly less inflamed / on fire place before I need to find out. Hashtag magical time.

July 08, 2016

The saga of the crib mattress

Back in early June, I was preparing our house for our baby shower / housewarming, and I was figured it was high time to start getting the nursery put together so that we could pretend like we were somewhat prepared for a baby. Chris's cousins had generously bought us a crib from our registry, and we had a dresser and nightstand from IKEA, so that seemed like a good start. We put all the furniture together, and I ordered a crib mattress, liner, and sheets off of Amazon so that we could have the crib looking fully assembled and ready to go.

Everything arrived within a day (thanks, Amazon Prime!) ... except the mattress itself. Which continued to not arrive every day leading up to the party, then eventually was given a revised arrival date of the Monday after the party. So you know, not particularly helpful, and hard to make the nursery look cute and ready for a baby without a mattress in the crib, but whatever - many many weeks until I'd actually need a crib anyway, so meh.

Except then the mattress *continued* to never show up. Like for another week. So eventually I called UPS, since I had a tracking number for the package, to ask what's up.
UPS: Ah - we never actually received that package at all.  
Me: But there's a tracking number! 
UPS: Yeah - they assigned one at the Amazon warehouse, but then never actually provided the package to us for delivery. You'll need to call Amazon, unfortunately. 
So I called Amazon next, and repeated what UPS had told me.
Amazon: Oh man, this package is really late, I'm so sorry. Well, it looks like it's been misplaced in the warehouse, and there's not much we can do about that really. I'll give you a refund for this one and your best bet is probably to just order a new one.  
Me: But.. it's in your warehouse? Can't we just... ask the warehouse to give it to UPS? 
Amazon: Unfortunately I have no way to contact the warehouse directly, and if it hasn't gone out to UPS after all this time, it means the warehouse has lost track of it too. I'm really sorry. ...Refund?  
Me: Yeah OK fine. 
So they process the refund; I waited like a week just to see if the warehouse would magically get their shit together and send the mattress... but nope. So I went back to Amazon and ordered the same crib mattress again. It was scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday.

It did not show up on Tuesday. Or Wednesday. And the order status on Amazon changed to the same vague "on the way!" status that it gave me last time, while keeping the expected delivery date of July 5.

On Thursday I called Amazon again and asked for the UPS number so I could track the package, since that information also never showed up in my order for some reason. I looked up the number on the UPS website and was relieved to see that this time it had indeed left the warehouse, had arrived in MD on July 4th, and then was scanned in at the regional shipping center in VA early on the 5th. The status was "in transit" and the delivery date was that same day.. although oddly the status was NOT "out for delivery." I figured it would be there when I got home yesterday.

It was not.

So today, Friday, I called UPS to ask what the deal was: why had it been 10 minutes away in Chantilly since 8am Tuesday morning but never delivered?
UPS: Hmm. It looks like it's lost in our warehouse.  
UPS: Yes, sorry. And since this is an Amazon shipment, you'll need to contact them to start the investigation process. 
Me: Why would Amazon be able to do anything about it if it's lost in YOUR warehouse? 
UPS: That's just how the process works - they'll start the investigation and will probably refund you your money.  
Me: I can't just like.. come to Chantilly and get it? 
UPS: Well, no, we probably don't actually know where it is. Or the label may have fallen off or something.  
Me: ......... 
UPS: Sorry. I would call Amazon.  
Me: FINE. OK. 
Soooo I did. And Amazon has once again kindly refunded me the money for the mattress.
Amazon: Is there anything else I can help you with?  
Me: Not unless you have any suggestions on how to ACTUALLY GET THIS MATTRESS TO MY HOUSE at some point!?
(I didn't actually say that. Amazon customer support has been super polite every time and getting the refunds has been quick and painless.)

So I mean, I get that having a crib ready to go is not, like, the highest priority right now: I don't even have a baby to put in it yet, and even once she's born it's not like she'll need the crib for the first several weeks anyway. HOWEVER. It would be nice to be able to actually get her nursery looking presentable and ready, and also WHY CAN'T THEY JUST DELIVER ME THE DAMN MATTRESS I HAVE ORDERED TWICE NOW I DON'T UNDERSTAND. I can't get over that two different mattresses have now been lost by two different parties in two different warehouses. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN. They are not small packages. I AM VERY SHOUTY ABOUT THIS.

Annnyway. I'm already grumpy today because my contractions have ramped up to Very Annoying Level, in that as of about a week ago I have a sustained contraction for the entire time that I am standing up, literally any time that I am standing up. And as of last night, the newest development is additional stabby little contractions that woke me up repeatedly throughout the night, so I am feeling far from rested. The contractions continue to do nothing: I had another cervical check this morning and I'm still locked up tight. So I'm sore from contracting all the time, tired from contracting all night, annoyed that my body feels the need to contract this much if the contractions are not even DOING anything, and grumpy about the fact that there is a nationwide warehouse conspiracy preventing me from getting a crib mattress.

35 weeks and cranky.
But, um, other than that everything is fine. Baby girl continues to look good, I'm actually fine (just grumpy) and we're all in good health blah blah blah WHATEVER GIVE ME MORE DONUTS.