February 03, 2017


When we went for Juliette's 4-month well child appointment, the pediatrician gave us a little hand out on introducing solid foods, and mentioned that while the guidelines had previously discouraged solids before 6 months, current practice suggests any time after 4 months is fine as long as the baby shows the proper signs of readiness.

Chris was like THIS IS AWESOME LET'S GIVE HER HUMAN FOOD TONIGHT! but I wanted to slow roll it a little more - she wasn't showing any indications that her current all-milk diet wasn't meeting her wants or needs, so I didn't think we needed to rush it. We compromised with agreeing to try solids for the first time at 5 months. I warned Chris that trying wouldn't necessarily mean SHE was ready - if her tongue thrust reflex hadn't gone away yet, for example, we would have to just wait a few weeks and try again.

Then as luck would have it, my mom and my sister were both in town (and in my house!) for the Women's March, which happened to coincide with Juliette's 5 month birthday... so Solid Food Day was a go.

And holy cow Chris could not have been more right - this baby was apparently DESPERATE to get her hands on real food. We started with sweet potato (just roasted one in the oven, then mashed up with a little breast milk to thin it) and this baby COULD NOT BELIEVE we were letting her eat this magical substance. After the first bite her eyes got huge, she started flailing all extremities in glee, and she made sure that every single morsel from the spoon my sister was using to feed her made it fully in her mouth.

(You may need to click through from a feed reader to see videos)

I... think we do not need to worry about tongue thrust with this one. How did she already know how to use a spoon??

More problematic was the fact that we can't shovel the food into her face fast enough for her.

Next up were bananas, which were met with the same level of delight and gusto:

(Yes, I still had my tree up in late January. I am both lazy and really liked it, which is not a combination that made for a timely removal.)

To be fair, she seems to enjoy literally ANYTHING she gets to put in her mouth, up to and including balloons and cats.

We were starting to think there was nothing we could give her that wouldn't be met with frantic dives toward the spoon for more (I mean, if even cat hair meets that lofty goal....?) - but then we tried avocados. 

The first several bites she mostly seemed... confused. Like, it had been made pretty clear to her at this point that Food Was Amazing, so how come bite after bite of this food was...  not? She kept valiantly trying spoonfuls, apparently giving the avocado the benefit of the doubt that it would start tasting delicious at some point soon... but eventually she had to come to terms with the reality that is avocados.

Sorry kid. Not everything is as magical as prunes (which, thankfully, she can't get enough of... since she followed up this intro to solid foods with an 8 day poop strike. MOAR PRUNES!!)

Considering how much both Chris and I enjoy eating, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Juliette is this thrilled with food - but I am definitely relieved. I know this doesn't necessarily inform her eating habits or preferences as a toddler or anything, but getting to watch her experience each new food right now sure is awesome.

January 26, 2017

Juliette: the birth story

Y'all. This is super long. Read at your own risk.

So! Back when I was still pregnant, the last update I provided was a week out from my due date, when I remained exactly 0cm dilated with what they suspected was a large-ish baby and still an excessive amount of fluid. Turns out not very much changed over the course of that week... or as my due date came and went. I eventually dilated to "maybe 1cm" by a few days after my due date, but stayed stubbornly unprogressed after that, with no indication that my body had any plans to release the baby into the wild any time soon. My doctor decided he couldn't let me go more than 41 weeks with so much fluid kicking around in me, though, so they scheduled an induction for August 19th in case the baby hadn't made an appearance by then.

The baby, of course, did not make anything close to an appearance. I was a giant beached whale of a human by then: it was mid-August, in our disgustingly hot & humid part of the country, I was a week overdue, sore as hell, and still having contractions all the time plus one giant sustained contraction literally any time I was standing up.

I watched a lot of Netflix on the couch that week.

We were instructed to go to the hospital at 9pm the night before, where I would be administered Cervadil. This is basically a very uncomfortable tampon-like device that they jam up into your cervix which contains medication to soften your cervix, if you're one of the lucky ladies whose cervix has not "ripened" on its own and needs medical intervention before it will allow a baby through. For the vast majority of women, the Cervadil just stays in overnight; you don't feel anything (aside from the initial not-super-pleasant insertion, which had me attempting to crab-scuttle my way directly up the wall behind me in what I can only describe as an inadvertent primal fight or flight reflex). Then they pull it out the next morning and start you on pitocin now that your cervix has been brought up to speed. You're encouraged to get a(s) good (a) night's sleep (as possible in a hospital bed) in the meantime since who knows how long labor might last once the pitocin kicks it off? I even initially encouraged Chris to go back home after the Cervadil was administered, since my body was SO far from being ready to let a baby out that it seemed really unlikely that one of the really rare side effects - Cervadil actually kicking off active labor, which happens something like 1-2% of the time - would occur.

I'll give you one guess what happened within 3 hours of getting the Cervadil inserted!

OF COURSE I had the super-rare side effect that practically never happens, because OF COURSE. Luckily, after they jammed the Cervadil in, I told Chris I was maybe kind of sort of having second thoughts about him leaving me all alone in the hospital after all (despite it being my idea in the first place), so he was uncomfortably sprawled on the couch ("couch") next to my bed when, at 1:15am, my contractions had gotten strong enough that I for sure couldn't sleep and started pacing the room to see if that would help make them more manageable.

By 1:30am, I self-evaluated as a 6 on the pain scale... using the hastily modified pain scale in my head that assumed labor was going to be more painful than anything I'd ever experienced. On a pre-labor scale I was probably at an 8. The contractions were coming so quickly that I had no chance to recover between them - as soon as the acute pain of the contraction would start to decrease, super strong pressure would immediately build in my lower pelvis and then ramp up into a new contraction. It was... well, super unpleasant.

The thing is, they had taken the belly monitors off an hour after administering the Cervadil, and then gave me stern warnings that if I put them back on to monitor contractions, I would have to keep them on for the entire rest of labor - so basically, only ask to get the monitors back on if you're SURE something is happening because you're stuck in bed from that point on. And it was only 1:30! Three hours ago they had confirmed that I was still barely 1cm dilated and this baby was pretty much not coming out unless they yanked her out unwillingly... maybe I was just a weakling and these were, like, teensy little baby contractions that were kicking off pre-labor? Maybe they hurt more than I was expecting so I forgot how to tell time and they were actually 10 minutes apart and not two minutes apart, which is what my timing app was clearly telling me? It just didn't seem reasonable that I could be in active labor at this point.

By 2am I gave up though, and asked to be put back on the monitor because I couldn't even stand through the contractions any more, much less walk around. The monitors at least confirmed that I wasn't totally crazy, and my contractions were indeed very strong, and coming every 2 minutes (WTF!). The nurse calmly advised me that if I wanted an epidural any time soon, I should start an IV drip since I'd need to finish a bag before they could even call the anesthesiologist. I was torn - how non-hardy was I, that I was ready for an epidural less than an hour into labor!? On the other hand, GET ME AN EPIDURAL YES PLEASE &^!$^!%@$!&@^%!% OW OW OW OW.

It was around this point that I more or less blacked out from the pain. I don't remember any details of the next two hours, but apparently I spent most of it groaning into Chris's shoulder as the contractions just kept coming, exactly two minutes apart, for TWO HUNDRED YEARS (approx.) until I had finished my IV bag and an anesthesiologist could be located. I got the epidural at 3:45am, and I literally could not tell you if my anesthesiologist was male or female, because I now understood the term "blinded by pain." All I do remember is leaning over so s/he could insert the needle into my spine, and feeling ABSOLUTELY NOTHING because however much it hurts to get a giant needle jammed into your spine is roughly the equivalent of a mosquito bite at that juncture.

By 4am, I was a changed person. I could see! I could use the English language! I could talk! Heck, I could JOKE! EPIDURALS ARE AMAZING EVERYONE IN THE ROOM SHOULD GET ONE YAAAAY I LOVE DRUGS THANK YOU DRUG GOD YOU ARE MY FAVORITE. They suggested I should try to get some sleep now, but while the acute contraction pain was 100% gone (WHAT! HOW! MAGIC! I LOVE YOU DRUGS!) the super intense pressure that built up in my lower pelvis to usher in each contraction was still there, and still happening every 2 minutes like clockwork, so sleep was not exactly in the cards. I actually started to get worried for the baby - like, I know literally every woman who goes into labor has contractions that are specifically designed to push the baby down into the pelvis, but it just felt like I must be CRUSHING her little head against my pelvis. How was this not breaking her??

At 5am I had another cervical check, where I learned I was exactly.... 2cm dilated. Sooo that was kind of a let down. I really am kind of a pansy, it turns out, because I basically blacked out from pain during contractions at only 2cm. I was 90% effaced though, and the contractions were still coming every 2 minutes (I kept getting complimented on how regular they were, as if I had something to do with it) so I was encouraged to sleep again (haha) and they'd check in again later.

By 7:45 I had made it to 5cm and everyone was pleased with my progress - I hadn't been given any pitocin at this point since my contractions certainly didn't need any help, so they were happy to just leave me mostly alone and progress at will. I was on oxygen pretty much full time at this point - the contractions were stressing the baby out just enough that I had to keep an oxygen mask on to keep her calm.

Then, at about 8:45, I felt something... come out.

Now, you may or may not recall that one of the major concerns of polyhydramnios is cord prolapse. This is super super not good and needs to be addressed IMMEDIATELY if it happens - like, with an emergency c-section - because the baby's life is instantly in jeopardy. So when I very distinctly felt something push out of me, and when I reached down (as well as I could around my giant-ass belly) to feel around, and felt.. something... squishy? but firm...? I freaked. the. fuck. out.

I started screaming for Chris to get a nurse because SOMETHING IS COMING OUT OF ME OMG GO GO HELP SOMETHING. IS. COMING. OUT. OMFGGGGGGG

Turns out it was my water breaking. Except! I did not know this: there are actually two amniotic sacs, one inside the other. ONE of mine had broken, and the other one was just sort of hanging around, half in and half out, totally intact and full of fluid. Which is what I had poked when I reached down to investigate.

So, the whole polyhydramnios thing? My OB had warned me several weeks prior that if my water broke, I would not be among the women who weren't sure if that was really what had happened, like perhaps I had just peed a little? - that no, it would be EXTREMELY EVIDENT if it happened. And he was not kidding: only HALF my water broke, and every time a new nurse came in, they did a comical double take at the LAKE OF FLUID surrounding my hospital bed. When the doctor came in to assess the situation and ultimately break the second bag (since it was still there, sticking out of me, super in the way of everything) she warmed everyone to stand back because it was going to be... dramatic.

So! The rest of my bag was broken for me using what seriously looked like a medical-grade crochet hook, and a subsequent cervical check revealed that I was at about 8cm and fully effaced. The contractions had yet to let up the every-two-minute pattern so I was advised to keep on keepin' on at that point.

The crazy intense pressure I'd been feeling (every two minutes) in my lower pelvis ramped WAY down with all that extra fluid out of the way and felt much less like I was slowly crushing my baby's skull into pieces against my pelvic bone, which was nice.

By 11:45am I was fully effaced AND fully dilated, but the baby was still a bit high, so they wanted to let my still incredibly regular and strong contractions do some more work to move her down further before I started pushing. I think my doula had arrived by this point and was helpfully feeding me ice chips and reminding me to keep putting the oxygen mask back on, because by this point Juliette was starting to get a bit agitated, requiring full time oxygen and also only allowing me to be in certain positions (eg, on my left side) or else she'd make alarms go off.

At 1pm, they decided circumstances were favorable, and I should start pushing. The only problem was that I had no idea HOW to push. Everyone had explained to me prior to this point that it was a feeling of "bearing down" (or in plainer speak: pooping) but I couldn't quite figure out how to do the equivalent of pooping but focused on the front side of my pelvis. We'd wait for a contraction to start, then I'd start pushing (maybe?) and then afterwards ask the L&D nurse and my doula, "did I do it? Did that work?" because HOW ON EARTH are you supposed to know what it feels like? Also I couldn't really feel much down in that vicinity anyway (STILL LOVE YOU DRUGS, KISSES) so I couldn't tell if what I was doing was having the desired effect. I mean, a baby didn't pop out within 20 minutes, so was I pushing wrong? Pushing badly? Flexing the wrong parts? Actually pooping? I still have no idea.

By 2pm, pushing had not produced a baby, and for the first time in 12 hours my contractions slowed down, coming only every 5 minutes or so. They decided to give me pitocin because WTF body, this is not the time to take a step back, there is a baby IN YOUR DANG BIRTH CANAL waiting to come out. By 2:30, there was still no baby, although apparently her head was visible to everyone on each push, but she kept slipping back behind my pelvic bone between pushes. After this happened a number of times, the doctor very calmly but firmly told me it was time to try a vacuum assist because the baby needed to come out NOW. And if it didn't work, I would need an emergency c-section.

This is exactly the reason I wanted a doula there. I immediately looked at her, panicked, because vacuum assist? Emergency c-section? Is this what needs to happen now and should I be scared? She squeezed my hand, told me it would be fine and that I could do it. So I nodded at the doctor, and she started gathering the vacuum tools.

The way it actually works it kind of nuts - they literally stick a suction cup up your business and attach it to the baby's skull. It was very good that I had an epidural already.  Then when I pushed, the doctor would pull on the suction cup at the same time. She warned me that if the suction cup popped off, she could only attach it twice more; if it came off a third time, that was when the emergency c-section would come into play. She rammed a hand up my lady bits and attached the cup; we waited for a contraction; I pushed; she pulled. The suction cup popped off.

Take two: attach; contract; push; pull... pop.

Take three, HAHA NO PRESSURE JUST IF THIS DOESN'T WORK YOU GET AN EMERGENCY C-SECTION: attach; contract; push; pull; PUSH PUSH KEEP PUSHING AGAIN AGAIN PUSH PUSH and all of a sudden I understood the pooping analogy because it honestly suddenly felt like the most terrifyingly large and painful poop in the world was stuck halfway out of my body and OW OW GET IT OUT I SWEAR I'M PUSHING AGAIN GET OUT and suddenly we had a baby.

She arrived at 3pm and was 8lb 10oz, 22" inches long, and (I found out later) scored very well on her Apgars. 

She also somehow managed to poop all over me, the bed, my gown, and several pieces of equipment within minutes of her birth. It was kind of impressive.

Day 2

Day 157 (5 months, 4 days)

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.