Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chloë's first Christmas

We spent Chloë's first Christmas in Seattle with my parents. She turns out to be an excellent traveler. She had no problems with her ears, even on the flights back when she had a cold (which is better than I did); she loved walking through the airport, riding in the carrier and watching the lights and the people; she was able to sleep most of the way out and part of the way back. We connected through Dallas on the way out, and through Chicago on the way back, and got caught in the Chicago traffic jam--we left Seattle three hours late and arrived to a canceled flight, couldn’t get on standby or another flight until the next day, and ended up spending the night in a hotel without our luggage. Except for kicking off her socks in protest when we tried to get her to sleep (at nearly midnight, Central time) in the hotel crib, she even adapted well to that.

She had a great week with her grandparents. I hardly saw her at all except to feed her and put her to bed, but she was happy to introduce them to her ways and accept their adoration. She was introduced to aunts, uncles, cousins, great-aunts, great-uncles, and carrots, and loved them all. She got so much stuff Mom and Dad are having to ship most of it back to us (plus Aunt Kris packed her present in a mailer box, which was pretty awesome). A year ago we had no baby stuff. Now we've got more baby stuff than almost anything else. There are teethers, balls, rattles dolls, toys that sing, squishy books for the bathtub, soft books for chewing, hard books for reading.

We had Snyder family Christmas the day we got back, and except for sleeping through most of it (due to having gotten only about six hours' sleep that night and another couple on the plane and in the car, which wasn’t nearly enough) she did well there, too. She certainly got plenty of loot, including an exersaucer, which is good because she's almost outgrown her swing.

Yesterday we finally had our nuclear-family Christmas. Her gifts from us were a stuffed dog which she opened herself (with help), a pendant with her birthstone, and a Christmas ornament. She got four other ornaments so this last wasn't exactly necessary, but it was important to me--my parents gave my brother and me an ornament every year to help out with our trees when we moved out, and I want to do the same for my children.

So Christmas number one was a success. Now we've got to teach her certain pieces of etiquette, such as thank-you letters, but her penmanship isn't the best so those probably won't go out very promptly.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Careful what you wish for

We lay in bed the other morning, Chloe gnawing on my cheek (everything goes into the mouth nowadays). "Are you giving me a kiss?" I asked her, and pulled her off, making a sucking noise. She looked delighted. "I'll give you a kiss!" I said, and planted a loud one on her cheek.

She looked even more delighted, and went back to sucking on my cheek. "Everything goes in the mouth," Eric remarked.

"I wonder why my cheek," I said. "Instead of something pointier, like my chin or my nose."

She pulled off and lunged for my chin.

We're headed for Seattle this afternoon. It'll be Chloe's first plane flight, and I'm hoping she takes after her mom and not her dad when it comes to flying. She'll be wearing her "Going to Grandma's" onesie (at least until she spits up on it) and her Santa hat, ready to charm the Shafer side of her family as she's charmed the Snyder side. Watch out, Shafers. The overlord is coming to conquer you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chloë's birth story, part 2

One of Chloë's loyal minions pointed out a couple weeks ago that I never actually posted the rest of the birth story. Apparently I completely forgot about it. I meant to post. Maybe I just wanted to forget. Anyway, here's part two. If you recall, Eric and I had arrived at the hospital at around ten after my water broke, had been checked in, and had tried to settle down for a nap before the action started...

...At around two AM, having gotten about forty minutes' sleep, I woke up to see Sandy (the midwife) and Stephanie (the nurse) standing there. "You need to get this labor going or we're going to have to start you on Pitocin," Sandy said.

She left, and we pointed out to Stephanie that I wanted to walk to get the labor going, but couldn't while hooked up to the monitors. "Well..." she said. "I know we have a portable monitor that you can wear, but I'm not sure I can give it to you..." She hemmed and hawed and finally decided, "Let me see how far along you are. I'm sure the midwife won't mind."

So she examined me, which was very wet and uncomfortable ("the amniotic fluid keeps on being made," she explained, "so it's just going to keep on leaking"), and pronounced me one to two centimeters dilated. Based on this, she gave me the portable monitor and let me walk.

So we walked. Up the hallway to the big window, down the hallway past the nurses' station to the little kitchenette. Up, down, up, down. For hours. I looked at the security monitor each time we passed, knowing it wouldn't show me anything interesting, but unable not to look anyway. I pointed at the scale in a little alcove and said "Ha!" because at my last checkup I'd been 199.5 lbs and had been depressed about going over 200, but now I wouldn't be weighed until after the baby was born. Eric calculated how much we had walked. We talked. For hours.

At first the contractions were barely noticeable. Then they were noticeable but not bothersome, so I'd tell Eric when one started and when one stopped, and he'd time it. I was averaging about one every five or six minutes, I think, when they started hurting enough that I would stop walking each time one began. Sandy said later, "That was the first time I saw you without a smile. So I knew that this was serious."

A little after six AM, a new nurse caught us and introduced herself as Shannon, saying she would be Stephanie's replacement. Not long after, it was time for my next dose of antibiotics. (I'd tested Group B Strep positive, which meant that while I was asymptomatic the baby might catch it, which could be serious, so I got a hep lock for antibiotics every four hours.) Sandy met us there. She looked at the readouts and was pleased at my progress. I sat in a little rocking chair that squeaked, rocking each time a contraction started. The conversation occurred in fits and starts around the contractions. "I'm unhappy that the nurse examined you, because since your water broke we don't want to look down there too often, because of the chance of introducing infection," she said. "But I think we can do without the Pitocin if you keep on progressing like this. Amy will be taking over for me soon, and I'm not going to examine you because she'll want to, but you're looking good."

Things were hurting enough and the contractions were close enough together at this point that I decided walking was over and we'd stay in the room. I was allowed to stay off the monitor and off the bed; they just needed to check the heartbeat and my temperature every half hour, and come back every four for my antibiotics. Shannon offered a birthing ball, a beanbag chair, the Jacuzzi, and I accepted the birthing ball. It's a big bouncy ball, and you sit on it, rocking or bouncing, whatever feels right. That worked for a while. Things got a little worse. I asked Eric to press on my lower back whenever a contraction started, and that worked for a while. Then I told Eric and Shannon, "I want something to pull on," so Eric knotted a blanket around the rail of the bed and I pulled on that. I tried getting on my hands and knees. I tried the ball again.

"I think I'd like to try the Jacuzzi," I said eventually.

"I'm already getting it filled up," Shannon said.

Amy came in to see me when she came on shift. I was about four centimeters dilated, she said, and I was disappointed, but glad that the threat of Pitocin hadn't intensified. "Where are you feeling the contractions?" she said, and I indicated two lines in front of my pelvis, like a V. "In the back or the front?" she said, and I said, "In the front."

I also wanted to know if the Jacuzzi was okay since my water had broken. "It should be fine," she said. "I'm a big fan of water births. We can't do that here, but you can be in the Jacuzzi while you're laboring."

The hot water felt wonderful, but it didn't actually help the pain. I tried a few positions there and then gave up. I also gave up my hospital gown at this point; I was hot and uncomfortable and didn't care what anyone could see, and it just got in the way when they put the monitor on and the IV in.

Sometime in here, Shannon came in with another woman, whose name I have forgotten but will call Martha. "Martha's a tech," she said (without explaining what a tech actually is, on the maternity ward), "and wanted to know if she could observe your labor. She's never seen anyone actually try to go natural before. Usually everyone just gets epidurals." I said of course. Later I wondered uneasily about all those women with epidurals and how good the soundproofing was, because the pain kept on growing, and I started making noises, groaning as they'd suggested in childbirth class, then something halfway between crying and screaming. It was mid-morning, and I was tired and hurting and growing less willing to change positions, but Shannon and Eric kept after me to do so. Eric was fantastic. He never left me, never stopped encouraging me, and managed to be supportive and helpful without sounding like he was repeating what he'd been told in childbirth class or like he wanted to be anywhere but in this hospital room on no sleep and little food.

"You're handling this so well," he said.

"Is it okay if I stop being able to?" I said, because the pain was continuing to get worse, and the contractions longer and closer, and while I'd been able to tolerate them I knew I was getting to the point where I was no longer going to be able to do so.

"Yes," he said, and so I didn't feel so bad about wanting to cry in the middle of the contractions.

Sometime in there breakfast came, and I used the bathroom and tried standing for a few contractions, pulling down on Eric's shoulders. Amy came and went. I got more antibiotics. I was on my hands and knees on the bed when Amy asked if I wanted to be examined again, and I hesitated because I felt if I wasn't very far along I was going to be too disappointed to keep going (as if I'd be able to just stop). Another contraction hit, and Amy said helpfully, "I can examine you in the position you're in."

"Okay," I croaked, and she did so, but I didn't hear what the result was because another contraction came. I decided that if I was only at six or seven centimeters I was going to start asking about drugs--I still wasn't interested in an epidural, but Nubain was starting to sound good.

"Did you hear?" Eric said, and when I shook my head, "You're at eight to nine centimeters! You're almost there!"

Eight to nine, I thought. I'm almost there. Then it won't be much longer and I won't need medication. That was at around noon.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Maybe you should have asked for coal...

Evil Santa is here to steal your presents...










But thankfully the good Santa is here too. (Thank you Santa Tom!)

More pictures posted on Eric's Facebook.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bringing the R.I.N.D.S. backup system online

Chloe has graduated Rice Academy and moved on to Oat High. Last weekend she suddenly seemed to understand how to eat; she swallowed the food, then gulped it greedily and reached for the spoon. We gave her another couple of days with rice cereal, and now she's on oatmeal. We figure once she's past the oatmeal gauntlet, it's time to start vegetables and fruits.

This is good, because I went to daycare at lunch today (as I usually do) and Miss Mindy told me that Chloe had already had two bottles. "I’m really sorry," she said. "But she was screaming and screaming. And after her first one she was already screaming, like she hadn't had enough. She cried herself to sleep."

"She's a growing girl. Maybe four ounces isn't enough," said Miss Linda, who was nearby.

"She's at four and a half," I replied, because it's annoyed me that they always write "4 oz" on the daily sheet, even when they tell me she drained her bottle, or that she left an ounce.

"Have you considered cereal?" she suggested. "Just a spoonful twice a day?"

"We're already doing that," I said, then realized she meant in the bottles. We've been told not to do this, and now that she's working on cereal by the spoonful it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Also I don't know why adding cereal would be better than just adding more milk. Also I resent the implication that we've been starving her for weeks. She's been at daycare having these same bottles for the past few weeks and done just fine with them. And yes, she's a growing girl (16 pounds 4 ounces and 25 inches as of Monday's checkup), so eventually she'd outgrow this size, but we don't feed her bottles at home so how would we know today was the day to move her up?

(Actually, I guess I can excuse that. They're not used to having a breastfed baby; their other two get formula, and one gets a bottle as thick with cereal as they can make it per his mother's request. It probably doesn't occur to them that I wouldn't know how big a bottle she needs day by day.)

So she'll start getting five ounces, and starting next week we should be able to send along some jars of baby food in case the bottles aren't enough. Getting her on solids was already making me excited, and now I'm doubly pleased. Moving up to five ounces means the R.I.N.D.S. need to go back into training--I've been keeping up with her daily daycare feedings by pumping, but just barely, and we've been using the occasional bottle from the frozen stash. I had stopped pumping after every feeding at home, which has been lovely, but it looks like the break is over until production has increased. (The beatings shall continue until morale improves.) So having solids as a second food supply will be a good thing.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Status report: Month 4

Chloe turned four months on Monday. I apologize for the lateness of this update; I've been sick, she's been sick, it was Thanksgiving, and so on. That's been pretty much the word this entire month, actually: I've been sick, she's been sick, and so on. Her first cold was quickly followed by a second, accompanied by a fever and some horrible choking noises that had us calling the doctor just in case. She's been coughing and snorfling ever since. So have I--only I've been a lot more bothered by it than she seems to be. Maybe when you can't blow your own nose you just accept that your breathing is going to sound loud and rumbly.

The big things this month have been sucking, vocalizing, and rolling. Well, that last one maybe not so much, since she did it once and then never again, despite our continual encouragement and occasional nagging. "You don't like being on your tummy? Well, you know how you could get back onto your back? ROLLING."


Everything goes in her mouth now, a change from last month. Her fingers are most often in there, but other things will do--our fingers, our knuckles, Tigger's tail, Ugly Bear's paw, the burp rag (which is especially convenient). She's not teething yet--we think--but I'm planning on pulling out the teething rings anyway because the soft toys are all matted and gross from her saliva. (However, she continues not to take a pacifier well, or long, though she does better than she did. I've decided I don't really care if she never really takes to them.) My hair often gets dried into stiff locks because she grabs it and stuffs it in her mouth. So does anything else within reach that isn't nailed down.

Food is also going into her mouth, in small quantities--rice cereal with milk mixed in. So far she's bewildered and slightly indignant that we keep trying to put this stuff in her mouth, but she may have swallowed a tiny amount accidentally. We're going to keep it up a while, once a day, and see how it goes. I'd hoped to give her a little yam to try on Thanksgiving, but she just wasn't far enough along and we forgot to have a small piece saved out anyway. I did dab a tiny bit of cranberry sauce on my finger before letting her suck it, but I'm not sure it was enough for her to have noticed. Today we tried giving it to her between R.I.N.D.S. units, and she seemed to understand that hey, this stuff is also food. We'll see if the lesson sticks.


We're both scheduling haircuts because it's at risk of a good yank if it gets anywhere close. (Well, that's why I'm doing it. Eric's got some idea that he has to look professional at work.) The grabbing ante has definitely been upped in the past few weeks; she's more interested in it and better at doing it. Board books, not paper books, are definitely the way to go for a while now.

Her bedtime is now where we want it, between about eight-thirty and nine-thirty depending on when her last feeding is. Her napping is not where we want it--it happens only if she naturally falls asleep, usually in the swing, which she's rapidly outgrowing, and not very often--but now that she's sleeping more at night she's not so egregiously overtired at bedtime. She's not sleeping longer at night, though. I get the occasional four-hour stretch, but mostly it's two and three hours now. The books say this can happen during developmental leaps forward, so maybe that's the explanation. Or maybe she's decided that she's been nice enough to me in the past and she's not going to bother anymore.


"Aaaaah" is now her constant communication. Especially at seven on a Saturday morning. She never seems to get tired of it. (Come to that, I only get tired of it at seven on a Saturday morning.) She's done "Hah" a couple of times, and "Gah" once or twice, but mostly it's "Aaaaah. Aaaaah. Aaaaah! Aaaaah..."

She's a very smiley girl. We took her to all-day gaming yesterday (well, it went all day; she didn't) and she passed out free smiles all day. Her smile starts slow and spreads exponentially until her entire face glows. It's the sweetest thing in the world. (Though the increased time between feedings is good too.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New games

Chloë learned to blow raspberries the day before yesterday. Presumably from someone in daycare; she came home delighting in it and blew them all that night. It seems a little undignified for an evil overlord, but then, what do I know? I'm just a lieutenant.

She's also enjoying a new game: she says "Ah," or "Hah," or "Gah," and I repeat it back to her as part of a word--"Ahhhhh-damantite!" or "Hahhhhhh-rpsichord!" We've got a little magazine called "Playing with Your Baby." It's put out by some toy company and contains lots of advertisements for age-appropriate toys, but it also lists no-prop or minimal-prop games to play for different age ranges. One of them for three to six months suggests that when baby babbles, you repeat her syllable and add on other nonsense syllables, so baby says "Dah" and you say "Dah diddy blo wop." I think using long words works just as well or better. (I also throw in the occasional shorter word: apple, or hobby.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Food!

Chloë had her first experience with cereal last night. We decided it would be nice to introduce her to yams on Thanksgiving if possible, which would mean getting her used to the idea of food from a spoon rather than from a R.I.N.D.S. beforehand. So, during the early-evening feeding, we mixed a little cereal with a lot of milk--I'm not even sure it deserved the name of gruel--and gave her some.

She did not seem impressed.


She didn't seem to have the tongue-thrust reflex, though, which is good, and she didn't absolutely refuse to have the stuff in her mouth. We're going to try again and see if it goes any better.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

She's a natural

Chloe's first word appears to be "Ha." She said it last night, followed by "Ha Ha Ha Ha," just as an evil overlord should.

(Yes, I know it's way too early for her first actual word. It's not too early for her first babble, though.)

She's now really into grabbing at things. She's learned the "Throw the Toy on the Floor and Watch Mom or Dad Retrieve It" game, and appears to enjoy forcing us to do her bidding. And we have a little activity mat, the kind where she lies on the floor and little toys hang above her head, that my friend Courtney gave us because her son had grown too cool and mature for it. A couple of weeks ago she just lay there and looked, but now she reaches up and squeezes the little monkey in her hot fist and bangs at the little parrot, as if to say, "I’m the queen of the jungle."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Our little goomba


"Does this mean I get a 1up?"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

We *really* hate tummy time, apparently.

We've known for a while that Chloë doesn't like tummy time very much. After a few minutes, she'll often get cranky about it--or fall asleep entirely.

Today, though, she decided she hated it enough to roll over onto her back. Yay for developmental milestones!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paek il

(Today's post is a guest post by Dad.)

Today's the day! Chloë is officially 100 days old.

The Korean culture includes the months the baby spent in the womb when calculating age. 100 days after the birth is approximately 1 year from conception. The baby's first birthday.

The Korean word for it is "Paek il" and it's defined as the celebration of baby's first 100 days in which money and other gifts are given to parents for the baby.

After the baby is properly dressed, they are seated in front of a large table. And on the table you will find different types of food and fruits. You will also find threads, books, calligraphy brushes, ink, money, arrows or daggers, rice, needles, and scissors. After the baby is seated with the objects in front of her, everyone attending the ceremony waits patiently to see which object the baby will grab. It is believed that the object which is picked up first will foretell the baby's future. For example, if the baby picks up a calligraphy brush or a book, then it is believed that she will be a scholar. If she picks up an arrow or a dagger, she will be a soldier. Finally if the baby picks up the money or rice, it is believed that she will be blessed with wealth. If the thread is chosen, it is believed that the baby will have a long life. Guests usually bring gift of money, clothes, or gold rings. After the ceremony, the departing guests are given rice cakes.

Here are some facts about the Korean tradition:

1) In the old days, there were significantly high infant mortality rates and a baby surviving the first 100 days had a significantly higher chance for survival into childhood and beyond.

2) Traditionally, for the first 100 days, only very close family are to come in contact with the baby and the baby does not go outside at all.

3) When a baby girl is born, the birth is announced by hanging a white cloth (or a string of peppers for a baby boy) at the front door of the house. It tells visitors that there is a new baby in the house and it is respectful to refrain from visiting in fear of the baby's health.

4) Baby wears only white clothing during the first 100 days, because white cotton clothes are the easiest to sterilize by boiling. On the 100th day the baby wears colorful clothes for the first time and other adults can hold her.

5) On the morning of the 100th day of the baby's birth, either the mother or the grandmother (of the baby's parents) prepares rice, seaweed soup, and other white items and prays to the ancestors to bless the child with long life and good fortunes. Then the rice and the soup is fed to the birthmother.

6) Typically, the baby's hair is cut and tied in a lock and kept in safety until the baby comes of age (age of majority). The hair is returned to the grown child to remind her of the eternal love of her parents. The child would keep the hair as a reminder of the thanks to the parents bringing her into life.

7) Prepared white and other rice cakes are shared with as many people as possible to spread the blessing. People who share the rice cakes present gifts to wish happiness and long life.

8) Although the baby already has been given a name for the records, adults may see the baby for the first time and give her a baby name as a sign of adoration. Typically this baby name is used only inside the house.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Status report: Month 3

Chloe is three months old today. This feels highly significant, although I think that's because it's the age when babies can hold up their heads and boy howdy, does that make a difference. She does it very well. I'm not sure when that transition happened but now when I put her on my chest to try to convince her to nap with me, up pops her head; she looks around and mewls that she doesn't want to nap, she wants to be awake! and look at things! like the quilt! and the window! and the plain blue wall!


She just got her very first cold, unfortunately; she was snorfling all last night. She sounded miserable but has been pretty happy today, Miss Mimi told me when I visited daycare at lunch. Her first week there has been very good; there are two other babies in the infant room and the teachers claim that she's by far the happiest and most calm. Also, apparently she falls asleep whenever they put her down for tummy time. I guess the scenery isn't as interesting there.

Her hands have been a big thing this month; she's been sucking on them a lot for comfort, and just in the past few days she's taken to holding her fist up and staring at it. Her hands are the marker I use to detect that she's really getting bigger: they're so much larger than they used to be, and the fingers are getting pudgy. She used to keep them tightly furled all the time, and they're still often that way. But sometimes they're outstretched, and I love how her fingers swirl and mark the air and sometimes remain hanging in midair for no particular reason.

She bats at and grabs toys now, and likes her Tigger and teddy bears and things that rattle and crinkle. Whenever we go for a ride we turn on the pink elephant above her carseat, and she stares at it and smiles. She watches it intently as it swings back and forth, her head cocked to the side now that we've removed the carseat's newborn head insert.


She likes to stand, held in place for balance only, and look around. She likes sitting a lot, too; I put her upright against a pillow and she grins. This may be one reason she's liking baths better; we put her in the sitting part of the baby tub instead of the reclining one for infants. She sits in my lap while we read, and grabs at the pages. (Now I know why board books are useful even before babies are putting everything in their mouths.) She also grabs at my hair; it's time to either cut it or put it up regularly.


Bedtime has been getting better; she now goes to sleep between ten-thirty and eleven. (Getting up at six probably helps.) I'm nursing her to sleep a lot, partly because it's reliable and easy, partly because I'm a little afraid of putting her to bed because it's been such a struggle so far and I don't want to lose my sleep to coaxing her to sleep. (I know I need to get over this.) I had thought she'd be moving to her crib around now, but I think we're going to stick with the bassinet a little longer. It's nice to be able to get to her in the night before she cries. However, when she sleeps with me she seems to wake up more often than when she sleeps alone, so I don't know how long she can actually go; hence, we need to start putting her to sleep in the bassinet instead of letting her sleep in the bed.

She's a big girl now, chubby and long. She's outgrowing the only socks that really stay on, which makes me sad, but she's able to fit into an awful lot of new cute stuff, which makes me happy. I went shopping for baby clothes with Carol the other day, the first time I did any serious clothes shopping for her, and had a great time. She anticipates food now, seeming to know what I'm doing when I put her in position and lift my shirt. She coos, and is doing some babbling, and the other night started mimicking Eric as he made different vowel sounds. As Carol said recently, she's a lot more there now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The nose knows

After work yesterday I held my love close, enjoying the contact after a long day of separation. I inhaled--and recoiled. "You smell like...another woman!" I accused.

She cooed.

There are apparently studies that show that a baby can identify her mother's breastpad and will ignore other women's, and that women can identify their babies by smell alone. I wasn't so sure I believed that, since humans hardly ever use their sense of smell compared to other mammals, but now I think I do. Yesterday was Chloë's first day at daycare proper, and when I picked her up after work she did, in fact, smell like another woman. Actually, she must have smelled like at least three of them, since different teachers were there when I dropped her off, nursed her at lunch, and picked her up; and the smell might have been partly the place itself--and it was mixed in with the milk that collects in her neck when she gets bottles. But it all added up to Someone Else Has Been Handling My Baby, and I didn't like it at all. She got a bath last night. It was time for it, but I might have insisted on it anyway, just so she'd smell right again. We'll see whether I can handle the residual scent tonight, or whether her two- or three-times-weekly bath will become a nightly ritual.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mother's milk, lifeblood

I had an appointment to give blood the day before I went back to work. I also had an appointment with a counselor that day, and I took Chloe to both. It made the counselor's day, she said, especially when I asked her to hold Chloe for a minute so I could put my appointment card away and get my jacket on, and the Red Cross ladies were delighted with her as well. (They were appalled that she was barefoot until I explained that she had had a big blowout as we came in and her socks got messy, and while there was a spare onesie in the diaper bag I hadn't thought to pack spare socks. I'd wrapped her up in her blanket, but they fetched a warmed one to put her in anyway until my ten minutes at the canteen were up. There are now spare socks in the diaper bag.) Apparently Miss Overlord plans to gather new minions by beguiling them with her charms, at least to start with.

The screening questions included whether I'd been pregnant in the last six weeks, but not whether I was nursing. I passed the hematocrit (which hasn't always happened) so I was allowed to give my blood. I didn't get faint or anything (which has happened), but I didn't feel quite well afterward. "Double up on your fluids for the next few days," the woman in charge of me told me as I was getting off the bed. I tried to remember how much extra fluid I was supposed to be drinking for nursing, add it to the regular 48-64 daily ounces, and double the entire amount. It was a lot. As Dad later suggested, I should have done it the day before; I felt vaguely ill the rest of the afternoon and not-quite-well into the next day. It may be permissible, but my body doesn't seem to like the double (triple?) duty. Other nursing mothers be warned.

Friday, October 16, 2009

LOLbaby


"Somehow, my minion, I thought you'd be...taller."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The first day of the rest of our lives

"This is the Bob and Tom show," barked the radio at 6 AM this morning, waking me for my first day back at work.

The morning from 6 to 7:30 was the Chloe show: waking her, feeding her, changing her, dressing her, and washing her face and neck (which she hates but is necessary because of the milk dribbles that collect between her second and third chins). Edith arrived to pick her up for the day. I kissed Chloe, then armed Edith with a full diaper bag and a handful of bottles and left her in the rain to figure out the carseat. (She said I could go. Honestly.)

The traffic on the way to work was unfamiliar--not that it was a lot of traffic, but I haven't been driving during rush hour for almost three months now. Work was also unfamiliar--they remodeled our office space while I was gone and only moved back earlier this week, so I had to inquire where my desk was. (Though my boss had marked it with my plant, so I should have noticed. But I had figured that plant was dead and so wasn't looking for it.) I'm pleased to be back at work. These last couple of weeks at home with Chloe have been nice, but the first ones were a bit stifling and soul-wearing, and I'm glad to get back to my old routine and be able to talk to other adults. Money is good, too, of course.

Edith said she'd call, but she didn't. I wasn't heartbroken, but I would have liked to hear how Chloe was doing. When I got home it was evident she was doing very well; she was happy and playing and had, apparently, slept most of the morning and been an angel. She was pleased to see Eric. She cried when I held her. Apparently she didn't miss me. That'll make tomorrow even easier.

Friday, October 9, 2009

State of the baby

Chloë now holds her head up pretty reliably. We've got a booster seat thingy for feeding instead of a high chair--a seat that reclines, then goes upright, with an attachable tray--and she likes to sit in it now, buckled in, looking at toys or rattles or the mess on our dining table at mealtimes. She watches us put food in our mouths, though she doesn't seem interested in trying it herself yet; apparently her fist is tasty enough for now. I'm looking forward to starting her on solids, though with her tongue thrust issue she may be a late starter. (The books all say the time to start solids is after the baby has lost the reflex to push any objects in her mouth out with her tongue.)

She also now Miss Truly Drooly Julie. Alternately, Rabid Baby, because she froths at the mouth, mainly at night (we're not sure why). I'm surprised her chin isn't raw with all the moisture and all the wiping. I'm kind of afraid of what adding solids (well, as much as rice cereal and mashed bananas are solids) will do to this mix, especially since her chin fat folds already trap milk and create a nasty residue if we're not diligent about cleaning it out.

She's starting to be interested in toys and music; we've got a bright wobbly thing with a rattly chamber that turns (how do you describe baby toys?) and she likes turning it with swipes of her fist; and there's a pink elephant that hangs in my car that she adores. It plays music, a little bright "Mario Brothers"-type tune, and her face lights up when we turn it on. Which makes our faces light up.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Daycare

We went to our chosen daycare today, Chloë and I, to get the paperwork going since I go back to work next week. The teachers who had been there when we toured before were there. "She's grown so big!" one of them said. "She's like doubled in size!" Another offered to take her to the infant room while the administrator and I talked, and when I declined admitted she just wanted to hold the baby--"I love girl babies!" she said--so I let her take Chloë.

This daycare deals with a lot of Child and Family Services-assisted families; the administrator, Linda, seemed a little surprised to hear we would be "private pay." She asked how many hours we were looking for, and I told her around thirty-two, eight hours a day for four days a week. "The rate for Lucas County is $186.70," she said, showing me a sheet. (It was less for Wood Country. She didn't know why.) "But the best I could do for you is $130. I try to work with our private pay folks." I felt a little guilty about taking that price, since we could afford the other one; but I accepted, of course. I hadn't asked for a discount.

We've got to get a signature from the pediatrician and fill out a ton of paperwork, and get a cash or money order for the first week and the application fee (apparently they had a lot of trouble with bad checks and now don't take them), but we're looking in good shape to be ready for me to go back to work. And I pulled out the appropriate-sized pants from under the bed, so I'll even be dressed for the part. I have a box of Kleenex, too, which people are telling me I'll need. We'll see how it goes next week.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hush, little baby

The bedtime modification experiment is still going very badly. I'm now trying to nurse Chloë to sleep at around 11:30, the theory being that once she's used to an earlier bedtime we can try other ways of getting her to sleep, but that doesn't always work anyway and usually ends up with the two of us falling asleep in bed. It's not horrible to have her in bed with us, but it's not the goal either and I'd like to be able to turn over in the middle of the night sometimes. (Though she's a very nice sleeping companion. She's a little radiator, for one thing. She likes to cuddle up with the closest R.I.N.D.S. like it's a teddy bear.)

Getting up early, on the other hand has been going fine, except that she has now started crying almost inconsolably in the evenings, which she didn't before. It's a little late for colic to develop (though not impossible, I'm sure) and Mom has suggested it's probably sleep deprivation, which I've been worrying about but not sure what to do about, since part of the problem is that we can't reliably get her to go to sleep. This includes naps, and when she's fussy putting her down makes her especially upset, and rocking tends to calm her but not lull her to sleep.

My main frustration with this process is that I don't know for sure what to do. It's not a matter of waiting for the correct course of action to take effect; we don't know what the correct course of action is. All first-time parents go through this, of course, but that doesn't help me feel any better about it.

Still, she does eventually get to sleep every night...somehow. And she likes to sleep in her swing; that's usually where she starts her naps. I wonder if they make them for teenagers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Status report: Month 2

Today Chloë is two months old. We went for her two-month checkup today, to get examined and vaccinated (she may never trust me again). She's twelve pounds, two ounces, 22.75 inches long, 39.5 cm head circumference. Everything is fiftieth percentile or higher, so she deserves the name she got called by the pediatrician: Chubs. I can officially stop being paranoid about her weight now. In fact, the pediatrician, when he heard that feedings will run to sixty minutes if I let Chloë determine them, suggested backing off on feedings a little and limiting them to forty minutes or less, which is quite all right by me.

Chloë's second month has been full of smiles. She smiles when she sees me sometimes, or when I smile at her. She coos and makes odd noises, enough that we have "conversations" sometimes:

Chloë: Eeee.
Jenny: Really?
Chloë: Ohh.
Jenny: I'm not totally convinced. Could you be more specific?
Chloë: Waaaa.
Jenny: Now I understand.


She's discovered the baby in the mirror, and loves to lie in her swing and look up at her, sometimes grinning, sometimes just intently watching. She looks around at things all the time now; we think this is partly why she likes car rides and walks.

Her hair sticks up in the back like a bird's crest. Her eyelashes are dark and long now, and her eyebrows delicate but definitely visible. She can support her own weight, and can support her head most of the time. We've started being able to use the two baby carriers we have (a sling and a backpack-style carrier) because of this, and are looking forward to using them more in the future. She's getting awfully heavy in that carrier.


The drool has come, in vast quantities, enough that I'm sure at least one feeding a day goes directly to replacing all that saliva. She's also started sucking her fist a lot more, and is finally taking a pacifier for more than two sucks before ejecting it. Nursing has improved; we're finally nursing full-time, except for a bottle at night because she's ravenous just before bed. There is no actual bedtime yet, but we're working on it--the pediatrician told me that now is the time to work on good sleeping habits that will last the rest of her life, no pressure. (He also told me that babies tend to sleep really well after their shots--probably exhausted from all that crying. She certainly fell asleep quickly and thoroughly once we were out of there and she'd satisfied herself that I was aware she was unhappy.)

This month she met her Aunt Bev, Uncle Philip, and cousin Gabriel, and went to the zoo and Lake Erie for the first time. She also stayed with her Omi and her Aunt Michelle while Eric and I went out on a date, and she's been to her first coffeeshop gaming night and gem show and restaurant. She's kept us up later than we wanted almost every night, though there were also two nights she went to sleep quite happily in her bassinet (sadly, they haven't been repeated). Now that she's not as jaundiced, she's not sleeping nearly as much as she was, and not as much as the books say she should. But she's healthy, and growing, and ours.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chloë's birth story, part 1

Seeing as it's been, um, eight weeks, I thought I'd start working on keeping my promise and put up Chloë's birth story. It will be in several parts, because I love useless detail, but there will be no quiz, so feel free to tune out if you don't want to hear about how crackers, wet shorts, a bean bag, a Jacuzzi, and what Eric keeps calling hallucinations lead up to our overlord's birth. (There will be some graphic content, as well, so be warned.)

Onward:

The evening of July 22nd, 2009, I was lying on the couch, reading. I had finally gotten the last answers I needed on my paperwork for my maternity leave that day and planned to turn it in the next day. I also planned to buy a R.I.N.D.S. rig the next day since I knew time was running low, though I still firmly believed that, having had the world's most boring pregnancy so far, I would continue to be solidly normal by being a few days late.

I wanted a snack, so I retrieved the box of Wheat Thins Fiber Selects Garden Vegetable (they taste better than they're titled). I lay down again, bit into a cracker, and felt an odd sensation between my legs. Sort of a sudden spurt of liquid sensation. Not exactly like peeing my pants (which Jackie warned us was what most "I think my water broke" situations turned out to be), but I could see how it could be confused with that. So I put down the box of what I will forever call my water-breaking crackers and went upstairs.

"What do you think?" I said to Eric, once I'd confirmed that my underwear was quite a bit bloodier than a simple pants-wetting incident would have called for.

"Huh," he said. We looked at each other.

Another spurt of fluid exited me, also tinged with pink. "Huh," I said. "I should probably call the midwives."

The number the midwives had given me was for an answering service; the lady who answered promised that someone would call right back. I went and laid on the bed with Eric and waited.

"Hello," I said when the midwife on call, Sandy, called me, and then, idiotically, "How are you?"

"You had me paged," she reminded me.

"I think my water broke," I said.

"How far along are you?" she said.

"Thirty-nine weeks."

"Well, it may be nothing; or sometimes the baby kicks just right and a little comes out," she said. ("She wet her pants," I could hear her thinking.)

"Tell her there was blood," Eric said, and I did so.

"Oh," she said, her tone changing. "Well, let's have you come to the hospital and be examined. When do you think you'll be here?"

"Maybe half an hour?" I guessed.

I hung up and Eric went into action: going straight for the mostly-packed bag, retrieving the list of what was left and packing them. I was getting more spurts of liquid, so I sat on the toilet. "We may not be staying," I said, though I didn't really believe it.

"It's better to have it and not need it," Eric said as he continued to shovel things into the suitcase.

We weren't ready to leave until nearly an hour had passed; I'd called at nine, and it was almost ten. Eric brought the suitcase down to the car; I dashed upstairs to change my pad again just when I was putting on my shoes, and then we were off.

This may be the last time we ride in this car as a childless couple, I thought in car on the way to the hospital (still not wanting to commit to the idea that I was going to the hospital to stay). I'm really glad the mothers gave us these waterproof pads, I thought (shifting around on the one I'd put down on my seat).

"Ugh," I said when we arrived at the hospital, looking down at my shorts, which were now soaked. But there was nothing to be done, so we entered. Another pregnant woman was ahead of us, being registered. While we waited, I noticed a couple of people in the waiting area notice my shorts. I watched a few droplets run down my leg to my sock.

When the lady at the registration desk noticed me, she gave me the appropriate form without even asking why I was here and shanghaied a nurse to take me upstairs. (The other pregnant woman got a wheelchair. I wasn't offered one, which was fine since I was in no pain and didn't really want to sit down in my wet shorts anyway. I wonder if the woman at registration had similar thoughts.)

That nurse, who turned out to be the supervisor just about to go home for the evening, took us to one of the triage rooms. "We'll examine you in here," she said, pulling a hospital gown from a cupboard. She started to hand me the gown, then really looked at me. "Oh!" she said. "We don't need to examine you. Let's get you a room."

She led us further down the hall, toward the nurses' station. They saw me and started to laugh. "I was going to put her in triage until I noticed her clothes," our nurse confessed. "It's kind of obvious, isn't it?" said one of the ones at the desk. I was kind of annoyed that while I had avoided being laughed at for coming for a false alarm, I hadn't gotten away with not being laughed at.

The room had a pull-out couch, a DVD player, a small fridge, an uncomfortable (the nurse said) bed, and a bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub. I changed into the hospital gown and was helped onto the bed (which wasn't really that bad) over a waterproof pad. Our nurse introduced us to the current nurse on duty, who was sick and was quickly replaced with our first real nurse, Stephanie.

"First we need to get you hooked up to the monitors," she said. I wasn't excited about the monitors to start with, having read that electronic fetal monitoring has made absolutely no difference to birthing outcomes except for potentially contributing to the C-section rate, but I knew that the hospital required some initial monitoring and the midwives had told me it wouldn't need to be done continuously after that.

So I spread the gown and moved my hips so that Stephanie could get the two belts on me. "You have such a cute belly!" she said. "Do you even have any stretch marks?"

"I don't know," I said vaguely, though I did.

"Let me look." She did, and (mothers of the world, do not hate me) pronounced, "You don't have a single one!"

The two belts (one to monitor contractions, one to monitor fetal heartbeat) did their thing. The baby looked perfect and I was actually having occasional contractions, though I couldn't feel them. Sandy came in and said to me, "I'm really sorry your water broke so early. You're the last person I wanted this to happen to." She explained that I was under a twenty-four-hour deadline, and that if my contractions didn't start progressing very soon, she was going to have to start Pitocin on me. I was completely unenthusiastic about this, and she said she could give me a couple of hours, including a little bit of sleep. So Eric curled up on the couch, and me in the bed, and we did our best to sleep.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Baby's first stalker

When we were at gaming last Friday night, Chloë needed to be fed, so I sat at a separate table with her bottle, being unwilling to nurse in public in that shirt with a ton of people around, and the coffeeshop was crowded that night, especially by a large group of what I was later told were Bible group people.

After she'd finished eating, one of her minions joined us and we talked for a little bit. Then three girls from the aforementioned group came up. They began to admire Chloë, and asked the normal questions: girl or boy? How old?

"Little baby, I want to eat your cheeks!" cooed one of them.

I thought this was a little peculiar (I don't remember; does the Bible say anything about cannibalism?) but I passed it by with a smile. After they had done enough adulation to be considered for the minion list, they prepared to go. The same girl exclaimed, "I love you, baby!"

Now, we get told a lot that our baby is cute (if you're stopping a total stranger and asking intimate questions about their child, you'd better have something nice to say about it), but I thought that was a little over the top. We personally think Chloë could conquer the world just through cuteness, but we don't expect everyone else to share that opinion, and certainly not to express it that way. I've asked Chloë to put that girl on the "do not consider for minion status" list.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Busy times

Chloë's had a busy weekend: her first gaming night on Friday and the Toledo Rock and Gem Show on Saturday, plus babysitting during our first night out since she was born. (We've been out without her for shopping and such, but not for fun.) Today, we think she has lactose overload--gassiness, irritability, hunger signs way before she ought to be hungry (we're now at about two hours between feedings), and liquid stools explosive enough to kill a fly at ten meters. I love the Internet; I'd never heard of this and was getting worried at the something's-vaguely-wrong symptoms, but now I know what's (most likely) going on and how (most likely) to fix it.

Chloë's eyebrows and eyelashes are in now, not that it makes her look any more feminine. "Boy or girl?" people ask me, then inevitably say, "She's beautiful!" What would they have said differently if I'd said "boy"? (Which I will someday do. Then give an unconquerable stare when they ask what his name is and I say "Chloë.") They do always comment on the hair.

She's definitely grown; her hands are bigger, and her ears are elongating. Before they were these beautiful tiny shell-shaped delicacies that didn't look like anybody we're related to. Now they're starting to look like normal ears, which we both have, so who knows which side she actually got them from. She's also definitely getting heavier. We took out the newborn insert of her carseat the other day. This girl's growing up.

(Excuse me, Her Gassiness wants another feeding. It's actually time for one at this point.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sleepytime

I decided recently that I want to give Chloë a bedtime. Up until now she's been going to bed somewhere between midnight and two, which is a little later than is totally convenient. Also she's mostly going to sleep on me because I haven't had the patience to sit up and rock her to deep sleep when it's one o'clock in the morning and I'm falling asleep myself. So my goals are twofold: get her to start going to sleep closer to ten o'clock, and get her used to going to sleep in my arms rather than on my chest.

It's been a big fat failure so far. I admit it's only been a couple of days, but how does she know to be bright-eyed and alert and hungry--always hungry--at exactly the time when I want her to be getting sleepy? Right now she's taking a big nap, so as to be as awake as possible in a couple of hours when I want her to be going to sleep. Admittedly we slept nine hours last night (four hours and then five hours) so I'm rested enough to stay up with her until two. I expected this to take a while, but I was kind of hoping for a good start.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Six weeks

Exactly six weeks ago, I was either single-mindedly devouring a veggie sub from Subway, or sleeping, I forget which.

I've been watching Chloë's eyebrows come in over the past week or so. That is, they were there before, but only as fine translucent hairs. Now darker ones have swept from the outside in. I think her ears and hands are bigger. She's also developed small red dots on her eyelids and a fine double chin. I'm particularly proud of this last one, since the nursing is still a work in progress. She hasn't stopped biting me (dropping her jaw and raising it really, but if she had teeth they would be bites--if she's still doing it when she starts teething she will be weaned so fast relativity will kick in and she'll think she's weaning me) and sometimes, mainly late at night, she won't latch on even though she's hungry, instead arching her back and screaming, this apparently being a step up from being fed warm milk while nestled up against a warm body.

To add to the fun, I developed mastitis over the weekend, resulting in a fever that kicked my butt as no previous fever has. Now that I'm on antibiotics, things are much better, but I was highly unamused for a while. Chloë was fortunately unfazed, though she got a lot of my sweat on her.

However, I got a clean bill of health from the midwives today. They also say Chloë is much chubbier than she was when I was there last, ten days ago. They definitely know how to sweet-talk a girl. Apparently the thirteen or so feedings a day are paying off.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Growing pains, or at least boredoms

Tonight, we meant to go to the bimonthly gaming night we often attend (Eric more than me). It's held at a local coffee shop from seven to eleven. It was going to be Chloë's first big non-family outing. However, we didn't make it because Miss Overlord currently wishes to be fed every hour and twenty minutes, on average. Since she nurses for forty-five minutes, on average, I know the nursery very well right now. And since she decided to take a nice long nap and then a nice long dinner, we decided it wasn't worth the trouble to pack up a couple of bottles (since I'm nowhere near coordinated enough to nurse in public yet) and dash out as soon as she finished in the hopes of arriving before she was hungry again.

Luckily we had our last lactation consultant appointment yesterday, or I'd have been extremely concerned about this behavior. But the consultant not only pointed out that this was due to growth-spurty goodness, but weighed Chloë (ten pounds two ounces in a onesie and a diaper, up eight or nine ounces from seven days ago) and gave me some advice and information that make me reasonably confident that we're going to get through this okay. As long as it ends before I have to completely redecorate.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Status report: Month 1

Executive summary: At 1 month and 1 day, the project remains on track. Initial input errors have been identified and several fixes have been implemented, so far with success but without optimization. Output has normalized. All current systems operational. Regular upgrades scheduled.

Chloë is a month and a day old today. She spent her one-month birthday at her grandpa's, wearing a nice dress and being very well-behaved, and celebrated by giving us a five-hour stretch of sleep. One month. All day yesterday Eric and I said to each other, "Exactly one month ago, we were ____." We were heading to the hospital, we were walking the halls, we were meeting our daughter, we were trying to sleep. It's been a month and two days since we got a full night's sleep.

It's been an eventful month. During Chloë's first week, she came home and was fussy during feedings and slept most of the time. As the week went on, she got quieter and slept more, and we congratulated ourselves. She also turned bright orange. We called the pediatrician about the fussiness and they asked us to come in before our two-week appointment. When we did, they ordered us to St. Luke's for a bilirubin level. And when that came back, they ordered us to Toledo Hospital for phototherapy. Chloë spent four days there, and came home much pinker.


After that, our main focus was on flushing out the bilirubin and getting her weight up, and consequently we began the still-ongoing quest to get her nursing full-time without starving her.

Around day five she started being more alert, even under the effects of the jaundice, and now she spends quite a bit of her time looking around. She's actually looking at things, now, and will track a face if it moves slowly enough. She doesn't go to sleep on her own much, preferring to sleep on her mommy or daddy's chest, but is starting to be independent enough to sit in the swing or lie looking at things for a few minutes. She's also kind enough to mostly go right back to sleep after nighttime feedings. She smiles, and occasionally grins, and sometimes she gets a thoughtful expression in her eyes that makes me think I know what the kid she will become will look like.


She's still got the newborn reflexes, though I haven't gotten her to "walk" in a few days now, and is starting to uncurl herself. Her hair is still all there,but it hasn't gotten any longer. Her nails definitely have--in fact, she has two tiny cuts on her face from her nails because I'm a forgetful manicurist. She has a father who adores her and a mother who likes to hold her and watch those big blue eyes take in the world as if it's her own--which it is, or will be.



Happy one-month birthday, Chloë. Thank you for making us a family.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ninja baby

Ninja baby blends into the background while practicing her moves:



Ninja baby is working on yet another nursing regimen, thanks to yet another lactation consultant's recommendation. (The recommendation: no shield, clutch/football hold, control her chin to stop the tongue thrust, skin-to-skin contact to "organize the baby.") She doesn't quite get the hang of it yet, but when she does it seems to be working well. It's starting to seem absurd to expend all this effort on something she's only going to need for the first year of her life, something that can easily be replaced by an easy-to-purchase, easy-to-use product. I think this is going to be the last professional recommendation we try, especially since everyone we've spoken with has suggested something different. On the upside, this kid now probably knows more than any three average babies about different types of bottles, formula, and various nursing techniques. She's been pretty good about all the switching back and forth. I doubt knowing how to suck on an Avent nipple #2 versus an Enfamil premade formula nipple versus a Medela shield will help her in later life, but I suppose the flexibility will.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Noticing you noticing me

We've started to notice Chloë starting to notice things. Up until now she's focused on the face of the person who's holding her a little, but not much else. But yesterday and the day before she started to look around, to stare at the red couch (apparently babies like red) and the black pattern on my shirt and, for whatever reason, the plain and featureless wall of her room. I think she likes the bumper, too.

This sudden interest in her surroundings makes her a lot more interactive, since we can now at least show her toys and things and she'll respond, after a fashion. I'm glad, because in all honesty, newborns are not very interesting. Her new interest in the world also means an increase in the amount of time she's willing to be put down and lie somewhere by herself. This is fortunate, because today is Eric's first day of new teacher orientation and therefore the first day that Chloë and I have been alone for more than an hour or so, and I'd been worrying about how I was supposed to do things like use the bathroom with a baby who didn't like to be put down.

Friday, August 14, 2009

LOLbaby

"Later, you will pay for this. You will all pay."

"It's going to be how long before I can operate my own laser?"

"No more pictures!"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

R.I.N.D.S. v2.0

The implementation of the R.I.N.D.S. has been, shall we say, problematic.

In the first week, Chloë and I were having feeding difficulties. She wouldn't stay latched on and fussed a lot and was therefore crying and unhappy; I was hurting and worried she was underfed and therefore crying and unhappy. Then came the jaundice issue, which was caused partly by her being underfed--without enough to eat she wasn't able to wash the excess bilirubin out of her system fast enough, plus breastmilk apparently contains enzymes that inhibit the liver's ability to break it down.

The doctor advised us to start supplementing, which we did--first with ready-to-serve Enfamil formula from the hospital (which smelled terrible), then with the copious formula samples we've received and pumped milk as it was available, which it wasn't, very much. The lactation consultants we consulted advised us that Chloë has "tongue thrust," which explained why she wasn't able to stay latched on and therefore didn't get enough to eat. Many people advised us it wasn't our fault Chloë had ended up in the NICU, but we knew the truth--that it will go on her future list of reasons to order our execution whether it was our fault or not.

To deal with the tongue thrust and shallow latch issue, I got a nipple shield, which basically makes the R.I.N.D.S. more like a bottle. Evidently the Borg implants are contagious. Tuesday, because Chloë's weight gain has been excellent, bordering on excessive (ten ounces in the five days after she got out of the hospital, then seven and a half ounces in the next five days after that), the pediatrician prescribed a feeding schedule to get her off the supplements and to increase the R.I.N.D.S.'s supply (presumably diminished by the small amounts Chloë was able to extract at first). It involves not letting her get as full as she's now used to, which was a touch grueling as she didn't think this was a good idea at all, and let us know. Emphatically. "Is it really so bad for her to get a bottle at every feeding?" I asked Eric yesterday, over the squalling. "What will the pediatrician say if we go back Friday and say we've given up and we're just going to use formula?" Only we won't do that if we don't have to. Did I mention that stuff smells terrible? And it's looking like we won't have to; the R.I.N.D.S. are producing better and Chloë is happier today than she was yesterday. I'm cautiously thinking the new improved version of the R.I.N.D.S. will be a success.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chloë of Borg...

I am Chloë of Borg...


















Resisting my cuteness is futile.

(If it were just the pads on the head, she'd be more like a Geordi LaForge than a Borg.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The silence isn't just lost free time...

So as some people already know, we found ourselves in the hospital all weekend. Chloë was badly jaundiced, and the docs decided she needed some serious and rapid treatment. They have these wonderful blue lights used to break down bilirubin, the pigment that causes jaundiced children to look yellow-orange, and they worked like a charm, though we were worried pretty constantly all weekend.

We're still worried, for that matter. But we're taking steps to be less worried. Essentially, she's getting force-fed extra pumped milk or formula as needed.

On the upside, we're out of the woods for the most part, Chloë's gaining weight again, and we're all feeling better. Also we have pictures that make it look like she has Borg implants.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The story thus far

I have no pictures to post, though that's because they're on the cameras or Eric's computer, not because we haven't been taking any. Mom and Dad are staying with us to help out, and so far they have pictures of each day of Chloë's life.

I'll post a birth story later...it's bound to be long and possibly fairly graphic. Here's the short version: my water broke at about 9 PM on Wednesday. We went to the hospital (where the nurses at the maternity ward laughed at my soaked shorts) and napped for about forty minutes, then walked the halls for several hours to get my labor going fast enough that I wouldn't have to go on Pitocin. (Apparently having my water break first caused all kinds of concerns; I got scolded for it a couple of times.) Both labor and the pushing part took a long time because the baby was occiput posterior after all (face-up instead of face-down, which makes things harder), and I was very whiny. The baby came out at last at 5:31 PM on Thursday, looking like a bag of purple eels, and things got much better.

That was day one; the rest of it consisted of some food and some sleep and a lot of baby-gazing, and a late bath (for her, not me). Day two we spent at the hospital, getting me cleared for a shower (it was the best shower EVER) and Chloë cleared for discharge, and to verify that my slight fever had abated. We got home late that day. Day three was spent trying to catch up on sleep; day four we went to the pediatrician and rejoiced that my milk had come in because Chloë suddenly started sleeping better.

Today is day five, and apparently day five is when newborns become social. We had hardly seen anything of Chloë's eyes until today. Alternately, it's the day when new mothers realize that something ought to be done about their newborns not wanting to eat, because being upset about gastrointestinal distress apparently affects even an evil overlord's disposition. After a successful administration of Mylicon and dinner we actually saw her strumming her fingers together in classic evil contemplation. The world should beware.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Meet your new overlord


Chloë Leeja Snyder
July 23, 2009
8 lb., 3 oz
21"
Details, better pictures, and first steps toward world dominion to come.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

...Go

We're now in the single digits on the countdown to our due date. Not that I necessarily think that means anything. I am officially the most boring prenatal patient in the world ("It's such a joy to read your chart!" Chris exclaimed at my checkup today, but I was not deceived: forget yawning, she was trying not to snore) which suggests, at least to me, that I'll be exceedingly average, which means a few days late. Anyone want to start a betting pool?

The nursery is now ready, to the point where I've actually opened the bottle of powder. (It's pure cornstarch but it smells just like any other baby powder. I suppose they do that so you know it's baby powder.) I've even finished the sort-of-bumper for the crib:

(That's really only about half of it; the mattress lowers as the baby gets older and more interested in climbing, so the bumper continues below the current mattress level.)

We've packed our bag, as much of it as we can. The newborn clothes are washed and put away. I've finally programmed the midwives' phone number into my phone. My maternity leave paperwork is ready to be turned in after two small questions (Eric insists that I am not in fact an idiot, so the necessary conclusion is that this paperwork is exceedingly pregnancy-unfriendly). (Though Eric would say that anyway, as his sense of self-preservation is becoming more and more finely honed these days.)

I am in fact in the middle of making a quilt to match the bumper, but I'm not actually concerned about finishing that before the baby comes, since it's not like she's hurting for blankets. Except for a small personal project (code name Shoelace) that I'd like to finish, I think we're actually...ready. Physically, anyway. Eric seems to be mentally ready as well. I don't know that I am. But it probably means something that when the baby pokes her little feet into my upper belly, I've started telling her there's a lot more room on the outside.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

To diæresis, or not to diæresis, that is the question...

Specifically, the question is one of Chloë vs. Chloe

That little diacritical mark on the e--the one that looks like a German umlaut--is called a diæresis. It comes from the Greek diairesis "division," and it indicates a place where a vowel is spoken when it otherwise might not be. You might have seen it before, as you've probably read something by one or another of the Brontë sisters, and even in America naïve is usually printed with the diæresis. But other uses have disappeared in America--preëminent now gets a hyphen instead, and coöperate is written without any way to show confuzzled children that it's not pronounced like a misspelled version of what a barrel-maker does.

So... we're trying to decide whether to use the diæresis in Chloë or to just leave it as Chloe. Both are generally accepted spellings. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Week 38 visit

Eric came with me to this week's midwife appointment--he figures he might want to start meeting the people who are going to be in the delivery room with us, plus we'd meant to talk to them about this whole "birth plan" business (and the back-and-forth I keep getting from them about the specter of induction), but we totally forgot that last part.

Instead, I got my first cervical check. This involves the midwife--the student, Jennifer, in this case--donning a pair of gloves and *WARNING: GRAPHIC GIRL CONTENT* putting her hand inside my you-know-what to see how many fingers she can put through the cervical opening, and how thick it is. Jackie had described the cervix as being like a turtleneck; it can be tightly closed and all thick and bunched up, as is normal, or it can be open and thin, which is what will happen when I'm ready for labor. After some pushing and leaning and telling me to put my fists under my hips to tilt me enough for her to get to the right position, *END WARNING* she determined I'm one centimeter dilated and somewhere around 25ish percent effaced (she didn't sound very confident), -3 to -2 station (baseline is -4). In other words, not very far along at all. But it's kind of nice to know that something actually is happening.

"You're just about where I'd expect a new mother to be," she told me, *BEGIN WARNING* pulling off her blood-tinged gloves, "where not much is going to happen for another couple of weeks. You might spot a little tonight," she added thoughtfully as she disposed of the gloves. "The cervix is so vascularized at this point." *END WARNING* The exam was not actually painful, but definitely uncomfortable, and Eric looked kind of alarmed.

Everything else looks fine, baby seems to be occiput anterior (her back to my front, which is what we want), and I got them to give me a doctor's note to excuse me from the jury duty summons I got for August 10. We're figuring that's not going to work out so well, unless they want the twelfth member of the jury to be a bleeding, sore, hormonally unbalanced new mother, and the thirteenth member of the jury to be a tiny evil overlord.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And another thing

Why does everything I eat have to be what I'm "craving"? Why am I not allowed to simply eat something, as normal people do, without being suspected of a ravening desire for it? Pregnancy does not make me into an entirely different subspecies. Maybe I'm having a piece of leftover cake because I want one, just like you, and not because I crave it.

Also, I hate my clothes. I have only one pair of maternity pants that are reasonably comfortable and even the maternity shirts are getting too short and I only have one dress that I can fit into and we probably can't afford to buy more other than the support rigs I need to go get in the next couple of weeks before the RINDS become fully operational.

Now I know why women say they're so ready to be done at the end of pregnancy. It's not the pregnancy itself, it's everything else.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Questions, questions

Apparently people only know four questions related to pregnancy. They are, in order:

  • When are you due?
  • Is it a boy or a girl?
  • Have you picked out a name?
  • Are you excited?
I understand and appreciate that these people are happy for me and want to show their interest, and since they don't know me these questions are their polite method for doing so. But seriously, people. You don't know me. Why would you actually care what my kid's name is going to be? If I say "Yes, but we're not sharing it," as some people do, will you feel you have a right to be offended? And am I really supposed to say anything other than "Yes" to that last question? It's as bad as people who say "How are you?" when they're speeding past you in a hallway and are clearly substituting the question for "Hi," or the old-time "How do you do" (to which the only acceptable answer is "How do you do"). I almost enjoyed the variation that one of my coworkers threw in the other day, though it kind of appalled me as well: "Did you guys particularly want a girl, or did you not care?" After all, she was inviting me--begging me, almost--to say "Actually, we really wanted a boy. We hate the idea of a girl. We're not sure we're going to keep her."

Relatedly, I got my first "Are you sure you're still pregnant?" call recently. I'd been warned about these, when people call to say "You didn't have the baby and forget to tell me, did you?" I can understand the impulse; Eric's waiting on the result of an interview and I keep wanting to ask him "Have you heard anything?" even though I know perfectly well that he'll tell me as soon as he gets any news. But do they really expect me to say, "Oh, right, I did spend two days in a hospital extruding a whole new person out of my body. Totally slipped my mind or I would have mentioned it" or "Yes, I had the baby, but I didn't care enough about you to tell you" or maybe "Why yes, as a matter of fact, I did have the baby. She's sweetly asleep on a perfectly made bed with rose petals scattered around her and I've just sat down after my manicure to consider penning a few haiku in silver calligraphy to announce her birth, but gosh darn it, you've anticipated me"?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ice cream and bugs

We had ice cream for dinner on Monday--well, technically we had a substantial snack, then stopped at Dairy Queen while out shopping because I really wanted a Blizzard, then got home late and had another snack instead of cooking--which I realized I ought to appreciate more than I did, since my days of "but I'm pregnant!" are coming to a close. I haven't even used my "send the husband on a midnight run for an unusual food" card. I suspect I'm something of a disappointment to pregnant women everywhere. Maybe I can keep the card for later.

My now-weekly checkup was yesterday. Everything remains fine--blood pressure back down to my normal levels, baby still head-down and poking her feet (or raygun, we can't tell for sure) into my ribs--except that I have tested positive for Group B strep, which is a bacteria that's asymptomatic in normal adults but is apparently the leading cause of sepsis and meningitis in newborns. In order to avoid passing it on to L.E.O., I'll be getting IV infusions of antibiotics at the hospital. Not a big deal, though I was grumpy about the idea of being hooked up to a pole my entire labor until they explained that I could just get a hep lock (a little needle port that gets left in your arm) and be hooked up just long enough for an infusion once every four hours. I think I'll feel a little bit like a cyborg, but that's all to the good.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ready, set

I'd been feeling reasonably good about how much we'd gotten done to prepare for L.E.O.'s coming. But Friday night we had dinner with some friends, including four potential fellow trusted lieutenants, and one of them asked, "So are you ready? Is the carseat installed? Are your bags packed? Is the crib set up? Do you have clean clothes?"

This naturally threw me into a panic, and as a result this weekend we did four loads of baby laundry, including sheets and blankets so that we could make up the crib. We wrote a list for the hospital bag. (Most of what we'll want to put in it we're still using.) We wrote a list of people we'll need to send announcements to (designing them and addressing envelopes ahead of time seems like a good idea). And we installed the carseat bases and mirrors. I do not have work paperwork turned in yet, but that should happen this week, too.

We realize, of course, that this activity has guaranteed that L.E.O. will arrive late. There are still a couple of other tasks we want to finish before she gets here, and I'm seriously considering leaving them undone to increase the chances that she'll come earlier, but I'm not so sure she's that easily manipulable.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

36 weeks

Here we are at a little over eight months, just one week from technically full-term.


(Nice hair. Man, do I need a haircut.)

My shirts are getting awfully short at this point. I don't really feel ready for labor in a few weeks, but there have been a few twinges that suggest it's going to happen. At my checkup Tuesday the midwife remarked, "You were having a Braxton Hicks contraction while I was helping you lie down." I didn't feel a thing, but it's good to know I'm actually having them, I guess. The checkup went well: I finally met the third midwife of the three who might be attending me, my blood pressure is slightly higher than normal for me but not actually high, and L.E.O. is still all systems go. Now to get through the next two to six weeks.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Push my buttons

We were over at the mothers' yesterday, and before long I sat on the couch to put my feet up because the Time of the Great Swelling has come. I had to shove my rings on yesterday morning, and my wedding ring (slightly smaller than the engagement ring) didn't fit at all today. We'll see if I can remember I'm married.

"My ankles are memory foam!" I exclaimed shortly thereafter. The medical term is "pitting edema," but I prefer "memory foam." It means that when I pressed a finger into my puffy flesh, the dent stayed, and then very slowly filled in. It was fairly creepy. Eric seemed amused, though--and more amused when L.E.O. started moving around a little and I poked at her through the top of my belly and remarked, "Hmm. Whenever I press up here, I have to use the bathroom." I'm not just a baby's life support, I'm a baby's toy. Push this button for interesting textures! Push this button to make it move!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Childbirth class IV: Death or Serious Injury May Result

The last childbirth class was mainly on safety and postpartum issues. Not much instruction on how to actually take care of a newborn, though we got handouts. I was slightly disappointed, but I admit that the title of the class doesn't specify anything about what to do once the kid is out and we've got other resources for that.

We started out with a ridiculously boring video on carseat safety. There were a couple of good points in it, but most of the video was shots of various kinds of carseats and booster seats and how they should be installed in various kinds of vehicles, with some crash test scenes for variety and scaremongering, and I've forgotten most of the information already. We did get a handout for a program at Toledo Hospital for free checks of our carseats.

We went over CPR and poisoning briefly (biggest poisoning incidence of children in the US: iron poisoning from children's vitamins) and general baby-proofing. Then we moved into what babies will look like when they come out. The answer is apparently Bill Cosby's assessment, "like a lizard." They'll have coneheads and puffy faces, tiny squinty eyes, covered with acne and vernix (cheesy "cream" on the skin) and lanugo (body hair), cross-eyed, with blue hands and feet, swollen breast tissue (male or female), and birthmarks and rashes everywhere. Supposedly we will think they're cute anyway.

We went over post-birth procedures for the baby: erythromycin in the eyes, shots of vitamin K and potentially hepatitis B vaccine, measuring weight and circumference and height, taking footprints, checking reflexes to assess gestational age, Apgars. We discussed things to expect for new mothers: looking pregnant still, engorgement, pain and bleeding, hemorrhoids, potential PPD, urination and sweating like you wouldn't believe. Jackie was enthusiastic about the products used to treat most of these issues, particularly witch hazel and Dermaplast, and dressed up in a hospital gown, wig, and hospital-issue underwear to demonstrate how they were used.

She discussed breastfeeding for a bit, enumerating all the benefits (not only will it make the baby healthier and smarter and the mother thinner and happier, it will rotate your tires and keep your cat from vomiting on the carpet) and dispensing advice on pumps. She also discussed "babyland," the magical realm in which you spend hours gazing at your newborn while visitors drop by and clean your house for you. She also said that the average mother is interrupted 84 times in a two-day hospital stay, including nurse and doctor visits.

The class ended with review in the form of Jeopardy! with some Family Feud thrown in, the expectant mothers versus the support people. Eric is in Columbus, so I was assiduously taking notes the entire class, but I put them aside for the game. Even so I managed to steal the winning 20 points with "lochia." (Probably the support people had blocked this out of their memories, even though Jackie had been telling us about it a scant twenty minutes ago. I'd like to block it out of mine, but sadly that will not be possible for long.)

One of our classmates hadn't made it because she delivered last Monday, but she brought her baby in for the last few minutes. She wouldn’t say much about how labor went, which seems like a bad sign, but then she'd had to have a C-section and she did seem happy about having the baby out of her (she was very uncomfortable at the previous sessions). She also volunteered (without knowing what we'd been discussing that session) that "breastfeeding slims you down" and Jackie was pleased.

We filled out class evaluations in exchange for our last two handouts ("What to Bring to the Hospital" and "What to Do if the Laboring Mother Panics"), and when I turned mine in Jackie said, "Was your husband not able to come because I cancelled last week? I'm so sorry! I always really liked his comments. Tell him he can call me if he has any questions." This may or may not have been wise of her, but I appreciated it. I think the class was a good idea, overall. We learned some things and got to ask questions, and the breathing exercises were actually useful (and for this last class we tried out labor positions first, which was kind of interesting and kind of appalling). We'll see in approximately five weeks how useful it turns out to have been.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Focus

Childbirth class was canceled this week, rescheduled for next. This is annoying because Eric will be out of town that day. I guess I'll have to take notes and breathe by myself. I wonder whether the girl who was thirty-eight weeks pregnant at our last class will be there.

In the meantime, this is what the crib looks like in the nursery:


The blankets hide all the clothes and towels and sheets inside. We're figuring on waiting a couple of weeks before we wash and put everything away. (Also, it's nice to have it all out while we're writing thank-you notes.) We'll also start thinking about packing a hospital bag then. I went through a few websites during lunch at work yesterday and compiled a list of everything (reasonable) they suggested. It's a long, long list, and that's without including things like a video recorder or a "focus" (a meaningful or desirable object for concentrating on during labor). My friend Courtney decided her two top options for a focus were a huge ice cream sundae or Johnny Depp doing a striptease. Sadly, neither would be very easy to procure or keep around for as long as she'd need them. For me, I don't think "sleeping on my back" would be an easy thing to represent as a tangible object.

I'm not definitely tired of being pregnant yet--though the back pain is getting old, fast--but I do think I'm starting to get to the point where I'm letting go of the old life and anticipating the new. I'm not really feeling like I need more time to myself before the baby comes, which was not the case a month ago. I'm glad to be in this state--though of course it makes the next several weeks seem longer. But that's probably okay, since while I may not need the alone time, I do need time to wash clothes and put things away and make the bumper (which Eric keeps making suggestions for which make it more complicated) and the quilt and finish this baby jacket that may or may not be any use...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Covered

Our second baby shower was Sunday, out at Side Cut Metropark, which must be a great place to go to be alone because it's so hard to find hardly anyone ever makes it there. Several of our guests almost didn't. But everyone showed up eventually, and the site and the party were lovely. We got lots of very nice gifts and cards, including one reading "A humble offering to the most exalted little Evil Overlord. May your conquest be swift and absolute. --Your Most Loyal Minions." I think L.E.O. will be pleased.

She will also be very warm. She now owns twelve blankets, not including, you know, my uterus. It's really making me reconsider the quilt I'm making for her, or any quilt I plan to make in the future for other babies.

Yesterday we went to Babies R Us to spend our gift cards and store money and get the things that I was going to feel slightly insecure until we got: a crib mattress, a changing pad, a diaper pail, and so on. (We also got things like a Boppy cover and car mirrors and a Pack 'N Play, which are not as essential to my mental well-being but are still quite nice.) If we get a box of size 1 diapers, and maybe the diaper bag that Mom keeps saying she'll get us, I think we're pretty much set.

And I went for another checkup today and everything is still looking good, which made me especially happy since I've been a bit stressed out about other things and presumably my stress isn't affecting L.E.O. all that much. After getting it straight with the midwife that Yasmin was the name of my old birth control, not my baby (apparently the student midwife I talked to last time wrote cryptic notes), I asked her something I'd been meaning to ask in childbirth class: what determines whether they'll let me stay at the hospital when labor comes.

"Labor is actually defined by change in the cervix," she explained. "If you're at three centimeters but you're not really progressing and you're having irregular contractions, they're probably going to send you home. If you're at three centimeters but things are really changing, they'll want you to stay." She looked down at my chart. "However," she added, sounding almost reproachful, "you've been doing everything else perfectly, so you probably won't have a problem with that either." Maybe I'm too boring a patient.