Thursday, March 31, 2011

Meghan and Ben's 10th Wedding Anniversary 2011!

A tenth wedding anniversary is particularly impressive when you consider how young they are-- I went to college with Meghan.  She was my big sister in our sorority so I took particular notice when I witnessed their first meeting. Our chapter of Alpha Delta Pi organized a self-defense workshop. The self-defense trainers had brought Ben along as their Naval Academy tackling dummy.  There were approximately sixty women in the room but Ben clearly had eyes only for Meghan.  The second that the trainers said to pair up to practice our moves, Ben made a beeline for Meghan. Luckily for Ben there were a an odd number of women in the room, so his strategy worked.

Shortly thereafter they had their first date at our sorority formal.  I guess that means that technically I went on their first date too.  Perhaps not so coincidentally, Meghan wore a long white dress to the dance with him.

1999 04 17 Black Diamond Formal 172anniversary b
Me with Ben and Meghan on their first date, April 17, 1999

2001 03 31 Cipperley Wedding 089
Their wedding in 2001, outside the church in Fort Worth, Texas

Cipperley Wedding 2001

2001 03 31 Cipperley Wedding 094
You can see the love!

Now they live in California, and their son Nathan is five years old!

2011 03 12 Bens Homecoming 01c
Ben's homecoming 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hospital Tour 2011

Kevin and I went for a hospital tour on Saturday with a bunch of other expectant parents, including one woman due this week and one woman expecting twins! The tour mainly consisted of sitting in a hospital conference room and having one of the maternity nurses talk about miracles and make strange analogies to the NICU being like Sully landing in the Hudson River.  We did that for about an hour and a half.

But it was still helpful because she walked us through what to do and where to go when we get to the hospital on delivery day. She also gave us a list of what to pack in the hospital bag/s. Even though that's available on numerous websites online, I like the hospital's list the best because it's very minimal. I was overwhelmed by the online ones. Now I can use the short list and see if there's anything else from the long lists that seems like a good idea as well.

Finally we got to actually walk through the maternity floor, but all the labor rooms were blocked by fancy construction to improve the floor, set to end by Mother's Day, which is of course way after I have our baby. And all the maternity recovery rooms were in use because they had a lot of labors that day, but I sort of peeked into one of the shared rooms. They look crowded to host me, Kevin, baby, and other guests, but the mom I saw was blissfully playing with her quiet baby so it still looked pretty great.

Then the best part of the tour- the nursery! I have sadly spent a lot of time in hospitals in the last year and I can assure you that newborn nurseries everywhere are on super-secure lock-down, so this was really a special treat.  They even had some boys that had been born just a few hours ago, basking in the heat lamps like they were at a fun nudist beach.  They were big for newborns and had dark hair so I could really imagine our little guy doing the same.

Hospital Tour
Not our actual hospital nursery because I would have been arrested.

Oh, and if any of you need extra motivation to come visit me after the baby is born, my hospital has girl scouts selling girl scout cookies in the lobby every Saturday. If I'm lucky I'll deliver on a Friday.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Baby Clara 2011!

The Shaws had their third beautiful daughter just over 2 weeks ago. Her name is Clara Josephine. Congratulations Shaw family! How cute that you will have three girls just like Anna's family when she was growing up.

Clara Josephine Shaw 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

9 Months Pregnant 2011!

36 Weeks, March 20-26, 2011

9 Months + 3 Days 2011
9 Months + 3 Days Belly Shot!

Milestones: This was a very exciting week! Kevin finished building the nursery furniture including the crib so I've been putting away the washed baby clothing and trying to set up the nursery to look how I would like it to look. Getting the nursery ready reminds me again how lucky I am to have the people in my life that I do. Almost every single item we needed was provided at the baby shower. I'm lucky to have so many kind and generous people in my life. Kevin and I just bought a few odds and ends that weren't on our registry. After a week, I'm still not done, but I promise at least a progress photo next week.

Building Nursery Items 2011
Kevin building the baby's crib on Sunday

We had possibly our last sonogram on Wednesday, and though the baby was covering his face again, we learned that he has A LOT of hair, and is weighing in at about 7 pounds and 13 ounces! "You're basically carrying around a full-term baby and you can never put him down." - Sonogram Technician. He's putting on more than an ounce a day, and still working on lung development, which seems to involve a lot of hiccuping.

From now on, we go to the doctor every week so they can check to see if labor is imminent. In that spirit, I'm going to try to post promptly and frequently so that if I suddenly have to go to the hospital there won't be anything left unblogged.

The baby's weight estimate made me think of the Baby Bets we placed in October. The program relies on some tricky formulas where you get or lose points for every ounce away from the baby's weight you are and every HOUR away from the baby's arrival. So you don't have to have the right gender or weight to win necessarily. But if it were more like college basketball, there would be 11 of you who would have busted your brackets already with a girl under 8 pounds. I think at this point, Jon is the front-runner, but it really depends on when the baby decides to show up.

Weekly Wisdom: I have been skipping this category until now, but I finally had a little piece of insight. Baby socks are the cutest thing ever. Unbearably cute. They are also some kind of matching game torture device, especially the completely white ones which still manage to be subtly different from each other. And because they are so small they have the ability to simply disappear into the time-space continuum. My evidence is that we threw 13 pairs in the laundry and got out 10 pairs and 3 socks without a match.

What I miss the most: Sleeping even somewhat normally or comfortably. HOT DOGS, and I don't even want to talk about how sad that is.
Craving: Strawberry juice, strawberry sorbet, cherry and strawberry yogurt, burgers, (hotdogs), peanut butter and strawberry jam
Anti-craving: None.
Symptoms: Most days I wake up at 5 or 6 am and can't go back to sleep for 2 or 3 hours, and then it's back to bed time. I'm sleepy all the time but sleep is the enemy. Also swelled hands and knuckles and back pain.

Oh and here's a fun demonstration of what a total joke pregnancy is. This is me reaching as far over the kitchen sink as I can. Granted if I were taller, or stood on a stepping stool I might be able to reach by getting my belly over the sink, but still, this is absurd.

9 Months + 3 Days 2011

And here's a fun baby trick. He likes to sit in the middle or on the left side of my body exclusively. And since he's so big, I can watch him do it.

9 Months + 3 Days 2011
This is so. Alien.

Baby-size: A crenshaw melon.Whatever, he's newborn size now, okay?
Weight gain: I haven't gained weight in 3 weeks so I will now admit to being at 38 pounds, but I am really not talking about it anymore.

As far as New York, generally, the weather still hasn't settled down here. Last week it warmed up, but this week was cold again. Not only did it snow and hail on Wednesday, but it actually thunder-hailed on Wednesday night!

All right, we're off to our hospital tour now. How exciting is that!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pregnancy Advice: Prenatal Vitamins

My grade school friend told me yesterday that she's pregnant too, just a little behind me, and has been reading my blog for an idea of what to expect. I was so happy to hear that someone likes the blog! Then it made me think that even though I have a bunch of friends who are moms, I have even more that are not quite there yet.  So in the interest of being helpful, maybe I could share some newly acquired knowledge.

The very first thing to deal with when you're going to get pregnant is buying prenatal vitamins. You should be taking these before (some say as early as three months before), during, and after pregnancy.  My first bottle was the generic CVS prenatal vitamain because I was at CVS and it was the cheapest one. I bought these instead of using the prescription for the super vitamins my previous doctor had written me. Apparently they were really pricey and maybe insurance would pay. Um, no thanks. But the CVS ones left a bit to be desired. They were a little big for swallowing and colored pink. Why do I need red #40 and yellow #6 and a bunch of preservatives in my vitamins? I'm trying to eat organic food without preservatives during the pregnancy, so why should the vitamins be my downfall?

Prenatal Vitamins

So here are the best 3 brands I found, for all different reasons. Vitasmart is available at KMart (I know shopping there is liberal crime but there's one in Penn Station and I ran out of vitamins), it's cheap and it's very thin and easy to swallow. It suffers from being colored pink, but for someone who has trouble swallowing pills, it's a good choice.

Trader Joe's is my official recommendation, if you're lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe's. It's reasonably priced, has no food coloring, and keeps random chemicals to a minimum. That greenish color is the actual color of the stuff in it, so it sort of looks like food. It's main drawback is that it's regular prenatal vitamin size which is a little tough to swallow.

Finally, I tried Prenate Essential because I got free samples at my doctors office. Given that it's big and colored blue it wouldn't even be worth discussing, except it's deliciously flavored like vanilla, and it contains a dose of fish oil which will make your baby smarter. Of course you can just take a separate fish oil pill with the other prenatal vitamins, but I'm too lazy to do that most of the time. I just hope I eat enough actual fish that I make up for it that way.  I have no idea how much this vitamin costs, but my guess is that if they're giving samples to the doctor, it's pricey. But I do love it.

On top of the prenatal vitamin my doctor told me to take fish oil everyday, and a calcium pill every day.  This is quite the vitamin cocktail, and most days it doesn't happen. At this point though, I drink so much milk and consume so many Tums that I'm definitely not worried about the calcium. Maybe I'll try a little harder to take everything for this last leg of the pregnancy.

Any moms have a different favorite?

Update: For my second pregnancy I only took the yummy gummy vitamins that Anna recommended. Yum!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

35 Weeks, March 13-19, 2011

Milestones: Kevin disassembled our guest room and started building the nursery stuff! I have a sneaky suspicion the baby dropped, but I didn't have a doctor's appointment this week so I don't know. I am so looking forward to my next doctor's appointment and another sonogram. Lately this is the best part of my week.
What I miss the most: Sleeping without back pain.
Craving: Fish and strawberries. Saturday I wanted a tuna fish sandwich at breakfast, though I held off until lunchtime in the name of being civilized. Then I wanted and obtained eel for dinner. That's right. For the strawberries, last week I failed at eating a carton of strawberries probably because in real life I don't actually like strawberries.  So this week I have consumed strawberry yogurt, strawberry juice, strawberry sorbet, and strawberry frozen fruit bars. This is normal right? I also had a lighter craving for a burger at the beginning of the week, which was strange only because I haven't been that interested in red meat. WATER.
Anti-craving: WATER (gives me acid reflux), Thai food seems like a terribly unexciting idea (also totally unlike me).
Symptoms: Swelled hands and knuckles.  I had a day or two of no acid reflux (amazing!), and I took advantage of it by guzzling water all day. That seems to have helped. Now I have back pain even though I sleep on my side. Shoving a pillow behind me helps but isn't always fully effective.
Baby-size: Honey dew.
Weight gain: We're not talking about it, though oddly it went down a little from last week, which might mean that I was retaining a ton of water last week.

Building Nursery Items 2011
Kevin building the diaper-changing station

If I spent the weekend doing our taxes (and my mom's) and Kevin spent the weekend building nursery furniture, are we officially million-year old suburbanites?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

St. Patrick's Day 2011

St. Patrick's Day has been a favorite holiday of mine even before I met my Irish (-Scottish-Canadian) husband. This probably came about when I discovered it was the one holiday singularly concerned with partying and beer. These days I am in no shape to party, and the baby hasn't matured enough to do keg stands yet, so St. Patrick's Day was a low-key but pleasant affair. Kevin made some yummy corned beef for corned beef sandwiches on rye, and lured some of his friends over to watch the first day of March Madness with some Guinness and Harp. We even managed to get the redhead ratio up to 50% with Briggs, Lukas, and Sarah.

St. Patrick's Day 2011
Guinness with Briggs and Jon

St. Patrick's Day 2011
Kevin slaving away over his slow-cooked corned beef

St. Patrick's Day 2011
Sarah and Lukas rocking their red hair

St. Patrick's Day 2011
Don't be fooled, I look deceptively small here

Oh and here's a blast from the past:
St. Patrick's Day in DC 2007
Our first St. Patrick's Day together in 2007

Monday, March 14, 2011

34 Weeks, March 6-12, 2011

Milestones: If the baby were born now, he shouldn't have any serious health consequences (especially since he's weighing big). I had my first Braxton Hicks contractions this week. For those of you who don't know, these are contractions that you get when you are not in labor. There are a lot of ways to distinguish them from real contractions, so I'm not worried. I had one and then a couple days later I had a second one. I looked them up online and they were described as "hugs" and I asked my friend Rachel and she said "a tightening." Of course, I experienced them like the WORST flu stomach cramp you have ever had, lasting for 40 seconds. I am so glad that I decided on an epidural (if I don't end up having a c-section anyway). Too bad they don't have a home kit because I would definitely stick that big needle in myself on the way to the hospital.

We had our 34-week sonogram this week. I was more excited about another sonogram on Thursday than I was about my birthday on Wednesday. Fun thing I learned at the sonogram: the baby is no longer breach! He is head down but hasn't dropped yet. Sonogram technician says he really shouldn't flip anymore. Famous last words.

Also, the baby is 6 pounds and 10 ounces, give or take. Based on that and other measurements, the baby is measuring over two weeks ahead of schedule. My adjusted due date (which no one told me about, but I saw on the sonogram screen) is April 1, instead of April 17. Let's see if it has any bearing on reality. My mom wants it to be April 14, her anniversary with my dad, but she's actually predicting April 18, the full moon. My guess would be April 3-12 somewhere. We also scheduled a c-section on April 20 if the baby hasn't come on his own by then because he would probably be 10-12 pounds by then, so there's officially a deadline now.

Another fun sonogram tidbit I learned was that the baby's femur is measuring long. I'm excited that he has a hope of being taller than I am. Sadly, the baby was covering his face during the sonogram, so we didn't get any good pictures this time.

What I miss the most: Sleeping through the night and sleeping without waking up in pain.
Craving: Plain flavors of ice cream. Stuff in it is kind of annoying. And this is not a craving, but we got our girl scout cookies this week! Samoa and the thin mint ones. The peanut butter ones would have been good too; alas, we didn't get those. Tums for acid reflux.
Anti-craving: WATER (gives me acid reflux).
Symptoms: Very bad sleeping, very bad acid reflux, my ankles are swelling up, and it's hard to fight back when drinking water hurts. Itchiness all over (possibly hormonal, but especially itchiness on my belly.
Baby-size: Cantaloupe
Weight gain: Over 35, so I don't want to reveal anymore. Who decided this was a good question anyway?

Roger and Lina came over for dinner on Saturday night, even though Roger was a little afraid that I had posted moodiness as a big symptom last week. I was fine, though. Eating at restaurants is getting harder and harder because the belly keeps me far from the table and leaning forward is uncomfortable, but somehow I never notice when I'm eating sushi. I forgot to get a picture of them visiting, but we had a nice time, and after dinner Lina and I had TV night while Roger and Kevin went to some tournament games in Madison Square Garden.

So because I have no other pictures from this week and because my birthday/34 week + 3 days picture really freaked people out with my hugeness, I am posting another one from the same day with the dress moved so you can see the belly shape. It doesn't look any smaller, but it gives you a different perspective on how big I am.

34 Weeks +3 Days 2011
My birthday, 34 weeks + 3 days

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What Will Baby Clou Look Like?

At our last doctor's appointment on Thursday, the baby had his hand over his face so we couldn't get an updated sonogram of his face. I was looking forward to getting a new picture because I am obsessed with photos because supposedly his skin is filling out now so he should look more baby-like and less old-man-like.  So let's try this mental exercise instead. I'll post my baby picture and Kevin's and you can try to imagine just how totally Asian our Irish-Cuban (Cubish, also an appropriate nickname for the baby of a bear) baby will look. Yes, Asian.

My First Picture!
Ericka, March 1979

1980 Family Photos 046
Kevin, February 1980

We don't look like we're from the same country in Asia, but that's definitely our continent. Although, we're the only ones in each of our respective families that look Asian so the baby could just look like our other family members. Maybe that's even more likely.

What do you think?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Things My Wife Complains About #18: Dropping Things

The first trimester was exciting, the second trimester was mostly pleasant, and the third trimester is scary and uncomfortable. A major problem is that my wife always drops things (she's less coordinated now) and has no way of picking them up (she is the shape of a cartoon snake in the middle of digesting a small mammal). Rather than do something helpful like pick things up for her, I instead started an "Oh No Diary," named for the sound she makes every time something relatively minor goes wrong (spoken like Minnie Mouse finding out Donald Duck is coming over for dinner and, despite her repeated requests, duckin' it). Here are a few diary entries, starting with the drops:

Dropped tissue beneath couch
Dropped photograph on floor
Broke nail
Moved pillow
Found clothes on top of dry cleaning bag
Got butter on toaster

Then to chronicle this special time in our lives, I started augmenting the "Oh No Diary" with choice third trimester quotes, such as the following:

" sucks."
"Can you get a napkin fast before the syrup goes down my shirt!"

Note: The answer to the former was "no" and the latter "because you asked me to change the channel."

Possible Solutions!

1) Never get more than six inches off the ground, so as to keep everything within reach
2) Live in an MC Escher print where gravity will eventually send whatever you dropped back down to you
3) Deliver baby (hard)

34 Weeks +3 Days 2011
34 Weeks + 3 Days

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My 32nd Birthday in Floral Park 2011

My birthday was Wednesday, but since I am pregnant, I am the size of a car balancing precariously on size 6 shoes, and because I already had the pleasure of seeing my favorite girl friends at the baby shower this last Saturday, we decided to keep it low-key. Kevin brought me flowers and then we went for sushi.  Don't worry, I have become an expert in the non-raw-fish sushi options.

It was also nice that thanks to Facebook I got over 150 friends and family wishing me a happy birthday. (I didn't count but my Happy Birthday gmail folder did.) Nonetheless, it was a hard day in terms of missing my father.  I had a lot of time to myself during the day, and I spent most of it thinking about him.

My 32nd Birthday 2011
If we look tired now, we're really in for it soon.

My 32nd Birthday 2011
Flowers from Kevin

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Baby Shower 2011

My mother's friends and the two baby-grandmas threw me a beautiful baby shower this weekend. I was so happy to see so many friends and family there, and I could not believe how overly-generous everyone was. Baby Clou is going to be so lucky to have all these fantastic people in his life, much as I am.

There were also lots of my favorite Cuban appetizers, but sadly I got to eat none. I hope the rest of you got an education in croquetas, guava pastelitos, and bocadillos.  Even the baby food jars with my head pasted on the baby were appropriately mango flavored (my favorite!). Ash sent out the most beautiful invitations, Janice got a delicious kick-ass cake, and Sarah bought some perfectly coordinated balloons to the party. Lots of friends came from far away, and everyone was politely shocked at how ginormous I am. The photos really don't do my circumference justice.

Thank you all so much! Actual thank you notes in progress!

And now, the thing I love the most- a million photos:

Clou Baby Shower 2011
I love group photos!

Clou Baby Shower 2011
My mom pinning me with a little baby sock corsage
like the one she had at her baby shower

Clou Baby Shower 2011
My handsome baby daddy and husband

Clou Baby Shower 2011
Kevin's aunt Fran and mother Kathy came down from Cape Cod

Clou Baby Shower 2011
My grandmother Daisy and hopefully-future-sister-in-law Melanie

Clou Baby Shower 2011
Check out the flowers and cake!

Clou Baby Shower 2011
The lone Ramsey High representative, Allison, came from Boston

Clou Baby Shower 2011
College buddies from NY and DC: Rachel, Ash, Janice, Jaime, Christina, Megan

Clou Baby Shower 2011
Cathy and her little baby Madison came all the way from State College, PA!

Clou Baby Shower 2011
Law School friends: Sarah, Sarah, and Jackie

Clou Baby Shower 2011
The Wives Club: Sarah, Robin, and Becky

Clou Baby Shower 2011
Work buddies: Adrienne, Akua, and Christie

Clou Baby Shower 2011
Mom and her "cougar" friends

Saturday, March 5, 2011

33 Weeks, February 27-March 5, 2011

Milestones: This week, baby is supposed to be filling out his loose skin and losing his wrinkly look. Look your best for the sonogram, Baby!
What I miss the most: Not carrying a boulder. Going up a set of stairs without needing to stop to catch my breath and wanting to nap on the landing. 
Craving: Strawberry juice, which doesn't exist, but to Kevin's chagrin I won't accept this and keep asking him to bring it home. Vanilla. Cereal with flakes. 
Anti-craving: Water gives me acid reflux. And even though I fantasize about drinking gallons of cool refreshing water, I only manage a glass or two a day and then have to make do with milk and juice the rest of the day.

Symptoms: This was the first really difficult week of pregnancy symptoms. The first week when I thought, if only for a moment, would it be so awful to have an only-child? It's been the best hits of all my symptoms, even nausea. Epic mess.

Moodiness was a big one. I admit this is not the first week I have been moody, but this is maybe the first week I have been so bothered by it that I have waged battle against my moodiness. I held back a lot and then broke down at inopportune times, usually at night when I'm too tired to be reasonable.

And obviously I'm big and uncomfortable almost all the time. Picking things off the floor is a disaster because I get a rush of acid reflux. When I'm a little horizontal (for example when I try to sleep) I'm attacked by acid reflux.

The baby likes to somersault a lot still. He turned upside down again for a brief while, but mainly he hangs out in awkward horizontal position.  He enjoys kicking some organ I can't identify. Every day I feel generally ill. So I'm really looking forward to the next 6 weeks of increasing suffering. But then I think, at least I don't have to feed and diaper him right now, I can just exist and take his beating. Although once he's out, I can at least be rewarded by his cuteness.

Baby-size: A pineapple
Weight gain: 34.5 pounds. Yeah, I'm sure I'm just going to gain half a pound in the next 6 weeks.

It was a fairly low key week, except I went into Manhattan on Friday to have lunch with some friends from work. And then afterward I sat through a super boring Ethics Continuing Legal Education class. Lots of random people were there, including my friend from law school Jane. It was good to catch up with her, and apparently she secretly reads this blog, so hi, Jane!

Friends from Work 2011
Me, Christie, Adrienne, and Akua

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Belly Dance 2011

I have been recording particularly exciting baby movements for everyone's entertainment. But especially Baby Clou's amusement one day. You can see some hiccups at the beginning, but it frustrates him into swimming around.

 March 3, 2011: 33 Weeks + 4 Days

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

8 Months Pregnant 2011!

32 Weeks, February 20-26, 2011

Milestone: Hiccups! Well at least I can tell they're hiccups now. Also, we went to the doctor this week and contrary to the sonogram technician's experience and expertise our special gymnast did change position from having his head down to having his back up. In fact, I would describe his position as perfectly horizontal for maximum discomfort.  Of course, my doctor took the opportunity to tell me this might result in a c-section. I get it, okay, you're itching to cut the huge horizontal baby out.

32 Weeks, Breech Horizontal Position

What I miss the most: HAAAAAAAAAAA. I will say that I have significantly lowered my standards for what qualifies as a good night's sleep. As long as I don't have to go to the living room for a few hours, I consider it "good." As such, I have had all good nights this week.  I also discovered that with enough Tums I can now sleep on my right side and not just my left side all the time. It's a huge victory.
Craving: Vanilla. Kevin discovered the most delicious Trader Joe's vanilla creme yogurt. So amazing.
Anti-craving: Water is both my craving and my anti-craving.
Symptoms: Hugeness.
Baby-size: A large jicama, but um, wth is that?
Weight gain: This game is embarrassing but 32.5 pounds.

Grandma Clou turned 57 on Sunday.  Tuesday, Wendy and Clark came out to visit us and we went for some local Thai food. It was nice to have them finally see our place and we had some good though sometimes sad conversation. On Thursday we saw our doctor for a checkup again since now we're on an every-two-weeks schedule. The next appointment will include another sonogram (my favorite photo op). We also met with a third pediatrician and we agree we liked the second one we saw the best. So now we have a baby doctor!

Flowers from Wendy and Clark 2010
Flowers from Wendy and Clark
Not pictured: the flan they also brought that I scarfed up too fast to photograph.
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