Tuesday, July 29, 2008


We're finally back home after a busy couple of days at the hospital. We arrived at 7:30am Sunday morning, and even then Michelle was feeling good and smiling. It wasn't until around 2pm when they broke her water that she finally stopped smiling during contractions.

In between contractions an hour and a half before Gabe came out. Can you believe she's still smiling? She kept on smiling and joking in between contractions all the way through delivery. How she made it through without any medication is beyond me, but she did it!

Gabe entered the world at 4:14 pm on Sunday July 27th, 2008. Michelle looked over as I took this picture and said 'He must be a Gabe, he looks like a little angel with a halo right now." This was after commenting as he came out. 'Holy shit did that come out of me?!?'

Mom worked really hard for this picture!

Gabe tipped the scales at 8lbs 8.8 ounces. Not quite lucky 7s across the board, but it was just as happy a number for us to see. We had expected him to be closer to 6-7lbs based on estimations during checkups leading up to his delivery, so it was a bit of a surprise. He's 20' long, has really long fingers, and sharp nails on them. He's already managed to scratch himself a couple times on his face when he's been out of his sleeper.

Speaking of sleeping it is really easy to just sit and stare at him as he sleeps. Mom and Dad both have to be reminded that for now when the baby is asleep they need to try and catch a few winks. We him breastfeeding we don't usually have long before he's hungry for more.

Grandpa and Grandma Sullivan flew up on Sunday night and have been a huge help the past couple of days. This photo is from this morning. We actually got some sleep last night and Michelle was looking much better for it. We have no regrets about letting him go to the nursery so we could get some sleep. We can't exactly do that anymore;)

Here Gabe shows how he gets milk out of Mommy.

Thwarted from sucking on his fingers!

A happy new family, getting ready to head home!

We didn't get the timing quite right and he was ready for a feed as we were ready to leave. He was fussing like mad so I was entertaining him by letting him hold my finger in his hand. This made carrying him harder, but there are times when I feel like I'd do handstands on nails if it'd make him happy. Michelle walked out, and is feeling good for all she's gone through. She and Gabe are settling into the nursery right now, and I'm going to go join them.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Go Time!

We're off to the hospital!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Contractions are Getting Regular

The contractions have settled into a regular discomfort every six and a half minutes! As soon as they reach five minutes, we’ll head to the hospital. Oof, here comes another one. . .

I spent the morning doing fiddly clean-up things about the house, and doing garden things with Chris. We learned how to braid onions (which made me feel like a proper farm-wife) and we ate chard, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes from the garden.

Here’s my absurdly cantilevered belly again!

And here is Chris, proudly displaying his onion accomplishment (and still wearing the shirt that he slept in!)

Still at Home. . .

Well, I decided to get some sleep while I waited for the contractions to get regular, and here I am feeling nicely rested and still having irregular, painless contractions. Chris wore his Hawaiian shirt to bed, in case he should have to spring into action at a moment’s notice. I think both of us slept better than my parents, who had already called the hospital this morning to see if I had checked in.

I’m going to do some housework to see it that’ll move my contractions along. . .

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dressed for Success

For the childbirth education class we took, as my homework I had drawn a picture of myself in labor. The image consists of myself, in a hospital gown, standing in a squat while grimacing; and Chris is sliding in across the floor in a Hawaiian shirt to catch the baby. (I’ll have to post the image later, because I forgot it at work.)

Yesterday, Chris said I couldn’t go into labor because he wasn’t wearing a Hawaiian shirt. So today, I lined up his Hawaiian shirts and told him to pick one so we could get on with it.

Finally, my scattered contractions are becoming regular! I guess the shirt did the trick.

The contractions feel about as uncomfortable as a really full bladder, and the discomfort doesn’t last for the duration of the contraction. They come every three to seven minutes so far. We’re going to track them for another half-hour or so, before calling the doctor.

I suppose I should grab a towel to sit on, because at some point I suppose my water will break.

Chris is being absolutely adorable. :)


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Still Not in Labor. . .

Chris is on tenterhooks waiting for this baby to come out. Since we work together, he is able to stop by my desk during the day to check up on me. “You in labor yet?” he asks hopefully. If he were a puppy, his tail would be wagging and wagging.

In pregnancy I have achieved a level of mellowness that I have never had before. I feel like such a more patient and content person than I ever was, and I sincerely hope this feeling stays with me. I like being this person.

Baby preview!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yet Another Night of Frequent Peeing

Nope, I’m still not in labor. The last few weeks have been amusing, though: I finally hit that fabled “pregnant women have to pee a lot” point. I have been awake to use the bathroom about as frequently as I will soon be awake nursing. I guess it’s a good warm-up for the real deal. I’m pleased to find that I can switch between awake and asleep with that frequency and still wake up feeling refreshed. (Though I know when there is nursing involved, it’ll mean half the amount of sleep in addition to the interruptions, so I expect to be a zombie at first, like every new mother.)

The worst part about the night-time interruptions is maneuvering my oversized belly in and out of bed! Just flipping from one side to another makes me sore.

Training my replacement at work has been going exceptionally well. We started off with a lemon of a situation: since we hired him so quickly, there was no computer set up for him, nor even a desk. I had to hunt down a chair for him on the first day so that he could sit next to me at my station. Monday we ran through how to use the software, and yesterday I started a small landscape-building task. I was able to show him my work-flow, and periodically I let him take over the work while I either watched or took care of other tasks offline.

I have heard of hot-seat programming, but I have never heard of hot-seat level-building, and I only know of one oddball pair of professional illustrators who take turns working on the same piece of art. I’ll be damned if this isn’t a most efficient way to ramp up a new employee on both tools and creative techniques! It gives me the opportunity to catch his bad habits before they become bad habits. I am forced to explain everything that I do, and he is present to spot techniques which I am not entirely conscious of using. And since I am always being watched, I waste less time. Between the two of us, I may just finish my current task on time in addition to getting him trained.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

From Bouncy Ball to Golf Ball to Softball Here's the Pitch!

This whole 4cm thing has me more anxious than I'd like to admit. With the child birth class focusing on 5cm as the hard part I'm kind of going, er aren't we almost there? I mean when Michelle finally goes into labor am I going to have time to get her from work to home to the hospital?

The answer is almost assuredly yes, but that doesn't keep me from being anxious. The baby isn't even out yet and I'm already starting to worry about any number of things from financial to fumes. Being a super taster I have a super sense of smell, I just hope I don't end up as one of those youtube collections of dads gagging as they change diapers. I should say that I'm not worried in a sitting on the porch chain smoking kind of way, its just low grade wow I'm going to be doing this for the rest of my child's life I better get used to it worrying.

My Coworkers have been troopers as this low grade eternal worrying and high grade omg I'm about to become a dad worry have me a little on edge. It means when I bring up issues at work, I transfer just a little of my anxiety into those work issues and come off just a bit sharper than I should. It also means they have to put up with me telling crazy stories to release stress, but they handle it well. I suppose having a baby at the same time you're pushing to release isn't an ideal combination, but then again since when is life ideal.

I'm reminded by my own father's voice telling me, "If you change your wants into preferences you'll lead a much happier life." So while I would prefer for the baby to be here already, I'll just be happy for him to arrive health whenever he pleases.

I should say that it doesn't help that Michelle has been an absolute trooper throughout the pregnancy. I haven't had to make any midnight runs for mega cheery ice cream, and she's still at work and helping with chores around the house. I almost feel like her family has duped me, and in actuality Michelle's the result of arcane Russian experiments in the heart of Siberia to produce the ultimate mother. After hiking seven hundred miles after the collapse of the Soviet Union she then swam across the Bering Straits to freedom in the United States. Ya, something like that.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Count-Down Continues

I’m at four centimeters! And the doctor confirmed that all of these little twinges and twangs are contractions. Not you’re-in-labor contractions just yet, but contractions nonetheless. I keep getting these feelings like the baby is trying to use his head as a battering ram to get out, and feelings of funky tightness that don’t really hurt, but just feel odd. The doctor says she’ll be surprised if I don’t go into labor this week.

Belatedly, I’ve got a replacement for myself at work now, and I’m racing the clock to get him up to speed! I’m hoping I can last a few more days for his sake.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Craig’s List and Yard Sales

Those who know me know that I don’t like to shop. Those who know me may also know that I have strong feelings about keeping things out of landfills. (In fact I tend to keep a little quiet on the subject because my feelings on the matter are very strong indeed, and I hate to sound preachy.)

If I buy something new, I want it to be of good quality, so that someone else can use it after me, and someone else can use it after them. I also insist on owning things that are aesthetically pleasing. This means my tastes are, in some cases, painfully expensive. Fortunately, this is tempered by my disinclination to shop, and a similar disinclination to own a lot of stuff. I am not a material girl.

But the above also means that I can be perfectly peachy with second-hand things!

I feel almost ashamed just to admit that I acquired all of this stuff. Never mind that babies require stuff – it just isn’t normal for me to go out of the house and come back hours later with a car full of loot. Fortunately my nesting urge drove me precisely to do that.

Craig’s List supplied me with the crib, the changing table, and the rocking chair. Yard sales yielded the hamper and rocking horse. The brightly-colored infant gym came second-hand from a friend, the paper lanterns are things I already owned, and the items on the crib were new gifts. The one thing I bought new was the boppy, because the thought of using a nursing pillow that had been dripped on by someone else’s breast milk was just. . . eeew.

The rocking chair and stool were one of the most expensive baby purchases we have made, at $200. The crib and changing table together were $50. The rocking horse was $3.

Our town must have had a baby boom over the past years, because it is a hotbed for good second-hand baby and kid items. A woman just down the street had Craig’s Listed a set of three hutches, of which I bought two for $250. They’ll be perfect for the kid when he gets older: the surface is already a bit worn, so I won’t cringe over new scratches or crayon marks or requests to paint the darn things purple. The drawers are sturdy and open easily, and they are low enough for a reasonably small person to use. And the shelves are great for books and toys.

Most of the stuffed animals are new, but the Lamaze brand toys came from a yard sale looking spotless, and mom washed them again just to be thorough. Mom has been an absolutely amazing help with getting my yard-sale finds cleaned up. To give you an idea of how much a little elbow-grease can be worth, I paid $10 for the Lamaze toys, when new, they would have cost about $100. (And they would have come wrapped in three times their volume of wasteful packaging.) The mirror was $5 at a yard sale. I really need to get those wall decorations hung up!

There are a couple dozen books on the shelves already, including a whole stack of (slightly prechewed) Dr. Suess books. Yard sales, $.25 each. I swore up and down that I wouldn’t stoop to buying a cutsie lamp, but that small light-source on a high shelf is a paper lamp which has animal shapes that are driven around and around by heat rising from the bulb. I couldn’t resist. Yard sale, $5.

Before I bought the hutches, I had purchased an antique oak chest of drawers from another local woman, this one for $100. But once I got it in the nursery, I realized that even though the scale was okay for a small child to use, the drawers needed to be opened with two hands in order not to stick – no good either for a child, or a tired parent holding a squirming baby in one arm. And I wanted more storage space. Being a lovely oak antique, I knew I would also worry about the sort of damage that a child can inflict. And, well, it matched the master bedroom better than the nursery, anyway. So now it lives next to our bed. We needed a side-table there anyway.

The white thing on the right of this image is a co-sleeper. Basically, it’s a portable crib that straps to the side of the bed so that for the first months, the baby can sleep right there within arm’s reach. This was another awesome second-hand gift from a friend. It was missing the part that anchors it to the bed (the straps you see dangling from the bed) but as it turns out, replacement pieces to baby goods are often sold separately. And the manufacturers also generally have the instructions available online, too, which is handy for these crazy devices that fold up like robots. You wouldn’t, you know, want the folding to happen accidentally with the baby inside.

Speaking of folding up like robots, I also picked up two separate pack-n-plays at yard sales. They fold up like mad crazy origami, as well. (Why two? Because instead of spending $150 on a new one I figured we could test out two for $23.)

Anyway. . . in the photo with the co-sleeper there are also an absurd number of baskets. Every yard sale has at least one basket lying around with a $.50 sticker on it. Why is everyone giving away perfectly good baskets for pocket change? I am baffled. They bring back delightful memories of my mom’s Pilipino basket collection, and when their useful life is over they can go to the compost heap instead of the landfill.

The mirror ($5, but still with the original $50 price tag attached) and lamp (two for $3) also came from yard sales. And you probably can’t make it out, but there is an old, complete hard-bound set of Beatrix Potter books by the mirror, that my mother found for me at a consignment shop! I will treasure them until I am an old lady!

In the redundant department of redundancy, I also bought two highchairs. This time, my excuse was that I find the new highchairs to be vomitously ugly. Yes, yes, I know they have a gazillion bells and whistles and the baby will more than likely prefer reclining in a soft seat than sitting in a hard cage of wood. But I fell in love when I saw the wooden one on Craig’s List, and the plastic one followed me home from a yard sale. The cost for both: $65. Each of these sells for new for about $150.

My nesting urge went a bit haywire when confronted with toddler goodies. Yes, I knew we wouldn’t need them for a while, but when you wake up in the middle of the night thinking obsessively about the acquisition of stuff for the nest, it’s a little hard to put the brakes on.

The plastic bin shelf, the big cube toy, the wooden cash register (with awesome buttons on springs!), the rocking-horse wall decoration, and the rug all came from yard sales. The baby swing was a second-hand gift from a friend. (And a second one is upstairs!) the most expensive thing in the picture was the shelf, which was $15. The rug was $8, and the cube toy was $5.

Here is another thing in the Department Of We Don’t Need It Yet. It’s a child-sized easel, wooden, with a chalkboard, white-board, and a roll of paper that dispenses from the top. Yard sale, $8. In front of that is an antique dressmaker’s stand that I bought at a yard sale a few years ago. It was my computer desk for a while. The little chair was a gift from my mother that she found at a yard sale in the hopes that it would match the desk pictured below. The little rug was a dollar and still had the original tags on it.

Here’s a completely unnecessary thing that I just couldn’t resist. It’s an antique kid-sized roll-top desk. It’s more for my amusement and my mother’s amusement than for the child, who may ultimately find it to be the dumbest toy ever. Craig’s List, $75. The chair I found at a yard sale down the street for $3. And of course, more baskets. The small wooden object on top of the desk is a wooden cell phone. Yard sale, ten cents.

My parents very graciously had given us money for the purpose of buying baby furniture. As it turns out, we have spent only two-thirds of it – and on all the baby items we needed and wanted, not just furniture. I have been able to exercise my desire to recycle, collect a few silly antiques and pretties, and put us closer to our goal of paying off our home equity loan, which has been amazingly gratifying.

Nine Months and in a Formal Dress

We made it to the wedding last night! Chris was adorable in his tux, and I was reasonably cute in my dress. It was a good thing I only bought it two weeks ago, because even in that short time it was already becoming too tight for me. Chris spent half the night pushing the ill-fitting straps back up on my shoulders.

I’m glad I didn’t have a month or three in advance to pick out a dress, because there is no way I could have predicted exactly how my body would change. I would have had to arrange to have a dress on hand that would be altered at the last minute, which would have cost a small fortune. It was so much better just going for something off the rack, shoulder straps be damned.

At the event people kept asking me about my due date, and kept being surprised when I answered “nine more days”. I have gained between 35 and 40 pounds, which puts me at the heavy end of the scale of expected weight gain. But apparently enough women either start out overweight or gain way too much, so I appear to be on the small side despite feeling like a hippo.

One older woman was so concerned that I might spontaneously go into labor that she mentioned repeatedly that there were a number of doctors in the room, and even turned to her friend to ask if her cardiologist husband would be able to help should the need arise. I couldn’t help but laugh! Perhaps she had never been through childbirth herself. I’m pretty sure labor doesn’t hit you like a speeding bus in a fog-bank; and Chris and I were both quite prepared to quietly sneak out and drive home should my contractions get regular. And I don’t think a cardiologist would know any more about emergency delivery than a pregnant woman who has read up on the subject. (And really, it’s not that complicated.)

And I have been having contractions, I’m fairly sure. The last few days I’ve had no end of funny little crampy feelings, gas-like pains, and sharp little jabs like the baby is head-butting my cervix. The most convincing are these feelings of tightness that build up and hold across the lower part of my belly for ten or twenty seconds. They don’t hurt, and they aren’t regular, but I’m sure if I were to have told the paranoid lady she would have panicked and started yelling for the cardiologist to come work some sort of doctor magic on me.

I’m sure she would have been equally stunned if I had mentioned that I’m already dilated to 3 centimeters, or that the mucous plug had already fallen out. People in general seem to know more about pregnancy from the movies than from real accounts. They seem to think that I’ll start screaming at the first labor pain (I’m more afraid that I won’t realize I’m in active labor) or that it is typical for water to break and come out all at once before labor even begins (which is not only rare but is a sign that the baby might be in a dangerous position).

The baby has been in a proper head-down position now for the last month. His bottom goes dancing from one side of my belly-button to the other, and his foot sticks out of my right side. Chris loves playing with that foot, chasing the foot-lump around on my skin. I habitually rub it when the baby pushes. I’m curious to know if because of this the kid will end up with some sort of foot-fetish, or one foot more ticklish than the other.

I did decide to go European for the evening, and drank two-thirds of the champagne that I was given to toast with. I was a little afraid that I would be pestered by well-meaning folks not to touch the stuff. But really – in Europe, it is considered safe for a pregnant woman to have a glass of wine with dinner. I’m not about to get into that habit, but figure instead that a. the baby is past the stage of developing his internal organs, and b. some alcohol in my system could help repress labor should my body inconveniently decide it was that time. Alcohol was used as recently as the 70’s to stop early labor, and for all I know still is. I was born drunk for that very reason.

The wedding was wonderful! Our friends are now finally hitched, and they put on one hell of a party, complete with waves of fantastic food. I ate like a happy hippo, danced the horah (if slight bouncing can be called dancing) and stayed awake well past my bedtime. And then I slept beautifully.

Poor Chris, though – he was stressed by the drive into and then out of Boston, and then couldn’t sleep because he had had coffee at the end of the evening to stay awake on the road. But a day of rest today seems to have done him some good.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

No Baby Yet

Well. . . I guess I’m relieved, even if it means I have to waddle about for another day or week or weeks. I’m still at three centimeters dilation. The doctor was appropriately cute and vague on when things might move along. I think she is amused at what a straightforward pregnancy I’m having. My only complaint at the moment are the occasional cramps I get in my left butt-cheek when standing up, which I derive great amusement from. (Why are you shaking that thang in the hallway, Michelle? Because my husband is not on hand to grab my butt for me! Yuk yuk yuk.)

I guess this means there is a chance I’ll be able to make it to our friends’ wedding this weekend. It’s a small family affair – formal – that we were invited to at the last-minute. It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t have months in advance to find a dress, because egads, I don’t know how I would have planned for an expanding belly. Instead I went straight to David’s Bridal and threw my belly at their mercy. And I came out an hour later with a dress that not only looks good on me without alteration, but came off the clearance rack!

If I make it to Saturday night, I’ll most definitely take pictures.

Mom, Dad, and Bulge

Here’s me, squinting into the sun and feeling like an overripe fruit. I had thought that a blueberry-picking outing might send me into labor, but instead it netted Chris, Jen, and myself ten pounds of blueberries. It was also one of those rare days in which I was so worn out by my activities that I actually took a nap.

Here is Chris, stalking the elusive blueberry! Doesn’t he look like good Dad material?

I have my regularly-scheduled-weekly-poke-n-prod in an hour, and I’m a little nervous. Today is Thursday. The last appointment was the Monday of last week, at which I was told I was already dilated to three centimeters. The Monday before that, I was at two centimeters. If that trend has been continuing, I should be a bit shy of five today. Five is when the fun starts happening. But what if I’m already at five? Maybe from there we’ll be heading right over to the maternity ward. But I can’t go yet! The dungeon I’m building at work just got to the fun stage!

But unlike a week ago, I finally feel like I have adequately nested. The house is clean. The nursery is set up. There are still odds and ends to do, but nothing that Must Be Done; and besides, I can enlist Mom to help with this stuff after the baby arrives. (Want to hang some decorations on the walls of the nursery for me, Mom?)

I suppose I had better go put some pants on and get ready to see the doctor.

So this is it. . .

I’m thirty years old and eleven days away from my first child’s due date. My husband Chris is an avid gardener, gamer, and cyclist, and he’ll be adding “awesome dad” to his resume soon. We both live far from our families and old friends, so it seems sensible to put up a blog where those of you who are waiting with us for the big day can watch and read about our progress.

With much love,