Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Party School

I just finished listening to a recent This American Life podcast about Penn State and it's status as the #1 Party School in America (Princeton Review). It chronicles the rather large problem of excessive binge drinking and all the delightful behavior that comes with it. ("Excessive binge drinking"--is that redundant?) Anyway having attended what most people consider a party school (WSU), I recognized the scenarios in the story (drunk kids peeing on lawns of local townspeople), student "types" (obnoxious drunk girls & spaced out guys) and the tragedies (a student falls to their death or dies of alcohol poisoning).

Drinking and college go hand in hand--there's no way around it and I won't deny that I had a great time. Maybe I was lucky or smart or a little of both but nothing regrettable happened in my college experience where alcohol & partying were concerned. I knew I was there to learn & work toward a career so the social aspect was a benefit not a requirement. But I developed a partying strategy to successfully navigate the scene:

1) Act more drunk than you actually are. This was not difficult for me due to the Asian Flush. Within one drink, my cheeks would be lit up like a Christmas tree. Still, you can maintain control and have a good time.
2) Leave before the downturn. There is always a point in a party/gathering where the fun climaxes and then everything/everybody gets ugly. Leave before then and keep your happy memories.
3) Have backup. Especially as a gal, it's unwise to go alone to a frat house or a party where you don't really know the people very well. Also avoid walking around late at night on a college campus by yourself.
4) Know your limit/pace yourself. Why do you need to do 5 shots in 5 minutes? What is the point of that? Do college kids think that despite a virtually endless supply of alcohol available in a college town that they might be capable of drinking it all? I never understood that.

I guess I'm feeling sort of apprehensive about this now that I have a kid and I'm squirreling away money for her college education. All of a sudden this isn't all fun and games anymore, college students can get seriously messed up or dead from binge drinking or activities stemming from it. I would not want to deny her some raucously awesome magical nights in her future but it sure looks different from this side of the table now. And yes, I know I have a while before I need to seriously think about this but it's never too late to save so never too late to worry.

Monday, December 28, 2009

All Cleaned Up

When Mommy and Daddy got to go out for a holiday party, sometimes the end result isn't half bad.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Babies all around!

As I reported earlier this month, we joyfully welcomed the newest Testa (Prince Maxfield) into the world. But we are pleased to announce here that two other couples we love & adore are expecting babies in 2010:

Sarah & Mika (early May)



Sam & Suzanne (late June)


We're letting them practice with Sidney.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Google Holiday Party @ EMP

Besides talking about our children all night, we (along with Ken's coworkers) tapped into our inner rock star. Now I do that already between playing Rock Band and singing karaoke here at the house but it is so much fun to do with others. Here is "our band" singing I Love Rock & Roll. Good times. (Click to enlarge) Overall, the event was wonderful with good food, drink, activities and a cover band that played ALL 80'S MUSIC (Right on). They even busted out "Enjoy the Silence" by Depeche Mode so I cut it up on the dance floor. But let me just say, this girl doesn't do high heels any more. I can't take it. No wonder fashion models are so bitchy, they're hungry but more importantly, their feet hurt. Party's over when the dogs start barking.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Testa, Party of 3

UPDATE: Serendipitously, I got to see the Testas today when I was at Ballard Swedish for my Mom's Group! They had just been discharged when I was getting out of my meeting. Little Maxfield is so precious and looks just like his daddy. He is 7 lbs 9 oz and just as sweet as can be. Sidney was in her stroller next to him and I couldn't get over how much bigger she is. At 15lbs, she is double his size but it's incredible to realize how much babies grow in such a relatively short time. Shannon told me her harrowing birth story of 36 hours of labor that ended in a C-section, but she looked amazing for having experienced that. So exciting! A whole-hearted welcome to Maxfield Kenneth Testa who arrived Monday 12/7/09 to two of the coolest people on the planet who are going to be awesome parents. I don't know too much about Maxfield yet but from the look of him, he's going to give this world a run for it's money. Congratulations Sean & Shannon!!!!

The New Mom Haze

I've been Sidney's mom for about 13 weeks now. Sometimes I can't believe it. Last night I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and thinking, 'there's a baby in the other room and she's mine.' Even at 35, I find myself wondering if I'm "qualified" to be some one's mom; but then I think, yeah and it's about damn time.

Truthfully, our first weeks after bringing Sidney home from the hospital were really tough and I struggled to keep it together. I've already talked about the breastfeeding ordeal which had a lot to do with that, but the hormonal fluctuation and the sleep deprivation were also intense. (This is expected for new moms and not what is considered post-partum depression. That is much more severe and you usually can't lift out of it like I was eventually able to do.) But at week two, I commented on Facebook that I couldn't believe it had only been a few weeks with Sidney and that it felt like much longer. My co-worker Dave said it was because I was awake for so much of it.

I like to pride myself in being pretty steady and level emotionally. I also like to think of myself as rational and thoughtful. But my god in the first weeks, I didn't recognize myself. I would start crying when I thought about my mom having return to Portland, when I would see puppies in commercials or when veering into territory regarding my feelings about ANYTHING. And unlike college all-nighters, the consecutive nights of sleep deprivation with a baby make you delirious or at least chronically absent-minded. I couldn't remember anything and there are lots of appointments in the first weeks--and especially with Sidney's jaundice, we had people coming and going here at the house. I could take nothing for granted so everything had to be written down or the information would evaporate into the ether.

I realized too that I had to give it all (emotionally, physically, mentally, intellectually) to fulfill her every need. Her fragility and dependence weighed so heavily--I thought then it might be more than I could bear. But I remembered something my co-worker Craig said a few years ago to me: "Having kids is like cutting out a piece of your heart and putting it out in the world. You have no control over it and it can get hurt." I guess as a parent you are always trying to balance protecting your child versus preparing them to deal with harsh realities of life. It's like you're slowly letting the rope out. When you're a kid, all you want to do it push the limits and as a parent all you want to do is protect that little being as long as possible. (I'm sure toddler-hood will be fun.)

I no longer feel the level of anxiety I had at the beginning where I felt constantly unsure of myself. But I can see why some parents can seem over-bearing and over-protective. That trap of wanting to do everything right and what the books say can make you crazy. Instincts (as muted and suppressed in our hi-tech world as they are) count for something.

No one really told me any of this or maybe as a non-parent you can't quite grasp the intensity. The only frame of reference you have is being someone's kid and it's hard to appreciate all that parents do from that perspective. Personally all of the effort we put into getting pregnant, staying pregnant, eating right, not learning how to deliver vaginally and taking all the classes, still left the "after the baby arrives" part a little abstract. Once I gave birth I actually thought: Whew, that's over. Now I can relax. (Cue hysterical laughter.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Two Babies

(Originally posted on Sidney's Page)

Prior to Sidney's arrival, Ken and I already had a ravenous, excreting, 11-pound bundle of joy named Oliver. Anyone who's been here can tell you he's a little bit off. Not mean or spasmodic but sort of compulsive and distant. He has dealt with the new addition to the family by eating alot and acting slightly more friendly to us & visitors since he gets so little interaction from us now. But he never was a very affectionate cat to be begin with so it's hard to know how much his life has really changed.



He usually regards Sidney as a strange, noisy object to be avoided or ignored.



He's only sitting here because I am dangling the end of my robe tie for him to play with.



It doesn't appear that Sidney really knows what to think of Oliver but one day that tail is going to be quite grab-worthy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Elman, Party of 3

We want to wish our Bay Area friends Josh & Clover (who share the same wedding anniversary with us) a hearty congratulations on the birth of their daughter, Sierra. She was born today (11/11) so she & Sid can start an exclusive club for partially Asian girls whose dads used to work at RealNetworks and birthdays are the same month and day number.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Happy announcement...

A hearty CONGRATULATIONS to my cousin Angela and her main squeeze Jamie on their recent engagement. Two finer people you could not meet. We are so happy for them and look forward to wedding planning!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

We all live on a...Spanish Galleon



Ever since Ms. Sidney came into our lives, Ken and I have made a growing discovery that we live aboard a 17th century sailing ship that creaks like the dickens. We had no idea how squeaky our floors were until walking around in the wee-hours of the night to get to the baby's room, get to the kitchen to warm bottles or go to the bathroom--all without disturbing our newest family member. And for those of you who have been to the house, we're not talking alot of distance. Ken thought he might get out some painter's tape and put marks on the floor where the squeaks are so we could avoid them but then he might as well just put a big X across the whole thing. There is nothing that can be done for us unfortunately. You can fix squeaks in a wood floor by drilling screws or nailing the floor boards up from the bottom but you need an unfinished basement to do that and we don't have one of those.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Suggested Items for New Parents

I thought I'd make a list of specific items we have found extremely valuable in the first 7 weeks at home with Sidney. They have supplied welcome relief as we embark on the journey of parenthood. Not an exhaustive list by any means but my favorites.
  • Bibs: At first, I thought they were just cute accessories. But for a baby that gets fed from a bottle, it can help minimize the wet collar that inevitably happens as milk runs down their chin. And for both formula and breastfed baby, they are the first line of defense against spit-up and hence decrease the number of outfit changes.
  • White board: As a new parent, you're constantly keeping track of feedings, diaper changes, pumping schedule, dr. appts, medicine dosages (if app) and stuff like that. When one is majorly sleep deprived, your memory is questionable so write it down and if you want to relay something to the other caregivers in the house (but don't have them right in front of you) this is an invaluable communication tool.
  • DVDs to view: "Happiest Baby on the Block" & "Dunstan Baby Language" Both of these are extremely helpful in giving guidance about how to help your baby feel comforted and understood. "Happiest" gives 5 solid ways to soothe a baby and "Dunstan" interprets 5 distinct cries and what they mean. Rent or borrow first and then decide if you need to own a copy.
  • Books to own: "Baby 411" & "What to Expect in the First Year" My bible was "Baby 411" in the first days/weeks. I was constantly referring it. I love the way it is organized by topic and the layout is easy to read with lots of bullet points (my favorite way to intake information). In contrast, "What To Expect" is organized by months of age, so you can see everything that should be happening within the monthly intervals. It's nice to be able to cross reference by topic and time frame.
  • Drying rack If you bottle feed and/or use a breast pump, there are parts that constantly need washing. There are cages you can put certain parts in for the dishwasher but if you aren't running the dishwasher multiple times a day, you'll still need to hand wash a bunch of things. A rack will also be invaluable for storage and minimizing the impact to your counter space.
  • Kiddopotamus Swaddle Me Wraps (cotton or fleece depending on season) New babies like to be swaddled and while you can do this with a blanket, these wraps are better because they contain the arms and legs separately. That means you don't have to undo the entire swaddle to change a diaper--this is key.
  • Burp cloths shaped like a peanut, like THESE. For a spitty baby like ours, we use lots of burp cloths and these stay on your shoulder better.
  • VIPP Diaper Pail This is a totally indulgent item that most people could do without, but if you've ever smelled the diaper of a formula fed baby--oh yeah--we needed this. In the book "Baby Bargains," (one of the best resources for baby things) they actually gave the VIPP diaper pail an "F" because 1) it's expensive and 2) the reviewer had some trouble getting the bag of used diapers out of the can. But I don't agree with this. It's not that hard to pull it out and honestly for the foot petal, soft close top, minimal use of plastic and *no* odor--that's pretty much why we bought it. Feel free to get something cheaper or just use the kitchen trash but since we still use disposable diapers enough of the time, it was worth it to us.
  • Medela Symphony Breast Pump (as a rental): It's a hospital-grade unit and called the "Cadillac of Breastpumps." It's modulated by a computer that mimics the rhythms of a baby's suckle and it's quite powerful so you can spend half the time attached to it as compared to a consumer grade pump. Even though I owned my own home pump, I had to rent this one to increase my milk supply (when I was briefly trying to breast feed) and relieve engorgement that neither the baby nor my pump were able to. Regarding the rubber membranes that make this pump work--buy extra ones because they are fragile and use a teaball to wash them so they don't get lost down the drain.
  • Cloud and Stars Crib Zipper Sheets: Simply the fastest & best solution for changing crib sheets--ever.
  • Robe and slippers: Get some warm, comfortable ones. You'll be spending lots of time in them and need something wear as you shuffle into the baby's room for late night feedings. A robe can also act as a body-sized spit-up shield in a pinch.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Carving (3rd Annual)

After you do something three years in a row (Year 1 & Year 2), it seems like you then have a tradition. We could not have been more delighted to have the Testas over for pumpkin carving. (This time with Ms. Sidney and Grandma Joyce to add to the fun.) The soon-to-be-born baby boy Testa was kicking it in utero but next year I suspect he and Sid will be giving us a run for our money. After some hard work carving and drilling into the jack-o-lanterns, we had some delicious burgers from Hamburger Harry's in Ballard. They came highly recommended by Grandma Joyce who had sampled them earlier in the week. Fun times, great conversation and a little preview of baby handling 101 for the soon-to-be-parents.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Parents need a Warning Label

Allow me to throw out a warning: new parents (less than 4 weeks) should not be allowed to speak to pregnant or potentially pregnant folks. This became very obvious to me as we were receiving guests in Sidney's first few weeks of life. Well-wishers would come over with food and eagerness to see our spawn but naturally we were dazed and sleep deprived. I was lucky to string a sentence together and hold my fragile hormone-addled emotions in check. That alone should immediately disqualify a person for parenthood evangelism and giving advice because invariably our pregnant or potentially pregnant friends would ask us what was the "best thing" or "most magical thing" about being a new parent. Ken and I would look at each other blankly, struggling for an honest yet positive answer. At that point, the most magical thing about Sidney was how much poop she could generate. But that didn't seem like a good answer.
I'm fraking magical!
So we hope our pregnant friends will forgive us. Because now, oh now, things are quite delightful. We are just a hair shy of 6 weeks and each day we see great changes. The feeding situation has settled down so that the source of her food (formula) and the timing of her eating intervals is predictable. She does not yet sleep through the night or go any longer than 4 hours maximum without eating, but we have high hopes that will happen soon. Her interactivity and eye contact is much increased. She takes in the world with wide-eyed wonder and is on the verge of smiling socially (with cause, not just involuntarily or because of gas). Recognition of who Momma & Daddy are when we are in her field of vision is distinct. She is starting to lift her head up and gain more control over her wildly flailing limbs. It's starting to get really fun AND we can appreciate it. Two very important things.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sidney's Birth Story

One month ago today, Sidney was born. So I think it only fitting to finally compile her birth story. Ken was taking notes as the event unfolded so all of his words are in blue. The rest is me. 9/8/09
6AM Kali's water broke! We scrambled to pull our stuff together. (Kali's bag was already packed, mine was quick thanks to her list & prep). Three weeks early, but full term & we're excited to welcome The Wetus to our world. We're in the hospital getting checked up initially--there's a possibility of natural birth if the placenta has moved...something we weren't prepared for! Getting ready to do an ultrasound to check. Cindy is nurse attending to us, very nice. 9AM Unexpected turn--Kali's showing all signs of preeclampsia, so we won't be able to use Anna (our doula) and they'll likely give Kali magnesium sulfate to help keep her calm & prevent seizures. We can possibly choose between natural or Cesarean, but we haven't prepped for natural birth, so Kali's a little reluctant to go that path w/o a doula. Contractions ~7 minutes apart. Kali is falling asleep. Dr. Foltz will deliver the child--she recommends natural birth (vaginal) and will allow Anna to doula--Kali's blood work apparently checked out fine and her blood pressure is coming down some. Getting ultrasound now to see if placenta has moved away from the cervix...technician thinks so, but need doctor's assessment. Lights are low, no phone/computer/stimulating devices, needs to be quiet for concern of preeclampsia/seizures.
(Kali's note: These concerns were never founded and were the over reaction of our nurse. It was actually more stressful to envision these limitations and then after the blood work came back within normal limits, we realized that clearing everything through the doctor first was the only way to go.) 10AM Contractions ~2 minutes apart but not so strong. 11:45AM I went to get a World Wrapp & stuff my face, and bought a cord to connect the mp3 player to the speakers...Kali is sitting tight, just had a mildly strong contraction. Waiting for Dr. Foltz to come give a word. Kali is really hungry, poor thing. Listening to Prokofiev's Concerto 1 in D Major.
12:30PM Dr. Foltz came in--the placenta previa has totally cleared so rather than a c-section we're going to go with natural vaginal birth (!). We're going to get full use of our doula now :) Kali is able to eat a bit, which makes her very happy. 4:10PM The labor/delivery nurse is encouraging us to get Pitosin going to induce labor. Kali called Anna who suggested trying nipple stimulation...trying that now. 5:20PM Kali spoke with Dr. Foltz and agreed to a little Pitocin to get the ball rolling. She's having it added to her IV now. Anna is on her way...things are going to get going soon I suspect! I've been watching "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf" on Netflix, good movie. 11:30PM Anna is here--very comforting. She knows just what to do to help Kali cope with the contractions, which are about 2 minutes apart now and difficult for Kali. She has had 2 half doses of Fentanyl and will get an epidural eventually. The pain spikes are bringing on some nausea. But next she'll do a few contractions on the toilet, then some time in the tub. Dr. Foltz says the baby will come at about 6AM. Cool beanz! I'm a little tired, but happy all is well so far.
(Kali's note: I wanted to try everything and get dilated to at least 5 before the epidural. We got to use the ball and the tub which I was very happy about. But by the time we hit the tub I was almost at my pain threshold limit and that turkey salad that I had so badly wanted earlier came back up. Aside from vomiting on my husband and doula, the transition from the tub to getting an epidural was smooth. I can see why women swear by them--it was a gigantic relief and to know that I had waited long enough on the dilation part also made me feel very good.)
9/9/09
4:10AM We've slept some since Kali's epidural (on & off for ~3 hours)... Kali is at 10cm and ready to go!!! Anna's going to come over and we'll do this thing. :)
4:30AM
This is where Ken stops writing. Baby's head hasn't molded to get through the pelvis so we're waiting another few hours to see the progression.
6:00AM
Checked again and head has molded so baby can come down through the birth canal. Real pushing to begin before the end of the hour.
6:30-8AM
Hard labor with major pushing. Ken and Anna on each side holding a leg. Dr. Foltz pops in and out to see progression. Fingers being placed at the opening so I can focus on a place to push and a 10-count are very helpful since there is a lack of feeling and after 24 hours of dilation--I'm very tired. Also lamenting the lack of core strength due to no exercise during pregnancy and the suspension of yoga due to "placenta previa" concerns.
~8AM Crowning
Touched baby's head. Intense stretching at the opening--they call it the "Ring of Fire." No shit. Haven't taken any labor/delivery prep so I am doing whatever the doula & the med staff say. Since I'm tired, there is a lot of pausing during the pushing which doesn't make it very effective in pushing baby out quick but it is stretching so there will be less chance of tearing or an episiotomy. At one point, they asked me if I wanted a mirror to "see" what was going on down there--"No! Let's focus people and get this baby out!" I said. I request them to tell me when contractions are coming (via the monitor) because the epidural interferes with me being able to feel them yet I can intensely feel the Ring of Fire--how is that possible? In my mind, I'm wishing the doctor would just pull the baby out--feels stuck. Finally one of the pushes gets baby's head clear which is a major relief to the Ring and to me since I am utterly exhausted. In the final pushes, Anna says to be "fierce" but my first thought is of Christian Siriano.
But that didn't quite do it. So I then thought of a great white shark and that seemed to do the trick. Never have I felt such relief as when the baby exited my body. Whew.
It was surreal as they pulled her out and Ken cut the cord. He had to double-check then announced what I had suspected the whole pregnancy, that we had a girl. "This is Sidney," he said. We had decided on the girl's name years ago (like on one of our first dates) but we had a list of 40 boys names--nothing really standing out above the rest. So that was a relief. They placed her on my chest and vigorously rubbed her and got her bundled up. She had a long cone shaped head and her face was sort of swollen. Ken cried and I would have too if not for the exhaustion. So I just gazed at her and just couldn't believe that I had given birth.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Got Milk?

I’d say 99% of my conversations these days with fellow mothers hit on the topic of breastfeeding. As a new mom, your life can be consumed by it. The schedule, the technique, the accessories, the whole process...

As they say “breast is best” and any breastfeeding you can do is highly encouraged. Enough medical evidence and social pressure exist to support breast milk as the best food for baby which is a shift from a generation or two ago, where formula was the modern and best way to go. We certainly agree that breast milk is optimum but why do so many women find it unintuitive and confounding to breastfeed? To put this in perspective, think of the most frustrating experience you’ve ever had where you didn’t accomplish your goal--now multiply that feeling by 10. That’s breastfeeding for team Moore-Sakai.

Sidney and I just could not even get out of the starting blocks on this one. Here’s the full story on our experience of breast feeding.

When I gave birth, the 2 mounds of flesh on my chest finally had a purpose and I was looking forward to this ability to produce something within my own body that could completely and efficiently nurture our child. And that’s where my enthusiasm for the process began and ended. Several issues contributed to our consummate failure at nursing/breastfeeding…

  1. Because Sidney was born 3 weeks early, she was very tired so her sucking was under-powered. This didn’t allow her to get the hang of how much effort she’d need to put out to get milk from the breast.
  2. We used nipple shields (plastic sheaths that go over your nipples that have holes in them) to give her something more defined to latch onto since her lower jaw was slightly recessed and limited her range of opening. From the outset, her latch was bad.
  3. As the days went on, we found out she needed to be treated for jaundice and the amount of hydration she was getting from the scanty colostrum I was stranded with before my milk came in was not flushing the bad stuff out. Not only did she have to be put on a light box to help dissipate the toxins, the doctors also recommended that we give her formula to start flushing out her system. So within days of her arrival and well before breastfeeding was established, she was sucking down formula from a bottle.
  4. Since breast milk works as a supply & demand phenomenon, the fact that she wasn’t adequately demanding meant my body wasn’t supplying so the amount of milk I was creating was not keeping pace with her need for it. We had to supplement with formula anyway.

But we soldiered on. We consulted a lactation specialist, our doula, rented a hospital grade pump and attempted to use SNS (supplemental nursing systems) which mimicked feeding from the breast. This included a tube and syringe that was precariously placed within the nipple shield that pushed liquid into her mouth or “finger feeding” where Ken would use that same tube and syringe but use put his finger into her mouth to ensure that she was sucking and latching somewhat correctly. So it took 2 of us to feed her every 3 hours and it was so tedious yet we hung in there.

At her 2 week check up, she gained back her birth weight plus 4 extra ounces so the doctor suggested we try removing the supplemental systems at SOME of the feedings. I, in my sleep deprived and eager state, heard “let’s cut over to nursing for all of the feedings.” At the time, she needed 2 ounces at each feeding so we supplemented ½ oz. of formula just to give her a safety net. We assumed she’d get the other 75% of her meal from the breast herself. We started this on a Tuesday night and noticed that while she would be fussy after most feedings, she seemed to be “doing it.” (Note: For the night feedings, we straight up gave her 2 oz of formula from a bottle per the doctor’s recommendation.)

We decided to be on the safe side and rent a highly calibrated scale where we could weigh her before and after feedings to see how much breast milk she was actually pulling. The scale did not arrive until Saturday, 4.5 days after we switched over to Sidney-powered nursing. You know what I said in the previous blog about her “latching and nursing pretty well”—yeah, not so much. To our horror, we realized that Sidney was only pulling .1-.2 oz. of breast milk on her own. That’s well below what we assumed she was doing and as a result she lost a total 6 ounces in those 4.5 days from her 2-week checkup. We immediately began giving her a bottle of 2 full ounces at all feedings from then on to get the weight back up.

I was traumatized by this turn of events. Despite our best efforts, there were so many obstacles in our way to make nursing successful. Our pediatrician was very empathetic and supportive of us. She commended our dedication to try to make breastfeeding work but glad that we had discovered & corrected the supply problem. She said many families would not have stuck with it as long as we had or gone to the lengths we did to try to make it work. So at that point, we decided we were done. Done struggling with a process that was supposed to be natural but was anything but for us. With my supply stagnating, her demand per feeding increasing and so much of her feedings being formula any way, we decided that we’d be weaning from breast milk entirely around 5 weeks.

She would already have received the vital antibodies at the 3 week mark which our pediatrician advised us was important and we’d know that for all of our efforts, we had really tried. It would also eliminate a huge piece of anxiety that surrounded all feedings. I know there is a very adamant and vocal community who would condemn our decision. Perhaps they would call us selfish or not committed enough to our daughter’s well being and welfare. But we really tried and it was heartily disappointing. Ultimately though you have to do what is best for everyone involved. Being raised on formula isn’t the end of the world though. So many of our generation were and thankfully there is that option when the breastfeeding just doesn’t work.

My advice to all soon-to-be and new moms who want to breast feed is to line up resources and contacts as soon a possible. Don’t be afraid to reach out immediately when you have questions or things don’t seem to be going right. Hospitals usually have programs that can assist and there are doulas & consultants ready to help in-home as well. If you want to try to make breastfeeding work, there are the tools and folks out there. I will say the breast feeding is definitely worth trying even if it doesn’t become the long-term feeding solution.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What's new

The long silence on the blog can only mean one thing and I apologize for the delay but we've been uh...busy.
Ken and I are pleased to announce the early arrival of our daughter Sidney Katsuko Moore back on 09-09-09 @ 8:17am. She weighed in at 6lbs. 8oz. at 18 inches long.
She was originally due on 9/26 and was actually scheduled to arrive via c-section on 9/21. However, upon arrival at the hospital on Tuesday 9/8 in the early morning after my water broke, we were told that the complication that prompted our scheduled c-section was no longer present. So natural childbirth was back on the table. It's funny because Ken and I had been told since week 24 that we were having a c-section so we skipped all the chapters and classes on labor/childbirth. But thankfully we have the best doula in the world, Anna, who guided us through the experience and really empowered us to have the best birth possible. (I will write specifically about the birth experience in a separate blog later.)
Since being home...
My mom was here from 9/10-9/15 and we couldn't have survived those first days without all of her dutiful assistance and just ensuring that the household had food, clean dishes, clean laundry and moral support.
My dad and brother came up on on the weekend 9/11-13 for a previously scheduled WSU exhibition game.
Then my cousin Angela (who we neglected to get any pictures of while she was here) came up for this last weekend 9/18-20. Her help was instrumental in giving us some opportunity to get rest and to spend more quality time with our daughter instead of tending to household chores.
We are hanging in there but the sleep deprivation is ridiculously taxing. Sid likes to be alert and awake from 1-4am. We call it the "witching hour". Thankfully we reviewed the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD the other day so we have tricks to calm her down but she won't necessarily sleep during that time. But the doctor says it will get better when her circadian rhythm gets righted. That will take awhile.
She had jaundice initially and was diagnosed with a high enough level that we had to get a special bed with lights in it to help dissipate the toxins. In addition we had to give her formula since my milk hadn't come in yet. She had to be on this light table 24/7 except when changed and fed. It was so sad because we really couldn't interact with her and she was so lethargic due to the jaundice. It was quite trying. Everyday a nurse would come here, weigh her, examine her and take a blood sample to see if the levels were improving. Finally four days later the level dropped enough to take her off the box. It was so weird being able to have her in the living room and hang out with us. But we were very glad for it.
Breastfeeding has been difficult for a number of reasons: Sidney being 3 weeks early (not having the jaw strength initially), the jaundice, my nipples being flat and her jaw is slightly recessed. Milk finally did come in and I got engorged--hurt so bad. We made an emergency call to a lactation consultant and now I have a hospital grade Medela pump---within 24 hours it has made a world of difference--boobs are nice and happy again. Because it was so critical to get her ample nutrition and irradiate the jaundice, we had to supplement her big time with formula.
Gaining a decent milk supply is a multi-faceted puzzle with lots of interdependency. It can get really complicated and frustrating really fast. The milk supply is best stimulated by the baby herself--but the baby needs to latch/suck to do this. In order to latch/suck, you need a properly shaped nipple. If you are not born with this, a nipple shield (plastic sheath that goes over nipple) will suffice but it is not as efficient or effective as the real boob. We were told to use a tube & syringe that feeds into the nipple shield to deliver the supplements of breast milk (~40ml) & formula (~20ml) while simulating the act of nursing for Sidney. This way she would get used to the experience when she could do it for real. This equals about 2 oz of liquid a feeding x 8 feedings daily.
At first, the syringe business was excruciatingly awful but we rose to the occasion and Sidney responded well. Maybe a little too well. When we went in to the doctor Tuesday to get her 2 week exam, she had gained 8 ounces in 4 days for a weight of 6 pounds 12 ounces which is 4 ounces over her birth weight. It was suggested we get moving off of the syringe feedings and solely onto nursing with/without the nipple shield. We are actively trying to make this transition which also throws our formerly very strict feeding schedule of every 3 hours into a freestyle watch-and-wait feeding cycle which makes Mama & Daddy very tired. It sure is complicated but the good news is, Sidney is latching & nursing pretty well. When she hits her expected due date of 9/26, we are hoping see an increase in her energy level and feeding prowess.
But things change on a moment to moment basis. We learn things and observe patterns. Life is cut up into 3 hour segments. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced and I can't believe I'm some body's mom...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Preparing for Baby: Classes

To have a baby these days, it seems preparation is the key. You can read books and watch DVDs but if you are fortunate to have access to classes, by all means take them. Because Ken and I are nerds at heart, we took and are taking as many classes we can. After all, there is something to be said about having the wisdom of others passed on, have the benefit of a live session where you can ask questions and being around other people in the same boat as you.

The hospital system where we are delivering (Swedish) has an extensive "curriculum" that soon-to-be-parents can attend. They even have a grandparents class that sadly none of the Wetus grands will get to take. (But I know the Testas are going to do this so perhaps we will get a report...) If you are eager to learn and interact, it's best to get the Welcome package for a lump sum of $250/couple. That let's you sign up for almost all of the flagship classes and keeps the transactions quite easy. Once you sign up and pay your fee, you just use a code to register online for the classes/times of your choice.

We've taken:
  • Childbirth Preparation class--Planned Cesarean Birth w/Hospital Tour: It's good to know what to expect and some of the nitty-gritty details of this type of deliver. Though they don't tell you "everything." You have to consult close girlfriends for those gems.
  • Postpartum Preparation: How it's normal to feel overwhelmed and under the control of "aliens" right after baby is born. But really it has to do with hormones, sleep deprivation and a brand new creature who relies on you for its very survival. Coping skills.
  • Newborn Care: Swaddling, diapering, bathing, warning signs and more.
  • Breastfeeding: There is a lot more to know about this than you may think. Especially if you want to do this with some level of success.
  • Infant Safety & CPR: A very empowering class. To know how to do CPR-- and on an infant even, you feel pretty tough and prepared.

Still to take in the next few weeks:
  • Conscious Fathering (Ken only): We've heard many dads enjoyed this one.
  • Car-Seat Installation and Safety: 80+% of car seats are installed incorrectly. I know we both have college degrees and astute minds but this is something we have to get right.

But one of the most rewarding classes which is not included in the Welcome package is a 2-day workshop designed by John & Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute @ UW. It's called Bringing Baby Home. It's taught in the Swedish system and is more about how your marriage or relationship is affected by the new baby. You work on tools and skills to help you stay connected with your partner when you are both sleep-deprived, emotionally drained and vulnerable to high relationship dissatisfaction--all of this due to the new addition. Even if you have rock solid relationship, it's a good way to arm yourself with tools and understanding that the challenge of parenthood will place a strain on a marriage. How you deal with that affects not only the couple but the children. We highly recommend it.

While I did an entry on books earlier, I want to plug a book that just came out that I REALLY like. It's called Baby 411, by the same folks who wrote Baby Bargains. Based on good science, it is straight-forward on all the 1st year topics and very easy to read/retain with no-nonsense chapter about vaccines. Again, it's based on actual scientific evidence, which we respect and will uphold.

H1N1 Outbreak @ WSU


This does not bode well. With WSU in town next weekend for an exhibition game @ Qwest and some get togethers with folks from there, I'm a bit nervous.

*******

Right now as a pregnant lady, I am a member of one of the highest risk groups for serious complications from the H1N1 (Swine) Flu. The vaccine will not be available until mid-October (after I deliver) so then my newborn will be at highest risk with no chance for a vaccine until 6 months of age.

From www.flu.gov:
Videos on what to do regarding H1N1
Page for pregnant women about H1N1

Monday, August 31, 2009

Babymoon

Ken and I took a overnight this weekend to go spend some "us" time before the baby gets here at one of our favorite local getaways, the Salish Lodge & Spa. It sits right above the majestic Snoqualmie Falls. There was a bottle of sparkling cider, a little teddy bear and a wedge pillow for my gigantic belly waiting for us in the room. We each got a massage prior to going out for dinner and we ordered dessert from room service. It was a lovely way to officially bid farewell to our days as a duo. And likely the last time in a long while that we'll feel so free to indulge. A small plug: As someone who has difficulty sleeping in any bed but her own, I have to say the Salish beds are absolutely fantastic. Highly recommended and just wonderful. We sang a few Beatles songs to the Wetus before we went to sleep and it really seemed to respond. I guess that means I'm going to have to brush up on those songs. Sunday morning we had a delicious breakfast in their dining room, especially the pancakes. But I advise against ordering the 7-course country breakfast--we did that on our first visit in 2003--while tasty, that's just way too much food.

Monday, August 24, 2009

35 weeks

I can't even believe this is me. Anyway, here we are exactly 4 weeks away from the scheduled c-section and Ken & I are both trying to get ready and read up on parenting, while savoring our free time watching TV, going to movies and staring off into space for minutes at a time (me) / practicing the Theremin (Ken). Sleep, which we've been encouraged to get as much as possible of, is a welcome respite but like clockwork gets interrupted every 2 hours by my intense need to pee. This has strangely prepared me for the feeling of being roused multiple times at night and still being able to function somewhat during the day. It's also turned me into (gasp) a morning person. During the hot, hot weather here in Seattle a few weeks ago, I began to get swelling in my feet & ankles. With the cooling temps, that has eased a little but even now, I look down and see balloon-like shapes that are actually my feet. This occurs after sitting too long or tucking my legs under me. There are now only 3 pairs of shoes in my collection that fit me, 2 of which being flip flops. Speaking of heat, since I run a bit hot these days (as most pregnant women do), I find myself wanting ice in every single drink I have. This is a 180 from what I preferred as a non-pregnant lady. And with that, my fascination and longing for straws is also on the rise. With the shrinking area my stomach is allowed to expand to, sometimes I wish I could just drink all my nutrients. I can suck down multiple tall glasses of ice water and lemonade in a matter of seconds. But I'm not down with those Ensure shakes since I don't think that's real nutrition. I guess I just need to be less lazy. The vicious cycle of not being very active and then not having very much energy leads me through days of going from one sitting activity to another. While it is comforting to sit, there are times when I harken back to more active times, when I could be on my feet for hours and get a lot of things done. Yesterday was a surprising exception when we picnicked and strolled with the Testas in a well-kept secret gem of a park called Kubota Gardens, located in Rainer Valley. This garden was the masterwork of a Japanese-American gardener who designed the landscapes of Seattle University campus and the Japanese Garden at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. The family donated this garden to the city of Seattle recently and now it's a lovely park that everyone can enjoy. There was no admission fee and the winding trails and many bridges over the waterways made it a fascinating place to explore. Also having the Japanese-American historical aspect was intriguing to me as well. Evidently neighbors and friends of the Kubotas helped hang onto the land while the family was interned during World War II. That was the one thing I found the most amazing is that the family had not lost ownership/control over the vast property while so many others had been forced to liquidate. It's a lovely place visit and a tribute to the better part of human nature. Braxton-Hicks contractions & round ligament pain have been on the rise lately. I counter it by sitting on my exercise ball or stretch my lower half by leaning onto something stable and sticking my butt out. Looks downright stupid but feels so good. Wetus is has been "on the move" and seems to like when Daddy talks & sings. Have not consumed any more Dr. Pepper but I'm thinking of getting something chocolate here in a moment since my eyelids are getting very heavy and I could use a pick me up.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seattle Baby Shower

This past weekend, Amy & Karen threw a Seattle-area baby shower for me and the Wetus at Russell's, a restaurant/reception destination in a converted and charming barn in Bothell. Chef Russell prepared a wonderful, simple summer luncheon menu and the gals attended to details that made the afternoon relaxing and personal. One of the games that stood out as a favorite was where we had to draw a picture of the baby with a crayon while the paper was on top of our head. Made for some great pictures. Mom and Cindy came up for the festivities and many ladies came who I have not seen in a while. It was an honor to have everyone there and the Wetus will certainly not want for anything after this. Check out the extensive slide show for some great shots by Cindy and Mom.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Family/Portland Baby Shower

Over the weekend, we journeyed down to Portland for the family shower thrown by Angela & Mother. They did a fantastic job and all the food, decorations & details were wonderful. We had a great group--mostly family but also some friends from the Portland/Vancouver area. We feel so grateful to have such enthusiastic support for our pending arrival and based on what we received, this kid is going to want for nothing.


Pics by Cindy, Sue & Lori.

Monday, August 10, 2009

33 weeks

Here we are at 33 weeks. It was a hard earned 33 weeks. We've traveled, put the nursery together, taken classes and endured some wild weather. Today we had an ultrasound and they confirmed that my placenta previa has still not moved nor is it likely to. My doctor made the call that we are going to do a planned cesarean and most likely it will happen on Monday, September 21st. Being that this possibility has been talked about for months now, I am not feeling upset about the c-section itself. We even took a class a few weekends ago that focuses on c-sections so we feel "informed." But it is a shock that we have a date. Where before it was sort of nebulous and spontaneous, now it seems very scientific and exacting. I think it's also that we realize we have no more than 6 weeks to get stuff done, arranged and organized. But honestly one thing that is sad to me is that we aren't going to get to have the experience with the doula that I had hoped. But I'm really curious to know what her thoughts are about c-sections and making them an experience that feels connective and magical despite all the medicine & science. I hope to discuss that with her very soon. But today was special in that they brought out the 3D Ultrasound paddle so we got a good look at the Wetus who has chubby cheeks, a seemingly Japanese/Sakai nose and evidently a long femur bone which means this kid could be tall. Clearly not from me. But Wetus is measuring healthy and things are looking good. When I pat my belly it makes the noise like when you pat a melon. In fact that's what they say the baby is the size of now.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Wetus Chat

Dear Wetus:

Yesterday we shared a special moment when I introduced you to the wonders of caffeine and high fructose corn syrup in the form of a Dr. Pepper. I know it was a new experience given how little I consume soda and haven't consumed coffee or tea at all during the pregnancy. It's just that with 7+ weeks to go, it takes so much more energy and effort to move my big self around. I was at work, exhausted and it was only 3pm so I had to do something. Hopefully that little jolt was a highlight of the in utero experience and you'll think fondly back on it. You see, I'm managing a big project at work which is due right before you're supposed to be born. I've been telling my co-workers the project baby has to be born before the Wetus baby. (Any help from your end with keeping the birth order as intended is appreciated, by the way.)

Just in the last few weeks, I've seen "big" changes in myself. The swelling of my feet is directly correlated to how hot it is outside which went big time in those 90/100 degree temps a few weeks ago. Until then, I had felt so smug because I hadn't experienced any swelling that most pregnant women complain about--but I celebrated too soon. In addition, I thought I could be one of those lucky ladies who don't get stretch marks but just realized the other day, I didn't win the lottery on that one either. And last but not least, for the life of me, I NEVER thought I'd drink milk again--or in this case utterly crave the smooth creamy texture and taste of it. But indeed this formerly lactose-intolerant gal gets 2 pints of milk at lunch (like I'm back in grade school) and gulps them down with vigor. Look at these amazing changes you've inspired.

Now I don't want this to sound like an excerpt from that shallow, self-indulgent, ridiculous book, The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy. None of these issues are a big deal in the scheme of things. The fact that you are getting bigger, stronger--I can tell by the power behind those kicks--and receiving the nutrients you need is really all that matters (at least that's what I keep telling myself).

We're looking forward to seeing you on the ultrasound again Monday and your Dad & I continue to read books and take a litany of classes. It's funny, the more we learn, the more it seems we really don't know what we've gotten ourselves into. Ah well, we promise to get fully up to speed in 7 weeks--don't you worry.

Much love,
Momma

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Scenes from the Beach

These photos were taken by Mom's partner Cindy of Terra Dolce Photography. You can find other, more abstract photos of our trip on her website.