Friday, May 29, 2009

23 weeks

Ken said yesterday morning, "You really do look pregnant." Good, so it's not just my imagination. I have seriously bumped out in recent days.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Follow-up on the Bee

Alas, Ms. Eleanor made it to Round 5 and that is where the journey ended. But there is something to be said about being in the top 41 spellers in the country. I was following the live Twitter feed this morning and was all worked up like I get when watching the Olympics. We are so proud of Eleanor who has definitely earned some free time that doesn't involve spelling anything. Here are some pics from earlier today. All photos ©2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Update on The Bee

©2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee
Eleanor made it to the semi-finals which are the top 50 spellers after three rounds of elimination today. She goes on stage tomorrow and if she makes the finals will be on ABC tomorrow night for the final rounds. Go Eleanor!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Congratulations to the Testas

Looks like we're all going to share sleepless nights, diapering strategies and assertions of who's kid is better looking/smarter. We are thrilled to (finally) announce that Sean & Shannon will be joining us on the parenthood train. I believe they are ~10 weeks behind us so they are just coming out of the 1st trimester. Word on the street is that they told their families last weekend and there were many tears, hugs and smiles. We could not be more excited. Looking forward to more updates, stories and fun times!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Bee

I am not a great speller and in the advent of spell check I have been spared the need to learn. But in this world there are prolific spellers, one of which I know. Eleanor Runde is the daughter of Bev's cousin and she qualified to participate in the National Spelling Bee in Washington DC this week.

There was also a video package on KOMO that featured her when she was competing at the regionals HERE.

We are thinking of Eleanor and her supporting family members as she gears up to compete at this competition that is rich in tradition and prestige. In it's current form, I guess the national spelling bee goes back to the 1920's. It's quite an accomplishment to be 1 of the 293 kids in the whole country who get to compete. Go Eleanor!

Another Week in Review

Nursery prep continued this past week with the Wall Doctor folks installing a drywall ceiling and patching the lath & plaster walls. I expected it to be a lot messier but was pleasantly surprised. A week from now, we'll have the walls, ceiling and trim painted and primed. Crown and chair rail moulding will also be painted and installed. Looking forward to seeing the full transformation. Until then, Ken has been using the empty, echoy room as a Theremin practice space. Ken left mid-week to go down to the Bay Area to do a training for work. On Friday I joined him and it was sort of a Babymoon trial run. Wetus reacted when the pressure changed around takeoff and landing but other than that not too bad. I definitely need to get a small pillow for lumbar support. The way they design those seats, it's like they want you to shrivel up into a little ball. I had a little issue with not feeling like I could get lung-fulls of air when we were at cruising altitude but I rolled up my sweater and placed it behind my upper back which opened my chest/shoulders--much better. We had a delightful visit with Josh & Clover who are also expecting and are about 6 weeks behind us. Unfortunately Clover has not had an easy go of it and has been consistently nauseated thus far. We are all hoping that this will turn the corner now that she's out of the 1st trimester--any day now. Luckily for us, she was feeling well enough to help show us around. Our first stop in Palo Alto was the historic home/garden of Elizabeth Gamble. Quite picturesque and Ken made the most of it. We picked up food at this cool gourmet salad place called Sprout Cafe where everything is organic and you can make highly customized salads. For me, that was akin to walking into a Whole Foods. Like I had gone to my happy place. So awesome. We took our gourmet salads to the Stanford University campus where we ate at picnic tables and watched a lot of bridal parties having their pictures taken. But I can see why they do have pics there. Very striking campus and you can feel the palpable air of high expectations. Josh & Clover met while attending school there and illuminated the many connections to the university and the uprising of Silicon Valley. We passed by the birthplace of HP which is considered the catalyst of putting the Silicon Valley on the map. There is a plaque in the yard of a private residence but it's actually the garage that was "ground zero" for the company. I know, it's nerdy. No visit to California would be complete without a stop at In N Out Burger. It is my second favorite fast food place to Burgerville. Sunday before we left, Josh took us to the local farmer's market that (especially being in California) had the most delicious and exquisite organic strawberries, cherries & peaches I've ever seen. We loaded up and hoped that most of it would make it back to Seattle with us on the plane. It did, though Ken kept wanting to eat the strawberries as we drove home from the airport but even though they were organic, I wanted him to wait until we could get home to wash them. For most people, that might not have been the most exciting trip but it was just my speed, the food, weather & company were great. I do get tired more easily and in warmer weather, I seem to have less energy reserve which is going to be a challenge when we hit the East Coast in 4 weeks. Overall, I was grateful to have some time with my husband, away from our household responsibilities while it it still just the 2 of us. There is more traveling ahead of course but I'm glad we eased into it with this first trip.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Week in Review

This week was especially notable but I did a poor job of capturing it as it was happening. So just pretend this is an issue of Time or Newsweek and we'll look back on all the major stories with a wee bit of commentary. Last Saturday/Sunday--Mother's Day weekend: Austin surprised Mom by showing up here in Seattle during the Mother's Day weekend when she and Cindy came up to visit. It was a fun-filled 2 days that included a BBQ with the delightful Testas & Amy, plus a pre-funk visit with Sumeer. Mother got to drink a lot of wine and we had a raucous evening of celebrity true-stories told by Amy. I also broke out a tin of Cougar Gold. Here's some advice: if the pack date on the can predates Bush taking office, it's probably not good anymore. And it wasn't. After a home-cooked breakfast the next morning by Mom and Cindy (they offered), we made a prerequisite visit to the Farmers Market especially to see the folks of Empire Ice Cream who are back for the season. Catch their Strawberry ice cream later this summer. It rocks.

Looking at earrings for Mother.

Even though I am not officially a momma yet, I received cards and presents(!) for Mother's Day which was an unexpected and wonderful thing. It's still pretty amazing to realize I will be in that category soon. Monday--nursery prep, part one: Austin stayed with us for a few days and helped us transform our fully packed office into an empty room for the nursery conversion. He did some major moving of items, Ethernet and speaker cable rewiring and made a pot of chili that is so spicy that Ken must eat the rest of it by himself. Next week the Wall Doctor comes here to repair the cracks in the lath & plaster walls and to secure a drywall ceiling. We are looking forward to the upgrade and it's amazing how much stuff had to be moved out. But where is the office relocating in our ever shrinking house, you ask? Why, downstairs right outside the guest room, atop the newly cleaned carpets. Which by the way, looked incredible once they were cleaned. I wondered why we hadn't done it sooner since it wasn't that expensive. Tuesday--Flight of the Conchords: Austin's big birthday present from Mom and us this year was tickets to the Flight of the Conchords concert at the Paramount. First let me tell you that Amy sat with him since he got 2 tickets and pairing those two up harkens me back to our wedding day. There could not be two more opposite souls but they are fun to see interact. When first meeting her years ago, Austin suggested that she smelled like cabbage and needed a helmet. How many first impressions get off to that good a start?
The venue took pains to vex the scalpers from the primo seats (first 12 rows). If you were keen enough to get those seats during the internet presale (which I was for both pairs), you could only pick-up the tickets via will call an hour and half prior to the show, your entire group had to be present and once you entered the theater, there was no in/out privileges. So effectively you could not resell your tickets. Quite extreme but it was cool to know that we were sitting amongst fans who were savvy to get tickets and paid the same amount we did for them. It does get a bit crazy to get tickets to shows these days. You either have to jump on internet presales or be a fan and get notices months prior to the show date. Thursday--Kick it: Aside from being the season finale of Grey's Anatomy that was rather shocking and a bit of a tear-jerker, Ken got to feel the baby kick for the first time! As I was waking up, I could feel The Wetus kicking but then I realized I could feel it with my hands so I grabbed his hand and (POW!) there it was. One of our favorite things to do now is play The Wetus some music before we go to bed via Ken's MP3 player and headphones. The Wetus will usually kick at the headphones (where the sound is coming from). Ken endeavors to introduce a range of music, including but not limited to the Bach Cello Suites, Finnish folk songs, Brazilian jazz and Beethoven's Greatest Hits. I guess we'll be reserving Depeche Mode, Radiohead, David Byrne, Genesis and The Killers for after it's born. Friday--Baby 101: Our neighbors, The Stewarts, who had Miss Emmy over 7 weeks ago, were kind enough to help educate us in the ways of real babies. Ken and I have many books on the subject, are signed up for several classes and have watched a few DVDs now. But nothing is quite like having a real live baby with real live situations. Some of the major things we learned about:
  • Elimination Training: getting an infant accustomed to using a toilet. Did you know most of the world's children don't use diapers? It can be done if you can pick up on the baby's cues and start associating a sound with going to the bathroom.
  • White noise: Did you know a hairdryer can double as a white noise generator when baby needs to be soothed? Facing the dryer away, turn it on and set it next to their head for 30 secs or so. Works.
  • Vowel time: This could just be an Emmy thing but she is picking up on vowel sounds. If you catch her in an attentive mood, she will make sounds just like vowels so you just repeat them back to her. She seemed to be repeating them. What is truly amazing is realizing how much they comprehend even at that young an age.
  • Burping: Arms up and place baby's chest sort of over your shoulder whilst patting up and down the back. Gets big burps.
  • Butt Paste: Moisture barrier to avoid diaper rash. Use liberally.
So Friday was our training session. Next time we'll be in-charge but The Stewarts will still be onsite. One thing I have to overcome is that feeling of anxiety when the baby cries and despite what you do, nothing "fixes it." I notice they (and the cats) have a sense of patience and calm even when there is prolonged crying.
We are eternally grateful to have this level of interaction with an infant so close to the arrival of our own. Both of us have commented that the experience and awareness that we're getting will help us feel better prepared and confident. And not to be left out, the Tomassi-Nunnelly family, the Rich family & the Grimsrud family have also been very instructive to us specifically for the amount of time we've spent with those children at various developmental stages.
Quite a whirlwind of a week.

21 Weeks

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Progression of things

Ken and I figured this out the other day...

Wetus, Waby, Woddler, W
adolescent, Weenager, Woung Adult

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What does a baby actually need?

A few weeks ago in preparation for creating the ULTIMATE baby registry, I solicited feedback from my girlfriends who are moms. I got some great responses and have finally found the time to compile it. In conjunction with the advice, I cross-referenced with the highly recommended book, Baby Bargains. Reading this consumer reports-like, detailed reference combined with the advice of girlfriends, I felt fairly confident about what we needed without even having stepped into a store. Thanks ladies!

Feedback from Anne of Ohio; Karen, Shelly, Tracy of the Seattle Metro area; Jenny of Arlington; Amy of Vancouver; Sue of Portland; Heather of Wenatchee

Words of wisdom:
“Everything is subjective to your baby’s personality. You will find that this list varies. I'd love to see what you get back.” (Jenny)

“My first piece of advice is to borrow, borrow, borrow!!!! I think you will find that everyone has different opinions of what is 'necessary'.” (Shelly)

“You can't imagine how much you will love the noisiest, messiest, most demanding person you've ever met. But they are very sturdy. And, when you feel overwhelmed and are trying to figure things out--so are they. Plus, it goes by so very, very fast.”    (Amy)

“For me I found a lot more things became 'essential' after my second one was born. With just one, convenience is the main concern.” (Amy)

Responses that had a majority of consensus:

1. Besides a crib and a car seat, what are the top products & gear you can't/couldn't live without?
  • Onesies 
  • Bouncer/Swing/Pack’n Play/Exersaucer—basically a place to put baby where they can be safe while mom can have 15 minutes to get some stuff done.
  • Cloth diapers for burp cloths (lots of them)
  • Baby carrier—Baby Bjorn & Ergo Carrier were both suggested.  Important qualities: 
a. the baby doesn’t immediately outgrow it
b. doesn’t smash your boobs 
c. something daddy will wear
d. doesn’t strain your back
  • Diaper Bag—one with backpack straps and something daddy is willing to carry and won’t be embarrassed. (Heck, something I’m willing to carry and won’t be embarrassed.)
  • Stroller—feedback is mixed on which kind is best. Clearly depends on the intended usage. 
  • Breast Pump—Some insurance companies will pick up a large % of the cost on these. Definitely worth checking into. (Top rated brands: Ameda & Medela.)
  • Swaddling accessories, whether it be just a blanket or a specialized unit. Most everyone mentioned this in some form. 
  • Baby Ear Thermometer
  • Outlet covers
2. What things did you realize you needed once the baby(s) arrived that weren't obvious?
  • Soothies: gel packs you put in the fridge/freezer that give relief after breast feeding
  • Nursing Pads: for leakage
3. What things can we live without/should avoid buying because they are a waste of money?
  • The one thing pretty much everyone loved to hate: the wipe warmer
  • Free standing High chair—instead get one that just straps to a regular chair

Responses from Individuals

1. Top products & gear you can't/couldn't live without
  • Pacifiers
  • Diaper Cream
  • Flannel Crib Sheets
  • Cotton Lap Pads
  • Book: Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child
  • Book or DVD: Happiest Baby on the Block
  • Dimmer light switch in parents’ and baby's room.
  • CD player in baby's room
  • Rocking chair or rocker glider chair 
  • Nursing pillow like a Boppy
  • Bathtub Foam Pad
  • Sleeping Gowns
  • Lansinoh Lanolin - Nursing Cream
  • Comfortable Nursing Bra that can be worn at night
  • Shopping Cart/Restaurant HighChair Cover

2. Products you can live without
  • Pacifiers
  • Bottles that have many parts and are hard to clean
  • Diaper Genie—just use the garbage can because these reek
  • Silly little outfits that are a pain to put on, esp. things that need ironing
  • Bottle warmer. 
  • Special baby bath tub (a sink works just fine)
  • Plastic Bathtub Seat
  • Mobile

So while there is some agreement in the lists above, it's clear to me that every baby reacts differently to certain products and every family has different priorities & values when it comes to baby gear.  The baby industry is not a multi-billion dollar market for nothing. But as first time parents-to-be, it's really overwhelming and we had to start somewhere so I am thankful for how candid and specific some of these moms got in their responses to me.  

I ended up creating not 2, not 3, not 4 but 5 store registries to encapsulate all of the specific items we finally chose. It’s not that the volume of items is all that large but to find some of the BPA free or organic items or specific brands, it took going through Babies R Us, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond (yes, they have baby stuff!), Amazon and a place in Portland called Ecobaby to get it all.  With a wedding registry, it's just about stuff you want in your house and things that will make 2 adults happy.  When it's a baby registry, there's all this pressure to get things that are safe, useful, well-rated and appropriate.  And then of course you don't have to get it all new--but watch for recalls and there are some things you just should not get second hand.  (Sigh)

Do-wha?

We've been some busy bees here at Wetus Central. Not only are we setting up registries (more on that in a separate post) & emptying our current home office that will soon be a nursery, but we are interviewing doulas.

This is a person (99% of the time a woman) who assists you in childbirth. She is sort of a labor and birth expert who can be with the woman & her significant other throughout the entire process. She does not actually deliver the baby or give medical advice but has many strategies for working through labor, providing comfort and has extensive knowledge on what happens during the childbirth process. Good doulas get certified and attend a requisite number of births before they strike out on their own. Seattle is quite a hot bed for doulas and they have a very established network here. Their commitment to the process of birthing and their support for the couples they work with is exceptional. Having had a wedding coordinator, I liken doulas to "birthing coordinators".

I would like as many options available to us as possible in childbirth. We will be delivering in a hospital and because we're in that setting, I know there will be a tendency to push us toward more intervention. But if we are low risk at the outset, I would like very much to try to have a natural experience in the best equipped location. The doula is also a resource for Ken as it can be pretty intimidating and fatiguing to support a laboring wife. So this lady will be as much for me as it is for him. We're going to inteview about 4 different ladies and see which one meshes with our personalities and philosophy best.

All that said, we were told by the doctor at the last ultrasound that at 18 weeks I am showing complete (but not central) placenta previa. This means that right now the blood-rich placenta is covering the opening of my cervix. That's problematic for a number of reasons including the possibility of bleeding during pregnancy, pre-term delivery and an automatic c-section if it doesn't move. However we are only halfway through the pregnancy and the lower part of the uterus has yet to expand to its full capacity. This means that the placenta could "move up" and recede from the cervical opening. This would eliminate the concerns and put a natural childbirth back on the table. But we won't know if that will happen for a few more weeks so until then I am banned from any major straining/lifting or rigorous activities. (Oh twist my arm) My doc said not to do things like jumping jacks. But when was the last time I did that--high school gym? Anyway, I'm trying to stay mellow about all this and just enjoy the growing quantity and intensity of Wetus kicks I get throughout the day.