Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day

Natalie playing with Tyler Turtle in her Bumbo on Boxing Day

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Balloons for Julian

Happy 2nd birthday, my beautiful boy, wherever you are...

Julian was here

Remembering Julian Innes Fader (12/20/04 - 12/23/04), today, tomorrow, and always.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Natalie will be five months next week, and just the other night, for the first time ever, she managed to roll over right before my very eyes! Now that she knows how to do it, of course, she won't stop, even though she hasn't managed to figure out how to roll back the other way and hates being on her tummy. Oh well. All in due time. I'm glad my sister-in-law, R., was here to witness it, too. Oh, and the Gentlease has really helped in the poop department, so all is well here.

I'm having lots of complicated emotions as Julian's birthday approaches. On one hand, Natalie gets cuter and more fun by the minute. On the other, watching her grow reminds me of all the things I missed out on with Julian. At certain angles, she still looks very much like him, which makes me smile, and makes me teary at the same time. Since we didn't have much of a Christmas in 2004 or 2005, I have been determined to make Natalie's first Christmas the best ever for our family. The tree, the presents, cards, etc. Admittedly, though, it's been a little difficult juggling competing emotions, especially since I haven't quite decided what I'd like to do to remember Julian on his birthday this year (not that I don't remember him every day).

Anyway, my point is that, yes, I have been blessed with the loveliest daughter ever, and yes, she does make life great, but sadly, there is nothing that can bring my son back or change the reality of his death. I haven't simply moved on and am not approaching the holidays with a fresh new start, as some may imagine. For the first time in what feels like ages, I am allowing myself to experience the joy of the season, while accepting the sadnesses that remain a part of this time of year for us.

I saw this on Sherry's blog, and thought I'd post it here in case it helps someone.

Holiday Bill of Rights for Grieving Parents

I have the right to go from ecstatic to tears in 30 seconds.

I have the right to be excited about going holiday shopping, only to get there and need to leave because of a panic attack.

I have the right to not be joyful every single moment or day of the holiday season.

I have the right to not send out Christmas cards, AGAIN.

I have the right to NOT listen to Christmas music when I can't bear it.

I have the right to be quiet, continue to grieve my child and be alone when I need to.

I have the right to choose not to participate in gift exchanges and holiday celebrations at my place of work, worship, or anywhere else.

I have the right to look for and feel joy and love in the holidays in my life; just please don't try and force it on me. I'll find it on my own.

I have the right to want to buy my child a Christmas present and take it to the cemetery.

I have the right to buy the present and decide that I can't bear to take it to the cemetery.

I have the right to get to my family's house late and leave early.

I have the right to walk outside and get away for a bit of fresh air when it gets to be too overwhelming.

I have the right to include my child in any activity that I want without getting the "funny looks."
I have the right to be angry.

I have the right to be alone with my child and not have to explain why I want to be alone.

I have the right to laugh at unexpected times and hug a pillow and talk to myself when I am remembering.

I have the right to long to have my child back, to have the life I once had.

I have the right to find a way to honor and remember my child during the holidays by whatever
ritual I feel comfortable with.

I have the right to be me... the one who now exists.

Friday, December 08, 2006

4 1/2 months old

Natalie had her second round of shots yesterday and is feeling quite delicate and requiring lots of cuddling. At 4 1/2 months old, she has moved into the 75th percentile on the growth charts, is pretty much sleeping through the night, and is really content and alert most of the time. On the downside, her head's a little flat and she really should poop more, so we are working on tummy time and switching formulas.
On another note, I can believe Julian would have been 2 years old in a few weeks. I often think about what it would be like to have both my children here. I'm sure that having Natalie here will make dealing with his anniversaries less difficult, but admittedly, I'm approaching the dates with an increasing sense of trepidation. When Natalie's old enough, perhaps we can celebrate her big brother's birthday with a cake.

Monday, November 27, 2006

She's just not that into you

Miss Natalie turned 3 months old today! To celebrate her newfound maturity, we took a special trip to Macy's Herald Square to visit the jolly one. Although she didn't cry, Natalie was not all that impressed with Santa. Santaland was even more surreal than David Sedaris described, proving that maybe the whole Santa thing is just a tad creepy after all... That being said, I couldn't resist shelling out the $15.99 + tax for this lovely photo, which I expect to be able to use as blackmail when Natalie is 16.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Poll: baby food processors

Please send in your opinions on the best baby food processor on the market. Dex? Magic Bullet? Other? Thanks! (I don't need it yet, but am planning ahead.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A day at the park

Daddy and Natalie enjoy an afternoon in Riverside Park

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yay, Dems!

Natalie celebrates the Democratic victory with friend, Dylan the Donkey. (Thanks to Jackie for the adorable blue outfit and Stacy for the Tiffany rattle!)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Natalie's first baby doll

We had a great time at Music Together today! Natalie is the youngest baby in class, and everyone noticed how she recognized her name for the first time today during the Hello song. Before class we picked up a new, anatomically correct doll for her to play with. She already loves cuddling with her new friend!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Strike a pose

Natalie strikes a pose in her Bumbo seat, one of the greatest ever inventions in baby gear!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Natalie's first concert

The three of us thoroughly enjoyed our first concert together as a family. Elizabeth Mitchell performed beautifully for children and adults of all ages at Symphony Space this weekend with husband, Daniel, and 5 year old daughter, Storey. Natalie willed herself to stay awake and engaged for the duration of the show while Robert and I tried to hold back tears over the sheer joy we felt to be there with her. Life is good.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Out on the town with Mommy & Grandma

Natalie was a superstar today, allowing herself to be photographed with and passed around to all kinds of people while visiting our friends at a casting studio this afternoon, all the while behaving like the perfect little happy baby she (mostly) is. After all the glamour and excitement, we came home and took pictures of our own with Grandma, who is going back to Michigan tomorrow. We've been spoiled having her around!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

On a serious note

I am heartbroken over one of my SPALS friend's horrible news about the little girl she is carrying. Her first baby, a boy, was born with cardiomyopathy as well as a rare metabolic disorder, the same year Julian was born. She went on to have a healthy baby girl last year, and gave her a variation of her son's name as a middle name, like we did. She is currently 27 weeks pregnant and found out last week that her little girl, whose name they have now shared with our community, has the same condition that her son died of in 2004. Sadly, the baby's heart is deteriorating, and her chances for survival in utero for more than a few more days are slim, so labor will be induced tomorrow and the family is preparing to say goodbye to yet another loved and wanted child.

This makes me incredibly sad, as we have much in common with this family, and this could have so easily been us, with the scares about Natalie's heart in my second trimester. The world is an incredibly unfair place. I have left SPALS for the time being, although I have conflicting feelings about it, and know that I will miss being a part of a community that has supported me and which I have supported for the past 2 years, but I think it's time for me to move forward. Now that Natalie is here, I feel so incredibly lucky and find the thought of another high-risk pregnancy and another possible loss that much more horrifyingly unbearable.

Whether you meditate, pray, shop, do yoga, breathe, or whatever, please keep this family in your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The prettiest elephant

Natalie enjoyed her first Halloween for about 5 minutes before passing out from all the excitement. (They were fresh out of donkey costumes...)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Lucky girl

My first week back to work went surprisingly well, I think. (I can't complain, I am only working 3.5 days/week until next July). Everyone has been really nice and supportive, and work actually feels like a day at the spa compared to the hard work of raising one demanding, yet completely adorable and mostly well-behaved baby girl. As you can see, Natalie is healthy, happy, and stronger than she was last week, when she wouldn't even tolerate the dreaded "tummy time" for more than 15 seconds. She's having fun with Daddy and getting lots of spoiling from Grandma at the moment, after several days of being spoiled by her fabulous Aunties from the UK. What a lucky girl!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Party over

"After 3 months of leisurely lunches, movies, and music classes with Mommy and my new baby friends, strolls in the park, hanging with my Grandma and Granny and shopping with my Aunties, the party is officially over for Mommy and just beginning for Daddy, who will be taking care of me when Mommy goes back to work tomorrow!"

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A smile for mommy

(Thanks for the lovely frock, Granny!)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Funnin' in the pumpkin patch...

Gracias a los Vazquez for the adorable Halloween onesie!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Miss Fashionista

Natalie is being coy in her Catamini dress from Kate!

So sporty in her Patagonia down vest!

Monday, October 09, 2006

So punk rock!

Miss Natalie has cultivated a refined sense of style. Thanks to Linda M. for the fantastic onesie!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ladies who lunch

Natalie and I attended a moms and babies luncheon yesterday, and I'm pleased to report that all went well. She was very well behaved, I was able to eat my lunch and listen to a very interesting and helpful lecture on sleep issues (hers, not mine!), and we even made a new friend! We already have plans to go for a walk tomorrow and to another luncheon next week. Because of my aforementioned social anxiety issues, I am so relieved to have met a new friend with a baby who lives nearby, and I was even able to briefly tell her about Julian without either of us getting all twitchy. At first I felt kind of silly signing up for every single class, group, and baby lunch I can find (not to mention feeling a little guilty about the money it costs), but having a structured environment in which to possibly meet other moms is really useful since it doesn't force me to get up the courage to chat someone up in the park or wherever else it is that moms hang out. I also find it helpful to observe how other moms do things. Helps with my anxiety about whether I'm "doing it right," or whether or not certain things are socially acceptable to do in public. (Wow, I'm coming off as way more neurotic than I really am--I swear!)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Two months old!

Miss Natalie is two months old today! We had a great day yesterday--we took our first subway ride, being careful to use only stations with elevators so we wouldn't have to rely upon the kindness of strangers to help lift the stroller, and enjoyed our first movie out at Reel Moms. "Black Dahlia" was showing--not that great, but worth it to get out and see all the other New York babies, and not feel guilty about the crying, feeding, or diapering in the middle of the theater. We even got to have lunch in the park with our friend Linda who hadn't met Natalie yet.
As of this week, she has established a new pattern of sleeping 4-6 hours at night, which is unbelievable. Yes, I woke up several times during the night to check on her, as many of you have admitted to doing the first time your little one slept through all or most of the night. (If anyone has any recommendations for a really absorbent overnight diaper, I'd greatly appreciate it--we had a big mess this morning!)

She now weighs a little over 11 pounds, which seems huge to us, but is apparently still on the petite side (50th percentile for weight, 25th percentile for height). For her two month old birthday, she got [GASP] three vaccination shots and three little Hello Kitty bandages. The doctor said that nervous laughter was a common parental response to the shrieking and shades of red their little babies turn and that its the dads who are the ones who often have a hard time watching. Well, Robert went out to feed the meter, so I stayed and bravely held Natalie has I watched three HUGE needles jab her chubby little baby legs, and I cried right along with her. Her hysterical crying was followed by an immense calm, which I read as shock, and she has slept for most of the day so far, when she isn't eating or crying. Still, the day to day drama of life with a newborn is nothing compared to the trauma of losing one, and I'm glad for the necessary change of focus. Off to get some baby Tylenol...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Social phobia

Natalie and I had our first Music Together class today. The princess missed her morning nap, so she slept during half the class, even with the older kids banging on drums and running around screaming. I hope these classes don't continue to be expensive naps! Well, at least it's confirmed that this child will sleep through anything.

I'm trying really hard to get over my social phobia so that we can meet more mothers with babies in the neighborhood. I guess I feel fine around parents of young children these days, but I cringe every time I'm introduced to someone new with Natalie in tow, outside of the context of babies/kids, because I'm anticipating the variations on the questions I hate being asked ("Is this your first?" or "What number is this?"). I comfortably talk about Julian often with those who are in touch enough with their own emotions to engage in such subjects, but even after nearly two years, a stranger asking if this is my first pretty much always gets me all twitchy and teary. I've lied and said yes a few times lately, which I hate, but it's so much easier if it's someone I know I will never see again. I know it's a seemingly innocent question, but I wish I could just tell people who ask that some questions are not as innocent as one might think, or to mind their own business, or ask them why they want to know. There are lots of questions I would never ask a stranger and that is one of them.

On an unrelated note, a really irksome question I have been asked often lately is whether or not Natalie is mine. In a city with so many dark skinned nannies of light skinned children, some people can't help making assumptions. It's not like she looks nothing like me, and unlike in my mom's day, I doubt anyone would ask me that question if I were a white woman with a brown daughter. Grr.... I just hope Natalie tans easily.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A smile for Granny

Natalie wishes her Granny in England a Happy 75th birthday!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Another growth spurt!

Natalie seems to have gained another pound overnight. I wouldn't be surprised if she weighs over 11 lbs. at her check-up next week (when she will be getting her first shot, which I am not looking forward to!). She has been busy trying to hold her head up and spending more time awake and alert each day. She smiled at her daddy when he came home from work last night and is also becoming more vocal. This is the last time she will be wearing this outfit because she officially outgrew it today!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Could it be?

I don't want to get my hopes up here, but for the third night a row, Natalie has slept for 4-5 straight hours at a time, so I've only needed to get up once in the middle of the night! I hope this is a trend!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Settling into this gig

Natalie is 7 weeks old tomorrow and seems to be going on 2 already. She has decided to change her routine over the past few days and although she spends more time being awake, alert, smiling and cooing, she is also spending more time crying inconsolably. I think she is overtired from trying to stay up so she doesn't miss out on anything. I used to do that. When I was in college. Trying to meet boys.

Someone noticed today, as I have before, that Natalie tends to focus her gaze upward, at nothing in particular, smiling in the direction of the ceiling or the sky. He commented that babies her age are said to be able to see angels. That kind of freaked me out because I have had similar thoughts even though I am not a religious person and am not really into the whole angels thing, and also because I wondered if it was his way of acknowledging Julian, which he never had before. It seems that some people in my life are more comfortable acknowledging or referring to Julian now that Natalie has safely arrived, even if it's just to comment on how much she resembles him (she really does).

We have been going out more lately during the day, which seems to keep her a little happier, and makes things easier on me. Just the other day we tried out a Music Together class, which she was totally and surprisingly into, so we signed up for a 10-week class on Monday afternoons. It was really cool to see all the other babies at their various stages of development, and I'm glad I'll still be able to take her once I go back to work part time on October 23. Other things that have made my life easier include the new Enfamil travel packets and the Putumayo Kids Presents: Folk Playground CD, which Natalie and I both love (but I suspect daddy secretly hates).

I have discovered that I am far from the earth mother attachment parent that I thought I'd be after reading the Sears' book and before bringing home a live baby. We're all still making our way with it, but I'm actually a much more relaxed mother than many of my friends apparently expected me to be since I can be pretty neurotic about certain things. And while being cheerful and talking in a high pitched voice doesn't come naturally to me since I have been known to go an entire day without speaking to anyone, the hard work is obviously worth it for the smiles and recognition I am starting to get from the little Miss.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Future couch potato?

Perhaps we should take better care to feed Natalie in her room during prime time. I feel a little guilty that she already seems far too interested in the moving pictures on the television!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?

I swore to myself that I would never post any unflattering photos of my little girl, but I just had to share this one. The little bruiser weighed in at a whopping 9 lbs., 7 ounces yesterday--nearly 2 lbs. over her birth weight! She is now on 100% formula, and I have come to a place where I am fine with that. Tomorrow we're busting out the size 1 diapers...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Most gifted

This gorgeous birthstone bracelet from Catherine arrived today! Thanks Catherine!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Tales of a babywearer

Natalie celebrated her one month birthday today, while Daddy finally figured out how to make the most of the New Native sling. It literally puts her to sleep in minutes--proof that "wearing the baby down" really works!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lots to say, but this will have to suffice

A trip to one of America's wealthiest towns to visit a friend in the hospital who'd just had a baby brought up a lot of resentment in me about my labor and delivery experience due to the contrast in quality of the post-partum care we received. To make a long story short, breastfeeding is not happening for us, though Natalie gets breastmilk for about 1/3 of her feedings, all from a bottle. After witnessing how amazing my friend's hospital was and how supportive they are of breastfeeding (and general care for the mother), down to seemingly minor details, I feel especially depressed, disappointed, and blameful of our hospital for ruining it for us.

I won't go into the details at this point, because I promised DH I wouldn't dwell, but I needed to acknowledge my feelings aloud. Sadly, I don't feel like LLL would be of any help to me, because in my experience they are so militantly pro-breastfeeding and anti-pumping and artificial nipples that a) no one returned my calls during my last pregnancy when I was desperate to cut off my milk supply when it came in on Christmas Day 2004 and I didn't know what to do or who to turn to (my doctors were off and no one in the hospital prepared me for what to expect) and b) no one returned my calls just the other day when I thought my pump was on the fritz and I was all engorged and in pain and needed to find a 24 hour pump rental site.

More later, if I feel like I can be bothered to get into it. (Don't even get me started about the completely wrong shaped pacifier the nurses gave Natalie in the hospital without asking me, or the fact that my mom thinks they gave her a bottle, based on their bewildered looks every time they would ask whether or not she was breast or bottle fed...)


Onto a less loaded topic... I got some much needed "me" time this afternoon, under the guise of needing to pick up some things from the baby store. Guess who was in front of me on line at the Buy Buy Baby in Chelsea? America's Next Top Model's "Noted fashion photographer" Nigel Barker, wife Cristen Chin, and gorgeous son Jack. (See photos of the trio at JustJared.com.)


I'm currently enjoying reading "The Secret Life of Bees," given to me by my aforementioned friend. I discovered today that Natalie enjoys being read aloud to, which is great for both of us, as long as she is comfortable--an easier feat since our trip to the fancy schmancy hospital, where our friends managed to snag us an extra Soothie pacifier--clearly the correct choice for breastfed babies, unlike the plastic-y, flattened nipple monstrosity she was given at our hospital. Grr...

Friday, August 18, 2006

She sure cleans up nice!

Bathtime gets much less traumatic with practice!

Natalie tries on her first dress, a gift from Aunt Rosemary.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Baby bling

Natalie models her luxe new 14K gold baby i.d. bracelet from friends, Ariel & John. Look at that manicure!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

2 weeks, 2 days

Thanks to Pam & Ap for this SoHo style outfit!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

On being a "new" mom

I'm taking a break from my rigorous pumping schedule to vent about something that has been really bugging me lately. I know folks mean well, but it hurts when people say things like, "You're going to be a great mom," or "welcome to motherhood," or "how's it feel to be a new mom?" Apparently I haven't stomped my feet and hollered enough for the past two years to let people know that I have been a mother for some time now, and that having Natalie doesn't erase anything that has happened, though it does change our focus.

Yes, I appreciate that I am a new mom to Natalie, and that parenting a live newborn is a completely new, challenging, and somewhat terrifying experience for me, much different than parenting an idealized dead child, but it's upsetting that it's so hard for most people to understand that I have been a mother since Julian was conceived, was born, and died in 2004. If nurturing him in my body for 9.5 months, giving birth to him, overseeing his medical care, fighting with the insurance company over bills, having him cremated, sending out birth/death cards, displaying his photo in our home, and trying to make sure he is remembered don't count for active mothering, I don't know what does.

Yesterday, I had the following response to a birth announcement I sent out, stating that Robert and I were pleased to announce the safe arrival of our second child: "Blessings to you and your two daughters." HUH? I thanked the person and reminded her politely that actually, we have a daughter and a son who died in 2004. Her response was even worse. Basically it went, "Oops, I forgot. Since you only have her, I won't ask if I can have her!" Thanks for the emphasis on the word "only." I am not close with this person (obviously), or I would have had a huge fit.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Bringing home baby

I've decided to spare you the blow by blow of my induction and just give you the highlights. I was admitted on a Tuesday night and delivered Natalie on Thursday afternoon. That adds up to about 40 hours of labor. The following interventions were used: Vancomycin (antibiotic to prevent transmission of GBS), Cervadil gel (to ripen cervix), Cytotec (ripens cervix more quickly than Cervadil), Foley catheter (artificially dilates cervix), artificial rupture of membranes, Pitocin (speeds up contractions), epidural (takes the edge off), forceps (to pull the baby out since after I was dilated to 10cm, she still hadn't dropped sufficiently and wasn't tolerating contractions, threatening to qualify us for an emergency c-section--scary). It was certainly not the ideal labor and delivery experience, but the doctors, nurses, and residents at Columbia-Presbyterian could not have been better.

The good news is that Natalie is doing amazingly well despite her semi-traumatic journey into the world (her Apgar scores were 8 and 9 if that means anything to you), and I only required a few stitches after the torture me and my hoo-ha were put through. Our favorite cardiologist, Dr. G., happened to walk into the Labor & Delivery room in her street clothes just as Natalie was being born, so she got to meet her and check her out. We'll see her again this week for another echo, but we expect that everything will continue to look normal.

On the home front, we're starting to get the hang of things, which admittedly got off to a rocky start. Natalie hasn't been latching well, and I haven't been producing enough milk because of that, and I suspect also because of all the drugs I was given during my long labor. I had a home visit with an excellent lactation consultant (LC) last week who confirmed that Natalie's hysterical crying was due to the fact that she was hungry and had lost about 10% of her birth weight, that she wasn't sucking properly b/c of tongue positioning, and that I wasn't producing enough. She suggested that I pump and supplement with formula, so that's what we've been doing. Natalie's been back to her lovely pediatrician, Dr. L., a few times, who agreed with what the LC said and has been impressed with her progress in terms of weight gain, development, etc. The original LC said she'd do a complimentary follow-up to work with Natalie on her latch and I have another LC coming tomorrow evening to figure out what's going on with me. Luckily, she's also a physician and accepts my insurance so I only have to pay a $15 co-pay.

Needless to say, feeding has been a hugely emotional issue, which you'll understand if you've been following the breastfeeding debates. On top of that, I feel like I've been having some general PPD symptoms, complicated by complex feelings about Julian's birth and death. Long story short: I love my daughter, I miss my son, and I'm just trying to keep it together.

The good news, as you can see, is that none of this has seemed to faze Miss Natalie...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Happy birthday, Milo!

I'm so thrilled and relieved for Laura & Justin that little Milo has finally arrived! Happy birthday, Milo!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Saturday, July 29, 2006

We're home!!

We're home and all is well! All the gory details you ever wanted to know about my 3-day induction to follow. Thanks so much to everyone for your friendship and support--I definitely couldn't have gotten through the last 19 months without you...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Natalie Juliana has arrived!

[This is Alysse's friend D. posting... ]

I am thrilled to share this wonderful news just in...

Natalie Juliana arrived at 3:13 p.m. this afternoon. She weighs 6 lbs 13 ozs (length coming tomorrow) and has lots of dark hair. I overheard Natalie while on the phone with Alysse, and she is in good voice! Alysse is still in L&D waiting for the epidural to wear off, and anticipates they will be home in a couple of days.

Mazal tov to Alysse, Robert, and Natalie!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Here I go!

Well, I'm off to the hospital, feeling excited, anxious, and a whole host of other emotions. I'm admittedly a little freaked out about the induction I wanted so badly since it seems I haven't progressed at all on my own, but I am just trying to focus on the fact that Natalie will hopefully be with us by this time tomorrow, by any means necessary. My friend D will post an update--stay tuned!

Friday, July 21, 2006

We have a plan

Well, I was hoping to go into labor yesterday so I wouldn't have to make my doctor's appointments today. No such luck, but everything was fine, and they're guessing Natalie already weighs 7 pounds, 9 ounces (huge when you consider that Julian only weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces!). No cervical action yet, so we are still on for induction on Wednesday. I'll actually be admitted on Tuesday night to start the "ripening" process, then will get pitocin sometime on Wednesday when conditions look more favorable. The whole process usually happens within 24 hours. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be going to the hospital Tuesday night instead of Wednesday morning!

Oh, I got my Binsi top (style: Thankini, color: black/mystery) and skirt (style: Prima Mama, color: mars/burgundy) today, and am pleasantly surprised by the quality of the fabrics and fit. I looked at the skirt and thought I'd look ridiculous, but it's actually one of the few skirts that looks decent on me. The outfit is really cute, and DH loves it. Hopefully so will the nursing staff. Admittedly, I do feel a little self-conscious, like, "Look at me, I am too cute for the hospital gown," but hey, it's my party, right?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Perhaps out of desperation to get this thing going, boredom, or an overwhelming need to have control over some aspect of this process, I ordered a birthing outfit from Binsi. A ridiculously frivolous waste of money? Maybe. An investment in vanity? Perhaps. But after feeling that the worst part of my visit to L&D last week was having my huge arse hanging out while attempting a trip to the bathroom, and having the interns get lost under the inconveniently designed hospital gown as they fumbled around with the monitors strapped to my belly, I decided that it was worth it if it allows me to maintain some sense of dignity. And if this is going to be the last time I experience childbirth, I'd prefer it to be much different than the first. Who knows, the set may not arrive in time, I may decide that it's even more unflattering than a hospital gown, or the nurses may refuse to let me wear it (the company accepts returns), but it's nice to have options!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

About to pop

In case you were wondering how huge I am... And to top it all off, it's about 95 degrees here in NYC, as you can tell. Oh well, I'm just soooo glad I got to see Joel and his film, Mansyon, at the 29th NY Asian American International Film Festival before going into labor!

Welcome, Eleanor Grace!

Congratulations to NervousKitty on the birth of her daughter, Eleanor Grace, this past Thursday! A friend reports that mom and baby are doing well.

Friday, July 14, 2006

False alarm

Our echo this morning couldn't have gone better. After being checked out by the head of pediatric cardiology, he pronounced Natalie's heart function over the last umpteen weeks as "normal and boring," and said all sorts of moving and heartfelt things about us, Natalie, and Julian, given that he was around for the heartbreak we experienced at the end of our last pregnancy. He hugged and kissed me as he wished us the very best if we didn't see him next week. Very sweet, and of course, sent me into a major tearfest.

Next, we moved on to our regularly scheduled OB appointment, where my pressures and proteins got me sent over to Labor & Delivery with a pre-eclampsia scare. After 5 hours in L&D, it seems I am also "normal and boring," with normal pressures and no protein, and got sent home. Shoot, we were actually looking forward to them telling us we had to stick around for induction, which seemed like a very realistic possibility this morning. Obviously, though, I'm glad everything is okay with Natalie and me, and we were happy for the opportunity to become reacquainted with L&D, which was actually quite nice, and full of amazing doctors, calming nurses, and interesting young residents. Ms. Natalie still hasn't full dropped, however, and I am not at all dilated (which is apparently common in 2nd pregnancies, in which a lot can happen very quickly) so I really can't say when anything will happen. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Almost there

I'm still here, just trying to keep busy until I spontaneously go into labor or July 26, the date the OB team gave me for induction (yeah, a whole 4 days early--thanks a lot!), whichever comes first. I am feeling less hyper and upset about things than I was last week, and I probably won't bust out the can-o-NYC-whoop-ass anytime soon, since I am a mere 17 days away from my due date, 13 days away from a possible induction, and 4 days away from the point at which I gave birth to Julian in my first pregnancy. Plus, I would find it very hard to believe that Natalie is a Leo, since she has struck me as a Cancer for as long as I've known her. That means something needs to happen within the next 9 days. My main problem with waiting for labor to happen spontaneously honestly isn't impatience, I would just prefer a more controlled labor and delivery, but I'm leaning towards the wait and see approach, with the hope that fewer interventions (with the exception of antibiotics to prevent GBS infection, and an epidural, obviously) will lead to a more ideal outcome in the long run. I'll let you know if anything we find out at tomorrow's appointments changes anything.

Well, the nursery is finally as ready as its going to be, the cleaner spent the whole day here on Tuesday, I've seen nearly every film I care to see, and I spent yesterday in the 'burbs with a pregnant friend whose due date is within 10 days of mine. It was a bit of a freak show walking around town having everyone stare at us, asking double the number of questions, but otherwise we had a very nice time. The only thing left to do is pack my bag for the hospital, which for some reason, I have been putting off. I'll do that today.

Friday, July 07, 2006


I feel overwhelmed, and generally in a crap mood. Natalie and I are both fine, but I found out today that I tested positive for Group B Strep. Perhaps a "normal" pregnant woman would simply interpret this finding to mean that she'd be receiving antibiotics during labor and go on about her merry way, assuming everything would be fine, but I find it pretty hard to gloss over the truth that GBS is a leading cause of infant death, rare though it may be. Stats are pretty much lost on me, given previous experience.

To top it all off, my OB is on vacation for the next two weeks, which feels pretty disconcerting. The nurse practitioner spoke to another doctor in the practice today, who felt strongly that they wouldn't induce prior to 39 weeks, but if we were uncomfortable with that decision, they'd move it up if we scheduled an amnio to test for lung maturity before hand. They went ahead and scheduled me for July 26--what's the point? I think my body can do better than that on its own. And the amnio thing frustrates me--is it really necessary after 37 weeks, at which point I'll be considered full term?

Reality or not, I feel like everyone has disappeared and isn't taking my concerns seriously. When I spoke to the NP, I broke down and told her how freaked out I was about the GBS, after already experiencing one infant death. She was kind, but indicated that she was surprised that I was concerned about GBS, stating how common it was, etc. She must be reading from something different than what I read on the CDC website, and I felt too beaten down to argue with her. DH is set on getting an induction date settled, and wants us to go all New York high maintenance next week so we get some results. To complicate matters even further, some of what I am reading says its best for GBS+ moms to avoid "unnecessary" interventions such as induction, artificial rupture of membranes, etc. which may increase the risk of passing the infection on to the baby. Ugh, this is too much. Can't I get a break?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

36.5 weeks

DH and I "celebrated" July 4th in the most patriotic way we know how--we went shopping at The Mall at Short Hills, arguably the fanciest mall in New Jersey. I suppose everyone in New Jersey was having cookouts, because the place was pleasantly quiet and there were many bargains to be had. I got Natalie two gorgeous outfits and a pair of shoes from Baby Gap, 1 hat from Gymboree, a onesie and a t-shirt from Nordstrom, all for under $35!

On the way to the mall, I think I felt BH contractions, mild cramping, and a shooting pains in my pelvic region, that all went away in a short amount of time. However, during the brief time these false labor symptoms persisted, I was reminded about the reality of childbirth, and a mild panic set in. It reminded me of the feeling I got when I was in labor with Julian, about 4-5cm dilated, writhing in pain on the hospital bed, not having gotten my epidural yet: "This is somewhat bearable right now, but in about 2 minutes, it's going to get really bad, and I think I might lose my mind and/or die." I know I can do it, but the pelvic pressure reminded me of how soon this is actually going to happen, and believe it or not, I actually felt a little unready.

So, when we got home, I decided to take the plunge and wash all of Natalie's clothes and bedding. All three loads of it. It was then that I realized why I needed extra time off. I can only do about 1-2 things a day before I am completely worn out. DH has been great about putting things together, moving things, and helping us get organized, too. Thankfully, I am having a cleaner come next week (which, by the way, I never thought I'd do), who will be able to get everything done in one day.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

36 weeks

Only a month to go until my due date, which I'm still hoping means more like 2 weeks, since I was 2 weeks early with Julian. I feel like my body is designed to labor at 38 weeks, since I can't imagine feeling any bigger or more uncomfortable than I do now. I chickened out of bringing up induction with my OB on Friday. I know she'll just say that there's no medical reason and offer me 39, and as anxious and antsy as I feel, I don't think I'd do a good job of convincing her to induce for emotional reasons. On the outside, I am the image of calm much of the time. At least that's how my reservation and "I'll exhale when the baby's here" attitude must come off to people who don't know me well or never bother to ask how I'm really doing. (As for how DH, a Brit, is doing--the World Cup and the Tour de France are providing convenient distractions. Need I say more?)

Everything went well with Dr. G. on Friday. I think she's starting to wonder if the weekly echos are doing us more harm than good, but the truth is, I like seeing her. She's reassuring, doesn't blow off our concerns, and uses Julian's name on a regular basis. Sure, I hate going to the hospital at 8:30am every Friday, but it sure is a good way to mark the time. We also had an interview with a pediatrician that afternoon, who we really liked. Not only is she affiliated with the hospital, but she knows Dr. G., uses email, and used to see my OB's kids before she moved to the 'burbs. Overall, a good match for us.

So, I'm off work until I return from maternity leave in October. I feel such a tremendous sense of relief that I decided to take vacation until my maternity leave starts. Not only is it better for my physical comfort, but for my emotional comfort as well. People were starting to ask questions. Or not. Which put me in a no-win situation. I was adamant that I didn't want to have to answer a lot of questions, and have been very protective and low-key about my pregnancy, but when it became obvious, it was also somewhat disconcerting to have people ignore it or give me strange looks or get all twitchy around me, but not say anything. (Deja vu? Reminds me of when I returned from my first maternity leave, sans baby). With the exception of a few close colleagues and friends, I didn't hear many "good lucks" or "take cares," but I did manage to sneak out the back door before things got really uncomfortable. More importantly, this time off is better for Natalie, who deserves to be prepared for in a way that I wasn't able to fully prepare for Julian. And she deserves to have a calm, emotionally sound mom who is 100% focused on her.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Natalie's Room

I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon and share a recent photo of Natalie's room. This is my last week at work and I'm busy making preparations. I think I'll actually break down and wash her clothes next week. It's strange--as anxious as I am about bringing her home, the only thing that helps me get through it is to continue to get everything ready for her arrival. I know some people would be so paralyzed by fear that they'd worry about jinxing things.

Let's be clear. I'm scared to death. No amount of scans or tests can convince me of what I know. My first baby died, and I am in the unusual position of knowing more people whose babies have died than have come home. (Yes, this is a true statement. I still don't have a lot of close friends or co-workers with children, I don't have siblings, and DH's friends and family had their children a while ago). It reminds me of my friend, M., who spent her early career working with children with cancer. When she had her son, she was shocked that he was healthy, because all the other children in her life had cancer.

For me, the choice to have another child is a try without a guaranteed outcome. It's a leap of faith, and faith is not something I'm very big on, being someone who tends to rely on a combination of facts and intuition. Every week that Natalie is still with us is a joy and a relief, but pregnancy is still a scary place for me to be and I look forward to the day she is living on the outside, in the safety of the home that has been awaiting her for what feels like years. I hope my OB will agree to induce me earlier than 39 weeks if I am going crazy and ask politely.

Update: Natalie's biophysical profile and fetal echocardiogram were excellent last week, as was my blood pressure, urine, and weight. She currently weighs about 4 pounds, 11 ounces, which I worried was a bit on the small side (I am not accustomed to being in the 20th percentile of anything!), but she's completely normal for dates. Dr. C. asked how nervous I was feeling, and I said I was ready to go, to which she replied, "Let's just get you to 36 weeks." Is this the opening I am hoping for? I'd be happy with 38. I'm sure my mother would be happy with a set date, too, since I think she's worried she's going to miss the birth!


The instructor of our newborn care class made a comment to the effect of, "If you think you've got it bad, just be glad you're not a penguin," referring to the film, March of the Penguins. I thought, "Lady, if you're referring to the fact that lots of penguins don't make it due to the harsh conditions under which they are conceived, let's get something straight: some [human] babies die, too." I rented the film yesterday afternoon and was all weepy, of course. (Morgan Freeman's narrations get me every time.) The film did acknowledge the death of baby penguins, but I was struck that the only thing that was mentioned about the bereft mother penguins was that they were so overcome with grief that they would try to steal another mother's baby, which the other mothers would not allow. I wondered what happened to them after that. Were they shunned from the community? Did they return home without their baby or wait for the father to return to show him what happened? Would this decrease their chances of finding a suitable mate next season? That's the story I'd really like to hear.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Baby overload

I think I am starting to drive DH crazy with my obsessions with baby gear (swing or bouncer, which swing, which pattern, sling or front-carrier, bleach-free diapers, which diaper cream, etc.). Thankfully, one of the teachers at Realbirth on Sunday mentioned that it was completely normal (and serves a biological function) for women to be completely OCD surrounding the birth of their babies, so DH is cutting me a bit of slack. Truthfully, he is just as neurotic, but his neuroses manifest in different ways.

In really exciting news, "Uncle" Joel will be in town next month for the screening of his film, Mansyon, at the 29th NY Asian-American International Film Festival. (I have been dying, by the way, to see this film). He may even get to meet Natalie while he's in the country. Can't wait!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's Day

DH and I enjoyed a lovely Sunday together, which is a rare thing given that he usually works on Sundays. We spent the day attending breastfeeding and infant care classes at Realbirth. Both classes were excellent, and much better than the hospital-based classes we took when I was pregnant with Julian. I had left my previous breastfeeding class feeling completely overwhelmed and unprepared, but left the Realbirth class feeling confident and empowered by my own intuition.

While the classes and teachers were great, they also raised some very emotional issues for us, which we discussed through tears on the journey home. For one thing, the issue of SIDS came up in the context of sleeping preferences. Although our baby didn't die of SIDS, and I've only met one woman whose baby did die of SIDS, I felt very self-conscious about the discussion, sitting in a room presumably full of first-time parents who had never experienced the death of an infant. The conversation was fairly light and somewhat dismissive of the risk factors, which made me a little uncomfortable.

The most emotional aspect of the classes, however, was re-learning all the basics of newborn care that are intended to make a baby's transition from the womb to the real world feel as safe and comforting as possible, from the importance of skin-to-skin contact, to breastfeeding, to rooming-in with the baby in the hospital and discouraging unnecessary interruptions and interventions when possible. When the presenter said, "...unless your baby has to go to the NICU..." DH and I pretty much lost it. For most people, their NICU babies become NICU graduates, not babies who get a plaque in the hospital garden in their honor for having lost the battle for their lives in the NICU.

While DH and I know that Julian received the best medical care possible, and that all the interventions were necessary to help him, I think we will always feel very sad and even a little guilty about what he didn't get in his short little life. Forget that he didn't get to grow up--he didn't even get to experience his mother's arms until the day he died. He didn't get to look into our eyes or smell familiar smells or sleep in the same room as his mother, or any of the things we know to be so important during those first few days. This detachment must have been very hard on him, as I know it was, and still is for me. I can't bear the thought of him all alone in a NICU bed, even though I know that we were there. Natalie's upcoming birth will be especially emotional for those reasons. I truly hope we're able to have the best introduction possible this time around.

Friday, June 16, 2006

No news is good news

I feel like I haven't written a serious post in a while, is that why it seems that no one visits anymore? Could you possibly find pictures of my cats *that* boring??? (Don't answer that.)

I guess the weekly visits are starting to get a bit old, and I just want to bring Natalie home. Days like today are always so stressful, and tend to start with bouts of irritable bowel syndrome and extreme agitation until Dr. G. tells us that things look "perfect." DH and I have really been put through it with this pregnancy, and there isn't much more I can say about it, other than that I can't wait for it to be over. For the record, my last several echos have been very good, and while I feel reassured, I won't feel 100% out of the woods until the day my little girl comes home.

My OB wants to see me weekly now, too. Everything looked great from her perspective today, except for that trace amount of protein in my urine that won me my third 24-hour urine collection kit of this pregnancy (ugh!). The good news is that I've only gained 20 lbs. so far. Oh, and I think the baby dropped a few days ago, which I know doesn't really mean anything, but at least it makes me feel like she is truly coming any day now, even if any day is really over a month away.

My last visit with my psychiatrist, Dr. B., went very well. She thinks I'm doing well off the meds, was impressed with the successful way in which I truly have managed to make it through this pregnancy on my own terms (keeping a low profile, and therefore minimizing myself to unwanted attention, advice, or conversations), and best of all, without even knowing the extent of my domesticity, or my mentioning it, recommended that I get a cleaning lady. I asked her if she'd write that on an Rx pad so I could show it to DH. She just laughed, not realizing that I was completely serious!

In other news, I have been busy getting as much ready as I possibly can, so we really only have a few more necessities to pick up and things to line up, and we'll be all set. I really should book that cleaning lady, too...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The new hot spot

Feline 'It' duo Seamus and Sylvester exemplify understated aloofness and sophisticated detached style atop the newly proclaimed hot spot. (Leather sofa by Seaman's, sweatshirt compliments of Daddy).

Thursday, June 08, 2006


If you haven't seen the renegade photos yet, I just have to say, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt is gorgeous. The official photos will be out in People tomorrow. She looks like both her parents, and when I saw the photos from Hello! Magazine a few days ago, it reminded me so much of the first time I saw Julian. After all the speculation about what he would look like, here was this familiar little person that I actually recognized without ever having seen him before. "Of course," I thought, "I have always known you." I am so looking forward to that experience again, when I see Natalie for the first time.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Grief, anxiety, guilt, and small victories

I am nearly 32 weeks and my general anxiety level seems to be through the roof these days. As my due date approaches, I feel more optimistic, but there is also that underlying fear of what could go wrong. To complicate matters, I think reality is setting in and I am also feeling nervous about parenting a baby that lives with me. Then I feel guilty, as though I should feel so grateful for having a living child that I'm only allowed to stress over life or death matters.

In order to feel a sense of control, I like to plan things. I am a planner by nature, but given that all my best laid plans for Julian didn't work out, I worry about planning too much with this pregnancy. The reality is, I live in Manhattan, so here I am, applying for daycare (and therefore pre-school, since I am applying to early childhood programs for children ages 6 months-5 years) over a year ahead of time.

In case you haven't heard, daycare and preschool admissions in Manhattan can be as competitive as college admissions (not to mention that once you get in, the cost of tuition is comparable to college as well). With all the Type A families that reside here, you practically have no choice but to play along, lest you find yourself without a space for your child. For this reason, I wept tears of joy when I read the following response from the admissions director at a local school to an inquiry as to when I should apply for Fall 2007 admission. (She remembered our family because I had applied to the school in 2004 for Julian, and had to break the news that we wouldn't be needing a space after all.)

"I have thought of you often and could not be happier for anyone. We would love to have your daughter and she will have a place here in 2007. I begin accepting applications in September, so once I receive your application, I will immediately place her on our roster."

Once again, I am overwhelmed by the compassion human beings are capable of, particularly when you least expect it, and with everything else going on, it is such a relief to know that there is one huge source of stress that we won't need to deal with. Now I just need to get on with bringing this little girl home!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A foot in both worlds

I just came upon an amazing non-profit organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS). With volunteer affiliate photographers in most states, NILMDTS provides sensitive and compassionate photography services to families experiencing the death of an infant. The photos on this site are moving and brilliant and even hopeful, despite the obvious sadness inherent in the theme of infant loss. What comes across even more than tragedy in the photos is the love and tenderness that each family feels for the child(ren) who died. I found the photos of the children with their living siblings to be especially profound. The photographs show such respect for the families and their children, without exploitation or manipulation, that they reminded me of the Victorian-era post-mortem photography I've discussed here before.

(If you're beginning to worry that I've crossed over into the dark side, rest assured that I have also been keeping myself busy with "normal people" activities like looking into daycare, baby shopping, and nesting--well, I don't know how much nesting I'm really doing in this oppressive heat... I'm just your average bereaved mother, perfectly capable of grieving one child while celebrating the coming of another.)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Birth and death

Seems that Gwen and Ang weren't the only ones to give birth this weekend. Our car's engine has been destroyed for the second time in 3 weeks by nesting rats. NYC rats don't mess around. The first time, mama simply chewed on the wires and filled the engine cavity with bits of paper, lint, glass, and whatever else she could find to provide warmth for her babies. Yesterday, after a leisurely drive, the engine warning light came on again. Upon inspection, it was obvious that mama had come back to deliver and had caused more damage along the way. The engine was again packed with nesting materials, which DH carefully and somewhat squeamishly removed with rubber gloves, revealing several tiny, no longer living babies, whom mama had likely been forced to abandon when we started the car earlier in the day. We were able to exhume all but the two tiniest runts, who were too tucked away to reach without the proper tools. Apart from the $400 we'll have to pay to take care of this (for the second time), we are both feeling quite disturbed and distressed over this incident. What is mama going to think or do when she comes back? We both feel silly, but also a little sad over this latest bizarre incident in our world.

Friday, May 26, 2006

100% girl

One of the residents who works with Dr. G. in cardiology added a little fun to our usual anxiety-provoking visit by giving us another peek between the baby's legs. For the first time ever, we saw LABIA. No doubt about it, Natalie's a girl! It may seem silly, but the image was very exciting, considering that without any visual proof to date, there was still a good chance that all the dresses I've bought for Natalie would end up being worn by Nathaniel.

The good word is that her heart still looks great, no sign of hydrops or anything else of concern at this point, and she's measuring according to dates, weighing approx. 3 lbs., 5 oz. On top of that, my BP was good, and I haven't gained any weight in the past 3 weeks, so I'm still at 17 lbs. total. I might just get through this pregnancy at nearly the same weight I was at the end of my pregnancy with Julian, which isn't too shabby, considering that I was able to lose that weight right away, even without the added advantage of being able to breastfeed.

Stuff to watch:

If you haven't had the opportunity to see the award-winning documentary, "Little Man," it's currently airing on Showtime and is totally worth the box of tissues you'll go through as you learn about one family's struggle with life and death decisions regarding their premature son. The themes are controversial, often disturbing, and at times political, but also deeply personal and profoundly moving. This is a story that rarely gets told. Click here for local airtimes.

In a sub-subplot of episode 10 ("The Baptism") of my new favorite HBO show, "Big Love," a past family tragedy is revealed when Bill celebrates the birth of his new nephew with brother Joey and sister-in-law Wanda, and mother Lois pronounces matter-of-factly, "This one's gon' live."

I just rented the 2005 film, "Junebug," a quirky family drama that unexpectedly delves into the tragedy of stillbirth. The film was nominated for several film awards and stars one of my many fantasy boyfriends, Alessandro Nivola.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Happy dance!

I just found out that one of the most deserving people in the entire world got some really good news today, and I am overjoyed for her and her family! :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The party is over

I've just had a nice visit with my mom, and a good check-up with the cardiologist last Friday, but I think that other recent events that I won't go into, in combination with my hormones and lack of pill popping have pushed me over the edge into pre-partum depression territory. Just when I thought I was coping so well, I'm suddenly reduced to a puddle of tears. Is it too soon for another vacation? Somebody wake me up in 8 weeks.

P.S. I was struck by the following on the bus the other day and thought I'd share (from MTA's "Poetry in Motion" series):

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in the grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase 'each other'
doesn't make any sense.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

More frivolous baby things

To keep my mind off how anxious I have become in these past few days, as we approach the final 10-week countdown, I thought I'd bore you with talk of frivolous, though necessary, baby things. (Please don't think I've lost my mind, I'm just trying to distract myself from the paralyzing sense of fear and dread that could easily overtake me at any moment.)

Our stroller arrived, and we love it! I'll come clean--the stroller is indeed manufactured by Zooper, but I ordered it from (shhh!) Pottery Barn Kids. This particular stroller was made especially for PBK by Zooper, and most closely resembles the 2005 "Swing" and the 2006 "Hula" styles (the biggest differences are the rear wheel width, the fabric, and PBK label, which though subtle, may be offensive to your aesthetic sensibilities--it slightly offends mine, but I'll live with it for the price!).

The stroller is substantial, handsome looking, and easy to maneuver. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the stroller came with extras like a UV cover, infant seat adaptor, rain cover, and boot, which manufacturers like Maclaren and Bugaboo would gladly label as "optional" and charge extra for. It is surprisingly made in the U.S.A. and the customer service office (based in Portland) is amazing. If you are stroller shopping, be sure to check it out, and act quickly--it was a major steal at $129.99 (originally $249.99). I can only assume they didn't do well because lots of parents find it unsettling to buy a stroller from a furniture store, and perhaps it wasn't clear who the manufacturer was. If you need more convincing, the Zooper was a top pick in this year's edition of Baby Bargains (another must have item!).

Monday, May 15, 2006

Holiday in Vermont

We had a really restful long weekend in Vermont despite the non-stop rain. Robert (pictured above with Billings) learned to fly a Harris Hawk, and I had an excellent massage and pedicure. Mother's Day was not without its challenges, but I survived (I still haven't come up with a smooth way to answer the inevitable, "Is this your first... How many.... How old...?" I find that I am not able to lie, but also not able to come up with a one liner than won't lead to further questions--please send suggestions if you have them!). Best of all, we had our weekly echo before hitting the road and Natalie's heart looked great, so we were able to truly relax and enjoy our mini getaway together. Oh, and Robert bought me a lovely gold locket. :)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mother's Day

DH and I are off to Vermont for the weekend, but before we leave, I'd like to address the controversial topic of Mother's Day. Last year, I felt confined to my apartment on Mother's Day, because I was scared to death that someone would ask me if I had any children, and I was in no state to cope with the public. This year, however, I feel more validated as a mother, and therefore more resolved not to let anyone take that away from me. On Sunday, I intend to honor myself, my children, my mother, and all the other extra-special mothers out there (particularly Catherine, Delphi, Lauralu, Gabesmama, NervousKitty, Sillyhummingbird, Deadbabymama, Kate, Anam, Jill, and other regular readers) who have had to struggle a little harder than most to achieve and sustain their status as mothers, and who experience the joy and pain of motherhood every single day.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pregnant again

I just had lunch with an administrator who I like, but don't know very well, and haven't seen for a while. As we were walking down the street talking, out of nowhere, she stopped and asked, "Oh, are you pregnant again?" Of course I responded that I was, and before I had a chance to offer my usual qualifiers, she asked how things were going, and I told her the truth, that there have been lots of ups and downs, close monitoring, and unknowns, that this doesn't change things, and that there are no guarantees. Thankfully, she completely understood where I was coming from, yet didn't shy away from asking further questions about me or the baby. This is typical of this person--she is known for her offbeat and rather blunt communication style. I'm sure it's considered tactless by others, but at the moment, I find it particularly refreshing and comforting.

In other news, can you believe I just bought a STROLLER???? I never got around to buying one when I was pregnant with Julian, because I couldn't make up my mind. It feels like a big commitment, but just found one I like at a really good price that made it hard to pass up. I ended up going with a Zooper that is suitable from birth-40 lbs. I had originally been tied to getting a Maclaren, but the Zooper seems like the "indie stroller" in this city full of Bugs, Macs, and Stokkes. The design is actually similar to a Mac, but touted as being more value for money. I hope I don't end up regretting this!

Monday, May 08, 2006

The world is an unfair place

I just learned that someone in our virtual community has suffered another devastating loss. Please send your best to Catherine and her family. Following the stillbirth of her second son, Alex around this time last year, Catherine has lost Baby #3, who was due in September. We mourn with her.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


We're officially in the home stretch (no pun intended, though my stretchmarks seem to have taken on a checkerboard pattern this week)! Only 12 more (hopefully only 10 more, really) weeks to go!

Friday, May 05, 2006


After a week of Trying Not To Think About It, yet succumbing to fear and anxiety anyway, I am happy to report that our cardio appointment went very well today. No sign of TR, enlargement of the heart, or any fluid where it shouldn't be. We, of course, were thrilled and relieved, and since Natalie was being especially cooperative and photogenic today, Dr. G. even took lots of pictures and recordings to demonstrate a particular procedure to one of her classes at a later date. My OB appointment went well, too--passed my glucose screen, BP was only 120/60, no protein in my urine, and I've only gained 17 lbs.! I will hit 28 weeks on Sunday and will officially enter the third trimester, which I hope flies by with fewer concerns than the second. Please, please, please.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

49 and looking good!

(Yes, he really is 49 this year!)

Happy birthday to the love of my life and the father of my children. May your one real birthday wish come true this year.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Borrowed from deadbabymama

I'm borrowing this post from deadbabymama, because I think it is so perfect.

"Grief is like a well, a well that is so deep you can't even comprehend if or where it might end. You spend a lot of time in it, and eventually make your way to the top, where you hang out, sometimes inside, sometimes partly outside. Sometimes you are sitting on the edge, dangling your feet over the side. Very occasionally you leave altogether and the well just sits at the end of the garden; you always come back to it. Often you come back involuntarily, an incident or image or person drags you back, sometimes even lifts you bodily and throws you down deep. If you are lucky you remember where the footholds are, and where the chinks that your fingers fit in are and you can get yourself out a bit faster and with fewer cuts and bruises than last time. Sometimes you take yourself down to the end of the garden and flirt with the well. You dip a toe in, or lie on your stomach at the edge and peer down. You might throw stones down it, to see how deep it is. Occasionally you throw caution to the wind and step in, hurtling yourself down; afterwards you wonder why you are so cruel to yourself but you also recognize the rewards of remembering. You know that you can't have the memories without the well, so you accept it and even start to incorporate it into the larger landscape of the garden. You plant around it in ways that draw subtle attention to it, it becomes a place you don't avoid but you also don't approach it without awareness. Other people comment on the beauty of your garden, and the worthwhile ones include the well in their assessment. The well is part of your landscape, and you learn to live with it somewhat gracefully, sometimes even proudly; it is no longer deep enough to swallow all of your joy." (Posted on deadbabyblog, 5/1/06).

Thursday, April 27, 2006


We had our weekly meeting with Dr. G. today instead of Friday. All is still well with Natalie's heart in terms of size, function, etc. but Dr. G. did point out that a very minute amount of tricuspid regurgitation (TR) was present. She repeated several times that she was not worried about this, and that we shouldn't be either, and that it was most likely of a transient nature, but it's hard not to feel anxious and scared. DH and I are not worried, per se, and I know that Dr. G. would not hesitate to let us know if she was truly concerned based on our past experience with her, but it's hard not to become overwhelmed with fear and anxiety over the slightest little blip, when we want so badly for every doctor's visit to be perfect.

On top of that, I have spent the past few days trying to deal with thousands of dollars in medical bills, insurance problems, benefits, claims, referrals, authorizations, etc. No one seems to be on the same page, everyone is giving me the run around and pointing the finger at some other department, and it's starting to wear me down and put me in a nasty mood. Welcome to the joys of high risk pregnancy and obstetrics.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn."

Thus begins and ends what Ernest Hemingway called the best short story he had ever written, the legend of which is mentioned in Daniel Raeburn's "Vessels" which appears in the Personal History section of this week's New Yorker. Robert pointed the piece out to me yesterday. The subtitle, "Irene Raeburn: Born December 28, 2004; Died December 24, 2004" leapt from the page, as did the hauntingly beautiful photograph of Raeburn and his wife, one year into their grief over their stillborn daughter.

I hesitated before reading the piece, although I was immediately impressed and encouraged by the magazine's decision to include it at all. Parents of babies who died share a silent grief (most often silenced by cultural and societal forces), which often goes unnoticed in popular culture and the media, so I'm always heartened by the acknowledgement of this experience as something that can and does happen, and not just to your neighbor's sister's best friend's co-worker. At the same time, I'm often cautious about reading such accounts, because I wonder, "Is this something that I would want to share with someone who hasn't experienced the loss of a child? What if it leaves something out? Will it give them the 'right' impression of what our lives are like? Does it too easily let them (the medical staff who responded inappropriately, the friends who stopped calling, the family members who grew distant, the colleagues who averted their eyes when we passed in the hall) off the hook?"

In the end, Robert helped to remind me that as the piece is a personal narrative, there is no 'right' or 'wrong,' and that every experience is unique and should be honored how ever the parents choose to perceive or process their individual tragedy. That being said, Robert and I discussed the article after we'd both read it, and came to a few of the same conclusions: it was nice to have a father's perspective, but a shame that the mother's perspective was not particularly addressed, as we imagine hers would have been quite different; the story focused on the time period immediately following the birth and death of Raeburn's daughter Irene, but didn't touch on the complicated grief that most likely emerged in the months and years following the loss of their baby, which might give the unknowing reader the sense that parental bereavement has a beginning and an end, which we know couldn't be further from the truth.

In fairness, this is Raeburn's story, not ours, and no one essay can be expected to cover everything we wish it would. All we can do is continue to tell all of our stories.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Oops, she did it again

Celebrity Baby Blog confirmed what we already feared: Britney is pregnant again, only 6 months after giving birth to her son Sean Preston via c-section (I'm sure her OB would not have recommended another pregnancy so soon). Yes, after the driving in the lap incident, and the "he fell out of the high chair" excuse, she's ready to irresponsibly parent baby #2. Don't get me started...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The glass is officially half full

We had a great visit with Dr. G. on Friday, who assured us that Natalie's heart is still looking good. However, she still wants to see us every week until delivery since Julian's heart problem wasn't discovered until very late in my last pregnancy. Fine with us. I wouldn't want them to miss something that could potentially be treated in utero. Now that I'm further along, and feeling that there's a good chance Natalie will get to come home, I'm getting excited about labor and delivery.

Giving birth to Julian was probably the best thing I have ever done, and I can't wait to have that experience again. This time, though, I would prefer that the experience not include the need to whisk my baby away from me before I get to see her, or keep her away from me for extended periods of time. I want to be able to hold my baby girl right away, to bond with her, to feed her. I want my face to be the first one she sees.

I have been worried that I would be robbed of the natural mother-infant bonding process due to the high risk nature of my pregnancy. Although Dr. G. isn't my OB, I trust her and know her a lot better than I know my OB, so I asked her what she thought would happen after delivery, if things continue to look good. I was very surprised and happy to hear that she didn't think that Natalie would need to spend time in the NICU, and would probably start out in the transitional nursery, then go to the regular newborn nursery if she continued to be stable. It was so comforting to be told that she didn't see a reason why I shouldn't get to bond with my baby right away. She also said that she didn't think there would be any need to keep Natalie on medication, but that she would want to see her for an echo before she leaves the hospital, and again at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. I really did not expect to hear that we would get to experience anything remotely close to a "normal" labor and delivery. I still have 3 1/2 months left to go, but I am trying to keep my eyes on the prize, so to speak.

In other good news, my labs came back and I do not have pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes at this point. DH and I are both sick with horrible colds, but have been having a great time behaving badly with our dear friend, Mich, who is staying with us this weekend. From celeb spottings at Pastis to a delicious and leisurely lunch at the Culinary Institute of America , to enjoying big art at Dia Beacon , his visit has been a wonderful diversion. This is the most fun I think we've had in ages.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Congratulations, Anam!

While I was foolishly and shamefully posting about celebrity babies, I completely missed out on the news that Anam had her baby. Congratulations on your little boy, Anam!

The subsequent baby boomlet begins!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

This just in...

You all must know by now that I have a "minor" celebrity baby obsession. (While I can hardly bear the thought of looking at other pregnant women, babies, or photos of babies of people I know, something about celebrity babies seems to satisfy my not-so-secret baby obsession without the need to get too close and risk falling apart.) Anyway, I have been checking Celebrity Baby Blog several times a day, awaiting news of Brangelina, TomKitten, and whatever it is they're calling Brooke Shields' second baby. I just checked for the third time today, and it turns out that Katie and Brooke welcomed baby girls Suri and Grier today! How ironic, considering Tom & Brooke's ongoing feud over post-partum depression. Check CBB for updates, if you are so inclined.

15 weeks to go

I can hardly believe I'm 25 weeks already. Only 15 more (and 15 more echocardiograms) to go! Well, only 14 if you factor in the fact that my OB said she'd be willing to induce me at 39 weeks, and 13 if you take my master plan to go into labor naturally at 38 weeks into account. We'll see.

Given that we've had a few more good echos, I've been feeling more optimistic about the chances we'll actually get to bring our baby girl home. I've bought a few more clothes, and even "came out" to a colleague over lunch yesterday, who asked if I thought I would have any more children. I began with "Well, actually..." and before she could get too excited, I warned her that there were "concerns." She was very kind, responded appropriately, and was shocked to hear that I am as far along as I am.

Funny, because I have been really conscious of how obviously pregnant I look lately, to the point of employing various techniques used by wardrobe and makeup staff on TV shows where the actress is pregnant but the character is not (creating angles and distractions by drawing attention upward, interesting placement of scarves and other accessories, appearing to be engrossed in magazines and newspapers, sitting behind a desk...you get the picture). Good old DH looked at the extra-long Pucci scarf I awkwardly draped around my neck the other morning and smiled as he commented, "No would would ever know" and sent me off to work with a kiss.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

So long, Byron

We received sad news yesterday that DH's best friend's dog, Byron, had been hit by a car and died during their weekend trip to the country. I've had many dogs in my life, all of whom I've loved, but even I have to admit that Byron was the best dog in the whole world. He was handsome, charming, sweet, well-mannered, and loved by everyone in the neighborhood. He was a wonderful friend. Yesterday was a hard day for all of us. Goodbye, old chap. We'll miss you.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

My other babies...

...Sylvester and Seamus, who fight over who gets to sleep with mommy.

Friday, April 14, 2006

On stress

Poor papi woke up with a horrible rash on his back on Tuesday. My guess that it was shingles was properly diagnosed by a doctor yesterday. On top of the discomfort of the rash itself, he's also got a horrible cough and flu-like symptoms that typically accompany shingles. The doctor says I should be okay since I've had chicken pox (shingles can only occur in those who have had chicken pox, and is only worrisome for those who have not been exposed to the chicken pox virus). Still, it's not pretty, and just goes to show how stressed DH truly is.

On the theme of stress, I'm happy to report that we had another good ECG this morning--Natalie's heart is still looking good, and the rest of her is measuring according to dates. The doctors were nice enough to see us before the office opened at 8am, so we were out of the hospital by 10:30am, once I'd had my glucose challenge test (the screening test for gestational diabetes, which involves drinking a bottle of disgusting syrupy sweet liquid, then having a blood test an hour later). I'm not worried about GD, but apparently the doctors are worried about pre-eclampsia since I had it at the end of my pregnancy with Julian. Even though my blood pressure wasn't too worrying and there was no protein in my urine, I got sent home with the 24-hour urine collection kit for the second time in this pregnancy, which means I know what I'll be doing on Sunday. Ugh.

I've noticed lately that, although my coping mechanisms are set on high in terms of dealing with stress, instead of "not sweating the small stuff," my responses seem to be the opposite. I can handle the life and death stuff. I've been there before, and that kind of stress has become like an unpleasant, but familiar dark tunnel. It's life's daily challenges that send me into a tizzy. Making minor decisions (chicken or fish?), scheduling meetings, and trying to find a cleaner who will wash my down comforter are enough to send me over the edge (apparently, it's easier and cheaper to find someone to wax my nether regions than it is to get someone to wash a freaking duvet in this town). DH and I hadn't planned on a vacation during this pregnancy for safety reasons, but I'm starting to think one may be in order before I go too crazy. After all, I've already deluded myself into thinking that if I walk really quickly and wear lots of makeup and jewelry when I'm unable to avoid showing my face, I'll have this baby and no one will be any the wiser. I may not be fooling anyone with my attempts at "passing," but I'm happy to say that this approach has helped me to avoid a whole other kind of stress. So far.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Three's a charm

I'm so happy to report that we had our third problem-free fetal echocardiogram this afternoon, and we only needed to spend 3 hours in the hospital today! In other good news, Natalie has been very active lately, and I've been feeling a little less nauseous from the medication (still a bit spacy during the day, though). In case anyone wants to know, I also had success in procuring a minimally painful bikini wax, done by a very nice older Eastern European woman who was quick, thankfully kept her chatter to a minimum, and didn't ask too many questions about the baby. Score! Keep sending those good vibes our way, everyone!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I'm not crazy

So I went to see my shrink, Dr. B., yesterday, to fill her in on what's been going on these past few weeks. I should say here (psychiatry gets such a bad rep that I feel like I have to stick up for it) that Dr. B. is great--she is one of the only Black female psychiatrists here in the city, and I've known her for several years, so she takes my whole person into account, not my post-Julian self. Anyway, our time together always feels like a conversation about current events between two educated, rational people, never anything creepy or manipulative as Tom Cruise and his friends might have you believe. She asked if my team of doctors felt that there was any problem with my taking Zoloft and I said no, but that I had some concerns about taking it during my third trimester, given recent studies that show that newborn Zoloft babies are often shaky and irritable. Julian was certainly crabby during his brief life, and required sedation, but I suspect that had more to do with his bad heart and not enjoying all the medical intervention he was subjected to. Dr. B. suggested that I cut back to 25mg for the next several weeks, then to 12.5mg, then finally wean in my last 6 weeks. I have to say that I am a little surprised that she finds me sufficiently un-crazy enough to wean at this point. I thought for sure she's say no way, and I'd be like, oh well, I tried. Now that she's given me the go ahead, I'm a little nervous. What will I do without "mother's little helper?" Here goes nothing.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I hate goodbyes

I had my last acupuncture session with Janine today, and inevitably got very teary-eyed when we said our goodbyes. After all, I've been spending more quality time with this person for the past eight months than anyone else I know, with the exception of DH. She is one of the most genuinely compassionate and peaceful souls I have ever met (must be her Buddha-nature), and I am really going to miss her. She hugged me and wished me and the baby well, and I know she was moved too. She left me with the dietary advice to eat chicken hearts (some Chinese medicine cure for weak hearts). Um, yeah, I'll get right on that.

In other news, I am trying to focus on remaining calm and hopeful about bringing Natalie home. I think I am doing a pretty good job, but I have curbed my baby shopping for the time being. I just can't bear it right now. It makes me feel foolish. Instead, I spent $200 on cosmetics this weekend (doh!). I may feel like crap, but at least I will look good! Speaking of which, I fear it's time for the dreaded bikini wax (forget about DH, this is just so I can stand myself!).

Signs of good things: I have been having lots of dreams lately, two involving me babysitting the same baby (a certain infant heart transplant recipient/local celebrity) and really enjoying holding and caring for him, despite my real-world vow that I will not hold another baby until my next one arrives safely in my arms. The second good sign is that my replacement driver's license arrived today. This is the last of the replacement items I have been awaiting since my wallet was stolen 3 weeks ago. The DMV said 4-6 weeks, but it only took 2. It's amazing how quickly everything was resolved. I also found a new wallet at an extremely low price to replace the stolen fancy-schmancy wallet I searched so long for. It's not ideal, but it will do.