Sunday, December 26, 2010

ch-ch-changes

Whenever it's time to change Charlotte's diaper, I sing "Ch-ch-ch-changes!" to her. I'm no match for David Bowie, and I sing only a couple of bars of the song, but I figure that she can understand "ch-ch-ch" more easily than "It's time to change your diaper." And, soon enough, she'll be able to imitate the "ch-ch-ch" to tell me she'd like a change.

But that's not what I'm talking about. Other changes have suddenly occurred. Charlotte began feasting on 2 solid meals each day once she was finished with daycare (just a week ago). I was a little embarassed to be packing two solid meals for her since I wasn't sure what to feed her. It was easier to just toss a bottle into the cooler than try to dream up/whip up a second solid meal. Now that we're together all day, though, we've become quite adventurous on the food front. Multi-grain R*tz crackers are almost as exciting as cheerios, and she's actually asked for a cracker (by signing) when none were even in sight. Yesterday, she had grilled cheese... thin-sliced home-made whole wheat bread sprinkled with shredded cheese, toasted, and cut into tiny bits. A big hit! This morning, C and I enjoyed eggs and home fries with onion and ham. Charlotte had already nursed, but looked so longingly at my plate that I just had to offer her a taste. Egg yolk went over well, but the potato in my home fries proved to be the highlight of her morning. I stayed away from the ham since she can't really gum that into oblivion, but she may have gotten a bit of onion. Again and again she signed "more," and tried to grab my plate. Yesterday, at Christmas dinner with my parents & siblings, she had squash and sweet potatoes served from the same bowl as all the big people and discovered that celery is a fun thing to gnaw on. I'm ready now to feed her essentially anything C and I eat- cut into tiny bites, and avoiding anything that can't be gummed instead of chewed, of course. (We tend to leave salt and sugar out of our home-cooked foods, regardless of whether or not Charlotte will partake)

That's not entirely the change I'm thinking of today, either. Nope. The latest big development (aside from adult-style poop in her diapers, which began when she was consistently enjoying a daily solid meal) is that Charlotte has suddenly dropped one meal each day. My plan was to nurse every other meal with her during this 2-solids/day phase. Her morning nap has shifted later. The break between meals has gotten longer, too, so she's gone four days in a row now with just four meals each day. I've quite abruptly gone from nursing 4 times every day to just two- first thing in the morning, and right before bed. I'm fighting the urge to make up the difference by pumping. We'll see how long it takes for AF to come back under these new circumstances. It's been a terrific break, these 18+ months without AF, but I do look forward to her return... and eventual departure once again (I hope).

A post about Charlotte's first Christmas is coming soon...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

in/out, 9 months, three weeks

I thought at this point I'd marvel at the symmetry of Charlotte's existince. Nine months on the inside followed by nine months out, punctuated in the middle with a miraculous dream-delivery. But I almost never think about my pregnancy now. Time with Charlotte is so precious and fun and memorable (even changing poopy diapers is memorable) that I spend all of my thoughts in the here-and-now or looking forward... to her first steps and clear words and friends and interests and songs and favorites. I haven't even calculated how many days she existed before birth, nor how many days she's been in my arms. I hardly remember life without her. Life has never been better.

Tomorrow, Charlotte will become nine months old. True-to-form, she developed a new talent yesterday and began clapping with two open palms. Previously, one hand was always closed in a fist and her clapping was essentially silent, but now she can make noise by slapping her palms together. She's delighted. Noise is fun. Banging things together is fun. Banging hands together to make noise is GREAT- even when she has nothing to play with, her hands are available to slap together.

On the food front, we graduated to one solid meal per day about 4 weeks ago at the suggestion of her daycare's owner. That went well, so we're beginning to transition to two solid meals each day now. Favorite foods include plain yogurt, prunes, Cheerios, bread, sweet potatoes, squash, bananas, cheese, and crackers. Peas still result in gagging and a full-body shudder, but she doesn't seem to mind anything else we've tried. I can tell the difference between tolerance and enthusiasm by whether or not she grabs the spoon- if she really likes something, she leaves the spoon alone so I can quickly shovel more into her open mouth. If she doesn't mind a food, but isn't crazy about it, she grabs the spoon and tries to feed herself. She drinks a couple of ounces of breast milk from a sippy cup with each meal.

Charlotte still eats 5 times each day, except for when she's super tired and goes to bed before her last meal. That happens about once each week, and sometimes she's down for the night before 5:00pm. Her norm is 6:45, though, and regardless of when she went to bed she wakes up around 6 each morning. She naps 2 or 3 times each day, depending on how much sleep she got the night before and how long each nap is. Naps are always in increments of 45 minutes, usually 90 minutes in the morning and another 90 after lunch, but she sometimes splits one or the other into two 45-minute cat-naps. In her final week of daycare, she finally settled in enough to take a nap comparable to what she'd take at home. That's one of a few reasons I'm thrilled to have her out of daycare- I don't want her sleep interrupted by other screaming babies. A well-rested Charlotte is a happy Charlotte.

Charlotte has two teeth now. The bottom left popped through on 12/1 and the bottom right on 12/13. She's working on more and chews on anything she can get her mouth around. My sleeves are a popular target, as are her toes.

Daycare ended last week. We had to give two full weeks' notice, and since we paid for those last few days, I was certainly going to use them. I would have given two weeks' notice if I'd decided to quit my job. It's too bad that courtesy didn't extend in the other direction. I can understand lay-offs, but I'm annoyed/bitter/pissed about the lack of notice. Is the company so arrogant that they thought I'd try to sabotage them somehow if I knew I was being let go? Anyhow, I've been out of work for three weeks. This is the first week that Charlotte and I are together full time.

Yesterday, we visited the breastfeeding support group that we frequented back in April. Because of a snowstorm, we were the only attendees so I got to talk privately with the nurse who runs the group. I asked her about weaning without ever having to use formula or compromise Charlotte's health, and she was very encouraging. We're aiming for 3 solid meals each day by the third week of January, with breastfeeding continuing until then as needed. By the beginning of February, if all is going well, I'll stop offering the breast but will nurse if Charlotte specifically asks for it (pulls up my shirt or tries to nurse through my shirt, for example). I curently have 280 four-ounce bags of frozen milk in the deep-freeze, and will continue my early-morning pumping for another 10 days (the end of the year). Charlotte has had defrosted milk by bottle before without any problems, even from me on a few occasions, so I expect that nursing will end completely by the end of February. Between now and then, I hope that AF will return so we can launch Project Sibling before my 43rd birthday at the end of March.

All plans are subject to change (I wrote that on my birth plan, too) in the interest of Charlotte's health and well-being.

More about Charlotte...
She's still army crawling, but gets up on her knees to do it now, instead of dragging her legs along behind her. She often rises to her hands and knees, but only while stationary. She has no trouble pulling herself up to her knees and then to her feet using my outstretched legs for balance, but hasn't pulled herself up on anything else yet.

We lowered the crib matress to the bottom position when I saw Charlotte reaching up to the top of the rail as if about to pull herself up. She hasn't figured out yet that the vertical slats make good handles too.

Charlotte loves to walk with someone holding her hands. She tries to let go with one hand, though, and then falls over (not really a "fall," we lower her to the floor gently with the remaining hand). She will stand unassisted beside the couch or her exersaucer, and has taken a couple of steps while holding on before losing her balance. Cruising is coming soon, I'm sure.

She loves to sing. We practice our duets daily until the perfection of the moment steals my breath and makes me teary and choked up.

She's the most amazing sleeper I've ever heard of. She makes it abundantly clear when she's tired- rubbing her eyes, laying her head on my shoulder or the floor, spinning around in my lap instead of sitting attentively to read a story. As long as we put her in her crib before tired becomes overtired, she simply smiles and babbles until we leave the room, then settles down to sleep. Sometimes, it takes her 20 or 30 minutes to actually fall asleep, but she happily scoots around the crib until she's ready to close her eyes.

When she's overtired, she wants to be held and rocked and sung to for about 10 minutes. Then, she tries to climb out of my arms and into her crib, signalling that she's ready to fall asleep now. Only rarely does she ask to be held until asleep, so we know something else is going on when that happens- a new tooth breaking through, gas pains, or something like that.

Size-wise, I don't really know how much Charlotte weighs or how tall she's become. Her 9-mo ped appointment is in 2 weeks, so I'll find out then where she lands on the growth chart. I'm not at all concerned. She's wearing 9- and 12-month clothes now that the 6-mo size has become a little short in the torso and snug in the shoulders. I'd guess she weighs about 17 pounds, and she's taller than her caterpillar now (I'll post some photos later).

We're now well into the second 45-minute interval of her afternoon nap, so I believe I have another 35 minutes or more before she wakes. That's my cue to take a shower and go shovel out the car. I'll post some photos before she turns 10 months old. Promise!

Friday, December 3, 2010

steam

I can't decide if it matters or not, but I feel the need to vent just to set my thoughts straight. Maybe I'll feel less stressed if I see it in writing.

We have health insurance as a family through C's 2009 employer. Having worked X-number of hours in 2009, he earned coverage for 2010 without any premiums to be paid. As a result, we did not take advantage of the insurance offered by my employer, which did involve monthly premiums. COBRA availability is based on an employee's selections that are in effect at the time of termination, and C works for the business we started this year so he did not log any union hours that would have earned us coverage in 2011. So, in addition to losing my paycheck, we are now slapped with the cost of health insurance for the three of us. I'm not even sure that COBRA would have been any less expensive than buying coverage privately, but I'm miffed that they did this just as we were about to depend on my job for health insurance. That was one of the biggest reasons why I returned to work at all after Charlotte was born... so that we would have employer-sponsored health insurance in 2011.

My calculations...
Unemployment pays out roughly half what my salary was (it is half, but I think there's an additional allowance for dependents). Since there will be no contributions to my 401K or FSA, take-home will be a little more than half even after taxes are taken out.
My salary paid our mortgage. That's it. That's all my salary covered. Low salary? Too-big mortgage? Maybe both.
Health insurance for our family will cost about half as much as our monthly mortgage payment. So, unemployment will cover our new monthly insurance premium and C's paycheck will have to cover the mortgage and all our other living expenses.
I decide how much C gets paid, since I own the business. Luckily, we have no investors to appease. It would have been nice to run a profitable business, but I'm glad C isn't in his old union job because if he were, we'd both be laid off right now. I guess the business will earn just enough to cover expenses and the rest will be our income.

Nope... I don't feel any better. I'm very worried about our finances, but I'm also relieved that our insurance decision has been made (for us). We'll be buying insurance privately for the whole family, and since we're buying it in MA all MA mandates will apply. IVF will be covered. It won't be a luxury purchased just so we can launch Project Sibling. Some of my guilt over considering buying redundant insurance has lifted now that the redundancy has been eliminated. And since my mother was laid off too (we worked in the same office), I have a willing babysitter for those daily monitoring appointments.

Damn... even unemployed, I'm still finding a silve lining everywhere I look.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

8 months. Time on my hands? Sharp!

Big happenings around these parts lately.

First, Charlotte turned 8 months old 9 days ago. I did snap some photos of her with her caterpillar, but haven't had the chance to retrieve them from the camera yet. I'll have plenty of time now, though. Explanation to follow. In her 8th month, Charlotte remained convinced that she can walk. The fact that someone needs to provide balance for her is inconsequential. She has the strength and knows how she should move her feet, so it is the job of anyone within arm's reach to help her remain upright while she struts about. When not walking, she's slithering around in an army crawl toward the nearest thing she'd like to climb, or chasing after the cats. She's remarkably quick, especially on our slick new hardwood floor, so I don't dare even run to the kitchen 20 feet away when she's playing on the floor.

Charlotte has always loved bath time. Now, she has discovered SPLASHING! She does it with such enthusiasm that I feel compelled to capitalize. In spite of my ancient-before-their-time knees, it's time to move her tub off the kitchen counter and into the big bathtub. We tried that, once, a couple of months ago when she still needed a little support sitting up in the slippery plastic. Now, though, she's steady as can be and loves to play with the water. She doesn't even flinch when her biggest splashes go right into her face, and the only reason she willingly exits the tub is because the water cools off after 20 minutes or so.

Banging things together is the greatest fun ever! We picked up a set of 1-inch blocks (easy for little hands to hold, but C is afraid she might be able to fit one entirely into her mouth) about a month ago. Charlotte loves knocking two blocks together to make clicking noises. In the bath, she plays with plastic measuring cups and has a ball whacking those together, as well as slapping them into the water. In her exersaucer, she loves to smack the Earth with her bendy dragonfly and crash the monkeys into each other on their wire loop. When her hands are empty, she likes to clap them together although she doesn't do it hard enough to make any noise that way.

Solid food remained a game for Charlotte throughout her 8th month. The only thing she really seemed to dislike was peas. She gagged and gave me a full-body shudder when I snuck a spoon of peas into her mouth. We never made a "meal" out of solids and just introduced a few different foods to make sure there aren't any allergies to worry about. Cheerios, though, have become Charlotte's crack. If I want to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee, I sit Charlotte in her chair and give her a handfull of Cheerios. If she's squirmy and fussy in the grocery store, a Cheerio from my pocket turns her into a charming, docile, smiley baby. Honestly, it's almost freaky how content she becomes with a Cheerio in her fist. C and I even went out to dinner with some family AT Charlotte's bedtime a few weeks ago. She was wonderful- sitting happily in anyone's lap as long as she had Cheerios on the table in front of her.

I have to rush now... baby sleeping, my mom on her way so we can go xmas shopping, and I need to pump. The other news includes...

TOOTH! Lower left, appeared today. It must be exhausting, revealing a tooth, because Charlotte went to bed at 4:50 last night and didn't wake up until 5:00 this morning.

Time- well, I can personally attest that the recession is NOT over and the economy is not improving in every corner of the country. I lost my job yesterday. We'll make do, and now I have the time to manage the business C and I started this year (which has been sorely neglected, bookwise). The big bonus is that I get to spend a lot more time with Charlotte. She'll stay in daycare for another 2 weeks (it's already paid for, so she'll go), but then she and I will be frequenting playgroups and library story hours. I was so annoyed that those things are always scheduled during "working" hours, but now we'll join right in.

So- photos to come soon. Happy December, everyone!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

In the interest of moving things along...

My normal routine for the last 3+ months, since Charlotte began sleeping through the night from 7pm to 6am has been to pump just before going to bed around 9:30 or 10. Then, I'd get up at 4:45 and pump again, shower, and be well into my day when she wakes up in the morning. I read somewhere (I've no idea where exactly, nor whether it was a "reliable" source or just someone commenting on something) that ovulation might recommence when more than 6 hours pass between feedings/pumping sessions. On the off-chance that my 7-ish hour break wasn't sufficient to turn my body's rhythms back on, I've decided to skip the before-bed pumping. I was only getting 3-4 ounces at night anyhow, and I think I have about 6-weeks' supply (based on her current appetite for five 8-ounce meals per day) in the freezer at this point.

I need to get away from the thought that I should be caching away as much as I possibly can. If I can somehow coax my body into ovulating without stopping breastfeeding, I'll be a lot more confident about initiating Project Sibling. I'm worried now about cutting off breastfeeding and then wasting a lot of time not ovulating; possibly wasting a lot of money on additional insurance to cover IVF well before my body is ready to try again. It's difficult to balance the certainty of caring for Charlotte against the gamble of trying to conceive again. What if we succeed and the pregnancy is complicated and I can't care for Charlotte the way I should? What if we fail and ruin ourselves financially to no end? What if we succeed and the resulting child isn't perfectly healthy and we neglect Charlotte to take care of him or her?

Maybe Charlotte would be better off as an only child. I know that C and I could be happy with just one daughter to dote on. Our lives would be simpler with just the one child. Family vacations would be cheaper. There'd be no sibling rivalries to referee. But C and I both grew up with siblings who have become the people we most trust and rely on as adults. C and I are "old." We'll be eligible to join AA*RP before Charlotte's even in high school. I want her to have at least one sibling who will share her grief when C and I pass; who will be her biggest fan in whatever pursuits she tackles in life. And, because of the donor situation, I want her to have someone nearby who's in the same situation as she is, dealing with the same identity issues that might arise when she comes to understand her genetic background. I want her to have a full sibling so she doesn't feel alone or strange or different (no more so than the typical teen angst). I don't think I'm selfish for wanting to have another child, but sometimes I wonder.

In any case, we'll see if lengthening the overnight break from milking has any impact. Our plans are constantly evolving. When Charlotte was born, I intended to breastfeed for six months. Now, I'd like breastmilk to be her main source of nutrition until her first birthday. A lot can happen in a few months. We'll see.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

a question

This is directed at women who breastfed. When did your period return after the birth of your baby? It's been 8 months here. She began sleeping through the night three months ago. I'm curious, and my internet research hasn't been helpful, offering a range between 10 weeks and 2+ years. I'm trying to plan 2011 (how quickly I lapse into pre-IF naivete), including weaning Charlotte and launching project sibling. I don't know if my period has to resume before I can start an IVF cycle or not, but it seems logical that it should. I think it's time to contact the RE to find out where my body needs to be before we can try again.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

on the move!

First, she learned to roll and pivot. Then, she learned to pivot and pull (she plays on a sheet on the floor, so when something is out of reach she can pull the sheet toward her until she can reach what she wants). On Friday, she put her butt-in-the-air sleeping pose to good use and learned to inchworm. Then, suddenly, on Saturday she started "army crawling." We can't take our eyes off her for one second now because she covers the width of the room in a millisecond (it seems) with all her combined skills.
I'd load a video, but Blogger seems to be having problems. Or maybe my connection is too slow. Anyhow, we're amazed. And C was unspeakably excited that she debuted her army crawl on his watch, while I was in the shower.

She still desperately wants to walk, and refuses to put anything but her feet on the floor if someone's nearby to provide balance. Once on the floor, she's always on the look-out for something or someone to climb but hasn't made it past her knees on her own.

Just in time for all this, the hardwood floor installation begins tomorrow.

Monday, November 8, 2010

as it should be

meKate is, at last, in labor! She's the first (and, so far, only) IF blogger that I've met in person, and I want so much for her labor to be memorable for all the right reasons. Please send her your best wishes and warm thoughts for a speedy and easy delivery.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

some notes so I won't forget

Charlotte thinks she can walk and stand up. Correction- she knows she can't, but insists on doing so almost constantly, which means that whoever is with her must help her remain upright on her feet. We watched her signing video this afternoon, and she "stood" for nearly 45-minutes straight. Every time I tried to ease her onto her rear, she stiffened up and looked at me like I was depriving her of her rights. She's got the strength, but hasn't yet developed the balance to stand on her own.

She's starting to try to climb to get herself on her feet. Usually, it's my leg she's climbing when we're sitting on the floor playing. She can actually get up onto her feet, but with her torso across my lap instead of upright. I think it's time to lower the crib mattress another notch.

Kisses! Hugs! When she's sleepy, Charlotte settles her head on my shoulder and wraps her arm around my neck, playing with my hair with one hand and sucking on the fingers of the other. She gives big wet, open-mouth kisses on my jaw.

We finally put a battery in the bathroom scale (the old one died more than a year ago). C has begun a diet and wanted to know what he was starting from. I stepped on to see if the numbers matched the way my clothes have been fitting. Holy bananas, people, I weigh what I did as a junior in high school. Ice cream and Halloween candy have been a regular part of my diet, and I've indulged in fast-food and drive-thru "coffee" drinks alot more often than I care to admit. Yet somehow, I've lost 60 pounds since Charlotte was born. Now that C is on a prepared-foods diet, I won't be keeping ice cream in the freezer, and I get to eat more fish and vegetarian meals than when I'm cooking for both of us (he's a meat-and-potatoes man... doesn't like much of anything that's green). I wonder how small I can get before Charlotte weans and my metabolism returns to "normal."

I had a little knee tune-up last week. They call it "surgery," but anything that can be accomplished through two teeny incisions doesn't count as full-fledged SURGERY in my book. I'm still very gimpy, and just straightened my knee fully for the first time today, but that's not the notable bit. On Sunday, my calf felt crampy. It was still crampy all day Monday, so the ortho sent me for an u/s which discovered a clot. Yippee... the non-experts scared the cr@p out of me, and sent me to the ER, in a wheelchair because they claimed that walking (I was still on crutches) might dislodge the clot and send it to my lungs. The ortho told me I'd probably be put on blood thinners, for MONTHS, which would be toxic to an infant and that my breast-feeding days were over. I was crushed, and contemplated pumping and dumping while on whatever meds they prescribed... didn't think I had it in me to stick with that plan effectively. I could hardly bear the thought that the last time I'd b-fed Charlotte was to be the LAST time. Turned out all the non-experts were overreacting and I walked out of the ER with orders to take one aspirin daily and return in a week for a follow-up u/s. As long as Charlotte has no fever, the small amount of aspirin that makes it into b-milk will not hurt her. And since I forgot to take the aspirin today (oops), and the crampy feeling in my calf has been gone since Thursday, I think this episode is over already. I'll go for the u/s on Monday and expect it to be completely clear.

Speaking of breastfeeding... my original goal was 6 months, at which point we'd wean Charlotte so Project Sibling could commence. Now I'm thinking that I'll keep on breastfeeding until her nutritional needs are met with "real" foods. I'm not entirely sure how that transition is supposed to happen, though. Here we are at 7 1/2 months and "solid" foods are just a fun thing we play with a couple of times each day. She wasn't a big fan of rice cereal, but loves oatmeal. Sweet potatoes were OK, but she makes a terrible face and gags when I put peas in her mouth. I read somewhere that by now we should be moving from the stage-1 foods to lumpier stage-2. I'm just not sure how much "food" she should eat every day, or how I'm supposed to get her interested in "eating" while only feeding her solids after satisfying her hunger with b-milk. I admit, I haven't done much research. I'm sure there's a lot of info out there (conflicting, most likely) for me to peruse. She's definitely interested in food. She intently watches C and me eat, while making "chewing" motions. She has no teeth, and even though she gnaws on anything she can fit into her mouth, I see no signs of anything erupting anytime soon.

Charlotte still sleeps consistently from 7pm to 6am (sometimes until 6:30 or 7), and almost always has 5 meals each day. A month or so ago, if she missed a meal due to an overly long or mis-timed nap, she'd make up for it the next day. Lately, though, when she misses a meal it has no affect on the next day's eating schedule. I suspect she's getting the same amount of calories in fewer meals by nursing more aggressively, and I wonder if she's going to eventually make 4 meals the norm. Her usual schedule is 6:15am, 10am, 1:30pm, 4:30pm, 6:30pm. When she drops one, it's generally because the 1:30 feeding is late. I send her to daycare with two 8-ounce bottles, and she's pretty consistent with her consumption... 6 ounces at 1:30 and 8 ounces at 4:30. I sometimes wonder if this is healthy- I see her peers in daycare with much smaller bottles. Should I feed her smaller meals more frequently? But she set the schedule, and she's definitely growing, so as long as she's happy we'll keep this up.

She's suddenly too long for most of her 6-month clothes. She outgrew the 3-6mo stuff a month or so ago, but her 6-9mo clothes still fit. She's still long and lean- there's plenty of circumference left in her outgrown clothes, but she can't stretch without stressing some seams. I bought her a few 9-mo outfits yesterday and figure those will tide her over until Christmas when either she'll be flooded with gift-clothes or I'll shop for post-holiday bargains in January. Winter clothes are way more fun than summer ones... mix-and-match pieces as opposed to either onesies or one-piece jumpers. There's nothing cuddlier than a baby wearing fleece.

Seven-and-a-half months. 32 weeks (I think... didn't count). Each day, I experience a moment so perfect and filled with joy that tears well in my eyes and I can feel my heart overflowing. I never knew I could be this happy.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Myth? Not always...

I realize I am the luckiest person in the universe. After dealing with IF, that is... Easy pregnancy (the GD was very educational, and not a problem at all). Ideal delivery (the tearing wasn't great, but swapping quick for no tear? I'll take quick). Perfect, beautiful, amazing, happy baby. It couldn't get any better, right?

Well now, an unexpected gift. There are pants in my closet now in a size I haven't worn since I was in high school. I bought them last night, and they FIT! And not the "if I suck it all in and don't breathe or sit, I can wear these for a few minutes" kind of "fit." Nope, these fit with no muffin-top, no stressed seams, no un-done buttons. Comfortable.

I realize it doesn't work for everyone, but the combination of BFing and taking care of an infant (lots of walks... she loves being outside) CAN dramatically improve your physique. It's not a myth!

I am afraid of what will happen when she weans...

Monday, October 25, 2010

SEVEN !!

Is time flying for everyone, or just me?

Charlotte is 7 months old now. No ped visit to mark this, so I have no idea how tall or heavy she has become. I am certain, however, that she hit some kind of growth spurt immediately after her 6-month appointment because all those 9-month clothes I'd said were too big now fit. And she's too long for most 6-month clothes. And it seemed to happen overnight, after seemingly months of no growing at all (which means she was just growing steadily, as opposed to in spurts).

Big events... She waves, purposefully and with direction, before someone leaves or when she wants to grab their attention. And when she's done with being somewhere, she starts waving bye-bye. We went to two parties this weekend, and when she started getting tired at both, she began waving to me as if to say, "Isn't it about time we said goodbye to these people?"

She signs "eat" when she's hungry. At first, I thought she was just sticking her fingers in her mouth to gnaw on them, but the gnawing didn't happen. And the fingers didn't really go IN the mouth, just up to it. This is amazing. We watch her signing video together every day, and she especially loves the animals. Every morning, when we walk out of her room, she waves enthusiastically toward the office where one of the cats is usually sleeping on the desk chair. It's too dark to see if the cat is even there, so we have to flip on the light to check, but she starts waving as soon as we're out of her room. I'd be willing to bet her next sign will be "cat."

Sitting, rolling over, pivoting, getting up on knees and elbows... all old-hat by now. She's not crawling yet, but has begun trying to pull herself up on things- crib rail, my leg, coffee table, etc. She doesn't know how to put herself in a sitting position, but stays there pretty much forever now. She can lean and reach all over to get a toy, then return herself upright. She can also stand, unassisted (once propped up), while holding onto the couch or a chair or my knee, for about a minute before she gets wobbly.

She has to be on the move, all the time, until she's exhausted. In my lap, she's constantly up and down, standing and sitting, spinning this way and that, or trying to slide down onto the floor. Even when she's nursing, she can't stay still. She's come up with some creative positions. Apparently, the "cradle hold" is for babies and she thinks she's outgrown it (except for when she's tired, then she's all snuggly and calm).

I think she says "hi." It comes out more like "ha," but the timing is appropriate and it's usually accompanied by a wave, so I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt. There you go- her first spoken word. Hi!

She still has no real interest in "solid" foods. We've tried rice cereal, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, and peas. With each, she makes a face, then eats a couple of spoons full before something else grabs her attention. She did have a complete "meal" of rice cereal one evening when she was too congested to nurse.

She's awake... more later, and maybe some photos too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

quick

It's late, but I'm here so I'll post. Charlotte is 6+ months old already. Holy cannoli! At her pedi appointment, she weighed in at 14 pounds 12 ounces and measured 26 inches tall. That's 25th percentile for weight and 70th for height, or something like that. I can't imagine a baby in a high percentile for weight... at 25%, she's got double rolls around her thighs and chubby chubby cheeks (which she is kind of growing into). She's definitely lean through the middle, though, so I guess "big" babies just have bigger bellies than she does. She still fits comfortably into anything with 6-months in the size, although some of the 3-6's are getting a bit snug lengthwise. After seeing her grow so quickly through the 0-3 month stuff, I jumped ahead and bought some 9-month clothes. I thought she'd be in them already, but they're a little big on her. Cute, so I dress her in them anyhow, but a little loose.






I bought her first pair of jeans. Under $3! And so cute. I'm looking forward to flannel shirts and hiking boots.


She's working on cold #2 now, which came immediately on the heels of #1. The very day I meant to call the pedi to schedule her 6-month shots, she woke up with the sniffles. By day's end, she was having trouble breathing through her nose. At this rate, she might get those shots when she's 14 months old... I just can't give them to her when she's already feeling under the weather, so we'll put them off until she's feeling well. The first cold led to one middle-of-the-night feeding. #2 has included two late-night crying jags that lasted just long enough to convince me she was *really* crying. I picked her up and she immediately zonked back out in my arms. I'm not entirely certain she actually woke up on either occasion. Cold #1 was shared by one of her daycare buddies. #2 was given to her by friends we went apple-picking with last weekend. I checked... they're sick now too. Looks like I won't be letting anyone under 20 hold her until cold season is over.


Aside from the brief interruptions due to colds, she still sleeps consistently from about 7pm to 6am. I pump before going to bed at 10:00, then again at 4:45am when I usually get 8-10 ounces. When she's in daycare or with a sitter, I pump every 3 hours and get 4-5 ounces at a time while she eats 8 ounces 5-times a day. There's no way I could keep up with her if I had to rely exclusively on pumping. I'm nearly out of vacation time (I can't believe I managed to stretch it out this long) and may have to consider LWOP or officially reducing my hours. I worry that the company would never let me return to FT if I reduced my hours, and health insurance will cost twice as much if I'm less than full time. We'll be counting on my job for benefits in 2011, so that's a big concern right now. But if, or rather WHEN we start project sibling, I'll still need to buy individual coverage in order to take advantage of our state's mandates for fertility coverage. My company is not based in this state AND they're self-insured... ergo, exempt from state mandates. (What good is a mandate if everyone's exempt?!)



Ultimately, by the time #2 is born (pleasegodletusbethatlucky!), we'd like our small business to have grown to the point where I won't need my "real" job. I'll keep the books and take care of the babies. Once, I thought I wouldn't be happy with that. But now that I've been a mom for 6 months, it's all I want.



So, more about Charlotte... no crawling yet, but she's a pro at pivoting and rolling to get where she wants to go. She is definitely a morning person, waking up with a huge grin EVERY day, even with a cold. See-


She can sit up, unassisted, for as long as she wants to. Or until she gets excited and leans back to laugh, loses her balance and falls over.
She's got about half an inch to go before she catches up with her caterpillar.
She can hold and tilt a sippy cup to get water into her mouth. When she's upright, she actually drinks the water. Lying down, though, she lets the water run out of her mouth so it puddles below her neck.
She claps (video to come soon if I remember and have time).
She's starting to wave, usually to strangers as they walk by us in the grocery store. Or moments after someone has left the room.
To maintain a routine, we get up at the same time every day and try to get out the door by 7am. On non-"school" days, we go shopping or for a walk. I'm not sure we'll be able to keep that up when DST ends and it's pitch-black outside at that hour.
She babbles and sings and dances and laughs and fills my life with more joy than I ever imagined.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

daycare-itis

If I hadn't written that last post, I wonder if today would be any different than it's been. The sleeping-thought-the-night streak was broken on Thursday when she only made it to 11:50pm without a snack, then woke Friday morning with a full-blown cold. We should have taught her to blow her nose instead of raspberries (but she's really good at blowing raspberries!). Between the runny nose and the teething (nothing visible yet, but she gnaws on everything), her face is a goopy wet mess. We're attacking the discomfort on all fronts with a humidifier, baby tylenol, and teething tablets. I hope this passes soon.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

dare I say it?

I'm not trying to rub it in anyone's face, but Charlotte started sleeping through the night on August 21st, and hasn't awakened for a middle-of-the-night feeding since (knock on wood, throw salt over my shoulder, somebody rub a rabbits foot for me please). She consistently has her last meal of the day between 6:30 and 7:30, then goes to bed between 7 and 8:00. She semi-wakes up at about 5am, tosses and turns a bit without making a sound, and goes back to sleep until after 6. That's 10-11 hours of sleep every night! All it took to make the transition from one nighttime feeding to none was ME not picking her up as soon as she made a peep. Yes, it was all my fault that she didn't start sleeping through the night sooner.

In my defense, I did try not immediately responding to her at the end of July. I listened to her and watched the monitor, and after a few minutes she started to cry. So, I fed her and she immediately went back to sleep and I thought to myself that I could live indefinitely with one nighttime feeding. It was nice to have that very peaceful snuggle time, watching her doze off at my breast. And as long as she wasn't sleeping through the night, I could continue to think of her as my tiny newborn baby. Now, she's an all-grown-up nearly-6-month-old who goes to "school" two days each week and sleeps like a big kid.

How did this happen?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

5 months... really? (Composed on 8/22. Posted on 9/3)

How could it be any better than it was a month ago? But it is. Life with Charlotte is amazing. She's more wonderful every day as she develops into her own little person. And here we are, five months after the miraculous night she was born.

Her accomplishments this month-

Last night, on 8/21/2010, her left big toe finally made it into her mouth. She pulled it in with great focus and intensity, then seemed surprised to find it between her lips.

She maintains a seated position for about 5 seconds before toppling in an apparently random direction.

She rolls at will in any direction, at any time, but hasn't yet realized it as a means of locomotion.

We tried rice cereal, then I thought better of it and stopped feeding it to her. We'll revisit "solid" foods a week or two before her 6-month pedi appointment so I won't be lying to the Doc when I say she eats. Frighteningly, that's less than 5 weeks away.

She talks and sings and laughs most of the time. When she's feeling grouchy, she grunts and screws her face into a scowl. She looks and sounds so serious that it's hard not to laugh.

We made our daycare decision and she starts "school" on 8/31. We've been lucky to have a college-aged niece babysit two days each week since I returned to work in May, but she goes back to school next week. I'll devote another post to the daycare issue and my employment situation.

Charlotte wears anything with a '6' in the size... 3-6mos, 6mos, 6-9mos, 6-12mos. So, I guess, according to clothing manufacturers she's the size of a 6-month-old. She feels so big in my arms, but looks so small when someone else holds her.

Breastfeeding is still going well. In addition to meeting her needs, I put about 50 ounces in the freezer each week. We bought a chest freezer in June because my milk was taking over our kitchen freezer, and it'll store longer in a deep-freeze. I haven't worked out a real plan yet for how or when we'll wean, but it's something we need to do before we can launch Project Sibling. First, I should take an inventory since I really have no idea how much milk is in there. Charlotte consistently eats five times a day, and take 5-8 ounces by bottle when with a sitter, so she needs maybe 30-35oz per day?

Some photos... with her caterpillar, which she just about matches in length.



Sleeping. This isn't her usual pose, but it was too cute not to document.


Sitting, like a big girl (added well after the post was composed. She now sits for about a minute, if she feels like it).



Friday, August 6, 2010

Every day is new

She seems to discover something new, and master something she just started doing a moment ago, every day.

She rolled over for the first time (that I witnessed) on Tuesday, July 13th. By the 19th, she'd figured out how to get both arms out from under her chest when she landed on her belly. By the 22nd, she was a rolling-over pro... front-to-back, back-to-front, any direction. Now she's figured out how to scoot all over the place with a combination of rolling over and drawing her knees up under herself to lunge forward. Crawling is definitely on the horizon. We're fast-tracking the plan to replace carpet with wood floors in the living room so she won't get rug burns (and I just don't believe carpets are ever really clean).

Cereal went from get-this-wierd-stuff-outta-my-mouth (7/31) to more-faster-more in just 6 days. She loves to grab the spoon and put it in her mouth herself. In fact, she ate so much cereal today that she went nearly six hours between daytime feedings and I had to wake her up to keep her on-track for a normal bedtime.

She's developed her own eating and sleeping routine, which suspiciously resembles the one I read about in some parenting book. During the day, she eats every 4 hours and takes two long naps, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. She still gets up to feed once or twice each night (usually once). I'd rather nurse than pump in the middle of the night, so that's perfect. She slept through the night after getting her 4-month vaccinations and my chest was sore for three days. Engorgement ain't fun.

She sings back to me when I sing to her before naps and bedtime. I've tweaked the lyrics to several songs. Has anyone else noticed how scary "Rock-a-Bye Baby" is?

She loves to read, even books with very few pictures. When she's fussy, the sitting and listening seems to calm her.

She's completely into 6-month and 6-9 months clothes now, which means she's outgrown almost all of the gift-clothes we received at the shower and right after she was born. I get to shop for her now, so we're seeing a lot more colors in her closet. It was painfully pink for a while.

At 4 months plus one day, she weighed in at 13 pounds 4 ounces and measured 25 inches tall. That's 6 inches and nearly 6 pounds' growth in 4 months. Totally normal, and totally incredible. When she sits in my lap, I can hardly believe she was once so much smaller. She's consistently around the 40th percentile for weight and 75th for height, but she's definitely not without cute baby fat rolls.

She's been facing forward in the Bjorn for about 3 weeks now, except when she's sleepy and wants to doze with her face nestled into my chest.
Her toes will find their way into her mouth any minute now.

And now some photos...




Thursday, July 22, 2010

4 months!!

I won't even say it... FOUR MONTHS! Wow.



I've been a mom for one third of a year already, and I've loved every minute of it, except the ones I spend at work, away from my baby. My winning lottery ticket hasn't magically appeared in my pocket yet, so I'm working 2 1/2 days each week, and fleshing out the rest of my paycheck by working from home and exhausting my vacation time. I think I've worked it just right so that when my niece/#1 babysitter goes back to college, my vacation time will run out and I'll be forced to make some big changes. No, that wasn' completely intentional. I don't want to go back to working full time, and I'm not sure we can afford to reduce my hours (and paycheck), but I'm in denial and will worry about that another day.



Because today, Charlotte is FOUR MONTHS OLD!

Friday, July 2, 2010

365 days ago...

... I was recovering from ER and unable to sleep, faced with the decision to freeze-all as strongly recommended by my RE and several other professionals out of concern for severe OHSS, or go ahead with a 3-day transfer. The result of that decision is sleeping peacefully in her crib right now, 102 days old. I wouldn't change a thing.

I'm beginning to consider doing it again. Could lightning strike twice?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

three months, plus a little

Wow. I can't say it enough, but I'm sure everyone's tired of hearing it... time is FLYING by. Charlotte turned three months old 9 days ago. She continues to grow and learn at an incredible pace. Here are a few of her major accomplishments this month...
** She slept through the night exactly twice; the nights before and immediately after my brother's wedding. She hasn't come close to repeating that feat since then.

** Most nights, she wakes just once between 8pm and 6am. She nurses for 10-15 minutes and immediately goes back to sleep. I usually go downstairs and pump the other side for 10 minutes before going back to bed myself, but all-told, that means I'm up for only about 30 minutes each night.

** She loves to be read to and her favorite book now is "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." Sometimes, she asks me to read it to her 2 or 3 times in a row by fussing when I close the book and reach toward the shelf to put it away. I, of course, oblige.
** All of a sudden, in just the last week or so (so technically in her fourth month), she's been making prolonged eye contact with me. Then she smiles and "talks." I love it and can't get enough. She'd made eye contact before, but now it lasts and lasts.

** We heard her first belly laugh on 5/31, and while she has giggled a lot since then, we haven't gotten another belly laugh yet.

** Charlotte has learned to spin. I put her down for a nap or at bedtime with her head to the right, where she can look in a mirror or stare at her stuffed caterpillar while falling asleep. She rolls onto her side, then back, then side, then back,... and manages to spin 180-degrees so that she wakes up head to the left. I ask why she's sleeping upside-down and she just laughs at me.

** She's no longer mesmerized by her sailboat mobile, but clouds visible through the skylight are fascinating.

** We've dropped the swaddle. I'd tried to stop swaddling before, but she would flail as she fell asleep and startle herself awake. Sometimes, both her arms would suddenly fly up as if she were falling backwards and she'd awaken in a panic. So, we'd swaddle her, but she'd wriggle and squirm until one fist worked its way up just enough to reach her mouth. Then she'd cry because her arm was stuck, and probably pretty uncomfortable. Swaddled, she'd fall asleep. Unswaddled, she'd stay asleep (but how to get her to sleep?). Finally, it just got too hot to wrap her up. The last nighttime swaddle was 6/18 (the first time she slept through the night; we had hotel a/c). Her last nap-time swaddle was a week or so before that.

** She's been sleeping in her big-girl crib for at least a month now. Even before she learned to spin, she rolled back and forth a lot, rocking the whole bassinet and bumping into the side walls. The darned thing squeaked, and would wake her up.

** She's achingly close to rolling over from back to front. She hates tummy time, so we're a little behind on the front-to-back progress. I suspect she'll catch up when she starts rolling onto her tummy by herself.

** Charlotte knows her hands and can reach for and touch things intentionally, as opposed to haphazardly bumping into things while flailing her arms. She hasn't developed any dexterity yet, so grasping with her fingers is still kind of random, but she definitely puts her hands where she wants them.

** She started off the month eating about every two hours, between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces per feeding when given by bottle (I asked the babysitter to keep track). She now eats every 2.75 hours or so in the morning, every 3-3.5 hours in the afternoon and consistently downs 4 ounces at each meal. Once I buy bigger bottles, I'll try 4.5 or 5 ounces and see how she does, but for now she seems sated with the 4 ounce meals. At the breast, a full meal usually consists of 12-15 minutes on one side and then 5 minutes on the other. I have no idea how much milk that translates into. I could make an appointment with the lactation consultant to have Charlotte weighed before and after a feeding to determine how much she consumes, but since she's happy and growing, I see no need for it. How's that for zen parenting?

** We went to the beach last week, and survived. Neither of us got a sunburn, and my pop-up tent only collapsed while I was sitting under it, never on Charlotte alone. I'll have to get that fixed before this weekend... the Third is the big holiday in our house and we traditionally spend the day at the beach, then grill at a friend's cottage and return to the beach for bonfires and fireworks (amateur ones) after dark. It's loads of fun, and I want Charlotte to grow up with fond memories of her July Thirds spent with our dearest friends and their kids... who will be Charlotte's oldest friends one day, too.

** Charlotte has outgrown her witching hour, which used to run from 5:30 until she fell asleep around 8 or 9 or 10. It coincided too well with C's return from work each night, and he was almost taking it personally. Now, she gets fussy at bedtime and resists going down for the night, but usually falls asleep with 4 minutes of being placed in her crib.

I probably have more 3rd month updates, but I have to get some work done. So, I leave you with some endearing photos...

With her caterpillar "yardstick"-
Too big for the bassinet-
"Talking" to her caterpillar before faling asleep-And last but not least, her new sunglasses for the beach-

Monday, June 21, 2010

a few firsts before the 3-month mark

We had another momentous weekend. It seems that Charlotte likes to combine her firsts with other big events, like family weddings. She started skipping one of her two nighttime feedings over the weekend of a cousin's wedding at the end of May. This past weekend, she SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT just before my brother's wedding. And by STTN, I mean ALL night. I put her down at 8:00 and had to wake her at 6:45 so we could all get ready for the wedding. Maybe the bath after her 6:15 meal did the trick. Or maybe it was the 7:45 "snack" that I gave her. Either way, I was ill-prepared and kept waking to check to make sure she hadn't somehow scooted off the bed or smothered in a pillow (strategically placed far from her, but where it could hopefully keep her from falling off the bed).

Then she did it again the following night... down for the night at 8:00, and awake (smiling) at 5:15. We're an early-morning household, so 5:15 is a perfectly acceptable wake-up time.

As happy as sleeping all night makes me, we got an even more joyous first on Saturday evening. LAUGHTER! Not just coo's and aah's with a big grin. No, this was a true belly laugh. No repeat performance yet, but you can bet I'll try to catch it on film the next time I have the chance. It's the most beautiful sound I have ever heard, and we're calling it her Father's Day present to C.

All this just days before reaching the ripe old age of three months. It's as if someone told her she should be able to do these things by the time she starts her 4th month, so she decided to tackle them just in time.

Friday, June 4, 2010

almost 11 weeks- where did the time go?



Charlotte attended her first wedding (just part of the reception, after dinner) last weekend and got to stay in a five star hotel. She seemed to enjoy the hotel and was an absolute angel, charming the socks off everyone and tossing smiles around like Mardi Gras beads.




She has almost settled into having just one nighttime feeding, which is heavenly when it happens. Some nights, though, she falls back on her every-three-hours routine leaving me foggy-headed for a day or two from complete lack of sleep. She's decided to eat every two hours during the day to make up for it.




Last night was one of those 3-hour feeding schedules, and I find myself unable to string any additional thoughts together into a coherent post. Will you settle for another dose of cuteness?


Here she is at 1 month with her caterpillar (she likes to stare at it's smiling face while she falls asleep)- Neglectful Mommy forgot to snap a similar photo at 2 months.
And here's a smile...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

juggling

Sorry for the lack of posting since Charlotte came along. First, I was struggling to keep up with her, to figure out her rhythms and catch some sleep when I could. Plus, the whole pumping and bottle-feeding issue ate up a huge chunk of each day. Luckily, we resolved that before I had to go back to work.

Now, I am working again. The niece we spoke with last September, who then agreed to come to our home 3 days each week to babysit, agreed to sit for someone else 3 days per week, so we only get two. I am struggling to get work done on those no-sitter days as well because I have to prove to my boss that I can work from home, even with an infant. Otherwise, my accumulated vacation time would last only 7 weeks, and then I'd be faced with a tough decision- quit, decrease my hours, or find daycare. I'm hoping to stretch the vacation hours as long as possible, probably just delaying the inevitable, but I'd really like to win the lottery before my time runs out.

Anyhow, our niece adores Charlotte, and for those two days each week I am confident that she's in good hands. It's a huge difference, though, between working 3 days in the office versus two. My boss is not happy with the schedule we started with, so my mother offered to take the baby one afternoon each week... since we work in the same place, I'll take Charlotte to work with me, feed her in my office then send her home with my mother for a few hours. Luckily, mom lives only 10 minutes away from work, and the same distance from my house as my office, so there's not a lot of extra drive-time. We'll see how it goes and how long it lasts, starting next week. Meanwhile, these two weeks of spending just 2 days in the office have been hectic. Every time I put Charlotte down for a nap, I am on the computer and calling my office voice mail. It seems that whenever I am in the middle of something, Charlotte needs me. I think I've juggled well, but this isn't something I could continue long-term. I am exhausted, and no one is getting 100% from me. On top of that, C's and my new business is going very well and I have all the paperwork to deal with for that on top of trying to be a good mom and responsible employee. I feel like I haven't had a break in two weeks, on top of not having a full night's sleep since December.

Anyone want to share their lucky numbers with me for my next lottery ticket?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

no time for words

Baby girl has learned to smile. She's suddenly interactive, and so much more fun than I imagined. I can't wait for giggles!

p.s. I never intended to be one of those moms who put a bow on her baby girl's head, but she looks so irresistably cute that I simply cannot resist. We save it for special occasions, though. Last weekend, she went to a bridal shower, and that's where this photo was taken.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

no time to blog

Yowza- I never knew time could move so quickly. It's been 7 weeks now since we brought our darling daughter home from the hospital. At her last pedi appointment, when she was exactly one month old, she'd gained 1 1/2 pounds and grown 2 1/2 inches since birth. Unbelievable... but then I looked at her in the car seat and glanced at the photo I took when she was 2 days old. She definitely sits a lot taller in the seat now. And the outfit she swam in at two days barely fits her at 7 weeks. Especially her feet. Does anyone know if baby clothes just tend to have too-small feet, or if my girl is simply oversized? They look proportionate to me.

The latest developments, in bullets before she wakes up-
* Feeding- we're no longer dependent on a nipple shield, and she latches like a pro so breast feeding has become as routne as it should be. We've nursed in such exotic places as the car, the doctor's office (in an empty exam room), an infant massage class, and the bank (she cried and they offered me an empty office- how could I refuse?). Tomorrow, she'll feast in my office after my colleagues take me out to lunch (belated birthday meal), unless she demands food in the restaurant in which case we may attempt our first truly public session.
* Sleep- Baby knows the difference between night and day. At night, she nurses and goes immediately back to sleep. Now that we're feeding sans shield, she's a lot more efficient and wraps up her meal in under 30 minutes. As a result, I'm out of bed for only about 45 minutes each time which leaves me more than 2 hours to sleep between feedings. And, luxury of luxuries, she's begun to occasionally skip one middle-of-the-night feeding. I slept for FIVE hours straight one night this week.

It's time to feed my angel and get some sleep myself. I'l try to write more tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

cuteness

The ride home from the hospital, sweetly sleeping, and her first bath...









Birth Story

I can't believe it's been five weeks since Charlotte came into this world. Time is both flying and creeping by, and it honestly feels like she's been with us forever. She's asleep in my lap just now, so I thought I should tell her birth story before it's memory has become so blurred by time that I've forgotten how it happened. Here goes...


Sunday, March 21st, was just another 9-months-pregnant day. I hadn't slept particularly well the night before, so it was kind of a relief to send C on his merry way to watch his nephews' dirt bike races. I was free to nap and lounge the day away, although I was a little eager to get a few things done and errands run because we couldn't really know when the baby would decide to arrive. My greatest worry at the time was that she wouldn't come out on her own in time and we'd be talked into an induction. One of the OBs in the practice had explained that my risk of stillbirth at 40 weeks' gestation would be comparable to a 27-year-old's at 42 weeks. I feared that an induction would lead to the cascade of interventions that would ultimately end with the most invasive of births, a c-section, and the full acoutrement of drugs. I didn't care about taking drugs for my own sake, but did not want my baby entering the world under the influence of anything but her natural hormones.


C returned home, and we went out to the local warehouse store to pick up some provisions- I didn't want to be lifting to 35-pound cartons of cat litter, so I insisted he go with me. As soon as we got home, I started making dinner- pasta with meat sauce, our last meal sans child. At 8:05 pm, I dropped an uncooked noodle on the floor and, when I bent to pick it up, felt a gush of fluid between my legs. As I scurried to the nearest bathroom, I hollered to C, "We're having a baby tonight, and the pasta needs to be drained in 9 minutes (I know that's what I said, because C repeated it to everyone who asked how our labor had begun, and to several people who didn't ask)."


Eventually, the steady stream of fluid slowed to a trickle that I felt a pad could manage, so I tossed my wet clothes in the washing machine, took a shower, and sat down to a late dinner. All the while, C was assembling all the things we thought we might need for a prolonged, first-baby labor- birthing ball, extra pillows, something to read, our hypnobirthing handouts, a CD player and an iPod,... He dutifully loaded up the car and then got a bit impatient when I requested he snap a belly shot (our first and last) before leaving. Somewhere in that time, I called the hospital and let them know my water had broken (definitively- there was no doubt whatsoever) and was advised to "come in soon."

We arrived at the birthing center at 10:00 pm, and in spite of all my visits for NSTs, I didn't recognize a soul (so much for familiarity). By 10:45, we were monitoring Ishka's heart rate and my contractions, which were just becoming "real" after an afternoon full of BH's. I was 4cm dilated, 100% effaced. My biggest fear was coming to pass- I was stuck on the hospital bed, not allowed to walk or move around because they wanted to monitor the baby and me, while painful contractions began. The nurse convinced me to accept an IV (I had a choice with respect to the IV, but they wouldn't let me get off the bed until Ishka became "responsive" supposedly, IV fluids would elicit a response). As soon as the baby's heart rate demonstrated the desired rises and falls, I was disconnected from the IV and allowed to walk the halls, bounce on the birthing ball, or whatever else I felt like doing. I think it was about 11:20 when we took our first stroll down the hall.

Backtracking a little, let me mention that the contractions I felt while lying on the damned hospital bed were the worst pain of the whole night. I truly believe that most women would be abe to manage their pain without medication if only they were allowed to get off the bed and move around. The pain was, as we've all heard, a very intense pressure. But it also involved a sensation of something hard pressing or moving against something equally hard, both unyielding, with no possible resolution in the position I was in. Even contractions that registered very low on the monitor were extremely painful. Had I continued in that position, I think I would have begged for an epidural. Luckily, I walked.

Anyhow, strolling the hall was not without it's own kind of discomfort. The 50-yard promenade was punctuated each way by at least 3 contractions, which felt like an overwhelmingly irresistable and massive bowel movement after prolonged constipation (you get the picture, right?). I got through them by leaning my head against the wall, hanging onto the railing, and rocking side to side with bent knees, focusing on staying as loose as could be by consciously relaxing my mouth and facial muscles. When we got back to my room, I decided that maybe I did need to use the bathroom, since that's what it felt like, so I sat on the toilet. Time began to blur.

I sat for a while in the bathroom. The institutional toilet is a little taller than mine at home, so it was the perfect height for me to crouch, semi-squatted on. I threw up. While SuperNurse cleaned up my mess, I walked part-way down the hall again with nearly constant contractions. I must have handled them well, though, because the nurses later confessed that they didn't think much was going on with me at that point. Back in the room, I tried out the birthing ball, but it felt wrong somehow to have something between my legs. The toilet, with its open seat, was way more comfortable, so I headed back into the bathroom. At some point, I stopped fighting the urge to push and just gave in to it. Eventually, I figured I should go back into the room to see how C was doing and when I wiped (I wasn't using the facilities per se, but amniotic fluid was still trickly out now and then) I felt something...

SuperNurse was in the room and asked how I was feeling. I asked her if it was normal to feel something between my legs. I climbed on the bed so she could check and see what I was talking about. One peek and she said, We're having this baby NOW." She ran into the hall (apparently calling for back-up) and suddenly a whole army of nurses were in the room- turning on the baby warmer, assembling all sorts of instruments. But I was kind of oblivious to it all. Our baby was nearly here!

Someone asked C and me what we thought we were having, giving us one last chance to officially guess before we'd find out. We both said, "A girl." On the next contraction, I breathed into my body's instinctive action without consciously pushing. I was asked not to push on the next one, but I saw my baby's head crowning (reflected in the TV, or was there a mirror? I don't know, but I know I saw the head). One more contraction, one more instant of allowing my body to do what it knew how to do, and our Charlotte was on my chest looking into my eyes.

The doctor arrived about 5 minutes later. He missed the big event, but got to stick around for a while to stitch me up (2nd degree tear) while I counted fingers and toes. C had no interest in or desire to cut the cord, so I did it (it was kind of anti-clamactic, to be honest). I snuggled Charlotte for what felt like a long time and even made a first attempt to nurse her before she fell asleep and I allowed the nurses to take her for weighing and a more thorough cleaning.

So yeah, labor hurt. But my body knew what to do and as long as I reacted instinctively, without fighting myself, the discomfort was never overwhelming. I'm not sure I could have continued for 8 hours, or 12 or some other terribly long time, but I think it went quickly BECAUSE I was unmedicated. I'd do it again, and I hope we get that opportunity some day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

one month. Thirty-one days. A lifetime.

My baby girl is a month old today, and we can't remember life without her in it. She truly is the center of our universe and we couldn't be happier. Here are some of the ways Ishka has changed since we met her-

At birth, she weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and was 19 inches tall. She was down to 6lbs 9oz when we left the hospital, but as of yesterday's appointment, she's up to 8lbs 12.5oz and 21.5 inches tall (40th & 70th percentile respectively). We seem to have a tall, lean child.

As of Monday, at the ripe old age of 4 weeks, she officially outgrew her newborn sleep-n-play outfits. Her feet had been too big for a week or so, but on Monday she was no longer able to stretch out to her full length while stuffed into newborn clothing. Alas, she still swims a bit in the 0-3 month sized apparel. (I overestimated her size and didn't buy any newborn clothes, thinking that "0-3 months" would cover a non-preemie newborn. I was wrong.)

We're out of "newborn" sized diapers and will not be buying any more. Our baby is officially in size 1 now.

Ishka has a lot more control over her head and has been able to control where it goes when she's lying on her back since about day-6. Her first week, she slept in whatever position she was placed in- head flopped completely to one side or the other. Now, even in her sleep, she can face straight up if she wants to.

Breastfeeding is still a work in progress, but has improved immensely. For the first 3 weeks, we tried the boob occasionally with a nipple shield but rarely met with anything but frustration (both of us) and pain (me). I pumped and Ishka took her feedings by bottle. Then, on 4/13, it was if a switch had been flipped and she suddenly latched onto the nipple shield and took her meals directly from the source. We have moments now when my nipples don't cooperate or when she doesn't seem to actually get anything from suckling (for up to an hour) and we revert to a bottle of brest milk and a pumping session now and then, but 85% of her meals are bottle-free now. Unfortunately, the excrutiating pain is often still there so the decision to take a feeding by bottle is sometimes for the sake of comfort. The encouragement we found in our one visit so far to the local support group was fabulous, so we'll be attending weekly with the intention of sticking with breastfeeding for at least 6 months.

Our little girl knows the difference between night and day, and prefers not to miss anything that happens during daylight hours. She simply will not sleep anywhere but in my arms during the day, but she's happy as a clam in her bassinette at night. We have a Moby and a Bjorn. She sometimes tolerates the Moby, but I haven't assembled the Bjorn yet. Once we work out how to free up my hands during the day, we'll both be happier and I'll start working from home a bit to stretch out the length of my maternity leave.

She has the cutest smiles as she drifts off to sleep. We know they're not "real," but those little grins are no less beautiful. We're looking forward to genuine grins and giggles yet to come.

There's more to say, but I need to get dressed and eat something before she wakes up and realizes that it's day time again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

wow

Charlotte, C and I are doing well. C started working exactly one week after Charlotte's birth, so the baby and I are on our own during the day. She had some trouble latching, so we spent two whole weeks pumping every drop I could and feeding it to her from a bottle. Between pumping, feeding, washing pump parts, and staring in awe at my daughter, I haven't slept much. Latching isn't perfect yet, and I still pump about half the time to give my extremely sore nipples a break, but things are improving. Birth story soon... I promise. After a nap, maybe.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

1:25 am on Monday morning, 3/22/2010...

She's here! We're home, and running on the expected total lack of sleep, but sometimes "love is all you need."


Charlotte Joan

3/22/2010

7lbs 5oz

19-inches tall

"Labor" began at 8:05 PM with my water breaking, and ended with Charlotte's appearance at 1:25 AM. It was quick, but far from painless. I'll write her birth story soon. Thank you for all the good wishes!! I can hardly believe she's here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Here we go!

At about 8:00, I was cooking dinner and had to wipe a drip off the floor. Then all of a sudden, *gush* my water broke! I've been having mild contractions all day (oh, my, now I am having one that feels all sorts of different), but not with any pattern of force behind them, so I thought it was just more BH. So, I took a shower and will eat a little dinner, then head off to the hospital. The fluid was possibly greenish at first, but then tapered off to clear and then slightly pink-tinged. The greenish has them concerned, so the nurses want to see exactly what's going on (I called).

Looks like we're going to have a baby!

Another day

Today, I am so confident that Ishkabibble will NOT be making an appearance that I sent C (actually, he wanted to go and I did nothing to discourage him) to watch his nephews race dirtbikes for the day, in a town a couple of hours from home. Of course, he has a fully-charged phone on him and he took a separate vehicle so he can dash back if he needs to. But all remains quiet on Ishka-watch, so I'll spend the day cleaning without having to worry about a spouse messing things up in my wake.

Friday, March 19, 2010

still waiting

Bloody show & mucus... because of Wednesday's internal exam or is something happening? There were only three notable contractions during last night's NST, and none so far this morning. Ishkabibble continues to dance and roll in her cramped quarters. I know he's low- I can feel her head pressing against my pubic bone. Yard work and lots of walking are on the agenda for tomorrow. Maybe that will start something. Or maybe the raspberry leaf tea will do the trick.

Come on, little Ishka! We want you to come out all on your own, so please please please get moving soon. Wouldn't you love to be born on the first day of Spring?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

nothing happening, but...

2cm and 70% effaced.

As best I can tell from Dr. Google, this doesn't mean anything will or will not happen soon, but it's comforting to know that something has changed in the last two weeks. And I truly believe that Dr. Male was simply rough. Today, my appointment was with Dr. Favorite, whom I'd only seen once before. She was wonderful and gentle, and I didn't feel thoroughly beat up when the internal exam was over... at least not any more so than I already did, with Ishka's head resting about as low as it can go. (I honestly feel like my crotch has been in a fist fight- all bruised and achey for the last few weeks.)

I was the last patient of the day, so the doc had plenty of time to sit and chat with me about GD (she had it too) and all sorts of supposed ways to get labor to start. I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and picked up some organic raspberry leaf tea at her suggestion- not bad, actually, so I downed two mugs of it today and will continue with 3 or 4 tomorrow. Aside from that, she recommended romance and walking. Prostaglandins and gravity are scientifically proven to contribute to labor progress, while everything else is sheer desperation.

We discussed induction too, unfortunately. My age alone puts us at higher than normal risk for stillbirth- my odds at 40 weeks equal a 27 year-old's at 42 weeks. So Ishka will be entering this world by my due date of 3/25, with or without medical prompting. My next appointment, on Tuesday, will involve a discussion of the specific drugs and techniques we'll pursue. I'm still hoping I won't need that next appointment. I also hope I won't need tomorrow morning's BPP, or tomorrow afternoon's NST.

It's getting so close now. I can hardly believe we're here!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

twiddling my thumbs

Nothing happening yet. We tried (spicy) Chinese food and romance last night. It was enjoyable, and somewhat laughable (my belly is HUGE), but totally ineffective. As they say, the baby will come when the baby is ready. I have my 39-week appointment with one of the doctors in the practice tomorrow. Ishka was estimated at 6 pounds 12 ounces last Thursday, so we're likely just over 7 pounds now- I have no worries about an "oversized" baby, so even though I am eager and anxious to get this baby out, I'm not going into tomorrow's appointment to ask for inducton. Nature has been good to us this pregnancy (once we got pregnant, that is), and I'm not going to rock the boat now.

That said, I soooo want to meet Ishkabibble NOW! I am utterly useless at work, and just about everything I usually do has been farmed out so there's not much to do anyhow. I feel like I am wasting my time here in my office (yes, blogging at work... bad employee, I am) when I could be washing the kitchen floor or vacuuming the baby's room.

Waiting for Ishkabibble... that's the focus of my life for the time-being.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

the waiting game

It's kind of funny, all this waiting and not knowing when or how it will end. We're all taught early on (I think) that the responsible thing to do is to plan for big events. Spontaneity is all well and good when it comes to spur-of-the-moment weekend getaways or a last-second decision to skydive when the clear blue sky makes it irresistable. But we're supposed to plan the big things- college, buying a house, weddings, etc. And we all know that children aren't supposed to be the decision-makers in the family. They need adult guidance and sensibility or else they'd all be out playing in the street and eating ice cream for dinner every night. But here we are, waiting for a not-yet-newborn to decide when it's time to come out. Is that responsible parenting?

Still nothing happening. I even had fewer than the usual BH contractions today. I did go on a cleaning spree, which C wasn't fond of because I guilted him into helping me while his beloved hockey game was on TV (he got to watch the whole thing anyhow thanks to the miracle of DVR). But now our floors are beyond spotless (until the cats' next game of tag, which ends in a wrestling match and a pile of shed cat hair), the laundry is all caught up, and the refrigerator is organized. The crib finally has sheets and a dust ruffle (I'm not normally a dust ruffle-y gal, but it came with the bedding we registered for). The bumper doesn't fit, but I guess bumpers are considered passe and unsafe now anyhow, so I left it off. The tent we have turns out to fit only on a play-yard, so I think we'll need to buy one for the crib to keep the cats out. I still need to clip the cats' claws and apply the SoftPaws that arrived in Thursday's mail (thanks for the suggestion, Kate!). Sure, there are still a few odds and ends to be done, but we are SOOOOO ready. Did you hear me Ishkabibble? We're READY! This is your mother speaking, and I would like to meet you now. Please come on out.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

38weeks exactly

All is quiet and well on the Ishkabibble front. BPP this morning was combined with an estimate of fetal weight, and we're up to 6 pounds 12 ounces now, the 53rd percentile. Fluid levels, fetal movement and all other BPP criteria look great. Ishka was making sucking motions with his jaw this morning, and she's turned to look backwards past my right hip now. The u/s tech thinks Ishka is a bit lower in my pelvis than last week. I think I agree, since I've felt some crampiness and weight very low in the last few days. At the same time, the office receptionist thought my belly looked higher today than it did yesterday. There's a foot strategically positioned below each side of my rib cage, as though Ishka is preparing to push off for a hasty exit.

Mexican food and a 75 minute walk didn't do a thing for starting labor last night. I was too tired for romance by the time I got home, so maybe we'll take that approach this evening.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

almost 38 weeks- stretchy

The stretch mark fairy paid me a visit last night and painted my belly while Ishka and I slept. I went from one little mark below my belly button to the whole underside of my belly being "marked." Oh, well... I am not a belly-baring sort of person, so it really doesn't matter. I find it amusing that I made it to one day shy of 38 weeks before accumulating many marks. This is not a complaint. I'm perfectly happy to have them.

I had my 38w (actually 37w6d) check-up this morning- there was no internal exam involved (hurray!), although I am now purposely avoiding Dr. Male after last week's somewhat bruising encounter. My weight is holding fairly steady at 35.5 pounds over my starting weight (which included about 10 TTC pounds), and my blood pressure is consistently in the one-teens over upper sixties. All is well, but the doc (not my MW) dropped hints that we may need to induce if things don't start on their own by my due date. She said that because of my age and the GD, we won't go much past the 25th. I have no problem with getting Ishka into the world earlier rather than later, but I'm not a fan of induction. Induction --> constant monitoring --> restricted movement while in labor --> trouble dealing with pain --> need for medication --> further unknown complications & interventions = YUCK!

Ishka and I will have a chat while we go for a long walk after dinner tonight. We made it to March, which is what I initially requested, so now we'll negoatiate a birth date. Something before the 25th. Maybe something in the teens. For good measure, we're going out for Mexican food tonight (someone mentioned that spicy food might spark something). Maybe a little romance later, after the walk. I'd love for one of the pleasant wives tales to work. Even castor oil would be preferable to induction.

Monday, March 8, 2010

37w4d

The phone calls have begun. Folks we normally speak to 3 or 4 times each month are calling a couple of times each week now to ask if we have any news. We're ready. We'd love to have some news to share, but Ishkabibble continues to cook happily away in utero. The weather has taken a turn toward spring this week, so I'm planning to do a lot of walking. I'm ready to meet this baby, and based on the u/s calculations, Ishka's around 7 pounds now. We're considered full term and beyond the reach of preemie complications, so I have no qualms about trying a few old wives' tales to see if we can get things going. No castor oil yet (yuck!), but the more pleasant tricks are certainly appealing now. I'll certainly let y'all know if anything "works."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

36w6d... chugging right along

Nothing happening on the birthing front here. I had an appointment with the one male in the OB practice, and wouldn't you know it, it was the appointment involving a swab for group B strep and a manual cervical check to see if anything was going on. I don't know if it was him or me or the fact that I'm nearly 8 1/2 months pregnant, but that cervical check felt a bit rough. I will ask for no more internal checks of any kind until I feel like pushing. I wonder if I can get away with that?

The more I think about it, the more I want to stay home until I feel the urge to push. I'm sure I won't have that kind of willpower, and am more likely to rush off to the hospital at the first sign of labor just for confirmation that something has begun. But I've been told again and again that they're happy to send me home if I haven't reached "active" labor yet.

Anyhow, absolutely nothing is going on. Ishka continues to grow (latest estimated fetal weight, at 36 weeks, was 5 pounds 14 ounces; 58th percentile). I found my first stretch mark on Saturday, just when I thought I was getting through this unscarred. My ankles have reappeared most mornings, ever so slightly inflated but very nearly their pre-pregnancy size. I count myself lucky if I manage more than 3 hours of sleep at one stretch. That, plus the 32 extra pounds that I lug around all day, has made me very tired and cranky.

At work, I've been teaching my more complicated responsibilities to asorted co-workers so they can develop some familiarity with what needs to be done before I actually leave. This takes about 3-times as long as doing things myself, which has added to the tiredness. The less complicated stuff that I do will also be delegated to a number of people, and I'm just hoping they find it to be as simple as they believe it will be because they haven't stepped up to start trying the roles on for size yet.

The nursery is almost completed. The crib and dresser/changing table are assembled and in place. Dresser drawers are full of freshly-washed baby clothes, blankets, towels, etc. The bassinette is home, but not set up because we worry the cats will make it theirs. We have no crib mattress, but several hand-me-down mattresses have been offered and we just need to decide which to accept. The rocking chair is still in a box- maybe I'll put that together tonight, although I worry about the cats again... will they shred it? Maybe I should get the cats declawed (I've always been very opposed to declawing, but with an infant soon to be in the house, I'm reconsidering). Actually, only one of them probably needs declawing... he doesn't seem to recognize that he has claws, and draws blood from either C or me on a near-daily basis. Trimming them only lasts a few days, and then they're sharp as needles again. Once everything is in place, I'll take some pictures of the nursery and share them here.

So, we're ready, more or less. The bags aren't packed yet, but everythign that will go in them has been assembled and cleaned. I'll post a list at some point and ask for feedback from you folks- let me know if I neglected something that I'll truly need/want, or if I included something completely superfluous. Ishka has the green light from all parties involved. And so we wait.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the birth plan

Here's what we came up with for a birth plan. We're taking a natural approach since we'd like as few foreign substances as possible clouding our first moments as a 3-piece family. I had the nurse look this over at Monday's NST and she liked it. She even said that this is the kind of birth that the nursing staff most like to see. We'll see how reality compares to the plan once it's all said and done.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We understand that our birth plan is simply a guideline for how we’d like to experience the birth of our child. Everything is subject to change as needed for the health of mother and child.

The room and general atmosphere-
o I’d like only my husband and necessary medical staff in the room during labor and birth. I’d like C to take photographs of whatever he sees fit to photo.
o I’d like to bring music to listen to.
o I’d like to keep the lights dim and the background noise to a minimum.

During labor-
o Please send me home if I am not in active labor.
o Please keep internal exams to a minimum.
o Please do not augment or induce labor unless medically necessary.
o Please do not artificially rupture the amniotic membranes unless medically necessary.
o Please allow my labor to progress without stringent time limits.
o I’d like my husband to stay with me at all times.
o I’d like to stay hydrated by drinking instead of having an IV.
o I’d like to be free to walk and move around as I choose.
o I’d prefer intermittent rather than continuous monitoring.
o I’d like to use the bathtub, a birthing stool, a birthing ball, or any other accessory that feels right.

Pain relief-
o Please do not offer me pain medication. I will ask for it if I need it.
o I will manage discomfort with self-hypnosis, breathing, massage, and the bath/shower.

During birth-
o I’d like to push when my body instinctively feels the need to do so. Please do not coach me to push before my body feels ready, unless medically necessary.
o I’d like to give birth in whatever position feels right to me, including semi-reclining, side-lying, squatting, or hands-and-knees.
o If available and the appropriate staff are on-hand, I’d like to give birth in a birthing tub or pool.
o I’d prefer not to have an episiotomy.
o I’d like to touch my baby’s head as it crowns.
o I’d like the room to be as quiet as possible, and the lights dim.
o I may wish to view the birth using a mirror (I think I’d like to).

After birth-
o I’d like to hold our baby right away, skin-to-skin on my chest, putting off any procedures that aren’t urgent.
o I’d like to breastfeed as soon as possible.
o I’d like to wait until the umbilical cord stops pulsating before it’s clamped and cut.
o Please do not administer routine pitocin after our baby is born.
o I’d like my husband to cut the cord, but if he’s unable or unwilling, please offer the opportunity to me.
o Please do not administer eye drops to our baby until we have had time to make prolonged eye contact and to bond.
o Please conduct any necessary newborn procedures or tests in our presence, in our room.
o Please do not give our baby any shots in the first 24 hours of life, unless absolutely medically necessary.
o We plan to breastfeed exclusively. Please do not offer anything (water, pacifier, formula, etc.) to our baby at any point.
o We’d like to breastfeed our baby on-demand and keep our baby in our room at all times.
o If our baby needs to be taken from our room for any reason, either my husband or I will accompany the baby at all times.
o If our baby is a boy, we do NOT want him circumcised.

This is our first child, and we’ll certainly be a bit nervous. We welcome your encouragement and support, as well as suggestions you may have that fit with our overall plan to have a natural, unmedicated and peaceful birth. Thank you for sharing this momentous time with us.

how many?

Well, here we are on the cusp of 36 weeks. You'd think that means I have 4 weeks left of this pregnancy, but really? Who knows. At Monday's NST, the kind nurse informed me that GD pregnancies are normally induced at 39 weeks if labor doesn't start naturally before then. Last week, a doc and another nurse told me that I'd reached the stage where, if labor were to start on its own, no effort would be made to stop it. My siblings and I were all between 4 days and 3 weeks early. My sister's first was early, and her second was induced but I don't trust the accuracy of her LMP calculations.

Ishkabible and I have chatted about her entrance into this world and agree that he's a March baby. True, the birthstone isn't the best, but we don't want to wait for the April diamond and February's amethyst just seems a little too early. C, on the other hand, has had enough of the waiting and wants to hold his baby NOW. The irony of having been unemployed for nearly 5 months, and now being literally days from starting a new job (as my employee, for our new business) is not lost on either of us. But we're not picky about the timing. Just deliriously happy the be so close to meeting this baby.

I suspect that labor will commence within 3 days of C starting to work again, just because that's how our lives go. Remember what happened last year? In the middle of the unemployed season, C suddenly found himself with two simultaneous work commitments (a lucrative temporary gig and a snowstorm to plow) AND the RE's requirement that the "partner" deliver the donor sperm for a DIUI. No obligations for months, but then three conflicting ones in a single day. Yup, that's our norm. Feast or famine, and not much in between.

Then again, Ishka might be the beginning of our bucking that trend. The truth is that no one can predict when we'll get to see Ishka face-to-face. The excitement builds daily. We can't wait!