Friday, December 29, 2006

False alarm #1

I woke up at 4 a.m. with cramps — nothing weird or serious, but the kind of low-grade menstrual cramps that tend to make me cranky without interfering with day-to-day activities. But I started wondering: Is this the beginning of labor? That and a few other symptoms (which I won't post for the world to read, thanks) got me to the point where I called my doctor's office this afternoon. The doctor's out of the office for Christmas vacation, of course, so I got one of the nurses, who said: Go into the hospital, preferably within the next hour.

Our much-too-kind friends Jen and Charles came over to watch Beth, and we ended up sitting in the hospital for close to four hours. Overall it wasn't too vastly unpleasant. I've been reading Orson Scott Card's Enchantment out loud to Scott, so we did a chapter or so of that; the computers and labs were up and running, so even though they were swamped the wait wasn't quite as brutal as it was the last time we were there in April of 2005; and we saw my favorite nurse from my previous hospital stay, who's now working triage. The doctor who examined me was kind and funny and gave me good stories about my own OB, who she helped train. And yes, it was a false alarm.

Nevertheless...Scott says he's giving me three of these before he starts calling me "She Who Cries Wolf." (You have nothing to worry about, sweetie.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas with Elmo

The very cutest part of Christmas (and the race was close, let me tell you) was Beth padding across the room in her new Elmo slippers to get a doll bottle — and then squatting down to feed the slippers. I guess they were hungry. Goodness knows if your slippers don't have the energy to run around, you're going to have a very difficult day.

She's also very excited about her new Spot books, her hobby horse (which she finally figured out how to ride today after spending yesterday trying to sit down on it), her rocking chair, her stacking rings, and the stuffed frog princess that's meant for her baby sister. Also my new makeup case, probably because right now it's full of peppermint patties and peanut butter cups.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Macaroni convention

We were upstairs changing the sheets on our bed this morning when Scott said, "Oh, by the way, there's a macaroni convention downstairs."

"Macaroni convention," I said.


I thought about this. Apparently I got a semi-disgusted look on my face. "Do you want to explain yourself further?"

"Actually, I'm being quite literal. Beth got into one of the kitchen cupboards."

So I went downstairs and, indeed, there were three (still closed, thank goodness) containers of pasta sitting next to each other in the living room — looking for all the world like three people conversing at a convention. All they needed were name tags: "Hi! I'm Fettuccine."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Baby gear

I got an e-mail a few weeks ago from one of my pregnant friends, asking the age-old question: "What do I really need?"

Since nearly everyone I know who's having babies is a) on a budget and b) living in somewhat cramped quarters, it's a good question. Walk through a Babies 'R' Us store and you can start getting the idea that unless your child has the $600 convertible crib-to-bed furniture in the walnut finish — with a $120 crib mattress (!) and matching sheets, rug and wall sconce — you're a baaaaaad parent. Shame on you. Oh, and just hand over your checkbook, because there's more to come, beginning with the very latest in developmentally-appropriate educational toys and DVDs.

The reality is that babies don't care where they sleep or whether or not their teddy bear has a Steiff label, and acquiring the stuff that will fill your house and your diaper bag is expensive and space-consuming enough without going overboard. That said, here's my list:

Crib/bassinet/cradle/pack-n-play: We have a family heirloom cradle my mom made for my oldest cousin. It gets passed around a bit and is currently at a restoration shop after 40-plus years of wear and tear. Beth didn't get it until she was nearly two months old, so the truth is that she didn't sleep in it a whole lot. Since we had a whole room for her (a luxury her little sister isn't going to have until we move next summer), we just bought a crib and let it go at that. I have friends with kids Beth's age who've only ever slept in a pack-n-play — a great option if you don't have lots of space. My opinion (and I'm still waiting for the baby police to come read me my rights) is that a used-but-reasonably-new crib or pack-n-play is fine — just check the recall notices to make sure it's still safe. (You can find a recall list at I do have a pack-n-play that we bought used — it works great when we're traveling. If you have a Once Upon a Child or a Kid to Kid store close to you, I'd look there — they tend to have great used stuff in very good shape at pretty reasonable prices.

Bouncer/swing: Beth loooooooved her swing. We have a Fisher Price cradle swing that we got off of eBay — the great part about this one is that it swings either front-to-back or side-to-side. There were many, many days (and nights, come to think of it) when she just slept in the swing instead of the crib. Very soothing. Will keep you sane. Doesn't have to be new. A bouncy chair of some sort will allow you to take a shower. (Or, if you're very lucky, a long soothing bubble bath. Cross your fingers.)

High chair: Sheesh. You don't need one of these 'til the kid's six months old. Wait. See what your friends have that they're willing to lend you. Check Craig's List and the abovementioned secondhand stores. We got Beth's for $25.

Sling/carry pack: I had both a sling and a Snugli for Beth, and we both vastly preferred the Snugli. I hear Baby Bjorns are even more fabulous. Whatever you go with, buy it used (or cheap) and experiment — you and your baby will have to both like the arrangement. (See "stroller" below for more.)

Car seat: This is something you absolutely must, must buy new. Just bite the bullet. If you want a bucket-type carrier for the first ten months or so, great — it's lots easier to haul around and/or snap in a stroller or stroller frame. Just know that eventually you'll have to get a convertible seat. We had a bucket seat/stroller combo for the first ten months and now have the Cosco Alpha Sport carseat — it's designed to fit in smaller cars and fits kids from 5-80 pounds (converts from a rear-facing to a front-facing seat, then to a booster seat) — it's also around $100 at the abovementioned parental-guilt-trap store. Easy to install, too.

Stroller: I looove my jogging stroller (thanks again to my grad school buddies!), but you can't start using one until your baby's five months old or so. Same deal with umbrella strollers. My solution (even better than a stroller/car seat combo): strap the baby on in a Snugli and go for walks. Baby's happy; you can move faster than you could with a stroller; you get cuddle time. Husbands get the added "awwwww" factor. Scott got SO much attention when he "wore" Beth to school!

Breast pump: I borrowed my friend Betsy's Ameda Purely Yours breast pump and loved it. It's a dual piston-driven pump that's marketed to full-time working moms, is rated better than the similar Medela pumps, and you can find it on-line (new, of course) for about $150. Since Betsy just had her third baby, the pump is back with her and I just bought one for myself. We loved it because it meant Scott could feed Beth too (and I could pump ahead of time if I was leaving her with a babysitter or if I wanted to go to a movie). One caveat: Mooooooooo! You'll feel like a cow for a few weeks. And then you get over it and everything's fine, and you wonder why you felt so weird in the first place.

Nursing bras: Sheesh. I tried a bunch of different ones and ended up living in a Bravado maternity/nursing bra (available on It's not the most supportive bra I've ever owned, but to be perfectly honest I didn't care. And it was very, very comfy. (Note to self: buy a few more of these before next baby comes.) Oh— and while you're thinking along these lines, stock up on nursing pads to tuck inside said bra.

Baby monitor: Beth's grandma bought us one, which we're very grateful for...and which is quite useful in our two-story place. If your apartment's small, though, it's not really necessary. Honestly, you're going to be so tuned in to the baby's needs that you'll hear every little snuffle.

Day care: Sigh. This one's hard. How do you let anyone, no matter how many Nobel Peace Prizes they've won, take care of your baby? We eventually found someone in the ward who was already tending one baby and was willing to take Beth too. And then I quit my job. My friend Lisa found a terrific in-home day care situation that she was very, very comfortable with. I'd say: visit a bunch of places. If anything makes you uncomfortable, don't put your baby there. You'll find someplace that you love. Don't be afraid to keep looking.

Changing table: We never bought one. Don't have the room. Beth is perfectly content being changed on a bed, on the floor, whatever. I changed her today on the floor of a public restroom. (You on the baby police squad, make sure you knock softly if you come to arrest me while she's sleeping.)

Diaper bag: You'll need SOMETHING to carry all of the baby junk (diapers, wipes, bottle, change of baby clothes, Ziploc bags for dirty baby clothes, toys, blanket, binky) in, and you'll definitely need something with pockets to keep it all organized. I have a Gap diaper bag that I think is terrific (and which is also nearly in shreds and needs to be replaced). In an ideal world I'd buy the big leather Coach tote I've been coveting for a few years and use that. Just find something that works that you think is fabulously stylish, 'cause you'll carry it everywhere.

Boppy: Loved mine. Register for it.

Baby books: What to Expect the First Year is good, though a bit alarmist. Dr. Sears' The Baby Book is also good, but definitely skewed toward the natural side of things. Get a good solid general book, read it, and then do things your own way. You're a parent. You'll be fine.

Doggies, doggies everywhere

Beth met a ten-week-old French bulldog today — a tiny brown sleek bundle of inquisitiveness with big ears and a squashed-in nose. I'm not sure who was more interested in whom, but there was definite adoration going on in both directions. Beth wanted to be close, but not too close. Finally she let me hold her while the dog's owner held onto the dog, and they sat there regarding each other for a while.

"Can the doggie give you a kiss?" I asked her. "Doggies kiss you by licking your hand."

Her response was something along the lines of, Well, yeah. That would be GREAT! Why didn't you say so sooner?

So the doggie gave her a kiss on the hand. And gave me a kiss on the face. And Beth showed the doggie the green dog stamp on her hand from today's library visit. And everything was really, really cool.

We recorded the AKC dog show on Animal Planet last week, and we don't dare delete it even though we've watched the entire thing, like, twice. Beth loves the doggies. She's not impressed with the announcers, or the judges, or the former Miss America talking to all the handlers. But put the dogs on and she's mesmerized. She calls out, "Doggiedoggiedoggiedoggieeeee!" until someone acknowledges that, yes, that's a doggie, and wasn't that neat that she got to see it? And then she's okay until the next dog comes on, and it starts all over again. Last night she had to take her stuffed dalmatian to bed with her. I sense an obsession brewing.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Careful, that halo's slipping!

Now, lest you think she's the ideal child: Beth did squirrel away Scott's wedding ring a few days ago. We know it's somewhere in the house. Well, okay, we're almost positive it's somewhere in the house. She of the very short-term memory, of course, isn't telling.

And she's getting increasingly fearful around other people (strangers, Santa Claus, random kids her own age). Going to nursery on Sundays is only manageable if she has one of us with her at all times, and at library storytime she watches carefully but refuses to participate. Heaven forbid one of those other kids should (gasp!) bump into her. Or look at her wrong. Or breathe her air.

Strangely enough, she's perfectly willing to share her food.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Shopping trip

Beth was an absolute angel during our almost-at-the-end-of-our-Christmas-shopping trip today. Chattered with me in the car, stuck right with me in the stores where I didn't stick her in a shopping cart, held my hand in the parking lots. (Okay, she took off running in the Lowe's parking lot while I was digging for my keys. Had to chase after her before she went headlong into traffic. But besides that....) She was good enough that I took her to McDonald's on the way home. (Create your own audio clip: Happy voice from the back seat singing, "Fries! Fries!") Her first Happy Meal, weird toy included. So we chowed down on chicken nuggets, apple slices, a juice box – and of course the fries. Toward the end of the meal she discovered the caramel sauce that came with the apple slices. She wouldn't dip her apples in it, but she dunked one little finger in and licked it off – over and over and over and over and over....

On the way home she fell asleep holding my hand. By the time I pulled in our driveway my right arm was tingling. Totally worth it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hump Day!

I'm five weeks away from D-Day – January 15th. It was at just this point in my first pregnancy that I found myself in a triage room at Magee Womens Hospital with skyrocketing blood pressure and a pounding headache. Scared out of my mind. (I was also starving – I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. But that's beside the point.) Beth was born the next afternoon.

But this time, thus far, no signs of preeclampsia. I'm 28 pounds lighter this time around (no water weight), I can eat pretty much anything I want to without wondering if it will stay down, and I don't have the gnawing pain in my stomach that I had for a full month. Hooray! I know I'll complain about these last few weeks, but it's really just complaining for exercise.

Monday, December 04, 2006


No, no, not yet. We still have six more weeks to go. But Scott stuffed my scarf into Beth's clothes this evening and they both came upstairs giggling to show me. When I asked, "What's that?" Beth squealed, "Baby!"

What a cutie!

Nigh' nigh'.

Bethie fell sound asleep over her cheese sandwich and grapes, her chin resting on one chubby fist. She didn't wake up when I carried her upstairs or took her shoes off, and only roused enough when I put her in her crib to mumble, "Nigh'."

I'm going down for a nap too. Pregnant ladies need sleep!