Sunday, December 28, 2008

happy birthday to my sweet boy

Today my baby turns two.

Two years old.

A full-fledged toddler, although he has really been a full-fledged toddler for quite some time. Still, tomorrow it feels more official.

Since this morning, I’ve been watching the clock and remembering where I was exactly two years ago today. At 10am, I was sitting in the OB’s office having a non-stress test. By noon, I had made it over to the hospital. By 7pm, I was scarfing down my last meal before I was hooked up to the pitocin, and by 8pm the contractions started. I can remember every moment as if it was yesterday, and I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s been two years. Two years, and another baby in between. Crazy crazy crazy.

I write a lot about Gabe, but I wish I knew the words to describe what an amazing boy he is. Sweet, funny, charming, busy, loving, he is all of those things and more. I want to bottle up this age and keep him here forever. His new language skills, the sentences he puts together, the amusing expressions he makes, the way he learns some new way to jump or kick or throw every day- these are the things I want to memorize and store in my head forever.

But more than all of those details, I want to memorize the way he smells out of a bath, the way his bangs fall across his forehead, the way his eyelashes make shadows on his chubby cheeks, the way he rests his head against my shoulder and squeezes his little arms around me when he needs comforting. I want to memorize his voice when he calls out for me, or the way his heavy feet sound when he runs across the house.

Time feels like it is moving so quickly, and I know that my ability to store all of these memories is only going to be harder with another baby. So I’ll keep taking pictures, keep pulling out my video camera, keep writing, and keep hoping that if I just hold onto Gabriel a little bit harder, maybe I can keep the baby for a little bit longer.

And in the meantime, he keeps growing and moving and pulling away and becoming the wonderful, brilliant boy that he is and will be. I’ll be hoping all this growing up gets easier. Tell me it does. Lie if you have to.

Happy Birthday Gabriel! I hope this year is your best yet!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I spoke too soon.

I have been felled by some kind of death-like virus, and I've been coughing and sneezing and congested and achy and shivering since yesterday. Poor Josie is congested also and has the cutest little cough I've ever heard- it would be adorable if it weren't so pitiful.

We had to cancel our plans for Christmas Eve, which included an annual holiday party we never miss, with delicious food and great friends. Even my parents stayed away today to avoid my germs, and I spent most of the day huddled under the covers with Josie, sleeping and feeling sorry for myself.

Sunday is Gabe's birthday, and I'm just hoping I'm somewhat improved by then. I spent the last 9 months worrying that his sibling would crash his birthday, and in the end it could be me ruining his celebration instead!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

a full report

I've been waiting for some catastrophe or disastrous episode so that I can write a more interesting post for you, but I'm sorry to report that it is going to have to be the boring old truth. Things are, well, great. So far, at least.

Gabe is head over heels in love with his sister, and insists on caressing her head lovingly and kissing her and holding her hands. He told us last night, "I wanna keep Josie," and the way he says "Josie" melts my heart. It sounds almost like "joosie" or something close to that- stinking adorable. He asks for her first thing in the morning and first thing after naps. No jealousy yet, even when I spend hours on the couch breastfeeding her. The worst behavior I've seen since Josephine arrived is that he was a little whiny the first few days, and once while I was breastfeeding he took advantage of my incapacity to throw balls at me from across the room. Besides that, he is sleeping, eating, playing, behaving, generally fabulously. I'm shocked, to tell you the truth. I'm cautiously optimistic, but still anticipating some bumps in the road.

My recovery has been ridiculously good also. The worst part so far has been those horrible cramps while nursing, the ones that shrink your uterus. I was ready to climb the walls for the first 48 hours after delivery, but they seem to be gone now. I have to keep reminding myself that I just gave birth because I feel like I could do anything, which is so different from after Gabe was born. I felt good after him, but not like this.

Best of all, this little girl is the sweetest thing ever. I don't know how I get so lucky when it comes to babies, but she is a dream so far. The first night in the hospital was rough- she cluster fed from 11pm until 7am the next morning, pretty much nonstop, and when the pediatrician arrived at 8am, I broke down in tears because I was beyond exhausted. Her hard work was successful, though, because by the time I went to bed that next night (36 hours after delivery) my milk was in. That night she slept a 4 hour stretch, and she has done 3-4 hour stretches every night since we've been home. She gets up to eat, is all business, and then crashes again in her bassinet by my bed. I'm tired, of course, but I feel rested enough to wake up with Gabe in the morning and I can make it through the day feeling like a human being.

Josie was almost a full pound smaller than Gabe, and definitely more petite looking. Everything about her seems small, and her tiny mouth posed some problems with breastfeeding for the first couple of days until I could convince her to open her mouth wide enough to nurse and not kill my boobs. I had a great experience breastfeeding Gabe, so I was surprised when some small bumps in the road over those first couple of days threw me for such a loop. The lactation consultants and nurses and Josh and the janitor kept giving me different pieces of advice, and I was ready to throttle someone by the time we left the hospital. I kept finding myself feeling frantic and anxious and afraid that the breastfeeding wouldn't get better. But it did, and by the time we were home for a full day, we were in a good rhythm. By the time we went to the pediatrician for her first check at 4 days old, she was back to her birth weight and gaining an average of 3 ounces a day. Today I swung back through the pediatrician's office to have them check out a nasty diaper rash she has sprouted, and she gained a full pound in 4 days. One pound! 4 days! She is up to 7 pounds 4 ounces, and her little cheeks are starting to look chubby.

I adore her.

Last night I found myself munching on her cheeks and squeezing her into the crook of my neck. She is delicious and sweet and only cries at diaper changes and when she has to poop- I suspect both due to the nasty diaper rash. I could honestly swallow her whole. She keeps smiling at me and rationally I know it is gas or involuntary or whatever you want to call it, but it seriously turns me into a puddle of goo. She makes these adorable little noises, almost little coos, and she hums up a storm while she is nursing. I know you all told me I would love her, but I guess I didn't expect I would love her this much, this fast.

Two children. I am the mother of two children! So don't mind me. I'll be in the corner counting my blessings and smothering my babies with hugs and kisses.

I wish all of you wonderful times like these, and the happiest of holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

ten fingers and ten toes

It's a girl!

Josephine Shai ("Josie") was born this morning at 7:19am after a speedy 7 hour labor and 4 pushes.

6 pounds 5 ounces

18 and 1/2 inches long

She is adorable and teeny tiny and I was shocked when she came out looking so petite. So much for OB estimates, huh?

She brought Gabe a train set as a gift, and we sang her happy birthday and ate cake, and at the end of it all, Gabe proclaimed, "I like Josie!" Apparently, his love can be bought. At least for a while. We'll have to keep the cupcakes coming.

Everything is wonderful, I feel great, Josh and I are bursting with joy, and I can't believe she is a girl! I can't believe I have two kids! I can't believe I love her so much already! Life doesn't more precious or more amazing than this.

Friday, December 12, 2008

a total tease

No baby yet, no strong contractions yet, no significant changes yet.

I just feel generally exhausted, achy all over, and somewhat crampy. Every night I'll have a few noticeable contractions and think to myself, maybe this is it, but I lie down in bed and before I have time to wonder whether I should wake Josh up, I fall asleep and wake up in the morning surprised that I made it through another night still pregnant.

Thankfully, besides being exhausted, I feel really good and am sleeping better than I have in weeks, so I'm not dreading pregnancy or wishing it away. I'm okay with more time with this baby in utero, but not TOO much time. Once Sunday night arrives and my parents are here, I expect a speedy arrival for 002. I also keep telling myself that every day of not too painful contractions and bloody show and nausea and achiness is perhaps less time off of my actual excruciatingly painful labor. I have sweet visions of showing up to the hospital at 3 or 4 centimeters (or more! But I don't let myself dream about that too much) and having the rest of labor be quick.

I had my doubts that I was progressing at all, but I've been assured by many people that you can be dilating without feeling painful contractions, especially in second pregnancies, so I'm holding on to that hope. I made it to 2 centimeters without feeling any pain, maybe I can make it 1 or 2 more. My only concern is that (like last time), I tested positive for group b strep, so I need enough time at the hospital to get a round of antibiotics. I think the OB said 4 hours was ideal. This means that while I can wait around at home for a while, I can't wait around forever, and if I really am dilating, and perhaps my water really does break, I don't have a ton of time to waste before making my appearance at labor and delivery.

Tonight's moon is a full moon, a "super moon" to be exact, which means that the moon is closer to the earth than it has been in 15 years, or will be for another 8 years. My mother in law is convinced this means tonight is the night, but since I actually got dressed and went to buy cookies and challah and am feeling generally well, I doubt she's right. My OB is also at the hospital tonight, and since I'd love for her to deliver me, I think this means even more so that I won't be giving birth tonight.

For those of you keeping score at home, prepare yourself to be blinded by my massive belly. This is what 39 weeks pregnant looks like around here. Can you believe I still have a belly button? I lost it with Gabe around 7 months, but this time, the belly button is holding on!

All of this is wishful thinking, of course, because I could end up with a prolonged labor that drags on and gives me plenty of time for everything. I could also end up still pregnant on Christmas, but let's not talk about that. A girl can hope, right?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

maybe baby soon?

I was all set to write you a whole post about how Monday afternoon I went over to the used children's' items store and bought Gabe this train set from the "recycled" toys that was quoted on the tag as having originally been $60-80 and was marked down to $19.99, so I bought it and was so proud of myself. And then yesterday, I went to Target and Toys R Us, and there was that same little train set, sitting on the shelf, brand new and with a freaking toy train included, for $22.99!!! $2.99 more than the used toy!!! The new toy even came with an additional train, so the used toy was probably MORE expensive than the new toy in the end!

So yesterday I marched myself over to the used children's' items store infuriated, and ready to beat down the owner for lying about the price and misleading people. Unfortunately, he took the wind out of my sails by profusely apologizing and insisting that the $60-80 was quoted on the Internet and it wasn't his intention to mislead and blah blah blah. Still, I'm pissed because it meant an extra trip to the store out of my way, especially now when I'm feeling a bit short on time.

Anyway, I was going to tell you that whole story, except that just now I went to the bathroom and OH MY GOODNESS, bloody show! I think something is happening! Plus, I'm feeling generally icky and gross and hormonal and teary and achy and like maybe something is going to happen soon.

Nothing concrete like strong contractions, but just general crampiness and tiredness that I haven't felt before, so maybe maybe maybe I'm going to meet my baby soon. When I called my mom she started insisting that I needed to make the process slow down and not to do anything between now and the weekend, but honestly, what can I do? I have to be happy about the fact that my baby is coming soon. I will finally get to meet this little person, and finally know whether this is a boy or a girl, and I will have two children! Two! Can you believe it?

I'm thinking it might be a little late for this, but if you have guesses on sex, date, weight, feel free to throw them out now! You still have time! My OB said that bloody show could mean impending labor or it could mean nothing at all and I won't give birth for another week.

Stats on Gabe, if you're interested: he was 3-4 days late, depending on who you ask, he was induced, he weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces and was 19 and 1/2 inches long. I was pretty convinced throughout the pregnancy that he was a boy. This baby, if pressed, I'd guess it is a girl, but I'm not quite as sure as I was with Gabe. The pregnancy has been super different from Gabe's, but I hear that means nothing as well. Anyway, guess away! And think speedy and pain free labor thoughts, while you're at it!

Monday, December 08, 2008


Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.

So I went in this morning to my doctor's appointment full of negativity. As soon as she started asking me if I'd experienced anything this weekend, I told her that I was definitely NOT dilated, was definitely NOT going into labor, definitely would NOT be having this baby any time soon, and as far as I was concerned, we could go ahead and schedule the induction for Christmas day, because nothing was happening before then. Obviously. I even went so far as to start suggesting dates for her to perform non-stress tests on me because NOTHING was happening.

And then she checked me.

2 centimeters! 75% effaced!

Do you know how long it took me to get to 2 cm last time? 10 hours of very painful pitocin induced labor! TEN HOURS! I already had my epidural by 2 cm last time because the contractions were coming a minute apart with no relief in between, and there was no dilating going on.

After my little diatribe, she was visibly shocked when she checked me and found out that I was dilated and effacing. She said that after my insistence that I wasn't having contractions, she was sure that there would be no change from last week. Apparently, however, like so many things in life, I am not to be trusted because I do not know what I am talking about.

I will tell you, however, that her checking me was so horribly painful THAT I STARTED CRYING AT THE END OF IT. Actual tears came out of my eyes, and I was almost hyperventilating by the end of it. She had to ask me if I needed water and she kept telling me to just lie there and breathe. It was awful. Terrible. Muy muy painful. I don't know what happened to make it hurt so much, although she said that the head is so low in the birth canal that she basically had to push the head up just to reach my cervix. Plus, I have a tilted uterus so it is incredibly difficult to reach as it is, and my cervix may be especially sensitive from the recent dilating and effacing activity.

My friend told me that once she started dilating, her cervical checks were also incredibly painful, so maybe it is just that I've never been this dilated without an epidural and I didn't realize how much it would hurt. I know that when I was in the hospital giving birth to Gabe, they had to bring in a different doctor with narrower hands and longer fingers because the attending couldn't even reach my cervix. Stupid problematic cervix. Although I shouldn't say that, because today I am very happy with my functioning cervix!

Now, I know that I could walk around for the next 2 weeks at 2cm, but now that she has reported that I am making some change, I'm realizing that oh yeah, I have been having a lot of pressure and some sporadic pains that might be contractions. I'd just put it out of my mind since I was so sure that we were going the overdue and induced route with this baby also. Since this morning, I've been having more of those sporadic contractions, and one that even caused me some slight cringing because it was accompanied by some pain. Interesting.

I'm slightly stressed because my mom doesn't arrive until December 14th at 10pm, and she is supposed to be in the delivery room with us, and my dad is supposed to watch Gabe, but I can't really worry about it until I have something to worry about. She can't just ditch work, considering that we don't know whether I'll go into labor or not, but I never thought it was even a possibility I'd go into labor before my due date so this is a bit of a shock. An excellent, exciting, fun shock, but still surprising.

So. I guess I really am having a baby some time soon! The newfound fear has spurred me into action, and this afternoon I washed baby clothes, washed the bassinet fabric, started cleaning the living room and dining room, wrote down a schedule for Gabe for whoever ends up watching him while we're in the hospital, tried to organize the nursery, and put some additional things in my hospital bag.

It sounds funny to say that at 38 and a half weeks I didn't really think we were having a baby, but I guess I didn't really think we were having a baby. Denial denial denial, huh?

secrets to easy entertaining

You people really know a lot about cabbage! I printed out all your suggestions and I'll be experimenting with the many heads we received through our CSA share this week.

In the meantime, here is a yummy yummy EASY recipe for you if you have any entertaining to do in the near future. I got the recipe from Chatty Cricket, who will hopefully forgive me for revealing how easy this actually is!

Baked Brie

One package of refrigerated crescent rolls

Jar of your favorite jam or jelly (I like fig jelly, but I've also used champagne or raspberry or other gourmet jelly)

Wedge or round of brie (depending on how much you need)- I think plain is the best kind of brie for this recipe

Preheat the oven to whatever the package of refrigerated crescent rolls says. Open the package of refrigerated crescent rolls and start pulling them apart. Take your wedge or round of brie and start lining the flat crescent rolls up enough to cover the bottom of your brie, then place the brie on top of the crescent rolls.

Take your jelly, and spread it across the top of the brie (not too thick because as it bakes it'll start oozing all over the place). Then continue covering the brie and jelly with the crescent rolls until you've created a shell over the whole thing. Make sure to overlap the crescent rolls a little bit, just so you don't have any holes for the brie or jelly to escape.

Put your completed masterpiece into the oven for at least the time listed on the package of crescent rolls, and probably 10-15 minutes longer, because you need the bottoms and overlapped rolls to cook completely.

When it looks golden brown and bubbly and delicious, take it out of the oven and serve with crackers or additional rolls and watch it disappear! People will BEG you for the recipe and wonder how you made such a yummy appetizer. I get requests for this sucker all the time, and I hate telling people how easy it actually is! I've even made it with pie crusts and other types of refrigerated breads when I couldn't find rolls. Easy peasy! Enjoy!

gifts galore

New post up at the other blog!

Please check it out if you're looking for holiday gifts for the baby and toddler crowd!

Friday, December 05, 2008

the other love of my life

This weekend in NYC, our first weekend away alone in 2 years, reaffirmed with such brilliant focus one simple fact. I love my husband. A lot.

I wish I had better words to describe what Josh is to me, what he does for me. There is no one I would rather spend my time with, no one who makes me laugh more, no one who lifts my spirits the way he does. I never get sick of him, never stop wanting to tell him everything, never stop being grateful that he is my partner in life. Next month marks our 10th anniversary together, and we still talk on the phone every couple of hours if we have to be apart, just to chat. I still wait anxiously for him to get home from work. I still wish we could be together all the time.

Having Gabriel has changed our relationship in so many ways. I've learned that babies bring quite a bit of baggage with them- stress, differences of opinion, impatience, love, laughter, awe, among other things. I worried so much before having Gabriel about what it would do to our marriage, and I think it was a reasonable worry. Raising a child is hard work, and it seems like it gets harder as they grow up. It hasn't always been easy, but I can definitely say that doing this with anyone but Josh has never crossed my mind. He tempers my impulsiveness, I make him a little less neurotic. Maybe between the two of us, Gabe and 002 will turn out halfway sane.

I've been anticipating this weekend away for quite some time, and it ended up being better than I'd hoped. I feel reconnected to Josh in a non-parents, just us way again, and I'm so happy we did this before our lives get upended again in the next couple of weeks (38 weeks today!). At the same time, I've been feeling noticeably down in the dumps since Sunday, and I think part of it is that it's going to be a while before we can spend large chunks of time together alone. A newborn and leaky boobs definitely kill the mood.

Regardless of how long it takes us to do it again, I'm grateful we made the time to go, because now I remember clearly what I'm missing. Our time with Gabriel makes us happier than we've ever been, but being away is pretty okay too. Once in a while, at least. Now I just need to get cracking on getting ready for this baby. Would you believe that I have no car seat? No clean baby clothes? Calling my house a mess would be an understatement. Someone needs to send some nesting instinct over here, because mine seems to be lost.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

now if only I could stop peeing at night

My goodness, but I am dramatic.

So after writing this post, and agonizing for weeks over this very topic, Josh and I set up Gabe's new big boy room with the twin bed and then began our arguing over what we would do with the bed vs. crib situation. A friend of a friend offered to lend me her crib, and I began evaluating how we could change the layout of his room to include a crib next to the twin bed. I ignored Josh's pleas about not wanting to bring in another piece of furniture and moved on to how to transition Gabe from one crib to another.

And then last Sunday night, Josh asked Gabe if he wanted to sleep in his big boy bed instead of his crib. Gabe thought it over for a minute, said yes, and slept through the night without budging from the bed. The next day, I asked where he wanted to take his nap, he said the big boy bed, and he hasn't looked back since.

Tonight marks night 12 in his twin bed, and while I hate to even acknowledge this out loud (or typed out, let's say), this is the best stretch of sleep he has ever had. These 12 days and nights have been completely uninterrupted sleep (at least for him), with no wake-ups and no fighting bedtime or naptime. In the afternoons, he snuggles under the covers happily and doesn't move an inch until he wakes up 2+ hours later. At bedtime, he runs to his bed happily, we read some books while we have a cup of milk, brush our teeth, and then he practically shoves us out the door. For the past two nights he has refused his lullabies and asked us to leave.

I am not so naive to think that we may have some backsliding when this baby arrives, but for now, I'm grateful. I asked him the other day if the baby could have his crib, and he said yes. I even asked where he would sleep if the baby slept in the crib, and he said "My choo choo bed." Meaning, of course, his new room with his train comforter. So I stripped the crib, and Josh will raise the mattress this weekend, and I'll do what little I can to make the room look different while all the bedding and decorations stay the same. I'm relieved and as usual, surprised to find that Gabe has moved on from another stage of his life before my mother is ready for him to do so.

I guess this is what parenthood is, right? Letting go before you want to, before you're ready to, and having to smile even when it kills you. I've had a couple little cry fests thinking about Gabe sleeping in a real bed, and imagining a new little person in the nursery. The same nursery where I sat and imagined what it would be like to be a mother, to have a baby. The nursery where I sat late at night and held my belly and felt the crazy movements inside and imagined what lay ahead.

This is so much better than I ever imagined. Harder too, but absurdly, ridiculous, amazingly better.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

cabbagy cabbage

Speaking of this post, does anyone have any decent recipes that include cabbage? I have both red and green cabbage, and no idea what to do with them. Tonight I followed a recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, which I normally love, and I thought it was only mediocre. It was a noodles and cabbage recipe, and I followed it to the T and still thought it was meh.

Anyone? Cabbage? Help? I have a coleslaw recipe, and I do love reuben sandwiches, so maybe I should resort to that. But seriously, how many reubens can I eat?

Monday, December 01, 2008

it must be an old wives' tale

I had my 37 and a half weeks appointment this morning, and nothing. Nada. Zip. No dilation. Again, I shouldn't be surprised, but somehow I'd come to believe that the intense pressure on my pelvic bones, the non-stop peeing, and the crushing pain I feel any time I try to roll over in bed or get up from the couch meant that the baby was perhaps moving things along.

I'd also hoped vainly that all the walking I did this weekend would do something in that area, but nope.

Josh and I had a major life moment this weekend- we left Gabe for the first time ever overnight. Not leaving him until now wasn't something we consciously discussed and decided not to do, we just didn't think of it. We go out to dinner once in a blue moon, we take advantage of grandparents when they are visiting and try to go for coffee or run errands or take walks alone, but we'd never had the time or money to sneak away overnight without him. I left him for a wedding shower in Atlanta, and then for a bachelorette party in Florida, and Josh has left him when he's gone on business trips, or when I've gone to California. But not together, until this weekend.

I didn't even realize what a milestone this was until we were actually on the train pulling into Grand Central Station and New York City was ahead of us and I turned to Josh and said, "Oh my God, we've never left him before!" and he argued for a minute thinking that surely I was wrong, but no, we really have never left him. The funny thing is that in all the planning for this weekend, I never thought about whether I would be sad without him, I only thought about making sure he was happy and well-taken care of and not missing us.

He WAS happy and well-taken care of and except for one incident that involved tears and a request for mommy, he didn't seem to miss us. He was busy with cousins and grandparents and trains and cold morning walks in the Berkshires.

We spent Friday afternoon until Sunday morning sucking in the city sights. Rockefeller Center, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's windows, Greenwich Village, Magnolia cupcakes (my personal highlight, of course), Times Square, Columbus Circle, and the many many Christmas decorations. We walked uptown and downtown and crosstown and saw holiday fairs and stopped for coffee and ate Turkish food and Thai food and diner food and street food (but don't tell my OB), and my feet ached from walking and I took Tylenol and kept walking because it was so lovely to hold Josh's hand and breathe in the cold air and just relax. We walked hundreds of blocks, and I am not exaggerating. And I did it all without bringing my hospital bag to the city, tempting fate to put me into labor 4+ hours from my packed bag, but of course, nothing happened.

It was glorious, and although I'm still exhausted and my feet are still aching and Gabe has been a pill since yesterday (due in large part, I suspect, to spoilage from his grandparents), it was totally worth it and I'm so glad we did it. I'm also glad the first time we leave Gabe will not be when we go to the hospital to give birth, because seriously, how traumatic would that be?

If every time your mom left you she came home with a sibling, you might have some teeny tiny separation problems!