Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three Weeks Old

The little lady is now three weeks old! Man, that went fast. We're holding steady and learning new things every day. Taking care of a newborn is definitely an exercise in taking things in stride and not freaking out! But, when I keep reminding myself that there is no routine yet and that I should expect...well, anything...it seems to keep things from getting too overwhelming. Though changing the dirty diaper of a crying baby on the shores of Lake Nokomis with a hyperactive pug tethered to the stroller (and threatening to pull the stroller into oncoming pedestrian traffic) WAS a new one for me.

Z is becoming stronger and more alert and has some very cute smiles! She is definitely aware of Gus when he comes up and sniffs her, and during Tummy Time she's starting to perfect the Superman "both hands, both feet off the ground" pose. 

Of course, a baby has brought out the mom babble in me. If I was worried whether I'd be talking to the baby enough, there was no need. If I could record some of the things that have come out of my mouth I'm sure I'd be laughing pretty hard. Heyyyy, cutie little baby Z-bear who's the cutest baby in the hemisphere if not world!....

It's funny how this picture only captures one of her many looks. Baby faces change so quickly!

Lately I've been getting a lot more ambitious in terms of getting out of the house. At first I was a little intimidated by the car seat and stroller, and the logistics of getting it and a million other things in and out of the car intact. But once I got the hang of it, I realized we can actually be pretty mobile...which is good since June is almost over! (What?!)

So here is a photojournalist's approach to today's walk. (Picture of diaper gymnastics not included.) 

We've been getting in some great walks lately. Now that I feel more stroller-capable, the venue will continue to change! (Though I have reservations about always bringing Gus. It's sort of, sort of, like having an overly social toddler who isn't potty-trained...and wants to sniff everything located approximately 6 or more inches outside the stroller radius.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I am in love with this little bird-tail hair

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Getting Acquainted

We don't really let Gus get up in her face regularly, despite what the photo implies. He likes to sniff around her occasionally but mostly leaves her alone. The friend we promised him for months is finally here--how could he not be interested?  

PS - I had to fix about four typos in the above three sentences before posting...and I can't even guarantee it's typo-free now! Some basic brain skills have gone out the window, but happily they've been replaced by some other great new complicated skills like steering a stroller and walking a dog at the same time.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Bin I'm Carrying Around

Short of having ten hands, I finally resorted to throwing everything in a bin and just carrying it around. You only need one hand for that! It was either this or a tool belt. 


Lanolin, 2 tubes: mini one from hospital and standard sized one. If you don't know what this is for, you can Google it. 

Hairbrush: to avoid a repeat of the squirrels nest bedhead I woke up with on 6/8.

Smartphone: for sending requisite on-the-couch shots to family. (Little do they realize we've been on the couch for the last five hours.) 

Camera: when the Smartphone camera just won't cut it. Also nicer than Smartphone camera because it won't accidentally call someone while trying to put the settings to "no flash." (True story. Not so smart, are we, phone?!) 

Thermometer: used once so far to confirm baby did not have fever.

Cardboard packaging from thermometer that has a Fever Chart on it: because there is no way I'm going to remember four different temperature readings that indicate fever based on where you took the temperature. Especially if I can't even remember which side I nursed on ten minutes ago.

One baby sock: who knows where the other one is!

Nursing pads: again, you can Google this, though it's probably more obvious. The packaging is almost too easy to open. Do it too quickly and it's the equivalent of a jumpy toaster.

Mini Peppermint Patties: though no matter how much my day and night sleeping schedule is turned around, I can't bring myself to eat these before lunchtime. 

Crabtree & Evelyn Rosewater hand lotion: to make me feel ladylike...until I realize that if you want the baby to know your scent, you probably shouldn't be covering it up with flowers. *Lotion goes unused*

Not pictured: 

Hand pump: I'm pretty sure Medela has cornered the market on this one. You probably haven't seen the Harmony model up close (I don't blame you), but it's seriously the engineering equivalent of a sleek top-of-the-line carbon time trial bike--and a steal at about $30. Absurd comparison, yes, but it's a real beauty. The most useful thing I thought I didn't need. 

The Captain's Log: I don't plan to right down every feeding this child ever takes, but for now, keeping tracking of when and how long is proving pretty useful.

Now back to the lovely lady! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Quick! Wear everything before it doesn't fit anymore!

Books I've Been Read
Mom: Goodnight Moon
Dad: Here to Win, by Ironman World Champ Chris McCormack

"You know, for hiking." 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Zanna's Birth Story

On Tues. 6/7 (at 40 weeks, 2 days pregnant), I woke up feeling off, with achiness across my lower abs. I'd felt like this on a number of other occasions upon waking up, but it would usually go away once I got up and got on with the day. So at the time I didn't have a "this is it" feeling. 

But this time I did feel like the discomfort was the most it had been so far, and once I got out of bed it stuck around. Micah headed off to Master's swim and work at my encouragement, and I stayed home because I had just decided the previous day that I would spend any remaining work days working from home. It was getting a little draining finding new ways to respond to "You're still here?!" at work. 

The previous day at my 40-week appointment it had become obvious that I needed to change things up. My blood pressure had shot up after being nicely low for so long, and I'm sure it was in response to a lot of things combined. Blood pressure aside, it was still pretty obvious that I needed to take what would be my first sick day of the entire pregnancy (at 40 weeks, 1 day!). My midwife told me to stay home and rest but I knew I really just needed a change of scenery. 

So I spent the day with family, which included lunch at an adorable restaurant called Tilia in Linden Hills, followed by Pavarotti ice cream (banana, chocolate chunk, caramel) at Sebastian Joe's, nap time, a manicure, and a little shopping at Southdale with my sister. After this I felt a lot better. I had already wrung out every possible to-do I could think of, and all of these things were different enough from my mindset in the last few weeks to have a really positive effect on me. (And yes, I was the very pregnant woman walking around on this very hot day in a dress and flip flops.) All along in the pregnancy you think you'll just tough it out until the end doing what you always do--and hope the end doesn't keep getting dangled out in front of you only to be pushed out day after day. I have a hard time recognizing my limits sometimes because I like to hang on until the end without needing special treatment, but all this was a good timeout for me, and apparently what was needed!

Anyway, Tuesday morning, I had gotten up and logged on to my work computer to tie up some things. At 7am, I'm sitting there on the sofa with Gus (the pug) and randomly burst into tears but didn't know why. (This should have been a sign!) 

I ate breakfast and decided I should probably send family a 40-week update email. I'd been sending them weekly updates for a while (which out-of-state family particularly appreciated) and figured if they wanted any update it would be the 40-week one. Basically I said that my Monday appt had revealed good signs of progress, but that there was no baby yet. 

Ten minutes after writing the email (8:45am), I walked upstairs and when I got to the top of the stairs I felt what I knew immediately was my water breaking. I could feel a wave of adrenaline go through me once I realized what that meant--that whether labor started on its own or with some help at the hospital, we would have a baby within no more than 48 hours. I also couldn't believe my water had broken because apparently this only happens before the onset of contractions in about 10% of cases. 

Since I wasn't having contractions yet, I went about some household tasks (laundry, packing last-minute hospital items, talking Gus for a walk--though I realize now how ridiculous that sounds, at the time it seemed as good a way as any to bring on contractions). I called Micah at work around 10:30am and told him to come home around lunchtime. Then I called my midwife, who told me to continue to rest at home and wait for labor to start. One of the scenarios in her mind was that labor potentially wouldn't start on its own, and if so we would want to be at the hospital within 12 hours of my water breaking. But I didn't have any concern that labor wouldn't begin on its own. 

Around 11:20am I started to feel some tension across my lower back and some very mild contractions. I focused on taking in a ton of fluids and eating what I could since I knew I wouldn't want to eat later. Micah got home and helped me time contractions. My midwife had said to contact her once contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, 45-60 seconds and when each one was of greater intensity than the previous--for an hour straight. Well, that actually happened a lot faster than expected! By the time I was on the phone with her to confirm that this was happening, I was having a hard time talking through them. 

Micah and I headed to the hospital around 3 or 3:30pm. Things were definitely getting more intense by the minute. We got to the ER entrance and had to wait about 15 minutes for transport to take us up to the maternity unit. By this time I was pacing the lobby, leaning against the wall, and completely (apparently) scaring the heck out of one lady sitting there with a mixed look of pity and fear on her face. 

By the time we got up to the maternity unit around 4pm, I was pretty amazed at how intense the contractions were. I was having a hard time just lying there in the hospital bed for the initial 20-30 minutes of fetal monitoring they do upon being admitted. Baby was looking good, though! And the nurses and midwife pronounced me 3-4 cm dilated. 

My midwife was the one on call (nice!), and we tried some different labor positions like the birth ball with counter pressure and tub, neither of which did much of anything for me! Most of the contractions were in my back, but if I leaned forward at all, like on the birth ball, all that pressure shifted to my front and doubled in intensity. The tub in the room wasn't very comfortable and of course, tiny. I could feel the strongest contractions as this intense circular pressure that occasionally sank down into my hips. Some of the counter pressure that Micah helped with did seem to help but I knew it wouldn't see me through multiple hours. The best contractions were when I was standing/pacing and pushing my weight against a wall or Micah. 

But luckily every time they checked me I was more dilated, much to my surprise. I had just assumed everything would take longer. At this point I was 5-6cm and now understood how anyone would ask for an epidural, especially if you didn't know how long you had left. I think I even expressed the desire once, even though I ultimately wanted to avoid it if possible, and I remember thinking it would take too long too administer and not help me at that very moment. That's how hard it was to think rationally. I was too out of it to think how close to 7cm we were--which is when you can get into the actual waterbirth tub in a separate room, as opposed to the tiny in-room tubs where you can just labor but not give birth. I opted instead for a pretty mild analgesic that would last only 30 minutes "to take the edge off." Well let me tell you, I don't know what edge they were talking about; I was still pointing to 11 when the nurses asked me to gauge 1-10 intensity. It did help me to relax somewhat between contractions, but the contractions themselves felt no different.

But quickly (again, surprisingly) I was 7cm and we moved to the big tub. The tub had inside handles to hold onto, which really helped get through the contractions, and the buoyancy from being in water helped me relax as well. Micah was at my side the whole time, handing me water or juice and offering encouragement. I knew I was really tensing up in my hamstrings and biceps, in a way where you think "These muscles are going to be so sore when this is over," not unlike how it feels toward the end of a marathon! I was eternally grateful that I'd focused on consuming tons of water and fluids earlier in the day; otherwise I could have been getting some intense calf cramps at this point. 

7 to 9.75 cm in the water happened quickly, too. Before I knew it they said I was "complete" (about 3.5 to 4 hrs after getting to the hospital), but not much about it felt like we were closer to having a baby, despite starting to feel a strange and totally uncontrollable urge to push around 8cm. The nurses and midwife (now a different one due to a shift change) kept telling me to focus on my breath, which I will admit was a bit frustrating because you're like, "I'd love to, but I feel like there's an elephant sitting on me." 

But once they told me I could push, I felt so much more focused. It just becomes so much more obvious what you need to do. This is where I felt like being in good physical shape made the most difference in the labor because I was really able to capitalize on endurance and make the most of each contraction. 

At 8:28pm, after 46 minutes of pushing, Zanna Cecilia was born! Within seconds of being born, she was put in my arms, before I even knew what had happened. She had great coloring and I immediately asked if she was okay and if the cord had been around her neck. She was very calm but made a few peeps right away and they said she was fine and that the cord had not been around her neck. 

Micah cut the cord, and then I got out of tub and moved to a hospital bed for the rest of what needed to be done (while Micah held her). I was shivering pretty intensely so they warmed me up and then I got to hold her immediately after that. I did have to have some repair, but I was told that it wasn't surprising given the quickness of the labor...AND because she had had her hand up next to her face! 

All of our immediate family got to meet Zanna soon after. What a day! The slice of pepperoni pizza from Cossetta's tasted pretty good at 11pm.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Proud Mom Moment

We're here! And as of Day 8, Little Miss Cute is already up six ounces over her birth weight! (Weighing in at a hefty 8 lbs. 2 oz.)

We are doing well and are obviously on a steep learning curve. I mean seriously, how many new things in life do you get to re-attempt 20 times a day like feeding a newborn? While we're nowhere near experts, feeding has been getting a little easier every day. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with my ability to once again actually be able to sit normally. 

She is very alert and Dad is all about Tummy Time and baths! 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

She's here!

Zanna Cecilia
Date: Tues. 6/7/11
Time: 8:28pm
Weight: 7 lbs. 12 oz. 
Length: 20.5 in.

Zanna - a feminine Polish form of John
chosen in honor of my late Grandpa John Tomczak

She's perfect in every way

More to come later

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lordy Lordy Looks Who's 40


According to all modern calendars, my due date is indeed tomorrow.

And I'm writing to confirm that there is no baby yet.

Have we checked Mayan and Aztec calendars? Or perhaps any calendar less convoluted than the so-called accurate model in use in current-day medicine?

How does it make sense to assign a due date at 40 weeks if the normal range is supposedly 37-42 weeks? Why not assign the due date at 42 weeks so we can all feel good about ourselves when we give birth by or before that?

And then those who go past 40 weeks aren't immediately labeled Overdue when they're technically not, thereby avoiding their having to recalculate everything from attitude to Last Day at Work?

Because that's something I really want to do right now...hang out at work for two more weeks when everything going on has been pretty much planned to function without me after June 5th.

All while heads pop into your cubicle with annoying regularity to check on you, exclaiming: "You're STILL here?!"

"No, I actually had the baby and am already back to work." 

Thank you if you haven't explicitly asked if the baby here yet. Because as it turns out, one is frankly ill-advised to approach a due-in-days pregnant woman on this topic. Just don't. Because if you don't get a snarky answer to your face, there's definitely one playing out in her mind.

Physically, I'm feeling great. Inexplicably great. Sleeping well, hardly needing to make restroom stops anymore than I did at 12 weeks, experiencing little to no swelling, and not even feeling that huge. (But ask me to look back at pictures six months from now, haha!)

True, signs are still in fact pointing semi-convincingly towards "You will not be 82 weeks pregnant." The Braxton Hicks contractions I've experienced since about 27 weeks have gotten a lot more intense when standing or walking. They do still go away when I sit down, but they are definitely more distracting. Makes shopping a new kind of experience. (As if I have anything left to buy!)

How do I know they're not *real* contractions?

Because a real contraction is rhythmic and can be timed, and its presence is supposedly undeniable.

Because a real contraction doesn't last as long as your 30-minute walk without any break in it.

Because a real contraction actually does something in terms of dilation, measured at weekly appointments.

True, "progress" can in fact take many forms. One of which would be effacement, which BH contractions do encourage. So they're not total wash. Not that gradual effacement equals onset of labor.

In terms of real labor, no, I'm not there yet. And like I said, I think it's a destined-to-fail model when one day after the median 40 weeks is immediately labeled Overdue. One of the day-by-day pregnancy books I'm reading takes the daily format of "You're 39 Weeks and 6 Days Pregnant, "You're 40 Weeks and 0 Days Pregnant," etc. And what is the title of the very next page?


As if that alone won't incite the kind of stress that supposedly inhibits oxytocin and other naturally-occurring hormones from initiating spontaneous labor. (Have I mentioned how unappealing induction sounds?)

In my quest to remain on top of the situation the other day (while someone pranced past my cube proclaiming "Just checking on yoooouuuuu...!"), I perused a list of 101 Things to Do Before Baby Arrives. Only to conclude it was the dumbest thing I've ever read.

44. Have a smoothie

Have a smoothie? How fun and original! And relevant!

101. Have the baby!

Well if this isn't the Wrong Answer of All Time. Whoever got paid actual money to write this: don't you realize how completely invalid this suggestion is--not to mention cutesy along the lines of "I couldn't think of a more creative way to end the article"? How can you possibly have a baby BEFORE it arrives?

I'll spare you 1-43 and 45-100. Needless to say I've pretty much done all of them. Even, unconsciously, the smoothie.

I could probably come up with a better list.

Something like:

1. Apologize to anyone you've ever known who's been in Any-Day-Now territory or overdue to whom you posed the question, "No baby yet?", because you now know obvious the answer to that question is if the person is actually reachable to be asked.

2. Go places in public and enjoy the fact that at least now the answer to the abundantly asked "When are you due?" is "Tomorrow."

3. Enjoy the baby kicking and your last moments truly one-on-one. There actually isn't anything more lovely and you don't have to share it with anyone unless you want to. (Unlike after they arrive.) It certainly got me through a lot of boring meetings!

4. If you are still running/swimming/exercising (which I am) revel in its current state of simplicity and familiarity, and the fact that it's gotten you and the happy baby this far together.

5. Tell Gus the pug that the friend we've been promising is truly coming any day now. And it's not another plush hedgehog named Renee.

So fine, I'll probably be overdue.

But I want to make it clear that my obvious impatience with the possibility is not because I haven't enjoyed the pregnancy. In fact I've LOVED it. It's been a hugely pleasant and transforming experience, and something that I all the while deeply resolved not to take for granted.

I've been able to keep very physically active, avoid a lot of common pregnancy pitfalls, work up to my due date, and simply experience something truly amazing: creating a person with the person I love most.

And have maybe even inspired a few future pregnant women to keep running, swimming, or whatever they're doing. There's no reason you can't keep doing the things you love if there's no medical reason not to.

I can't think of a better way to start bonding with one's baby than including them in the life you love--swimming at 6:30am with friends, running outdoors in (gasp) the rain, or even biking on the indoor trainer while watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians--since watching this show does require some cross-justification.

So in short, I'm just very ready to meet this baby. We've had so many great times together already! Now I just want the full scoop on her.

And as you may have heard, if 6/5 isn't Baby Day, I'm running the Grand Old Day 5K with Pharmie. I've decided to wear 40 weeks as a badge of honor: yes, it is possible to run up to your due date!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011