Monday, September 12, 2011

I want this shirt

Scott and I got in a debate about orders of infinity yesterday. Afterwards, I realized how much I love being able to have those kinds of discussion with the guy I'm spending the rest of my life with. And, I NEED THIS SHIRT. :D

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Laboring medication-free

I think part of my hesitation with blogging about labor is that I have been nervous about how people will perceive it. I have had a lot of people make the comment that, "no one gives you a medal for laboring without pain meds", which implies to me that they think people who labor medication-free are looking for some kind of bragging rights. Maybe some are. Not me.

I chose to start labor pain medication-free, with the intention of going without interventions unless necessary, but willing to accept whatever was needed to make sure our baby girl arrived safely. Some may wonder why anyone in their right mind would choose an "unmedicated" birth. I'll just say, it wasn't really much of a decision. I didn't sit, conflicted, wondering about how I wanted to labor. I am just a person who prefers not to take pain medication, and think I have a normal-to-high pain tolerance.

If I really think about it, I can come up with reasons, listed below, but they all boil down to this:

I didn't want to add anything to my body that might adversely affect the labor and delivery process.

- I wanted to be able to stand/walk/use the lower half of my body immediately after delivery.
- I didn't want anything to potentially impede my first experience nursing my baby (there are debates about how narcotics or other pain medications pass the placenta boundary and affect the baby's ability to nurse immediately after birth).
- I have asthma and low blood pressure and have read research papers linking epidurals to drops in blood pressure. I didn't want to risk passing out or increase my likelihood for needing oxygen during delivery.

- I've had experiences with numbing agents (e.g. during tooth extraction) that didn't work completely, and so didn't want to pin any hopes on a pain-free (reduced?) delivery when there was a reasonable chance they might fail. 

Even with all of those thoughts, I kept my mind open and willing to accept pain assistance if everything got too much to handle, or labor-inducing meds if progression stalled, or IV fluids if I got dehydrated, or a Cesarian birth if our little lady required it. 

I'll tell you now that I am not super-woman, but am an advocate of birth-your-way (in a safe-for-mom-and-baby environment with medical professionals). In my case that meant that I did labor and deliver medication-free (and even IV-free, just sipping cold water and crunching ice chips). I was also very happy to be able to nurse and shower right after delivering. Stay tuned for the next episode, where I'll go into the gory details of labor/delivery.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The evolution of laughter

Going into labor!

I realized I haven't blogged about a very blogable event. The arrival of our baby girl! We have several friends who are expecting soon, but we're so far away now that I feel like the only thing I can offer is my perspective, and to tell them that everything will work out, even if it isn't exactly according to plan. We are lucky to live in a country with great medical care, and as much as I hope the labor/delivery/birth experience is what you are hoping for, the most important thing is that you have a happy, healthy baby. That said, the labor/delivery/birth do matter, and so speak up if there's something you do or don't want (if you can speak... I was kind of mute throughout most of my labor). :)

So, let's start at the beginning.

I was certain I was going into labor when we went in for our check the day before my due date. I was so excited. I told my dad and Scott that we'd better get ready for the baby, and couldn't wait to get to our check-up.

I told the doctor "I think I'm having contractions!" with a smile, and he responded, "If you're feeling like that, you're not in labor". But, dutifully, he checked and said that things looked like they might progress soon, and to be prepared. But, he was concerned about a few things so said that if she hadn't come in a few days he would feel better if we scheduled an induction (but, being the very diplomatic OB, said that I could wait longer if I wanted). I said, sure, let's schedule it (but secretly felt disappointed with myself that I might have to be induced, even though that's silly). I almost cried when we got in the car because the contractions were just  Braxton-Hicks and we weren't going to have the baby on time, and just because I was pregnant, I guess. It's amazing how much that stupid "due date" affected me psychologically. I know that they can be off by as much as two weeks, but pregnant-me was really fixated on this date, and going to be very frustrated if we overshot it.

We went home and did our best to distract me, and enjoy time with my dad, who had come out for three days. His flight was scheduled to leave Wednesday afternoon (and we were scheduled for induction on Wednesday morning), so I was also sad that he came out to Pennsylvania from Arizona and wasn't going to meet his grand-daughter. Sad, pregnant-me was up most of the night on and off, being uncomfortable and disappointed, but by the next morning decided I'd just enjoy the time with Scott and my dad. We got up and explored the town a little, then came home and had lunchmeat sandwiches and sat down to watch an old Jackie Chan kung-fu movie.

About half an hour into the movie I felt the first "real" contraction, although I didn't know it yet. I got up and tried to walk around and then the next one took me a minute to breathe through. I didn't want to raise a false alarm again, so started quietly timing them, and then when I realized they were somewhat regular and strong, and noticed I might be slowly leaking amniotic fluid, I decided it wasn't a false alarm, but still didn't want to make too much of a big deal. So, I told my dad and Scott what I was suspecting and we decided that since it was still office-hours that we should call the OB office and see if they could check me before we went to the hospital (to make sure I wasn't overly excited again). We quickly grabbed our prepared baby bags and headed over to the office where he confirmed that I was 4-5cm dilated, and definitely in labor. They handed us a wad of towels and said to head immediately to the hospital, and be prepared for my water to break on the way. Eep!!

The contractions were getting stronger and more frequent on the way there, but luckily no breakage. The hospital was prepared for us, and took us upstairs to the birthing room. After getting checked in and changed into my gown I was on the bed when my water broke. I told the nurse the next time she came in, who was a little skeptical, but after checking confirmed I was right, and then... the real labor started. I'll continue this another day (with warnings for the faint of heart). :)

Correlation? Nope.


"But who can say what's best? That's why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives." 
 Haruki Murakami (Norwegian Wood)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


This is especially funny to me because our little brown dog always steals (blankets, pillows, treats, toys) from our anxious black dog:

A deathbed story I would tell

After reading this commentary about a book and story from R. Feynman's life, I realize that I do not fall into the group that agree with the commentator, and rather, fall with the scientists. But I think it is a little more than that. I disagree with the sentiment in the piece that scientists are not emotional. Just because a scientist may rely on observations and dismiss coincidence, does not mean that we do not still feel the emotional value of life's experiences.

In fact, I find it offensive and dishonest when people try to take something personal and meaningful, in this case the death of a spouse, and turn it around so that the focus isn't on the people and the real events anymore, but is on some supernatural poppycock. In doing so, I think the human experience is belittled. We are all here to occupy our small space and time, and I think we should spend that time focusing on our own experiences and those we care about, not whether "the Universe" or some other supernatural personification gives two cents about us.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


We live close enough to campus that we both walk in every day. We walk baby girl to daycare, walk to the gym and the grocery store, and even live close enough that I walk the dogs to the vet. We have a car, for emergencies (like when I was miserably sick last week) and for longer trips, but since we've been here, I think we've used it about once a week. We've discussed going completely car-free, for both economic and environmental reasons, but with a baby, have decided it is safest to keep it.

I'd like to maintain this type of commuting anywhere we move, although we might add bicycling (it isn't safe to bike with the baby yet).

I'm just not sure how to convince other people that this kind of commuting is best. Maybe this warning message we received today would help:

Tomorrow, Friday, September 2, is a Spare the Air Day in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution are forecast to be unhealthy tomorrow. Hot temperatures and light winds will combine to produce poor air quality for the Bay Area.

To help prevent smog tomorrow, please:

- Carpool or vanpool with friends or co-workers
- Take public transportation
- Telecommute -- work from home instead of driving to work
- Link necessary trips and postpone errands if possible

To plan your commute online, visit

To monitor current air quality conditions, visit