Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sunday Fun-Day

We typically have very lazy weekends these days. With Asher waking up several times a night, Crockett and I were too tired to do much of anything, so hanging out at home and catching naps whenever possible has been the plan for most weekends the last four months. Fortunately, the sandman has finally found our house, and we're slowly coming back to life.

Somewhat amazingly, the day after I wrote a post about Asher waking up all night, he suddenly slept a full 8 hour stretch. Granted, that first night, it started at 4 PM, but it was a start. The next night he stayed up a little later and slept 6 hours, and that trend has continued. Our trip to Alabama disrupted things slightly, but now that we're settled back at home and his ear infection has resolved, he has developed a relatively predictable sleep schedule, which includes a 6-7 hour stretch of continuous sleep starting around 8 PM. He seems to feel better now that he is more well-rested, and Crockett and I feel like new people.

This past weekend was the first time we've been able to have some well-rested fun (I was on call our first weekend back), and on Sunday we got a chance to visit with some of our favorite people.

Sunday morning, we met our good friends the DeCourceys at the aquarium. It was the first time Asher got a chance to meet our "Chinese godsons" Tyler and Alex, who are 13 months older. We met at the Splash Zone, where Asher got a chance to look at bubbles and bounce on a waterbed-like platform.

Soon thereafter, Tyler came to check him out, and both boys played with their dads.

After a while, Alex decided to join in, and the body-slamming began.

Obviously, it's going to be a while before Asher is big enough to play along, but I have a feeling that in a few years, he's going to be teaching those boys new ways to get into trouble.

After a messy lunch outside at the Cannery Row Brewing Company, it was past everyone's nap time, so we all headed to our respective homes, where we were expecting another treat: a visit from Mama Katie and Daddy Brad, who have a conference to attend in San Francisco this week. They arrived in the area on Sunday evening, and we had a great time relaxing at our house that night. It was fun to let them get to play with Asher in his normal environment.

Monday was more of the same. I had to work, but I got to meet Asher, Katie, Brad, Crockett, and Nanny Annie for lunch. That night my parents joined us at our house for dinner, so lucky Asher got to hang out with FOUR doting grandparents all at once.

Now it's back to business as usual, and in an hour we're headed to the doctor for Asher's 4-month checkup. I'm excited to see how much he's grown. Not so excited to deal with the post-vaccination fussiness!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

Once we arrived in Alabama, it was quite a whirlwind trip. We had a ton to squeeze into our 6-day stay.

We stayed in Birmingham our first night and had a casual get-together with friends' families. It was great to catch up with old friends and especially to meet some babies who had been born since our last visit, kids we hope will be Asher's life-long friends.

The following day, we had a nice lunch with our friends Mia and Greg so that Asher could get to know his future wife, Alexandra Callie Umphrey.
OK, I realize the arranged marriage thing is probably not too cool, but how awesome would it be if my college roommate's daughter ended up being my daughter-in-law?! And plus, see how cute she is!

From there, we drove to Lake Martin to meet up with Mama Katie, Daddy Brad, and Great-Uncle Joe Vaulx. The family's regular lake house is being rebuilt this summer (awesome Aunt Rebecca is the architect!), so we stayed in a great rented house that could accommodate quite a group. Later that night, Uncle Clay, Aunt Rebecca, and cousins Tirza and Aldo joined us, and the following day, Great-Aunt Nancy, Great-Uncle Charlie, and Mimi (great-grandmother) joined us. We owe Charlie a big favor; we realized upon arriving at the lake that we had left Asher's suitcase at the house in Birmingham, so he stopped by and picked it up for us before heading to Montgomery to pick up Mimi. After more than 24 hours in the same outfit, Asher was terribly stinky and sticky, but we were very happy to find that his diapers and formula were packed in a box that had made it into the car! Of course, getting to spend time with Mimi was the real treat (no offense to the rest of you). It is really special to have so many generations together, and it was a privilege to introduce Mimi to her third great-grandchild, whom she clearly adores.

Our plan was to spend two nights at the lake and then head back to Birmingham to attend a surprise birthday party for Greg. Unfortunately, Asher managed to come down with his first cold in the interim, which he subsequently passed on to the rest of us. The drive back to Birmingham was an unpleasant experience that Crockett and I would love to erase from our memories, and because Asher had a very runny nose and generally seemed not to feel well, we decided to skip the party, lest we pass his germs onto the lovely Alex. The one big disappointment of the trip is that we didn't get to spend more time with Alex and her parents.

Of course, Asher's cold had us extremely concerned about the return flight: how would his ears hold up? I spent all of Labor Day debating internally whether or not to take him to urgent care to get his ears examined. I decided against it and was glad for that because he did even better on our return flight on the 6th than he had on the first flight.

As it turns out, Asher did inherit his parents' ears. His little cold became an ear infection shortly after we landed, so he has already completed his first course of the pink stuff. But all in all, we feel that the trip was very successful. Go Team Awesome!

Da Plane!

It's been forever since I've had time to post. Work has gotten crazy again (I think my patients finally realized I was back), and Asher is a busy, busy boy the rest of the time. A lot has happened since my last post, but the most notable is that Asher has become a frequent flier. Literally--he has his own United Mileage Plus number!

On September 1, a week after his 3-month birthday, we took a trip to Alabama to visit Crockett's side of the family. Over the years, Crockett and I have found the easiest way to get back there is to take a 6 AM flight out of the Monterey airport to Denver and then connect to a flight direct from Denver to Birmingham. We have the airport routine with Buttercup down to a science, but it was a bit daunting incorporating a 3-month-old into the plan. We managed to get out of the house within 15 minutes of our planned departure time, so we were quite proud of ourselves.

Check-in at the airport was easy, as it always is in Monterey (for those of you who live around here but never use that airport, it's time to start; we love it!), even if we did look a bit like the Griswalds...if the Griswalds had a baby and a dog.

Getting through security was a bit more challenging. Fortunately, one of my patients' husbands was the TSA guy checking ID's. He recognized me and gave us VIP treatment, including leaving his post to help us organize and get all of our stuff through the x-ray and all our mammals through the metal detector. Sometimes it pays to be a (minor) local celebrity--ha ha!

The biggest obstacle was actually ourselves and our stuff on the first flight. Expecting to be given the chance to pre-board, we were surprised to find that "travelers with young children" were not asked to board in advance. Unfortunately for the rest of the passengers, this meant that we bashed them with our bags and car seat as we tried to squeeze through the aisle of the plane. I guess it serves them right for boxing us out of the boarding line (why are people in such a hurry to sit on a hot plane anyway?).

From there, it was a smooth ride. Asher alternately played with toys and slept the whole way.

And he enjoyed people-watching in Denver.

And just 8 hours later, we were in a new state and time zone, ready for the biggest adventure of Asher's life!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sleepless in Salinas

Asher turned 3-months-old last week. It is amazing how fast the time has gone. He keeps hitting milestone after milestone, which has me proud and teary at the same time. He is officially moving into his 3-6 month wardrobe, right on schedule. It's such a relief to see my small-for-gestational-age baby catch up so nicely, but I hate the reminder that he won't stay small and snuggly forever. With school starting this month and all of my Facebook friends commenting about their kindergarteners eschewing hugs and kisses (or, occasionally, a friend's amazement that her kid accepted a hug on the first day of school), I am acutely aware of how quickly Asher's "little kid" time will pass. Even more acutely, I feel regret for not enjoying "every moment" (as we have so often been advised, even by the people eating dinner next to us last night, while I was bouncing him and Crockett was asking to get our entrees to go).

The truth is that every moment that I spend with Asher is not a Hallmark moment. Like most babies, his good time is in the middle of the day. Via the nursery webcam, I get to watch Annie snuggle and play with him throughout the day. When I get home, he's fussy and tired, and I spend the next hour pleading with him to go to sleep, knowing that once he does, I'll get a few hours of peace. And a few is all it is. At this point, Asher sleeps well for 3-4 hours at a stretch initially but still has a lot of trouble sleeping from 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning on, at which point we sometimes have hourly wake-ups.

As it turns out, the other thing I'm learning from Facebook is that people like to comment A LOT about how well their babies sleep through the night at ridiculously young ages; no one admits that their 3-month-olds still wake up 5 times a night and that they're exhausted and routinely think about throwing their beloved babies out the window. I've gotta admit that it makes me feel like crap. As happy as I am for those friends, I am also insanely jealous.

So we muddle through, investing countless dollars in books about baby sleep, disappointed to learn that he's still a little young for sleep training and confused by contradictory advice--one book says that to make babies sleep better at night, put them to bed earlier, while another says to keep them up later. Add to the mix a trip to Alabama later this week...I'm pretty sure we won't be sleeping well any time soon.

But the reality is that these few months are a tiny portion of our lives and that we'll all get some sleep eventually. And I need to cherish this time, however it comes, because soon he'll be on to the 6-9 month outfits. Time goes way too fast.

Here's to everyone else's sweet dreams tonight! One day I will join you!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Swimming with the Fishes...Sorta

Now that I'm back to work and we've settled into a routine, it has been harder to keep up with all of the changes we see in Asher from day to day. He has quickly gone from being a lump who eats, poops, and cries to a little person who is interested in exploring the world around him. And although he still doesn't let us sleep much (he's still eating every 2-3 hours all night long and only takes short catnaps during the day), hanging out with him is increasingly fun, which makes the exhaustion a little more bearable.

Since my last post, Asher has reached several milestones. At 2.5 months old, he smiles and coos all the time now and even laughs in his sleep. He is very interested in people, especially new ones, and he clearly recognizes his mommy and daddy. Of course, his favorite person is the baby in the mirror. We have several mirrors positioned around his room, and his favorite seems to be the one above his changing mat. Every diaper change, he talks to and smiles at his image. We guess he is a little vain. Of course, if you were that cute, you probably would be too. He is also noticing objects in his environment more. Whereas he used to be focused solely on black-and-white, high-contrast images, he is now interested in all brightly colored things. Recently, Mary Kay, my nurse, gave him an activity mat, and it is now one of his favorite places to hang out. He has begun to realize that he can touch things if he moves his limbs, and he has started batting at the toys dangling overhead.

Also on the motor skills front, his neck is now strong enough that he supports his own head most of the time (unless he's really tired), and this weekend he sat upright for the first time in his Bumbo chair. The upright position opens up a new world of possibilities for him, and he was obviously thrilled with this new perspective on his world. We have a jumparoo on order, which should arrive on Tuesday, and I can't wait to see how much fun he has bouncing around in it while he explores the attached toys.

This weekend we had one adventure after another. Our friends John and Emeline Minor visited on Saturday night and were Asher's first overnight guests. Asher greeted them with his newly mastered open-mouth smile, which is by far my favorite of his new skills. We took advantage of the extended summer weekend hours at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and took the Minors and Asher there for the first time to see the newly reopened Open Sea exhibit. We were fortunate to run into another friend, Rene, who is an aquarium tour guide and was visiting on his day off with a friend, so we got a private tour of the exhibit. We aren't sure how much Asher cared about the fish, but he definitely liked the activity and all the lights and colors. After a brief visit there (one of the advantages of being aquarium members is that costs us nothing to pop in for a few minutes to see one thing and head out--I think this will prove to be very useful while Asher is little with a miniscule attention span!), we headed to Tarpy's for dinner--our first dinner at a nice restaurant--where Asher ate a little and then slept soundly, clearly wiped out by his aquarium adventure, while we enjoyed a great, leisurely meal on the heated patio. Overnight, we had to make some adjustments to our routine so that our guests could sleep in peace without hearing Asher cry every 2 hours. The intent was for Asher to sleep in his pack-and-play in our room, but in the end, he spent most of the night in bed snuggling with us. I guess it was a special occasion, so it's OK. This morning we went out to brunch at First Awakenings, and again Asher was a great dining companion. The last time Crockett and I had been there was the morning before Asher's birth, so it was a little nostalgic. At the same time, it was such a relief to see that despite Asher's increasing inquisitiveness and wakefulness, we can still manage to keep him quiet and entertained enough to have an enjoyable meal out and not ruin the experience for the other diners. This afternoon, after a Skype session with Mama Katie, Daddy Brad, and cousins Tirza and Aldo (who are staying with their grandparents this week), was nap time for all of us as we gear up for the week ahead.

Our next planned adventure will be a grand one indeed: a flight across the country to visit our family and friends in Alabama over Labor Day weekend. We're intimidated by the prospect of keeping him quiet for 6 hours in flight, but his tolerance of this weekend's events is encouraging. We're currently reading up and preparing for how to travel with a 3-month-old. Any tips?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Two Months Old!

Asher is two months old today! We had a combination celebration on Friday night with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Robin, and Uncle Chris, as we also had Robin and Chris's birthdays to celebrate and the 1-month anniversary of Grandpa's surgery to commemorate. Chris made a great dinner, and everyone enjoyed hanging out with Asher and seeing how interactive he is becoming.

Asher decided to spend his 2-month birthday NOT sleeping. He didn't cry all that much, considering how tired he must have been. He has just been discovering how interesting the world is and seems to fight sleep. He took a few 10-minute catnaps (what a strange term, considering that our cats are practically comatose all day and for a good part of the night), but mostly wanted to be entertained and carried around. We did take the obligatory monthly photo. I'm afraid he wasn't feeling too photogenic ;)

The last one was a busy week for us. I went back to work on Monday, and although we are all still adjusting to the new routine, things seem to be going well. On Thursday my office had a surprise baby party for me, which Asher, Daddy, and Nanny Annie attended. Everyone loved spending time with Asher, who was quite charming, smiling at all the pretty ladies. My staff chipped in to buy us a BOB jogging stroller, which is a great gift and also relieved me of the task of deciding which jogging stroller to buy (I had been weighing the pros and cons of the different brands for months).

Asher continues to grow at record pace. His last doctor's appointment was on Friday, and he weighed in at 9 lbs 8 oz, which is nearly 5 lbs above what he was when he came home from the hospital, and 21 inches. He took his first set of shots like a champ.

Our new speedbump (it seems like there's a new one every couple of weeks, doesn't it?) is reflux. A couple of weeks ago, Asher went through a phase where he shrieked in the middle of feedings and appeared to be in pain. At that point, he wasn't spitting up at all, and the episodes stopped after a few days, so we never bothered to look into it further. Then on Wednesday this week, Annie commented that he had spit up a lot that day, which surprised me. Considering how many babies Annie has cared for, the fact that she thought this was noteworthy spit-up got my attention. And she was right. Huge spit-ups. Very messy and annoying to us, though they didn't seem to bother Asher at all. Worse, the screaming during feedings has returned, which is the real problem. In the last couple of days, we have started him on Zantac, and he seems to feel better. We also are keeping his head elevated all the time, which helps keep stuff down. Unfortunately for Mommy and Daddy, one of the mainstays of therapy for reflux is frequent small feedings, which means that Asher won't be a good candidate for any sort of sleep training until the reflux resolves at around 6 months of age. So much for our plans.

Time to buy some more bibs ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The End of an Era

Today is a somber day, as I will be returning to work tomorrow. I know Asher will be in good hands--our nanny, Annie, has stayed with him for several days and was perfect with him and a huge help to us--but it's sad to realize that eight weeks have passed so quickly. Once I'm working, I know the weeks will fly by even faster. Since I can't stop time, I feel an impulse to preserve each moment, and it seems that there aren't enough ways to do that. We've got photos, videos, and outgrown clothes, but how do I can the way it feels to have him cuddled on my chest when he naps in his carrier while I wash bottles (or write this blog, as he is doing right now)? I guess Asher hasn't technically been a newborn for a while, but my return to work is for me a definitive transition. We are moving on to a new chapter.

The last couple of weeks with Asher have been a challenge but also wonderful at times. Two weeks ago, he entered a seriously fussy phase and spent most of the daytime hours awake and screaming if not properly entertained. In the last few days, he has reverted to his calm, good-natured self. We don't know to what we should attribute the change. Maturity? The "sensitive stomach" formula we started him on last Thursday afternoon on a whim (we had a sample gathering dust in the pantry)? I am thankful that we've had several good days recently because I know going back to work would be doubly hard if the last few days had been frustrating ones.

The one big challenge for us is that Asher still wakes to eat at least every three hours throughout the night and even more frequently starting around 3:00 AM, at which time he sometimes is completely awake, alert, and ready to start his day, sometimes not sleeping at all between 3:00 and 5:00 feedings. Crockett and I continue to search for a rotation that will allow both of us to get sufficient sleep, and it seems like we try a new routine weekly. Certainly, tomorrow will be the first real test of our current schedule.

Aside from seeing no change on the sleep front, we see other changes in Asher almost daily. Last week he seemed to be growing before our eyes; one day Crockett and I both noticed that suddenly his head seemed bigger, and with his new chub, he doesn't look a thing like the scrawny baby we brought home. He is interested in everything and wants to spend most of his waking time studying his environment. He is also showing increasing interest in other people and was very content when he and I went to a happy hour gathering on Friday. He also has become extremely vocal and "talks" to us more than he cries, which is a welcome change. Smiles are becoming more frequent as well.

As far as his likes and dislikes at this point, his dislikes are few and his quirky "likes" are many. The most notable of those is that he loves it when we blow on him with the hair dryer. We originally started using it on his bottom when he had bad diaper rash and have since found that the warm air is quite possibly his favorite thing in the world. He is not as big a fan of his swing as he once was, but now his Ergo carrier is his favorite place to hang out. I have gotten quite good at doing just about everything with the Ergo on, which can be a bit of a challenge because it blocks the view of my hands. When not in the Ergo sleeping or studying the world around him, Asher's favorite thing to do is to dance to Erasure, the Pet Shop Boys, and the other 80's pop that we find on Pandora. Much to his grandparents' dismay, gentle swaying isn't enough for Asher--he wants big movements, the bouncier the better. He provides quite the total-body workout! Asher grows and changes, I guess so does the rest of our family. Tomorrow will be a challenge, but I think we will all be better for it, and I know that the time I do spend with him from now on will be all the sweeter. It's funny--when I started this blog three months ago, I couldn't imagine not working; now that it's time to go back, it's hard to imagine what getting up and going to the office every morning will be like.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The New Normal

Asher is six weeks old today. It's a bit of a milestone, I guess. It seems like six weeks is an arbitrary cut-off for a lot of things. The one that is most on my mind right now is the end of maternity leave. I'm not returning to work for another 2 weeks, but since most of my patients have to go back at the six-week mark, my own return seems more imminent. And now that we're at this point, I'm realizing how awful it is to send women back to work when they have a six-week-old infant at home.

Asher is starting to be fun but also starting to be more of a handful. He is very interactive and curious. We spend most of his awake time walking around the house looking at things. Most of the time I'm not quite sure what he is looking at because none of it would be remotely interesting to me. The Ergo carrier is my faithful companion, as some days it is the only thing that allows me to get anything done; I pop Asher in it and go about my business, while he looks at things and eventually falls asleep. Just in the last couple of days, he also has started getting interested in faces, and he will hold eye contact for minutes. He throws out random smiles increasingly, which are the most beautiful thing ever, the way his whole face lights up and his eyes smile along. We feel like he's teasing us since we have yet to see something that we could definitively call a "social smile."

Along with his increased wakefulness and interest has also come a nasty tendency to fight sleep. Suddenly, our sweet, easy baby who never cried protests a lot more. We spent the 4th of July trying to get him to nap, which made for exhausted parents and not a very fun holiday. Apparently, this is a common challenge for parents of previously quiet, easy babies at this age. One book I read suggested that he might be old enough for the cry-it-out technique, though only for a few minutes at a time. Neither Crockett nor I has the emotional fortitude to do it quite yet, and he seems just a little too young still, so instead, we're learning new ways to get him quiet and sleepy.

But as I was saying before, a big part of my mind is looking forward to returning to work in a couple of weeks, so we're trying to figure out what our normal routine will be. I can't imagine having to jump back into work right now, considering Asher's new-found fussiness. I'm relieved to have a little time to work out the kinks.

Today Asher's nanny, Anne, came to stay with him for the morning. I had hoped to run the morning similar to what I'll have to do on work days, but the ability to sleep in a little thanks to extra help from Daddy was too tempting after an exhausting day yesterday. Anne will be back tomorrow, so we'll try again. So far, Anne is doing great. We are thrilled to have found a nanny with extensive experience with young infants, which seems a rarity. She is extremely attentive, and, most importantly, she was not at all nervous when I told her that Asher was going through a fussy phase.

Meanwhile, I used the time to go running for the first time since September. It was not a pretty sight, and I'm sure I will be horribly sore tomorrow, but it feels good to get back in the groove. I have no idea how I will squeeze exercise into my days once I go back to work, but when there's a will, there's a way.

The rest of the Marki clan also seems to be moving ahead with "normal life." We are relieved that my father's prostate surgery went smoothly and his recovery has been uneventful. He is getting bored at home and ready to head back to the office. "Grandma" is back to cooking too much food for holiday dinners, and we had excellent pulled pork last night to celebrate Independence Day. Aunt Robin and Uncle Chris are settling into married life in their new house.

So life goes on....

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Bittersweet June 24

June 24 has been an important date for me for the last eight years. Eight years ago, it was the day that I started my internship. For the next three years, it was the day that the new interns started, marking the beginning of several months of increased stress as a resident who had to supervise them. Every year since finishing residency, I take note of this day, not because it holds any significance for me anymore but just out of habit. However, this year, June 24 is meaningful again on many levels.

First of all, today Asher is 1 month old. I can't believe how fast the last few weeks have gone by, and it scares me to think how quickly he will grow up. The advice from everyone was to enjoy every minute with him, and though we try, sometimes I feel like we feel short of this goal. It seems like I'm always on to the next thing, trying to organize and strategize. Pumping became a full-time job a couple of weeks ago, and I realized how much life I was missing, while scheduling my days around the pump. Last weekend I decided it wasn't worth it; Asher needs a sane mother who is present in his life more than he needs to avoid formula. I still pump frequently, but I do it when it's convenient. My supply is unchanged, but I am happier, and I like to think that Asher is as well. Maybe better advice is to slow down and to not think about the future so much but to spend more time in the present. Today I will try to forget how much I have to do and instead to appreciate having such a sweet little boy in my life.

Second, my new sister-in-law starts her own internship today. She will be at Natividad Medical Center here in Salinas as a family medicine resident for the next three years. Such an exciting step for her...and a major life change for both her and my brother. As thrilled as I am to have them so close for the next few years, it is a bittersweet moment for me. I remember the challenges residency posed to me both as an individual and as a spouse. In the grand scheme of things, it is a blink in time, but it is one of the hardest challenges a couple can ever face, and I wish that I didn't have to see people I love go through it. I hope that our love and support helps soften the hardships they will face.

Finally, exactly a month after I went under the knife, my father is headed to the O.R. at Stanford this morning for a robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy. He was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer back in March. He and his doctors decided it was safe to delay surgery until after Asher was born and Chris and Robin were wed, but I know the wait has been weighing on the whole family. A very proud, stoic man who loves his family more than himself, he hasn't wanted many people to know about this, particularly, I think, because he didn't want to cast a shadow over the other wonderful changes our family has had this spring. Despite his best efforts, he has been on my mind constantly the last few days. It will be such a relief to have surgery behind us, and we are optimistic about an easy recovery, but of course, I know better than most that no surgery is without risks and will be on pins and needles until I hear that he is safe and sound in the recovery room.

So as I celebrate the wonder of Asher's first month of life today, a big part of me will be with the family whose love has helped us weather the challenges of the last few months. I hope that after today, when somebody asks what is going on, I can say, "Not much," and really mean it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Best Seat in the House

I hadn't intended to use this blog to review baby paraphernalia, offer parenting tips, etc., but this morning I felt inspired to share about our favorite piece of baby gear: the Graco Duo 2-in-1 Swing. We owe our friends Sylvia and Mike a huge thanks for allowing us to borrow theirs (which they haven't actually used yet--their boys are too big, and they are saving it for baby #3).

This thing is a swing with a removable bounce chair. When I first started researching swings, this sounded like the perfect option--why would I buy two separate pieces of equipment when they are available in combination? What I hadn't considered was how awesome the combination would prove to be when trying to cope with a fussy baby and still get things done. Babies like swinging, and babies like vibrating, and unlike most pieces of equipment, this allows babies to do both at the same time. With the addition of a pacifier, it is baby calming magic. The thing I love the most about it is that once the baby is asleep, you can move him to another part of the house without taking him out of the seat. I owe this morning's shower to the Graco Duo Swing. Once Asher was finally asleep, we moved into the bathroom. Normally, I would just leave him in his room with the baby monitor, but on a fussy day like today, who wants to run back and forth with every peep? In his vibrating throne, he was happy, and I had a little "me" time. Love it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A New Aunt

Congratulations to my brother, Chris(topher), and his new wife, Robin. Asher now officially has two aunts, though we have thought of Robin as family since before he was born. Their wedding was on Saturday at the Clos La Chance winery in San Martin, California, and we stayed at the adjacent Corde Valle resort for the weekend. Not a shabby place for Asher to spend his first night in a hotel--in fact, one of the nicest hotels I have been to (which is saying a lot, as I have been lucky enough to stay in some amazing places). It was a lovely wedding in a beautiful setting with perfect weather all weekend. We couldn't have asked for more!

The weekend went well overall. We were reminded why we have Asher stay in his own room at home: he is a very noisy sleeper. We also learned that in a hotel with a baby, no one really gets any sleep because when one person is up with the baby, the whole room is up with the baby, no matter how spacious the room. It was also a good thing we had such a huge room because of the amount of stuff we had to bring with us to keep us all comfortable. I don't think we could have fit anything else in the car. Amazing. I don't think we'll attempt another hotel stay for a while, if we can avoid it.

We were fortunate to have another visit from Asher's Dunn grandparents, who stayed in the room next to ours. We had a nice visit with more quality time than we had had in the hospital. It was also nice to have them right next door so that if we needed a baby watcher for a few minutes, they were available. It gave me a place to hang out for a while on Saturday morning to let Crockett sleep. Buttercup, who also got to come along for the trip, always enjoys Daddy Brad's company, as she got many handouts from the room service tray.

Asher had the honor of being the ring bearer for the wedding. He did a great job, all things considered. We had a bit of a panic because he woke up hungry just minutes before the ceremony was to start. We loaded him up as much as we could. Then he managed to dirty five diapers during a single change. It is probably a world record. Finally, we were ready to go, and just seconds before he and I were about to head down the aisle, he let out a big shriek and spit up a bunch. Not having any other cloth on hand, I wiped his mouth on his "tux" shirt--very classy. Then I bounced him a couple of times as we headed down the aisle. Fortunately, he quieted down long enough for us to hand off the rings to the best man and get a kiss from his uncle, and then we met up with Daddy, who had a stash of emergency supplies. Asher let out a few more wails during the ceremony, which were quickly staunched, and no one noticed them. Thank goodness for outdoor weddings.

Asher's growth the last couple of weeks has been phenomenal. I had altered the pants and cummerbund for his little tux a week before the wedding. When I put them on him on the big day, the waistband was so tight that it made him spit up, and the cummerbund was about 2 inches too short. To make them fit for the ceremony, I had to snip the elastic and use a safety pin for the cummerbund. I figured I had measured them wrong. I knew he had grown, but I didn't believe he could grow that much.

Our weigh-in with the pediatrician yesterday showed clearly why nothing fit: he has gained 1.5 lbs in the last 2 weeks, putting him up to 6 lbs 13 oz. He is finally on the growth chart, with his weight at the 4th percentile and length at the 6th. Judging by the length of his feet (he has already outgrown 0-3 month size socks), he has a ways to go. I suspect the every 2-3 hour feedings will continue for a while. At least now we're seeing the fruits of our labor and are so relieved that Asher is healthy and is catching up so quickly.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Three Weeks, Many Firsts

Asher is three weeks old today! Yesterday was his official due date, and I have to say that I am thrilled that I've gotten to know him an extra three weeks. We have been so busy since he came into the world that I feel like I have a lot to update the blog about. I'm realizing I'll never get caught up, but here's a shot.

5/27: First night at home. Not nearly as bad as I had feared.

5/30: First night in his own room. Initially we had him sleeping in a pack-and-play in our room, but since I have been pumping with every feeding since we've been home, which is not something that can easily be done in bed in the dark, having him in our bedroom didn't help anything. In fact, it just woke up the whole family needlessly. We might be the exception, but in our case, Asher in his own room with the door shut and the monitor on helps everyone get a little more sleep.

5/31: First outing. To Babies R Us and Costco. Horrors for parents and not very exciting for a 1-week-old. He slept through the whole thing.

6/1: First cosmetic surgery. Yep, he's circumcised.

6/2: First roll-over. For real. He actually did it 3 times that day, and from my observations, it was a very purposeful thing. He really hates tummy time, so from the start, he was working on getting onto his back. He has repeated the move several times since. For a little guy, he is very strong!

6/4: First trip to Grandma and Grandpa Marki's house. There he met the four crazy Aussies and found his own personal guard-dog in Hobie, who is very protective of him.

6/5: First hike. We took him with our friends Cristy and Fred on a short hike behind our development. Asher loves riding in his Ergo carrier and had a nice nap on the way. Mommy and Daddy had a harder time, considering how out of shape we got while I was on bedrest.
Also, First Real Tears. Apparently he really did not want to get out of the Ergo and into the car seat.

6/7: Two weeks old and back to birth weight. Hooray!

6/10: Belly button!

6/11: First real bath. And only real bath to date...he wasn't a fan.

6/12: First thumb-suck. He's a big fan of the non-nutritive sucking.

6/13: First major spit-up. Lucky Mommy. Good thing crib sheets are washable.

6/14: First trip to the beauty salon. Good practice for me, as I get used to getting out of the house with him and going about everyday life.

Later this week, we will have many more notable firsts, as we head to his Uncle Chris's wedding. We look forward to his first wedding, first "tux," and first stay in a hotel, as well as a wonderful second visit from his Dunn grandparents, Mama Katie and Daddy Brad.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Grand Entrance

Asher is here! It's been a couple of weeks since I've had time to write, so I guess it's time to document the basics.

Birth Date: 5/24/11
Birth Time: 0939
Weight: 5 lbs., 5.5 oz. (2424 grams)...we thought it was very cool that this was his weight on 5/24
Length: 17.75 inches
Delivering doctor: Rachel Beck, assisted by Erica Chan
Anesthesiologist: Sergio Estrada
Nurse: Dani Robison
(I'm making a note of all these things in case somehow my memory fails me in a few years.)

Asher's delivery was a blissfully uneventful elective cesarean section. Maybe I'll explain in a later post why we decided on that delivery route. For now, suffice it to say that that was simply the best decision for us.

Asher was born screaming, which was quite a relief. Despite his tiny size, it was clear immediately that he is a very, very strong little boy. Crockett did remarkably well in the operating room too.

Our time at the hospital was relatively unremarkable. Asher's Grandma and Grandpa (Marki) and Uncle Chris and Aunt Robin were there to see him shortly after his birth. His Mama Katie and Daddy Brad (Dunn) made a very quick trip from Alabama to California to see him the following day. And of course, he got to make friends with many of the Salinas Valley Memorial community during his stay there.

The only speed bump we hit at the hospital was more than expected weight loss. By about 72 hours of life, Asher had lost about 14% of his birth weight, which was worrisome. After careful evaluation by one of the lactation consultants, we figured out that he was having trouble coordinating sucking and swallowing, which meant he wasn't getting as much nutrition as we had thought. After we developed a feeding plan with one of the pediatricians, we were able to go home that day with plans for a weight check the following day. The new plan was cumbersome, involving nursing and pumping every 2-3 hours, but it seemed to work. He gained 2 ounces in less than 24 hours!

Since then, he has continued to grow, slowly but surely. His next weight check is in 2 days, and I am eager to see how much he has put on. He is starting to have a little chub on his arms and legs, just like a baby is supposed to have, which makes us happy. Also, happily, Asher has finally figured out how to nurse effectively, so we have been able to make modifications to his feeding regimen in the last few days, which has freed up a lot of time for me, as I am not constantly engaged in a feeding-related activity. Hopefully that means more blog posts in the near future!

Aside from the feeding issues, Asher is a very easy baby, and for that, we feel very fortunate. He only cries if he is hungry, if his diaper has leaked, or if he needs to poop (in which case he cries for about a second, then poops, and is immediately done crying). I am holding my breath, waiting to see if he suddenly becomes difficult and colicky, but so far, so good. So despite chronic sleep deprivation from frequent nighttime feedings, we have had a lot of fun interacting with him and can't wait to see him grow up. I just hope that doesn't happen too fast!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Single Digits!

We're down to six days to go! Bags are (mostly) packed, the nursery is (mostly) ready to go, and we might even have a nanny lined up soon. The best news is that Asher's non-stress tests continue to look great. We had one final ultrasound yesterday to check his fluid and umbilical cord blood flow, and it was excellent. Phew! Seems like we might actually make it to term!

After nearly five weeks in bed, I am dying to get mobile again. There is only so much TV you can watch, and after the first few days, the antsiness takes over and precludes any sort of productive activity. I really wonder how anyone did this before the internet, TiVO, and Netflix. And online shopping has been a godsend--it's wonderful that Amazon has such great deals on those last-minute baby things (and free 2-day shipping if you register for Amazon Moms!).

The strange thing is that because I'm so anxious to get out of this bed, I forget a lot of the time that getting out of bed also means getting a new baby. I was thinking the other day that bedrest is a very good reason to find out a baby's gender. When you can't "enjoy" the last few weeks of pregnancy with all that nesting, baby showers, hanging out in the nursery, etc., it can be hard to feel connected to the baby. I can't imagine how much harder it would be if the baby were genderless and nameless. I've always hated calling fetuses "it" when my patients don't want to know the gender, and it really makes me wonder how you prepare emotionally when the gender is a surprise. I realize that for centuries women have survived pregnancy without knowing the gender, but given the situation, I feel very fortunate that Asher has been a real person to us for months already.

Of course, we have so many surprises waiting for us in a few days. Despite all the 3-D ultrasounds we have done (one of the advantages of having your own, brand-new ultrasound machine), we still wonder what Asher will look like. Around 28 weeks, he looked just like Crockett and our nephew Aldo. More lately, we're not so sure. He definitely has Dunn lips, but sometimes I think he might have a little Marki and Brown (my mom's side) in him after all. Probably the biggest question for me is what his hair will be like--Dunn babies are blond, ours are brunette. Like I said, we still have so much to learn about this little boy!

For now, fingers crossed for an uneventful six days and a safe and uneventful delivery on the 24th. Next post, maybe we'll have some new pictures to replace that 28-week ultrasound!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Out, Out, Damn Placenta!

My crummy placenta strikes again!

I was fortunate to be able to return home last week, after 11 days in the hospital. It's been wonderful to be in my own space and reunited with my furry kids. Since I've been home, we haven't any more labor or abruption scares. Crockett was quite certain that we'd be back in the hospital within a day or two, and I am happy to have proved him wrong.

Unfortunately, it seems that my placenta is continuing to misbehave. We had our last ultrasound to check Asher's growth yesterday, and he is definitely starting to show evidence of growth restriction, indicating that he is not getting what he needs through the placenta. He currently in the 15th percentile for size overall, which is down from 24th in the last 3 weeks and puts him right at 5 lbs. He is not technically growth restricted because that diagnosis isn't given until babies dip below the 10th percentile, but the trend is concerning. Even more concerning is the distribution of his growth: his head is continuing to grow at a normal rate, but his abdomen is measuring a 2-3 weeks behind schedule, which is the pattern we see in babies whose placentas are not functioning well (it's called "head-sparing" or "asymmetric" growth restriction). This pattern of growth indicates that he isn't simply a small baby, which you might expect given my tininess, but that this is actually a pathological change in his rate of growth. The one bit of good news is that so far, he doesn't show any signs of the distress that can occur with poor placental function.

None of this is particularly surprising to us. From the beginning, we have known there was a high likelihood of this happening, given my chronic high blood pressure and abnormal first trimester Down syndrome screening results (that darn low PAPP-A level strikes again!). But it is disappointing because it is just one more thing to worry about, and from a maternal standpoint, I feel awful that my poor baby is figuratively starving and there is nothing I can do about it right now.

All of that said, this doesn't change the plan for the next couple of weeks at all. I will continue going in for fetal monitoring a couple of times a week, and delivery will still be at 37 weeks, so long as testing remains reassuring. We have a c-section scheduled on May 24th at 9:00, which happens to be our 8th wedding anniversary. I can't imagine a better anniversary gift! (I mean the baby, not the surgery.)

For now, I just hope this crummy placenta holds up for the next 12 days, but I won't be at all surprised if it doesn't. And whenever delivery happens, I will be ready and SO very happy to be separated from this stupid placenta once and for all!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Desperately Seeking Mary Poppins

The one very good thing about being off of work longer than expected is that I have had plenty of time to work on finding a nanny for the little one. I'm planning to return to work mid-July, which means that Asher will be about 8 weeks old when it comes time to entrust him to a stranger. We do feel very fortunate that Crockett works from home and will be around in case of any emergencies and has some flexibility if our nanny arrangement does not work out. Plus, no need for a nanny cam! But I have no idea how I would find time to sort through all the applications we're receiving if I were working full time.

The nanny search has been interesting thus far. We have found a couple of great-sounding candidates and are interviewing one of them today. However, we have also run across some doozies, which has raised a lot of questions for me about the intelligence of job-seekers in the area. Some of my personal favorites include a woman who said she had a lot of experience with kids because she babysat her friends' children on occasion (her real jobs have been in other areas) and another whose resume only listed jobs at car dealerships. It has also been interesting to see what some people's concept of a "nanny" is; one woman said that she would like to be Asher's nanny but that she needed to watch him out of her own house (and we would have to drive him there and pick him up) because she needed to be home to take care of her SIX children as well--not exactly the one-on-one attention we were hoping for him to receive in the first few months of his life.

In the long run, I'm sure we'll find a great arrangement. But it is a real challenge for me, as a planner, to remember that it might not work on the first try. Maybe we'll get lucky. For now I'm keeping my eyes open for carpet bags.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Room with a View

Never a dull moment with this baby.

Easter Sunday didn't go quite as planned. I woke up early in the morning with severe pain and frequent contractions, which didn't improve with three doses of the medication I had been taking at home to help stop them. After about 3 hours of trying all the tricks I know, we headed back to the hospital for a check. Once I got there, we were relieved to see that Asher was doing just fine, and my cervix was completely closed still. However, no sooner did we feel relief (not relief of my pain, mind you--the contractions were still coming every 3 minutes or so), when I realized that I was bleeding. Given the circumstances, we were very concerned about the possibility of a placental abruption, which is a premature separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus and can be dangerous for both the mother and, especially, the baby. So rather than heading home as I had expected, I was admitted, and I've been here ever since.

The first few days, I was put on a different tocolytic (contraction-stopping) medication called magnesium sulfate. I am pretty sure it was concocted by the devil. After experiencing its side effects, I am truly shocked that so many of my patients say that it doesn't bother them that much. Among the effects, the most unbearable were the total body ache and inability to keep my eyelids open or focus my eyes. However, I agreed to stay on it for about 60 hours because it seemed to help the contractions initially. But by the second night, the contractions were back, and we eventually decided that it working anymore. Getting off that medication and then the next day having my IV taken out and getting to take a shower have been the major highlights of my hospitalization so far.

Fortunately, the bleeding stopped after the first day. Unfortunately, the contractions have persisted on and off since that time. Because of my high blood pressure and another risk factor (an abnormal low level of a protein called PAPP-A, which was discovered during my first trimester Down syndrome screening), the continued contractions make us more worried than usual about the possibility of abruption, which is why I have continued to be monitored in the hospital. I'm happy to say, though, that now the contractions are much more mild and more infrequent, and Asher has continued to look great.

Just like with any pregnancy, our future is somewhat mysterious. We're hoping to plan for delivery at 37 weeks--19 days from now--as long as we continue to be stable. In fact, I might even get to go home (on strict bedrest, of course) if things continue as they have been. For now we're just taking it one day at a time and trying to enjoy the little things, like my view of the magnolia tree outside my room and my daily shower. Meanwhile, I've received great care from my nurses and awesome visits from friends and family.

Room 229 is not exactly where I had planned to spend the last few weeks of this pregnancy, but all in all, I guess I can't complain.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bedrest Update

It's day number five of bedrest, and not much has changed, which I guess is a good thing. The urine collection I did on Friday did not show enough protein to qualify me for preeclampsia, but it was quite a bit higher than my baseline level (231 mg vs. 84; the cut-off for preeclampsia is 300 mg), so I'm pretty sure I'm headed that direction in the next few weeks. After discussing things with my doctor/partner, Rachel, we both agree that staying off work is the safest thing. It won't prevent preeclampsia from developing (nothing will), but it keeps my blood pressures more stable, which is safer for me. It seemed like backward logic to try to control my BP with medication while continuing to work if there was an easier option that required less medical intervention. Lifestyle modification is always the first step, as far as I'm concerned (which is why my overweight patients don't like me sometimes--I refuse to prescribe diet pills!). Being off work also prevents my partners from having heart attacks worrying about me; they have all been incredibly supportive and helpful, despite the disruption I have caused to their schedules and workloads. I feel very fortunate to work with such a caring group of people.

We had a follow up appointment yesterday, the first of many in the next few weeks. At that appointment, I had a non-stress test (NST), which is a way of monitoring the baby for any signs of distress, and an ultrasound. Asher wasn't terribly cooperative with any of it. He wouldn't stay in one place long enough during the NST to get a good heart rate tracing, so it took almost an hour to do. One of his grandmothers came for the ultrasound for the first time, and he refused to show his face but instead kept finding new ways to hide it behind his hand and umbilical cord. We were able to see that he has a nice mop of hair on his head. I wonder what color it will be since the Dunns are blond babies and the Marki babies are brunettes.

The good news is that all is well for now. He weighs about 3 lbs 12 oz, which puts him at the 27th percentile. This is a slight drop for him--he had been at 37th for the last three scans--but not particularly surprising given my size and birth weight (my brother and I were both under 6 lbs at term). We are happy with anything above the 10th percentile.

My BP continues to be quite labile, so I have decided to start medication for it. It is still well-controlled at rest, but the slightest activity raises it to worrisome levels. I don't want to have a stroke while getting up to grab a snack! This is particularly concerning to me, given how bad I am at this bedrest thing: I'm constantly finding reasons to run up and down the stairs!

From here on, I will continue to have appointments twice a week for blood pressure checks and NST's. In addition, I will need to do blood tests and a 24 hour urine collection weekly (I have that to look forward to on Thursday). The next ultrasound will be in 2 weeks. So far things are looking good, and I fully expect that Asher will get at least another couple of weeks to grow. If I do develop preeclampsia, the goal for delivery will be 37 weeks (around 5/23), as long as it stays relatively mild, though if there are signs of more severe problems, I will have to deliver sooner. In the unlikely event that I never get preeclampsia, delivery will be at 39 weeks, on 6/6 as we were originally planning.

So, 4 days down, 48 (max) to go! Oh, how I'm looking forward to getting out of the house again on Thursday!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Constructing a Shower

I was supposed to spend yesterday being pampered at the spa with some close friends and family, a substitute from a regular baby shower. Instead, since I'm under orders to be at home taking it easy, a few of my oldest friends came down from the Bay Area for a visit/"shower." After a quick lunch in town, Crockett put them to work constructing the last of the furniture for Asher's room. He wanted me to document the occasion so that Asher would know how many people care about him already.

You might notice that Asher's older "siblings" had to get in on the action, making furniture construction particularly challenging for our guests!

All in all, it was a great afternoon. We are so thankful to have such wonderful friends who took so much time to visit and are always willing to lend a hand.

(For others of you who might want to visit, don't worry--all the furniture is built, so we're out of jobs...for now!)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

An Asher by Any Other Name

Not surprisingly, we have already gotten a lot of questions about Asher's name. I don't think it would surprise anyone, either, to find out that a lot of thought went into choosing it. Probably too much thought, in fact. As an OB, I sign birth certificates all the time, so I guess I'm particularly opinionated about the names people give their kids, which meant a lot of "rules" guiding our choice.

The basic rules:
  1. The top 100 names for the last couple of years are off-limits. Crockett and I enjoy having uncommon names and felt that it would be a bit weird for our child to have a common one. This was hard because there are a lot of great names on those lists. However, it also helped ensure that we wouldn't chose the same name as one of our friends.
  2. Careful selection of initials to make sure they didn't spell anything uncouth (either in their usual order, or as a monogram)
  3. Awareness of potential nicknames/teasing
  4. No two people in the house should use the same name. I grew up with 2 Chrises; Crockett and his dad have the same first name. All of this can cause confusion.
  5. The name that is used should be the FIRST name. Crockett and a lot of his friends go by their middle names, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, we do find it a little complicated when dealing with legal documents, etc.
  6. The name should be relatively easy to spell and pronounce.
  7. The name's meaning, if it has one, should be something positive.
  8. No made-up names (my rule, which I stand by firmly after a patient recently gave her child a name that sounds a lot like the brand name of a popular prescription sedative)
  9. The name should be appropriate for all phases of life--babyhood, childhood, and adulthood.
These rules established, the next step was what was quite possibly the most inefficient research ever conducted: I read/skimmed the entire boy section of a book of 100,001 baby names. Seriously. Fortunately, most names could be discarded at first glance. Eventually, I compiled a list of names, as did Crockett through his own research (which, as you might guess, was conducted online, though I have to say that his method was about as efficient as mine). We also found a wonderful website with surveys of people regarding their names, so we were able to read first-hand reports about what is like to live with a particular name. Months later, we were finally able to compare notes, and through a process of elimination, we had a name: Asher Brighton Dunn.

So what's in a name? Asher is on Old Testament name. Asher was one of Jacob's sons. The name means "happy" or "blessed." In general, Asher was a decent guy, and his descendents, the Tribe of Asher, were a group of amazingly fertile people who were blessed with good fortune and prosperity. They were also known for their wisdom.

Crockett liked the concept of the name "Bright," in the sense of "intelligent," but it was not in any books or websites, meaning it broke rule #8. "Brighton" is a legitimate name, though, and seemed to pass all other tests. It didn't make the top of my list but was Crockett's favorite, so it is a compromise.

To answer the other question we are always asked: no, neither of these is a family name. We liked the idea of using a family name, but we feared that if we had a second child, we would have to have an "equal" name for that kid to make sure (s)he didn't develop an inferiority complex. It seemed safer to give each child a unique name.

In the end, I leave you with what we told the family when we announced our decision: Asher Brighton is our baby's name. We hope you like it. If you don't, feel free to keep that opinion to yourself.

Friday, April 15, 2011

And So It Begins

Little Asher Brighton Dunn is due June 13, 2011. We are quite sure he won't be waiting that long to meet us. One of my medical assistants commented that she thinks he's just impatient...and then said that he must get that trait from his mother. Apparently, I am not an intimidating enough boss.

As of today, we are 31 weeks and 4 days along. It has been a long 31 weeks and 4 days, complete with just about every annoying pregnancy problem known besides morning sickness. Thankfully, none of it has been serious at this point, just a drag to deal with. I've managed to get over my needle phobia (believe me, doctors like needles going into them about as much as you do--it's different when you're the one wielding the needle), as I have been stuck in more places than you can imagine...and I haven't even gotten my epidural yet! As much as I would like to be done with it all, more than anything, I really, really want him to stay inside to grow a little longer. The longer he is in, the less time he spends in the NICU.

Last night I was put on bedrest by my partner Dr. W. Here's how we got to this point:
I have underlying high blood pressure, which has been very well controlled without medication since the first trimester (BP often drops during pregnancy). Though I have never had any visible swelling, yesterday my fingers felt a little tight, so I checked my blood pressure and found it was all over the map--definitely higher than it had been running for all these months. The first reading was 180/120, which definitely got my attention! Fortunately, I think that was a spurious reading. After that it settled down to 140-150/100 and then was actually completely normal after I'd been at bedrest for a little while. It's unclear right now if this represents the normal rise in blood pressure that occurs in the last couple of months of pregnancy, or if I'm starting to develop preeclampsia. Part of the way to tease this out is for me to collect my urine for 24 hours to see how much protein is leaking from my kidneys. If it falls above a certain level, then it's preeclampsia. Either way, it looks like I'm in for a lot of close observation, repeat testing, and, probably, bedrest until the little guy has to come. If it's not preeclampsia, medication to control my pressures might be sufficient, but I'm having to think long and hard about whether going back to work is really the best thing for us at this point. I'm thinking the answer is no.

For those of you unfamiliar with bedrest, it is pretty much exactly what it says it is--resting in bed, on the couch, etc. No going walking, shopping, or doing the dishes. For someone who is used to doing a very active job full time, running miles a day, and doing construction projects around the house, this is bit of a shock to the system. Crockett has been a major help the last few weeks (I had to stop a lot of this stuff a few weeks ago because of frequent contractions, though I had managed to continue working through it). He's learning to cook and does a great job--any failures have been the fault of a bad recipe! We also have had a wonderful meals-on-wheels service provided by various members of the Marki family (Mom is the cook, Dad and Robin, my sister-in-law-to-be, the delivery people). We are also fortunate to have the world's best cleaning lady, Susana, who keeps the house and our laundry in check. I'm also glad that I got the manual labor in the nursery done a few weeks ago (we still need the crib, but I've been assured that it should be here momentarily).

I am hoping that this time off gets me into the habit of blogging so that this is not yet another blog that gets abandoned after a few posts. I'm sure that Asher will continue to amuse with all the mischief he gets into.