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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Two Weeks

Last Thursday Eddie had his two week appointment with the doctor. Babies are usually given two weeks to return to their birth weight. Well, our little porker was over a quarter pound past his birth weight. At least we know he's getting enough to eat!

The doctor said he's "thriving," which makes me happy, and that his skin is great. Most babies, he said, look like teenagers with all the acne and peeling in the weeks following birth. He's had some acne on his cheeks but nothing major.

(Yes, I know I put too much baby powder on him that morning...it looks like I floured him!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Can't He Catch a Break?

My brother's summer has been very rough. Luckily he's made the most of it, though. For a while we were all thinking, "Can't this poor guy catch a break?"First Allison broke up with him quite suddenly, without so much as wanting to work on it. They'd been together for over 5 years so it was hard on all of us. I remember right after it happened I just sat at my computer and sobbed, feeling sorry for myself for losing such a great person in my life. How selfish am I?? God, poor Edward.

The breakup caused him to have to figure out how he'd afford the entire rent check each month and how to afford a car. Allison brought her car out from California but Edward didn't have one of his own. Keeping Emmy meant needing a car--not just wanting one--because he has to be able to take her to the vet (not to mention be able to go grocery shopping during blizzards).

He decided to come back to California for the summer, partly because Troy, NY is THE most depressing place in the world, partly because all his friends were out of town for the summer, partly so he wouldn't have to deal with living in the same apartment as Allison, and partly because of the baby. For over two months he lived in our guestroom/office. It was so nice to have him around all the time!

Things started looking up for him...but then he went to Las Vegas with some college friends for some R&R and his laptop and camera were both stolen out of their car the morning they were all flying home. So he was stuck having to replace the laptop so he could do his work without having to return to NY (he owns a start up company in NY and had to work on the software development).

Getting a car was tricky--he's never owned a car so he wanted to make sure that he got exactly what he wanted. (If you're going to spend that much money on something you might as well get what you actually want, right?) He wanted something useful, affordable (preferably used), and Emmy-friendly. He settled on a red Mazda 3 hatchback. Because of the snow and road salt, cars in the northeast don't last as long as they do in more temperate climates like California. He could have purchased a car once he returned to NY but wasn't so sure about buying a used car there. Plus to do that, he'd have to return to NY sooner in order to have time to find and purchase a car and with the baby due at the end of the month he wouldn't have more than a few days. (Not to mention the hassle of us having to get Emmy vet-certified to fly and then getting her to the airport ourselves while having a brandnew baby in the house.) Driving himself, all his stuff, and Emmy back to NY would just be easier.

Being quite particular about the features, it turned out there were only a handful of the cars available in the US. He found one up in Seattle that his friend checked out for him. The day he was set to fly up there to make the purchase, the seller backed out. So he was back to square one.

Then he randomly found one at the Roseville AutoMall. It wasn't the exact color he wanted, but it was close enough. We went to check it out about a month ago, realized it was being sold for only a few hundred dollars above wholesale, and ended up buying it. It was SUCH a great little car. He spent a bit of time getting up to par: installing a trailer hitch, buying rubber floor mats online, and going to a pick-n-pull place to get a few things it was missing (like the cargo area cover).

His plan was to depart for NY with Emmy this past Sunday. So he spent Thursday-Friday in Livermore with my parents to say goodbye. On his way back to Davis from Livermore on Friday evening he was rear-ended on the Yolo Causeway. Thank you God for keeping him safe. His car is completely totaled...TWO days before he was going to leave and only THREE weeks after he bought his FIRST car ever. What are the chances?So he was again back at square one. Except that for the time being he was out the cost of the first car since the insurance company hadn't yet decided was to do with his first car (total it or fix it). And his classes start this coming Monday.

He looked online and found another car that met his needs/wants but it was in Missouri. So on Tuesday he flew out there, made the purchse, and came back the following day. That same afternoon he and my mom packed up her car and started driving east. They got to his new used car yesterday. Whew.

All in all I think he had a great summer--he had lots of friends come to visit (he became a lay-tourguide for northern California), went to Yosemite twice, hung out with high school friends, and got to see the birth of his nephew. He certainly made the most of a crappy situation...especially one that seemed to keep getting crappier.I'm sure he'll make the most of his final year of living in crappy upstate NY with lots of fun weekend trips and hanging out with cool people from his program at school. Here's hoping it all goes well!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Updates

1. I've been trying to "sleep when baby sleeps," since everyone says that's the key to surviving the first few postpartum weeks. So that means very little computer time and therefore not many blog updates. Sorry! I've managed to get about 2-2.5 hours of sleep at a time, about 3-4 times every night. Strung together that's more than enough sleep...but unfortunately it is broken up so I'm still tired all the time.

2. Eddie will be 2 weeks old tomorrow. Man, time sure flies by quickly these days! We're going to his 2 week appointment tomorrow. We're anxious to find out how much weight he's gained.3. Breastfeeding is still a bit of a challenge. He doesn't open his mouth wide enough for a perfect latch so now I have very sore nipples and even some tiny blisters. Ick! The left side hurts enough that I'm back to pumping that side and finger/pipette feeding that portion. (I'm typing this post out with one hand since I'm holding the shield and bottle with the other hand as I pump...TMI, sorry!) I'm going to ask the doctor about the blisters tomorrow and hope that the lactation consultant from the lactation study can help Eddie learn to latch on better. I have a feeling he just needs to mature a little more. But at least he's getting plenty to eat, we know that for sure. There are plenty of dirty diapers to prove it.

4. Edward left for New York with my mom yesterday. They are en route to Missouri to pick up his new new car (long story...will cover in another post). He'll continue on to NY from there with Emmy and she'll return to CA.

You can practically see the love between these two. Luckily we'll see Uncle Edward in early October at our cousin's wedding.5. Eddie and Dave went to visit with my sister-in-law tonight. I was brave just long enough to pick up a few things from the nearby Target store (including new shirts that are looser than what I normally wear so my ridiculous breast pads won't show through)...but then sobbed in the car outside her house until Dave finally emerged. It was so hard to be away from him. I knew he was safe, with Dave, and only a few hundred feet from me. But he wasn't with me. I'm sure the fact that he was with Bernie, who still hates me, contributed to my being upset. When Dave came out I took Eddie into my arms and kissed/snuggled him for a few minutes to calm myself down before I could put him in his seat so we could leave. God, I was a freaking mess. Let's hope I get over this separation anxiety before he leaves for college!6. Dave's parents visited us yesterday. Dave and his dad had to go to a meeting in Sacramento yesterday about their water company stuff so his mom hung out with me while they were gone. My mom happened to come by, also, so she and Edward could start their cross country trip. It was so great to have both grandmothers there at the same time! I didn't think we'd have that opportunity until Christmas time.

Eddie and his Grammy:
Eddie and both his grandmothers:
Dave's dad was super unsure about handling Eddie (I'm honestly not sure he ever held his own boys when they were newborns. He was a very "hands off" father...but I'm making sure he's not hands off as a papa.). He's overjoyed to be a papa finally. Eddie is his first grandchild, even though he actually has 5 step-grandchildren. This babe is very special to him.7. Eddie pees almost every time we open his diaper. It isn't immediate so it isn't easy to just use a peepee teepee. I've started just wrapping him loosely in a cloth diaper for a few minutes once I've cleaned him up just to give him a chance to pee before I put on a fresh disposable.

We're still using disposables until the scab from his cord stump falls off. The cloth diapers are so big on him still that they rub on it and make it bleed a little. Disposables are expensive and we're anxious to start using the cloth ones. Hopefully his belly will be good to go in a few more days.

8. I love my little boy more and more every day. Nursing issues aside, he's such a good boy for us. He sleeps quite a bit and isn't fussy when he's awake unless he's hungry and I missed his feeding cues (or he's getting his diaper changed or has to take a bath...). I'm one lucky Mama.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Breast is Best!

For something as natural as breastfeeding, it sure can get tough to get right. We've had some issues with Eddie's feeding, but luckily most of them are resolved.

He didn't move from my chest for the first hours after birth and I tried to feed him only a few minutes after he popped out. The doctor, midwives, and nurses were all very supportive and helpful. Each of them personally assisted me, helping me choose the best way to hold him (football hold) and how to get him to root. But my little stinker would have none of it. He wouldn't root, wouldn't open his mouth, wouldn't really stay awake. Not even when I expressed some colostrum did he perk up.
Since newborns are full of liquid and aren't really hungry for the first day or so anyway, we decided to try but not to push it. He'd been through a lot during that long delivery. His head was swollen and very bruised--the doctor suggested the football hold so I wouldn't have to handle his head because he said it was likely painful.

By Friday we really wanted him to start nursing because we were concerned that he needed the water, if not the other nutrients. After what seemed like a million attempts to get him to latch on and stay awake to suckle, a nurse named Paula suggested that I pump my colostrum and feed it to him using my finger and a syringe.

So I learned to use a breast pump while still in the hospital. The nurse warned me not to be disappointed if I only got a few drops of colostrum on my first attempt. Dave and I were so pleased (or was it proud??) that I got like 6 mL right off the bat. Clearly, my production was not a problem.

That thick, golden liquid became our prize possession, other than Eddie. After each finger feeding we watched each drop fall to the bottom of the collection bottle as I pumped again. Six tiny millileters seemed like such a small amount of food to sustain an 8lb baby for 3 hours. I knew it was all that he needed, but it just didn't seem adequate. At one point, a nurse's aide came in to our room, saw the full syringe on top of the mini fridge, picked it up, and waved it around as she said, "Oooh, is that yours? It looks like liquid gold!" Both Dave and I gasped and reached out for the syringe in a panic. We were scared she'd drop it and then we'd have nothing for our baby. FYI: Don't mess with a stressed-out, exhausted, new mother's colostrum. She just might kill you.

Our first finger feeding attempt worked perfectly. It was clear that his sucking reflex was working--he could really chow down on my finger! The nurse showed me how far to put my finger into his mouth to prompt him to suck and then she slowly squeezed the colostrum into his mouth.

So for the rest of our stay in the hospital, every 2 or 3 hours we'd try to wake Eddie up enough to latch on (as best as he would given how sleepy he was), play with his hands and cheeks to try to get him to suckle, then finger feed him. Then I'd have to pump again, then suck it up into the syringe and then wash all the pump parts. It was quite an ordeal.

Most of the nurses and midwives agreed that Eddie was just super sleepy and that's why he wasn't able to nurse--but that he would learn as he matured a little and became more alert. I knew they were probably right, but it was still so stressful to NOT be able to feed my baby. It had become my ONLY pupose in life and I couldn't do it. (My mother-in-law suggested that my epidural caused him to be overly sleepy--which made me feel guilty--but I asked the doctor since then and he said that since epidurals are only in your spinal column and not in your blood they medication doesn't affect the baby at all. That's the beauty of an epidural, I guess.)

Another nurse suggested that I had "flat nipples" and that's why he couldn't latch on. She offered no other advice so that bummed me out since there seemed to be nothing I could do to fix it. (We've since learned that my nipples are just fine and not flat at all, thankyouverymuch.)

Dave and I were so anxious to get out of the hospital and go home by Saturday. They offered to let us stay another day since we were having such issues breastfeeding (I declined supplementing him with formula since we knew we could keep him nourished with expressed milk). I'm lucky to have been given a Medela double pump by one of my professors who just weaned her own baby boy. I got all new parts for it before Eddie arrived so it was ready and waiting at home. I never thought I'd be using it so soon! If I didn't have that pump at home, I'm sure we'd have stayed in the hospital longer. But we felt ready and able (and super uncomfortable because of the terrible beds and chairs in the room--I'm sure the bad furniture was part of the problem with our nursing attempts because with the discomfort that comes with a vaginal delivery, pretty much any position I could get into in that bed was ackward).

So for the first few days at home we did the pumping/finger feeding routine. I loathed having to sit there in the middle of the night, cold and nodding off so much I nearly let go of the breast shields, while I pumped for 15 minutes. The whole routine took a good 1.5 hours since I wanted to give Eddie adequate time before/after each finger feeding session to try to nurse. Each time he'd suckle a little more. But with him waking every 2-3 hours to eat, I got pretty much no sleep at all. It was rough. This is the point at which I think most people would draw the line with trying to nurse and would just pop a bottle of formula into the baby's mouth and call it a day. We REALLY wanted to breastfeed (for his health and our pocketbook) and didn't even want to put a bottle in his mouth, lest he get "nipple confusion."

On Sunday afternoon, his third day, he FINALLY nursed long enough to be satisfied. While I was struggling to get him to stop fighting the breast (literally, he'd rear his head back and flail his little arms away from the breast) I was so tired all I could think about was getting that feeding over so I could try to sleep. But then he actually latched on and nursed for like 15 solid minutes. I was so elated that I got all my energy back and went to find Dave outside where he was working on the shade structure with my dad to celebrate. Needless to say I didn't take a nap because I was so happy!

Since then it's only been getting better and better. For a few days we were supplementing his nursing sessions with finger feeding, just to ensure he was getting enough food. His bilirubin level was getting high and the doctor said the best way to knock it down was food, food, food and poop, poop, poop.

We used shot glasses to store the small amounts of colostrum and colostrum-milk that I expressed. We'd microwave little bowls of water to warm them up. You can see here that my milk had started to come in since it looking more milky. Isn't it pretty? It is the exact color of the Medela pump parts, sort of a daffodil yellow.
I'm taking part in a year-long lactation study at UC Davis and part of the compensation is access to lactation consultants. Ours is named Samantha and she's awesome. Her first visit was the day we retuned from the hospital. She observed our struggle and basically said he needed to stay awake longer so he could figure out how to latch on and suck on his own. She said it was "all in his court" and that he'd likely come around in a few days. By the time she came back the following Thursday he'd gotten it down pretty good. She said she'd been thinking about us all week since she knew how much work our other method was.

On Thursday she observed again (by this time Eddie had to get pretty hot and bothered and yell a lot before he'd latch on) and made TONS of great suggestions. She taught how to listen for "nutritive sucks" (those that are followed by an audible swallow) and what a lot of his body language meant. I think Eddie was actually listening to her, too, because since that night he's been so much calmer and just eats without fussing first.

The best thing she showed us was that a baby's arm will remain tense and close to his face when he's first started to nurse. As he gets full and satisfied, his arm will become limp, eventually to the point that it becomes completely limp and you can move it around however you want without bothering the baby. This has become our favorite method to get him to continue sucking once it looks like he's fallen asleep--you just pull down on his little arm and he'll usually snap to attention and suck again. He's like a slot machine...just pull the handle and something happens. Haha!

So now I'm only pumping the few millileters needed each day for the lactation study and/or whatever I need to so my breasts aren't engorged and painful. I LOVE being able to feed him without having to pump every time. My next goal is to get him to feed in the traditional cradle position rather than the football hold...but that's just a selfish desire for me since I think it'd be easier to feed him in public that way. At this point I'm anything but modest when it comes to feeding Eddie. I've only had to nurse him once away from home and that was at least in the back seat of the car where no one could see me fumble around or see my stray boob. I really want to be one of those savvy moms who can throw a blanket over her shoulder and feed without making a fuss...or better yet just hook the baby on while keeping her shirt over the top of her breast without needing a blanket. Sigh...I've only been doing this for 9 days so hopefully I'll get there soon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pictures of Eddie

Edward Lawrence Bower
Thursday, August 13, 2009

10:21am

Sutter Davis Hospital Birthing Center
Delivered by midwife Jessica
8lbs, 2oz

21" long

13" head and chest

Nicknames so far: Eddie, Eddie Pie, Big E, Little Man



He wore the same sleeper home from the hospital that both Edward and I did. That's one great thing about having a mom who is a pack rat: you find sentimental goodies like this in the house!
Grandpa and Baby hands...weird that those little fingers will be so big someday:
With Grandpa on the customized changing table:
Skin-to-skin time with Daddy:
My dad and Dave worked on installing the shade structure over the patio the day after we got home from the hospital...Eddie went out to check the progress and to visit with his grandpa:
Grandma Jane loves her grandbaby boy:
Here we are in the front yard under the sign I made to announce to the neighborhood that our baby arrived:
We did a quick photoshoot at the park on his 4th day:
The Edwards! When my brother and I were in day care, there was another Edward who was my age. To keep the two Edwards straight, the teachers called my brother (younger) "big e" and the older one "little e." My brother is excited to now be called "little e." I had these shirts made a few weeks ago at a local shop. I'd actually made a newborn sized Onesie, figuring Eddie could wear that right away and then grow into the 0-3 month size one. But since he popped out at over 8lbs, he's already in the bigger one!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Let Down

OMG...I was just taking a nap (well, trying to) and Eddie squirmed around next to me. He was being fussy in his bassinet that we have placed in the middle of the bed to protect him from the dogs so I laid him down next to me and let my arm rest against his face.

Right when he squirmed and made some cute newborn noise my whole upper body jolted and I felt this intense rush.

...And then I instantly soaked through the socks I had stuffed into my nighttime nursing bra.

So I'm guessing that's the let down reflex.

Even those "heavy flow" nursing pads are no match for my breasts today. So now I'm using Dave's big socks folded into 1/4ths. I look completely ridiculous but it is better than having to change the bed sheets four times a day!

Poor Eddie get showered in milk whenever I'm feeding him. He doesn't latch on right away so during our struggle to get his face into position he gets all wet. Dave and I just laugh at this point as he helps me tuck dishtowels and clean cloth diapers on my belly and lap to soak it all up...now that I've realized there isn't a dang thing I can do to stop it, the whole situation has become pretty amusing.

I tried to nurse in the backseat of the car this afternoon but got my shirt so wet that I made Dave take Eddie into the doctor's office for his weight check. There was no way I was going into the office with a dripping shirt.

Dave asked our fabulous doctor how long we can expect my boobs to be so leaky. His answer was obvious: it depends, but usually it'll only be this way for a few weeks but some leaking will continue the whole time I choose to nurse. The thought of Dave talking about my leaky boobs to our doctor makes me chuckle...man, how childbirth can change a person's comfort level!

We've had some nursing issues that I'll get into in another post. It is hard to type with a baby laying on the desk in front of you so I'll wait until later.

Birth Story: Part II

Here's the second part to our birth story. It is long...just like the labor! There are pictures so feel free to skip all the reading if you're not interested in the story. I mostly wrote this so I could have it on record in the future.

Tuesday, August 11:
I woke up from a nap at 4pm and the contractions began to get uncomfortable around 6:30pm. Dave and I started watching Nacho Libre but an hour later we took the dogs to the dog park to exercise them. I was afraid that if we waited until the movie was over that the contractions would be much more intense and I wouldn't be able to go.

The boys went out for Chipotle burritos after that. They brought me a side of the delicious lemon-cilantro rice. I didn't want to eat too much or too heavily (except for that cupcake I ate for dessert...) since I figured I'd get nauseous at some point. I hate throwing up!

I played around on my laptop for a while, just waiting and waiting.By midnight the contractions were still manageable. My temperature was still normal and the baby was moving around a lot between contractions.

Since I knew I'd be in labor soon, I suggested that the boys go to bed ASAP so they could rest in case we had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. We all crawled into bed around 1am. I was back up at 1:15am because I couldn't handle the contractions lying down--I had to be standing and pacing. So as the boys slept for like 8 hours, I paced the house and dealt with the pain as best I could (with breathing and movement).

Dave had downloaded a contraction timer so to distract myself further, I kept track of the contractions on the laptop all night long.

Wednesday, August 12:
At 2pm we returned to the birthing center for a scheduled visit to check my progress--I was 3cm and they could see the baby's head of hair!After a lot of discussion about pros/cons of induction and pain relief (I didn't want either if at all possible), the midwife gave me a mild medicine to make me sleepy so I could rest for labor. I hadn't slept at all the night before or the night my water broke (from the excitement) so I was utterly exhausted. The medicine didn't dull the pain at all, just made me more sleepy than I was before. Looking back, I shouldn't have taken the medicine because it only made my pain worse since I didn't have the strength to deal with it well.

You'll notice I'm not smiling in this picture:As the afternoon progressed, the pain got worse and worse but the contractions didn't get much closer together (still between 2-5 minutes).

Around 5pm Edward went to Target and bought a yoga ball for me to sit on, hoping it'd make it easier. It didn't! The only way I could handle the contractions by 6pm was by standing and moaning through them.
At 8pm I admitted defeat and told Dave that I just couldn't handle it anymore and we had to go to the birthing center to either push the baby out or to get some pain relief. Dave called the birthing center and told them we were coming in because the pain was too intense to handle at home, but that my contractions didn't meet the 3-1-1 rule quite yet. (They were about 1 minute long but varied from 2-5 minutes apart.)

The pain was so bad and I was so exhausted from not sleeping for so long that I couldn't really stand up much longer. My eyes were closed to deal with the pain and because of exhaustion so I had to be led around when walking.

This time the nurses didn't triage me, they just put us into on of the labor/delivery rooms. We began to get me ready for the warm tub, but it was clear that I wasn't coherent enough to be in the water. They suggested a hot shower, but I told them I wanted an epidural. I seriously thought that if the pain continued (let alone got worse) I would rather die and just let them save the baby.

They checked me and I was 5cm dilated by then.

It was really hard for me to let myself ask for something as major as an epidural. My dreams for this birth included no pain medication or augmentation. I figure that as just another mammal on this planet, whose species have been giving birth without medication for eons, I should be able to do it, too. Humph!

After I told the nurses and midwife I wanted an epidural, I remember sort of wimpering about my choice to Dave and asked him if he was disappointed in me. Of course, he wasn't. Throughout the pregnancy he supported my choice for med-free but said all he cared about was a healthy baby and mama at the end of the delivery.

At this point the resident doctor (Dr. Moeller) suggested that the baby was "direct OP" (sunnyside up) and that was causing the intense back labor. The midwife said it was likely the baby would right himself in time for delivery so nothing was done about it. Other than opt for a c-section, I'm not sure what all could have been done about it anyway.

I thought I might die when they said I'd have to wait for 30 minutes for the anesthesiologist to arrive and then sit still for another 20 minutes while it was installed. Sitting hunched over the table while it was installed was the worst moment of my entire life. Enduring the contractions without being able to move was so, so bad I cannot even express it adequately.

The epidural kicked in immediately and I was able to sleep (as were the boys) for a few hours. Poor Edward slept on the floor with a pillow because there was only one pull-out bed in the labor room and Dave was using it.

Thursday, August 13:
Around 3am (without turning the epidural down) they had me try pushing for 30 minutes since I was fully dilated by this point. Since I couldn't feel where to push it seemed like a wasted effort even though they assured me it was not. They let me rest for an hour before trying again, hoping that my uterus would take care of some of the work by itself during my now pain-free contractions.

I pushed again at 4am, but not much happened.

They called the anesthesiologist to come turn the epidural down by half. They also put me on pitocin to get the contractions closer together and therefore work more efficiently. The pain returned but not nearly as badly as before.

I then pushed from 5:30am-10:21am for a total of about 6 hours. Luckily, the sheet tied to the squat bar on the bed blocked my view of the clock. Otherwise I'm SURE I would have lost all hope if I'd known just how long I'd been pushing.

Dave and Edward held my feet in place on the bar for me while I either used the sheet or my thighs to push. Hoping to get the baby to turn over, I alternated between pushing on my back and either side. My left leg was so numb still that I had very little control of it so turning over was difficult.

I pushed with every ounce in my body--they always say that the proper push is like having the biggest bowel movement of your life. So that's what I focused on. The midwife, doctor, and nurses kept saying I was doing it right but that the baby's position was just making it hard to get him out from under the pelvic bone.

At one point the midwife repeated the whole bowel-movement thing. I told her I understood the concept. She came over to me and quietly asked if I was embarrassed about having a bowel movement during pushing. I said, "No, of course not! That's exactly the kind of pushing I'm aiming for. I want to get this baby out!"

It is funny to me that so many women are concerned about pooping during birth. It is just poop, in my opinion. And when you're spread eagle for all to see, who cares? Most women poop anyway and the nurses just wipe it away super fast.

Edward said that my face looked like pure agony (duh) and Dave said that with each push he watched my face go from pink to red to orange to purple from pushing so hard. I felt like my eye balls were going to pop out of my face.

Between pushes, I'd reach down and feel the baby's head--there certainly was a lot of hair!

Finally, after much encouragement from everyone present (Edward, Dave, the nurse, our wonderful midwife named Jessica, and Dr. Moeller) he was born. I could feel his head sticking out for hours and it was SO nice to feel the rest of his body just slide right out after all that work.My eyes were SO puffy by the end that I couldn't even open them all the way. My eyes had been closed almost constantly since the day before due to pain and exhaustion.

Because he emerged so slowly, I didn't tear much at all (only requiring 3 sutures, each in different places). The midwife was surprised/pleased that I wasn't bleeding much and that I didn't tear or have any hemorrhoids. (You can be sure I'm more pleased about that than she was!)Eddie's head was horribly misshapen. He had a huge lump the size of a golf ball sticking out from the right side of his head and it was already beginning to bruise. Luckily, by the time we left the hospital his head was perfect, minus some bruising.

We spent the next 2 days recovering in the birthing center's postpartum room, which had the most uncomfortable bed EVER. It was great to have all the support for breastfeeding and the attentive doctors, nurses, and midwives to care for us. But it was SO hard to get ANY rest during recovery since it seemed like there were always people coming into the room. I'd hoped to have some friends come to visit, but after John and Jessica came I sent a text to everyone else and asked them to hold off.

My baby boy meeting his namesake, my brother: As expected, Dave fell in love hard and fast:
The birthing center encourages skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth so if everything seems fine, once the baby is born and laid on your chest he doesn't leave that spot for several hours. They don't bother weighing or bathing until mama and baby have had time to bond. Fathers are also encouraged to have skin-to-skin time...Dave seized the opportunity to bond with Eddie and stripped off his shirt, too:
It only occurred to me a few days ago just how much Edward and Dave had to endure during my labor and delivery process. I kept thinking about how long six hours of pushing was, but only from my perspective since I was doing all that hard work. But then I realized that those guys had to stand there, holding up my dead-weight legs, encourage me, and endure watching me. That can't have been easy. I hope they both know how much I appreciate them being there for me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Birth Story: Part I (Leaky Faucet)

**I wrote this last week on August 11, just after my water broke. I'll be posting more of the birth story as I get around to writing it.**
_______________________________________

I'm sitting on a towel as I write this. Today is my "other" due date. We had two dating sonograms and they differed by one day.

Early Tuesday morning (about 3:15am), Edward finally got back to Davis after hanging out with a college buddy in San Francisco all day. He pulled out the sofa bed in the livingroom since my mom had decided to spend the night and was using his bed in the office. Knowing it'd only be a few hours before the dogs were up and running around the front of the house in search of their breakfast, I went out there and told him to just sleep in my giant bed with me and the dogs so he could sleep longer in the morning once we all got up.

Not two minutes after my exhausted brother collapses into bed (about 3:40am), I jump out of bed because I suddenly felt a huge gush of hot liquid come out of me. I emerge from the bathroom and tell him that I think my water just broke. He sort of laughs and says, "You think? You mean you're not sure??" I was pretty sure, but didn't want to embarrass myself in case I'd just peed on myself without realizing it!

It was a pinkish, clear fluid that didn't smell like urine. After the initial gush there were several more with near-constant trickling in between.

We re-read the breaking waters (aka ruptured membranes) part of What to Expect and then left a message for the midwives since their "when to call" sheet says to call within 30 minutes of membrane rupture. Not hearing back from them within 20 minutes I called again and the answering service put me straight through. The midwife, Jenny, apologized and said they were super busy and she couldn't get away from birthing mothers to call me back right away.

After confirming that my water had broken but having no painful contractions she decided to make me an appointment to come in around 9am that morning to check me.

Edward sent Dave a text (he was up in Gualala) but since he didn't respond after a few minutes, I called his cell. Miraculously he had cell reception in the house and called me right back. Then it took several phone calls back and forth before I could actually hear him on the phone. The line in his room at his parents' house is crappy and all I could hear was an echo of myself--he even tried calling both my cell and then Edward's. Anyway, we finally spoke and I told him to come down. He told his parents he was leaving and began his long drive down the coast around 4:40am.

He said it was a good thing his phone was across the room from him and not on the night stand like usual. The special ring he has for me is the same as his alarm sound...so he said if it had been right next to him, he probably would have just silenced the phone...then I would have had to call the landline and woken up the entire household (which I guess happened anyway).

We decided not to wake my mom and just let her sleep.

Edward and I went back to sleep and were awoken around 7:15am by Dave coming into the bedroom. Apparently he bumped into my mom when he came into the house and she was SO CONFUSED that he was there!

Since we had a while before we needed to be at the hospital, Dave and I screwed the blanket chest lid back onto the chest (I'd painted the trim on it the day before). Then I made breakfast for everyone, we all took showers, and then Edward, Dave, and I headed to the birthing center.

They put us into the triage room (a glorified storage closet) and after about 40 minutes someone came in and hooked me up to the fetal heart and contraction monitors. Twenty minutes later they determined that all was good--although they weren't uncomfortable, the contractions were about 3 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. After each one, Eddie would squirm around a lot.

After another 30 minutes a nurse named Teresa came in to get my medical history. Next, midwife Blanch (one of my and Dave's favorites from Sutter West Women's Health) came in with a family practice resident doctor who was shadowing her. She told me that I wasn't in labor and that I had the option of being induced or waiting it out. She'd read on my birth plan that I wanted a low-intervention birth so we just confirmed that I didn't want to be induced yet.

This birthing center allows patients to go back home with ruptured membranes as long as they take precautions (nothing entering the vagina like husbands or tampons, no baths, and taking my temperature 3 times a day to ensure I'm not getting an infection). The risk of infection after your water breaks is highest for the mother, and only sometimes can the baby also get an infection. She warned that babies who do get an infection are at a higher risk of suffering from cerebral palsy.

Most hospitals demand induction only 6 hours after ruptured membranes, with some waiting up to 24 hours. This being a low-intervention birthing center, they allow mothers to wait up to 72 hours. But Blanch said that most women will go into labor within 48 hours on their own.

The doctor checked me with a steel speculum to ensure that my water was broken--he made me cough several times until he could see fluid coming out. This was amusing because I was sitting in a veritable puddle already! Oh well, they wanted "from the source" confirmation. Shortly after, Teresa returned and did a quick sonogram to confirm that Eddie's head was down.

So here I wait at home for my body to realize that my water has broken. I have until about 3:30am on Friday morning until they will give me pitocin or something to induce me. Hopefully it won't come to that! Dave and I aren't against old-fashioned encouragement like nipple stimulation and long walks (since a dose of prostaglandins is out of the question at this point!).

So I have to say: I had no idea that when your water breaks it keeps on leaking out of you forever until you have the baby. No idea at all. All the anecdotes and scenes in movies make it sound like there's a gush or a long, slow trickle and that's it. Then it is over. Clearly I was mislead. I had to leave the birthing center this morning with a wet spot on the back of my capris! Yuck.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Happy Due Date!

Well, today has come and gone and Eddie made no effort at being born. He's apparently happy doing round-house kicks in my belly and having near-constant hiccups.

Edward went to San Francisco with a friend from college for the day so he recruited my mom to come stay with me "just in case" and also to help me with the dogs. Ruby got her sutures out today and was released from the confines of the lampshade collar--so now she can play, chew on her beloved rawhides, and go to the dog park again. So far she and Emmy haven't had any more issues...here's hoping it stays that way.

All the pregnancy books say to "just relax" at this point in the pregnancy, especially if you are overdue. Although they never specify, I assume that means sit around with your feet up. I have a really hard time sitting around doing nothing--even idly watching tv or reading for hours on end is tough, especially now that my back has started to hurt again. I'm much happier when I'm being productive and doing something. If my fingers weren't numb and swollen I'd start on a cross stitch project or relearn how to knit.

Today my mom and I went to Goore's, a large boutique-type baby store in Sacramento, to get a few things. She treated me to a beautiful baby book and matching photo album. I already filled-in all the pages I can in the baby book. Then we went to the Mother and Baby Source store here in town to get a second diaper pail liner and the accessory kit for my breast pump. One of my professor's wives gave me her old pump so I just had to get all the new plumping pieces for it for sanitation reasons. Friends have suggested that I start pumping early so I can take advantage of baby sitters early on or be able to get out of the house without the baby for more than 2 hours at a time if I want. (I guess if I get bored later I could wash all the pieces and figure out how to use the pump...)

We ate lunch downtown and then headed home. While my mom napped on the couch I painted some remaining pieces of trim in the garage and hung out the laundry. I took a short nap but was rudely awoken by three VERY huuuuuuuuuungry puppies who were crying for their dinner.

So here I am as of today, not any larger nor carrying noticeably lower than before. (I realize I look skanky in that wife beater tanktop since you can see my bra through it...but it was just too hot to care today.) I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and hopefully I'll be checked for effacement and dilation.

Round Face

Not only are my hands and feet really swollen now, but so is my face. While chowing down on my $5 footlong at lunch today, I noticed that my jaw felt a little tight, similar to how my knuckles always feel now that my hands are perma-swollen. Again at dinner I noticed the same thing and said so. Edward said he noticed that my face seemed swollen today. (At least he was nice and didn't just say that my face is now fat!)

When I got home I looked in the mirror and sure enough, I have pudgy cheeks.

I'm also feeling more lower abdominal aches and pains, especially when I change positions quickly. Some quick reading online makes me think it is "round ligament pain," from my ever-expanding uterus stretching my poor abdomen out of shape. Since I don't have any other scary symptoms (bleeding, major weight gain, severe/sharp pain, change in baby's movements, etc.) and the discomfort subsides once I stop moving, I'm pretty sure it isn't anything major. I have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday (one of my two "due dates"--Monday or Tuesday, depending on which sonogram measurement you believe, as if it makes much difference anyway) and will ask about it then.

Unless, of course, I've had the baby by then. But so far he seems too comfortable to leave, the little stinker.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Whale on Wheels

Have you ever seen a whale on wheels? If not, today's your lucky day:Yesterday Dave and I biked downtown to the Farmers Market, specifically because I wanted to buy tomatoes. The ones we planted up in Gualala aren't quite ready yet. Thanks to the big basket on the back of my bike, we came home with tons of corn, oodles of grape tomatoes, a few pluots, and two kinds of peaches. Then we stopped by the food co-op for a gallon of milk and some basil (since I forgot to buy it at the market).

The Farmers Market was super busy today and there were at least 10 other pregnant gals wandering around. Everyone is about to pop! I read somewhere that more babies are born in August than any other month.

It was so nice to bike again. My cardiologist nixed all activities associated with my SVT episode, but I'm sure the biking aspect had nothing to do with it--it was all stress, pure and simple. Before that happened, I was terrible at managing my stress.

I am so sick of walking, probably because I'm roughly the size of a whale. My weight seems to have leveled-off over the last few weeks (thank goodness!), but walking sure does make my feet swell. Biking is actually the most efficient form of movement ever--with the right bike (most certainly NOT a cruiser like mine!) it is even more efficient than the fastest animals in water or on land. Interesting, huh?

We went slow and it felt so good to use my legs for something other than walking or squatting. I've been outside for an hour everyday this past week, squatting over a tub of really dirty canning jars (i.e., covered in possum poop because they were in the barn for a decade) that I'm cleaning up for the impending madness of canning season. If you ever have seriously gross canning jars, just soak them in soapy water for 24 hours, scrub them with a brush to knock off all the solid gunk and dirt, then soak them in an acidic solution for 24 hours, then run them through the dishwasher. I'm using muriatic acid (read: hydrocholoric or pool acid) at about 1 cup per 5 gallons of water. Just make sure to wear dish gloves when you fish the jars out of the acidic water in case you have sensitive skin.

Anyway...With the milk I made fresh mozzarella cheese so we could have caprese salad with our dinner of grilled steaks and corn: I have a plan to find out who invented caprese salad, find that person, and give them a really big hug. I love it soooooooooooooo much.

Saturday was a fantastic, relaxing day spent just with Dave and our dogs. I wonder how crazy next Saturday could be? Might I be in labor then? Or already have my sweet boy at home with me? Who knows!

Dear Eddie

Hi Eddie, it's Mama. Daddy and I were wondering when you're going to make your appearance. We finished everything on our to do lists so you can come anytime. Your new room is set up, we have lots of diapers, and plenty of premade food so we can concentrate 100% on you in your first weeks. I know we'll spend most of our time staring at you--your teensy weensy little fingers and toes, your beautiful eyes that roll back into your head with pleasure as you nurse--and marveling that we made you and you're ours.

Over the last week, Mama has felt the effects of carrying you around much more than before. She wakes up with a sore back and swollen hands and waddles when she walks. Nothing major, but if you'd like to come today, Daddy and I would be overjoyed.

...As would your Uncle Edward, after whom you are named. He's only in California for a few more weeks and he really wants to hang out with you before he has to leave again for school. It is clear that he's almost as excited as we are to meet you. I don't know if you've been able to hear him talking to you, but he often talks to Mama's belly saying things like "Hey baby Eddie...you should come out now." Maybe he's not talking loud enough for you to hear...

Anyway, we want to meet you, sweet boy.

Love tons and tons and tons and tons...

Mama and Daddy

PS. Coming today would be great. That way Daddy will already be in Davis and he won't have to drive all the way up to Gualala only to come back again if you decide to come only a short while after he's left. =)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sacramento Zoo

Last Tuesday Edward and I went to the Sacramento Zoo after going to the Volvo pick 'n pull place to get some replacement plastic pieces for the inside of my car. (I finally have working cup holders again!)

The Sac Zoo is quite small, but overall is very nice. It is never too crowded and you can get pretty close to the animal. They are working on building a viewing platform for the giraffe's so you can be eye-to-eye with them. I'm really looking forward to becoming a member of the zoo once Eddie's at least a year old so we can go often.

I think Edward likes the lemurs the best. It was definitely nap time for them when we were there...the one closest to him was sleeping on its back, just like my darling Potatoes does.
My absolute favorite animal at any zoo is the giant ant eater. Have you every seen one in real life? They are the WEIRDEST looking animal EVER: they look like an emu on one end (yeah, the bird), with sloth-like font paws/claws, and a looooooooooooooooooong skinny face. I love them. I wish I had like $100,000 to donate to the zoo so they could build a better enclosure for these cool creatures. Ant eaters can climb (I guess), so their enclosure is fronted with glass instead of fencing. The reflection of everything behind you makes is super hard to see them, unless you're pressed up against the glass peering inside. If the heat wasn't making my feet so swollen I could have stood there looking at those things all day.

The flamingos are super cool, too--we didn't get to see them last time because it was winter and I think they were living some place warm. Apparently, they get their pink color from some enzyme in the shrimp they eat. I wish I could eat something bronze-colored so I could be tan...just kidding. I think there was some product on the market like that a few years ago but then someone realized it was causing cancer.

Typical Week Day: Pre-Baby

I thought it would be fun to chronicle what my typical pre-baby days were like.

This post is split into 5 parts:
1. When Dave was working in Sacramento
2. Once Dave started working/living in Gualala
3. Once my mom got sick
4. Once I got pregnant
5. Now that I'm not working but have not yet had the baby

They are detailed...and probably boring for most people...but I wanted to write them down for history's sake...read on if you dare (or care)!

When Dave was working as an auditor for one of the evil Big Four Accounting Firms in Sacramento, my week days went like this:
~7am: Wake up, feed the dogs, let them out to potty (wipe paws off it muddy), get showered and ready for the day. Walk the dogs around the park if I had time before class.

~8am
: Bike to campus, drop my sack lunch off in the fridge in my building, check my email in lab, then go to class. Get something to eat at the Memorial Union once my appetite kicked in. Go to the library between classes to study and/or do homework with friends or go back to lab if I had no more classes.

~12pm
: Eat my sack lunch on the quad or at my desk in the lab. Do whatever lab work I was supposed to do (in these early days as a graduate researcher, my tasks/goals were really unclear so I did spend a lot of time reading about our field of research and learning how to use instrumentation in the lab...or I'd study at my desk). Sometimes I'd go to office hours for my classes to get help with the material or homework.

~4pm: Go to my graduate group's seminar and try to stay awake throughout the entire talk. Like any graduate student, free food at seminars really helped.

~6pm: If I had no pressing homework or studying for an exam, I'd bike towards home, often stopping at the store for whatever groceries we needed. I had two big baskets on my bike so I could get lots of stuff. If it was a Wednesday, then I'd swing by the Farmers Market to get some veggies for stir-fry from the nice Chinese lady.

If I did have a test or homework I often just stayed on campus to study in the library...feeling guilty about leaving the dogs home alone for so long.

Once home, I'd feed and potty the dogs and take them on another walk. Then I'd have a large snack/small meal to tide me over until Dave got home so we could have a "proper" dinner.

~10-11pm: Get a text from Dave saying he was on his way home. If he'd worked more than 10 hours that day (which was typical), he'd offer to pick up some food on the way home using his $15 dinner allowance from his company. We usually went with two Chipotle burritos with chips and guac or soup and salad combos from Crepeville, as those were the only good eateries still open that late. Otherwise I'd make something for dinner and we'd eat it together before crashing into bed.

On Thursdays Dave tried REALLY hard to get back home in time to watch Smallville, knowing he'd owe his evil company extra hours of work the following day just to get home by 8pm to do so. If I knew he would be a few minutes late and miss the beginning of the show, I'd record it for him so he could watch it later. (This was before most network shows were available for free online.)

If Dave happened to be on a business trip (which was about 30% of the time) after hanging out with the dogs and eating something for dinner, I'd often head back to campus on my bike around 8pm to study in the library until it closed. If I didn't want to bike all the way there, I'd hole myself up in the dining room with classical music playing and study in there. (Studying at home has always been an issue for me because I get so distracted with other tasks--baking, laundry, snuggling the dogs, cleaning, etc.).

These Dave-as-an-auditor-and-me-as-a-new-grad-student days were pretty monotonous, stressful, and lonely since I did so much studying and so little interacting with other people. All I can say is, thank goodness for cell phone text messaging--without being able to text Dave throughout the day I would have lost my mind.
________________________________________

Once Dave started working for his dad and living up in Gualala 4 days a week, life got much better. Granted, he's gone a lot more but he's also SO MUCH HAPPIER with his work life. And that makes such a difference in both our lives. Although I miss him a lot during the week, I feel good knowing he likes his job. Also, I found my niche in the crazy world of graduate school and had very few (if any) classes to take. So life got easier all around. Here's what my typical day looked like:

~6am: Get up, feed the dogs (Potatoes will do this crazy sing/bark thing at me to tell me he's huuuuuuuuuungry and it just melts my heart), shower and get ready for the day. Take the dogs on a walk around the park and/or neighborhood. Pack a lunch. Make and eat breakfast at home 3 days a week...I allowed myself a bagel and coffee at the Memorial Union only twice a week.

~8am: Bike to campus and head straight to lab. Check email, answer emails about the instruments I was in charge of, and start my incubation experiments. Then I'd set up the thermal analyzer and run a sample. Usually someone needed help with one of the instruments so I'd have to go upstairs constantly to assist (there's no phone or internet access in that room so it meant a lot of walking back and forth for communication).

As a very active student officer in my graduate group (I was social chair one year and then student representative last year), I'd have emails to answer from students, from the chair of the group, or the coordinator. Usually these had to do with events I was organizing or students with concerns.

The instruments I worked with (C/N analyzer, incubation chambers, and thermal analyzer) all take between 1 hour and several hours for a single experiment--so I'd set them up in the morning and then check on and reset them just before lunch time.

~12pm: Eat my sack lunch at my desk while checking email, reading blogs, or checking Facebook. Then I'd get back to work analyzing data from my instruments, talking with people about the experiments we were doing, or assisting people with using instruments.

In the afternoon sometime, my labmate would come in and we'd have a long chat about whatever we did the night before and/or what we needed to get done in lab that day. Often we worked together on experiments so we had to coordinate but as time went on we each went our separate ways, research-wise, so we just used each other as a check to ensure what we were planning on doing was legit and wouldn't blow up the lab.

My Gmail chat was always enabled so I could have some contact with the outside world. Once Dave convinced his dad to get high speed internet at the office and at their house, my world got a lot better because we could chat on/off throughout the day. I also chatted with Edward a lot, usually getting help with calculus or random math questions that I encountered while reading articles or whatever. Technology can be such a wonderful thing!

I learned from seasoned graduate students that to keep my sanity I needed to treat my schooling as if it were a job: to maintain regular working hours and not deal with school emails after "business hours" (unless they were pressing, like for publication or a deadline for a major report to a funding agency). This was probably the best and hardest lesson I had learned in school so far...and it has served me well!

~4pm: Go to seminar for my graduate group, if there was one. This became more fun as I know knew almost all the students and faculty in my group so the social aspect was appealing. I loved getting a hazelnut coffee from the Memorial Union before seminar so I could sip it during the talk. My interest in the talks also increased as I became aware of other types of chemistry and my confidence in understanding the subject as a whole increased.

~6pm: Bike home, picking up what few groceries I needed for myself on the way. Feed the dogs and let them outside to potty and run around. Watch Friends on tv while I cooked something for my dinner. Then did the dishes and cleaned up the house a bit. I got in the habit of researching recipes and doing a lot of large cooking projects (preserving food or making things for the freezer) in the evenings to entertain myself. The kitchen or big living room tv was on almost constantly, just for the background noise. If the weather was good and it was still light outside, I'd work in the garden.

~10pm: Take the dogs to the park next to our house for some exercise. I'd either use the Chuck-It with the tennis ball, the cloth frisbee, or the deflated soccer ball. At night I didn't bother to keep them on leash because no one is at the park anyway, other than the few other folks who'd also bring their dogs for some off-leash exercise. When I could tell the dogs were getting tired, I'd say "okay, only 4 more throws/kicks" and then count down. Then I'd say, "okay, let's go home!" and Ruby would obediently grab whatever toy we had and trot off toward home (usually stopping to pee just before she left the park). At some point I'd try to get online so I could chat with Dave...or we'd text each other or perhaps talk on the phone briefly. He had shows he liked to watch on certain nights of the week so there were always nights when we didn't talk because he was busy with those.

~11pm: If I was still awake enough, I'd watch Friends when it came on and then head to bed after reading for a while.
________________________________________

When my mom got sick and was in the hospital, I started taking Fridays off so Dave and I could drive to Livermore for the weekend to see her and work on cleaning her house. My professor was totally okay with that, luckily, and I tried to make up for it by staying in lab longer the other 4 days a week.
________________________________________

Once I got pregnant, and really started to feel the affects of it (being SO DANG TIRED that I could hardly function or just plain uncomfortable sitting for so long), I again took most Fridays off...but sorta on the sly. At first I'd go in for only a few hours...but over time I just stopped going at all. No one seemed to notice since I was so efficient with my work other days. The days in lab wore me out and I figured Dave and I only had a certain amount of time to be together before this baby came (and we had a LOT of stuff to get done during the short 3 days he was home each week). My last two quarters on campus I was instructed to work on my method and to assist my new professor's students to use the thermal analyzer for their samples. Since there wasn't funding for my actual thesis research, my tasks were somewhat limited to helping others. it would have been hard to hide what I was doing because one of my professors rides his bike by my house on his way to campus every day. So if he saw me outside working, my jig would have been up!
________________________________________

Now that I'm not working (I wasn't funded for the summer) and am essentially on "maternity leave" but haven't had the baby yet, my days are like this when I'm home alone:
~7am: Get up, feed the dogs and myself, throw on some work clothes and do yard work, laundry, or a project in the garage until it gets too hot to work out there. Then I shower and get dressed in clean clothes.

~12pm: Eat something for lunch then occupy myself by doing indoor projects (sewing, arranging the baby's room, deep cleaning something in my nesting mode) or run errands (buying baby gear, going to the doctor, buying household items to stock up for after baby arrives).

~6pm: Feed myself and the dogs, then drive them to the dog park so we could all socialize and they could get some exercise. Then I'd get online to chat with Dave or read blogs and check Facebook. I got pretty bad about checking my email during the day so I'd answer whatever school/instrument emails I had. I'd usually cook something for my Post-Birth Food Stockpile
in the evening when I could open the windows and keep the house cool.

~10pm: If the dogs were driving me crazy or I hadn't taken them to the dog park, I'd take them to play at the park next door and then go to bed after reading for a while. The tv stayed off pretty much since I was so busy with all my nesting activities.

When Edward is here with me during the week, my days are a little more random (other than the eating schedules), depending on what we decide to do that day (go to Yosemite, the zoo, running errands, test driving--and buying!--a car, etc.).

It'll be interesting to document how my typical day once Eddie arrives and begins to mature (even more so once I go back to school in January and we have to navigate balancing childcare with my research in lab, which will be much more intense than before).

Friday, August 7, 2009

Changing Table: Phase 2

As you'll recall, my dad made a custom changing table to fit into our hall bathroom. Dave and I gave my dad measurements for the table, given the small space where it could go in our bathroom. Not having much room to work with and REALLY wanting to restrict diaper-changing to the bathroom only, I had to search around for a really small changing pad to fit our small space. I knew I could always make my own if I had to.

I found this pad and cute covers at Ikea for super cheap:
The table top is made of wood and the corners are filled with triangular pieces of wood so we can avoid small crevices for stinky bodily fluids to collect. The contour of the sides like this, makes the inflatable changing pad fit perfectly. He made the end of the table a big longer than the pad to accommodate Eddie's feet as he grows into toddlerhood.This steel box tubing construction is total overkill for a changing table, but we will move it outside someday and use it as a plant/potting stand. It has adjustable feet on it so the height can vary by a few inches.My dad ran out of time to finish the table so Dave and I did it. Instead of the plan for wooden cabinetry (drawers and a cabinet door) on the underside, Dave made some plywood shelves for me, that we primed and then painted with shiny white appliance epoxy (like you'd use on a fridge). This stuff is super durable and will withstand being cleaned a lot.

At Michael's craft store I found these sets of baskets for 50% off. They fit the shelves perfectly (going almost all the way to the back for maximum storage) and hold all the stuff nicely. I made curtains for the table to keep the dust and dog hair out of the baskets (and to hide the junk when we have company). Not that anyone but me cares, but the curtains match the shower curtain I made last year...the whole room coordinates! For now, the cloth diapers are stacked inside my cousin Mike's old diaper holder (the green thing hanging to the right of the table).

After we finished installing our second oven in the kitchen, we ended up with an extra wall cabinet, so Dave and I hung it in the bathroom over the changing table. I mounted a small fluorescent "task light" on the underside so I could see the baby's bum better. To make it dimmer so it won't blind him, I taped a piece of cloth over the light. The diaper pail is a Simple Human garbage can with a waterproof, washable diaper sack inside instead of a garbage bag. I had to remove the drawstring from the bag so it would fit, but it seems like it'll work. Only time and stinky diapers will tell, though...

I bought some nylon strap and a buckle so I can make a safety strap to go across the changing table. Most people I know don't use the safety strap on their changing tables, but I've found them to be quite useful for very squirmy babies--just cinch it down so they can't roll over as easily.