Blog Archive

Monday, December 28, 2009

Four Month Check Up

I'm quite late posting this, but two weeks ago Eddie had his four month check up. He's grown in length and weight since his last appointment and his jaundice appears to be completely gone. Dr. Moeller would like us to get another blood draw done so we can have a work-up against which to compare his previous blood work. Hopefully I'll be able to get it done this afternoon.

The poor babe had to endure more immunizations and this time he didn't tolerate them as well. Nursing him right after getting poked only calmed him down a little bit. By 7pm that night he was inconsolable, I think because his little thigh was swollen and sore. Dave called the doctor to ask if we could give him some Motrin to ease his pain. So that was the first time Eddie had medicine. At birth, only his right testicle had descended. We've been waiting to see if the left one would come down on it's own, but since it hasn't he'll probably have to have surgery. First, though, he'll have a sonogram to determine if he even has another testicle. Since it hasn't come down yet he's already at a much higher risk for a certain type of testicular cancer. But if we never bring it down he's at a MUCH, much higher risk. Luckily this type of cancer is easy to treat and easy to find so hopefully with the right mentoring from his doctors it won't be a big problem.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Train Trip

My mom suggested that she and I take a train trip before my maternity leave is over at the end of the month. We figured this would be my last chance in a looooooooong time to ride the train. Soon enough Eddie will be crawling and before you know it we'll have more kids so it will become impossible to do.

We wanted a trip that would take only one night on the train and that ends in a city we'd like to visit. Seattle fit the bill. Neither of us had been there before and Edward's college friend lives there so we'd get to see a familiar face, too. My cousins live in nearby Tacoma, but with our short notice and holiday madness at work, we didn't end up getting to see them.

Our train was the Coast Starlight--one of Amtrak's flagship routes. The train was recently upgraded and is super fancy. We boarded in San Jose because the departure time was a more reasonable time (8:30pm) than from Davis (almost midnight). I didn't want to screw up Eddie's sleeping schedule, such as it is, too much.

My mom sponsored the trip and spoiled us by getting the Edwards and I a deluxe sleeper room--two beds and a bathroom! She booked herself a roomette--just a bed--but they apparently upgraded her so she got the same type of room as we did. I loved being a "first class passenger" because the perks are great: champagne in our rooms, a private lounge and dining car, and meals included. Once on board we got to have a full dinner in the dining car--salads, drinks, steak with side dishes, and dessert. Then we went to bed and slept VERY well because of the bumpiness of the train's movement. The lower bed that Eddie and I slept on was as wide as a regular twin bed so there was plenty of room for both of us.

The next day we had a yummy breakfast in the dining car and then sat in the lounge chairs in the first class Parlour Car to see the pretty landscapes pass by. It was snowing outside by the time we made it to Klamath Falls, OR. We were at that stop for a long time because there was a medical emergency with one of the passengers, who was driven off in an ambulance. Then after we passed through a long tunnel near Crater Lake we got stuck because the front locomotive was damaged by some ice in the tunnel. The conductor announced that they would back us up to a part of the track where they could remove the locomotive and put it on the back of the train so it could be pulled along, but then they couldn't get the brakes to release. Yikes, at least we know the brakes were working!

So after a four hour delay we were on our way again. My mom signed up for a wine and cheese tasting, but I got to have the cheese because she's trying to cut back on salty foods.

We didn't arrive in Seattle until 1am. It was supposed to arrive around 9pm. Blah, so much for my efforts to keep Eddie's sleep schedule intact. By the time we got to the hotel that night his little system we out of whack so he only slept for about 3 hours. Ahhhhhhhhhh! I was SO freaking tired.

Since my mom and brother don't have a little person that dictates the amount of sleep they get, they were able to sleep in until about 10:30am. I was up at about 6:45am when my precious babe decided he was done sleeping for good. I packed us up and headed out to find a coffee shop.It turns out that there are coffee shops on EVERY corner--literally--in Seattle. In New York there are pharmacies on every corner and in the South there are churches on every corner. My Tully's white mocha was just what I needed to avoid falling asleep while I walked to the Space Needle and the weird-looking Experience Music Project (about four blocks from our hotel). On my way I realized I walked right by Timmy's apartment so I sent him a text telling him so. He told me that he was actually still there. It didn't occur to me to tell him that Edward wasn't with me, so he ended up calling my sleeping brother and waking him up. Haha. I wandered around the Seattle Center for a while until Edward and Timmy met up with me. We walked Timmy downtown towards his job and then went to get hot dogs near the Pike Place Market. I don't know how we got so lucky, but it didn't rain at all the whole time we were there! It was cold, but basically clear the while time.

That afternoon my mom and I ate the most expensive lunch EVER at the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. Then we took a ride on the Monorail--such a waste of money! The ride is SO short that you hardly have enough time to take out your camera for a picture before it is over. Apparently it was installed just in time for the 1962 World's Fair as a way to get folks from the Space Needle, through a ghetto part of town, to the downtown area. At least my mom enjoyed it. She actually rode it a second time while I waited around outside and Eddie fell asleep.The next morning Timmy ate the free breakfast in our hotel with us before we walked downtown with him again. Edward and I went to the aquarium, which was fun but very small. After that we met up with my mom and Timmy at a seafood restaurant in the Pike Place Market before Eddie and I went to the airport to fly home. It was a great trip and a nice way to finish up the freedom of my 4.5 month maternity leave. In Eddie's 4 months of life he's been on 6 plane rides, slept in 6 different houses, in 1 train, and in 3 hotels. And he's already been to 5 states other than CA.

Dave's Favorite Stir Fry

When I was pregnant I never really had cravings for any particular food, like many women have. I also never threw up (thank God...I'd rather die than throw up). There was only one time when I came close to barfing and it was because I thought about making stir fry for Dave--a dish I often made for him on Wednesday nights using veggies I would buy at the farmers market on my way home from campus. Throughout my pregnancy anything smelling like Chinese food grossed me out. When I asked Dave what he wanted me to make for dinner that night and he said stir fry, I immediately said no. Poor guy--he had to wait for over a year to eat it again.

A few weeks ago I actually wanted it myself so we went to the farmers market and bought a sack full of veggies. Dave and I have decided that stir fry it pointless without diakon radish so we made sure to get two to make up for lost time. =) There's a booth at our market where a little Asian couple (maybe Chinese or Hmong) sells a huge variety of veggies. They don't speak English very well, but when I ask what is good in stir fry, they can help me find some good stuff to use.

So here's what we generally use in our stir fry and how I cook it. It has no meat but you wouldn't notice since there is so much flavor and texture. We serve it over sticky white rice.

Dave's Favorite Stir Fry
  • Diakon radish, cut into sticks
  • Carrot, cut into half circles or sticks
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Minced ginger
  • Chopped bok choy
  • Minced jalapeno pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Chicken or beef broth base
  • Corn starch
We always buy this vegetable...and I don't know what it is called. The lady told me it is good in stir fry so we use it every time. We even eat the flowers. I cut the thicker stems off and chop them up separately from the leaves/flowers.
So here is everything that I used this time. The type of veggies usually vary, but we ALWAYS use diakon radish (the white stuff) and the green veggie with yellow flowers.1. I start by heating some olive oil and sesame oil in a huge skillet and then cooking the ginger and jalapeno pepper for a few minutes. 2. Then I put in the daikon, carrot, and green veggie stems--these things are all a bit hard so it takes them a while to cook.
3. Then I douse it with some soy sauce.
4. Once all this stuff is tender (~5 minutes), I start throwing in everything else, except the leafy greens since those cook so fast.
5. I let it hang out for a few minutes, then pour in about 2 cups of chicken or beef broth (2 t mixed in 2 cups hot water) mixed with 2 tablespoons of corn starch. I let it come to a simmer so it will thicken.
6. Then I add more soy sauce.
7. The leafy greens are thrown in for just a few minutes at the end until they are tender.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Almost Back

Returning to school is such a hassle. I went on PELP (Planned Education Leave Program) for the fall quarter so I could have some time as a full time mom while Eddie is still so young. PELP is a great program since you can purchase health insurance during it and you can return after your alloted 3 quarters without having to reapply. People use it when they need a break due to family issues, maternity, LDS missions, or simply need time to reevaluate their situation.

The hassle is that I have to be rehired for my position in my department since I am technically employed as a researcher. So I have to fill out all my tax forms again and bring in my passport. I have to fill out all the direct deposit stuff again. I also have to register for credits (classes, seminars, research units), which is impossible when the ladies in the Graduate Studies Office take their sweet time changing my status from "PELP" to "active." Hopefully they'll get it done soon because if I can't file my paperwork by Tuesday then I have to pay the $110 late fee...which I just don't have.

I also received a fellowship, which is supposed to cover half of my fees/insurance/stipend for the next year but I haven't received the offer letter in the mail yet so my funding for next quarter is still not finalized.

Since I'm employed as a graduate student researcher I don't get maternity leave, paid or otherwise. Grad students just have to take time off of school if they want any sort of leave at all and that means going without our stipend (read: pittance). Being unemployed for the last 5 months has been tough for us financially. Not only will earning an income again be nice but so will working--I love taking care of Eddie but I really do miss my research (and being around other adults).

Lucky for me, when I told my new professor that I will have to stay home two days a week to take care of Eddie since we can't afford full time care, he was very supportive. He asked how much it costs for a nanny or childcare and when I told him he didn't believe me! Back in 1990 when his son was born he said they paid a nanny $18/day. HA! The going rate in our town now for a nanny is between $8.50 and $10/hour.

We'll be interviewing 3 potential nannies this weekend, all of whom are college students at UCD and have experience with young babies. Hopefully we'll find one we feel really comfortable with so we can hire her and not have to worry about finding someone. On the days that I'm home with Eddie I'll also be watching two other babies for a few hours in the afternoon and evening while their moms (also students, one undergrad and one grad) are in lab or in class. One is a little boy who is a few months older than Eddie and the other is a little girl who is exactly Eddie's age. I met their moms through the UCD pregnancy support group last school year. My plan is to off-set some of the cost of our own nanny by earning some babysitting money myself.

I just got back from campus (walked both ways!). Eddie and I went to a breastfeeding support group meeting and then did some paperwork in my building. At the meeting we all introduced ourselves and our babies (those of us who brought them) and gave an update on how breastfeeding was going for us. One lady who is a resident doctor at the medical center had her little boy with her and she told us that everything was going fine until about 3 weeks ago when he got sick, stopped nursing, and started refusing to eat even his favorite solid foods. He's had an ear infection for about 2 weeks and is teething. He's lost so much weight that now, at 9 months old, he's down in the 3rd percetile for weight--his pediatrician has given him 2 days to gain some weight or he will have to be admitted to the hospital. His poor mom was trying to feed him but he just wouldn't latch on. She thinks his ears hurt too much to swallow. She said she and her husband have tried everything to get more calories into him (soaking Cheerios in olive oil, butter soaked toast, whole fat yogurt, bottles of formula and breastmilk) but he's just not interested in eating. It was SO sad--the whole room was crying as she was telling us this. She was so frustrated. I really hope her baby gets better soon. Everyone there told her she shouldn't feel guilty if he has to go to the hospital--if that's what he needs to jump start his health then so be it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Our Weekend

This was quite a busy weekend!

On Friday I went to lab all day (~6 hours) while Dave stayed home with Eddie. I made sure to defrost plenty of bottles and give him lots and lots of kisses before I left. Now that he's older he's able to entertain himself a little and he loves to be entertained by Dave. I made sure to pump twice while on campus so I could replenish my milk stash. I used the lactation station in my building in the morning, but by the afternoon that room's light was out so I had to walk across campus to the old vet school building. THEN I realized that I had forgotten to bring lids to the storage bottles. Arg! Luckily I had plenty of parafilm in the lab and nothing spilled on my bike ride home.

When I got home there were 2 smiling faces waiting for me inside. Eddie was a good boy all day for Dave--although he didn't nap more than 20 minutes. He usually takes an hour nap in the mornings and then a 2-3 hour nap in the late afternoon.

That night we bought a fake Christmas tree at Target. I'm sorta bummed about having a fake tree--it is like having a carcass in your house. A carcass of a tree. Ick. Plus they don't smell good like real trees. But considering that a 7' live tree costs between $30-$60 and a nice fake tree from Target costs only $100, it just doesn't make sense to go with a live one. Our tree isn't as heavily decorated this year as it has been in the past because I quickly decorated it in the few minutes I knew Eddie would stay asleep. It's a little sparse, but at least it is up. We didn't decorate at all last year since my mom's health made life too crazy.Saturday morning I couldn't sleep after Eddie woke up to nurse at 7am. So we all got up (humans and dogs), got dressed, and walked downtown to the Farmers Market, the bank, and to the bagel shop. I'd promised to make stir fry for Dave this weekend so we bought all the veggies at the market. We got home just in time for me to nurse Eddie before our friend Melissa came over to baby sit Eddie. Since I have only 1 month before returning to school, I realized that Eddie's never been babysat by anyone. He's only used to us and that could be a problem come January when he's left with a nanny all day. So Melissa came over for an hour while Dave and I took the dogs to the dog park. He was a bit fussy for her toward the end but he did pretty well over all.

The rest of the day Dave worked on moving our office stuff (desk, computer, internet connection, supplies) to the livingroom. We're renting our office room to my labmate, Arek. I feel bad that we have to go in there to pay bills and stuff when he's not home since he's paying to use the room. Plus that room will eventually need to be Eddie's room when he *eventually* gets a sibling who will take over his we figured we might as well get a head start on things.

While I suffered through a jog this morning, Dave hung our Christmas lights. I was so excited to see then once it got dark but it is FREEZING outside (literally) and raining so I'll have to wait to admire them another night. Dave finished installing the ethernet cable in the wall while I decorated the Christmas tree. Then we headed off to Ikea to buy a desktop and desk legs and eating Swedish meatballs for lunch. Yum!

Can you believe that there is snow forecast for Davis tonight? Crazy!

Eddie's Getting a Cousin!

My sister-in-law, Bernie, is pregnant with a baby girl. She's due on Saint Patrick's day and I can't wait to meet her! I'm super excited for Bernie because I know how much she wants a baby. It'll be so great for Eddie to have a cousin who is near him in age and location. Growing up I didn't really know any of my cousins because they all lived far away and/or were much older.

This baby girl should be beautiful, considering how pretty Bernie is. It'll be interesting to see what she looks like since Bernie is half Filipino with dark skin/hair and Mike is part Italian with reddish hair. Mixed race babies are always gorgeous.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving was Mike's birthday so we all went on a hike and a picnic at Mt. Diablo. Bernie was there and it was the first time that we saw each other since she found out I was pregnant. She wouldn't talk to me, however, even though we were both part of the same group-wide conversations. I think she only looked at me once, and it was by accident. She didn't even acknowledge Eddie because I was holding him the whole time.But at least she's willing to be around me now. Its a start, I suppose.

We brought the all terrain stroller for our hike but since Dave forgot to bring the carseat attachment, we used it to carry everyone's stuff instead of the baby. This was Eddie's first time facing out in the carrier. I'd say he liked it, but really he just fell asleep.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hair Loss

All the pregnancy books tell you that while expecting your hair will feel fuller and thicker. What they don't tell you is that at about 11 weeks postpartum you will start to lose TONS of hair. When you're pregnant there's a hormone that prevents your hair from falling out as it normally does everyday. Losing less hair means thicker hair.

But when that hormone is gone, whoa, you suddenly start to lose a lot of hair. I sorta freaked out when I brushed my hair and wads of it would come out in my hand and in the brush. But after doing a little reading I realized what was going on.

This weekend I got about 6 inches of my hair cut off. Eddie has started grabbing my hair so I figured the shorter the better. It is always a weird sensation to wash my hair for the first time after a major hair cut. I forget how little there is and always use too much shampoo.I don't know if it is a coincidence, but Eddie also started losing a lot of hair at around 11 or 12 weeks old. Almost all of his newborn hair is gone, except for the whorl on the back of his head and down near his neck: The top of his head is nearly bald compared to when he was born. Here he is at a few days old:
And now look:
His little hat is full of hairs and when I brush my hand over his head lots of hairs fall out. It is sad, but I know his hair will eventually grow back. All babies lose their super soft newborn hair.

At least he has his Grandpa's beard to keep his balding head warm: I realize this picture is disturbing, but if you're going to have a ridiculous beard like my dad does, you might as well play with it, right? =)

Note To Self

...if you are going to bring your breast pump to pump milk while you're at school, make sure you bring lids for the bottles.

I forgot to bring lids for the collection bottles so I have to use parafilm and rubberbands from my lab. Not ideal, but it works. Let's hope they don't leak on my bike ride home this evening.


It is a good thing I decided to start coming to lab once a week before I jump back into my research full time in January--I clearly have some mental adjusting to do!

Today is Dave's first day of taking care of Eddie all day while I'm gone. I hope everything is going well for them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One Year Ago

One year ago today I found out I was pregnant. I came home from school that night, opened a nice bottle of red wine, and drank a glass while sitting on the couch watching TV.

For weeks I'd been waiting for Aunt Flow to arrive. I had told myself I would wait until December 10 to take a pregnancy test--I figured there was NO WAY I was pregnant and waiting until then would just show me that I was crazy to think I was pregnant. How could I be pregnant? I was on birth control, not to mention that my husband only lived at home 3 days a week. So my chances were pretty low.

Something told me to just take a test that night after enjoying my glass of wine. When the digital reading said "pregnant" I just stared at it in disbelief. (And the remainder of that delicious bottle of wine sat on our counter for a long time...until I finally made risotto with it since I couldn't drink it anymore.)

Later that night Dave was finally online so we could chat over Gmail. This is how our conversation went:
me: um, you definitely need to ask your dad about paternity leave...
David: !
me: !!
10:10 PM i took a test since i couldn't stand it anymore
David: !!!

Only weeks before that fateful night my mom had been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer and had spent 5 weeks in the hospital. My stress level was through the roof and I was probably a little depressed, too. I think that stress got the best of my hormonal equilibrium and overpowered my birth control.

Getting pregnant seemed like the last thing I needed at the time: my lab had lost funding so I was going to be out of a job, my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and Dave didn't even live with me. I remember being worried about the financial impact a baby would bring into our household, the disappointment from my dad when I would have to tell him I was pregnant before finishing my degree, how we'd handle a baby with Dave living/working away from me, and mostly how my sister-in-law would react to the news. All those thoughts swirled around in my head in the moments after I read the word "pregnant" on the pregnancy test stick sitting on the bathroom counter.

Lucky for me, everything has worked out and getting pregnant turned out to be the best "oops" of my life.


Over the last couple of weeks, Eddie has made major motor skill strides.My mom and I were playing with Eddie last Saturday while my dad and Dave were in the garage installing outdoor lights around the garage door. I put Eddie on his tummy so he could show off his head-holding-up skills for his doting Grandma. And then he rolled over! It was sooooo exciting! I put him back up on his belly and he did it again in the other direction.I ran out into the garage and announced it to the menfolk. They were excited, but not so excited as to run inside with me to see him do it again. (Men...sigh.) He didn't do it again that night for my dad to see but he's done it again for Dave to see.

We know he can almost roll from his back to his tummy, too, since we often find him almost on his tummy in his crib after a nap.

About 2 weeks before I left for the east coast Eddie discovered his hands. He'd hold them up in front of his face, turn them around, and just stare at them with this expression on his face that said, "Whoa dude....those are like attached to my body. Far out, dude." He munches on his fingers and palms whenever he can. The drooling has begun so he now wears a terrycloth bib almost all the time.

Around Thanksgiving he began to purposely grab at things with his hands, or kick things with his feet. He can spin the frog toy around and around when he's in his bouncy seat and hold onto rattles if you put it close enough to him. Anything he gets in his hands he immediately shoves into his mouth. It is sooooo cute!He babbles and smiles a lot now, too. When we sing to him he laughs, babbles, and tries so hard to mimic our mouth movements. I love sticking my tongue out and watching him try to do the same.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Meet the Beast

My green wagon died TEN weeks ago tomorrow (but who's counting?).

For once in my life, I decided to make my life easier by just buying a car. I'm thankful that we're able to afford to buy a car because I know a lot of people aren't. (Hopefully my Volvo will be fixed so Dave can drive it and we can chuck the Saturn.)Here's our 2008 Toyota Sienna that we bought on Black Friday at CarMax.It is the lowest model package you can get in a Sienna so there aren't any fancy do-dads to break. Considering our other cars are 11 years old, having such a new car is a real treat for us. We looked at a Town and Country, liked the way it handled, but it had so much unnecessary stuff that we were sure would break long before we were done with it (DVD player, navigation system, etc.).

We really wanted leather seats so the dogs wouldn't stain the seats too much, but we couldn't justify spending that much more money for that option. We also wanted a light exterior color (white or silver) but those vans only come with light tan interiors, which would get mighty dirty from our dogs. So we opted for a black van with gray cloth seats since this van was the best deal around. We actually had to have it shipped from the Modesto CarMax since the ones in Roseville were more money for more miles. I know it'll get hot in the summer but that's just something we'll have to deal with. Dave's looking into buying removable seat covers that we can wash occasionally.

So although we didn't get exactly what we wanted in a minivan, we did get the most important things: reliability that comes with a newer vehicle (with a 5 year warranty!) and lots of cargo and people space. We had to balance the amount we wanted to spend with things like color and trim level.

So far it is a great car for our little family. It has lots of room, it handles well even on curvy Highway One up to my in-laws' house, is very easy to get Eddie's seat in and out, and the dogs can walk around the middle seats to get out instead of plowing over Eddie's car seat. Dave and his long legs are quite comfortable even with the baby seat positioned directly behind him.