First Halloween

Before Lillian arrived, we wondered whether her first Halloween would be this year or next year. It seemed to be about a 50/50 chance either way, based on the possibilities I charted out in my Guess Baby’s Birthday post. But she definitely came along in time for Halloween 2011, and is exactly one week old today.

We thought it would be cute to get her some kind of little Halloween outfit, but finding one in a newborn size on such short notice turned out to be pretty difficult. (Not that we were trying very hard, what with having a newborn to take care of and all.) But while we were in Babies R Us picking up some other stuff, we spotted these little pumpkin bibs on a clearance rack for $3.00 and couldn’t resist.

Lillian's first Halloween.

Of course she’s too young to know anything special’s going on today, other than her crazy mom dressing her in a pumpkin bib and taking pictures while she’s trying to sleep. But it’ll be awesome in a few more years when she can pick out her own costume and go trick-or-treating.

Speaking of trick-or-treating: since this is also our first Halloween in the new house, we didn’t quite know what to expect, but it seemed good to be prepared. So the last time we went grocery shopping, we picked up four bags of candy to have on hand for trick-or-treaters, figuring it would be more than enough. (And that we’d have a good excuse to eat leftover candy later.)

But wow, there are a lot of kids in this neighborhood. For a while there, it seemed like the doorbell was ringing every two minutes, and it was funny watching Joe run back and forth passing out candy while I fed Lillian. We actually started to worry that we’d run out of candy, although luckily by the end of the day there was still some left in our giant bowl:

The leftover Halloween candy.

Hopefully this is a sign that our daughter will have lots of playmates in the neighborhood as she gets older.

In other Halloween news, it probably goes without saying that we’ve had too much going on lately to do any Halloween decorating. The most we could muster was to slap this old electric jack-o-lantern in one of the front windows:

Lonely old jack-o-lantern.

Better than nothing, right? But I guess there’s always next year for decorating and pumpkin carving and all that, not to mention hayrides and haunted houses down the road as Lillian gets older. I must admit I’m looking forward to being able to do those kinds of “kid” things again!

Lillian’s Delivery

In my last pregnancy update on this blog, I talked about how the baby was measuring large, and mentioned that they were considering stripping my membranes on Monday morning to possibly get labor going. But this turned out not to be necessary — the very night before that, baby Lillian decided to come along all on her own.

Gratuitous adorable baby picture featuring a sleeping Lillian.

It started at 1:00 am. Joe and I were still awake — we’d just finished watching Battle: Los Angeles (awful movie) together, but rather than go to sleep, I got a sudden urge to go work on some last-minute updates to the nursery. My water broke unexpectedly as I was walking into the room, and after reassuring myself that this wasn’t just some kind of horribly embarrassing bladder control accident, I called the doctor and was told to come in to the hospital.

We were admittedly a little unprepared for this. In retrospect, we should have gotten a hospital bag packed at some point over the weekend, especially considering that there was a chance my labor might be triggered at that appointment on Monday morning. So we scrambled to pack things up at the last second. (Or rather, Joe scrambled to pack things up while I sat on a towel.)

After the most luxuriously traffic-free drive into downtown Chicago ever, we arrived at the hospital at 2:00 am. And roughly eighteen hours later, our daughter Lillian was born.

Our newborn daughter, only minutes old.

There are no words to describe how it felt to welcome this tiny new life into the world — the second they put her on my chest, Joe and I were laughing and crying and marveling at how beautiful she was, right down to her tiny perfect little fingers.

I'm a mom.

It was easily one of the happiest moments in my life, even if I do look exhausted (and a bit like I got run over by a train) in the above cameraphone photo. And it was so wonderful watching Joe hold his newborn daughter for the first time.

And he's a dad.

At one point, Lillian grabbed one of his fingers, no doubt a sign that the baby girl loves her daddy already.

Lillian holding her daddy's finger.

As a side note, I couldn’t have hoped for an easier delivery: it took less than fifteen minutes of pushing, and after nearly nine months of reading terrifying things about 4th-degree perineal lacerations and episiotomies, I ended up needing only two tiny stitches when all was said and done. Not bad for a 9-pound baby, especially considering that they’d been talking about the possibility of a c-section.

The next two days at the hospital were like staying in a really nice hotel. The food was great, and you could order whatever you wanted off of a menu and have it show up on a tray in less than an hour. Not to mention the entire staff of baby experts on call in case you needed any help. That hospital room had everything, including a place for Joe and the baby to sleep.

Our hospital room, complete with sleeping baby.

When it came time to leave, we asked the nurse to take a picture of us with Lillian. Unfortunately it came out a little blurry, but it’s the first photo ever taken of all three of us as a new family, and I can’t help but love it.

Family of three.

It’s funny: as we were getting everything packed up to leave the hospital, we realized we didn’t have a newborn-size outfit for Lillian, so she came home in this ruffly purple dress that was about ten sizes too large:

Lillian asleep in her crib after coming home from the hospital.

I guess that’s what happens when you scramble to pack up your hospital bag at one in the morning.

Anyway, I have to say that physically, I don’t feel like I had a baby just a few days ago. Sure there’s some lingering soreness, but it really isn’t even bad enough to warrant taking a Motrin. And before even leaving the hospital I got the okay from my doctor to drive — apparently if you haven’t had a C-section and aren’t on any pain meds, you can get behind the wheel again as soon as you feel up to it.

These past few days, I’ve even been driving us around to Lillian’s pediatrician appointments and to pick up various baby paraphernalia that we’d somehow forgotten. I ran into one store to pick up a nursing bra (among other things) while Joe and Lillian waited in the car, and a friendly saleswoman asked how old the baby was. When I answered “four days,” and confirmed that it was mine, it kind of blew her mind. More so because I’d showered and wasn’t wearing sweatpants.

So yeah… Lillian is four days old now. I’d like to think we’re settling into this “being parents” thing pretty well, although it helps that so far she’s been an easy baby who only cries when she’s hungry or wants her diaper changed. But this is uncharted territory, and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of adventures (and misadventures) await us in the mysterious land of parenthood.

Baby Hart is Here!

Lillian Jeanette arrived on Monday, October 24th at 8:26 pm, weighing in at a healthy 9 lbs. 0 oz. and measuring 22.5 inches long. I may be biased, but I’m pretty sure she’s the cutest baby in the entire universe:

Our newborn daughter, Lillian Jeanette, dozing peacefully.

She’s got a perfect round little face and blond hair like her daddy’s. And she’s very healthy — she scored a 9/9 on her Apgars, she’s been eating like a champ, and she’s passed every test the doctors and nurses have thrown at her.

We should be leaving the hospital later today. More details and pictures to follow shortly!

38 Weeks: The Final Stretch

Even though there are still technically two weeks until Baby Hart’s due date, we’ve been bracing ourselves for the possibility that the pregnancy won’t get that far. In addition to the fact that baby is measuring larger than many do at 40 weeks, there have also been some signs that my body is gearing up for labor. Possible TMI warning here: anyone who might be bothered by technical childbirth-related stuff should probably skip this blog post.

Still here? Okay, moving forward… My last doctor’s appointment revealed that my cervix is already two centimeters dilated, which is apparently a sign that something’s been happening. Save for two or three scattered twinges, I haven’t noticed any contractions at all (though I hear Braxton-Hicks are fairly common at this stage) and considering that babies are ready to be born at 10 centimeters, I was a little surprised to be a fifth of the way there already. Granted, according to this article it isn’t uncommon for the cervix to be up to 2 centimeters dilated in the weeks prior to labor, so this isn’t necessarily a guarantee that anything’s going to get started soon.

Even so, it seemed like a wise idea to make yesterday my last official day at work instead of waiting until next Friday to start maternity leave — my boss and coworkers seemed pretty keen on not pushing the possibility that I’d go into labor right there in the office. And considering that I’ve been feeling increasingly fatigued lately, and that I can continue to do some work from home over any remaining days until baby’s arrival, it seems like a win-win solution for everyone.

Speaking of work, my coworkers put together a little surprise baby shower on Wednesday with pizza and an adorable pink “it’s a girl” cake-and-cupcake assortment, which was delicious. (There was some joking that more employees should start having babies so there’d be an excuse to indulge in those kinds of sweets more often.) And I also got a goodie bag containing some adorable pink baby outfits:

Adorable pink baby clothes laid out in the crib, with baby bump in the foreground.

In other news, my next doctor’s appointment is on Monday, and even though they’ve said that they wouldn’t induce labor unless there’s a medical need (as discussed in my measuring ultrasound post), they are open to stripping my membranes and seeing if that will get labor going spontaneously. There’s an article about that process here — unlike a full-blown induction with pitocin, which can sometimes fail resulting in an unplanned c-section, there isn’t much risk to stripping the membranes: either it will work and trigger labor, or nothing will happen and you’re back where you started. So it’ll be interesting see what happens with that, if anything.

In the meantime, we’ll be scrambling to put the finishing touches on the nursery and get the house in order and such. Gotta prepare everything as much as possible, since either way Baby Hart will be here before we know it!

No More Ice Cream?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my weight gain during this pregnancy has been… a bit above the recommended amount. While there are probably a number of factors that have contributed to that — including the fact that I had no morning sickness whatsoever during the first trimester — I can’t really deny that my attitude has been a part of it.

The following is a rough illustration of how I’ve approached nutrition throughout the pregnancy:

  • 1st Trimester – “I should snack on some nice vegetables. Gotta stay healthy!”
  • 2nd Trimester – “Meh, it’s not really that important, I’ll just eat whatever.”
  • 3rd Trimester – “TOUCH MY ICE CREAM AND I WILL BITE YOUR ARMS OFF.”

Yes, unfortunately in recent weeks my weakness has been ice cream, the richest, fattiest, unhealthiest substance known to mankind. The specific variety is usually something along the following lines:

Tub of Breyer's chocolate fudge brownie ice cream.

So yeah… not just any plain old ice cream, but chocolate fudge ice cream with chunks of brownie in it. Quite possibly the most decadent variety of ice cream ever.

…Or is it? I was looking at the packaging the other day and noticed something interesting:

"Frozen Dairy Dessert."

Apparently it’s so full of creative non-traditional ingredients that they can’t even legally call it “ice cream” anymore. It’s a frozen dairy dessert. (There’s an article here that explains some of the FDA requirements needed for a product to actually be called ice cream — who knew?)

On the plus side, at least I can truthfully say that I didn’t polish off that entire tub of Breyer’s chocolate fudge brownie ice cream, because apparently there’s no such thing. (Yay for denial and contrived self-serving logic!)