Guess Baby’s Birthday!

Now that Baby Hart is technically full term, I’ve been thinking a lot about what her actual birthdate will be. There’s a pretty wide range of possibilities, including some notable dates and holidays, so I thought it would be fun to make a little calendar to break it all down:

A calendar showing all the possibilities for Baby Hart's birthday. (Probably.)

It starts today, and it goes to November 12th, which is a bit over a week past baby’s due date. (At my last appointment, the doctor explained that they’d prefer to induce labor by the early 41 week mark if the pregnancy goes that far, so it seems unlikely that she’ll be born after that date.)

Anyway, I included various little icons and illustrations on the calendar to indicate the following dates:

  • October 22 – The baby shower. Looking at this calendar makes it feel like we’re cutting it pretty close with that, but hopefully she’ll wait to arrive until afterwards.
  • October 28 – My last day of work before going on maternity leave. This one is intentionally close to the due date since I wanted to keep working for as long as possible, though obviously plans will change if baby decides to come earlier.
  • October 31 – Halloween! As far as holiday birthdays go, at least it’s not as bad as Christmas, what with the always getting cheated out of presents thing. Although there’s an interesting article here about how birth rates decrease significantly on Halloween because apparently women don’t want to give birth on a day associated with horror and death.
  • November 3 – The official due date. I’ve heard that only about 5% of babies are actually born on their due dates, so it would be interesting if she turned out to be among the punctual few.
  • November 5 – Guy Fawkes day. Technically more of a British thing I guess, but the “Remember remember the fifth of November” rhyme is pretty catchy.
  • November 2-8 – Potential election days in the United States. Relevant because Joe’s job tends to require him to work ridiculous hours leading up to elections and on the election days themselves. Not an issue this year since there’s not much going on, but it could have implications for future birthdays.
  • November 11 – Notable only because it would make her birthdate 11/11/11. Which would be pretty cool.

So let’s play the “Guess Baby’s Birthday” game! To enter, just leave a comment with your guess, and feel free to include any details on why you chose it and/or why it would be a neat birthdate. Unfortunately there’s no actual prize for guessing correctly, but the winner(s) will get recognition and bragging rights and so forth. Guess away!

Update: The game is officially over! It turns out the correct answer was October 24. Thanks to everyone who made a guess, and feel free to check out the full story of Baby Hart’s arrival.

37 Weeks: The Measuring Ultrasound

As I mentioned in my 36-week pregnancy update post, the doctor estimates that Baby Hart is on track to be a fairly large baby, and so this week’s appointment involved an ultrasound to try to get a better idea just how big she’s getting.

I didn’t really expect to go in for any further ultrasounds at the doctor’s office — that was part of the reason we sprung for the elective 3D ultrasound at 30 weeks — so at first, this seemed like a nice fun bonus. Unfortunately, it seemed much harder to make out any meaningful images on the screen now than it did at 20 or 30 weeks. The ultrasound technician explained that since baby’s gotten much bigger, but the ultrasound transducer has stayed the same, of course it’ll seem less clear, since at any given time you’re just seeing a part of the head or whatever.

And that’s why I don’t have any good ultrasound pics for this post. But to make up for it, here is a blurry cameraphone picture of the ultrasound machine:

Ultrasound machine at the doctor's office.

Anyway, what did the ultrasound show? According to the measurements, Baby Hart is estimated to weigh — get this — 8.5 pounds. This is with three weeks left to go, and at this stage the baby can still gain up to half a pound per week… so if she’s born on or near her due date, she’s practically guaranteed to be a ten-pounder. (Granted, there is a margin of error of two pounds in either direction — so she might only weigh 6.5 pounds right now. Or she could be up over ten pounds already.)

In light of this news, my doctor brought up the possibility of an elective C-section. This isn’t because she thinks there’s no way this baby will be able to be born naturally — she still thinks I have a good shot at that — but because of the distinctly non-zero chance that I might go through labor in its entirety, push for several hours, and end up needing a C-section anyway because baby just can’t fit. Which sounds unpleasant, to be sure, but I’m not sure it’d be quite as bad as just having the C-section and then wondering afterwards whether it was really necessary.

Interesting side note: this hospital won’t induce labor early unless there’s some kind of serious problem, and they don’t count baby measuring large as one of those.

In other slightly unpleasant medical news, I also found out that I tested positive for Group B Strep. In case anyone is unfamiliar with this, it’s a bacteria that’s harmless to the ~30% of women who carry it, but that can be fatal to newborns. (More info here.) Luckily, there’s a highly effective way of preventing baby from catching it that just involves me getting some IV antibiotics during labor.

Anyway, not much else to report here at the 37-week mark. I’ve been feeling a bit more fatigued lately, which I suppose is to be expected, but I’m still working full time and walking two miles a day, and hope to keep up both for as long as possible. And since Baby Hart is full term now, and by all accounts large, we should probably be bracing for the possibility that she’ll arrive before her due date. Gotta get that car seat installed and put the finishing touches on the nursery ASAP…

Living Room Upgrade #1: Adding a Sofa

In the spirit of my recent bathroom storage upgrade post, I thought I’d try to cover a few more of the non-baby-related house upgrades that we’ve tackled since moving in, such as our living room furnishing situation.

Back at our old apartment, our living room contained two secondhand black leather sofas, both of which we obtained through Craigslist. They were mismatched and a little shabby, but functional in terms of providing a place to lounge about in the evenings:

Secondhand black leather sofas at our old apartment.

Now it may not be evident from the photo above, but the three-seater on the left was in pretty bad shape, with the legs falling off and the cushions wearing through in places. When we moved into the new house, we didn’t even bother to take it with us, figuring that we would make do with just the two-seater until we could upgrade to something nicer down the road.

But it only took a few weeks before a good wallowing couch made its way to the top of the list of things we wanted to work into our house budget. There’s just nothing like having a big, soft, comfy space to sprawl out after a long day at work, and plus it would be nice to have places for people to sit if we ever had visitors over.

So what kind of couch? Well, after a few years of the leather, we decided that leather wasn’t for us — it just gets too sweaty and sticky when sitting on it for any length of time. And even though the two black couches had been gotten through Craigslist with no problems, we’d heard that bedbugs have been increasingly turning up in the Chicago area (more info about that in this article)… so bringing in a large upholstered item of uncertain origin no longer seemed like the most appetizing idea.

So that’s how we ended up shopping around the various furniture stores for the biggest, cheapest, comfiest new non-leather sofa we could find. We had a few awkward run-ins with sales people desperate to sell us high-end living room sets to the tune of $5,000 (!!!) but we eventually managed to find something much more affordable — the Soho Cobblestone 2-Piece Sectional from Value City Furniture.

Just to work in some fun before-and-after pictures, here’s the living room as it looked before we moved in:

The living room prior to moving in.

And here’s the living room from a similar angle showing the comfy new sofa:

The new sectional sofa in our living room.

(Kindly ignore those still-unpacked moving boxes tucked away along the right side of the photo.) As far as wallowing couches go, this one is pretty great: it provides enough space for five or six people to sit normally, and plenty of room for two tall people like us to stretch out on. And sure it takes up an entire end of the living room, but I can’t think of anything else better to put over there anyway.

Grendel also seems to approve:

Our cat fast asleep on the new sofa.

Oh, and you’ll also notice the paint job the living room’s been given — we replaced the plain, smudgy white with a creamier shade that seemed to fit in a little more nicely with the wood trim. We also tried painting the previously-white upper crown molding, but I don’t think we got the color quite right. Maybe down the road we’ll try a different paint color, or better yet, restore it to a dark natural finish to match the woodwork around around the doorways.

Anyway, even though the walls are still bare, overall it already feels quite a bit more comfortable and homey than our old apartment did. And that about wraps up what’s been going on with the living room (or at least the one side of it). In my next post, I’ll probably be back to talking about baby-related stuff, since there’s only three weeks left to go now!

36 Weeks: Cue the Weekly Doctor Visits

On Wednesday, I had my 36-week prenatal checkup — and after the once-every-four-weeks doctor’s visits of early pregnancy, and the once-every-two-weeks visits that started around the beginning of the third trimester, I’ve now finally reached the weekly appointment stage. Baby Hart will be considered full-term in less than a week according to this BabyCenter article, and it’s a little hard to believe that delivery is getting so close.

Gratuitous poorly-lit baby bump photo taken in our kitchen.

So far, everything’s still looking good and healthy: baby’s heartbeat is normal, my blood pressure is normal, and I don’t even really have any new symptoms to report. The heartburn is still around, but is mild enough to be kept in check by Tums, and the dreaded lower back pain still hasn’t kicked in, thank goodness. I’ve even been sleeping reasonably well, and waking up for urgent bathroom runs no more than once or twice per night.

The only downside is that my weight gain is up to… wait for it… a whopping 65 pounds. My doctor had the good grace not to lecture me about this, and it doesn’t appear to be causing any health problems, though its side effect may be a large baby. (In fairness, big babies do seem to run in my family — I myself was a hefty 10.5 pounder — so it may not be entirely due to the weight gain.) Still, the doctor estimates that Baby Hart would weigh seven pounds if she were to be born today, and that she’ll probably be up to nine or ten pounds by the time delivery rolls around.

Speaking of delivery, Baby Hart is now in a head-down position, which was a relief to hear — I’d been a bit worried about that after being told that she was sitting in a breech position back at our 3D ultrasound at 31 weeks. Apparently they’re unlikely to flip again this late in the pregnancy due to running out of room in there, so if everything goes well I can hopefully expect an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. And that’s even considering that she may be large: the doctor doesn’t seem the slightest bit concerned about my ability to birth a 10-pound baby, so… yay for big bones I guess? (And also, ouch.)

In other news, after my appointment on Wednesday I dropped off my labor and delivery pre-admission forms at the hospital. It was the first time I’d been there, and all I saw was the lobby, but it seems like a nice place. The hospital’s website actually has a virtual tour for new parents, which you can check out here — below is their shot of the area where I actually dropped off my papers:

Obstetrical triage waiting room at the hospital. Image from here.

So at least that little errand is out of the way, which is a relief considering how close delivery is getting — for some reason it didn’t seem all that close until October hit, and now it suddenly feels like we’re running out of time. If only there weren’t still so many other little things to do!

Baby Photo Project Ideas

I love taking pictures. That much can probably be gathered from my posts on this blog, which tend to be packed with images, or from my Flickr account, which has amassed literally thousands of photos over the past few years.

So it’s probably no surprise that Baby Hart hasn’t even been born yet, and I’m already thinking about baby pictures. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about baby photography projects — creative ways to document baby’s growth over the first year or so. There are some pretty neat examples out there, so I thought I’d look at a few today just to give an idea what I’m talking about.

The first such photo project I came across was baby Clara’s weekly photos from the home improvement blog Young House Love. Every week for the first year, they would take a picture of her on a colorful fabric backdrop, and then photoshop her age (in weeks) on the front of her plain white onesie. Below is the end result, with all 52 photos laid out in a grid:

Weekly baby photos on colorful fabric. Image from here.

Since the thumbnails above are probably too small to see in any detail, here’s a closer view of one random photo from the series that shows how they incorporated her age into each of the photographs:

Baby photo on colorful fabric with age in weeks. Image from here.

While I really love how bright and colorful this series is, I think its one big shortcoming is that there’s no sense of scale — the fabric backgrounds just don’t provide any point of reference to help gauge how much she’s grown from the first image to the last, and that seems like half the fun of doing a baby photo project in the first place.

The next such photo project I came across was baby Eleanor’s monthly photo series from the decorating blog Making It Lovely. Every month, she got her picture taken in the same white chair in the same light-filled room:

Monthly baby photo series from here.

Using the same chair definitely solves the scale problem — and I think it’s really neat to be able contrast the tiny newborn lying in image one to the grinning one-year-old sitting in image twelve. Oh, and this project also incorporates the baby’s age into the photos by including it on the badge she’s wearing each month — since it probably isn’t visible above, here’s a larger version of one of the photos showing the badge in more detail:

Baby photo showing age on badge. Image from here.

So at this point, I became curious about what kinds of other projects like this people had done, and started searching around for more examples. At first I thought it would be easy to find loads of them — it seemed like everyone on the internet with a baby and a camera would probably be doing something along these lines — but it actually turned out to be surprisingly tricky. I did eventually manage to uncover a few more, though.

For instance, here’s a fun example I found on a site entitled Erica’s Bloggity Blog, where the project involved dressing baby Jonas in the exact same pajamas for each picture:

Photo series with baby growing into (and out of) an outfit. Image from here.

I think it’s adorable how the outfit progresses from super baggy to super snug to literally splitting open as he grows. And shooting the photo just once every four months (instead of every month or every week) makes the changes from one photo to the next seem all the more dramatic.

This next example comes from a blog entitled Sprik Space, where they took a picture of baby Connor with the same stuffed monkey every month for his first year:

Baby photo series with a stuffed monkey. Image from here.

What makes this series particularly interesting is that Connor was a micro-preemie born at just 26 weeks gestation, weighing two pounds six ounces, and he spent the first 120 days of his life in the NICU. In the first monkey picture (second frame in the top row), the stuffed animal is almost as large as he is — which makes for a really striking difference compared to the plump, healthy one-year-old that dwarfs it in the last photo.

This last example comes straight from Pinterest, and involved photographing the baby in the same laundry basket throughout the first year:

Baby photo series in laundry basket. Image from here.

The laundry basket really makes it clear how much he’s grown from one picture to the next, and once again I think it’s really neat seeing the progression from tiny newborn to one-year-old spilling over the sides of the basket.

Anyway, even though I could only track down five different baby photography projects for this post, I think they cover a pretty wide range of ideas. From bright and colorful patterns, to thinking about the lighting in the room, to using furniture, clothing, stuffed animals, or other household objects to establish a sense of scale — there’s a lot to think about and be inspired by.

What do you think? Do you have any favorites from the photo projects above? Have you seen any other particularly well-done baby photography projects that deserve a mention? Feel free to share any links or ideas in the comments!

Update: Our daughter has arrived, and I’ve taken a stab at starting a baby photo project of my own! Check it out here.