All posts by Jennifer

Summer Travel

Forget snakes on a plane. Taking your baby flying for the first time is much more terrifying.

Not really, of course. But we were a tad nervous about how Rory would do during a week of travel. Originally, we planned to visit family in Ohio during the July 4 holiday weekend. We took off work the entire week, thinking we could enjoy some staycation. But then my grandfather’s interment date was moved, which meant flying to Minnesota, coming home for one day, then making the eight-hour drive to Ohio.

The return flight.
The return flight selfie.

All right then. Luckily, it turned out pretty well. Our Friday evening flight departed right around Rory’s bedtime. She was understandably curious about the new surroundings as we tried to put her “down” with a bottle in our laps. But she conked out right after takeoff.

Saturday, we said farewell to my grandfather, whose actual funeral had take place in San Diego in April. But it was nice for me to see where he and my grandmother are buried. Leo then got a chance to meet a bunch of relatives on my dad’s side of the family.

Sunday we spent the day in St. Paul and Minneapolis, adding a capital to our tour. We also said hello to friends of ours, who took us to lunch and a brewery. We capped off the day with a stop at the Mall of America.

Lunch stop.
Lunch stop.

Home on Monday, staycation Tuesday. Then, it was in the car for the long drive to Ohio. Again, it wasn’t too bad. We only had one moment where we surprised some middle-of-nowhere residents in West Virginia by pulling off the road across from their house to feed the baby, who insisted she must eat NOW. Oh, and poor Leo got the bad end of a diaper blowout during our lunch stop. 🙂 Ah well.

Overall, not bad. Is it time to get Rory her first passport?

Returning to Life

Whew! Keeping up with a blog isn’t easy when you’re focused on getting sleep and getting back to work. But now that Rory is nearly five months old, we find ourselves returning to our civic commitments, getting out for dinner, and doing more fun things.

It helps that Rory started daycare last week, giving me more hours to focus on work and some new clients.

rory

Next up: traveling!

Rory’s New Shoes

Today Rory celebrates her one-month birthday!

rory_1month

Today, she also received her second set of plaster casts. For those who aren’t aware, we found out during an ultrasound that our baby has club feet.

Later, we found out Leo had a club foot, as did one of my aunts, so it’s not too surprising that Rory would inherit feet turned inward like golf clubs. Luckily, it’s an easy fix, one she won’t remember, and one that will be complete before she’s even walking.

castsThe treatment is a concept akin to braces on your teeth: a series of minor corrections to put them into place. Last week, she got her first set of plaster casts. She will get six sets total, one per week. (Second set today.) Then, the doctor will make a cut in a tendon on each side before putting Rory in another set of casts for about three weeks. After that it’s the “boots ‘n braces” phase. Rory will wear a set of boots connected by a bar (similar to a snowboard, sort of) for 23 hours a day for a few months. After that, she’ll just wear the boots during naps and nighttime, like a retainer.

curled
No more curling up in a little ball.

Famous people who had club feet include soccer player Mia Hamm and figure skater Kristy Yamaguchi (who lives in Raleigh, by the way). While it will in no way impact her future athletic career, it does mean she won’t get to wear any cute shoes until late this year. On the other hand, the leg warmers we put on her casts for bath time are adorable. 🙂

Welcome Home, Rory!

One week ago today I was still in labor — hours after they had told me I was “pretty close.” We checked in last Thursday, Feb. 5. My induction was supposed to begin the next morning, after I got some sleep and some breakfast.

Instead, the doctor examined me and said she didn’t need to perform the overnight preparation procedure after all. So my labor began at 11:50 p.m. and lasted 21 hours. I didn’t sleep or eat. I gladly accepted the epidural, thank you. But by 6 p.m. the pain was cutting through as I pushed, and pushed, and pushed some more. For three hours.

Delirious, I was happy to hear the doctor say we could do something, anything, to make this done. So off we went for a C-section. Normally, you’re awake for them, with husband by your head. But after they administered my spinal for the pain, I struggled to breathe. I felt like a fish washed up on the beach, gasping. It was too much, and I gladly accepted when they offered to put me under.

Leo said it didn’t take long. He got to see the baby immediately, witness her first bath, watch them weigh her. I was wheeled to recovery, where I slowly became aware of my surroundings. A nurse fed me ice chips while I tried to wake up. I’m told it was after midnight on Saturday morning when I returned to the hospital room where Leo was waiting. I first held my daughter at about 12:45 a.m.

aurora_eyes

Here we are now, a week later. Those first couple of days in the hospital are fuzzy now. I had visitors, held coherent conversations. I held my baby girl and learned to breastfeed. But for the most part, consider me drunk. Hospitals are a constant stream of people, and I barely slept for the next two days.

We were so happy to come home Tuesday. Today, I feel more like a human being, healing and learning to sleep in one- and two-hour stints. So far, things are going well. I even managed to have a few sips of celebratory beer last night!

homecoming

Thank you to everyone who has given gifts, food, support and love throughout my pregnancy, especially during the weeks of boring bed rest. We are so grateful for your help and looking forward to the adventure of parenthood.

Set the Date

The delivery date, that is.

As you know, I’ve had some ups and downs the past few weeks. After they put me on bed rest, I returned to the doctor later that week and next thing I know, I’m in the hospital. You may have guessed that from the lovely fashion statement in our recent photos/video.

I officially have preeclampsia, and they tend to induce with that as soon as 35 weeks. However, my case is somewhat mild. So after five nights of hospital observation, they sent me home for more bed rest, hoping I can stay pregnant until week 37.

I’m visiting the doctor twice a week and so far, so good. Today’s update: come back Friday and they’ll schedule my delivery for Feb. 6 or a day or two after that.

Of course, things could change. Preeclampsia can get worse very quickly and if that happens, all bets are off. Still, nice to know that we’ll be meeting baby girl Suarez very soon!

 

A Change in Plans

Pregnant people visit the doctor a lot. Each time, we go in, pee in a cup, get our blood pressure checked, and a few other things. Most of these visits are short.

Last week, I went in for my usual visit, plus an ultrasound. The doctor expressed some concern; my blood pressure was too high, and it wasn’t the first time. He asked me to come back Monday to check on it.

I felt like crap all weekend, and I knew blood pressure was to blame. Headaches, slightly blurry vision, fatigue, swelling. These are all signs to watch.puffer-fish2 Heck, check out my 33-week picture. You can see it in my face; I look like a blimp.

Still, I felt better Sunday and felt hopeful Monday that all would be well. No such luck. My BP had increased from an already high 150/80 to 180/92.

So the doctor put me on strict bed rest. That means I can’t go anywhere except the doctor, now twice per week. I can shower and use the bathroom, but otherwise, I’m supposed to be horizontal.

While bed rest sounds like a vacation come true, lying about in a horizontal position gets old quickly. Besides, I have six weeks until my official due date. Not only does this mean I haven’t finished preparing clients for my leave yet, but …. “So I’m going to be on bed rest for four to six weeks?”

“Oh you won’t make it four weeks,” she told me. “You’ll have the baby before then.”

It might happen naturally, my body deciding it’s time to evict the creature causing the problem. Or, the doctor will induce me, if my lab work begins to show organ problems, in order to protect my health.

The good news: at nearly 34 weeks, the baby will be fine. Heck, my dad was born a month early at nine pounds with no problems. This one is nearly 5 1/2 pounds already.

At each doctor’s visit, they’ll check me, hoping that the horizontal position will keep the blood pressure down for at least a couple more weeks. Otherwise, I might go in for a regular checkup one day and come out with a baby. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, this throws off our timetable for the announcement of the baby’s sex. Here are your guesses so far:

chartMost of you seem to be going with boy, based on:

  • How I am carrying
  • The fact that I experienced no morning sickness
  • My hips (thanks, grandma)
  • Some other sorcery I don’t know about

In case you’re interested, the Chinese gender predictor calendar is going with girl.

Well, you’ll find out which of these obviously scientific guesses is correct — on Saturday.

You know, assuming I make it through Thursday’s doctor visit without having a baby.

 

The Gender Secret

Leo popped the question one day in bed: How about if we find out the gender of our baby, but we don’t tell anyone?boygirl

At first, I wasn’t sure about the idea. If you’re going to find out, why not share it? But his plan started to grow on me. As we executed it, we realized we have several advantages:

  • Driving our moms crazy. (Obviously this ranks highly on the “pro” list.)
  • Knowing what to expect so we can prepare.
  • Limiting the amount of clothes we receive. Both moms are eager to dress our infant. But they grow so quickly. We don’t need too many 3-month-old-sized overalls or frilly dresses.
  • Preventing an overabundance of either blue or pink anything. Same with toys. There is no such thing as a “boy” toy or “girl” toy. But toy manufacturers seem to disagree.
  • Adding an air of mystery and fun to the baby conversations.

That last one has been the most surprising. It’s fun to watch people guess based on who-knows-what sorcery. Most people seem to guess based on how I’m carrying the child. Given that my mother carried all four of her children differently, I find this amusing. Another camp says we “slipped up,” and referred to our child more than once as one sex or another. Or did we? 🙂

But now, it’s almost time to reveal the truth. Starting today, I’m making the big list of guesses. Send me your guess via email, Facebook or text message.

On Feb. 1 we will announce whether Baby Suarez is a boy or a girl!

The Baby Showers

Babies mean stuff. Whether you like it or not.

As many of you know, I don’t like too much stuff. Enemy, thy name is clutter. I worked as a professional organizer for awhile. It was a great opportunity to see how Americans and our mass consumerism culture often lead to an emphasis on stuff rather than experiences as a way to rank ourselves and give life meaning. And later that stuff gives us stress. So we call a professional organizer.

My personal rants aside, Leo and I did realize we needed at least some essentials before bringing a kid home from the hospital. Like some clothes for her or him to wear. A car seat. A crib, and diapers. That’s about it. But of course, that’s not much fun for friends and family.

Enter the baby showers. My family in Ohio threw me one after Thanksgiving, and my friends and family here threw me another earlier this month. Between the two, we are nearly all set for baby’s arrival. And I have to say I feel very blessed to have so many generous and wonderful people in my life. Thank you all.

New York, New York

“New York, New York, a helluva town. The Bronx is up but the Battery’s down.”

At last. After 33 years on this planet I can finally stop listening to people say, “What, you’ve never been to New York?!”

Leo and I went last week for his birthday vacation. Frankly, after 33 years of Hollywood buildup, I was surprised it isn’t bigger. The crowds weren’t as overwhelming as I expected.

I loved it.

Of course, I love walking around in large cities. There is something exciting about seeing people constantly on the move, riding the subway, and just sitting in a park surrounded by skyscrapers.

We took the train from Raleigh on a Saturday. It’s a long ride, but for us, it was part of the fun.

For three days we wandered and walked Manhattan streets, mostly just looking. We strolled through Central Park, Times Square, Grand Central Station, the New York library and Bryant Park, the 9/11 memorial, Battery Park, Rockefeller Center, Museum of the City of New York, the West Village neighborhood, Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge. Our last night we took in “Wicked” on Broadway and ate dessert at Junior’s. Whew.

Leo on Liberty Island, with a view of the Manhattan skyline.
Leo on Liberty Island, with a view of the Manhattan skyline.

 

On Wednesday we left the city by train to Albany, stopping to visit the state, a castle-like structure far more impressive than many of the rotundas we’ve seen so far on our Capitol Tour.

The Capitol building in Albany, NY. Jeez I look pregnant.
The Capitol building in Albany, NY. Jeez I look pregnant.

 

We then rented a car and drove through beautiful fall foliage over the border to the grand land of Canada. Everyone says the view is better on the Canada side. Understatement of the century: there really isn’t any view on the American side. It also looks economically depressed. The Canada side looked like all the bad parts of tourism, Hard Rock Cafe-type places, water parks, a Ripley’s museum and all that other junk. But the park itself is well kept and lovely. Plus, we scored a “falls view” room.

View from our hotel room.
View from our hotel room.

niagara

Back to NYC on Thursday for the night, this time staying in Chelsea. Friday morning we took one short walk through the Flatiron District for my Week 21 preggo pic and then hopped on our train bound for Raleigh.

It may have been my first visit to New York, but we only scratched the touristy surface of that amazing city. Farewell, New York. We will be back.