Sunday, December 30, 2007

Maybe I'm a little bit obsessed with baby books

We saw this adorable boxed set of "Mini Masters" board books at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday. There are 4 books in the set. Each has paintings by a different artist (Degas, Matisse, Monet, and Van Gogh) with a little story to read as you go through them. I contemplated buying the set then and there, but I decided that $20 was probably museum gift shop pricing and maybe I'd find them cheaper online.
Sure enough, I looked them up online and found the same set from for $12.89. But of course I did end up costing myself some money, because I found they had the same kind of books for other artists - Gauguin, Rousseau, Picasso, Seurat, and Cassat. So I had to get them all. But the prices were good and shipping was under $3. So I'm not feeling too bad about the extra spending - it's all for teaching my daughter to appreciate art from a young age.

Here are the books.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Books for the baby!

I've found that the best way to kill time when I wake up for a couple hours in the middle of the night is to shop online. My husband isn't necessarily so happy with this discovery. But at least I'm shopping responsibly - things for the baby - and at a discount.

I found a website with discount books - Great prices and a good selection. Shipping is reasonable as long as you're willing to wait for it - 3 weeks or so.

Here's a selection from my order from Dec. 23 at 8 a.m. - after being up since 5 a.m. I think I did pretty well. They're mostly board books, and a few cloth books. I'm sure the baby will love them all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another item to mark off the checklist - robe & slippers

Last week I ordered these slippers:

They should arrive on Monday. Don't they look comfy and warm?

And yesterday I went to Macy's for a bathrobe. I won a $50 American Express Gift Certificate at my company holiday party on Wednesday, so I figured I ought to spend it on myself. I got a really nice Nautica bathrobe. You'll have to use a little imagination - but it's pretty much this robe in a nice lavender color:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

If not this book, what will you get me?

Unlike most new moms to be who are concerned only with the birth of their first child, I was already thinking about what I'd like for my first mother's day as a mother. And just when I had found the perfect item to put on my online wishlist, my hopes and dreams have been dashed.

Lynne Spears' book, "Pop Culture Mom: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World" has been postponed indefinitely. Yes, I know you're probably thinking the same thing. How will so many other mothers in the world manage to raise such wonderful daughters as Britney and Jamie Lynn without the sage advice that only Lynne Spears could have provided?

Just in case you haven't seen the many articles on the topic - here's one I particularly liked (in blue), along with my commentary (in red).

Spears' Parenting Book Off After Teen Pregnancy

By Jill Serjeant
Wednesday, December 19, 2007; 3:05 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Christian publisher said on Wednesday it has called off a parenting book written by Lynne Spears -- the mother of troubled pop star Britney Spears and her pregnant 16-year-old sister, Jamie Lynn.

Seriously? A Christian publisher was really okay with the message this sends? Even without Jamie Lynn's announcement, I'm a bit baffled.

"We have postponed the book indefinitely," said Lindsey Nobles, spokeswoman for Tennessee-based Thomas Nelson.

Nobles did not give a reason for the decision, which followed news on Tuesday that Jamie Lynn Spears was three months pregnant.

No reason for the decision? Is this the only Christian publisher unwilling to come out and say that they have an issue with teen sex and teen pregnancy? Maybe they couldn't quite figure out how to craft the, "We're disappointed to hear that Jamie Lynn is knocked up, but at least she's not having an abortion" message.

Jamie Lynn Spears is the star of the Nickelodeon show "Zoey 101," which is popular with preteens.

Anyone care to guess whether Nickelodeon will be pulling Jamie Lynn from the show? Not that I would disagree with that decision, but why not give the kiddies a chance to see what it's like to be preggers in high school in America today. There were certainly plenty of examples of that in my high school, although I doubt any of them watched a lot of Nickelodeon.

In an interview with OK! Magazine, the actress said she was "shocked and scared," but planned to keep the baby, which was fathered by her longtime boyfriend, Casey Aldridge, 19.

Shocked and scared? The scared part I certainly get. I made the decision to get pregnant and it's still a little scary. And I waited until age 28 to make that decision. Not so sure I would have been as ready 12 years ago. But the shocked thing? Did Lynne Spears, while running her faith-based household, neglect to teach her daughters about sex? The whole "this is how babies are made" conversation never happened? Anyone care to get them tested for STDs while we're on the topic?

Spears said she met Aldridge, the son of a Tennessee papermill worker, at church.

Come one, come all. Get your kids signed up for our church youth group!

News of the pregnancy came after a disastrous year for Britney Spears and dominated U.S. talk shows on Wednesday. The OK! Magazine Web site ( crashed under the volume of traffic.

Lynne Spears said in the article she was shocked when her younger daughter told her she was pregnant, saying Jamie Lynn was "always conscientious" and never violated curfew.

More shock, eh? Maybe in Lynne's world sex can only happen in the post-curfew hours? Anyone else find it a bit curious that the Spears family chose to release this news first to OK! Magazine? Not enough wholesome Christian publishers willing to pay for that story?

The working title for the book was "Pop Culture Mom: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World." Described by the publisher as "a parenting book that's going to have faith elements to it," it had been set for publication on Mother's Day in May 2008.

"We understand that Lynne needs to spend time with her family now," Nobles said.

Lynne needs to spend time with her family now? Hmm...maybe a bit more time spent with her daughters before would have saved the rest of us from quite a few Spears family tabloid stories.

It was unclear whether OK! paid Jamie Lynn or her mother for the pregnancy exclusive. The magazine did not return calls for comment, but celebrity Web site said the teenage mom would get $1 million from OK! for a photo shoot when her baby is born.

And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.

Britney Spears, 26, now undergoing parenting training and random drug and alcohol testing as part of a bitter custody dispute over her own two young sons, was asked by paparazzi to comment late on Tuesday.

"My sister's not pregnant," she replied curtly.

There's just nothing to say about Britney that hasn't already been said by the media countless times. Could she be envious that her little sister has trumped her as bigger tabloid news this week? I'm just hoping that we won't get any further beaver shots from the elder Spears daughter.

Nickelodeon said "Zoey 101" had already wrapped up production on its fourth and final season. The cable network said, "We respect Jamie Lynn's decision to take responsibility in this sensitive and personal situation."

OK - willing to give Nick some credit here - sensitive and personal situation. But whew! They're pretty darn lucky that fourth and final season has wrapped!

Please don't get me wrong, I would not put full blame on the parents for the way Jamie Lynn and Britney have turned out. Plenty of other forces at play. And let's be honest, they might not have started with the best in the mental gene pool, although the physical gene pool was certainly kind to them. But I'm sure the world at large shares my feelings that the world will be a better place without this book.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Week 32 Appointment & Childbirth Preparation Class #3

Had a busy evening today. I saw Dr. Markoff at 4:30. He actually took me pretty close to on time - around 4:50 or so. But the baby was not cooperating. The doctor couldn't find the heartbeat. Luckily I could feel the baby moving, so I wasn't too concerned. After trying for several minutes and even trying another doppler, he decided he'd just do an ultrasound to see the position and heart and everything.

Unfortunately one of the other doctors was using the ultrasound machine at the time, so he left me for awhile to see another patient while we waited for the machine. No big deal, I stayed there on the table with the gel on my belly and read a book. About 20 minutes later he came back with the machine.

We were able to clearly see the heart beating and he said the rate looked normal. And he confirmed that the head was down. This machine definitely doesn't compare to the high resolution version at the specialists office - so the head just looked like a big round thing. But I also asked if we could try to confirm the gender, as long as we were doing an ultrasound. And lucky for us, she was crotch up and not shy - so we got a birdseye view of girl parts - no mistaking that.

I'm quite relieved to have confirmation that it's a girl. Not that I would have been any less happy with a boy, but we've picked out girl stuff - and my mother has bought dozens of girl outfits. So it would have been a real hassle to find out the 21 week ultrasound was wrong.

Other than that, the doctor's visit was fairly uneventful. All is well - growing well, blood pressure normal, etc.

Then we had childbirth preparation class. This was definitely the least good of the 3 so far, but it was still informative. We practiced breathing again. And then most of the class centered around c-section. We watched a video that included more information on epidurals and episiotomies and then showed a c-section birth. It wasn't graphic in that you didn't see them cutting or anything. They really focused on the mother and the conversations the anesthesiologist was having with her. And then the showed them actually lift the baby out and clean it off and bring it to the parents wrapped in a blanket.

There was also more discussion about what actually happens in the hospital after delivery - the rooms, the things they give you (icepack, anesthetic spray, sitz bath, etc.). And people asked a lot of questions about visiting hours. Basically if you don't get a private room, which is most likely because there are only 4, then the husbands have to leave at 10 p.m. and can return after 8 a.m. Not only is it hard to get a private room but it's $350/night and insurance doesn't cover it. So we'll still with the shared room. I imagine after a potentially long labor and delivery and such, Shafi won't be too upset to have to go home to his own bed.

Next class is Jan. 2 and focuses on infant care. Then the following week we actually tour the facilities at NYU Medical Center. And that's it. Definitely a worthwhile course to take overall.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I'm married, I swear

So after several days of my fingers being too swollen to get my wedding / engagement rings on I finally went to Claire's, which is across the street from my office, and picked up an oh-so-nice set of fakes for $10.50 + tax.

I'm feeling much better with a ring on my finger - not just because I didn't want to look like I'm knocked-up and unwed, but also because I'm so used to having a ring on that finger.

Isn't it gorgeous? Actually this isn't the exact set I got, but you get the idea.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Our wills are underway

We met with an estate attorney last night. Very informative meeting. We discussed potential implications of Shafi not yet being a US citizen, tax implications of leaving anything to his family in Bangladesh, various scenarios to be outlined in the will, and whether we need to set up life insurance trusts (for our soon to be purchased life insurance policies).

We didn't have any trouble deciding on things like guardians, trustees, what we wanted to spend the time and money to include in the will, etc. We also decided to do livings wills, durable powers of attorney, and health care proxies.

The whole thing is definitely not cheap - but I feel a lot better using a reputable lawyer for it than trying to do it ourselves on a website or something. He brought up great advice that we'll follow - in the event of both of our deaths, the guardian of our child(ren) is not the same person as the trustee for our assets - not that we don't trust our family to make the right decisions - but checks and balances are not a bad thing and 2 heads are better than 1.

And we're including for the provision of a trust that will be divided equally among our children but that they will inherit in thirds at ages 25, 30, and 35. Prior to that it will be up to the trustee what they can have.

We're also including some language around making sure that our child(ren) remain in contact with Shafi's family in Bangladesh. While these pieces are not necessarily enforcable, we feel pretty confident that the guardians / trustees we've selected will want to follow our wishes and will allow money to be spent appropriately to bring Shafi's family over periodically and send our child(ren) to Bangladesh periodically.

We've decided against life insurance trusts for now. Doesn't seem worth the upfront costs considering our assets are small enough to not likely be taxable anyway. But we did get some good advice on how to fill out beneficiary forms for retirement accounts and life insurance policies so as to have things appropriately passed on. And also to get copies of those forms - the actual signed forms, not just a description of them - which the attorney will keep on file with our will and other documents. That way he will have the necessary information to handle everything in the event that either or both of us dies.

I know the whole discussion seems morbid to some, but I think we just see it as practical. We want to make sure that our soon-to-be-born child and any future children are taken care of in the event that we aren't around to do it ourselves.

I'm glad we started this process now - actually earlier might have been better. We're hoping to have a draft of everything by mid-January so that we can make final changes and have it all signed by the time the baby is born - or at least very shortly thereafter.

Wow - I officially feel like a grown-up with all of this going on! ;)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I finally broke down and bought some baby stuff

I have been refraining from purchasing baby gear and clothes - figuring I should wait until after my shower and gifts from family and such. But I ran across this adorable bodysuit on Amazon and had to get it. And then I looked at other items from the same seller, because they seemed to have good prices and a good selection - and all of a sudden I had filled my cart with 13 items. That's okay - like I said - reasonable prices.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Childbirth Preparation Class #2

We had our second class last night. It was really good actually. I was a bit skeptical about how they would continue to fill a 3 hour class for 5 weeks. But it's starting to make sense.

Last night's class focused on easing the pain of labor. The instructor taught our "coaches" various massage techniques for easing pain in the uterus and abdominal muscles, lower back in case of back labor, and facial tension.

But we spent most of the class talking about the various drugs that can be used in the hospital. We talked a lot about pitocin, both as it's used to induce labor and as it's used after delivery to contract the uterus, which helps deliver the placenta faster and stop the bleeding faster. We talked about narcotics and epidurals.

I definitely have a somewhat revised view on getting an epidural now. The instructor talked about the risks and also some of the cons. The risks are not particularly high - so I don't find that so concerning. But she made some very good points that once you have an epidural you have to be tied to several "wires." They then monitor fetal heartrate and contractions constantly and you have the line for the epidural and probably an IV. As where if you wait and only get the epidural later in labor when you really need it, you can stay relatively free for most of your labor, allowing you to go for walks, get in the shower, etc.

Obviously I won't really know how soon I'll want the epidural until I see how much pain I am in. But if it's not too bad, I think I would like to wait until later in my labor to get the epidural. And unless there's some reason for it, I do not want pitocin for labor induction and I do not want other narcotics during labor.

We also watched another labor video. This was the story of a woman who did decide to have narcotics and then an epidural. She had the picture perfect birth - so it was obviously meant to show that it's okay to have all the drugs. But I thought it was very helpful that the instructor then went through and talked about some of the choices made in the video and why there are reasonable cases to be made for them but that they are not for everyone - and all of us should think through it in advance rather than be stuck trying to make the decision in the heat of the moment.

And I picked up some other good tidbits - things to discuss with my doctor at the next visit. Since the pediatrician I think I will be using is not affiliated with NYU, my doctor will assign one to check the baby in the hospital. Will he make sure that doctor takes my insurance? Definitely something to ask in advance rather than try to remember after delivering a baby. And there's no point in paying out of pocket for something that would be covered by insurance. Also, what percentage of his patients have episiotomies and is there anything I can do to avoid one?

We also got a letter in the mail that the Breastfeeding Class we signed up for will be January 8. They say that partners are encouraged to attend. But to make sure Shafi won't be too embarassed, I'll check with the instructor at our next Childbirth Preparation Class to make sure that people do commonly bring their husband to that class too.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

30 week check-up

We had our 30 week check-up tonight. We met Dr. Shah. She's very nice. Much more straight-forward and less chatty than Dr. Markoff. On one hand, that's something I like about Dr. Markoff. On the other hand, she actually took us on time for our 4:15 appointment and we were out the door by about 4:40, as where I'm sure we would have been there until at least 5 if not 5:30 with Dr. Markoff.

The doctor said everything was fine - growing well, normal blood pressure, etc. And she felt the bump for the position of the baby and said the head is down. So I think that means we have a very low chance of a breech baby - definitely good news.

I told her that my bump seems to have shifted about a week and a half ago from high and wide to low and in front. She said that was normal - or at least not abnormal. Not that we were worried about it, but obviously the reassurance is always nice.

We'll continue with these appointments every 2 weeks - we're already booked to see Dr. Markoff on the 17th and then Dr. Schweizer on Jan. 3. And then staring in week 35 or 36 we'll see Dr. Markoff and he'll do a Strep B test which is part of a full exam - and then we'll have a weekly appointment that include a full exam to check for dilation and such. 2 of those visits will be with the other 2 doctors in the practice. I can't believe that's only a month away! And our due date is only about 2 months away!

I've also been quite diligent the past couple of weeks about getting everything prepared. I met with a life insurance agent yesterday and we will be reviewing his advice and making some decisions in the next couple of weeks. We're meeting with an estate attorney next week and will be getting wills and power of attorneys and such and maybe setting up trusts.

I also began looking into pediatricians today. I picked one practice of the 3 that have been recommended to me in our neighborhood and we'll be going in early January to meet with one of the 3 doctors in the practice and make our decision as to whether we will go with that doctor or whether we want to meet with another practice. I don't think we are all that concerned, but I'd definitely like to pick someone we think we'll be comfortable with before we actually start bringing the baby in.

Next on the agenda is to tour the nearby daycare center to see if we want to get on the list in case we do decide to go with that option. Potentially we'd want to start that around June or so, but we may need to apply and get on the list now in order to do that. More to come on that topic.

Childbirth Preparation Class

We started the Childbirth Preparation Class at NYU Medical Center last night.

Our class is 5 Mondays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. There were 9 couples total (including us). It looked like all were married. Definitely an interesting mix of people - seemed to be all middle class and in their 30's or so. Of course there was the one woman who was very into having natural childbirth and creating a perfect birth plan but without annoying the doctors and nurses. There was one woman who raised her hand anytime the teacher asked a question. One guy just nodded his head for pretty much the entire class. One guy said that this was not his first child, but his wife shot him a death look, obviously none-too-pleased that he offered up that information.

The first class was interesting and educational. We mostly talked about what are the signs that labor is beginning and why it's best to stay at home until you get to active labor - which is partly because the hospital won't admit you until then anyway. There was discussion of where to enter the hospital and where to go and what to expect. And we learned 2 breathing techniques - slow deep breathing for contractions during early and into active labor and faster shallower breathing for the later part of active labor and into transition. Then we watched a video about the stages of labor and birth.

Overall I felt like I learned some things and so far the class has added to my comfort level around the whole process. Not sure how they can keep it worthwhile for another 4 classes, but we'll see how it goes. I know one class will include a tour of the facilities - labor and delivery rooms and the nursery and such. And one class is about infant care. So I guess there are really only 2 more classes on the process and breathing and such.

I have my 30 week doctor's visit this afternoon. We'll be meeting Dr. Shah. She's the newest and youngest member of the OB/GYN practice we go to. I'm sure it will be fine to see another doctor and maybe even helpful to get another perspective.

Monday, November 26, 2007


We had a nice Thanksgiving weekend in Washington DC at my uncle's house. Here are some pictures of the weekend's events.

Monday, November 19, 2007

28 weeks

I had my 28 week check-up with the Ob/Gyn today. All is well. As he said I'm "growing well" and "gaining well" - as determined by weighing me (sorry, that information will remain confidential) and measuring my belly from top to bottom.

The baby was moving a lot, so it took him a few minutes to find the heartbeat - it usually take less than a minute. Earlier on that would have made me nervous - those few seconds used to be a bit nerve wracking as that was the only indication that everything was okay in there. But now that she's big enough that I feel a lot of movement during the day, including while the doctor was trying to find the heartbeat, no worries. As the doctor said, she was playing hide and seek.

And my test results from last visit's glucose test were all fine - so nothing to be concerned about there. Seems like all is going well, and overall I'm having a very easy pregnancy. I hear the third trimester is the worst - so we'll see how I feel in a couple more months!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Back from the Babymoon

It was a very nice trip - relaxing, sun and sand, plenty of sleep. I'm going to pretend I got a nice tan - but really I think I need months on the beach, not just a week, for that.

The baby seemed to like the beach. She was moving a lot.

Here are the pics - a couple good belly pics in there.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Sonogram Pics

Haven't had much time to spend on this - but I'll add my sonograms from weeks 8, 12, and 21.

Shafi and I are taking next week off for a little babymoon in Turks & Caicos - very excited about that. And certainly there will be updates and pictures to follow.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

I'm 6 months pregnant

Today seemed like as good a time as any to start a blog. I'm officially 26 weeks (6 months) pregnant. It's a girl - due February 10, 2008.

I'm incredibly excited about having a baby. Can't wait to meet her - although of course I want her to be full term - so 3 more months it is!

She's pretty active these days - kicking, punching, somersaulting - not really sure what she's doing most of the time, but I definitely enjoy sitting and watching my belly move.

My husband, Shafi, and I have decided not to share the name with anyone until she's born - so you'll have to wait until February or so for that. But we call her by name when we're alone. Shafi likes to talk to her, especially when we go to bed at night. It's very cute. And I bought her first book - Goodnight Moon - my childhood favorite - which we take turns reading to her at night.

More to come - maybe some belly pictures soon.