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Reflections on the First Few Weeks with Isaac

I’m working on my blog post of Isaac’s birth, but it’s taking some time to figure out how much I want to say in the blogosphere.

In the mean time, here are some reflections on our first three weeks with Isaac Allan Judd.

showing off my peepers

– he’s a good eater!  It  is so helpful to have a baby who wants to breastfeed.  He will now root, using his whole body to lunge and army crawl along to get into a good position.  If he’s on Brian’s chest waiting for me to get ready to feed him, he’ll scooch down  looking for a good place to latch.  Usually he ends up sucking on Brian’s arm just below his sleeve, but any part of his hand will also do.

– as a result of being such a good eater, Isaac is doing great in the weight department.  He was born 7 lbs 8.3 oz, and normally babies lose up to 10% of their body weight in the first week, then take another week or two to recover.  Isaac was 3379 grams (7 lb 7.2 oz) when he was dismissed from the hospital after 38 hours, and was up to 7 lbs 14 oz on his 5th day when we went to see the pediatrician.  By his 13 day checkup, he weighed 9 lbs 3.5 oz.  It seems that he’s getting bigger every day!

– Isaac lost his cord stump at one week.  This means we can now button his onesies, whereas before we had to keep them open to make sure the cord got good air circulation.  Now he can wear all those cute outfits we’ve been given!

Fuzzy fleece bear outfit

– We like going for walks.  We’ve walked around the neighborhood, in the forest, and on the bike path.  There are interesting sounds and smells to experience; even when Isaac is bundled up in his carrier he always seems to need a nap after we walk.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Thanksgiving Forest

– Isaac can turn his head from one side to the other during “tummy time” and he seemed to follow my finger to turn his head.

– Naps are important.  For everyone.  Sleeping starts whenever Isaac goes to sleep after 9pm and continues as much as possible until 6:30am, or whenever he decides to do a morning cluster feed.  Usually Isaac will sleep for 2-3 hour stretches, so we get at least 6 hours of sleep each night, and a nap during the day.  We survived our first middle of the night cluster feed from 1 – 3am.  Having a smiling little face who is clearly content to have a full tummy and dry diaper does wonders to offset the feeling of tiredness.

– Slinky seems to be handling the new arrival pretty well.  He tries to get in some lap time when he can, and doesn’t seem too concerned if he’s sharing with Isaac, even if the little guy squirms and cries a bit.

lap full of mammals

– Grandma and Grandpa Woodmansee came to visit, and we’re pretty sure they were immediately smitten with the little guy.  He liked being held and learning new voices and faces.  We went out for our first restaurant meal with Isaac.  He was quiet through the whole meal, and just decided to wake up at the end to make sure we got our check quickly.

– Grandma Judd is visiting for Thanksgiving.  She is teaching Isaac about football (go Lions!) and makes a really good play mat when she’s reclined on the couch.

Turkey Butt!

– We’re really liking cloth diapers.  We have just enough to enable us to wash them every other day.  The sprayer Brian installed on the toilet to hose away the solids works great.  And we’re both becoming experts at diapering.  Already we are folding down the back a little less, and we’ve let the covers out a few snaps as well.  Plus the bright covers are fun – this one has earned Isaac the nickname “snortin’ tartan.”

Just call me the snortin' tartan!

– Isaac is pretty good at self-soothing. He has found his thumb (at least once!) though any part of his hand works well enough.

In terms of my recovery, it’s going well.  I spent the first 5 days in bed, as per our midwife’s strong recommendation, which seems to have been great advice.  I only wandered downstairs a few hours a day, usually for dinner and a walk to the mailbox.  After that we moved down to the sun room, so Isaac naps in his pack and play (when a grandparent isn’t around to hold him!) and we have my “nest” set  up on the love seat.  I was able to walk a mile within a week, did a short jog a few days ago, and felt like myself today for 2.8 miles in the woods.  I’m back within 5 lbs of my pre-pregnancy weight, though it’s definitely been re-distributed a bit.

In summary, we’re settling into parenthood and enjoying our time together immensely!

first Juddmansee Family portrait

 

Preparing for “D” Day

It’s been an interesting week here at Chez Juddmansee as the baby’s due date of November 2 approaches.

We had a lovely weekend starting with my “off Friday” (which we like to call “Sabbaday” because even if it’s not a day of rest, is it a day set apart, and usually feels like Saturday), when we picked up a few more diapers and related supplies, ate lunch at RedBones – if you haven’t tried their lunch combo special, you really must! – and went grocery shopping for the weekend.  We enjoyed three sets of visitors from near and far over the weekend, which included time with cute (especially costumed!) and polite children, helpful parenting advice, watching football, and receiving a Pack and Play (which happens to match our nursery animal theme perfectly!).  All necessary baby gear successfully acquired!

By Sunday we were pleasantly tired from the busyness of the weekend, and had two more meals stocked up after making big batches of lentil soup and beef stew for guests with enough leftover to freeze for later. We were happy to go to bed fairly early.

I woke up around 2am with light contractions (30 sec every 5-20 mins) and a few other signs of early labor.  Excited, I got up to avoid disturbing Brian as I paced and breathed through the contractions, kept myself busy by checking email, and waited until 4am to wake up Brian before calling the midwife at 6am.  She said that these were good and normal signs, and to keep her posted on how things progressed during the day, and be sure to keep resting, eating and hydrating.  I opted to stay home from work Monday due to the storm and continued having intermittent contractions. We managed to avoid losing power, and rode out the storm.  I had trouble sleeping on Monday night with more sporadic contractions, but they were not yet regular or progressing.

Our midwife stopped by Tuesday morning to see how we were doing.  I was pretty tired after not having more than a few hours of sleep the prior two nights, and also being nauseous so not eating much.  She checked my vitals and the baby’s heart beat, helped me find some comfortable resting positions – such that I fell asleep for a nap while she was here setting up her supplies – and provided encouragement to rest, sleep and eat, as well as continue with quiet activities to keep myself occupied.  She said that everything was proceeding normally, especially for a first time mother, but there was no way to say if things would progress, subside/stall, or just remain the same for a while.  At the suggestion of both her and my yoga instructor, Brian took me to my prenatal yoga class, which was amazingly helpful and relaxing (for both of us!).

Two more days have passed, and contractions have continued to become more intense and moved lower down, but still are not regular enough to be considered actual labor.  I’ve slept in inumerable positions, in at least 5 different rooms, whatever I can find (sitting, leaning on a pile of pillows, laying on the futon, reclining on the couch) that feels comfortable and provides 30-90 min of rest.  We’ve been taking walks around the neighborhood each morning and running a few errands.  Today Brian installed the car seat.

the car seat is installed!

And our good friend and fabulous interior designer Sarah stopped by with the curtains for the nursery that she made this week (despite the storm/power outage and preparing for vacation!).  They look terrific!

Nursery curtains

So we’re being patient, taking each day as it comes, and hoping that Baby Judd decides to make an appearance soon!

 

Getting Ready

At 37 weeks we met the second midwife on the team, made sure everything on the birth kit checklist had been assembled, and went through the plan for when to call and what is likely to happen during birth and the following few days.

Our friends threw us a party last weekend, a mix of typical shower fare of nice tea, finger sandwiches and bite-sized desserts, with overalls and mason jars for the “Cletus” theme.  CletusFest was a fun preparation for baby’s arrival, with lots of advice and a practical array of gifts, which as requested were in most cases gently used by the experienced parents in the bunch.  We are so fortunate to have generous friends and family!

We just passed the 38 week gestation mark.  When asked once again whether I’m having Braxton Hicks contractions or feeling any different, I said no.  Then when Kim was checking out the baby’s position, she noticed that my abdomen was very hard – pointing out that I was having one right then!  So now I know what they feel like, and I’m trying to do a better job hydrating (especially at work).  But it’s also comforting to know that my body’s getting ready for labor.  We’re excited that baby *could* arrive any day, even though it’s likely to still be a few weeks.

So while we were putting away some things in the nursery, Brian decided to practice diapering.

Brian is very serious about diapering the teddy bear

And I tried on the Baby Bjorn, with the assistance of the Pink Bear.

the Baby Bjorn might fit better if my belly was smaller

the pink bear enjoys being held in the Baby Bjorn

This week’s plans are to install the car seat, send in our absentee ballots, and keep doing our normal activities as we enjoy this time together before baby arrives.  Stay tuned!

September Recap

Where did September go?

First, Football started, the beginning of the fall season for us.  We invited people over the first couple weeks, setting up two TVs and internet access for checking Fantasy scores, and enjoyed hosting the “regulars” plus a surprise visitor from out of town.   There is something familiar and comforting about a little chill in the air, a couch full of friends, having a cold beer (or in my case, the non-alcoholic version), yelling at the TV and ordering delivery in the middle of a Sunday afternoon.

Our friend Mary visited us for a few days after her sister’s wedding.  I fear that the R&R at chez Juddmansee didn’t prevent her from getting a cold, but we still had a nice time hiking in the woods, playing games, cooking together, and talking.  We went to the Sox/Yankees game before dropping her off at the next stop in her New England tour.  Speaking of Red Sox, Brian also went to a game with Dan.  Now we can officially call this season “over” and hope for a better outcome next year.

We also enjoyed Dan’s Pig Roast, a now annual event, which always promises great company and tasty pork.  This year the pig was roasted to a higher temperature and it was simply delicious.  Check out Brian carving the tasty swine here.  We tried the tongue, which is evidently a delicacy in some parts of the world.  Yum.

We officially changed baby delivery plans, and are now working with Kim Lueders.  We interviewed her when considering a doula, and through the course of getting to know her, several more dis-satisfying encounters with our “new” OB practice, and researching home birth, we decided that hiring Kim as our midwife was the right choice for us.   We’ve had two great appointments so far and look forward to meeting the rest of the team in a few weeks.   We also took a preparation for childbirth class with  my yoga instructor; we both came away relaxed and comfortable, and now Brian knows why I come home in such a serene state every Tuesday night.  At 35 weeks, I’m still feeling terrific, and the pregnancy continues to be normal and healthy.

September also went quickly because I was in DC the past week.  It was my last business trip for a few months, where I got to present at a conference .  It was great to see friends and colleagues, but I’m happy to be home after a long 5 days, successfully navigating airports and weather delays in the process.

So now we embark on October!

Garden Harvest

We’ve been very pleased with the garden this year.  It has kept us in plenty of salad greens.  We are getting a handful of red bell peppers and tomatoes each week. We are on track to have plenty of red chili peppers to dry and use this winter – in fact the pepper plants “fell over” and before we could try to right them, they turned the main stem into a runner and made 4x as many peppers as expected per plant! We enjoyed the radishes, and learned to make a quick relish that is tasty as a marinade or as a topping for fish, chicken, or hotdogs.  We thinned the beets and enjoyed roasted baby beets and beet greens. We’ve had 5 or 6 pickings of green beans, and may even have one more before the end of the season!  The kale is finally taking off, and we’ve had a good bunch of swiss chard several times.  We’re also enjoying our basil and parsley, and are considering planting more fresh herbs next year.

With the exception of buying corn, cucumbers and an eggplant from farm stands, our vegetables in July and August all came from our garden.  We have carrots, parsnips, and more beets yet to come.

9/8 Update – Su wrote this in late August and Brian is updating it and posting now. Since she wrote this we’ve harvested all the lettuce and replanted spinach in its place. We planted lettuce where the radishes were. We’ve replanted fall kale where the spinach failed this summer.

The rest of the beets and carrots are going to come out soon and we’ll probably replant some more fall crops. More salad greens, late parsnips, swiss chard.

Current harvest scorecard. All number approximate:
Chili peppers – 20
Parsley – cuttings
Basil – 4 quart pickings
Lettuce – 8 quart pickings
Swiss chard – 4 quart cuttings
Beets – 25 beets and greens
Radishes – 25
Carrots – 10
Red peppers – 6
Tomatoes – 20
Green beans – 4 quart pickings

Just a few pictures of some of the harvest. Check out the strange double radish.

Return of the Beach Wedding

Our second beach wedding of July was between our longtime friend Emily and our new friend Jeff. In addition to the beautiful weather and scenery, the wedding was special for us because we performed the ceremony.

Susan was the actual officiant courtesy of a 1 day license from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Brian used his booming voice to help conduct the ceremony. The day started with a boat trip out into Ipswich Bay from the dock at Shea’s Riverside restaurant.

After arriving at the sandbar (thankfully at low tide) the boat crew set up the chairs and tables. Voila! Instant wedding! After the ceremony and some great picture taking opportunities we took the boat back to the restaurant for the reception.

Below: Susan on the deck at the restaurant. Susan on the sandbar serving the wedding site.

Vacation in Monterey

Mary and Craig got married in July, and invited us to spend a week with them at Asilomar to share in the wedding festivities.  We really enjoyed seeing friends from college, some of whom we’d not seen in 15 years!  We also met some of Craig’s friends from his high school days who were fascinating and friendly.

We landed at SFO on Wednesday and drove to Morgan Hill to see my cousin Betsey.  It turned out that the LeCounts were also visiting, so we had a short but fun visit and lunch, chatted a bit more with Betsey, then headed down the road to Pacific Grove for the wedding “retreat.” There were fun activities each day, as well as an activity room where we put together puzzles, played games and just relaxed.  We woke up early and ran along the beach, before meeting up with the rest of the crew to fly kites, view the sea lions and check out the lighthouse on Thursday morning. Other fun events were a beer and cheese tasting, Movie Night at a small local theater, Game Show Night, and a bonfire with s’mores.  There was also a fun afternoon of science that included non-Newtonian fluids, slime, making superballs, crushing cans, playing with dry ice (including making ice cream), and some key research into how much liquid disposable diapers can hold (almost a liter!).   The grand finale was Diet Coke +Mentos fireworks – amazingly the kids who each held a string managed to wait until the count of 3 to pull the string and drop the Mentos into the 2L bottles to make a pretty cool fountain!

Two highlights were the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we saw jellyfish, “pregnant” sea dragons, the otter feeding, and the big ocean tank feeding.  I liked the touch tanks too.  The other highlight was the whale watch.  While the water was a bit choppier than expected, Brian and I both managed to hold onto our breakfasts and enjoy amazing sightings of blue whales and hump-back whales.  Both types of whales could be sighted by looking for their blows, then we could see their shiny backs and dorsal fins when they dove.  We also saw a good number of flukes on the humpbacks. There were lots of cool shore birds too, including some brown pelicans who hung out near the boat.  On the way back to the harbor we saw a pod of dolphins, plus some otter and sea lions in the harbor.

In addition to the planned activities, we also did a little sight seeing on our own.  We walked along Cannery Row, did plenty of jogging along the coast and bike trail, and had a lovely and delicious date night dinner at Bistro Moulin (duck confit – yum!).

We did a little hiking with the group at Point Lobos before saying goodbye and heading back up to the city to see our friends Wayne and Santina, who just moved into their new home.  Their boys are growing up fast, and are both very athletic!  Wednesday we headed to the airport for the flight home, relaxed and cool from our wonderful week in California.

The wedding ceremony itself was held on the beach at Asilomar. We sat with our friend from college, Brenton, and his wife, Kat. The kids all got to carry the flower arrangements down the aisle and hang them at the end of the rows of seating. Then Mary and Craig entered for a fun, memorable ceremony.

One of the themes of the weekend was games and most of the people invited had spent a great deal of time playing games with Mary and Craig over the years. The reception seating” namecards” were Scrabble racks and letters. The goal was to make the highest scoring word with the letters at your table. After the kids table won with ‘jazzy’ and then scored with ‘razzamatazz’ (which they made after raiding other tables for letters), Brian had some fun. Seriously, having kids named Liz, Zoe, and Josie at one table was too much for the adults to overcome.

Preparations

Brian's teddy bear, Cletus's Cow, and Chip-Chip in Susan's chair

Moving into a new house means lots of work fixing things, building things, and decorating. Add a pregnancy to that and you get even more things to prepare! We’ve been in the process of fixing up the bedrooms this year. Flooring was completed in March and the guest rooms got painted in April and June. This weekend we got around to painting the future nursery. Now that the painting and floors are done we can start furnishing the nursery and unpacking even more of the boxes we still have in our basement.

In the chair are Brian’s childhood teddy bear (recently discovered in his Grandma’s basement), Brian’s stuffed rabbit Chip-Chip, and an adorable singing cow our friend G got for Cletus.

Update on growing things

The garden has been growing and we have our first harvest!  Radishes seem to be the gardening equivalent to instant gratification.  Here are two of the 6 we’ve had so far – these were sliced and quick-pickled as July 4 snack.

First radishes of 2012

First radishes of 2012

Here is the bed with radishes in the top left, parsnips are in the right side of that row, carrots in the middle, and beets at the bottom.

Radishes, parsnips, carrots and beets

Radishes, parsnips, carrots and beets

Several other plants have set their fruit.  The first hot pepper:

First hot pepper

First hot pepper

The first bell pepper:

First bell pepper

First bell pepper

And the first tomato:

First tomato

First tomato

The beans are looking strong and have a few flowers. Brian says they are almost ready to “hill.”

Green Beans

Green Beans

The lettuce and chard are holding their own despite the hot weather we’ve had the past couple weeks.

Chard, kale and lettuce

Chard, kale and lettuce

The two disappointments are due to late plantings: our little spinach plants that are going to seed as soon as they get 4 leaves up, and the kale is only sparsely germinated.  We’ll be doing 2nd plantings of these later in the summer for fall harvest.

In other news, “Cletus” is continuing to grow, so far right on target for size based on due date.  It’s a lot bigger than when we last took a peek; this time the head takes up the whole ultrasound screen.  Here’s a profile from the 21 week ultrasound:

Profile of little Juddmansee

Profile of little Juddmansee

And one of our favorite survey shots, the leg:

Future middle distance runner

Future middle distance runner

Though it was hard to capture in still photos, we got a nice view of a hand grabbing a foot, all four chambers of the beating heart, and the umbilical cord (it looks like a chain of bubbles).

Last night we discovered that “Cletus” is not much of a fan of fireworks, or else there was some really complex choreography that it thought should accompany the rhythmic booms at Canobie Lake last night. Brian and I got to feel constant motion for 15 mins straight, not just a couple kicks! I suppose if the little one can feel/hear the sounds but not see the spectacular visuals, it would be a bit disconcerting.  We hope that our hands on my belly helped provide a little comfort and reassurance.

Halfway

In April I said I’d be taking a little time to reflect before embarking on my next adventure.  Well, the next adventure for me won’t be a major race, it’s preparing for motherhood.  Today I’m 20 weeks pregnant, as you may have noticed from the hiking pictures we just posted.

FAQs

Q: How are you feeling?
A: I’ve been feeling good. A little tired during the first trimester, but nothing unusual for marathon training or early pregnancy.
I have also been really hungry (no nausea, I’m lucky!) – craving spicy food and cinnamon.
I didn’t notice any significant improvement at the start of the 2nd trimester, but since I was already feeling so good, that isn’t a surprise.

Q: You ran a marathon?!
A: Yes, of course I did! I wasn’t about to miss out on running the Boston Marathon after all that work!
I did purposely back off on my pace and make sure to stay cool and hydrated to ensure that the fetus and I stayed safe.
My doctor was ok with it, as the general rule is to keep doing what you are doing (in my case, running long distances).

Q: Are you going to find out if it’s a boy or girl?
A: We are not planning to; we are looking forward to a surprise. Of course if we happen to find out, that will be ok too.
We are pretty chill about the whole thing. And besides, it is fun to hear what criteria other people use to guess the gender.

Q: Was this planned? How long have you been trying?
A: We weren’t really trying, nor were we avoiding. We just pulled the goalie and decided we would be ok with whatever happened (with a short intervention once I got into the Boston Marathon – I was willing to run a few months pregnant, but not 7 months!).
It seems that my body decided the coast was clear after we sold our house in Newburyport.

Q: When are you due?
A: November 2 (give or take a couple weeks on either side)

Q: how much time are you taking off work?
A: I plan to work until the baby arrives, then take the rest of the year off using my banked sick leave and holiday shut-down.
That will allow me to check email and do a “soft” return to work if I feel like it (as opposed to taking disability).
My boss and staff are very supportive of my plan to stay flexible in January, perhaps working part time or from home a bit depending on how our schedule turns out.

Q: Where are you planning to deliver?
A: We visited two birth centers, one was Lowell General and the other was Emerson (in Concord). Both have good doctors and facilities and are covered by insurance.
Emerson has the benefit of a separate wing and entrance, more room to walk around, and we had a more informative tour there.
We decided to change Ob/Gyn practices to one that delivers at Emerson. The Harvard Vanguard practice has been great, and my midwife there was very supportive.

Q: What names are you considering?
A: We’re definitely discussing names but aren’t settled and probably won’t be sharing our picks until after the little one arrives.  But because it’s nice to refer to the fetus somehow, we’ve been calling it “Cletus.” (no we’re not really considering that as a name)

I can now feel Cletus move pretty regularly, and Brian’s been able to feel it too.  We have a fetal survey ultrasound next week, so we should have better images then, but in the mean time here is the little one waving hello.

Fetus, 12 week ultrasound