Sunday, July 29, 2007

Our baby has blue eyes!

Well, our practice baby does!
Scott and I had our first baby class: Baby Basics. And Scott, of course, had to make me laugh by posing her like a fighting baby with her dukes up! :)

It was a really great overview of what to expect from our newborn Gemma and how to take care of her. We talked about:

* What babies look like and what not to be afraid of when they come out (cone-heads, cradle cap, acne, extra hair in strange places...)
* Feeding the baby - both bottle and breast issues
* The 4 states of awareness:
- Full Sleep (I didn't know that babies have 20 minutes of REM sleep before they go into their deep sleep - opposite of adults!)
- Silent Awareness - this is when they do most of their learning/imitating
- Active Awareness
- Crying - Highest Awareness
* POOP! We looked at pictures off all the different kind of poop that we will experience. Yuk!
* How to swaddle - we practiced this quite a bit
* How to bath and dress the baby
* How to calm the baby with the 5 'S''s
- Swaddle - make them into a taco
- Side/Stomach hold - being on their back when they are upset makes them more upset
- Shhhh - apparently they like white noise - it reminds them of the womb
- Swing - weeeee
- Suck - boob, bottle or even finger will do
There is just too much to list of what we talked about. It was good and the teacher's attitude was very open. We look the class at Blossom Birth - and plan to continue there.

We left feeling more educated and with a list of references and stuff to read up on. We felt like we conquered our practice baby.
This past week we also met our pediatrician, Dr. Donna McMillan. She was super easy-going and open to my concerns about vaccinations - thanks Jen & Gary for the recommendation! She was fine with the idea of spreading them out and also maybe not doing some of them. Scott and I need to read up on the topic and decide what we want to do. But it is good to know that she is open to other ideas.

Oh, and this week we had an ultrasound too to see the placement of my placenta. Unfortunately, the tech was not allowed to talk about our results so we'll have to wait until we see the doctor this week for the news. Oh well. I'm still thinking positively. More on this topic next week.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

32 Weeks and Growing!

We are are solidly in the single digits of weeks left! OCHO! 8!
This past week, just like the last few, has flown by. I can tell she's growing as her movements have become much more pronounced and frequent. Apparently she's a little less than 4 lbs and about 17 inches long! :) Sometimes she kicks/moves in such a way that I feel like I'm getting a bolt of lightning shooting through my lower abs (and below!). It is shocking to say the least!

Recently I've been having painful leg cramps in the middle of the night. Not fun. But I have been taking that as an opportunity to practice my labor strategy -

stay calm and breath through it.

One night just as one leg finished cramping up and I thought it was over, the other one started. Ouch! I guess it is good practice for the the real deal! hahaha!

We had a doctor's this week appointment. This time we were seen by Dr. Hoff's Nurse Practitioner - Kate Price. She was very knowledgeable and friendly with us and instantly made us feel comfortable. I had mentioned that our prenatal vitamins were kinda expensive and if she could recommend other ones. She said that almost all of them are about the same but some go down easier than others. I've tried the over-the-counter ones but they were really hard to swallow so I switched to the prescription one. To help us out, after our visit, she proceeded to give us a TON of sampler packages to tide us over for a L O N G time. Anything helps, right? :)

Ok, here are my stats for this visit:
* 100/60= My blood pressure. It is low but good and apparently I have a loud pulse. :)
* The skin tag they took off last time came back normal
* My urine was back to normal - no sign of sugar this time
* 142 = Gemma's heart rate. Good!
* 1 lb = My weight gain since last visit. So I'm averaging basically one lb per week. I'm feeling good about it.

Also, apparently my circulation is doing pretty well. She even complimented me on my ankles - she was happy to see that we could still see my bones. Cool!

This Thursday we'll get to see Gemma. We'll be getting an ultrasound to check on the placement of my placenta. I hope it has moved up! :) Wish us luck!

Oh, and we also made an appointment for a pediatrician at the Fremont office (2 minutes away from us). Her name is Dr. Donna McMilan and she comes highly recommended by some friends of ours who have two very healthy children. Looking at her bio, she's a Yale Med School grad, did her residency at Stanford, has a toddler of her own and speaks Spanish! SWEET! We get to meet her Thursday as well.

Lots of good stuff happening!

Love to all!

Friday, July 13, 2007

31 Weeks - Mocap week

This week I've been in Burbank & Playa Vista for work. We are recording motion capture for the cinematics of our latest video game. Yahoo!

It has been a lot of work, hectic and fun. Gemma and I are holding up ok - I think it is the adrenaline. I'm pretty sure we'll crash and need some recoup time once the shoot is over.

I miss my Scotty & Blitzy very much. I can't wait to go home! This is my last business trip before Gemma arrives!

Can you say, " YAHOO!" :)

ps. The above picture and post was done via my iphone - super cool.

UPDATE: Below are some pictures from the shoot:

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The big 3 0

Well, we've hit the 30 week mark. Wow! :) We are both feeling good. The calm before the storm! LOL! 10 more weeks to go, it is going to go fast especially with my busy schedule at work. We are just about to start production on cinematics for our next game. In fact I'll be in LA again next week to do motion capture rehearsals and recording. Fun! One side benefit is that I'll get to see mi familia again. :)

This week we had a regular check up with our wonderful Dr. Hoff. Things went really well. The only issue we had was that my sugar was a little high. He wasn't too concerned with it but he will keep an eye on it. With diabetes on both sides of my family, it wouldn't be out of the question to have me be affected by it. But so far so good - I'm thinking positively.

I also had him take off a skin tag I had growing on my thigh. Apparently a lot of pregnant woman experience this with all the extra skin we are growing. He froze it, snipped it off, very easy. What I found interesting about the experience was that it gave me and Scott a glimpse of what we will be experiencing when we give birth because he had me in the position, ya know. I got a little nervous/excited at the thought. It was great to have him there by my side - we both smiled about it after.

Another funny note is that for Dr. Hoff's patients he's posted up a bunch of comics about birth and pregnancy up on his ceiling so that we can laugh a little and be distracted when we are waiting or he's examining us. He was a good sport to let me take a picture of him:
Ok, here are my stats for the visit:
  • Blood pressure = 112/70
  • Gemma's heart rate = 166 (she was moving around a lot and the doctor said her heart rate was normal for the activity)
  • I gained 4 lbs in 2 weeks! She's definitely growing and gaining her much-needed baby fat!
In 3 weeks we will have another ultrasound to check how where my placenta is laying. I'm thinking positively about his too!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I'm back from Jazz Camp! :)

Wow! Jazz Camp was amazing, inspirational, relaxing, wonderful, uplifting, educational, cleansing, filling, creative, and also a good kick in the butt... just what I needed before giving birth to our baby girl.

I met and enjoyed some really great people, experienced mind-blowing and moving performances, laughed, hugged, cried, learned, danced and lived a lot. It was also wonderful to be able to share it with my 2 brothers, Felipe and Gonzalo. Ahhh....I come back feeling both grounded and much more free.

There are so many stories to tell from Jazz Camp, I don't know where to begin... Two people I really appreciated getting to know better were Madeline Eastman and Stacey Hoffman, the main organizers of camp.These woman are amazing in so many ways. They've been running the camp for almost 25 years and giving so much of themselves for us to have the life-changing experiences we all have there. Plus they are amazing friends and are so good to each other. I really look up to them. :)

Madeline (on the right) is the Artistic Director, a hilarious person, and phenomenal vocalist. When she performs it really makes you listen and feel something. Well, it was a total honor to be able to be in her and Art Lande's (great person, musician, composer, improviser, drummer and educator) class called "Digging in Deep". We had to audition for it and I was one of the lucky 8 to be picked to participate.We learned about storytelling and how to be present and honest in our interpretation of a tune. What was so cool about this class was that, for me, I had heard these concepts and tools before but for whatever reason it hadn't sunk in. In class they really made us practice all these concepts in real-time and didn't let us slide if we didn't get it. They did this in a very supportive and productive way which was great. Because the class was so small they had the time to really work with each of us. We all got to sing almost every day but even when the focus was on another vocalist, we learned tremendously. This was the first time they offered this class and I really hope they do it again! :)

I also have to say the Madeline and Art make such a great combination. Oh, Art's playing is joyful, original, heartfelt and just plain fun to sing to. They are definitely a GREAT team!

The other class that had a huge impact on me didn't have anything to do with music, on the surface, but actually had everything to do with making good music. This class was Stacey's "Performance Anxiety" class. This class ended up being my home-base, a place to really let my guard down and learn to relax when I start feeling anxious about performing, about giving birth, about being a parent... about life! :) The tools she teaches are life-savers and I am committed to use them everyday because it really works! I recommend any person take this class even if you are not a musician - who doesn't get anxious some times? BTW, in addition to all the work she does for Rhythmic Concepts Inc (the non-profit that runs Jazz Camp and tons of other worthwhile organizations such as the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and "In the name of Love" an annual musical tribute honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to name just two), Stacey is also a licensed psychotherapist and has a private practice in Berkeley. Did I forget to mention that she is the most adorable and sexy thing when she performed in her Mambo, Cha Cha Cha and Son (long 'o') class taught by Royland Lobato? Wow, did I not say these woman are amazing?! :)

Another huge impact this year came to me by participating in an Afro Brazilian dance class taught by Conceicao Damasceno with live percussion by John Santos and his class. She taught us a dance in celebration of Yemanja, the goddess of the ocean and love. At the beginning of the week she mentioned to me that she would like me to dance with my belly out - I sort of winced at the thought. My belly is huge now and I couldn't quit get my head around exposing myself like that. Well, throughout the week we learned the movements which were very grounded and fluid as if moving though the ocean.

She hadn't mentioned my exposed belly again (and I was secretly relieved) until about 10 minutes before the performance! She turns to me and starts pulling my blouse up and saying in her beautiful Brazilian accent, "OK, we need to show your belly now, yes?" Well, I instantly went into a panic - my face got hot, my heart was racing, and I felt a little dizzy. I have body image issues for sure (do you know of anyone that doesn't?) and being in this engorged state is no joke. I used Stacey's techniques to help calm me down. I remembered what Madeline and Art said about being present and honest. I sang a song one of my new friends, Alison, taught me that helps her calm down. My brother Gonzalo was also there to help me.

I controlled my breathing.
I thought about Gemma.

I decided to do it and give Gemma the gift of a mother who is proud of her body and her baby inside. Gosh, it makes me cry just saying that out loud . . . . . . b r e a t h . . . . .

I was so happy I took the leap and did it. And I was proud of myself that I was very present and in my body during the performance. Many people came up to me afterwards to tell me how powerful the image of me dancing was for them. In the US people don't get to see the naked pregnant belly very often (much less dancing). Our culture doesn't celebrate pregnancy and motherhood like some other countries do - something that I hope we can change little by little. This dance was my offering. Plus I hope I helped other women with body image issues - I know it helped me.

Gosh, like I said, there are so many stories to tell. I haven't even talked about my open mic with Randy Porter, Rebecca Green and my brother Gonzalo (my first time performing with him!) or the bon fire, big bands, faculty performances, vocal ensembles, the combos, Benny Green!, Kate McGarry and prying my ears open, my brothers' open mics (they both got one!), learning the rumba clave finally (thank you Carolyn!), dancing all night, land of Art-tic, Gospel Choir, the 'Cherry not no berry' song, Sophie's song, Mel Sharp and the trombonius play, my cabin mates, Kid Beyond and the beats, all the amazing blues performances, the fantastic dance performances, the wonderful people I met... the list goes on and on...

So I'll leave you with a picture of Indian Bowl
and one of me and my brothers on the last night of camp - we danced until 2:30am!Oh, and Gemma and I did really well physically. Thank you Madeline and Stacey for those golf carts!!!! I took my breaks when I needed them and she seemed to really enjoy the music. I think Gemma grew that week too, literally! People really noticed it too. Can't wait to meet her and have her join me at Jazz Camp - my hubby, Scott, fully supports the idea - I'm so lucky! :)

ps. If anyone reading this has any pictures of the Yemanja dance or my open mic, please please please send them to me: :)