Friday, August 31, 2007

Dr. Visit & Car Seat Coolness!

Almost 28 weeks and doing well. :)

Our last doctor visit was fine... things are still on track. It was a little anti-climactic - I guess this is when the waiting game starts..... Here are some stats:

* My blood pressure = 108/60
* My blood type = 0+ (Universal donor - I like that!)
* My weight gain = -1lbs. I was surprised about this. Apparently I've been much better about my salt intake this past week. The doctor suggested I had less water retention than last time. Over all I'm still on track having gained 26lbs so far.
* Gemma's hear rate = 152! :) She's a healthy little girl
* Gemma's position = She's heading south! She's solidly 'head-down. :)
* No dropping yet - still at station -3 (the highest position)
* No dilation

I'm actually excited that she's not ready to come out yet. I'm still feeling pretty good. For sure I need to take more breaks and I appreciate being able to be at home now and do that. I've been keeping myself busy with meeting with friends and doing more decluttering (it never stops!).

Our last big task - the car seat

We made an appointment with the 'chief guru of car seats' at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. This man, Benjamin Arias, has installed over 5000 car seats since 2004!!!! Even though Scott did a fantastic job installing the car seat (he gave Scott an 'A+") - we still wanted it checked by a professional.We are sure glad we did too. Not only did he find a fatal & common flaw in the installation, but he also gave us soooo much information about how to properly install & use the seat and what to look out for when upgrading to the bigger seat.

The flaw: Apparently the Pruis has latch systems for the left and the right side passenger seats but not the middle. Folks think there is one there because it is close enough to appear to be one but is isn't reinforced. So lots of parents, including Scott, installed it in the center borrowing one latch from the right and one from the left. If there was an accident, the car seat bar could break in this configuration. The solution: Use the seat belts for the center seat (center is still preferable for safety reasons). :)

Funny note: So we waited almost 3 weeks to get an appointment with Ben. We were so relieved to be able to have it checked - the last thing on our list. That same day, a friend was lending me some baby stuff and helped pack the car. Well there was a lot of baby stuff (including a chair) and before I knew it the long-awaited-car-seat-install was undone. Hahaha. I just had to laugh. I'm really happy that Scott laughed too.

So Scott looked at the video and reinstalled it - we have to learn anyway. But since then it recently was accidentally undone again by my mother trying to put her seat belt on.

Just goes to show you, life is funny and ya just have to roll with it.

Love and safety to you all!

ps. This service at LPCH is FREE!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bye, Bye CrystalD

Well, at least for the next 6.5 months. :)Yesterday was my last day working at Crystal Dynamics / Eidos before starting my maternity leave. I think the timing was just about right. I'm starting to feel the weight of the baby and with my new found swollen state, I'm happy to be able to relax when I want to and raise my feet.While I was packing up, I found a list of early hires at Crystal (from '92 - '98) sorted by hire date. I am by far the elder statesman at Crystal. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing but it is the thing. :) After being there so long (since January '94) I was surprised to find that I was not phased by leaving. It was not an emotional day for me. It was tiring for sure, but not emotional. I'm glad. :) I feel confident in life - with Gemma and Scott and whatever happens with work. I think I'm in a really good (the best) space right now!

But even still, that very morning I found myself not being able to get out of bed until I could visualize myself wearing just the right outfit (comfy but stylish) and saying 'goodbye'. :) I also had a similar experience the day I was to start training my replacement for my current job (when I return I'll be on a different team). That morning I just couldn't get the right outfit on and my hair was going to be a mess no matter how much time I spent wrangling it. Funny how the mind works. But once I got to work and started delegating, it felt better. It still did take me longer than it should have to hand off my schedules though. hahaha. :) But I DID!

So, my last day was very nice. About 20 of my co-workers took me and Scott out to a great sushi place in Atherton called Bonsai Sushi. We had a great time in the private room they gave us and the food was super yummy. It was a really nice send off. Thank you, everyone! :)

Here's a little picture summary of my time at CrystalD:

Me, really early in Crystal history. This has to be about 12 years ago! I love the big chunky monitor with Blood Omen PC on it, my hemp shoes, the picture of Francesca (about 3?) , the big goofy calculator and half eaten burrito on my desk. This picture really cracks me up! Early friendship... This day when I saw that we were wearing similar clothes, I exclaimed, "Hey, we're sisters!" He laughed and didn't let me live it down! :)
The infamous Soul Reaver 1 team. Can you find Scotty and me?:
And more recently, here's a picture of me with my boss and friend, Troels and my replacement and friend, Forest:I will miss working with them!

Wow, we've come a long way, baby!
We are ready for our new adventure! 3 more weeks!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Swollen ankles & Dr. appt.

So for some reason I didn't think this was going to happen to me but it did. My ankes are waaaay swollen.

My doctor said it was just part pregnancy but I think I tempted fate. This past week was particularly bad in tems of my salt intake - I ate crab legs 2 days in a row, ate cooked sushi with lots of soy sause, ate a yummy seaweed salad and chips and salsa. And now I'm paying for it! I've learned my lesson! :)

Rocio sent me an article on the swelling (edema) to help me reduce the swelling. Thanks, mujer!

Oh, but we had a really good doctor's appointment. All is normal and still on track. Here are the stats:
* I'm still 50% effaced with 0 dilation. Oh, well. :)
* My blood pressure = 102/62
* My group B strep test = negative - Yahoo!
* Gemma's heart rate = 157 - she's been active!
* My weight gain this week = 3lbs!!!! My doctor said it was mostly water retention. Ugh. :)

Tomorrow is my last day of work - Yahoo!!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rocio's Dream about Gemma

One of my closest friends, Rocio, had a beautiful dream about Gemma the other night. I wanted to share it:
"I had a dream last night.
You had called me to let me know that Gemma had been born
and I went to see you at the hospital
(only the room looked exactly like your living room,
with a hospital bed instead of the couch, facing the fireplace).
There was an overwhelming sensation of
peace and calm
emanating from the room.
Scott had Gemma in his arms,
and she was holding her head up like a two month old,
looking at absolutely everything.
Her hair was dark brown with a touch of red (cinnamon, to be exact),
with a long lock on top of her head;
her eyes were really bright blue,
her lips were a mini-version of yours,
her skin was fair but the kind that would tan really quickly,
and she had this perfectly round head
with superfine little features and
like newborns are usually not.
You were absolutely peaceful
and told me you hadn't labored too long
but asked for an epidural when you reached 6.5 cm,
and asked me to take Gemma's first official photo.
So I was going to run to my car to get my fabulous new camera and then
I woke up..."

I love that dream. I'd be very surprised if she came out with blue eyes though... :) I can't wait to meet Gemma and have everyone meet her!


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Meet our Doula

I met Jeanna though prenatal yoga at Blossom Birth. I really liked her philosophy and general attitude in life - open, down-to-earth, knowledgeable, approachable and with a great sense of humor. :) I liked how she really engaged people at the beginning of class and made me, and others, feel comfortable. I also appreciate how she teaches prenatal yoga - still a workout but honoring what our pregnant bodies need. The more I found out about her, the more I liked.
She has an incredibly rich background and is active in so many organizations - here are just a few: Whole Birth Yoga, La Leche League, Association of Labor Assistance and Childbirth Educators (ALACE), Metropolitan Adult Education, and is the President of the board of Bay Area Birth Information (BABI). For more info on her, check out her website Mindful Mama.

For a long time, I thought I was for sure going to be someone who asks for an epidural at the first possible moment. We have the technology so, why not? The more I spent time with people at Blossom like Jeanna and the more I read books like "Birthing from Within" (Shannon, thanks again for sending it to me) and "Ina Maya's Guide to Childbirth" (Thanks Ellen for suggesting it), the more I felt like I could and actually want to try a natural birth. :) So once I turned that corner, Jeanna was my first choice.What does a doula do, you ask? In short, she "mothers the mother". She is trained in labor and birth and helps the mama meditate through the pain. As a result, a doula helps decrease the risk of cesarean, use of drugs, epidurals and helps lessens the chance of tearing and episiotomies. I've read in studies that doulas also decrease the length of labor. Because of this, some insurance companies are starting to cover doulas costs. Cool!

You might ask "Why have a doula when women have been delivering babies for centuries?" Well, although that is true it is also true that up until the 1920's childbirth was one of the leading causes of death for woman. Plus why not use the knowledge of someone who has helped tons of woman go through it before? The way I see it, no matter how great of shape I am, I wouldn't climb Mt. Everest without a Sherpa. Would you? :) (Photos from blog India Ink)Scott, my mother, my sister Maria and I will be guided by Jeanna, our birth Sherpa, to deliver Gemma into the world. :)And today we started the process! Jeanna met Scott and me at our place and we chatted for 3 hours getting to know each other better and going over all sorts of questions we had. It was great getting that one-on-one attention.

Next week Jeanna is teaching the "Intensive Childbirth Preparation" class at Blossom that Scott and I are signed up for. I like that we'll be able to learn even more from her through the class. Incidentally, that is our last class before the baby comes. We are getting close - soooo excited!

4 more weeks to go!

Our last doctor's appointment was really exciting. Apparently I'm 50% effaced (the cervix is thinning out in preparation for giving birth). I know it will take a while still until the actual birth but it is super exciting to know the labor process has already started. And for the most part I haven't even felt it - the human body is magnificent! :)

Here are the stats from our visit:
* My blood pressure = 100/60
* Gemma's heart rate = 146
* Gemma's position = head down :)
* My weight gain = 0lbs. I really fluctuate. Sometimes, like last time, I gained 4 lbs in 2 weeks but this time I didn't gain any in the same period of time. All in all, I'm averaging 1 lb/week which is healthy and on track!

Scott and I have been really taking classes. Our last two classes have been just wonderful and soooooo informative.

Class - 1st 6 weeks
In this class we learned about 2 main huge topics:
* taking care of our physical health - including sitz baths and herbs to use and the importance of 'rooming in' and SLEEP and hydration and food and fresh air... so much!
* taking care of our emotional health - SLEEP, setting up support systems with family and friends, setting realistic expectations about how much one can do in a day, postpartum sex expectations, SLEEP, setting limits, accepting help, COMMUNICATION...too much to mention!

At the beginning of the class, we did a couples' project where we brainstormed and wrote down our ideas on the following areas of support that we'll want to remember after the baby arrives:
* Resources - who are the folks that can help us physically and emotionally?
* Food - what are some good ways to get good nourishment?
* Sleep - what are ways to get more?
* Bliss List - what are things we want to remember and try to get back to within the first year after the baby's birth?

It was a fun exercise to collaborate with Scott and remember some of our options - relying on advice from experienced moms & dads will be and already is a HUGE resource. Here is our first piece of parental artwork:
Class - Breastfeeding (sorry, no pictures):
While Scott was at Gamefest in Seattle, I went to a breastfeeding class. WOW! I didn't know you could spend 3 hours talking about breastfeeding. We didn't even cover everything.

I learned so much, here are just a very few things:
* The benefits of breastfeeding - check out for the 101 reasons to breastfeed
* A baby's latch must also include the areola with the nipple pointing up towards the roof of the baby's mouth, not just straight in
* Anatomy of mom and baby. For example, did you know a baby's stomach at birth is the size of a marble - that's why they eat so often!
* A baby's chin should be directly on the breast, not the nose - more of the areola should be covered by the baby's lower lip than top
* Positions & alignments! I think I'll like the football hold.
* Rules for a good milk supply (in order of priority):
- Frequent feedings (8 - 12/day) - that is what what makes mamas produce milk
- Rest when baby sleeps
- Nutritious diet - 2700 calories/day - wow!
- Hydration - drink up!
* Signs a baby is getting enough milk - check the diapers - is stuff coming out? :)
* What dads can do to help - emotional support was top of the list: Partner approval dramatically affects the success of breastfeeding. Helping mama position the baby, burp her, change diapers, ensure mom is getting enough rest, water and yummy food was also up there too.
* Preventing problems, for example
- Get good, well-fitting nursing bras
- Don't skip meals
- Frequent feedings
- Don't introduce the bottle until at least 3 - 4 weeks, if possible
- If you need to supplement, you can supplement with your own milk and a tiny tub you can attach while breastfeeding, syringe and even cup/spoon! Very cool!
* What to do if there is a problem like engorgement (did you know cabbage leaves can help?), sore nipples, plugged ducts happens...
* Postpartum depression - it can happen to anyone - the signs to watch out for
* Pumping
* Going back to work
* Weaning...

I think the reason why we need to learn about breastfeeding is because we, as a culture, have long lost the common knowledge that used to be passed on naturally from woman to woman because it was open and visible in public. That is certainly not the case in the US at least. Oh well!

Glad I had this class! Completely mind-opening!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hospital Tour = :)

We also finally had our hospital tour at Sequoia Hospital last week. It was FANTASTIC!!!It was just what we wanted. The tour was with a small group, just 5 couples, and we were able to see the actual rooms and the nursery. The nurses in the Labor and Delivery ward were very friendly and were actually smiling. :) Photo taken by David Bacon:
Plus on average, Sequoia delivers 4 babies a day vs. the 17 babies Stanford had delivered in just 12 hours on the day we had our tour there. I'm glad we made the switch. Stanford is a great Hospital for sure, it just wasn't for us for delivering Gemma.

I'm really looking forward to the private room and not being moved from room to room at every stage. Here are some pictures of one of the the LDPR rooms (labor, delivery, postpartum and recovery rooms):
The bed is a transformer bed - they change out the different parts of the bed depending on where you are in the whole process. You can't see it from here but you can add a squatting bar to the bed and actually deliver in that position too. They allow you to dim the lights and decorate as well. They don't have a tub there but they are ok with you bringing one in. Scott l pretty much shot that idea down. We'll have more than enough to handle without bringing a tub of our own and filling it. But I was tempted!!! LOL! Oh, the only thing they don't allow are tripods since folks can trip on them.
Above is the guest bed and the gliding chair they have for us. The restrooms are private too! Plus all the post baby cleaning and weighing is done directly in the same room too so mama can see everything and not miss anything.

The view from the room:
In addition, they had this amazing security system with the bracelets to ensure the baby's safety. For example there will be an instant lock-down of the ward if one walks outside a certain perimeter with a baby (even theirs) before being discharged.

In general, Scott and I had a good feeling about Sequoia. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mother Blessing - Week 35

I wanted to do a different sort of baby shower with my good girlfriends. I wanted something that focused more on the mother and preparing her for motherhood. So 6 of my friends, all of them mothers, and I got together to do my version of a Mother Blessing.

Vic Chung, awesome friend and honorary Grandpa (aka Gumpa), let us hold the event at his house. This is the same house were I lived my last part of my single life, where Scott and I shared our first sweet kiss and where we were married 2 years ago. It felt fitting that we would hold this event there too. Thank you , Vic!!!We didn't take pictures of the event - I was so into it - but here are some pictures of us preparing for it (that's Ali - Vic's cat):

The main event:

It turned out wonderfully and it really felt like a community event supporting me into this next phase of life I'm about to embark. Thank you so much, Magda, for organizing it for me!!!! :)

We created birth art, facilitated by Rocio, and shared birth stories. It was super intimate and emotional. I loved hearing everyone's varied stories and I really appreciated everyone's enthusiasm and heart-felt honesty. THANK YOU EVERYONE!

Me? I drew an image of a strong woman squatting with arms wide open, open in nature surrounded by deeply rooted trees as her support, milk flowing from her. I was surprised at how emotional drawing this open image made me... but at the same time it made me feel strong & confident... I have hopes for the birth but I'm going in with _no_ expectations. :)

Next we did the birth bracelet/blessing part, facilitated by Nerissa. Everyone brought with them a bead to contribute to a bracelet for me and Nerissa shaped it together. The idea is for me to wear the bracelet during labor and delivery and use the inspiration they've given me to get through the hard work of labor. I'd look and touch it and think of the stories of perseverance, strength, letting go, and opening up! Every bead tells a story, a wish, a blessing.

For example, one of the beads, the letter 'B', came with a song/poem, written by Rocio that very morning:
It was beautiful, funny, touching, original, bilingual...just mind blowing and emotional. Mil Gracias, Rocio!

Nerissa also recited a poem with her blessing:

Mothers & Daughters

Holding my newborn daughter
I feel time slip from me
I am my grandmother holding my mother,
my mother holding me
Many generations converge
in her small face
Mothers & daughters
lost to each other...

Once more in her embrace

-- author unknown

All of the beads and the blessings really touched me. Each had a unique perspective and blessing and I just loved it. Some of the beads even came from Africa via Jennifer G's mom from BeadForLife - wow! It is a non-profit organization that teaches Ugandan woman to turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful beads! All the profits from the selling of the beads are invested in community development projects that generate income and help these woman escape extreme poverty. Here's a picture of some of the bead makers: Thank you again, Magda, Rocio, Nerissa, Jennifer G., Jennifer F. and Mirari!!!! This was such an amazing experience for me and I really appreciate and love everyone's sentiments and love shared.

Here's the outcome:It was an emotional and fun day and I will forever remember it!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rosaura's Day Off

Ok - so we didn't end of singing 'Twist and Shout" in a city parade like Ferris Bueller but we did have a wonderful and relaxing time.

One of my best friends, Magda (college buddy, Director of Plugged In, and awesome mother of 2 kids), flew in from out of town to help me prepare and celebrate Gemma's arrival. :)

First we had an easy Friday morning and slept in - yahoo! I needed a break. Then we headed off to Redwood city to have lunch with an old friend, Mark Wallace. We have a great time chatting and eating at this yummy restaurant called Milagros (means 'miracle' in Spanish), a nice coincidence. :)

Before lunch we had a tour of Hope Lab - a wonderful non-profit organization that makes video games and other products to help young people with chronic illness. Their most recent release is called "Re-Mission" a PC video game that helps children/young adults learn more about their cancer and their part in it's successful treatment. The game is based on tons of medical research - and it is FREE! If you know anyone who is interested, please see the links above.

Next we headed out to one of our favorite stores: Babies R Us! LOL! We didn't get much but it is always neat to see the new stuff. :) BTW, I am looking for a 42" x 42" stretchy-fabric swaddling blanket. Let me know if you know where to get one.

Ahhhh, next we drove up to S.F. for some major pampering:
This isn't just a place to get a massage or facial, it truly is an event, an experience. If you go, get there early and chill out. We didn't know what were in for and instead of heading in early, we finished our conversation and munchies in the car parked just outside the oasis! Hilarious! Now we know better! :)

We both received 80-minute massages. WOW! I had never received that long of a massage and boy, did I need a prenatal one at this point since everything seems to ache! I felt like a steam engine coming into the station and giving the hugest SIGH as we started the massage. They had this special pillow that allowed me to lay down on my tummy. At first Gemma was squirming around which got me a little nervous. But she calmed down as I relaxed and it was just heaven. Here's a picture of us just after:Oh my goodness... and the tea and snacks they gave us were soooooo yummy - dark chocolate, dried fruits, fresh organic fruits, almonds and nuts. If you go, see if you can get Martin Aguilar - he's fantastic!

In our blissful state, we meet our good friends, Art and Moosh. Magda and I went to the university with Art. He's a mechanical engineer working at Lunar and is super great with kids. She's a child psychologist working at the CA Pacific Medical Center in child development, wonderful dancer and is glowing from the pregnancy. They are expecting their first baby 2 weeks before us!
We brought them some gifts and checked out their awesome remodel. They made a herculean effort to get it all done before baby Maya comes and they did a great job! Scott and I have been redecorating too - funny how babies inspire this sort of nesting in us! :)

We at this fabulous Middle Eastern restaurant named Fattoush and chatted and laughed up a storm. I can't wait for our babies to meet!

Here's a picture of the 2 expectant mamas with one of our inspirational mamas!:
And just to continue the Art Sandoval tradition (no relation), here's a picture of us comparing bellies too!:
It was a great day off! :)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

LA - Baby Shower - Week 34

34 weeks! 6 more weeks to go! Feeling good!

Wow, we had a wonderful time in LA this past weekend. My sister, Maria, hosted a fantastic party for us at The Raymond Restaurant in Pasadena.
It was mainly family from my side and a few college friends with their babies and S.O's. All the Smith family members were there (except for Francesca who had another commitment) and the kids were having fun yet were really well-behaved, even Beto, the youngest. :)

My sister, Carmen and her partner, Lisa. My parents! :)

The Smith family plus some guest stars :Vittoria, Carlos, David, Isabella, Sophia and Katharina. Here's a sweet shot of Maria, Betito and Eddie:

My brother Gonzalo! My brother Felipe with his son, David.

These are my friends from college:

Delia was my best buddy in college. With her is her boyfriend, Randy. To the right is a picture of Randy's son, Jordon, with Delia's son, Carlos.

And here are my friends, Jonathan and Linda with their son David. Jonathan and I were in the same freshman dorm together. To the right is a picture of Diana and her son Joaquin. We danced together in Ballet Folklorico de Stanford. She was one of the premiere dancers! :)

And last, but not least, is Mrs. Limon. She is the mother of the Limon sisters who we grew up with. She's a great friend. :) Leigh Limon, her youngest daughter and our friend, just had her baby boy, Tristan, 1 week earlier. We were really happy Mrs. Limon, aka Jessica, could make it to the party.We sat outside by the garden and the weather was perfect, warm but with a good breeze. The food was great, tea-style finger food that was surprisingly filling. My sister made up a really cool game - she listed out a bunch of ways to say 'baby' in many languages and we had to figure out which matched up. Delia got them all correct:

Italian = bambino
Russian = malish
Korean = ehgi
Spanish = bebe
Vietnamese = cong
Portugese = bebe

My brothers also played some music for us - acoustic versions of the Eagles' "Hotel California" and Kansas' "Dust in the Wind" and some blues. It was fun and folks joined in on the singing.
Wow, and everyone was so generous - we didn't think at first we'd be able to get it all in the car. But Scotty, with his pack-ology degree, found a way to do it. Thank you to everyone for your words of encouragement, your presence there and your generous gifts. We love you!

It was a _wonderful_event and we thank everyone who was able to make it and especially thank my sister Maria for organizing it all. We felt really loved and supported. :) We can't wait for Gemma to meet everyone! :)

Saturday night we spent it hanging out with Delia and her son Carlos and had dinner at a posh Italian restaurant called Mi Piace. Thank goodness we came there early because by the time we left there was a major line inside and outside of the restaurant. The food was super delicious.

We ended the night in a wonderful room at the Westin in Pasadena that Maria and Eddie generously gave us. Thank goodness for hotel points! Scotty and I slept sooooo well. It was heavenly.... ahhhh! :)

The next morning we had a great breakfast at my parents house. Gonzalo joined us for a yummy home-made Mexican breakfast - huevos rancheros con hongos y fruta!!!!

The drive back wasn't as bad as I had originally thought - we stopped literally every hour to let me stretch and go to the bathroom. I did well but at the very end I started to feel my feet swell up. Eeks.

Blitzy was sooooo excited to see us. :) This was the last trip before the baby comes...glad to be home now. :) :)

Here are some other shots I couldn't help but post: