Category Archives: Parenting

Parenting research and personal anecdotes.

Breastfeeding: The Sequel

***Potential TMI warning***
(Parts of this have already been mentioned in prior posts but this one goes into the nitty gritty a bit more.)

Breastfeeding with Calvin was a debacle. He never learned to suck properly and I pumped so much, sleeping so little, I became suicidal. Even then, I never produced enough milk to fully feed him. I was determined that with Julian I would try to breastfeed but would prioritize my sanity above feeding method.

Like last time I researched breastfeeding but this time I took a different slant in my research. Before I was even pregnant I found a therapist and started meeting with her. I wanted to make sure I had a solid mental/emotional state throughout my pregnancy and postpartum. At Thanksgiving time I met with a lactation consultant to talk about the problems I’d had last time as well as figure out the best way to start this time. The lactation consultant came up with a “plan”. I like plans. Plans make me happy. In addition, I read Breastfeeding Made Simple, which my lactation consultant had recommended, and Guilt-Free Bottle Feeding.

Breastfeeding Made Simple had good information in it. However, I had read so many books last time that I don’t think I learned anything new from it. I was hoping that Guilt-Free Bottle Feeding would offer suggestions on proper bottle-feeding technique. In that regard, it didn’t work. However, I found its attitude toward bottle feeding very helpful and bought it just for emotional support.

Last time, because Calvin couldn’t suck, I spent a lot of time pumping. Looking back at that experience I felt like I traded bonding for pumping time. It’s really hard to sit and cuddle your child when you’re attached to a pump. As a result, I decided this time I would either breastfeed or formula feed. I wouldn’t pump.

Even though I decided not to primarily pump I wanted a pump to help with possible engorgement as well as when I might skip feedings. I looked at the pumps that my healthcare insurance were offering and didn’t feel inspired by any of them1 Eventually, I just bought a Spectra S2 off Amazon. Many reviewers compared it favorably to the Medela Symphony and it was very reasonably priced.

Julian was born via a planned c-section at 40 weeks and 6 days. It was wonderful having a planned c-section vs going into labor and then a c-section. I felt a lot more awake and able to enjoy having a new baby. Julian was fairly large at 10 lbs 6 oz. Unlike Longmont, BCH allowed Julian to start nursing as soon as I was in the recovery room instead of insisting on getting the results of his blood sugar test results first. Not surprisingly, Julian, just like Calvin, really liked nursing.

The first day went pretty well. Julian tried breastfeeding frequently and while it wasn’t comfortable it wasn’t excruciating either. He kept passing his blood sugar tests. On the second day I saw a lactation consultant who looked at Julian’s latch and said it looked fairly good, though she offered some suggestions to make it better. In the middle of his second day we had a complication. Julian didn’t pass his oxygen test. This could mean a number of things, including a heart defect. Julian was transferred to the NICU and two hours of tests followed. He had to stay on his back in the same position the entire time. He spent most of that time sucking on my little finger which kept him a little calmer than he would have otherwise. After all the tests were done he wanted to breastfeed. He seemed pretty traumatized by all the testing so I let him suckle for 3-4 hours without a break. In retrospect, I probably should have asked for a pacifier but I didn’t think of it at the time.

That evening, my left nipple was bloody. I stopped feeding on that side and instead just fed on my right side. Of course, that was putting extra stress on my right nipple and it was starting to look dodgy. I started supplementing to put less stress on my right nipple.

The third day I saw the lactation consultant again and she suggested I start pumping to try to get my milk supply to come in sooner. In addition, she told me to ask my doctor for APN ointment for my nipples. I did pump, though somewhat reluctantly as my nipples were still incredibly sore. In the afternoon they weighed Julian and noted he had lost 7% of his birth weight and they would have suggested I start pumping if I hadn’t already. In any case, I kept breastfeeding him and then would supplement with donor breast milk that the hospital provided.

Some people claim that bottle fed infants tend to me more obese than breastfed infants because the caregiver unconsciously try to get the child to finish the bottle, even if the child isn’t hungry enough to finish. With Calvin, I was very careful to watch and never force him to eat more than he wanted. However, I discovered with the donor breast milk I was much less likely to want to “waste” the milk. I remembered pumping for Calvin last time and every mL of milk I got was precious. “Wasting” the breast milk was almost like sacrilege. Finally one of Julian’s nurses pointed out to me that the women who donated breast milk had plenty and it was ok to not finish the bottle.

During one of the lactation visits, I don’t remember which, the lactation consultant suggested I try using a supplemental nursing system (SNS) to feed Julian. Before having Julian I had decided I wouldn’t try an SNS this time. I tried it with Calvin and it was a disaster. It didn’t do anything except make both of us upset. Because of this, I was prepared to dismiss the suggestion out of hand. Then I realized that Julian’s issues were different than Calvin’s. While Julian’s latch wasn’t prefect, he was sucking. I decided to give it a shot and found, to my surprise, that it worked pretty well.

Julian regained a little weight before checking out of he hospital on the 4th day but wasn’t up to birth weight. Upon discharge the hospital pediatrician told me that I needed to make sure to wake him up at least every four hours at night to feed. This was a little aggravating because he was sleeping so well and it seemed wrong to wake up a sleeping baby. We stopped by the hospital pharmacy to rent a Symphony. While I already had a breast pump at home, I wanted to be able to pump without thinking about it too much (since I used the Symphony for Calvin I could pretty much use it in my sleep). When we got home we started supplementing with formula since the donor milk was no longer “free.”

We had scheduled Julian’s first office visit for two days after discharge because at the time we weren’t sure if he was going to be coming home on oxygen or not. It turns out he didn’t need oxygen. His normal pediatrician wasn’t available so we saw one of the other doctors in the group. She said he was looking good but to continue waking him up every 4-5 hours to eat and schedule a weight check with his normal doctor in a week.

Even though I was determined ahead of time not to worry if I couldn’t breastfeed, I got a little depressed Saturday. This provided enough push for me to overcome my dislike of phones to call the lactation consultant and setup an appointment on Monday.

I noticed the SNS I was using seemed to be getting clogged. The lactation consultant at the hospital had given us an SNS that was meant to be used for longer term but I didn’t like it. On Monday Jaeger and I wandered down to Westminster to a breastfeeding shop that had the SNS that I liked. While there, we learned the one that I liked wasn’t suppose to be used for more than a couple of days but we got another one anyway. After buying the SNS I needed to feed Julian so we drove to a shaded spot in the parking lot and I breastfed Julian in the backseat. Weirdly, the latch that we had been struggling with just seemed to work.

We picked up Calvin from school and then got to the house just a bit after the lactation consultant arrived. She started by weighing Julian. Then she examined his mouth and noted that he had a high palate and a slight upper lip tie but other than that seemed fine. She watched him feed but it was nap time so he wasn’t very enthusiastic. She ended by coming up with a plan to try to boost my milk supply and suggested I ask my OB to check my thyroid and prolactin levels.

It was either Monday evening or Tuesday when I decided to stop using the SNS. It seemed to me that Julian’s latch was worse when we tried to use it and I felt that the more comfortable I was while feeding the more likely I would continue the attempt. I pumped some after each feeding for a bit. However, when Jaeger went back to work I stopped because I did not feel I could give Julian enough attention while I was pumping.

My thyroid and prolactin levels came back and were within the expected range for a breastfeeding woman.

Early the following week we went to Julian’s weight check. The doctor briefly checked him out and said he looked great but also mentioned he should be back to birth weight by that point. So, he also said we had to keep waking Julian up every 5 hours at night.

At this point I was breastfeeding Julian every 2-3 hrs during the day for 15 minutes each side and then, if he wasn’t falling asleep, offering him a bottle which he would often drink anywhere from 1/2 oz to 2 oz.

I went to the BCH breastfeeding club that Friday and weighed Julian and he hadn’t gained any weight since the doctor visit 4 days earlier. Our lactation consultant was concerned and said we should talk to the pediatrician again. We scheduled a weight check for the next week. By that point, he’d gained a couple of ounces so the doctor said to keep doing what I was and to come in the following week for another weight check. About a month after Julian was born he reached his birth weight again. Finally they told me I could stop waking Julian up in the night. Except, at this point he appeared to have gotten use to waking up and tended to wake up every 3-4 hours.

I returned the Symphony and experimented a bit with the Spectra S2 pump. While the actual pump was fine, I preferred how the Medela flanges worked. I used some of the extra parts I had and converted my Spectra to use Medela parts. After using it with the Medela parts, I agreed with the other reviews that it works as well as the Symphony. For a while I was pumping after a couple of feedings during the day and then an extra pumping session right before I went to bed. Based on both weight at the breastfeeding club at BCH and my pumping output I figured out I was producing between 1 1/2 to 2 oz every 3-4 hours. Like last time my right breast got slightly over 1 oz while my left breast got slightly under.

I reviewed what breast pumps my insurance would pay for and decided to order the Spectra 9 Plus Advanced through one of their suppliers. The advantage of this version is it could run on batteries. It also used the same parts as the S2 so the modifications I made to use Medela parts would work with it also. I was impressed when it arrived. It was very portable. I could slip the pump into my robe, put on my pumping bra 2, and do things around the house while Julian slept.

Unfortunately, after about a week of pretty steady pumping my nipples felt overworked. They weren’t getting enough break between feedings and were getting sorer and sorer. Regretfully, I cut out the pumping except when I missed a feeding for some reason.

At two months I was still feeding Julian 10-15 minutes each side and then supplementing with a bottle after most feedings. Breastfeeding was still quite uncomfortable. In addition to being uncomfortable, I was experiencing nausea when my milk first let down. My mother-in-law talked about how when she was feeding Bethany, she would have her arm around Jaeger and read stories to him. I tried that with Calvin but it was incredibly difficult for me. I really, really hate being touched when breastfeeding. I also don’t like being talked to or being expected to talk back. Basically, breastfeeding is like labor for me. I have to sit and concentrate until the experience is over each time.

I was talking to my therapist about how I was feeling guilty for snapping at Calvin when he asked quesitons while I breastfed. She asked me whether I felt better when I breastfed or bottle fed Julian. I told her bottle feeding was usually more relaxing. She then asked me what I hoped to gain from breastfeeding since it didn’t appear to help with my bonding and I couldn’t really answer her. Since I had to supplement, it isn’t any more convenient than straight bottle feeding. In fact, it’s less convenient. It was marginally cheaper since we weren’t exclusively using formula, but not a huge amount. I don’t put much stock in many of the other claimed benefits of breastfeeding. Calvin is remarkably healthy, has never had a single earache, and is quite bright.

Eventually, I decided that my biggest reason to consider breastfeeding was passing on antibodies. Most of the other benefits were negligible once you consider all the benefits Julian is already going to get because of his genetics and socioeconomic environment. I wasn’t sure that antibodies by themselves was a good enough reason to keep breastfeeding. I decided to talk to Julian’s doctor about it at his two-month checkup.

Julian’s two-month checkup was on June 1. About a half hour before Julian’s appointment I took him upstairs to change into a clean diaper before we left. To my surprise, I found blood in his diaper. There wasn’t a great deal, just a few strands intermixed with his poop but it was definitely blood. I confirmed it wasn’t from any sort of diaper rash or other skin cut. I was quite thankful we were already heading for the doctor. I took a picture with my phone and then packaged the diaper to take with us.

When we got to the doctor’s office he got his weight, length, and head circumference taken. Weight was 40th percentile (remember he started at 99th), length was 50%, and head circumference was 90%. Overall the doctor said he looked like he was in excellent health and everything looked fine. Then, we discussed Julian’s diaper. The pediatrician said this was most commonly from a milk protein allergy. He said I should cut all dairy out of my diet and change his formula to a hypoallergenic formula.

The pediatrician gave me a small can of Nutramigen. Since Target is right on the way home, I stopped and got a bigger can so we wouldn’t have to go back to the store as quickly. Not surprisingly the specialized formula is more expensive. It costs about 80% more per ounce than the regular brand name formula.

Julian hated the new formula. Jaeger was able to feed Julian some formula that evening. However, for the next two days he wouldn’t eat any formula. I started to think that maybe Julian didn’t need supplementation. Except he kept getting crankier and crankier even though I reverted to breastfeeding every two hours, the minimum period I could handle. Finally, after about 48 hours of trying, he took the bottle again. He finally ate and was much happier. Julian still doesn’t eat the new formula particularly well but he no longer outright refuses it.

While I had been seriously considering stopping breastfeeding, I’ve temporarily reconsidered, at least for now. While we luckily can afford it, the new formula is much more expensive. Also, while I really appreciate formula exists, food is really important to me. I have a hard time only giving Julian food that I think tastes terrible. While the formula certainly provides the nutrition Julian needs, he obviously enjoys the breast milk more.

I was originally hoping I could breastfeed while working. However, that isn’t going to happen. Both Julian and I have to be completely concentrating on breastfeeding to make it work. Instead, I will pump which I can do while I keep working.

I don’t know how long I’ll keep breastfeeding. However, I think I can make it work, without too many trade-offs, for a little while longer.

  1. Last time I’d never used consumer-grade pumps, only hospital grade pumps so I didn’t have any prior experience to draw on. In addition, my insurance company said they had researched and found no benefit to hospital grade pumps over consumer grade pumps so wouldn’t pay for a rental. I don’t know if I had pushed if they would have backed off this stance or not.
  2. A cheap Walmart nursing bra with holes cut in the middle for the flanges

NICU Drama

My recovery after the c-section continued to go well. By that evening I had stood up for a couple of minutes.

The following morning the pediatrician showed up bright and early at 6:30am to check Julian out. He heard a slight heart murmur but noted this was fairly common with newborns and fixes itself within a day or two. By mid-morning I was walking and able to get my catheter and all remaining tubes and monitors taken off. The nurse had suggested I walk around a little more so around lunch time Jaeger, my mom, Julian, and I all took an excursion to the outside balcony. The weather and view was spectacular.

As part of standard procedure, the hospital wanted to run a battery of tests on Julian to make sure he was doing well. Jaeger and I stayed out on the courtyard and mom took him back to his screenings. When Jaeger and I arrived back at the room we discovered Julian had failed his pulse oximetry screening. This screening is used to catch congenital heart defects.

BCH has a nurse practitioner onsite from Children’s Hospital that rotate in 24 hr shifts1. The on-call pediatrician had our nurse consult with her and they decided to repeat the test to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. The nurse practicioner also listened and heard a faint murmor. To do the pulse oximetry screening, they hooked up one probe on Julian’s right hand and one on his left foot. The hospital was looking for both to be about the same level and also for them to be in the mid 90s range. Julian also failed the repeat.

Thinking that possibly he just had a stuffed up nose, they got out an industrial suction device and tried to suction out his nose. It did extract some mucus and they were hopeful that was possibly the culprit. For a bit it looked like he was going to pass the screening but after a while they concluded he was still failing.

This changed everything. All of a sudden we were moved from our standard recovery room to a “special care nursery” suite. The move was surreal. I had researched BCH’s NICU prior to picking the hospital because I half expected to end up there due to preterm labor. BCH’s NICU setup is very nice as each suite contains a private room for the baby and an adjacent room for the parents to stay. The parent’s room has two doors, one to the outside hall and one directly to the private nursery. The nursery also has a door to the hallway.

Mom and Jaeger worked to pack up our stuff from our first room and I went with Julian to the special care nursery where they immediately put an oxygen hood on him and started doing all sorts of tests. Julian was not pleased. The echocardiogram took the longest but he also had an x-ray and many blood-test related pokes. It took about 2 hours for them to do all the testing. During most of it I stayed by his bed, let him suck my little finger, and babbled incoherently to him trying to keep him calm. The surrounding medical staff got to here all sorts of things about our family while I was desperately trying to come up with subjects to talk about.

After all the tests were done I sat in the in-room recliner/rocker and they gave Julian back to me to nurse. This time Julian had 3 ECG probes, a probe to monitor his oxygen, and then oxygen to breath from. At one point they briefly contemplated putting an IV in his umbilical cord but one of the nurses suggested we first try breastfeeding and move to the IV if it looked like he needed additional nutrition. As it was, all the cords were a horrendous tangle to try to keep straight. Not surprising, Julian wasn’t excited by any of this and tried to breastfeed for about 3 hours straight. Unfortunately, his latch wasn’t great and I didn’t shift him from side-to-side as much as I should have due to all the tethers he had attached.

During the afternoon results started trickling in from the various tests. The cardiologists down at Children’s Hospital had reviewed his echocardiogram and pronounced his heart normal. The x-ray showed some fluid in his lungs which hospital staff believed was probably the results of him not getting properly wrung-out during his c-section delivery. Ever since Jaeger has been threatening to invent a wringer for c-section babies.

In any case, the pediatrician wanted him to remain on oxygen until the pulse oximeter consistently showed him in the mid-90s. So, our remaining days at BCH were in the “special care nursery” section of the postpartum wing.

That evening as I was nursing Julian my left nipple started bleeding. The shenanigans in the afternoon had been too much for it. We started supplementing what Julian was getting from me with donor breastmilk from a bottle to give him more milk and give my nipples a bit of a break.

Since Julian was in his own nursery instead of right by our bed it was trickier to get up to feed him. Our first night in the NICU suite Jaeger would hop up and determine why Julian was crying. If it was a feeding issue, he’d come get me and help me out of bed, otherwise he took care of it himself. It was very helpful to be able to lay back and wait to see if I was needed.

Standing for two hours my 2nd-day post c-section turned out to have been a bit much for me. My feet ended up dreadfully swollen. My last c-section I had mainly used ibuprofen but I did end up taking Norco once a night for a couple of days. I was still doing really well recovering but physically it was a bit slower than last time due to the additional strain I had been putting on my body. In spite all all of this, I still felt much more clear-headed and more optimistic than I had the first time.

Other than the initial stress, the NICU experience was really good. While it is appalling to see all the monitors attached to such a little baby, there was also the comfort of knowing that everyone will know as soon as something goes wrong. The nurses were obviously very experienced and were a lot of help.

While at BCH I saw a lactation consultant every day. With Calvin I had tried a supplemental nursing system (SNS) and absolutely hated it. As a result, I was pretty resistant to trying it with Julian. In fact, on my birth preferences document I explicitly stated I did not want to use a SNS. However, on the third day when a nurse suggested I try the SNS I took a moment to reconsider. My feeding experience with Calvin was a disaster in every respect. However, even though something wasn’t quite right with Julian’s feeding, he was sucking correctly. So, I agreed to give it a shot. The nurse called the lactation consultant and we set it up. It turns out the whole thing works much better with a baby that knows how to suck.

My recovery continued to be excellent. My OB said I would likely be discharged on Thursday. We could stay in our hospital room as long as our baby stayed in the NICU. However, the pediatrician said he’d probably discharge Julian the same time I was and just send him home with his own little tank of oxygen.

On our third night Julian screamed in the middle of the night for about 2 hours. It’s unclear exactly why. However, the upside is it appears to have cleared out his lungs. That night the nurse was able to wean him off oxygen. In fact, when I woke up, his oxygen was detached. I thought it was a mistake till I saw there was a note that the NICU nurses were running a test to see how he did without any oxygen. This time he passed.

The pediatrician stopped by and cleared Julian to take home without oxygen!! The whole discharge process took longer than I expected but finally, on April 2, we were able to bring Julian home!

Julian is now nine days old and continues to do really well. Breastfeeding has been a bit challenging but nowhere near the scale that it was for Calvin. Julian has been sleeping exceptionally well and at the moment all members of our family appear to be sane.

Photos related to Julian.

  1. They have a little room with a bed and TV when they aren’t needed.

Julian’s Birth Story

From Jaeger’s announcement:

Julian Elliot Stone Logan was born at 08:55 MDT this morning. He was 10 pounds, 6 ounces. (That’s 4700 grams, for those interested in metric units.) He’s 21.5 inches long, and his head measured 15 inches. His Apgar scores were 8 and 9. Big brother Calvin is excited, though not quite sure what to make of his infant sibling.

Selected photos are posted here.

Same disclaimer as with Calvin’s Birth: Below is the story of my perception of Julian’s birth. What I remember and what actually happened may not be the same thing. In addition, you may learn more than you ever really wanted to know about me in which case you probably shouldn’’t continue reading 🙂


The Pregnancy
My pregnancy with Julian was delightfully uneventful. Off the top of her head, my original OB gave 30% odds that I would have repeat preterm issues1. As my therapist would like me to remember that actually meant there was a 70% chance everything would go normal. I decided the one thing I could do to better my odds was to reduce as much stress in my life as possible. Starting in November I dropped everything that wasn’t strictly work or home related. In addition, I saw a therapist biweekly, and aimed to go to weekly prenatal yoga and prenatal water aerobic classes. While the exercise was no doubt good, I think most of the benefit came from being able to interact with other pregnant woman.

One reason I changed hospitals/OBs for my pregnancy with Julian was because I wanted the option to attempt a VBAC2. My previous c-section went really well but I strongly disliked having to commit to a c-section at the beginning of my pregnancy. Given Calvin’s birth weight, 8 lbs 15 oz, and prior ultra sounds we expected Julian to be large but I didn’t necessarily think that ruled out a VBAC and my OB seemed to think it could be feasible. However, at our 33 week appointment we learned that he was breech. I was not terribly surprised as at my dentist appointment the prior week I felt him “detach” when they leaned me back in the chair3. Thus, unless he swapped places again, I would have a scheduled c-section.

Our next appointment was suppose to be week 36 but Jaeger had to travel for work (during which time I really hoped Julian wouldn’t decide to come early). As a result, my next appointment wasn’t till week 37. At week 37 we learned that he was back in head down position (yay!) and I was dilated 4 cm and 60-70% effaced. My OB seemed dubious when I told her I was walking around at 5cm with Calvin for about a month. However, everything looked good so we decided to go ahead and hire a doula. This was rather late notice but we were very fortunate to be able to find someone quickly.

Week 38 I was at 5 cm and 70% effaced. No baby.

Week 39. Still 5 cm. No baby. I think Jaeger and I were less surprised than the OB. We started talking about what would happen if Julian wouldn’t come on his own. Because of my prior c-section my OB wouldn’t have used pitocin in any case but I didn’t want my water broken either. My instinct said that if he wasn’t coming on his own there was a reason and I felt inducing would likely end up in the same situation as Calvin: a fairly quick labor, a fair amount of pushing, and a c-section in the end. This feeling was so strong that I hadn’t really bothered to run it by my OB and only belatedly realized I probably should. However, while I’m not sure she 100% agree with me she did say it was possible he was having trouble dropping due to head size. In any case, we decided to hope he’d come on his own but schedule a c-section for 40 weeks and 6 days4.

Week 40. Still 5 cm. Still hadn’t dropped. No baby. My OB was on vacation so a partner checked me and seemed surprised to agree I was at 5 cm. I signed the c-section consent form and was dismayed to learn we were the first of the day, at 7:30am and needed to show up by 5:30am. Jaeger and I are not morning people. I was also dismayed to learn that not only was I not to eat for 8 hours ahead of time (I expected that) but neither was I suppose to drink anything, including water.

Sunday, the day before the scheduled c-section, we talked with our doula and discussed how she could help support us during the c-section.

Julian’s Birth Day
Jaeger and I woke up bright and early on March 30, 2015. We groggily showered (I wasn’t sure when I’d get another) and made our way to the hospital. Our doula was already there waiting for us.

I wasn’t sure why we needed to be at the hospital 2 hours early. It turns out that when a c-section is scheduled, they do a much more leisurely prep. We were immediately shown to the PACU. I got into one of the lovely hospital gowns, laid on the bed, and prepared to be prepped. They started out by monitoring Julian to double check he was still moving and his heartbeat was good. The nurse noted it looked like I was having contractions which I tried to explain didn’t actually mean anything in my case. Then she worked on inserting my hep lock (or something similar) and complained I was very dehydrated and apologized profusely that she was having trouble finding a vein. I was not entirely sure what they expected given I was told not to drink water for 6 hours. Various other things were done and paperwork filled out. Jaeger and our doula took pictures throughout.

7:30 arrived and my OB showed up. She had been on vacation the previous week and expressed surprise that I hadn’t gone into labor on my own already. The c-section was suppose to start at 7:30 but the anesthesiologist had been called away by another mother that needed an epidural. A bit after 8:00am the anesthesiologist arrived. I was hustled into the OR. Lots of things were done including giving me my spinal. Unlike last time I didn’t go from pain to non-pain so did not actually giggle my way through the surgery.

I was hoping our doula would be able to come in with us and take pictures but it sounds like the anesthesiologists, as a group, were cracking down on individuals that were allowing more than 1 support person in the room at a time. So, our doula instead stood just outside the door and snapped pictures through the window.

I really wanted to watch the c-section. Our doula had mentioned some hospitals had switched to clear drapes separating the sterile/non-sterile side which sounded great to me. However, the heated air mattress-like device they had on top of me, to keep me warm, would have obstructed my view a fair amount anyway. As it was I could kind of watch parts of it in the lit picture of aspens on the ceiling. Though, the instruments showed up better than anything else which wasn’t the part I was particularly interested in.

As my OB started she asked if I had any guesses how big Julian was going to be. I told her I was confident he was at least 9 lbs and she agreed. Julian was born at 8:55am and weighed 10 lbs and 6oz. The medical staff seemed quite impressed with his size. I think I was less surprised than they were. At least, my ribs had been convinced he was a fair bit larger than Calvin. Julian was taking to the warming table and his basic health was reviewed. His apgar scores were 8 and 9.

It was at this point in the birth that my experience compared with Calvin’s c-section started diverging dramatically. Prior to the c-section they had me put a semi-disposable tube top on. The theory was that if the baby fit he would be nestled between my breasts underneath the tube top. I was extremely skeptical that Julian would fit and hadn’t heard what would happen if he didn’t. After the initial evaluation, which took about 10 minutes, a nurse came over, looked at my tube top and verified that Julian wasn’t going to fit. However, this was apparently easily solved by cutting my tube top off and bringing Julian over and placed on my chest with a blanket on top both of us. I can’t remember exactly how long they left him there but it was a good amount of time.

Once I got stitched up they moved us back to the PACU/post-op room. Julian was large for his gestational age so they wanted to do a blood sugar test. At Longmont they wouldn’t let Calvin eat before his test and I was a bit worried about this. When I asked the Boulder nurse if the same thing would happen this time she looked at me like I was crazy and said they took the test after he first breastfed. Like Calvin, Julian’s latching wasn’t particularly comfortable but unlike Calvin he did seem to suck rather than chew. Julian passed his blood sugar test without any problem.

At around 11:00 am we were moved from post-op to our recovery room. Most of the recovery rooms have queen beds but we had been told that women recovering from a c-section often preferred the single beds (with couch for partner) because they had more positioning options. Jaeger and I had discussed this and agreed that for our case we’d still prefer the queen bed. I was just going to rely on Jaeger helping to position Julian and I as needed.

We spent most of the rest of the day napping and trying to breastfeed. Julian got several more blood sugar tests and kept getting progressively better scores. Medical staff kept popping in and remarking with some astonishment that a woman as short as myself (5′ 3″) had managed to carry a 10 lb baby. Around 5:00pm my mom and Calvin stopped by to admire Julian.

Upon reflection, I’m really glad I ended up with a scheduled c-section. Overall, this has been a much smoother recovery than my first c-section. As far as physical recovery, I’ve had very good experiences with both my c-sections. However, not having gone through labor first for this one, and delivery in the morning, meant I was much more coherent and could really focus on Julian’s first couple of hours of life.

(However, the excitement isn’t over yet. Continue on to hear about our exciting NICU drama.)

  1. These odds were just an educated guess on her part. There really isn’t a good way to predict spontaneous preterm labor ahead of time.
  2. Longmont will not do VBACs
  3. My OB says this is not normal.
  4. This was according to his official due date. According to my dating, he would be 41 weeks and 4 days.

Melody Park, Boulder, CO

Recently the Boulder Rock’n Moms group was discussing parks and one of the other members mentioned that she thought Calvin and I would enjoy Melody Park. Melody Park is a neighborhood park in Boulder. The Boulder neighborhood parks vary wildly in how good the playground equipment is. Some are pretty small but others can be very nice. Melody Park is one of the latter.

2-5 Playground Equipment

2-5 Playground Equipment

The park has playground equipment for both ages 2-5 and 5-12.

5-12 Playground Equipment

5-12 Playground Equipment

In addition to basic playground equipment they also had a “tire” swing which was a huge hit with Calvin. It’s not a real tire, I’m not sure they do that anymore, and the plastic is a bit light which does make it a little tricky to balance unless you have two kids.

07TireSwing

I suggested Calvin try the regular swings or the spinner but he wasn’t interested.

10Swings

He did, however, greatly enjoy the spinner attached to the 5-12 playground set.

05Spinner

The 5-12 playground equipment blends traditional equipment with more modern options. There are several slides and rope ladders but also features like large plastic rings stacked on top of each other that can be climbed.

06Slide

03Ropeladder

02RopeBridge

08Ladder

09Climbing

Overall it was a very nice park to visit. Calvin obviously enjoyed it as he’s already asked if we can go back to this park.

Summary:

Features 2-5 playground equipment, 5-12 playground equipment, spinners, slides, bucket swings, regular swings, “tire” swing, a variety of types of ladders, hanging pod link, balancing steps, rope ladders, rope bridge
Surface Material Poured Rubber
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade At this time of year (March) there isn’t much. There might be more when mature trees on surrounding yards leaf out. There’s also smaller trees that are planted in the park that will eventually provide more shade. In addition, there’s a covered picnic area and there is some shading on the playground equipment itself.
Picnic area Yes, one covered picnic area with a picnic table. There’s at least one more picnic table in the field next to the playground.
Parking Convenient street parking
Pros
  • Really nice mix of equipment for older and younger children
  • Fairly large playground that can keep kids interested for quite a while
Cons
  • No restrooms or drinking fountain


View Random Parks and Playgrounds in a larger map

Suggested Maternity Shirts for 40+ Weeks

At 40 weeks I’m down to about 2-3 outfits that still fit me. While I’m not planning to buy any more clothing till Julian is born, Jaeger and I have been contemplating useful t-shirt slogans for 40+ weeks. They include:
* My due date is in the past
* I’m just big boned
* No, I am not a twin
* There’s only one of me in here
* Confirmed singleton1
* It’s cozy in here
* Not coming out till I’m good and ready
* My schedule not mommy’s
* Due dates are made up anyway
* You’re going to have to come get me
* Help, I’ve fallen up and I can’t get out.

  1. Are you noticing a trend? I’m to the point where random strangers are asking me if I’m having twins.

The case of the disappearing kindergartener

This evening began like most our evenings. We ate supper around 6. Calvin did a good job of eating everything he was given and got a piece of candy. After supper he listened to an audio book for a little while until 7 when it was time for bedtime stories. We finished reading an ARC of Nick and Tesla’s Special Effects Spectacular. This continues to be one of Calvin’s favorite series. Then he went off to bed around 7:30.

Yesterday I got a new phone so I spent some of this evening figuring out the best way to transfer info to and from the phone. Around 9 I decided it was time to go to bed. As is my custom, I stopped by Calvin’s room to make sure he was still breathing. This is a habit I haven’t been able to kick ever since he was born.

It was pretty warm today so I had opened Calvin’s window. I didn’t want him to get too cold during the night so I closed the window then turned to the bed to double check the breathing. He wasn’t in bed. I didn’t panic. He has a low loft bed that has kind of a hideaway area underneath. I look in there, he isn’t there either. I look in the closet. I look in the office. I look in our bedroom. I can’t find him.

I call down to Jaeger and he starts looking. I call for Calvin and my calls get progressively louder. We’re fairly certain he must be on the 2nd floor as he hasn’t come down the stairs. I open Calvin’s window again to make sure the screen was intact still (it was). We start looking in other areas of the house. My mom, who is here for Julian’s birth, starts looking. We look in the basement. We look in the garage. Jaeger goes and starts looking on the 2nd floor again. I go outside and start looking. I look in the cars. I look in the linen closet. I look in the washer. I look in the dryer (stacked about the washer). I can’t find him.

I’m starting to panic. How could we possibly lose our son between the living room and his bedroom? Could someone have gotten into our house and taken him away? How would anyone have gotten past three adults on the main level of the house?

We look again on the 2nd floor opening up anything that could potentially hold a kid, however unlikely. I go and look under our bed again. The space under our bed is crowded because we’re storing a lot of stuff for Julian under it. However, I think I might see a toe. I move around to the foot of the bed and look under the bed skirt again. There I find Calvin. He just barely fits under the bed and appears to have had a great adventure playing hide and seek from mommy and daddy.

We tell him not to do it again and send him back to bed.

Dear Julian

From: Your Mother
Sent: Friday, March 13, 2015
To: Julian
Subject: Proposed Birthday Dates

Dear Julian,

It’s time for you to decide on your birthday date. According to the doctor I’m 5cm dilated and 70% effaced so she thinks you should come any day now. Of course, I know my children better and, as such, don’t expect you to be born just because the doctor thinks it’s time for you to come. However, I would like to propose some auspicious days for you to consider:

March 14, 2015
March 14 is less than a day away so this might feel rushed to you. However, I’d like to point out that it is Pi Day. Not only is it Pi Day, it’s a special Pi Day. You would get major bonus points if you could manage to be born at 9:26:53. Please note: some people are claiming that both 9:26:53 in the morning or the evening are equally valid but daddy prefers using 24 hr time. On the other hand, he’s already fudging by dropping the first two digits of the year and using the US date notation so maybe you could convince him. I promise if you are born on Pi Day I will learn to make a decent pie crust.

March 20, 2015
If you decide not to be born on Pi Day, I’d really appreciate it if you’d wait till March 20. This is because on March 19 Gail Carriger is going to be at The Tattered Cover and I’d really like to go. March 20 is also the spring equinox which might be fun. Another reason this would be a good day is because Grandma will be arriving the previous day and this would allow her more time to adore you before she goes back home.

March 24, 2015
This is your official due date according to the doctor’s office. Personally, I don’t put much stock in this date but it’s not a bad day.

March 26, 2015
This is your brother’s birthday. Being born on this date might be a tad controversial but it could also be fun.

I encourage you to pick one of the dates above. If none of those dates work, please consider being born no later than March 29. On March 31 you hit the magical 41 weeks according to the doctor’s office. At this point they want you out and they’re not going to allow you to delay any longer. Childhood is annoying enough without it starting out with grownups deciding the day you’re born. However, it is your choice whether you pick your own date prior to week 41 or let the grownups choose for you.

Love,

Mommy

P.S. Thank you for staying inside till you were fully baked. That was very considerate of you.

Pregnancy Update and False Labor

I went to see my Dr last Tuesday at 37 weeks. She examined me and said it looks like Julian is once again head down! So, it sounds like a VBAC is back on the table. She also said I was 4 cm dilated and 60-70% effaced. Based on that, she thought there was a good chance I would go into labor in the next week or two. Of course, I was 5 cm with Calvin at this point and he was induced1. So, who knows. That being said, we decided it was probably best to prepared on the off-chance he showed up this week.

Last time we had decided to hire a doula and and found her to be quite useful supporting Jaeger and I. This time I was on the fence because it was so up-in-the air whether a) I’d make it to full term and b) whether I’d be in a position to attempt a VBAC. However, given things look good, I decided to see if there were any doulas with last-minute openings. The instructor for the Thursday night prenatal yoga class I attend is a doula and seems pretty pragmatic so I first contacted her. She already had a full client base for the month (not surprising) but suggested someone else. We contacted her and she came over and we talked and Jaeger and I signed her up on the spot. Normally, we would have interviewed several doulas but given the possible time constraints, it didn’t seem like a good idea to linger.

Around 12:45pm on Friday afternoon I started feeling a little weird. This is not particularly abnormal because Julian gets very active around 1ish each day. However, before stopping work for the day I made sure everything was in a spot where it would be easy to walk away from for a couple of months.

After work I got my eyebrows waxed and the stylist told me of a show called pregnant in heels which allegedly employs armies of fashion people so woman can look perfect in their right-after-birth photos. Personally, I think you need the exhausted/haggard photo so your child can never claim they were adopted.

I took Calvin to the dentist and learned he’s about to lose his first two baby teeth! As Jaeger notes, this means we’re going to need to develop a tooth fairy policy2.

I got home and noticed that my contractions seemed to have become more pronounced. I told Jaeger that I didn’t want to be paranoid but it wouldn’t hurt for him to come home a bit early to eat just to make sure he got supper. I also didn’t feel like cooking so he brought home takeout from our local Indian restaurant. While I was waiting, I kind of paid more attention to my contractions and decided they might be about 5 min apart.

Jaeger arrived home and we ate. I had the Vegetable Thukpa which was fantastic. Things were still feeling weird so I called Jaeger’s mom and asked if Calvin could spend the night. Things hadn’t quite gotten to the point where I was sure I was in labor but I figured it was better Calvin start out the night at Nana’s house rather than potentially get moved part-way through. She had guests over but said we could drop him off if we ended up at the hospital or she could come pick him up afterwards.

After supper I laid back on the couch and continued to contract. The problem is I can usually tell when they start but have a hard time figuring out when they end so I couldn’t figure out exactly what was happening. I decided to take a shower. Jaeger decided I was sounding serious enough he was going to stage the go bags by the door. Possibly due to excitement, he managed to fall down the stairs and hit the back of his head. I was still in the bathroom and heard a big clunk. I leaned out and asked “what was that?” But big clunks are fairly common in our house with Calvin and he wasn’t crying and Jaeger was around so I decided everything was probably ok3 and went back to drying myself off. Minutes later Jaeger appears and asks where our therapy ice pack was. I told him it in the scary freezer in the garage. He did not approve of this because he has an unnatural fear of our outside freezer (ok, probably not unnatural, it is hard to find things when packed).

Jaeger and I both ended up on the couch. Me with weird pains and him with a huge bump on the back of his head and a ice pack. Jaeger put his arm around me and emulated a contraction monitor. While I have trouble figuring out when they end, he apparently can feel it and doesn’t get as distracted by Julian’s random movements. He determined they were still coming fairly consistently 5 minutes apart and were lasting about a minute. I had a lot of dull aching from my lower back down interspersed with the occasional sharp stab but the contractions themselves didn’t hurt. I didn’t feel any sense of urgency so decided it wasn’t worth calling the doctor’s office until/unless we noticed an increase in contraction frequency/intensity.

It was getting late so Jaeger ferried Calvin over to Nana’s house for the night, just in case. He got back and we stared at each other for a bit not sure what to do next. Eventually I lay down on the couch and dozed off. When I woke up a little bit later, the contractions were gone.

Jaeger and I both stumbled off to bed around 10pm not sure if we were going to get woken up in the middle of the night or not. We didn’t and I had about as restful a night as I usually do these days.

This morning I’m back to only the occasional contraction so it seems like whatever was happening last night is over.

  1. Though I finally found documentation that says I was 50% effaced on his due date/induction day so from a certain perspective, I might currently be ahead.
  2. One of the tenets of our tooth fairy policy is that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist. We’re not entirely sure what the rest will involve yet. And yes, we’ve never pretended Santa Claus is real either. I’m sorry.
  3. Jaeger said he did yell that he’d fallen down the stairs but I missed that

More Baby

My life now revolves around trying to get ready for baby’s arrival. It’s probably incredibly boring to listen to me talk these days.

As Jaeger mentioned a couple of weeks ago, he and I liked the name Julian. Unfortunately, Calvin hated the name because he had a prior bad association. We tried to sell him on being able to pick the baby’s first middle name but he didn’t want to compromise. We let the name discussion drop for a while in hopes that he would eventually become reconciled to it. In the meantime, I checked out every juvenile book I could find where the protagonist was named Julian in hopes it would shift his associations. I was starting to worry we wouldn’t have a whole-family-approved name for baby by his birth when Calvin suddenly relented. I was surprised but relieved. So, baby’s first name will officially be Julian.

Sunday I woke up convinced Julian was going to come sooner rather than later. This was probably paranoia brought on because Jaeger was going to be in San Diego till Wednesday and I had visions of going into labor and Jaeger trying to get back in time. In any case, I decided not to argue with my paranoia. I went to prenatal yoga and then went on a huge grocery shopping expedition hitting the Indian Bazaar, Vitamin Cottage, and King Soopers. Then, I finished ordering any remaining baby items I felt were essential. Fortunately, baby did not decide to come while Jaeger was away. In addition to shopping, I mostly finished packing the “go bag” this week.

I was suppose to have my 36-week appointment on Wednesday but rescheduled it so Jaeger could come with me. It’s now scheduled for next Tuesday at which point we’ll see if Julian is still breech. I’m getting mixed signals. On one hand, my ribs are very unhappy and I swear the hiccups are coming from the right-side of my ribs. On the other, most of the “movement” I’m feeling is above my belly button which, according to some websites, seems to indicate he might be head down. I guess we’ll see in a couple of days.

At long last, our “nursery” is also mostly organized. For now, it’s living in our bedroom but I’m not sure how long it’ll stay there. Last time our pediatrician told me to move Calvin’s crib out of our room around month 2 (I think??) and I ended up getting less sleep because I was straining to hear him breath through the monitor. So, I’m tentatively in favor of keeping Julian in our bedroom longer. Jaeger is still uncertain how long he wants Julian in our room so we’ll see how it turns out. It probably depends a lot on what Julian ends up like.

Master Bedroom Nursery

The picture contains the following:

DaVinci Emily Mini Crib – This will be our primary crib. I think it’s a much better size than the full-size crib we had for Calvin. However, finding a mattress for it was a bit tricky. I originally ordered the DaVinci Sleepwell Crescent Mini Crib Universal Fit Waterproof 50-Coil Mattress. Sheets were hard to find for it but it was suppose to fit the mini crib really well. I ordered from Target and it was delivered. Then, I discovered that it was way softer than I felt was appropriate for an infant mattress. Jaeger confirmed I wasn’t imagining things so we returned it. My next attempt was the Dream On Me 3″ Extra Firm Portable Crib Mattress which I’m much happier with. It fits snugly inside the crib and is nicely firm. The American Baby Company 100% Cotton Percale Fitted Portable/Mini Crib Sheet fits the mattress well and has the side benefit of somewhat coordinating with the rest of our bedroom.

Co-Sleeper – One of the few things we kept from Calvin’s infanthood was our Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper. When Calvin was first born his official crib was at the foot of our bed. However, I, being the paranoid sort of person I am, kept getting up in the middle of the night so I could go make sure he was still breathing. Because of safety issues I was dubious about any type of co-sleeping. However, after looking it over we decided that it would probably be ok until Calvin started moving around more. It was very nice for the period we did use it as a co-sleeper because it allowed me to open one eye and see that Calvin was still both sleeping and breathing. It also worked well as a bassinet. We kept it to either pass on to one of our siblings or use it as a bassinet in case anyone visited with children.

Changing Table – This is a random changing table we got off Craigslist for $100. I was leaning toward either the tiny Ikea changing table or just using a cubicle but Jaeger wanted a real changing table. I do have to admit the dresser aspect is pretty nice. So far, I’ve been able to fit in diaper supplies, blankets, and all the 0-3 month clothing in it. The changing pad is suppose to arrive today. Weirdly, the changing pad cover I got for it almost matches the crib sheets even though it’s a completely different brand. I think at this point, Julian has more color coordination than Calvin ever got.

Diaper Pail – I know some people swear by those fancy diaper pails. I haven’t used one so perhaps they are wonderful but I’m dubious they reduce smell as much as some people claim. Honestly, I think you just get use to the smell. With Calvin, we used some cheap garbage cans which I felt worked fairly well. However, because this changing table is so big, we wouldn’t have space for the three we needed: disposable diaper, cloth diaper, and laundry. Jaeger suggested I look up stackable trash cans and we found these from the Container Store which, so far, look like they’ll work well.

La-Z-Boy Rocker/Recliner – This is another item that comes from the early Calvin Era. I used it a lot when Calvin was young and had trouble sleeping. Then it wandered around our house sometimes in our bedroom, sometimes in the basement, sometimes at Jaeger’s parents apartment as supplemental furniture. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been having a harder time sleeping. When I’m lying on my side for an extended period of time, my ribs start hurting. However, I can’t lie on my back at all anymore because my lungs are compressed enough I have trouble breathing. Eventually I decided to try the recliner and so far it’s working pretty good. I lay it out till it’s almost flat. I put my down pillow on the seat and then lie on my side with my lower belly against the pillow. Then both my legs and upper torso/head are slightly elevated. It’s hard to explain but it appears to be working pretty well. It’s also reducing the terrible heart burn I was having.

Things are progressing. Should be interesting to see when Julian decides to show up.

Hugos, Au Pairs, Babies, and Neil Gaiman

Yes, I’ve been very bad at posting. Also, I’ve read almost no books since Christmas. The exceptions are a couple of baby-related non-fiction books. Most of this is because I’ve been going to bed about the same time as Calvin. This is proving problematic for Hugo nominations.

Speaking of Hugo nominations, at the moment there are three novels I’m going to nominate: Ancillary Sword, The Martian (which may or may not be eligible??), and Lock In. My thoughts on these three novels mostly mirror Jaeger’s but I suspect I liked Lock In better than he did just because I read mysteries more than he does. There are several more I feel like I should read before nominations close but I’m not sure what the odds are.

I have been listening to audiobooks but mainly as a way to go back to sleep in the middle of the night. There’s so much stuff going around in my head about baby that it would be very easy to spend the whole night panicking/planning. Fortunately, the audiobooks are working out wonderfully. I start the audiobook and within about 10 minutes I’m out. Unfortunately, the audiobook keeps going. I really wish I could hook it up to some sort of wearable that would shut it off after I was obviously sleeping. I’ve only been listing to old favorites, mainly books by Bujold and Pratchett.

So, what has actually happened in my life for the past month? The most exciting thing really is what hasn’t happened. I’ve passed the infamous 32 week and 2 day mark without going into preterm labor with this baby. I’m now well into week 33 and still feeling pretty optimistic about my chances of making it to full term.

Since I did not go into preterm labor at the 32 week mark, I did make it to my church baby shower this time. Heidi, who hosted the shower, did a huge amount of work and it was a spectacular shower. We also got a lot of much-needed items. This week I’ve been going through the list and figuring out the remaining items we know we’ll need and the best place to get them. Things are coming together. The one thing I’m stuck on is the changing table. You will find countless websites saying that changing tables are useless. I beg to differ. While it is true I ended up changing Calvin on all sorts of surfaces, in the middle of the night it’s really nice to have a changing table next to the crib where you know everything you need is in a specific place. My first thought was to go for Ikea’s Sniglar changing table. It’s very basic and doesn’t cost too much. The downside is it has very little storage and, for some reason, Ikea is no longer selling the changing pad that fits it. It is very small so standard changing pads don’t fit. My next thought was to repurpose some of the cubicle pieces we have lying around the house. We could use a standard changing pad on the desk and could fit diaper pails and garbage underneath the desk. In addition, we could hang additional storage baskets from the cubicle. However, Jaeger seems dubious about this solution. So, that’s one item I’m still wrestling with.

Jaeger and I are also seriously looking at getting an au pair. We’ve had two interviews with potential candidates so far. I think we can see the clear advantages but we also find the concept a bit intimidating. On the other hand, it’s less intimidating than actually moving to China/Taiwan so it might be good practice for us. I think what’s particularly hard for us at the moment is trying to bridge language, culture, and time zone issues to figure out exactly how to properly screen and select an au pair from China. We’re still working on that.

Back to baby, he’s been head down and in perfect labor position since at least week 28. This is good but a bit uncomfortable as he was firmly planted against my bladder. I went to the dentist’s office a week ago Friday for my annual six month checkup. The dental hygienist leaned me back in the chair and I actually felt baby detach and float “down” toward my ribs. When I went to my OB appointment last Tuesday she confirmed that he had moved and was now in breech position. My next appointment will be at 36 weeks at which point my OB will check and see if he’s still in the breech position. If so, I’m looking at a scheduled cesarean. My OB says she won’t try an external cephalic version (where the OB tries to change the baby’s position from the outside) because of my prior cesarean due to worries that it could result in a uterine rupture1. After my latest ultrasound and the comprehensive Boulder hospital tour I had been strongly leaning toward attempting a VBAC. However, this changes things again so I guess I’ll just get to wait and see.

Yesterday, Jaeger and I went to a Neil Gaiman signing in Fort Collins. We’ve been to two Neil Gaiman events before. The first one was back in 2005 at the Tattered Cover. Gaiman spoke a bit and then started signing books. We had to wait a couple of hours but were able to wander around the bookstore in the mean time. The second time we went to a Gaiman event was 2008 in Boulder. He wasn’t doing any personal signing but had pre-signed books available to buy. This time was only going to be a signing, no speaking. The Old Firehouse Bookstore had won a contest to have him do a signing of his new book, Trigger Warning, due to selling the most copies of his last book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. My understanding is this is the only promotional stop he is making for this book.

Neil Gaiman is a fantastic author and an amazing library supporter but his adult fiction isn’t my favorite. I much prefer his juvenile books. However, both Jaeger and I bought copies of the newest book explicitly so we could each have 3 additional books we brought from home signed. I was particularly interested in getting The Sleeper and the Spindle autographed which has both Gaiman’s great storytelling and Chris Riddell’s fantastic art.

The signing started at 4pm and Jaeger and I left home a little after 2:00pm. I arranged for Jaeger’s mother to watch Calvin while we were gone. I did tell her I didn’t know how long the signing would last but we’d probably be back a little late. We arrived at the bookstore about 3:30pm and the zooish situation we were walking into quickly became apparent. I mean, we knew it was going to be a zoo but I think you had to be there for the reality to sink in. At 3:30pm, the line already snaked around several alleys and streets. We ended around 300 meters from the front of the line. The line continued to grow for at least the first several hours. I don’t know how long it ended up. Not surprisingly, the line did not progress particularly fast. Fortunately, the weather was amazingly good for February. Possibly it was too good. Jaeger didn’t bring a coat and I only brought a thin coat. This was fine for the first couple of hours. As I was standing in line, it occurred to me that standing for several hours in line while pregnant can be problematic. For instance, there isn’t a large quantity of bathrooms facilities available.

About an hour and a half from when we first joined the line I took a hiatus and went to a cafe. I bought some coffee cake for Jaeger and myself (I wanted to avoid liquids) and used their restroom. As it got darker, it got colder. Jaeger had it worse at first due to having no coat. I think about 3 hours in Jaeger left to get coffee and try to warm up a bit. It kept getting colder. Another hour or two later Jaeger left line to go get food from Chipotle to bring back for supper. By this point it appeared we were nearing the “home stretch.” That is, we finally were in the parking lot next to the bookstore. However, the line slowed down so we made very little progress over the next hour. By that point I was also shivering and the shivering was bringing on constant contractions. I was starting to wonder if I was going to need to bail due to baby reasons. I had a horrendous vision of almost making it to Neil Gaiman and having to abandon the whole thing due to my water breaking or something. There was a Starbucks within a block so I took a break. I went there, ordered some hot chocolate, and sat down inside a somewhat warm store for a while. When I got back the line had barely moved. Jaeger and I tried to huddle together for warmth but the size of my belly made that extremely hard. Eventually, we got to the door and then the line stalled again, within sight of the warmth within the store.

We finally got into the store and met a bookstore employee about 7 hours after we first joined the signing line. It was a little before 10:30pm when we were greeted by the first bookstore employee. He went through the standard spiel about how many books could be signed and then he noticed I was pregnant. He looked somewhat aghast and called over another employee to shepherd us to the front of the line. The second employee apologized continuously for not spotting me earlier in the outside line. Jaeger had explicitly told me to wear something that made me look pregnant but just the prior week someone had told me it looked like I was harboring triplets so I didn’t think there was any way to avoid looking pregnant. Jaeger suggested, as the employee herded us outside and around to the back entrance, that next time I needed a t-shirt that said “I’m pregnant” in large letters with a couple of neon signs to emphasize that point. The store employee agreed that would be helpful for “next time.” You may think that skipping line at that point was fairly pointless. However, the line in the store would have taken at least another half hour, quite possibly more. While I would not have asked to skip to the front of the line, I was extremely grateful they let us.

Jaeger and I had each brought three books from home as well as the new book we got at the store. So Gaiman was signing four books each but due to time constraints he was only personalizing one. I decided to get Fortunately, the Milk personalized for Calvin. I had explained the concept of author signings to Calvin and he seemed fascinated by the idea. Neil Gaiman was amazingly coherent when I got to him. I really have no idea how he does it. At that point I was almost completely incoherent but he still was able to make excellent small talk and mentioned that Chu’s Day at the Beach was going to be out in a couple of months and the plot was “starting to get complex”2.

We left Fort Collins and I texted Jaeger’s mom to let her know we were finally on our way home. Sometime around 9 she had taken Calvin back to our home and put him to bed. We got home a bit after 11:30pm. We were lucky. Gaiman didn’t finish at the bookstore until 3:12am. His patience and endurance are amazing. In retrospect the whole thing feels like something only college kids would do. I can’t believe we actually stood in line that long. Possibly we were just trying to recapture the feel of freedom before 2.1 changes our life again 🙂

UPDATE: Here’s the picture from Old Firehouse Books’ Flickr account proving I was actually there.

  1. I have found some people claiming the risk of a uterine rupture with ECV and a prior cesarean is unlikely. However, given I had such a good cesarean with Calvin, I’m not interested in the risk and am not going to push the issue with my OB.
  2. I had the 2nd Chu book in my stack of books to sign which is why he mentioned it.