I'm ahead of the curve on baby name trends according to this MomLogic article, "Baby Names, 2011: The 14 Hottest Trends".
I did exactly what the top two predictions were for 'Biggest Big-Picture Trend: Two-for-one names' and 'Newest Trend: Focusing on nicknames' when we chose Lucia/Lulu for our daughter's first name. Funnily enough, the example used in the article cites the nickname "Lulu".
More about the predictions here:
BIGGEST BIG-PICTURE TREND: Two-for-one names
Nameberry predicts the merging of two major recent trends: very proper proper names -- think Louise and Arthur; Beatrix and Abraham -- mixed with lighter-than-air, even silly nicknames (Lulu, Bee, Bunny and Bram). From the parents' perspective, they're getting two very different names for the price of one, which can be an advantage to children as they grow up. (They can be Lulu at the club; Louise on the Harvard app.) Nameberry sees parents reaching further to come up with two names that are linked in highly creative and not-always-obvious ways. A few examples: Cub from Caleb, Ace from Alistair, Fanny from Stephanie and Plum from Victoria (which is a type of English plum).
NEWEST TREND: Focusing on nicknames
Parents are showing a taste for choosing a nickname first, then finding a formal name for the birth certificate. They're starting with Josie or Zee -- the name the child will be known as among friends and family -- and searching from there for the formal name, be it Josephine, Zachary or Zebedee.
I have always loved the name Lulu and earmarked it for future use a long, long time ago. When I found out we were having a girl, I immediately started looking for formal first names with a shortlist that included: Luella (as much as I love this name, it sounds too much like Cruella and kids are cruel), Tallulah (I've loved this name ever since I was introduced to Jodie Foster's character from Bugsy Malone), and Lucia (which is the fem form of Lucius, which natch, I loved from Gladiator. I also knew that we would always call Lulu, "Lulu" opting for her proper name to be more of a formality and maybe a name she would choose for herself when she got older.
Having grown up with a very unusual name (Souris means mouse in French so it's not even really a name), I wanted to make sure Lulu had a distinct but not too common moniker. When people meet Lulu, moms often tell me how much they love the name but then also want to know her full name. Lucia means "light". And her middle name, May-Phuong, is Vietnamese for cloud-phoenix. We gave our kid a super hero middle name (I believe we all deserve a superhero middle name)! In the poetic Vietnamese language, when cloud and phoenix are combined, it means "all directions". So we named Lulu, "light all directions". Which is something she represents to our family.
There's a lot of data collecting going on when you have a kid. Questions are asked. Books get read. Advice is given. You want as much information about as many things as you can imagine, so after the baby's born... what next? Your parents are going to have to go home after a couple of weeks or months and most of your friends don't have kids yet. Thankfully there are many new-parent mailing lists and like-minded forums to help with advice, but it's easy to get lost in the information overload. Following are the lists that I subscribe to, that I find helpful, with descriptions taken from their websites:
Baby Center - "The voice of the 21st Century Mom® and modern motherhood. Now the Web's #1 global interactive parenting network, it has nurtured more than 100 million parents since its launch in 1997. BabyCenter reaches over 78 percent of new and expectant moms online in the United States, and 7 in 10 babies born in the United States in 2009 were BabyCenter babies."
Bright Horizons - "The world's leading provider of employer-sponsored child care, back-up care, education and work/life solutions. Written by early education experts, e.family news is a free weekly electronic newsletter providing advice, strategies, tips, resources, and news about current parenting issues you may be facing. Topics covered range from the practical to the peculiar; the lighthearted to the sublime, and everything in between."
Daily Candy Kids - "An up-to-the-minute guide to the latest gear, fashion, and kiddie happenings in your favorite city."
Jen's List - "A free daily e-mail newsletter and website reaching nearly 15,000 families, is the mom’s guide to what’s hot, new, and undiscovered – from baby products and nannies to fun family things to do. As useful as it is informative, Jen’s List is like getting an e-mail from your up-to date, and totally in-the-know SUPER mom of 5 boys. Jen knows about the latest and greatest products and services in the greater Los Angeles area- and always shares the scoop via the Jen’s List e-mail newsletter."
LA City Mommy - "Los Angeles CityMommy is a membership-only local community website for moms, and was founded by Dayna Landry in April 2007."
Peachhead Families - "The Original Peachhead Group for families in Los Angeles. Helping families in the Los Angeles area to enjoy life and make their life as easy as possible. This group is used to inform familes of events happening in Los Angeles, meet other families, and also for information and support that will help families in Los Angeles."
UrbanBaby - "Since its launch in 1999, UrbanBaby has been an invaluable resource for urban parents. The heart of the site is Talk, our lively message boards section, where parents come day and night to share, discuss and ask questions related to parenting and their lives as parents. Talk is a place for honest, uninhibited discussions, quick answers, banter and community. The site was founded by Susan and John Maloney and was acquired by CNET Networks in 2006."
Venice Moms Group - "A group of mothers, primarily located in or around Venice. The group was started in the Fall of 2002 by mothers with infants to create a local community for gatherings as well as information sharing and parenting support."
What To Expect - "Your online resource for pre-conception, pregnancy, and parenting questions, where you’ll meet other moms and moms-to-be like you."
If you belong to a list that might be helpful to someone else, feel free to leave a comment with the information! It takes a village or maybe a few hundred thousand people on the internet to help raise kids today!
I hold a B.A degree in environmental science from Boston University. My first job out of college was as an associate for Arthur D. Little doing environmental health and safety consulting on the Big Dig. I was once a whale watch tour guide/volunteer for the New England Aquarium. I interned at the Nature Conservancy for years and I used to donate a lot of my time to a lot of different environmental organizations. And then I moved to Santa Monica, California, an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable community and ironically put most of my green interests on the back burner.
Now that I've got a kid, like a lot of new parents, I think more about the future and how much we consume as a family. I think about diapers and I think about leaving Lulu a healthier planet than the one she was born into. I see first hand how much money is spent on children's products, education, and who-knows-what. And I often think, there's got to be a better way then to keep buying the same things over and over that can only be used for a limited amount of time.
Growing up, I was the middle of five immigrant children. Hand-me-downs were a way of life. Sure I was sometimes conscious of the fact that I was rocking used duds... but it made receiving and wearing new things feel super special! That said, I can't remember a single thing I wore until I was elementary-school aged.
When I was pregnant with Lulu, I promised myself that I would resist buying her any new clothes for the first year of her life. She would outgrow everything too quickly. I'm proud to say, nine and a half months in, we've bought Lulu one t-shirt and a winter-holiday outfit as a present. And that's it. Most everything Lulu wears is recycled mixed with new items gifted to her by doting loved ones.
Our kid received beautiful clothing items from as faraway as France, England and Japan. Many outfits are from fancy brands. All will be outgrown and some will never be worn due to poor seasonal planning (for example, Lulu wasn't able to wear summer gear for a six month old as it was the winter when she hit the half year mark)! Aside from clothes, Lulu also received tons of other baby-related items.
I wanted to be able to recycle what was still usable (which aside from disposable diapers, is nearly everything). So I started Souris' Stuff Swap, a children's' recycling program with my close and recently pregnant friends! How does it work?! Every couple of months, I invite my friends over to dig through clothing bins I've arranged in sizes 0 - 3 months, 3 - 6 months, 6 - 9 months, 9 - 12 months, 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years+. I also have bins of non-wearable items to recycle or donate including extra lotions, diapers, swings, pregnancy ware, high chairs, slings, toys, books, shoes, play mats, and much more. My friends come over, pick up what they want or need and drop off what they are no longer using. It's very casual and also a good time for swapping parenting tips or stories with one another.
I've been hosting the swap meet for six months now and it feels great! Clothes are now being worn many times more than originally intended. Toys are being re-loved and books are being reread. Best of all, we don't have to purchase more things than we need. And we are all saving money -- lots of it!
Starting the "Souris Stuff Swap" happened organically. It has grown from me and two moms, to about a dozen other moms. And we're still growing as more friends become pregnant. As of now, since everything is recycled back into our community, membership is open only to people I know. I hope however, that if this idea interests you, that you might start your own baby stuff swap in your community. If a lot of us did this, all our children would benefit from it. If you need any help setting up a swap, holler and I'll walk you through it! I promise, this is one program worth recycling!
This might be too TMI but if you've been reading this blog, we're kind of beyond that, right? I'm going to lay it all out there and let you know that, bringing a newborn home is scary, but thinking about taking your first postpartum dump is scarier! And nobody ever talked to me about this. Nor did anyone ever mention this all important milestone to me either.
I have extremely regular bowel movements. So after having my baby, especially after eating some real hearty food, I wondered, "When am I going to poop?" And I must've wondered aloud enough times that my Ob/Gyn, Dr. Sharon Pushkin, actually had to answer me. She said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "You'll probably have a bowel movement on the fourth postpartum day in the comfort of your own home." Dr. Pushkin might have a future as a fortune teller because damn, she was on the money! I pooped exactly on the fourth day and it didn't hurt the way I thought it might. In fact, it didn't hurt at all.
What was the hold up?! There were physiological factors that were making it hard for me to get back on schedule (for example, weak stomach muscles and an irritable bowel). And more importantly, I was struck by the actual fear of taking a dump. I had clearly, been psyching myself out for some mystery shit that I thought was going to tear my butt apart. The truth was, I was afraid to poop because everything "down there" was still feeling a bit sore and those ridiculous maxi pad pizzas weren't helping me feel comfortable either.
I didn't do anything special to prepare for the shitter. I ate normally. I drank a lot of water and had several glasses of probiotic juices. I walked around a bit, careful not to over-exert myself. But I didn't add extra fiber to my diet or ingest a stool softener. As my body slowly reset itself, so did my intestines, colon, and other poop-mechanisms. And like that (snap), I was back to normal (in the bowel movement department). In the end, it wasn't such a big deal. I think had someone told me you aren't going to poo out a pine cone but a soft stool, just several days later, I def would've worried less. So I hope for your sake, this little post will help put your mind and your butt at ease.
More resources on taking a postpartum poo poo:
However, full term pregnancies are 40 weeks long (this number changes for ladies carrying multiples) and to ease calculations, most people consider four weeks to equal one month. Forty weeks divided by four weeks equals ten months.
So which is it? I think it comes down to personal preference for counting days. I believe the more pregnant one is, the more absentminded, so maybe the 10 month system is easiest to calculate. Full explanations harking back to Gregorian or lunar calendars here. The debate continues on.
When I found out I was pregnant I swore I wouldn't waste my money on maternity clothes. It was an easy decision considering everything available was simply not my style. I decided to make do with whatever I already had. I wore dresses and long tops over jeans. I borrowed A-line empire dresses from gal pals. I wore a few formerly garaged baggy vintage Fresh Jive, Stussy, and Fuct tees from the early 90s. And I snagged a few choice pieces from Silvio's closet.
I did splurge on one pair of 7 For All Mankind maternity jeans, which I wore at least four days a week. I also bought the BellaBand which allowed me to expand my already existing pants/skirts collection. My friends quickly labeled my lack of proper maternity attire as "wacky pregnant lady style" and often called me "Ching Chong Juno" (okay, maybe I called myself the latter). I didn't care about maternity fashion and although it was difficult to dress for work, I managed. By month six or so, I kind of didn't care what I looked like anymore and that being comfortable was my priority. Following are some ridiculous examples of how I dressed during my pregnancy. I hope you are able to put a wardrobe together that makes you happy. Enjoy!
Hey, how are you holding up?! Everything cool with the new mom duties/pregnancy?! WTF?! Did you just poot?! What the hell... am I supposed to pretend I didn't hear that?! I swear the elephant in the room sounded just like a sail catching wind in Hurricane Andrew!
That's right ladies. Welcome to one of the gassiest chapters of your life. I'm here to tell you that your hormone-infested body is now a not-so-lean, mean farting machine. And your gal pals didn't tell you the last time you saw them because they were too focused on not farting around you.
You're eating for two (or more). And for the most part, you're probably eating well. All those mighty foods are doing wonders for growing your baby's gray matter. And you're keeping active, moving around a lot. So what's with all the farting? Don't look at me! It was you! No, seriously, what's with the gas leak you can't plug? It's like, no matter how awesome your sphincter control is, there's no way you're going to be able to hold in all your farts for a day. The build up can only lead to extreme discomfort and one of those cartoon endings where you end up flying all around a room in all directions like a ballon letting all its air out.
I know you think this is funny. It is. But it's not so funny when you're in an elevator and the asshole that farted this time, is you. Still laughing? Flatulence pre and post pregnancy is a real issue. Check out what the experts have to say:
What to Expect - "Early on in pregnancy, large amounts of the hormones relaxin and progesterone are at work, relaxing the muscles in your body — including those in your gastrointestinal tract. This makes food move more slowly (good for baby) but can lead to indigestion and gassiness for you (bad for anyone standing, sitting, or sleeping near you)."
Baby Center - "Pregnancy slows digestion, which gives the bacteria more time to work on the undigested material before it's excreted. More time leads to more fermentation and, as a result, more gas."
Parents.com - "Talk about embarrassing pregnancy problems ... flatulence is at the top of the list for many expectant women."
So what can you do about it? Honestly, let it rip. It's mostly air anyway. And nothing's worst than being pregnant, bloated, and gassy. Do what you gotta do and try not to affect those working or living with you too badly. Apologize a lot to your partner, friends, and family and don't worry too much. This phase will eventually pass too (pun, intended)!
I know some of you are reading this blog and you're not pregnant yet, but want to be. And I know that you're thinking about the things you want have to do before getting pregnant. Promising yourself to quit smoking and drinking, exercising, or eating better after the fact is probably not the best approach. Having a healthy pregnancy means being mentally and physically strong before you actually are pregnant.
I wanted to be pregnant but not before I made some lifestyle changes. I felt I didn't deserve to be knocked up unless I gave up some bad habits. I wanted to prove to myself that I was an adult and ready for the huge responsibility of parenthood.
For the most part, I had strayed away from my many years of dance and sports. I was 35 and thinking, "I gotta get my shit together." I'm not much of a runner anymore. And I'm not a fan of yoga. Having been a competitive athlete, I am most comfortable with teachers who bark orders at me. When I committed to the idea of getting pregnant, I started researching my options for living a more fit and healthier lifestyle.
In early summer 2008, I made a goal to get in tip-top shape. I convinced Silvio to join me at a morning boot camp with an interesting set up in Santa Monica. Our friend Dana discovered it while looking to get fit too. Play More Fitness offered "one-on-one quality personal training in a group environment at an affordable price". If boot camp could look fun, this one did. I met with the founder, Raitis Stalazs and instantly knew, this guy with the big smile and sincere enthusiasm is going to help me get back in shape!
Silvio and I signed up for a month of kick-my-ass-classes. It was hard as hell to wake up early and exercise, but we did it. And we convinced a handful of our friends to join us after they had seen the change in us. Fast forward to nearly the end of summer. Silvio and I were both feeling better than ever. We had completed three straight months of intense morning workouts and Raitis had become a part of our family. As did the rest of our peers in the morning class. Breaking a sweat with people creates strong bonds (think: team sports). Exercising was once again, fun!
A couple of weeks after completing our last session with Raitis, we were pregnant. I credit Raitis and Play More Fitness for helping me achieve and maintain the level of health I craved after a decade of inactivity. I highly recommend Play More Fitness if you are looking for a way to kick start your pre-pregnancy health regimen. Sign up today and tell Raitis that I sent you! For the record, I'm not getting any kickbacks, I just love Raitis and I know you will too!
Following are the sound bytes I recorded of Lulu's fetal heartbeat as heard by a Doppler stethoscope during my prenatal Ob/Gyn appointments. The sounds were physical evidence to me, for what was growing inside of me. Hearing your baby's heart beat makes everything surreal about your pregnancy, feel real.
I kept these mobile phone recordings hoping that a producer-musician friend of mine would maybe someday turn the beats into a song for our family. Looks like my only music options are for some kind of happy hardcore techno.
This entry is based on something someone once said to me about having kids: "The days are slow but the years are fast." So true, dude. So true.
Having a kid does really weird shit to time. It is equally fast as hell and slow as molasses. There are two clocks that your life will now function on, fast and slow. Note, from what I can tell, the time will always be the opposite speed of what you want it to be. For this post, I'll talk about the time-speed most people reference -- the fast-clock.
A lot of people will talk about how time flies. But nobody will tell you that time flies at warp speed times a bagillion. I'm going to break down the different time spans I've experienced into three categories: days, months, and years.
Day-time: everyone we know is busy. But I now believe nobody is busier than a new parent. In the first couple of months, life is ruled by diaper changes, naps, bottle washings, feedings, and learning by the seat of your pants. Days don't start or end since the baby needs around-the-clock attention and in your state of mind, what does it matter if it's 9:00 a.m. or 9:00 p.m.? Time to eat or sleep will be hard to find and showers, phone calls, and errands will fall by the wayside.
Sleep deprived and stumbling through the day as best as you can, you'll feel as though you haven't done much. Yet at the same time, you've done a lot! The more days that past, the less you'll care about old daily habits. Nothing needs your immediate attention more than your spawn, your partner, and yourself. And you'll be forced to understand that soon enough.
Month-time: remember how you were pregnant for nine and a half months? Remember how quickly that time passed? That's the kind of time I'm talking about now. It's insane for me to think that one year ago, I was a Vice President at an agency. Six months ago I was a brand new mom. Today, I'm a mom and I feel as though I've gotten a real good "hang of it"!
Everything to do with Lulu is now measured in months. Coincidentally, parents refer to their children's ages in months up until they're about two years old. Ask any mom or dad with an infant, "How old is he?" and they'll certainly answer something like, "He's 18 months old!" I never understood that, but now I think I do. I believe it's because all the doctors appointments are based off of month-based milestones. One month. Three months. Six months. Nine months. You get the picture. With the medical establishment and the milestone-charts, it's all about the months! Months flew by pre-baby and now they fly by post-baby too.
Year-time. We haven't gotten to a year with Lulu yet, however I believe it's just around the corner. And I feel if I close my eyes long enough, it will already be here. I don't want to rush this time as it'll be a milestone that means a lot of other things too. That said, I get what my friend was trying to tell me. It's like one minute your kid is one year old, the next she's going to kindergarten, then driving, then college, then wherever else her adventures may take her and you. I also understand better why my relatives would freak out when they'd see me and my siblings every couple of years. They probably couldn't believe how tall we'd grown (or in my case, how little I stayed). I'm sure that every time they saw us, they were faced with their own mortality knowing that time was not standing still for them either.
So time flies. It's true. Just roll with it and cherish the early days with your kid because that time is going to pass quickly. When veteran parents meet Lulu, they always tell me to cherish the moment. I'm really trying!
Part two of this post, "Time is F*cked Up When You Have a Kid - The Slow Clock" entry is coming soon. Please hold your horses.
RELATED: Time is F*cked Up When You Have a Kid - The Slow Clock is now live.
I believe this is the funniest birthing story in the world.
A long time ago, my friend told me that he had done very well at the birth of his first child. He said he wasn't a squeamish person but thought that maybe all the blood and bodily fluids was going to freak him out. He made it through the delivery, his baby was fine, and he was very proud of himself for not passing out. That is, until the very end.
What my friend did not know was that after a baby is born, the placenta has to be delivered. He also did not know what a placenta actually looked like. He thought he had an idea, but really, he didn't know. When his wife delivered the disposable bloody organ, it fell off the bed and slid across the floor. My friend said the placenta moved exactly like the bug that attaches itself to your face and knocks you up with a chest-exploding alien from the sci-fi thriller, 'Alien'. When he saw the placenta scurrying towards him, he thought it was going to attach itself to his face and in that moment, passed out.
When my friend shared this story with me, I roared with laughter. I have since, shared his memory with many, many, many others. In fact, I share it with every pending new dad I know. I have always imagined, that this is visually what my friend thought was happening when the placenta slid across the room:
I challenge anyone to tell me a funnier birthing story than this one. And if you didn't already know, this is what a placenta really looks like.
p.s. Dear Mr. Scott and the fine folks at 20th Century Fox, please do not sue me for using the still images. This blog post couldn't be half as funny as I think it is without the visuals.
To all my parent friends who have had a baby, why, why, why, did you not tell me about the giant postpartum sanitary pad sandwich you have to wear after giving birth? You know, the one the size of a MacBook?! Nobody prepared me for that and I'm here to tell the world about this humiliating and hilarious wrap (hell no, space age hippies, you don't eat it)!
Congrats! You're a mom! After birthing a presumably healthy baby, you will be wheeled from the delivery room to a recovery room. While in the recovery room, the nurses will jab at you, take your vital signs, and check on your general well being. Your Ob/Gyn will also visit to check on your uterus by poking at your belly and to make sure that you are healing properly and not bleeding excessively.
That said, there will be blood. And lots of it. Your hooha is going to be very sore and bleeding, and bleeding, and bleeding. How much blood will there be? I'd say the flow is about ten times heavier than your heaviest normal period. Before you pass out, don't fret, all the bleeding is normal and part of the healing process. After delivering the placenta, your body heals the uterus by contracting to close off blood vessels in a process called involution. Blood and other scraps from the wound inside will make up most of the bloody discharge, also called the lochia. OK you can faint now...
Anyway, at some point a nurse will deliver what I call a "postpartum sanitary pad sandwich" kit. The contents will be contained in a small plastic tub and will include:
1. Disposable Underpads - They look exactly like the pee pads you lay down for a puppy. Except you lay them underneath yourself to protect the hospital bed mattress.
2. Peri-bottle - Peri is short for perineal, which is the area between your legs including your vagina and rectum. A peri-bottle is a fancy way of saying "plastic squirt bottle". Filled with warm water, it's used to wash yourself with. The peri-bottle is your friend and will supply some comfort for your raw bottom.
3. Americaine Spray - This is a topical anesthetic spray that provides protection from infection. It is sprayed directly on your perineal area.
4. TUCKS - The astringent witch hazel medicated pads are normally used for hemorrhoids, however for postpartum treatment, they provide cooling relief and cut down the sting.
5. Sanitary pads - The sanitary pads will come in various sizes ranging from heavy flow ultra pads, OB pads, maternity pads to something the size of a MacBook called super duper postpartum pads.
6. Disposable Mesh Underwear - Out of context, the white cotton mesh underwear looks like something a hooker might wear on 14th street in Washington D.C. However, it's meant to secure the pads you will be wearing.
Every time you use the bathroom, it would be a good time to change your pads. The nurse will show you how to do it, but following are the instructions for making a postpartum sanitary pad sandwich:
1. Take a super duper postpartum pad (the one that is the size of a MacBook) and lay it down on a clean surface. Stop laughing. You're going to have to wear that thing.
2. Peel the tape off of a maternity pad and stick it straight down the middle of your super duper postpartum pad.
3. Layer the maternity pad with the TUCKS medicated pads (about four or five of them) like you're adding salami to a sandwich.
4. After going to the bathroom and cleaning yourself with the peri-bottle, blot yourself dry and remember, do not wipe yourself! Be kind to your behind and uh, underside!
5. Standing up, spray your perineal area with Americaine Spray.
6. While still standing, slip on your disposable mesh underwear and insert the giant postpartum sanitary pad sandwich into your underwear. Stop laughing. You are going to have to wear this in 5...4...3...2.. hahahahahaha!
7. Shuffle back to your bed, sigh, and kick up your feet. Now try to get some rest!
The postpartum sanitary pad sandwiches will be part of your routine for a couple of weeks. After a couple of days, it won't feel like such a production anymore and the "sandwiches" will get smaller as the bleeding lets up. Make sure to visit your Ob/Gyn to make sure everything's healing properly. Eventually time will pass and you will forget you ever had to do such a ridiculous thing. Maybe that's why my other friends never told me about this. So there you go, can't say I never told you so!
You're having a baby, high fives! You've got an awesome baby shower planned, w00t! You love combing through every baby item on Amazon, Design Public, Target or the many other places where baby registries live, yay! But you're kind of overwhelmed and unsure of what you should ask for, boo!
Here's a tip. Register for everything you want but try to lean towards the practical (do you really need three mobiles? A diaper pail and board books are definitely going to get a lot more use). However, do not register for the following items. Repeat. Do not register for the following items. Why?! Because the following items are so damned darling, regardless of whether or not you register for them, your friends will buy them for you anyway. And when I say buy, I mean you will receive multiples of the following items:
1. Onesies - People can't help themselves. Nothing makes a person scream, "Cute!!!!!" louder than a Run DMC onesie or some other graphic outfit that's representative of the gift giver. Onesies are affordable, practical, and there's something for everyone.
Resist from registering for onesies unless you can't live without whatever's caught your eye. If you do register for bodysuits, ask for sizes in the 12+ month or older range. Why? Because you'll receive tons of clothes for "new" newborns but not so much for when their growth spurt slows down starting at about one year old. And this is the age when they can wear things for a little longer!
2. Blankets - Like their onesie counterparts, baby blankets are absolutely practical and essential for so many things. We were gifted six different blankets and I can honestly say, we use every single one. The blankets take turns living in different parts of our home: the crib, the co-sleeper, the sofa, the living room, the bedroom, the car, the stroller, etc., etc. If you're lucky someone might take the time to knit your baby a personal comforter. Lulu received two of these and they are precious!
Note: You will also receive plenty of receiving blankets so don't register for a bunch of these too! Unlike their full-sized counterparts, receiving blankets are only useful during the newborn months. Once a baby hits the infant stage, the blankets are used less and less.
3. Shoes - OMG! Have you ever seen adidas baby Stan Smiths?! Hello, adorable! Shoes come in every style and size but no size is cuter than the itty bitty iterations of the Vans Slip Ons, Chuck Taylors, or adidas Shell Toe shoes! Unlike other items of clothing, shoes aren't used/worn as much, at least in the beginning, but they sure make for lots of commentary when you dress your kid up in their "social best". Nothing warrants more "awws" than a pair of baby trainers.
4. Rattles and Teething Toys - Friends and family love giving rattles as much as your baby loves gumming them. Teething toys and rattles come in different materials, shapes, and sizes and the noises can also differ greatly. Depending on your baby's motor skills, s/he will be attracted to different rattles at different times so it's okay to have a bunch of these laying around the house.
5. Bibs - Let's face it. Sooner or later your kid's going to drool and you're going to need a bib to protect those precious outfits! And depending on the kind of kid you have (the waterfall-mouth or the dry-mouth), you're going to receive a lot of bibs. In our case, we actually had to buy extra ones because Lulu drools like a Saint Bernard and often soaks through four or five bibs daily. If you had an average drooler, you'd probably receive enough bibs to carry you through the phases.
This list pretty much sums up the few items we received multiples of. I'm sure there are other things I've forgotten, but hopefully this will help curb your registry a bit. Enjoy loading up the list and have fun with all the other stuff. Getting your baby's space ready is one of the most exciting activities of being a new parent. Congrats, again!
Nobody ever properly explained to me exactly what labor and contractions felt like. I mean, I took the Bradley Class and everything was taught to me, but nobody really ever nailed the sensation on the head for me. Everybody told me contractions were painful. Some girl friends explained it felt like having really, really, really bad period cramps. But I never had period cramps so I was still clueless. Others described contractions as a sharp stomach pain. The movies showed women doubling over and moaning or screaming when it happened. I've never seen a woman in real life in labor and I never experienced any false Braxton-Hicks contractions, so really, I had no idea.
On the day that I delivered Lulu, I had a funny-in-hindsight conversation with my sister, Kiki, who is the mother to two boys. She gave me some very good advice and kept me calm. Following is our unedited chat transcript. I hope by reading it, you'll get a sense of what I was going through. I italicized my favorite bits:
7:59:01 AM Souris: hey kiki
7:59:05 AM Souris: i have a question
7:59:10 AM Souris: i have a lot of lower back pain right now
7:59:17 AM Souris: and my stomach is tight
7:59:23 AM Souris: do you think the kid is maybe dropping now?
7:59:30 AM Souris: i haven't had this feeling before
7:59:59 AM Souris: i have a 10 am appt with my chiropractor, dr. berlin and i'll maybe ask hani to drive me or for silvio to go with me
8:03:33 AM Kiki: you're in labor
8:03:40 AM Souris: you think so?
8:03:51 AM Souris: i have no contractions though
8:04:06 AM Kiki: one sec
8:04:09 AM Souris: but it's def tight and restrictive
8:04:22 AM Souris: i couldn't sleep or well i was turning back and forth more often in the last couple of hours
8:04:28 AM Souris: also labor's usually a night thing?!
8:04:38 AM Souris: or starts at night?
8:05:03 AM Kiki: yes
8:05:13 AM Souris: it feels like I have to poo
8:05:21 AM Souris: that kind of stomach hurt
8:05:25 AM Souris: not like a weird kind
8:08:18 AM Kiki: one sec sweetie, I'll call you in 5 minutes and explain labor
8:08:22 AM Kiki: but you are in pre-labor
8:08:24 AM Souris: not now
8:08:26 AM Souris: it's too early
8:08:27 AM Kiki: active labor is contractions
8:08:40 AM Souris: yeah it could possibly be first stage
8:08:47 AM Souris: but don't call me now
8:08:55 AM Souris: i'll call you in a bit
8:09:17 AM Souris: this would be good timing
8:09:21 AM Souris: then i would have the kid before sat [we had a 150 person BBQ planned for saturday]
8:09:21 AM Souris: :)
8:11:49 AM Kiki: babe, you won't want to do anything on Sat if you have the kid today
8:11:49 AM Kiki: okay, but any way
8:11:49 AM Kiki: if you feel like you have to poo or push
8:11:49 AM Kiki: then that's something different
8:11:49 AM Kiki: like possibly active labor
8:11:59 AM Souris: no i won't do anything
8:12:05 AM Souris: but i can at least finish organizing
8:12:14 AM Kiki: I'd like to recommend that you go to the hospital
8:12:18 AM Souris: hell no
8:12:19 AM Kiki: and have them check your cervix to see how dilated you are
8:12:25 AM Souris: that's the first thing the doula said NOT TO DO
8:12:31 AM Souris: i should stay home as much as i can today
8:12:34 AM Souris: and then wait
8:12:36 AM Souris: until the other signs
8:12:42 AM Souris: let HOURS pass
8:12:57 AM Kiki: when your stomach tightens and releases, that's a contraction
8:12:57 AM Kiki: when it comes in waves faster than 5 minutes, the kid's coming
8:12:57 AM Kiki: so the next time you have that tightness, count the minutes until the next one
8:12:59 AM Souris: i gotta get an email out
8:13:42 AM Souris: ok
8:14:17 AM Kiki: if you're about 15 minutes apart, you're cool to stay home a little bit
8:14:24 AM Kiki: if they start coming in faster, get to the hospital
8:14:30 AM Kiki: I had Ethan in 2 hours
8:14:32 AM Souris: ok but i'm not going to rush
8:14:35 AM Souris: ethan was #2
8:14:36 AM Souris: for you
8:14:36 AM Kiki: starting from when my water broke to when I had him
8:14:41 AM Kiki: so keep an eye out for fluid too
8:14:41 AM Souris: yeah i'll wait
8:14:43 AM Souris: will do
8:14:52 AM Kiki: if you have ANY fluid leak
8:15:01 AM Kiki: GO TO THE HOSPITAL
8:15:01 AM Kiki: even if your water doesn't break
8:15:09 AM Kiki: fluid leaking is critical
8:15:13 AM Kiki: okay?
8:15:15 AM Souris: sure
8:15:20 AM Souris: i'll call my doula
8:15:22 AM Souris: and have her come over
8:15:33 AM Kiki: yes yes, that's good
8:16:36 AM Kiki: Crap.
8:16:36 AM Kiki: what to do.
8:16:40 AM Kiki: I just packed your stroller.
8:20:01 AM Kiki: btw...
8:20:02 AM Kiki: don't drive
8:20:08 AM Souris: ok i
8:20:10 AM Kiki: you shouldn’t be driving any more
8:20:14 AM Souris: i'll call my chiropractor
8:20:19 AM Souris: and tell him i won't be able to make it in
8:20:22 AM Kiki: yeah.
Changed status to Away (8:55:09 AM)
I called Dr. Berlin and canceled my chiropractor appointment. I took a cool shower which made me feel better. I wrote emails to friends about our pending weekend barbecue. My sister Hani came over. We called our doula Cheryl to give her an update.
The contractions started coming pretty close together. Silvio and Hani watched me writhe in pain as I tried to ride out the fast-coming contractions at home. The tightening around my stomach was getting stronger and felt more urgent. My body felt electrified as if it was getting mildly zapped. The sensations were strong enough to make my body stiffen up. The pain also eventually multiplied with every new contraction. We called Cheryl to meet us at the hospital. I labored at home for as long as I could, until about 11:00 a.m. and then we left for the hospital too.
To be continued... the details of birth.
I have never watched "Keeping up with the Kardashians" before and thought I'd check it out. One of the sisters is pregnant and was going through some tough times with her baby daddy, who everyone in her family apparently doesn't really like. The pregnant daughter (they all look the same to me so I don't know her name) was upset that the baby daddy wasn't participating more in the birthing/baby classes with her. After a little family drama and prodding, the dude finally realizes that he should probably go and support his baby mama. The couple is shown in class together and low and behold, there is Cheryl Baker, our former Bradley Class instructor and our amazing doula in the background! I don't know if Cheryl was their doula but if she was, they were lucky to have her. I hope the baby daddy learned something useful while he was in class and that it wasn't all for show, or umm, the show!
Right before I got on a plane to San Francisco, my next door neighbor noticed my swollen ring finger. She said, "You better get it off soon or you'll have to cut it off, like my other pregnant friend did." That was ten days ago.
Today, I went to the Santa Monica Fire Department to have my wedding band hacked off. I previously tried everything to remove it including:
- Iced water (tried to shrink my fingers)
- Ace bandage compression with hand above heart level (tried to squeeze blood out of my fingers)
- Warm olive oil
- Baby oil
- Coconut oil
- Silicone sex lube (thanks M, it was worth a shot!)
None of it worked, even in combination.
I called a few jewelry shops hoping they could cut off my ring. None of them would or could. My friend J told me that she read on the internet that my local fire department might be able to do it. She then confirmed this with her EMT friend. I called the Santa Monica Fire Department, explained my situation and without hesitation, the operator directed me to their Chief on call. She said to leave a message in case he was out. I called and left a message. A couple of hours later, Santa Monica Fire Station #1 responded and said they could help me out.
I showed up at 1444 7th Street and within 15 minutes my ring was off and the blood was pumping through my poor fat finger again. Four or five fire fighters dropped by the room to crack jokes and be friendly. They said platinum was good because it is a softer metal (I suppose a titanium ring might be near impossible to cut off) and explained to me that they remove rings every couple of months. The firefighters were very careful with me asking me over and over to tell them if the blade was getting too hot (it got very hot a couple of times) and asked if I was okay the whole time. All in all, an amazingly nice and painless exchange.
SMFD wouldn't take any payment of sorts, so I could only thank them a dozen times. When I got home I ordered them gourmet cookies to be delivered with a thank you note.
Lessons learned: 1) Pregnant ladies, take your rings off before you bloat. I don't know why no one told me this before?! 2) Your local fire department will remove your ring for you, if needed, free of charge!
Throughout your pregnancy you will visit your obstetrician and during every visit you will be asked to collect and hand over a urine sample. Nobody tells you how hard it is to pee in a cup as the months progress. At first you won't even notice. But as your baby grows, so will your belly. In no time, your arm will feel shorter than before and reaching down below to catch pee in a Dixie-sized cup's going to be messy, hard, and pure comedy. Near the end of the pregnancy, let's face it, you're just going to wave the cup around below you, hoping to catch random drops of pee. No matter how good your aim, you are definitely going to pee on your hand. It's okay. You can wash up afterward, but nobody's going to tell you this, so I thought I would.
While planning for Lulu’s birth, I was confident and sure about one thing: I knew I wanted to deliver naturally, without any pain medication just as my own mother had done for my four siblings and me over three decades ago. I also knew I’d have to assemble a team Silvio and I would feel comfortable with to help guide us through our first child’s birth.
We are pretty liberal people but didn’t want any “hippie dippie” help. Nor did we want a situation where we’d end up in an environment that encouraged the “too posh to push” mentality. In line with our family history (mine is Asian, my husband’s is European), we were hoping for a fairly simple, straightforward, all natural birth.
In the beginning, I was open to delivering with a midwife or doula or combination of both with potentially my own Ob/Gyn. I settled on delivering with my Ob/Gyn and a doula. The team that helped us deliver Lulu included Dr. Sharon Pushkin, the incredibly warm team at The Birthplace at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, and our doula, Cheryl Baker. They were all very respectful of my wishes to deliver drug free and they succeeded in helping us bring Lulu into the world just as we had wanted.
Following are the names of the people that came up again and again from our trusted community. An asterisk is placed next to the people we personally used. Everyone below comes highly recommended from my friends or family:
OB/GYN *Dr. Sharon Pushkin 10921 Wilshire Blvd., Suite1208 Los Angeles, CA 90024 (310) 208-3111 HOSPITAL Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital 1250 Sixteenth Street Santa Monica, CA 90404 (310) 319-4947 MIDWIVES 415 North Crescent Drive, Suite 100 Beverly Hills, CA 90210 (310) 659-5810 BIRTH DOULAS Birth and Beyond 1750 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 206 Santa Monica, CA 90405 (310) 837-5686 email@example.com The Pump Station & Nurtury 2415 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90403 (310) 283-1434 firstname.lastname@example.org CHIROPRACTIC/MASSAGE Berlin Wellness Group 6221 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 518 Los Angeles, CA 90048 (323) 549-0070 NATURAL CHILDBIRTH / BRADLEY CLASS Birth and Beyond 1750 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 206 Santa Monica, CA 90405 (310) 837-5686 email@example.com YOGA Patti Asad - Yogaworks 1426 Montana Ave Santa Monica, CA 90403 (310) 393-5150 firstname.lastname@example.org Isabelle du Soleil - Exhale Venice 245 South Main Street Venice, CA 90291 (310) 450-7676 Shayna Reid - Santa Monica Yoga 1640 Ocean Park Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405 (310) 396-4040
*Dr. Sharon Pushkin
10921 Wilshire Blvd., Suite1208
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital
1250 Sixteenth Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404
415 North Crescent Drive, Suite 100
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Birth and Beyond
1750 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 206
Santa Monica, CA 90405
The Pump Station & Nurtury
2415 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Berlin Wellness Group
6221 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 518
Los Angeles, CA 90048
NATURAL CHILDBIRTH / BRADLEY CLASS
Birth and Beyond
1750 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 206
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Patti Asad - Yogaworks
1426 Montana Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Isabelle du Soleil - Exhale Venice
245 South Main Street
Venice, CA 90291
Shayna Reid - Santa Monica Yoga
1640 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
I'm pregnant in this photo. It was a beautiful summer day and some pals and I decided to roll down to Malibu to climb a few rocks. I didn't know I was pregnant at the time, but I'm glad I went. I just finished three months of early morning boot camp and was feeling strong and fit.
Exercising during your pregnancy is important. I know it seems like a big fat nuh doi, but I want to remind you to keep moving. It's easy to trick yourself into playing it "safe" by chilling on the couch all day. Even if you're not going to hit the gym, go outside and walk... a lot! It's important to remain fit because endurance is going to play an important part for the long labor and delivery. And keeping flexible helps with various birthing positions.
For the most part, I walked or rode my bike for as long as I could and although I didn't formally exercise daily, I sure as hell moved around a lot. I don't regret that I didn't sign up for any organized programs during my pregnancy. No yoga for me, but I maintained an active lifestyle. I live six blocks to the ocean so walking outdoors in sunny southern California was fine by me. That said, nearly all my pregnant girlfriends enrolled in some prenatal yoga class and loved it. Following are the teachers/classes they highly recommend:
Patti Asad - Yogaworks
1426 Montana Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Isabelle du Soleil - Exhale Venice
245 South Main Street
Venice, CA 90291
Shayna Reid - Santa Monica Yoga
1640 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Every person's going to have a different recommendation/requirement/threshold, but for me, I felt good if I stretched and walked a good bit several times a week. Consult your doctor to figure out what's best for you and better to bust a move than to bust a gut!
Welcome to Tiny Iron Fists. My name is Souris. I love my family, food, art, travel, technology, and community. Prior to this little corner of the internet, I was Vice President of Interactive Media for an LA-based strategic consulting agency. I've been blogging about art and culture at Hustler of Culture since 2003.
Tiny Iron Fists is a journal about life with our first benevolent dictator, Lulu. It's meant to be a resource for pregnant friends and (new) parents. I hope you'll enjoy the tips, interviews, anecdotes, and product reviews I write about.
My posse nicknamed me "Tiny Iron Fists" because I once ruled our scene. Then I had a kid and now someone tinier than me, rules my world! How about that?!
Thanks for dropping by, I can also be found on Twitter. Feel free to email me at tinyironfists [at] gmail.com.
2010.01.01 in Animals + Insects, Art + Design, Baby, Books, Community, Education, Family, Fashion, Film, Food + Drink, Goods, Green, Health, High/Low, Humor, Inspiration, Kid, Kidding Around, Lifestyle, Los Angeles, Milestone, Music, My Mom, New York, Nobody Tells You, Pregnancy, Press, Resource + Tips, Science, Small Talk, Sports, Technology, Television, To Lulu, Toddler, Travel, Videos, Work | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Charley Harper: Charley Harper ABCs
Beautifully illustrated ABCs book, Lulu is mesmerized by the letter O for owls!
H. A. Rey: Curious George's Are You Curious?
Read along to see if your little monkey is as mischievous as everyone's favorite George!
Dr. Seuss: Hop on Pop-Up
Fun with words.
Anastasia Suen: Subway
An early favorite of Lulu's, she loved the rhythmic words and sing-song feel of the book. A must for all urban dwelling tots!
Maurice Sendak: Where the Wild Things Are
A family favorite. Lulu loves the party part of the book (maybe it's our sound effects)!
Ed Emberley: Where's My Sweetie Pie?
Lift flaps to uncover and discover secret treasures.
Amy Wilson Sanger: Yum Yum Dim Sum
What a great book to teach Lulu about a family food favorite. The words are catchy if not a bit hoakie.