Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hendrik's Due Date

Hey, y'all.
So, we're a bit sleepy over here at the HomeValley Ranch. We're surviving the sore nipples, the all-nighters, the diaper changes, the baby blues, and the milestones. (His cord has fell off last night. He's getting so old!)
We've got another pediatrician appointment today, and I'm hopeful that our long, lean boy has gained some weight. He lost 12 ounces initially, which left me reeling with mommy-guilt, as my milk took it's sweet time coming in. It finally appeared on Saturday; so far I haven't had to supplement with formula, and I am confident we won't have to go that route.
But, I am learning that parenthood is one giant, humbling lesson in flexibility.
In the meantime, we have the sweetest baby boy who was ever birthed. Not that I'm biased; but this kid brings the awesome.
More to come as I attempt to regain brain functioning and my sense of humor. I do miss sleep.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Deliriously Happy.

Every cliche about the love for your child is true, btw. This boy has us whipped.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cue "Circle of Life"

The Ninja has finally revealed his true identity!
It's a boy. We have a son.
His name is Hendrik. He was born on Monday, May 17th, at 1:48 PM. He weighed seven pounds and 13 ounces and is 21 inches long.
Oh, and he is spectacular.
MUCH more to come on this little guy as I slowly rejoin the human race. I can't wait to tell you all about labor and delivery. (Spoiler alert: it HURTS.)
For now, we're home and getting used to being a family. One of isn't too fond of his bassinet, and thus did not sleep a wink last night. But I won't name any names.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

38 Weeks: An Epic Retrospection of Absolute Insanity.

Thirty-eight week check-up was smashing! I lost 2.5 pounds! Babies heart rate is remaining in the 120s! (Totally a boy rate, according to Old Wifey. Stop messing with me, child.) Head is low! No internal! Boo Yeah.

I feel pretty good this week, all told. I am busy tying up loose ends at work; still trying to find the right pediatrician; researching breast pumps (news to me: it is unsanitary to share, even if swapping out the attachments); buying industrial-strength foundation for the hospital pics; and ordering a new camcorder charger. (My world almost imploded last night when I couldn't find the damn thing anywhere in our home. SMOKEY!)

Feeling a bit nostalgic, I opened an old Word doc I started when The Ninja was but a fantasy: this, ladies, and gents, is my fertility saga. I called it: Space Baby. And oh, the DRAMA. The absolute crushing disappointment of not getting pregnant on the very first try.

(I was really very annoying about this whole thing. Apologies, husband.)

August 26, 2009 (Home Office)

Where were we?

Ah, yes – most certainly NOT pregnant.

And it was ultimately a relief, as we journeyed to Montevideo and Buenos Aires, and ohhh – the malbec. And mojitos. And Torrontes. So there you go. I was wishing and hoping and simultaneously thinking I was making my baby retarded. I erroneously predicted that my period was due on Saturday, August 15th. When it didn’t come, we were very excited. We took the red-eye home on Saturday night, and I raced to CVS as soon as we arrived back in the Yunk.


Boo. To add insult to injury (those tests are expensive, y’all), I checked my day planner and my period wasn’t scheduled to arrive until Monday, August 17th.

I spoke to Koos and gave her a full report. She yelped when I told her I wasn’t with period yet. I told her about the pregnancy test, and she exclaimed that of course I could still be pregnant – she had a negative test with baby #2! I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I started to wonder…

When my period still hadn’t arrived on Tuesday evening, I allowed myself to get excited again. At 8 PM, I dashed to the closest pharmacy in Newton, MA, then eagerly peed on the stick and waited.


Of course, the next morning I woke up crampy. I got my period that morning, pushing me out to a 30-day cycle. Since abruptly stopping the pill in April, my cycles have been 30, 29, and 28 days, respectively, so I figured I was settling into a nice, normal 28-day ride.

No such luck. Now I must make sure that J and I baby-mate from days 10 – 17, just to be safe. I have managed to rearrange my work schedule so we will only miss one full day of love (probably ovulation day), but we’ll just have to hope we can get it done another day.

I guess we have officially been trying for one month. I hope that this doesn’t take too long. K, baby? We are eagerly awaiting your conception, so let’s do this!
September 1, 2009

I have been snooping around that damn book again.

I just have a few questions, you know? Like, about cervical mucus. Who can I ask about cervical mucus, I beseech you?

This morning I went to Web MD to calculate when I may be ovulating. As I suspected, the Internet indicates tomorrow. It says my fertile period began on August 28th, and I should ovulate on the 2nd.

I did fairly well predicting that this month.
*I go on here to list the dates J and I baby-mated. Oh Em Gee, I will spare you. Let me just say, that once I decided to get knocked up, I approached it with all the vigor and precision and meticulousness of an army drill sergeant.
September 14, 2009

In the end, it was Drew Barrymore who tipped me off.

I was in the midst of a surprisingly vivid dream. Drew and I were best friends – naturally – and I was on set of a new film starring that Gilles guy with the penis from the Sex and the City movie. Apparently, Drew was banned from being on set, as she had offended the director more than once. She was in love with Gilles, and kept calling me, asking me to watch him for her. She wanted updates on his behavior. I kept trying to assuage her fears, good friend that I am.

In the dream, I realized I had to pee, and that my stomach was acting weird. I rolled over and fumbled for my glasses. I stumbled out of bed and headed towards the bathroom, where I found the last EPT test in the drawer. What the hell, I thought, as I ripped open the packaging. I’ll take this, it will be negative, and I will just wait for my period to start this week.

I peed on the stick, replaced the cap, and laid the test on the floor in front of me. I watched as the negative line popped up in the window, and I shook my head. I told myself not to be discouraged – this is only month two, you asshole. You’ll get there.

But wait.

Is that?


I started laughing. Really laughing. And saying no. No. No! No way.

A second line. Faint, but not even very faint.


I finally got off of the toilet and crept back into the bedroom, test in hand.

“Are you awake?” I asked.

J nodded, and I laughed again, and was all, “I have something to show you!”

I thrust the stick in his face.

“This says I’m pregnant!”

J was skeptical. But it’s not as dark as the other line, he said. I pulled out my copy of What to Expect Before You’re Expecting, and read aloud:

Q: I took a pregnancy test and it was positive, but the line was very faint. Could I be pregnant?

A: Get ready to faint: from excitement!

Of course, the next question caused some brief panic:

Q: I took a pregnancy test and it was positive; then I took two more and they were negative. What’s happening?

A: Chemical pregnancy, better luck next time.

“Well, that’s no fun, huh?” I said to my husband, who hugged me but cautioned me not to get too excited.

As. If.

After calculating my due date online, and quickly getting dressed, I headed to Whole Foods and Border’s, and, of course, CVS. I resolved not to pee for at least 5 hours. I made it to 6, and then took a second test.


And this time, no faint line. I dragged J into the bathroom to show him.

“Well, there’s no mistaking that one is there?”

I left the two tests on the bathroom sink, side-by-side. I can’t stop checking on them. As if they are my baby. Our baby. I creep into the bathroom at least once an hour, and I stare.

This morning, despite peeing twice in the night, I took another test.


And there the three tests sit, in our bathroom. Lined up in solidarity, shouting:


I made my first prenatal appointment today, which won’t be until October 19th! How can we wait that long? I asked the receptionist the same question.

“Then that’s safe? For my baby? I am so new… That’s okay?”

She assured me it was perfectly normal. When we go in, we’ll have a check-up, an ultrasound, and we’ll get to hear the heartbeat.

Heart. Beat.

I sent J an Outlook invitation to this appointment. I don’t think he wants to believe this yet. He’s afraid, probably more for me than himself. “Don’t get too excited yet, babe. Anything could happen.”

“It’s not going to hurt any less if I try to ignore it,” I tell him softly.

I don’t want to jinx it, but I think Ninja is strong.

September 15, 2009

Today – unbelievably – the world did not stop turning, and I had to work. I am in Bethesda, Maryland. Starting tomorrow, I am going to eat properly. Today I had hash browns, bacon, a few bites of scrambled eggs; pizza, and an Asian chicken salad, complete with a side of liguini carbonara. One measly salad does not a healthy diet make, and so tomorrow (and here on out) I will strive for the proper amount of fruits, vegetables, and proteins.

I went to Border’s and returned The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy (because: dumb) and settled on the oft-maligned What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It is straightforward advice and material that I need, and so far it has put me at ease.

Reading the book though, I got immediately panicky; suspect that Ninja had disappeared. As soon as I got back to the hotel, I took a pregnancy test (my FOURTH). POSITIVE. And now the test sits on the bathroom sink, where I can go in and stare at it when I need to be reminded.


I cannot fathom that I won’t get to see AN ACTUAL DOCTOR until October 19th, more than A MONTH AWAY.

“How will I believe I am still pregnant?!?” I begged of Koos yesterday. “I will have to take a test like once a week!”

I am hoping I can get in earlier; the receptionist mentioned that there may be a cancellation in the meantime.

In other news, I finally ran again today. An easy two-miles, after which I felt great, and not like I killed Ninja. I weighed myself as well: 135.1. I was alarmed to think that I might weigh 160 before this is over. *ha. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Ha.

But really, Ninja, just stay healthy. We lurve you. (And also, I suspect you are a girl.)
Tomorrow: More craziness ensues. Stay tuned!


And now, a dramatic reenactment, from fair Manayunk, where we lay our scene.

Smokey the Raccoon: Ha! banishment! be merciful, say ‘death;’ For exile hath more terror in his look, Much more than death: do not say ‘banishment.’

HV: Hence from The HomeValley home art thou banished. Be patient, Smokey, for the world is broad and wide.

Smokey: There is no world without HomeValley's walls, But purgatory, torture, hell itself.
Hence banished is banish’d from the world, And world’s exile is death; then ‘banished,’
Is death mis-term’d. Calling death ‘banished,’ Thou cutt’st my head off with a golden axe,
And smil’st upon the stroke that murders me.

Can you believe Smokey's histrionics? (He nailed this scene though. He is the Sir Laurence Olivier of the raccoon set.) But, friends, we do believe Smokey has been banish-ed.

We think we heard him emerge from his fortress on Tuesday night; and since, I have not heard him plodding about the ceiling.

Has fortune smiled upon us?

In other news: damn, I love me some Bill Shakespeare.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


The raccoon is still residing merrily in the ceiling. Did you know that the raccoon's closest animal relative is the bear? Are you as reassured as I am?

The pest guys came yesterday at 3 PM. The neighbors were surprisingly friendly about this whole debacle... Yes, they'd heard the raccoon. Yes, they'd like us to take care of it. Yes, they'll pay for half.

As one of the guys helpfully pointed out: See? That bird shit was good luck.


The pest guys left at 9 PM.

SIX HOURS to set an expulsion trap. In case you had any doubts? This raccoon owns us all.

At one point, the owner of the company popped outside to grab something from his truck. "I'll be right back," he said, and drove off. He returned an hour later with little explanation, and some wire to create a better trap. That was super.

And the cheeky raccoon bastard is still plodding about in the ceiling. The idea is, when he/she gets hungry enough, he/she will venture out through the explusion trap. The beast can easily get out, but - pray God - can't get back in. Once we know it is out for sure, the guys will come back and seal up our neighbor's home.

J, after the guys finally left: I'm 50/50 that this scheme will work.

I should just buy a tiny raccoon bed for the nursery and call it a day. Maybe Ninja would enjoy a raccoon brother or sister.

In other news: I bought cellulite firming gel yesterday to cheer myself up.

We may have reached a new low, kids.

But I am looking forward to better days, and a beautiful baby Ninja.

Busty HV and Jim Eisenreich, of the '93 Phils.

Friday, May 07, 2010


Oh HOLY FUCK exterminator came and identified entry point for RACCOON on neighbor's side and neighbor not home so cannot do any work until neighbor signs off and by the way in the back they have squirrels and INSULATION and ELECTRICAL and FIRE HAZARD and some birds' nests for good measure and looked up to see entry point and bird SHIT IN MY EYE.


Water, Water Everywhere... And I'm Retaining it All.

37 week check-up yesterday... no signs that The Ninja will reveal its true identity any time in the foreseeable future. I am coming to terms with an early June baby, listening to a lot of Glee and Jesse Malin to pass the time, and calling it a day.

You know what I am having more trouble coming to terms with? The fact that, if I am pregnant for another 4 weeks?

I will be even fatter. And honestly, I can't take anymore weight gain. I can't control it, and maybe this is a big FAT lesson in humility, but for the love of Lionel... ENOUGH.

I am not going to tell you how much weight I've gained overall. I refused to tell J, even, as my weight is threatening to eclipse his own.

I will tell you that I gained another 6 pounds. THIS week.

So after stepping off of the scale, peeing in a cup (sidebar - that is FUCKING impossible now. Pee = everywhere), I sat in the exam room yesterday, waiting for the doc, and I cried.

Then I got annoyed with myself for wallowing, so I tried meditating... But when I repeated a yoga mantra - I am beautiful, I am bountiful, I am blissful - my internal monologue insisted: OH HELL YES YOU ARE BOUNTIFUL. FATTY.

So I just breathed instead. And examined my swollen feet and ankles.

When the kindest OB in all the lands finally entered, he asked how I was feeling.

"Defeated," I said.

"Why - the weight gain? I wasn't even going to mention it."

(You see? He is the most fantastic man.)

He told me that it happens... I've been healthy my entire life, and this is just my body on pregnancy. He said - though admitted it was anecdotal - that he finds fit women who gain excessive weight during pregnancy will return to their pre-pregnancy form relatively easily.

And he told me not to be so hard on myself.


And so I'll calm down, until I see a new doc next week, who may or not be as kind.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Nursery Fit For A Ninja!

Presenting... The Ninja Nursery. Enjoy. There are lots of little nerdy tidbits I need to tell you about.

So this is a wall. We painted it bright orange. It was inspired by our trip to Argentina. We stayed at the BoBo Hotel in Buenos Aires and we loved the Pop room. We thought our baby could use a little Warhol-esque splash of color, no?

And this is an amazing piece of stained glass, which J recovered from a construction site at work. His dad then worked a little magic with the frame, and voila! Gorgeous bright pastels that work for boy and girl babies. Win! (We've actually had this piece for quite some time. Like many things we've collected, it just seamlessly works here, ya know?)

I love a finely crafted wooden toy juxtaposed with a mummified pharoah figurine from a Cairo market; and thus, our child will too.

And here are just a few special books from the Ninja library: I've tried desperately to find a good children's book in every country we've visited... Alas, often kids' books are hard to come by. I managed to collect England, Argentina, Thailand, and Egypt. Not too shabby for a start.

The built-in shelf, which is a lovely feature of our 110 year-old home. Perfect for fun baby tchochkes.

And here is another wall, complete with three buddha cards matted and framed. We picked these up as extras in Thailand, and again, we thought they'd be perfect for the zen baby who is really into Eastern philosophy.

One of my absolute favorite pieces in the nursery is this quilt/playmat, made custom for Ninj by Poppy and Bean. The artist uses remnants of furniture upholstery to whip up these stunning creations, at a very reasonable price. It's totally our taste, and we love it. And I realize that The Ninja will likely just drool and spit-up all over it during tummy time, but it's machine-washable! Again: win.


And the friendly lion, which we recreated on canvas, based on a gift bag we received from one of my favorite co-workers. I saw the bag and knew we had to paint this; J came up with the idea for the lavish frame. I was skeptical for about a minute; but folks? I adore this piece. I mean, that lion is goddamn adorable.

And the crib, which is overseen by a vinyl monkey, who is awesome and smiley and fun-loving. Also, check out that organic cotton sheet! Yeah, our bumper doesn't work in the crib. So I paid a whole helluva lot of cash for two organic cotton sheets and a crib skirt. Such is life.

And now, we just need a Ninja to put in this room. So, we wait.
What do you think?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

37 Weeks - Wherefore art thou, HomeValley?

It seems my husband has a point, you guys: I really can't sit still. I can't stop planning things. I was like this before baby; I am like this pregnant with baby. J has already warned me that I am not to plan like a madwoman whilst on my maternity leave. To which I say to myself: good luck.

This past week hasn't left me with a spare moment to update! Last Monday, we had my mother over for dinner. I roasted a chicken as she checked out the nursery, then J and I tried desperately to teach her how to use her new iPod touch. Have you tried downloading music with your parents yet? I highly recommend. My mom loves Prince and The Moody Blues, apparently.

Tuesday night we had a pediatrician lecture as part of our prenatal class schedule. Would you assume that I am the lass who asked the question about vaccination links to autism, sending the seasoned doctor on a ten minute diatribe? If so, then you know me too well. Let's grab a cup of coffee together soon. I'll get my planner.

Wednesday evening I journeyed to the Lehigh Valley to see my extraordinarily talented cousin Anthony in this musical. He's fabulous, by the way.

Thursday I had Koos and her delightful boys over for lunch. This just in: kids are a lot of work. Especially at lunch time. I should make a note of that in my day planner or something. But they are truly adorable children, and I finally had some toys (eh - books) for them to play with, and we read a lot about the fish of the ocean. I could get used to reading books all day about aquatic life.

After lunch, whilst juggling work, I headed to the hair salon to prepare for my baby-birthing close-ups. I met my mother-in-law there (I love that we share a stylist); and she gifted me with an animal trap.

Thursday night? The HomeValleys went huntin'.

Oh yeah - the vermin? Definitely a raccoon. (Spoiler alert: we still haven't caught it yet. Tis a brazen, illusive little fucker.)

Friday we exercised at the track (read: I walked really slowly and chugged gatorade). My memory is foggy, but I think we actually stayed in! Our actual home! And possibly we tried to watch Fringe but passed out around 9 PM. Is it any wonder?

Saturday we did brunch and a cloth diaper run. Holy Lord, I love these diaps. Now no naysayer can bring down my cloth diaper high! We also went to Lowe's and bought flowers, and I gardened! Which was super-fun, until I got sleepy and needed to rest and drink iced tea as J did what it is you do with mulch.

Sunday morning I woke early, dressed in my workout gear, and headed to the Art Museum - by way of Grace's - for the MS Walk. Mr. Patterson's Misfits were a force to be reckoned with: when all was said and done, we raised over 12,000 bucks! Yours truly was responsible for quite a small portion of that, but there's always next year. It was a fabulous day in support of a fabulous woman.

And yesterday? Mama worked about 14 hours, though don't feel too bad for me. I spent my night in a luxury suite at the Phils game, rubbing elbows with Jim Eisenreich and gorging on Chickie's and Pete's crab fries.

Oh! And last night? While at the game, trying to select a tee-shirt size for a co-worker? I described her as thin but "busty."

"Well, what size are you normally?" the sales clerk asked me. "You're pretty chesty as well."

Seriously, you guys? There has never been a time in my life where ANYONE could deign to call me CHESTY.

Thanks, Ninj.

Are you guys as tired reading this as I am jotting it all down for posterity?

I know, I know. Tomorrow we'll get back to our regularly scheduled pregnancy tales of neuroses. Like, how I am obsessed with the firmness of my crib mattress? How I yelled at J on Sunday night (before breaking down into heaving sobs) that I am NINE MONTHS pregnant! And for the next 3 weeks, anything I say GOES, buddy! You just listen to me! That is your job!

And: the nursery. Which, J and I can't seem to pass without sneaking into and sitting down in the heavenly glider. I don't think either of us can quite believe that there will be a baby here in a few short weeks. So we sit and we rock and we stare. And sometimes we read books to Ninj, and J talks in this extremely high-pitched voice because one day I told him I read that babies respond better to high voices.

Oh, Ninj. You are going to just love your extremely geeky parents.