Thursday, September 30, 2004

Is It the End of September Already?

So tonight is the night that was supposed to be our last night as parents-to-be. Way, way, way back in January or February, we were given 1 October as Celeste's due date, instead it will be just a few days shy of the one-month anniversary of her birth.

Based on some of the childcare books, we can expect to see some changes in Celeste's habits once she's reached her "full term" point, but I'm not sure which changes are due to her being a 40 weeks gestation vs. those due to her being one month old. One thing is certain, she is getting bigger and heavier and cuter every day. (Official weigh-in is on Monday, so we'll find out exactly how much bigger and heavier she is then; the pediatrician refuses to measure cuteness.)

For the past week, Celeste has been sleeping relatively well, but there are some crying jags in the middle of the night and early morning, most of which seem to be soothed by being held. Evelin's a little worried that my habit of letting her sleep on my chest or in my arms when I get home from work (not to mention the grandmothers doing similar amounts of holding during the day) is contributing to this, but we'll see ...

Otherwise, her eating is going well; we stopped trying to bottlefeed after each nursing session. Instead, for the past week-and-a-half or so, we've been giving her one big (4 fluid ounce) bottle as the last feeding of the night (sometime between 10:00 p.m. and midnight, or so). Sometimes she is a very hungry baby bird and eats it all, other times she only wants about half.

This gives me a chance to feed her, and it fulfills the doctor's wish to have her get a couple of ounces of jaundice-fighting formula. Maybe on Monday, the doctor will say Celeste can go back to being exclusively breastfed, which will eliminate a little bit of daddytime (unless we use expressed breastmilk for a feeding or two), but it would let us let go of any formula-related guilt.

Other Stuff

Scary Blimps: I've always thought airships were cool, but the test security blimp they had floating over D.C. yesterday (totally white, no Goodyear logo) was more ominous than anything. I first spied it during my morning commute and it was hovering over the White House or something, but on my commute home in the evening, it looked like it was zipping along faster than I've ever seen an airship move. It really gave me the creeps.

ColaTurka: On Tuesday, I ran out at lunch to the Palestinian grocery near my office to pick up a big tin of olive oil. They usually have a good selection from Turkey, Tunisia, Greece, Lebanon, and elsewhere through out the region, but this time the only big tins were from Spain. I guess I'm a bit of snob, because I decided to see what the Greek grocery down the street had. I ended up with a 3-liter tin from Crete, which hopefully prove tasty.

As I was looking around the store to see if there was anything else I needed, I noticed some bottles of ColaTurka in the cooler. A while back, I saw the ColaTurka commercials Chevy Chase did, so I let curiosity get to me. It wasn't bad; it tasted kind of like RC, but a little less carbonated, but I didn't find myself with a bushy mustache or speaking Turkish ...

The Washington Grays: Okay, so baseball is coming back to D.C. I hope the stadium deal doesn't end up costing the taxpayers too much and that it helps revitalize that area of Southeast/Southwest, but one thing is certain — Mayor Anthony Williams is right: as long as D.C. doesn't have voting representation in Congress, the team should not be called the Senators. The Grays, in honor of the Negro leagues Homestead Grays who called D.C. home for a while is a perfect name ... even if it isn't a surefire marketing magnet. (See Michael Wilbon's column for more ...)

The Beloved BoSox: Boston has the Wild Card and unless something crazy happens over the next week, we'll be in the Bronx for Game 1 of the division series. So long as Pedro can stop psyching himself out, we should be able to close things out early and to get ready for whoever comes out tops in the West ... Tessie! You are the only, only, only!

Monday, September 27, 2004

We Haven't Slept but All Is Well

It's been a while since my last post and apparently it's causing worry in some quarters (sorry, Anita) ... but all is well.

Last week was my first back to work, and I ran into a lot of stuff that had piled up while I was gone (much of it was a project that should have been finished while I was on paternity leave but, for a variety of reasons not the fault of anyone who was working on it while I was out, it wasn't).

Last week was also Evelin's mother's week visiting to help with Celeste. It went really well, except when I got home each night, I wanted to hold and snuggle and comfort the baby and I had to keep on guard to keep the grandmother from trying to take her away from me. This week, my mother is visiting, so I'm sure it will be much of the same ...

Sleep is a precious commodity. Celeste has no real pattern yet, but she is having some suprisingly long wake periods (as long as three hours even; sometimes during the day, but other times in the wee hours of the morning). We have no idea why and sometimes nothing we do is right. Sometimes she just wants to be held (or kangaroo care or to dance around); other times a bit of baby massage or singing will work; sometimes the diaper needs replacing; other times nothing is right in the world.

Outside of the house, things are looking a little better. After Evelin's mother left on Saturday morning, I managed to get the grass/ogräs cut in between visits from various cousins. The garden, however, is in total shambles. I found some okra that were so large the pods were pulling the plants down. Tomatoes and peppers that have gone to rot on the vines (unfortunately) and numerous other examples of what bad farmers we've been this year. The birds have gotten to enjoy the raspberries at least, and I did get two ripe tomatoes before the raccoons or squirrels found them (but neither Evelin nor I can remember what variety we planted ... I think I blogged it in the spring, so I need to look back to see; ah, they're Brandywines and they're yummy).

Okay, to work, and I'll try to get back into the habit of posting ...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The Nickname

In a comment, Karen (indirectly) reminded me that I forgot to mention Celeste's nickname. My Great Aunt Celestine was nicknamed "Cel," which I'm sure Celeste will encounter at some point, but I doubt we'll use it. One of my aunts, before she found out we were calling Celeste by her middle name, asked if we were going to shorten Elinore to Ellie, but, again, that's not the plan.

The only nickname we've used is Pippa (sometimes shortened to Pip).

Yes, there is no way to get Pippa from Celeste or Elinore, but it was the other name we really liked, but it didn't feel like a "real" name and couldn't settle upon using it. Traditionally, Pippa is a shortened form of Phillipa, but we really didn't like that name (plus Evelin's uncle/godfather is Phillip, and we didn't want him to think we'd named our daughter after him ...)

I'm noticing that we're using Pippa/Pip less and less now that Celeste is here, but that was her name for much of her time in utero. In fact, when I would read to her though a paper towel tube, I would begin each night's story with: "Attention, Pippa! This is your father speaking. Tonight's story is .…"

Soon after she was born, I leaned in and said, "Attention, Pippa! This is your father speaking ..." and she immediately calmed down and looked at me. Maybe it was my breath that was getting the reaction, but I'll continue to believe that she recognized my voice ...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

How Celeste Got Her Name

For a long time, Evelin and I knew we liked the name Celeste for a girl. We did have some back and forth over the exact form of the name we wanted to use, however.

The basic form Celeste was always on the table, but we also talked about Caelestis, Céleste, and Celestine. I liked the accent mark in Céleste and Evelin liked the Latin Caelestis, and Celestine was my father's paternal grandmother's name.

Beyond Celeste itself, we also were wondering about what should be her middle name or first name. For a long time, we were thinking Marie. Evelin favored it as a middle name (Celeste Marie) while I favored it as a first name (Marie Celeste). In either case, Evelin wasn't wild about using an accent mark on Celeste.

I liked Marie Celeste because that was the name Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used for his short story "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement," which was based on the legend of the ghost ship Mary Celeste, but Evelin wasn't swayed by this logic.

Back in late June, Evelin came up with the name Elinor as a possible first name. I like it, but wasn't sure about spelling it without a terminal "e." To me, the Elin letter cluster just looked too rigid, but adding an "e" to the end of the name helped soften things.

After we settled upon Elinor Céleste (using each of our preferred spellings), I looked through both our family trees and found several forms of both names:
  • Eléonore (Evelin's paternal grandmother's line, as recently as 1821)

  • Elinore (Evelin's maternal grandfather's line, circa 1685)

  • Eleanor (Evelin's maternal grandfather's line, circa 1550)

  • Eleanor (Carter's paternal grandmother's line, circa 1640)

  • Celesta (Carter's maternal grandfather's line, as recently as 1845)

  • Celeste (Carter's maternal grandfather's line, circa 1830)*

  • Celestine (Carter's paternal grandfather's line, three instances, most recently 1913)
In the end, we both compromised and used the 1685 spelling Elinore (with terminal "e") and the 1830 spelling Celeste (sans accent mark), and we put Celeste as the middle name.

As for calling Celeste by her middle name, Evelin and I both go by our middle names, so, with the addition of Celeste, we now have a family tradition of everyone being [first initial] [middle name] [surname].

*This person was actually named Mary Celeste, which takes things back to our original name thinking.

Friday, September 17, 2004

They Can Tell We're Not Greek ...

... and not just because I sometimes put the emphasis on the wrong syllable when asking for some σπανακόπιτα.

Celeste went to her first Greek festival today. We figured it'd be an easy outing if we went during the afternoon, instead of trying to deal with the evening or weekend madness, and it turned out pretty good. We had a nice bit of nosh, brought home some pastries, and got to show off the baby.

It was showing off the baby that tipped off our ethnicity (or at least our being non-Greek).

The festival was at the Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in D.C. (making this Celeste's first out-of-state trip, too). After a late lunch of spanakopita (σπανακόπιτα), tiropita (τυρόπιτα), and fasolakia (φασολάκια φρέσκα με ντομάτα), we headed into the fellowship hall of the church, which was set up as The Plaka. In addition to Greek books, CDs, packaged foods, and icons, this is where they had the pastries.

As we entered the hall, we were stopped at the raffle booth; the woman staffing it wanted to see the baby. The older man next to her made a little blessing over the baby and then spat. He then asked how old the baby was; when I said she was 13 days old, he said, "So I guess you're not Greek."

Apparently, the Greek custom is to keep the baby inside for the first 40 days. After which, his or her first trip is to the church for a formal presentation to the community.

The blessing and spitting, he said, were to ward off the evil eye. "Not that I believe in that," he said, but, 40 years ago, his sister had had the evil eye put on her in Greece and it had plagued her ever since, so he figured a little protection wouldn't hurt.

That makes two blessings Celeste has received so far. The morning after Celeste was born, a Roman Catholic priest stopped by to visit the woman Evelin was sharing the post-partum room with and to bless her baby. He asked if Evelin and Celeste wanted to join in, as Evelin said yes.

After chatting for a while, we moved on to the pastry stand and picked up an assortment of goodies to take home — some baklava (mπακλαβάς) and a piece each of galactobouriko (γαλακτομπούρεκο), melomakarona (μελομακάρονα), kourambiedes (κουραμπιέδες) and karithopita (καρυδόπιτα).

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Making Foie Gras

Traditionally, making foie gras is a pretty grim practice that involves force-feeding a goose until its liver is ripe for making pâte. Despite that, making foie gras is the best analogy I can think of for what it's like feeding Celeste.

Because of the jaundice, the doctors want us to feed her at least 1 fluid ounce of formula on top of what she gets nursing. The goal is 4 to 6 fl. oz. of formula each day. There are two reasons for this: first, she still needs to get her weight up and, second, the formula can help expel the bilirubin more efficiently than breast milk will.

As for her weight, Celeste fell from her birth weight of 5 pounds, 9 ounces to a low of 4 pounds, 14 ounces. That was early in the morning on Friday, after we'd checked her back into the hospital. As of Tuesday, she was back up to 5 pounds, 5 ounces (but we'd just fed her, so her actual weight may have been an ounce or two lighter). The next weigh-in is on Saturday when we go back to the pediatricians for another bilirubin check.

All in all, she seems to be doing well with the formula. There's no hesitancy about nursing, nor any confusion about the bottle vs. the breast. After all, the formula isn't nice and warm like Evelin, and when I give her the bottle we can't snuggle the way she does when breastfeeding. For the most part, she sucks down the formula pretty greedily, but there are times — particularly if she's sleepily after a good nursing session — when she has to be cajoled into finishing the bottle.

It is those times that I feel like I'm practically force-feeding her. Wait for a yawn, and move in with the bottle. Tickle her toes and/or belly, and move in with the bottle. Strip her down to her diaper and when she complains, move in with the bottle.

Although at times she'd rather sleep, she doesn't seem to mind the bottle (and often she'll take the ounce and then look around for more), but the foie gras image sticks in my mind. Of course, we're looking to fatten up her cheeks, not her liver.

Thinking of Bottles

We'd been planning to exclusively breastfeed Celeste, so Evelin and I never talked about bottles. Once we got home from the hospital, I found myself running out to the grocery store to see what I could find. We needed at least one bottle (although we've since bought more so we can have the formula measured out and ready to go on a moment's notice), but I had no idea what sort of system to get.

We ended up with Playtex Original Nursers. Since they use disposable drop-in bottle liners that don't need to be sterilized (we don't have a microwave and boiling bottles would seem to take forever), it seemed like a good choice for us. So far, it seems to be going well, but hopefully we'll be able to go back to exclusively breastfeeding once Celeste's weight is back up and the jaundice scare is finally resolved.

Thinking of Formula

Outside of anecdotal comments online, everything I've read online seems to say that all brands of formula are pretty much identical, so long as like variations are compared to like variations (i.e., Similac Advance vs. Enfamil Lipil, both are milk-based and have iron and DHA and ARA, and differ primarily in color and maybe a little in taste). But those anecdotes about babies having a bad reaction to switching formulas strike true after last night.

While at the hospital for jaundice, we were giving Celeste ready-to-feed Enfamil Lipil, but at home we had samples of Similac Advance powder, so we have been using that. We had one bottle of the ready-to-feed Enfamil left over from the hospital stay and we decided to give some of that to Celeste last night instead of mixing up more Similac. Big mistake.

First off, let me note that Celeste had no troubles with Enfamil while in hospital, and I can't say with certainty that it was the formula that caused her troubles, but it is the big variable I can point to as maybe having an effect.

The Enfamil feeding happened around 10:00 p.m. Pretty much from 11:30 on, Celeste was inconsolable. She would breastfeed intermittently, and would stop crying every now and then if she was walked around or if I did some kangaroo care with her, but most of the next six hours were spent crying. And most of today, she has been out cold. We went for a little outing to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton; Celeste never opened her eyes. She is feeding well, and greedily sucking down the Similac formula as well as the breast milk. Hopefully, tonight will be much less eventful.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

That Scene at the Beginning of The Lion King ...

How We Met Celeste

the first installment in a story of lifechanges arrived ...

It looks like today is a day for stories. In the middle of the night, I covered Celeste's jaundice and the return to the hospital. This entries goes back nine days to the night before Celeste's birth.

As I may have mentioned, K--- and T--- had long been scheduled to come down from Massachusetts for Labor Day Weekend. They arrived late Thursday night and Evelin took Friday off to hang out with them. When I got home, everyone was getting ready to head out to dinner.

Despite K--- being allergic to peppers (a not-uncommon ingredient in Latin cuisine), Evelin wanted us all to go to Samantha's, one of our favorite restaurants. As we were getting ready to go, I noticed an odd look on Evelin's face and I asked my all-too-common question of the past month: "Are you having contractions?" She just looked at me and nodded "yes" and then finished gathering her things and off to dinner we went.

[ASIDE: Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate), by Laura Esquivel, makes much of the mystical connection between food and life and love and fate. If one were to page back about 36 weeks and 1 day, or so, they would find that Evelin and I had another very nice evening at Samantha's. I don't know if it was the food or what, but we did have to consider changing Celeste's name.]

Needless to say, I was having trouble concentrating during dinner. Evelin checked the time every now and then, but otherwise never let K--- and T--- on to what she was feeling. T--- and I both had the spinach enchiladas; K--- had the chicken stuffed with spinach and mushrooms; and Evelin had a tamale and the country chicken soup.

When we finally got home around 9:45 p.m. or so, I could ask Evelin what was up and she said that the contractions were irregular and she wasn't worried. Well, worry is one of my main responsibilities in this household, so I read through our instructions from the Maternity Center. They said for preterm labor (defined as prior to 37 weeks), to call the midwife if you felt five or more contractions, irregular or not, during any 60-minute period. Evelin fit that criteria, so we called.

The first thing we found out was that, because we were preterm, we could not give birth at the Maternity Center as planned. Instead, we had to go to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. The midwife was already there, and we were instructed to call if the contractions got more regular (and closer apart) and/or if Evelin's water broke.

With this in mind, Evelin took some calcium and water, and we went to bed, although it wasn't easy to get to sleep.

Around 1:57 a.m., I woke up and Evelin was up with a contraction and needing to go to the bathroom. We timed the contraction and then timed when the next one or two hit — about nine minutes apart. Once Evelin knew the spacing, she took some more calcium and went back sleep pretty well.

Every hour, I would awake about 57 minutes past the hour, and Evelin would be getting up to go to the bathroom with a contraction. They were staying regular, although sometimes they were focused more toward her back than her front, and Evelin was having some bloody show when she went to the bathroom, but not so much that she was worried. At 4:57 a.m., however, Evelin came back to bed saying, "I think my water just broke." This time, she'd awoken with a sharp contraction felt both in front and in her back.

I hopped up and grabbed the bag of clothes and things I'd finished packing the night before, grabbed the carseat we'd bought on Wednesday night, and off we went.

Along the way, Evelin needed me to pull over so that she could throw up once, but other than that (and passing a Gaithersburg City Police car just as we were merging onto I-270 from the Beltway at about 90 mph; he didn't turn on his lights, so I wasn't going to worry about it) it was an uneventful trip to the hospital. Along the way, we timed things and the contractions were three to four minutes apart.

We were in the Labor and Delivery room (we lucked out, coming long enough after a big wave of deliveries to get a big room to ourselves) by 4:50 a.m. While we waited for the midwife to show, the nurse ran through the basic questions and Evelin continued to have regular contractions. By 6:00 a.m., the midwife was there to check Evelin. She was at 8 centimeters and fully effaced. The midwife decided she'd better get into scrubs.

Because Evelin's group β strep (GBS) culture was taken on Thursday morning (and because it was six-something in the a.m., we didn't have culture results back in time for the delivery, so they had to treat her as if she was positive. This meant trying to get two courses of antibiotics into her, four hours apart, prior to delivery.

By 7:00 a.m., things were getting more uncomfortable for Evelin. The baby was definitely in transition (they had to keep adjusting where the fetal monitor was on Evelin's stomach) and headed out into the world. But the midwife wanted to hold off on checking Evelin as long as possible so as not to start any hospital "clock" about how long was too long to be in labor.

At 7:30 a.m., the midwife checked and Evelin was at 10 centimeters and feeling the urge to push. This is the point where HypnoBirthing kind of let us down. All night long, Evelin had been using relaxation and meditation techniques during the contractions, and while things weren't comfortable, it was all bearable. But the trick was to keep breathing through the contractions, which was counterproductive for pushing.

The midwife noticed this and offered to coach Evelin through the pushing. She accepted readily and, after about six big rounds of pushing, Celeste was born at 8:14 a.m.

She was cute and red and squealing. I didn't realize it at the time, but she sounded a lot like an infant panda does when first born: A plaintive, gasping shriek/squeal that was really cute.

Late-Night Update

I'm downstairs listening into to every rustle and squeak on the baby monitor; Evelin is getting some rest before Celeste's 1:30 a.m. feeding. This morning (well, it's a little past midnight as I write this, so yesterday morning), Celeste marked the anniversary of her first meeting us. Unfortunately, the celebration took place in the hospital.

Everyone is okay. Celeste is doing great. Evelin is fine. I'm addicted to Diet Coke and very clumsy, but otherwise alright.

On Tuesday, we took Celeste in for her first pediatrician's visit. Everything went well, but because she was a little jaundiced when we left the hospital, they did a heel-stick for a bilirubin test. The level at the hospital on Sunday was 14.2; the Tuesday test was 14.7, which was still within the "we need to watch it" level, but not a serious concern. We were told to come back on Thursday for a follow up heel-stick.

Thursday, before lunch, the doctor called with the results of that morning's test: The levels were too high for the office machine to read. We had to head to the hospital to have the test performed. We went in and, after a longer than expected wait because we were trying to get things done as the pediatrician's office was closed for lunch and the hospital lab was having shifts change and people heading out for lunch. None of that was very comforting for this anxious father.

After the blood was drawn, we headed home to wait for the results. When the doctor finally called, the results were 21.4. We were told to head to the hospital right away and that Celeste would have to be admitted for treatment.

And, as we were heading out to the hospital, my parents called to say that their plane had landed. (They'd flown up to meet their new granddaughter.) While gathering some things to take with us, I filled them in quickly on what was going on. But I neglected to tell them which hospital we were going to. I eventually got back in touch with them (I couldn't use a mobile phone from the pediatrics ward or place a long-distance call to their cells, and I didn't know the phone number of the hotel they were staying in), but it was after visiting hours so they had to wait another day to meet Celeste.

Getting Celeste admitted, fitted with a little headband to protect her eyes, and put under those lights and then being told all we can do is wait was the most terrifying thing I think I've ever gone through. I tried hard not to, but there were tears.

Over the first night, Evelin and I weren't really sure what we needed to be doing except to feed Celeste and to talk to her even if we couldn’t spend much time holding or snuggling her. The nurse did say we could touch her under the lights, so there was a good bit of holding of her little hands and feet at times.

Because jaundice is caused by an excess of bilirubin and bilirubin can be expelled through the body's waste system, the doctor wanted us to feed Celeste every two hours to help ensure that she was excreting enough and to ensure that she stay hydrated under the lights. She also wanted us to supplement the breastfeeding with formula.

Evelin and I had never really talked about formula, but at that moment we both were pretty firm in wanting to avoid giving Celeste something foreign, so we got the doctor to agree to let us try to pump after Celeste breastfed to see how much additional milk we could bank. The goal was to give her at least 30 milliliters of additional food beyond what she'd take in breastfeeding.

Feeding every two hours and trying to pump extra took a serious toll on Evelin, and about six hours later we were facing the option of either using some formula or starting an IV on Celeste. We opted for the formula. The night nurse also intervened on our behalf and we were able to change the feedings to every three hours or so, which helped Evelin's milk supply. For the rest of the hospital stay (and even now, at least until Celeste gets back above her birth weight and/or gets a bit past her original due date), we would give her the breast first, followed by whatever breast milk had been expressed after the previous feeding, plus some formula. And, more often than not, she ate it all.

After that first night, things started to feel better. Celeste was having fairly regular eliminations* and her bilirubin levels were starting to recede slowly. And, later that morning, my parents got to meet her for the first time. Since Celeste could spend a little bit of time away from the lights to be fed, my folks did get a chance to hold her before I ran home with them to pick up some clean clothes for Evelin.

The hospital room was pretty small, so my parents didn't spend their entire visit in the room with Evelin, Celeste, and me. Instead they hung out at our house a bit, helping straighten up some of the mess that quickly accumulates when you have a newborn. My mom also picked some okra and tomatoes from the garden, which were converted into an okra creole and some red pasta gravy. It was really not the visit they'd planned, but it was a big help to us ...

Back at the hospital, Evelin and I had another long day and night, but all the early signs were good. The bilirubin levels were dropping at a respectable rate and they decided to stop taking blood every four hours from Celeste, which was a good thing because I think her heels will be scarred for life after this. Instead, they went to every 12 hours for the heel-sticks.

We were feeling much better about everything and could even joke about the hospital bassinet with the anti-jaundice lights looking like a baby aquarium.

Because nothing can go smoothly, however, this lead to its own problems -- Saturday's 6:00 a.m. blood draw was lost. Or at least that's what we guess happened. The phlebotomist came and took the blood, but the lab never got results up to the doctors. At 9:00 a.m. or so, the resident on duty did a draw, but the sample clotted, necessitating yet another heel-stick around noon. When the results finally came back, the levels were down to around 11, which was excellent.

Next we turned off the lights and had to wait a few more hours to make sure that without the lights the levels did not rebound too much. But without the lights we were able to hold Celeste and my folks were able to have a lot more quality time with her.

Sometime around 6:00 p.m., we got the final blood test results -- 10.8 -- and we were discharged with orders to follow up with the pediatrician on Monday. Our discharge happened at the perfect time for my parents to help us carry everything out to the car before they had to head to the airport for their flight back to Louisiana.

Now Evelin, Celeste, and I are back home with the goal of keeping Celeste out of the hospital for at least an entire week.

* I guess it is a truism: You cannot read a new parent's blog without running into more than a few entries about poop.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Exciting, Scary, Sleepless

Well, Celeste has made it through two nights at home. She really likes hanging out with us and seems to have a bit of day-night confusion: She sleeps for longer stretches (and a little more independently) during the day than at night. And she really doesn't like that the doctor wants us to wake her up every two to three hours to feed.

But what she really seems to love is to sleep on one of us. Just lay down in bed or lean back in a recliner or other soft chair and she snuggles up on my or Evelin's chest like an Anne Geddes baby. It's so sweet and comfortable and I can still feel her warmth on my sternum even though it's been more than an hour since Evelin took her away for a snack and a nap.

I still need to post the birth story and other tales of the first week of fatherhood, but right now I think I need to move laundry to the dryer and get back to making a tomato tart for dinner. (Paternity leave, even if it's involving lots of phone calls and e-mail exchanges, is giving me time to do a little bit of cooking, which is good. Plus K--- and T---, who drove down from Massachusetts for Labor Day Weekend (it turned out to be a bit quite the different visit from what they'd expected), brought us tons of tomatoes that are going to go bad if I don't do something drastic with them ...)

Thanks for all the well wishes everyone!

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Lifechanges ... Arrived

And her name is Elinore Celeste. Born this morning at 8:14, weighing 5 pounds, 9 ounces, and measuring 18.5 inches long. Mother and baby are doing well.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

"Try to Wait a Few Days ..."

That's the midwife's advice. Tomorrow, Evelin is 36 weeks. This morning she was 80% effaced and the midwife could feel some bulging of the membranes, but she didn't think labor was imminent or anything. It seems the baby is likely to come early, but it could still be three or more weeks before anything starts to happen.

Last night, as I was packing up things to go home for the evening, Evelin called suggesting that I go ahead and buy the infant carseat. We went with the Graco SnugRide, Colby pattern. It wasn't too hard to get set up in the T.R.U.C.K., but we haven't had it checked yet: I'm sure that's when I'll find out how shoddy of a job I did installing it.

The one thing that went wrong with it was, while assembling the canopy, one of the plastic canopy supports snapped as I was putting it together. Pretty flimsy plastic on that part and not the smoothest way to set things up. Fortunately, they said they can send me out new pieces.

Now, I just have to figure out how to get various work projects rolling so that I'm covered ... just in case the baby doesn't want to wait a week or three.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Bear of Very Little Brain

In addition to the Richard Scarry and Sandra Boyton stories I've been reading to the baby through a paper-towel tube, a little while ago I added some A.A. Milne to the mix. I have often mentioned Tian Tian and Winnie the Pooh in the same breath. Both are very food-motivated, but the way both bears acts could be considered a sign of "very little brain."

The same cannot be said for Juan, a spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) at Zoo Berlin. On Sunday, Juan decided the standard enrichment items the zookeepers offered weren't interesting enough, so he decided to go walkabout.

Using a log to cross a moat, he scaled the enclosure wall, and wandered through the zoo grounds for about half an hour before being darted and returned to his enclosure. [ BBC | | Fototour ( | Berliner Morgenpost ]

According to Der Tagesspeiegel, Juan is 6 years old and probably starting to look for new territory to call his own. (Currently, he shares his enclosure with his parents, Navarro and Isabel.) To accommodate those needs, it looks like Zoo Berlin is looking to ship him off to another zoo.

According to the BBC, although some parents were worried when Juan headed to the children's playground, Zoo Berlin Deputy Director Heiner Klös was not concerned: "Spectacled bears eat both vegetables and meat but children tend not to be on their menu," he said. "I'd have been a lot more worried if one of our polar bears had escaped."

Interestingly, spectacled bears are the closest Ursidae relative to giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Tian Tian did escape once, but it was only from the main yard into a keeper area where food is stored. He immediately set himself down to have a snack and never made it to any unconfined area.

Unrelated Note

I will not gloat. I will remain calm. 3.5 games back. And I can think of 22 reasons to absolutely love the Cleveland Indians (and here's a 23rd reason: we don't play them again this year). "Everybody's having fun ..."