Friday, April 27, 2012

The Loquat Heist

Loquats are underrated.
Hell, I bet you don't even know what a loquat is.
Even blogger is putting a red squiggly line under the word "loquat", thinking I misspelled "loquacity".

Well, loquats are one of my favorite fruits, up there with watermelons.  It kills me that it's impossible to buy these sweet, juicy, fruits at the super market or farmers market. 
I have to resort to stealing.

I found a loquat tree during one of my late afternoon walks around town and I noticed that all the fruits were ripe and falling to the ground!  Apparently whoever owned the house next to this tree was not taking advantage of the fruit it was bearing!
I'm too shy to go knock on the door and ask if I could harvest their fruit and I was even too shy to pluck 1 fruit off that tree in broad daylight.

There was only 1 option left...
I had to pull a loquat heist.

Last Sunday night, after Caitlin was put to bed, I grabbed a plastic bag and a pair of scissors and strolled back to where the loquat tree was located.
After plucking a few that were within reach, I realized that I had a pretty full bag!  That was fast!
If you look at the tree though, you can't even tell I plucked any!

I have been merrily eating these fruits these last few days.  I just hate that they are very tedious to eat (you have to remove the peel, which requires 2 hands!  When you are holding a crying baby in one arm, it's close to impossible to do!).

I think for my next house, it is a requirement to have a loquat tree in the yard.
And a third arm/hand would be good too.

Ruby chirping like a bird

Many people don't know that guinea pigs can actually chirp like a bird!  Yes, this is different from their typical "wheeking" sound.
Not many people have witnessed their guinea pigs chirp either.

Luckily, I have witnessed Ruby chirp on a few occasions (Marbles have never chirped), and I was able to capture it on video today!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Newborn Photo Session

Remember when I was 35 weeks pregnant, I did a maternity photo session with Nicole Loggins Photography?  Well, that was a 2-parter, since we also were booked to do a newborn photo session with her once Caitlin was born.

The day I gave birth to Caitlin, I messaged Nicole and let her know that Caitlin has arrived and to pick a date to do the newborn photo session (ideally, within the baby's first 7 days).  We decided to do the photo session on Tuesday, March 20, making Caitlin 6 days old that day.

Because Nicole requested for Caitlin to be naked for the photo session (since clothing can look bulky on tiny newborns), we heated up the room to an uncomfortable 88 degrees!  After feeding Caitlin, she fell asleep for the entire duration of the photo session, making the session very easy!  Typically, a newborn photo session takes 6 hours because the baby will wake up, cry, want to eat... etc.  But because Caitlin slept the entire time, we were able to finish the session in 2 hours!

Caitlin was placed in all sorts of cute poses and dressed in plenty of pretty head bands.
I discreetly snapped some behind-the-scenes shots of the photo session.
Caitlin doing one of the poses

Jeff lending a helping hand, blowing bubbles

We have Caitlin's newborn photoshoot photos uploaded to our Picasa:
Caitlin Photoshoot

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spin off blog

We have created a spin-off blog, where we will share the details of Jeff and Jen's new life as parents and raising a baby.  Not everyone is interested in reading about things like that, so we don't want to bombard our Adventures of Jeff and Jen blog with it.

The spin-off blog called The Adventures of Jeff and Jen: Raising a Family

If you are interested in following our adventure in learning how to be parents and following the development of Baby Caitlin, please subscribe to our new blog:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Baby Caitlin's Birth Story

**WARNING: very long, detailed, and descriptive post! 
Read only if you have 71 hours to spare!**

As you probably already know, we have a new addition in our family!  Baby Caitlin arrived at 7:30pm on Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
It was so perfect that Caitlin arrived on her due date (March 14) because that day is Pi Day!
Did you know only 5% of babies arrive on their due date?  As a result, I was pretty sure I would not get a pi day baby, so this was such a pleasant surprise. 

Typically, babies are born shortly after the mom goes into labor.
What most people don't know, and what most of the nurses at the hospital did not believe, is that my labor actually started the Sunday prior!  At the hospital, several nurses asked "when did you start feeling contractions?".  I said "Sunday night".  And a common response that we got was "No, really.  When did the painful contractions start?".  And my answer was still "Sunday night".

So here is the story of our 4-day journey to Caitlin's arrival:

Sunday (March 11) to Monday (March 12):
All day Sunday, I had terrible cramping and aching in my lower abdominal area.  Of course, I did not let that cramp my style! Jeff and I spent the afternoon going out for Chinese food for lunch, walking (slowly) around Rodeo Drive, and eating Sprinkles Cupcakes.

On Sunday night, after crawling into bed, I was unable to sleep because the cramping got worse and the painless contractions suddenly became painful.  Jeff took notice that my painful contractions were coming roughly every 10-20 minutes.  Around 2am, still wide awake and watching the clock, I noticed that the contraction frequency increased to every ~7-16 minutes.
I finally gave up on trying to sleep and got out of bed at 4:30am and watched early morning news.  At this time, contractions were coming every 5-9 minutes.
I secretly hoped that the baby will arrive soon.

By the time morning arrived (~8am), the contractions subsided and came randomly (sometimes, once every 5 minutes, or once every 45 minutes, or nothing for 2+ hours).
I was disappointed that all the regular contractions the night before was a false alarm.
I spent the day trying to get some naps in to make up for loss sleep, and cleaned the house in preparation for baby's arrival.

Monday Night (March 12) to Tuesday (March 13):
Sleep was impossible Monday night!
The pressure against my butt and pelvic area was so painful that I was unable to sit down at all.  Laying down was painful too so I literally spent the entire Monday night to Tuesday morning pacing around my house, watching more crappy early morning news.  Walking helps induce labor so I hoped that my pacing would induce labor, as well as burn some additional calories.
The contractions arrived every 5-10 minutes throughout the entire night, until around 8am and the contractions slowed down (again) to about once every 10-15 minutes.

(Notice the trend?  That the most painful, frequent, and regular contractions occurred during the night time.  Labor slows down once morning arrives). 

Jeff left for work at around 11:00am but he returned home at 1pm to take me to our weekly prenatal appointment.  Normally, I drive myself to the ob appointment but considering that sitting down was painful and I would probably hit a car during every contraction, it was best that Jeff escorted me.
At the prenatal appointment, the ob said that I was 3.5 cm dilated, and the non-stress test machine showed that I was contracting every 10 minutes.  The ob said that labor is near and her recommendation is to walk around to induce the labor (I've already been walking!).  She also said to go to the Labor & Delivery at the hospital when I have contractions that are 3-5 minutes apart, for at least 1 hour.

We returned back home and Jeff spent the afternoon with me rather than going back to work (how sweet of him!!). 

Tuesday Night (March 13)
We spent the evening living through my contractions as they became more and more frequent.  We killed time by finishing up items on our to-do list, such as cleaning the guinea cage, tidying up the house, getting the dishes done, etc.  We picked up Thai take-out (pad thai and thai bbq chicken) for dinner.
When counting the time between my contractions, the contractions were not 3-5 minutes apart.  Instead, the contractions kept being bunched into triples, like (5 mins, 5 mins, 5 mins), then a gap (of like, 8 mins) of no contractions! 
Despite that, Jeff thought that I was must in active labor and said we should go to the hospital that night.  We both showered, flossed, brushed our teeth, and notified my friend that I was going to the hospital and to please come take Marbles and Ruby to his house.

I was nervous that I would show up at the hospital and they would send me back home because I was not contracting at the "3-5 minute" rule.  That would be embarrassing...
It was around 11:30pm when I made sure all the windows and doors were locked, turned off all the lights  in the house, and piled into the car.  (Jeff already packed our hospital bag into the car earlier that day). 

Our drive to St Johns Health Center was not any different than any other drive to any other destination.  Movies and TV always glamorizes the drive to the hospital when in labor -- the laboring mother grabbing her belly, screaming her husband's head off as he speeds to the hospital. 
That would be cool... but no, that's not how it happened.   It was a typical quiet evening drive down the 10 freeway.

It was after-hours, so we had to enter the hospital through the Emergency Room entrance.  We left our keys with the valet and strolled up to the maternity department's Labor & Delivery.

At the check-in desk, the receptionist asked what we were doing there.
Um, I'm at Labor &Delivery?  Maybe that means I am in labor?
I told her that I was having contractions and would like to check-in.
The woman took one look at me and did not believe me. Once again, this was not like in the movies where a laboring woman is wheeled in, in a wheelchair, screaming and panting.  I would expect the receptionist to know better.

She stuck me into a small, crappy, temporary room to examine me and confirm I am in active labor before checking me in.  The nurse checked me and said I was 4cm dilated, which confirms that I am in active labor, and that I was contracting around every 4 minutes.  It was close to midnight when I was checked-in.

Wednesday (March 14!) Labor and Delivery Day!/Pi Day!
We waited in the temporary room for about an hour, while we waited for a birthing suite to be cleaned and ready for me.
At 1:00am, we moved to my private birthing suite, which was equipped with goodies such as a flat screen TV, a couch/bench/bed-thing for the dad-to-be, a rocking/glider chair, and a bathroom.  Of course, I wasn't in the mood to take advantage of any of the amenities.
We were left to my own devices, so Jeff napped while I was wide awake, groaning though every contraction.  It sucks that I was tethered to the bed, hooked up to a machine and an IV drip!  Which genius invented that? It's easier to handle contractions while standing or walking around!

At 2:30am, the nurse checked me and said I was 6cm dilated! Wow, that was fast!

At 3:30am, I was 7cm dilated and I caved and requested for an epidural  =(. 
I was really disappointed in myself for opting for painkillers, but the thought of continuing on without it really frightened me.  I don't know why I felt frightened but I was. Maybe because I did not know what to expect?
Also, my body hurt so badly from being in labor for so many days, so I really wanted some relief.

At 5:30am, my water broke.  I wish my water broke at home, like in the movies.

At 9:30am, I was 8cm dilated.  Apparently, I only dilated 1 cm in 6 hours, which is very slow.
This is suspiciously similar to Sunday night and Monday night, when I was painfully contracting through the night, and by morning, labor slowed down or stalled.
Lunchtime came and passed, and no food for Jen.  =(  Jeff got to eat a breakfast burrito for breakfast and a burger for lunch.

At 2:00pm, I was 9cm dilated, which is a relief, since even though labor was progressing slowly, at least it did not come to a halt.

Around 3:00pm, we watched Crazy Stupid Love on the hospital TV.  It was quite amusing and I love anything with Emma Stone in it.  Sadly, I was pretty nauseous throughout the afternoon and vomited, which is quite common during labor

At 4:00pm, I was 9.5 cm... almost there!

At 5:00pm, I was getting impatient that I couldn't eat or drink.  I asked Jeff to be the good husband that he is, and sneak me some soda from the cafeteria.  He brought back some Pepsi, which I happily drank (I'm normally not happy about Pepsi. lol) . 

At 5:30pm, the nurse strolled in and confirmed that I was fully dilated (10cm.  YES!).  When she wanted me to start practice pushing, nausea set in again and I vomited all the Pepsi!!! 
I hope she did not notice that the vomit looked like smuggled-in soda.

After a few practice pushes, I was ready to deliver the baby.  I was feeling the urge to push (my epidural was not very strong since I still felt some contractions was able to feel the urge to push), but I was afraid to push on my own.  I wanted a damn doctor to show up before I start pushing!  Where the hell was the doctor?

At around 6:00pm, the nurse called for the doctor to come deliver the baby (What? Barely? Wish she called sooner).  Unfortunately, the doctor was at another building and had to walk over.

Finally, at 7:00pm, the doctor arrives.  Took her long enough!  It really should not take her an hour to walk from the building next door. 
She still dilly-dallied for a bit and had me do some more practice pushes.  I was so ready to deliver the baby already.
She told me to take breaks between practice pushes so I don't wear myself out, as pushing typically takes 1-2 hours and the mother gets worn out before the baby is delivered.
But for me, it actually felt really uncomfortable to take a break in between pushes.  I just wanted to keep pushing and get this sh*t over with. 

Maybe around 7:15pm, they took apart the bottom of my birthing bed, so the baby could be delivered.  Because I kept pushing without many breaks, the doctor asked if I stayed active during my pregnancy.  Um, I hate to admit it, but I fell off the 'healthy' wagon midway through the pregnancy.  lol.

Jeff got to watch the baby crown.  When I asked him what it looked like, he said that he saw a lot of hair, and it looked like when you have shampoo in your hair, all wet and mashed up.  The doctor held up a small mirror so I could get a glimpse of the crowning as well.  It was pretty amazing.

After 15 more minutes of pushing, baby Caitlin arrived at 7:30pm!

The ob cut the umbilical cord since it was around Caitlin's neck, then let Jeff cut the umbilical cord stump shorter since we previously requested for Jeff to cut the cord.  Caitlin was immediately placed onto my chest while nurses came in and dried her off.  I remember thinking how "odd" it felt, for something so warm and wet to lay on me, and it moves!
I overheard the nurses saying that the baby looked "big" and maybe was an "8 or 9 pounder".  (we later learn they were terribly off).  

Not long after the delivery, they had Caitlin try nursing and Caitlin nursed like a pro!  What a relief.  I have heard horror stories of people taking several hours to try and get their baby to learn how to latch (and ultimately giving up), so I was expecting the worst.

Finally, the nurse measured and bathed Caitlin.  Caitlin weighed a measly 6 pounds 1oz and measured at 19 inches long.

Jeff picked up chicken wings and burger and fries from the cafeteria for us to enjoy for dinner.  Both were so delicious but maybe it was because it was my first meal after not eating for 23 hours.  And despite all the excitement of having a baby, Jeff still remembered to pick up a slice of pie to celebrate Pi day!

After I finished eating dinner, we packed up our stuff and migrated from the birthing suite to my private postpartum maternity suite.  The suites seemed so much like a hotel room, that I actually kept forgetting I was in a hospital.  In my dazed and confused state, I kept thinking Jeff and I were in a hotel room on vacation somewhere, but for some reason, my body hurt, we were sleep deprived, and there was a newborn baby bumming it in our room.  =)

The happy family