Monday, October 31, 2011

happy halloween!!!

Hope everyone has a spooky day!  
If you've never had the pleasure of watching an episode of "Check It Out" with Dr. Steve Brule, you should definitely start with this little clip now.  For your halloween.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

the day before it snowed.

it snowed in NYC!  what?!  I'm so sad that we didn't have a proper autumn here.  andrew, lua and i head to the midwest tomorrow...hopefully we can find the fall there.

friday the family headed to soho to do some shopping with some coupons we had saved.  we usually steer clear of soho, because of all the tourists (that being said:  come and visit us any time!) and because we don't have enough moolah to just "head down to soho for some shopping".  can we drop a few dollars at H&M?  ya.  Nordstroms?  nope.  i'm not even sure that's how you spell 'Nordstroms'.  my spell checker is no help either.  at this point, i'd also like to say how disappointed i am with pearl river trading company...or rather, with everyone who told me to go there because it was so cheap.  come on, people!  $15.50 for an owl mug...?  I mean, it was way cute, but...not in an actor&mom's budget :( sometimes it sucks to live in nyc.  i bet i could find this mug at the thrift store in Aurora, NE for 50 cents.

we did pick up some cute onsies, though!
the corn onesie is from a stand we passed on our way to dinner.  this nice man and his wife are trying to launch their printing business and have such cute, nature-y prints.  fruits, veggies and bugs!  check them out here.

hopefully the snow doesn't follow us to Wisconsin or Nebraska and we can enjoy some more walks before winter!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


...from over the moon :)

1. bathtime!  lu loves baths.  we've been getting in the bathtub with her...anyone else do this?  as long andrew and i are both home, it makes for a really easy time.  and i get to shower. sweet.
2. eating oranges in bed.  oranges and grapefruit remind me of my dad.  when we were kids, he would peel - and i mean PEEL - the entire fruit for us, leaving just the shiny, plump insides.
3. homemade gifts :)  my mom sent out dried pears, nuts, chocolate and homemade jam from the Nebraska garden as a thankyou gift for our midwives.  homemade gifts are the best!  
the other photo is of my favorite gelato.  sea salt and caramel. found it at stop and shop.  to save money, andrew and i make a monthly trip out of the city with a zipcar where groceries are cheaper and i look forward to getting gelato every time!
4. beetle sleeping.  she sleeps a ton i am amazed.  and thankful.
5. she also cries :(  but not much.  and still looks cute when she's doing it :)
6. mama and papa snuggling. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Last Sunday, we woke up early, packed the car and headed out to the Queens County Farm Museum.  I was so much more excited than Andrew because - and I think this is going to become a yearly tradition - every fall I get a serious hankerin' for a maize maze, some apple cider and a goat or two...and the Queens County Farm (even though it's in the middle of a subdivision) provided all of those things.

Lua slept the entire time, but there were toddlers running around - tripping over pumpkins - reminding me that next year Lu will be trippin' over pumpkins too :)

After the fun at the farm, we headed back to Uncle Buster's (Aaron's) to watch football and carve pumpkins.  Check out the mini-cheese head one of the crew of Anything Goes got for Beetle!

Dolanator made pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies, BeccaH made cranberry bars and we feasted on home-dried pears and apples from my folks! Yummmmm!

Hope everyone is enjoying the fall as much as we are :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I heart today

Yesterday, while getting ready to go to my 6 week postpartum checkup, I threw out my back:( carrying the beetle, of all things! And because we're going on vacation next week, Andrew smartly forced me to stay in bed all day today. Most people love days like this, but I usually HATE them. I get so bored. There are so many things to do (especially when you're about to go on vacation)!!! Andrew was able to stay home from the matinee, though, and what was going to be a torturous day in bed turned into a cozy, cuddly day with my babes:) full of donuts from donut planet, a new iPad and a few episodes of the show Parenthood (so good!). I hope my back is healed soon...but until then, I'll cuddle the beetle happily:)

Monday, October 24, 2011

yes, i encapsulated my placenta.

my placenta was encapsulated with love by PushLoveDoula, London King.  pictured above: umbilical cord dried into a heart, placenta "happy pills", placenta print (partially visible underneath other gifts)

so many people were totally weirded out that i decided to eat my placenta(yes, even my husband at first), but when i looked at the possible benefits:

balance your system
replenish depleted iron
give you more energy
lessen bleeding postnatally
been shown to increase milk production
help you have a happier postpartum period
hasten return of uterus to pre-pregnancy state
be helpful during menopause

and weighed them against the risks:

virtually none

...i decided that there was really no reason not to :)  and, the pills really did help with my energy level.  i also noticed - afterward, of course - that on the days when i forgot to take them, i was more of an emotional wreck that normal.  

maybe it's a passing fad ... i've done a lot of research since lua's birth and most science shows that there is no biological "need" to eat your placenta.  they also smell awful.  like a wet dog.  yuck.  heck, how am i even supposed to know - this being my first birth - if they worked?!  

to be honest, i probably decided to do it because the whole cycle of life thing is a cool idea and i was pretty sure it wasn't going to kill me, so, why not?  if you have had a difficult postpartum period, or are nervous that you'll have PPD, i would highly recommend encapsulation, though.  like i said before, the benefits far outweigh the risks :)  you can read more about it here

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

one month old Beetle.

That's right, folks, Beetle is one month old!  We took a trip to the pediatrician and what was a 9 pound, 21.5 inch baby has been transformed, by the miracle of breast milk, into a 10.1 pound, 22.3 inch baby!

Time is just flying by.  Andrew actually said today, "I want another baby...I miss when she was little."  Wow.  I would've clocked him a good one had I not thought the exact thing the day before.  Where did that little baby time go?  And she wasn't even that little to begin with!

Top 5 Things Lua is doing right now:

5. sleeping in our bed...(no, she will not sleep with us forever, but right now, it really works.  Read more about attachment parenting here.)

4. pooping up - and out of - her diaper....seriously?!  how does this phenomenon happen?  At least we know she's getting enough to eat.

3.  staying up way past bedtime...we really need to figure out our bedtime routine.  I will talk more about daddy's work in another post, but, it's almost like she waits for him to come home at 11:30, then is over tired and can't fall asleep for EVER.

2.  cooing!...hooray!  We love it.  I'm going to try and catch her in the act soon.

1.  making mommy and daddy very, very happy :)...I know, barf.  But I had to make the #1 thing pretty special and mushy, right?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

lu and the zoo.

On the first Sunday of every month, if you have a Bank of America card, you can get in to lots of cool places for free!  A few Sundays ago (after a very rough night), Uncle Buster and some friends invited me and Lu (Andrew had a show) to the Bronx Zoo.  I'd never been before and it's really worth checking out, especially if you have a BOA card :)

Lu slept the entire time, but we used her for this fun shot anyway!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Lu has so many aunts, uncles, franties and fruncles (friend + auntie...get it?), I thought I'd post some pictures of all the visits we've had :)

Lu and her Nanna :)

PushLove Doula, London King

Uncle Buster

skypin' with Papa...crazy face!
Can I just say that I love skype?!  It has been such a blessing to be able to see our parents and family who live so far away... 

fruncle Jay

fruncle ryan :)

Uncle Myles!

Frantie Becca

Uncle Gordo!

skypin' with Grammie Nan and Grampie Mel - like father, like daughter :)
Lua's very first visitor - frantie Audra :)

skypin' with the cuz - beautiful Eloise!                                         

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

birth day in full detail

laboring at home - approx. 3-5cm dialated

Friday 9.16.11

40 week check up - Asya, one of the midwives, predicts that I'm going to have the baby this weekend.  Beetle is in position and Asya says she weighs 7.5 to 8lbs. ;)

There are 4 midwives that work at the BBC - we met and had checkups with all of them.  There is one midwife on call and it's "up to baby" which midwife will attend your birth.
Sunday 9.18.11

2:39am - Andrew comes to bed (he's been working on sides for a callback). I notice that I'm feeling a little funny.  A weird anxious-y feeling.  I ignore it and go back to sleep.

9:00am -  I wake up and know "today's the day".  Andrew calls out of the show.  Feeling a little crampy.  Me, not Andrew. Nothing major, but we wake my mom up anyway and let her know somethin's-a-cookin' :)  Andrew tells me to brush my teeth, or at least use some mouthwash.

Noon -  Here we go with the contractions.  They start and do not let up.  Every 2 to 3 minutes, lasting for about a minute.  The vomiting starts.  Somehow this makes the contractions feel better.  It does not, however, help with the morning breath.  This is the first time Andrew has seen me throw up.  As close as we are (we've been married for almost 3 years), many of the "grosser" bodily functions have not been shared experiences.  To put it plainly: we have yet to fart in front of each other.  To this day.  Weird.

At some point we call both PushLoveDoula and the birth center.   As it turns out, Barri is the midwife on call today.  Barri reminds me of my mom, if my mom had a tatoo and wore chuck taylors.  She is way cool and totally the midwife I need.  

I really don't feel like getting into a car.  Really.  I don't want to.  I've become less talkative and more "moan-y".  I keep thinking to myself.  Relax.  This isn't even the hard part.  I get the distinct feeling my mom is thinking the same thing.  

Even if you know exactly what the contraction is doing -  you know its purpose, you know it is a positive sign - it doesn't take away the sucky-ness of it.  And, like most other mothers will tell you:  it is a difficult suck to describe.  Not really like a period cramp.  Or like a muscle cramp.  It's a very raw feeling and no amount of visualizing a rose opening or any type of "blooming" gave me one bit of relief.  Please see my previous post, though, and realize that I did very LITTLE to seriously prepare.

4:15pm - We decide it's time to head to the BBC.  It is a LONG drive.  Andrew had rented a zipcar earlier in the day and it just so happens that the only model available was a BMW.  Black with a tan leather interior.  I pray I don't vomit or bleed on the seats. We make our way out of the apartment building and through a small yard sale being held on the front sidewalk.  Between contractions, I can hear old Latina grandmas wishing us all luck.

6:00pm - Arrive at the BBC.  I have apparently not moved the entire drive, bracing myself between the front and back seat head rests.  Andrew said I didn't make a sound.  I don't really remember much of the drive, but apparently we hit traffic, a detour and an accident.

Barri checks me when I come in.  This is the first time I've been checked since I became pregnant.  I'm at 5cm...Woo Hoo!  I secretly think I'm almost done :)They get the tub ready for me right away - or maybe...ya.  I think I remember Barri checking me for the first time when I was already in the tub, so they must've drawn a bath right away.  I love the tub.  So much so that I will say it again.  I LOVE THE TUB.  Everything slows down and I can rest and think and rest.  Unfortunately, my labor "slows" as well.  I figure out that if I'm in the tub and I just stay very still, my contractions are further apart.  Or, maybe a more accurate way to say it is:  I figure out that whenever I move, I have a contraction.  I know that these contractions are the only way I'm going to get Beetle out and I also know that if I just moved around a little bit more, I could probably have her out sooner - but is that impetus enough for me to move my pregnant ass?  No.  I lie perfectly still and kind of want to cry when the birth assistants come in to get a heart rate on Beet. 

I should mention now that we were left pretty much alone by Barri and the birth assistants.  Unlike at a hospital, where the doctor comes in to catch the baby and is absent the rest of the time, Barri and the assistants (great name for a band, by the by) were never more than a few steps away.  But I was given the luxury of laboring in the comfort of only my mom and Andrew - without a bunch of strangers watching me try - and fail - to achieve the "push face" (see previous post).  

9:00pm - They make me get out of the tub.  This sucks.  Barri checks me again.  I've dilated to between 9 and 10cm.  Another Woo HOo! I secretly think I'm almost done :)  I labor for awhile standing up.  Something they don't tell you about labor:  there is some sort of fluid coming out of you at all times.  I am surprised to see blood on the floor.

Have I mentioned that my water hasn't broken yet?  Have I also mentioned that my brother-in-law, Buster (his nickname), is here?  Yup and yup.  I am slightly amazed that my water hasn't broken - and that Barri hasn't broken it.  You never hear about this happening at the hospital.  And Buster, my lovely Buster, who so bravely agreed to take pictures and video of the birth, is probably hiding in a corner somewhere.  "I should really apologize to him," I think.  I also think that the two birth assistants are pretty cute and make a mental note to set Buster up with one of them after I'm done.

I ask to get back into the tub, which - I can tell - no one is happy about hearing.  They're on to me.  But, they draw a bath anyway.  And I sleep in it.  Literally, I fall in and out of a really sound sleep.  Andrew starts to play my birth music.  Barri tells me that, if I feel like it, I can start pushing a little during contractions.  This feeling is glorious.  She keeps asking me if I feel the urge to push...I have to think about it...well, maybe, ya, a little.  I have no idea what I'm about to feel when my water breaks.

11:15pm - The birth assistants can't find Beetle's heart rate in the water, so they ask me to stand up.  CrapThe minute I stand up, I have an awesome contraction...I push a little...and my water breaks...

and then the URGE to push is there and it is not foolin' around.  They should not call it an urge.  I have to push.  It is involuntary.  It is not me pushing.  My body is doing the work.  I cannot move.  So, of course, Barri asks me to get out of the tub.   This is when I start to get loud.  I plead with Barri and tell her that it is just impossible for me to move right now.  I want to stand there and push my baby out.  In fact, I'm a bit flabbergasted as to why, after that last contraction, she is not out already.  I'll find out later that, had Lu been a 7 pound baby, that push would have gotten her out :)  I say, "I can't!".  Barri says, "you can do anything!".  I get out of the tub, on to the bed.  On to my back.  Barri tells me on this next contraction to push.

I push.  I remember my friend Kim telling me it feels exactly like you're pooping.   This helps.  So do Barri's fingers in my hoo-ha.  She tells me to push her fingers out.  I'm not sure how long this goes on.  I fall into a hibernation in between contractions.  I like this part better than the rest of my labor.  It may not sound like it (I'm yelling at this point), but I do.  At some point Lu's heart rate drops.  It is funny to me when Barri rubs on her head to try and get it back up.  It is also funny to me that once Barri left her alone, her heart rate was just fine :)  Even today Lua doesn't like to be messed with too much.  Barri tells me that we need to get Beetle out sooner than later.  She says it in a way that doesn't scare me at all.  I know she will come.  I know I can get her out.  They decide to hand me the end of a sheet to play tug of war with one of the birth assistants.  This helps and I feel like I'm getting somewhere.  Everyone is saying that they can see her head.  I ask how much can they see.  Andrew makes an OK sign with his fingers.  Shit.  Really?!? Only that much?  Jeeze.  I maybe sort of lose a little bit of hope at this point.  I can hear Buster cheering me on and realize again what a trooper he is for signing up to video tape his sister-in-law's vagina open up to the size of a small melon.  I reach down to feel Beetle's hair, but can't distinguish between what is hers and what is mine.  More pushing.  About now is when Barri begins prying me open with every contraction.

Midnight - Finally, I get her head almost out, then have to wait until I have another contraction (with Lu's big ol' noggin just sitting there, holding me open) to get the rest of her head out.  My only regret comes now:  When Barri asks me to reach down and pull out my baby, I say no.  I am wild at this point and want nothing more than to be done with this birth.  She slips Lua out and lays her on my belly.  She turns pink right away and doesn't cry.

Next time, I will try to slow this moment down.  Savor it a bit more.  I'll know that the hard part is over.  I'll remember that once the head is out it's time to relax and enjoy the last few seconds of birth.  The first thing I notice is how perfect she looks.  Not like a normal, waxy, pointy newborn.  She is clean and plump with a round, round head :)  And that beauty mark.  It is the first feature I notice.  Andrew notices it first, too.  How pretty she is.

Lua Delancy Cao, born at 12:25am on 9.19.11 weighing 9lbs. and 21.5inches long.
lu with her daddy, just after birth

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

becoming a rockstar birther.

*warning:  this post contains links to videos of labor and other "mommy and daddy only" videos.  also, i speak pretty candidly about my birthing experience and use some "mommy and daddy only" language*

i was made to be a mom.  only two weeks in - with my beetle sleeping sweetly on the couch and the inevitable ending credit Grey's Anatomy monologue, complete with sappy love montage on the tv - i was made to do this.  days of cuddling and cooing and long afternoon naps with beetle on my chest...riiiiiight.

i'm writing this now, because this is the first time my hands have been free all day.  all. day.  It's 10pm and I haven't showered, am still in my pjs and lu hasn't let me stop holding/nursing her all day.  all day.  not kidding.  this is not what i expected...none of it is.  

let us begin with lua's birth.  

because i was adamantly against all drugs/intervention during labor (i actually contemplated doing a freebirth),  andrew and i decided to go to a free-standing birth center.  andrew did the research and found the BBCi am still amazed at his trust and willingness to jump on the "natural, normal childbirth" bandwagon, having never encountered it before.  thanks, babe:) the Brooklyn Birthing Center happens to be the only free-standing (meaning it's not connected physically to a hospital) birth center in NYC.   all the ladies there rock my socks and i owe most of the pride i feel in myself to them. yay for warm and fuzzies.  

anyhoot. we find the birth center, 41 weeks go by and i am totally comfortable and ready to sneeze little beetle out in a tub, or at home, or on the subway (how many hits do you think that would get on youtube?!?  there's always next time, i suppose) and make my way home for a long nap. 

ok.  maybe i was a little too confident in my birthing abilities.

looking back, there are a few things that i did to "prepare" for normal/natural birth that should have been replaced with other, more realistic things.   i could've signed up for a hypnobirthing class, read my bradley method books, met with other expecting moms, meditated more...instead...

things i did to prepare for childbirth:

1.  purchased a color coordinated "labor outfit" and tried it all on to see if it would flatter my curves- Ha!  I ended up wearing this old sports bra the whole time.
 2.  practiced my "push face" in the mirror.  i did this quite a few times, actually. i imagined a face that was serene, yet focused.  a face that, if it had a name, the name would mean: beautiful warrior.  you know the face.  the braveheart face.  sadly, from the few photos i've seen, i was never able to accomplish this well-rehearsed "push face".  I could've won as a contestant on Who's More Grizzled, though.

3.   did a dry run of my labor day make-up and hair.  i was supposed to look like a supermodel who just finished a P90x workout, instead i looked like uma thurman in pulp fiction - the overdose scene?  ya. bingo.

in a nutshell, i imagined my birth would be something like this. it was, instead, as i remember it, more like this.  there was a lot of yelping, cussing, pleading, moaning and wanting to NoT MoVE. there was only one point at which I didn't think I could go on and surprisingly only one time did I cry at andrew, "you have NO idea what i'm going through!". i remember loving the water and loving that my mom was there (i had originally been nervous about this - i love you, mom!)and i remember feeling like my body had taken over and i was just along for the ride...

BUT... i did it.  after 12 hours of labor and only one hour of pushing, lua delancy met her rockstar mama for the first time.  

i rocked.  andrew was so good at reminding me of this during the hard parts - i pushed all 9 pounds of lu out the way i wanted to. the only intervention i had was what felt like my oh-so-cool midwife doing this to my nether-region in an effort to get lua's big ol' noggin out.

i am so proud and astounded that i was able to finish something so difficult.  if only that was the only difficult part about being a parent!

p.s. - i know there are lots of moms out there who'd like to hear all the nitty gritty details about lua's birth, so I'll be writing a more detailed description in a later post.  check back soon!

p.p.s - if you have a minute, please friend the Brooklyn Birthing Center on Facebook!