14w6d Dear Baby Z

Dear Baby Z,

I can hardly believe that tomorrow, you will be 4 months old!  And in just one week, Dad and I will find out whether you are a little boy or a little girl.  We can’t wait!  It’s funny – I’ve been convinced for the past few months that you are a little boy, but for the past few days, I’ve been picturing you as a little girl growing in my belly.  Speaking of growing, Baby Z, I think I felt you move for the first time this week!  Your movements are not noticeable to the outside world yet – not even to your Dad – but I can feel you ever-so-slightly swimming in there, usually in the evenings.  I’m humbled and amazed each time I feel your little flutter.  Your Dad gets a little jealous that only I can feel you and I always reassure him that you will make your presence known to him soon enough, but secretly, I love that for now, your periodic swimming lessons are something special that only you and I share.  I hope this is only the beginning of many special moments that we will share together in the years to come.

I’ve been thinking a lot about you and me this week – mainly, what kind of person will you think I am, and what kind of Mom will I be to you (other than a kickass one).  Will you think that I’m funny?  Smart?  Strict?  Boring? Silly?  Will you like my cooking?  Will you hate it?  Will I embarrass you in front of your friends?  Will you think I nag too much?  Don’t nag at all?  Will you want me to be your friend?  Your confidant?  Will you, heaven forbid, want to call me by my first name, like I see so many kids do nowadays?  (Actually, I’m ruling this last possibility out right now.  Whether you like it or not, you will call me ‘Mom’ or ‘Mommy’ and that’s that.  I’m not carrying all 1000 pounds of you in me for nine months for you to call me by name as though I’m like everyone else. I’ve earned the Mommy title, darnit!)

Truth be told, I don’t know what kind of Mom I will be either.  Will I be strict or lax?  I have no idea.  Will I embarrass you in front of your friends?  Probably.  Will I nag too much or not at all?  Hopefully the latter, but your Dad will tell you not to bet on it.  I have a general idea of the kind of parent I wish and hope to be, but there’s no way of telling how the cookie will crumble when push comes to shove.  So Baby Z, this journey will be as much of a discovery process for me as it will be for you.  I already know that I’m going to make a ton of mistakes.  Maybe this is un-Mommy-like of me to admit, but I’m really dreading changing your diapers, waking up many times in the middle of the night to feed you from my body (I don’t even know how this is going to work), and doing your laundry multiple times in a day.  And Lord help me if you’re a huge crier.  I don’t do very well with tears and/or loud noises.  I’m also super clumsy, and I’m already having some nightmares about accidentally sitting on you or dropping you.  It’s going to be a miracle if you make it past your first month.

I guess all that I can promise you is that I will do my best to not screw you up too much.  And although I may never learn to love doing your laundry or changing your diaper (but c’mon, who likes handling poop!?), I’m hoping that I have lots of other redeeming qualities that you’ll come to appreciate.  For one, I think your Mom is a pretty good cook.  I know your diet will consist mainly of liquids for a while, but I am really looking forward to the day when I can make you a special meal of your favorite foods.  I already know the very first food that I want to introduce you to:  Snickerdoodle cookies!  They are my favorite – simple, unadorned, sweet, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a hint of delicious cinnamon.

That’s my hope for you too – sugar and spice and everything nice.

I love you, Snickerdoodle baby of mine.



14w5d Kids are expensive

So yesterday’s post on baby essentials really got me thinking about the cost of raising a child in today’s times.  I did some digging this morning and the results should come as no surprise…kids are freaking expensive.

According to a 2011 U.S. Department of Agriculture report on children’s expenditures, it costs a middle-income dual-parent family approximately $235,000 to raise a child from birth-17 (not including college costs).  That’s a 3.5 percent increase from 2010, and 23 percent more than it cost to raise kids in 1960.  Families living in the urban Northeast area (that’s us) tend to have the highest child-rearing expenses, followed by those in the urban West and the urban Midwest. Those living in the urban South and rural areas face the lowest costs.  To raise a child in New York City (us again) or Boston, the average cost is $270,000. Rural families spend $184,000, on average.

Interestingly enough, the cost per kid decreases as you have more children.  The USDA report found that families with three or more children spend 22 percent less per child than those with two children.

So I guess having babies is like going to Costco – it’s better to have them in bulk.  Don’t tell J this – he’s already angling me for more kids, and Baby Z is not even 4 months old in my belly yet.

Baby Center also created an interesting interactive on the cost of raising a child (http://www.babycenter.com/cost-of-raising-child-calculator), in which you can calculate your own personal costs of raising a kid based on your location, income level, and whether you’ll pay for your kid’s college education (and if so, private or public).

I did a quick calculation for me and J, and below is our cost for raising Baby Z from birth to college.   Just in the first 2 years alone, we’ll be spending approximately $22,090 on the kid.

Seriously, is it too late to ask for a refund on Baby Z or cash him in for a Ferrari instead?


14w4d Babies need a lot of sh*t

So J and I started an Excel sheet to keep track of all the baby stuff we will need to purchase over the next few months to prepare for Baby Z’s arrival, and um, babies need a lot of stuff!!!  Call me naive, but I thought that all Baby Z would need is me (or more specifically, my chest) and lots of love.


Below is what I’ve compiled from various sources as the “absolute list of baby essentials”.   Right now the only thing we have checked off this list is…one baby hat.  (Hey, it’s a darn cute hat.)

I guess it’s a good thing Baby Z is not arriving until the new year; J and I need all the time we can get to prepare!

Baby Furniture and Accessories
Baby crib
Baby changer
Baby carrier or sling
Baby monitor
3 waterproof mattress covers
4 fitted cribsheets
4 light blankets that fit in the crib
Sleep sack
Diaper bag
Rattles and other baby toys
Night light

Nursing/feeding pillow
Bottles (6 to 12) – 4 oz and 8 oz
Bottle brushes (2)
Breast pump
Breast milk bags
Burping cloths

Sleeping and Play
Bouncy seat
Play mat/gym
Swaddling blankets
Wearable blankets

Bulb syringe
Digital thermometer
Baby-friendly laundry detergent
Baby nail scissors or clippers

Diaper cream
Unscented baby wipes

Baby shampoo
3 soft-hooded towels
12 washcloths, not used on baby’s bottom
1 plastic infant tub (or use a large dishpan in the sink, or take baby in the bath with you)
Baby soap or cleanser

8 undershirts or onesies (mix of short-sleeve and long-sleeve)
8 one-piece stretchy sleepers
5 nightgowns (for use until the cord falls off)
1-3 rompers or other dress-up outfits
4-7 socks or booties (shoes are unnecessary until baby walks)
1-3 hats (broad-brimmed for summer baby, soft cap that covers ears for winter baby)
2 pairs of scratch mittens, to keep baby from scratching his face

14w3d Belly Flutters

I know I’m not supposed to feel Baby Z kick until somewhere between 16-22 weeks, but I swear that I am feeling him move already!  Each night this past weekend, I’ve been feeling a fluttering sensation in my belly that would last a few seconds every now and then for a few minutes.  It feels like butterflies fluttering – not quite like gas, but more akin to a light swishing, rippling feeling right above my pelvic bone area in my lower abdomen.

The sensation is amazing, like a little miracle.  It makes having a baby in there all the more real to me.  I can’t wait until he’s big enough to truly kick me in a few weeks! (Hmm…I don’t think that came out right.)

On another note, J and I finally decided that we’re going to proceed with getting an amniocentesis in a couple of weeks.  Even though the doctors put us at 1 in 10,000 for risk of Downs, we would still like the peace of mind of knowing that we did everything we could to find out if Baby Z is at risk for any chromosomal abnormalities.

I’ve been reading up on the procedure, and I’m really nervous.  It looks both painful and scary… gulp.

14w2d Baby Body Update

This week’s baby body stats:

*How far along: 15 weeks!  Two more weeks until we find out Baby Z’s gender!

*Weight: 120 pounds.  +1 since last week.

*How I’m feeling:  Surprisingly…pretty great!  The baby experts are right – I’m definitely starting to have more energy and feel less like a zombie now that I’m in my second trimester.  Although these days I’ve been getting less zzz’s for a whole new reason – the Summer 2012 Olympics!  Go US women’s gymnastics team!

*Cravings:  I had a serious craving for sushi earlier this week.  *Sob*  Oh spicy white tuna and avocado rolls, how I miss you.

*Emotions:  Still up and down.  I was really weepy at the beginning of the week – the Olympic commercials paying tribute to athletes’ mothers are not helping this mom stay dry-eyed.  But then who am I kidding?  These days I sob watching the Proactive infomercials.  Those poor girls with bad skin.

*Sleep:  Other than not getting enough of it because J and I both have Olympic fever, I’m totally out like a light the moment my head hits the pillow.  Still waking up to pee a lot though.  Sigh.

*Belly thoughts:  I’m enormous.  I know I said that my belly “popped out” last week, but now my belly has REALLY popped out.  I’ve been wearing my brand-new belly band every day this week and can no longer imagine life without it.  I’m hoping to put off buying maternity pants for as long as possible.

*Dreams:  Still having unpleasant dreams…and still mainly about Henry!  😦  A couple of nights ago I dreamed that Henry and I were lost in the woods (even though we live in Manhattan, for heaven’s sake.  What woods?).  Henry decided to leave me behind to join a wild wolf pack.  The traitor.

*Thought of the week:  Please Lord, please don’t let Baby Z turn out to be a douchebag (pardon my language) like Ryan Lochte.  I really don’t want to go on national television just to say, “My son only has time for one night stands.”  Amen.

*Special Moments:  Earlier this week, when I was standing on a crowded subway train on my way to work, I heard the woman standing next to me say to her teenage son, “Can’t you see that lady is pregnant?  Get up and give your seat to her!”  Without missing a beat, I immediately sat down and was in the midst of saying “Thank you” — when I realized that there was a very, very obviously pregnant woman standing right next to where I was standing – and that was who the woman meant to give her son’s seat to…not me.   Red-faced and horrified, I got up and gave my seat to her while everyone looked at me as though I was insane for pretending to be pregnant.  I guess I’m not as obviously pregnant to the outside world as I think I am 😦

14w1d Weekly Obsessions

I haven’t started shopping for Baby Z yet because I’m determined to hold off until we find out Baby Z’s gender in 2.5 weeks, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been window shopping…

Here are just a few things that I’m obsessing over this week:

Where the Wild Things Are slippers 

Lion baby costume – although I can’t tell if it’s the costume or the baby that’s making me squeal with cuteness overload.

Piglet ensemble – I heart Winnie the Pooh

Asian baby…hat – I wants the baby and I wants the hat.  In that order.

14w0d music in the womb

Your baby’s the size of a navel orange!

Your growing baby now measures about 4 inches long, crown to rump, and weighs in at about 2 1/2 ounces (about the size of an navel orange). She’s busy moving amniotic fluid through her nose and upper respiratory tract, which helps the primitive air sacs in her lungs begin to develop. Her legs are growing longer than her arms now, and she can move all of her joints and limbs. Although her eyelids are still fused shut, she can sense light. If you shine a flashlight at your tummy, for instance, she’s likely to move away from the beam! There’s not much for your baby to taste at this point, but she is forming taste buds.  You probably can’t feel it yet, but she’s squirming a ton!  Her joints and limbs can all move now. (Source: The Bump and BabyCenter)

I had an interesting conversation with one of my aunts last night on the benefits of classical music for fetal development.  For years, I’ve heard a web of anecdotal evidence from friends and family members (and literally, the web) that listening to classical music during pregnancy can boost your baby’s intelligence, creativity, and/or later mental development.  Although I’ve always been skeptical of these benefits, now that I’m pregnant with Baby Z, I’m starting to explore these claims a little more seriously since, you know, what mom wouldn’t want to give her kid a head start in life?   If our poor baby is already doomed to inherit J’s nose and my Hobbit feet, I may as well try my best to at least make Baby Z as smart as possible.

I started digging on the internet for research on music and pregnancy, and this is what I found:

Music and fetal development:

  • In essence, the jury is still out on music and fetal development.  According to BabyCenter:  “No one knows for sure. There are studies indicating that fetuses can hear and react to sound by moving. But no one really knows what those movements mean, since experts can’t observe an unborn baby as easily as they could one who is out of the womb.”
  • A few more cautious doctors suggest that an unborn baby’s physical reactions (heart rates, movements) to music may stem from discomfort rather than comfort. (Early Pregnant Tests)
  • However, new research supports what mothers have long believed, that babies in the womb hear what’s going on outside. Even more intriguing, there is evidence that babies may share in their mothers’ emotions.  In fact, from at least the 23rd week on, a preborn baby’s hearing is developed enough to enable him to respond to outside noise. Babies seem agitated by rock music, kicking violently when they hear it and are calmed by classical music. Even the five-month-old fetus has been found to have discriminating musical ears. In one study, kicking babies calmed to the sounds of Vivaldi but became agitated in response to Beethoven. (Ask Dr. Sears)

Music, stress and expectant mothers:

  • We don’t completely understand the effects of stress on pregnancy. But certain stress-related hormones may play a role in causing certain pregnancy complications. Serious or long-lasting stress may affect your immune system, which protects you from infection. This can increase the chances of getting an infection of the uterus. This type of infection can cause premature birth. (March of Dimes)
  • Some studies show that high levels of stress in pregnancy may cause certain problems [for your baby later on in life], like having trouble paying attention or being afraid. It’s possible that stress may also affect your baby’s brain development or immune system.  (March of Dimes)
  • Music may reduce the stress, anxiety, and depression that many pregnant women experience. A study of 236 pregnant women in Taiwan shows that the participants who listened to music for 30 minutes per day for two weeks significantly reduced their stress, anxiety, and depression, compared with participants who did not. (WebMD)

I am a little embarrassed to admit this, but even before I did the above research, I’ve already used our dog as a guinea pig to test the classical musical effect.  Every morning when J and I leave for work, we would set the stereo to softly play some light classical music for Henry.  Our poor dog has been listening to Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Vivaldi every Monday-Friday for the past two years.  Even sadder, I don’t think Henry is any smarter than he was two years ago (unless he was really, really, really dumb to begin with) so the Mozart effect has no bearing whatsoever on babies of the canine variety ;p  However, I must say that every time J and I turn out the classical music station, Henry now knows that we’re leaving him alone in the house…and gets really sad.  Aww.  But interestingly enough, he’s actually less anxious when we prepare him for our departure with classical music than if we just left the house without any warning, in which case he’d whine and howl.

Just call me Pavlov.

Anyway, I think the conclusion for this expectant mom on music and human baby development is:  while playing classical music may not make Baby Z smarter or turn him/her into a musical genius, music may play a role in soothing my emotions and stress levels, which in turn can have beneficial effects on Baby Z’s development.  (If that’s the case, Baby Z, whether you like or not, you’re in for a lot of 80’s soft rock and Broadway show tunes, because that’s what relaxes your Mom!  I apologize to you in advance.)

As for whether or not I’ll also be playing some Vivaldi and Mozart for Baby Z on occasion, I think…why not?  If Baby Z can hear what’s going on outside of my belly, it makes sense to me that by exposing him to some calming classical tunes while he’s in there may have the same calming effects on him when he’s out since it’ll provide him with familiar sounds and noises.  Plus, J and I (and we think Henry too) happen to like Vivaldi and Mozart too.  Our entire family can be soothed together!

Sidenote:  If you do decide to play music just for your unborn baby (via headphones or just a speaker near your belly), Baby Center experts suggest that:  “You should limit it to no more than an hour a day, since the music is up close and may overstimulate the baby.  Amniotic fluid is actually a good conductor of sound.  If you choose the stereo, don’t pump up the volume higher than 70 decibels — about as loud as background music at the store — because that may hurt or startle the baby, says Rosalie Pratt, a professor of music medicine at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  Mozart’s symphonies are excellent, says Pratt, because they have the right mix of new sounds and repetition, which she believes babies may enjoy. But, she adds, most anything will do, as long as the music isn’t discordant like some of the rap, grunge, or hard rock songs played on today’s pop stations.”