Sunday, April 30, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]
Tonight, we started reading Tom Sawyer. Or rather, I started reading it ... to my wife's belly, with my cat in attendance. Our nightly ritual includes playing a recording of "La Ronde des Légumes" into maman's belly, maman and papa singing the Benjamin song to the tune of Frère Jacques, and a chapter from whatever children's book we're currently reading. My cat, whose name is Bones, shows up as soon as he hears the Légumes song. He expects to have his head scratched, but he seems to stick around just for the family get-together time. His constant audience has gotten him into the lyrics of Benjamin's song, with the words changing from night to night, depending on whether he seems to be there to sing (Il veut chanter aussi), to get his head scratched (Il veut être graté), or to make trouble (Quel vilain! Quel vilain!).

Here he is before we know which lyrics he will inspire:

30 weeks

[posted by bkmarcus]

Maman at 30 weeks

Friday, April 28, 2006

we're getting there

[posted by bkmarcus]

Nursery? Walls painted, floor finished.

Crib? Assembled, which is harder than it sounds, especially at the end of a long day of painting.

Stroller with car seat? Check and check, also assembled, which was easy, but I still managed to draw blood getting the wheels on.

- papa

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Right on target

[posted by Nat]
So the beginning of the 3rd trimester came and I didn't post. I meant to, but school is eating my time right now. It's not like I didn't notice the beginning of the 3rd trimester because it ushered in new pregnancy symptoms and the return of 1st trimester symptoms that had pretty much faded to almost nothing. Like clockwork. My body's calendar said: "Oh? 3rd trimester starts today? Have some nausea in the morning after breakfast. Oh, and have some Braxton Hicks contractions that you can really feel." These contractions, also known as "practice contractions" are more or less painless (I sometimes feel light cramping for a minute), but make my belly as hard as a rock and can be pretty uncomfortable. On a few occasions, we've been walking and I've had to stop to sit, once we even went home. I talked to the doctor about this Thursday and she said it was normal -- as long as I don't have more than four in an hour (which has not been the case -- I might have one or two and it's not every hour). She also implied that over-exertion can set them off, so I wonder if my lack of sleep during the week has been a trigger -- along with some of Benjamin's more uncomfortable kicks.

(I just googled "Braxton Hicks" to put the link above and it's interesting how different the descriptions can be. Compare the one BabyCenter offers to the one I chose above. My symptoms are closer to the one from In fact, the BabyCenter one would have worried me if I had read it before going to the doctor's.)

Not only are my symptoms right on target, but so is my weight and so is my fundal height, meaning that Benjamin is growing exactly as he should (and as I write this he just kicked or punched me in the belly button). Benjamin's heart is banging away -- by the far the loudest we've heard it, but it's hard to tell if it's because of his size or the volume of the equipment. (His estimated size, according to the iVillage pregnancy calendar and BabyCenter is 14.5 to 15 inches from head to toe, weighing in at about 2.5 to 3 lbs).

This visit I also got a Rh immune globulin shot. My blood type is A-, meaning that I lack the Rhesis factor protein that 80 to 95% of people have. It is likely that Benjamin is Rh positive (Brian doesn't remember if he's positive or negative), so I need a shot at 28 weeks and then one after delivery to keep my blood from becoming Rh-sensitive, which could create complications in a future pregnancy because my immune system would attack the Rh protein in a fetus's blood, causing Rh-disease. (Thanks to modern medicine, I think it now mainly means that I would have to get lots of shots during pregnancy to protect the fetus from my antibodies.)

It was strange getting a shot in my hip. As I stood there I suddenly had a very vivid memory of getting a booster shot at the pediatrician's when I was maybe 10 or 11. It hurt a lot (this one did not -- must be more muscle and fat there to buffer the pain) and I was sick the next day (I remember being in music class in the old gym and feeling like my head was on fire and wanting to vomit). I don't think this shot made me sick, though I was very tired yesterday (what else is new?).

At some point I'm going to write about how so many pregnancy experiences -- body changes in particular -- seem to be lessons in empathy to prepare me for the new baby. As adults we forget what it felt like to grow, we have a sense of how our bodies work and how they are balanced, but pregnancy wipes the slate clean and reminds you what it feels like to be a Weeble that can fall down.

- maman

Thursday, April 20, 2006

pumpkin heart ~ 29 weeks

[posted by bkmarcus]

(Or download here.)


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Learners Dictionary

[posted by bkmarcus]
I realize this is a few years too early, but because we plan to homeschool Benjamin, I keep my eyes open for good resources.

Here's one that says it's for teenagers and newcomers to English, but given the prevailingly slack standards, I wouldn't be surprised if it's actually more appropriate to a bright kid still in his single digits:

- papa

Monday, April 17, 2006

one ... two ... two and a half ...

[posted by bkmarcus]


[posted by bkmarcus]

Boredom could be good for children

Riazat Butt
Thursday April 13, 2006
The Guardian

It was Friedrich Nietzsche who wrote "Against boredom the gods themselves fight in vain". Although the musings of the German philosopher will certainly be lost on the millions of schoolchildren over the Easter holiday, their parents can find comfort in his words as they struggle to keep their kids entertained for a fortnight.

An academic has set out to prove that boredom - far from being a bad thing - is a naturally occurring emotion that should not be suppressed.

(via LRC)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

third trimester

[posted by bkmarcus]

Maman at the beginning of the third trimester (28 weeks).

Overlay of 19 and 28 weeks.


[posted by bkmarcus]

At the local Macy's, the maternity department is right next to the children's clothes. While shopping for maman's new professorial pregnancy outfits, I'd wander through the aisles of the children's section, causing several nervous-looking mothers to pull their children closer to them.

I hated most of the boys clothes I found and almost all the girls clothes. (We didn't yet know that the pumpkin was a Benjamin and not a Sophie.)

I found a really great set of rocketship boys pajamas with feet, probably in the right size for Benjamin come winter. I also found a little black outfit with subtle pink ribbons for a girl. I asked Nathalie if we could come back to the store once we knew the baby's sex. But by the time we returned, they'd changed everything. No more winter peejays. Now everything was baby springwear and Easter outfits.

I really want some rocketship jamies for my baby boy.

- papa

geek dad 2:25

[posted by bkmarcus]
The Creative Commons license doesn't allow me to edit the audio I wanted to share from this episode of the great science fiction short story audio magazine Escape Pod, so instead I have to suggest you just listen to the first 2 minutes and 25 seconds.

If you're interested in Escape Pod itself, I don't recommend you start with this episode. Instead I'd recommend Imperial, Robots and Falling Hearts, or L'Alchimista. Or if you don't have much time, you can look through the list of flash fiction (short short stories).

(And if you don't understand why this post is on a baby blog, it just means you haven't yet listened to the first 2:25.)

- papa


Monday, April 10, 2006

there are 2 'N's in beNjamiN

[posted by bkmarcus]
but only one 'N' in the alphabet:

- papa

Sunday, April 09, 2006


[posted by Nat]
On Friday one of my students asked if she could ask when Benjamin is due. I told her yes and was about to just give the date when I realized that he is due in 3 months (from Saturday, yesterday).

3 months! It both seems very close and very far away. I feel like I've been pregnant a long time, but I am also not quite ready to have Benjamin out of his nice warm pocket. Part of it is that the semester has been tough and that I am constantly struggling to catch up with grading, so I'm tired. Tired enough to take a nap Saturday afternoon even though I slept 8 or 9 hours Friday night.

I am also enjoying (mostly) this new stage of pregnancy. Over the last month I have been able to feel Benjamin move more and more. He doesn't quite have a pattern yet, but he's getting there. Of course, I had hoped that this would help to allay my fears and most of the time it does, but sometimes it's quite the opposite. For example, after that first strong (and slightly scary) kick he gave his papa last week, Benjamin's movement seemed to calm. A lot. No big kicks for days. And fewer squirms. By Thursday night I was beginning to wonder if something was wrong. My imagination took over and as I brushed my teeth the absolute worst scenario was passing through my mind. I started to cry. And then, as I stood there in front of the sink, foamy tooth brush in hand, I felt a few gentle pops at the base of my uterus. I'd never felt him move while standing, it was always when sitting or in bed. I cleaned up and went to lie down on the bed and he kept squirming around. During the night I got up a few times and each time I got back into bed I could feel him moving around. Big sigh of relief. Thank you little one!

He has kept active (though less so this morning). Yesterday morning Brian and I watched cartoons in bed and he was dancing up a storm. Last night we watched Finding Neverland and he moved around quite a bit -- though I was wearing headphones, so he couldn't hear the music or the children playing, much less make the connection between the movie and Peter Pan, which Brian finished reading to us on Friday. I think he gets into positions that make it hard for me to feel his movement. Or maybe he just has less room to move. I feel and see him move mostly when his feet (and thus his head, I suppose) are to the right. My stomach quakes and quivers with each jab and pop.

I think Benjamin's finally grown into the nickname Squirmantha's dad gave him: Bam-bam.

Friday, April 07, 2006

un coup de pied dans la bouche

[posted by bkmarcus]
I guess I need to explain the image. When I used an earlier version of it here, some people couldn't tell what it was. It's a footprint on a pregnant belly. It's based on this photograph, which may or may not be doctored already.

What I should immediately point out about this new version is that it's hard to find an iconic kissy symbol that doesn't look feminine -- doesn't, in fact, look like a lipstick mark.

I don't wear lipstick, and no lipstick-wearing woman has (as far as I know) been kissing Nathalie's pregnant belly.

I was just trying to make an image to go along with this announcement:

My unborn son kicked me in the mouth!

(Couldn't be more proud, can you tell?)

At our favorite cafe yesterday, the waitress asked Nathalie if the baby was kicking yet.

"Yes," I interjected, "he's kicked me in the mouth!"

She said, "Oh, yeah? What were you reading?"

I guess we're transparent.

The answer is Peter Pan, which we finished tonight. What a great book. I'll write something about it soon.

The night I got back from Charlottesville, Nathalie put my hand on her stomach and MAN OH MAN did I feel a kick!

I was shocked. It wasn't one of these gentle little thumps, either. No guesswork. Something big was just below her surface and it pushed Nathalie's belly out like a protrusion.

Freaked. Me. Out.

Reminded me of this scene in the movie Aliens. I hesitated to put this image up, but Nathalie thought it was funny.

Then for the rest of the week, I didn't feel him kick. Nathalie would grab my hand and put it to her belly, and he'd immediately stop doing whatever it was she felt him doing.

But he was squirmy tonight as we read the last chapter of Peter Pan. And once again, the boy kicked me in the mouth. It's just the greatest feeling in the world.

- papa

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]

Monday, April 03, 2006

On today's iVillage Pregnancy Calendar

[posted by Nat]
Your baby weighs about 2 pounds and is about 12 to 15 inches long, about the size of a small pot roast.

(Yes, it's an easy size reference... but they are comparing my baby to a small pot roast!? Vegetables were one thing, but this isn't even a whole animal!)

Sunday, April 02, 2006


[posted by Nat]
I never got around to posting about birth doulas, even though the "doula search" was a very important part of our trip to Cville last month. We interviewed three and, as Brian has said, the first one was "too hard" the second one was "too soft" and we had hoped the third one would be "just right", but no.

We knew (or at least I knew) from the moment she opened the door that the first one wasn't right. No smile, no welcome, stony-faced. In talking to her I got the impression she had an agenda: natural childbirth. Now I would like to have Benjamin naturally, but I also know that I have no idea how things are going to go and that if I'm in labor for 20 hours, I might want that epidural. When I said something about medication sometimes being helpful, the woman stiffened and asked "Like when?" And I don't want someone helping me who doesn't support my choices fully.

The second woman was a good communicator, but didn't have much experience. She didn't seem to have any issues about medication. She also lived far away. But she would have been a pretty good choice otherwise.

The third doula was very open and friendly, but very talkative. Choicy White Boy had told us to look out for social cues during interviews, and this woman missed them all. I had had big hopes.

So, unfortunately, none of these women were quite the right fit. In the end, however, what really clinched it is that I suddenly had... I'm not quite sure what to call it. An anxiety attack about how on earth I can keep my body private during delivery? It's hard to explain. I began to think that what I want is a dim room and my husband at my side, a nurse coming in occasionally, the doctor at the end. I've been told that when a woman goes into labor she loses all sense of modesty, that some women would leave the house naked. I've also read that women turn inwards when in labor, that what is around them fades off into the distance. But the thought right now of having someone I hardly know share this experience (with all its beauty and wonder, and pain and blood) with us is just too unsettling. I think having a new doctor is enough -- though by the time we are in the hospital, we will have seen a lot of him. I must say that although I still don't want a homebirth, I am beginning to understand why women do it: you are at home, you choose who is there, what the atmosphere is like, etc.

Now we are thinking about having a postpartum doula, someone who can help us with breastfeeding and other questions we might have once we are home. I am still a little torn about not having a birth doula, because a friend who had one was very happy with the support she got during labor, and another friend, who is in the process of hiring a birth doula, has pointed out that a doula will help you know what is "normal" during the process. It would also be nice to have someone there to support Brian -- and to bring coffee or sandwiches from Cville Coffee...

At least we have a few more months to think about this! 3 to go...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

maman @ 6 months

[posted by bkmarcus]

Nathalie is 6 months pregnant today.

Here she is at 19, 23, and 26 weeks, plus a composite:


[posted by Nat]
I woke up this morning from a rather peculiar dream. A baby dream for once. I think I had at least two during the night. I only remember a brief moment of the first one. Brian and I have put Benjamin on his stomach on the bed. He's wearing white and light blue pj's. He can lift his head up. And he proceeds to turn himself over to my delight. I am amazed, I mention that he is only two months old. Brian smiles and tells me he's been doing it all week. Apparently I've been at work during this time.

Second dream. I am in a large shower with the baby, showering while I hold her (yes, this time she's a girl) against my chest. I am thinking of what I should do if my hands get slippery and she starts to slip out of my grip. I decide that I should just sit down and protect her face from the water. Brian is around somewhere, he hears a noise and goes to investigate. I get out of the shower and wrap myself in a towel. My hair is a mess. We are not in our house. We are visiting the place Brian works for, which in the dream is this huge modern building with a dark warehouse attached to it. In the warehouse is a little house, where we are staying. If you step outside the door (you are still inside the warehouse) and look up you can see the windows into the main building. There is a reception going on and the windows (that look like they should be in an old mansion) are lit up gold. I am standing there, wrapped in a towel, holding a wet baby, when a man in a gray wool suit appears. He introduces himself as Hans, says he's looking for his hat -- which ends up being on our bed. It's a wool hat that matches his suit. He looks foreign and from another decade, but I know he is someone Brian works with. He asks if he can hold the baby, then mentions he's never held one before. I'm thinking of what to do. I want to ask him to sit down if he's going to hold the baby. I also think that I should swaddle her so that her fragile skin isn't against the wool. I go to swaddle her and realize that the nurses at the hospital never showed me how. My mother appears -- only for a second -- asks me if I know what I'm doing.

Scene change. Brian and I are in bed. The baby is now a boy and he is maybe a year old. He wants to snuggle in bed between us. I figure it's Saturday morning, why not.

New scene, same bed. Back to the first baby. Except that she's really tiny. Like a Barbie doll. I want to pick her up and I can't find her! She was in the bed a moment ago! I look everywhere. The bed morphs and becomes a bed/book shelves. I find tons and tons of pens and pencils, but no baby. I am panicking. I remind myself that this is just a dream and that I should wake up. And I wake up.

So how many times did I put our child (or children) in danger in these dreams?!