Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Birth Day

The birth story is for another day but here a few details.

Valentina Alexander was born this morning at 5:17am Buenos Aires time in her own bedroom. She weighs 7.7 pounds, has dark hair and blue eyes.

We labored for almost exactly 48 hours (yes, you read that right).

Mom, baby, daddy and Grandma Lori are all doing fine although tired. Utta stayed up through the night and kept watch from the other room. She is very anxious to get to know her new baby sister but we are taking it slow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Real Deal

Woke at 5:45 with seriously painful contractions. Ouchie! now I know why they say you'll KNOW when it really starts. The warm up contractions of the previous several days were nothing. They come every 5-10-15 minutes. Olga, the midwife says we are still in the early stage until the contractions come every 5 minutes for two hours in a row. Went on a short walk with Mom and Utta to the park, stopping to clutch a tree, a bench or mom's shoulder every contraction. Hugh is giddy and excited. Valentina is on her way....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Final ultrasound

Got another ultrasound this morning so my OB could confirm all is ok with the amniotic fluid and that we can wait a few more days. The results came back very good. She's doing well and is about 8 pounds, plenty of amniotic fluid, heartbeats normal, placenta well placed - excellent report all around. but....she can't stay in there forever. So, he wants to give me 48 hours and then Wednesday morning I will take the Prostaglandin pill to provoke the final contractions. Even though I've had two false starts (including lots of contractions last night), he says the third one is usually the charm. So we wait some more.

Rach leaves tonight on the 10pm flight. If Murphy's Law is in play at all - I will go into labor as soon as she leaves. I have given up all control or attempt and planning. This lesson is clear and undeniable. No one except Valentina is in charge.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday rain

yesterday went on three long walks and to see the new (at least for Argentina)Coen bros movie with Clooney and Pitt. I never tire of seeing Brad Pitt's face and body onscreen. Even when he's being a total goof.

Contractions all day yesterday and last night picked up intensity though still 15 minutes apart. the body is doing its thing but in no hurry. Auntie Rachel is leaving tomorrow night to take care of the hubby who threw his back out this week. Hoping this new "deadline" helps bring Valentina into the world before but I am certain this is totally out of my hands. Mom is here now too and making me soups and accompanying me on all outings.

My friend Sharon (writer and reflexology guru) is coming by this afternoon to give me another treatment.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Getting closer but...

Yesterday the contractions continued every 15 or 20 minutes. I was fatigued and a bit withdrawn, irritable. laid around alot. Mom arrived three hours late due to technical issues on the flight from Dallas but is now here and delighted to join team Babywatch. Thought for sure things would continue and progress but slept easily through the night and contractions have stopped. ugghhhhhhhhhhhh

Saw my OB Dr. Lodeiro this afternoon and yea! He said Valentina had dropped and that thanks to yesterday's contractions, I am 2 centimeters dilated. I am thrilled but know we've still got a way's to go and need to get that baby movin. Hopefully this weekend will bring more activity....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Signs of Labor????

Last night we joined Democrats Abroad and made calls to registered voters living outside the US to help them get their absentee ballots in. Rachel and I had lists of people living in Canada but registered to vote in Ohio. Hugh had a list of Americans living in Argentina. It was fun and a great distraction from Operation BabyWatch. For two hours I was just another participant in the democratic process. Everyone I talked to was thrilled to get the call and appreciated the reminder and tips on how to get their vote in. Many of the Americans I spoke to living in Toronto had already planned to send their ballot with friends or family (or drive themselves) to Ohio. I had to inform them not to do that. The govt requires a postmark from the residing country so their votes wouldn't have counted if they took that step of hand delivering the ballot in Ohio.

I started to feel some strong contractions when we got up to leave the phoning center and realized too that Valentina had made her way down south a bit more. My waddle turned to a snail like shuffle. We stopped by California Burrito Co. for dinner although I already knew there was no way I would eat spicy mexican. I drank a lemon lime soda and when we got home had a few slices of pineapple. Loss of appetite is definitely a "sign" of something. My contractions continued through the night but not close enough yet to be timed and not strong enough to warrant beasty moans or crawling around on the floor clutching support. We'll save those goodies for my mom who arrives in just a few hours!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Obama Momma

Yesterday I cast my vote at the US Embassy with an absentee ballot sent from the elections office in San Francisco. Go OBAMA!!!! Sorry Republican family members ): but your party's goin down this year.

The daily inquiries as to the status of the birth (or in this case NOT) are getting more urgent and panicky. All I can say is... CALM DOWN PEOPLE. She is taking her sweet time and I will put a blog post up as soon as something starts happening. As of today, no contractions and I feel great - lots of energy and although big as Mao Mao (the pregnant panda bear we watched on Animal Planet channel the other night), am walking lots and still doing yoga. Last night Rachel and I did 24 flights of stairs in our building (thanks for the tip Stacy!). I figure it can't hurt.

Rachel extended her trip and now has an open-ended ticket. Gracious hubbie Rey encouraged her to stay even though he and their two doggies miss her. She didn't come all this way to miss the main event so will keep me company until Miss Valentina appears. Yea!!!!

We all went to my OB appointment yesterday with Dr. Tito Lodeiro (who'll attend the birth). He said her head is still moving a bit and not yet descended into my pelvis. Dangit! So, he didn't want to ck my cervix. Obviously, we're not there yet and she is having too much fun in my belly to rush out. His only words of advice "Hay que tener paciencia" - ya gotta have patience.

Tomorrow night the three of us will volunteer on the phones with Democrats Abroad. They're very active here in Argentina and have been sending me email updates on activities these past weeks. They need people to contact expats living in Argentina who are registered to vote in Florida but haven't yet cast their absentee ballots. This will be my first volunteer effort on a presidential campaign and I'm excited to participate.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jumbo ride

The other day Rach and I went to Jumbo - BA's own big box shopping store. I hate going there as it reminds me of the parts of the US experience I don't miss - the gluttony, the bigness and waste of consuming. carries the most extensive international food section in town so we can buy fajita seasoning, corn tortilla chips and other random goodies. I made Hugh's year by picking up a jar of jalapeno peppers. He's been waiting to see them carried by Jumbo since last years sighting.

Anyway - its so big inside (think food, electronics, home furnishings and several cafes in one space, that I get exhausted and can't get out of there in less than 2 hours. This time I decided to take the crippled cart - which as I realized is actually made for people like me - limited mobility! The security guard lit up when I motioned to get onboard. Reminded me of being a kid and skidding around on the bumper cars. Only two ways to go - forward or backward. I sideswiped a few old ladies but other than that came through unscathed and with lots more energy than I've ever had at the end of a Jumbo session.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day in Argentina so as we say here "Feliz Dia del Madre!". Did I think I'd spend this day with a newborn in my arms - yes, most certainly. Valentina has other plans it seems. Today is also my official due date. Stats show that only 1 in 20 babies are born on their due date. Although I've got insomnia, no major labor pains so looks like this day will pass like the others this week - in anticipation.

What could she be waiting for?
For her auntie Rachel to arrive - no. been here almost two weeks and due to leave on Tuesday. boo hoo

For the house and her room to get in order - no. The house has been cleaned meticulously from top to bottom several times. Every time Marta comes she gives it an extra umpf just in case Valentina makes an appearance that day or the next. Pictures hung, baby swing assembled (with batteries), labor food stored (chocolate, gatorade, yogurt, teas, orange juice ice cubes). We ate through the entire pan of baked pasta Hugh made last week intended for the midwives and doctors. Today he will make batch two.

For the full moon - no. Tuesday passed with no false alarms even. The moon was nice to look at though.

To finish growing -no. She's cooked and considered full term for two weeks. Nothing new to add on, just weight.

For grandma to arrive - maybe. She flies down on Wednesday.

To be a Scorpio, not a Libra - maybe. Tuesday, she'll be a Scorpio. Already, she's on the cusp so I've been reading up on this sign for children. I already know what its like having a Scorpio mother and mother in law. Scorpio children are a handful - wise souls, creative, passionate, sometimes secretive and strong willed. One site said "high maintenance" but if parented well, they can change the world. Ghandi and Picasso - Scorpios. Well, so much for the easy peasy Libras.

For her momma to vote Obama - maybe. Tomorrow I'll go to the US Embassy to cast my vote. I received my absentee ballot in the mail from SF on Friday so just have to drop it off with the box marked "not the creepy old man and nitwit from Alaska" please. Rachel showed me how to watch The Daily Show episodes online so I've been catching up lately. Valentina's enjoyed some pee-my-pants funny moments of laughter.

For everyone I know to send me at least one check-in message ie "news?", "is she there yet?", "any updates?", "what's happening?". Some friends are now on to round two and three of these inquiries. Last night I heard Hugh on the phone with family in Texas "Oh, she's fine. Gigantic! Really really big!" Yeah, just what I want to hear...

Your guess is as good as mine at this point. Friday I went to Hospital Aleman for my scheduled fetal monitoring. Her heart is all good and beating normally 120-160 beats per minute depending on whether she is moving around or not. Ran into my Argentine girlfriend Carolina. Her due date was last Thursday and she is as anxious as me to meet her baby. Her doctor will induce tomorrow if she doesn't go into labor on her own. This is the typical conservative practice here. Pass your due date and let's go! My doc said we'll wait 10 days past the due date with no concerns of risk factors, then he'll give me a pill to get contractions going and cervix thinning.

All of the documented ways to bring on labor naturally - tried 'em. Any others you know of? Let me know!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Crisis trickles down to BA

Inflation has been a problem since we arrived. The most conservative estimates pin annual inflation at 30% but some say up to 80% on certain items. Last night we went to dinner at Empire Thai for my friend Sharon's 40th birthday celebration. My eyes bulged with sticker shock when I took a look at the menu. The entrees went for 35 to nearly 50 pesos each ($12-15US). This is double what it cost to eat there 8 months ago. The restaurant was nearly empty for a Saturday night except for our party of 15. We made an early-ish exit (2 hours is the max I can sit at a table) when my limbs started to swell and back ached so paid the waitress separately. Hugh had a chat with her about business and she admitted they were struggling. Their only customers now were expats and even those were few and far between. Their response (Argentines) seems to be - raise prices on the few customers you have left to make up for the shortfall. Not a good strategy. This place will not last long.

Yesterday afternoon Rachel and I visited a well referred hair stylist named Ryan (of Canada) who does the hair of friends Sharon, Amanda and Kara. His specialty is repair jobs on the oft-poorly executed Argentine mullet cut. I've been trying to grow my mullet disaster out for two months and Rach needed a color touch up so we headed over to his place. He admitted the US financial crisis had practically decimated his business in the past 3 weeks. His clients are expats - mostly North Americans and Europeans that want an english speaking stylist. He said many of them had already fled Argentina - heading home to manage/fret over/review their investments, real estate etc. The panic had set in and many felt uncomfortable being so far away as their financial lives collapsed. Another anecdote he shared was of a client who saw her net worth drop from $120 million to $20 million in one week. It's hard to feel sorry for someone like that - she won't be living on the street anytime soon but may have to scale back her P-Diddy yacht parties in the south of France. His prices are still reasonable (65 pesos/$22US for a cut) but he said he'll need to raise them next month to survive.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Not yet...

Today is not the day. Neither was yesterday or the day before. I can't imagine labor catching me by surprise. Waters still intact and so is my appetite. I'm trying to make plans a few days out at a time so I have more to do than read "The Happiest Baby on the Block" (excellent resource if the 5 "S's" really work to quiet the cries). Auntie Rachel brought a nasty cold with her that I caught on Wednesday night so I think Valentina will wait for me to get better before making her grand entrance. The house is all sniffles and sneezes. Hugh made us his famous lemony chicken soup with spinach for dinner last night and we curled up for a movie on the couch.

Utta's escorting/guarding behavior has taken on a new intensity. She must know the time is near. She trots after me from room to room with a concerned look on her face until I settle in to do something. When I nap, she naps beside me. If I'm in the kitchen, she'll bring her bone-chewing in there. When I retire to the couch to read or watch TV, she's right next to me until we both go to bed at night - always at the same time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Waiting Game

Rachel arrived from San Francisco yesterday morning with another huge duffle of baby gifts from friends and family. She's sick with the flu or some sinus-y thing but still managed in the first few hours of arriving to rearrange my underwear drawer with dividers she brought down from the states(gotta love The Container Store), organize the kitchen cupboard and do a load of dishes. I had to beg her not to do the dishes last night so that our housekeeper Marta would have something to do today.

Friend Sharon came over and gave me a special reflexology massage - targeting the trigger points for getting labor started. I'm hopeful but so far nothing new. My OB checked my cervix for dilation on Monday afternoon and it was "cerrado" - closed. Emails flood my inbox daily now with questions of "did it happen yet?" Last night brought home a birthing chair from my weekly class with the midwives. Trying to keep on doing the normal things and let Valentina take her time but the suspense of when...