In search of comfort

Jan 9 - In search of comfort

Maximilien was in a very melancholic mood tonight. He came back from spending the night at his Mamoo's house asleep in his stroller. That was a sign to me that he had not slept well at nap time today.

I transferred him from the stroller to our bed knowing very well that he'd wake up and want to be somewhere he felt safe. "Mommy et Daddy's lit" is probably one of the safest places for a little boy his age. He woke up in tears and clutched on to me for dear life. I just sat and held my baby and waited until he felt better.

Well, better didn't come and he started to cry and hold on to me. I decided that it was PJ and ice cream in bed time with Toy Story to keep us company. I fed Alixe put her in the swing and she fell asleep (for once!). And I had the rest of the evening to devote to my boy.

I've been transitioning myself into this role of mama to two. Frankly, I've been afraid to take care of both kids alone. Fatigue causing a lot of the fears inside me but tonight I just decided no rules, forget dinner and I asked myself what do we need? We needed ice cream, pjs, movies and hugs. Though, we did eat some broccoli before ice cream because Max loves broccoli like it's candy.

Taken from my Year in Photos at Flickr.

Alixe, One Month

Dear Alixe,

I'm a little late with your one month letter. You'll have to excuse me because I've been up very late every night for the past month partying with you. Yes, you... The baby who does not sleep. The baby we call Grunty McGrumpyPants. Or Vomita when you eat too much. You've had a very productive first month of life considering your lack of sleep. You met your brother, Maximilien, who is completely smitten with you. And you seem to be fascinated by your brother. You seems to really enjoy his stories he tells you after his long day at the creche. Often you are wearing your GrumpyPants and when he comes into the room and says, "Bonjour, Alixe!!!" your eyes open wide and stop eveything you are doing. 

Brown eyed girl

In all honestly, my biggest fear was that Maximilien wouldn't be prepared for your arrival. But in all reality, it was your Mama who wasn't prepared for your arrivial. I had in set in my silly Mama mind that you were going to be just like your brother. Big eater, big sleeper. You are a modest eater and do not sleep at all. Modest eater meaning that you don't pig out when I feed you like Max did. Though somehow you managed to gain 1.8 kgs and 4 cm in height. The doctor was shocked when I told her you were only a month old. Looking at you, you look like a four month old. But you act like a one month old in every way. Especially, when it comes to sleeping. But I'm learning to deal. I have come to terms that I won't get any sleep and not to count on getting any sleep if you are awake which is like most of the day. I try to busy myself by cleaning the apt and doing the endless laundry that you are happily contributing to. But sometimes I need sleep and these are the moments that are the hardest for me because this is when you want to be awake. We are trying a combination of co-sleeping, the five S's and lots of contact with Mama. And sometimes we get lucky (like right now!) you decide to sleep for a while. Everyone keeps telling me that this is a phase... let's just hope that is really is.

I am thrilled to say that you look a lot like me! I would hope so since you're my daughter and if you looked like your dad you'd be very, very hairy and I'm not sure that you'd be so happy about that. Your eyes are brown and you have a darker complexion than your brother. You have attributes that are very much yours but you also look a lot like your brother. Don't worry, your brother is a good looking kid...

Maximilien et Alixe

Maximilien (2007) and Alixe (2009), both 4 days old.

I am looking forward to the coming months of your development, Alixe. I am anxiously awaiting for your first REAL smile. Though, we've had a few smiles lately but they always precede a nice big fart so we can't officially say that you are smiling yet. But since you're so big for your age, you can easily hold your head up for several moments at a time. I put you on your stomach and you pick up your head with such ease. And often when when we hold you, you push up with your legs and stand a few moments with all your weight on your legs. One thing is for sure, you are one strong little girl. 

Jan 7 - I adore

So, lack of sleep aside... I'm so happy that you are here. I feel like our family is complete and know there are many beautiful (sleep filled) days ahead of us.


Jan 5 - Hands


Maximilien is obsessed with holding my hand. I admit that I love it. I loving holding my son's hand as we walk together. He grasps my hand when we cross the street. In the apt, when he wants me to come and play with him, he grabs my hand and says, "Come Mommy, come with me...". When we sit together and read or watch tv he is always holding my hand. Since Alixe's arrival he's been having a hard sleeping at night. I think this maybe his way of saying to us that he needs a little more attention. Usually in the middle of the night he crawls into our bed and comes and cuddles close to me. He always takes my hands into his and says, "petite carresse, Mommy?". A little cuddle? I say yes and he gently caresses my hands and rubs them against his cheek like it's his favorite dou dou.

The funny thing is, I used to do this to my own mother's hand when I was little (and as a teenager and young adult, I admit). My mother's hands were the softest things in the world and always brought me comfort. When I'd lay with my mom, I'd always hold her hand and like Max, rub the back of her hand against my cheek.

I couldn't believe how quickly the emotions welled up last night. As Max fell asleep, I quietly weeped missing my mother. I miss her immensely but I especially miss the simple gestures like hugging her or holding her hand. Holding her hand was one of my most favorite things. And for this to be one of my son's favorite things to do brings me so much happiness and sadness at the same time.


Jan 4 - Sleep

Ah, sleep. Such an elusive thing at our house at the moment.  But we're getting better at coping with the lack of sleep. It's been a huge learning experience for me this time around with Alixe because with Maximilien I didn't even have to think about sleep at all. He just slept all the time. Alixe needs help falling asleep and then staying asleep. But I see the light at the end of the tunnel and am learning her cues for when she's sleepy. And now that I am feeling healthier and stronger there's a lot of baby wearing going on.

I love this photo because a) she's asleep and  b) the cute thumb tuck she is doing. She's always done this since she was born and I saw a 3-D shot her her hand when I was in the US last summer and she was doing it then too. Every once in a while she'll pop her thumb out and it will find it's way into her mouth and that's even cuter. Maybe she'll be a thumb sucker like her brother. 

This photo is part of my Year in Photos that I am doing this year. May seem crazy that I would commit to a huge project like this but I feel like it's just what I need to keep my sanity intact. I try to find a moment in the day for myself to take my camera and snap a photo. I plan to print each photo from this year and make it into a photo book for myself. I will share bits and pieces of my year in photos here on my blog but won't make a habit of it everyday. I wrote a bit more on my January 1st photo the reasons why I want to do this. If you're curious you can read about it here.  But feel free to check out the set I created on Flickr of my daily photos of 2010. 

By the way, Happy New Year! I hope 2010 is starting off well for everyone. And I just realized that my daughter is one month old now! I owe her a letter. So, I will get working on that one. So much to write about and she had her first doctor's visit and you won't believe how big she is now. I'll share it all in her one month letter very soon.

The Fourth Trimester

Recreating the womb. Alixe & her 4th trimester

I had heard about this concept of the 4th trimester but didn't pay much attention to it when Maximilien was born. I can clearly see now how EASY he was as a newborn. He was pretty much textbook. Had his moments of crying when he needed to blow off steam before settling down for a good night's sleep. For a newborn anything more than three hours is a good night's sleep. For Max, I would have to wake him up to feed him or else he'd sleep for 6 hours if I'd let him. Alixe,on the other hand, doesn't sleep for more than a hour, maybe two hours during the day and at night (her nights start at 2am) she will sleep maximum 3 hours. And this is progress we've made over her first month! Before this she'd sleep for 30 minutes to an hour at a time and wake up and stays awake after that. She's the most awake baby I've ever met.

Well, you can imagine what toll the erratic sleeping of my petite fille has taken on her parents. Julien is faring better than I am since he can sleep through anything. I, on the other hand, am physically in tune with Alixe to the point that when she starts crying and I can hear it (not be in the same room) my breasts start to leak with the anticipation that she needs to feed. TMI, I know. :)

In the midst of desperation and massive searching on Google and asking on Twitter for any advice or new ideas I ran across Dr. Harvey Karp's website for his book The Happiest Baby on the Block. With in minutes of reading about his theories and the behavior of newborn babies, I held Alixe in my arms and was like, "This is my baby!". He talked about the fourth trimester theory and how some babies still need the extra three months of comfort, jiggling and constant noise that the womb provided for the first three trimesters. I immediately got my hands on the video and the book. Thanks to the reviews on Amazon saying that if you are sleep deprived the last thing you want to do it read a book so they suggested watching the video and complementing Karp's theories with the book later when you're sanity has returned. I've already read through more than half the book and so far we're making good progress on the sleep process.

Upon watching the video with Alixe in my lap, I followed along Karp's advice and techniques and IMMEDIATELY Alixe took to these manipulations. I have to say, the first time I saw him settle down a baby using the five S's, it brought me to tears. I simply couldn't believe it.  The five S's as Karp calls them or The Cuddle Cure. And boy, did they work! for Alixe Julien watched the video and immediately after wards took Alixe and applied the techniques and we were able to calm our screaming baby within minutes instead of hours like before. The first time we were successful of calming Alixe we looked at each other and felt like we were the best parents in the world. 

I now understand why my little girls needs to calm down and get herself to sleep. She needs a combination of swaddling, swinging, laying on her side, shushing and sucking. The photo above is her falling asleep with only the use of three of the 5 S's. This is progress because when we started the calming techniques she needed all 5 S's and she needed them loud and hard. Since we've started The Cuddle Cure, Alixe now can stay asleep for more than a couple hours during the day and at night she is starting to stretch her nights a little longer everyday. 

As I type this blog, BOTH of my kids are napping. Mama feels like a million bucks. Time for a shower and a second cup of coffee!

For those of you who are curious, the white cushion that Alixe is sleeping on is called Cocoonababy by Red Castle.

Happy new year!

Happy new year!, originally uploaded by PutYourFlareOn.

I had good intentions to write a post to end 2009 but right now I am enjoy my end of the year meal with my family if four. Right now we are taking a break from the feasting to watch Alixe sleep, a rare moment in our house at the moment.

I am grateful for our health and happy spirits. Even though the last month has been very hard for me but I can still see all the good I have in my life. I hug my son and he tells me without hesitation that he loves me. I love my husband and the progress we have made in the 7 years of marriage makes me realize that what we have is the real deal. And now I have a daughter.

I am looking forward to 2010. This is going to be a busy year for us but now that the children are here such is our life now. I would not change a thing, except maybe a bit more sleep ;)

Happy New Year to you and yours. Excuse me while I take a quick nap before the actual new year arrives because as 2010 rolls in Alixe will be wailing her way into the new year.


Mama et Alixe

We've been home just over a week now and life is starting to take a familiar routine. The late nights have started as Alixe seems to be a night owl and I repeat to myself everyday, "when baby sleeps, Mama sleeps." As hard as that is because sometimes I just want to knit or have a bit of face time with my husband, I am reminded at midnight when the night feedings begin that I should have taken that nap in the early evening. It's all a new learning curve for me. I have let go of "Max did this when he was this age" type of thinking because all it does it frustrate me because I think it would be easier if Alixe just did what I knew. Talking with a girlfriend on the phone, we reminded ourselves that we have to let go of the comparisons even though they are innocent on our part.  Alixe is a whole different baby. She doesn't get colicky like Max (thank goodness) but she is much more awake and aware than Max was at this stage. (There I am comparing again...) I enjoy the awake time with her but sometimes I run of things to sing and do with her because she's awake for like 4 hours straight sometimes.  I've taken to swaddling her when I notice she's getting tired but fighting sleep. I am finally getting good use out of the Miracle Blanket I bought for Max which didn't work because he was  brut and he'd break out of it. But with Alixe, she likes it just fine. We call her the burrito baby now. 

Snapshot: Wednesday Morning

So, the weather has turned quite cold in Paris. And in turn, we've been hibernating in our apt. Our bedroom has become command central of our apartment. I spend probably 85 percent of my day here, either laying in bed or sitting in the rocker by the heater and window.  Julien has stocked our frige and freezer full of food so that we wouldn't have to run out for anything (except fresh mlik) and we've had continuous pajama days at the Gille house. Maximilien is feeling much better. It turns out he had an ear infection on top of the lung congestion he was battling and was finally prescribed antibiotics for his ear. He is completely smitten with his sister. Everday after the Creche he comes home and immediately asks where Alixe is and goes to see her. We have a routine of him taking off his shoes, washign his hands and then kissing his sister. It's so very cute. Now instead of Mommy getting the first morning kiss, it's Alixe who gets kisses first. 

December 17th: SNOW!

We were teased all this week with low temperatures but no snow! What's the point of it being so cold if there's no snow?! Growing up in Kansas, we always had snow at this time of the year. Always had a white Christmas and probably much to the chagrin of our parents snow days from school! And snow always makes me think about my mother. She loved the snow. Today is her birthday and always for her birthday there was snow. I still have vivid memories of my mother bundling up with a homemade scarf wrapped around her standing at the door waving goodbye to us as the school bus would take us to school. Winter time always meant fires in the fire place, homemade cookies and pies and her birthday. I was down this morning when I woke up. I shuffled to the kitchen to get a drink without even looking out the window. I then came back to the bedroom, scooped up Alixe and walked over to the window and saw the snow. I immediately felt better because I felt like it was a little wink from Omma saying hello. 

Hopefully I will forget this...

Let’s just forget about Day 5, ok?

Day 4 was going so well! You read it on my blog, the morning was excellent. I had a nice visit with a friend. A nap. The sun was out. Then all of sudden in the afternoon I didn’t feel very well. I started having semi-intense pain around my cesarean scar. I called the nurse and was instructed to lie down and relax. My doctor came to see me and examined me and told me that I had a hematoma developing probably due to the Lovenox that I have to take for the blood clot I developed during my travels to the US. There was nothing to do but wait for the hematoma to drain itself. But things started to get worse and worse through the afternoon. The pain became unbearable and I suddenly had the sensation that my scar was going to explode. This continued into the early evening when the on call doctor came to see me. They removed a few of the staples to relieve some of the pressure and then suddenly I felt like a warm water ballon exploded all over me. The hematoma was released. The nurses and doctor were pleased and said that I would feel better now and that everything was going to be fine. Well, things were not fine after that. Quickly after dinner things started to degenerate. My body formed another hematoma in the same spot but this time it was growing at a much faster pace and literally my incision scar was tearing open. I suffered the most intense physical pain of my life that night. I hope to never feel that ever again. In the middle of the night, I was whisked off for emergency surgery to remove the hematoma. My doctor says that a blood vessel had exploded at the incision site and the fact that I am on Lovenox which makes my blood very fluid the blood started to collect again and my body was incapable of coagulating fast enough.

Talk about scary, exhausting and disappointing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t have known this would have happened. My doctor and I are very disappointed because we had worked so hard to get things right this time.

So, now I’m back to square one. Two surgeries in 4 days and my body is pretty wrecked. At least today, I was able to get up out of bed without help. So, here’s to day 7 being better than today…

How quickly I forgot...

Alixe, Day 4, originally uploaded by PutYourFlareOn.

Today was a better day. I’m glad that yesterday is done and over with. How quickly I’ve forgotten the newborn stage. I was feeling confident because I’ve been here before. Coming back to the same Maternité that I had Max it brought back all the memories of the hardships I had suffered the first time around and I was determined not to repeat them again. The cesarean went extremely well. The anestisiologist ordered a different, more intricate, technique for prepping me for the operation, which left me with sensation in my legs through out the entire procedure. I could wiggle my toes while the doctor operated on me! Trippy. I had full use of my upper body and got to experience skin to skin contact with Alixe and nurse her immediately after the cesarean. Something I wasn’t able to do with Maximilien.

Breastfeeding Alixe is going very, very well. My milk came in yesterday where as with Max it didn’t come in until 4 days after his birth. I felt very confident nursing Alixe. I breastfed Max for the first 12 months of his life and every time the sage femmes would ask how long I nursed Max for and I’d tell them they congratulate me and I must say that boosted my confidence. So, yesterday was day 3 of Alixe’s life. Day 3 after birth. And I had forgotten that day 3 after Max was born I had an emotional meltdown. And yesterday I had the same emotional breakdown. Things just started piling up on themselves. My milk came in. But all of a sudden Alixe had stopped nursing because she was having a hard time transitioning from meconium poops to regular poops. So, she refuses to breastfeed most of the day and my breasts become engorged. The nurses were offering me unsolicited advice about nursing. I missed Max. My incision started to bother me. Tea house business needed to be tended to and I wasn't capable of doing that. I missed Max. Max was diagnosed with Bronchiolite (sort of RSV type sickness), Julien tells me he has a cold and has to be on antibiotics, My stay in the hospital is extended from 5 days to 7 days. I missed Max. There is loud constant banging going on outside my window. The sun won’t come out. I missed Max. I can’t sleep at night because I’m uncomfortable from my incision. I’m hungry and I can’t eat what I want. I need to poop and I can’t. I am sweating profusely and… and…I was missing my mom like crazy. Then the crying started and I couldn’t stop it.

Day 3 after birth. I had forgotten. The drop of hormones. The baby blues. Depression. The night nurse came to see me and she said nothing but offered a her hand on my shoulder and said to let it out. 15 minutes later she returns with two choices in her hand. A pill to sleep. A pill to take the anxiety away but no sleep. I chose the second because I didn’t want to send Alixe to the nursery because my milk had come in and needed to breastfeed her. And after 4 hours of straight pooping on her part, Alixe starts to nurse again. And I sleep. She slept for 4.5 hours straight and so did I. I woke up and the sun came out. And it was Day 4 and everything was better.

Alixe and I basked in the day’s sun. Getting some much needed vitamin D.

And I am reminded of the fact of how quickly us Mamas forget these early days of motherhood. But it’s the little victories that help us get through and make it to the next stage. Alixe nursed like a champ today. Pooped and peed like normal. As I type this, I am laughing at how loud my daughter farts. I had forgotten how dramatic newborn bowl mouvements are. I can’t wait to get home and let Max hear his sister fart and poop in his presence. I can already hear his infectious laugh ringing through my ears. Here’s hoping that the sun comes out again tomorrow.

30 of 30 - The Belly

30 of 30 - last belly shot 30 of 30 - last belly shot 2 

Well, there you have it! The Belly. I just measured it and it's at 49 inches. Two weeks before delivering Maximilien I was at 49 inches. So, perhaps BB will be a bit smaller than Max but still she's going to be a BIG girl. I'm packed and ready to go. I'm just sitting here busying myself until Julien and Max get home from the Creche. I'm going to spend a couple hours with Max and then have to go check into the maternité. I'm scheduled for a 7:45am operation. BB will be here before 8am Paris time Tuesday morning! 

The little elephant in the photo is Max's bébé elephant that he's been carrying around with for over a week now. We found him a big and little elephant that he's been calling Mommy elephant and bébé elephant. Lately, he has been into comparing everything as petit or gros. Especially Mommy's bidon (belly) and Max's bidon which is very svelthe and petit, he makes sure to point out to me every day. 

Max is about to become a Grand Frere to his Petite Soeur. Let the baby adventure begin....

29 of 30 - Perspective

Thanksgiving 2009 (69 of 79) 

Here I am taking a break while my belly digests a belated Thanksgiving meal. I'm grateful for all the friends I have made here in Paris. They have become my family away from home. Friends that share a lot of the same values as I do and people that I just have a lot of fun with! We joked about how this meal would be my "last supper" before BB's arrival. Technically I can eat lunch before I enter into the hospital but after the dinner I had tonight I highly doubt I will be hungry tomorrow at lunch time. In less than 24 hours I will be admitted into the hospital and will have to spend the night before being prepped for my AM operation. I can't believe we're almost there...

   Thanksgiving 2009 (49 of 79) 

If you asked Maximilien where his "petite soeur" is? He will respond, "Mommy's ventre". I then I ask him who is "grand frere" and he points to himself and says very proudly, "moi!". I can't believe that my first born baby is going to be a grand frere very, very soon. He still lets me hold him like a baby and he still nuzzles my neck in search of butterfly kisses and calin from Mommy. Two more days until our little girl will be here. Last night I was up until 3am baking pumpkin pies and up at 8am this morning ready to go. Sleep is the last thing on my mind thought I know I should get some rest before the big day but I am too excited to sleep. I was playing the Mamarazzi tonight at the party taking photos of everyone. I felt like a million bucks. The adrenaline was flowing and I can still feel it now. So, I guess I'll put it to good use and go do a few loads of laundry before bed tonight. 

 Two more days!!


Well, if having a baby next week on Tuesday wasn't big enough news in our lives Max went off and scared the crap out of us a couple days ago by getting very, very sick. Two mornings ago, we sent him to the Creche, a happy, bouncing boy. That same evening, my husband went to go pick him up and I mean literally off the floor because for the 30 minutes before we arrived he had been sprawled out on the floor with his dou dou staring off into space. He was feverish and then vomited on himself just as we were getting his coat on. 

There has been two confirmed cases of Grippe A (N1H1) at his creche. 

We high tailed it to this pediatrician's office which happens to be right across the street from our apt and then turned us away (!) saying it was gastro. I know gastro and when Max has it and this wasn't gastro. But then again, I didn't know what the flu would do to him since he's never had it. We walked across the street with the instructions of if he had a fever of 39°C for more than 24 hours we were supposed to take him to the hospital because our Ped's office isn't equipped to deal with Grippe A. I watched Max's temperature rise over the next 24 hours from 38.5 to 39.9°C. He would go from HOT to less HOT and just pant and stare off into space. Every once in a while letting me cajole him into drinking some water. And wouldn't let me out of his sight. He grasped my hand with his little, burning hand wanting me to stay with him. We called SOS Medecin to come to our apt at 2am because he had a 104°F temperature that wasn't breaking. Thank goodness they came fast and the doctor took his time examining Max. Everything seemed to say Flu except he was missing the cough which was typical of the Grippe A. He advised us to watch him another 24 hours and see how things. 

Then this morning, Max woke up NORMAL. I laid in bed sleep deprived because I kept waking up all night long checking on him and to see my happy, bouncing boy sitting right in front of me waiting for me to wake up so we go have breakfast threw me for a loop this morning. 

I laid in bed for a few my head spinning at how quickly things changed. Thank goodness for the better and not worse because we all know next week is going to be a big week for our family. But still... talk about complete calamity of the last 24 hours. 

Since Max was sick it threw off my schedule and my to-do lists which included making massive batches of cookie dough for the tea house. But in a fit of despair and stress my husband asked if he could learn to make the cookies. I was skeptical but he had never offered to learn to make the cookies before and I thought, why not. These cookies are hard to make right because there isn't a written recipe (it's my mom's and I learned it by watching her make it through out my childhood) and every person I've tried to teach to make these cookies can't seem to grasp the ratios. Yes, my recipe has ratios and logic in them. The only person who can do it is my brother but then again he has the advantage of eating these cookies ALL of his life, practically. 

So, last night while I was in tears and stressing out, Julien set out to make cookies while I directed him and he did a really good job. And I feel better today knowing that he can do it... then again, thinking about it this morning, he's eaten the original cookies made by mother many times so he has that to fall back on. My little brother can attest to this because Julien once ate an entire jar of my mom's cookies leaving only one for my brother as an after school snack. That was a big turning point in their relationship but I think they've recovered from it. 

So, here's to staying healthy until BB gets here. That's the new mantra for the rest of this weekend. 2 days to go and she'll be here. Tuesday morning is the big day, let's hope for an uneventful weekend until then. 

24 of 30 - Routine

24 of 30 - Routine 

Not until I had Max did my life have so much routine in it. Sure, I had a job before I became a mother and the routine that came with that. Metro, Boulot, Dodo. It was pretty boring and I'm glad I don't do that anymore. My routine as a Mama is much more fun. No more alarm clocks I have a walking and talking one that comes and wakes me up almost at the same time everyday. And when he doesn't, it's a nice break because it's he who sets my routine for the day not some man behind a desk. 

The last couple months I've been having a very hard time getting up in the mornings. Julien has taken over morning routine of feeding Max breakfast, changing his diaper and clothes and getting out the door all by 9 am. In the hour that they are up and having breakfast I slowly wake up and get out of bed to kiss my boys goodbye and wait to see them off from our 6th floor kitchen window. If you could hear Max, you'd would hear him yelling at the top of his lungs, "Goooooodbye, Mommy! I love you!!!" as he waves to me. I watch them walk around the corner and thus starts my day.

One key thing I learned about being a mother to newborn Maximilien was that he needed routine.  He always wanted to nap at the same time and eat at the same time.  And in turn I craved this routine too. And I find myself in these final days of pregnancy thinking about the routine that I will start again with BB and as crazy as this will sound to you I`m really looking forward to it. 

23 of 30 - One more week....

I'm deviating away from my photo project for a moment. I'm not feel very motivated to pick up my camera. The battery is on charge and I'll just leave it like that for now. 

7 more days

Since last Weds, I've been pretty uncomfortable. Getting up and walking from the bathroom to my bedroom (13 meters) I can feel my uterus contract and I hunch over walking like quaisimodo at snails pace. The most comfortable positions for me are sitting down or laying on my side with pillows propped up around me. 

Listen to me. Aren't you tired of me complaining. I am tired of complaining. 

I can't believe that Tuesday of next week I'll have children. I remember talking with someone at the bakery right after Max was born and talking about "mon enfant" and how it sounded so weird to say that. Just as right after Julien and I had been married and me coming to work and talking about my husband. I was 25 and and talking about my husband to my colleagues. That kinda blew my mind back then...

I'm more surprised with the new terms that I have to start using then the action of executing these terms. When I became a Wife, nothing really changed except that I had a husband to come home to and make dinner for and spend time with. But getting used to be introduced as someone's Wife made me blush. When I became an Expat, I just had to learn to live in a new country and find my little piece of home. But saying that I was an Expat took getting used to.  When I became a Mother, I just followed my instincts and everything worked out fine. But saying that I was a Mother after Max was born made me feel like I should have wisdom before my years. When I became a Business Owner, I again followed my instincts and try my hardest to be as responsible as I could. But the stress of knowing that I was Business Owner is something that I am still getting used to.  And now becoming Mother x 2, I assume that nothing else is going to change from the first time around. If anything, I feel more relaxed and prepared. But saying outloud to a friend on the phone today that I will have children. Made me giggle and pause because wow, I'm going to have CHILDREN. 

When I first got pregnant with BB, I used to wonder if I could love BB as much as I loved Max. I love Max with every fiber of my being. I can feel it when we're laying together talking to each other, playing, eating dinner or just looking at each other. I can feel that he feels it too. But as I type this, inside my heart, I know that I will have this for BB. It's just there waiting to burst out of me like it does for Max. This is why I can't wait until she's here. Not because I am physically drained from this pregnancy. I feel like my life has been on hold for the last few months waiting for it start again. Waiting for us to become a family of 4. Waiting for me to become the Mother to my Children. 

One more week to go, little girl. Your brother is anxious for your arrival. He asks when you'll be here and where you are every morning when he looks into your crib. I think he thinks that when he wakes up in the morning that you'll magically be there.  When you do arrive, it will sort of seem like that for him because I will be gone for a week in the maternity when I go off to have you, BB. But I think you and your brother, Max, are going to be best friends. Yesterday, I caught him singing the theme song to Max and Ruby and instead of singing Ruby he sang your name instead. THIS is why I can't wait for your arrival. Mama is waiting for you....

22 of 30 - Preparations

22 of 30 - Preparations

8 days to go. I've started my to-do lists for this last week before BB arrives. Breaking it down day by day of the week so that I can be sure to get it al done. And yes, there is another trip to Ikea programmed this week. 

I've been experiencing pretty strong contractions all last week especially when I find myself on my feet for more than 5 minutes. Walking has become a chore so I've assigned myself to bed rest pretty much this last week. Sitting and laying down as much as I can. My feet are swollen. By 30 weeks with Maximilien, my feet were already swollen and uncomfortable so I am happy to only have to experience this in the last week of my pregnancy. I went to get a pedicure yesterday and the esthetician amused herself by pressing her finger into the top of my foot and watching it leave a dent. She let me have a salt soak for my feet free of charge which was nice. 

I miss being able to be fully mobile. I want to play with Max and keep up with him and I can't. The fact that I don't have full use of my body and that it's been impossible to sleep is very frustrating and makes the end of this pregnancy very uncomfortable. 8 more days to go. 8 more days to go. 

20 of 30 days - My little helper

20 of 30 - My little helper 

I can foresee that Max is going to be my big helper once BB arrives. Nearly every night for the last two weeks I've been baking in the last week or so he's shown interest in helping Mommy out. He pulls over his green Stokke chair and climbs up it like a ladder and asks what he can do "aide Mommy". His official job is to raise and lower the bowl to my mixer and he holds to it for dear life as it mixes and he alerts me when he thinks its done. I keep having these moments where I catch myself staring at Max and can't believe my eyes at how big he seems. His legs are so long. His face is looking less like a baby. How big his hands are. He articulates himself so well using new words everyday. It's impossible to grasp at all these moments but I'm trying my to do my best to get some of the good ones in photos in words.

19 of 30 - Knitterly things

SG SilkMerinoLace_Ultraviolet 

Sweet Georgia's Silk Merino Lace in Ultraviolet. Now available at L'Oisivethé

I haven't written very much lately about the tea house here on my personal blog.  I maintain a blog for the tea house here. And use Twitter and Facebook to post updates of things happening at L'Oisivethé. But lately things have really been taking off for the tea house and it's a part of my everyday life so I should include it in my 30 days. As many of you know, I dreamed of opening my own knit café in Paris. The first year I had L'Oisivethé, I ran only the cafe portion of the business.  Trying to learn every aspect and reworking the work processes to my standards.  I took my time incorporating the knitting portion of the business. I did market research and contacted potential  yarn vendors in the United States and a year and half after I opened my business I received my first shipment of yarn, ShiBui Knits. And 6 months after that my next shipments which increased my yarn stock to include 3 more North American brands, Lorna's Laces, Dream in Color and Sweet Georgia and I'm looking to secure one more at the end of the year. It's a very exciting time at the tea house. Sometimes it's hard to process it all with the arrival of BB happening at the same time. 

After I learned to knit, I'd sit around and fantasize about how it would be so awesome to just sit around and knit for a living. I am not an awesome knitter. I would categorize myself as an intermediate knitter who likes to try new things. As much as I love the actual gesture of knitting I love the who culture surrounded by knitting. Someone said something so true at knitting last night, they mentioned that we may not all be friends in real life but because of knitting we have a common interest and because of this common interest we'll always have something to talk about. It's very true but at the same time, I feel like because of knitting I have had a chance to meet people that I wouldn't normally of had the chance to meet and because of that I have made a whole new array of friends that I enjoy spending quality time with. And all this through what I do for a living... I am very grateful for what I have. I thank my lucky stars everyday. 

One of the French speaking knitters last night announced jokingly, "Ca ya est! le tricot est à la mode! " according to some major fashion magazines who have declared this lately. We all had a nice little chuckle over that because many of us who have been knitting for years already knew this! 

18 of 30 - Comfort things

18 of 30 - Reblocking Lady E

I refreshed Lady Eleanor yesterday. This is a shawl/scarf I knit a few years ago right after my mom passed away. It was a large knitting project that helped to get my mind off things. At the time I was unemployed and just needed to be. Every year, I reblock her so she's nice and fresh for the fall/winter season. She brings me a lot of comfort when I wear her. There is a lovely feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with wearing your own handmade designs. This is something I learned from my mom from an early age. She always wore her own scarves she made and in turn I loved wearing them too. For now, I have her scarves and handknit treasures packed away safely in an air tight container. Saving them for the day that I can share them with my kids, mostly BB because they are very girly. I hope that BB will love them as much as I do. 

17 of 30 - Waiting for BB

17 of 30 - Waiting for BB 

Things are starting to come together. Only 14 more days to go until she's here... The crib wasn't put together when Maximilien left for school today so we'll see what he thinks when he gets home.

*edit* - Max came home and we took him into the bedroom to show him the crib. Last night, he noticed that we had taken out our dresser and there was a big space in our bedroom. He was surprised and kept asking 2 year old style over and over again where the dresser went? Today, Julien built BB's crib and we set it up in our bedroom, we plan on sharing our room for the first year with BB and then transitioning her to Max's room. Tonight, when he went back to our room to see the crib he was immediately intrigued. He climbed up on the bottom railing to look inside and asked where the baby was? Then proceeded to go into his room and point out that Maximilien's bed was there and this new bed was for the baby. And that the baby that is in Mommy's belly will sleep in this bed. I don't know how else to prepare him for the arrival of his sister. Except to talk to him everyday and assure him that things won't change very much. I am worried about the time we'll have to spend apart when I go to have BB. Because of the N1H1 virus going around, there are no visitors under the age of 15 allowed in the maternity. I'm hoping there will be internet I can surf and maybe we can skype. I've never been away from Max more than 24 hours before. But we'll see... I'm grateful that Julien has a lot of time to dedicate to Max right now. I feel like we're doing a good job to prepare him. 

15 of 30 - Nesting

15 of 30 - Nesting

The nesting continues... all this knitting keeps my mind off the feeling that I'm going to pop any day now. I started the first sock over 2 years ago while visiting our friends in State College, PA. We were watching Ratatouille and making a nice evening of staying in and sipping wine and eating cheese. Just a pattern I made up as I went along. Top down, basic rib sock. Nothing too complicated. 

Last night while organizing my projects that need attention I found the first sock and decided to finish the second one. I am the worst at finishing the second sock but I did it while watching Grey's Anatomy last night and now BB will have nice warm toes. I suspect she'll be able to wear these for a while. Now to finish a pair of socks for myself to wear in the maternity...

14 of 30 - Change

14 of 30 - Change

There's going to be so much change coming into this little boy's life very soon. We're preparing as much as we can but as much as we wish we could plan it all out, I think we'll just have to take each day at a time. As we approach BB's birthday, Maximilien continues to grow and change everyday. He's such a chatter box. Speaking up phrases in French and English. Mixing the two languages to the delight of both of his parents. 

This morning we went and got Max his haircut at the salon across the street from the tea house.  This is Stephane, my coiffieur extraordinaire, cutting my big boy's hair. It's funny how after each haircut Max seems so grown up yet I still see my little baby in his face. I know that when BB arrives there will be a moment when it hits me that Max really is a big boy. But I still have a few weeks to hang on to these special moments together. Just us. Me and my first born baby.

11 & 12 of 30 days - The 50mm is still on the kitchen counter.

Well, I got caught up in life and my camera was left at home. These days I can't carry much around with me because I'm carrying a 4kg+ baby in my belly. I've been caught up getting the tea house and my staff up to speed before I go off line and have my baby and will be absent for a week. It's still three weeks away but I gotta start now because that's just how I roll. 

We had a huge turn out for knitting last night at the tea house. It was very exciting to see so many knitters in one place. My little tea house was busting at it's seams we barely had enough chairs for everyone. I went and helped out with the dishes and watched everyone knitting around me and it warmed my heart. I watched my dream happening right before my eyes. I silently thanked Omma for her help because I know without her watching over me I wouldn't have been able to do it alone. 

With each turn in my life, I find myself looking up at the sky and thanking my mother for her guidance. I can't explain why I know she's right here with me I just know it. I feel it. I used to write that I would prefer that she be here physically. I think it's something that doesn't need to be said. Anyone who has lost a loved one would prefer that but this feeling of knowing that she is here with me spiritually is a powerful one. And it has helped me get through many difficult times in my life. 

I remember when I was in the operating room having Max and that feeling of panic and dread came over me.  I was panicking and speaking in English and no one in the operation room could understand me. I swear there was a moment when I heard my mother's voice saying to me in Korean that it was okay. over and over again. And right at that moment my doctor leaned over the partition and said to me in French, that it was ok and showed me my pink, chubby baby. Panic and dread faded away and I drifted off into unconsciousness. 

Last night I couldn't sleep. I would close my eyes and have these mini dramas in my mind and be forced to wake up. Talking with my brother today he told me that last night he had slept terribly as well. It was 4 years ago today that my mother passed away. I hadn't been keeping track of the day but somehow my subconscious was. It is inevitable that I think about my mother at this time in my life. I'm about to give birth to my second child and taking that trip of becoming a mother to a newborn again. I think as mothers we inevitable think about our own moms. I remind myself that life is cyclical and that this is all part of my cycle of life. As hard as it is I have to keep on going. I feel her hand on my back guiding me along the way and I know it's going to be okay. 

10 of 30 - I've missed this.

10 of 30 - I've missed this.

I cooked a proper dish today for lunch. It's been a long time since I've done that. I bake so much at the tea house that when I get home I'm very tired and can't imagine turning the stove on to cook at home. We've been reduced down to simple meals for Julien and I. I do take time to make square meals for Max but not for us. 

I made this lovely bacon and leek quiche today and it was a vrai plaisir to eat it with my friend. I reminded myself that I used to love to cook. 

So here's my easy bacon and leek quiche recipe, enjoy:

2 to 4 leeks, white part only, sliced

1/2 cup water
Sea salt
3 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups cream (I use Creme fraiche d'Isigny)
Pate Feuilletee (Marie brand is my favorite)
1/4 cup grated Emmental or Guyere
1 tablespoon butter 

Bring 1/2 cup of water and butter to a boil, add leeks and a nice pinch of sea salt cook until liquid is gone. Caramelized leeks are delicious in this quiche so let all the liquid cook out before setting the leeks aside. 

Cook bacon. I like to cook mine until it's a bit crispy. Drain and mix together with leeks. Set aside.

Wisk together eggs and cream. Throw in a splash of milk if you feel like it. Today, I threw in a splash of ranch dressing for the fun of it. 

Roll out your pâte feuilletee. This is great because it speeds things up. If you feel up to making your own crust go for it. Marie is my favorite brand here in France. 

Spread a layer of cheese in the shell and then add the leek and bacon mixture. Then add the egg mixture. Finally, add another later of cheese. I like to layer a bit of cheese on the crust because it's very good like that. 

Bake at 180°C for 40 minutes. Serve with a nice green salad. 

9 of 30 - Self Portrait

9 of 30 - Self Portrait 

While setting up the camera for a self portrait I took this shot accidently triggering the shutter while trying to set up the timer. Out of all the photos I took this one was the most natural. Pregnancy has brought out the freckles on my face.   

I feel like age is starting to catch up with me. I am 32 years old. Still very young. But I often stare at my eyes and see a wealth of experience in the depths. Experience that I have inherited because I share the same eyes as my mother.

After becoming a mother I notice that I instinctively react and do things and after the fact I often wonder how I knew how to do that. I must have seen my mother do it. I don't have any other explanation. Unknowingly as I grew up I was shaped by my own mother to become the mother I am today. 

Omma has been gone for 5 years now and I still feel the pain of her absence. I take enormous comfort in the fact that when I feel down I can hug my son and know that the love I feel in this moment is what she felt when she'd hug me. 

8 of 30 - Trousseau

8 of 30 - Trousseau

I'm in full nesting mode. I have this urgent need to knit warm things for my winter baby. Hats, booties, blankets... I am building her trousseau of baby things. Wee knits that I will treasure later on when she's out grown them and they will join those of Max and be kept as family heirlooms. 

While I have the energy to stay up late at night to knit I don't have the energy to do the dishes or vacuum the apartment. I believe that the end of pregnancy gets us ready for the lack of sleep that is coming the first few months of your baby's life. I'm amazed sometimes how well I function on such little sleep. But then it catches up to me like today while I was trying to play with Max and all I could do was lay on the bed while he played around me. I know this uncomfortable time is coming to an end and before I know BB will be here. 

Three more weeks to go and I feel like time is standing still again. I am trying to take in the moments of each day and appreciate and be grateful for what I have. I am grateful that I can take maternity leave and devote time to the end of my pregnancy. 

Edit: I've finished the purple hat this morning:

7 of 30 - Grateful

7 of 30 - Grateful

I had another photo for today but decided at the last minute tonight to change it to just this snapshot. Julien brought home a gift that one of my blog readers had brought to me today to the tea house. She is Margaret from Michigan. Thank you, Margaret! I titled this photos grateful because her gesture makes me feel grateful for all the love that I have in my life today. From my family to my great friends here in Paris to my faithful blog readers I am surrounded with love that I am grateful for. 

In her note she thanked me for sharing my life, hopes and dreams with everyone. I started blogging to keep a journal for myself and never had the thought crossed my mind when I started blog did I think that I would inspire people or that anyone would find my life interesting. Now I keep this in blog in part to stay in touch with all the friends I've made all over the world through blogging. Be it through knitting, baking, being young parents or we share the same craze for shoes, I love all these friends I've made over the years. And in many ways we've connected and been there for each other when we've needed each other. 

And now that I have opened my tea house I have had the good fortune to have the opportunity to meet some of them on their travels through Paris. I must admit this is one of the major perks of my job. :) 

I'm sorry I missed you today at the tea house, Margaret. Thank you for the wonderful baby hat and the book. This is one of Max's favorites and his copy is very tattered and torn. It's the perfect size for him to carry in his bag to the Creche. 

6 of 30 - Little Tricks

6 of 30 - Little Tricks

My husband always has these little tricks up his sleeve. Is it a mini pumpkin? Looks like it. It's clementine season and we have our daily dose of clementine after dinner. Good way to get some good vitamin C into Max. Tonight, Julien started cutting his clementine with a knife while Max and I peeled ours with our hands. Intrigued, Max watched wondering what his father was doing. 

Apparently when Julien was young they didn't have easy access to pumpkins like we do today. His grandfather would make homemade jack-o-lanterns for the kids out of clementines. 

This reminds me of when Julien I started dating eight (!) years ago and another trick he played with a match and an invisible string. I was impressed then and I'm still impressed now. 

5 of 30 - Everyday Julien

5 of 30 - Everyday Julien

You guys remember this guy, right? Here we are at Ikea. I think we've been to this place 4 times in one month. We're bad at making lists and always find that we need something else once we get home. There are several Ikeas that are not that far from our house so we can go pretty easily but it's not always easy for Julien and I to go together because Ikea stresses us out. I think it's the fact there's just too much stuff offered and we get overloaded. We used to fight all the time when we'd go but recently we've both decided it's not worth it and we go, get in and get out. And eat donuts and smoothies while we're there because they are mighty tasty. 

But looking at my husband in this photo fills my heart with love because this is my everyday husband. Not the one who gets up and shaves and puts on a suit to look like all the other business types in Paris. Sure, he looks hot when he does that but this is the Julien I prefer. Unshaven. Rough around the edges. My everyday man. 

I am hard on him and I know I haven't been a walk in the park this pregnancy because I haven't felt all that good but I look forward to moving forward once the baby is here and being a better wife. 

4 of 30 - The Fall before the baby

4 of 30 - The Fall before the baby

34 weeks in the only pair of shoes that fit me now. 

Walking home from the La Poste a lone tree in the Parc de Choisy caught my attention. It reminded me of home and how the trees between Olathe and Lawrence would turn yellow, red and orange and make the hillsides look like they were on fire from a distance. 

This is the last fall season before I have two children. I am still trying to get my head around that. We'll go from a family of three to a family of four. And this time next year, BB will be crawling and Max for sure will be jumping his way through the leaves on his way to school. 

3 of 30 - I love cookies

I think cookies are the perfect dessert. They are small and you can eat a few and not feel too guilty. I always feel guilty after eating a big piece of cake or a dessert drenched in crème anglaise. Though so good I don't full enjoy because later I'm thinking I shouldn't have sopped up all that crème anglaise

But then there's the cookie and its perfect companion the glass of milk. My favorite is lait frais by Candia. I drink at least 3 liters a week. Milk has been something I've craved this entire pregnancy. 

So, after going to the Casino tonight I decided I needed to bake a batch of cookies. I have been curious about using pumpkin in cookies since I love it so much in bread and cakes. I whipped up these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies tonight and they are light and airy cakey-cookie goodness. Coupled with a glass of milk and you've got one happy pregnant lady. 

3 of 30 - I love cookies

I'm taking a batch to knitting tomorrow night to let the knitters have a taste. I feel like I should add more spice to the mix but I'll wait and see what everyone else thinks. 

A few photo notes. I shot this with my 50mm f/1.8 lens and my speedlight SB-600. I haven't used my speedlight very much because I'm sort of intimidated by it. But it seems that I don't think to pick up my camera until the evening and the sun sets in Paris now about 5pm! So, I charged up my batteries for the speedlight and walked about the apartment and shot away. I'm pleasantly surprised how well this photo came out. I tweeked the exposure a bit in ACR but that's about it. I'm no pro but I think I'll start toting the flash around with me and try to learn as I go. 

2 of 30 - Twice Daily

Since August 3rd, I've been giving myself twice daily injections of this little drug to prevent my body from developing blood clots. Something I developed while being pregnant and something that will go away once BB is born. I wrote about it back in August when it happened. I've given myself 186 injections and still have 84 more injections to go until I'm done. Yes, I keep track because it's not a walk in the park and now I can now see the end is near. 

2 of 30 - Twice Daily

1 of 30 - Slightly Obsessed

1/30 Slightly Obsessed

I love stripes. I dress myself in stripes. I dress my husband in stripes. I dress my children in stripes. I recommend stripes to my friends when we go shopping. 

I suppose you can say that I am slightly obsessed. 

This is just a small portion of BB's clothes I've bought in preparation of her arrival.  Stripes. Stripes. Stripes. I love it. 

I'm starting a new 30 day photos project to help occupy my mind this coming month before BB's arrival. My lists have lists of things to get done and why not throw a photo project in there as well. I know I need this to keep my mind sane and I will enjoy looking back at these photos after she's here. You may remember that I did a similar project when I was counting down the days to knowing if the tea house would be mine. Ever so often, I look back at those photos and am so grateful to have those memories. It was such a stressful time in my life but reminds me that I got through it and that I can do it again now. 

And for this occasion I've challenged myself to use only my 50mm lens. It's oldie but a goodie that I haven't used in ages. Will be good to exercise my brain on how to work outside it's fixed lens box. 

So, here's to counting down 30 days. Actually 31 days since she's scheduled to make her appearance on December 1st, 2009. But my slightly obsessional side needs me to start on the first of the month and not the second. 

Halloween in France

It really doesn't exist. Halloween is as my friend puts it "Good 'ole American fun" that the French really don't understand. Thought in the last few years I've seen more and more kids dressing up but have yet to have a trick or treater come to my door. I had big intentions this year to throw some kind of Halloween fete at the tea house but being at the end of of pregnancy my energy level has disappeared. Oh well, there's always next year... 

The Creche let us know that they would be doing some activities for Halloween this year and told us that dressing up for the occasion would be encouraged. I quickly made some tiger legs and tail for Max to go with his Tigger hoodie et voila! Tigrou!

Hey don't play with my tail!!

His Tigger tail was a big hit with all the kids. They took turns pulling it. And seeing Maximilien dressed up the other kids wanted to dress up too. The Creche had a costume box that they use at Carnival every year so quickly after Max's arrival the room was full of pirates and gypsies. It was all very cute. 

Luckily, I have a small group of expat friends here in Paris and our kids are nearly the same age. So, Max was invited to his first ever halloween party yesterday afternoon. After having a yummy gouter, my friend, Libby, had arranged with her neighbors and friends for a small trick or treating adventure for the kids. Needless to say that Maximilien caught on quickly. Knock on door, growl and get candy. He loved it. 

Trick or Treat

Even though Halloween isn't a mainstream holiday here in France I'll always look forward to celebrating it with my kids. I have fond memories of carving pumpkins with my parents and anxiously waiting for our dad to get home from work so we could go out and trick or treat. Hauling home pillow cases full of candy and pigging out until our tummies hurt. My brother and I were talking about the homemade costumes we had growing up and it made me smile because I'm doing the same thing my mom and dad did for us. 

He makes it all better

Still got a little baby curl 

As hard as it is to relive the minutes and hours after Maximilien's birth this little boy reminds me that it's all worth it.  I thought that if I didn't think about the experience it would just go away. And it did for a while I actually had forgotten but sitting in the doctor's office in the moment of dejavu finding out that BB was going to be a big girl all those emotions rushed back to me. But today for the first time in 2.5 years I actually feel okay about my birth experience. And I know I can type this and mean it because I am not  crying uncontrollably but instead I feel excitement for BB birth in 4 weeks time. 

I wonder in today's medical age of technology why it's so hard for us as women to get the birth that we want? There is a small part of me that wonders if I had decided to try to have Max naturally would it have gone alright? Would it have ended up in a cesarean anyways? I know women birth babies as big as Max naturally all the time. Heck, one of my readers did and I totally admire her for that! But I feel like when it was time to make the decision for Max I was slightly psyched out but all the technology and terms and medical jargon thrown at me that I was pretty much scared into choosing the cesarean. And now for BB, listening to the doctors explain to me the risks of induction with a baby so big and my uterus so stretched out and the scar and abnormally strong contractions and this and that... it makes my head spin and I just say, enough. Please, get me my baby and leave me the hell alone. 

Dozing in and out of consciousness this morning I wondered if I could change things with BB's birth. Part of me is like change doctors! get more opinions! But I like my doctor and I wouldn't change doctors for the world because I. trust. him. And then all of a sudden I feel tired. And in this moment as the fatigue washes over me, there is Max standing by my side of the bed waiting to give me my morning kiss and I am reminded that everything ends well. Here's my 2.5 year old who's in perfect health who is happy and excited about the imminent arrival of his petite soeur. And I realize that I have made my choice. And I am alright with it. 

Here we go again....

Yesterday I went to see my doctor for my monthly routine check up. I was anxious to go because I could tell that BB had grown a lot in the last month and I was worried.  Worried that I'd have to have another cesarean again. 

Well, it turns out that BB is big. Huge. Doctor measures her as of yesterday at 3.6 kilos. This is measuring her head, waist and length of her legs. She's actually measuring bigger than Maximilien. I am 33 weeks. We went back to his office and he used his computer to figure out the projections for a birth at full term which is 41 weeks and numbers were coming out to be 5.2kgs. That is 11.46lbs. Max was 4.945kgs at birth (10.9lbs). I need to carry this baby 4 more weeks. She still has a lot of developing to do. Cervix checked and it's closed and keepin' BB right where she needs to be. After talking to two doctors about this, I have resolved myself that I am going down the C-section route again. 

I am disappointed. I won't lie. I cried. I told my doctor my fears and why I didn't want the C-section again. He listened and told me that the baby isn't going to stop getting bigger between now and 4 weeks from now. She needs to stay in for another 4 weeks. In 4 weeks should could very well be bigger than Max and at that size and with my precedent cesarean scar the clinic will not induce. They will not induce because the medication they give causes stronger than normal contractions and with my previous scar from Max's birth it's too much of a risk. 

This doesn't really bother me much. I can actually understand this and agree that I don't want to take the risk of complications. What I am upset about is going through the recovery of a c-section again. I never wrote about it on my blog after Max's birth but I was pretty much a wreck after the c-section. And until today, so many things were kept from me as to why I was messed up. I got a nice phone call today from the anesthesiologist who will be administering the medication to me the day of BB's birth. Yesterday, we had a long and tearful conversation about how my first cesarean experience did not go well. I told him all the things that had happened to me right afterwards. He listened and jotted notes. He said he'd do his best that it didn't happen again. He presented me with three options for spinal block for cesarean which I had no idea existed. I chose the option that is most like an epidural where he will administer the medication to me in stages and up the dose as needed. For most cesareans you are administered one dose and usually numb from the mid chest down. With my cesarean with Max I was numb from my neck down, including my arms, which caused me to panic because I couldn't feel if I was breathing properly. To this day I am still traumatized by that feeling of dread and fear I felt. I felt like I was drowning and everyone was standing around watching me do it.  The anesthesiologist called me today to say that he pulled my file from my first birth to tell me that I was administered nearly TWO TIMES the normal dosage for a c-section! And that it made perfect sense to him why I was throwing up 24 hours after the operation, I had hives and itchiness that lasted 24 hours and that I was numb from the neck down. I wasn't able to hold Max for over an hour and half after he was born because I was a legume because of all the medication!  He said he usually administers less than the normal dosage and then adds more as he sees fit. He assured me that what I felt the first time around will not happen again.  

One of the main reasons why I had hoped for a natural birth with BB mainly because I didn't want to experience the hell I felt after Max's birth.  I wanted to be alert and able to hold my baby right away. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about how I was laying in bed completely numb and out of it looking at Max laying in the incubator next to me and all I wanted to do was hold him.

I feel confident in my OBGYN and I feel confident in this new anesthesiologist. I expressed how important it was for me to be aware of what was going on after BB's birth and both my doctors assure me that I will have this. 

So, the big day is December 1, 2009. 

Time to start working on my suitcase for the maternité....

31 weeks

31 weeks

31 weeks @ Ikea.

31 weeks. Finally. I felt like I was in the twenties for such a long time. The thirty something weeks are the home stretch. In France they calculate on a 41 weeks gestation period. Maximilien came at 38 weeks. I hope BB comes around the same time. 38 is good. Apparently I make a good home for my babies and when it was time for Max to come I wasn't anywhere near the stages of giving birth.  But this time around I am going to let nature take it's course and we'll see when BB decides to show her pretty face. I keep dreaming that she looks like Max just with a pink headband and a bow. Julien thinks she'll come out a brunette with dark eyes. I'm secretly hoping she's blond and blue eyes like her brother. 9 more weeks to go...

The state of our union

I start my maternity leave tomorrow. And I have to say that I need it. This pregnancy has been very exhausting. Even though my life circumstances are different now, I'm working full time and have a toddler to chase after, physically this pregnancy has been much harder on me. The all day sickness I suffered the first three months lasted more like five months and then while traveling to the US I developed a blood clot in my upper extremity. A lot to deal with and all the while juggling being a mama, a wife, an entrepreneur, and trying not to get lost in it all. I welcome maternity leave tomorrow. I need it. 


We had our third trimester scan on Monday and BB is scanning in as big as Max at this time. Based on the length of her leg bones and the circumference of her head she's weight in at 2.1kgs (4.6 lbs) already. I found out that I tested negative for gestational diabetes which was a huge relief since I had a sinking feeling I had it. But not because of the medication I have to take everyday until the end of the pregnancy I must go in every 10 days for blood work to monitor my platelets level. Want to know the best way to cure your fear for needles, well there you have it. One thing that I am glad for is I haven't gained much weight this pregnancy. I think I've gained 6lbs the entire pregnancy which is a record for me. It also makes me worry that something is wrong because I know my body and I just don't do this. 

Something new that has occurred lately is this unnerving sense of doom I feel all the time which turns to utter complete stress for me. I keep feeling like something is going to happen to my business while I'm not there. A fire or we'll be burgled. I keep telling my husband that we need to change the car seat in my MIL's car for Max because I don't feel like it's safe enough for him and i have these dreams that he's in a car accident and something terrible happens. I am sure these feeling of unease are due to the pregnancy and stress of running my own business but I don't know what to do to really deal with them. Therapy? Well, that's what I use my blog for...

On to more cheery subjects, Maximilien is doing great these days. We've transitioned him to a full size twin bed and he loves it. Where as in his make shift toddler bed he looked so big in the full size bed he looks so small. But he's not a baby anymore. He's talking in complete sentences in French and in English. He jumping and climbing higher than Mama would like. He's affectionate and as obedient as a two year old can be. And he's very excited about the baby in Mama's bidon. Everyday he says, bonjour to his sister and calls her by her name (yes, we've found the perfect name!!). And he pays close attention to Mama's bidon so that I won't get too many bobos on it. I medicine I must take for the blood clot is an injection that I administer to my love handles and often they leave bruises. This worries Max and he checks everyday to make sure there aren't any new bobos on Mama's bidon. 


I am preparing myself for the arrival of BB and I know that I won't believe I'm having another baby until she's here. Every night I go and check on Max before going to bed and so the same thing I've done since the day he was born. I stroke his head and tell him that I love him. Kiss his hands and cheeks and smell his baby scent. Soon, I will have two...

Perfectly imperfect

Such is life. We all know it. Sometimes hard to admit and sometimes hard to live. I've been inspired by some of my favorite blogs to embrace the imperfection in my life. Yes, I don't make my bed. I put dirty dishes in the sink and leave them there for a couple days.

  Perfectly imperfect 

 As I type this entry there is a pile of laundry that's been on the kitchen table for a day or so and I keep neglecting to fold it because I'd rather do things like blog. Gasp. :) And you know what else? My husband and I fight. We're not perfect and us fighting shows me that we aren't. And I think I can admit out-loud that I am okay with that. But vow to make us better by working on my little imperfections. 

Snapshot: Monday morning breakfast

Yesterday morning I awoke like clockwork at 7:30 am. My internal Mama clock telling me it's time to get up, play with Max and have breakfast with him. Except that yesterday morning he was at his grandfather's house sleeping in. And there I was laying awake unable to sleep again.

This morning, I awoke to Max snuggling next to me sucking his thumb waiting for me to wake up. He's learned to be gentle waking up Mama and Daddy in the mornings. I can tell he's getting impatient and wants me to get up. He starts giving me kisses on my belly (really zerberts) and that says to me no-more-sleeping-mama!!!

We trek downstairs and have breakfast at the kitchen table. Sitting together slurping our milk from our cereal bowls I realize that I wouldn't change anything in my life right at this moment. 

Snapshop: Monday Breakfast

As I type this blog entry, Max has fished out our old Lite Brite from the floor (whose light bulb has long burnt out) and has pulled out the pegs by color and announcing them to me as I type. In this moment he seems so big to me. As much as I wouldn't change this moment, time is sweeping our lives and changing us faster than we can see. 

Snapshot: Lite brite gets a second life

Max's first haircut

When Maximilien was born he had very little hair. Not even eye brows! As he grew older we could always tell what age the photo was taken based on how long his hair was. Right around 18 months old his hair started to really grow and out came the cutest baby curls. 

Since we've been in the US it's been very hot and Max longer hair was slightly unmanageable and always in his eyes. So, while getting ice cream at Baskin Robbins we decided to pop over the hair salon next door and get his first hair cut. 

We went in with our baby boy with bouncing curls and out came our Maximilien, I'm-not-a-baby-big boy now.


Max's first hair cut Undeniably cute but I regret cutting the baby curls

Maybe it's a little foolish of me to regret cutting off his baby curls but I do hope they will come back again. 

When things are out of your control...

Some of you may have been following what has been going on this week through Twitter and Flickr. I still can't understand what has happened so I have decided to write about it here in hopes that someone who reads my blog has experienced something similar.

It started early last Sunday morning, I woke up to a sharp pain in my upper arm. So intense that it made me jump up in tears. It felt like someone had stabbed me in the arm or what my brain thought it would feel like if someone stabbed me. I got up and shook my arm out a bit in hopes that it would go away. Max was sleeping in the bed with me and I didn't want to wake him. I layed down and tried to sleep but was unsuccessful. The day started and we got up to meet with family for morning play and lunch. I ignored the pain in hopes that it would go away. It did not. I endured the pain until the afternoon and I think sometime upon returning to my sister's apartment I passed out because of fatigue and pain. I woke up to the most intense pain I've ever felt. My arm was pretty much incapacitated and we decided to go to the ER. 

After waiting nearly 4 hours to be seen due to other cases that were more serious, I was finally sent for a sonogram of my upper extremity and there they found that I had two clots. One in my internal jugular and another in a secondary artery. Both that run from my heart through to my arm. After that diagnosis, I was wisked away into a room and give medication and told to lay down. I suddenly became a priority patient.  With in minutes, I was seen by a barrage of doctors and specialists and told that I was going to be admitted.  All the while, I only knew they found a clot and that I needed medical attention asap. 

Once I was admitted I was given a drug called Lovenox. Apparent this is THE DRUG to combat against blood clots. And the best one to take when you are pregnant. It does not affect the baby because the drug can't pass through the placenta. I was administered a shot in my belly and later learned that I would have to administer this shot myself twice a day until the end of the pregnancy and 6 week postpartum. And I learned that because of the proximity of the clot to my heart (it is located in my chest on the upper left side) they can not operate to remove it. The only thing that can be done is to take Lovenox to prevent the development of other clots and hope that the existing ones do not break off and go where they are not supposed to. Like to my lungs. 

The OB/GYN specialist who followed me explained that it's highly rare for there to be a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) in the upper extremity like the one I have unless I've had an IV port recently or a blood transfusion.  Both of which I haven't had. The last time I had an IV was two years ago for the birth of Maximilien. I have blood drawn once a month to monitor for toxoplasmosis but that is usually in the other arm and the doctor doesn't believe that it came from that. And to my knowledge I know of no other member of my family that has had blood clots so the only other explanation is that pregnant women are higher risk for clotting due to the pregnancy itself. But the doctor didn't seem to really buy into that either because I would have mostly like developed a clot in my leg and not in my upper body. 

All this scares the shit out of me.

So, this is what I know now....

- BB is just fine. She is active and growing and the blood flow through my placenta to her is exactly as it should be. 

- I have to take two shots of Lovenox for the next 4 months and 6 weeks after birth. A shot that I have to administer myself in MY BELLY. I was scared of needles but not anymore... 

- I will probably have to take some sort of anti-coagulant every time I fly now. The reason being that once your body clots like this it has a tendency to keep doing it. Sounds weird but the doctor explained it to me as like Girls Gone Wild, once one clot shows up and decides to hang around others follow suit.  

- I am now considered a high risk pregnancy and probably won't have too much control on how BB will be born. But this is to be confirmed with my own OB/GYN in Paris. The American doctor told me that I would need to C-Section to birth this baby to make sure everything went alright. 

- And the thing that scares me the most is that this clot probably won't go away. And it's in my chest and near my heart. The doctor reassured me that it's much more dangerous to have one in your leg then your chest. Because the risk of pulmonary embolism is much higher but still. It freaks me out that it's right there in my chest. 

I did some quick research of giving birth while on Lovenox especially VBAC and found a thread on Baby Center that was interesting.  I have a lot of researching to do on my part and am anxious to get home and see my own doctor which will entail getting on an international flight again. I am scared. 

So, there you have it. Our vacation so far. Whoopee. 

Anyone who has an experience on DVTs, giving birth on anti-coagulants or any word of support is very welcome. The power of Twitter is amazing. Someone sent me this tweet the day I was released.  But for now I don't even know how to get my mind around all that has happened.  


We're exhausted but at least we're on vacation...

We're arrived in St. Louis safe and sound and have done what we intended to do. Nothing. It feels good but at the same time a little wrong because just last week we had so. much. to. do. I almost feel guilty not doing so much. But I'll get over. So far we've had breakfast, slept in as much as we can and have gone shopping. Maximilien is enjoying himself very much. My father and his wife bought a really nice kiddie pool for the back patio and everyday at the crack of dawn we hear, "Pool? pool"? 

No doubt that Max is having fun on his vacation

I'm coming to realize how much Max's nursury school tired him out! We're going to KC this weekend for a big family fête and when we return to St Louis I will be looking into some classes for Max at The Little Gym or Gymboree. He just needs to run and play hard. But just being here for a few days already, I have noticed Max using more English words. It's very interesting to hear the transition and it makes me grateful that he has this opportunity to speak the languages of his heritage. 

20 weeks

I'm at 20 weeks in this pregnancy and finally things are starting to take a turn for the better. I've only thrown up once this week. That's pretty good. I'm starting to sleep better now that Maximilien has decided that sleeping in his own bed is cool. And summer pretty much passed us by here in Paris so that means I'm pretty comfortable physically with this pregnancy. BB is really moving around a lot especially right after I've eaten something. I just downed a huge glass of chocolate milk (haven't had a glass of this since I was like in 6th grade) and it was so good. Other than the urge to drink lots of milk and eat yogurt all the time I haven't had any other cravings. In all honesty, my appetite has been pretty non-existent so far. I pretty much tell myself to eat a little through out the day because I want to keep my energy up. Speaking of energy, mine is back. And that means I can actually work again. For a couple months there I'd drag myself to the tea house to do the morning preparations and back and by the time noon came around (starting around 9am) I was dead tired. But now I find myself working away the morning and still wanting to stick around the tea house and work with my employees. I've had to hire a full time people to replace me during the week because it was not possible for me to keep working 65 hours a week and get through my first trimester. 

Lately, I've been listening to a podcast called Pregtastic. And have found it very entertaining and informative. Today, I listened to an episode about VBAC after cesarean. I am hoping to go this route with this baby. My doctor supports me on this and honestly, I feel that this baby is going to be a different size than Maximilien. You remember that Max was 4.945 kgs (10.9lbs) at birth. And at all stages of my pregnancy with Max I was just HUGE. So, the decision to go with a cesarean was made. Of course my doctor presented me with my options (which did include a vaginal birth) but being inexperienced and sort of naive about having a baby I decided on the cesarean. I don't regret my decision because Max came out perfect and everything worked out fine but I do feel like I deprived myself of my womanly right to have a baby as nature intended me to and I really want to experience that. While on vacation in the US, I plan on stocking up on books to educate myself about VBAC and preparing myself for a different kind of birth for BB. 

I leave you with an interesting thing that happened to me recently. Shortly after getting pregnant again, I started to wear my maternity/nursing tank tops again. They are just so comfy and underwire bras are evil when your breasts are huge. I was wearing one in the presence of Max and the latch for the bra portion happened to unclip. It makes a distinct clicking sound. Upon hearing this sound, Maximilien looks at me and exclaims, "Lolo?!" Lolo was the code word I used while I nursed him for breast feeding. I'd ask him if he wanted to Lolo or if he wanted to drink from the Lolo. I didn't want to be heard in public saying "do you want the boob? or Do you want to drink breast feed?" It worked well for us. No one knew the better. Until a few months ago, I had assumed that Max had forgotten completely about the Lolos. But I was wrong. Upon hearing the sound of my nursing tank top clip open, he immediately knew what that sound meant. Makes you wonder how far back he remembers at his young age? 

And finally my latest belly shot:

BB: 20 Weeks

20 weeks where I feel like I am more at 28 weeks. As of two weeks ago I hadn't gained any weight in this pregnancy but I feel that has changed now with all the chocolate milk and yogurt I've been eating lately. We'll see on Monday at my big 2nd echographie and get another good shot of our girl. 

 Here, Max is trying to drive his tractor on the baby just an older brother would do, right? 

Pregnancy productivity

or I should say creativity. 

Something about being pregnant and working on a knit project just is a perfect match. The process of making something that I will wrap my baby in when she's born brings enormous comfort to me. I hope this blanket will do the same for her.  

I recently learned how to crochet. And I mean in the most basic form that I can make a chain and then do one technique over and over again. Thanks to a sweet gal who attends TricoThé every week she has taught me her wisdom of crochet and I have started this baby blanket for BB. Baby blanket detail
It's very similar to the granny squares that most of us know. I mean I'm sure each of our grandmothers had some version of a blanket like this draped over their couch. I decided to use some lovely Rowan hand knit cotton in an array of bright colors. Something soft and colorful for this our baby who will be born in the middle of winter. I've been averaging about two hexagons an evening before bed and hopefully over summer break I will make some progress on the blanket.

Anyone looking for an easy patch work style blanket to do I highly recommend making a crochet blanket. It's an easy project to keep as an ongoing project while working on other things as well, like baby sweaters.