Saturday, December 29, 2007

Monster Update: 40

It's hard to say for sure how big the Tummy Monster will be, but the average newborn weighs about 7.5 pounds (a small pumpkin (pictured)) and is about 20 inches long. The biggest part of the Monster's body is his head, but his still-pliable skull will give it the flexibility necessary to squeeze through the birth canal. If and when he deigns to make an appearance, that is.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Another Bad Haiku

Today you are due.
What is the hang up, Monster?
Man, what a slacker.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Doctor Visit: 14: A Haiku

We... are... still... waiting...
I... must... not... be... impatient...
Please... ring... telephone

Doctor says Stef's weight gain has normalized (she's actually lost a bit of weight), and there are a couple of other indications that she's nearing the end. Like, jeez, ya think? Maybe one of those indications is that the Monster's due date is FRIDAY - JUST TWO DAYS AWAY?!? Or that my wife is as big as a house and massively, ridiculously pregnant?!?

I could totally be an OB/GYN.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Monster Update: 39

Just about a week to go and the Monster is just waiting to greet the world. He continues to build a layer of fat to help control his body temperature after birth, but it's likely he already measures about 20 inches and weighs a bit over 7 pounds, the size of a small watermelon (pictured). Try walking around and sleeping while carrying a watermelon in your waistband, and you'll understand how Stef is doing and why we're totally ready for him to be here now.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Doctor Visit: 13: a.k.a. the Hold Steady

So we sit here, waiting on pins and needles for the Monster to eventually, you know, EXIST, and the Doctor basically tells Stef: same old, same old. Heartbeat's slow decline is holding steady. Position (normal) is holding steady. The Monster's exponential weight gain? Holding steady. About the only thing not holding steady right now are my nerves.

It's like if every kid in the world knew Christmas/Hanukkah was coming, but no one, anywhere, had any idea as to WHEN. They just knew it was SOON. Imagine the collective anticipation of every 6 year-old in that scenario, and then multiply it by HAVING A BABY. I would really like to meet this kid soon, but it's not like I have a say in when he pops. So I suppose I'll just sit here, twiddling my thumbs. I'll get him when he's a bit older, though, when I tell him his birthday is "in the Winter sometime" and let him sweat it out.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Monster Update: 38

The Tummy Monster has really plumped up. He weighs about 6.8 pounds and he's over 19.5 inches long (like a large bunch of leeks (pictured)). He has a firm grasp, which we'll soon be able to test when we hold the Monster's hand for the first time! Also, his organs have fully matured and are ready for life outside the womb. So long as he doesn't come while I'm stuck in 5-hour traffic due to inclement weather, we're all set!

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Another Monster Friend

CONGRATULATIONS to Justin and Saru on the birth of their healthy baby boy, Ryan Sohan!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Doctor Visit: 12

Stef had two Doctor's visits this week. The first was an ultra sound which confirmed that the Monster is in the correct birth position (head down, facing Stef's spine), and the second was an uncomfortable and long visit with the OB. Unfortunately there were no good pictures from the ultrasound - he's actually too big and squished to get a good picture, but the nurse reading the device said that he looks healthy and has all the necessary parts. This is better news than a picture. We can't wait to meet him!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

And the winner of the Middle-name contest is...

In a nail-biting, 9-7 victory, Beckett beat out Scott in your hearts and votes for best middle name. And, amazingly, Stef and I agree. Or, rather, we really like Scott and Beckett as the Monster's middle name, but since Bekott or Sckett wasn't doing it for us, and we had to choose just one, we decided (just like a majority of you!) on the one with more cultural significance. Now we just have to hope that Theo doesn't trade Beckett in the off season. You can expect a post on how to change a Monster's name if he (Josh Beckett) ever becomes a Yankee.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Monster Update: 37

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Tummy Monster is officially full term! This means that he pops out now, his lungs should be fully mature and ready to adjust to life outside the womb, even though Stef's due date is still three weeks away. It also means that spicy food is on the menu and the trampoline will be arriving any day now! (Just kidding. We're not going to induce - or even try and homeopathic induction methods - unless the Doctors tell us to. We're all about having a healthy Monster and just forget about the "inconvenient" timing of the thing.)

Anyway, the Monster weighs about 6 pounds now and measures a bit over 19 inches, head to heel (like a stalk of Swiss chard (pictured)). Many babies have a full head of hair at birth, with locks from 0.5 inch to 1.5 inches long (and possibly in color not at all similar to the parents), but I was bald when I was born and Stef hasn't had any indigestion yet, so it's unlikely the Monster has any hair at all right now.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Doctor Visit: 11

Stef went to the Doctor's again today, and she will be going back a lot more in the coming weeks. At this visit she and the Doctor mostly talked about logistical issues, but the important thing is that everybody remains healthy. It looks like the OB Stef has had throughout the pregnancy likely won't be around for the delivery, but we'd rather have a different doctor on the big day than induce early, so what are you going to do?

Next week, Stef's getting her second ultrasound to get a better idea of how big the Monster really is, and which direction he's decided to face. And it also looks like she'll be stopping work for the year in a few weeks. Already, a normal day is too taxing for her, and the availability of early TDI means we can worry about keeping Stef and the Monster happy and healthy and not worry too much about our finances.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

There Can Be Only One

  1. The boy's name Scott (skaht) is of Old English origin, and its meaning is "from Scotland, a Scotsman." Mainly used in the 20th century, it reached peak popularity in the mid-1970s. Famous people with the name Scott include actors Scott Glenn and Scott Caan; authors Scott Peck, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Scott Turow; and musician Scott Joplin. It can be derived as "Scottie," which rhymes with "hottie" (good) and "snottie" (bad). Initials: "ASH". It would go nicely with a nickname of "the Great" - both because of this guy and this phrase (H/T Josh Summers). Try it on for size:

    Alexander Scott Howell

  2. The name Beckett (BEH ket) is of English origin, and its meaning is "beehive." In comparison to it's opposition in these finals, "Beckett" is neither historically nor currently popular. However, in their 2005 book “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden Side Of Everything,” authors Levitt and Dubner predicted that, among a few others, "Beckett" would be one of the most popular baby boy names of 2015. So far, their prediction has been spot on, as the name went from being off the map in 2005 to debuting on the SSN top 1000 list at number 758 in 2006. And that was before this guy (pictured) had the super-amazing-awesome season he had last year with the World Champion Boston Red Sox. Initials: ABH. Try it on for size:

    Alexander Beckett Howell
Make up your mind and vote, people! This is the last chance for you to have any say whatsoever in the Monster's middle name. Both of these names are viable options - actually they are our two favorites - so your vote MIGHT ACTUALLY DECIDE what Xander's middle name will be. Of course, it also might not. This isn't a Democracy, people.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Monster Update: 36

The Tummy Monster is gaining about an ounce a day, now. He weighs almost 6 pounds (like a crenshaw melon (pictured)) and is more than 18.5 inches long. Nevertheless, Stef's being a trooper, even though the Monster's clearly staring to weigh her down and tire her out quickly. Inside, the Monster's shedding most of the downy hair that covered his body, as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that protected his skin (like a round of cheese!) during his nine-month amniotic bath. Next week, the Monster will be considered full-term, so the nervous, anticipatory waiting has begun.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who Ya' Got?

The Semi-Finals are here, and I've broken them into two separate polls (conveniently located on the top, right-hand side of the blog (this way! --->)). So go ahead and pick your poison. Two underdogs (Jackson and Evan) against two battle-worn contenders (Scott and Beckett). The one you pick may end up being the middle name of my first born son. Or, you could just call him that when I'm not around. Your choice, punk. Who ya' got?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Monster Update: 35

The Tummy Monster doesn't have much room to maneuver now that he's over 18 inches long and tips the scales at 5.25 pounds (the heft of a honeydew (pictured)). Because it's so snug in Stef's womb, he isn't supposed to be doing somersaults anymore (although he hasn't gotten that memo, yet). He's still kicking a ton and hanging out on Stef's spleen. His kidneys are fully developed now, and his liver can process some waste products. Most of his basic monster development is now complete — he'll spend the next few weeks putting on weight. That extra helping of turkey and mashed potatoes? All him.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Polls are open for the Elite Eight of Monster Middle Names. As always, you have a week to determine who goes to the Final Four. Right now I'm just jazzed that "Beckett" (pictured above, also jazzed) did so well against strong contender "Ryan".

Monday, November 19, 2007

Things We Learned

This weekend was a weekend of knowledge for us: we went stroller shopping, we borrowed a newborn for a night, and we took an all day child birthing class. I'll tackle each issue one at a time.

First, strollers. Clearly, we are no longer living in the era of "one umbrella stroller and you're set." Sure, we could spend $12 and be done, but that wouldn't be sporting. If you haven't seen a stroller store recently, trust me when I tell you that it can be daunting to look for a new stroller. I've probably spent as much time researching strollers as I did determining where I wanted to go to college. However, there's only so much wisdom you can gain from the printed page or website, sometimes you have to just test the product out. To that end, Stef and I traveled up to Wellesley, MA, where my old co-worker Sheri and her husband, Eli, were opening their second (of three) baby/toy store (check 'em out). Now on our stroller shortlist: the Phil & Ted's e3 and the Baby Jogger Urban Mini. Now off our list: the Mountain Buggy Urban Single (just too heavy and unwieldy for Stef), and about 15 other strollers we were considering. Overall, I think it was a successful trip, but we've yet to really settle on a stroller, so more work needs to be done. Insane? Yes, I know it is. hopefully, all our friends-with-children can help us through the morass.

Later on that night, we borrowed a baby from our friends Scott and Julie, who were in town for a classmate of Scott's wedding. Kelan is a cute little dude who is curious and lovely and he just did not enjoy his time with us at all. So from between 7:30 and 11 pm we were just trying to get him to calm down while his Mom and Dad enjoyed their wedding. Things we learned: (i) the vacuum/dust buster is a magic baby-shut-off-switch, (ii) he also likes the white noise section of the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD, and (iii) when getting a baby used to the bottle, multiple types of nipples should be tried. Also, I have a million dollar idea: baby rentals. Parents pay to leave their kid with the service, who also rents out the same babies to young couples nervous about parent-hood or someone looking to scare their significant other out of pregnancy. The insurance would be crazy ridiculous, but you'd probably make money hand over fist.

Third, we woke up early Sunday and spent all day in a birthing class at a hospital. This class was helpful, and Stef is happy because half the class was about massaging her back, hands and feet. Of course, the other half of the class was mind-numbingly terrifying giving-birth type information, so it balanced out. And, of course, some of the class was a bit repetitive from the previous two classes we already took, so tonight's class will be our last for a while, we hope.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Monster Update: 34

The Tummy Monster now weighs about 4.75 pounds (like your average cantaloupe (pictured)) and is almost 18 inches long. His fat layers — which he'll need to regulate his body temperature once he's out in the real world — are filling out, making the Monster rounder. His skin is also smoother than ever. The Monster's central nervous system is maturing and his lungs are continuing to mature as well. Although it is good to know that babies born between 34 and 37 weeks who have no other health problems generally do fine, we'd still like the Monster to stay cooking for a bit longer to avoid a stay in the neonatal nursery or any short-term health issues.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Another Monster Friend

CONGRATULATIONS to Jeremy and Sharona on the birth of their lovely baby girl, Lilia Katherine!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Polls Open

The first part of the Sweet Sixteen of Middle Names saw some upsets and some pretty strong contenders. Which middle names will make it out of Round 2.2? This is why we have the polls.

There's only one Monster. There's only one Middle Name. There's only one... September-to-December-period-in-which-we-select-via- majority-vote-the-Monster's-middle-name.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Monster Update: 33

This week the Monster weighs a little over 4 pounds (the heft of a pineapple, pictured) and he has likely passed the 17-inch benchmark that all fetuses aim for. He's rapidly losing that wrinkled, alien look and his tiny monster skeleton is hardening. The bones in the Monster's skull aren't fused together, though, but that's a good thing which will make it easier for him to squeeze the birth canal. These bones won't entirely fuse until early adulthood, so they can grow as his brain and other tissue expands during infancy and childhood.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Doctor Visit: 10

Stef went to the Doctor last night for her now biweekly check-up. Things are well and progressing nicely. Both momma and the Monster are healthy and the Monster is growing pretty much as expected. Stef's belly is 32 inches across, which is some indicator of how many weeks pregnant she is (but we already knew she was 32 weeks pregnant, so that seems like a redundant and extremely coincidental indicator). This has really been a text-book pregnancy so far, and I, personally, could not be happier.

Schedule-wise, it was kind of a pain that Stef had to wait so long to see the Doctor, and that the appointment was so late to begin with. Particularly considering that all she had to do was pee in a cup, get her weight taken and her blood pressure checked, and especially since Monday night is our one night for TV shows. Which meant that after the appointment Stef was rushing to get home, and we couldn't get any chores done. It makes the night seem really short when you're only home and conscious for two hours. In the future, we're going to try and have morning appointments for her.

The Sweet Sixteen (Part One)

We have arrived, ladies and Gentlemen, at the second round of middle name selection, wherein you select your favorite middle name for Alexander "Xander" _____ Howell (a.k.a. the Tummy Monster). You will note that on the poll there are now eight, not four, names to choose from. Please select as many names as you like, or we're going to end up with numerous low-scoring ties.

Overall, I am liking the wisdom of the crowds thing going on here. You all really haven't picked a name I don't like. My only disappointments from the first round are (i) "Danger" did not move on to the second round (Stef thanks you!), and (ii) I never made "Trouble" an option. The Monster just got a onesie that says "Trouble is my Middle Name", which I thought was more than appropriate. Good thing I'm not stuck with the winner of the bracket! Ha ha ha ha ha!

In somewhat related news, Stef says I'm not allowed to go to the baby records room by myself anymore.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Prenatal Bonding

We have two female cats. One of them, Houdini (not pictured), is a bit skittish and disdainful of (most) human contact. The other, Jack Daniels (pictured above), is more of a lap cat. Er, scratch that... she's more of a Tummy Monster cat.

It used to be that Jackie loved me above all. I provided food, water and clean litter, and would pet her and play with her, so she would reward me with her presence. I'd sit down, she'd come sit on my lap. Lately, however, she's been ignoring me to hang with the Tummy Monster. Almost without fail, if Stef is sitting down, Jackie will run over and sit either on or near the Monster. It's a little sad but also super cute, so I'm okay with it.

But the best part is when we're sleeping, and Jackie cuddles with the Monster. A few nights ago, Stef says, when she did this he started kicking her, and she felt it, thought it was some kind of crazy shiatsu massage and cuddled closer, purring. So it's good that we're all getting along. I hope we can keep this up after the kid is born.


Dear friends and family members:

Saturday was Stef's baby shower. As you might imagine, we made off with quite a pile (a full car-load, in fact) of baby-loot from you, our more-than-generous friends and family. A special thanks to Stef's mom, Anne, for organizing and hosting the lovely event, and to Kate for helping out, too. Thanks to everyone who braved the Nor-easter to come down to Connecticut to share in the day, and thanks to those of you who couldn't make it but provided for the Monster in whatever way you could. Also, thanks to Katyland for telling me what a "dude" means and for helping me find out who the shortest adult is.

The Monster's room is now well-stocked and ready for his Monsterousness. He's got clothes and toys and books and everything he could want, and we, his parents, could not be more grateful. We could never have done this without all of you, and without our parents in particular. So, from the bottom of our heart: Thank you.*

Stefanie and Marcus

* Expect a card in the mail soon with identical sentiments.

Books Report: "What to Expect When Your Wife is Expanding: A Reassuring Month-by-Month Guide For The Father-to-Be, Whether He Wants Advice Or Not"

Thomas Hill and Cader Books, 2007

This book/pamphlet was a gift from Jim (father of Brenna and Delamie), who is a funny guy and pretty smart, too. Now, some people will say that this book has almost zero useful information in it, because it's meant to be humorous (it calls itself a "parody" right on the cover there). However, every once in a while, the book would surprise me with some actual knowledge cloaked in "humor". Stuff that it helped me to know, even if it didn't change my actions, simply because it tempered my expectations. For instance, I wasn't going to skip any of Stef's doctor visits that I could possibly make, but it was nice to know that a bunch of them are just (i) Stef peeing in a cup, (ii) the Doctor reassuring her that her horrible symptoms are normal, and (iii) setting up the next appointment.

As for the jokes? Some were funny, some were really not. I try and be really supportive of Stef, so it's hard for me to laugh at her misfortune, and a bunch of the "humor" in the book is in that vein. Every once in a while though, there would be something actually ha-ha funny, but for the most part, I laugh more at the conversations I have with Jim (or reading these blogs) than I did reading this book.

Book Report: "Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy And Childbirth "

Jenny McCarthy, 2006

This book is not intended to be a reference book, but instead tells the story of one woman’s pregnancy. Ms. McCarthy is an excellent story teller. She has an excellent upbeat tone even though she did not have an easy pregnancy or childbirth. She is funny and sassy and still manages to convey some useful information and advice in the process. I recommend this to anyone looking for an easy, lighthearted read. Seriously, it is “laugh-out-loud” funny.

Report by Stefanie (note: for what it's worth, Marcus also read this book, but he has nothing new to add to Stef's report (although she found it funnier than he did)).

Book Report: "Easy Labor: Every Woman's Guide to Choosing Less Pain And More Joy During Childbirth"

William Camann and Kathryn Alexander, 2006

Overall I found this book to be interesting and useful. It describes each of the major pain management options available to women giving birth. It did strike me as being biased towards pain medications, but was still very informative on other options. I do wish they had provided more concrete information on some of the non-medicated methods rather than simply referring to various classes. Perhaps that would be too much to cover in one book. It was good to at least get an idea of what else I should be looking into. I just wish I had read it sooner because many of the non-medication methods requires months of preparation.

There is an interesting piece at the back that discusses the history of pain management, or lack thereof, which I thought would be great to have at the beginning of the book. In its current state, it just jumps right into the discussion of pain and kind of stressed me out at first. I just about broke into a sweat thinking about having to have an IV along with the epidural, but it’s not the author’s fault that I can’t stand needles.

I think the best advice this book gives is to be educated about your options and stay flexible.

Report by Stefanie

Book Report: "Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy: Or Everything Your Doctor Won't Tell You"

Vicki Iovine, 1995

I am not a big fan of this book. I found most of her advice/commentary to be shallow and narcissistic. She mentions various medical issues that can arise, but only glosses over them. Maybe it’s just because I was so sick during the first trimester, but I couldn’t get interested in her tough decisions on whether or not to dye her hair and paint her nails. The only part I found helpful and interesting was at the end where the author gives advice on what to pack in your hospital bag.

Report by Stefanie

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Monster Update: 32

By now, the Tummy Monster weighs 3.75 pounds (about the size of a large jicama, pictured) and is about 16.5 inches long (give or take), taking up a lot of space and moving around a ton. Stef has been healthily gaining about a pound a week and roughly half of that goes right to the Monster. In fact, he'll gain a third to half of his birth weight during the next 7 weeks as he fattens up for survival outside the womb.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Poll, One Day Late...

Sorry about that. I was really busy yesterday, and there was no weekly poll. I know, you're devastated, and now you only have six days left to vote.

Keep in mind that this is the last poll of the first round. After this, it's all repeats to find the one y'all like the best. I don't know if I should tell you this or not, but my favorites are in this round. I mean, seriously, who doesn't want their middle name to actually be "Danger"?!? Imagine all the people the Monster could impress! And I _know_ he won't be the only "Beckett" his age in the Boston area. Obviously, I'm biased, but you still get a vote*!

* Your votes are, as always, for information and fun only. Stef and I reserve the right to name the Monster whatever the heck we want (and Stef says she reserves the right to make me sleep on the sofa for eighteen years if we name him "Danger").

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sox Sweep Rox In Series

I'm sorry the Monster missed it, but it was still awesome. Is it too late to add "Lowell", "Jacoby", "Lester" or "Beckett" as a possible middle name for the Monster? Alexander Beckett Howell isn't actually too bad, IMHO.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Monster's First: Class

After work on Friday night, Stef and I took the Monster to Women and Infant's Hospital for our first class (of, like, five) related to his eventual birth. The class was called: "Hospital Tour and So Much More," and it was helpful, if only to see what the room will look like where Monster will be born and to learn the administrative processes of the hospital. A map would have been nice for the tour, but other than that, it was useful. Mostly, it helped calm our nerves regarding the mundane questions like: how do we get there, where do we park... stuff like that.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Monster Update: 31

This week, the Tummy Monster measures over 16 inches long and weighs about 3.3 pounds (approx. weight of four navel oranges) and he is heading into a growth spurt! He can turn his head from side to side, and his arms, legs, and body are beginning to plump out as needed fat accumulates underneath his skin. He's moving a lot, too, so is having some trouble sleeping because the Monster's kicks and somersaults keep her up. Her ability to walk long distances or handle bumpy roads is significantly decreased, as well. But all this moving is a sign that your baby is active and healthy.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

World Series Is Here, Monster Is Not

In 2004, just after the Sox won the World Series, as Stef and I slogged home against the flow of the Boston mob heading downtown for post-game drunken revelry and rioting, I lamented the fact that any child born after that day would have a long time to wait before seeing the Sox in the Series again.

It did not occur to me back then that this also included my own future child(ren).

And now, here we are. October 2007, and the Sox are once again on their way to the Fall Classic. Now, certainly, the Rockies don't look like the '04 Cardinals, but I am as confident as a member of the Red Sox Nation can be* about the Sox's chances, here. But winning would, for me, be kind of bitersweet, since the Tummy Monster won't be able to see the Green Monster for at least another few months now and share this moment with me. Poor kid is going to miss some great baseball here.

Well, at least his cousin Hunter (pictured) will be able to regale the Monster with the details of the games!

Let's go Sox!

* Max. confidence of any Sox fan = shy kid with acne, two lazy eyes and a stutter.

Nursery Photos!

Dear everybody,

I attach for your perusal and enjoyment photos I took last night of the Tummy Monster's mostly-finished-but-still-mostly-empty nursery. Basically, the walls are painted, the furniture is all in place (except for the rocker), and the decorations are up. Now all we need is a bit more stuff and a Monster, and we'll be good to go. As always, higher resolution images and other pictures of things we have done are available here.

"Paddington Bear" and "Babar" framed pages

"Curious George", "Dr.Suess's ABCs" and "Are You My Mother?" framed pages

"Frog & Toad" and "Lil' Monster" framed pages

This is the bookshelf I finished and painted. There were originally two of them, but it was my first time staining anything, so they came out really horrible, actually. The one you see here isn't too bad (unless you look closely), but the one in the basement is staying in the basement.

Here's the room, pretty much, including a good shot of the Monster's dresser/changing table. That's the most expensive thing in our townhouse right now. And it's going to get peed on. Constantly. Off to the left of the dresser is a space for the rocker in what we're calling the Story Corner.

Here's the nursery's (Eastern-facing) window. The Monster's room has beautiful light for most of the day (not pictured), and a great view of our porch and quiet backyard (not pictured). The laundry basket (a gift from Fran's parents... thanks!) probably won't go there.

And, finally, here's the Monster's crib (a beautiful piece of furniture, IMHO), which also features a mobile (also a gift of the Behrs') and a Raggedy Andy doll made for me when I was a baby by my Aunt Becky. The quote above the crib is taken from Dr.Suess' "Oh! The Places You'll Go!" Attribution would've cost more, and we thought it was kind of obvious anyway. We got the lettering at a place called Wallwords. They went up really easily and look fantastic.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the photographic tour, folks! I'll take some more pictures after Stef's shower when everything is in place. In the meantime, we're just happy to be done for a few weeks.

- Marcus

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monster's First: Party

This past weekend, Stef and I decided to start a new family tradition by hosting our first ever annual Harvest Party for all our "family-friendly" friends. Because fancy cocktail parties and ragin' beach keggers are kinda' out of the picture now for most of us. Also, because Stef says there's nothing inherently wrong with throwing a party where no one pukes and the cops aren't needed.

First, we went apple picking (since we live in Apple Valley and are quite literally surrounded by apple orchards), and then we had a bunch of people over to play games and eat October-y food and just hang out. The food we made was well-received, the weather was perfect (the leaves are just starting to turn!), and we had a wonderful time. Plus, the Tummy Monster got some gifts (thanks Jordi and Jen... and congrats!), which is truly the hallmark of any great party. I think young Master Jace will have a lot of company at the second annual Harvest Party. (Pictures to follow, if people send them my way).

Tuesday = Poll

Get your poll on, people. The bracket continues.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Doctor Visit: 09

Not much to report other than Stef's healthy weight gain (five pounds in two weeks), and her flu shot. We're all signed up for pregnancy classes, so hopefully any questions we have will get answered between now and late December.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Monster Update: 30

The Tummy Monster is a bit longer than 15.5 inches now, and he weighs almost 3 pounds! A pint and a half of amniotic fluid surrounds the Monster, but that volume will decrease as he gets bigger and takes up more room in Stef's uterus. The Monster's eyesight continues to develop, though Monster-eyes are apparently not very keen; even after he's born, the Monster'll keep his eyes closed for a good part of the day. When he does open them, he'll respond to changes in light but will have 20/400 vision — which means the Monster will only be able to make out objects a few inches from his face. (Normal adult vision is 20/20.)

Meanwhile, as he continues to get bigger, the Monster is really getting kicky. At one point Stef had to stand up and bend over just to get him to stop playing the mambo on her internal organs.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

You Can Do Better Than I Can!

Dear Readers of the Tummy Monster blog,

It occurred to me this morning that, after the Monster is born, he's going to need a new Blog, since he will no longer be a "tummy" monster. So, then, the question is, what should the name of the blog be? Also, what should the URL of the blog be (keeping in mind that most of the nice and simple blogspot URLs are already taken)?

Here's what I came up with so far (all URLs are available as of this morning):

  • Xander the Mander (
  • Alexander & the ____, ____, ____ Day (
  • Xander's World Wide Web Log (
  • The Xander Update (
  • Xander Land (
  • What Xander Did Today (
  • Xxxander ( [Ed.'s note: clearly running out of viable ideas, I make a lame joke at my unborn son's expense based on the name we have selected for him]
  • Xander Pod (
  • Xands Of Time(
  • The X Spot ( [Ed.'s note: Okay, I kinda like this one.]

I know you can do better than those, because most of those were LAME, so let's hear your suggestions in the comments, please!


Wow. Last week there was the first shut-out of a middle name suggestion. Allen was just really, really unpopular for whatever reason (I really didn't like it either... it happens to have unfortunate connotations here at my new office). Anyway, go ahead and vote for your favorite(s) this week. Only three more weeks of new names and then the bracket narrows to the next round, which will go faster since you've already seen all the names at least once.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monster's First: Airplane Trip

This weekend we took what will probably be our last airplane trip for a couple of months to visit my parents and attend the beautiful wedding of family friend Rebecca Willens to Adam Walker (who seems like a really nice guy considering we've met him, like, once and he still invited us to his wedding). The Monster kicked a bit on the plane (mostly on take-off and landing), but any abnormalities could easily have been a function of Stef's lingering cold rather than internal pressure fluctuations or the Monster's sudden realization that he was miles above the ground. We also had the opportunity to raid my parents' stash of kids' books while we were in town, so soon the Monster's library will triple or quadruple in size.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Monster Update: 29

The Tummy Monster is growing rapidly now (mostly due to Snickers bars and Bryer's chocolate ice cream). This week he weighs about half a pound more than he did last week (about 2.5 pounds total) and is a tad over 15 inches long from head to heel. The Monster's muscles and lungs are continuing to mature, and his head is getting bigger to accommodate his growing brain (HIS GROWING BRAAAAAAIIIINNNN!!!!!) — which is busy developing billions of neurons (which he will eventually destroy in his teenage rebellion years). Every day, about 200 milligrams of calcium is deposited in the Monster's skeleton, which is now hardening. Of course, Stef takes Calcium supplements, so I'm hoping the Monster's skeleton will be super-hard, like a super hero. With this rapid growth, it's no surprise that his nutritional needs are reaching their peak during this trimester, which explains why Stef is ravenous pretty much all the time, but that still isn't easy to get used to.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Doctor Visit: 08 (or thereabouts)

One of these days I'll get Stef to actually post to this blog, but in the meantime, I thought I'd let everyone know the latest slew of Doctors' appointments have confirmed that that the Monster is doing fine, and so is Stef (who, as you can tell by the picture on the side, has gotten much bigger in the past few weeks), and there aren't going to be any RH antibodies or something which is good news now and if we have another kid later.

Also, Stef said she was "shot in the butt with Rogaine" during her last visit, but that doesn't make sense to me at all. Now that we're in the third trimester she's going to be going to the Doctor biweekly, so expect more health updates as the Monster's eviction date comes closer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Nursery Theme Images

As some of you may already know, we have a baby registry (here), and are slowly putting together a nursery for Xander (before and after pictures will come post-shower). And we think we're doing a pretty good job, even on days when I am pretty sure I broke the electricity. Our theme is BOOKS, because Stef and I love to read, and odds are good the Monster will, too. And, sure, we've got the bedding and all the various prefab decorations that go with the bedding, but we also wanted to add some personal touches to the nursery.

To that end, we went to the library and checked out some children's books to scan, and I spent some of last week and weekend scanning and cleaning up the images to print out and frame up in the nursery, even going so far as to tweak some of the colors in the images to fit the colors of our nursery. I then created a website so we could kinda' sorta' see what those images would look like on our nicely painted new walls before printing them out. Here's that site, if you're curious to see those images for yourself. Unfortunately, the internet doesn't do "dark brown" very well, so you'll have to use your imagination with the frames. Additionally, there may be some more tweaking of images if they need it. But overall, this was, we think, a nice way to incorporate our love of books with the prefab design of the bedding set we selected.

Another Poll

It's Tuesday, so that means another middle name poll. Last week "Evan" got a record number of responses. I'm not sure if that's because you liked it, or because you could suddenly choose multiple middle names each poll. The link below will show you the "bracket" we've got going on, in case you're curious about what's next or the results from previous polls.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Another Monster Friend

CONGRATULATIONS to Jim and Eileen on the birth of their second baby girl, Delamie Jane! Hope she's as adorable as Brenna!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Monster Update: 28

By this week, the Tummy Monster weighs a little over 2 pounds (or, as Stef says "more than two giant bags of M&Ms") and measures almost 15 inches from the top of his head to his heels. The Monster can open and close his eyes, which now sport lashes. This movement is more of a reflexive blink than a deliberate opening and closing, but it won't be long before he's batting those beauties at us.

Meanwhile, Stef went from very little eating in the first trimester, to eating normally in the second, to eating pretty much every hour or two during the third trimester. There have even been days when she's woken up in the middle of the night and eaten, and then gone back to sleep. It's crazy. Whoever invented Ensure, though, is a life-saver. The Monster is going to be huge!

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New Poll

As you may have noticed already, there's a new poll for middle names today, and if you participate you'll also notice that you can now vote for multiple names at the same time. Good luck with that.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Monster Update: 27

The Tummy Monster is really starting to get big, now, and Stef is pretty much always hungry. This week he weighs almost 2 pounds and is about 14.4 inches long with his legs extended. He now sleeps and wakes at regular intervals, which intervals normally coincide with Stef's ice cream ingestion. He may also be sucking his fingers or having hiccups now, basically doing baby stuff. And although the Monster's lungs are still immature, they would be capable of functioning — with assistance — if he were born prematurely. Which is good to know in theory, but we have no plans to put this little nugget of information into practice.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kicky McGee

So for a while, Stef was telling me she could feel the Monster kick around in her belly. Every once in a while she'd grab my hand and excitedly put it on her belly, amazed that I could not feel him at all. He apparently moves more (or, at least) Stef can feel him move around more) when (i) Stef is being less active, and/or (ii) post Breyer's chocolate ice cream binge (a now daily occurrence for Stef), so quite often a fair part of the night would be her going "oh!" and grabbing my hand, me shaking my head, and her looking disappointed and bewildered.

And then, a few days ago, the Monster grew up enough so that I could feel him kick. And kick. And kick. And kick. And kick. Basically what I'm saying is: the Monster's an active little guy.

It's a surreal experience that is hard to put into words, feeling your first child move around inside your wife like some kind of parasitic alien creature. I can only imagine it freaks Stef out slightly more than me, if only because she feels it all the time. It also makes me proud for some reason, and very excited. I mean, feeling the Monster kick pretty much makes him that much more of a reality.

Sorry For The Delay

Huh. So, it is taking us much longer than expected to get back on track here at Tummy Monster's public relations firm, but in the meantime, you should know there's a new poll for middle names, and the Tummy Expansion animation has been updated to the most recent image (taken this Saturday). As you can tell, Stef is looking very big and healthy. We could not be more excited, but we're also in the process of nesting, so we're pretty distrac - hey! cute baby stuff. Neat!

Anyway, I'm not a big fan of making promises I am not sure I can keep, but you can probably expect some backlogged content to be popping up on this site by the end of the week. Yeah, I know, you can go ahead and breathe out again.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Monster Update: 26

The Tummy Monster now weighs a little less than 2 pounds and measures about 14 inches. His weight will more than triple between now and birth as he rapidly puts on baby fat, and makes Stef expand like a giant balloon. The Monster will need that fat to help adjust to colder temperatures outside the 98.6 degree plus womb-spa he's in now, and also as a source of energy and calories in the first days of life. Apparently, it's not uncommon for newborn monsters, especially those who are breastfed, to lose weight (sometimes as much as 10 percent of their birth weight) in the first week after birth.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Monster Update: 25

Head to heels, the Tummy Monster now measures about 13.5 inches. His weight — a pound and a half — doesn't sound like much, but he's beginning to exchange his long, lean look for a more rounded one. As the Monster gains weight, his wrinkled skin will begin to smooth out and he'll start to look more like a mini newborn. His hair is probably recognizable now in color and texture, although both will likely change after he's born.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Another Monster Friend: Cousin Special Edition

Hunter James Sicard, a.k.a. "Ribs", born September 12, 2007, at 9:47 PM; weighing in at 7 lbs, 3 oz and measuring 20 inches. The Monster has a cousin, and our family is now plus one. Happy (Jewish) New Year, indeed.

Monday, September 10, 2007

To Tide You Over

So... it has been a little while since the last Tummy Monster post, I realize. The delay may have to do with the fact that in the span of two weeks we closed on a townhouse, we moved half of our stuff from Providence to Smithfield, we moved the other half of our stuff from Mystic to Smithfield, we probably bought another half of stuff and had to put it together/install it ourselves*, I finished one job on a Friday and started the new one the next Monday, we held a Fantasy Football draft party/BBQ and Stef helped prepare for a friend's baby shower. Or it may be because I'm lazy. Who knows?

Anyway, I'm sorry, but you're going to have to wait a bit more for updates and whatnot, because we're still kinda' busy and reeling from the move. Updates will be sporadic for a time. Until then, there's a new poll of middle names to vote on. Hooray!

*Everything but the gas dryer, of course. That we had to hire a plumber to install for us.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Monster Update: 24

The Tummy Monster is steadily growing, gaining about a quarter of a pound since last week. Since he's almost a foot long, that makes for a pretty lean figure, but his body's filling out proportionally. The Monster's brain is growing rapidly, and his taste buds may be working now. His lungs are developing "branches" of the respiratory "tree" and cells that produce surfactant, a substance that helps the air sacs inflate easily. The Monster can hear more now, and Stef may even start to notice him startle at loud, sudden noises. But he's probably getting used to the regular noises she hears around the house, such as me barking at the TV during a football game, or the purr of Jackie resting on Stef's belly.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Monster Update: 23

The Tummy Monster is more than 11 inches long and weighs just over a pound. He may be able to feel Stef's movements now. He looks red now due to blood vessels showing through his transparent skin, but his true skin tone will develop over the course of his first year. Blood vessels in the Monster's lungs are developing to prepare him for breathing, but complete lung development will take many more months. The lungs are the last organ to fully develop.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Monster Update: 22

The Tummy Monster now looks like a miniature newborn, checking in at almost 11 inches and almost 1 pound. The Monster's skin will continue to appear wrinkled until he gains enough weight to fill it out. The Monster's eyes are developed, though the iris (the colored part of the eye) still lacks some pigment. The Monster's lips are becoming more distinct, and the first signs of teeth are appearing as buds beneath his gum line. However, he won't have his first snaggle-tooth until he's around 4 to 7 months old, unless he's one of the rare babies who are born with teeth.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On "Alexander"

Sex: boy
Language(s): Latin (Greek)
Meaning: defender of mankind
History: The name was probably coined originally as a title of the goddess Hera, consort of Zeus. Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) conquered and ruled the greater part of the known world before his death at the age of 33. History describes him as a man of high physical courage, impulsive energy, and fervid imagination. It was a royal name in Scotland.
Variant Forms: Al, Alasdair, Alastair, Alaster, Alaxander, Alcander, Alcinder, Alcindor, Alec, Aleco, Alejandro, Alejo, Alek, Aleko, Aleksandar, Aleksander, Aleksandr, Aleksanteri, Alesandro, Alessandre, Alessandri, Alessandro, Alex, Alexan, Alexandre, Alexandro, Alexandros, Alexei, Alexi, Alexio, Alexis, Alic, Alicio, Alick, Alik, Alisander, Alissander, Alissandre, Alistair, Alister, Alistir, Alix, Alixandre, Allie, Allistair, Allister, Allistir, Alsandare, Alyksandr, Iskander, Iskender, Lex, Lexo, Sacha, Sander, Sandero, Sandor, Sandro, Sandros, Sandie, Sandy, Sascha, Sasha, Saunder, Saunders, Sikander, Xander, Zander, Zandro and Zandros.
Popularity: 2006 (12), 2005 (12), 2004 (15), 2003 (16), 2002 (15), 2001 (20), 2000 (20), . . . , 1990 (28), 1980 (92), 1970 (137), 1960 (231) (Note: Rank 1 is the most popular, rank 2 is the next most popular, and so forth. Name data are from Social Security card applications for births that occurred in the United States.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Alexander ?!?!? Howell

In case you didn't know, it can be a bit intimidating naming an unborn child. For instance, if you name your kid "Orangejello" or "Female"* the teenage years are going to be a problem, and odds are that you will be paying a lot for bail or therapy (or, likely, both). Thankfully, Stef and I have had a wonderful boy's name picked out for a few years now: "Alexander," which friends naming their own children have avoided on the chance that we have a boy. Thanks people!!! Naming the Monster "Alexander" is more than just nod to our favorite male TV character from the bestest TV show ever, it is a traditional way to honor both of our maternal grandfathers, Albert and Anthony.

Nevertheless, we remain in a quandry as to the Monster's middle name. See, the middle name doesn't really get used in today's society unless you're filling out a government form or getting yelled at, but you still want it to be cool. If for some reason the Monster doesn't like "Alexander" or any of its derivatives one would hope he chooses to be known by his given middle name. Which leads us naturally to this blog's second round of polls.

Because democracy is awesome, and so are sports-type brackets, we're going to have a fast a furious couple of week-long polls wherein you get to help name our child. This is not to say that we will actually choose the name you pick by popular vote. Just look at how badly you performed at the last poll; we can't trust your input at all! However, your votes will be a jumping off point for our internal discussions, and therefore your votes may very well sway us to pick a name in the end. So go ahead and vote early and often for your favorite middle name. For those of you who use RSS readers, I'll remind you each week when a new poll goes up.

* Actual names of people with horrible, horrible parents.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Boy Oh Boy

This morning, Stefanie and I visited Rhode Island Hospital's Women & Infants Prenatal Diagnostics Center ("conveniently" located as far from the spot we parked and through as much construction as possible for a building in the same complex), so that we could get a good look at the Monster. I mean, it's one thing to read about how big the Monster should hypothetically be, and another thing entirely to, you know, see it for yourselves. After a long walk and some quick "genetic counseling" (which basically consists of a young MD collecting a somewhat lackadaisical family medical history) Stefanie's belly was slimed, and pictures of the Monster were taken by Ultrasound (Level II, in case you're curious). What you see above is a still from our apparently hyper-active fetus. The technician called the Monster a "smart alec", because he kept moving away from the camera, dancing the placenta cha-cha and sucking his thumbs the whole time.

Yeah, that's right. He. His. The Monster has boy parts. And while news of the Monster's gender doesn't make us happy or unhappy in and of itself, it does, as Stef said, "make the whole pregnancy-thing more concrete in our heads."

In related news, 67% of you got our first poll totally wrong. You're terrible at this. See if you can do better with the next poll. See next post for further details.

News that did make us happy when we got it this morning was that the Monster was, as far as the technician and the OB doing an echo-cardiagram could tell, perfectly healthy and within all tolerances for size and shape. It also looks like the due date is what we thought it was. And that's all the news for now.