Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Book Report: "From The Hips"

Rebecca Odes & Ceridwen Morris, 2007

So, after a brief hiatus from reading pregnancy-related books (not to mention dealing with an actual pregnancy), I'm back on topic with From The Hips, which I had heard was made with our generation in mind. Unfortunately, it wasn't as helpful as I'd have liked.

Sure, the book is very pretty. It certainly gets style points over all the other books I've read for its illustrations* and its use of color and interesting design elements and what-have-you. And it definitely uses more "hip" (pardon the pun) language. However, content-wise it was a bit lacking. This is mostly due to the book's two main conceits - (i) the "fair and balanced" approach to data presentation, and (ii) the use of thought bubbles conveying anecdotal information which re-enforces the author-created content on the page.

For example, there's a section of the book wherein the authors discuss whether or not pregnant women should eat sushi. They present an argument pro and an argument contra, and basically leave it up for you to decide. Fair enough, I suppose, as every pregnancy is different, and I understand the trepidation they might have regarding litigation in this day and age. But "fair and balanced" is not very helpful. Even less helpful are the (visually arresting) thought bubbles surrounding this "debate" on the page, wherein anonymous mothers present one-sentence snippets which repeat, albeit in first-person format, the pro and contra arguments already discussed by the authors. As someone who frowns on the use of one-off anecdotal evidence, I was more than a little distracted by these quotes, and they took up about half of the book!

Nevertheless, some great information did come through. Although the first third of the book (which focused on the pregnancy) really just repeated information I had read in a more condensed format earlier, the second two-thirds of the book really expanded my knowledge regarding (i) birth, and (ii) post-birth issues. Clearly, the book isn't big enough to make me an expert, and the presentation of the information is, as stated above, not the most useful. But it, I think, is good to know about the major issues women have with giving birth, and some of the physical, emotional and practical problems that come with actually, you know, having a baby. Overall, not a book I would recommend unless I knew a pregnant person with ADD who needed all the graphic doodads to keep them interested.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Monster Update: 18

Head to bottom, the Monster is approximately 5 1/2 inches long (about the length of a large sweet potato (pictured)), and it weighs almost 7 ounces. The Monster is busy flexing its arms and legs — movements that Stef will hopefully start noticing. Myelin (a protective covering) is beginning to form around the Monster's nerves, a process that will continue for a year after birth. Oh, and genitalia (male or female) has been pretty much fully formed. We won't find out which kind until August 20th, though, so hurry up and vote in our poll.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Gimme Shelter

This here is a little scale model of the townhouse Stef and I just bought. I made the model in Google's free Sketchup program (which I really, really wish existed back when I was an industrial designer). Photos of the place can be found here. We're super-excited about moving, as anyone who has seen our 480 square foot apartment can imagine. Our closing date is August 23rd, and if you want to help move we're getting a U-Haul on the 25th. The Monster will now have its own room!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Reunited, and it feels so good!

About two-and-a-half months after their first prenatal meeting, Ribs (a.k.a. Hunter) and the Tummy Monster got to hang out again at Fran's baby shower, which Stef (with the occasional help from her Mom, her sister and her loving husband) somehow organized in the throes of first trimester illness. Being contained within their mothers' stomachs and only a few months apart in age, the Monster and Ribs had a lot in common and got along fairly well, for not being able to talk, see, hear or otherwise communicate or comprehend anything.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Monster Update: 17

The Tummy monster weighs about 5 ounces now, and it is around 5 inches long — about the size of a large onion (pictured). The umbilical cord, the lifeline to the placenta, is growing stronger and thicker. The Monster can move its joints, and its skeleton — until now, rubbery cartilage — is starting to harden into bone. Some of it will remain cartilage for years after birth. A newborn's skeleton has 300 parts (a combination of bone and cartilage). As children grow, some of these parts harden and fuse together. By the time the Monster reaches adulthood, it'll have just 206 bones.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Monster Update: 16

At 4 1/2 inches long (head to bottom) and 3 1/2 ounces, the Tummy Monster is about the size of an avocado (pictured). In the next three weeks, it'll go through a tremendous growth spurt, though, doubling its weight and adding inches. The Monster's lower limbs are much more developed now. Its head is more erect than it has been, and its eyes have moved toward the front of the head. Also, the Monster's ears are close to their final position, too. Some of its more advanced body systems are working, including the circulatory system and urinary tract. The Monster's heart is now pumping about 25 quarts of blood each day, circulating its total blood volume through her body many times. (By the end of Stef's pregnancy, this will increase to about 190 quarts.) The patterning of its scalp has begun, though no hair isn't recognizable yet. Although closed, the Monster's eyes are moving (slowly). Plus? The Monster has started growing toenails.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Doctor Visit: 03

Overall, this was a pretty routine, although slightly frustrating visit. We waited for a really long time because the doctor was out last week for the holiday, and apparently everyone rescheduled for our day. Being extremely impatient people, this wait made us cranky and hungry, and I wanted to throttle the newscasters on the TV we were forced to listen to (or, rather, the politicians said announcers quoted without question). And then we saw the doctor, heard the Monster's heartbeat, and pretty much forgot all our cares and worries. I can't wait for this kid to get here, but I still think it's beyond rude to make little beeping noises while playing with your cell phone in a full waiting room.

Overall, Stef is feeling much, much better (thanks for all those who wished her well during the first trimester), although she's still pretty tired and occasionally she still gets sick (especially when she's stuck in a waiting room for almost two hours).

Monday, July 9, 2007

Another Monster Friend

CONGRATULATIONS to Ken and Annie on the birth of their baby girl Charlotte Mae (a.k.a. "Maisie")!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Monster Update: Week 15

At around 4 inches long, crown to rump, the Tummy Monster now weighs about 2 1/2 ounces, what I'm assuming is about the size of a baby potato (pictured). It is busy inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid, which will help develop the air sacs in the lungs. Its legs are growing longer than its arms now, and the Monster can move all its joints and limbs. That means its hands are more functional, too. Sweat glands are appearing, and although the eyelids are fused shut, it can sense light. Cool trick, if we shine a flashlight at Stef's belly, the Monster is likely to move away from the beam! There's not much for the Monster to taste at this point, but taste buds are beginning to form anyway. When we have an ultrasound (in late August), we may be able to find out whether the Monster is a boy or a girl (and I can stop using non-gender pronouns)!

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Monster's First: Gifts

Above is a picture of the first of what we are sure will be many, many cute gifts for the Monster. It arrived in the mail recently, just ahead of a huge package for Stef. Thanks, Anne Y., for the lovely, homemade bibs, and thanks Eileen for the box o' maternity clothes! I love the Dinosaur on the skateboard side, and Stef is partial to the care bears, so we each have a bib we can use while we wait for the Monster! And Stef really perked up when she got to try on new clothes. Thanks again, you guys rock.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

On Being Web-Savvy

For those of you who already have this blog on an RSS feed, feel free to ignore this post (except the last paragraph!). However, for those of you who check back every day or so to see if there is an update or not, we have some suggestions which will save you a bunch of time and heartache.

First, you should consider subscribing via an RSS reader. We like Google's, because it's free and easy. And free. Here's a link to a pretty good video that explains what RSS readers do and how to go about getting started with them. Once you watch that, come back here and copy and paste the following url into your "add subscription" area:

Now you can use that site to not only view the updates to this awesome blog, but all the other less-awesome blogs and news sites you read on a daily basis, saving you tons of time, which you can then use to think about ways to thank us for saving you so much time.

But let's say you don't read that many blogs or news sites on the web. In fact, if you just use the internet to read this blog (because it rocks) and check your email, you might want to be emailed when there's a new post. If that's the case, shoot us an email with your preferred email address, and we'll add you to the Tummy Monster email group.

Finally, if you look at the sidebar of this page (which you wouldn't see in your RSS reader, natch) you'll see a new poll feature which you should go ahead and participate in. It's in beta-testing at Blogger, which is why it looks all wonky, but eventually it'll be nice and neat and it will tell us things like what gender you all think the Monster is, or what it's name should be, or when you think it'll actually arrive, or any other little thing we feel like polling you on. Fun, right? Anyhoo, we hope this helped.