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.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Monster Update: 21

The Monster now weighs about three-quarters of a pound and is approximately 10 1/2 inches long. It is really on the move now. Fetal researchers say babies move about 50 times an hour even while sleeping. All that movement helps stimulate the Monster's physical and mental development. Stef doesn't always notice the approximately 50 kicks, punches, and twirls during the day, but as she's settling down at night she feel the Monster dancing the night away, totally oblivious to our schedule. Plus! the Monster has fully-formed eyebrows, its taste buds have formed and it can suck its thumb.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Grandparents Spoil Baby, Parents

For my 30th birthday, the Tummy Monster's paternal grandparents came up to visit us and share the love. We had a very hectic but very nice weekend, wherein much spoiling was done of both parents and the Monster, and much yummy food was consumed (restaurants visited included: the Waterman Grille, Box Seats (a.k.a. Huge Portions), the amazing Mill's Tavern (with both sets of grandparents, and many fine gifts), Blaze, and Roba!Dolce for a perfectly sweet ending to the trip).

In addition to the consumption of good eats, we were able to do lots of productive and entertaining stuff with my parents. For example, on Saturday morning we packed up the kitchen and then drove to Smithfield to showed off the new townhouse. We also stopped by the huge nearby shopping mall. While driving around the Crossing we just happened to find a maternity store which we just happened to walk into, where Stef just happened to find an entire wardrobe's worth of clothes she liked - and which my folks were more than happy enough to buy so that the Monster stays warm and stylish. We also saw Stardust, which was a very good movie. On Sunday, we went to IKEA and Jordan's furniture and saw many, many, many dining room sets. Although none of them really grabbed our fancy, we did figure out some things we were/weren't looking for. We also visited Baby Furniture Warehouse and found a crib and a dresser/hutch (more on this later), which Stef's parents had previously given us money for.

On that note, we want to take a moment and publicly thank both sets of grandparents for their generosity. Obviously, we would not be in the position we're in without all of the support (financial, emotional and otherwise) we've received from them, and which, of course, we hope to continue to receive. In this day and age you really can't buy a place and start a family on your own, and we want to make sure that my parents and Stef's parents really know how much we love and appreciate all that they have given us.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Monster Update: 20

The Monster now weighs about 10.5 ounces. It's also either around 6.5" long (from head to bottom), or about 10" (from head to heel). That makes the Monster the size of a small cantaloupe (pictured).

In grosser news, a greasy white substance called vernix caseosa coats the Monster's entire body to protect its skin during its long submersion in amniotic fluid. (This slick coating also eases the journey down the birth canal.)Also, the Monster is swallowing more, which is good practice for its digestive system. The swallowing and some cell loss produces meconium, a black, sticky substance which will accumulate in its bowels, and we'll get to see it in the first messy diaper. So that's something to look forward to.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Doctor Visit: 04

For the second time in a row, we waited for quite a while in the doctor's waiting room before a fairly routine five-minute check-up. Apparently, Monday nights are extremely popular at the Ob/Gyn's, so we're going to try and have the next appointment on a quieter day. Hopefully, this will help to minimize or even eliminate the Monster's prenatal exposure to Oprah.

As for the Monster itself, it's doing just fine. Stef has gained 3.5 lbs, which is right in keeping with all the books and charts and what-have-yous. The Monster's heartbeat is still chugging away at a clip of about 160 BPM (and, no, that is not indicative of a gender, sorry). However, perhaps the best news of the entire visit was that Stef got express permission to eat the occasional sushi roll or deli meats - advice which is in keeping with every pregnancy book written in the past decade that I've read, but against the "conventional" wisdom and habits of some of our more cautious pregnant friends.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Venerable Nanny

This past weekend, the Monster got to "meet" Nanny, its great grandmother from Florida, who was up in Boston for a few weeks of vacation and senior-oriented education. Nanny was "trilled and delighted" to see Stef, who at least has a little bump, even if she isn't as far along as other friends we got to visit while up in Boston (cough*Sharona*cough). And, of course, Nanny took the whole family out to dinner at Stefanie's on Newbury, because the first rule of this family is that food=love!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Monster Update: 19

The Tummy Monster weighs about 8 1/2 ounces, and it measures 6 inches, head to bottom — about the length of a small zucchini (pictured). Its arms and legs are in the right proportions to each other and the rest of it's little body now. The Monster's kidneys continue to make urine, and the hair on its scalp is sprouting. This is a crucial time for sensory development: the Monster's brain is designating specialized areas for smell, taste, hearing, vision, and touch.

Text adapted from Baby Center.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Monster's First: Sporting Event

For a few months now, I've been in a Rhode Island lawyer's softball league. I'm on the Law Clerk's team, and it is a bit of an understatement to say we've lost a few games (all but one, really), but it's been a lot of fun and a nice way to be social outside of the office. Back at the beginning of the season, Stef was regularly attending our games and cheering us on. But, as you know, shortly after we found out she was pregnant Stef started feeling poorly, and so I started going to the games by myself.

Thankfully, Stef's been feeling much, much better. So good, in fact, that last night she suggested going to the game with me, and, as a result, the Monster got to "see" its daddy "play" sports for the first time. Of course, I cracked under the immense pressure, going 0-for-2 and letting two catchable balls drop in right field. The team lost, no thanks to my horrible performance, but everyone was good sports about it, so the Monster at least learned a bit about sportsmanship. Maybe next week I'll do better.