Friday, February 26, 2010

Harp's signature look (and pose)

A white onesie and legwarmers. Check out the pink 'n purple skulls, people! Walk the plank! Argh! Some other sort of pirate talk!

(If you click the pic it'll get supersized; I just realized HJ and CC have the same upper lip. Heart explosion.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fine. I admit it.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When I was younger, so much younger than todaaaaay

I'm not sure about you, but I always hated group projects. Navigating schedules, delegating tasks, dealing with idiots. And usually, in the end, having to do most of it myself anyways. Or maybe that was just me? Hmm. So that's why everyone wanted to do that Bob Fosse paper with me...

But this quality I have - this FINE I'LL JUST DO IT GO AWAYness - isn't the best trait to carry into motherhood. Because dude. Help is needed - like, seriously - to stay sane and survive. For some reason, though, it can be so hard to ask. Not out of a pride thing ("I'm the best diaper changer in the world!"), but almost out of a laziness thing. takes too much time to explain what I need and so I just do it myself. And then I get so tired I can't even make eye contact anymore and start saying "Wait - did I say that out loud?" all the time.

I don't recommend this strategy.

Luckily, I've got Clay and Mom in the background, doing things without asking and also asking to do things. And when I finally do pause a moment and realize I need more (sleep, specifically) they're ready and more-than-willing to jump in and take over. Because no one is expecting me to do this whole thing on my own, even if it feels that way sometimes to my crazy, exhausted brain cells. It really is amazing what a little help will do for my spirits. It just takes asking.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sweet cheeks

I may have mentioned one or twenty times how much Harper can eat. The girl don't stop, yo. And she's packing on the pounds to show for it.

Case in point?

These cheeks.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Milk is life!

Oh, I'm sorry! Did I just drool on your shoulder? Your foot? Did my eyes close mid-sentence? Did I fall over standing up? Please excuse my rudeness. It's just that I HAVEN'T SLEPT IN YEARS.

That's not exactly true, of course. I sleep for little chunks here and there - usually when Clay takes the morning shift, bless his soul - or I'd be hallucinating by now. Although, come to think of it, I did mistake a stale doughnut for a lifebuoy last night...

I can't really complain, though; I've got a scrumptious and healthy baby. And we've all got our jobs in life; mine is Mama Pants and Harper's is Eating Machine 2010. I knew this was part of the newborn deal, this no-sleep-ever thing, but it's just crazy when you're face-to-face with it. Like - ohhhhhhh by "no sleep" you guys literally meant NO SLEEP. Message received, Chief!

And on that note! I must pick up my squirmy bug and kiss her smushy cheeks. She's been a hard worker and deserves a raise.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

San Francisco values

Happy as a gender-neutral clam.

Back in Minneapolis, I fell in love with that checkered onesie lil Harps is rocking above. (Look at the elbow pads!) But it was 30+ dollas and I just couldn't do it, dude. I'm not laying down that kind of cash for clothes until she plans on staying the same size for more than a week.

Fast foward a few months - a week or so before her birthday - and I'm scanning the clearance racks at Baby Gap. Huzzah! My onesie! For four dolla! Done.

But here's the thing. Without the proper accessories (a red headband? black strirrup pants? mascara?) that little lumberjack number makes poor, bald, little Harps into a boy. Clay was horrified. Biscuit looked delighted. I couldn't stop laughing. You'll fit right in with the gender-is-a-spectrum SF peeps, Harps! Way to go!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hungry girl

So I was thinking last night -- around 2 or 3 or maybe 4 in the morn? -- that after this whole nursing thing is said and done, I really think it'd only be fair I add it to my résumé. Because holy Batman! The time and persistence and patience and, uh, team spirit it takes is much more impressive than any software program I know how to use. (Word. And...a creative interpretation of Excel.)

Which is not to say that things are going badly or that I'm frustrated. Because actually, Harper has been a pro at this whole deal since her birthday. I've got no idea how I got so lucky -- I didn't take a class or read a book on the whole thing, just figured I'd wing it -- but she somehow just got it. I'm not a religious lady, but if I were? I'd send a brightly wrapped package of See's Candies to Heaven and say thank you.

And the insane, gooey bonding time when she clutches my shirt and nuzzles me and the, uh, losing 18 pounds in 10 days? Tough to beat.

But man. It be some work. Not like digging-in-a-coal-mine work, of course. It's just the absolutely mindboggling frequency with which she wants to eat (especially from the hours of 11-3 a.m.) can drive a sister bonkers.

I've got some tricks, though. Lots of peanut butter toast. Lots of podcasts in one ear. Lots of watered-down cranberry juice with lots of ice cubes in lots of red cups. Lots of remembering it's not forever and I'll miss it when it's over.

And this sweet mug doesn't hurt things either.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Don't mind my rosebud mouth

All the better to smush you with.

Want lots more yumminess? We (Clay) finally uploaded a bunch of pics from HJ's first week. Click here for a tour of our lil Valentine. Bon appetit!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Morning music class

This is how we do.

One week in

The elusive eyes-open shot.

Dude. I can't believe it's been a whole week since little Harps J joined our scene. But at the same time, I feel like we've known her forever. How did we not know about her little pouty mouth and tasty cheek cakes 8 days ago? Seems impossible.

Things so far are really good. It's surprising to write that because I assumed at this point I'd be face down in a pool of saliva and tears - both hers and mine. But I'm handling the changes and chugging along, feasting on her chicken legs whenever they're loose from the swaddle and nibbling on her nose as dessert. I'm tired, with the undereye circles of a heroin-addicted raccoon, and of course there are low moments, but she's seriously been such a sweet baby for us and I could not be more grateful. Who knows if suddenly she'll turn into T-rex the Baby Robot, but for now? She's just our tiny harpsichord.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Who me?

I'm just chillin in my navy hoodie. Don't mess!

Labor tales: Part 3 (and the end)

Okay, I'll wrap this up.

I napped for a couple hours until they checked me again.

"She's right there!"

"There" meaning the crucial area, apparently. Nice work, Harps!

I assumed the position again, this time sans iPod. The music thing was not working for Team Cowan.

This time, pushing was a lot less sucky. Each push was actually making visible (though very small) progress, so I wasn't losing the will to live. Not that I saw any of this visible progress; I was asked muliple times if I wanted to "feel her" or "see her with a mirror" to which I always answered:


Now I sort of wish I had looked, but at the time it wasn't my thing, so - meh. It's probably for the best.

After another hour and 50 minutes of pushing, I was really close - but Harper just wasn't making her appearance. She can't help that her brain's so big! I was exhausted and my back was starting to seize up again. Up started the cliched GET THIS BABY  OUT OF ME's. It's all I could think. GET HER OUT.

The OB kept telling me to focus focus focus, but I was! And it wasn't the numbing of the epidural slowing us down, because I still had quite a bit of sensation in the...pushing area. If lady didn't come out in the next few pushes, they were bringing out the vacuum to suck her out.

"It only holds serious side effects for 1 to 3 percent of babies."

Clay and I look at each other. Not really fabulous odds?

So as a last ditch effort before busting out the Hoover, they cut me up a lovely (dun dun dun) episiotomy. Sigh. For those who don't know what this is, they gave me a quick slice to make more room for beefcake's exit. I was slightly bummed, but it proved the right move, because with one or two more BIG pushes...she was out!


A person! Just! Came out! Of me!

And it felt like it.

Clay, who had remained pretty quiet through the whole pushing process, holding my hand and focusing with me, saw her heading my way and went:

"Holy SHIT!"

It was awesome.

Soon she was up on my tummy, bluey and covered in cheese and quiet. Once the placenta slithered out, the umbilical cord had stopped pulsing (the one alternative birthing thing I was adamant on) and it was cut, little Harper June started crying and mugging and cuddling and cramming her way into our heart cavities for good.

I couldn't stop staring at her and then looking at Clay, staring at her and looking at Clay. I honestly couldn't believe it had all happened so "fast" (24 hours later) and she was suddenly here with us! Holy shit was right.

And then there were three. Snap!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Last night, I decided to live on the edge; I drove my mom home and then got some gas. All without Harper.

I wanted to give Clay some solo papa time and I wanted to give myself the confidence that I can leave her without losing my mind. First goal? Achieved. Second goal? Um. We're working on it.

When I got home and rushed in the door, I found Clay sitting on the couch with Harps next to him, lying on her side. Fully alert, eyes wide open, loving life with her favorite guy. And what was she doing?

What's next? WALKING?!

Labor tales: Part 2

Where were we?

A couple hours into our night's "sleep" (I was way too ramped up to sleep), the doctor came in and checked my progress. She sounded really surprised to find I was almost 5 centimeters. They hadn't started a pitocin drip and oftentimes the epidural slows things down for awhile, so this was moving fast. She gave me a thumbs up and headed out.

I felt another wave of excitement and realized it was time for a cherry popsicle.

I rang the nurse and snap! Cherry popsicle in my mouth.

While she was puttering around with the baby's heart monitor, I felt the weirdest sensation. A small *pop!* and then a big GUSH of...stuff...came out of my nethers.

"Did my water just break?!"

Quick check.


I think I've watched too many sad clown birth shows on TV where they always have to break the water bag with some arcane pointy object, so I was totally stunned when it just...happened. And I was psyched because things would definitely move even faster now.

Doobie doobie doo. Another few hours passed. Clay flipped and flopped in his medieval cot and I continued to enjoy my numb legs. I could still feel lots of pressure when a major contraction rolled around, but pain? There was none.

Around 5 in the morn, the nurse came back in to check my progress. I was fully dilated! Holy Batman.

I could have started pushing then, but because a) I wasn't in pain b) the baby still sounded great on the monitor c) the baby was still pretty far UP inside and d) there was a doctor shuffle going on (I could write a whole entry on this, but meh - boring), we decided to keep me chilled on ice for a couple more hours. This way, the biscuit could mosey on down naturally and hopefully reduce my pushing time.

I called my Mom and she headed on over to the hospital. Clay opened up his laptop and started doing a little work. I...don't remember what I did. I really couldn't believe I was about to push out a baby. Like, you can mentally accept that fact all you want, you can know you have to do it, but when it's suddenly time? It's absolutely bizarre.

Finally, the doctor situation got (sort of) settled and it was time to begin the Great Push. The nurse hung out down below, and up by me were Mom to my right and Clay to my left. I felt suddenly self-conscious about people seeing everything, so I asked if she could drape me with a towel? She hooked me up and I kept telling Mom and Clay NOT. TO. LOOK. Not sure why I really cared at that point, but I just felt completely exposed and vulnerable. And one definite downside to the epidural is how immobile you feel. I needed help pulling my legs up into the stirrups and I kept making inappropriate comments like:

"This is how John Locke would have to give birth."

I don't even really know what that means?

I also got it in my head that I needed to have music during the pushing time. So Clay found my phone and started scrolling for good tunes. Of which we kept failing to find. I think at one point I was pushing to Paul Simon singing 'Take Me to the Mardi Gras' which...I don't recommend.

So pushing! Yeah, it's weird.

My good friend Manjiri told me a year ago that it's exactly like...going to the bathroom. And to use exactly those muscles and nothing else. Don't picture you're pushing something out of your ___, picture you're pushing it out of your ____. Which is exactly what I did and is exactly what worked. Thanks, Manj!

But I totally hadn't prepared myself for how athletic the whole thing would be. Dang! Like, it is work, people. You push and push and push and people are shouting things to you:








Wow. So yeah. I pushed and pushed and pushed. For two hours. And nothing was really happening. Harps was slowly, slowly, slowly moving down the birth canal - but she was taking her sweet time. They kept asking me

"How big IS this baby?"

And I'm all - I have no idea! Big I guess? Can we not talk about this right now?

Then they started warning me she'd have a conehead. Clay and I were both born with coneheads due to lots of push time by our mamas, so I wasn't too worried. Tradition!

Toward the end of the first hour, my pain levels started increasing. My lower back was suddenly in agonizing spasms again, I could feel each contraction, and I was super nauseous/shaky/sweaty. I asked to push on my side for a bit, which helped with the back pain, but didn't help move our lady down anymore.

Aside from some bad times pre-laboring at home, I was most unhappy during this stretch of time. It feels so depressing to push and push and push with no results. And how was the pain coming back with a spinal tap full of numbing juice pumping through me? And why did all my least favorite Beatles songs keep playing?

I think I might have said a lot of nasty things during this chunk. I'm choosing to embrace the amnesia, though I'm sure Clay and Mom could help you out if you're interested in specifics.

So after two hours of minimal progress, we changed our game plan. We'd start me on a pitocin drip to strengthen the contractions and move her down passively (read: she does the work, not me) past the pelvic bone, up my meds, and try again in a couple hours. I feel super lucky we were able to do this. Many times, c-sections are ordered up when things don't progress fast enough, but because Harper stayed happy and healthy and steady with her heartbeat the entire time - there was no reason to rush. Thank you, my best girl!

In strolled Mr. Drug Man Pusher Man and pumped me up again. The waves of pain started to subside and I nodded off to sleep, exhausted and really ready to meet Bisquick.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Waiting for Mr. Docta

A ballerina awaits her first appointment.

Labor tales: Part 1

I want to start knocking out my labor story before it all leaves my brain. I'll try and keep it brief-ish.

(No, I won't.)

I think a good amount of you followed my tweets last week, so you have the rough outline already, but here goes:

After a busy day Wednesday (another membrane sweep, a long walk with my mom at Golden Gate Park, various errands) I woke up early, early Thursday morning with some cramping and squeezies. It felt a little different than the past few days and the nervous butterflies started to kick in. It felt crazy that I might actually do this before my due date, without induction. I crossed my fingers tight.

I got up, ate a bunch (seriously - like four) rice krispies treats on the fort/couch and watched my Netflix queue under a blanket. The cramping and contractions continued coming, about 15 minutes apart. I didn't want to alert the crowds, because false labor is so common, but I felt hopeful. After peeing, I noticed a small amount of pink on the tissue paper. I pretty much knew it was really happening then.

I told Clay to head to work because it could be a long day (or two) and I'd spend the day with my mom while he wrapped things up for a possible few days out-of-office. Mom came over around 11 and things started moving fast from there. By 1-ish, the contractions were never more than 10 minutes apart and were largely concentrated in my back. By 2-ish, the contractions would come and go - but the back pain wouldn't. It just HUNG OUT and never went away. I'd been really worried about this (I've always had back issues) and rightly so. It really, effing hurt. Like, in that terrible claustrophobic, I-can't-get-away way. Because instead of being able to gather my strength and sanity for the next contraction, I had to battle through the constant back pain and then try and find some reserves for the actual squeezing.

I bossed my poor mom around, telling her to apply counterpressure (leaning really hard on my back during the worst of the pain) and then yelling that it wasn't good enough. She made me snacks and I couldn't even look at them. ("WHY WOULD I WANT GRAPES?!") We watched a lot of Man Vs. Food because even though I didn't want to eat anything, watching someone else eat disgusting things was strangely comforting.

At one point, I told her:

"I hate everybody."

She said:

"Except baby Libby." (My cousin's baby.)

I had to agree. But seriously - everyone else? Even Santa Claus? I hated them.

Clay came home in the afternoon and joined in the fun. He and Mom took turns applying counterpressure until he brilliantly remembered our heated massage chair tucked away in the closet. Once that came out, it took serious prodding to get me off it. I watched News Radio and took sad little walks up and down the 12th floor hallway. I felt crabby and exhausted and anxious and over it.

I kept asking them:

"Will I always feel like this? Forever?" really felt that way. I tried to remember the soothing messages my birthing books taught me. That "each contraction is a step closer to meeting your new baby" and other gems like that, but nope! Not happening.

Around 8ish, my contractions were coming about 5 minutes apart and had been for an hour or two. But they were still "only" about 45 seconds long - and the hospital doesn't want you showing up till they're 60. We decided I'd hang in another two hours and if they weren't 60 by then - screw it, we were going. An hour into our two hour deal, I suffered yet another insane wave of contraction pain on top of the constant waves of back pain. I stood up and said:

"I'm done."

Obviously, they weren't messing with a preggo.

I called my doctor, lied about the timing, and grabbed our (way overpacked) hospital bag.

By that time, I'd decided an epidural was happening. I was hoping, in my innocent before-Thursday-life, to avoid one. But I'd never talked too much about it, knowing I didn't want to set myself up for "failure" if I gave in. I just kind of kept my mouth shut over the course of my pregnancy and figured I'd know what the best answer was.

The best answer was an epidural.

Ten minutes later, we arrived and they quickly took us to triage. A speedy (seriously, I've never seen emergency room people move so fast - could it have been my DEATH GLARE CRYING SAD CLOWN WANT TO DIE-ness?) exam showed me at 3 centimeters, 100% effaced. I panicked for a second that wasn't good enough, but nope! I was in.

Clay immediately took action. After sage warnings from his co-workers that it can take awhile to get one set up, he said:

"She wants an epidural. Now."

And dammit! Those people hustled. Maybe they thought we were important somebodies? I had no idea things didn't have to take 79 hours in a hospital. But 45 minutes after walking into the ER, I was numb from the waist down. HALLELUJAH.

I kind of wish I had a transcript of the things I was saying during all this. But I do remember the anesthesiologist coming in and explaining his credentials and experience and what he was doing and yada yada yada. And me interrupting him to say:

"I don't care if you're a man off the street. Just do it."

After I was numb and warm and cozy, they set up a cot for Clay and told us to get comfortable; I was still in early active labor and it would take awhile to get to 10 centimeters and pushing. My mom headed to her pad a few miles away, Clay got "comfortable", and I turned on a Frasier. I was snuggled up and pain-free, I could hear my baby girl's heartbeat thumping away, and exciting things were just around the corner.

I was giddy.

Monday, February 08, 2010

No more bumpdates!

(Can we discuss the hilarity of that hat? One of our nurses fashioned the bow out of the hospital nursery hats. She looks like she's about to take a bubble bath with a chilled wine cooler.)

Not that I don't have a bump, of course. I'm still rocking a Santa-like, 20-week-ish, tummy that jiggles when I move and fits quite nicely under both maternity and regular person clothes. Just maximizing the wardrobe, people!

Oh, but seriously, guys. Thank you big for all your Harper cheers and well wishes. We really loved reading all your comments from my Intro post (written with one hand during crazy hospital time) -- it's so much fun sharing her with ya'll after all those pregnancy adventures you came along with us on. I definitely need to make some sort of book of it all; one day she'll love to read all that love from her wide-flung friends. She's one lucky lady.

And now? Now, we are safely snuggled in our hatch -- a little family of three, figuring things out as they come and rolling with the punches as best we can. Last night Ms. Harper showed us just how wakey wakey she can be when she wants! I, for one, am very impressed. Also, exhausted. And occasionally anxious. I'd be more than a little bonkers right now if my mom weren't here to help with food and diapers and stealing her away from me so I can take a quick nap here and there. Cereal life saver. Word to my mommies-to-be sistas? ACCEPT ALL OFFERED HELP. Whew.

My favorite part of all this madness so far, apart from just her, is seeing Clay and Biscuit together. Um. I know I'm supposed to have words, for this is a blog, but nope! I'm a bit of a hormonal mess right now, so I'll catch him chatting her up, telling her a story, whispering little things to her and I basically lose my bananas. Bye, bananas!

May I show you this?


It's easy to see why people keep makin' the babies even after all the nuttiness. I just want to eat them both and protect them both and eat them again, all in 2 quick minutes. That makes sense, right? Oh good. Moving on.

I want to tell you all my labor story (at least up to the PG-13 parts), the hospital stay, the adventures of breastfeeding and newborn aftermath. And I will! But for now, it's Harper time. Kinda like Hammer time, but different.


Friday, February 05, 2010


Harper June Cowan

Born February 5th, 2010
1:24 p.m.

8 lbs. 8 oz. (Ah!)

 20 inches

Full story and more details coming soon, friends, but mama and papa and baby are s-p-e-n-t.

But put simply: She's already rocking our world.

And thank you thank you thank you for all your awesome and supportive tweets and comments and emails and texts. The nurses made fun of me for checking in on them throughout labor, but they really helped me in some seriously low moments. And wooo eeee will those moments be fun to write about!

And now. We fall asleep, at chateau le Hospitale.


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Dear Epidural

Will you marry me?

We can have lots of babies. Because it won't hurt!

Oh right - I'M IN LABOR.

Full story later but in the hospital, everyone doing well, need to rest up for the push ahead. Ha. Push.

But seriously. Let's talk marriage, Epi.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Flip Flop

Okay. Forget yesterday. All those high fives with SF and such.

I'm back to grumpy.

There's no reason for it, of course, unless - oh wait! - you realize how unbelievably uncomfortable I am.

Clay now refers to my belly as "The Apartment" because, well, it's where the Biscuit lives. And because it totally looks like a separate entity from the rest of me. Like I'm just hoisting around someone's living space for kicks. Because - oh wait! - I am.

I had another appointment today. We're (because this is a group activity) at 2 centimeters dilated, 75% effaced, and baby is slightly more dropped. This is pretty good news, but truth be told, I wanted her to say:

"Wow! You're at 4 centimeters! 90% effaced! You're in active labor and didn't even know it! Head to the hospital - you're having this baby TODAY!"

But I guess that only happens on baby mama online forums and not real life.

Docta docta gave me the option of inducing as early as Saturday (!), which, while (very) tempting, seems a little early to be evicting Biscuit without warning. Because I'm not birthing this baby in a closet under a duvet cover, part of this process is up to me, but part is also up to my doctor - who is still concerned that Biscuit might be too big to push out if we wait too long.

I think our compromise, if she hasn't come on her own yet (PLEASE come out on your own?) will be an induction next Thursday the 11th. This will put me at 40.5 weeks (because, unbeknownst to me, Monday the 8th is my official due date...).


That's where we stand.

Me: Grumpy
Baby: Cozy

Keep ya posted.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Thank you, San Francisco

For being the perfect place to survive this last chunk of pregnancy.

You are not too cold or icy or gloomy. You are not too hot or humid or stanky.

And currently, you're holding back on the total monsoon you're supposed to be throwing our way. We've had rain, sure, but there's also been plenty of weak sunshine and dry skies to tempt me outside these walls.

Plus! There are so many little activities and eucalyptus-scented parks and itty bitty cafes to keep us busy while we tick tock tick tock wait.

Fairly certain if I weren't here, I'd be performing my own c-section right now.

So! In conclusion.

Thanks, SF. I owe ya one.