Saturday, December 15, 2007

Demon Child

No of course not. He is an angel. But we are going to have to work on those red-eye effects. And also on his tendency to want to eat the little neighbor child.

Thanks to Auntie Rebecca for visiting us and bringing a camera!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Leo smiles

Leo has been smiling more and more, but we've had trouble catching a smile on camera - his fascination for technology distracts him. But finally, when we told him it was for his grandparents, he was delighted to oblige:

Yes! And...

Leo is 2 months old today. It's taken a lot of improvisational creativity to keep up with him from day to day. I have found useful a tip learned in a workshop on how improv can help in daily life and work situations: there is a key phrase -- more like a mentality or attitude -- which is "Yes! And..." That is, one must affirm the other person, and then add on to it. Saying "No" or saying "Yes" and stopping is not so useful. So, for instance, in a comedy sketch, one person in the scene says "Doctor, I'm missing a leg!" If the other person responds, "I'm not a doctor, I'm a scuba diver!" The scene ends in disarray. If on the other hand the person responds, "Yes, you must be the one who called earlier, I have your missing leg right here. Try to remember it next time!" Then a whole scene can develop from there. In the case of the baby, if he is crying, I find it more helpful for my mental state to say, "Yes! You are hungry. And as soon as we get home I am going to feed you!" rather than, "No! Please don't cry! No, you're not that hungry! Come on, give me a break, I just fed you..."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Twelve pounds of plumpness

At a quick visit to the pediatrician's yesterday, we learned that Leo now weighs 5.5 kilos, or just over 12 pounds. Yummy!

(Photo at right of 12 pounds of pears by Jen Maiser, seen on the blog "eat local challenge", and subject to a creative commons license.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

8 weeks young

Yup, lil' Leo is nearly 2 months old already. Hard to believe -- it has been a blur. Can't even remember this morning, to tell the truth. But he has certainly changed a good deal in all this time. Besides being deliciously chubby now (oh those thighs!), Leo is also a lot more attentive, actually looking at us for long periods of time, which just encourages us to act very silly. And he is smiling a lot more too, though sometimes his smiles seem to appear at very odd times. Or he smiles beguilingly for minutes at a time at, say, the fridge. His little hands are getting a lot graspier, though as yet this does not seem purposeful. And he is still eating and sleeping well. We are getting more and more used to each other, so that even though he still occasionally seems like a little alien being dropped in from outer space, those times are becoming less frequent and we mostly get along well. There is hope for intergalactic understanding!

Apologies for the lack of photos. Our camera is on the fritz. :(

Monday, November 26, 2007

Leo's new friend

Leo and his new friend, Mr. Dog.

Hopefully once Leo is talking he can do better than his parents at coming up with a creative name for his friend.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Six Weeks

Well, we have made it to the magical six-week mark. They say the first six weeks are the hardest. The pediatricians said not to bring the boy into heavily peopled areas for the first six weeks since the immune defenses take some time to build up. The first six weeks are the most important for breast-feeding. And so on.

So how has Leo changed in six weeks? He is chubbier. He has lost some hair. He got very spotty and is now less so. He got some "cradle cap" (eeeww) which seems to be lessening somewhat. He is strong--he can kick and lift his head and hold on to our fingers like a champ. He has some new calls. He is squeaking less and honking more. He no longer objects at all to baths or changes, unless they last too long and he gets cold (can't say he is pleased by them either, though). He stays awake for longer periods during the day, and continues to give us a 5-hour sleeping stretch (more or less) during the night. He has some vague little smiles now and then but hasn't started flirting with us in earnest.

Nevertheless, we continue to be in love. And since these first six weeks don't seem to be a "trial period" after all -- and we have to keep him, no money back -- that is just as well. Here's to the next six months, years, decades, and beyond!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

We went to Naples...

... and we got a temporary permanent visa to the US for Paul. And a beautiful view of Mt. Vesuvius from our hotel room:

We were very impressed with how well Leo traveled, in the train:
in the hotel:
and on the crazy streets of Napoli:

More photos of our trip in this gallery.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yay Ireland! Go!

Here is Leo supporting the Irish rugby team. Anyone know who number 13 is? No matter... Go team! Up the Greens! Rah!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Happy One-Monthniversary!

(yes I know it is one month tomorrow but our new motto is: if you think of doing something do it right away or it might not happen!) Our baby had his first visit to the pediatrician and all is well. He weighs a whopping 4 kilos (8.8 pounds). Hooray! I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Cheaper by the dozen

Here is Granny Ann with her 12th grandchild! They are getting along famously.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Head Lifter

Some parents have kids who are head bangers; ours is a head lifter. He held his head up like this for a good long while today. Wow! Strong :) (Sorry for the blurriness...)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Baby's First Halloween

Caring for a child requires a level of maturity, responsibility, and seriousness.

It also, in our opinion, requires you to dress the poor thing up for Halloween and poke it with a pitchfork.

(more photos)

Never let it be said we are neglecting our parental duties!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The many Looks of Leo

Leo, naturally, is not only a genius but also incredibly cute. This goes without saying. However, Paul and I have noticed that although he doesn't know how to smile yet, he has thousands of other expressions that he adopts in very quick succession. These are some of our favorites:
  • Refugee: Milk! God! It's been so long! Argh! Let me at it!
  • Office Worker: another day, another round of sucking milk. Sigh.
  • Drunken Sailor: after having drunk a lot of milk, but still thirsty for more, he tends to leer at my breast.
  • Degenerate Roman Senator: after having drunk even more milk, he waits for a slave girl to come pat his back so he can go back to gorging himself.
  • Opiate Addict: after having drunk yet more milk, he can barely keep his eyes open, but he is still desperately searching for one more shot of milk.
  • Village Idiot: when he sticks out his tongue and can't find a breast that is being repeatedly stuck into his face.
  • Little Boy: once he is peacefully sleeping (and the debauchery is over), he just looks damn cute and innocent again.
  • Torture Victim: when we are changing or bathing him.
  • Demon: when he is angry that we are changing or bathing him, and turns red.
  • Bird: when he is neither tired, nor soiled, nor hungry, and is looking around with big wide eyes.
  • Awestruck: he opens his eyes so wide that the whites show around them. He looks a little paranoid and crazy, but is usually calm. We can't tell what he is looking at that he seems so amazed by.

Milky Martyr? No thanks

So here's the bald truth: after the first few days, gazing adoringly at one's perfect little first-born while breastfeeding him gets a little old and, quite frankly, boring. So instead of starting to feel resentful toward the little guy for having the gall to want to be fed of all things, I've started entertaining myself by reading comics online and a good novel. Out loud, of course, so that Leo still gets some "interaction" with his mummy. I think this improves both our lives a great deal.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Daddy doody duty

Paul is involved. He is over his nasty (and somewhat convenient) cold, and has taken up nappy-changing with a passion. Leo responds with his own passionate outbursts.

Paul has also added his perspective on the day of Leo's birth to the post below.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My story of Leo's birth

A lot of people have asked for a description of how the birth went, and I am eager to tell the story before it all becomes a hazy memory. So here goes -- warning: some may find the details a bit more graphic than they would like.

I (Paul) will give my side of the story over here, following a time-honored tradition.

On the morning of Monday, October 8, I was heading toward the fridge to get stuff out for breakfast, when I felt a warm liquid spurt down my leg. Hey, I thought, that could be my waters breaking. So I told Paul to hurry up in the bathroom.

I remember a startled "oh!" from the kitchen, as if Noemi had unexpectedly found a kitten under the table.

The stuff in my panties was clear and didn't smell like pee, so we decided to head on over to the hospital -- after breakfast.

All the books said, if your waters break, you should phone your hospital and they'd probably want you to come in to avoid infection. It could still be days before giving birth though.

I was really glad that this happened before Paul headed off for work, so that we could go together. We got everything together into the suitcase and walked down to the taxi stand down the street. Easy peasy, as my niece Áine would say.

It is quite an interesting experience, walking slowly down to a taxi stand with your pregnant wife at your side, suitcase trailing behind you. I couldn't stop grinning.

At the hospital, the gynecologists were not impressed with the liquid. They said my amniotic sac was still intact and the liquid didn't have the right pH and wasn't nearly abundant enough. So they sent us home. OK by us, we didn't want to spend the day in the hospital anyway. We took the bus home (I think that all the bus taking I had been doing helped bumpety bump Leo down & out...).

Noemi tried not to take the lack of appreciation of her bodily fluids personally, but it was hard. We started trying to reconcile ourselves to the fact that Leo might not be coming for many days yet.

Almost immediately after we got home, I had what our British pregnancy and childcare book calls a "bloody show" -- my mucus plug came out (when I went to the bathroom). This, along with waters breaking, is a sign that labor is imminent, but can happen days ahead of the actual start, so it put us on the alert but did not make us rush back to the hospital or anything.

I decided it would be imprudent to wander off to work though, so started working from home.

I certainly felt vindicated though (the way the gynecologist at the hospital had dismissed me had made me feel a little silly earlier). I decided that since I happened to have an appointment with my gynecologist scheduled for that afternoon, I would wait to see him and then get more information on what was happening. Meantime it was time for lunch. I also started to prepare a vegetable pie, and when it got late enough to call my parents, I let them know that the game was afoot...

Noemi was a model of calm throughout the day. She was getting contractions at this point, not strong but quite frequent. I heard some clattering and walked into the kitchen to catch her working on this pie, as cool as a cucumber. That's when I got my first inkling of how serenely methodical Noemi's approach to child-birth was going to be.

I went to my gynecologist's at 4. He wasn't impressed with my so-called liquid either, nor even with my having lost my mucus plug, but while he was examining me he felt a contraction. After I was dressed again and we were discussing things, he asked if those contractions were getting stronger and more frequent. I said I supposed so, but I couldn't tell if they were real contractions or the practice Braxton-Hicks contractions that occur throughout pregnancy. He said, well, if they are coming within a half hour of each other, that could mean something. I told him I was having one right then, which surprised him -- he leaned over and felt my tummy and said, but you just had that other one not ten minutes ago! I shrugged. He told me I was going to go into labor soon, and that he'd see me that evening at the hospital. I said OK. He looked at me sharply and said that this was serious. Um, yeah, but it's not like I'm going to panic, OK?

And that's when Noemi's gynecologist got his first inkling...

So, back home again, in a bus (bumpety-bump!). I told Paul the news, and said that I'd like to finish cooking the vegetable pie, have a snack and then take a nap. So we had hot chocolate and a slice of Gianpaolo's blueberry pie, ...

(Gianpaolo makes excellent blueberry pie)

... and I lay down, and despite the contractions coming pretty strongly, I managed to sleep almost 2 hours. I was woken up by a particularly strong pain.

I was extremely impressed, both by Noemi's napping skills, and commitment to a broader strategic vision. This nap was crucial for getting through what would be a rather broken night, to say the least.

We had a bite to eat (the vegetable pie, sad to say, didn't come out that great -- it needed to cook longer) and got our stuff together once again to go. I called my parents to let them know I was headed to the hospital, and talked for a few minutes with my friend Steph. At this point when the contractions were reaching their peak, I couldn't really talk. We left the house around 9 pm.

At this point it was completely clear that this was it, that Leo was ready to move out of his parent's basement (so to speak). Again I had the experience of walking slowly down to a taxi stand with my pregnant wife at your side, suitcase trailing behind me, but this time with her grip on my hand tightening every few minutes as a contraction bore down. I may not be the most observant fellow when it comes to reading signs and portents, but I somehow got the feeling that something was going to happen...

We called for a taxi -- usually a very swift and straightforward operation. Unfortunately Genoa was hosting its annual Boat Expo that week, and with all the out-of-towners, the taxi service was overrun. We couldn't get through to the operator for a really long time. In the meantime we walked down to the taxi stand again. I was whistling during contractions, a little like Purple and Brown in this video.

It was exactly like the sound in that video. I had expected childbirth to be surreal in many ways, but walking down the street with my wife whistling like Purple and Brown beat my expectations by a long shot. I think the general public agreed with me - we got quite a few stares.

Finally the operator came on, said she'd find us a taxi, and put me on hold. Back to walking around on the street corner whistling while Paul started to call our friends to rescue us. But then a taxi randomly came along, and we hopped in and were off. We reached the hospital around 10 pm.

This was the first and only time I've had trouble getting a taxi in Genoa. Figures. I was afraid we weren't going to make it to the hospital, and had a moment of horror as I imagined having to explain all this to Noemi's parents. Thank goodness that taxi came along.

At the check-in to the hospital, they let us right in when they saw me, saying that Paul could go take care of the bureaucracy later.

Normally there's a fairly elaborate and slow check-in procedure at "pronto soccorso." I was happy to see that if one is actually grimacing in pain and unable to speak, they expedite things a bit. It makes sense, but sense doesn't always count for much.

Up in the maternity ward they had me lay down for monitoring for a half hour, during which they measured my contractions and the baby's heartbeat. I was supposed to press a button every time I felt the baby move, but he didn't (or I didn't feel it while I was concentrating on getting through a contraction) -- until, of course, they detached me from the monitors. Gotta love that subversive child. Anyway, then they did another exam, and found that I was 2 cm dilated. The goal is 10 cm, and my gynecologist had told me I was 1 cm dilated that afternoon, so I was kinda disappointed and thought I had a long night ahead of me. They led us into a room, and again I was disappointed: during the pre-partum course they had shown us a big, beautiful birthing room with tons of funky equipment, chairs, pillows, a tub, ropes to hang from, colored lights, a stereo, you name it (and, coincidentally, a picture of a Madonna and child also found in my mother-in-law's house).

The room we were in was small: basically just a bed and that was it. Oh well. I changed into my birthing outfit: an old t-shirt of Paul's he didn't care about and my monkey socks. We opened the British baby book and started following the instructions for positions to use during the first phase of labor. This included leaning over on some cushions and waggling my butt back and forth -- a particularly becoming pose when one is wearing no underwear, and, say, one's butt is facing the door when a hospital staffperson walks in...

One would think that in a hospital the staff become inured to seeing exposed bottoms, but perhaps the habituation is only in certain contexts. Certainly, the entire series of staffmembers who walked in on us backed out and shut the door very rapidly. I was impressed that Noemi managed to find a way to shock nurses...

It was very comforting for me to see the Madonna from my mother's home. There were lots of Modannas-with-children about. I asked Noemi if she was offended by all the Christian iconography, and she said not all all, she thought it was lovely to have all these depictions of a loving Jewish mother and her beloved son.

After a little while, they came to tell us we could go ahead to the birthing room now. Ooops! The room we were in would be my room post-birth, and I got to go to the big beautiful room they had shown us before. Of course, by that time I wasn't using any of the funky equipment. I just lay down on the bed on my left side, with Paul sitting by my head and bathing my forehead with a damp cloth now and then. They did another exam and told me the good news: I was already 4, nearly 5 cm dilated! This was very encouraging.

I was trying to relay news from time to time to Noemi's parents. Between the lousiness of the line, my broken French, compounded by unfamiliarity with the particular technical lingo used in child-birth, communication was difficult. However, it was hopefully clear that Things Were Happening, and that so far everything was going fine. I chose not to bring up the topic of taxis at this time.

I had started to use a different method for getting through contractions: instead of whistling, I was humming through my nose. (In general, for labor, the idea is to take a deep breath at the beginning of a contraction, and to let your breath out as slowly as possible. It's easier if you are singing or humming -- they also suggest to visualize trying to blow on a candle without blowing it out, but that is way too difficult for me.) I'd like to claim full credit for coming up with this humming technique, but I think I just remembered it from my Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond book (which I highly recommend; it's been extremely useful at every stage) where they suggested putting your fingers in your ears and humming through your nose to relieve stress. The humming worked really well, and had the added benefit of providing an accurate soundtrack of each contraction. I got louder and higher pitched as the pain mounted (occasionally shifting into a cry of pain, but not too often), and then subsided. At times I thought of the sound as a kind of song, calling my baby to me. Concentrating on making the sound match the sensation helped me to stay relaxed, and I was able to take each contraction as it came, enjoying the pause between them and even chatting a bit with Paul. A few times the contractions came in "double-whammies", the second one starting before the first had fully died away, but I quickly realized that these were either preceded or followed by an extra-long pause, so those were ok too.

The humming was indeed useful. It let me know when I could hope to convey information or ask questions, and when I should just shut up and make with the brow-mopping. The correlation between the hums and the medical read-out of the contractions was excellent. I believe the obstetrician had to make far fewer trips into the birthing room from her neighboring office because of the sonic readout.

Sometime in all of this the obstetrician (a wonderful woman named Antonella, very friendly and competent) decided to rupture my membranes to let out the amniotic fluid, and it did gush out then (fine, fine, so whatever I had felt that morning wasn't my waters breaking. Still: it had been something, all right.)

I believe you, dear.

After a while, they examined me again: 8 cm dilated! I was so happy. Antonella told me to let her know when I started feeling the urge to push. A little while later, at the peak of a contraction, I felt a kind of tightness in my bottom, very much like needing to poo except more intense and involving my whole pelvis. It wasn't too long after that they said, ok, time to go! and flipped me onto my back, legs into stirrups, lights on, crowd of people entered, Paul in a green gown, pair of handles for me to hold on to...

When Noemi says "crowd" she is not exaggerating. This was a party. I don't know who half the people were, but they were having a whale of a time, chatting with each other, cracking jokes, and occasionally briefly doing something Noemi-related, out of a vague sense of duty I suppose. Births seem to be something of a social occasion at the hospital, even apparently at 1-2am at night.

The contractions stopped. There were long pauses, and then when the urge to push (poo) came, they all encouraged me: ok, elbows out, keep your butt down, don't arch your back, relax your butt muscles, chin to chest, hold your breath, no grunting, just push, push, push! You can do it! That's it! I felt somehow oddly calm and patient.

I just have to repeat my awe at Noemi throughout all of this. In her position, I don't think I'd have been half as collected and together. I was very glad to be the one doing the brow-mopping and not the one having my brow mopped, but if I had to give birth, I'd aspire to be like Noemi. She's my hero.

Also, like I could really have used some practice at this, there were too many body parts to keep straight at once. I couldn't quite coordinate it all, and in the end Antonella decided that I needed a small cut (episiotomy) to help the baby get out. After that it was just a few more pushes -- Paul saw the head coming out -- and then voilà! At 2:20 am, Antonella pulled out Leo and held him aloft for a moment, just like in all those babycenter movies!

Behold! A son! At this point half of my mind was dazzled by the shear glistening beauty of the new life appearing so improbably, and the rest of my mind was devoted to keeping up a running commentary for Noemi of what was going on.

He was yelling and glistening and I immediately pulled up my shirt and held out my arms for him, but they whisked him away to examine him and wash him. I was overcome with emotions.

Noemi's eyes were as big as moons, she was laughing, her head was swiveling around, searching, tracking her son. I continued to keep up a commentary of what I could see (and hear, goodness, the boy had a healthy set of lungs!) in case it took some time for Leo to come back.

First: hilarity -- my tummy wobbling like a deflating balloon after Leo was out was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. And then awe, and wonder, and impatience, and joy. Oh dear. They gave Leo to Paul, and he brought him over, and I kissed his little head, which must be the softest and sweetest thing in the world. I couldn't believe it. I had seen him come out of me, but it just seemed (and still seems) utterly incredible. I asked to hold him but they told me that he was cold and needed to be put under a heat lamp to get warmed up.

The poor little guy was shivering. So gorgeous. Bigger than I was expecting.

At some point I pushed out the placenta but this was a total non-event compared to everything else. Paul saw it, though, and was satisfied that it looked alright, not too different from those he had seen on the farm.

Noemi was impressed by my stories of calf-births on the family farm, and somehow considered me an expert. It is true that everything looked right, in fact much more normal than in the pictures we'd look at (yuck).

During all this time, my gynecologist had shown up to see the birth, and he settled down to stitch me up. He started, but then called for his glasses. Some wiseacre brought him a pair of sunglasses, to the amusement of all (except me, because I wasn't paying attention and missed all this, and Paul, who was a bit horrified). Then they brought him his real glasses and settled them on his nose as he continued to stitch.

I'm glad Noemi missed all this, it is funny in retrospect, but if someone were stitching me up I might not appreciate this kind of humor...

This took quite a long time, and my legs, still in the stirrups, began to ache, and then get cold. I felt fine apart from that. By the time he was finally done and they helped me lift my legs out of the stirrups, though, I was trembling and chattering -- I had lost a lot of blood. They put me on an IV drip to restore some fluids, and brought me my disposable underpants to wear. They dismissed the panty pads I had brought as insufficiently large and provided me with a ginormous thing to put in my pants.

At this point, there was a lot of talk amongst the horde about getting Noemi a drink - some tea? juice? - but it went nowhere. I think perhaps no-one was quite in charge of that aspect. In the end I went and got her a bottle of water from a vending machine, and made a phone-call to her parents to let them know Leo was out, mother and son were in good health, and that they should be proud of their daughter. Their joy was a delight to hear. The timezones worked out well, it was good to have someone to call at 2:20am without having to worry about waking them.

Then I walked slowly to the little room and got onto the bed. Paul joined me and we waited for them to bring Leo to us. The view over Genoa from the window was lovely, and it was so nice to have the room to ourselves (they have some double and quad rooms in the ward as well). They brought Leo -- all lovely and warm now -- and the three of us just sat and chatted and gazed at each other for hours.

Staggering. Amazing. Such joy!

We encouraged Leo to suck, which he did very willingly on whatever he came across: breast, fingers, blanket, etc. Paul had to leave at around 6:30, and they took Leo away as well. And then the dawn came up.

I stumbled home and slept the sleep of a new dad.

Bathtime: Not much fun (yet)

You'd think we were subjecting the child to the worst forms of torture imaginable. I hope the time when he enjoys splashing around comes soon. Meantime he expressed his displeasure not only by yelling his head off and turning bright red, but by peeing all over me as well. I'm glad he does not feel inhibited!

By the way, in case you were wondering, we are not using dishwashing liquid to bathe him, that bottle just happens to be on the sink by his bath.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fiocco celeste

It is a tradition in Italy to attach a pink or blue bow to the door of one's apartment building to announce the birth of baby girls and boys. So with my mum's help I made a little announcement-bow ("E' nato Leo" means "Leo is born"). Here it is.

Hitting my stride

Two days ago now (man, it's hard to keep up with the posts I want to make!), I made my first foray into the outside world sans bébé. It felt so good to stride down the sidewalk--my legs were surprised at the sudden freedom, after a week of shuffling around the hospital and the apartment. And I felt great: I left the baby sleeping peacefully with his M'amie Annie, and I was free to do some groceries. What a smooth operation! Except that when I got back, I learned that he had spent the whole time complaining and windy, and hadn't slept at all, and now he was overtired and still windy. So, my stride still includes some tripping and fumbling... but at least we're all still moving ahead, and that feels good too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Must be my son

Compare these two photos:

Taking It Lying Down

...Or rather, from my point of view, giving it lying down. Last night I tried something new: I gave Leo his 2:30 a.m. feeding lying down in bed. It worked great, and I think I'll make a habit of it if possible.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I am become food

Those of you who know me well will recognize my new incarnation as an ambulating food dispenser as a kind of apotheosis. I have always loved food (my mother will attest that this vivid interest dates from my very first days). And now I am become food.

For his part, Leo for the moment seems to be an incarnation of me, if I were a newborn baby and a boy. We will try and get a photo of me at his age to do a comparison.

The boy's a genius

We're all home and settling in, getting used to each other's rhythms. Luckily that involves a lot of sleeping, at least for Leo, so life is quite peaceful. Grand-mere arrived on Saturday, and has been helping a lot with our understanding of the various mysteries of baby biology.

In this photo, note that Leo obviously figured out he was being photographed and hastened to give himself rabbit ears. The boy is clearly a genius. Also an artist, but in the interests of good taste I won't discuss here his preferred medium of expression.

By request, here's a photo to prove that I'm personally involved in this whole baby thing:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

D-Day + 1

More photos added at - mother and son in good spirits, although everyone is exhausted. We're very impressed with Leo, and how he cries when there is a problem and then is calm again once it is fixed. It seems a very sensible arrangement for all concerned.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Photo dump

Just about all the photos we have so far are now posted at for those who want to see everything.

The day before

(Apologies for the reverse chronological order). Here are a few photos of Noemi the afternoon before Leo was born. At this point, she was already having contractions within three or four minutes of each other. While they were gaining in strength, and I was acting a bit like a headless chicken, she casually took an hour-and-a-half nap -- her sleep was of course a bit choppy, but stood her in good stead later. I was in awe at her coolness, you'd think she did this every day.

Here she is gathering essential supplies - the box is dark (75% cocoa) chocolate from Ecuador. Noemi never travels anywhere without dark chocolate:

Here's Noemi about to pack her snacks into her hospital bag. I hope I helped her rather than just standing around taking pictures of her trying to bend down. You can see Leo lurking, waiting for his big moment.

And here's Noemi breezily chatting to her friend Stephanie via Skype while getting strong contractions every few minutes that left her almost unable to talk.

Then finally we trundled off to get a taxi. It was a good, relaxing start to a busy night.

Today in Genoa

Noemi took this picture of the dawn this morning from her hospital room. With the birth taking place around 2:20am local time, and lots of things to do after that, there wasn't much of a chance for sleep. But the company and the view made up for it. She was happy to greet the dawn with Leo on his first day.

(Update: our friend Charlie observed that this dawn could be called a "son rise"!)

Leo isn't Italian, but he is Genovese. This is his city of birth, seen from Noemi's room. Compare the road level with the roofs of the buildings beside it - this is typical Genoa.

Here are Leo's official vital stats, attached to his cot:

Look at Little Leo!

The Kumquat Cameth!

We're delighted to announce the arrival of a bouncing baby Leo at 2:20am local time, Tuesday October 9th, in Genoa Galliera hospital. 3.2 kg, other stats to come. Mother and child both full of the joys of life. Father in awe. Lots of stories, such as the tale of the sun-glass-wearing doctor, to come...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Signs and portents

Not to go into too many details, but there are omens and foreshadowings that the time is nigh on upon us. Days, not weeks. Watch this space...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

That's a lot of kumquats

Here's a picture of Noémi at nine months. Here are the specs:
  • 45 inches / 115 cms in girth
  • 15 inches / 28 cms in bulge
  • 1 smug smile / 1 sexy pose in attitude

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cast in Silicon

Well, it's official. Sort of. We bought a plane ticket for Leo to go with us to Ireland in December. So now as far as Aer Lingus is concerned, we ARE going to have an infant named Leo. If the scans were all wrong and we get a surprise baby girl, we'll just have to raise him as a boy. Or pay for a different ticket. I guess there's still some wiggle room (which is more than I can say for my belly at this point--Leo is pretty darn squeezed in there, I imagine). (Image at right: silicon casts of fingerprints.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Full Term, Full Moon

So today marks the official start of Leo being "full-term." Coincidentally, it's also a full moon tonight. The obstetricians at the hospital had made some noises about how a lot of babies get born on full moons, so I was a little superstitiously nervous. But Wikipedia assures me that there is no statistical correlation between phases of the moon and human births. So Leo will just come out when he is fully-cooked. Which is just as well, because I am also fully three decades old today, and I really didn't want to share my birthday :)

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Actually, there's one more week to go before being officially full-term: it's weeks 38 to 42 that are the "term" ones. Ooops!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

36 weeks and 6 pounds

Tomorrow, I believe, Leo is officially full-term. I'll be done with my 36th week and into my 37th. So I hope he stays in and cooks a little longer, but if he should choose to pop out, it'll be fine. At right, please admire six pounds of heirloom tomatoes from Maine. Imagine hefting a bagful. Now place it on your tummy... That's right. At yesterday's scan, Leo's weight was estimated at 2.8 kg. He is a big, bouncy, beautiful baby, and I can't wait to meet him. (And carry him in a somewhat more dignified position.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Laundry of Love

Baby's first laundry! Leo's not born yet but I just washed a whole bunch of his clothes and nappies. And it's just too cute not to share. Look at the little footsies. Awww. I'm sure I won't be this sentimental about laundry in a little while, but hey all you cynics out there -- let me enjoy this moment of sappiness. :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

In other news...

We haven't gone on many vacations this summer, due to me not wanting to travel. But we did go to Bellagio. And it was super-pretty.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What are the odds?

We were curious, so we looked up the odds of birth at various weeks. I found this: That should give you an idea. I am now in week 33.

Friday, August 17, 2007

being pregnant is hard work

Ah wimba way ah wimba way,
Ah wimba way ah wimba way,

In the bedroom,
The quiet bedroom,
The Lion's mum sleeps today...

Please, ignore the clutter over on Paul's side of the room!

Two Kilos!

Yes, the baby now weighs as much as a bag of rice. A *heavy* bag of rice. And, as on every scan I've had so far, he seems to be about a week ahead of the curve, meaning most likely that my cycle doesn't match the "standard" and he really is older. Fine by me. This would mean that instead of being in my 32nd week, I am now in my 33rd. A little less than 2 months to go! (I also think he is a big boy. His legs are especially long. One day he will tower over me!)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Lion for Leo

My good friend Andita, who's studying to be a doctor with a concentration in midwifery, told me that being pregnant is all about celebrating my creativity, procreative and otherwise. So I drew and colored in a lion for my little Leo. Here he is. I hope that look in his eye doesn't mean "I'm hungry! Where're the tasty, juicy babies?" Note: My inspiration came from Emanuele Luzzati's short cartoon about Genova, "Sinfonia della Città."

Thursday, August 2, 2007


OK, so I admit that I've been a little paranoid about actually *looking* pregnant, versus just overweight. Now, though, I think we are starting to achieve unambiguous/obvious stage. Next week I'll be 7 months pregnant--so only 2 months to go! Woohoo home stretch...

I've also just started a pre-partum class, so I get to hang out in a room FULL of very pregnant ladies (most of them are ahead of me, as I am a little impatient to get started knowing what the hell I'm supposed to do). So I can see what I have to look forward to... Watch out world!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Two Pounder

We got a little checkup on the kumquat--he's about a week ahead of predictions, meaning he probably got started ahead of the "normal" schedule. In any case he's estimated to be around 2 pounds now. I think I'll hold on to this investment; I expect it to keep growing.