Monthly Archives: June 2010

Delivery Decisions

When we first found out we were having a baby, John and I knew that we had one decision that had to be made pretty quickly.  Where to deliver the baby.  We had to make the decision quickly because OBs really don’t like it when you decide to switch late in the game.

I’m pretty sure that I want a natural (i.e. non-drugged) delivery.  So many people that I know have had major issues with epidural placement.  Often, the issues left them with lingering problems months after delivery.  I’m not a fan of having ANYTHING near my spine.  Back when I was in college, doctors at the ER at West Penn wanted to do a spinal tap to rule out meningitis.  Here’s the thing – I wasn’t having any legitimate meningitis symptoms except an unrelenting fever.  There was no way in HELL that I was letting them near my CSF.  Especially since a resident was going to be doing the insertion.  Unh.uh, no way, Jose!  And that was when I was practically incoherent (I was drugged up on demerol – a lovely drug).  Needles near my spine just to deal with birth.  Not happening if I can help it.

So we ended up with what we thought were our two alternatives.  Either I stuck with my OB/GYN office or we switched to a Birth Center.  One problem.  No birth centers in South Jersey.  Not a single one.  We’d either have to drive into PA or drive up to Northern Jersey (which by the way, sucks!).  So, we looked around Philly.

Hospital

Birth Center

Our first tour was of The Birth Center, located in Bryn Mawr.  Which of course is clear on the other side of Philadelphia from us.  It took us 45 minutes to get there, without traffic.  If I went into labor and had to travel during rush hour, OMG…we would never get there.  But, the birth center itself was amazing.  The midwife that gave the tour was a practicing midwife in their center.  The whole center runs on a very mom-centric approach.  It was relaxing and comfortable.  In case of emergency, Bryn Mawr Hospital was directly across the street.  They had a super low c-section rate (c-sections are transferred to the hospital, obviously).  They also had a great episiotomy rate.

When we left The Birth Center, we discussed the pros and the cons.  On the Pro side: Yes, we liked the staff.  Yes, we liked that they were focused wholly on us.  Yes, they had great procedures in place in case of emergency.  Yes, they weren’t just a baby factory.  But, on the Con side: No, they weren’t a hospital.  What if we were that 1 in a bazillion case that needed super quick emergency help.  No, they didn’t have epidurals, on the off chance that I decide that I do want one.  No, they were a pretty good drive from our house.  So if we keep score, that’s 4 Yes: 3 No

Our next tour was of Virtua Hospital:Voorhees.  Virtua is known in South Jersey as THE baby hospital.  Almost everyone here gives birth there.  People say that they like it, but I haven’t heard of one trouble free birth occurring there.  If I was to stick with my OB/GYN, a practice I had been with for 7 years, I had to deliver at Virtua.  It’s the only hospital they use.

We went to our tour.  The first thing we learned, our tour guide was a CAR SEAT TECHNICIAN!!!  Not a nurse, not a doctor, not a nursing assistant, not a PR person.  A car seat tech.  Surely this couldn’t be right (I later called to see if she was a sub, but she wasn’t.  She’s one of their standard tour guides).  But, she took the group on the tour (the group by the way was made up of eight couples who were eight-nine months pregnant and us.  We were only 10 weeks at that point).  They first took us to delivery room.  It was very small in there.  And the first thing we hear, “The first thing you’ll do is change into your gown and be hooked up to the fetal monitor.  Once the fetal monitor is hooked up, you’ll be limited to the bed and the bathroom.”  Ummm…yeah, I don’t think so.  Already I was starting to feel major apprehension.  Then we learned: You have to choose only 3 people that will be allowed in the delivery room.  And, those are the only 3 people you are allowed to see all day.  You can’t switch them out.

Then people started asking questions.  You’d think a tour guide could answer simple questions, but she couldn’t.  “What happens when all 17 delivery rooms are in use?”  “What is you c-section rate?”  “What about natural births?  How do women remain ambulatory to help move the birth along?”  Her answer to everything was “I don’t know.  I’ll have to find out and get back to you.”  I don’t know about you, but those are important questions.

As we continued the tour, we were shown the nursery, which is where the baby goes immediately after birth to have testing done.  “Can the parents’ go with the baby for testing?”  “Well, I guess, but it’s not the normal, and it’s not encouraged.”  WTF!!  You really think John or I are going to let you take our baby away to test without our permission.  “Can we choose to not have the baby’s eyes teated for STDs like chlamydia?”  “No, those are standard and have to be done.”  Well, I don’t care if they are standard.  I know I don’t have Chlamydia or Herpes.  My baby does not have to be treated for them.  See, this is why they take the baby away.  If parents aren’t there, they can’t question and refuse.

Everything seemed so, well, shady for lack of a better term.  I HATED it.  No, in fact, I LOATHED it.  I looked at John as we left and said, “I don’t care what happens, but under NO circumstances am I having the baby at that hospital.”  Fortunately, John agreed.

But, here’s the thing.  We weren’t ready to say yes to The Birth Center (on the off chance that this is my 1st.  I don’t know what to expect and dang namb it, as much as I say I don’t want an epidural, I want the option available JUST IN CASE).  We had to decide what to do.  So which did we choose?

We chose NEITHER!!

Instead, we completely switched OBs and hospitals.  And, since we figured we’re changing anyways, we might as well switch to one of the top hospitals in the country, so we switch to the University of Pennsylvania (and Heaven forbid, if the baby needed a NICU, it would be at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which is often ranked as the #1 children’s hospital in the country.)  Penn seems to be a nice compromise between the two placed we visited.  Although they are a hospital, they encourage natural births (or at least don’t discourage them) and have alternative pain management programs in place, including whirlpool baths in each room (for hydrotherapy, not delivery).  I had my first appointment with Penn OB/GYN associates yesterday, and loved them.  They were really great.  Although we haven’t visited the childbirth facilities (we’re hoping to do this with the next few weeks), we’re both feeling much better with our decision.

An option we didn't consider

We scheduled our anatomy scan for August 3rd, but we’re hoping to sneak in a visit to John’s aunt at a different Philly hospital to find out the sex before hand (she offered to do it for us as she’s in charge of that department), so we’re hoping to find out by the middle of July.

Do any of you have any guesses on what we’re having?  All of our family seems to be leaning in the same direction.

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Jungle Twins!

Here’s our very regal, Toby.

King Toby

And his identical twin (taken the last time I visited the Pgh Zoo).

They are a perfect set of twins, don’t you think?

Okay, tired of posing.  Time to just lay in the sunshine.

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*Sigh*

I’ve never been a big drinker.  Any of my friends can tell you that.  In all honesty, I’ve never been drunk.  Tipsy, yes, but flat out drunk, no.  So, I thought laying off the hooch for nine months was going to be no big deal.  Oddly enough, I miss it.

I miss…

Tequila

in my Margaritas.

I miss…

Lager

with a juicy steak.

I miss…

Framboise

because it’s so freaking tasty.

But most of all I miss…

Sangria

because there are two bottles of it that stare me down every time I open the fridge.  They are from the Mt. Hope Winery that we picked up last year at the Pa Ren Faire.  So yummy.  Pour it in a pitcher with some ginger ale and I can drink the whole thing.

I think I might develop a drinking problem next summer (J/K of course).

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I Love my FIFs

What’s a FIF – a Freaky Internet Friend.  And yes, I have a few of them, somewhere in the 15-20 range.  They’ve been with me through a lot in the past few years.  We met while planning our weddings online through a popular wedding forum.  When I first started contributing, did I ever think I’d still be speaking to them almost three years later?  Hell No!  But, oddly enough, they’ve become some of my closest friends, in a real sense of the word.  We’ve moved from weddings to houses to babies.  Who knows how long we’ll all be friends, but for now, it works.

We’re like real-time pen-pals.  I’ve only met some of them in real life a few times, because most of them live about 330 miles away from me, back in my hometown.  A few of them I’ve never met IRL, because we’ve never been in the same place at the same time.  You’d think this would stifle a relationship, but it really doesn’t.  I can be pretty much completely honest with them, and we bicker and fight like IRL friends would.  We have such different personalities, and I think that’s why it works.

So, to all of my FIFs out there (You know who you are!), I just wanted to take a moment to say, Thanks!

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Summer

Yeah, some of students may fall into this category.

Finally, it’s summer for me.  Well, sort of.  For the past 5 weeks I’ve been teaching a Microbiology summer course at Rowan University.  It was my first time teaching this particular course, so I was creating brand new lectures and labs.  The course was M-Th from 5-9PM.  Yes, you read that right, 4 hours a night.

I hear students complain all the time about the amount of work that they have to do.  Honestly, suck it up.  Professors have to do work to prep for the courses too.  I was prepping 3-4 chapters of lectures a day and 3-4 lab sessions a day, not to mention writing and grading exams.  That made for very long days of prep work.  If I’d been working a full time day job, it would not have been possible to do everything and get any sleep.

Fortunately, the students seemed to enjoy the class and the five weeks went by very quickly.  Next Monday I start my first 100 level undergraduate course in 14 years.  Yes, it was 14 years ago that I started college!  I’m very quickly getting up there in age.  I never thought that after getting a Ph.D. that I’d be going back to take an undergraduate course.

Why am I going back for a course?  Well, I’m finishing up my alternate track 2nd education teaching certificate in Biology for the state of NJ.  The alternate route in NJ isn’t too bad.  I need to take “Fundamentals of Education” and pass the General Science and Biology Praxis exams.  Well, I nailed the exams back in March.  They were extraordinarily easy – I didn’t study bio, chem, or earth science at all.  I vaguely crammed in some physics the day before the exam.  Really, if this is what they require secondary ed teachers to know in the sciences, there are some very good reasons why the U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world in this area.  My next objective is to finish the Fundamentals course.  I’m taking it at Rutgers University starting Monday.  I don’t think it’ll be too bad.  After all, I’ve been teaching for 5 years!

Since my days won’t involve prepping for lectures and labs anymore, I plan on using the time to get the house completely cleaned, top to bottom, and to start researching different things we’ll need for the baby.  Wednesdays are completely free for me!  I might head down the shore.  After all, we only live an hour from the beach (not that I can remember the last time I was there).

The SOUTH Jersey Shore. It's not all Guidos and Guidettes.

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Our Anniversary Trip to Las Vegas, or otherwise known as, The Elusive Case of the Missing Cheese Danish!

This past weekend we flew out to Las Vegas.  And, while we were there, we definitively put to rest the idea that we could still pretend that we were in our early twenties.

We left Philly on Friday around 12, and with a layover in Chicago, arrived in Vegas at 4:30.  By the time we got our bags (really, it took FOREVER) and our rental car, it was after 6 by the time we arrived in our hotel.  We stayed at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club on the Las Vegas Strip (we are owners in their timeshare, long story, but has saved us money and will continue to throughout our lives).

HGVC on the LV Strip

So we checked in, sat down to catch our breaths, and…promptly fell asleep!  We ended up sleeping through the night and getting up around 5 AM.  I don’t adjust well to time change, and John just goes with the flow.  So, at 7 AM, we headed out to The Paris for their breakfast buffet.  I was starving and we both wanted fresh crepes for breakfast.  The buffet is 15.99 on the weekends, and as AWESOME!  Stuffed ourselves silly.  But, no matter how hard I looked at the pastry table, no cheese danish.  Apple and Cherry, Check.  Cheese, nope.

The Paris

We wandered around Vegas, stopping by the MGM Grand to do their CSI:Experience.  Thankfully, we bought combo tickets for this experience, the aquarium at the Mandalay Bay, and the Titanic Exhibit at the Luxor.  Combo tickets: $54/person.  CSI alone, $30/person and definitely NOT WORTH 30 bucks!

After leaving the MGM Grand, we wandered back up to Paris, where we stopped to grab fresh Nutella crepes and our car.  Then drove to the Venetian.  We were picking up our tickets for Phantom that evening and decided to wander through the mall.  Left the Venetian and went back to the hotel to lounge for a little bit.  We originally wanted to use the pool at the hotel, but it was only in the low 70s and super windy.  Not swimming weather.

We headed down to the Bellagio for their dinner buffet.  There was Kobe beef on the menu, which John loves, so we were going to suck up the price for dinner (almost $40/person).  We got in line at 6:30PM, which we figured was plenty of time for dinner before heading over to see Phantom (we needed to be there before 9:30).  The worker at the entrance to the line said, 30-45 minutes, max, in line.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally at 8, we jumped out of line and grabbed food at the Cafe Bellagio (sucked badly!) and watched a waiter drop 6 trays of food onto the floor.

The Bellagio

Headed over to the Venetian for Phantom, which is based on the movie version of the musical.  It was awesome, just like Phantom has been every time and every place that I have ever seen it (LOVE IT!)

Phantom Las Vegas

After this, we went home to bed.

Sunday, we slept in and headed to the Bellagio breakfast buffet.  Not as good as the buffet at the Paris, and more expensive (22 for me, 29 for John – he had all you can drink mimosas with his breakfast).  And, AHEM…Guess what I couldn’t find on their buffet!  A cheese danish.  Apple, cherry, blueberry, raspberry, and pineapple?  Check, check, check, check, check.  Simple cheese.  Nope 😦

Then we went to the Bellagio gallery of fine art and then wandered through the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace.  We also saw the fountain show at the Bellagio.  Here’s a link to our video.  I’ll edit this later and post it on here so that those of you who aren’t my FB friends can see it.

After this, we drove to the Luxor to see the Titanic Exhibit (AWESOME!) and then walked over to Mandalay Bay to the Shark Reef aquarium (also AWESOME!).  By this time I was majorly dragging.  After the aquarium, we wanted to eat at the buffet at the Mandalay Bay because they have crab legs on the buffet.  YUMMY!  But, it wasn’t quite open yet, so we had to wait.  John put his first money into a slot machine (we’re not big gamblers) and won $245.00 after only playing $40.  WooHoo!

The buffet was pretty good for the price (23/person).  I scarfed down plenty of crab legs, which John thought was hilarious.  We left and drove back to the hotel, where we were going to go swimming for a while (it was only 6PM), then head to the Freemont Street Experience once it got dark.  We sat down and the next thing we knew, it was 10PM!!  John went to the first floor convenience shop and picked up some drinks and potato chips, which we ate, then we went to bed to get ready for our 3 AM alarm to get to the airport before 5.

All in all, it was a nice weekend, but definitely showed us our limits.  Here’s the only picture we have of the two of us together on our First Anniversary.  Yes, I look awful and pimply.  It’s been that way for the last month and a half.

Our 1st Anniversary!

Now, off to search for that cheese danish.

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A Cat and Her Box

I ordered a brand new pillow since my back has been bothering me.  The pillow is wonderful, although it takes up half of our king size bed.  The pillow came in this box:

Yes, the box was HUGE!

But wait, what’s that inside the box?

Could it be??

Yep, Sophie claimed the box and the paper inside of it as soon as the pillow was removed from it.  We had to be careful not to throw Sophie out when we placed the box out for recycling.

Sophie, the box hog!

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