Thursday, July 21, 2011

Otto's Arrival!

Last Sunday, July 17th, at 2:55pm, our family had it's newest edition arrive: Otto Allen Hill-Stach! Otto weighs in a 9lbs, 1oz, and is 21 inches long and is, well, amazing.

I'm sure that Sarah will want to tell the birth story in more detail at a later date, but here are some rough details for those of you who are interested: Her labor started around 12:30am, and we headed in to the hospital around 3:30. From there things progressed steadily, until they stalled out a little before noon, with Sarah dilated at 8 centimeters. Around 1:30, the mid-wife suggested breaking her water to help move things along, and -once broken- things progressed very rapidly, with Otto making his appearance at 2:55pm after only 10 minutes of pushing.

Like Stella's birth, Sarah managed the whole thing with out any sort of pain medication and amazed not just me, but also the nurses and mid-wife, who were heard commenting things like: "Can you believe she's at 8cm, and still walking around and talking like this?" I am, again, amazed and inspired by her.

Anyhow, on to the baby photos!

The man himself! (Or should I say "Otto-man"?) What a handsome fella! It's amazing how much different he looks than Stella, he's very much his own little person.

Stella meets Otto. It's crazy to think that these two little people will likely spend their entire lives hanging out together and being best friends. And, here they are, just meeting.

Stella seems to really like Otto overall. There have been a couple moments since his arrival, that you could tell she's a little jealous of the attention he receives and the amount of time he spends on mom's lap, but overall, she seems to really like her "baby brother Oddo."

Sarah looking stunning the day after giving birth. Anyone who believes the stereotypes that men are strong while women are prone to tears should watch Sarah and I in the delivery room.

The Birthing Room, with my parents and Otto on the left. I thought I'd include this so I could mention a little piece of trivia: This was also the same room that Stella was born in, and both Stella and Otto ended up being delivered by the same mid-wife. Continuity!

Anyhow, I'll end this by saying that we are all happy and excited to be settling into our new life as a family of four. Someone asked me the other day, if I felt a sense of pride because I have a boy now, and I while I sort of go back and forth on that (since, honestly, I would have been just as excited about having another girl); I will say that I feel sort of a sense of completion now. Both Sarah and I have always imagined ourselves with two children, and now we have them. We've arrived at our imagined goal... and now, we are all looking forward to our shared future opening up to us, together as a family.

But, first, I probably need to check to see if Otto needs his diaper changed.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

40 weeks!

Today is Baby Number 2's due date, and it doesn't look like anything will happen before the day is over. I'm not too impatient yet--honestly, I was happy to have the past few days this week with Stella in child care and me being on maternity leave to take care of some last minute details and get some extra rest.

40 weeks! And ready, physically, mentally, etc....

The added time has had some advantages:

A little more mommy-Stella time before I'm officially having to share my attention with the new one

Checking out the fantastic new Bar del Corso pizza place that opened this week on Beacon Hill

Taking long walks with Tyler around Seward Park, getting a pedicure, meeting friends for lunch and brunch. And if nothing happens in the next 24 hours, I figure my reward is to see the final Harry Potter on the big screen. (And I'm superstitious enough to hope that means I'll go into labor before that can happen!)

So, baby--if you're listening--we want you to come when you're ready, but we're ready for you any time now!! And hopefully I won't be doing any 41 week entries....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


A week ago, we thought we'd have a one-day-old baby today. But we found out last Wednesday and Thursday that things had, in fact, changed--my uterus had grown in such a way that my placenta went from being .77 centimeters (too close) to my cervix to over 4 centimeters away, well outside the dangerous zone. As probably most of you know, this was a major relief. While I had accepted the need for the surgery and was excited to meet this new baby, I did experience a profound sense of relief to get to go back to the original plan and back to the midwives at Swedish Ballard.

With that came the funny feeling of having both more and less time--we suddenly didn't know when the baby would arrive and needed to start figuring out things like birth plans and contingency plans for how we'll juggle Stella and labor. It's also meant that we've had (hopefully only) a few more days since I officially finished up work for my maternity leave to finalize last minute details.

39 weeks! Stella fits snugly under my belly where she likes to "bonk heads" with the baby.

Like setting up the baby's space. As most of you know, we're in the process of remodeling. Someday we'll go from a 2-bedroom 1.25 bath house to four bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. But that day isn't going to be in the next week or so, so Baby #2 will be formally living in our room with us for the first 3-6 months. In reality, that's where Stella spent all of her early days as well, so we've just been making a more formal space for it. We have the changing station, clothes and the Moses basket ready to go!

I'm standing in the corner where the Moses basket is, but you can see the dresser and changing station. While Stella had a fully decorated room, I think this is cozy and practical and will work well for a few months at least!

And I'm pleased to say I finished the baby's quilt. I had a long period of procrastination but was able to finish it all up the week before the due date, so baby, like Stella, can have this as a special gift right away.

The pinwheel quilt! If I'd had more time, I might have been a little more ambitious with some of the quilting, but I'm pleased with how it turned out.

We're still trying to prepare Stella. I think she knows and understands as well as a 2 1/2-year-old can. She'll talk about being a big sister and how when the baby is around she wants to hold it and burp it and kiss and hug it gently. But we'll see. I think it's going to be a pretty major adjustment...

Stella "hugging" the baby--she'll say "hi" to the baby when prompted, but she mostly still wants to be on my lap and the center of attention....

And now we're preparing for birth. I'm hoping that the experience is as good as it was with Stella--14 hours, no interventions necessary, everyone healthy and happy. Because of the c-section plan, we had cancelled our child birth class, but today we met with a friend we met when pregnant with Stella who has since become a doula and are really diving into thinking about the birth plan, how I'll cope, and how Tyler can again be an invaluable support to me during the process.

But mostly we're getting very excited to meet this new little person and get started on this adjustment to having a newborn again and a family of two little ones. I remember when Stella was born being overwhelmed by how much I loved her and how amazingly it didn't decrease the love for anyone else in my life. I know that will happen again, though knowing it intellectually is still different than really feeling it. I know this will open my heart up to people and the world again in a way that is such a gift. So even though I'm going into this whole baby venture with eyes wide open (which includes remembering that it's not always lovely and fun) I'm feeling thankful to have the opportunity to experience pregnancy and birth again and share this journey with Tyler.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mad Dash

Something clicked in May, I think, and suddenly as the reality of having an impending a new edition hit, we found ourselves in a mad dash to try to enjoy as many activities as we could, see as many friends as we could and get the house into some sort of shape before we re-enter that duck-and-cover world known as "having a newborn." We've already talked about our trip to Mexico here, but here are a few other events and activities that have filled up the last month or two...

The Bay Area
At the start of May, even before our Mexico trip, Sarah had to make a trip to the Bay Area for work, so we leveraged that into an opportunity to visit with her brother and sister-in-law who live near San Jose (in Fremont). In edition, Sarah's dad and step-mom ended up coming in to town too, making for a quick family get together, as we hung out in the Bay Area and made a day trip to Monterey.

Stella disembarks at San Jose airport. Someone's getting to be old-hat when it comes to flying. But, notably, this marked the first time that Stella and I flew together without Sarah, since she had flown down a day earlier for work.

Walking on the beach in Monterey. (To golf fans: That's Pebble Beach on the bluffs in the background.)

Stella strikes a pose by a small pond in Monterey.

No, this isn't some variation on Seattle's Hempfest. But, instead, it was a backyard BBQ party (or rather smoking party) organized by several of our friends who have become masters of smoking meats.

Jason and Todd, the SmokeMasters™, do their thing.

The Ribs! (There's was brisket too, as well as a huge spread of food provided by the rest of the guests.)

Stella, and her friend Lucy, try our the John Deere. Note the bungee cord which kept them safely circling in place.

I've got my fingers crossed that this becomes an annual event.

Dry Falls Camping Trip
Shortly after returning from Mexico (literally, three days later), Sarah, Stella and I traveled to Eastern Washington to do some camping with our friends, Shahaf and Pnina, at the Dry Falls State Park. While the campgrounds themselves proved to be more of a glorified parking lot, the hikes were amazing, and reminded us -yet again- how different and varied the terrain, climate and wildlife can be within our own beautiful state.

Stella stops to smell the flowers, or at least point them out, on our first hike

Sarah... 8-months pregnant... carrying Stella... through the desert. Stella's definitely able to do more hiking herself this year, but we still spend a lot of our time with her riding on our backs.

Shahaf and Pnina trail blaze on our hike the second day along a stunning lake.

We're not sure if we are going to have the chance to do more camping this year, with the baby set to arrive. But, we can still hope and dream!

Art Projects
In addition to being busy professionally, I also had several exciting illustration opportunities that I got to take part in in early June. First off, I was part of the Gallery (206) Project which featured art by over 206 local artists. 20 artists created pieces for the glass panels on the outside of a re-purposed phonebooth, while the rest of use contributed pages for the "phonebook."

My piece. You can see more pictures of the booth itself on the website linked above.

In addition, I also took part in the Bureau of Drawers "Economy of Line" one-night exhibit, the conceit of which is that we started the night with a blank gallery, and attempted to fill the walls with our drawings which we creative live at the event.

The space at the beginning of the night. There was also a second group in another room upstairs.

Gallery goers take a look at our creations as the night went on. All the pieces were made available for sale for anywhere from $1 to $20. Though I only sold one piece in the "Things Wearing Underpants" series.

Alki Point Light House
Sarah's coworkers also hosted a baby shower for us at the Alki Point Lighthouse. Normally, this lighthouse is closed to the public, but someone that Sarah works with lives there, since her husband is an Admiral in the Coast Guard, so we got the rare opportunity to walk the grounds, tour the lighthouse itself and get quintessential Seattle photos like this...

4th Annual Housewarming
We also held our 4th Annual Housewarming BBQ, which -true to tradition- we barely took any photographs of. Since the party was being held exactly one month before Sarah's due date, I offered to do most of the organizing and food prep... which I promptly delegated to the guests by making it a potluck.

The backyard waiting for the party to start.

We always do the same thing, where we take a bunch of pictures right as things are starting, then set the camera aside and forget to pick it up again, until after everyone has left. Maybe we need to hire a photographer for them. Still, it was definitely a success, with probably our biggest turn out yet (over 50 people, easy) and perfect sunny weather (despite ominous predictions that morning).

This year was a major sausage fest... er, wait, that's not what I mean. This year, I organized a "Build Your Own Hot Dog" bar, with a variety of hot dogs and more toppings than a person could ever want.

Stella enjoys the festivities, in the "sherbet-cupcake tutu" she picked out for the occasion.

The Remodel
The remodel of our basement continues in fits and starts. We're still excited about what it will eventually look like, but at times we still feel depressingly far from ever reaching that point. Most recently, we've had the old oil furnace replaced with a new, electric one. And, then had our basement floor literally jack-hammered up so that plumbers could lay in new pipe work for the future bathroom. We've still got our fingers crossed that the plumbers will be able to wrap up their work before the baby arrives. But, if working on this remodel has taught us one thing its that things never move quite as fast as your like.

On the upside, we feel like we've finally rounded the point where we are disassembling and demolishing things in our basement and are now adding to and improving on it. Hopefully, it'll only get better from here! And, someday, we'll have exciting pictures of our new basement to share.

...and on, and on...
In edition to all that, it feels like we've done a million other things: Sarah's Birthday, Father's Day, yard work and, oh, we bought a new car! As the weeks have passed, we've started changing gears from travel and adventures to just trying to get our house and lives in order and prepared for the new edition to our family. Nesting has definitely started to take hold, and both Sarah and I find ourselves doing all sort of random and unexpected cleaning activities in preparation. Cleaning and organizing random cupboards. Endlessly dusting. Building IKEA furniture.

Tomorrow, Sarah has a final ultrasound to determine if she'll have to have a C-Section for sure, or if there's a chance she can have a natural childbirth. We're trying to stay realistic about it, but also can't help but cross our fingers that something has changed. Regardless, we'll probably be meeting our newest family member in the next week or so. Egad!