Zev Newsletter

January 1997 - September 1997


The big event in January was that Marc went to Mexico for a weekend to attend a wedding (the bride was one of his attendants at our wedding). Jackie and Jonathan stayed behind. Going to Mexico seven months pregnant was not a risk we were willing to take! Marc's big news was a promotion at work (Yea!)


Although she was not willing to go to Mexico, Jackie was willing to travel, and so off she went to Dallas (on business), even though she was in her eighth month. Jackie's pregnancy was pretty uneventful, apart from a tendency towards swollen feet, shortness of breath and a need for more prunes than she was willing to eat. Four weeks before her due date, an ultrasound indicated that the baby was already 8 pounds. Since Jonathan had been 10.5 lbs at birth, this was no surprise, but was cause for concern. We decided to schedule a C-section just in case Jackie did not go into labor anytime soon. March 24th was chosen (actually 4 days after her due date) because that is our anniversary, and we thought it would be fun to do a double celebration every year.


Each day, Jackie hoped to go into labor and avoid the C-section, and each day she was disappointed. At her appointment 2 weeks before her due date (the 6th), Jackie told her obstetrician that she thought the baby might have flipped. The obstetrician was skeptical. Here it was, only 2 weeks to go, and the kid was huge! Where was he going to find the room to flip? So we did a quick ultrasound (the doctor has one in her office) and sure enough, we had one breech baby. Well, before finding this out, going into labor was not a big risk. If the baby were too big to deliver, we would just do an emergency C-section once labor started. However, the breech position complicated matters and increased the risk if labor should start. We decided to move up the C-section date. However, we ran into a snag. Marc had a major deadline on the 14th at work. The obstetrician was comfortable with holding off until then, especially with my track record of not going into labor, and considering the complete lack of any signs of impending labor. So now delivery was scheduled for the 17th.

The date finally rolled around and Jackie was not unhappy that her pregnancy was finally going to end! Benjamin George Zev was born at 1:41 p.m. a mere 9 lbs 11.5 oz and 21 inches long. The doctor had difficulty extracting him, as his arm hung up on a fibroid (a benign uterine growth that usually shrinks in size once the pregnancy is over). Since his head was born last, and since it took even longer than usual due to the fibroid, he had some respiratory problems. He was also born with a rash on his body from head to toe. We didn't find out until much later, but the doctors were concerned that the rash was herpes, because apparently babies born with herpes can go downhill very quickly. So he was placed in the neonatal ICU for observation and tests.

It must have been quite the sight. At almost 10 pounds, Benjamin was probably about 4 times the weight of the average baby in NICU. Since Benjamin spent his first night in NICU, you would think that Jackie would have gotten a good night's sleep that night, but no! She was hooked up to an apnea monitor, which went off at least every hour. Ironically, the worst night's sleep she has gotten in Benjamin's lifetime is the one night that he wasn't with her. So, starting around 6 a.m., she started asking to see him. It only took 4 hours, but the nurses finally arranged for her to be wheeled over to NICU, and she got to feed him. Benjamin's respiratory problems had cleared up and they determined that the rash was not herpes, so he was pronounced healthy and released from NICU.

It didn't happen quite as easily as that - in fact, at the hospital, nothing happened easily. Jackie could not get help when she needed help, could not get privacy when she needed privacy, could not get sleep when she needed sleep. She had to break down in tears in order to get them to allow her to take a shower. All in all, it was about as awful an experience as it could be (given that medically they didn't do anything wrong). After the second night, Jackie's doctor came to visit. She said to Jackie, "You don't have any illusions about going home today, do you?" "Oh, yes I am!" was Jackie's reply. Her experience had been so awful up to that point, that she had already decided to take Benjamin and simply walk out of the hospital if her doctor refused to discharge her. She could have done it too. One of the numerous "details" that the hospital neglected was to put a security band on Benjamin. Fortunately, walking out was not necessary, as after hearing her story, Jackie's doctor agreed to discharge her.

Jackie had complained to the charge nurse the night before, and while the charge nurse was sympathetic, and gave instructions to the nurses, no appreciable change had resulted. So we decided to let the hospital know that there was a significant problem here. We talked to the nursing supervisor, pouring out the long list of woes that had accumulated in the mere 48 hours that had passed. The supervisor was appalled at the stories we told. Some examples: Jackie was told that only her nurse, who was not available, could turn on the air conditioning in her room and she would just have to wait until the nurse was available. A cleaning person insisted on coming into the bathroom to remove the trash while Jackie was using the toilet. Jackie asked to talk to a lactation specialist (more than once!), but was never permitted to speak to one. The supervisor offered to provide us dinner to be delivered to the house as an apology. We also asked for a written apology, which we never got. Service was awful to the end. We were never given any instructions on caring for Benjamin (good thing he was not our first!) If we had not raised a stink, they would not have taken baby pictures in the hospital. If we had not asked twice, we would not have gotten the complementary diaper bag that everyone is supposed to get. Even the apology dinner was delivered late.

Fortunately, things improved greatly once we got home. Benjamin proved to be a sleepy kid, enough so that we were a little concerned. He also had a touch of jaundice, which was never significant, but took months to go away. Jackie recovered quickly. She went out to dinner the Saturday after Benjamin was born and to a bris the Saturday after that.

A week after Benjamin was born, we had his bris at our home. Boy, did Benjamin give the rabbi a hard time. First, when the rabbi opened his diaper, it was a poopy diaper. We cleared that one away, and he pooped again (and the rabbi is trying to stay sterile here!) Then the rabbi ran into a problem that Jackie was having too. One of the questions she never got to ask the lactation consultant was how to get Benjamin to stop a behavior that was most distressing. When he was hungry, and Jackie offered him her breast, he would open his mouth wide but would not clamp down and suck. Well, when the rabbi offered Benjamin the wine soaked cloth, he did the same thing. He cried and cried but would not suck on the cloth. Mohels hate when the babies cry, because everyone assumes that they are in pain from the bris. But everyone survived, even the mohel, and Benjamin didn't get as much gas from the wine as Jonathan had, so Jackie was happy.


Things settled into a regular routine. Benjamin was eating every 3-4 hours during the day and every 4-5 hours at night, which meant that Jackie was not doing too bad, sleepwise. Passover came and went and was a lot of fun, if a little noisy, with three little babies, a toddler and 4 three-year-olds in attendance. At the end of the month, Marc had to go to Washington on business, returning on Jonathan's birthday.


Jonathan and Jackie picked Marc up at the airport and then, at Jonathan's request had birthday dinner at "the funny restaurant in the middle of the airport." This restaurant is NOT a kid-friendly restaurant and is NOT cheap either, so don't suggest this for your own kid. The following Sunday was Jonathan's birthday party, which we did at home, complete with bouncer, musical chairs, candy/cereal necklaces and balloons filled with toys. It was a zoo, but everyone had a good time. A couple of weeks later, Marc, Jackie, Benjamin and Marc's Mother flew up to San Francisco for another wedding (the bride was Marc's best man at our wedding). Jonathan got a wonderful weekend full of sleepovers at a friends and grandparents and survived very well.

In May, Jackie's maternity leave expired and she converted her status at XonTech to "part-time on call." This means that she only works on an "as needed" basis. She intends to keep this status for about 2 years. Jackie also started doing some consulting work for Perceptronics, a former employer. She does this work at home, sending in material via email. Although it's nice to work on something technical, finding the hours is a bit of a challenge, even though she's only putting in ten hours a week!


The first weekend in June, we all went to Yosemite along with Jackie's parents, brother and sister-in-law (and kids), aunt and uncle, and cousin Debra. The four days went by far too fast. Yosemite has survived the January floods well, and the vacation was a real delight. Due to the napping needs of small children and grandparents, we spent most afternoons hanging around the cabins, so the trip was pretty relaxing. We did hike to the base of Yosemite Falls, drive up to Glacier Point, and hike to the base of Vernal falls. At Glacier point, Marc taught both Jonathan and nephew Michael the rudiments of rock climbing. Both boys took to it very well and were soon scaling rocks by themselves that at first they needed lots of help with. After hiking to the bridge at the base of Vernal falls (which is not a casual hike, even though it's only 0.8 miles long), Jackie, Jonathan, and Debra continued up the 0.5 mile trail to the top of Vernal falls. This trail is called the "Mist trail" because of the heavy mist that blows off the falls onto the trail. It's 0.2 mile of hiking and then 0.3 mile of stone steps. Jonathan did all the steps himself both ways, which was a lot of work for a four-year-old. He was a real trooper. If you've never been to Yosemite, you should go, because it is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking places on earth.


Jackie received a call from XonTech asking if she could come in and work, so Marc took the day off to watch Benjamin and Jackie went in for the day. What a delight! Especially since the task she worked on that day was one of the most enjoyable tasks she does. Did it make her want to leave baby-raising and go back to work? No, she's got lots of years in which she can work, but Benjamin will only be little for a short time. One day in July, Jackie watched a friend's baby, who is only 6 weeks older than Benjamin. This day reinforced her belief that while she is very happy staying home with Benjamin, she is not at all cut out for professional childcare!


The first week in August was a real scorcher. Temperatures reached 110ºF. So, of course, we lost air conditioning. Doesn't it always work that way? Fortunately, it's under warranty, so we were able to replace the motor for a pittance. We also had relatives from Chicago visit this week. When they left, the heat seemed to let up too. We're inviting them back in the winter.

One day, Jonathan was playing with a friend, and Jonathan got poked in the eye. A trip to the emergency room found a large scratch on his cornea. Fortunately, Jonathan appears to have no lasting effects.

This month, we started Benjamin on solid food. He was watching Jackie eat with what seemed to be great interest, and when she offered him her water on a couple of occasions he seemed eager to taste it (although he often seemed taken aback once he got some in his mouth). So, a few days after he turned 5 months old, we offered him rice cereal, using Jackie's milk to mix it up. Benjamin's primary reaction was, "Give me more!" Like his brother at the same age, Benjamin seems to want it thick, in large quantities, and shoveled in as fast as possible. After a few days of the rice cereal, we moved on to banana baby food, and even real bananas.

Benjamin also started rolling over this month. This lead to an annoying problem. Benjamin (who's always hated sleeping on his back) developed the annoying habit of rolling over onto his back (when he's asleep) and then crying because he doesn't like sleeping on his back! So we would go in, roll him back onto his stomach, and then he would sleep some more. We know, we know, babies are supposed to sleep on their backs. Well just try telling that to Benjamin! He won't do it.


Marc did some more traveling this month, to Mineapolis and to Washington DC. His job is going well, and he gets lots of positive feedback about his performance.

Jonathan started going to preschool at our Temple 4 days a week. (Last year it was three.) On the days he is home, he sometimes spends the day with Mommy and Benjamin, and sometimes spends them with Grandma.

Now that Jonathan is in preschool 4 days a week, Jackie started having an easier time putting in her 10 hours a week consulting for Perceptronics. She enjoys it very much, and is glad to have the opportunity to do technical work on a regular basis. She has also continued to do work infrequently for XonTech.

This month, Benjamin greatly expanded his repertoire of foods. He doesn't like most of the them, but as long as we give him spoonfuls of fruit in between spoonfuls of whatever he doesn't like, he eats it. Benjamin, like Jonathan at the same age, is a big kid. He's been in the 95th or 97th percentile in both height and weight each time he's been measured. At six months, he was already over 20 lbs! He's sitting up, grasping things and rolling over as one would expect. He isn't crawling yet, but he squirms around and gets places.

Jonathan loves his brother and is always asking to hold him and hug him. If you ask Jonathan for a hug, he'll often respond that he only has hugs for Benjamin in him. He's very gentle with him, and loves to amuse Benjamin and make him laugh. We use Benjamin as a reward for Jonathan, e.g. "Get into your pajamas and then you can give Benjamin a hug." He doesn't like to be separated from Benjamin. Given the choice of a trip to the store with Daddy or staying home with Benjamin and Mommy, he'll pick staying home every time.

Jonathan continues to love books. We've started reading him "chapter books" like Doctor Doolittle and Stuart Little. We have also read The Hobbit. Now we're working through Alice in Wonderland. We had expected him to be an early reader because he knew all his letters, both upper and lower case, and could also write his name when he was 2, but this has not come to pass. He knows some words that are important to him -- "Jonathan," "Mommy," and "Daddy" (and a few things that are useful when playing on the computer, like "OK"). He seems reluctant to learn to read, and we haven't pushed. We figure he'll learn soon enough.

We hope that you are in good health, and that life is treating you well. We send you our best wishes for a great year!

Jackie, Marc, Jonathan and Benjamin

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Created 9/20/97. Send corrections, criticisms and comments to: jzev@isx.com