Nice to meet you, I am Vahan

by meleeneh on July 10, 2019

Nice to meet you, I am Vahan Mateos DerHartunian, born 16 June 2019 at 12:21 AM, right in time for Father’s Day. Vahan (Va-hahn) means “shield” in Armenian (I did manage to shield my face in every ultrasound picture except one) and Mateos (Mah-teh-ohs) is Armenian for Matthew.

My original due date was 11 June, but being I was the third son and that my older brother Emin arrived 10 days before his due date, everyone anticipated my early arrival as well. Repeatedly, Mama did what she thought was her “last” load of laundry, prenatal yoga class, car wash, manicure/pedicure, grocery shopping, and meal prep, but I kept her and everyone else waiting. At her 40 week appointment, Mama was 2 cm dilated and showed no signs of labor. Dr. Sharon Nelson scheduled an induction at Huntington Hospital for 17th of June. Once this date was set, Mama made it her personal mission to avoid induction and start the labor as naturally as possible. You name it, she did it: eat dates, take long walks in the foothills of La Canada and morning hikes at Descanso Gardens, do acupuncture, get a prenatal massage, and exercise. She even (embarrassingly) drove to Studio City and bought “The Salad” from Caiote Café, which was rumored to induce labor. Still no sign of labor…

On June 14, Mama suspected that her mucus plug had released in the morning, but still, no other sign of labor. The next morning was Mihran’s End of Year school performance. Mama wanted to attend with all of her heart and cheer him on, but the morning of the performance, Mama noticed that some fluid had leaked while she was asleep in bed, possibly her bag of water breaking. The situation was very similar to what she experienced when she went into labor with Emin, and she knew that if, in fact, her bag of water released, she had 12-24 hours to deliver the baby. Adamant to see Mihran’s performance, Mama decided she would go to the hospital after the performance and a family lunch at Byblos. Even when she got home from the festivities, she still went for a long walk with Papa and got an iced tea from Constellation Café. On their walk back to the house, she noticed more fluid leaking, so she knew it was time to head to the hospital.

At 4:30PM, the nurses confirmed that Mama was in labor, even though she showed no strong contractions. The doctor, the laborist at the hospital, explained the risk of infection of waiting for a long time after the bag of water released and insisted that she start Pitocin to induce the labor. Knowing she had 12-24 hours, Mama asked for more time and a chance to induce the labor naturally without pharmaceutical intervention. Once she was admitted into the Labor and Delivery unit, dressed in her hospital gown, and briefly monitored for my heart rate, she and Papa went outside to the courtyard of the hospital (it was a warm evening) and started walking. As a result, contractions grew stronger and stronger so she headed back to her room and spent most of the time laboring on a birth ball (along with lavender essential oil for calmness, a moist towel on her forehead, and an eye mask to allow her to focus and be in a state of zen). The greatest relief other than the birth ball was that Papa would press very firmly into Mama’s back with each contraction. The contractions were less than 3 minutes apart at this point.

By 7:30PM, there was a shift change nurses and we met Kathy, who was previously employed at CPMC in San Francisco (yay for the Bay!), and active labor had begun (without any intervention, contractions about 1 minute apart). Mama’s body severely shook between each contraction, and only by smelling lemon essential oil was her shaking calmed. Similar to both of my brothers’ labors, back labor struck in full force at the same time (I was in the occiput posterior position). Because of the severe impact it was having on Mama’s already fragile back, Mama opted for an epidural and Dr. Katz (the anesthesiologist) arrived just in time. At this point, Mama was 5 cm dilated, but within minutes of the epidural taking effect, she became 8 cm dilated, and close to midnight she was 10 cm dilated. During this time, several expectant moms arrived in the hospital and let their presence be known with shrieks and screams in the hallway (similar to what you would see in the movies). Nurse Kathy praised Mama for her focus, zen, and concentration among the chaos from outside.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), the epidural numbing effect was very strong, making Mama’s legs feel like heavy tree trunks and making it difficult for her to feel the pushing sensation. When it was time to push, Nurse Kathy instructed Mama to use her muscle memory to push, and with all her might, Mama did. The laborist soon arrived, and after 20 minutes of pushing, I arrived as 12:21 AM, at 40 weeks and 5 days, and on Father’s Day! Similar to my brother Emin, I had a full head of hair, but was also born with some meconium. As a result, the fantastic NICU team that was standing by in the room quickly cleaned me up as my Papa watched in awe and handed me over to Mama soon afterward for some much needed skin-to-skin time. During this time, the laborist was busy extracting cord blood from my umbilical cord for cord blood banking, repairing Mama’s 2nd degree tear, and carefully handling the placenta for encapsulation.

After about 2 hours of skin-to-skin time, initial nursing attempts, and bonding, we were transported to a new postpartum room where we spent the next 2 days. During that time, Mama worked closely with the lactation consultants (who were fantastic!) to establish best practices for breastfeeding. I also met my brothers, who gifted me with my own Fox stuffed animal and sang me to sleep while patting my back. <3

My parents and I were relieved to go home on an early release from the hospital after the pediatricians and OBs agreed.  We were reunited as a family and since then, have been on the journey of establishing a new normal in the household. My brothers have been extremely loving and patient and are very willing to share their toys with me, even though I can’t grab or hold them (yet). My parents are learning how to spend time with each one of us individually and as a whole, trying their best to make sure every family (including themselves) get the love, care, and attention that he/she needs. My grandparents have been helpful in coming to visit and care for me and my brothers. My parents feel extremely blessed to have such family support and love nearby.

I write my first blog shy of my 4 week/1 month birthday. I have already surpassed my birth weight and my newborn size clothes and diapers and am wearing 0-3 months clothing. I love that my parents bought me a wipe warmer, which makes diaper changes at all hours of the day and night much more tolerable. I love that my older brothers are so curious about me, like to bring me their toys, and help push me in my swing. I also love snuggles and to fall asleep on someone’s chest.

For now, I am staying home for 40 days before I start exploring and having adventures outside of the house. I can’t wait (and either can my family)!




Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!

by meleeneh on December 9, 2018


This year has been full of change for our family. In the start of the year, we were challenged with many serious health issues in our extended family, but with the power of faith, positive thinking, and talented medical professionals, our family healed and persevered. In the midst of it all, we relocated from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. Much of our time this year has been spent getting two feet on the ground, getting settled in our new home, and exploring our local community.

Mihran and Emin remained troopers through it all, and their ability to quickly adapt was admirable! Mihran is in love with Star Wars, science, Legos, and ninjas. He enjoys movies, science projects, museums, our swimming pool, and eating poncheeks. Emin loves Mickey Mouse, bunnies, drawing and coloring, dinosaurs, dancing, Legos, and picking fruit from our backyard. He idolizes his older brother, and now the two of them play together (and jump on the couch) more so than ever before. 🙂

Our 2018 family highlights:

  • We celebrated New Years Eve 2018 with close friends in Los Gatos and then headed to Palm Springs to warm up for the rest of the holiday week.
  • We celebrated Emin’s 1st birthday on April 30 (“A Wild One!”) in Argam’s parents’ backyard. He also had his Ahtamahatik and simultaneously chose “engineer” and “writer” as his future careers.
  • Our niece, Nora, was born in May! The boys adore her, and she watches their silliness in awe.
  • In April, we sold our home in San Mateo and relocated to La Canada in May.
  • Argam began his new role as Head of Product at The Discovery Channel, Motor Trend Division. In his new role, he test drove cars for Motor Trend Car of the Year Award and attended the award ceremony, attended the SEMA show in Las Vegas, and the LA Auto Show.
  • Meleeneh was able to maintain her full-time role at Genentech, while work remotely from Los Angeles. She travels back to the South San Francisco office regularly. Currently, she is leading a project to gain international approval for a medicine to treat patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
  • Over the summer, Mihran attended YMCA Camp in La Canada, attended Summer School at First Steps Armenian Preschool, and played Homentmen Ararat Basketball.
  • Emin was scheduled for eye surgery for a chronic clogged tear duct (present since birth and lasting for 15+ months). The procedure was canceled 2 days before the surgery after his symptoms miraculous cleared without intervention. What a relief!
  • Mihran joined the Blue Group at First Steps Armenian Preschool.
  • Mihran turned 4 on August 8. He celebrated his birthday with his older cousin Andrew (their birthdays are 2 days a part) and also saw his first movie in the movie theater, Incredibles 2.
  • We visited LEGOland and the San Diego Zoo with Cousin Nora.
  • For Halloween, our family costume was PacMan (Mihran), Red Ghost (Emin), and Blue Ghost (Argam), and Pink Ghost (Meleeneh).
  • Argam and Meleeneh traveled to London on business trips, coincidentally during the same week in November. Argam stayed in London while Meleeneh stayed in St. Albans, the beautiful English countryside.
  • Mihran started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class.
  • After attending The Center for Children in La Crescenta, Emin joined his older brother at First Steps School in November in the Toddler Classroom. His transition was seamless (phew!).
  • Our family ran in the Annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in La Canada. Mihran won a medal!
  • In December, Meleeneh attended the American Society of Hematology Annual Conference in San Diego, and the entire family joined the trip.
  • And finally…we learned that we are expecting Baby #3, and it’s a BOY!

In 2019, we are looking forward to welcoming our newest member of our family, getting further settled into our home, and making more lasting memories with our family and friends!

Argam, Meleeneh, Mihran, Emin, and Baby Boy #3


Emin and his 11-month birthday!

by meleeneh on April 2, 2018

On March 30, Emin turned 11 months old, just in time for his first Easter!

20 lbs • 28.5 inches • Brown eyes and lighter brown, wavy hair • Has 7 teeth •
Had his first haircut • Stands without support • Takes a few steps without support •
Holds his own small glass bottle to drink milk • Understands “no” (in English and Armenian) •
Raises arms when wants to be picked up • Responds to music with body motion •
Wears 12-18 months clothes and Size 4 diapers


Emin and his 10-month birthday!

by meleeneh on March 13, 2018

In February, Emin turned 10 months old!

20 lbs • 28 inches • Brown eyes and dark brown, wavy hair • Has 6 teeth
• Momentarily stands without support • Walks holding onto furniture •
Says “bye-bye” as he waves • Drinks from a straw and holds his own sippy cup •
Loves climbing, opening and closing drawers, and going for walks outside •
Wears 12 months clothes and Size 4 diapers


Emin and his 9-month birthday!

by meleeneh on February 16, 2018

Emin turned 9 months old on January 30, 2018!

19 lbs • 28 inches • Brown eyes and dark brown, wavy hair • Has 2 teeth • Crawls on all 4’s •
Responds to his name and understands the meaning of “No” (in English and Armenian) •
Says “bababa” and “ohoh” • Feeds himself solid food and drinks from a cup •
Claps hands during songs • Loves wires, outlets, walks in the stroller, boxes, and dirt •
Traveled to Palm Springs • Wears 12 months clothes and Size 4 diapers


Emin and his eight month birthday!

by meleeneh on December 30, 2017

On December 30, Emin celebrated his 8 month birthday!

17 lbs 14 oz • 27.5 inches • Brown eyes and dark brown, wavy hair •
Eats beef, salmon, oatmeal • Has 2 teeth • Walks using push toy • Pulls himself up to standing from sitting • Gets into sitting position from tummy • Plays peekaboo •
Feeds himself teething biscuits • Loves the Christmas tree, to rummage through toy drawers, Elmo, and making music on the keyboard or using a wooden spoon on pots/pans •
Wears 6-12 months clothes and Size 3 diapers


Happy Christmas and New Year!

by meleeneh on December 21, 2017


This year, we have been blessed to watch our family grow and to witness the bond between Mihran and Emin develop and deepen. Mihran is fun-loving and inquisitive, and loves music, checking out new books at the library, airplanes, and making new friends. His favorite foods are hamburgers and sausage, and he is convinced he is 5 years old. Emin is sweet and smiley, loves to cuddle and stand, and already idolizes his older brother. His favorite toys are Scout the Dog, buckets, Kleenex, wires, and his socks. 🙂

Our 2017 family highlights:

  • We celebrated New Years 2017 in Oahu, Hawaii in January.
  • Mihran was fully potty trained in January (a big undertaking). 🙂
  • We traveled to Lake Tahoe in February, and Mihran built a snowman and went sledding for the first time.
  • Emin is born on April 30! Mihran is a big brother! (link to blog post included)
  • We spent two weekends in Sonoma, once for a mini babymoon (baby Emin in Mama’s belly) in March and once with Argam’s sister and her family (with 2 month old Emin) in July.
  • Argam and Meleeneh saw Broadway’s Hamilton for Meleeneh’s birthday.
  • Mihran turned 3 on August 8. First, we celebrated at Disneyland and then had a sports-themed party at the park.
  • We traveled to Wailea, Maui in September, which was Emin’s first trip to paradise.
  • Our family Halloween costume was a police officer (Mihran), a doughnut (Emin), and old school bank robbers (Argam and Meleeneh).
  • PicsArt hit 100 million monthly active users in October.
  • Meleeneh authored the Clinical Study Report for Genentech’s drug Zelboraf for Erdheim-Chester Disease, leading to FDA’s approval of a therapy for this rare cancer with no current treatment options.
  • Mihran played AYSO soccer for the city of San Mateo on the Sounders team.
  • Emin learned to crawl at 6.5 months! Oh my!
  • Emin started in the Angelfish Classroom in October, and Mihran transferred to the Turtles Classroom at 2nd Generation at Genentech in December.

We are looking forward to traveling, staying healthy and active, and making even greater memories in 2018!

Argam, Meleeneh, Mihran, and Emin


Emin and his seven month birthday!

by meleeneh on December 20, 2017

Emin turned 7 months old on November 30!

17 lbs 8 oz • 27.2 inches • Brown eyes and dark brown, wavy hair •
Eats chicken, lamb, spinach, quinoa, pumpkin, broccoli, pear • Has 2 teeth •
Army crawls • Blows raspberries • Shakes his head “no” • Responds to his name •
Loves  to stand,  the “ABCs,” and playing in front of the mirror •
Wears 6-9 months clothes and Size 3 diapers



Emin and his six month birthday!

by meleeneh on November 4, 2017

On October 30, Emin celebrated his 1/2 year birthday!

16 lbs 1.6 oz • 26.75 inches • Brown eyes and dark brown, wavy hair •
Eats egg yolk, avocado, butternut squash, carrots, sweet potato, and drinks water •
Sits without support • Loves Mickey Mouse, Elmo, Scout the Dog, and his big brother •
Had his first cold (bronchiolitis) =( • Understands “milk” in sign language •
Fascinated with his hands and feet • Wears 6-9 months clothes and Size 3 diapers


Emin and his five month birthday!

by meleeneh on October 1, 2017

On September 30, Emin turned 5 months old!

14 lbs 13.8 oz • 25 inches • Brown eyes and dark brown, wavy hair •
Pulls up to standing position from sitting • Started eating solids (egg yolk) •
Loves reading books and passing a ball back and forth • Loves to chew on his socks •  Steals napkins from the dining table • Will start daycare at Genentech •
Sleeps in the same room as his big brother • Holds his bottle during feedings •
Wears 6-9 months clothes and Size 2 diapers