28 January 2009

Our Village

About two weeks after Eamon was born, I was going crazy with being stuck in the house. Aaron and I bundled up our little bundle of joy and went "out for lunch," which means that we went to Fuddruckers at about 3 PM and ordered our hamburgers to go. There was NO ONE there, except the staff.

While we were waiting for our food, the manager came out and sat down at a table to eat. It turned out that she was also pregnant--and due in a week. She was excited to see our little one, though kind enough not to try to touch him since I am a little paranoid about strangers or excessive amounts of people touching him before he gets his shots (people at school keep asking me when I'm going to bring him in...like I would really take him to an elementary school during cold and flu season).

The manager was actually due the following week. She was having a little boy as well, and asked us some questions about how we were handling him. When Aaron went to get our food and put together his hamburger, she told me how lucky I was that I had him (of course I know this already). The father was not in her life, so she was going to be doing the single mother thing. Not only that, but she didn't really have much family around here, and wasn't sure what she was going to do about babysitting since she works at a restaurant and has crazy hours. Lastly, she only had about 4 weeks of vacation time saved up.

This being Eamon's fourth week of life, I find myself thinking about this woman very often. How on earth is she doing to do it? I had my husband home for the first 3 weeks before I had to go it alone. Today, when Eamon went through his second night of not sleeping (he's fine...he just got overtired and then gassy and then stubborn because he wanted to be held all night), I texted my mother about 5:30 AM and asked if she could PLEASE babysit for a few hours so that I could get some sleep, and she was over here by 6:15. Eamon's other grandparents (Aaron's parents), his Oma and Opa, have also been so kind and generous. They completely did his nursery and helped us get some things were were still missing before he was born (like the swing...thank GOD for the swing), and have already been down twice to offer their support and spend time with their grandson (again, taking care of him so that Aaron and I could get some sleep).

It's not just those who help to take care of Eamon, either. Aaron's job was nice enough to let him take an extra week (he only had 2 weeks of vacation) off. At school, my fourth grade team has been invaluable at keeping me in the loop and making sure that my sub stays more or less on track with my kids. Friends have stopped by to see the little guy, or bring me lunch, or go with me to get our hair done so that I don't go completely insane from lack of contact with the outside world. We didn;t have to buy hardly anything for Eamon ourselves because our wonderful friends provided so much (and Julie even came from Massachusetts to organize it all!).

I don't know how single mothers do it. I have SO much respect and admiration for them. I know that we're extremely lucky to have so many wonderful people in our lives. I know it's possible to raise a baby completely on your own, but I'm so glad that Aaron and I have managed to cobble together a great little village to help us out. You are all very loved.
Eamon and Sally (coworker and friend from school)
Eamon and Charmaine (friend and coworker from school)
Eamon and his grandparents on both sides

26 January 2009

Progress Report--4 Weeks In

1. Eamon is still very cute.

2. Eamon is still learning to spend more time sleeping through the night. He is still very awake from 1 AM- 5AM, though sometimes he varies the hours slightly for kicks. He generally finally falls over for about 3-4 hours at 5AM, which is nice for now since it lets me sleep, but will be more difficult once I go back to work and will have to be at school by 8 AM.

3. Eamon is vocalizing. A lot. The little guys has opinions and things to share. He has anecdotes and personal philosophies that need expounding. So far, most of his side of the conversation is along the lines of, "Eh, eh, eh..." but he looks at you when he does it, and will often wait for you to talk in response.

4. Eamon is a sleep-traveler. No one is quite sure how a fully-swaddled baby manages to make a 45 degree turn while sleeping. Needless to say, we had to take the bumper off his crib already because he keeps ending up in strange places when he sleeps.

5. Eamon is (we think) starting to social smile. It's a little early, but not unheard of. There are times when he's not gassy, or hungry, or anything really, just kind of happy, and when you talk to him, he stares at you and gives a smile back. Aaron says he even laughed a little the other day while he (Aaron) was talking and making funny faces. Just so you know that it's not just us biased parents who think this, both sets of grandparents have also confirmed our smile theory--and you know how objective grandparents are.

20 January 2009

Mister Independence (Sort Of)

Eamon will now sleep! Without being held! It's a miracle! Since Aaron had to go back to work this week, he and I have been working on this diligently for the past few days because it is suddenly impossible for someone to hold our child 24 hours a day like we did the first two weeks. Eamon, for his part, thought this was a terrible idea at first, but is starting (slowly) to adjust. Right now, he has been asleep in his swing for an hour, allowing Mommy to do things like take out the trash, post new pics on Facebook, do some laundry, and update this blog (it's amazing how much you can get done when you know you only have a limited amount of time).

Having Aaron go back to work has been somewhat challenging. He got to stay home for 3 weeks, which I know is more than most men get, and it was truly a blessing. I can honestly say that Eamon prefers neither Mommy nor Daddy, but is happy to spend time with either of us. I think that pumping breast milk and having Aaron feed it to Eamon in bottles from the hours of 7PM-1AM (so that I can get some sleep) has really helped with this bonding, making Eamon neither a Momma's nor a Daddy's boy, but simpy a kid who really likes both his parents (right now at least; we'll see what happens when he's 15).

BUT, yesterday was our first day by ourselves, and I think that it went rather well. Eamon slept from 5AM-9AM, letting me get some sleep (of course, he's WIDE AWAKE every morning from 1AM-5AM, so that's not very good). We got up, I fed him, pumped a little, and then packed everything up to go to my parents (this was significant, since it was the first time I had gone anywhere with just me and the baby, and no Aaron to remind me how the carseat works). We got there and unloaded everything, and then my mom and I went out shopping so that I could get a pair of pants that fits and doesn't have an elastic waistband (all my old clothes are still too small, but my maternity clothes are getting too big, so I'm left basically with my flannel pajama pants to wear). Grandpa (my father) babysat, which caused me a little nervousness, because what if my usually good-natured child (except for 1AM-5AM, when he is a screaming, unhappy mess) suddenly decided to behave like a little demon?

My fears were for naught, however, because Eamon was wonderful for his grandpa. He slept for awhile in my parents' Pack n' Play, woke up at exactly the right time to eat the bottle that I left with Grandpa, got his diaper changed, and promptly fell right back asleep. By that time, we were back from our shopping excursion (I admit--I was a little anxious and so shopped rather quickly and scarfed down my lunch at Red Robin and then sat there and stared at my mother until she decided she was finished too so that we could go).

When we got back home, Eamon ate and then took another 2 hour nap, allowing me to clean out the fridge, take out the trash (it had really piled up in the last 3 weeks), do some laundry, vacuum the upstairs, and scrub my bathtub. I felt tremendously triumphant, and tried not to think about all the household chores that were still left to be done. I read somewhere that after having a baby, you should make "I Did" lists rather than "To Do" lists so that you feel better about yourself, and I'm really trying to take that philosophy to heart.

Then Aaron came home, and he gave Eamon his bath while I made dinner, I scarfed down the tacos (I guess this is how you take off the maternity weight--don't have time to eat), and then went to bed leaving Daddy and Eamon to their nighttime bonding. All in all, it was a good day.

And for those of you who haven't met or are missing our little one, here's a video of him not really doing anything except being exceptionally cute and trying to eat my finger at one point.

17 January 2009

Whose Baby Is It?

For reasons I've never been able to discern, as soon as a baby exits the womb, people always play the "Who Does the Baby Look Like?" game. I always thought this game was silly, because babies generally look like babies, and then I had a baby and found myself thinking, "My, my, that part looks like..."

So, after 3 weeks of study, here are the general conclusions about the various bits of the baby and whom they resemble:

Eyes: They're blue, so obviously they came from Aaron, not me. The eyes are also the same shape as Aaron's, and they have the same bags underneath them.

Mouth: Aaron's (I'm not exactly sure why, but that's what everyone says)

Ears: Aaron's. They look almost elven from a certain angle.

Feet: Aaron's. They are huge.

Nose: Jury is still out. It doesn't really look like either of our noses.

Head: Aaron's--not super-huge like mine was as a baby.

Hair: Could be either. He was born with a head of black hair, but so were both Aaron and myself. Aaron's all fell out and grew back in blond; mine stayed in and gradually turned blond. So it all just depends on what happens with the hair now. So far, he hasn't lost any, but we'll see.

Tongue: Mine! The frenulum (bit that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth) is just a tad too far forward, just like mine. This means that he will never be able to curl his tongue, either, just like mommy can't. The only thing I can really claim on this child, and it's his tongue. Sigh.

Anyway, it's obvious that he is his daddy's boy, through and through. Thank goodness that I gave birth to him so that I know that he's part mine, too. As for personality, I guess we'll have to wait a little while to see whether he's more like his daring, risk-taking father or his cautious, shy mother.

13 January 2009

Eamon's First Fortnight

Eamon had his two week check up on Tuesday, weighing in at 9 lbs, .06 oz and measuring 21. 75 in. That means he's gained his birth weight back, which is desirable. That he would reach this benchmark was never in question. My boy can eat.

The over-arching theme of the past 14 days has, of course, feeding Eamon. It is one of the 3 things that one actually does with infants (changing and cuddling being the other 2 - and he gets plenty of all 3). After a slow start, we have gotten into the swing of things. Eamon is a healthy, if not speedy, eater. His propensity for taking his time while eating caused Kate to get little sleep, as he would eat every two hours, but take an hour to eat. At this point, however, he eats about every 2-3 hours during the day and is going 4 hours between feedings at night. We started him on the bottle on Friday, primarily so Kate could get some sleep. I take the night shift.

The bottle is cool because now I am actually involoved with my child's nourishment. There's only so much bonding you can get from holding a sleeping child or changing dirty diapers. He makes all sorts of cool noises while eating, and has the best facial expressions. It's just not the same.

There is much to be said, however, about sleeping infants. My favorite is the "victory" pose...

But there is also the "dead outlaw" that I enjoy as well...

All that being said, he is awake some of the time...

11 January 2009

Uh oh

Aaron is going to write the update on how we're doing since we've been home. In the meantime, enjoy this video. It continually cracks me up.

04 January 2009

The Birth Story

(special thanks to Eamon for staying asleep long enough for Kate to write this.)

It started with the contractions…that happened about two weeks beforehand…and then stopped. Faithful readers of this blog know that my control issues meant that we had scheduled an induction for Monday, December 29, though no one (not even the doctors) thought that we would make it that long.

Sunday, December 28, I was still pregnant, and so we prepared that evening for “the event.” Nesta, our dog, went to my parents’ house since we had no idea how long the induction would take (I had heard horror stories of 30 hour labors), and our hospital bags were all packed and ready.

Monday morning dawned. I had managed to sleep (knowing that it might be the last time for awhile), though Aaron tossed and turned. I woke up at 5:00AM on the dot, even though my alarm wasn’t set to go off for another 45 minutes, and went ahead and got up because I knew there was no way I would be able to go back to sleep. I puttered around the house, doing last minute cleaning things, and then woke Aaron up at 6:00 so that we could be at the hospital (which is about a 7 miles and 20 minutes away—thank you traffic) by 7:00AM.

The ride was uneventful, completely unlike the movies since I wasn’t actually, you know, in labor. Aaron dropped me off at the front so that I could check in while he parked the car. They took me to a back room to fill out my information, while Aaron went straight up to the labor and delivery unit. Afterwards, I waited for him in the lobby, and there were several confused minutes where Aaron and our labor and delivery nurse were perplexed as to how the husband had managed to show up for the induction but the wife was MIA.

After they went on a retrieval mission to the lobby and took me upstairs, we settled into our room. Our nurse, Felicia, was awesome—very bright eyed and bushy-tailed for 7:00 AM. The labor and delivery room was huge, and we had it all to ourselves (though once we had the baby, I saw why it needed to be so big, since there were a lot of people who suddenly turned up).

Felicia hooked me up to all the machines—the monitors, the IV, etc.. She heartily recommended an epidural, and I went ahead and signed the papers, though I said that I was going to try to do without one. She just smiled.

Before starting the Pitocin, she checked my cervix one more time. I was still about 90% effaced and 2-3 cm dilated—exactly where I had been for the last 2 weeks. She started the pitocin at about 7:30.

My parents arrived at about 8:00, there to provide moral and mental support, which was very nice of them. As it turned out, we ended up needing their help, so it worked out well.

By 9:00, I was having some pretty heavy contractions that were about 3-4 minutes apart. Dr. Lockhart, our OBGYN, came and checked me. I was still only 2-3 cm dilated, but he assured me that I would have the baby by dinner and then he broke my water. I breathed a sigh of relief, because I knew that once my water broke, the hospital had a rule that I would give birth within 24 hours, whether naturally or by c-section, due to risk of infection. We would have a baby soon, whether the induction worked or not.

Breaking my water increased the contractions exponentially. They started coming every 2 minutes, then every minute and a half, and they were lasting about 45 seconds—which meant that I only had about 45 seconds between contractions to catch my breath. The contractions themselves were incredibly intense and painful, and when Felicia checked and said that I was still only about 3 cm dilated, I broke down.

“I’m ready for an epidural now,” I hissed between contractions.

My mother said, “Oh, Kate, are you sure? You still have a long way to go.”

“That’s nice,” I said, my teeth gritted. “Get the anesthesiologist. He can come back and do it again later if he needs to.”

There were 2 other women ahead of my in line to get epidurals (they figured it out earlier than I did), but he showed up about 20 minutes later. Probably the most painful part of my pregnancy was being shifted from my back to a sitting position—during a contraction. Aaron held my shoulders down and I tried very hard not to move while the anesthesiologist used all his various needles, since I knew that if he missed bad things could happen. I stayed still, and he didn’t miss, and within minutes everything was better again.

I could still feel the contractions after that, but instead of them feeling like someone was wringing out my stomach like a sponge, I just felt like my upper abdomen was making a fist (I couldn’t feel anything in my lower abdomen). I was now able to talk (sort of) and text through the contractions, which were now coming about every 3-4 minutes (the epidural slowed them down, and thank God for that).

Aaron went for lunch about 11:15, when I was still about 3 cm, but by the time he came back around noon, I was already 5 cm.

This entire time, our little baby had been driving Felicia crazy because, as usual, the baby hated the heartbeat monitor and kept moving away from it. Now, however, not only was the baby moving around, but also the heartbeat kept dropping after the contractions. It’s supposed to drop during the contractions, but rise right back up—it was taking a little too long to get back up to normal. The doctor had gone back to his practice to see some patients (it was only about 5 minutes down the road), and Felicia was a little perplexed as to whether it was serious enough to call him back.

About 12:45, my mother suggested that Felicia check my cervix again, though it had only been about an hour since she had checked it, and even though she didn’t expect to find a change, Felicia did it just to have something to do. To her surprise—I was fully dilated! It happened that quickly.

“Um, are you ready to start pushing?” she asked.

I shrugged. “Sure.” Epidurals are nice.

“Okay, well, wait and let me call the doctor. If you feel like you really have to push, call me and we’ll start, but try to hold off if you can.”

“All right,” I said, and texted all my friends to let them know I was about to start pushing. I finally shut my phone off after that and told everyone else in the room that they were to do the same.

The doctor came about 15 minutes later and we started pushing. It was, um, interesting. Like I said, I couldn’t feel anything from my lower abdomen down, so I had no idea whether I was pushing enough. Felicia was a great coach, counting and talking me through the pushes. Meanwhile, Aaron and my mother had to hold up my legs during each push because I couldn’t feel them at all. My dad kind of stood to one side (behind me, away from the grossness, and I don’t blame him a bit), and took pictures (without the flash, thankfully, so as not to disturb anybody).

I pushed about 3 times. The baby’s heartbeat still wasn’t bouncing back as well as it should after pushing.

“Hmm,” said Dr. Lockhart. He’s terribly grandfatherly, and was very calm the entire time. “I think we will get the baby out very soon.” He said I was doing a great job, but would I mind if we used a little bit of suction to get the baby out faster?

“Um, that’s fine,” I said. He was, after all, the doctor, though I think he would have done it no matter my response.

He got out the vacuum, and I pushed about 3 more times and pop! out came the baby. The pushing had been intense, and even though I couldn’t feel anything from the waist down, I was a little out of breath from pushing as hard as I could anyway. Felicia said I did a great job, better than most women, even the ones who haven’t had an epidural and can feel what they’re doing; I don’t know whether that was true, but it made me feel good at the time.

“It’s a boy!” declared Dr. Lockhart. “And he’s big!”

They immediately put the baby on my chest and the first thing I thought was—good gracious, he had blue eyes! I had no preconceptions about almost anything else, except that I really thought he would have my brown eyes. My next thought was, “Oh my God, why isn’t he crying?” The baby just looked around in shock, and then Dr. Lockhart cleaned out his little mouth and oh my goodness, the crying began.

At this point, the nurses came and took the baby away to clean him off. The neonatologist examined him, too—apparently Dr. Lockhart had called in the neonatologist at some point (I was busy pushing and didn’t notice). My mom later told me that they don’t usually do that, and that Dr. Lockhart must have been kind of worried to do so, even though he never showed it.

Dr. Lockhart then gave me the other news. “You’ve torn,” he said, in his grandfatherly way, rather like discussing the rain that might ruin a picnic. “Quite a bit actually. I have to stitch you up now.”

But his manner suggested that it was nothing to worry about, and anyway, I couldn’t feel anything thanks to the wonderful epidural. It wasn’t until he was stitching longer than it took me to push out the baby that I began to be concerned.

“Oh, it will hurt,” he said. “For awhile. I’m very sorry. It’s a third degree tear. It was his shoulders that did it. They are very big.”

Third degree? I assumed this was like murder, and third degree was as bad as it could get (I later learned that it is bad, but there is a fourth degree tear, and that is horrible).

Anyway, after they cleaned him off and I was done being stitched up, they brought Eamon back to me for a little while so that I could hold him. He was very awake and alert. He was immediately soothed by the sound of my voice and knew Aaron’s voice right away, too (Aaron would read to us almost every night, usually a John Hodgman selection, and it really paid off because Eamon couldn’t stop turning towards his daddy’s voice).

Then they took Eamon away to the nursery, and Aaron went with. My parents went home as well, and I was by myself when Felicia finally came to tell me that Eamon had been 8 pounds, 14.9 oz—he missed being 9 pounds by only 1.1 ounces. He was 21 inches long and doing great in the nursery. I later learned from Aaron that his Apgar scores were an 8 and a 9 (out of 10), which is very good.

We had to stay in the hospital for two more nights. Aaron stayed with me the first, and my mom the second. Eamon came to visit often, whenever he was hungry, and a very nice night nurse named Denise showed us how to breastfeed (neither of us had a clue what we were doing at first). We brought him home on Wednesday at about noon, and did the best that we could (there were a lot of “ums” and confused looks at each other) until my mom showed up about two hours later, and Aaron’s parents about three hours later, and explained to us how to actually take care of a baby.

But that’s another story.