January 30, 2008

Kiddo waxings

Alden at the Doc

We had a bit of a worry the other night. Alden has been having a little trouble feeding, and the other day he was choking on his milk and seemed to have trouble breathing. We took him to the doctor in the evening, he got checked out but they didn't find anything obviously wrong. Most likely Ilana's milk is coming in more regularly and possibly overwhelming the little sprout. I think things are fine now, we are cautiously observing.

To drop a little insight as a recent parent. For me, having a child is like having a part of my body detached from the rest of me. It's out there in the world and stuff is going to happen to it - and by proxy me, and I'm pretty well powerless. It's a lot to adjust to... this relational shift.

The same kind of shift happened when I got married. With marriage however, the relation shifted from my identity as an individual to my identity as part of a team (the Ilana and Kerstin team). I was already part of the family-I-was-born-into-team, but individualism developed and I kind of see the Ilana Kerstin team as the team I chose myself (we chose ourselves together honey). On a side note this is the major value I see in weddings, because you get all the family and friends around and
explicitly tell everyone about the new team being made, and they implicitly (by showing up and gifting you a blender) support the new team and everyone has a big party celebrating the relational shift. Marriage creates a new relationship with family and friends as well as society (humanity) as a whole.

I would say that marriage redefined my relationship with humanity, and having a kid
redefined my relationship with the universe. Any remnant of individualism I had was lost to the effects of random chance. It really makes apparent the limits of ones abilities. Not only in having a healthy child born, but even the limits of my own energy at the 3am feeding (helping). A child is a physical manifestation of powerlessness. It is a scary thing, but also enlightening... at least I tell myself it's enlightening. I think enlightenment and fear must be very similar.

January 28, 2008

Big Baby

Baby sizes

Alden with a Mohawk after his bath
A kimono given to him by a fan

Alden’s fans keep appearing. I went to the Gardiner Art Talk on Sunday, where John Carnes was talking about the history of watercolor. It was a very good lecture and nice to see events in Gardiner happen. It was the first time I was out socially (Ilana and Alden were at home) since Alden was born and people kept telling me to give him their best and to wish him well for them. It was both wonderful and strange to see the Alden fans – people who hadn’t met him yet giving me hats and bags of little outfits and chewable books to pass along to the fella. I just want all you fans to know Alden appreciates what you are doing and loves you all.

On another note our friends Jane and William came by to visit. Will is about 7 months and he both blew my mind and freaked me out. I had met will a month earlier, before Alden was born. He’s a charming guy with a great smile and a good grip. At the time I met him he was hooked into some contraption that let him kinda-stand and move around a play-mushroom full of bells and pulls and knobs. I didn’t really note his size and shape at the time, but having him next to Alden today really put things into a new perspective. Will is HUGE, and still very baby-ish. I don’t know what I expected, but comparing the two boys was a shocker. Some how I think of Alden becoming a 3 year old without three years of development slowly taking place, and that the 3 year old mark is a straight path of elongation, improved balance, diction, and humor. From the looks of things there is going to be a period of remaining a baby that I completely forgot about.

January 27, 2008

Things are slowing down - whew

Alden’s neck strength is improving and he can almost support his head now. His eyes are staying open longer these days and his grip is stronger. He is learning to suck on his hand when it randomly gets close enough to his mouth and his bowels are mighty. He goes through a couple outfits a day, but I think that is more due to parental incompetence in diapering than anything else.

Everyone is doing well. We are between guests this weekend and are cleaning the house. We still need to get some bookshelves for our boxed items and I may build something today. I am also finding tiny (neurotic) drafts where the floor meets the wall (the down side of a balloon-frame house) so I’m going to have myself a caulk party in the near future. Things are slowing down enough to take care of homey things again.

January 25, 2008

Squirming and Growing Baby - Day 7

I thought this was a fun series of photos that my mom (Barbara) took, so here you go. The tongue shot is great.

I'm happy to report that Alden is gaining weight and it looks like my milk supply has finally caught up with his demand. I went to see the lactation consultant at the hospital today and we calculated how much milk he's getting with each feeding. They weigh him naked before feeding, I nurse him on one side and they take a measurement. I then nurse him on the other side and they measure weight once more. He took a dump after this ordeal and they were able to calculate his net growth (and gross growth efficiency!) from there. I loved how scientific it all was. Turns out he took in 96 ml of milk from that feeding. Wow! That's a 50 ml blue-capped falcon tube's worth in each breast. (For those of you who don't do metric, that's 1.5 oz per boob. I can only think in metric for liquid volumes.) I kinda thought that I could only make a spoonful or so of milk at a time. It's way more than I'd imagined I could produce. I was feeling pretty good about myself on the drive home. After this binge eating, Alden was out like a light for a good 3.5 hours. This was also a new experience. I had been feeding him for 20 minutes, just like the books had told me to do. This was the time it usually took him to empty one breast and fall asleep. But he was waking up again an hour or so later wanting to eat. This was especially frustrating at night, when after a feeding, diaper change, and a rock back to sleep, I barely had time to shut my eyes before he started fussing again. Could it be that the baby books had lead me astray? If I kept him awake for a full hour of feeding and gave him all I had from both guns, would he sleep for longer periods at night? I figured it was worth a try last night. Sure enough, after a lengthy feed at midnight, he (and I) slept a solid 3 hours before the next feeding and then another 3 hours after a 4 am feeding. Sweet! I woke up this morning to his little wimpers, and was feeling.. dare I say it... almost refreshed. Why don't they tell you this sort of thing in the baby books?

Alden in his "milk coma", induced by power breastfeeding.

January 23, 2008

Alden on day 6 of life

Day 6

I am so out of the loop now. I spend my time at work and see Alden and Ilana at night after all the fun stuff happens. Today they got to go to the doctor for the one week-ish check up. Alden got weighed and had his ears and eyes examined. They listened to his bowels, lungs and heart. Everything is in order, although he has only gained an ounce since he left the hospital (leaving weight 7lb 5oz) and that worries the doc a little. We are going back to the Doc on Friday for a lactation consult and more weighing. But I don't think it's necessary, Alden seems happy, active, healthy bowels, and the rest, so I believe he's going to be gaining some weight very soon.

January 22, 2008

Day 5 - Back to work for K

Day 5

I went back to work today, so not much to report on the kiddo from my end. He woke us up a few time through the night, so I was a bit spacey all day. When I got home Ilana was dealing with changing him, somehow he managed to get poo on his back all the way up to his neck… How does that work? Barbara did a photo-shoot with Alden today, so there are some pictures (big files). I’ve noticed Alden can only move his eyes to the right, but not the left, and he is starting to show an interest in light sources.

Alden comes home - day 4

Day 4

Today we got the word that we could go home. It turns out that Alden has no infection and the IV drip was just a precaution that gave him bad gas. Getting out of the hospital took some time. We got the check-out leave at 1:30, but the antibiotics called for a second hearing test (everything is okay) and then Alden wanted to feed, and then we had to get all our stuff to the car get everyone dressed, and figure out the car seat… We left the hospital at 4pm.

I realize that I'm writing more about our birthing experience than anything else on the this Blog so far. Having a kid is definitely the most interesting thing I've done in awhile. The best thing I can equate it to from the non-kid world is that its like working on a really cool project that you are enthusiastically into and don’t mind not eating or sleeping to work on. The kind of project that is challenging, but rewarding in the process as well as the intended result.

It was good to be home with everyone not dressed in hospital-gear. We ate supper, Grammy Barbara is staying this week to help out with things. We built a fire because it’s getting cold out, drank some wine, and went to bed.

January 21, 2008

Day three for Baby Alden

Day 3

Today started off rather slowly. We were all basically waiting for the I.V. drip of antibiotics to work their way through Alden’s system and get the results from the lab to see if he’s sick or not. From wake up time till about four, we hung out perfecting the breastfeeding, diaper changing, baby dressing and holding and bathing. Both Ilana and I are pretty tired so the day seemed to move slowly.

Alden has continued his womb hic-ups in the outside world and it is both tragic and hilarious. His eyes are opening more and he is starting to look around with greater frequency, although one of his eyes is puffy and bigger than the other… again tragic and hilarious. His right hand is bandaged with the I.V., but he doesn’t seem to care. It’s interesting to have a kid on a tether and I keep worrying I’ll trip on the tubing. Funny and hilarious?… They keep taking blood samples from his feet, which I imagine sucks for him, but he is being a real trooper about it.

At around four Grammy Karen visited, followed soon by Grammy Barbara, Unky Ben and Ellen, and greatgodsomethingorother (on Ilana’s side) Jeff and Renee and greatgodsomethingorother on my side James and his friend Nancy. Jeff, Renee, and James are the family friends that knew either Ilana or I since were we’re born and are really awesome folks. It was great to see them and everyone brought gifts, which was very sweet.

January 20, 2008

Second day for the kiddo -

Day 2

This is really just an extended day one. Neither Ilana or I got much or any sleep. We were up being with Alden while the nurses got him ready for the world. He got a bath, goo in his eyes, injections, and his parts got checked out. All in all, everything looks really good. We were a little worried because ultrasounds showed some abnormal bone development in his arms, but you wouldn’t know it to look at him. We will have him x-rayed next week and see if any kind of treatment is necessary. Right now, he is strong and everything looks fine so we are cautiously optimistic. For a guy who doesn’t say much, he’s pretty fun to hang out with. He’s been very calm and makes cute little noises when he sleeps.

Ilana and Alden spent a good deal of time figuring out the breastfeeding thing. At the start he preferred only the left breast, but it got sore quickly and we worked on making Alden ambibreastrous, so he can use either with the same amount of ease. By the end of the day, they both had it down pretty well.

Loads of visitors came today. Yesterday was a regular family reunion. Both Ilana’s parents and my mother paid a visit. Today Gillian and Ian, our fabulous friends in Gardiner stopped by to meet the little one, and the new grandmothers returned for a next-day-peep. We’ve been enjoying the company as it breaks up the monotony of sitting in a hospital room all day. Towards the middle of the morning Alden started showing elevated breathing rates, so he had some blood work done. They found slightly elevated C-reactive protein levels. C-reactive protein is an inflammation indicator, so the doctors were a little concerned about the possibility of an infection setting in. CRPs can also be elevated when one is bruised (and he certainly was bruised from the birth) so it may also be nothing. They need a 48 hour blood culture to know if he has an infection and by that time, if he had a bug, he’d be in rough shape. So, the doctors preemptively put him on an IV drip with antibiotics. The IV was put in at 3 pm and it has to drip for 48 hours. The tests will come back tomorrow, but we won't be able to leave till Monday at the earliest. If he has caught something, he’ll need to stay at the hospital for a week for a full course of antibiotics.

I had a surreal experience going to the store tonight. I wanted to pick up a few things for Ilana and left the hospital for a strip-mall type area. It was a strange feeling to be out of the hospital room and in the big world. I think it was because I feel like I'm only a father in the context of the room where Ilana and Alden are staying. Being out by myself in the world felt different knowing I was a father, but my fatherhood was confined to that little room in the hospital. Also, residing in one dimly lit beige room for a couple days (and having my world-context change in that room) made the outside feel bigger and broader. I'm sure my new agoraphobia will change once we get home, but for now there is that interesting schism. Newborns have an incredible startle reflex that will sometimes kick in simply because the world is so much bigger now than before and they aren't used to their arms and legs dangling in all that space. I can really relate to that feeling now.

January 19, 2008

Baby Alden Michael says hello to all his fans

Day one
01-17-08 – 01-18-08

This was a regular day until about 10pm. I worked at the office and Ilana skipped off to her job to borrow a laptop because ours had a hard drive failure. Rest in peace IBM T23 hard disc. When I got home I did some work on the kitchen lights and we made sweet potato quesadillas. Around 10pm Ilana went for a pee and lost her mucus plug…eeew. I got really excited and wanted to go to the hospital, but Ilana said she was feeling fine and that in some cases the plug comes out days in advance. We timed her contractions but they were not particularly regular or painful, and by 11:30 we headed for bed.

I began to drift off and then Ilana got up with a start – her water had broken – it was about 11:45. We called our doctor and got the answering service. We told the answering dude who we were and what was going on. He said he would notify the hospital and we should hang tight and wait for a call. I did not trust the answer dude, and we left for the hospital by midnight… I have still not received a call telling me to come to the hospital – Never trust a dude whose life-path has lead him to a job of answering telephones at midnight.

After her water broke Ilana began feeling discomfort with her contractions (before this there were not uncomfortable). We got to the hospital just after 12:30 and were shown to our room. The nurses on the floor had not been informed of our arrival and made a call to the on-call doctor who I suppose was at home sleeping.

To make a short labor even shorter, at 2:43am little Alden Michael was born. The labor was swift and intense. He was delivered by 3 nurses. The doctor did not arrive till the very end to help remove the placenta and cut the cord. We spent the next several hours getting to know each other. Alden Was 8 lb 8oz, was 20 1/2” long and had a full head of light brown hair. The swift birth was kind of hard on the fella. His face was bruised and he had a puffy left eye and his right was swollen shut. The left half of his bottom lip was three times the size of the right because one of his hands was against his face inside Ilana. His right ear was sticking straight out from his head, because it was folded against the womb. He looked like he had been in a fight…. Which I suppose in a way he was.

He looks a lot like me- ears, nose, eyebrows, and eyelashes, are all from my genes. Chin is questionable (he has the puffy baby cheeks right now) as are his eyes (swollen). Oh yeah, the poor imp has my hairline as well.

The kid had great timing. He broke the membranes before we were sleeping, and we got to the hospital before a 2am freezing rainstorm had begun. I called into work to get the Friday off, and Monday is the Martin Luther King Holiday. Thanks kiddo.

We have loads of pictures, but I don’t have my camera to computer chord here at the hospital. I will post them soon.

January 9, 2008

Mug Shots

Since there are more belly fetishists out there than I'd previously thought, I've caved to requests for updated photos. Here I am, gut and all.... or should I say, all gut. Yeesh. My doctor told me today that I'm already 1 cm dilated and 80% effaced, which is great because I feel like I've made progress for free. I have been experiencing contractions, but they aren't the real thing yet. They feel like a tightening high up in the belly. From what I've read, that's just the uterus practicing for the big day. It seems to practice a lot - like every 10 minutes or so sometimes. I guess that means this kid is going to happen any day now. I'm really ready for him to come out. His head is so low in my pelvis that I can feel it in my hips. It’s a really odd sensation, for those of you who haven’t experienced it. Like walking with a grapefruit between your legs. Try it if you'd like to see what I mean.

We got new furnishings for the living room(s) and set up our computer today, so things have been rearranged quite a bit since I last updated the blog. Here's Kerstin watching YouTube videos in the new office section of our living room. Like the rug? It's a birthday present from my favorite aunt and my mother. I think it really ties the room together. Thanks Mom and Kay!