Friday, April 29, 2011

Baby drills

Annie's out of town this weekend, so Hank took advantage of the beautiful weather this afternoon to run me through some of my fatherhood prep exercizes.


3 out of 4 ain't bad. (These are what's known as puppy dog eyes. Who could resist?)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What we got for Easter

Earlier this week we got a box in the mail from Audrey.  It had Easter bunny stickers all over it, which made me tear up a little because Audrey thinks of everything.

Then I opened the box and there was a beautiful card covered with ladybugs in various stages of flight.  I started to cry a little more, because Audrey really does think of everything.

And then ... the weeping started.  In the box with the card was a beautiful white hand-made baptismal blanket  In the card, Auds explained that she started the blanket when she found out that Sean and I had a miscarriage.  She knew that, if she waited until we announced another pregnancy, she wouldn't have time to finish the blanket.  So, knowing we'd just lost a pregnancy, she started making a blanket for a hoped-for baby.  Knowing that it's still early and that loss is always still a possibility, she finished the blanket and put it in the mail ... a soft, warm, tangible sign of hope.

It's not easy for me to describe my feelings in that moment (other than the obvious: "soggy.")  I felt hugged.  I felt so, so grateful.  It feels so good to be reminded that Sean and I aren't alone out here on the edge of Anticipation Cliff ... even though it is risky, even though we know we could be disappointed, we have this crazy hope, and our dearest loved ones are right out there, risking that hope with us.

That's Easter.  Easter hope is not shallow, not candy-coated--it's not hope that comes from willed ignorance of death, but rather hope that comes from intimately knowing death AND knowing that death does not have the final word.  Based on human experience and expectations, that stone in front of Jesus' tomb should have been the last word on the subject.  But it wasn't.  The last word is Audrey creating a blanket for a baby long before there's a baby to need it.  The last word is God creating Easter morning for us, long before we ever knew we needed it.

The last word is hope.  Or, maybe, joy.  The surprising kind that CS Lewis wrote about.  But, for sure, the last word is not death.

For Easter this year, Sean and I received the gift of hope.  I don't think I can thank Auds enough (but I'm certainly going to try!)  Thanks also to all of you who are hoping along with us. (The first time I wrote that, "hoping" came out as "hopping," which is also seasonally appropriate.)  Whatever this day signifies to you, may it be a day of hope and joy.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Week Update

We are learning new things every day. For instance, based on data collected so far this Holy Week, Little Scooter Edison-Albright is completely fine with the following:

  • Mommy working from 8 am to 11 pm without a break.
  • Mommy staying up even later after work because she is way too excited and generally too wired to sleep.
  • Seder Meal food, including horseradish.  Really, totally fine with the horseradish.
Little Scooter WILL NOT tolerate:
  • Water and oyster crackers for breakfast.  These must be thrown up immediately.
There is already no reasoning with this child.  Pass the horseradish, please. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

First fatherly freak-out

It's a milestone! So Annie isn't the only one having white-knuckled, cold-sweat, stomach-churning reactions during this pregnancy… Last week I had a genuine, 100% honest-to-gosh panic attack over Annie's hypothetical toxic exposure to the dangerous bio-hazard K9 Advantix. An exposure, which, in my mind, occurred this way:
  • Step 1. Following the instructions on the package, I applied the very small bottle of flea and tick prevention medicine to Hank's neckular and rumpular areas, below the fur.
  • Step 2. I go to work, forgetting to remind Annie that I've dosed the puppy and she should wash her hands if she touches him.
  • Step 3. ??? I was pretty fuzzy on this step at the time, but my best reconstruction at this moment is that Annie would, in a fit of pica and morning grogginess, lick the small oily patch below Hank's collar. As one does.
The fevered panic that gripped me would not be alleviated until I had called our vet and the medical hotline on the back of the package for reassurance. Some choice quotes:

Me, desperately trying to hold it together:“My wife is pregnant, is there any information we need to know about using your product? On our dog. We use it on our dog.”

Representative #3, much later:“You know, we don't really, like, test these things on pregnant women, right?.”

Long story short, for those who are interested and pregnant, let someone else apply the medicine, avoid contact with your puppy until the medicine has dried, and always wash your hands afterward.

Which leads to the single most important phone call my mania inspired that day – the six phone calls I made to Annie in under 2 minutes, which convinced her to pull over to the side of the highway wondering “who had died,” so I could let her know she needed to wash her hands right now! It is an awfully good thing she has me looking out for her safety.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Adventure in Pregnancy

And by "new," I mean probably as old as pregnancy itself.  I have to think that pulling over to the side of the road to throw up (or other public vomiting) is a basic rite of passage.  Everyone does it.  Right?  RIGHT?

Me: I'm so embarrassed.
Sean: Don't be.  You're pregnant.  This is what pregnant people do.  (Pause.) And drunk people.
Me: That's exactly what I've been thinking.  The people in that car behind us were saying, "She must be pregnant.  Or really drunk at 8 in the morning."
Sean: Or both!

Yesterday at a meeting of the Bishop's Theological Think Tank of Awesomeness (I may have added a flourish or two, there) we talked about the pastor as public persona, what it means to wear a clerical collar, etc.

As you might imagine, I am hoping against hope that my collar was not visible this morning.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This Week in Baby

Subtitled: "Vignettes pulled from Edison-Albright family life."  If you have any squeamishness about bodily functions (the word "vomit" makes you want to vomit, for example) you'll want to skip the first one.  How often in the history of writing do you think that warning has preceded a "vignette"?

***
It's sometime after midnight, Monday blurring into Tuesday time.  I'm sitting on the floor of the bathroom, adjacent to my good porcelain friend.  Sean is nearby ... reading to me, reminding me to breathe, trying to distract me.  We've had a long night.

The doctor on-call chides me for calling at such an hour (really? When should I call the emergency help line about going to the emergency room with non-stop vomiting and a migraine?) But then she gives some good advice: if you're still peeing, you're not dehydrated enough to need IV fluids.

I tell Sean the vomiting is never going to stop, the migraine is never going to go away, and I will probably need an ambulance.  He encourages me to focus on how overtired I clearly am and try to sleep instead. Suddenly filled with a wave of courage and determination, I announce: "I will try ... to pee!"

At this point my memory gets a little fuzzy.  I think I fell asleep for a minute or two.  I remember the bathroom floor mat felt very comfortable and my body felt impossibly heavy.  I came back to reality when Sean said (very softly, gently, lovingly):

"Are you peeing?"

I was not.  But I was laughing, and that laughter lifted me from the floor and eventually got me back to bed for a few hours of fitful-but-healing sleep.  Little known fact: if you can laugh like that, you are not dehydrated enough to need IV fluids. 
***

You would think that merely hearing a baby's heartbeat after actually seeing the baby jump and kick and squirm around on an ultrasound would be anticlimactic.  This is what I told myself, anyway, before our appointment with Dr. M on Wednesday.  I was trying to prepare myself for the very real possibility that we wouldn't hear anything; at this early stage, you can't really tell with the Doppler if no heartbeat is a problem or if no heartbeat means the baby is just really good at dodge ball and hide-and-go-seek.

Dr. M also tried to prepare us for this.  "Your uterus tilts to the back," he says.  I nod, sagely.  Sean gives me a look that says, "How could you possibly know that?"  A woman knows.  The good doctor continues: "Given that, and even under ideal circumstances, we often can't hear the heartbeat until 14 weeks, and you're at 12 weeks.  So you MUST NOT worry if we can't find it today."  Everyone in the room silently acknowledged that we would worry anyway.

Dr. M stared into the middle distance as he tried one spot, and then another.  The nurse did the same, and I wondered what they could see that I couldn't. Another try.  One more just in case and then ...

Thumpthumpthumpthumpthump

There's our Little Scooter!  Found you!  The doc mercifully lingers on the spot, and we all just listen.  And cry.  At one point there's a sound like a record scratching.  Dr. M's eyebrows fly up: "Your baby is KICKING!  Did you hear that?"  Yes, we did.  Two words: soccer scholarship.

More crying ensued, followed soon after by pie.  Banana cream.  Mmmmmm.
***

For the record, Hank also enjoys napping.
For the past three months, my interaction with Hank the Dog has mostly taken the form of napping.  I haven't had a lot of energy and I feel bad about it.  On Monday I tried to make it up to him by taking him for a beautiful walk in the early springtime.  We set out, some of us hoping to suddenly realize the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, some of us hoping to kill and eat a small woodland creature or two.  It was a day full of promise and potential--a celebration of new and renewed life.

We'd gotten about a block from our house when it started to hail.

Me: "I'm so sorry, buddy.  We gotta go home."
Hank (with his soulful eyes): "You must be joking.  It's just a little hail!  Ow, something's hailing in my soulful eyes!"

We made up for it today with a nice long morning walk.  Hank was pleased to get his nose and paws dirty in the melting snow.  I even let him look menacingly at a robin for awhile.  It must be Spring.

***

And that's the news from the Edison-Albright family, where all Scooters kick mightily, all the pie is gladly shared, and all the dogs are above average.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lurking

Way back in October, one of my favorite bloggers posted this funny/sad spoof of what it’s like to be infertile on facebook.  I thought about re-posting  it at the time but didn’t because a) I am a coward and didn’t want people to know I wasn’t having a TOTALLY AWESOME time trying to conceive and b) it seemed a little passive aggressive to post something like that on facebook.  But I’ve been thinking a lot since then about why it struck such a chord with me.   And honestly, being pregnant again makes it feel safer to talk about how hard it was to get pregnant again.   Yup, still a coward.

When I think about the times I was hurt by something I read on facebook, the posts fall into two basic categories:
1. Things people would never have written on my wall if they knew I’d recently had a miscarriage.
2. Completely innocent, wonderful expressions of pure baby-having joy that hit me at just the wrong moment.

I couldn’t (and can’t) really be upset about either of those.   I mean, it was upsetting, but obviously not intentional and not directed maliciously at me.   How is someone supposed to magically know that I’d just had a miscarriage?  And I would never, never, never want the new baby pics in my newsfeed to go away. They are awesome.  We’re only 3 months in and I’ve already posted one pic of Little Scooter on my wall. I’m optimistically looking forward to sharing more.

All that said, facebook is a bit of a minefield if you’re feeling blue.  I know I tend to share more good news than bad news in my updates, which I think is generally true and tilts the whole experience a bit to the manic side (everyone is so happy; All the time.  Really?)  The answer usually given is “then just don’t go on facebook.”  Yeah, but further isolating myself when I’m blue is worse. 
There’s a lot of hidden sadness out there, a lot of loss we don’t know about lurking in the hearts of even our closest friends.   I don’t think it’s possible to make it through life and never accidentally step on one of those wounds (I know that’s graphic, but it’s exactly what it feels like.)  When it happens, we can hope that our friends will not be too hurt to tell us what we’ve done, to share enough of that pain to open our eyes and change us forever.

Even if it’s impossible to avoid every unintentional pain, I’m going to try to tread lightly, here.  I’m planning to keep baby-related facebook updates to an absolute minimum and throw myself into keeping this baby blog updated—the blog will be easier for friends to avoid, if necessary.  Of course, for the blog Sean and I will also have to figure out that delicate balance between over-sharing and over-over-sharing.  

I hope you’ll read along as we figure it out, as our joys and challenges continue.  We added a nifty little subscribe feature (shameless plea: Subscribe to our blog! Put us in your Google Reader! Follow us!) and we plan to post at least weekly, if not more often.  As nervous as we still are (and probably always will be) we are also very, very excited.  We hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Project Re-bootied: Part Two

"A Triumph for Science!" or, "Holy crap, it's a baby!"

And so, comfortably ensconced in our love nest in tranquil Stevens Point, WI, for the first time in recent memory able to unpack with some confidence we wouldn't be loading our books right back into new boxes, we set about the rigorous, but ultimately rewarding work of making a baby.
Step one, research, wherein we answered such pressing questions as: What is a basal, and how do I get a thermometer there? Should we smooth our temperature graphs? Digital or analog pregnancy tests? (Digital. Word.)

Step two, experimentation. 'Nuff said.

Step three, assessing your results... A small but worrying amount of blood (spoiler alert: it was just implantation bleeding!) led us to get an early first ultrasound. At 6 weeks, ultrasound is objectively pretty underwhelming; if you're lucky, you might get a little Atari kidney bean with a blinking pixel heartbeat in the center. But that's okay, because it carries the emotional weight of confirming what a pee-soaked hunk of plastic swore was true, and in our case, showed a small, healing implantation tear. We were tearful, and overjoyed.

But the second ultrasound! At 11-12 weeks, our books had prepared us to expect a strawberry or an okra or something. Imagine our surprise when they powered up the screen and there was our tiny, wiggly Little Scooter staring right at us! Not that famous 2001 profile, but a straight on shot, with dancing little hands and feet, refusing to sit still to be measured. Holy crap! We should have taken a video, to really convey all the detail, but we were too busy. Yes, crying again. Shut up.

Step four, pie! Two exits away from the hospital is a diner we've dubbed Erma Bombeck's, that serves homemade pies with fruit from their own orchards. It's becoming a tradition for us to get an early lunch and share a slice of pie while we talk about the day's appointment. Preliminary results indicate coconut cream is a superior choice to apple sour cream. We're due October 17th, so there's plenty more pie to be eaten. Stay tuned to this location for further updates!

Project Re-bootied: Part One

Here we are, almost 4 years later and 3 months pregnant. =)

How we got here is ... a story. (If you want to skip the story and go straight to the current excitement, go to Part II.)   Mostly it is an awesome story, involving adventures in Europe, the addition of Hank the Wonder Dog to our family, buying our first house, starting a first call to a wonderful congregation, other good stuff. There were some rough transitions in there, too.  Those were also, ultimately, good for us.  Like broccoli rabe for the soul.

It's been a heart-stretching time--our capacity for love stretched and broadened beyond what I ever expected. Almost 1 year ago (April 27, 2010) we had a miscarriage.  We were somewhere in the 5-6 week range and hadn't told our parents yet.  We were excited but nervous; I had a little bleeding throughout the pregnancy, and didn't have any nausea.  We knew those were bad signs. But we had a good feeling about The Bean; we imagined, planned, hoped and prayed.

The miscarriage came right as I was about to begin a chaplain residency rotation on OB/Peds.  I can't imagine a better way to work through that loss--surrounded by chaplains and other caregivers, working with babies and children and parents.  It was indeed a healing, heart-stretching time. 

Fast-forwarding a bit ... I got a call, Sean got a job, we bought a house, and the Edison-Albrights settled in and started to nest a bit.  We cautiously, and then rather persistently (charts and graphs, people) restarted Project: Baby.   On February 3 (my dad's birthday) we got a positive pregnancy test.

Whew!  That catches us up, I think.  Passing the blogging baton to Sean for Part II!