Wednesday, November 23, 2011

By any other name

Our baby started out with one nickname: Scooter.  He got that nickname very early on, in the very early morning when I woke up, compulsively took yet another home pregnancy test, got a positive result, and crept back into bed with Sean saying: "We're going to have a little Scooter!"  It's a good nickname indeed.  

Now that the Scooter has arrived, however, the nicknames are proliferating. We pretty much call him anything that comes into our heads in the moment. Here's a short list of the current favorites (feel free to add "little" before all of these for maximum cuteness):

Check out that monkey butt!
Pumpkin
Babydoll
Monkey Butt
Pooper
Bean
Snookie (Don't judge me.  It just comes out. I won't let reality TV ruin a perfectly good nickname!)
Sweetheart
Squeaker

Some of these are rather specific to infant Walter and I imagine will not continue to be used beyond a certain age.  We got a hearty chuckle, though, out of imagining Grandma Sue meeting Walt's prom date at the door saying, "Oh! Are you here for Monkey Butt?"

Another example of pre and post birth differences in our lives: you may recall that I wrote a beautiful lullaby for Walter.  This lullaby turns out to be completely useless, because I can't sing it without crying. Like, can't get through the first two words.  It sums up all my love for this little guy so perfectly and that's a little too much for me at 2 am.  So, what do we sing while rocking Walt to sleep? Lots of things. We tend to prefer bluegrass, although Walt really seems to dig the "Ta oomba oomba oomba whoa-oh-oh" part of Paul Simon's song "African Skies" (oh the Graceland album!  Baby likes good music!) The best, though, is a cowboy ballad Sean composed for Walt one of his first nights home from the hospital.  It goes like this:

Hey little Walter
Hey little Walter
Why do you fuss do you fuss up a storm?
Hey little Walter
Hey little Walter
You've fussed and you've fussed since the day you was born.

You fuss and you fight and you fight and you fuss
If you could speak well I think you would cuss
You fight and you fuss and you fuss and you fight
If you had teeth well I think you would bite

(Repeat chorus)

This lullaby is much more fun and appropriate for late night singing.  Speaking of sleeping Walter ... he's sleeping again!  The boy took my challenge to make me a liar and ran with it (well ... snoozed with it.)  He had a great nap yesterday afternoon and did pretty well last night, too.  Now he and Grandpa are asleep in the guest room and both snoring quite contentedly.  

A good day. =)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One month later

"He's still a precious little pumpkin, you know," said Grandpa Paul, getting teary.  

I know exactly what he means, and I'm quite familiar with that persistent wet feeling on my face.  There's been a lot of crying this first month of Walter Paul's life--happy crying, overwhelmed crying, crying at any love song with the word "baby" in it.  The adults in Walt's life are kind of a weepy bunch.  We're a little tired, you know.  And we are in love.

The rarely-seen napping Walter, age 1 month
Crying is also something Walt himself has been doing a lot of ... and by crying I mean screaming ... and by screaming I mean SCREAMING.  I hate to say it but it must be said: colic.  Like mother, like son.  Although, from my mom's stories, I think Walter is managing to be more charming than I was during my colicky times.  As Grandpa noted, he's still a pretty precious little pumpkin.  He's just also an angry little pumpkin who doesn't want to sleep.  (To make me a liar, Walter seems to be sleeping in his bed like a sweet baby right at this very moment.  Make me a liar, Walt.  Go for it!)

Even with the colic to consider, chief among the family criers is me, the Mommy. I'm a little frustrated with my body and it's issues.  Namely, blood that's not supposed to be there in that color and amount and yet is there, and keeps being there day after day.  Doctor M's orders: push fluids, get lots of rest, feet up, no lifting anything.  These orders are familiar from my bedrest during the pregnancy, but now they're a little more difficult to follow.  Not because I can't follow them ... once again, my family has come through and I don't have to lift a thing this week.  It's difficult because I desperately want to lift that baby.  I want to comfort him when he's screaming, I want to be able to offer him love and attention beyond feeding him, which is all I'm really good for right now.  But I'm very grateful that I can feed him, and I'm grateful for my mom and dad and Sean, with their sore arms and their stiff backs and their seemingly endless love and patience for both me and Walt. 

I wish this was a more upbeat update--if it had been written last week, it surely would have been a different story.  But that seems to be how it goes ... good days and bad days.  If we waited for it to be only good days, for that neat ending where we have it all figured out, we'd never write again.  And I do want to keep writing and recording the good, the bad, and the weepy.  

Some of my favorite things about Walt these days: 
**The way he looks after he's been nursing.  He makes funny little old man faces and does big stretches with his arms.  I put him up on my shoulder to burp him and he holds on like he's giving me a hug. 
**Awake and alert times when he's just happy to look around at the world, giving big charming smiles to me or whoever is with him, or even more often to the ceiling, which is fascinating.
**How persistent he is at trying to do things beyond what his body is really supposed to be able to do at this point ... lift his head, move around independently, use his hands.  Walter is strong and wants to move and groove with the rest of us.
**The way he smiles and sometimes even laughs in his sleep.
**The impact he has on the people who love him ... the way he's made me a mommy, and Sean a daddy, and grandparents of my parents, and a tireless protector out of Hank the dog.  Oh, Hank.  The way he barks at everything that passes our door is maybe a little much, but the way he checks in on the baby and gives him kisses on his head and feet is pretty wonderful. 

This naptime of Walt's is really sticking, so I'd better go join him.  Sleep when the baby sleeps!

Happy one month birthday, Scooter.  We love you more than even our tears can tell. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Overdue

More pics at flickr.

We are overdue for an update, indeed!

Through facebook and email and carrier pigeon we sent out the word: Walt was born at 12:35 pm on October 22, 2011.  He weighed 9 lbs 14 oz and was 22 inches tall.  Sean's announcement--written in the days leading up to the birth, so we'd be ready to send it out quickly--included the standard birth announcement phrase, "Mom and baby are doing great."

In truth, Mom wasn't doing so great, but we weren't sure how to communicate that.  The story kept changing before we could tell it.  As my health improved we got more and more busy with the wonderful job of being parents.  At this moment, Walt is (somewhat tenuously) asleep, I am relatively well-rested, and it seems like a good moment to grab and catch up with our story-in-progress.

On Thursday, October 20 Sean took the morning off of work to take me for a non-stress test and an ultrasound.  The non-stress test looked great and revealed that I was having contractions.  This was quite a reveal, since I couldn't feel the contractions at all.  An impromptu cervical exam showed no progress on that end.  We'd been looking forward to the ultrasound--getting another little peek at his face--but no doing.  Baby was too smushed to get any kind of good picture, and a try with the 3D ultrasound wand showed some psychadelic patterns but no face ... not enough amniotic fluid for it to work.  We headed off to Erma Bombeck's for a delicious lunch (in lieu of pie, a pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting. Seasonal and festive!)

We got me home and tucked into bed for an afternoon nap; Sean went to work.  Around 2:30 pm I got a call from Nurse B.: my amniotic fluid amount was too low (2.5 % vs. the preferred 5%).

Sean here now -- Annie's breastfeeding...
So, around 2:25 at work, I get a call from Nurse B., looking for Annie.  Her voice sounds a bit strained, "Sean... I'm trying to... get ahold of Annie... I just called her cell, and didn't get an answer.  Is she... with... you?  No?  Can... you... have her get in touch with me... right away.  I'll give you my DIRECT LINE."  Two distinct impressions were conveyed:  1.  She was in the middle of a HIPAA compliance audit.  2.  Something was wrong.

My smartphone has too many ways to send a message to keep straight exactly how I've been communicating with someone recently.  Chat, text message, google voice text message, skype chat, email -- not to mention actual phone calls.  When I couldn't get her on the phone, all of them were employed in conveying that number to Annie.  Then I set a mental timer for 5 minutes, at which point I would get in my car and speed home.  At 4 minutes, 37 seconds, Annie called me, crying.  "We have to go back to the hospital."  I got in my car and sped home.

(Annie here, again.  Sean is heating up spag pie for lunch.  Walt is chillin' in his rainforest bouncer. My folks just headed home, and Hank is saying "It's not too late!  They're still in the driveway! Stop them!" My dad stayed with us and did the majority of the Walt care our first week home from the hospital.  Can't imagine we would have made it without Magic Grandpa!)

As instructed, we went straight to the Family Birth Center to start the induction. Even though Walt was almost a week late, we'd been hoping to avoid induced labor.  It tends to cause much harder, more painful contractions. My first doctor estimated my chance of needing a c-section as "greater than 50%"  We'd been hoping to avoid that, too, since 2 major abdominal surgeries is already plenty.  I thought to myself, "If I'm certain to have a c-section, why go through labor?" But I didn't say it out loud until later.

When I say "my first doctor" I mean the first of 4 on-call docs I saw during my stay.  Dr. M was on vacation. The docs I saw were not exactly on the same page.  One thought Walt was doing great--no need to rush, I was progressing slowly but I was progressing.  Another thought Walt's numbers were lousy and that I never had any chance of progressing enough for vaginal delivery.

But Thursday night we were feeling hopeful and excited.  My parents drove right up and brought a pumpkin bag full of Halloween candy, which was a hit with the staff.

(All this talk of candy has piqued Walt's appetite -- Sean again.)
Not knowing the exact course things would take, we held off sending out a general announcement, and just filled in our folks.  Anyway, Thursday night, we started in with the gentle approach to induction, with some medicine (Cervidil) to help get the cervix onboard with the idea that Walt's birthday was imminent.  Honestly, Thursday night was a lot of hope and not a lot of action.  We got settled into Annie's room -- a huge suite  compared to most hospital rooms, well appointed, little fold-down couch for me -- ordered Annie some room service from the cafeteria, and enjoyed the anticipation and jello, although Annie's heartburn was still acting up then (add that to one of the immediate blessings of Walter's birth -- heartburn relief, for both of us!)

So listen, we could give you a blow by blow of each of the 42 hours of Annie's labor, followed by her c-section and complications (and the twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with the circles and the arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was) and it might convey the experience.  But I suspect it would really just take something that was overwhelmingly emotional, that absolutely smashed us and built us back up as something new, and turn it into something really kind of tedious for you to read.  The brass tacks: Annie's labor progressed slowly, but steadily, with the help of cervidil, cytotec, and pitosin, but stalled out at 7cm.  C-section went smoothly, delivering our beautiful, healthy son, but Annie's blood pressure crashed immediately afterward.  They stabilized her quickly, and she was breastfeeding (sort of -- she and Walt had a lot to learn still) even as they were administering oxygen.  That same fortitude was tested by a variety of complications over the next several days -- decreased kidney function (particularly terrifying since she only has the one kidney), gi problems exacerbated by her lack of mobility, bladder infection.  But now we're home, resting, recovering, occasionally entertaining visitors, but mostly discovering this new permutation of the Edison-Albright family.

Annie here again, several days later, and grateful that Sean summed it all up ... this is not an easy story for us to tell, but we're figuring it out together (we're figuring A LOT out together!)

Some highlights of the Walt labor and delivery experience:
** Singing through my contractions with Sean, the best labor coach ever.
** Mom leading silent prayer with us before the surgery; feeling God's love flow so powerfully from her hand on my forehead ... knowing it would be OK.
** Seeing Walt for the first time ... so big! Unbelievable how real he is.
** The first time Walter latched really well while nursing.  I thought, "Yes! We can do this!"

I hear a little Walter squeak from the living room, where he's asleep on Sean's chest.  Going to go investigate. Any other highlights/thoughts, Sean?

Sean:
I know what Annie means about him being so real... he's nothing like I imagined, I could never have imagined the reality.

Grandma and Grandpa E-S' help these past few weeks has been absolutely essential.  As have some delicious casseroles from Redeemer friends.

Speaking of friends, we're not venturing out into the storm and snow all that much yet, but we'd love visitors or conversation, so just give us a call if you're interested.

Now let's put this baby to bed.  Metaphorically.  Walt's still eating second supper.