Saturday, January 25, 2014

Maddie Says

Dear Maddie,

The birth of your brother has really opened my eyes to how big you're getting. You're so tall now, your legs are so long, and you're growing up more and more each day.

The other day I said to your mom, "It makes me sad is that one day I'll probably forget most of the funny figures of speech and mannerisms Maddie uses every day right now." I'm sure I'll only be able to remember some right now as I try to write this down, but you say some funny things, little girl, and I'd like to record for future reference. Someday I'll be old and my brain won't work. Like 200 years from now.

You'll also note that everything you say ends in an exclamation mark, because...well, it does.


"Hold it, _______!"

When you see something you want, you don't say 'want' or 'gimme' or just the name of the thing. No, for as long as I can remember, you've said "Hold it, _____." It sounds like you're issuing commands to Zork, and it's awesome. A typical conversation goes something like this:

Maddie: Duck!
Mom: Yes, that is a duck!
Maddie: Hold it, duck!

Often this is an actual duck, and you cannot 'hold it, duck.' In those cases, you get very angry, but soon there's something else you want to hold and all is well.


For some reason, you call milk 'milko'. I think we can all agree this is way better than the 'real' word. So much so, that I'm going to petition the OED to get it changed.


Every night, when I capture you for your bath, I sing "TAAAAAAAAKE a bath!" in a very loud, operatic voice. I also took to doing this when it was time to "TAAAAAAKE a nap!" You, my daughter, think you are very clever, and now whenever I say, "TAAAAAAAKE a bath!" you respond, "TAAAAAAAAKE nap!" or vice versa, as though you think you're going to confuse me. It hasn't worked yet, but someday you're going to find yourself with a very wet nap.

"Strawberry berries!"

Somehow, you got it in your head that strawberries should always be called by their more formal name, "strawberry berries." Because strawberries are among your favorite things, we hear this one repeated over and over a lot.


This one is sort of my personal favorite, and what prompted the original desire to record some of these things, as you now say 'spider', which while more likely to allow you to communicate with humans, isn't nearly as cute. Especially since you always yelled it at the top of your lungs. Now when you say the Itsy Bitsy Spider with us, you can complete the lines that end in 'spider', 'spout', 'rain', and 'sun' perfectly.


You're a very, very smart little girl, and you surprise us more and more each day with how much you're able to take in from the world around you and turn into communication. We love you so much, and we're very proud of you.

Plus, you've slept through the night in your own bed for three nights in a row now, so I'm feeling particularly fond of you this morning.


Your very proud Daddy

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

You're Here!

Dear Simon,

I am so happy to be typing this with you snuggled in the crook of my arm. Your sister is cuddling with your Memere, and your daddy and I are working on our accounts of your birth story. Before I start, I want to tell you how much I love you! I couldn't have dreamed up a more perfect, sweet little boy. Welcome home, Simon.

On Friday, I was two days past my due date, and so ready to meet you. I went to my OB appointment that morning feeling depressed, defeated, and like you might never arrive. (Pregnancy comes with a lot of hormones, Simon.) I burst into tears as soon as the midwife came into the room to check my cervix, and she was wonderful. She was like this pregnancy angel who swooped in with a box of tissues and a hug. She was pregnant with her third, and kept telling me that it was perfectly okay to cry, and that you would be here soon, etc. She also offered to do a membrane sweep, which is a rather painful and unpleasant procedure. Painful and unpleasant, but if the mom is already close to labor, it is super effective! I began having strong contractions around 10pm Friday night, and I was thrilled. 

Strong contractions turned into very painful ones, and your dad and I headed to the hospital on Saturday around 3am. Unfortunately, once we got there, my contractions became really erratic, and a rather awful doctor (not mine, and not the OB who delivered you, thank goodness) said: "Well, you're not really in labor, so we can't keep you. Go home." Ugh. I was very quiet on the short ride home. Once we got home, however, I wasn't so quiet anymore. I laid down in bed with your dad and sister (who refused to sleep in her own bed that night, though your poor Memere tried to get her back to sleep after all of the excitement), and the contractions became terrible. Terrible. They were a lot harder and longer than the ones I'd had with your sister, and I was in more pain than I'd ever been in before. Your dad kept asking me what they felt like, and the closest thing I could think of was a werewolf transformation. I mean, I'm only guessing here, because I'm not a werewolf, but the way it's often depicted in movies is reminiscent of what I felt on the morning I labored at home with you. Lots of bones breaking and things ripping, etc. It felt like that. I remember holding onto our headboard, scratching the wall, moaning and crying, trying my hardest not to scare your poor sister to death. (She was very sweet. She kept patting my head and telling your dad, "she cryin'. She cryin'.") It was kind of hellish, Simon. I'll give it to you straight. But even while I was half insane with the werewolf contractions, I was so glad to know that you were on your way to me. 

Around 7am, we went back to the hospital. At this point, I was barely able to stand up, your dad was scared half to death, and I felt a suspicious kind of pressure with each contraction that made me certain I was in active labor. They admitted me as soon as we got there this time, and told me I was six centimeters dilated. I'd progressed super fast at home, and you were almost ready to meet us. 

The rest is a little bit of a blur for me. The nurses had trouble getting an IV in (as usual), my epidural was just the most wonderful thing (as usual), and then I took a nap while your dad watched Moneyball. When I woke up, the movie was almost over and I felt like I needed to push. The OB came in, checked me, and said she needed to grab her gown because I was ready. This part was very cool. It was such an easy, low-key delivery. It was just me, your dad, the OB, and a nurse, and I pushed through just three contractions before you were born. There you were! My beautiful, screaming, soggy baby boy. They laid you on my chest, and you took my breath away. You were 8 lbs 11 oz, 21.5".

I had just a regular epidural this time (I'd had a combination spinal/epidural with Maddie, which blocked just about all feeling), which meant I didn't feel pain, but I did feel when I needed to push and when your head, shoulders, and the rest of you were out. It was very cool, and I felt more in control of the birth (though, let's be honest, you were really as in control as I was. It was kind of a team effort). I was also able to walk much sooner afterward this time, and walked from the delivery room to the recovery room.

You weren't a huge fan of sleeping that first night (or the second night or third night, for that matter. Let's work on that), but you were and are a huge fan of eating. Every single hour. Sometimes even more frequently! Hopefully things will work themselves into a natural routine, and we'll be able to get some sleep soon. We took you home with us, and here you are, eating, snoozing (sometimes, and in short bursts), and staring at me with these incredibly intelligent, beautiful eyes. 

And that's our birth story, little one. I love you so, so much.

Your Mama

Simon: The Birth of a Legend -- An Epic Tale to Rival Gilgamesh

Dear Simon,

You're here! You're here! And you're fantastic. I guess my last letter really got to you. Since you probably won't remember it, I guess I owe it to you to tell you what happened. A warning to you (and to anybody reading this over Simon's shoulder): This story will use words like 'placenta' and generally describe birth-related things, which are inherently gross. Maybe not for the faint of heart.

It all started...well, I guess it all started 9 months ago, but for the purposes of this story, it all started around 10pm on January 17th. As you know from my previous letter, you were due on January 15th, so by the time the 17th rolled around, your mother was ridiculously uncomfortable and I can't imagine you weren't pretty eager to get out of the big ball of goop you'd spent your entire life in. I mean, home is home and all that, but I saw what was in there. It's gross.

Your mom was beginning to have some pretty regular contractions, and they were pretty painful for the first time, so we were getting excited. By 3:00am on the 18th, they were about 10 minutes apart and had been regular for awhile, so we called the doctor and he said to go ahead and go to the hospital. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, they had stopped being so regular. They hooked your mom up for observation, but after an hour or so they were still irregular and she was still only a little more than 3 cm dilated, so it was clear that not much would be happening for a bit. The nurse suggested walking around the hospital for a bit and then coming back when they were regular again, or going home and waiting for awhile. Then a truly awful doctor came in and told us in what sounded to us like the meanest voice in the world, "You're not in labor. Go home. Come back when they're 5 minutes apart." That was absolutely the last thing your mom wanted to hear, and she was truly miserable.

We went home and tried to get some sleep. This was made difficult by the fact that every 15 minutes or so your mom would completely break as a person. That's about the only way I can describe it. She didn't scream...per se, but she would moan and scratch the wall above the bed, and grab the wooden bars on the headboard so hard I was sure she was going to snap them off. By that point, Maddie had climbed into bed with us, and every time this happened, she would pat your mom's hair and say, "She crying" in a very gentle voice. Every now and then, Maddie would try to sing her "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", but that didn't seem to be helping, either.

A couple of very stressful hours later, around 6:00am, things had reached some sort of crescendo. Her contractions were 8 minutes apart, but I was reasonably certain each time one ended that 8 minutes later she was going to die. It was horrible, and I wasn't even the one screaming. She called the doctor and basically said, "Look, I know they said 5 minutes, but I'm going to die if I have to do this one more time." So they said to go back to the hospital. We stood up to get ready, just as your mom had another contraction and she could barely even stand. I ran downstairs to bring the car around, and when I came back up, your mom was just lying on the hallway floor moaning. I put her shoes on her feet, and as soon as the contraction was over I said, "We're going down the stairs now, because if you have one of these on the stairs, I'm not going to be able to save you." So we said goodbye to a very confused Maddie and your very worried Memere, and basically ran downstairs and into the car.

When we got to the hospital, your mom had another contraction while trying to walk inside and I had to hold her up while she yelled in the parking lot. It was crazy. We got inside and as soon as we got to Labor & Delivery, they said, "Alright, we're going to get you to a room." They checked her and she was 6cm dilated, so we were on our way to Simontown.

As usual, they had a lot of trouble getting your mom's IV in. She has terrible veins. If there were some sort of horror movie for nurses, she would feature prominently. Unfortunately, they couldn't start the epidural until the IV was in, so we went through a few rounds of fun there, trying to get needles in your mom while she moaned horrifically. Eventually, success was found and the most wonderful man in the world came in to give her the epidural, and after that life was wonderful.

Your mom was positive for Group B strep, which meant that in order for the pediatrician to be satisfied you were adequately protected, she had to be on antibiotics for at least 4 hours before you were born. They got the antibiotics flowing at 8:15am, so we needed to make it until at least 12:15pm in order to prevent having to stay at the hospital an extra night. They decided the best course of action was just to do nothing until then and let things take their course. Your mom was able to finally get a little bit of sleep in while I sat in the chair and watched Moneyball. Moneyball is a movie about one of the four interesting things that have ever happened in the entire history of baseball. It was alright, if you could ignore the baseball part. The point here, Simon, is that baseball is terrible.

Noon rolled around and your mom was really beginning to feel like she had to push. As soon as we hit the magic 4 hour mark, the doctor checked her to see if she needed to get ready to deliver you. She checked, saw your mom was 10cm dilated and said, "I better put my gown on." That was at 12:16pm.

At the next contraction, they had your mom start to push. The first push she didn't do so well, because...well, Simon, there's no easy way to say this, but she was afraid of pooping. See, apparently having a baby (something neither you nor I will ever have to do, thankfully) involves using the same muscles and pushing the same way you would while pooping, and your mom had heard horror stories. They basically told her to get over it and push, and the next two pushes for that contraction were really good. The doctor said, "A couple more like that and we'll have a baby."

At this point, I could see your hair sticking out, and that was very exciting. You were finally going to be here! On the next contraction, your mom pushed 3 more times, and now you could really see the top of your little head. Finally, the third contraction came, and by the second push, your head was all the way out! The doctor told your mom, "Alright, one more big push!" And then you were here! You were completely blue, and completely amazing. You were already gurgling cries as they suctioned the gunk from your mouth, and by the time they'd placed you on your mom's chest, you were already starting to pink up. You were crying and moving your head all around! At 12:31pm, 15 minutes after your mom started pushing, you were officially born!

While you were lying there getting to know your mom, they delivered the placenta. I actually got to see it this time around, and it wasn't really as gross as I was expecting. Just kind of...organ-like. While they stitched your mom up, I went with you over to the warmer where we weighed and measured you: 8 lbs 11oz! 21.5 inches! The nurse didn't believe you were really that long and had to measure you again, but it held up. Your long little legs were just kicking and kicking while you looked all around at us. By this point, only your fingers and toes were still blue and wrinkly. and you were starting to look very healthy. We brought you back over to your mom so you could try to breastfeed, and let me tell you, Simon, you took right to that.

Then it was time to wait and wait and wait.  We couldn't move to a post-partem room until your mom could walk again, so we just hung out and got to know you a little. I think both of us had forgotten how TINY babies are. You were just so little. Your arms were little and your legs were little and your fingers and toes and nose were little. Everything but your eyes, which were huge and bright and curious about the world all around you.

Eventually, the time came when your mom could walk and a room was ready for us, so we made our way over to the post-partem area and our new room. Your mom walked over there, which surprised the nurse who met us in the new room. "We don't get a lot of people walking over here on their own," she said. Your mom is a tough cookie. Tougher than you or I will ever be. Never forget that.

We got settled in the new room where we would stay the night until we could hopefully go home the next day. Pretty soon, you had visitors! Your Memere and Maddie came to see you! Maddie immediately ran up to you, yelled "BABY!" and gave you a kiss. So I think it's safe to say she likes you. She also kept insisting on giving you the chapstick she was carrying around, and she's not really one for sharing yet, so you must have had an effect on her. Your Memere loved you right away, of course, and was very excited to get to hold you. They didn't stay for long, because everybody was very tired after the long day and night. Once we all said our good nights, we settled in for our first night with you.

Oh, Simon, here's where the story gets sad...for your mom, at least. After you kept her up all night the night before moaning and yelling, you decided you needed to eat every hour for this entire first night. Neither of us got much sleep, but your mom definitely got the worst of the deal. Even though we were very tired, we were still very happy to have you there with us.

The next morning was very exciting for everybody. Your pediatrician came to see you and said you looked great. They did your hearing test and you rocked that, too. Then some other stuff happened involving your penis, but for your sake and the sake of everybody else reading this, I'll skip over all of that, except to say that you were very brave and were more angry about the iodine than anything else, which I found an odd ordering of concerns. I learned that they apparently use foreskins for eyelid transplants on burn victims, and that was sort of a learning experience for me. So everybody came out of that room a little bit different than they went in.

Then it was time for them to draw some blood so they could test your 24 hour bilirubin and make sure you were good to go home. I think the blood drawing was more traumatic for your mother than anybody. You just kind of hung out in my arms, but your mom didn't like watching them squeeze blood out of your little foot.

After waiting around an hour for that to come back (everybody was just fine), it was time to load you up in your carseat and head home. This was another one of those "Oh wow, babies are small," kind of moments for your mom and me, since we're used to loading your giant of a sister into her carseat and not tiny little you.

We made the short drive home and got there in time to watch the Seahawks win the NFC Championship. So really, it was kind of a great weekend for everybody. You would have been cheering, but your mouth was full of boob.

We love you, Simon, and we're so glad you're home with us. Even after several sleepless nights, we're still very excited for all of the days ahead. We can't wait to get to know you. Who will you be? What will you do? Should bacon be dipped in maple syrup? As long as you're not into baseball. (Alright, fine, even if you're into baseball.)


Your very tired, and very happy, Daddy

Friday, January 17, 2014

Come out, Simon!

Dear Simon,

Where the heck are you? You're two days overdue now and your mother is very uncomfortable. You could have at least written or called to tell us you'd be late so we could prepare. We'd have forgiven the poor handwriting and the amniotic fluid on the note. We'd even have accepted an early arrival, although most people would tell you that showing up early is rude to your hosts. We're not your hosts, we're your parents, and we'd like you here at your earliest convenience. Sooner than that, really.

We've been trying to get Maddie to yell "Come out, Simon!" While she likes to kiss your mother's belly and say "Baby!" Every time we ask her to say, "Come out, Simon!" she says "NO!" Maybe this is all her fault. She did finally consent to yell, "GET OUT!" though, so that's progress. She does seem to very much want to have you here as much as we do, though, so don't let her words fool you.

Your Memere has been a tremendous help to us, and I'm not sure any of us would have survived without her here. You'll learn this soon enough, but your sister can be a bit of a pill sometimes. Your poor mother is struggling just to haul all 400 pounds of you around and still managing to keep the laundry done. (Laundry is horrible, Simon. Pray you never need to do it.) It's hard to keep the place in a constant state of readiness for your arrival at any moment.

Not that things will get any easier once you're here, of course. You probably don't know this, but babies are tough. It's not your fault, you just don't know how to pour yourself a glass of milk yet, so your mother has to feed you. You don't know how to tell us you're hungry, so you have to make the only noise you know how to make and hope we figure it out. We'll teach you all of these things, I promise, but I understand it may take you a couple of weeks to be up and around and taking care of yourself. Being born must be very hard.

All of that said, we can't wait to meet you, Simon. I know these letters have not been as numerous as any of us would have liked, but it's certainly not for lack of loving, and caring, and thinking, and worrying about you. We've loved you since before we could have even imagined your face, and we want more than anything to see it. I'm sure it will be worth the wait. On the other hand, you're going to be sorely disappointed when you learn that the booming voice you've heard through your mother's uterus has your dad's ugly face on it.

The moral of this story is that we currently have some delicious candy, but the longer you take to get here, the less likely there will be any left for you. You better hurry!


Your Very Impatient Daddy