Friday, June 30, 2006

Intoxicating

To me you are a revelation
A vital ingredient in my life
An intoxicating alpine potion
That cuts my senses like a knife
I feel adrift here with you
Floating between past and present
A hybrid of nature and man
A mixture of modern and ancient

-Ed
December 1999

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Little Abbey Minis

Changing Diapers

Because I want to give my wife a break in looking after Little Abbey, I often change diapers when guests are around or after work in the evenings. Little Abbey and myself have gotten used to how the entire process goes. As soon as I unbutton or raise whatever garment she may be wearing to open up access to the diapered area, Little Abbey immediately crosses her legs into almost a lotus position effectively blocking access to her diaper. I have to grab her ankles in one hand and straighten out the legs just to undo the diaper tabs and check to see if it needs changing. I can probably count on one hand the times in the last month when I haven't had to change them. Once I see that they need changing, I get another diaper prepped by opening it up and draping it nearby. I get a wet wipe out of the container and also have it draped nearby. I also clear out any objects that I don't want to get dirty from the loaded end of a baby. Then with one hand still holding the ankles, I pull the diaper off part way making sure to leave part of it underneath her for sudden bursts of bowel movements and start in with the wet wipe getting things cleaned up. I then roll the dirty wet wipe in the dirty diaper and very quickly swap the new one underneath her. Once, I fumbled the clean diaper and paid the price by having to change her clothing, bedding and trying to get her back to sleep after she peed all over everything. Diaper now in place, I release her legs, which alternately assume the lotus position or the straight-legged position depending on which position is needed to interfere with me attaching the diaper. I think I have a nudist on my hands.

Airing Things Out


Mrs. Abbey decided a few days ago that the nether regions of Little Abbey needed some fresh air. Little Abbey contentedly pooped all over Mrs. Abbey who then handed her off to mother-in-law. About the time Mrs. Abbey returned from a shower with fresh clothes on, Little Abbey contentedly peed all over of mother-in-law. Mrs. Abbey promptly covered things back up while mother-in-law showered and put on fresh clothes. Little Abbey's bum looks nice and pink again but what a price to pay.

Help Me I'm Drowning

In all my previous experience (videos and such), nursing a baby is a quiet event. The baby latches on and quietly nurses until full. So I wonder if Little Abbey is a mutant. When she nurses, she sounds like she is about to drown in milk and only saves herself with loud gulping followed by a few second to pause to breath heavily before resuming loud gulping. I can hear Little Abbey gulping her milk from clear across the house and on another floor. It is that loud! Even when I occasionally administer her food via a bottle to give mother a break, she gulps like she is drowning. However, now that I think of it, the one time Little Abbey nursed in public (at the airport waiting to see Grandma for the first time), she did so quietly. Does that mean she only has manners when out in public?

A Weighty Issue

The last visit to the pediatrician's office, we barely met their expectations in weight gains for Little Abbey. So after two weeks of a break of sorts, we had to go back to get her umbilical area treated with chemicals to remove the dried stump still clinging on. Evidently the mega dose of antibiotics given at birth for her pneumonia also kills the creepy crawlers that speed up umbilical decay. But while there, the nurse did a weight check and Little Abbey topped the scales two ounces shy of eight pounds. It averaged out to about 37 grams of weight gain a day that impressed even the most skeptical of nurses. They declared her extremely healthy and sent Little Abbey on her way. Maybe mother is drowning Little Abbey in milk.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

They Want To Make My Baby Fat!

When Little Abbey was born, she weighed 6 lbs 11 oz and was eventually officially declared 3.5 weeks premature. I don't have any idea how they can tell that but that is what they wrote. When she left the hospital, they weighed her and she weighted 6 lbs 14 oz, which really surprised the doctors since most babies actually lose weight in the first week of life. Ours had instead packed it on.

So last Tuesday when we had our first follow-up appointment post discharge with the lactation nurse, Little Abbey weighed in 20 grams (about 2/3 of an ounce) less. The nurse was all concerned that the baby wasn't getting enough to eat despite the fact that Little Abbey looked happy and was an extremely contented baby. Little Abbey wakes up on average about once every three hours and we feed her until she falls off the nipple and drifts off into sleep. I figured that it was just calibration differences since the weight was on a different scale in a different building and the nurse admitted it could be but went off about how we need to feed Little Abbey more. She told us to feed her on demand for the next two days and come back again last Thursday.

Well we tried feeding Little Abbey on demand but she still only demanded to be fed every three hours almost like clockwork. We tried to keep her awake longer so that she would nurse longer but were rarely successful. In the end, we maybe lengthened her nurse time by on average a couple minutes but that was it.

We took her in on Thursday and put her on the scale that showed that she had gained 30 grams. Finally they have no room to complain about our feeding of Little Abbey we thought because she had in fact gained 30 grams (or a little over an ounce) in two days. But after much shaking of her head, the lactation nurse said she expected 30 grams a day. Now we have to go in again this afternoon for yet another weigh-in and a full physical checkup by the pediatrician. I'm beginning to think they won't be happy unless she is trying out for baby sumo wrestling.

My wife is petite. Her whole family is on the small side compared to us American giants. Isn't it possible that they just don't grow as fast as us obese Americans? Wouldn't they just crowd themselves off of their island? Wasn't it Darwin who said animals grow according to their environment? Anyway, my wife's taking this harder than me since to her it makes her seem like a bad mother not producing enough milk. To me, I see a healthy baby who just doesn't measure up to the nurse's expectations as to what the average full term American baby should be growing. Little Abbey looks cherubic and content and for me, that is all that matters.

[Author's note: Little Abbey tipped the scales at 7 lbs 3 oz for a 35 gram daily weight gain at yesterday's checkup. The doctor was finally happy.]

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Grocery Stores Hate Me

I guess I have come to accept the fact that grocery stores and I have a hate/hate kind of relationship. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it. I knew the milk we had at home expired that very day and I don’t drink milk that is one day past the expiration date so I stopped by the store on the way home. I knew I would need if for my cereal and my wife’s tea tomorrow. On my way back to the milk case, I picked up some fruits for our lunches and picked up my gallon all the way in the far corner of the store. I know they put milk back there so you have to buy an impulse item just to get milk but the store wasn’t busy at all so I made good time.

As I was nearing the front of the store, there was a person with a cart heading towards me with one of the two open checkout lanes between us. We eyed each other up. I stepped up the pace but the lady pushing the cart was game and she leaned into it getting her pace picked up as well. About twenty feet away, she wheeled her cart into the lane followed by a late comer who came out of one of the aisle nearly blindsiding me. That checkout lane was going to be fifteen minutes at least. I walked clear down to the end where the only other checkout lane was open and there was one old lady who just had the last of her groceries drug across the scanner and an old man who just had a loaf of bread, a bag of potatoes, some lunchmeat and a 40 oz bottle of beer. He was definitely a bachelor or home alone for the week!

I set my groceries on the end of the conveyor with the proper distance between my purchases and the old man’s so not to intrude and not to have to place the plastic divider thing down. I hate being an isolationist. The old lady amazingly enough was paying with plastic instead of laboriously handwriting a check as they all do but problems arose. The manager was called over and a consultation took place. She had incorrectly entered her PIN code. She tried again. Same result. As if to help matters, she looked towards the old man and myself and said, “I’m just guessing because my code is in the car,” as if that made it all right. I look over at the other lane and lady one was already done and heading for the door but it was too late to bail because two more people were already in line behind blindsider who was now getting her groceries scanned.

Old lady swiped her card for a third time and somehow pulled the correct PIN code out of her memory banks. She looked at old bachelor and myself and gave us a shrug as if to say “oh well,” and I refrained from committing something I might have to confess the next Sunday in church. Old man was up to bat and the clerk scanned the bag of potatoes. The old man said that it should have been $2.99 and the clerk had to call for a price check. If I would have had three dollars in my wallet at that point I would have slapped it down but all I had were a couple of twenties and I figured making change out of the old man’s wallet wasn’t going to happen. Five minutes later as blindsider was smugly making her way past my checkout lane, they finally got the price which was as the old man had said, $0.10 cheaper than what they had rang up for!

The clerk rang up the rest of the goods and told the old man the damage followed by the standard question of paper or plastic. The old man took out a well-used wallet most likely older than me and began to laboriously thumb through a thick wad of receipts and loose bills. “Paper or plastic sir,” said the cashier one more time but was met with the same response as before, silence. The cashier sensing my pain just put the food in plastic and then patiently waited as the old man finally pulled out the correct bills. He then folded his wallet, re-pocketed it and then reached into his front pocket for one of those plastic coin purses. Good God!

Two more people from the other lane walked by and though I hadn’t raced them to a lane, I swore they gave me smug looks too as the old man counted out pennies and nickels to cover the $0.87 that he still owed. Again I wished I had some ones in my wallet. Finally he got the correct change and the cashier picked up his dropped receipt and asked the old man if he wanted it. Silence was the only answer that he got so he threw it away as the old man carried his plastic bag and sack of potatoes out of the store.

In conclusion, I think instead of dividing up checkout lanes based upon the number of items you might have, they should divvy them up based on age and credit status. Those with better things to do than to argue over $0.10 on a sack of potatoes or to try and remember your PIN code in one line and all the geriatrics and those who insist on paying for everything with a check that they never think to fill out until after the total is given, can all be put in the remaining lines. The store that does that has my ever-lasting loyalty

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hospital Time Is Slow Time

Life inside a hospital is slow time. It is almost so slow that it feels more like a prison at times. You know that there is life going on outside without you but your own life is revolving inside the hospital. I find myself staring out the window at times wondering what so and so was up too right about now.

My daily life of the past week started at around six a.m. with a hungry baby. I would get the always poopy diaper changed and made sure my little girl was awake before handing her off to my wife for feeding. One thing about breast feeding, it is always there, warmed up and in plentiful supply. Fifteen minutes later, I regain control of my little charge, burp her and sometimes change yet another diaper.

My daughter seems to be somewhat of a night owl, a fact that I knew when she was still in the womb. My wife works on her feet most of the day and I think the jostling coddled Little Abbey causing her to sleep most of the day. Then in the evenings when my wife was at home asleep in bed, I could see her abdomen stretching this way and that for hours as if an alien was trying to pop out as in a horror film. So it was no surprise that I find myself in the wee hours of the night trying to get a wide awake baby to fall back to sleep.

Since that really hasn’t been working too well, I’ve been trying out a different tact by trying to keep her awake during the day. I tickle her feet, stomach, arms, etc. all while calling out her name. As the time has worn on, I think this method has succeeded based upon the last couple of nights but I'm not holding my breath yet.

But back to the schedule. Fed, changed, and hopefully kept awake for awhile, baby goes to bed and mom gets freshened up. I straighten up the hospital room and then head down the hall to the buffet wagon that the hospital wheels up to the birthing floor. I load up two plates and take it back to the room to eat with my wife.

Initially when Little Abbey was still in the nursery, we filled our mornings with catnaps for the two and a half hours between feedings. When she was in our room permanently and we are getting our schedules synched, we are able to get more restful sleep at night and thus do other things in the morning. I’ve sometimes used these times to drive home and look after the house, do some laundry and bring back the ever present list of things that my wife needs back at the hospital. I wonder if you can rent a U-haul to take a baby home?

After the noontime feeding and Little Abbey is tucked safely in her bassinet, I make a trip downstairs to the hospital cafeteria or nearby restaurant to round up some grub for the parents. Because life in a hospital is pretty much sedentary, it doesn’t take much to get full. In fact, we have been piling up extras in the corner of the kitchen counter in our room and nurses are starting to make remarks of all the food. If you can live off peanut butter, jelly, potato chips and some plastic baggies of various fruits, we could probably hunker out a medium sized nuclear winter here in our room.

After lunch, everybody tends to nap. Lately, I’ve been getting enough sleep so I try to do some righting or catch up on reading but it definitely is a quite time. I’ve spent some of it compiling a baby book of sorts on request of the wife, which requires a great deal of imagination to answer some of the questions. If anybody knows a popular song right now, please let me know. The only popular songs that I can think of are probably a decade old and might confuse my daughter when she is old enough to comprehend what I wrote.

After scrounging for supper at the cafeteria, restaurants or food corner of the room kitchen counter top, things begin to wind down. I start picking up things around the room again and making sure there are such necessities as ice water for the wife and a stack of diapers for the baby. We do a little watching of the cable channels that we no longer get in our household and exhaust ourselves watching food network, HGTV or if I have control of the remote, the history or discovery channel. Being around the history channel on the anniversary of D-day brought lots of interesting shows and facts to my attention.

Darkness falls and we anxiously nurse Little Abbey one last time trying to keep her awake to swallow every last drop that she can. Where most babies loose 10% of their body weight in their first week of life, Little Abbey packed on another 5 ounces from her birth weight bringing her up to seven pounds. She nurses like nobody’s business.

As soon as she is asleep, I bed the wife in the reclining chair which she prefers to the hospital bed for comfort, and I hop into the hospital bed and try to get as much sleep as I can cram into the next two and a half hours. Then it is changing, feeding, and back to bed, repeating through the night until dawn and another day. Perhaps it is the exhaustion that has finally caught up or my body has adapted, but I now have the ability to literally fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. I hope I can keep this newfound talent long after Little Abbey starts sleeping through the night.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Pure Exhaustion

I was sent home by mama to grab a nap but didn't do a very good job of it. So after two hours of trying and only partly succeeding, I find myself here delaying the job of lawn mowing. Little Abbey spent the entire day and night in our room, only leaving briefly for a few scattered vitals gathering sessions in the nursery. The day was a blissful combination of napping, feeding and talking among all three of us. The nurses only interrupted once every several hours and then only briefly.

But as soon as night came, the nursing guard changed and we got Wet Behind the Ears Nurse. All during the day, the nurses would reprogram the IV for every three to four hours at which time they would check the IV sight for redness before reprogramming it once more. Each time that the IV ran out of time, it would beep and beep and beep until one of us paged a nurse to our room to deal with it. Not bad until Wed Behind the Ears Nurse told me she couldn't because they had to look at it every hour. This went on for awhile with the machine waking everyone up, every hour, and me trying to plead my case. Finally with no sleep for me, my wife or Little Abbey, I flipped. Dale Carnegie persuasion techniques went out the door and fatherhood stepped in. She gave me her standard response and I stepped things up a notch by asking her who I needed to talk to in order to get this changed back to the way it was during the day.

Sweat instantly started forming on her fat brows and she nervously licked her lips when she saw that I was deadly serious. Finally she stammered that she would reprogram it to coincide with feedings (which are about every three hours) and just remember to check it every hour so not to disturb us. She hurridly fled the room under my withering glare and for the next three hours, she not once enter the room and another nurse checked in on us the rest of the night.

I think Little Abbey was a little perturbed with all the beepings going on by her bed once an hour plus she was used to the commotion and bright lights of the intensive care nursery because she was a little growly until about 1:00 before she got back into her rhythm of nursing and sleeping. This allowd Mrs. Abbey and myself time to get back in our rhythm of providing Little Abbey support and sleeping. But morning still came way to early and ass was dragging. With wife and baby fine and doing their thing, I drove home and tried to nap. Maybe this evening will be better.

Little Abbey is doing find and the electrocardiogram came back showing that the small shunt all newborns have between heart chambers had indeed not quite closed but that there was nothing to be worried about. It should close on it's own soon now that blood pressures are back down to normal baby levels. The doctor said he would officially discharge us on Sunday afternoon so we have a couple more days to go. I can't wait to be home and away from Wet Behind the Ears Nurse who obviously doesn't understand that patients do need to sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Little Abbey Update

First of all, thank you everyone for your comments. I see I had a few new people stop by and I promise you that things will get back to normal in a week or so where I'm back to my daily blogging. I will also visit your blogs to learn more about you.

The baby is doing great, better than even the doctor expected. She has developed a little bit of a heart murmur and they are doing an EKG today to make sure that is just the shunt all babies have between their chambers and is hasn't quite closed. Preemies have higher blood pressures for awhile and until is drops, the shunt between heart chambers can't close. Little Abbey's blood pressure is down and everyone believes it is just the shunt closing causing the murmur or equalization of chamber pressures. The EKG is non-invasive and seems like the easiest thing to do for peace of mind. Results should be in tomorrow.

Also, Little Abbey is off all her monitors, tubes, and coils of electrodes except for one IV line to finish giving her the antibiotics which staved off her pnuemonia. Because of that, she has graduated from Intensive Care to Intermediate Care and gets to wear clothes and sleep in a bassinet. She even gets parolled from the nursery between feedings to visit Mom and Dad's room. She still has to go back for feedings to get her vitals checked but even that will be unnessessary tomorrow and she can room with us full time until she gets pardoned and can go home.

Mrs. Abbey is healing up a little more everyday and likes her freedom to sneak out from the hospital now and then and wear semi normal clothes. Due to the massive IV doses, she is a little swollen and with just giving birth, looks about four months pregnant still but as she breast feeds, the stomach is shrinking fast. She is one big trooper and I no that I will be owing her a lot for undergoing this. But like most moms, she swears that it was worth every pain. I agree.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Little Abbey Update

Sunday
Sunday found Little Abbey doing very well. So well, that the doctors allowed us to hold her and even try nursing her. I gently collected all her wires and tubes and wrapped her up in a blanket and gently passed her to my wife. When the proper body parts were exposed, it took all of five seconds before Little Abbey latched on and started sucking away. It was one of the most beautiful things to witness. The rest of the day we would spent going back to the room for a brief nap, or medical procedure on Mrs. Abbey by one of the nurses, followed by trips to the nursery for more nursing. By evening, we were both mentally shot from the stress and lack of sleep. Feeling like bad parents, we brought this up to the doctors and nurse staff and every single person almost pushed us out the door after my wife was discharged and told us to come back tomorrow.

The hospital provides a free bed and breakfast for couples in situations like that as long as rooms were available and they had more than enough beds so our room would become our motel room. We were free to come and go as we chose and no staff would bother us except to clean once in awhile. Breakfast was a free buffet but the other meals and medications would become our responsibility. It sounded like a deal so we took them up on it. After feeding Little Abbey one last time last Sunday night, we drove home and went immediately to bed, together for the first time in a quite a few days. Sleep was deep and dreamless. It was definitely the sleep of the dead.

Saturday
We both awoke early on Saturday but kept putting off going to the nursery until the doctors had finished their rounds that typically last until 8:30 or 9:00. They don’t allow anybody in the nursery during the rounds. So Mrs. Abbey got her pain medication and took a shower for the first time and then I wheeled her down the hall for breakfast. We had just finished eating when the pediatrician stopped in to say that Little Abbey was doing excellent. She was off oxygen, the latest x-rays showed that her pneumonia was drastically reduced and that her blood gas was normal for the second time in a row. The only not so good news was that she was developing jaundice and might have to be put under lights to cure that but he said it was quite common among all babies, term and preemies.

We spent the day walking between the room and the intensive care nursery seeing Little Abbey as much as my wife’s legs would allow. As part of the epidural, they have to flush lots of liquid through the IV’s in a short period of time to keep the heart rate from crashing. As a result, her kidneys couldn’t keep up and her legs looked like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man. They would swell so much at times that the circulation would be cut off and she would get that tingling sensation. But we both agree, despite the swelling that an epidural is the way to go. It allowed my wife to sleep during the contractions and allowed her body to relax which helped her dilate faster. There was not one drawback other than the swelling and my wife said that was much better than the pains from “pooping a pumpkin.”

Little Abbey was alert and looking around the room most of our visits. Now that she was off oxygen, my wife was allowed to hold her for the first time, which did wonders for her emotions. The oxygen plastic helmet or sneeze shield as I called it went back on for a few hours during the day when her oxygen stats fell a little but it was off again in the evening and this time would stay off.

Visiting relatives and phone calls would keep our minds occupied during the afternoon and I would actually find myself with an hour to catch up on some of my writing. Short of the dinner outing with my parents and my younger brother driving me home for a shower and to repack our bags for a longer stay and to catch up on emailing, I had been in the hospital three and a half days and I was beginning to get stir crazy. But there were two girls that needed me so I kept a good face on and did what I could to ease their pains.

Friday

Friday started out with bad news, that got worse but ended up good. An emotional roller coaster seems like the understatement of the year. The first thing in the morning, the pediatrician stopped by to update us on Little Abbey’s condition. He first told us that Little Abbey had briefly stopped breathing in the delivery room and that they had to “bag” her to get it going again. The fever had turned into pneumonia but because of the antibiotics started minutes after birth, it shouldn’t get very bad. Her blood gas or ability to absorb oxygen through the lungs had gotten worse and if it didn’t get better, she would be on a chopper headed towards Iowa City and a level three facility where they could take care of her better. My wife was still in a lot of pain and hooked up to three or four different lines. I was operating on zero sleep and was at rock bottom.

My parents arrived and helped to relieve my mind. While my wife napped, we snuck out to lunch and the first time I had been out of a hospital in almost a day and a half. By the time we got back to the hospital, the news was looking good. Mrs. Abbey had her IV’s and other hoses removed and was very gingerly able to get out of bed and into a wheelchair for a visit to the intensive care nursery and the second time to see her baby. Little Abbey was starting to be more alert and was looking around. Her oxygen level was slowly being reduced and she was doing well.

That evening, the doctor gave us the best news. They had given Little Abbey a spinal tap to rule out meningitis and it has come out negative. The entire time she had fought the doctors “like a tiger,” using their words and all without oxygen. The doctor said that it was a definite sign that she was doing a lot better. The pneumonia was showing signs of remission thanks to the proactive use of antibiotics. The doctor cautioned us that things could still swing back the other way just as quickly but we clung to the good news anyway. In a hospital, good news is what keeps the world going round.

I spent the rest of the evening filling in friends and relatives of the news, taking care of my wife who looked horribly exhausted and emotionally fragile and finally trying to get some sleep in the chair that had been my bed the last two nights. It was a recliner but with all the gears stripped out so that it wouldn’t stay reclined. It wasn’t very balanced and kept wanting to tip over backwards when I was lying on it. Finally after much effort, I was able to wedge the back onto the wall and prop the leg rest up on a chair and fall asleep. Nurses would stop by to tend to my wife’s wounds every half hour all night long so sleep was brief and sporadic.

A Father's Vow

You just came into this world today
And now my life is gonna change
I hold you now sleeping in my arms
I vow to always keep you safe from harm

I pray you don’t make my mistakes
To live your life with those as strengths
I hope you grow to be everything
To live your dreams to laugh and sing

I want to see as you do now
Where everything good is off your bow
A fair wind blows where you want to go
Despair and hate are not yet known

Today’s the day my life has changed
You were born you are here to stay
I make a vow to you and to myself
To love you more than life itself

-Ed
June 1, 2006

Monday, June 5, 2006

The Day Before

My mind climbed out of the deep sleep fog to my wife shouting my name. Her water had broken she said as she rushed into the bathroom. Are you sure was all that I could think of asking. I scrambled out of bed trying to get my mind together. It was 11:30 on Wednesday, May 31st, the same day we had our prenatal checkup and had been told that we still had a ways to go. My wife had gone to work and finished her paper, which meant that she was going to be free to start her maternity leave anytime. We had eaten a late supper and had watched a little television before going to bed. Now my wife was in the bathroom leaking fluids and my mind was a mess.

I checked on her and then raced downstairs to call the hospital. They had said that if the water breaks that we were supposed to call them and then drive to the hospital right away. I let them know what was happening and then started formulating a plan. My stomach was tied in knots as I headed back upstairs and upon passing the hallway bathroom, I changed plans. I prayed to the porcelain god, clearing my stomach of butterflies and immediately feeling a whole lot better. While I was praying, my wife had gone downstairs to call her mother and let her know what was happening.

Stomach feeling better, I got dressed, grabbed our already packed suitcase and through in the few things that I had been meaning to do but never did always thinking I still had time. I got the camera, baby seat and the bunch of bananas sitting on the dining room table. The latter I have no recollection of why I grabbed them but later as my wife and I were being ushered down the hall to our birthing suite, I realized that I had them. Fortunately, my wife was pretty calm because I’m sure everyone was questioning my mental state.

The drive over went quickly. The thirty minute drive took me twenty and I kept waiting for flashing lights to shop up behind me but at a quarter until midnight on a Wednesday night and driving four lane roads, I could eat up a lot of ground and do so safely. Halfway to the hospital the labor contractions began about five minutes apart and strong. What happened to the hours of twenty minute spacing? I dialed up another ten miles per hour on the speedometer and wheeled into the emergency room entrance. I helped my wife out of the car, parked it first in the cancer chemo reserved spot and then parked it again in another unreserved spot. I grabbed our bag, the bunch of bananas and went inside to sign in with my wife.

As we settled down into our birthing suite and I had safely stored the bananas on the table, I looked at the clock. It was five minutes after midnight, now June 1, 2006. We were beginning what was to be a very long process.

How We Spent the day

The doctors and nurses soon had my wife hooked up to the fetal monitoring machine and had done a pelvic exam. Yes we were definitely going to have a baby. As my brother, who happened to be visiting from Alabama said, “the resources (i.e. amniotic fluid) had been irreversably used… there was no taking it back.” She was only 1 cm dilated but was 50% effaced already which was a lot faster than everyone had expected. I predicted that at that rate we would have a baby girl by noon. I was very wrong.

As the night turned into dawn, we had progressed to 4 cm dilated and 100% effaced but my wife was obviously in a lot of pain. The anesthesiologist happened to be on the floor post surgery and could do an epidural right then if we desired, otherwise it would be another hour before he could get back. I looked at the pain in my wife’s eyes and I knew what my answer was. She consented and within 10 minutes later, she had the medication dripping into her spinal fluid and was mercifully in an exhausted sleep. She would sleep off and on for the next eight hours not feeling the contractions but progressing until she was fully dilated by 3:00 p.m.

I watched over her and watched as the contractions got strong and increased until they were only two minutes apart. I was amazed that she couldn’t feel them when earlier, a small fraction of a contraction would have her almost pulling the railings off the hospital bed. I myself tried to nap in the chair beside her but didn’t have a lot of success. I mostly sat and listened to my daughter’s heartbeat on the monitor and wondered what she would look like.

At 3:00, the doctor came in a checked her again and said that my wife was to “labor down” and that he would be back in a little while to check on her. At 3:45, he checked and then uttered the words that will forever be with me, “all right now, lets start pushing,” in his thick North Carolina (old tobacco growing farm family) drawl. My wife pushed so hard that fifteen minutes later, the baby’s head had traveled a full four to five inches down the birth canal and the head was only a few centimeters from starting to crown. The thick black matted hair made it seem as if my wife was giving birth to a bear.

But things stopped. The baby was pointing face to the ceiling instead of the normal face to the floor position and due to her small pelvis, thanks to her family history, and my large framed genes, she just wasn’t fitting. The doctor thought that if the baby had been facing down, she might have flexed her head through but with her head pointing up, it was a really tight fit. My wife pushed on, pushing every two minutes for the next hour and a half but after all that time, the baby was still firmly caught. The decision was made. The baby would be born by cesarean. The time was now a quarter after six in the evening.

The Birth

Within minutes, my wife was wheeled off and I was given a set of scrubs to put on. While in the bathroom putting them off, my wife was wheeled off and I grabbed my camera, sitting right by the bananas, and rushed down the hall to find her. I nervously sat outside the operating room in my scrubs crying and waiting for them to let me in. Every time the door opened, I could see the back of the doctors working over her on the operating table. All I wanted was for this whole thing to be over with. I wanted my wife’s pain to be gone. I wanted to see my daughter.

The nurse finally came and quickly ushered me to a chair right by my wife’s head. She was now numb from the chest down and was actually smiling and laughing. The doctors started cutting immediately and the tugging and pulling shook my wife’s body but her smile never registered anything but happiness. I thought they were pulling an alligator from her but finally, a head popped out and I verified that it was indeed the hair of a baby and not that of a bear. Another pull and the torso and one arm appeared. One last heave and the baby was free at 6:44 p.m. on June 1rst. The business end was pointed towards me and I promptly informed my wife that we had a beautiful baby girl as the baby began to howl in protest.

The next few minutes I tell you pieced together from recall and what the doctors told me the next morning. They took Little Abbey to the table and she stopped breathing. I saw them suck out her lungs and then bag her for a few minutes before she started breathing and howling again in protest. At the time I thought everything was normal but I later learned that the bagging part was most definitely not. The doctors were working on my wife, the pediatrician on Little Abbey and the nurses largely blocking my view. I focused on comforting my wife and trying to mop up the tears that were leaking all over my mask making it hard for me to breath. Of the three of us, only my wife was breathing easily.

With the Little Abbey resuscitated and stable, the wrapper her up like a burrito and let me hold her for a few precious seconds while my wife looked her over and then took her to the nursery. One of the hardest things I have ever done happened next. I left my wife to get stitched up and at the request of the doctors, went with Little Abbey to the nursery where she was tagged, along with me, and put in an intensive car unit. She was poked and prodded as the hooked her up to all kind of monitors, got an IV started and soon after I left to go see my wife, oxygen. The whole while, Little Abbey screamed in protest and the sound was the most beautiful thing on earth. I was now starting to grasp that things were a little more serious than what everyone let onto but I had to put my faith in the hands of the dozens working on both my wife and the baby. I got booted from the nursery and walked back to the room to let the families know that Little Abbey was now out.

My wife made it to the recovery room where I quickly slipped in to see her and reassure her everything was okay but in her drugged up state, I don’t think she comprehended much. I alternated looking in on her, the baby and manning the phone to try to reach her mother who was not home at the time. My wife was wheeled to another room where she would spend the rest of her stay and I joined her once again. She was in a lot of pain after having just been gutted and with the drugs fell right off to sleep. I stayed up finally getting everyone notified that needed to know and meeting with the pediatrician who finally let me know some of what had happened. I still wouldn’t find out that the baby had stopped breathing until the next morning.

The baby was initially thought to be five weeks premature but that was later revised to three and a half weeks meaning the June 28th due date was most likely the correct one. Because of this, Little Abbey wasn’t absorbing as much oxygen as she should so her head was in a plastic helmet to make sure she had plenty. The 19 hours of labor had given my wife a fever that had been passed onto child. The risk of an infection was very real and thus the doctor has put her immediately on antibiotics. She was stable but things could go for better or worse as this point and only time would tell.

Finally at 11 pm, I drifted off into an exhausted but troubled sleep next to my wife. Tomorrow would be a new day

Quick Update

I posted three new blogs leading up to and including the birth below. I'm sure more will follow when I get a spare second inbetween visiting daughter, mother and sleeping.

Little Abbey is now off the oxygen and has been since Saturday night. Her pnuemonia is almost completely gone now and she is alert and NURSING! I emphasis that last part because the doctor had intially told us that the chances were slim. Because of the hormones, etc., my wife still isn't able to produce enough milk yet for her so they are feeding her by IV still and also giving her small amounts of milk through a tube into her stomach via nose right after nursing to simulate ... well nursing. I'm expecting that in a day or two, Little Abbey will be able to sleep in our room for at least part her day.

She is also a little jaundiced so she is bathing under what I have called grow lights but this last thing is quite common and should be beaten back in a couple days as well.

My wife was discharged last night and at the suggestion of an army of doctors and nurses, we drove home and slept in a read bed for the first time. It was never so good to be home. Grandma and my wife have left for the hospital again while I tie up loose ends at work and home and then I will be joining them again. At the earliest, Little Abbey will be discharged next weekend if things are going well.

Thanks for all your comments, thoughts and prayers. It truly has helped to keep me strong these last few days.

-Ed

Friday, June 2, 2006

Little Abbey Has Arrived

Little Abbey joined the world on June 1 at 6:44 in the evening. She weighed 6 lbs 11 oz and was 19 3/4 inches tall. Despite her size, she was still considered 5 weeks premature and that combined with a long labor, followed by a Cesarian, has her a little weaker than we expected. She has a touch of pnuemonia and will be in the hospital for the next 7 to 10 days. She is breathing by herself and not on a ventilator but her oxygen saturation has been not the best. Keep Little Abbey in your prayers and I will try to update my blog now and then when I run home to take care of things. I'm taking my old laptop to the hospital where I plan to write up the events which have been what I think are quite remarkable. Thanks and I will visit with all my blogging friends soon.

Sincerely,
Ed, Mrs. Abbey and Little Abbey