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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thoughts from the Gipper


A wonderful thought popped into my head today as I heard an old song, one from my days in Europe. I think it was on the requisite cheesy video chronicling the semester. I don’t know what awaits Jack in his brand new life, but I know at least some of what he’ll see will be astounding. It will change his life. I’m beyond excited for him. I’m thinking specifically of faraway places he’ll read about in dull history books that don’t and can’t do them justice.

I read a quote yesterday from Ronald Reagan where he said "Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we've ever known."

I hope Jack will get to all the places his old man did, and even more. Places even further afield, and even more stunning than the ones I’ve seen. Anyway, it was a striking thought to me, and one that all parents must have sometime or other.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Merit Badge In Swaddling

I'm discovering as my sprog (I learned a new word today) grows up past the 2 week mark, that parenthood must be inversely related to blogging. Or sending out pictures. Or doing much if anything. So the blog is still devoid of pictures and video of my very handsome progeny. But not for long! Probably.

Jack has rebounded from his very questionable crash diet and is now putting on weight nicely. He's eating a ton, and going through Pampers like water. The sheer number of tiny clothes and swaddling blankets we had before he arrived seemed ridiculous. Over the top. But this child goes through more laundry than a grown person. I must have missed this in the briefing. But he's a good, calm kid, with a very laid-back spirit. I like him already.

Melanie & Bebe (the Queen Mum) have taken one for the team by sleeping upstairs occasionally with the Captain. There for a few weeks, I was getting enough migraines that I considered a long drop with a short stop.

All is well, and going along with the naval theme, I'd say we're in a following sea.

Oh, and an unpaid plug for the best book (okay, the only book) I've read on neo-fatherhood: Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads. You know the old Cub Scout manuals you used to dig through for merit badge ideas? They strangely illustrated knot-tying in black and white and maybe one or two unnatural colors, with everyone dressed in plaid? This is a very helpful parody of those, only sorry to say, no merit badges. Read it and be ye illuminated!

Friday, August 15, 2008

"The World is Changed."

Jack is upon us! We had quite the time getting him here. I'll try to make this brief, but the last week has been one of the fullest I've ever lived. Sharing its twists and turns is like trying to do a book report on the Bible. I told someone that I've never gone that quickly from complete terror to just plain fun. We're talking Russian Roulette ups and downs, here.

My caveat is that I'm certainly not going to report every event precisely, so cut me some slack. Melanie had been laboring for a few days at home with extreme amounts of pain, especially back pain. I've never seen the woman in that degree of anguish. Days of it. Her contractions were almost never ending (5-6 minutes each) with not much rest between. For the uninitiated out there, your garden variety contraction is something like 45 to 90 seconds long. But she wasn't progressing in labor (i.e. dilating) at all, and was almost exhausted from the long contractions, extreme back pain, nausea and 48+ hours without sleep.

Trip #1 to the hospital yielded some Demerol and Phenergan (anti-nausea) to get her some rest and perhaps get normal contractions started. No such luck, and we were back at the hospital at 8am sharp on Sunday August 10th. In the meantime, Melanie's extremities had swollen to ridiculous sizes (your correspondent attempted to document this phenomenon in digital glory, but was expressly forbidden by Her Majesty; so much for the First Amendment). Swelling isn't of course uncommon during labor, but it was a sinister piece of the puzzle, as we found out later.

The plot thickens when we sit essentially all day in triage waiting for a room with a bed that's not designed for coercing information from prisoners. We slowly begin to get test results back, and nothing's really conclusive until about 5pm or so. The doctor (not our doctor, who's on vacation - I had to laugh at the Knocked Up script playing out, here) then very politely but seriously uses the following phrases in rapid succession, Ich kiddeth ye nat: elevated uric acid, dangerous creatinine levels, renal failure, possible placental abruption, bleed out, dead baby in 2 minutes, emergency C-section, toxemia.

So that's a little tough to swallow. I think my hands went cold. But the decision was pretty clear, although the situation is almost exactly what we preferred not to do in childbirth. But then again, the decision’s not really up to us.

I make the calls to the parents which were far more difficult than I had expected. If you haven't tried dropping the phrases above on a mom regarding her daughter, uh, keep it that way. I also call Debbie, our doula, (that's a birth coach/helper/right hand woman) who gives me a very calm explanation of what's going to go down in the next hour.

Meanwhile, Melanie's getting some excruciating things done to her which I won't elaborate on (you're welcome). Debbie arrived about that time to give us some idea of what we were up against. And we then wheel on down to the OR and get Melanie a spinal (a procedure that still gives me the jim-jams). Thankfully they don't let me in there. I put all these blue paper scrubs on, and am sitting in a mostly empty hallway making smalltalk with the nurses (to plug Memorial Hermann, these people have a racket on exceptionally nice people). The surreal just overtakes me and I make sure to profusely apologize to the nurses if I pass out on them. We’re sitting right next to the big stainless scrub sinks. It's downright unnerving watching people wash their hands before they cut your wife open.

We have a wonderful generic European anesthesiologist (my guess is French or Italian - think every Bond villain from the 60s) with the most outrageous accent. He welcomes me with a flourish to the OR, saying, "Sir, here is your chair, make yourself comfortable, relax! In 5 minutes you'll be a father." I'm not relaxing, thank you very much. He congratulated me no less than 4 times in his very affable Euro way.

And before I know it, I see little hands in a touchdown pose sticking out of Melanie's tummy, as the doctors pull and grab a bit too violently. And we're off to get cleaned up and then back to mom, and then to the warming table, really a glorified hot dog lamp sans the greasy rollers. Official stats on Jack came in at 6 lbs. 15 oz., 20 1/4 inches long, born at 6:10PM August 10th, 2008.

And I'm a dad.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Endless Pregame Coverage

Melanie (you may address her as Your Majesty) is quite uncomfortable these days. Her back hurts, she's swelling, she's hitting the bathroom every 27 seconds or so, and because of carry-on luggage restrictions, can't eat more than 2 bites at a sitting. It's good times over here, I'm telling you.

But praise the LORD the official bedrest Rx is over and done, and that's a very good thing for all involved. Preparations are made, bags are packed, cigars are bought.

This past weekend, Bebe (Melanie's mom) was taken away from us by force. Alas! After only a month of caring for us, she finally reached her wits' end and had to blow town.

All is well with the Captain, he's continuing to grow and kick the living daylights out of his mother. We may have quite the soccer phenom on our hands (or mixed martial arts champion, you really just never know).

Friday, August 1, 2008

Setting Sails, Jibs, and all that Rot

So this is going to be a inarticulate, rambling, very incompetent stab into the blogging world, to record the uh, voyages of my son-to-be, Captain Jack himself. I hope you enjoy it. It's a bit like watching a car wreck about to happen, don't you think?

You will no doubt be thoroughly entertained by my foray into parenting, or just plain horrified... or both.