Thursday, March 17, 2011

Early Surprise - Abridged Edition

Friday, February 11th will be a day to remember. I came home from work that night and things were pretty normal around the house. The laundry was piled up in the hallway so that I could haul it down to the laundromat as soon as I got home and avoid the hundreds of customers that would make there way through the steamy, cheap bane-of-my-existence a few doors down. Oh laundry, how I loathe thee!

Oh, and Erika casually mentioned to me before I left that she was leaking water all day. Uhhh...hmm. Smell? Negative. Color? Negative. Blood? Negative. Baby's head? Negative. Well, that's weird. She was at just 33 weeks and everything was healthy thus far, so certainly it couldn't be broken water, so what was it? We decided to give the doctor a call just to make sure. And he told us to come into the hospital just to make sure all was hunky dory and then we'd make our way home and he'd see us in six weeks when the baby was due.

Except that it didn't go like that at all. One thing I am proud about is that for the past few weeks, I had been joking that it would really be best for us to take the subway to the hospital when the baby was coming. I mean, why spend $18 when I could spend $2.50 instead? Well, totally confident that it couldn't be broken water, we decided to take the subway. It was actually nice that way (for me) because it gave us time to settle down and relax and to further convince myself that it couldn't possibly be the water, even though all signs pointed to it being so.

We got to the hospital, got lost in the innards of the hospital trying to go from one side to the other (the hospital is about five blocks long - massive!), and then finally got a confirmation that the water was indeed broken. Eff. This wasn't supposed to happen this way! The final words from the doctor? "Welcome to Mt. Sinai!"

So we settled into a delivery room and had no idea what to think. I hadn't brought ANYTHING with me except a mobile phone, so there would need to be some work done the next day. But, for the evening, it was the same as it would be for the next five days. Sitting around with Erika plugged into antibiotics, steroids, and fluids. We got the SOS text messages sent out, I got Paul to sign up for some volunteer activities for the next day, and we both got scatter brained over the implications of this event.

The baby was early. Six and a half weeks early. Apparently, 34 weeks is an important milestone for a baby because at that point the baby is more or less fully developed and is just a little skinny. The 34th week began in five days, which was the target date for the delivery. The baby couldn't stay in forever because without the amniotic sack he was at a higher risk for infection. But he didn't need to come out right away either, so he could hang tight inside, suck up the steroids to make sure his lungs were fully developed, and then mommy would get pumped full of Pitocin and the labor would begin.

But first, I had some major work to do. I was scheduled to pick up our gently-used stroller off Craigslist the next day (a nice $300 savings on that one), I had to go home to take a shower, do the laundry, and pack up the bags for the hospital. I clearly was not in the right frame of mind to do this on my own, so big ups to Paul for the help that day.

Five days later, we were woken up at 6:00am and wheeled to a new delivery room. My mom was in town by then, so we settled in and the fun started at 7:00am. To make a long story short, Erika got thrown through the ringer for ten hours of strong, symmetric, artificial contractions without almost any progress. Like a good mom, her body was just not ready for the baby to come out! It finally became too much and shortly after the epidural, the baby started to show some signs of distress (heart-rate making V-patterns around the contractions) and the doctor left us to make a decision on whether to continue and wait until the baby really starts freaking out, or go ahead with the c-section.

It broke my heart that we needed a c-section. All I could think about was the fact that my wife had just suffered for ten hours for nothing, would have a long recovery ahead of her, and now we would become one of the 40% - a number that is way way too high - of patients who ends up with a c-section. But we had to do it because the most important thing was for the baby to be healthy.

The c-section was pretty scary. Erika was crucified on the delivery table with needles everywhere and a blue screen to prevent us from seeing anything. Her body was jerking around from the pulling, prodding, and slicing of the team of surgeons with the smell of burning flesh surrounding us and before I knew it, the baby was jumping out and started crying. He was tall, skinny, and white with a little bit of dark hair. I was snapping pictures and trying to take care of Erika at the same time. We got a few quick pictures of the baby before he was wheeled off to the NICU to begin his recovery while Erika started to get sewn up. More tugging and prodding and she started to complain that it was hurting her. The resident doctors just kept pumping her full of morphine and God knows what else, but I was completely hopeless and lost in the moment.

It was all over. I had to go take care of room reservations for the next four days of recovery and then take my Mom and Roberta up to see the baby and take care of Erika. The poor baby was already hooked up to an IV with tubes in his mouth and oxygen in his nose and looked so alone and skinny. It really broke my heart to see him like that, but to be honest, at the moment I really wanted to be with Erika because I knew she was alone and recovering from major surgery. What a terrible spot to be in!

Needless to say, the next four days were full of learning, trials and tribulations and some "fights" with nurses to have full access to the baby and figure out what was going on. But, all in all, the nurses took really good care of Erika in the recovery room and the NICU nurses were amazing with their knowledge, experience, and for the most part, cooperation. We had lots of wonderful messages of support and visits from our family and friends who helped us out more than we could ever thank them for!

A week and a half after, we got to bring Oliver home and we've been enjoying him ever since - as long as he only wakes up twice a night (like most nights)!!

J. Riley, I could write a novel with all of the details that I left out :o(

Baby Shower

There has been plenty of baby preparations going on around our house lately. Last weekend, Erika had her baby shower, which was hosted and organized by the wonderful Roberta and attended by almost 20 friends and family of Erika's - including my Aunt Sam and my mother. Sean and I kept ourselves busy - and wet - by deciding to walk 16 blocks to have lunch at Republic in Union Square - despite the fact that it was drizzling and about 32 degrees outside. Not only that, but once we arrived, we found that it didn't meet Sean's dietary requirements (although, eating there the next day, I found that it actually DID), so we walked the 16 blocks back to his neighborhood to have the most wonderful pizza ever at Pala. Needless to say, I had to wait for hands to thaw out before I could grasp the delectable gluten free porri e salsiccia pizza squares.

On Sunday, following the best bagels and cream cheese on earth at Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Co. and witnessing a poor old guy spill coffee on his wife's fur coat and never hearing the end of it, it was Erika, Aunt Sam, and Mom's day of putting the gift cards to use to purchase the items that we needed for the baby but didn't have yet. I met up with them for the tail end of their Babys R Us trip after watching Liverpool devastate Chelsea with a shocking 0-1 victory away :o) . 

J. Riley, thanks for all the wonderful outfits!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Spoils Of Online Scouring

This Christmas was great, as it always is. We got to spend some quality time with my family that I don't get to see so often, in fact it's been at least a year since I've even seen my parents! It's terrible to live so far away from both of our parents, especially as the new chapter in our life approaches.

As expected, Erika got a lot of personal attention with our boy in her stomach and we started thinking about the approaching day that he's gonna pop out and change our lives forever. We decided that we needed a new camera to capture all of the action in greater detail and with greater clarity, so we did some after-Christmas shopping and ended up with the camera that I'd been researching for a while - the Sony SLT-A33. We've joined the Haines' favorite hobby - SLR picture taking! Having just arrived today, we look forward to neck/shoulder/and back pain carrying it around while we're out and about in the city.

We also decided that we needed to start buying some essentials as soon as we got back to New York. We learned a lot from all of the mothers at my parents' house, including minor points like the fact that we won't be able to leave the hospital without a car seat. I wasn't too happy to hear that I would have to spring for one of those, but I guess it's a worthwhile investment. We also started doing a lot of research on strollers (a major point of contention), baby carriers, and ways for my to be stingy in my new bible, Baby Bargains. Unfortunately, Erika is not buying all of my revolutionary ideas of how to save money, even though I still have a few months to convince her that if people can survive with cheap items in developing countries, why can't we survive with it as well? Something tells me that I will lose most of these wars...

However, she did agree that we could start shopping on Craigslist for items. I figure that if we start three months before the baby is here, we should be able to find good deals on most of the stuff we need from New York's population. Case-in-point: last night, we ventured out to the Upper West Side and picked up an infant car seat for $60 ($149 value) as well as a baby carrier for $40 ($100 value, albeit not the ErgoBaby one I'm jonesing for). While we were at the couple's house, they said that they would really recommend not buying everything new, to which I rejoiced and commented "Why do you think we're here!" ;o).

The baby is very active these days and it's interesting to try to figure out something about him while he's still baking in the oven. Judging by the ultrasound pictures, we think he has Erika's nose and chin and maybe my voluptuous lips. But thinking about all the permutations this kid could have is crazy. He could turn out to be a total cholo Latino kid with dark skin and hair, or he could be blonde with bleached white skin like me, or anything in between.

I've invented some of his characteristics already as well. Whenever he's going nuts trying to break out of Erika's belly and I try to touch him, he stops immediately (relatively speaking). This *must* mean that his skin is sensitive to the touch like mine, obviously. Putting this on the slippery slope, we can also therefore assume that he'll eat at a snails pace like his daddy as well. I'm sure Erika will appreciate that - I think? Actually, I have no idea.

Aside from that, the other major thing that we're going to need to deal with soon is our apartment. We don't really like where we're at now, but we were considering an upgrade to a two-bedroom in the same building if we could move in early. But our *lovely* management company said that we can't move in until our lease is up at the end of April, which is the issue in the first place. Looking for an apartment, signing a lease, and moving all weeks after Oliver is born is *not* on the agenda. Guess we'll have to go month-to-month until we can get on our feet and find a new apartment - or job!

J. Riley, Oliver Wilson Haines it is.