Monday, June 30, 2008

Playing The Waiting Game

My wife is at home right now - she left around 3:30PM, mostly because the lack of any adult contact besides the occasional nurse visit was driving her batty. I understand. The Boy is asleep in his crib, mostly; his eyes are slitted open, with just the whites showing. It's funny when babies fall asleep. I'm watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer, season 3 episode 2, which was on television Sunday morning on reruns.

Essentially, we're just playing the waiting game. Our oncologist stopped by today, along with the nurse from the Valerie Fund Center in the hospital. They told us exactly what we'd been told over the weekend: it looks like the tumor is what we wanted, it should be treatable with chemo, and we're merely awaiting the pathology to begin the chemo. A couple of days of in-patient chemotherapy, then the rest of the chemo (excluding the rest of the surgery) will be outpatient.

I hate waiting.

I started teaching at the summer program today. It was fun. All of my classes are double-taught, because I might have to leave at any minute. It makes things slightly more challenging, but I'm okay with that. It's only a few hours a day.

Did I mention that I hate waiting for information?

The Boy came up with a new game today. He picked up his food, held it at arm's length, dropped it and laughed hysterically. It was very cute.

Urgh. I hate waiting.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Moving on up... er... down... er... up...

We just got moved from the PICU into the Step-Down area. That's the part of the pediatric ward that means that things aren't serious enough for intensive care, but not quite healthy enough for the general population. It's a smaller room, but the nurses come in half as often (every two hours) as the PICU. And, the Yankees are back to their non-hitting ways. One out of two ain't bad.

The Wife's parents have left back to Pittsburgh until the weekend. Her sister is coming up from Washington, DC, to spend the rest of the week, while I'm at work. I'm happy that The Wife is going to have company during the five hours (including transportation time) that I'm at work.

(GEEZ - what is it about professional baseball players, that they don't know how to throw to the right base from the outfield? Men on 2nd & 3rd, 1 out, sacrifice fly to right field. One of the fastest guys in the league is on third; there is NO WAY you're going to get him. Throwing home enabled the runner to advance from 2nd to 3rd, meaning that the second runner can score on a wild pitch or infield hit. Stupidity. But, I digress.)

I'm a little apprehensive about going into work for the half-days of the summer program this week, considering that we're waiting for the pathology report. That could come any day - Monday through Wednesday - any time. If I stayed at the hospital, the report wouldn't come until 5PM on Wednesday. Now that I'm going to work, it'll be there Monday at 10AM. Cie la vie.

Early indications are that it's the type of tumor we want - the one that can be positively affected by the chemotherapy. It's a 6-month regimen, which presents interesting problems... but, it'll be a wonderful January celebration when he's finally done with it. Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday Night

It's hard to keep track of which day or night it is. The days have been rolling together in a timeless limbo of images and faces and medicines and hospital rooms. So many people have come in to examine and to care for The Boy! Teams of residents (who, like Scrubs says, really do look like lost little children - in a cute, endearing kind of way, until they start to touch my baby), teams of doctors, nurses by the dozen... lots and lots and lots of people, with no realistic way to keep track of everything.

Last night was my night to stay over in the hospital, and it was a good night. The Wife left around 9-ish. He woke up a little after that and played for a bit - I sang through my Indiana Harmony Brigade music for him. When he fell asleep again, I got an hour's worth before he woke up and was quite irritated. Bottle time - midnight. No worries. He took a little bit to fall asleep, so we watched some television (Middleman, on ABC Family, recorded on TiVo & transferred to my iPod) until he fell asleep. I lay down and slept for three hours.

Four o'clock, awake for a feeding, fell asleep about thirty seconds afterwards. So did I. He woke at 7-ish and was the same wonderful baby he usually is. I got his bottle ready and fed him, letting him stand on the ground holding my legs while I situated myself with the bottle. He got a little sponge bath and a change of clothes and bedding. The nurse came in and put down his playmat, and he sat on the playmat and played for a half-hour. Now, he's asleep again - allowing me to get breakfast.

My pediatrician's father (who is also a pedatrician in the same office) came by to visit with us. He told us that early reports - and, these are VERY preliminary - would seem to indicate that this tumor is the "good" kind - meaning, the kind that doesn't spread and can be treated with chemotherapy easily. Cross your fingers and keep praying, folks.

It was a good night. May there be more of these.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day Four & Evening Five

My wife & I got to go for a little walk this evening, which is the first non-baby together time that we've had since Tuesday. It was a nice half-hour, even if we didn't do anything except walk and talk. But, it's nice to spend some time together.

Last night, I went home at around nine o'clock. I spent an hour or so messing around on the computer, and then I took a nice, long shower. Afterwards, I played "God of War II" for about twenty-five minutes, then went to bed at around 11:00. I woke at 8:30AM, ate breakfast, and chatted with The Wife. I tried to work out on the home gym, but took one look at the weights and left. My body won't exercise when I'm under severe emotional stress - I can't "work it off" like many do. That's when I injure myself. So, I left home around 9:45 or so to go back to the hospital.

The Boy was awake and happy and playing, which was SO good to see! He was nursing well all night long and was more and more like himself: interactive with us, giggling (only twice, but it was REALLY welcome), grabbing things and yanking at the tubes remaining in his body. Today, he even ate two solid food meals: spinach and turkey (diced too small for him to get a really good grip, but still) for lunch and broccoli and chicken (his two favorites) for dinner.

The Wife went home for a few hours in the afternoon - the poor dear was a little overwhelmed and tired, not having slept well in the PICU last night. The Boy pretty much slept through most of her absence. I did get to snuggle The Boy in his "crib" for a little while - that's how big & sturdy the thing it. It was great for both of us, we being Nap Buddies.

Now, he's napping on Grandma until Grandma & Grandpa take my wife home for the evening. Tomorrow, Uncle B is taking me to see "Wanted," which is a comic book movie that I want to see. That'll be my big break for the day, and I'll go home after dinner tomorrow night to get ready for the first day of the summer program. I'm not sure how much I'm going to go and be able to work, but I'm also sure that medical bills are going to pile up. I know teachers have a great health plan, but I also know that we're racking up probably around $100K worth of bills during this.

I really feel a lot better right now. He really seems like my baby again - smiling, playing and being cute. I know that the report of the pathology can bring things dramatically worse, or they can bring things to be dramatically better. That's something that I'm very aware of. Still, right this second, my tension level is WAY less than it has been.

Plus, Shrek is on TNT. That's a great movie.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Evening Four

Tonight's my night to go home and rest. I'm not rushing home, because #1 - I'm not THAT tired, and #2 - the Yankees game is on channel 11. That means that I can watch it from the hospital; their cable does not have the YES network, which is the Yankees sports station. Although, considering the way the game is already going (the first game was a Mets blowout win, and the second game isn't starting any better), I might lower my blood pressure by just going home and spending time on the Playstation.

Today was a better day than yesterday, for a number of reasons. First, the tubes making him Robo-Baby are being removed, one at a time - first the nose air tube, then the right wrist IV, then the right leg IV, then the nose-stomach hose last. Funny story: around 2AM, I asked the nurse to put an extra piece of tape on the nose-stomach hose. That's the hose that's in his stomach - because the stomach "goes to sleep" during the surgery, they keep a hose in their to get rid of the bad stuff buildup and to be an easy way to flush the belly out when necessary. The Boy was fussing with it, and I was afraid he was going to hurt himself. I fell asleep around 3 and woke up at 5. The nose hose was lying on the pillow next to him, and I thought, "Cool! The nurse came in and took out the hose. So, why did she leave it on the pillow... oh." He had ripped it ALL THE WAY out from his stomach, tape and all - which is why his cheek is all red and swollen. Silly boy.

Second reason today was a better day: we got to pick him up and hold him. It was difficult, at first, to juggle the baby and all the hoses and wires. It got easier as the day went and fewer wires were stuck on him. Nothing felt better than holding the baby, for sure; and it helped him feel better. He went about six or seven hours between morphine shots, which is good, I think.

Third reason: The Boy was playing, playing, playing! He was manipulating toys and messing around with stuff, chewing on things and people. I got my nose chewed on, which was welcome and appreciated. He was interacting with people, including the game of taking a toy from my mouth, chewing on it, then putting it back - not sanitary, but cute.

Fourth reason: SO MANY friends stopped by today! Eric, Dan & Lisa, Brandon & Lee, Grandma, Grandpa & Grandpa, Pete & Shelly & Jenn... so many people! It was REALLY nice to be able to chat with friends. We are very well loved, and David even moreso - nothing is more appreciated.

Worst part of the day: about a half hour ago, The Boy started FREAKING OUT big time. I got the grandparents and Mommy out of the room and calmed him down. It was kind of scary, because he's running a fever - result of the surgery, being treated - and was in pain because of his wounds. His heart rate was up to 190, which is NOT good, and his blood pressure was back up to where it was last night. Scary feeling, let me tell you - but, it was better than yesterday, because I could hold him in my arms and sing to him to help him calm down.

I'm probably going to see "Wanted" on Sunday. I'm happy about that. I loved the comic.

I'll stay over on Saturday night. We'll alternate nights for as long as we can, even when we're back in the Step-Down area and can both stay. The internet connection isn't fast enough for the extra links tonight; I'll get 'im in later. Maybe.

Cancer Glossary:
"Extubate" - taking tubes out of a person, as opposed to "Intubate."
"Excise" - to cut out
"Step-Down" - the area of near the ICU that isn't the ICU.
PICU - Pediatric Intensive Care, pronounced peek-you.

We do need help...

Many of you have asked how you can help us in this trying time in our lives and in the life of our son. We really appreciate the offers and are grateful to have such wonderful friends.

Right now The Boy doesn't really need much except the proper medical care so that he can get better. If you've asked us "what can we do to help" we are excessively grateful. Anything that you are able to do to love and support our family will make a huge difference. Here are some small things that you can do:

--Continue praying for his full and complete recovery. Doesn't matter what types of prayers or who is saying them. We are grateful for any positive energy that you can send our way. If you know of any good prayer lists or prayer chains, his name is David Henry May, or Chaim David ben Miriam (in Hebrew).

--Some gift cards would be a great help--ShopRite and Trader Joe's for our family's groceries; CVS and Babies R Us for David--he'll probably need some items from CVS, and Babies R Us would be a good place for us to get additional clothing for him that would be compatible with his medi-port for his chemotherapy treatments. Target gift cards would all of those areas as well.

--Give blood. Even though it will likely not go directly to David, there is always a need for donated blood, especially in the summertime. I think that you can say that you're donating for The Boy. He will need a few transfusions most likely, over the course of the chemotherapy.

--We may need some amusement ourselves from time to time--books or book gift cards from Borders or Barnes and Noble would cheer us up.

--Keep on sending us good wishes and reading our updates. Musical Daddy will likely keep the blog updated and his accounting is very thorough.

The Boy has improved quite a bit even from yesterday. Many of the tubes are out and he is more comfortable, and looking more like himself. He has had a little bit of diluted juice although he isn't able to have anything but clear liquids for now. He just continues to get better.

Thanks again for the outpouring of support and love that we've received for our little guy.

Wilms Tumor, Day Three

I spent the night here by myself - only one parent per night, in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). I sent The Wife home - The Boy can't have solids until his stomach wakes up, so let's let her sleep in an actual bed until her unique skills (no matter how hard I work, I'll never breastfeed the baby) are needed. The night was perfectly fine - I slept for one three hour chunk from 10:30 to 1:35, and another 1.5 hour chunk from 3:30 to 5:00. During the latter chunk, he pulled the stomach tube out of his nose - no mean feat, because it was firmly taped & glued to the side of his face.

Stubbornness runs in the family.

His IV port in his hand is out, which gives back his sucking thumb - even though he hasn't found it yet. The breathing tube is out of his nose, and the stomach tube will come out within the next 24 hours. He's sleeping, mostly - morphine shots every few hours, plus th surgery after-effects, are seeing to that. He's as comfortable as he can be for the moment - he wakes every ten minutes and screams a bit, then falls back asleep. I've spent a lot of time tonight holding his hand and his cheeks to soothe him.

He ran a slightly higher-than-normal temperature for a while, but Tylenol brought it down. He's like me - doesn't run fevers, so any high temperature is worrisome. It's over, he's back to normal temperature by 2:30AM.

Best news? He's starting to move himself around a little bit. Not much - just rotating his body about 30 degrees in either direction. But, it's a start.

Keep them prayers coming, people. And, those that have offered help... please don't be surprised when I accept. The next couple of months are going to be extremely difficult.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wilms Tumor: Origins

Three weeks ago, The Boy had his 9-month checkup. No problems were found - and you know pediatricians. They root around the baby's body like they're giving an Oriental massage. Saturday night, you know that we put him in his crib - first time in about five months or so that he's spent the entire night there. It was a rough night on all of us, and when he woke up at his normal 5:30AM (when The Wife wakes for work), we brought him into bed with us to calm him down. She fed him, and said, "Why is his belly shaped like that?" There was a bump or a protrusion sticking out of his belly - like a hard nub underneath, the size of a baby's fist.

He hadn't pooped since Saturday afternoon - a long time, for him. We assumed it was constipation; the on-call doctor at our pediatricion's practice said to wait a day or two and see what happens. Sunday, he didn't poop at all, "confirming" our self-analysis. Monday morning, he had a little poop at 5:30 (actually, he slept in it for much of the night, leading to a little bit of irritating diaper rash). He had another little poop after his morning feeding, then fell asleep right soon after the feeding. I called the doctor's office at that point because the lump was still there; the nurse, when she called back, suggested buying a suppository. "Break the pill in half, stick it up there, and hold his little cheeks together."

Ah, the joys of being a father.

By the time he woke from his nap, it was really late - we drove to the drug store and bought the suppository, and my wife came home a little while later. As we drove home, The Boy had a HUGE poop - parents, you know the ones. I figured the constipation was better, even though the lump was still there. That night, we decided to take him to the doctor's office Tuesday morning.

Tuesday morning, we made an appointment and went in at 12:30. After they poked and prodded, the pediatrician sent us to get an ultrasound, to figure out if he a liquid mass - an intestinal blockage (aka poo) - or a solid mass (aka "Oh, f&ck"). They told us that the doctor wanted to see us again. Oh, f&ck, indeed.

We went back, and our pediatrician was almost in tears as he told us to check in to the hospital. He thought that it was a Wilms Tumor - he was right - because he had diagnosed a half-dozen or so during his 8 years in private practice. He said, "No rush - all the tests will be done tomorrow." We went home, quite distraught - I'm an emotional wreck, for obvious reasons - to gather our things and to snuggle a little bit with the baby.

Tuesday night, I cancelled my appointment with my chorus and drove to the hospital. We checked him in to pediatrics.

Here's where HELL started. The Boy is very young and very chubby - which means that he has little tiny veins that are difficult to find. The doctor putting in the first iv stabbed him about fifteen times before I freaked out on her. Not her fault - don't get me wrong - but immensely frustrating. To make matters worse, the blood pressure cuff machine (on his calf) wasn't working properly. The nurses, then, had to take his blood pressure four or five times to find the working machine / cuff, which was frustrating for the baby. This continued all night, until another freakout at 3PM (by the baby, not me) motivated them to get the working machine and leave it by our door.

The kidneys regulate blood pressure, you see. When the tumor is preventing the kidneys from functioning properly, his blood pressure shoots through the room. So, they had to take his blood pressure every hour or so and medicate him accordingly (hence the iv). To make things better, we had these uncomfortable fold-out chairs that were kind of flat beds to lie on - we couldn't snuggle the baby, we couldn't touch each other and we couldn't find a comfortable position to sit or lie.

That night, Molly got about 2.5 hours worth of sleep. I slept for one hour, give or take a few minutes. The next morning, he went for an ekg around 10, and he had an ultrasound an hour earlier (or so). I went home for a couple of hours, to do some travel work for the Big Apple Chorus' Nashville trip (to complete my commitment to them, because I am obviously not going to the barbershop international convention next week in Tennessee). I got back at 11:45, despite the best efforts of the combined resources of the AARP's Union County Driving Team, driving 15 miles an hour below the speed limit on every street.

At 11:45, he was taken down to the CT Scan and a deep sonar ultrasound of the kidneys, to confirm the initial estimate of a Wilms Tumor. The whole process necessitated drugs to knock The Boy out - you can't move around in a CT scan without ruining the process. He finished up and was taken back upstairs around 1:30, when he slowly woke up over an hour or two. He began moving and playing like normal while his parents sat around and cried.

The oncologist came in and told us the news - a Wilms tumor that has completely obliterated the left kidney, and 25% coverage on the second kidney. No indication that it's spread anywhere, but they won't know until they open him up and poke around a bit.

(The American way, isn't it? "Let me get A Look at it. I'll know what to do." Politicians go to disaster scenes so they can "get A Look" at it, not because they're going to pick up a shovel and start digging.)

Diagnosis - mostly favorable. We'll know in the morning. The Wife's parents arrived from Pittsburgh around 8:15 and stayed until 10:00 - the nurses very nicely let them stay a little bit extra because they came from Pittsburgh to see the cutest guy in the world. At 10:30, I literally passed out - told The Wife, "I have to sleep. I just can't stay awake any..." done. Woke up at 2:45AM because The Boy was standing in his crib yelling at us. The Wife had woken him up at 1 to feed (1 was the last call for solids / breastmilk), then they both went back to sleep, but he was hungry again.

I kicked her out of the room, because every time he looked at her, he thought "FOOD!" He wasn't calming down. She went to go read, and I walked The Boy around and soothed him. Forgot an important bit - the in-laws brought an inflatable matress that could expand to king size. So, we could snuggle with him a bit. He fell asleep on me after drinking some Pedialyte and apple juice, and we slept an hour. Then, he fell asleep on The Wife and slept another hour. All told, The Wife & I got about six, six and a half, hours of sleep last night. At 6:30, they came to bring him in to surgery.

Wilms' Tumor, day three

The Boy underwent reasonably successful surgery this morning for Wilms' Tumors on his kidneys. He had his left kidney removed, along with a 2-ish pound tumor - basically, the size of a nice steak at a restaurant. That tumor was 100% excised. His right kidney has less than 25% tumor, and that was not able to be removed due to its location.

The pathology on the tumors will come back next week, and chemotherapy will be begun. After a few weeks of chemo, he'll have that second tumor removed, and start more chemo.

Lots of questions, lots of concerns, lots of changes. He's resting reasonably comfortably right now - thank you, morphine. Sorry about not adding fun links like I try to - this has been, quite possibly, the worst couple of days of my entire life. Hopefully, the worst is done... but there's no guarantee about that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Prayers needed...

The Boy is in the hospital. The aforementioned lump on his belly is a tumor on his kidney - they think it's a Wilms Tumor. Prayers and well-wishes are needed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sleep Training, Night 2

When The Boy woke up Sunday morning, we noticed that he had a hard lump on his right side, at his stomach level. Making a long story short, we're pretty sure that he's just full of poop - literally. He didn't poop from 3PM on Saturday until about 6AM Monday morning, so we think that the lump is just poo. We'll keep you informed, but he did poop three times today - two little, one normal.

We went to Band Guy's house for a party in the afternoon. It was neat, because BG's got a 2-month old son that I got to play with. Babies are fun, and I'm proud to say that my streak of baby-tranquilizing continues. Best part of the day? The guys went outside to play wiffle ball. The girls & the babies (there were 3 there, with one of the women 8 months preggo) came outside a little while later. The Boy was watching the game and laughing harder than I've ever seen him laugh! Every time someone swung and missed, he's give out a huge belly laugh and clap his hands. What a cute kid... not so cute when Daddy is striking out, though there IS a reason why I'm "Musical Daddy" and not "Sports Star Daddy."

So, we got him home and strongly debated about what to do regarding the sleeping arrangements. We were (and are) concerned about the lump in his belly-area, but we decided to keep up with the sleep training, regardless. When he started to get sleepy, I took him inside to his crib.

When put in his crib, he freaked out again. I let him stand up and walk around in the crib while he shouted; I touched him when he came by, and kissed him as often as possible. Eventually, he started rubbing his eyes again, and I lay him down. He screamed and started to get up, but I gently placed a hand on his chest until he started to nod. Before he fell asleep, I took my hand off and sat down next to the crib, occasionally reaching through the bars to touch his hand or his leg - not necessary for him, but somewhat necessary for me.

There was one false alarm - I thought he was asleep, so I got up and he woke up - but, from crib to sleep was about 30-ish minutes tonight - a distinct improvement over the 3 45-minute segments from last night. I was back in my bedroom at about 9:15. At 12, he woke up again and cried, but we waited a minute or so, and The Boy fell back asleep. At 1:30, he was awake and hungry; the wife went in and fed him, and he stayed asleep until 5:30, when she gets up for work.

All-in-all, a distinct and dramatic improvement over night 1. Today - day 2, now, using the Jewish method of starting the day with the previous sunset - he napped once with me in the morning, once in his crib while I exercised, and once more with me in the afternoon. That's an acceptable transition for me, to work my way away from napping with him without traumatizing me too much!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sleep Training, Night 1

The Wife and I have been talking for a month or so about reclaiming our bed from the tiny, cute little invader. The issues have been discussed before: 1) if he can't get through the night without being fed, then we're back to our original problem - neither of us is willing to remain awake through the feeding to put him back in bed, and 2) there's no real good time to sacrifice a few nights' sleep. Considering that my wife has four more days of school, and that none of the days are particularly rigorous, and considering that my teaching schedule is light this week, this is about as good a time as any.

So, last night, with him having only napped for a short time during the day, we decided to pull the trigger and to start sleep training the baby. We put him in his crib, and it provoked the typical reaction: he freaked out. I mean, big time. He doesn't always freak in the crib; during the day, when we're changing a poopy diaper, he'll sit in his crib for a few minutes while I clean the diaper. But, at night, or when he's tired, he flips out. He stands up in his crib and cries piteous, heart-rending cries.

The Wife and I sat in the room with him, while he stood in his crib and cried. I sang to him softly and rubbed his back while The Wife looked up articles about sleep training. Eventually, I noticed that he was facing her and reaching for her while she cried; I asked her to leave the room, and things started to settle down. This might seem a little mean, but it really isn't: The Boy is used to falling asleep with, and on, my wife. When she left the room, things changed and he started to realize that things were a little bit different.

I did spend a little bit of time rubbing his back and his belly, as one would expect - he was crying so hard, that I wanted to help. That hurt my arm after a little while, because I didn't want to stand next to the crib, and the crib was high enough to dig into my shoulder. After a little while, I stopped - I don't want him to develop the habit of having his back rubbed until he falls asleep. I would occasionally reach through the crib bars to hold his hand or touch his leg. Eventually, he fell asleep at around 10:15.

He woke again at 11:00, and was up until 11:20. He slept until 11:45, and was awake until 12:10. He slept until 12:50, and was awake until 1:20. This time, he slept until 2:30; I poked my wife and said, "Your turn," figuring that he needed to be fed. Before she got moving, I said, "Wait a second... give him some time." I fell asleep about two seconds later. When I woke up at 6, by my wife getting out of bed to get the baby, I found out that he fell back asleep and didn't eat.

So, what does this mean? This means that the next couple of nights, while he's getting used to sleeping in his crib, are probably going to suck. I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Babies are funny...

Today, he's been a very snuggly guy. Why? Not sure. We both passed out cold around 7AM, after Mommy left for work, and we slept until around 9:15 or so, then spent 15 minutes waking up and playing. For the rest of the morning, he needed a lot of physical contact - he needed to be held all the time. I'm fine with that. Then, he decided he didn't want to be held; five minutes later, he was crying and chasing me.

Man, he can crawl REALLY fast now.

Then, we sat down. He crawled around, found his sling, and chewed on the ends for a little while. Then, he crawled onto my lap and suddenly (like, in the space of about 5 seconds) fell asleep.

Babies are funny.

History Lesson, Part 4

Sunday, September 2: The First Night
Current mood: accomplished
Category: Life

'Round about 4AM, I finally started to figure out why people find this whole baby thing so challenging. All I've really got to say is, thank GOD for my mother-in-law. She's been amazing all week, and a real life-saver as we've been adjusting to this huge change.

(PLEASE stop telling me, "Stock up on your sleep!" and "You don't know how much of a change you're in for!" It's annoying. You're not the first, tenth or hundredth person to tell me that, so quit it. Say, "Congratulations," if you're a close friend, ask if you can help - you can't, except to come to the bris, but leave the normal stuff alone.)

Anyway, he fed at 10:00PM, 1AM, 4AM & 7AM, and woke up once each in between the feedings. Grandma took care of him in between the feedings, rocking him back to sleep. The other times, I picked him up, changed him, brought him to Mommy, brought her a new bottle of water, then rocked him back to sleep & put him down.

(I kind of figured that, since Mommy just pushed him out of her uterus on, like, Thursday, that she doesn't need to do the legwork until she's moving around comfortably. My reproductive organs ache just thinking about what she went through.)

So, it's tiring. Mommy & Grandma let me sleep from right after the 4AM feeding until around 10 o'clock, which was shocking - not that they let me, but that I was able to sleep. I guess I was more tired than I expected. Who'd have thunk it, eh - being tired because of taking care of a newborn?

So far, though, so good. He hasn't cried for long when he's woken up late at night. He hasn't gotten sick or any non-normal weird rashes or things like that. I haven't been peed on yet, but it was a close call last night - he went an extra 1 & 2 while I was changing the diaper. Lesson learned - put the new diaper underneath him right away, and keep a rag nearby to deflect the firehose.

This will not become a baby-poop blog; I'm just recounting the story of the evening.

I think we can handle this.

Monday, September 3: Second Day / Second Night
Current mood: relaxed
Category: Life

He was quite good last night. Feedings at 10PM, 1AM - he had trouble falling back asleep when he was done feeding, around 1:30, so at 2 o'clock, he had another little snack - good thing Mommy is so well endowed with food - and 5AM. Quick diaper change, a couple of sung songs to him, and back to sleep with relatively little fuss. At 2, I took him outside and we both napped on the couch for a little while. Considering that we went to bed around 11, and got up at 7:30, I got my "usual" five or six hours of sleep. THAT, I can handle.

Yesterday was a good day. We went for our first family walk - after putting the stroller together, we headed down the block to the local Italian Festival, where most of town was. It was nice - not so much for us to do, because Mommy & I haven't made many friends in town & The Boy's too young to do much of anything. It was good to get The Wife out of the house, as she's been cooped up for far too long.

The Wife will likely head to school tomorrow, to get the whole tenure thing locked into place. We'll keep the baby at home, or spend the day down there & bring him to her when The Boy needs feeding. If she goes into school, then she uses sick days only while recovering, and we take no financial hit. (Disability is only 60% pay.) I'm a little worried about her going, but mostly because she's still torn up from giving birth. Someone will spend the day with her, whether it's Grandma or myself. I do have marching band tomorrow afternoon, so that likely settles that.

Anyway. Off to the pediatrician today. On Saturday, he said that The Boy had normal infant jaundice. We'll see. He seems perfectly healthy & fine to me!

More Fun WIth Foods

Today, I experienced one of the true joys of fatherhood - sharing a treat with the baby.

My wife & I eat a lot of soy yogurt. Well, I eat a lot of soy yogurt; she has some on occasion, and some real yogurt, and frequently no yogurt. I like the soy stuff and am a little wary about the real stuff. Not that I don't eat it; I'm just careful about eating it.

My favorite two flavors are vanilla (boring, I know; but, astute readers know that I'm hardly an exciting person) and peach. Today, I had the peach; yesterday, we shared the vanilla.

Anyway.

I sat down on the floor with him. When he saw the soy yogurt, he came running. That's not surprising; soy yogurt has a lot of sugar in it, which is weird for the baby. He doesn't get sugar from non-fruit sources, so something that is as sweet as the soy yogurt is very, very different. Oh, also note that "running," in this case, means crawling urgently. I gave him a little bit, then ate a spoonful. Gave him a little bit, ate a spoonful. This continued until the small tub of yogurt was completed.

At this time, he turned a baleful eye upon me and proceed to complain, loudly and at length, that there was no more soy yogurt. I explained that it was a small container, but he was having none of it.

Granted, this was a tough day for him. I heated some water in the microwave, and when I took it out, it exploded and sprayed the two of us with near-boiling water. That did not make either one of us happy. Soon afterwards, he flipped his play table upside down, and it landed on his fingers. AND, because I had a work-related thing this morning, I carted him around to three or four different classrooms, depriving him of his normal morning nap.

Still, he's a good boy, and quite funny and endearing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I can't believe it...

but, The Boy's now made a habit out of using the bathroom for his potty needs. Again, this morning, for a fifth time (that we've counted and / or noticed), he crawled into the bathroom, sat down, and pooped. But, that's not the only times that he crawls into the bathroom - previously, we'd just believed that he was crawling in there because that's the only open door in that hallway.

The Wife gave him a bath tonight, followed by some naked time. Wouldn't you know it? He crawled from his bedroom to the bathroom, then peed. Yes, it was on the floor - but, he still crawled in there and peed. Funny, no?

I don't have any illusions that he's going to potty train early. My wife & I were both late potty trainers, and I don't expect much different from The Boy. But, it's still pretty funny, pretty quirky behavior. That's what we've come to expect from him - which is why we call him "Crazy Baby" on a regular basis.

The amazing thing to me is how quickly and thoroughly he's developed his own personality. He is non-verbal, don't get me wrong; I don't think that the "Mamamama" and "dadadadada" are actually recognition of us as parents but noises that he makes. He also grunts, oooo's, oh's, humms, buzzes (like a brass mouthpiece) and bubbles (like a motorcycle sound). But, his facial expressions, his preferences and his reactions are definitely his own. They developed very, very quickly. Yes, we see ourselves in him; but, we also see something different and, we hope, better.

TMI alert, stop reading if you're particularly squeemish...

I do admit that I don't normally close the bathroom door when my wife is at work. Most of the time, if I'm going #1 and I'm already holding him, I'll hold him while I use the potty. Other times, he crawls in and sits and plays, or he crawls in and watches. My general hope is that if he sees me using the potty without drama, secrets and other scary stuff, he'll be comfortable with the bathroom when it's time to use it. I'm not a particularly shy person, and I don't think I have particularly body issues when it comes to bathroom things, so it seems to have worked. (I mean, come on - we all look pretty ridiculous sitting on the toilet.)

I don't think that putting him in his crib or the playpen while I use the bathroom is a particularly efficient use of either one of our times. (Wow. That sentence wasn't parsed very well.) He's a boy. I'm a boy. We have the same parts - genetically, too, come to think of it - and will use the bathroom the same way. If he learns by observation now, then it's one less thing that I have to worry about teaching him later. "Oh, that's how you use the potty. I get it. It's not THAT scary."

Having said that, I wonder what it'll be like next year, when he's in day care from 7 until 3...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Oops, I did it again...

He did it again this morning: while we were sitting in the family room - myself on the floor, my wife in the recliner, the baby crawling around on the floor. He then took off down the hall and sat down inside the bathroom door. I crawled after him with the intent to "tackle" him, and I saw that he was making "that face" again - and, sure enough, he had pooped, once he went into the bathroom.

Is that weird behavior for a baby - pooping in the bathroom (not the potty, just inside the room) in their 9th month?

Potty Humor & Car Dealerships...

If you aren't a Battlestar Galactica fan (the new one, not the crappy old one), then you're missing the best-written, best-acted show on television today. Tonight's episode - the mid-season finale (we go on hiatus for the better part of a year, which leaves you plenty of time to catch up) - is one of the best hours of television I've ever seen. I honestly don't think I'm going to sleep tonight - my mind is too busy. Each season & each half-season has ended with a cliffhanger, like most serial dramas; this one has completely, 100% changed the entire nature of show. Very few shows do this sort of thing, ever; this show not only pulled it off, but pulled it off in a manner that was engaging, moving and heartbreaking, all at the same time. Check it out, like, now.

Today was an interesting day. We had a 9:30AM appointment at the car dealership; my wife's brakes, which were just worked on two months ago, started squeaking and shimmying again. The Boy & I were up at 5:45 - more specifically, he was up and made sure that I was as well - and had breakfast, going back to bed after my wife called to confirm the appointment. We arrived at 9:30, dropped the car off, and walked to breakfast. At breakfast, I ordered my eggs over hard (to solidify the yolks - I don't like runny yolks). When I cut the egg with my fork, most of the yolk popped out and rolled down the plate. I figured, "Why not?" and gave it to The Boy. He loved it - ate it, then tried to pick up the little crumbs to get more. Very cute.

Anyway, we got back to the dealership at around 10:30. At 11, I asked the statues of the car - "We're just putting the wheels back on right now." Great! The contact guy went to lunch soon after. No car. At 12 I went hunting for him - no luck. At 1, I finally found him - "There's a problem; the squeak is still there, the wheels are off the car. But, don't worry - we'll get you a ride home. He's dropping someone off and will be back in a minute." At 2:20, he came in the waiting room - "Here's your ride! It's a Yukon, but we don't have a child seat." Okay - let's see. The baby was currently asleep on my lap. So, it's wake the baby and get into a car without a child seat for the ride home, or wait the TWENTY G-D MINUTES UNTIL MY WIFE IS DONE WITH WORK and get a child seat. The good news? They finished the car at 2:35. And, to make up for the FIVE HOURS AT THE DEALERSHIP WITH A 9-MONTH OLD, they threw in a "$10 off next service - excepting oil changes." Isn't that generous of them?

The Boy was incredibly great through the whole thing. He enjoyed crawling around on a new surface - the carpet in the waiting room had a different texture, and the chairs were set up to be perfect for cruising. I had two bottles with me, so that helped. He took two mini-naps on my lap, which saved my sanity a little bit - got to watch a movie that TiVo transferred to my iPod (legally, thank you. I don't need to pirate anything, because I bought the service & don't illegally distribute what I watch).

Still, five hours in a car dealership - with the worst communication imaginable by the staff at the dealership - is a little much. The general manager of the dealership received a call from my wife, who proceeded to tell him about the lack of service; he called up and apologized, and we'll at least get a free oil change or two from the deal.

The funny bit of the day happened a little later. Now, a little background - with a little more information than you really needed about me. During the day, if I'm carrying The Boy around and need to use the potty, I usually won't put him down - Daddies pee standing up, and I don't really care if he sees it. Far as I'm concerned, maybe it'll make him a little less afraid of the potty when he's ready for it. Usually, when I use the bathroom and he's down, I don't close the door - he follows me down the hall (really cute, in and of itself), sticks his head around the corner and sits down. He'll watch me shave, or brush my teeth, whatever.

Anyway. We're sitting in the family room today, and The Boy takes off down the hall. He makes a hard left at the bathroom and proceeds in. My wife gets up, gets him and bring him back; he crawled down the hall and sat down, just inside the bathroom door. I said, "Go in there with him and see what he wants to play with. There must be a reason why he's going down there." My wife followed him into the bathroom and start laughing. She said, "I think he just came in here to poop. He's making that face." She handed him to me, I checked the diaper, and - sure enough - he left a present for Mommy! How funny is that - he went into the bathroom to poop!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Solid Foods

Roughly, up until today, the baby's been eating the following: apples, pears, green bell peppers, chicken, turkey, potato, rice, rice cake, rice noodles, tofu, spinach, broccoli (his favorite) and apple juice. He's eaten rice cereal and oatmeal, as well; I don't feed him those foods, because I don't want to clean it up.

Basically, starting at six months, we've given him the food on his high chair tray and let him have some fun. We don't feed him; we let him feed himself. We're operating on the theory that a baby's primary form of nutrition for the first year is going to be mother's milk (my wife will, hopefully, post the link to the study in the comments, and I'll link it when I get it). A baby's body doesn't easily process solid food this early, and therefore he isn't going to get much nutrition for it. What we're trying to do is to establish healthy social habits of sitting down to dinner as a family, as well as starting the habit of him feeding himself as early as possible.

We have fed him a little bit; if he's going to eat oatmeal or rice cereal, then I'm going to feed him. Scraping gently used oatmeal off of the highchair, the table, the walls and the hardwood floor is not my idea of a great post-breakfast activity. The Boy doesn't like it much, so I don't do it much. Usually, we'll work through a tablespoon of oatmeal before he fends it off; but, he's not a breakfast guy yet.

We've been extremely cautious about introducing allergens to his diet, because my wife's family has a history of food allergies, and I've discovered - recently - that I'm sensitive or allergic to wheat and dairy. Tofu (soy) was a big step for us; he didn't care much for the taste, but he definitely enjoyed the texture. (He also liked the taste of vanilla soy yogurt I gave him, but that's likely because of the sugar.) Yesterday, I gave him some rice noodles from a new package I opened; it turned out that the noodles contained tomato in the ingredients, which we hadn't planned on introducing yet. Since he didn't have a reaction, we gave him noodles with tomato sauce for dinner last night. He loved the sauce - sucked it off of the noodle, then threw the noodle to the side. No body reaction, which is good; I bought some baby tomatoes, which I'll feed him tomorrow.

The doctor said that we can start to give him what we eat, with the exception of highly allergic stuff like tree nuts and shellfish (not a problem, because we have a kosher home). He said dairy (not whole milk), crackers, cookies are okay - whatever we eat. That's kind of cool.

Granted, for the most part, he IS eating what we eat. Because we're avoiding wheat and dairy in the house, we have a lot of poultry and rice products - things he's already been given. Potato is something we've all shared. We don't use butter (the dairy thing), so that's not a realistic addition.

We're going to try eggs in a day or two, once we're certain that tomatoes are causing a reaction. The doctor said to hard-boil an egg and given him the yolk only for a day or two before giving him the whites (the more allergenic part). That's kind of cool; I can very easily see my wife making Saturday morning breakfast for all three of us, eggs with lactose-free cheese and some gluten-free pancakes.

We have a hippie baby. Sigh.

Doctor's Appointment Today

Today was The Boy's 9-month doctor's appointment. He's now 30 inches long and 22 pounds, 5 ounces. He's in the 95th percentile of height, and the 75th to 90th percentile in weight - a tall, skinny dude, as we expected. He also got a PPD - tuberculosis test - that is apparently required for entry into most of the kindergartens around here.

The biggest surprise to me was how he reacted at the doctor's office. He was happy and engaged in the others around him in the waiting room. In the office, he started to panic a little bit when he was measured and weighed; when the doctor arrived, he REALLY flipped out. Interestingly enough, it wasn't the doctor, himself! When the doctor picked him up, The Boy grabbed on and held on tightly, without reached towards me at all. But, he was panicking, and panicking badly: he was double-clutching with his neck. That's something he does only when he's really freaked.

When he was done with the exam, the doctor handed him back to me, and he started to calm down. I put him in the sling, and he held on to me like a little baby monkey holds on to mommy monkey's back. It was really quite cute, even though he was upset and angry. He calmed down a little bit, got angry again back at the car when I strapped him into the seat, and griped at me all the way through lunch.

After that, he slept like a log. I actually got a chance to exercise while he slept; he woke up after twenty minutes, but I helped him get back to sleep. He woke up right at the very end of the workout, just in time to be my counter-weight for doing situps.

Today was a good day, all things considered.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Babyproofing, part 2

Our house is a bilevel house, which makes it immensely difficult to air condition & heat. Last summer, I bought a window air conditioning unit; keeping the bedroom cool and comfortable for my pregnant wife. Over the past few days, as the temperatures soared somewhat north of a hundred degrees, I've spent quite a lot of time in that room. It's the only room in the house that is a reasonable temperature.

Normally, when The Boy is in the bedroom, he stays on the bed. He comes in with us, we lay on the bed with him, and he sleeps. That's about it. We haven't done any babyproofing in the room, so The Boy & I went about it the old-fashioned way: I put him on the floor, and whenever he went for something that he shouldn't, I fixed it.

Not that there was that much, mind you. There was dirty laundry, in three piles (laundry day, you know?), which was fun for him. There was a handful of shoes on the floor, which I put away because I don't want him chewing up the laces. There was some open outlets, which were plugged with plastic pieces. My wife had some magazines on top of her dresser, which The Boy got ahold of; it's amazing what a determined 9-month-old will get into, when he desires.

The greatest challenge is what to do with the power cords, in general. Cords are like crack for the baby. He goes for them at any opportunity that he has; this is not a great things, for obvious reasons. That's the only bit that I haven't figured out yet. I'm going to order this, to see if it works for him. I've seen "cord shorteners," which wouldn't work for The Boy; he just yanks on the cords because it's fun, and that yanking is the issue.

I think the ultimate babyproofing is to just pay attention to what's going on with the baby. When he starts to go for things that he shouldn't, I stop him and move him away. When he goes for it again, I stop him and move him away from the thing. It's the only foolproof way to actually make sure that he stays safe that I can tell.

Any suggestions for the power cord thing?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

You'd think I learn...

I'm still not "up" on a lot of the Mommy-type things when I take the boy out of the house. I mean, I usually remember the diaper bag. I've got that going for me, and it helps that the diaper bag is a manly-type bag and not a girly bag. But, there's a lot of other stuff that I don't really remember.

For instance, I only leave the house with a sippy cup full of liquid (water, usually, or water with a splash of apple juice for a little flavor / sugar) about half the time. If I have the diaper bag, then I have a sippy cup; it's just empty. That's not good, particularly when it's a brutally hot day and he's thirsty. Fortunately, that's a problem that's relatively easy to fix; if you walk into a restaurant pushing a stroller and ask someone to fill a sippy cup with some water, they'll oblige you 99.9% of the time. People like babies.

I also forget to leave the house with snacks, quite frequently. I should get in the habit of filling a plastic bag with puffed rice or puffed millet - not so much the puffed millet, because it's difficult for him to grab because of the small grains. Still, I should have that snack there, because it keeps him busy eating.

I am quite good about remembering toys for him to play with. Granted, he's at the stage right now where he's not playing much with toys; he greatly prefers to use Mommy and/or Daddy as a plaything. He wants to crawl around and touch things. He'll play for a few minutes, but that's about it. The rest of the time is spent crawling: move around, touch this. Move some more, touch that. Pull himself to standing, reach around for stuff to chew on. Drop back down, crawl some more, and repeat.

I do admit to getting annoyed about people saying, "Is he walking yet? Just wait - when he is, your life is OVER!" I don't understand that, as I've written before. When he starts walking, am I going to fall over dead? That sounds like a congenital thing... hopefully, it skipped this generation. Considering how much fun and rewarding each stage has been so far, I'm looking forward to this one as well. I expect to have difficulties adjusting; everyone does, including the baby. But, that's life; very little in life doesn't involve some sort of pain and/or sacrifice. It doesn't make it less fun and less rewarding.

I want to have those experiences of holding my son's hand while he walks around. How is that bad? I want the experience of him toddling after me, dragging a teddy bear behind him while he struggles to tell me about the coolest new thing that he's seen. I want to spend time chasing him around the park, making sure that he doesn't fall (too hard) off of anything.

Just had to take a quick break to see what he had caught in his mouth. Whenever I hear noise stop, I start moving towards him, because it means, 98% of the time, that he's got something in his mouth that he shouldn't. In this case, it was a piece of plastic off of a DVD cover.

Meh. I'm going to take him in the bedroom where the air conditioning actually works. It's hot.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Exquisite Pain of Fatherhood...

Left out of the whole parent-hood topic is the immense physical pain that comes along with fatherhood. I know that women have the market essentially cornered - the whole "labor" thing seems to be a rain pain, pun intended - but, please don't disregard men's agony through the whole process. To wit, I refer to Scrubs, season 6, episode 8:



Ouch. Truly, ouch.

It might only be my kid, in real life, but I doubt it. The Boy has an amazing way of finding my man-junk with a headbutt, a punch or a kick with disturbing frequency. (Is this, perhaps, Darwinism in action? A way for a young child to ensure that s/he doesn't have to share his parents' love with another baby, by crippling the father?) I mean, it's like the kid has a radar sense.

Yesterday, we were on the floor in the living room. I was lying on my back, presenting my legs as an obstacle to be crawled over while I was... I don't know. Drinking tea, or reading the paper, or watching television, or something. Not paying attention to the baby, that's for sure.

He leans over to stand up, grabs a handhold on me and pulls and twists as hard as he can to get himself off of the ground.

Two words: Oh. My. God.

It's tough being a guy sometimes.

I hope he has a child just like him. Then, he'll know pain.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The shoes aren't a big hit...

to The Boy. Everybody else loves them. The first place he wore them? To the comic book store, of course. We proudly showed off his new sneakers, even if he started crying because he couldn't figure out how to get them off. The funny bit? When the lady that runs the comic book store said to her husband, "Did he hold the baby upside down to show off the new shoes?" Yes, she was joking; but, I totally would have done it, if I had thought about it. The Boy loves being held upside down, for brief periods of time.

Then again, this is the same child that occasionally bangs toys and/or his fists against his head for amazingly long periods of time. Like father, like son. (Although, I did outgrow the hitting things against my head phase by the time I was around 26.)

Today, he & I went to get my car inspected. Considering that all I needed was to give them my insurance card, the fact that the trip took around an hour and a half was an unpleasant surprise. He was so good and so calm for the entire journey! It's not a surprise by now; he's got such a calm and a pleasant disposition, the only surprise is when he's loud, talkative and cranky. For the first forty minutes of the wait, he was absolutely dead silent, listening to Max Q's album, "For the Children." Great album, incidentally. He played with a couple of toys and mashed some rice cake into his shirt. When we were three cars from the front, he got fussy and cranky. I picked him up and played with him until we were ready to go in. He quietly and contentedly hung on to his Daddy and played with the steering wheel until it was time to go.

The rest of the day went well. He napped on the way home, and we ate lunch together. We played for a little while, then he started to get tired.

It's really pretty amazing how quickly I've gotten to know him. I can read the signs in the way he sits, the way he talks, the way his arms move, the way he crawls. I mean, besides the yawning and the rubbing of eyes. I know it doesn't last, but I'll enjoy it while I can.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Oh, life is so unfair...

The Wife bought Spider-Man shoes for the baby. That's dramatically unfair.

I want Spider-Man shoes.

I never get anything cool around here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I love naps...

I "tossed" the baby onto the bed like I usually do: a big windup, with a "one, two, THREE!!!", letting him go from about two inches off of the surface of the bed, so he has a little bounce, but not enough to be close to a safety issue. He smiles and giggles, flailing his hands around in the air in joy. He sticks his thumb in his mouth, watching me as I lie next to him. I take me glasses off and put my head flat on the mattress, near his; he rolls over to face me, and smiles. Almost immediately, his eyes start to close, as inexorable as gravity. The beautiful blue starts to roll up, then his eyes snap open and alert. Immediately, the eyes close and roll up. One more quick open, as he tries to fight off sleep, then his eyes close, this time for the duration. His breathing slows, the sucking on his thumb becomes less intense before ceasing, and he snuggles into his daddy, sound asleep.

I love naps.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Quick hits...

Blogger wouldn't let me log in last night or this afternoon. Sigh.

We bought The Boy a baby pool that is currently set up in the back yard. Initial reviews are overwhelmingly negative, as he screamed like a banshee when introduced to the pool. My wife sat with him in the pool yesterday, when the water was, like, twenty degrees. I sat with him today, when the water was warmer. He still freaked. After a while, he started to calm down and play with the toys, but he was holding on for dear life the whole time. It's definitely worth it, to see him in the cute bathing suit. He'll love it soon enough.

He's started following us around the house. He's figured out that when we walk into a room out of his sight, we don't disappear from existence - yea, object permanence! He's started crawling down the hallway to come after us. He rarely makes it the whole way, because the trip from the family room to the bedroom-areas is littered with "baby land mines" - toys, books, laundry baskets, empty boxes and similar things which are bound to distract a baby from where he was going.

Right now, he's asleep, lying across my wife, perpendicular to her, with his head on her belly. It's very cute. I know that I'm going to get kicked like a mule when I join them, but it's still cute. Lately, I've started lying on the bed next to him, no glasses on, almost nose-to-nose. He seems to like that, as he looks deep into my eyes and touches my face, gently. VERY cute. Best part? When he sucks his thumb and grabs my nose, with the same hand, at the same time.

Tomorrow, we're getting a visit from a financial dude about investments for The Boy. I want to start a college fund for him, and I want to start putting away around $100 a month for him, particularly when I start back to work (whenever that happens). I'll be interested to see what this guy has to say. If he tries the hard sell, I'm going to throw him out of my house.