Wednesday, April 27, 2005

What We Can Remember Now That We've Started to Forget

"The Girls" are now home, as of Sunday morning, for good--in every sense of that last word.

The past few days are already fraying around the edges in my memory, so I want to get it out and down before nature completes the job. So bear with me.

Last Thursday night around 7 p.m., after we'd finished dinner (I can't quite remember even now what we ate--see?), my wife's water broke. She had been feeling, well, different for the past few days, like a small hand had reached through her stomach and was gripping her lower back. Which means that we weren't that surprised, really. And since her water broke with our son, is was clear what was happening. This time I wasn't on a plane from Memphis, and we were much more calm overall. We even had a bag packed, like in the movies. We called our babysitter, and she came right away, practically shoving us out the door to the hospital.

It was a beautiful night, the huddle of buildings in lower Manhattan "unutterly crisp" in the twilight, as cummings put it somewhere. We wound our way around the east part of the island on the FDR drive up to the hospital, passing under the bridges dressed in pearls for the night. Traffic was light, so we weren't worried that we'd someday be telling the story of our daughter arriving in the back of a taxi. (And besides, what to tip for that?) We walked in the front doors of the hospital, and when the guard stopped us to ask for ID, my wife pointed at her belly, and he stepped aside. It was late enough that the usually busy halls were rather empty, almost as many mops as people going up and down the marble.

Up on the 7th floor, we checked my wife in and were pointed to Triage Room 4, which was a profound change from the last visits--the first of many. We knew from last time that once the water breaks, we would be meeting the girl rather soon. And since my wife was nearly 36 weeks along, the doctors wouldn't work to keep the little girl in and may in fact induce if nature proved too lazy. The nurse strapped on the familiar monitors and the concise room filled up with the blips tracking her quick heart. We waited. Eventually, a resident came in to check the position of the baby, among other things, and things looked good. A newer nurse, all Texas cheerleader like, arrived to find a vein for my wife's IV. After taping down her line, she wheeled around to me to ask "Would you like one too? I don't want you to feel left out." Funny.

We were moved over to Birthing Room 3, one of the smaller ones but with a nice view. The nurse there, the one who would be with us until the end, could have been, well, more nurse-like. (Throughout the night she questioned my wife's tolerance for pain. Knowing my wife as I do, her questions were certainly unfounded and not at all entertaining to either of us.) Rumors soon began about the doctor who would deliver our daughter, mainly concerning how to say his name. He's French Canadian, and the various accents of those who passed through to check blood pressure, temperature, etc., all finished off his name with their own peculiar flourishes. He himself came in later with his own pleasant lilt in his speech, which helped him seem just a little foreign in the right way and immensely competent. We made introductions and forced jokes.

Her labor progressed all by itself, and no drugs were prescribed beyond penicillin and just plain water. Everyone went away; and we were left to wait. A couple of hours slunk by, and my wife's contractions became more assertive, pulling her face tight every 4-6 minutes. We're skipping lots of downtime here, but eventually my wife decided not to be a hero and asked for an epidural. The two anesthesiologists arrived and ushered me out of the room. Turns out that men are required to leave during this process because in general they don't tend to react all that well to the insertion of a rather large needle into their wifes' spine--reactions that (we were told) usually constitute threats to the doctors or fainting dead away. I probably wouldn't have done either, but I was grateful for the excuse in any event.

I came back from the hallway outside and an overpriced bag of pretzels to find the epidural guys finishing up. In perhaps the most bizarre stretch of the evening, we talked for several minutes with them about one of their passions, namely a website called (billed as "The world's largest online directory of private islands for sale or rent"). He proved scarily knowledgeable about where one could buy entire islands, from $20,000 plops of sand in the Philippines to multimillion dollar places off more popular resorts. So there's that. Satisfied with my wife's numbness, they left us alone to rest as much as we could.

I'll skip ahead again, bypassing the fitful attempts at sleep and the nervous chatter about muscling two kids. And so the resident came in around 4 a.m. to check my wife's progress, and she was nearly ready. "You're an excellent patient," was her diagnosis. She called the doctor, and he came in looking a little rumpled. He had been napping when the resident called him, but he sharpened up quickly (and the confession was cute, we thought). The baby was indeed on her way.

I expected more doctors and nurses to flood in, but only one, a staff pediatrician, started to shuffle things around in the adjoining room housing the newborn warmer and the isolette. With our son, I can remember at least five to six folks standing ready. No Code Blue expected this time around apparently. In what seemed like a Why Don't We Try This? kind of approach, my wife was encouraged to push as her contractions came on. So she did that, me counting to ten like in the movies and on TV, reminding her to breathe. (ASIDE: Lamaze is basically a rip-off; any kind of distraction will do just as well.) For the weak-stomached, I'll pass over the particulars to the most striking difference to our first birth experience. She came out rather easily all in all, wet and slick and flailing. The doctor lifted her in a towel and settled her in my wife's arms for just a moment. No crowds, no tubes. The pediatrician took her to clean her up, and a strong, sharp cry burst out of her. We didn't hear our son cry for about two months. They weighed her. We had placed our bets--I said 5 lb. something, my wife, feeling reckless, guessed in the 6-lb. range. She came in at 7 lb. 1.5 oz., a true heavyweight for a 35-weeker. And her APGAR scores were 9 and 9. (We were told that the pediatricians at the hospital "just don't give tens.")

I got to hold her in delivery for a bit before they took her to the nursery. She felt like nearly nothing, a piece of light that would float up if I let go. I didn't. We looked out the window together for the first time at the great city into which she was just pushed. I could only imagine her thoughts, her body beginning to bloom just like the city itself on any Friday morning. She met the sight with a cry, and it was all I could do not to join her.

Our girl had arrived.

Good night.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Nearly 36 weeks

April 22, 2005, 4:37 a.m. Beautiful and big.

(And so that's how it's all supposed to go.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Bed Arrest: End of Week 2

Today is exactly two weeks since my wife went into the hospital and then onto bed arrest, and the holding pattern continues. Still largely within the bed's clutches, she keeps herself busy to keep the time from getting the best of her. The girl seems to be behaving herself, thankfully, reminding us all that she's close through frequent kicks and bouts of hiccups. Soon, we believe, we'll get to see each other face to face, perhaps even without the plastic of the isolette between us.

Grandma is gone, and my son has noticed. Just last night he looked at the bed where she slept, looked back to us and said, "Grandma's green blanket." And still dripping from the bath, he discovered that his voice booms back to him when he talks into his stacking cups--perfect, then, for uttering "Grandma go." Indeed she has; she will be missed by us all.

The isolette--or as preemie-parent friends of ours call it, The Easy Bake Oven--is where I first had my idea of parenthood turned inside out--or rather outside in. Looking at our 3.5 lb. son in only a diaper and shortened goggles, lying under the bili lights (battling a tenacious case of jaundice), I couldn't help but think about a troubled future. And the nurse practitioner didn't help either. When we were finally allowed to visit our son in the NICU, she debriefed us on his situation. We were told that he didn't breathe on his own initially and that they had intubated him. (He was still on oxygen at this point.) We knew that preemies often experience bleeding in the brain, and that, starving for oxygen early, he could suffer significant long-term mental deficiencies. Little was known when we first huddled around him; he wasn't yet a full day old, and they hadn't conducted an ultrasound or MRI on his brain. The nurse practitioner tried to comfort us, I suppose--I'm trying to say something nice here--by pointing out, "Not all kids go to college."

What to do with that?

And but back to outside in: From talking with parents of non-preemies, they say that their children came out all fat with possibilities. Accordingly, the worries were all external--sticks and stones, missed deadlines for Ivy League schools, rabid dogs, balls chased out onto freeways, the usual stuff. A parent's job, then, is to clear as big a swath through the sharp-edged world as possible so that his child can be free to turn himself into whatever he chooses. For parents of preemies, it's all the standard worries plus something more insidious. We've been told, time and time again, that our son might have been changed in some way, perhaps large, perhaps small, by his coming early. As a full-termer, he'd have his pick of colleges (no doubt), but since 8 weeks early he might very well find lower grades a struggle. And college is a long way off, of course, which means that everything becomes a sign of everything and nothing. A delay in walking suddenly means that he has no future as an athlete, a little lag in sorting shapes correctly and we find ourselves fighting back fears that ideas will always be too big for his small hands. In other words, we've been reminded that lurking inside him somewhere, too remote for anyone to spot or to reach, could be premature limits. The children's books then turn into cruel jokes: He threatens to become the little engine that couldn't--and can't. And parents just can't protect their children from what's so deep inside them, what makes them; it's like chasing something lodged in your own muscles.

So we love and try not to think too much. He's made it easy.

It's nearly 80 degrees, the sunlight drips off everything, making the park grass pop and the river a table of glass. When he wakes from his nap, my son will want to scoop sand, and I will hold his hand across the street and down into the Pretty Playground near our building so that he can go to work. But before putting him down amongst the dumptrucks and the rainbow of miniature shovels, I'll hold him just a little longer and tighter than usual. For despite all the gloomy studies dug up on the Internet and the doctors and the books, nearly two years in his orbit have convinced me that the whole world is his to have.

More later perhaps.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Things Are Things, Which Is What They Should Be

Work has called, quite loudly, so I've been otherwise engaged. Nevertheless, good news to report. My wife went to the doctor yesterday, and the girl has decided to move even further up and farther away from coming early.

And my wife had reason and opportunity to wear shoes and to go outside. These two things, she hastens to remind me, are not to be undervalued when the bed becomes your world and it's all full of sandbox runoff. Perhaps it was the direct sunlight, but she even passed over the Chicken Orzo soup at the Garden Cafe for a sensible salad, relishing being part of a public space.

Two more weeks of bed arrest, says the doctor.

Our son couldn't be enjoying his grandmother's visit more than he is. Whenever she steps out of his line of sight, he frets with "Grandma go?" We shudder to think how many times he'll say that when she does pack up her clothes, folds in our eteranal gratitude, and heads back to the kids she improves professionally. And we wonder how many times we will be saying it ourselves. Definitely not as many times as we'll be saying "Thank you."

Saturday, April 09, 2005


Today = 34 weeks.


My Uncle Doc died last Tuesday, the morning my wife went into the hospital. From the April 7, 2005, issue of the Pittsburg, KS Morning Sun:

Donald Wesley "Doc" Lyons

FORT SCOTT - Donald Wesley "Doc" Lyons, 72, of Fort Scott, died Tuesday, April 5, 2005 at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., following a long illness.

He was born June 13, 1932 in Fulton to Luther B. and Lucy Leach Lyon. He was a 1950 graduate of Fulton High School.

He married Virginia Payne on Jan. 1, 1951 in Arkansas. She survives of the home.

He was retired from J.E. Payne Oil Company following 32 years of employment. Following his retirement he managed the Fort Scott Airport.

He was a member of the Rising Sun Masonic Lodge No. 8, Fort Scott Scottish Rite and the Mirza Shrine Temple of Pittsburg. He was a past member of the Civil Air Patrol.

Additional survivors include three sons, Jim Lyons of Valier, Mont., Don Lyons of Phoenix and Dan Lyons of Iola; two brothers, Jerry Lyons of Fulton, and Larry Lyons of Fort Scott; four sisters, Alice Good, Peggy Stevens and Ruth Mauler all of Louisiana, and Betty McGrew of Prescott; and four grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a daughter, Sara Christine Lyons; one sister, Jane Meeks; and one brother, Tom Lyons.

Uncle Doc's funeral was Thursday back in Bourbon County, which is in Southeast Kansas. He was a spray-plane pilot and a remarkable laugher. And one of the reasons why I like to hear and to tell stories.
Back to grading.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Bed Arrest: Day 1 (a little long, sorry)

"Fountain Pen Hospital"--that's another one of those stores in our neighborhood that ranks right up there with "Cleveland Fruits and Vegetables" in the mysteriousness department. Are there fountain pen doctors? Nurses? The questions are simply too delicious to answer.

I'm out for pudding at Ralph's Discount City and a few other things while my wife enjoys (or rather tolerates) her first day of "Bed Arrest." Though usually supremely active, she's sticking close to the House Rules, no doubt because we're all afraid of the consequences of bending and/or breaking them. So far, so far, as they say: her body is behaving itself in the boredom. In half a day, she's already been through all the cable channels, the NY Times, and her e-mail. She's painted every single one of her nails for the first time in about two years. Time finally settles into a better pace, now that she's into Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas?--a book that has particular resonance given where her husband and in-laws are from. Our very little girl seems unmoved, which is the point.

Our son has already been out to scrutinize the boats and to blush at the Bagel Lady. When it's anything approaching nice outside we fall out the door between 7 and 7:30 a.m., usually making a stop on our way back in at a local bagel place for egg and cheese on whole wheat and the largest coffee they sell. We split the bagel, but I draw the line at the coffee. The cashier and the boy have a thing, and today he's all Yankees hat and corduroy jacket, which is to say spiffy. I can't quite tell who blushes first, though I'd put my money on her since there are ceiling fans.

Though you wouldn't know it now, he was born 8 weeks early. (That figure remains somewhat in dispute; it might be 8.5 weeks, but who's counting?) He weighed 1560 grams, which is 3 lbs 7 oz. in the few countries that don't do metric, not to mention very very small. He was long--17.5 inches, if memory serves--and fairly active for a creature that looked like it had just fallen out of a high nest. My mother put it best (and I mean this). Upon seeing him for the first time, she said, "He looks just like a regular baby." Notice the key words: 'just' and 'like'. And 'looks'. The pictures from that time never fail to prove her right.

Recently spending some time in Birthing Room 8 brought back surprisingly crisp memories of our son's arrival nearly two years ago. My wife's water had broken at 31 weeks while I was on a plane back from Memphis. I landed at Newark Airport to first frantic and then calm voicemails from my wife who reasonably suggested that I make my way to New York Hospital. She was in the waiting room when I arrived, having been there for about an hour already. Her pants were soaked through down to her shoes. (She gave the taxi driver a hefty tip to soften the surprise he would find later in the back of his cab.) After Triage Room 1 and a move to the birthing room, we were told that she'd be in the hospital until the boy comes, which could be anytime between now and whenever. Given that her water broke, however, it couldn't be that long, because without the fluid barrier surrounding him he was too susceptible to infection. We didn't even have a crib at this point, and my wife's baby shower was a week or so away.

There's much to tell about the week between her being admitted that Monday night and her giving birth the next Friday morning, but perhaps I'll come back to that some other time. What nags at me now is the birth itself. My wife had been on a constellation of drugs that week--mainly for pain and to stall labor--and she had received a particularly strong opiate not long before his actual arrival. The first time the nurse injected it into her IV it sent her almost immediately into the clouds--or at least into a state where she reported seeing, for some disturbing and unexplainable reason, George W. Bush floating past her. When the boy did decide to start coming, though, her fuzzy edges sharpened almost immediately, and a second shot of that stuff did, simply, nothing--she might as well have taken a sip of distilled water. The nurse alerted the resident and the doctor on call, they checked her, and the doctor said, "You're going to have a baby tonight." Well, um, okay. She pushed for nearly an hour, but our son was showing his extremely stubborn side for the first of many times and wouldn't do anything but crown. And just as they were wheeling in the tray of sharp things for her C-Section, he changed his mind and decided to evacuate. He came out all blue and slick. I used what was left of my adrenaline to cut the cord that was held out to me, and my wife tried to find the energy to come back from her deep, bodily self. The boy was whisked away to an adjoining alcove and the waiting warming lamp by no fewer than six or seven NICU doctors. They went to work. I couldn't even see him, despite my being on the tall side. The doctor who seemed to be in charge looked more than a little like Santa Claus, apart from the light blue (?) scrubs with little pictures of something, probably dogs (or reindeer?), on them. I took this to be a positive sign, but I was looking hard for such signs at the time. I heard "He's not breathing" and "Code Blue" uttered, and though I didn't know what the second one meant, I sure was familiar with the first. When babies threaten to come before 34 weeks, they administer steroid shots to the mother to speed up the development of the lungs, and so we were primed to worry about this. They rushed him out the door to the NICU and into our worst fears. And then it was just her and me. The nurse turned off the lights, and we both went way slack, our bodies like big bags of water set on the ground. So quiet: no monitors, no ambient thub of the baby's heart to forget about and to remember to hear now and then. Some time passed; neither of us remember how much. The delivering doctor came in to say that we could go down and see him very soon, and that we should call down when we were ready. He also said some stuff about lowering our current and future expectations of our boy because he was so early, but he obviously wasn't as good at delivering bad news as he was at delivering children, and what he had to say came out sideways and knotted. The upshot: our son hadn't started breathing on his own, had to be intubated, and who knows how long he went without oxygen, so who knows how he will turn out--if he turns out at all. We eventually called down to the NICU, but they said they weren't ready. This was the message for hours, after changing rooms, nibbling around breakfast, and fitful sleep. We wouldn't be able to see him until much later that day.

My wife sleeps. Our son wakes from his nap and heads back outside to the playground and the full-on spring. Before they leave, he confirms with his nanny exactly whose stroller they will be taking. Turns out that it's "My Stroller."

Grandma (my mother) arrives in two days for a week-long visit. When she sees the boy, she won't believe her ears. We do hope that she won't get to see the girl.

More later perhaps.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

House Rules

Up only for bathroom and shower; meals can be eaten at the table. Otherwise in the bed or in the doctor's office. Non-negotiable: No cooking, No cleaning, No shoppping. Period. And no picking up the boy, regardless of how many times he says "Up, Please!"

More lifting for daddy. Fine by me.

These are the house rules for my wife for at least two weeks, but by then we'll be well into the Promised Land of 34 weeks and even nearing 36, the latter number sounding almost like a magic word. I'm scared to utter it out loud, in fact, for fear of conjuring demons. In any event, if the baby comes after that (it's a girl by the way), well, she can come all she likes, and we'll be ready enough.

But for now, my wife is home, a new kind of normal.

My son comes in from the sandbox and says "Momma Here!" and rushes in for a hug. He is rewarded handsomely by my wife, who claims that he looks so old that he must be ready to apply for college. But he reminds us of his true age by soon refusing to eat his pasta and green beans, then tries a host of tricks to keep from going down for his nap. We (mom, dad, and babysitter) are all wise to him, though, and before long he's talked himself to sleep in his new Big Boy Bed. I'm off to get grapes and mangoes from the fruit seller on Church Street, oddly named "Cleveland Fruits and Vegetables" and run by Asians. (I always want to ask about this strange confluence of facts when I'm in there, but I don't want to spoil the mystery.) The mangoes smell fragrant and give just a little to soft squeezes. Perfect. I see, somewhere, that it's 77 degrees.

Tonight, after nap, more sandbox, and dinner of gooey pizza from that place near the subway, the boy and I take the "Nice Stroller" out for a walk along the Hudson. The wind is asserting itself, chopping up the river, and the boats hop a little as they push up and down along the island. We see the Big Boat and the Yellow Boat, and a scarf of geese rises from one of the park lawns still fenced for the winter, drawing a "Bird! Bird!" right out of him. We go fast down the walkway toward the South Cove and the Winter Garden but turn around because of the wind. After about 20 minutes, we agree to go inside and tell mom what we've seen, because it's almost as if it hasn't happened unless he tells someone he loves. Always the way.

We come in the door and he leans into a "Hi!" for Momma. He can--and does--tell her everything. Because she's home.


Coming home

This morning in fact. We're going to make it to 34 weeks and what her doctors call the Promised Land.

My son and I took to the park this morning early to smooth out the wrinkles in his mood that woke up in him. We point at and name the Yellow Boat, the Big Dog, the Little Bird, and the Pretty Duck. And the Orange Fish. All dead on, by the way, basic and true. The world now has linguistic handles for him, and he's beginning to steer it around like a pro. We touch a Big Bus on the way home for emphasis. His face is almost too small for the smile that pops out of him. Almost.

The phone rings, and it's a go. Right now my son is scooping sand in the park with his fabulous baby sitter who might as well have the first name "He's Safe and Loved So Don't Worry About Anything At All." It's going to be 72 degrees today, and the trees in the park are threatening to unfurl leaves, the dogs look at each other in that special way (if you know what I mean). People are smiling all over--I swear--and I catch myself doing the same. He will remember the sun from today in his galloping mind and in his skin; he will kiss his mother--"Momma Hug"--tonight for the first time in two days. And our very little girl will soon sway her way home in a NYC taxi and in her mother, as it should be. No hurry, little one.

I'm off to get them both. People will wonder about me on the 4 train as it rattles and lurches up the East Side, what with my practically needing a largish bag to carry all my joy.

And the TV cameras were after a shot of Derek Jeter, the comely shortstop for the New York Yankees who was injured in the latest Red Sox game. The Yanks lost, by the way.

More later perhaps.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Look at that

I talk to her this morning, and things are looking up. The contractions have spread out, and really only arrive--with a vengeance--when she gets up to shower or move about the room for one reason or another. She watches bad TV; I show up with hugs and kisses and magazines. The doctor hasn't been in for quite some time given the blitz Labor & Delivery has received in the past few days, but we take this as a good sign. (Doctors, in hospitals at least, seem to rather reliably track the number and severity of problems--more doctors usually = more problems.)

I'm there for a little while, and she encourages me to go home. Nothing much is happening, anyway, she says. The second shot of steroids to speed up the development of the baby's lungs will come in about an hour or so, and then about another 24 hrs is needed for the substance to do its business. We presume that at the outside, best case, she'll call this bed home at least until tomorrow, though we have no real reason for our optimism given the first go around with our son. But still.

Interesting picture: My wife, when nature calls, needs to pass about 15 feet to the bathroom in her room. She's got an IV and two--wait three-- monitors hooked up to her. Accordingly, she unplugs two cables and loops them over her neck like the nurse showed her, unfixes the IV bag from the stand, and pads to the toilet in the slippers I brought her from home. It sounds a bit laborious (pardon the pun)--and is--but with the constant drip into her arm nature is calling often and won't leave a message. She's now expert at the maneuver, so much so that the nurses are impressed and forget her even more. Remember, though, forgetting is good--you need to leave their minds before you can leave their doors.

She wants me to go home so that I can work (instead of, presumably, blog it all out like this, but I can do both I think). So I leave and walk out into the 73-degree NYC day, beautiful as all get out. The hospital is extremely busy on all fronts (the line at the Garden Cafe is simply precarious), and news cameras stalk the fancy revolving doors (Channel 7 "Eyewitness News" reads one camera man's camera and polo shirt). This is the hospital that recently patched Clinton's heart and even took care of the Shah (among others) back when people had heard of him, so they know something about publicity here. We know lots about the inside, and we don't want to know more. Fingers crossed.

If I had to speculate, I'd say that she's coming home soon. Probably not much fun if she is released, though, since she'll no doubt be on rather strict bed rest. But still, one's own bed, and one's own beautiful and talky ("Saw Scoop!") son nearby makes for an easier time on one's side. We'll see, won't we.

My speculation gets moved to a hypothesis and one step closer to fact when I talk to her this evening. I've passed her room telephone number around, and so the first four times I try calling the line's busy. She is loved. When I do get through, she says that she hasn't really had any contractions and that all signs point to labor basically having gone away. The thought. I'll be. Swell. Odds are she will be able to come home tomorrow. Which is to say we might not even need to have the elevators stop on the 6th floor (read: the NICU) at all this time. Whew.

Good night.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

It's Again

We're in a cab joking through the syrupy traffic on the FDR (the highway that runs along the east side of Manhattan). Neither of us slept much the night before, what with her stomach hurting every few minutes and with my being worried about it. We have reason to worry--my wife is 33 weeks pregnant and our first child arrived at roughly 32 weeks. He's more than fine now, nearly two years old and his small self is beginning to push out past his body, but more on him later. We kid, the cab driver complains about something political that has the West Side Highway (pretty self-explanatory) jammed up for miles and hours. She winces with pain, and I wonder.

We're directed into Triage Room 1, the nurse is nice. My wife strips and lies down; the nurse affixes the two monitors, one that picks up the baby's heartbeat and projects it in squelchy blips and the other that tracks contractions. The heartbeat is fast, and I think to myself "Girl" (which we know is true with about as much certainty as is possible), and the numbers on the contraction side don't mean much to me at first. I begin to remember this machine from two years ago, and when she tightens up her face and breathes I see the numbers rise and the printout registers a peak. This continues for about 20 minutes or so, the noises of the place unnerving us a little. We spent far too much time in the Labor & Delivery wing and then in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) when our boy came, and the sounds of the monitors and the phones and the intercoms have worked themselves so far down into our lower brains that there's pretty much a direct move from noise to nervousness that skips any sort of reasoning. We wait. The resident comes in, we each guess to ourselves how long she's been on shift, and she asks what brought us in. My wife tells the story: stomach pains and nausea over night continuing through the morning, the call, the order to come in, ending with "We think it's just heartburn--at least that's what it was a few months ago when I was told to come in." The resident reads the printout and says "You're having contractions."

It's again.

Our jokes now walk around the room on stilts, in particular the "Chicken Orzo Soup" talk. Okay, some background: Our first child was born 8 weeks premature and spent around a month in the NICU. That meant daily trips to the hospital, our taking shifts to hold, change, feed, etc. our boy. To approach something like normalcy, we often ate lunch around lunchtime (change of shift, no one but nurses in the NICU allowed), which meant passing through the oddly named Garden Cafe for plastic-wrapped ham on multigrain or the reliable Chicken Orzo Soup. The soup is reliable not so much because of taste (passable but salty) but because of frequency--we can't think of a single day we were there that the soup wasn't on the menu. We know the jokes mean that we're probably going to be seeing more of the soup, and we don't know for how long.

The facts: My wife is 33 weeks 2 days into her second pregnancy, and she's had no complications to this point. According to the two residents who look her over, the baby's weight is estimated at 4 lbs. 13 oz., which is a good size should she decide to come early. "Should she decide" is a good way to put it, since by all accounts the girl herself doesn't want to come. She's head down, which is common for this time, but she hasn't descended and hasn't sent out the hormones that would push my wife's body into the mode that it's been designed for in many respects. In any event, the most important detail for our purposes: her water hasn't broken.

They move her into a delivery room and start an IV to re-hydrate her and to combat any infections. They take gallons of blood. The drip comes in, the contractions ease and spread out, they leave her alone. And leave her alone. It turns out that this happens to be an incredibly busy time at Labor & Delivery--all the birthing rooms are full and my wife hears that five people line the waiting room, including one of the hospital's own nurses who has a C-section scheduled. This could be "good" news, though, since they won't keep her around any more than is strictly necessary.

Good night.

Friday, April 01, 2005

More About Me

Originally from a small Kansas town, I moved to New York (by way of Minneapolis) to obtain a Ph.D. in philosophy and cognitive science. My unbridledly lovely wife and I met while on a special exchange semester in New York. (Tired, I wanted to crawl into the large bag she was carrying. Though she thought the request cute, she turned me down.)

Fifteen years and a boy and a girl later, we still reside in New York. She a powerful attorney, me a significantly less powerful academic at one of those snooty, elite, East Coast universities, where I teach philosophy and academic writing.

Both of our kids arrived early—The Boy two months and the girl one month—and we were thrust into parenthood prematurely. Q and The Boy don't seem to mind, though, which makes pretty much everything easier.

Our extended families and some invaluable friends don’t live anywhere near us, and I keep this blog mainly for them. And writing about my kids helps me to make sense of them, of myself. Sense from senseless—the definition of philosophy.


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