Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ellie and the animals

We took our little girl to the Hillsdale County Fair. Probably standard county-fair fare. We did hear over the PA as a team of draft (or draught) horses pulled 4,700 pounds a distance of 31 feet, 6 inches. That's a world record.

We saw, but stupidly didn't get pictures of, an absolutely huge animal over the sight of which I have yet to get. (That rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition gets cumbersome sometimes, no?) It was an 1,800 pound mule, about eight feet tall. His father was a Belgian Draught Horse. He was gigantic. I didn't know they made mules that big.

Here are some pictures we did get.

This bunny was as big as he looks. A Finnish Giant, I think his breed was. Enormous for a bunny. I think, stretched out, he was almost 3 feet long.

This sheep was trying to eat the stroller handle.

Ellie, by the way, slept through the whole thing.

We did get a picture of Ellie in front of a cow...but Tina has a sort of not-so-photogenic look on her face on that one for whatever reason. So I won't post it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

People I cannot believe exist

Part 1: Woman kidnaps a relative's baby, raises her as her own?

Part 2: Woman arranges for 13-year-old daughter to have sex with a guy she just met?

Any time you wanna come back, Jesus, would be just fine with me.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Thanks for a tip

Krackergrl mentioned Nuk nipples in a comment. Ellie loves them. Of course, now she won't use anything else so we had to buy a bunch more. But they're great for us anyway, so many thanks to Kim for her tip.

By the way

Tina wants me to make it clear that everyone on Earth except for me must call the baby "Elizabeth" until y'all receive further notice...from Elizabeth. I am allowed to use a nickname, because I'm constitutionally unable to use the proper name of any of my family.

For example, Snickers is Snickadocious or Snickodemus or Snicktavious. Buddy is Bojebo or Budgie. Holly is Hillolly or Herrari (to rhyme with Ferrari).

Of course, one might make the distinction between the above-named dog & cats and an actual sweet child o' mine. However, such a person clearly hates puppies and kittens and upon his judgment you should never rely.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Portrait of a hiccup

I caught Ellie mid-hiccup. Note how everything else in the picture is perfectly clear (including the tip of Tina's nose in the upper-left of the frame, silhouetted against her sleeve), but Ellie's jumping like a Mexican bean. Or something.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

By the way

Thanks to all for reading and for your kind words. I didn't start this with the intention of having much of an audience, but it seems to have happened. It's great to have you all on board, and I'm happy to entertain and inform and do whatever else I do.

Eat, sleep & poo

Ellie's been on a goofy schedule lately. (I know, "lately" in the life of a two-week-old baby really means "today." Cut me some slack, OK?) She was up about every 2 hours last night, hungry. And she seems to be starting that again today. Of course, she had to process all that she ate, so we had some diaper fun today. Mmmm-boy, did we.

I'm sure all these variations will come & go, and we just need to roll with the changes. Which we'll do as best we can. I'm just reporting to my faithful following. It's actually pretty nice not to have anything more disturbing to report for the last day or two.

Fun with facial hair

Here's one of the 3 of us, in case anyone out there doesn't know what I look like.

(I'm gonna have a little fun with my mom here...) Careful examination (more careful than anyone is otherwise likely to do) will reveal that I have a goatee rather than a complete chin-line beard. I shaved the sides off my beard the first day I was home from the hospital, on the thinking that my beard might be scratching Ellie's face. (Tina had been asking for a goatee for years, and Ellie gets on on the first day. But it does make me look more like our dreamy OB-GYN, Dr. Pastoriza, so maybe I shoulda done it sooner.)

Nobody noticed at first; Tina noticed after a little bit; her mom didn't notice for a while.

My mom never noticed. She even asked one time if I were going to shave off my beard, and said so while looking at me from the side. Heh heh. (She's gonna be a little mad at me for posting this, I think. Sorry, mom. But it's funny.) I mentioned it to my dad to let him in on the "see how long it takes Mom to notice" game...he'd had some fun after shaving his over-30-year-old moustache and watching people like his mother not noticing.

Since then, I've decided to let the sides grow back. There's a reason I don't have a goatee (besides the fact that it's not 1994 anymore), and that's because I don't want one. And it doesn't help Ellie all that much, except for the first few hours after I shave. And being a student -- well, more like "being an unkempt student" -- I don't shave every day. So a little cushion of chinstrap hair might be better for her than a field of scraggly stubble.

Now, I'm danged sure nobody really cares about any of this.

Games to play with babies

While we were at Barnes & Noble, we looked at some "games to play with your baby" books. The nerve of some people, calling these things "games!"

Like: touch her toes and say "toes." Then touch her knee and say "knee." Etc., etc., etc.

And: Hold her and say her name over and over.

And: Tell her you love her.

Now, don't get me wrong, these are all worthwhile things to do, and every parent should do them. But to call them "games" and charge for writing them down in a book is quite bold by my standards. I think I'll write "Tips for healthy living" and include such similarly insightful things as "eat" and "breathe" and "bathe."

First trip to the mall

We took Ellie up to Lansing ("Ma! We're headin' to town! Need anything from the gen'ral store?") because Tina wanted to go to Friday's (their new Cinnabon Cheesecake was actually disappointing. Way too sweet for me.) and Barnes & Noble. The trip went fine. Tina was happy she could reasonably shop at Christopher & Banks, her favorite store. T's already lost all the weight she gained in pregnancy. (Woo-hoo!) And that she can shop for pretty princess stuff at Disney.

Actually, it was basically Tina's trip to the mall. Fine with me, & Ellie didn't seem to mind much. She slept & got fed.

One thing I noticed: in about 2 hours at the mall, fewer people stopped and smiled at her as did in about 15 minutes in the lobby at church last Sunday (which was, naturally, Ellie's first time in church - the music didn't even wake her up). Different crowd, to be sure. We got a couple of "tiny baby" comments, and the waitress at Friday's was endlessly fascinated with whether she (Ellie, not the waitress) was awake or asleep.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

On becoming a dad

I've realized that for all its joy, becoming a dad is probably the most humbling and in its own way frustrating thing I've ever done. (This isn't a complaint...just a commentary.)

I don't know if women understand the need a man has to protect his wife from unpleasantness, pain, etc. It's my job, my purpose for living, what I have to offer her. And if I can't supply it, I feel completely useless and, in a way, like there's no reason for her to need me anymore. (Don't worry, I'm not sobbing over my milk & Zinger here, just spilling my guts a bit.)

So first, there were nine months of Tina having all sorts of unpleasant symptoms, about which I could do absolutely nothing. I would've taken all of them on myself to spare her the discomfort, but of course, I couldn't. Then, labor & delivery - more discomfort, even greater and more acute. Again, I was powerless to help her. I was really jealous of the anesthesiologist. I know it's nuts, and Tina wouldn't want in a million years for me to give her an epidural. But I didn't want it to be the epidural that stopped her from hurting. I wanted it to be me. (I know, deal with it. Well, I am. You're reading it.)

And now there's this baby around the house. If anyone out there harbors the ridiculous notion that men and women aren't born inherently different...well, get rid of it. We are as different as night and day. Moms are not dads, and dads are not moms. When done properly, moms and dads are complementary. But they are not interchangeable. As much as I love Ellie, I simply have no idea how to nurture her. I haven't the ability to try something new every time she cries -- endlessly, patiently, confidently -- like Tina apparently does. It's not that I'm unwilling to spend time and attention on her. I'm desperate to do so and do it right - but I often have no idea what to do. And I'm not good at not knowing what to do.

I'm a guy. I solve problems. If someone's unhappy, find out why, apply a solution, and boom! Tough actin' Tinactin...sorry, I mean, equilibrium is restored. (This is the endless tension between women, who know perfectly well how to solve their hassles and problems, but want to talk about them, and men, who think a woman talking about her problems can only be doing so because she's asking for help solving them: why else to talk about a problem but to try to solve it?) But babies often have no equilibrium state that's been perturbed by some discrete cause.

Tina can sit there trying this and that, knowing instinctively the difference between Ellie's happy squeaking and her fussy squeaking, her contented arm-flailing and her miserable arm-flailing. Maybe it's too subtle for me, maybe I'm not such a good dad as I think...but I often have not the foggiest notion whether what I'm doing (burping, sitting her up, changing a diaper, etc.) is right or wrong or indifferent. I'm impressed and humbled and relieved and frustrated all at the same time, watching her.

I'm finding it's difficult to be unsuccessful at something so terribly important. I think I'll be good at stuff that matters for being a dad, and that's good. But at this point it seems like Ellie needs a mom more than a dad. (Or at least the dad stuff is somewhat taken care of? Don't know for sure.)

Saturday, September 17, 2005


I think I'm going with "Ellie." It's a name I've always liked and now I can use it. This has several variants already in use: Ell's Belle, Ell's Angel, Ell Nino (imagine a ~ over the second "n" there), Ell-mer Fudd...

Ah, the laughs just never stop, do they?

More fun with artsy photos

I may have to get Photoshop if I keep this up. Or, I may have to get started on my dissertation.

I guess I'm feeling in a blueish mood today. Nothing wrong...just sort of a sleepy day.

Maybe now I'm in a pinkish mood. Or maybe I'm just in a tinted mood.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Big enough for ya?

We took E in to the doc to get her weighed. She's really packed it on - she's 9 lbs 13 oz, up 13 oz from Monday. She did just get 3 fluid oz of formula right before she went in, but still, that's a lot of growth.

They want to see her next week and then she's free until the beginning of November.

Digital pictures are great

I took these and did all the edits in about 20 minutes with Picasa2.


B&W, soft focus

Spot-filtered B&W - her face is in color, but the rest is more B&W. Plus film grain added.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Reflections on a first week

  1. Don't say "lessons learned" anymore, cowboy. Say "reflections."
  2. Diapers are no big deal, so far anyway. They're not as fun as other things in life, but I think diaper duty is way overblown.
  3. Babies like to eat.
  4. Tina and I are developing as much as Lizzy is. We've been learning what (not) to do for the baby -- and for ourselves as well. I need to get used to the fact that Tina's a mom now, and probably mom first -- before my bride & best friend & comedy partner & trusted advisor & the rest of what she is. That's right and proper -- Elizabeth needs a mom most of all. But after 12ish years of Tina-n-Christian joined at the hip & heart, it's a change for us.
  5. Oh yeah -- I'm a daddy now too. (Though, happily, I'm not a "babydaddy.")
  6. I'm going to have to learn to type one-handed in the dark if I keep holding E as much as I do. Ultrasound technicians have a great left-handed technique. I'll probably type half my disserttion righty-only by the glow of my laptop screen.
  7. God is very very good to me.

Great night

Last night was our best night ever with Elizabeth. I held her from midnight until 5, and she didn't get all colicky once. She fussed a little when she woke up hungry, but I got a couple of ounces of formula into her and she was fine.

Plus, Snickers didn't throw up. I'm not sure if that's because I forgot to give her the Pepcid AC until late, or because I used ice cubes as treats instead of the easy-to-digest food we got from the MSU vet clinic when we took her there. I think it was the Pepcid being later that helped. She grazed when we were walking, which usually means she has an upset tummy, but then she kept it all down.

This is what it's all about.

First bath photos

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

More progress?

Tina tried some regular ol' Gerber nipples rather than the hi-tech Avent ones we'd been using. The Gerber ones are smaller in diameter and E seems to get a better hold on them. Also, E will suckle on a finger as long as you let her, so Tina slipped the bottle in while slipping her finger out. That got E started easier.

We're figuring this out, slowly.

By the way

I read over what I wrote and I went from "she can cry all she wants" to "this crying is tough to take." I realize that there are people who have it much worse, with real life-threatening problems or no money or no family who'll help and all sorts of other things. And I'm conscious and grateful to the good Lord that all in all, we have it just about perfect. Some crying isn't the end of the world.

That said, God did tune my ears and her vocal cords perfectly. I've sat in the tunnel-like frontstretch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway while 900-horsepower Formula One machines ripped by at full throttle, and I've seen Metallica and Van Halen twice each and Guns 'N Roses (remember them?) in concert, and I have never felt a sound in my ears the way I felt that anguished wail. It's way beyond hearing it. It's a physical pressure that drills deep into my head. Tina doesn't seem as sensitive to it as I am.

Happily, I think the worst of it shouldn't be back as often as we heard it before, now that she's getting enough food to be generally pretty happy.

More feeding news

It's amazing what actually feeding your baby can do for her. She has settled down a lot since we started using formula as our primary food. Tina's milk hasn't come in yet in any usable quantity, so we've decided to use formula. And just like that, she's a whole new baby.

E ate every three hours until 2:30 AM, when she did her colicky-crying-and-needing-to-be-held-and-suckle-daddy's-finger thing until 6. We bought a sling carrier so she can be close to us while we can still use at least one hand.

She added 2 ounced overnight, up to 9 pounds even. That's pretty good - the pediatric nurse said they look for an ounce a day at this point. We're moving in the right direction...thank you, Lord.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Lucky girl

Elizabeth is a very lucky girl. I know now she'll grow up gorgeous.

Here she is...

and this is a picture of my lovely bride as a baby.

Fortunately for Lizzie, we have a whole lifetime of fashion "dos and don'ts" to look back on when helping Little E look her best.


I'm still trying to figure out what I'll call Elizabeth. The whole name is a little long. I'm thinking I'll go with Liz or Lizzy or Lizzie or something thereabouts. For kicks I tried putting the emphasis on the wrong syllables - EL-ly-ZAB-beth. But that just sounded dumb and forced.

I could go with "Little E" and have her cousin Emily be "Big E." (Although I have a feeling by about 2009 Elizabeth will be bigger than Emily. )

Picking out the name was easy, at least for Tina. Picking out a nickname...that's hard work for me.

Second trip to doctor

I should shut up more and listen to Tina a whole lot more. Tina was convinced the wailing we were hearing from E wasn't colic but starvation. I chalked that up to new-mommy worries but I was way wrong. The pediatric nurse said E isn't getting nearly enough milk, even though she gets all Tina can give her. Little E was down to 8 lbs 14 oz, not dangerously low but less than Saturday, and that's the wrong direction. So we pumped in a buncha Similac.

Without too much in the way of detail, we don't think we'll be able to breastfeed exclusively, and we'll have to supplement. Realistcally, we're formula-feeding and supplementing with pumped breast milk. It's disappointing, because the benefits to breastfeeding are overwhelming. But it's what we gotta do and besides, it helps Tina be able to sleep whenever she needs to and I can feed 'Liz'beth.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

First trip to the doctor

The colic migrated from midnight to...well, always. She would sleep and cry and not eat for a looooong time. Tina, being a good mother, wants to be sure E gets plenty of food. For a while, I figured she'd eat when she was hungry and would be fine. But my confidence waned (and Tina's evaporated completely) after 7 hours of Elizabeth sleeping and crying and not eating -- the nurses had told us 8-12 feedings a day. So we went to see the great nurses at Foote. We got a new nursing technique on the theory that E is getting too much of the sugarier "foremilk" (the first bit of milk to flow in a feeding) and not enough of the richer "hindmilk."

Elizabeth is a very strong feeder when she eats and then goes at least 4 hours before she's hungry again. She has plenty of "output" and weighed 9lbs 2 oz yesterday -- only 5 oz down from her birthweight -- so we don't think she's starving. But Tina's been trying to feed her as much as she'll eat. Being our kid, she eats a lot, and so she gets one and a half breasts worth of milk. The problem is that breasts start with foremilk, and so E gets two helpings of foremilk to one of hindmilk and all the sugar may be giving her a tummyache.

So we'll try to do a couple of things: first, keep her to one breast at a time, so as not to double up on foremilk. Second, try to pump and have a good supply of hindmilk to feed her by bottle. Maybe -- just maybe -- it'll work like this: when she's fighting, it's easier to keep a bottle nipple in her mouth so when she finally gives up she accepts the nipple and gulps down the milk than to try to put her to a breast, which isn't quite so easy to control.

More lessons learned

  1. Forget all prior lessons except the one about colic. I haven't learned a thing except that this kid cries.
  2. The crying is tough to take. If it weren't for having Tina's mom around, we'd be in trouble.
  3. Elizabeth is stubborn -- clearly way more stubborn than Tina. But I think I can outlast her. Tina has the softness and tiredness of a new mother. I have neither, and the soft-heartedness of a father for his daughter hasn't come in yet because the child is just so dang stubborn and loud.
  4. There is no way on earth that Darwin was right. If we'd have come down from the trees with babies like Elizabeth, one of two things would've happened. Either noisy, fussy, gassy, inconsolable babies would have been selected against on the African savannah in about 15 minutes, or the entire human race would've been wiped out in about 15 months. Neither happened, ergo Darwin was wrong.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Hospital photos

Here are the photos taken at Foote. I don't think they show her beauty, her perfect proportion, her grace. You be the judge.

Bad bad bad

I'm sitting here at almost 5:00 AM and thinking, "Tina's gotten about 3 hours of sleep now. Boy, that's pretty good."

Odd days are afoot.

Symptom updates

Doggie's been sick again. Her month of pills ended on the 9th but she was sick even before. The excitement of the last week (my parents brought their dog and we brought our baby) is probably too much.

Mommie's been better. No nausea since E came out. Happy! Her feet are still sorta swollen, though.


I type this as silently as possible because E sleeps on my lap at 4:30 AM. I fear she's colicky. From 12:30 AM until about 4 AM it's nonstop painful wailing. I think it's overstimulation; swaddling her and holding her straight-jacket tight in a dark and quiet room calms her down in about 5 minutes. She doesn't eat or need changed or burped -- just stillness.

By the way: after all we went through to get her, I say she can cry all she wants, as long as she's breathing.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Lessons learned so far

  1. Don't wake her up to feed her. Let her wake up on her own.
  2. She's a lanolin junkie. She won't nurse without liberal applications of lanolin. I think it's because the nursing pads Tina uses leave a taste.
  3. Elizabeth likes the room cool.
  4. Mom & baby are the same temperature, which probably helps her keep Elizabeth the right temp. In a startling reversal, their core body temperature is higher than Dad's. Tina's always been freezing when I'm too warm, but during the pregnancy she was pretty warm. Some of her other side effects went away but this one didn't. Last night, I think we had her too warm so she fought and wailed. For 4 hours. Not fun.
  5. I gotta get some earplugs. She's got a set of lungs on her like I can't believe. I don't think in my entire life I've ever made a noise as loud as her crying.
  6. She's absolutely perfect-looking. A lot of babies have some goofiness - pointy head, blotches, something. But Elizabeth is the most prettiest baby ever.

Part 5: after birth

So now that was over...the staff had the baby and Tina was generally OK (pretty sore from everything, of course) and that was that. But we were still worred about the baby and not really sure what to do or think or anything. It was weird - we had a daughter (we'd always had her, of course, but now we knew she was a daughter and she was out and alive and breathing and stuff) but we didn't have her with us and I had a feeling like the whole ordeal was over. Not that I didn't want her or anything, but I didn't have her and I was taking care of Tina so much like I'd been for 9 months that Elizabeth wasn't really in the picture yet.

We got a recovery room (really big and pretty comfy, although the bed got uncomfy pretty quick) and about 2:00 they brought Elizabeth to us. T & E got the hang of nursing really quickly. Everyone told us it would be frustrating but it wasn't as bad at first as I thought.

The rest of Tuesday and Wednesday really run together. No sleep, Tina and Elizabeth trying to figure each other out, a bit of a rough spell when the fatigue caught up to us. We gave Elizabeth to the nurses for a few hours and got some blissful sleep. They gave her a bottle to be sure she got her feeding, but she spit that up at us later, as if to say "only 100% pure mom's milk for me!" Which is fine with us.

Our nurses after delivery were great too. Holly & Chelsea & Shamara (& one more named Sandy I think) and all the nursing consultants were bound and determined to help us however they could. We were a little reluctant to bother them, but they soundly chastized us for not doing so more. I think they just wanted to see our gorgeous little girl.

And the food was very good too. It helped that Tina's nausea went away the first morning.

They kept us until Thursday to have a little more time to observe Elizabeth and to make sure we got the nursing help and rest we needed. I understood and appreciated that, but Tina was stuck in that room for 3 days and was going nuts. I at least came home to shower and eat and get a little fresh air. Thursday about 2:00 PM we came home and have been around-the-clock feeding, burping, changing, crying & squirming, learning and loving. Tiring but a lot of fun in a bizarre way.

Part 4: Delivery

Dr. P took over and pretty much decided the baby had to come out soon. Her heartbeat was up pretty high now and wasn't coming down. He chose as his weapon the forceps...much maligned but useful in the hands of a trained master. He said he came from a program that used forceps all the time and he only uses them to guide, not to pull. OK, doc, you're in charge.

Tina only had to push through about 6 contractions before the baby's head came out. I can only say that I was absolutely amazed and still speechless at the whole site. The baby was huge, and the doc was doing all sorts of stuff (no details here) to help. Just plain wow.

As soon as the head and shoulders were out the doc sucked out the meconium and then one more push got the whole body out. At 7:47 AM they plopped her down on Tina's belly and someone said "It's a girl" and I barely had time to hear that before they took her away to the little table on the side and started working on her. Dr. P was still dealing with the aftermath of the birth -- placenta, etc. -- but I didn't know what to pay attention to.

Elizabeth wasn't breathing.

Now, they didn't want her to start right away because they wanted to be sure the meconium was cleaned out. But after that, she didn't breathe like they wanted her to. A bunch of nurses came in and did all sorts of nursy things to her and she finally started, but for what seemed like 15 minutes they were working on her. I couldn't see much -- I was standing with Tina and they didn't want me near Elizabeth. So all I could do was pray and tell Tina things would be fine. God gave us this child and a long and rocky road to get her...if He didn't want us to have her, He wouldn't have put us through what He did. We will never under-appreciate this child. Not ever.

Finally they were satisfied with her and took her to the special care nursery to observe, warm, etc. her, while watched Dr. P patch Tina back up. Um...nasty.

Part 3: Epidural

I don't know much of what happened in the room for the next 45 minutes or so. Cindy said that Tina was sleeping between contractions and even during them -- must have been exhaustion. My dad and I went downstairs to get a drink and fresh air. The drink went fine. Going outside went fine. Getting back into the hospital went less fine. The door, which opened well enough to let us out, was locked from the outside about 3 hours ago. Um. Oh. OK. So we had to walk around to the under-construction emergency room entrance. Halfway there the sprinklers on the hospital lanw soaked my dad, who apparently didn't think to look forward when he walked. So he was drenched. Thus we walked into the emergency room admissions area and had to get a guard to let us up to see Tina. I didn't think he was going to let us in -- why would a baby's dad and grandpa be coming in the wrong entrance late at night and soaking wet? But he did.

A nice staffer at the hospital took pity on my dad and gave him a change of shirt to wear while his shirt dried.
I don't know why he's looking even goofier than normal in this picture, but the janitorial scrubs look so so wrong on him.

About 1:45AM, I went down and found Tina sleeping soundly and Cindy watching her because her blood pressure was really low. That's a standard side effect of epidurals, and Tina's BP is low anyway. But for the next few hours it went down to liek 89/32. Not good, but no permanent harm seems to have befallen mama or baby.

Tina was in a pretty good mood now. No pain, just a little pressure. Bliss.

About 6:30AM, Tina started feeling more pressure and the beginings of an urge to push. This was good, of course, but a bit disappointing for Cindy. She'd worked with us her entire shift through the night and wanted to see the baby born. We would've liked for her to be there, but we also knew Dr. Pastoriza would be in at 7AM and really wanted him to be there. Happily, we heard him walk in just after 7 and we got a new nurse, Mary Lynn, who was also great.

Part 2: Labor, aptly named

So we got into a real room and Tina became a real patient. We also got a shift-change and got a new nurse named Cindy. Still skinny and blonde, but there the similarity ended. Vagueness and confusion became openness, clarity and explanation. The sun rose and birds started singing. Well, not really, but it seemed like it. (Cindy was the first of the many really really great nurses. All of them except the first one were just outstanding...OK, all of them being outstanding is technically an oxymoron. Whatever.)

So by now labor is hard and painful. The delivery room had a better bed than the check room, plus room for a few people to sit comfortably. That helped us, but didn't do much for Tina. There was still much discussion of the baby's heartbeat, and now Cindy actually told us what we should be seeing: periods of changes in the heartbeat. That is, a flat and steady heartbeat was bad; it should go up and down with changes in activity levels, contractions, etc. Not that we can do anything about it, but it's nice to know what to look for. Cindy also had Tina move from her back to her sides to see if that helped and it did. Ah...professional help.

Tina was starting to call for the epidural but she wasn't dilated very much. The doctor came in and ruptured the bag of waters at about 10:30PM (I think) to help the contractions have their dilating effect. Meconium (basically, Elizabeth's first poop) was in the waters...not a huge problem, but she'd have to have her mouth suctioned when she was born to be sure she didn't breathe in her own poop. Mmmmm.

The water-breaking helped and Tina dilated to 3 cm by about 1 AM, but the pain was getting unbearable. Through it all she was tough and kept breathing really well. She did get tired of my telling her to breathe, but she did it anyway. Cindy told her to keep control of herself and that would help -- she was fighting the pain and that was fighting the dilation. From then on, Tina either collapsed from exhaustion or became a stone wall of spartan stolidity. She didn't say anything or give any indication of pain. Just lots of breathing.

Mercifully, the doc thought 3 cm was fine for the epidural, so we were ushered out and the anesthesiologist came in.

Here's the story: Part 1: not yet officially in labor

We got up a little late (like 9:30) and Tina noticed a bit of leaking that she thought might have been her water breaking. (Keep in mind this is a first baby and we don't know what any of these experiences are actually like.) So we called the hospital (this was Labor Day, so the doc's office was closed) and they said to come in and they'll see if she's in labor. We called our parents and told them what was going on.

We got to the hospital (or just "to hospital" for the English among us) about 10:30. (By the way, these times are all approximate. The whole week has been a long nonstop day.) They hooked her up to a machine that monitored baby's heartbeat and Tina's contractions. Right away she was showing contractions about 2-3 minutes apart. She couldn't feel them yet but if the expensive machine said they were happening, who are we to argue?

The nurse (who shall remain nameless) checked for amniotic fluid but didn't find any. So she said we'd wait and see what happened. So we stayed there, Tina in an uncomfy bed and me on an uncomfy stool in a "check room." The nurse kept coming in and saing vague things about baby's heartbeat not being reactive and Tina's fluid not being amniotic. As we waited, Tina started feeling the contractions and they were getting pretty strong. Somehow, these contractions weren't a sign of labor -- only amniotic fluid is. Whatever.

Our parents arrived and we had little to tell them. Someone (I guess the doc on call) said the baby wasn't reactive (still didn't know what that meant and couldn't get an answer out of Nurse Stonewall) so we went downstairs for an ultrasound test called a biophysical profile. That turned out OK -- Elizabeth scored a perfect 8 out of 8. (That's my girl!) But Tina's fluid level was 15, which apparently meant that her water had most definitely not broken.

We got some lunch and walked around. Tina lost the Jello she'd had earlier; her graham crackers were soon to follow. We got back to the room and got more vague answers. We walked around some more. Finally, at 7:00 (9 hours after we got there) the nurse said she "got the fluid to fern," meaning she got it to look like amniotic fluid on a slide. So finally, after 9 hours of rapid contractions, Tina's finally officially in labor.

More pics

Here she is right before we brought her home from the hospital. The shirt lasted for five minutes after we brought her home. A little spit-up made short work of it.

A close-up (obviously) of her after her five-hour crying-fussing-not eating fit. She wore herself out and then slept for like six hours. Fortunately, Tina and I got some rest then too. Of course, we'd have preferred a little less of a fight ahead of time but we don't get to make these choices.

Gramma and Grampa Mastilak and Elizabeth.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


I posted some pics below. I'm headed back to the hospital in a few minutes, so the whole story has to wait, but I wanted to get some shots up for Elizabeth's waiting public.

Mom & baby are still doing well. They've learned how to nurse pretty quickly (with lots of help from the generally fantastic nurses at Foote). Dad's fine too. We're all a little tired but things couldn't be much better right now.

Thanks to everyone for all the well-wishing and enthusiasm. It's not every day one gets a cheering section, and it's not every child that has such support, and we're grateful for all of it. God has truly blessed us many times over.

I promise stories as I have time & energy, and can piece together a timeline from the fragments swimming in my brain.

Baby pics!

Elizabeth under the heat lamps in the special care nursery. I guess she doesn't like getting her picture taken.

This was before her first bath, so she has some spots. The gold duckie isn't a birthmark - it's a thermometer or something.

An ultrasound tech at the hospital said that if mom has a lot of heartburn during the pregnancy, the baby will come out with hair. I don't know how true it normally is, but it worked for us. Elizabeth has a pretty full head of pretty thick hair.

By my reckoning, the best mom ever, holding her daughter.

In the background you can see my diet for the last 3 days - water and beef jerky. Tina's been eating well - the hospital has pretty decent food.

Here's my chin holding Elizabeth...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Longish story

I'll tell you all about it later. It's now 6 on Elizabeth's birthday...we're all really out of sorts because we've been at the hospital for a day and a half. I'm home for a shower, bite to eat and maybe a nap if I can sleep. Tina's mom and my parents are with Tina & Eliz at the hospital.


Elizabeth lee mastilak 7:47am 9.06.05 9lbs 7oz 21.5in. All is well with mom & baby.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


My 3rd-year paper presentation went pretty well. I've decided I'll probably keep that same topic going for my dissertation. The faculty were interested enough to ask questions but were gentle and didn't tell me my topic stinks on ice or anything like that.

If you want a copy of the paper, email me and I'll send it to you. Then, I'll decide you're nuts and cut off all contact with you forever.