A Month of Stuff
Okay, so it's been a while, and I know I promised a longer post. Thematically this may be a little jumbled, but I'm sure you'll all manage. ;)
Oliver came home on the 12th, the day before Jenny's birthday, and he turned 4 weeks old last Friday. It's kind of amazing to see how much he's changed in just that time. The last week or so he's tracking nearby moving objects with his eyes (not perfectly, but pretty well), and he's getting a lot more vocal, too. He likes to make sounds (random vowel sounds) and have whoever's holding him say them back (as best we can--believe it or not, some of those sounds are hard to reproduce). He'll get upset if you don't pay attention to him or echo them back, which is interesting. (Of course, Jenny hadn't discovered that, since as she put it, she hadn't thought to experiment with ignoring him... ;))
The NICU was a really tough experience, not just because we were worried about Oliver, but because you're parents, but you're not really allowed to be parents yet. We couldn't hold him at first (I didn't get to hold him until 3 or 4 days later, I think), couldn't feed him or even comfort him much. And of course they run dozens of tests, most of which come back normal, but a lot of them come back ambiguous or with "problems" that turn out to be pretty normal for newborns. The nurses are much more used to preemies than full-term babies, so they kept treating him like he was a preemie, which was part of the problem. Once we talked to the neonatologist and the nursing staff and got things cleared up, life got a lot better. Still hard (it's exhausting to go to the NICU every 3 hours to feed your baby so they won't give him formula), but much more doable. St. David's was really great overall; we were very against hospitals going in, but they really changed our minds, and if we were having a second baby here in Austin we'd both want to go back to them. To be honest I'm not sure the birthing center was really a good idea; it seemed perfect, but in retrospect we probably could have had a much better experience at St. David's, plus when things went wrong they could have taken care of it immediately, and maybe Ollie wouldn't have had to go to the NICU at all. Hindsight, I guess.
The first week at home was interesting. We'd gotten so used to having the monitors (heart rate, O2 saturation, etc) that we were constantly checking to see if he was breathing, checking his temperature, etc. We're a little more relaxed now. A little. :)
At this point Oliver is basically (thankfully) a perfectly normal baby; we have to go back and have an MRI and a neurologist visit to make sure that any possible seizure troubles (he may, or may not, have had a seizure early in the NICU--one of those ambiguous tests I mentioned) are resolved. They did tell us that they expected everything to be fine, and he shouldn't ever have to worry about them after this, so I'm hopeful that everything will be fine. Developmentally he seems to be right on track and acting normal, which is a huge relief.
He's had a couple of growth spurts, which are really tough on Jen because he wants to eat every half hour to an hour, round the clock; at the moment he's going about 2-3 hours most of the time, but then maybe 3-4.5 during the night, so at least Jenny is getting some sleep. I'm getting better at soothing him when he's just fussy, and identifying when he's actually hungry, so things are getting a little easier. Lately he's been crying every time Jenny hands him off to me, which got frustrating for a bit, but we're working on it.
Speaking of growth spurts, Ollie is now 9 pounds 3 ounces (as of yesterday), so he's gaining weight well. They're supposed to gain an ounce a day, and he's right on that (7 ounces in the last 7 days), so yay Ollie. :) He's still in the 25th-50th percentile for both weight and head size, but he's up to the 50th-75th percentile for height (he started at the 25th-50th). So he's already tall for his weight (or slender for his height), no shock with his genes. :) In fact, he's doing well enough that we can start feeding him the occasional bottle (instead of nursing), so that Jen can get some more time for herself (and her work). Which I know she'll appreciate lots.
He's a comedian, too. He may not be able to talk, but at times he's quite eloquent. Last night I took him off Jen's hands for a bit, and he naturally started crying and fussing a bit. I told him I didn't know why he cried every time I picked him up; I'm not such a bad guy. He raised an eyebrow at me, clearly skeptical of that particular claim. Nice. Moments later, Jen mentioned that he might be kind of a sarcastic person, but that he'd probably be pretty charming. Which prompted him to make a total debonair face at Jenny. Seriously, he was mocking us. :)
Most of our friends think he's a total angel, too, because every time we've taken him to a party or get-together he's either slept the whole time or been wide-eyed and friendly. Which is good for social situations, don't get me wrong, but people keep commenting on how well-behaved he is. Let me just say that you all ought to be glad you missed the meltdown at Target. ;)
The dogs are great with Ollie. Cara likes to kiss his feet and try to kiss his hands/face (which we discourage for now because of germs), and they're both positively fascinated by his bassinet (strange, since we almost never use it). The cat's a little lonely at night since we can't trust him not to walk on/lay down on/etc the baby in the middle of the night, so we lock him out of the bedroom. The animals also love the fact that we have other moms over pretty frequently (for a Red Tent thing where people make and drop off food for new parents), and they always bring their toddler or baby. Aside from the occasional handful of removed fur, the pets love having toddlers over. :)
As far as how I feel about the whole thing, it's been interesting. Leaving the hospital the first few times (without Ollie) was weird, everything looked the same and very different at the same time. That could have been exhaustion and/or stress, though. :) At this point I think we're starting to sort out how to take care of him (at least until it changes again), so I'm feeling pretty comfortable. I love Ollie's "active alert" state, where he's watching and making noises and playing. Holding him and watching TV while he's sleeping is pretty nice too. I do kind of miss sleeping through the night (not nearly as much as Jenny does, I'm sure!), and not having a light on at night, but right now at least my life hasn't changed all that much in most details. I think as Ollie continues to get more interactive maybe life will change more radically. There are lots of things to enjoy already, and I'm looking forward to all kinds of new things.
For those of you who haven't been obsessively checking the gallery, by the way, there are new photos up (after only a month, Ollie's gallery has very nearly eclipsed the other two "big" galleries, the pets and vacations) as well as four videos. I can't get the videos to show thumbnails for some reason, but they download just fine. :)