February 2007 Archives
Of course, time itself is compressed at the moment anyway. Some time ago Jenny and I read something about how your perception of time is dependent on milestones. When you're young, you have lots of milestones (each birthday is a big one, plus changing grades, graduating grade/middle/high school, college, etc), and time goes by pretty quickly. As you get older, your milestones start to fade and/or stretch out (I mean, let's face it; once you pass 21 and you've graduated college, what other scheduled milestones are there?), and time seems to pass a little more slowly.
Well, having kids starts the milestone race all over again. The first week, every feeding is a milestone. For the first few months, every week is a milestone. For the first two years, every month is a milestone. First smile, first intentional sound, first word, first crawl, first step, so many milestones all packed in together, and so they just fly by.
One interesting side-note, by the way: this works on more than just "life in general". I've found that on long car rides, if you break the trip up into mini-trips, it goes a lot faster. If you hit a goal every hour or two hours, even an 18-hour drive is almost bearable. :)
Anyway, so time is flying by. It's already been seven weeks since Ollie was born, and he's changed a lot (even leaving out the absence of wires, nurses, tests, etc). He's bigger, he moves more intentionally, and he's making all kinds of sounds. A new sound almost every day, in fact. And he smiles. Full on, real smiles. Literally the cutest thing I've ever seen. Hard to catch on camera, though; every time he's smiling, if I pull out the camera or the cellphone to take a picture he starts frowning and watching the interesting new object.
And he can focus ten feet away now, so keeping the camera "out of reach" isn't a solution anymore. :-P
He's working really hard on holding his head up by himself, and getting very good at it. He loves "standing up" (with someone holding him under the armpits, but supporting a fair amount of his own weight with his legs, and holding up his own head) so he can look around--which gets surprisingly tiring with a ten-pound baby. :) I can't wait until I can stick him face-out in the Snugli so that he can look around all the time when we're out. I guess that happens sometime between 2 and 4 months, so who knows.
I bought a very interesting book yesterday, about teaching philosophy to kids. I know I asked all kinds of questions when I was a kid, and I'm betting Jen did too, so I'm trying to be prepared to get Ollie thinking and reasoning and ready for all the amazing questions I'm sure he'll come up with. It took me until college to really discover philosophy myself; I think Ollie will appreciate a head start. :)
We had another hockey game Thursday night. At 10:15 P.M.--and I know this makes me officially old, but those late games are killer. Not the game itself so much, the getting home at 12:30 and still needing to shower etc. :)
Anyway, we won 5-0 (which makes 3 shutouts in 4 games for our goalie, and 3 shutouts in 5 games for the team), putting us in first place in the league.
The game itself was interesting. The other team got really frustrated after the first two goals, and all of a sudden took a bunch of penalties (starting off with a double minor, and then a second penalty halfway through that, so we had about 2 minutes of 5-on-3 play). Then of course they get frustrated with taking penalties, and just end up taking more. I've been on the other end of that, so it was a nice change. :)
In spite of their troubles with the refs, the other team worked really hard. I sympathize with them a bit, because they're a tough team to play against; they never give up on the play, they work hard, they're in good positions and trying to make good plays, and it just isn't working for them for some reason. They're 1-4, we're 4-1, and to be honest at times I felt like they were outworking us--and not because we were being lazy. Of course, it probably helped that one of our defensemen moved to Chicago, so we've played the last two games with 3 defense. (We rotate out one at a time, which means the D ends up with a lot of ice time: thus the title. My position is that no, there's no such thing. :))
In some ways it seems like we get "lucky"--a shot ends up getting deflected up into the air and over their goalie, or on their one power play they turn the puck over just inside their zone and our forward ends up scoring on a breakaway--but we're so consistent about it that it has to be more than that. I think we're just doing a really good job putting ourselves in a position to take advantage of that, and doing a good job covering our own breakdowns.
I'm having a good season, too, which is really gratifying. Aside from my goal, I think I'm beginning to really get a handle on skating (I keep getting complimented on it, for one thing). Our last opponents had some fast skaters, and they liked to try cross-ice passes right as they were entering our zone. One of the forwards on my team mentioned that he kept seeing those passes and thinking for sure they were going to get in behind me, but they almost never did (I did give up one breakaway, but the goalie saved me on that one ;)).
I find that I watch hockey games differently now. I love having a Tivo, because when something interesting happens, I can back up and see how it developed. Where the players go and what they do when they don't have the puck is sometimes more interesting than what they do with the puck. :) I think it would be lots of fun to go to real hockey games, because TV is very limiting as far as being able to watch the play away from the puck (and line changes, etc).
In other news, we watched a very amusing hockey game today. The Make A Wish foundation sponsored a charity game between the University of Texas hockey team (a club team) and the rink's Mini Mites players (kids between the ages of 4 and 8). Yes, there were college players playing against kids so small you couldn't even see shin pad between the tops of their skates and the bottoms of their pants. :) The hockey players were pretty severely handicapped: they had to turn their sticks around (so they were playing the puck with the butt end, not the blade--which is really hard), they had to jump the blue lines (or do an immediate 5 pushups), they had to play no-contact (while the kids could, and did, check everything and everyone in sight), and they had to kneel on all faceoffs. The game was crazy--some of those kids are surprisingly good. There was this one really, really tiny (obviously one of the 4-year-olds) kid--I don't know what's so hilarious about little kids playing hockey, but if you want to laugh for 15 minutes go to youtube, search for hockey, and watch the videos of little kids. This little kid was raring to go before the game--smacking his stick on the ice and making little charges towards the UT players, like he just couldn't wait to get started on them. :)
UT lost, of course, 14 to 4; there were some really memorable moments. The Mites started out with 6 players on the ice to UT's 5 (not counting goalies); then at some point there were 7, then 8. Towards the end of the first period, the refs tossed a second puck out on the ice, and both were being played at the same time. One UT player took a holding penalty when he grabbed the smallest Mites player, lifted him up, and skated the length of the ice holding the little guy off the ice. :) The UT players were really hamming it up, too, throwing themselves to the ice whenever someone bodychecked them, etc. The UT goalies were putting on a great show of being terribly disappointed every time they got scored on. All in all it was pretty hilarious. Sometimes you could tell the UT players would forget they were playing with their sticks wrong side up, as they'd try to pull a move or make a quick pass just like normal, and the puck wouldn't go anywhere at all. :) Eventually they figured out that if you laid the stick flat on the ice and took a shot that way, the ref wouldn't call it and you could actually control it reasonably well. If it hadn't been for that I don't think UT would have scored at all. :)
The game ended crazily, with every player on both sides jumping into the play. There were UT players laying all over the ice, too, because the Mites went on a checking spree. I have some really terrible cellphone photos I'll post of the carnage. :)
All the mites seemed to have a great time, I'm glad we went. And I can't wait for Ollie to be 4 so he can give Mites a try. Hopefully he'll have as much fun as I do. If not, that'll be okay too, of course. :)
Oliver's MRI and EEG were completely normal. The areas that looked damaged on his first MRI have, in the neurologist's words, "completely normalized", and his EEG was perfectly ordinary. We have one more appointment, in three months: no more tests, just a followup so the neurologist can see his progress. Over the next two weeks we'll wean him off the anti-seizure meds. In other words, it's over. The scary, stressful part of having Oliver, that started at 2:30 on January 4th, is over with, and we've got a beautiful, healthy, normal baby boy. I don't know how to express how happy I am, and how relieved I was when the neurologist said those words.
The dark lining to this silver cloud is that Jenny gets letdown migraines, so naturally she started seeing auras about 4:30 this afternoon. Ollie's in bed after his bath, and Jen's trying to sleep it off so she doesn't have to take her medication--which isn't known to be safe for breastfeeding infants. I've looked and looked, and while there are plenty of recommendations on preventing stress migraines, nobody seems to know how to prevent letdown migraines--except for the not-terribly-helpful suggestion to not ever reduce the amount of stress in your life. :-P
Hopefully after today things will be calmer for a long, long time. We could all use it, I think.
Edit: It's 11pm now and Jenny is back up, feeling much better, thankfully.
So life with Ollie is kind of settling into more of a routine. Sort of. :) He's still changing a lot (he looks a lot different already than he did a month ago), and it seems like there's always one more thing to learn. I'm guessing that doesn't change, though.
The last week or so, on advice from the All-Knowing Internets, we decided to try starting a bedtime routine. About 8pm, we give him a bath (which he loves; the kid is a serious water baby), feed him, read him a bedtime story, and ease him to sleep. He tends to wake up pretty frequently for the first 20 minutes or so, but after that (usually 9-ish) he conks out until 3 A.M. or so. So we've sort of reclaimed at least our late evenings, which feels really nice; it's tough to have the kid attached to one or the other of you literally 24/7. Not that my experience is a patch on Jen's. :)
The current "one more thing to learn", by the by, is how to get him to nap reliably during the day. He tends to stay up too much during the day and get overtired, which just makes him unhappy, and makes Jenny's life difficult, etc. Of course, from my reading, this may just have to be one of those things he works out for himself. I certainly don't want to trade good daytime naps for good nighttime sleeping, that's for sure. :)
Anyway, he's a really good night sleeper--in general, a really good baby. Not colicky or sick or anything thus far, although he has his moments.
Today, for example. Today he wanted to be held and fed basically from 9 A.M. until 6:45, and then he wanted to be held until I did the bedtime thing. Usually he's willing to sack out in the swing or the bouncy chair (I guess he did sleep for an hour or so when Jen took him for a walk in the stroller), but today he was pretty tough on Jen. She finally got to go to school and get some work done tonight, so Ollie and I had some father-son time (we watched a hockey game, natch ;). And to be honest, that's a relatively bad day for Ollie; compared to some of the stories from our birthing class, I gather we're getting off pretty easy. I still don't know how single parents do it; I know Jen gets really tired (physically and emotionally) during the day, and she has me to help out if she wants to take a shower or needs food etc.
Yesterday, on the other hand, he was a model baby. He and I got up about 8:30 and went and hung out in the office, browsing the Internet and having coffee (me) and a bottle (him). Jen got up about 11 or 11:30 (having caught up on the tiniest sliver of 6 weeks' worth of lost sleep). We put the baby and the dogs in the car and went to Town Lake, where we walked the hiking/biking trail. I had Ollie in the Snugli and Cara on a leash, leaving Jen to deal with Charlie (who was excited and rambunctious as ever). Ollie slept the whole walk, and he was still in a good mood after, so we went to Freddie's, a local restaurant/bar with an outdoor dogs-welcome area. We had great veggie burgers, the dogs basically behaved themselves, and we got to have a couple of nice drinks in the sun. Last night I played a hockey game; our team got sponsored this season by a local restaurant, so we got brand new jerseys and matching socks. I'll try to get a picture of me in full dress sometime soon, but so that you can picture it, Jenny claims the color is precisely the same as Ollie's bowel movements; I maintain the jerseys are slightly lighter. :-P Anyway, it was my first time wearing hockey socks; boy did that feel odd. They breathe a lot more than my hockey pants, so my legs felt naked all game. :) We won, in any case, 2-0, putting us in second in the league currently. This team is really good, lots of passing and teamwork, which is fun.
In other Ollie news, we think he's smiling at us now--not grinning, exactly, and not reliably, but he does seem to make a face that looks like a smile to me. It's very cute; I'll see if I can get a photo at some point. Jenny took some more video of him, so I'll try to get that encoded and uploaded in the next few days too.
Oliver has an MRI tomorrow (which should be fun; he can't eat after 4:30 A.M., and they want us to try to keep him awake as well, since they say it's easier if he's tired), and an EEG on Wednesday; hopefully those will both come back normal and we can stop with the scary testing and just live with Oliver. I'm not really worried, as he's at or ahead of all the developmental milestones we've seen. He's really strong, very good at holding his head up, tracking movement well, etc.
Yes, it finally happened. Last night I scored my first ever organized hockey goal. :) It was a really crazy game (final score 8-5, we won). The team we played likes to have one or two forwards hang out near the center line even when the puck is in their defensive zone, so that they can make hail-mary type passes and get breakaways or odd-man rushes. Defensively we actually did a pretty good job keeping them from getting free shots (I think there was only one true breakaway), but our forwards were having trouble getting back in time, so there were a lot of 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 breaks, which are tough to defend time after time.
On the plus side, having their forwards cherry-picking meant they weren't giving their goalie much help either, so it turned into more or less a scoring contest. We got out of the first period winning 5-0; I think that first period saved the game for us.
We were passing really well; we had two practice sessions this season (really unusual to have any), and we spent a lot of time practicing breaking out of our own zone, and it really shows. We've had very few turnovers in the middle of our zone, which helps cut down on the goals against.
Anyway, my first goal wasn't anything beautiful; we caught their forwards on a line change, so two of our forwards moved into their zone with the puck. I moved up to be the third man into the zone, so we ended up with a 3-on-2. The right wing shot the puck, the goalie stopped it, and the defense tied up the right wing so he didn't have a chance at the rebound. That rebound slid out about 10' right in front of the goal, and I got to it before anyone else could react. The goalie was already down from blocking the first shot, and nobody else was between me and the goal, so I just put it up into the corner of the net. It was kind of a shock--every other time I've tried that I've managed to put it right into the goalie's chest, or someone's managed to deflect or block the shot, but this one was right on. I felt kind of bad, celebrating a goal that made it 7-4 (mostly bad for the goalie; he's a nice guy), but it was my first. ;)
I had two assists (at least) as well, so that puts me at a point per game (this was our third game; we lost the first 0-3 and won the second 3-0). I think this is going to be a good team, we have some good passers and some guys who can finish well too. It'll be fun in any case. :)
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. :)
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