Ollie's picked up this habit somewhere, I don't know where--he suddenly scrunches up his face like he's smelled something bad, and breathes heavily in and out of his nose. It's hilarious, but I have absolutely no idea where it comes from. Jen tells me expressions are hereditary, but I can't think where I've ever seen this face before. I think it's an Ollie Original. I plan to stalk him with the camera (er, more than usual) over the next week to try and catch him in the act. :)
Yes, I know, long time no update. Bad Eric, no doughnut. :)
So much to tell, although if you watch the gallery some of it won't be news. Ollie's second tooth popped out a while back, right next to the first. Jenny and I were coincidentally talking about when his second would appear, and I happened to look in his mouth--and there it was!
He's changing so fast right now. He's just started into 6-9 month clothes (at 8 months--if he stays on this growth curve he'll be 18lb. at a year, which means he'll be wearing 12-month clothes until he's about two :-P), so there are new cute clothes to wear. He's pulling up from sitting to standing all by himself, and in fact at this point I think he'll skip crawling. He can scoot forward if he wants to, but given that he can pull himself up, he loves to stand, and if you give him your hands to help him balance, he can shakily "walk" forward... All he really needs is balance and practice: I give him a month before he's walking. I could be wrong though, he seems to alternate developing physically and mentally, so maybe he'll get to cruising and plateau there for a few months.
He loves books; just going to Barnes & Noble and walking down the kids' aisle (or heck, sitting down with a book at a cafe table) puts a huge smile on his face. Not surprising given his parents, but very gratifying. :)
He likes being upside down, too; I think he's either going to be a gymnast or a monkey, and the jury's out on which. He's figured out he can hook his toes into my ever-present belt and push up (or, more often, out); today in B&N he started adding the step of dropping his head between his arms so that he's on the verge of doing a somersault down my chest. So naturally I just grab him and toss his knees over my shoulder so he's hanging there, and he's grinning and laughing like a maniac. I'm telling you, all he needs is a prehensile tail.
He gives kisses, too, lots and lots of kisses. I hope he stays this affectionate; I know the culture will try and beat it out of him, but when he hugs me or kisses me it really is the best thing in the world.
He starts daycare tomorrow, twice a week. I know Jenny's really stressed out about it, and so am I. I'm so used to seeing Jen and Ollie pop in and out, or come over to my desk at home to see what I'm doing/steal my glasses/give me a kiss, and now that won't happen on Tuesday and Thursday. It's kind of sad to be passing so much of Ollie's time off to someone else. I'm so spoiled working at home, I get to see all the firsts in person and not miss anything. So hopefully he doesn't, like, walk for the first time at daycare (or at least, if he does, they don't tell us ;)).
Speaking of firsts, just yesterday he figured out the "M" sound. He's been saying "Dada" for a while now, but the closest he could get to "M" was "B" (so Jenny has been "Bob" for a few weeks...). Then yesterday he said "Mob", which was pretty close, and then he said "Mom" very clearly. He grins every time I say it back, and I've noticed when he gets upset sometimes he'll say "Mommommommom". Which kind of hurts a little bit, even though I try hard not to let it; I know sometimes he's going to want her instead, and he ought to. But I'm selfish like that. :)
Tonight might be another breakthrough, we'll see. He's not been sleeping well lately, although he's getting better at napping (hour naps aren't uncommon at this point, and we can often get away with just two naps a day even). At night, though, a lot of times he won't even go two hours without waking up, which is tiring, especially since he virtually never sleeps past 6 or so. So tonight Jenny and I decided to make another go of mild sleep training, so after his bath and a feeding, I put him down in his crib with Gertrude (his stuffed hedgehog, the closest thing to a lovey we've been able to identify), kissed him goodnight, and left rather than rocking him almost asleep (or to be honest, all-the-way-asleep, more often than not). He seemed to think it was playtime at first, making his "bobbobbobbob" noise and shrieking periodically, but then he got bored or lonely and started crying. After ten minutes I went in and tried to soothe him (without picking him up), but when I left a minute or so later he started crying harder. Jen left at that point (she has a class she's been going to), and I was expecting all kinds of difficulties, but at the end of the next 10 minutes, just as I got up to try soothing him again, he suddenly quieted down and went to sleep.
I am now going to probably jinx myself by checking on him, because PARENTHOOD is an anagram for PARANOIA (not really, I can't back that up, but it should be).
Nope. He's still alive; I can see him breathing. The worst part about this is that all the baby books say that 6 months (or double birth weight, which Ollie just hit) is when you should try sleep training, but they also say that SIDS is a risk until 1 year, and you shouldn't let them sleep on their stomach until then. The paradox is that by 6 months, they can roll over anytime they want to, usually (Oliver could), and left to his own devices, Ollie will sleep on his stomach. So: let him fall asleep on his stomach and POSSIBLY DIE, or start sleep training? Or poke the bear by letting him fall asleep, then trying to turn him over without waking? You can't win for losing.
Speaking of not winning for losing, at Jen's continued urging I embarked on a weight gain program. I added an 800-1000 calorie milkshake to my daily intake (ice cream, whole milk, whey protein, banana, chocolate syrup), drank it religiously for two weeks without eating any less at meals... and lost five pounds. What. The. Hell. I'm still spotty about eating breakfast though, so maybe if I add that it will help. If I drop another five I think USAID is going to start airlifting supplies into my back yard (which at least would help with the grocery bills). :(
Edit: Also, I know the site is wonky and comments are disabled. I upgraded Movable Type and it screwed everything, so I have to basically start over. Sorry, folks. :( You can always e-mail me your comments, I do love e-mails...
Edit the Second: Okay, so he woke up at 8:20 and cried, despite my best soothing efforts, until Jen got home and fed him at 9:40. Ah well. Maybe next time.
Ollie's first tooth poked itself through his gum yesterday. It's remarkably sharp, for not being much above the gum yet. :-P In a way it's too bad, I'm really fond of his toothless grin, and I guess that's gone for good now. Still, I'm sure I'll get used to him with teeth at some point.
On the downside, he's tried to choke himself to death twice now; once Jen smacked him on the back to get the food out, and yesterday I had to fish around in his mouth to find it. Our friends' babies (roughly the same age) are feeding themselves Cheerios, and our kid chokes every time he gets something in his mouth that hasn't been pureed to death. The worst part is that choking doesn't seem to really bother him, he just kind of sits there not breathing. He doesn't get upset until afterwards, when he sees that we're upset. So now I'm paranoid that at any given moment he might just stop breathing, which isn't fun.
The last few nights he's slept better, though. Last night he slept from 11 to 4:30 straight through, and then slept in the bed with us from 6 until the alarm went off at 8; it's the first time in a week that Jen or I hasn't had to get up with him at 6 or 6:30. It was like Christmas. :)
I got to go see Transformers a few weeks ago. It was really good, much better than I expected, although if you're not a fan of action movies you won't like it at all. :) And there are a few asteroid-sized plot holes, but all in all it's definitely worth seeing.
Jen and I are leaving Ollie with a babysitter this Sunday to go see the new Harry Potter movie. I'm a little worried about it because the last week he's starting to show some clinginess/stranger anxiety. Not a lot in the scheme of things--he stares suspiciously at people rather than crying or anything--but for him it's pretty different. Yesterday he even cried and reached out to Jen when I was holding him, although Jen went out for a few hours last night and we had a great time.
I have some new videos to post as soon as I get them encoded. I want to get some video of Ollie really talking (he's making so much noise, and being so animated these days), but every time he sees the camera he gets interested in it, so I need to figure out a way to hide it from him. :)
So yes, we vacationed in Virginia for a week. We had a really good time, especially in Williamsburg. JetBlue caused us no end of problems, including losing our suitcase (I wish I'd taken a photo of all the Transfer tags on it when it finally came back, because it was impressive), but I'll not dwell on that.
Virginia was beautiful, it really drove home how much different the flora is from Central Texas. Austin is a fairly well-treed Texas city, but the ones here are scrubby little poseurs next to the woods they have in more temperate climes. Cooler weather was a lovely surprise, too, although if you want to know what the single best change was in my opinion? The lack of mosquitos. Oh, I'm sure there were a few, but I am not kidding when I say that spending thirty seconds in our backyard right now will result in no less than four mosquito bites. I've seen flocks, I kid you not.
On the plus side, all that rain has produced a very impressive cucumber vine and some massive tomato plants. Here's hoping they fruit before Texas succumbs to drought and everything dies again.
Williamsburg was really cool, it was very effective in making me more interested in revolutionary America. Jamestown (particularly the glassmaker) and Yorktown were fun too, but to be honest I could have passed on Busch Gardens.
I know I keep saying this, but Ollie is changing so fast. Since we left for Virginia he has started rolling over really easily, sitting up, eating solid food for real (applesauce and peaches are big hits; bananas are as well, but they're off-limits after he had a reaction to one), laughing all the time at just about anything, learning to love swimming (and splashing), and moving ever closer to talking. We're kind of halfheartedly doing baby signing, although to be honest I think it's an open question whether he signs "food" or says it out loud first.
There are, of course, a boatload of new pictures (more than 100, a new vacation record for me) and two new videos in the gallery.
Work is good. My team's current task list has them scheduled until at least the end of 2008, and there's always more to do, so no worries there. In fact, our R&D department, and our management, are emphasizing some things that will have my team at the very forefront of the company's long-term strategy, which is exciting.
Lindsay asked me recently if it was frustrating to be selling software now that I already know is obsolete. In some ways it's an interesting question, because it's not a question one programmer asks another; it's kind of a given. In other ways it's a really interesting question, because it's kind of the central fact of my professional life. Yes, it is frustrating. I know our customers could really use everything we're working on. In fact, some of the stuff I worked on in the last two weeks, I wish I could just give our customers, because it's so much better than what we're selling now. On the other hand, that does give them a reason to pay those software update fees, which keeps my dogs, cat, and baby in kibble, and they do like that. ;)
Anyway, for those of you who want a better insight into what it's like to write software, you might try looking at the book Dreaming in Code. Or you can buy me a beer and ask me questions, but then, Lindsay's flying off to Australia next week, so I guess she hasn't got that option. :-P
Being captain of my hockey team is so far a lot of fun. I tried to pick a team that just wanted to have a good time and play some good hockey, and it's by far the best locker room I've been in. Not a bad team, either, even if we are 1-2, but I'm certainly having a good time. :)
First off, congrats Fiona and Simon on the birth of their baby boy! I can't wait until we get to come visit. :) He sounded like he had a very healthy set of lungs on the phone.
Second, some Ollie updates.
One: The test results finally came back. Ollie has no genetic abnormalities, i.e. no Cystic Fibrosis, so we are assured (again) that he's entirely normal, just skinny, the same way his mom and her sisters were as babies. (Believe it or not, I was not skinny as a baby. ;))
Three: Given his recent interest in food (by "interest in" I mean "grabbing food off our plates") we talked to our pediatrician, and so Ollie had his first real food this morning: some cooked, pureed sweet potatoes. His facial expression was pretty priceless; I have video of the deed itself and a few photos of the "aftermath" I'll try to post soon.
Not that I don't like traveling and seeing my family, but I'm a homebody to the core.
Ollie seems to like home too... tonight he put himself to sleep for the first time, no fuss at all, just lay him down (awake), kiss him goodnight and close the door.
So we have returned to Austin. Ollie was amazing on the return trip as well; on the first leg, from Louisville to Chicago, the woman sitting next to us commented as we landed that he was the best-behaved baby she'd ever seen, and after the Chicago to Austin leg, the woman in front of us said he was "very good". Of course, given the lateness of the flight (7:30-10 PM), that was entirely because Jenny had the bright idea to swaddle him in a blanket, and he fell asleep in my arms for almost the entire flight. Still, he did really well and I'm proud of him. He works hard to be cheerful even when he's tired or hungry.
For example, as we were leaving my parents' house the other night, it was really close to bedtime and he was pretty tired, so he was kind of fussing as I put him in the carseat. I started up the car and as we left the subdivision he started singing to himself, which was just heartbreakingly cute. Jenny and I started singing to him as well, and he went to sleep shortly thereafter.
Ollie picked up some new tricks over the week, he's making lots more sounds (including a K sound and a Th sound we hadn't heard before) and getting better at rolling over. Enough better that we can't swaddle his arms anymore at night, because he could roll over and suffocate himself. Unfortunately that's going to mean he has to get used to sleeping unswaddled, which led to me staying up with him until 3:30 AM last night. :-P Hopefully tonight will be better.
We're glad to be home, we had fun visiting people and I know everyone loved meeting Ollie, but it's nice to have our own bed and our dogs and cat and all. :)
Tonight Jenny and I are leaving Oliver with my parents while we go out to dinner. This will be the first time he gets put to bed by someone other than Jenny or I (and I think the first time since the NICU that neither of us will be with him).
I am freaking out. :-P I never thought it would be this hard to hand him to someone else for a few hours, even someone I know and trust as much as my parents.
(The title of the entry comes from a set of clothing Ollie has; it's pretty apropos considering this trip, our upcoming trip to Williamsburg, the trip to New Orleans after that, and possibly a trip to Baltimore in October.)
I have to admit, I was a little trepidatious about taking a four-month-old on a six-hour plane trip. He's got his schedule, and lately he's gotten to the point where he's interested enough in things that unless the room is dark and quiet, he has a lot of trouble falling asleep, but he still needs a nap every three-four hours or he gets pretty unhappy.
The trip started out the way they always do: our flight from Austin to Houston was delayed long enough that it would have been faster to drive to Houston and start there. Still, Ollie took a bit of a nap before we got on the plane and he didn't seem to mind the ear pressure as we ascended, which was a nice surprise. And of course on a plane there's always people to look at, talk to, make faces at, etc, so that helped. But overall Ollie was an angel; even though we had to detour around a storm in northern Texas, which meant we didn't land in Louisville until after 9 PM (our time), and he was clearly exhausted, he was obviously trying very hard to be happy and cheerful and friendly. There was very little crying. He's such a great baby and a hard worker. Of course, he slept terribly that first night; he slept maybe an hour, and then he was basically awake until 4 AM (mostly with Jenny; I'm a bad husband) and then slept until maybe 8.
Yesterday was better though, he got more regular naps, which always helps. We went out to my parents' house and he met my dad, my brothers, and my maternal grandmother. He really seemed to enjoy it, smiles all around except for a brief tired/fussy period in the middle. As expected, my dad managed to make him laugh as we were getting ready to leave because it was close to bedtime and he was fussy/tired. :) He went to bed readily enough, but traveling seems to have thrown him a bit (or maybe he was still tired from Tuesday); he woke up every 2 hours. Still, it's better than nothing and I can live with that schedule for a while if necessary. :)
Anyway, I just wanted to record for the world that my baby is a world-class traveler and incredibly outgoing, and I'm really proud of him. :)
Ollie's had a rough couple of days--diagnosed with (
possiblyprobably bogus) "failure to thrive", another round of painful vaccinations--but nothing seems to really keep him down. Tonight, I was waiting for the bathtub to fill and blowing raspberries on Ollie's chest, and he stole my glasses. He seemed to think this was the most hilarious thing ever, especially when I asked if I could have them back; he was chortling and giggling and clutching them in his little fists.
Blasted clever children. Ah well, at least he was having fun. I never thought that the precious few moments before a bath at bedtime, when my baby boy is giggling at me and happy, would be the best part of the day, but I guess life holds surprises for all of us. :)
Not least of which is that Ollie is the biggest flirt I've ever met. I don't know how two introverted, socially reserved people managed to have the world's most social baby, but here we are. I hope he doesn't lose that friendly outlook as he gets older.
So sleeping has been kind of a rollercoaster the last few weeks. For some reason there was a period of about 4 days where Oliver decided that sleeping for more than an hour was completely uninteresting. This was, to put it mildly, not much fun. We tried everything: earlier bedtime, later bedtime, feeding before bath, after bath, rocking, bouncing, white noise, no white noise... Possibly coincidentally, he got his first cold the day before this started, so he was all congested; we put a vaporizer with some Vicks in the room as well, so we tried using that, not using that, nothing worked.
And then after several days he just went back to sleeping. We both knew, intellectually, that that happens; it apparently tends to happen right before they take a developmental step. That doesn't really prepare you for four nights without sleep, though: nothing really can. :)
After that things actually got easier, so maybe that was what happened. Jenny read a helpful book that talked about the EASY pattern (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You) that seems to work. The idea is that you feed them, play with them/keep them active until they get tired (usually an hour to an hour and a half), then they take a nap while you do You things, and then repeat. Every baby has their own schedule, but we managed to find Ollie's pretty quickly, and like I said it's been very helpful. The first few days he only seemed to want to nap while being held (specifically, held upright against my chest) so my You activity was to sit down and watch hockey while he slept snuggled up to me. :) Yesterday, though, he had a really fussy morning, Jenny had trouble getting him to nap at all. About 3 she asked me if I could swaddle him (I'm better at swaddling him tightly enough that he falls asleep before he works himself free; more practice) and get him down for a nap. He woke up after about 15 minutes, but settled back down again and slept until 5. I think his longest nap to that point was probably 45 minutes, so a two-hour nap was completely unexpected. :) We were actually a little worried he wouldn't sleep well last night because of it--but then he slept from 8pm to 5am, which was incredible. He woke up a few times, but always settled himself back down without either of us having to get up, and after Jen fed him at 5, he slept until 7:30 and then just quietly lay in his crib until about 8. I have not slept so well in months. :) So hopefully that week of no sleep was him figuring out how to sleep better on his own, and things will continue like this for a bit. Of course, traveling and changes in routine are supposed to cause sleep issues, and we're traveling each of the next three months, which could be "exciting".
Ollie continues to develop every day, of course; he's holding his head up without any problems now, and he loves being in the Snugli when we're out. The grocery store and Lowe's are both favorite locations, since there's so many people and shapes and colors to see. Best of all, he and I can go out for two or three hours at a time and leave Jenny home to work, which up until now has been hard for her to do. Apparently Ollie roller over (tummy to back) yesterday, but it happened while Jen and he were at a friend's house and he hasn't duplicated the feat for me. :) He's stuffing more and more things into his mouth; his favorite is still both hands (at the same time), but he also tends to enjoy gnawing on hands, knuckles, toys, etc. It's actually a little disconcerting to have your three-month-old suddenly lean over and start gnawing on you like a little velociraptor, but I guess it makes him happy. ;) He's still really talkative--we got him a Bumbo chair so he can sit up, and he loves to sit in that thing and talk to us. I can't wait until they're real words. ;)
He's very interested in the pets lately too, he watches them all the time and occasionally reaches out towards them. They're great with him (to the point where we have to stop them giving him kisses all over his face) as well.
Hockey has been lots of fun lately. I scored another goal: I was set up in front of the goal after I joined a rush, and the forward who had dropped back to cover my spot shot/passed it at me. I managed to deflect the puck up and over the goalie's shoulder, which was very cool and exactly what I was trying to do. Managing to do what I was trying to is an exciting and not-exactly-common event, so... ;) I've been seeing the ice better lately too, doing a better job of keeping my head up and looking around to find the best pass rather than just blindly dumping it ahead. The team has kind of been on a roller coaster, but with one exception all of the games have been fun even when we lose. The exception was a win a week or so ago where one of the other team's forwards deliberately ran over our goalie on a breakaway and separated his shoulder, so we've had substitute goalies since. It sucks to see someone get hurt like that, especially since I was the one who gave up the breakaway. :(
Today Jen and I took Ollie to the University of Texas Natatorium and introduced him to swimming. He loves his nightly bath so much--he squishes himself as far down as he can get into the water--we figured that putting him in the biggest bathtub he had ever seen was a good idea. He actually seemed alternately entranced and freaked out by the whole thing, but it was a lot of fun and I think he'll love the water as much as his parents do eventually. The lifeguards seemed to think it was really cute; I love it when people randomly smile at you because you have a baby. I just don't trust people who don't like babies. Anyway, he got cold pretty quick, so we were only there a half hour or so, but it was a good time. And then there was spicy vegetarian Chinese food after, so that's always a plus.
Speaking of Ollie, there are two new videos (one an "artistic reinterpretation" of the other) up in Ollie's gallery, as well as new-old photos from a 2004 vacation with Jen's family in North Carolina. Should you be interested.
You can definitely see the changes in his behavior, I think. He's nine weeks old now; when we brought him home, "holding Oliver" meant holding him in your lap while he slept for hours on end. (Ah, the joys of newborns, he says with the air of an experienced parent... ;)) Nowadays, he wants to be actively entertained, and what was hugely amusing ten minutes ago is as passe as last season's fashions. He does love his mobile, and he's getting pretty good at reaching out and smacking/grabbing onto random things, but he's not really to the point where he can significantly entertain himself yet, so things are actually a little more labor-intensive than they were a month ago. On the other hand, he smiles (hugely), coos, laughs, and is a lot more interactive, so it's not exactly a hardship spending time with him. :)
Work is very good lately. I had my annual review, and while I've had some positive annual reviews in my time, this was easily the best so far. Not only did I get a promotion to senior software developer, but the Director of Engineering has laid out a pretty comprehensive career plan for me, one that sounds absolutely perfect. It means a lot more responsibility over the next several years, and a pretty steep learning curve, but I think it will be a lot of fun and I'm really excited about it.
So life is pretty good right now. I'm excited to be going to Louisville in May, to show Ollie off to my dad, my brothers, and one of my grandmas (who haven't met him yet) and see everyone again. Time is flying by, so I'm sure it won't feel like too long. Although I do miss having people around. We had friends or family around so much from December-January that I guess I realized again how much I miss all the people we love when they're not around. I'm sad, too, that we won't get to go to England to hang out with Fiona when her and Simon's baby is born; I know she'll be well-attended, but nonetheless. Hopefully we can get over the pond sometime fairly soon.
So, to summarize: Ollie got wet, he's fun to play with, work rocks, and I miss you all. :)
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. :)
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.
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. :)
So this is just a quick update, I promise a long post later with more info and I'll add pictures when I get a chance.
Oliver Grey Kokai-Means was delivered at 5:33 this morning. He weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces and was 20.5 inches long, blue eyes (of course) and blonde/brown hair. He is the most beautiful baby ever, and lest you think I'm just being a new dad, I'll point out that all of the nurses have said so too, and they're not biased. ;)
Unfortunately, due to some complications during labor, Oliver experienced severe respiratory distress at birth, and he is making a steady recovery in the neonatal ICU of St. David's hospital. He seems like a perfectly happy, healthy newborn boy, and we're hopeful that he'll be home by Jenny's birthday.
(This post was actually written on 1/10, and pre-dated, just in case anyone is wondering. No, I did not rush home from the hospital to blog about our baby. :))
Never, ever, ever ask a pregnant woman, "you got twins in there?"
Particularly if you are the waiter who is depending on her good graces for your tip. It's rude, it's thoughtless, and it makes you like like a moron who ain't never seen a pregnant woman before. And you don't get tipped very well, for some reason.
Jesus. It amazes me how people (at large) view pregnancy. I don't know if it's a consequence of modern life (where, the birth rate being what it is, pregnant women are a relative rarity), or of the images displayed in the media (where pregnant women are all impossibly skinny and never more than 3 months along), but you'd think these people had no idea that you could actually grow a real person in there! (Which is particularly interesting when combined with the fact that "newborns" on TV are invariably like 18 months old--you have these skinny, tiny women giving birth to 20-pound babies. Physics, anyone?)
In other news: I played hockey (well, went to the hockey class) last night for the first time since August. It was great fun--a pair of my friends were there, and some other guys I knew, and it was great being part of it again. One of the guys told me I looked just as good as the last time he saw me play--which is nice, but probably not quite true; I did fall down at least once. ;) My ghetto gloves lost their protective coating of duct tape halfway through, unfortunately. Hopefully my new gloves get here soon. :)
We had a really busy weekend; normally we take Sunday easy, just read the paper and have breakfast, maybe clean some stuff, take a nap, etc.; yesterday, aside from hockey, we had to get up early to make the sugar cookie base for a fruit pizza (quick tip: do not use olive oil in cookie recipes that call for "1 cup oil"; just trust me on this one), which we took to a brunch with several people from Jen's school, hosted by one of the administrators there. That was fun; she has 3 very friendly, very large dogs (Great Pyrenees), and I'm a sucker for big fluffy animals. :)
Saturday Jen went out to the mall with some friends; I stayed home and cleaned, mostly. I ended up in a grumpy mood; the weather here has finally swung towards winter (gray, cold, rainy) and I think I'm addicted to sunshine at this point. Plus I was really missing hockey (which was why Jen told me to go on Sunday); I'm not a super social person most of the time, but I really love hanging out with the people there and getting the exercise.
So anyway, we're thinking taking it easy next weekend will be good; we're really hoping Ollie decides to come out and play soon. It's been such a long process that it's getting really hard to be patient any more. :) He is at least head-down (ultrasound today confirmed it), so that's one worry pretty much out of the way.
I'm also excited about the new kitchen sink and faucet. We picked it out last week and picked it up this weekend, and we'll be putting it in over Christmas (I am not attempting plumbing without Dad around to walk me through it ;)).
Work is muy busy right now. We have a big deadline tomorrow and a bigger one the 15th, so there's lots of extra hours and weekends for a lot of people (not so much for me, fortunately). It's exciting, though; in a few weeks all the stuff I've been working on for months will finally be in the hands of real users (even if only in limited numbers). I can't wait to hear back from sales and through our forums how people react to it.
Yeah, so these things seem to be monthly, so here you go for the month of September. ;) I'm just kidding... or am I?
Anyway, last weekend was lots of fun. Sandy flew in from Florida (between all kinds of crazy business trips: we appreciate the stopover! ;)) and hung out all weekend. We went to the Botanical Gardens, and also a nearby collection of animals who had been rescued. Many of them had been people's pets, which makes you wonder about humanity (I mean, who thinks a bobcat would make a good pet?) I did feel bad for the coyote, Martha, though; she had grown up on a ranch with a family and dogs to play with, and now she's stuck in a small cage with no entertainment at all. She just paced back and forth, back and forth, and she really reminded me of the poor dogs at the Humane Society, the ones who keep hoping their family will come back and find her again. Some kids came by while we were watching her, and the way she perked up was kind of heartbreaking. The vultures were kind of cool, though, especially since it was feeding time (yum, rats!). Jen was a little squicked out by that, though.
Anyway, like I said, it was lots of fun. We went to see The Illusionist at the Alamo; I really liked the movie. It was all stylish early-1900's Vienna, and magic, and love, and an ambiguous ending (I love ambiguous endings), and Jessica Beal's te-herr-ible "Generic Euro" accent didn't detract too much, seeing as she didn't have all that many lines. I liked Edward Norton's role a lot, though, and Paul Giamatti did a good job too. Anyway, if magic and intrigue in Imperial Vienna sounds interesting, you should definitely check it out. We hit the Texas State History Museum as well, which had an interesting exhibit on Braggin' (It's not braggin' if it's true!), including a Cadillac covered in rhinestones (the glitteriest car I've ever seen) and an actual, working, VW Beetle made from wrought iron (which was amazingly cool). All in all a fun visit, with a very nice mix of activities and full-out lazy relaxation. My kind of holiday weekend. :)
Lately work has been madly busy. We have a major deadline Monday (I've been working 10- and 12-hour days, highly unusual for us), and another at the end(ish) of October, and somewhere in there we're moving offices. Well, I say "we", but I'm not moving offices, because I already did. I packed up my office at work, including my work PC, and brought it home, and I now work from the dining room 4.5 days a week. (The other half day I have to be onsite for meetings etc.) Working from home is, in a word, delightfullyawesome. It's definitely nice to have separate work and home PCs--easier, at least for me, to keep the two activities separate and be able to "leave" work even though I'm still here. I feel more productive, able to concentrate better; I couldn't imagine working in a cubicle farm again. A private office, maybe. ;) The lack of commute is really, really nice. It does take some discipline, but I guess I don't really find that all that hard to manage.
This weekend we're just kind of chilling. USA Baby was having a huge sale, so we picked up a full-body pillow for Jen and a car seat/stroller system. We also took down the popcorn ceiling in the nursery (which is terribly messy, by the way; there's fine white dust everywhere), I primered it today, and will be painting it tomorrow. We need to do the polka dots soon as well, just to get that room totally done and ready.
Ollie is really active lately, and he's pretty strong. It's very weird (in a cool way) to feel him kicking or punching. Today Jen said she tapped her stomach and Ollie immediately kicked her there, so she may have invented a new game. ;)
Charlie is finally back down to his ideal weight, but Cara managed to put on five extra pounds in the meantime. The dieting never stops here, man; we just take turns. ;)
Anyway, aside from Sandy's visit, my life is all about work and Ollie, so not much else to say. I hope all you guys are having a good time of it. :)
180, 9, and 6 (or 3) are today's important numbers. 180 is beats per minute. 9 is weeks. And 6 (or 3) is people, depending on whether you only count homo sapiens or not.
More specifically, 180 beats per minute is the rate of the heartbeat Jenny and I listened to today. It's the heart rate of our now 9-week-old fetus, who will make six (or 3) people in this family. Yes, Jenny and I are going to have a baby, on or about December 27th. Jenny believes it will be a boy, though of course there's no way to know for another 2-3 months at least.
The prospect of being a parent is a bit tremendous. Partially this is because Jenny and I have been reading scads of books about pregnancy and parenthood. In some ways this is a terrible idea, because these books are largely very scary. :) Still, I have definite ideas about the kind of parent I want to be, and the kind of parent I think I will be, and Jenny will be, and overall I'm optimistic. I'm generally optimistic about things, so I guess that's par for the course.
I don't mean to be melodramatic or anything; clearly we're not the first people to have a baby in this world. :) It's just a bit personally overwhelming at times. I think it will be quite the adventure.
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