Saturday, February 20, 2010

Elias' arrival

The social revolution that is Twitter and Facebook means that this blog is no longer the go-to place for up-to-the-minute news about things like births and Iranian politics. If you don't know the essentials about the birth last week, then you need to "plug in" dude.

Jaime describes this birthing experience as the perfect end to a miserable pregnancy. Smooth, easy, enjoyable. Boring, almost.

But let's back up to the point where we were sure all of this was going to kill her. Let's back up to Wednesday . . . was it Thursday? . . . I don't really remember at this point and Jaime is sleeping--as she should be--so I can't ask. Jaime was in the hospital for the the third time in the last trimester getting IV fluids and anti-nausea meds. She had hardly gained any weight during the entire big-weight-gain weeks at the end of the pregnancy. Her due date based on her cycle was the 22nd. Based on sonograms, it was the 15th. Calling Monday, the 15, her 39-week point, Denise, her nurse-midwife, had said that Friday night, the 12th was the earliest she would consider inducing. Jaime wanted to set that as the "GO" date. She made this decision with great reluctance. Both David and Simon were induced prior to their due date and Jaime was looking forward to a natural labor experience. But the inability to eat anything was more than she could take. So she asked to begin inducing on the 12th.

And her doctor said "no."

I was not present for this, but I heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Apparently there was a miscommunication or reconsideration, but her OB-GYN partners were not willing to allow this baby to arrive a minute before the 39-week point. Which means she could begin as early as Sunday night for a Monday birthday. I was not present or my suggestion would have been that we would agree to that as long as the Doctors making this decision agreed to eat no more than Jaime was able to eat for the following three days. Turns out, they would have come of OK in that deal. We went home, mom watched the boys, and Jaime slept. When she awoke (with fresh meds) she felt much better and was able to eat properly most of the weekend. Sunday night we went in as scheduled.

I'll spare you the details, but various treatments over night into Monday morning brought on spontaneous labor without Pitocen. Around 1:30, her contractions were so intense, she reluctantly decided she would need an epidural. This was the moment we had been waiting for. With her priors, the epidural was the event that moved her to the final stages and babies arrived shortly thereafter. I called my sister to come on up and mused that were going to be able to take the baby's first pictures with daylight. The anesthesiologist arrived and put in the epi.

And labor stopped.

So we had to start the Pitocen and waited around for the rest of the afternoon.

At this point I need stop and mention the nurses. One of the advantages of birthing in the hospital where you work is that you can know the nurses and can request your pick of the shift ahead of time. Jaime had requested Rita for when we went in Sunday night. Rita had taken care of her when were there three day prior and we thought she was wonderful. When Rita's shift ended at 6:00am Monday, we got Amy, whom we really didn't know, but there was no one scheduled for that shift she did know. Turns out a friend of Jaime's--Karen--was filling in on that shift unexpectedly, but Amy had already been assigned to us so that is who we got. Over the course of the next twelve hours, we came to love Amy. But the shift was ending. Both Amy and Karen would be going home. Amy had put in all this work taking care of Jaime all day and Jaime was sad she would not be able to be present at the birth. Jaime was equally sad that Karen, her friend, would not be present since she was also going off shift. But Rita was coming back on, so that was good at least. But wouldn't it be perfect if all three of them could be present? What is the solution? Full-on pushing right at shift change! They all got to be there. Along with a student nurse who has been following Jaime for a couple weeks, the nurse-midwife, my sister, two nurses from the nursery who would take over postpartum care, me, and Jaime--that was 10 people attending to this birth. It was like a knitting club. At one point I almost asked for all the sisterly chit chat and "go girl" encouragement to just stop already, but I was outnumbered.

Here is how Jaime has been describing the experience: the amount of pain-control meds were exactly right. She was able to feel the labor--even the pain of it, without being debilitated by pain. She was neither numb nor in a fog. It was perfect.

Elias came almost without complications. His umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck tightly enough that Denise could not slide it off over his head or push it back over his shoulders. This caused a momentary pause as his shoulder emerged. Denise was able to cut the cord at this point to allow him to come the rest of the way out. They are so strange when the emerge, like inanimate objects: purple and still. Then they transform like time-lapse films of a pupating moth. They wake up, change color, begin to move and cry. The child you see an hour after birth is completely unrecognizable as the one that emerged during labor.

APGAR at birth:8. After five minutes: 9
Weight: 8 lbs
Length 21 inches.

Since the birth, Jaime has had no problem keeping food down. Thanks to God and the women at church, she has no shortage of food to keep down. Both are feeling good, eating well, thriving. Sleeping? Not so much. But I have been here all week to take care of the older brothers, so mother and baby have had plenty of naps. Jaime is tired, but not miserably so.

After such a miserable pregnancy, we could not have asked for a better labor and postpartum week. We thank God. We also thank my mom for older-brother duty while we were in the hospital, Skylar for being present at the birth again, Denise, our super nurse mid-wife, the great nurses at St. Francis, our family's and our friends for love, encouragement, food, and baby supplies.

Jaime just put him in my arm, so I am typing single-handedly while he stares at me and I stare back at him. Jaime voices his thoughts: "Dad, how can you write about me when I am right here in your arm?"

I have no reply.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Eternal Earthbound Pets replies

Much to my surprise, one of the principles of Eternal Earthbound Pets replied to my email. Except that he didn't reply to my email, he replied in the comments to my blog post about the email. You can read it in context there or, um right here, with a couple of editorial comments.

Hmmm..yes, I see your email in my business partners trash:>

He handled inquires for West of the Mississippi. We now only have one email address. I handle all contacts:

I guess given the publicity and volume of mail we were getting in August/Sept he didn't feel your inquiry merited the time to respond. Reading your letter in detail now, I can porobably understand why. But I'll undertake to answer it now.

So, you don't believe in Rapture doctrine yet you spent an inordinate amount of typing and explaining the fictional doctrine of Rapture believers for us... as though we are unschooled in the various end times interpretations. Thanks for that.
He is making that up. my whole letter is barely 16 sentences and the only "explaining" I do is about two sentences to set immediate context for my question. Hardly an inordinate amount of time. I would not presume to know more about Rapture and Tribulation theology than anyone else who has studied it. I used to know more than I do now, but those parts of my brain have been given over to details about childcare and SQL.
There are opposing opinions as to what the Tribulation would be like. According to interpretation of Revelation more than 1/3rd of the world's population will be spared/survive the 7 yrs; and those willing to accept the sign of the beast will beable to conduct business, share in commerce, etc. But frankly, since the potential of such doctrine being real is perhaps 1 in 500 Billion, we don't concern ourseves with the nightmarish myths of the deluded.

Your comment about anti-christian propaganda frankly falls under the same heading. In fact, given that atehsists are nothing if not realists and pragmatists, it would be hard to deny our error in the event of dead corpses rising out of the grave, et al.

Thus, if we have rejected the imaginary propaganda of theists because it is devoid of any evidence now, how much easier would it be to dismiss as false the so called anti-christian propaganda you claim will follow the rapture when prima fascia evidence for theistic belief being true would have been observable? Your dicotomy is invalid and patently silly.
I am sort of disappointed on this point. My dichotomy is patently silly? The whole Eternal Earthbound Pets concept, and my entire response is patently silly. Either my letter too silly or poorly-executed to be actually be funny, like jokes David makes up, or it is just not a funny joke, period. Oh, well. They can't all land.
Finally, may I recommend that you start your own business and offer $50.00 pet euthanasia coverage in lieu of pet rescue. As a christian yourself evidently you perceive a greater value in death than life, or figure rapture believers to be so inclined. Infact, why stop with pets? For $100.00 you can offer to euthanise "leftbehind" christians whose families beamed up when they didn't.
Crap, I wish I had thought of that. It sounds like the premise of a SyFy channel series, like Dexter, but with Kirk Cameron.
Not being a death cultist, which is the mainstay of Christian belief, I don't put an awful lot of thought into such matters. I'm simply offering a service to those death cultists who care about their pets, and want inexpensive insurance that I am certain to a degree of approx. 500 billion to 1 I will never have to execute.
So, there's your answer. Sorry it's so late.
So there is their answer. Sorry it took me so long to bring attention to it. I got busy with holiday stuff.

Oh, and happy New Year/Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord/Feast of St. Basil the Great. This Christmastime has been so high-effort with the weather and a sick wife, that I decided to pass on proper commemoration of the new year other than watching "Stardust" and drinking some port (which I probably would have done anyway given that I have tomorrow off).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Christmas this year--at least the beginning of it--has felt over-shadowed. I know that my feelings don't matter at all in relation to the marking of the Nativity of Christ and that most important aspect of the holiday was the highlight. Because of the weather, very few people made it to Liturgy so that only David and I served at the altar. I loved serving with him and he enjoyed the additional responsibility. The weather was a blessing in other ways as well. I love snow and we got to go sledding--Simon's first time. Snow is a pleasant challenge and always creates memories, like getting stuck in grandpa's driveway having Uncle Paul tow me out. But for all the fun and beauty, the weather definitely overshadowed the larger family gatherings and celebrating of the feast.

Poor planning was another dark cloud. It is the same complaint every year with me--I hate spending the weeks prior to Christmas in a stressed rush to finish everything. The things that I enjoy most--cooking and wrapping gifts--I do quickly at the last minute. I have already outlined a timeline for completing the Next-Christmas Project. I begins basically now and is complete by the beginning of Advent so that all I have left is cooking and wrapping so that I may give those activities the time they deserve and really enjoy them. I was thinking about what this means--a year-long preparation for Christmas. Hopefully, if I do it right, it will mean that I am giving the appropriate amount of attention to it at any given time rather than having to think about it 24-7 during the Advent season, which is better spent in a more reflective preparation. It will also spread out my focus on making/buying things for others and anything that focuses me on others is good. It is possible that an easy, well-paced year-long preparation for Christmas will be very edifying.

Of course, none of this matters a whit to the boys. I remember back when each of them was very young--around their first or second Christmases or birthdays, when they would open a present and be so absorbed by it that we would have to remind them that there is another present to open. Reluctantly, they would put down the first to open the second and then be absorbed by that. Not now. Even gifts that they absolutely love are rapidly dropped in favor of the next box, creating a blizzard of paper, ribbons, and Scotch Tape in the house that was as intense as the one outside. Their enjoyment this year was increased by the snow as well as by the gifts that they gave. We spent some time making low-relief plaster casts of their hands as a couple of gifts. We also spent quality time one afternoon picking out gifts from each of us to Jaime. Jaime did the same getting them presents for me. So they were just as excited when other people were opening their presents.

A few family members got them Barnes and Noble gift cards, which we went out and spent last night. Part of me wanted to exert some control over what they got, but I resisted. I am pretty happy with the haul. Simon got a book featuring anthropomorphic bulldozers, another featuring Cars characters, a stuffed "Max" from Where the Wild Things Are, and a kit that contains a rocket powered by baking soda and vinegar. David got a book featuring Batman, a kit about the solar system that includes models of the planets and a mini-cosmosphere, and a book of knock, knock jokes. He is trying to learn how to tell a joke. Since I used the word "learn" in the previous sentence, and because I'll make him read the jokes himself, I am considering it homeschool material.

So nothing overshadowed Christmas for them. The weather meant we had our service early in the evening so they both got to enjoy it--Simon had his mom to himself and David got to serve. The snow meant all kinds of fun. They weren't rushed about anything. They had fun making and buying presents. And, of course, they had fun receiving them.

Christ is Risen!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Altar Boy

Altar Boy

So, I mentioned before that David and I have been practicing at being an altar boy. Today was the big day. Having practiced several times and told everyone who would listen that he was going to be serving, came in the back stairway after Sunday school, got his robe on, came in, prostrated, got his blessing, and then served like an old pro. Before he came up, I prayed to various and asorted saints for patience, not knowing how well he would do at the paying attention and not driving me crazy. Prayers answered. He did wonderfully, alternately paying attention and being fascinated and curious about everything that was happening and asking a continuous stream of questions.

Everyone agrees that he was adorable. One young woman told me that when he came out, she smiled at him, and he winked back at her. He waved and smiled and I think even gave a thumbs up to someone. Given the chance, he would have kissed babies and made campaign promises, I am sure.

We have two other young boys in the parish who do not serve. Both are several years older than David. One of them has served in the past, and the other has served in other parishes. I have sometimes wondered if they did not serve because they didn't want to be the only child serving. This is an area where I am the most pleased with David--his comfort with pretty much anyone regardless of age. He can hang out with and converse with adults and then go play with toddlers. Today, one of the other boys mentioned to his mom that he had been thinking about serving again and might do so next week. Perhaps David will make it easier for other boys to come hang out with the Subdeacons.

He was curious as to why he only has an altar-server's robe whereas I have a cassock and orarion in addition to a stichera. I explained that it is because I am a Subdeacon. He told me that, when he grows up, he wants to be a Subdeacon, just like me.

Dream big, son.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


"What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love."
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
I didn't grow up with brothers. One of my brothers died as a toddler and I hope intercedes for me before Our Heavenly Father. The other is quite a bit younger than me and has always lived in another town. I consider it a flaw in my character that I did not develop closer relationship with him. I have often envied the camaraderie of men who grew up together--brothers that I have seen in my extended family, books, and movies. Adult brothers often seem to interact within a constant running in joke, a funny, brave, and moving story about their lives together. Of course, sometimes that story is not funny and many brothers have tragic and conflicted relationships. Either way, the facets and flaws of masculinity seem to be amplified when brothers are together--stimulated by a lifetime of continuous reinforcement.

I was moved to reflect on this relationship when I saw this beautiful photograph of a groom with his two older brothers. The one on the right is friend of mine. Something about the groom's posture reminds of how I felt just before my own wedding. When I saw this photo, my first thought was about my own three sons. God willing, they will someday be gathered like this. They will posture, tease, horse around, recite old jokes and stories, allude to secrets kept between themselves. They will support each other, take council with each other and love each other. God willing they will be comrades in arms, teammates, shipmates, soul-mates. God willing, God willing, God willing. This is my prayer for them, that they will always be brothers.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

This post composed in a blog that may also contain traces of wheat or dairy

Simon has had some pretty serious digestive problems since he began eating. I won't inflict the details on you. Receiving nothing really useful from the medical establishment, we have experimented ourselves. Our first breakthrough came from taking mild out of his diet. The second came by taking wheat out. The difference is noticeable and possitive, but it does make life a little bit difficult. Difficult in a pathetic and cute kind of way.

This evening, my niece, Sophia, was baptized. As usual it was a lovely service. I'm sure I'll be able to link to various people's pictures soon. Afterward, we had cupcakes as a celebratory snack. My mother, who is allergic to wheat, made regular cupcakes as well as gluten-free ones. Simon initially grabbed the wrong one, got it unwrapped, and had taken a small bite when Nina realized his error. I grabbed a gluten-free one and switched them. Then ensued a five minute conversation in which Simon, in his most pathetic whine, tried to convince Nina that his first choice was ok to eat.

Generally, though, he is a trooper. Verifying before eating most anything that it has neither dairy nor wheat. Bananas: no dairy, no wheat, Chicken: no dairy, no wheat, hot dogs: no dairy, no wheat.

Most of his bowel problems seemed to have cleared up, though he is still afraid of certain bodily processes. I dare say that he is even gaining some weight, which leads me to suspect that he has some form of Celiacs. I was hoping for a mere allergy or intolerance, but he has had a number of symptoms that indicate Celiacs, and has had improvement in a number of way since giving up the wheat that also indicate that may be what we are dealing with. But it will probably be a few years before we know for sure.