Baby meets Baby

The Baer family -- Martina, Peter, and their seven-month old, Alex -- came to meet Elliott today.  Tessa and I met Alex for the first time at about the same time in his life. It was amazing to see how big and different Elliott will be in just a few months.  While very exciting -- Alex was very interested in seeing a young baby -- it makes us understand why everyone emphasizes how nostalgic we will be for these newborn weeks.

Yes, Elliott is wearing the same outfit as his photo from yesterday.  This is one of his Woombies, that he loves, but it has been washed at least once since his last shoot.  His love of Woombies is exceeded by his love for the sounds of a washing machine filling and operating... so we do a lot of laundry.

Fayette visits Elliott

One of the perks of relocating to Seattle was that several good friends from college had already done the relocation.  I do not see them nearly as often as I should.  There is something about a baby, though, that does the recruiting automatically.

This is Fay Shaw, a graduate student at the University of Washington.  When I was a sophomore in college, Fay participated in my little Robotics Club Intro project -- the next year, she helped run it.  That was more than a decade ago.  

Co-sleepers, redux

Our two "children" have started to find a rhythm and comfort with each other.  Corvis has grown a bit more protective around Elliott -- on the latest night for which we employed a night doula (more about that later), we did not confine him to his kennel. Rather than the usual choice of sleeping in our bedroom, he decided his job was to curl up at the base of the bassinet that we had relocated to the living room, so that he could keep an eye on this "night doula" character.

Working out better than we had hoped.

In a third dimension!

If you have been following this blog, but not yet met him in person, you have seen him occupy the horizontal. He occupies the vertical.  In the interest of pushing the blog, however, we know we have to do better.  So now - watch Elliott in a third dimension: time.

These two 40-second videos come from this morning at 7:30 am and, in a different outfit, at 8 am.  We think we have a diaper size problem.  Of note is that this is day 15, and those are new three-month-old full sized outfits he's filling. 
  1. Elliott does not have great motor control, but loves his hands.  This often leads to conflict with his face. He also likes to hold my finger, and maintain an intense expression with his eyes.
  2. For the past week, our little baby has suffered hiccups (but not silently) on a daily basis.

The Weekend After the Grandparents

Before we return to our regular, fresh Elliott picture, here's a final example of my parents in action.

They left Friday night, and we have had to readjust our nascent rhythms to compensate. For one, our dog Corvis now gets more 3am, and fewer 7am, walks.  For another, Tessa has had to handle solo duties for the first time as I get dispatched for errands.  On my first errands, I came back with everything on our list, plus donuts and two dozen roses.  Am I trying too hard?

The Sleep of a New Father

A labor retrospective presented with the sleep biometrics of a first-time father

Elliott was born at 3:50 am on March 1st, eleven days after his due date. This being my first pregnancy experience, I had concerns about my ability to function through a prolonged labor. I track my sleep year-round because I do not “sleep enough”, so this claim may seem odd. However, waiting on the birth of your child is exhausting. I participate in triathlons, and the closest analog to pre-delivery is the jitters and anxiety that fill the 24 hours prior to the start of an event. Except that with labor, the start time is hidden. How much energy can I expend in the day, if epic labor may commence in the night?

Papa and Elliott

My father -- don't call him Grandpa, call him Papa -- has been with us a week. Nana and Papa head home tonight, but I wanted to feature a picture of him here before that. Turns out I can't feature just one.

Papa lectures while Primo poses
Papa, a Professor by trade and title, lectures while young Elliott mugs for the camera

Doula's Notes in Epic form

Tessa’s Birthing Story by Laura Brickner, Doula 

Tessa grew a baby, not just any baby, but a big beautiful baby boy. He was not just any boy either. He was a boy that was strong and decisive and very involved in his family from the beginning. This boy woke both his parents – and therefore the family dog—up every night at midnight. The parents unable to sleep would put the dog on his leash and head out for a 1:00 in the morning stroll each day under the moon. It was decided that this baby was part raccoon and just wanted to be out knocking down trashcans under the light of the moon.

It only stands to figure that this boy that kept his parents up until 3am each night would be born under a full moon at 3:50 am, 3-1-2010 (his favorite numbers). I will back up and tell you how I watched this little strong man come into the world.

Tessa is not a wimp, not in any way! She dilates to 5cm without so much as a blink, and walks around for weeks working on end birthing the way other women visit over tea and cakes. When I talk to her about all that is to come, she shrugs and says, “ I can handle it!”  So on Sunday, when she text me at 6:30p.m. February 28th to say, “I’m thinking tonight/tomorrow is it.” I jump in my car and drive to be with her, knowing I can trust her that it will happen tonight! She is in the dark of her bedroom with Dan doing whatever she needs to do to stay comfortable and deciding that this is not what she expected -- nor is it the way she would choose for a woman to have a baby. “Crampy and not fun,” she says with a look of confused distaste, and what is it going to be like as it gets worse she wonders out loud. Well, I know she can do it and she will do it because she is that kind of ‘can-do’ person. I let her know that it is more intense but she will integrate each new level of intensity and we will help her to do it.

By 7:00 the dog was with grandma, at 7:30 Dan took Tessa walking, and when they came back he gave her feet and hands a thorough massaging. Tessa thanked Dan for his kindness and support all day and started to joke with him, so off they went to snuggle and rest at 9:00 before the next challenging level came. The whole time Dan would track the time Tessa’s contractions lasted and really enjoyed logging the number of minutes between and during rushes, he should be awarded for the best-kept contraction journal of all time.

Tessa ate some fresh bread from the market at 9:30 and took care to drink lots of fluids the whole night. By 10:10 she was in the shower and we didn’t see her again for 35 minutes, but she came out smiling and finding a rhythm for her contractions. The amazing thing was watching Tessa go into these positions that were so conducive to labor but that other women would shy away from: rocking and leaning forward on the bed, or footrest, swaying her hips or walking. By 11:45 we were laughing to the movie “The Big Lebowski” and supporting Tessa’s heavy rushes every three minutes.

Dan called the hospital to let them know we would be on our way soon and when ‘Cindy’ asked to talk to Tessa, Dan and I could hear that she had no idea how hard Tessa was working from the sound of her voice. We all hated Cindy. At midnight we made the move to the hospital and who should be the nurse to monitor Tessa and decide if she should stay? Cindy! It was playtime for the baby raccoon and Dan and I sat in awe watching Tessa’s uterus lurch and jump as she lay on the bed! Contractions now were intensified by the baby raccoon punching back against each muscle squeeze.

Jennifer the midwife came to meet Tessa and see how much she had opened up – 6 cm and ‘very thin’ – not what Tessa thought she wanted to hear but in hind-sight she was doing perfectly. The group moved to room 330 to find some hot relaxing water and make it until the birthing tub was set up. By 2:20 Tessa’s muscles were trembling but she was still coping beautifully with her own ritual of movement. She had a few really powerful contractions that had her wanting to push during the peak of them so Jennifer checked her again and she had progressed to 8cm and it was only 3:00. I must remind you that the raccoon had been playing this whole time!

The birthing tub was ready and Tessa climbed into her solitude only to be ripped through with a couple of lightening bolts of pain and a new burning fire that the water could not put out. The midwife checked her and she was complete in 10 minutes! “Go ahead and push when you
have the urge,” she was instructed, “but get out of the tub and up on the bed.” Some women lie down to relax at this point, but not super mommy, no she squats on the bed and pushes her baby out in 40 minutes.

Into the world came a new presence that would forever change life’s experience for all of us. From the minute his hands were free, they were reaching and moving and he was letting us know his story... How this whole journey had been for him. When he tried nursing he did great, but why should he work so hard at this when his familiar fist was right here? As if he was saying to his mommy, “I have been doing things my own way for months now, why don’t you all see that I will do what I want when I want to?” I kept seeing Tessa’s eyes twinkle and catching unexpected smiles as her raccoon told her he wasn’t starving he just needed to knock around for awhile his own way.

As for daddy Dan, I am afraid everyone else in the world has fallen away and the only one he can see in the room is his little raccoon.

Very Special Birthday

For Dan's birthday, there was no cake and no guests were invited. We partied all the same. In four parts:

  1. Baby got dressed in a warm outfit
    Baby got dressed
    (Thanks, Brian and Erica Holley for the outfit!)

  2. Baby went into sling and we went for a walk around the neighborhood (baby's first walk)
    Very Special Birthday

  3. How could I not be happy with this, my beautiful family?Very Special Birthday

  4. Finally, I had to drive to the airport to pick up Elliott's Grandfather (don't call him that). So we introduced Elliott to a close family friend, Mr. Potter.
    Elliott watches Harry Potter