Driving past the second of two liquor stores within a half-mile of my house (and literally a few hundred yards from each other), I noticed that the lights were on and the place was open for business.
At 8:27 a.m.
For that busy commuter who just has to get that case of beer and a bottle of vodka first thing in the A.M.
I have a new appreciation for Greek and Roman mythology (not that I didn’t back when I took that course in college) after seeing lightning so up close and personal here in Texas. With all the open spaces, you can really see how amazing lightning is from a hundred yards or several miles.
Because before us humans put up all dem buildings, our ancestors probably took a look at the incredible spectacle of lightning, got really really skeered, and started coming up with stories about it. “The gods are angry at us!” And some enterprising copywriter said, “Yea, verily, it musteth be Zeus, God of Thunder!” (And then some cheesy Roman hack said, “Yea, verily, it musteth be Jupiter, King of the Gods!”)
Speaking of the true sport of kings, let’s turn to baseball. Mike & Mike were talking about Johan Santana of the Mets this morning, and how he’s basically the best pitcher in the game but gets no run support from his offense.
And I’m scratching my balding head, thinking: Jose Reyes. David Wright. Carlos Beltran. Carlos Delgado. How is this team not killing the ball every night and crushing the division?
Because the names after those guys are weak weak weak. And the starting pitching after Santana is mediocre at best. And that allegedly fantastic bullpen that they spent $478 million on last winter? Doesn’t really matter how great your relievers are if you’re losing big.
There’s got to be a way to “beat” the Zip Cash cameras on some of these toll roads. Maybe if I go 88mph, like Marty McFly in the DeLorean in Back to the Future, that’s the perfect speed to fool the cameras.
Now that you’re deep in thought, I’ll take my leave of you.
Worked from home today so we could take the girls – in, naturally, crazyhorrible rain – to the pediatrician for Visit #1.
Went fine – the doc is really nice, and we got some nice “oohs” and “aahs” when walking around with not one but two carriers.
It’s quite a workout, lugging the two carriers. And the kids only weigh about 5 lbs. each, so my trapeziuseseses will be tremendous within months.
Back next week for a weigh-in, set up a few other appointments, but all looks good for our girls.
Drove home and cranked out work the rest of the day – in between changing/feeding/burping times.
That’s pretty much the process:
1. They cry. (Actually, usually just one at a time. My girls are good like that.)
2. Check diaper. If wet or poopy, change. If not, leave alone.
3. Warm bottle, try to keep baby calm until it’s ready.
4. Feeding. Chug chug chug burp. Repeat.
5. Some more burping, to try and avoid spitups. (They’re getting better – but now that I typed that, I’ll jinx it and get spit up on six straight times.)
6. Back to bed. Sometimes crying, sometimes for a half-hour or so. Starting to notice the different types of crying.
Back to work at the office tomorrow. Will be tough leaving the girls. Of course, it might be tough getting through tonight’s change/feed/burps. But Li’l Momma (that’s what I’m calling my beautiful wife now, when she allows it) says she’ll take over tonight and let me sleep.
They’re home! (The two sweetest words in language right now.)
Alexandra came home with us on Friday afternoon, and we picked up Norah on Saturday morning. Having both girls at home – and in the same crib (we’re seeing how that goes – so far quite well) is just incredible.
A few thoughts on things:
FEEDING = It’s crazy. Trying to get them to take a bottle, then when they finally do – look out! They chug like there’s no tomorrow. It’s scary, actually. And then they get out of breath from all the exertion of eating, then fall asleep. Then you try to pull the bottle out slowly, and their reflexes kick in. “Where you takin’ my bottle, son?” And they start chugging again like mad.
BURPING = I have two methods, both of which are “epic fail” at times, super-awesome at others. The “hold them by under the chin but don’t choke them and pat on the back” method that the nurse practitioners showed us is my weapon of choice…but the old standby of “over the shoulder” is pretty good as well.
SLEEPING = I am in a generally paranoid, freaked-out-of-my-mind-at-any-sound kind of state when they sleep. I worry that they’ll stop breathing. I worry that they’ll gag on their spitup. I worry that one will accidentally poke the other in the eye, spawning a rivalry that will last for decades.
But so far, things are great. They sleep anywhere from 2 to 4 hours at a stretch, sometimes 4.5 if they’re feeling generous (or extra-content).
DIAPERS = I never thought I would pray for somebody else to poop. That day has come. Apparently, bottle-fed babies can poop up to 3-4 times a day…or as infrequently as once every 2-3 days. And when it comes…hoo boy. I’ve been wondering if I can get some of that stuff the FBI used in Silence of the Lambs, that Clarice & Co. put under their noses to block out the stench. But you know what? It’s all good when it’s your kid, and you’re just happy they’re alive and poopin’.
My bloggery is suffering as my daddery and workery are more all-consuming. Sorry, folks.
Norah = doing well; continuous feeds; looks great.
Alexandra = up to 4 lbs. 8 oz.; “nippling” (I love that word – it means drinking from the bottle) pretty regularly; no spitup overnight
Work update: Tough day. A couple layoffs thanks to declining revenues. But big light at the end of the tunnel, according to bosses. In 10 days, I’ll have a person reporting to me for the first time. Psyched about that, at least.
Texan Driving Tip #43: Never ever EVER take Main Street/423 through The Colony and Little Elm during rush hour, in either direction.
Alex visit update: I got to feed her! Yet another of the most incredible experiences ever.
Went to a new IHOP near us tonight for a late dinner. Clearly just opened – boiling hot in the main room, nice and cool in the back room where they seated us. Our server never showed up, so a very sweaty and nervous (but courteous) server whose section we were not sitting in took care of us.
12:25 AM (Phone) updates:
Norah = doing well, sleeping; went right back to sleep after diaper/temperature check. After all she’s been through, lots of sleep is perfect.
Alexandra = doing fine; had her full 40ml bottle at 11PM with no spitups.
9:17 AM Updates:
Norah = sleeping; doing well, having PIC line removed today – no more IV fluids! Down a bit weight-wise, 4 lbs., 6.1 oz., but likes continuous feeding; and we can hold her next time!
Alexandra = really good; nippled at 8AM. took 30/40; sticking out her tongue a lot; awake, just lies there looking around peacefully
Norah = no more lines! no more pulse oxygen monitor!
Alexandra = doing fine; little spitups; nippled at 2AM
4PM Norah visit = I got to hold her for the first time (although with gown and gloves, since I had a MRSA infection like seven years ago). Shannon changed her wet diaper.
5PM Alex visit = all is well.
Dinner at Palio’s Pizza Cafe near the hospital – good. POURING rain outside.
8PM Alex visit = I did her feeding, she took 47/50 ml. Awesome.
Norah = doing well; changed her diaper; sleeping peacefully.
Alexandra = sound asleep.
11AM Alexandra phone update = finished whole bottle at 8AM; starting vitamins; more interested and vigorous
12PM Norah visit = got to hold her again; she took 20ml, and is now nippling every 12 hours
1PM Alex visit = fed her; up to 4 lbs. 9 oz.; changed her diaper!; mid-feed, another poop!; hiccups started after feeding, possibly the cutest sound ever
8:00 PM Alex visit = I fed her; she burped and had a medium spitup; need to get her to 8 bottles a day for two straight days before she comes home; at 3 now, maybe 4 tomorrow
8:45 PM Norah update = doing great, sleeping like an angel
11:48 PM Norah update = doing well; 15-20 minute bottle feeds.
Had to work today, all updates were solid and uneventful.
Visited Alex for her 8PM feeding, but not Norah – since she’s sleeping most of the day except for her two bottle feeds (noon and midnight). Felt incredibly guilty.
All was well for the morning updates.
3:50 PM Updates:
Norah = up to 3 or 4 bottles “if she wants”; stopped continuous feeding for a couple hours before bottle feeds; very good day!
Alexandra = doing good; took entire bottles at 11AM and 2PM; up to 4 or 5 a day, no spitups!
Evening visit updates:
Alexandra = did her feeding, but she was fussy; changed her diaper, then re-started feeding; stopped again, thought she pooped again, went to check; AMAZING poop – all over the entire diaper area; changed, then finished most of the bottle; rest of the visit, she was nice, quiet, checking us out.
Norah = she was awake when we got there! watched some of her feeding (not bottle, this feeding) and Shannon held her for a while.
Can’t figure out who they look like, it changes from day to day. This person’s eyes, this person’s nose, etc. From now on, I just want to let them look and act like themselves and not compare them to other people.
Up for work, and on the way there, I got the:
Norah = doing fine, still spitting up often; one of our favorite doctors was in, and they wanted to try continuous feeding (I did that, and gained 30 lbs.). Had a good night last night, though.
Alexandra = doing great, took 25 ounces at the 8AM feeding through the bottle; trying to increase to 40ml per “meal”
Work was busy, new cubicles put in on the other side of our office. Ours are on the way.
Left work at 6, grabbed a very healthy Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich for dinner on the road. Met Shannon at Norah’s NICU, so here’s the:
7PM Norah Update = Completely zonked out sleeping, so we didn’t bother her. Hung around for a bit, then headed to:
8PM Alexandra Update = She was being fed via tube, so no bottle try tonight. I held her for much of the feeding, and after it was done, she started to cry a bit. Somehow, my paternal instincts knew that she had a dirty diaper – and lo and behold, when we opened it up, POOP! We changed her, and that calmed her down a bit.
Until, that is, when she spit up a little. As I held her up so Shannon could wipe her little mouth, she let loose with projectile vomit that would make an Arizona State sophomore proud.
We got no help cleaning her up, as most of the nursing staff was caring for a new NICU baby that needed a ventilator. Seeing that bothered us, since we knew what that felt like.
After cleaning her off and dressing her in a fresh outfit, I sang a medley to her: The Alphabet Song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Where The Streets Have No Name, The Luckiest, Yesterday, Sesame Street, Cheers and a couple others. (I do take requests, but she just laid there and stared up at me with those gorgeous eyes.)
One more workday, then weekend hours where we can visit more. YAY!
[COMMERCIAL SIDEBAR: Somebody must buy me Giant Cheetos. Quickly.]
–Slept a little late – working from home today. Called to check in on the girls…
–Norah = Chris at the front desk complimented her name; doing fine, had a good night; weight at 4 lbs., 7 ounces; trying to wean off Fentanyl, but it’s slow going
–Alexandra = drank 20 out of 38 (ounces, ccs, milliliters?) of her 8AM bottle; had a really good night, gained a little weight up to 4 lbs., 5.1 oz.; no new orders
Did work all morning, then left for Remicade treatment just before 1PM. Got lost – 121 changed off-ramps due to construction. It’s always tough to type/work with one hand (the other with an IV), but I manage.
Norah = good day, but spitting up after each feeding.
Alexandra = a couple “spitties” also, but doing really well
Drove home, fought insanely bad traffic on Main Street/423. [DRIVING TIP: When going through The Colony or Little Elm, AVOID MAIN STREET/423 coming north from 121 AT ALL COSTS.]
Shannon made dinner (thanks babe, it was great!) and we headed to see the girls.
6PM NORAH VISIT: Spit up a little bit when she sneezed in mid-feeding (via nose tube); otherwise gorgeous. Shannon got to change her diaper.
8PM ALEXANDRA VISIT: I got to change her diaper – and it was poopy! Shannon then bottle-fed her, and she did OK, but then switched to tube feeding. I got to hold her for a while too. She smelled like popcorn – Shannon reminded me that that was the formula.
Drove home, and here we are. A couple more crazy busy days ahead – going into the office, NICU visits, still trying to unpack a box or two after the move.
[COMPLIMENT SIDEBAR: Big ups to every single healthcare professional working at both of our NICUs: Baylor Frisco and Texas Health Plano. The doctors, nurses and everybody else have been amazing, caring, patient and just plain wonderful. They are miracle workers.]
Back to work today. Weird leaving from a new house, but ended up arriving just about my usual time. Called for updates on the girls when I hit the highway – both doing well.
Norah’s being weaned off her pain meds, as well as her IV fluids – as they switch her to actual feedings. Alexandra was also good and stable – up to 2 bottle feedings a day.
First it’s breathe. Then eat. Then home. Hopefully, in 4-14 days.
After a full day of work (and the usual ridiculous client crises), I drove home to get Shannon. We headed to see Alexandra for her 8PM feeding, which Shannon did all by herself. There’s nothing like seeing your wife feed your child.
[JOKEY SIDEBAR: A few days back, the nurses told us that Alexandra was being feisty when they tried to feed her. The next day, they said she didn’t like her sponge bath much either. I mused that maybe she’ll be a supermodel.]
After Alexandra’s feeding, we went over to see Norah. She cried a few times, but never for that long and not at all loud. It’s just great to hear her making noise after seeing her so still (except for the ventilator puffing her chest) for what seemed like an eternity.
Picked up Shannon’s beloved cats from our old place to get them into our new garage. Please do not engage me on this subject. (Ha.)
Up for tomorrow (on the personal front): Remicade treatment and possibly a trim of my beard. (If you didn’t know, I’ve been doing the “hockey playoff beard” thing until both of my girls got off their ventilator. Now I’m going to keep it (trimmed) until they’re both home.
–Moving day. Movers on time, cranked it out in three hours (7AM to 10AM). Of course, we had tons of help from parents – rented U-Haul got tons of stuff over to new house on Thursday.
–6:45 a.m. UPDATES:
Norah = doing really well, they let her rest last night
Alexandra = also doing well, no changes
Stable = good.
In-laws took my parents to the airport. I’m sure they didn’t want to go back yet – especially with such progress being made. (And the girls being so completely gorgeous and all.)
–12:04 p.m. UPDATES:
Norah = doing well, TAKEN OFF NITRIC OXIDE!!! HUGE step. Lower settings on ventilator, increasing feedings. Breathe, eat, home. Breathe, eat, home. (Our new mantra.)
Alexandra = Doing fine, no more space bubble over her head for humidity; feisty when eating, switching between tube and bottle. The other day, she didn’t like her bath. Now she’s not loving eating. Smelly + no food = future supermodel?
–3:45 p.m. UPDATES:
Alexandra = good visit, no news to report;
Norah = Dr. called to say that she’s down to 35% oxygen assistance, doing “rock solid,” and that if we were there to see Norah late tomorrow morning we might have a surprise…she might be OFF THE VENTILATOR! (We cried.)
Great guy, that doc. Even if he’s a Mets fan from Jersey.
–8:22 p.m. UPDATES:
Norah = no news, just keeping fingers crossed for tomorrow.
Alexandra = eating through a tube at this time, but made “all gone” with two bottles today; trying for three tomorrow; switched from NICU-type bed (not incubator) to “big girl” bed.
First night in new house. Feels weird, and will get a whole lot weirder when we’re able to bring the girls home.
Tried to hook up the Internet, giant fiasco. Will blog about it separately – don’t want to taint this great day and blog entry with negativity.
Looking forward to tomorrow!
Oy, such crap with the Internet. Unable to work from home or do anything online. (Again, check separate blog.)
But the big story on Action News…
9:00 a.m. UPDATES:
Norah = EXTUBATED!!! (No more ventilator, for your non-doctor-y types.) Breathing on her own, just with a little help from a nasal cannula. (One of those tubes that sticks into your nose a little bit.) They took out her arterial line last night, just one IV and that’s pretty much it! This is what we’ve been waiting for, folks. On to the eating!
Alexandra = also doing great, set for three bottles today (after an 8AM tube feeding). Up to 36cc of formula, and Shannon will get to do the 2PM feeding!
1:00 p.m. UPDATES:
Norah = went to visit her, took picture of her area without all that equipment. Looks wonderful. Shannon got to hold her up a little, and she’s so much more awake and moving around. Coming off the painkillers slowly.
Alexandra = saw her at 2PM, Shannon tried feeding her a bottle but she didn’t take to it much at this time. Mangia, girl, mangia!
Went to cable company to return equipment. Surprisingly short wait and cheerful customer service rep.
Back home for dinner, then back for a double visit to the girls…
8 p.m. UPDATES:
Norah = Shannon got to hold her a while, so awesome. Me, not going to “chance it” since I had a MRSA infection years ago. If I do want to hold her while she’s in the NICU, gotta gown and glove up. Not sure I want my daughter’s first memories to be of Daddy with rough blue papery skin and sticky smelly plastic fingers.
Alexandra = Got to her around 10PM so Shannon could hold her too. She makes all these great funny faces. Smiling one second, pre-crying tension the next, and this little Elvis-like lip sneer that gets me every time.
Both girls resting and sleeping a lot, which is good since they’ve been through so much so far.
–Up for moving day, no calls by 10AM as expected. Told 1st moving truck died, diverted other truck, would be postponed from 12-2 PM slot to 2-4 PM slot, and to expect call around noon.
–9AM kiddie updates:
Norah = changed from high-frequency ventilator to conventional ventilator!!! Still on nitric oxide, but eating a little…”this is progress,” said our nurse
Alexandra = doing well, feeds fine, much more comfortable
–2PM kiddie updates:
Norah = really good; weaned from 20 to 10 on nitric oxide; 50% on oxygen; waking up a little, tolerating feedings, much more comfortable
Alexandra = resting, no problems, hoping to see eating for 2 days before the magic words: COMING HOME (hopefully within a week or so)
Because movers were now delayed until at least 5PM, actually went to see the girls around 3/4 PM. Both sleeping comfortably, didn’t want to bother them much.
Called movers around 5PM, before going to quickly browse Container Store. Said they’d check with team directly and get back to me in 5 minutes.
By 6PM, I had no call back and left three messages with them.
Just after 6, they called and said truck had been pulled over for random DOT inspection which takes a couple hours and they couldn’t call the office on their cell phone by law. Not sure I believe it.
Got upset with the guy, who said the whole thing was out of his control and that they’d be at the house by 9:30 or so. But that’s too late to move, especially to a smaller town. So we ended up postponing until Sunday morning, when the guy promised the truck and his three best guys would be waiting at 6:45 a.m.
Thus, we went to the new house and helped the parents, who were busy assembling and folding and putting away. (They have all been invaluably helpful, and we are eternally grateful.)
Ordered in pizza from Roma’s in Little Elm. Good stuff.
8:30 PM kiddie updates:
Norah = doing “fabulous,” PAL and PIC lines in successfully, just hanging out, no ventilator changes
Alexandra = doing “really well,” tolerating feeds, had a bath she didn’t like but now smelled clean 😉
More move stuff, put on new toilet seats (sis-in-law’s boyfriend did one, I did the other). Felt manly.
Called it quits around 10:30, drove parents back to their hotel.
Midnight kiddie updates:
Norah = just fine, letting her rest after a busy day
Alexandra = doing really well, drank 23 out of 33 cc bottle
Beat tired, and have to be up at 6AM to get ready for movers. Ugh.
Sleeping on couch at old house tonight. May have to brush teeth with Diet Pepsi.
Nope, water still on. 😉