Lemon-Scented Bivouac  

Fatherly and, eventually, teacherly blather. Also: graphic design, baseball, synthetic fabrics, jug band music and, lord help us, the occasional politics.

Thursday, March 27, 2003  

I have to come back after that last post. I've already discovered it's all but impossible to write or say something about how hard parenting can be without an immediate follow-up comment of "but his little smile makes it all worthwhile" or "but I can't imagine anything better." If you're a parent and you don't make those little disclaimers, people will make them for you. They'll point out that you love your baby. They'll tell you.

Elliott is lovely, and strange. I'll use a story from (perhaps? it's foggy) his second night to illustrate. He was struggling with, get this, breastfeeding, and had come down from screeching agony to mere exhausted sorrow. He was sort of nuzzling around, bubbling with his lips. Then, in some lucky combination of natural sounds and bubbling, he said, in a high-pitched, perfectly clear voice: "Goop." Just perfectly, almost with quotes around it. "Goop." We both heard it, Dana and I, and we both still laugh about it. Someday he'll say gooplike things and laugh along with us. Until then, we're like camels in the desert; we can subsist on that one draught for days.

  posted by Andy @ 12:03 PM §

We're home now, and the drastic mood swings, along with the every-2-to-3-hour feeding schedule, are, um, a challenge. Some moments feel perfectly content, such as Elliott's 3 a.m. superwakefulness last night, when we both looked over him as his eyes slowly scanned and he clumsily searched our faces.

But let's face it -- Elliott's a bit of a screamer so far, and that screaming, which started late on day two, has been tough to take at first. Nothing is so naturally hair-raising as your own son's crying, and Elliott gets right to that stage of screaming from every cell of his body, to the point where you think he'll just have to pass out. He doesn't, but by the time he's calmed down (how? don't remember) my hair is saturated with sweat and I'm trying to recall which magazine article convinced me that this child-rearing thing would all be a good idea. (I already sweat less, though; crying, it turns out, doesn't destroy him.)

Most of Elliott's problems center around feeding. He has to feed 10 minutes ago, and he's so upset about it that he screams so loud that he makes himself so upset that he can't feed. He has mechanical issues with breastfeeding, as he does with everything at least as difficult as emptying his bowels, and mechanical issues are, to him, as frustrating as the worst punishments from Dante's Inferno. He also insulted the entire family by happily gulping down our conciliatory bottle of formula (he had to have something in his stomach) and becoming the Blissful Baby of the nutritional-supplement ads when we popped a pacifier into his mouth for a moment.

So here's the solution. Back in the hospital, the lactation consultants just shoved him, over and over, onto Dana as he screamed. I, being a warm, thoughtful man, didn't want him associating stressful thoughts with food and wanted him to come to Dana in a spirit of peace. Then, last night, after quite a while (probably only fifteen minutes, really) of screeching during what should have been (had to be) a feeding session I lost my warm thoughfulness and just helped Dana push him, over and over again, onto her. At a certain point, while he was shuddering with exhaustion from yelling, he took a mouthful of food, thought it was pretty good and, after a few tearful moments, was feeding. My conclusion now is that my son is not capable of making associations and that food by any means necessary is a good thing.

And for those who like breakthroughs, let me point out that the same drama happened again this morning, and probably will for at least two weeks.

If there are any great shows going on in clubs around town, or movies that you think we have to see, I think we can't make it.

  posted by Andy @ 11:29 AM §

Tuesday, March 25, 2003  

I'm just taking a morning break from the hospital, where this was the scene:

We may come home today or it may be tomorrow -- it depends on the surgeon's assessment of Dana's recovery. Right now she likes the nurses and the adjustable bed. But really all is well -- food and fluids going in and out, family happy. It's a little frustrating when communicating is so inconvenient, but thanks so much to everyone for the good thoughts, and we'll be in touch soon.

  posted by Andy @ 10:00 AM §

Monday, March 24, 2003  



Yesterday, Sunday, March 23, at a quarter to three, Elliott Allen James was hauled into this world, healthy and keening. I'll tell the whole birth story after some photos:

This is the first photo taken of Elliott. Note the saucy expression and Purple Hand (nothing to worry about).

One feature we've enjoyed is that Elliott's head can be detached and easily nestled in, say, a shoulder, which Dana has done here. Sometimes the Purple Hand comes with it, though.

That's a big hand, but it isn't purple anymore. Actually, it's a tiny hand, but photography lies sometimes. And those aren't tears -- those are the state-mandated dabs of eye ointment. I'm not sure Elliott has actually produced tears yet.

Me, Elliott and Ballard.

Yes, it's the final shot of 2001: A Space Odyssey, only that baby had a bit better focus. And was much spookier.

And in a final fit of digital multimedia overkill, you can view this little movie I filmed of Elliott while Dana talked on the phone.

As for the birth: Dana slept through her early labor, knew she meant business by mid-morning, and had to go to the hospital by just before 11. She slammed through all the stages of labor with ferocious hard work and no epidural (no time, didn't want one anyway). Man, was she great, all focus without a bit of wasted work. I was amazed.
By 1 p.m. she was pushing. Soon she was crowning. Soon after the doctor discovered that what was crowning was, in fact, the baby's butt. Breech. (We now guess that he turned the night before labor, although we'll never know.) Dana went right to C-section and everything went great. She's recovering now, and I took a little break to get to the computer and spread the word.
Elliott is quiet so far, except when he has issues, at which point he announces a need for help. I've cleaned up several of Elliott's big issues and discovered that reserving clean spots on the wipe takes some real planning. He sleeps with little chirruping noises, which would be cute if we weren't lying awake irrationally wondering if he'll stop breathing. He's a good guy, and hopefully not a potential ne'er-do-well.
Anyway -- back to the hospital. Send us a word, either by e-mail or by clicking on "Shout Out" (or "(x) Shout Outs") below. We'll arrange for Baby Displays soon.

  posted by Andy @ 9:26 AM §

Sunday, March 23, 2003  

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  posted by Andy @ 8:18 PM §

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