Toy Battle

The Setting : Lunch out at Chipotle

The Stakes : Being Eva’s entertainment for the meal.

The Contestants :

In corner one we have Elley, the Elephant.

Elley is a colorful toy, with bright blue colors and vibrant green feet. Her core is made a crinkle materials for maximum sound making. Her feet are soft plastic, good for a teething infant. Her hands, ears, and trunk provide a number of ways to held, and a number of places to chew on.

Elley has been there from the beginning, and will be with her for a long time afterwards.

In corner two we have a Chipotle Napkin

This napkin is brown on brown, given away for free, and is generally discarded quickly by most patrons. It makes no noise, has no easy to grab elements, and has no purpose other than taking that food that somehow missed your mouth. While a gift card from Chipolte is nice, no one would ever want to unwrap a napkin from under the tree.

What will Eva choose?

Napkin after napkin were attacked and left by the way side (i.e. the floor next to us). This napkin has seen better days:

Once again, the lesson is: All those carefully selected toys you and your loved ones have purchased for your baby will lose out in battles with napkins, empty boxes, and Eva’s new favorite “toy”, the hymnal.

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Talented Baby

When I was childless, I told myself I wouldn’t be one of “those” parents. You know, the parent that takes everything good that their child does and assumes that means their child is a genius. Parent : “Who was the star of High Noon?” Baby : “COO” Parent : “Gary COOper, that’s correct! Our baby is a super genius!”. Parents are idiots.

I took all of 15 minutes with our girl before I became an idiot. “My God, she’s holding my finger. She’s so dexterous! She’ll be gripping a tennis racket in no time!” Two days ago I was reading her Dr. Seuss’s Go Dog Go, and she was reading along with me. Sure, her dog came out “ya”, but it’s only because her mouth hasn’t caught up to her brain yet.

So, to bide our time until our girl inevitably works for Apple creating the iHologram phone while playing for the US Olympic Soccer teams, let’s look at the obvious signs our baby’s super ability.

The Ability to Manipulate Objects in Space

You remember the scene from JFK where Costner is talking about the Magic Bullet (or the spoof on Seinfeld with The Magic Loogie) where the bullet somehow took a 90 angle mid flight? Well our girl has that ability. How else could there be holding a burp rag in front of her mouth and somehow the spit up floats over it and lands on my pants?

Attention Magnet

What’s the difference between these two pictures :

 

If you said baby, you’d be correct. If you said Steph got a haircut, you’d be the first. She lopped off her hair, and went and visited her coworkers. She had friends and family come by. It wasn’t noticed. That’s because of the Attention Magnet she was holding. No attention can escape her. “You will submit to my cuteness!”

Financial Magician

She was alive for all of ten days in 2011, yet she somehow figured out how to make the government send us a refund check! This has earned her the nickname “Daddy’s little tax break”.

Police Officer for Miami PD

She and her brother Dexter have been solving crimes for the past five years down in Miami. Wait, I’m sorry. I sometimes get her confused with her Hollywood look alike Jennifer Carpenter.

Gainer of Preferential Treatment

Perhaps it’s due to her Hollywood looks, but she does seem to get the Hollywood treatment. Hordes of visitors, to ns of pictures taken of her, and even a fan site. Why, a few weekends ago we went to the Dayton Art Institute to see the Norman Rockwell exhibit. After standing in line for a bit, security came over and snuck us into the exhibit through the back door. Hopefully she won’t let this all go to her head.

Hulking Up

With the Hulk, once he got mad he would turn green and rage everywhere. His catch phrase was “You wouldn’t like me mad”. Our girl decided green wasn’t her color, so when she gets mad, her whole body turns red (bath time proves this). Her catch phrase is the same.

Jedi Mind Tricks

Baby : You do not need to sleep Daddy : I do not need to sleep

Baby : You need to make me a bottle Daddy : I need to make a bottle

Baby : You will rock me to sleep Daddy : I will rock you to sleep

Soccer Savant

She already kicks at a 4 month level, and is currently working on her headers!

A Smile Makes the World Go Round

What can change a moment from ordinary to grand?  What can take a picture from fine to super cute?  What can a dad from struggling to feeling like he’s provided above and beyond his daughter’s needs?  A quarter of an inch of movement.

You’ve heard the old adage that it takes more muscles to smile than to frown.  So, one would assume that smiling is easier than frowning.  I does not seem so with baby.  She’s willing to frown and cry at a moment’s notice, but smiling is not as easy.

She was smiling from the first day she was born, but those smiles all came during sleep.  Weeks later she would smile randomly, but not in response to anything in particular.  In the past few weeks, she’s has started to smile in response to things, and this is the greatest/worst thing to happen.  Now we spend our play time trying to get her to smile.  If she does, it’s the greatest acknowledgement that yes, we can do this, and yes we are providing for her every need.  If she doesn’t smile, she’s grown bored of us and is not happy with her life.  The greatest/worst moments of our day.

We’ve become stand-up comedians, and she is our crowd.  Some days the crowd is happy with us, and other days not so much.  Much of the time our new material just dies up there, and we’re forced to reach into our old tricks (making telephony sounds, or beeping sounds).  We’re like Jeff Foxworthy.  If no one is laughing at your new material, bring out “You might be a redneck if..” to reel them back in.

We prepare meticulously, gathering our props (rattles, the jitterbug), rehearsing our peek a boo and remembering to get close enough for full effect.  Then she’ll stare at us wondering what’s going on, roll her to the side and laugh at the dog walking by.  Scene stealer!

This morning when she arose from sleep, she started to make her wake up sounds.  I went in to pick her up, and she looked at me.  She smiled.  No silly sounds, or bright colors, but just me.  I provided what she needed then (a lift out of crib jail and companionship), and she was happy about it.  These are the moments you wait for when she’s two weeks old and unhappy at three am.  They do eventually come.

It’s a validation of your parenthood. The affirmation of a positive, as opposed to everything up to this point being a signal of the negative.  It feels so good.

To highlight the importance of a smile, I submit these two pictures of her first Valentines flowers.  Tell me which picture is way better than the other!

New Parent Questions

As we’ve learned, parenting has no manual. You try to follow the advice you’ve read, but there are so many other things that come up that need answers. Below is my list of questions that I’ve had come up that need answers.

What do babies dream of? Eva sometimes smiles when she dreams. She has no life experience yet, so she’s not dreaming of winning the lottery. Is what she dreams of just pure emotion? That sounds better than my dream last night where I was heading to a location and never got there.

On the same note, when we think we think in words. What do babies use when they think?  Pictures?  Emotions?

When did everyone get sick? The day after Christmas we thought about making a Target run with Eva. I went out earlier, and while waiting at the register the two people in front of me were coughing or sneezing. No Target for Eva.

When did everyone start driving crazy? Don’t they know there is a baby in back?

When does new baby smell go away? How can a smell be cute?

Why does the pee line on the diaper turn from yellow to blue? I’ve never heard the phrase “Don’t eat the blue snow”.

Speaking of diapers, why isn’t the picture of Pooh in the back instead of the front? (Answered, when she fills it, it goes from back to front)

When did babies become divas? I mean really, how many bags does she need when travelling?

My arms, elbows, shoulders, knees and hips will adjust to carrying her around all the time, right?

Is there anything better than when she’s crying, you pick her up, she looks at you, and stops?

Is there anything worse than when she’s fine, you pick her up, looks at you and starts screaming?

Was I a terrible person before when I was indifferent to the death of Dan Wheldon, but now that I have a daughter and when I see that he’s left two daughters behind I’m devastated?

Why can’t she have a bubble over her head (ala Sims) that indicates she’s breathing? It’s getting old spending five minutes staring at her chest to see if it goes up and down.

How quickly does it take to either forget the things you read or change your mind on things you decided before bringing her home? I know that the first few weeks/months are so important in bonding, but man some days it doesn’t seem likely. I ranted on the lack efficient mirrors for the car, now I wonder what she’ll look at when strapped in the car seat. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of sign language, but now find myself asking her “What do you want!?”

Is there a way to determine if there is a tear in the space time continuum in the nursery? Sleeping for 2 hours seems like 2 minutes in there, but when I tell myself that I’ll rock her for five minutes, I’ll look after what was definitely five minutes only to see it hasn’t even been a minute yet.

Sunday, Dec 25th : A Moldy Christmas

Now it’s just past midnight and time to put Eva to bed.  We get to sleep in our own bed!! Well, maybe…

We have the nursery all set up, and once she’s changed and rocked to sleep, we place her in the crib and turn on the monitor.  We climb into our bed, and not but a minute later she begins to make little noises.  Now, being veterans of two nights now, we know what noises we can ignore.  Quinton doesn’t.  Each and every noise he shoots out of the covers and is ready to run into the nursery.  Of course, I don’t know what he’s thinking.  Maybe I can help?  Maybe he’s wondering what sort of person we’ve brought into his home who can project their voice from two rooms over. Either way, we’re not going to sleep this way, and we really, REALLY want to sleep.

A compromise, an option that we had discussed is available.  In the nursery, there is a twin bed.  You could say good planning on our part, or I can say I had no idea where we’d move it to, but either way it’s there.  One of us sleeps in the nursery with Eva and we’d switch off in the middle of the night.  This has the benefit of allowing one person to completely relax and sleep, while the other has the half asleep, half awake duty.  This may work for a while, only time will tell.

It’s just one of a million audibles we’ll have to call in the next few days.  The rocker that was passed down to me from my mother slips on the carpet in the nursery, and Steph’s legs are too short for it so we end up feeding on the bed instead.  The number of bottles we have would require 2-3 washings a day.  Eva hates the pacifiers we bought.  She’s small enough for newborn clothes, but we have very few newborn because we were concerned she’d be too large for them. Etc. I’m glad we had things planned out, otherwise it would have been mass chaos, but even the best laid plans go astray when reality hits.

After the 2 am feeding, Eva is wide awake.  I find this adorable, and awesome.  She’s gazing at me in what I call her “Wonderment Phase”, where she just looks around at everything wide-eyed and amazed at all these new things.  My enthusiasm for this will dwindle fast over the next few days, but I’m still googly-eyed now.

That morning, we are downstairs after feeding/changing her when we decided to work on our breakfast.  A trip to the fridge reflects our absence from home in the last few days.  The milk has gone bad.  There are no eggs, no frozen meals, but there is a couple of old doggie bags of leftovers from places I don’t remember going to, as if they’ve happened in a previous lifetime.  The fruit has a beard that competes with my own.  There’s no oatmeal in the cupboard, and the bread is moldy.

The calendar says Merry Christmas, which tells me two things. Moldy bread is not an appropriate breakfast, and there is no place open today to remedy this tragedy.  We do a quick Google search to see if maybe there is something open today.  Burger King and McDonalds MAY be open. It’s apparently up to each store to decide.  Since we live in 2011, there are 3 McDonalds and 2 Burger Kings within 10 minutes of us.  Depending on lights, two of the McDonalds are a minute apart.  I jump in the car and make the loop.  Not open, any of them.  No Christmas breakfast miracle for us.

On the way back, there was a parking lot with cars in it.  Walgreens.  I enter, and head to the food section.  Orange Juice.  Cinnamon Rolls. Powdered donuts.  Coffee.  Breakfast.  I was not the only poor sap there.  I was among four other people who also needed breakfast food.  I ignored the nutritional facts on the back of the packages, no need to bring down the holiday spirit, paid and went home with today’s catch.  So, thank you Walgreens for helping out the new parents who needed a little help.

Now, we did have a ham in the fridge for dinner, but lunch was still an issue. It was Christmas, and even though we had opened our gifts the previous weekend, we did have gifts from Santa to open.  Steph’s mom had sent the gifts that Santa left at their house, and we saved them for Christmas day.  Lo and behold, one of the gifts was a box of Mac & cheese.  Lunch!

The rest of the day was pretty low key.  We watched A Christmas Story, drank hot cocoa, and spent our first Christmas with Eva.  She celebrated the occasion by doing her normal trifecta; eating, sleeping,and filling her diaper.  Here she is in her Christmas outfit, so exciting she can barely keep her eyes open.

We spend the day getting acquainted.  We sing to her, talk to her, and rock her back and forth.  Once, she smiles when I talk to her, which makes me a proud papa.  Three days and she already recognized and is happy I’m there.  Then she lets out some gas and gets a content look.  Ok, so she isn’t happy to see me yet, but I’m still a proud papa.  You show that toot who’s boss!

One other cute thing she does is wake up.  Not the actual waking up, but the 10 minutes of stretching she does during it.  Is this a normal baby thing?  Regardless, it’s super cute.  She’ll do the Heisman, jazz hands, the Statue of Liberty and the woe is me poses during her routine.  What we’ll learn over the next few days is that this is her elaborate way of saying “I’m waking up now, there better be a bottle at the end of this routine or else I’ll let you know how tragic this injustice is”.

Today is Christmas, and oddly it has been the most normal day in a while.  Which is weird because we’ve had breakfast provided by Walgreens, lunch by Santa, and Quinton thinks that Eva is a squeaky toy.  Before today we had Anticipation Day, Birth Day, Getting to Know You Day, and Homecoming Day. Looming over today is the fact that tomorrow is Signing Day.  We may have celebrated Christmas completely different this year, but it was peaceful.  How more appropriate to celebrate the birth of Jesus than to enjoy peace.

Friday Dec 23rd : Getting to Know You

There’s a loud click, and dark person enters our bedroom. We are both incredibly deep in sleep, so the suddenness of our awakening fires up our hearts at a record speed. (I look and there is a backlit, silhouetted person entering our room pushing a cart and speaking gibberish.) Of course, this isn’t our bedroom, it’s the parents room. It wasn’t a scary person, just the nurse. She wasn’t speaking gibberish, but English. Our brains hadn’t caught up to our bodies yet.

After she leaves Steph asks me what she said… we came to the conclusion that the nurse had come in and told us that birthmom was ready for bed and we needed to go get Eva and bring her to our room.  At this point we are both shaking and breathing fast, on the edge of panic after being jolted out of our deep, deep slumber.  Steph pulls herself together and goes to get Eva.

Eva is ready for a bottle, and is politely, nix that, emphatically telling us so. Night one and she’s already laying down the law. You sleep after I eat, got it? The suddenness of it has put us off, and we are both fighting tightened stomachs, heightened awareness, and sheer terror. I do the only thing I can think of. I pick her up and rock her. When she calms, we feed her. She goes back to sleep and our first night of baby is here.

Once we calm down and reconfirm that we actually can do this, we try to go back to sleep. Tiredness is not an issue. No, what stands in our way are baby noises. How many different breathing noises can a baby make? Does that gurgle means she’s choking?… What was that exploding sound? Did she just throw up? No, that sound came from her diaper….When she says “eh”, is it the start of a cry, or nothing?… When she does cry, is it food, diaper or touch that she needs? Oh my goodness, how many days do these mid-night feedings last? Months?! We are definitely stopping at one child. (Although Steph agreed with me at the time, she is already talking about #2.)  We’re struggling splitting the duties between the two of us. How do breast feeding mothers handle it every time?

Peace comes soon enough. You remember that you are in a hospital, that a nurse is consistently checking on you. You’re not going to mess her up here. So we stumble into the feed, change, rock, sleep routine. Morning comes and I get to say for the first time “Good Morning, Eva”. Life is good.

(Now, instead of freaking out at the various noises she makes while sleeping, we find them adorable. Our two favorites are “The Wilber” where she snorts a little bit, and “The Deflating Balloon” where she takes a big breath and does this really long exhale which often results in a squeaky squeal.)

Today is the day we find out if we can go home tomorrow. This is extra important because tomorrow is Christmas Eve. We can go home and not try to find food at the hospital on Christmas. Our birthmother can go home and spend Christmas with her family. Let’s hope this happens.

Steph heads home to freshen up, so I get to spend some quality time with her. A doctor comes in to administer the hearing test. Aces! Which is good, cause she’ll need good hearing with a musical mother. A bit later, the hospital’s photographer comes in and is ready to take pictures. Not without Steph, you’re not! I reschedule, and all is well.

Later that morning, birthmother wants to see her, so the nurse has to roll her across to her room. The rules with this hospital is that the birthmother and one other person can have the wrist band that allows you to transport the baby. I was not banded, so I could not move her. Luckily, Steph was banded so she could when needed. Birthmother could have had the birthfather have the other band, but through our strong relationship, she bestowed one to Steph.

Later that morning, Steph and I had our photography shoot which went fabulously. The thing is, it’s like buying a beer at a ballgame, or using an ATM in Disney World. You can’t leave, so pay our wrong place, right time fee. Which we did. Gladly. New parent high, I suppose. It kind of reminds me of our honeymoon. Flying out to Orlando, we missed our connecting flight in Chicago, and spent nine hours at O’Hare. Today I would have written a gigantic post complaining about it. That day, I was ok with it because I was deliriously happy.

That afternoon I brought birthmother’s family to the hospital, and Hope got to meet her sister, Eva, for the first time. Steph and I give them their space and go back to our room. It was a bit crowded anyway.

I take them home afterwards, and come back to the hospital and find out that we do indeed get go home tomorrow! That means everything is going great for both birthmother and Eva!

The only other thing of note today is the formula. The hospital uses bottles of Enfamil, which were super easy to use. Then after we had used about 10 bottles, we have this discussion with one of the nurses :

What formula do you plan on using at home?

We plan on using Earth’s Best.

OK, don’t want to use the Enfamil since they’ve pulled it off the shelves since that kid died?

What!!! What are we doing?!!! It’s been a day and we’re already bad parents, feeding poisonous formula to our baby! Well, it turns out that the recall may have been a bit presumptive, as it may have been tainted water. One day and another lesson: Parenting is stressful.

Tomorrow is the day we bring her home. I can’t wait for tomorrow. Careful what you wish for, Eva will wake us early to say “It’s Christmas Eve….now change me”.

Thursday, Dec 22nd : Our Blessing Arrives

It’s midnight, and things are not progressing. Soon, her sister will have to go home, if the baby isn’t imminent.

Around 3am, with her sister gone home, we realize we’re in for the long haul. We could have gone home at that point, but with no family there to support, we wanted to stay for her. No one should have to go through that physical and mental anguish alone.

Now at this point, we’ve barely eaten since lunch.  I did make a Burger King run earlier, but neither of us ate much.  The appetite was not there yet, but we needed to eat something.  Of course, the cafeteria was closed since it was the middle of the night.  The nurse walks in around 3:00 and tells us that we should get some food from the cafeteria.  Apparently it’s open for a couple of hours in the middle of the night for the night shift.

We head out and attempt to find the cafeteria.  It’s in the next building, so we take the walkway. After wandering a bit, someone recognizes our faces.  By that, I mean the “we’re lost and don’t know where we are” faces.  He directs us to the cafeteria, and no one has to announce over the intercom that there are two lost parents walking the halls.  At the cafeteria, I eat a variety of things, broccoli, salad, fruit and some tomato juice.  HA! I mean I ate candy, mountain dew and butterscotch pudding.  Hey, I’m stressed, I get to eat all the junk food I want!

Afterwards, we head back to the room.  We reach the walkway and cha chunk, the door is locked.  Ugh.  Back down the stairs, walk outside in the cold to the front entrance.  Nice little wake up, the brisk December weather.  At least it is pretty with the Christmas lights.  Once back in, we work our way back to the room.  Time to figure out sleeping arrangements.

So, sleeping conditions. We have a fold out chair, and another regular chair. Steph takes the fold out, and I try to sleep across both. It didn’t work so well. I’m a flipper, and there was no room to flip. I end up sitting in the chair, with my head on the table. Its 11th grade chemistry class all over again!

At this point, I should mention the nurses. At one point or another, we had around 10 different nurses. The nurse we had at this point may have been my favorite, her name was Tara. She was so sweet, even coming to visit us the next night before her shift started. In fact, all the nurses we had were wonderful, except for one.

As is happenstance with pregnant women, she was uncomfortable in every position, but less so from the back.

The baby moved better when she was on her side, but laying there would make her nauseous. Let me resume the story from the point of view of our birth mother. Its 7am.

She’s sleeping, and the nurse walks in.

“I need you to put you leg on this table.”

Wah huh? Come again? How about a gentle wake up before making such crazy demands? In fact, how about Good Morning?

So the morning is off to a rousing start. We’re rocking 3 hours of sleep and based on her personality, our new nurse’s previous job was probably working at the DMV. At least the doctor is coming soon to break her water.

Pre water break : 5 cm

Post water break : 7 cm

We’ve got progress. Now it’s time to throw on my second hat for the day, my chauffer’s hat. Our birthmother wants her boyfriend there for the birth, and he needs a ride. At 7, I need to get moving.

I pick him up and I get a call. 9 cm. I know, from my previously ignorant comment about dilation “3 cm out of…..?”, that 10 is go time. I’m driving back as fast as I can.

We park the car in the parking garage. Since its mid-morning, we’re on the 4th floor. We run down the stairs to the street level. The hospital is across the road, so we walk across avoiding the circling officer. We get inside and get our badges. We head up to the room, and Steph is waiting outside the door. Birthfather goes in and I stay out with Steph. Steph tells me that birthmother is waiting to push until we’ve arrived.

It’s curious to see Steph outside, as birthmother had discussed having us in the room. The nurse sent Steph out, and we thought that birthmother had a change of mind on the situation, perhaps feeling awkward about being so exposed with us present. That’s fine. We’ll just wait and see. A few moments later, the same nurse comes out to the hall and instructs us to go wait in the waiting room and lobs this new bomb on us. Birthmother/father are going to spend the first hour and a half with the child, and then we’ll be able to see her.

Where did this come from? The last two decrees have come out of nowhere. Had our birthmother been hiding these feelings, and as soon as we were not intruding, have the nurse relay this new information? Why 90 minutes? I’m so confused! As we’re walking back the nurse informs us that she’ll come out right after the birth to let us know how it went, etc.

There was a Simpsons episode a few years ago where Mr. Burns went to the Mayo Clinic to have a checkup. They reveled to him that the reason that he’s still alive was not because he had avoid diseases, rather that he had all the disease. He then presented an image of these diseases trying to pass through the door, only to be stuck because they were all trying to get through door.

This is me now. Only instead of diseases, it was emotions trying to get through the door. Anxious about everything, worried for birthmother, happy to soon be a parent, angry that the situation had changed so dramatically, and gleeful that I get to meet our daughter. Instead of these emotions trickling through, I’m more monotone. I toggle back and forth between Steph and Price is Right. One keeps me in the moment, the other provides a distraction from the realization that there is nothing you can do now but wait.

I don’t know how long we waited. The time is irrelevant and vitally important at the same time. This moment is timeless, it will matter not one bit if it takes 10 minutes or 10 hours if everything goes well. Yet, after a certain period of time we’ll start to worry. The exact moment of her birth is important, and I’ll guarantee that the length matters immensely to our birthmother.

Another distraction. We begin watching the people walking by us. The layout outside the birthing center is circular, with a large open area from the entrance lobby up to the domed ceiling above the third floor. The waiting room we sit in is one of two, cornering the walkway around the open area. It’s like a carousel as everyone seemed to be walking around the circle in the same direction. We watch these “riders” coming around the corner, waiting for news from our nurse. There’s the new mother in a wheelchair with her newborn, the gaggle of nurses heading to lunch break, the anxious grandparents pacing the walkway, the new father on his cell spreading the news, our birthmother’s delivery doctor, ….

Wait! The doctor is out?!! Come back!

He stops and asks if we’ve heard any hing. Nope! He then tells us the news. She’s healthy, 7 pounds, 12 oz, born at 11:20. Birthmother’s doing fine, and the delivery went great! It’s 11:35. Why hadn’t the nurse popped out to at least let us know that? Those emotions are down to two, joy and anger.

Now what? We have the data, but what of it? It’s 75 minutes before we can see her. Do we call anyone? What if the situation has changed? We have to wait. Then, the unexpected happens. The next rider around the corner is none other than our birthfather. He proceeds to ask what we’re still doing out here, you should be in the room with us and your new baby.

Instant relief. That simple statement has brought relief that no alka-seltzer tablet ever could. We gather our things and walk back to the room with him. We enter the room, and I’m not sure, but I think I got the stink-eye from the nurse. What’s her problem?! I should really raise a stink about this…but there she is….

She’s wrapped in swaddling clothes (can’t resist, it was almost Christmas after all), her eyes are pursed closed from this new light, and she is calm. She is beautiful.

How could I let disappointment with a nurse get in the way of my joy? Well, before this point she was numbers. Born 11:20. Weight 7 lbs 12 oz. Now she was real. I could hold her. I could feel her warmth. I knew what it meant that I was responsible for caring for her for as long as I could. In this little person I could see God’s work in every part of her. There is no emotion now other than pure joy.

Birthfather is holding her now.  He looks at Steph and asks if she wants to hold her.  This is the moment of truth.  While I jumped in head first, Steph always held back.  She always knew that things could go wrong, and protected her heart as much as she could from unbearable heartache. Plus, throughout this process something else happened. She came to truly care for the birthparents, especially birthmother.  At this moment, she’s not only excited for the moment, but also concerned for the well being of the birthparents.

As if that’s not enough, there’s also a concern that many (if not all) adoptive parents deal with.  Will I connect with this child? Will we be able to bond with this person who will have no connection to us other than a piece of paper?  Can I love someone who doesn’t share my DNA?

Do you want to hold her?  Steph being ever concerned with the feelings of our birthparents asks them if they are sure.  They are.  Birthfather brings her to Steph.  As God as my witness, I have never seen her as happy as have in that moment.  The happiness of the moment filled the room as tears of joy came from her.  Almost divine.

We got to feed her from the beginning. We were there for her first bath and hair wash (and she LOVES to have her hair washed, even today). We got to rock her to sleep. It was magical.

That afternoon I made the requisite phone calls to the immediate family and our agency. The first day there are doctors and nurses in and out checking everything. At one point they took her away for some tests, so birthfather and I went out for a break. He proceeds to tell me a bunch of the lessons and tricks that he’s learned from his daughter. Look at this. This guy is 10 years my junior informing me on the ways of the world, and yet I needed to hear it as much as he needed to tell me it. No matter how many books you read, you’ll never learn as much about parenting than talking to an actual parent. I was the novice. I think he needed to know two things : that I was truly excited about being a dad, and that I will do my best in raising this child. I hope that he knows that both are true.

Later that afternoon, I had to take him home to pickup his daughter from daycare. Upon returning from this trip, I found the girls in the new room. See, the large rooms are for the pregnant woman, once you’ve given birth they ship you to a smaller recovery room. This is going to be a tight fit.

Except, it wasn’t. When I came back, our agent from the adoption agency was there along with the hospital’s social worker. They had acquired a room for us across the hall more commonly known as the parent room. We have a twin bed, a recliner, a half-bath and a TV. No more cramped sleeping arrangements, I might actually get more than three hours of sleep tonight!

At this point, the last time we had eaten was the night before. We decide to go out and get some food. The baby will stay with birthmother, who I assume wanted some alone time with her. Steph and I went to Bob Evans to decompress and eat. Talking was at a minimum, the moment was surreal. This is really happening. We are parents now. This is probably the last peaceful dinner for a long time. It dawns on me that at this point, our baby was only eight hours old.

Now looking back to that afternoon I think proves Einstein’s theory of relativity. Time is not uniform or absolute. That time went by so fast, but that night at dinner I felt as if she was three days old when in fact she was only eight hours old. She had accomplished so much, her first bottle, her first bath, her first emotion, her first facial expression, her first hearts melted, all while sleeping seven and half of those eight hours. I had probably spent that amount of slicing fruit on Samari Fruit that day. 1/3rd of a day old and she’s already more productive than her old man.

We come back to the hospital and bring in some bags that we’ve stored in the car. A change of clothes, toothbrush, something to read, etc. We hang out in birthmother’s room, and baby and birthmother are getting to know each other. It’s getting later, so I run home to let the dog out. You might be wondering about the dog. It has been about 28 hours since we’ve been home and this is the first reference to the dog. Luckily, we had friends stop by to let him out potty and even play with him a bit. Thanks K, J, & H!

I bring home with me a hat that the baby was wearing at the hospital for the dog to smell. He comes over and smells it for a while, licks it, then proceeds to play with it. Maybe this whole bring home the dog something that smells like her will actually work! Time will tell. After loving the dog for a while, I shower and head back to the hospital. By now, my joy meter has peaked. The angsty song on Alt Nation is not enhancing the moment properly. I need to find an upbeat song to rock out to. I find my muse on 90’s on 9.

So hold on to the ones who really care

In the end they’ll be the only ones there

When you get old and start losing your hair

Can you tell me who will still care?

Can you tell me who will still care?

Mmm bop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du

I’m rocking out to Hanson, and enjoying every moment of it. By now, you probably can see that I have now not only changed to a parent, but I became old at the same time. For example, the previous night I found the soda machines downstairs and complained that a bottle of water costs $1.35. Seriously? Why not $1.25? Or a $1.50. Now instead of two simple quarters I have two quarters, a dime, and the most annoying of the coins, the nickel. Nickel, you are the most inefficient waste of space in my pocket. I can’t buy anything with you. Please go away.

Perhaps more poignantly, the day before we went to the hospital I received our photo from my work’s holiday party. Steph is her usual beautiful self, but when I looked at me, I saw something different. I saw my dad. You know it’s strange. Your parents are some of the people you know best in life, but because of the circumstances you never know them before they’ve had a life altering change, i.e. you. Dad has always been Dad. He was never a child, never a single gentleman, never the childless young husband, but only Dad to you. I think that maybe at that point I had started considering myself to be dad, and only then could I match us, Dad to Dad.

I started to hold off the transition to being old. I flipped the station back to Alt Nation, and someone slap me if I start saying that they don’t make them like they used to.

Now back at the hospital, I go back to birthmother’s room with her and Steph watching the tellie. Eva is taking a physical at the moment. I imagine that she is all hooked up with all the sensors running the treadmill. Once she comes back, we spend the rest of the night relaxing with birthmother. I think we deserved it.

Around eleven, Steph and I retire to our room. Birthmother has visitors coming, so Eva stays with her for now. She’ll come over to us when they leave. Both of us are ready to crash. Steph takes the bed, and I take the recliner and we quickly drift off. What will tomorrow bring?

The New Checklist

This past summer I wrote a list of things that needed to be completed before we received “The Call”. It was a fun, irreverent list that probably had no bearing on the coming events, but gave us a sense of control. We can’t make the baby decide that today’s the day, but we can make sure the car seat is installed. Some items on this list are fully in our control, some are not. Without further ado, here’s the list of things that (may) need to be completed for the baby to come.

Install car seat bases in cars : Done….ish. Bases are in, but the mirror is not. On a side note, I may have made the joke too often where I look back at the empty base and declare “Oh no, we forgot the baby!” Reports are that if the joke is made one more time, this may be my last post.

Pack baby bag : Check. All the things a baby needs. Clothes, diapers, cream, etc.

Pack bag for us : Check. All the things a hospital bound parent needs. Clothes, camera, uno cards, etc. Our kitchen table has looked like it’s ready to leave for a week or so now.

Remove the football distraction : In progress. The Vikings bowed out early, so they are no longer a Sunday distraction. UNI lost in the quarters of their playoff, so they’re out. The Hawkeyes have their bowl game on Dec 30th at 10pm(!?), so that may (will) be DVR’d. I have 12 fantasy football teams, but only really care about two. My work one eliminated me last week on a broken ankle, but still am alive in my other league.

Finish Grades : I tried to tell Steph that this year’s saying should be, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a B+,” but she didn’t go for it.

Post Solution to the Puzzle Post : Should post it this week.

Panic! : Check

Relax : Check

Post my love of Christmas letter : To be done this week…ish

Read What to Expect the First Year : Done through 3 months. Forgot most of it too, but that’s ok. It will continue to be a reference.

Charge camera battery : Check

Charge backup battery : Check

Consider buying a backup to the backup, you know, just in case : Not there…yet.

Redefine Pregnancy Brain as New Parent Brain : Check. I’ve forgotten to do my timecard two weeks in a row, and had no clue when the Vikings played on Sunday. Steph tried to microwave something with the freezer.

Eat tons of junk food : Check. In fairness, tis the season.

Yell at Verizon : Kind of…see we’ve almost reached our text limits and there is still 6 days left this billing period. A move to the next level is $45! Yikes! Shouldn’t Verizon have an expectant parent exception? I think the plan we have now is the way too many minutes and far too few texts plan. We yelled at their website, but it just shrugged and offered a more expensive plan with 3x the unused minutes! What a deal!

Wait for snow : Not happening.

Watch Kung Fu Panda 2 and be pleasantly surprised with a pro-adoption story : Check!

Complete and post another inane list of things as filler before all the awesome baby coming home posts : Check

Mfpbf

Either my hearing is getting better (not likely), this generation of teenagers are more articulate (less likely), or speaker technology has improved vastly (bingo!), but I don’t have trouble hearing at the drive thru anymore. Well, that’s not completely correct. The other day I had a hard time hearing when there was a diesel truck chugging behind me. He had to turn the truck off when he ordered. Anyway, I guess this means the era of muffled communication is over!

Not exactly.

We are starting the day care search. There are three that are a short distance from us, and one of them has an on-line form to set up an appointment to view the facility. We check the “Evening is the best time to contact us” box, and submit. Two days later, we come home from work and there is a message on the machine, the call came in at 10 am (definitely not evening). “Hi this is so and so fromthedaycareandwereceived yourformthatyouwanttosetupameetingtime. Westahkmaejkl;aashfosfhsfjafasflsfsa. Youcanreachusat5558675309 tosetupyourappointmentandhaveaniceday. Click”

“What did that say?”

“I have no clue, but now I don’t want to call them back.”

So I figure that one of three things are possible here. 1. They’re full, and hope that poor communication will drive us away. 2. Our caller was having a bad day. 3. They are paid by the call, so it’s in the best interest of the callers to make as many of these calls as possible, so they talk as fast as they can, no time for anything but monotone.

The next day we got another call, different person, different time (1:00, closer to evening I guess), same result. Grr. This leaves us in a pickle. Should we decide that this poor communication is reason enough to cross them off our potential list, we’re left with a problem. It seems like they’ll keep calling and leaving indecipherable* messages. Should they happen to ask one of their kids what evening means, then I’ll be forced to explain that we don’t want to meet because “we didn’t like your answering machine message speed”.

* Six Syllables! Me english good.

Of course, this isn’t a fair evaluation of the facility. It may the best choice. It might be the worst. I’m guessing that Answering Machine Messages doesn’t fall somewhere between Number of Sharp Objects and Recommendation From a Friend in the list of “Things to Look For When Choosing a Day Care** Facility”. So, it may be worthwhile to still set up the appointment. Is nothing easy in the baby process?!

** I’ve been told that some people don’t like the term day care, as it’s not the day that they care for. I think it’s easier to say than “Place Where Kids Go To Catch And Bring Home Colds”.

Celebrity

If you go to cnn.com, or any other website that has celebrity news, you may have heard that actress Mariska Hargitay was in the news this past week, just completing her second adoption. I usually don’t click on celebrity baby news, but since it was an adoption, my interest threshold was passed.

Their first adoption took over a year, so they submitted their paperwork again this summer. This is quite common for adoptive parents, your home study expires after two years, so if you wait and submit your application after that two year period, you get to go through it again. The other common thing is that the unexpected happened, and their application was selected just days after submitting it. I imagine if it was me, I’d be a bit worried about having two kids that young so close. Why didn’t this one take a year as well!

The pictures will be in this week’s People magazine if you like baby pictures, or you can view the article. I made a mistake though. I started to read the comment section. Comment sections are interesting. In blogs like ours, comments are usually thoughtful, helpful, supportive, providing of other viewpoints, clean and respectful. Comment sections of big sites like cnn.com, people.com, etc. are filled with hateful, idiotic, off topic, complaining and just plain mean comments. Just today, I was reading an article on Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World paying off the victims of the wiretapping scandal. It took all of 4 comments before it delved into a debate on Obama’s reelection chances, and a contest to see how many ways they can call the other side stupid for not thinking the same way.

Articles and posts almost need three sections, Rants, Supports and Civilized Back and Forth. The Hargitay article consisted of mostly Supports, which are nice. I don’t know if they are helpful, because they appear on the author’s article, but maybe Mariska has time juggling two babies and a career to read the comments. Then the comments strayed to a point in-between Rant and Civilized Back and Forth. The topic, whether or not celebrity was a part of the reason she was selected so quickly.

Nothing in the story would be all that unusual. It wouldn’t be unusual to happen to a couple like us. The agency claims to have hidden her celebrity, which I have no reason to not believe, but am vastly interested on how you accomplish that. This is Mari, and she works sex crimes one hour a week.* That’s no good, she works in television. Maybe?

* If you don’t know who Mariska Hargitay is, she’s an actress on Law and Order : SVU on NBC.

Regardless, is it a problem if her celebrity did help? Adoptive parents are selected for a number of reasons. One couple we knew were selected because they had a picture of a horse in their profile book. Another couple may be selected for their financial means. It’s all subjective. If you were the birth parent, and knowing that if you let her adopt your child, and that he’ll have all sorts of opportunities in life that you wouldn’t be able to provide, wouldn’t you at least like the choice?

The issue I imagine is one of fairness. If I’ve had my profile book in for 7 months, and she’s selected in just days because of her celebrity status, I’m mad. Of course I’m mad if anyone passes us by. Catholic Social Services tries to make it fair by only displaying a certain number of profiles, and thus your profile will be queued until those in front of you are selected. This works for them. I kind of liken it to not being able to marry until your older sister does.

The comments went back and forth, as they do. In general, the comments were good. Of course, they aren’t as good as the commenters of this blog. They are the best in the world!