It’s 2:07 am and Arlo and I just finished watching Straight Outta Compton. We made a drinking game out of it. Anytime the movie made us want to punch a white guy or a cop, we drank- Arlo finished his bottle and passed out in less than an hour so I put him down- light weight.
Anyway, I still have a little Fernet Branca in my glass so I figured I’d drop a line since I have to work the next few days and by the time I decide to write again Arlo will be flipping me the bird on his way out to college or something.
I gotta come clean though, Arlo wasn’t wearing that onesie tonight (Straight Outta NICU). That pic was taken over a month ago. I don’t even think he fits in that onesie anymore. BUT– It is now 2:27 am, we did watch Straight Outta Compton tonight, and Arlo did get milk drunk and pass out, and I am sipping on some Fernet Branca.
Now that I have set the scene… Sorry it’s been a while! We’ve been having a wonderful time though. I can’t say it’s been story worthy though… Lots of milk drinking and a whole lot of pooping. That means a lot of sitting around feeding, and a lot of changing out dirty diapers. That’s my whole story. Good one, huh?
I can’t really say anything super interesting has happened- well, what you would find super interesting, but I guess here are some things…
Wow, I feel like there were a lot more things to talk about but now I don’t know, every time I start writing something down I realize how boring it probably is for you to read….
I guess that’s it for my list of mildly interesting things that have been happening…
Remember when I said he doesn’t cry? Well fuck me, he does now. But not a lot though, he cries just enough for me to have to admit that he does. And he’s not an asshole about it- yet- but he likes us to know when he wants us to know something. Soooo… chalk that one up for progressive communication skills?
Speaking of communication skills- he still doesn’t have a definitive smile- or “coo” like babies do- what’s up with that? We get some crying but no smiling? Sure, his face contorts to all sorts of shapes and some resemble a smile, but he doesn’t do it on purpose- he doesn’t light up when I walk into a room (like his mom does). What is definite and very purposeful is his resting bitch face- this kid (unfortunately) takes after his Papa and just gazes intently with furled eyebrows and a facial expression that says, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” Sorry kid.
What else? Hmmm… He’s going to be two months old tomorrow… so that’s cool. We were going to have a party for him, but again, we are just not those kind of people.
Oh! Oh! I know! Pick me!! Arlo’s cousin was born! A week ago. I won’t go into the details (because I wasn’t there (and it’s not my story)) but his cousin Parker is here now. Mama, Papa, and baby Parker are doing just fine and are settling in at home. Arlo and Parker have hung out a few times in the last week but I was always working so I never got to see the ruckus- but I did get to see them hang out tonight. I’d show you a picture but I forgot to get permission. But maybe I can describe what it looks like…
Ehh, never mind, I was going to paint you a beautiful picture with my words but I’m too tired. Just imagine one baby with an oversized trucker double chin and the other with oversized clown hands laying next to each other with no interest in each other whatsoever. Sure, there is a lot of cooing and smiling but all of that is coming from the mothers and fathers standing above who have been waiting for this moment since last October. (…Sigh…)
UPDATE! I got permission! Here ya go…
Aaaahh… The dishwasher is running, the baby is sleeping, and Kylie went out for a short run. The hum of the dishwasher is soothing confirmation that I am being productive while sitting here drinking a cup of matcha.
Arlo’s due date came and went (2 days ago). He is living his life to the fullest- still doing nothing at all. He is a blob right now- no longer wormy. Wormy was when he had skinny frail extremities and I thought if I dropped a wet cottonball on his arm it would break. Now he’s got about three chins and overstuffed sausage arms with fingers at the ends he can barely bend. His most fitting nickname right now is Jabba the Arlo. He just lays there with his arms and legs writhing every which way while he commands me what to do. While he does this he smiles and his plumpy eyelids turn into little slits complete with Jabba the Hutt eye twinkles.
The blob is a good baby. I don’t have much to compare him to, however, and he is my baby which makes me a tiny bit biased. But just to remind you, I did previously say I would be able to be an unbiased dad after he was born- I mean, I am calling him a blob and comparing him to Jabba the Hutt- I think I’m doing okay on the biased front. I say he’s a good baby because he’s been so easy so far… Can I say this? I’m going to whisper it… He doesn’t cry… He doesn’t! Kylie and I were just talking about this yesterday, we don’t think he has cried for longer than thirty seconds… ever. I hope to never eat these words but the kid is easy going…
I’m not trying to brag, trust me, I just want you to understand that I’m really not being biased. I would be the first to tell you if the kid was an asshole, but he’s just not. This whole time I’ve been writing this he’s just been laying in his farm sleeping- look…
But he is a blob. He has three chins, limited neck mobility, and he farts a lot- like a lot. Like I don’t think even Jabba the Hutt farts as much as this kid. Is that normal? And loud too. If I hadn’t already checked I would have assumed his anus was the size of Jabba the Hutt’s. He makes other mouth noises that a blob might make if it were folding itself over and over again. You know those twenty-five cent machine cup of goo noise makers that you stick your fingers in for a funny sound- that’s him in a nutshell. He’s just a growing bag full of funny air waiting to be released through his bum or his mouth.
I mean, he’s pretty perfect so far.
I was walking around downtown today and I saw a little toddler break free from his parents and book it. He made it about six yards before he toddled flat on his face. It was at that moment I realized why I haven’t written anything lately- it’s because Arlo isn’t quite that entertaining to write about yet because basically he’s just a glorified worm.
The fleeing toddler toddled. He was fun to watch. Arlo? He just lays there. Sure, he grunts- he squeals- sometimes you think the squeal will turn into a cry- but it never does- he also makes a new creepy alien chirpy sound- and he still makes funny fart noises out of his butt and mouth. So, yeah, if you are looking for audio entertainment, he’s your man.
I mean I guess he’s visually relatable though. He has two arms, two legs, twenty fingers and toes like all of us (and they are all super tiny and adorable mind you). Sometimes he smiles a big gummy smile after a big toot. But he doesn’t do much else. In fact, yesterday I laid him down in the garden next to a big earthworm and started watching both of them. For a moment I forgot about Arlo and I just watched that earthworm lead his fascinating life.
But yeah, if you were wondering what’s going on in this neck of the woods right now, that’s it. He eats, sleeps, poops, toots, sleeps, eats, poops, toots, sleeps- put those actions in your iPod and press shuffle/repeat all and you’ll figure out why I haven’t written too much lately.
Arlo did have his one month birthday yesterday. Hooray! But developmentally he’s negative two weeks old because he’s not even supposed to be born yet. But good for him! He’s a real go getter! A week ago he weighed 6 lbs. That’s pretty awesome in my book. He’s supposed to go back for a weigh in tomorrow so we’ll see how well he’s pushing those lbs. I assume he’s gaining weight because last night (in the middle of the night) I went to pick him up and he seemed HUGE! Moments later though I realized I also had my pants on backwards, so go figure.
We’ve had him home for two weeks now and and I’m not going to lie, it’s still a little weird. An unexplainable weirdness though- weird like I know he’s mine, but I keep waiting for his parents to stop by to pick him up and take him home. Weird like sometimes he still startles me when I walk into a room not expecting to see a baby. Weird like sometimes we’ll be in the same room and I just plain forget he is there. Weird like I feel like I’m just acting like a dad, in the same way I feel like I’m just acting like an adult.
Weird like he should still be in Kylie’s belly, but if he was, it would even be weirder.
10 Oz. The fatty gained 10 Oz in a week!
Guess what? Arlo is out of the NICU. We are out of the hospital. We are home! And all of a sudden Kylie and I have a new roommate.
He broke his way out of the halfway house on Mother’s Day. It was the best gift he could give his mama- he made my gift of a plant look like a dead tree branch. His last hurdle was passing a “carseat test”. It’s recommended for all newborns that have been born before thirty-seven weeks gestation. The “test” involved him having to hang out strapped in his carseat for ninety minutes without his stats dropping below certain levels for too long. Kylie went for a walk during it as she was stressed beyond belief (he had failed the day before). I decided to stay in the room with him and read.
I didn’t read a lick though. I stared at his monitor and watched three different waves and four different numbers go up and down and dip and rise. Ninety minutes. Ninety minutes of stress. Ninety minutes of me coming up with impromptu superstitions… Oh! his stats just went up- I have to keep my left leg crossed over my right- Oh shit! Oxygen level dropped- take another sip of Le Croix- OOooo! Back up now- Okay, a sip of Le Croix every time oxygen saturation dips to 87- Everythings working, don’t move… Big DROP- Fuck! Sing- sing- sing to him- Let’s swim to the moon… Okay, back up, super stable, don’t move a muscle. I did this for ninety minutes. I’ve never come so close to literally pissing my pants. But his stats didn’t dip for too long, and he passed.
Immediately we packed our stuff and headed home. We pulled into our driveway and realized we had to unpack two weeks worth of hospital accumulation. We brought him in first and we looked at each other, “So…. what do we do? I mean, where do we put him?” We had had over two weeks of unofficial baby training in the hospital- but at the hospital there were specific and defined places to put him- like a bassinet- and besides, in the hospital his mobility was limited to the length of his wires and tubes. But we were home now, and this kid was wireless. If I wanted, I could have set him on top of the refrigerator and there wouldn’t have been a nurse around to bat an eye. But I knew if I did something like that for a cheap chuckle, Kylie probably would have taken a bat to my eye.
It’s funny though, we had bought or been given a handful of baby holder things- but suddenly I was too afraid to put him in one because I didn’t know if they were safe for a premie. I mean, it seemed a carseat barely was! So we decided we would look at all the safety precautions for premies for each specific apparatus that we had for him before we set him in anything. So at that moment, with a car to unpack and a life to get started, we put a blanket on the floor, and Arlo on the blanket, and that’s where he hung out his first hour at home.
Since then, we have been figuring it out, and we have figured out one thing for sure… He runs the show- he’s a pretty loud and selfish roommate whom I would probably call an asshole if he wasn’t so damn cute. He doesn’t care to wait for his hospital feed schedule anymore- he wants it when he wants it and knows he’s gonna get it. I feel like all I do is wash his dishes and wipe his ass. I even cook his meals! If warming a bottle of breastmilk can be considered cooking (I guess Kylie actually makes his meals). And to top it all off, his favorite time to poop is anytime I’m holding him. But he does seem to be quite the happy little camper though- so far he almost never cries (I will regret writing that line I’m sure)- although he did cry out at me last night when I decided to relieve my bladder before relieving his hunger pangs- my bad buddy.
We’ve had only one major surprise with him since bringing him home- he’s a terribly loud sleeper! Different sounds all night! Seriously. Here is a visual list of what I imagine is actually in his little sleep rocker at night…
Sometimes I hear a cute little Mogwai…
And sometimes an insatiable Gremlin…
There’s always a baby hippo snort or two…
But those change to Ferris Bueller’s deafening dummy snores…
And then to just some heavy grampa breathing…
But there are always many toots sprinkled in- actually, Kylie calls them toots because she thinks it’s cuter that way, but this little guy gets the Fat Bastard award because he really is on that level with his “toots”…
And when he’s not tooting up a storm, I hear his hands moving around and imagine this guy laying there…
But whatever sounds I hear coming from where he sleeps, and every time I check on him, he always looks like this…
Welcome home Arlo Ray
Thirty-six weeks is how long in gestation little Arl
Let me start over. I was just interrupted mid-sentence by a phone call from the nurse in the NICU. She said that Arlo was hungry early and ready for his bottle feed- and also that he had just pulled his nasogastric tube all the way out. That’s twenty-one centimeters of tube he decided didn’t belong inside of him.
So instead of finishing the first sentence of this post, I slammed my laptop closed, put on my SuperDad cape, and hurried the twenty-seven steps over to the NICU (because nobody else gives him the bottle like his papa gives him the bottle).
So… that’s where I’m at… Arlo, however, is being a little more realistic about the situation. Had he not come early, he would have been at thirty-six weeks in gestation today. Instead, Arlo is two weeks old today. Happy two weeks little buddy!
We are still in the halfway house, and will be for at least a few more days. Arlo is getting closer and closer to breaking out though. He’s went from multiple lines and tubes, to just one monitor wire. Sure, he pulled the last tube out himself today but the kid knows what he’s ready for. Up until yesterday he had been sleeping in a full on NICU bed- the kind that has a warmer, bells, gauges, whistles, Mr. Coffee, scale, leveler, etc. Now he hangs out in a big boy bassinet that has nothing but a mattress and walls to keep him from rolling out.
What we are waiting for is for him to gain a little more weight and eat consistently and independently- well, independent of the tube he pulled out. He weighs 5 lbs, 5oz. That’s more than he weighed at birth, which is a big deal. He is breastfeeding and bottle-feeding like a champ- it’s just every once in a while he’s a little too tired to fill his belly with the entire prescribed 40-50 mL, hence the NG tube.
But it’s go-time now Arlo! You gotta prove to those nurses you don’t need that tube! You gotta eat! You own that nipple! Whether it’s your mama’s or the bottle’s- it’s your nipple son! Let’s have my good friend Rocky give you the real pep talk…
“Let me tell you something you already know Arlo. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya suck that nipple. It’s about how hard you can suck it and keep transferring milk. It’s about endurance! How much you can suck and keep moving forward. That’s how feeding is done!”
-Rocky Balboa (kinda)
No pressure though buddy, you’re gonna be ready when you’re ready, and that’s just fine. Love you.
Little Arlo has been alive for 3 days, 13 hours, and 3 minutes. With the exception of his first wet and slimy hour of life, his time has been spent in the neonatal intensive care unit. I know this sounds super serious, but he’s fine. In fact, he’s making strides every few hours, and we get to spend as much time with him as we like. It’s like a halfway house for new families- we see him when we want, but there are restrictions to what he can do until he matures a little more.
The little guy was too impatient to meet everyone and didn’t wait for the steroid doses to strengthen his lungs, so they’re still developing right now. Up until this morning he was connected to a CPAP machine, which forces oxygen into his lungs and keeps them ballooned until they can do it on their own.
*Disclaimer* I am going to explain all the medical stuff how I understand it- Looking this stuff up to make sure it’s accurate for this blog post would make this boring to write, and probably boring to read. If you are a person who needs things to be 100% accurate, please correct me in the comments, I won’t mind. Otherwise, this is all my understanding and perception. Thanks!
Anyway, the CPAP machine came off this morning because he was breathing so well, and now he just has a nasal canula to help him out. It’s smaller and easier to maneuver. The CPAP made him look like he had a big rhino horn sticking out of his face, this new canula just makes him look like he’s an old regretful lifelong smoker.
But what that also means is now we can see his face! And he looks like a cute little monkey! Really, he’s got a head full of thick black hair and a nose that has been smashed down for the last few days from his CPAP. His perma-frown and wrinkles wonderfully support this new moniker. He’s even got soft hair (lanugo) all over his back and shoulders! He looks like a little monkey and he’s my little monkey- mi changito!
El Changito’s first day or two on earth found him pretty placid and sleepy. He didn’t care what was being done to him or when. Now, however, he gets angry and cries out little squeaky roars if you mess with him. He gets his fingers caught in his tubes and he pulls them every which way. He hates the cold wet wipes when we change his diapers (speaking of, he already peed on a nurse). He is getting an intake of breastmilk and making plenty of glorious sticky black poops (meconium). All this output and all this fussiness just means he’s developing the energy, awareness, and lungs to be pissed at his situation.
But it’s gonna last a little longer because as you can guess there is a whole bunch of criteria that needs to be met before he comes home with us. He needs to be able to keep his own temperature, he needs to be on a good feeding schedule, and he needs to be breathing well on his own- those are the main things that he needs to accomplish before going home. Babies hit those marks at all different stages. We were warned that it’s best to assume he will be going home on his due date (June 8), but it is also possible to get out of the halfway house sooner. I, personally, am shooting for what would have been his thirty sixth week of gestation. It’s not an overly ambitious goal from and new overzealous father, it’s just a realistic goal from information I’ve gathered from various nurses.
He’s a happy little buckaroo and he’s most stable when we have our skin to skin time. He is probably on either Kylie’s chest or mine around twelve hours every twenty-four hour period. During that time his stats are great. Sometimes he looks around but mostly he just sleeps and gets stronger. We sing him songs and talk to him and we pet his soft hairy monkey head.
Although this halfway house was never in our plans we are super grateful for it as well as for the staff here- the nurses cannot be thanked enough. I joked with them today as I walked by their station on my way to see Arlo, “Don’t mind me, I’m just that squatter living in room #2 walking through to see his son”. I think I heard one of them mutter to the other, “Great, another brand-new-dad joke.”
I went home last night to pick up some stuff and say hi to Mazzy. On the table were some ideas Kylie had written down about her birth preferences- just a start though, she was going to finish it in May… Kylie’s brother finished it for her…
Love you all, thanks for reading.