NICU

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.”

One More Thing…

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…

Birth Plan

 

Love you all, thanks for reading.

Waiting

It’s the end of April. We still have the whole month of May to wait for Scout to arrive.

That’s how this post was supposed to start out. I was going to write about how we are ready and all there is to do is wait and let him get a little bigger.

He had other plans though, like

Birth

THAT’S RIGHT! SCOUT ENTERED THIS WORLD ON APRIL 27TH, AT 9:03 AM!!!

THAT’S RIGHT! SCOUT ENTERED THIS WORLD ON APRIL 27TH, AT 9:03 AM!!!

THAT’S RIGHT! SCOUT ENTERED THIS WORLD ON APRIL 27TH, AT 9:03 AM!!!

I honestly still can’t believe it. He’s here! Six weeks early! And he’s doing great! And so is Kylie! Oh my god, what a night…

Oh yeah- first- His real name- I just wrote it on his birth certificate…

Arlo Ray France Simmons 

(but you can still call him Scout)

Sorry guy, that’s going to be a pain in the ass to learn to write.

For arriving so early he was born with a solid weight- 5lbs, 4oz, 19 inches long. The dude isn’t really that small, I mean he’s got some fat on him and just looks like a regular little ol’ baby. And he’s the sweetest little thing- although I said I wouldn’t turn into that kind of parent on this blog- but he is.

So what happened, huh? I am still processing quite honestly. On Thursday night, I was at work, bartending. It was eight at night and my co-worker saw my phone flashing furiously (I put it on that setting in case Kylie had an emergency during this pregnancy). I assumed it was a stupid sales call, but it wasn’t, it was Kylie, and her water had broke. We had learned in birthing classes that this is kind of a rare thing to happen- that it usually only happens in the movies- apparently we are living in a movie because she was sitting outside in the spring sunshine eating dinner minding her own business when suddenly there was a “pop” down there, followed by a real gusher.

After calling me, she called the maternity ward- they told her to come in, but not to hurry, go ahead and pack a bag and come on in. Mind you, we hadn’t packed a bag or wrote a birth plan or anything- cause we were going to have all of May to do that. Kylie decided not pack a bag- as she had fluid constantly leaking from her. While she walked around the house looking for something to absorb the flow, Mazzy followed after her on clean-up duty. What a good dog.

She called me back and told me the plan, she was going to pick me up on the way to the hospital. I went outside to wait and realized I could see the hospital from my vantage, so I decided to walk the four blocks instead of awkwardly waiting outside my place of work. Along the way I recorded a video for Scout, telling him what was happening and how I hoped he would wait a few more weeks, and how I had hoped and hoped that his mom had just peed her pants.

We arrived at the hospital and after the initial examination we learned her water had indeed broke. Being six weeks early, they wanted to delay birth at least 48 hours, and even longer than that if possible. The biggest reason to delay was for Scout to receive a couple doses of steroids so his lungs would be stronger by birth. One nurse told us she had seen mothers delay for up to two weeks or more, all while staying at the hospital. Quite honestly, the possible chance of a two week hospital stay scared the shit out of us.

Around 11pm, Kylie was administered Magnesium Sulfate to delay contractions and delivery. We were under the impression that this was going to delay everything, and most likely we would have at least a minimum of 24-48 hours until we would be seeing the little guy. From 11pm to about 7am the contractions continued at about five to six minutes apart, gradually getting stronger and stronger. Kylie got no sleep, as the pain was that bad every five to six minutes. At this time, we were still under the impression that there would be no delivery anytime soon.

At 7am, shift change happened with the nurses. Our new nurse saw how much pain Kylie was in and decided to check her cervix. This had been delayed up to this point as not to introduce infection since the water had broke. The nurse found that the cervix was basically non existent, and that the baby would be on his way out soon. Kylie had labored all night without knowing it, and without even a Tylenol.

With news the baby was coming, the room became abuzz. Trays and carts began being pushed in by nurses and techs, lights were turned on, and the doctor was called. The rest, I wish I could say was a bit of a blur, but it wasn’t for me. I remember every moment like it was my favorite TV show- I was very present. I will spare you the details, however, as even though the miracle of life is supposedly a beautiful thing, it’s pretty fucking disgusting just the same, and we’ll just leave it at that.

I will say Kylie is stronger than I ever could have imagined. Halfway through pushing (which lasted a total of forty-five minutes) one of the nurses casually mentioned that she completely forgot that Kylie had not even had any pain medication, and was amazed by her calm and collectiveness. Throughout the whole process Kylie made barely  any more noise than a chorus of singing mice. My sniffling was louder than she was.

At 9:03, Arlo came into this world kicking, breathing, and crying. He was wiped off a little and put on Kylie’s chest for some skin to skin contact. I was offered to cut the umbilical cord but I figured if I wanted to remain conscious then I shouldn’t cut the cord- cause I don’t do well with human mishmash. Funny though, at one point while I was staring at Kylie and Arlo, I looked over to my side and came face to face with the big healthy placenta, sitting in a clear dish, staring at me. It didn’t bother me though. I actually inspected it a little closer and understood why some people eat it. I mean, it looked like a big steak that would flip easily on a grill. It would have been a great dessert for Mazzy after all the amniotic fluid she slurped up the night before.

Now, all is well. Arlo is thirty-one hours old. He is hanging out in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). He can breath on his own but fatigues quickly, so he’s getting a little help from continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for a while until his lungs develop a little more. I held him on my chest skin to skin this morning as he got his first bit of colostrum fed to his stomach. Nurses say he might be there one to two weeks. We are encouraged to hang out with him as much as possible, hold him, and change his diapers.

Over and over while Kylie was pregnant we were told to expect the unexpected during childbirth, because that’s what having a baby will be. I thought I had a grasp on that concept but to be quite honest, this whole experience was still quite unexpected to me. I had all these romantic notions of sleeping with Arlo in our hospital room the first night and being woken up by his cries. I was going to hold him in front of our giant hospital window and  point out Missoula to him. Obviously, this didn’t happen. Instead, we go and visit him in his room (don’t cry for me, it’s like 27 steps away). Sure, seeing him with tubes connected to him is a little disheartening, but we can also see how strong he is and we know he is on his way. We are grateful for every single cry he makes, as it means his lungs are growing that much stronger.

On a bit of a side note, I want to extend a thank you to all the nurses here at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, MT. I know none of you will ever see this, but you all have made this experience such a positive and loving one when otherwise it could have been rather frightening. We are super grateful for you for your expertise and passionate care every hour of the day. Thank you so much.

Arlo! Welcome! It’s gonna be a fun one!

arlo print

 

 

Silhouettes

I think we have a name picked out. But I’m not going to tell you. We’ve been floating it around to each other since sometime in January. Kylie says she remembers the exact moment we began talking about it. I don’t. I just remember we were hiking around. I will say it is not going to be Scout. Much to my chagrin, my evil ploy of that name catching on permanently did not work. Sorry Scout.

It’s been a few weeks, hasn’t it? Let me catch you up- don’t worry, there’s not much. We had a birthing class a couple Saturdays ago. I’d have to say it was quite useful and informative. I learned that once a woman goes into labor, it’s not like in the movies- she doesn’t just drive to the hospital, lie down on a bed, and push out a little squirt. It’s more complicated that that. In fact, the many many hours leading up to the pushing is filled with the woman trying to maintain comfort in awkward positions that I can only describe as being reminiscent of farm animal silhouettes.

I do realize that this is a terribly insensitive comparison. I will also accept your hateful glare next time we meet. But, as always (most of the time), there is a innocent explanation to counter this insensitivity. Let me set the scene: We were in our birthing class. We were all practicing our positions and breathing. The women were squatting or leaning on chairs or on all fours. The men were right next to them- most of them massaging or rubbing their backs (some were on their phone). There was one huge window behind all of them- meaning one light source- meaning they were all shadows to me. So my mind combined the silhouettes of people and chairs and chair legs and heavy breathing and I imagined I was looking at various farm animals. Whatever! At least I wasn’t on my phone!Farm AnimalsKylie, just so you know, you did not look like a farm animal. And if you were going to look like a farm animal you would be the cutest little… yeah right! I’m not going to go there.

What else? Scout’s room is all set to go. The carpet has been professionally cleaned. We put together the crib and a changing table/dresser. There are tiny little hangers hanging in the closet. Who knew hangers could be so damn cute!

And now we wait. Two months left. Our April is already planned out, so it’s basically done. So, really, just one month left. Although the one actually carrying Scout would probably have something else to say about that logic.

Kylie has been wonderful throughout this. Her stomach has grown a little more, but hey, there’s an actual baby inside her now. I see him move around. I see him press out against her belly. Sometimes I press back. But then it freaks me out a little and I squirm and eek out an “Ewwww!” It’s kinda like that feeling when you stick your hand in some gum that some asshole stuck to the bottom of the chair you’re sitting on. You pull away real quick and squeal out an “Ewwww!” Well, I do at least. But I also see farm animal silhouettes sometimes.