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.

 

Mural

I finished the mural last night. It felt weird this morning to have coffee without a brush in my hand. It hadn’t necessarily consumed my spare time, but it did seem to dictate it. I had tiny goals for it every week- like find a place for Sam I Am, outline Hop on Pop, or deciding what kind of happy little bush to paint near the water. My initial idea of just few characters hanging out turned into twenty-seven characters with a waterfall, a cliff, trees, flowering fields and a trail leading off into distant mountains.

Kylie warned me not to overdo it. “Just something simple,” she said. She knows me though. I think she knew what was going to happen. And it did.

I would like to make a statement though: I’m not going to be one of those parents that go overboard on everything. Sure, my track record is not good so far- I have a dad blog- I painted a ridiculous mural- and the kid’s not even born yet. My only defense is that I’ve just been so damn excited for the last few months. I feel like Kylie’s doing all the work herself by carrying that lug around and maybe this is my way of being a part of it. I mean, if I could, I would take that little parasite out of her belly and put it in mine and carry it to full term. I’d give it back to her for the birth though, because NO THANK YOU- besides, I’m not a very stretchy guy. See there, I’m not that dad that’s going to go overboard- an overboard dad would have said he would give the birth if he could- but I’m just not that type of guy.

Without any further ado…

Panorama Rama Lama

The “to there” points out the door. The Lorax is a pretty known story about saving the Truffula Trees and the environment in general.

The Lorax and Thidwick

Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose was a new Dr. Seuss story for me and I squeezed him in kinda impromptu.  If you have a chance, try to look up the story- it’s pretty dark for a child’s book.

Thidwick, Things, Sam I Am, and Sneetch

Sam I Am in the back corner above is from an inside cover. It might have been Dr. Seuss’s nod to surrealism.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Hop on Pop, Foona-Lagoona Baboona

The Sneetches on Beaches is about two types of sneetches not getting along because the starred ones thought they were better than no starred sneetches. They end up getting along. There’s a sleeping Foona-Lagoona Baboona in the tree and all the fishes and a fisherboy. You can’t tell very well, but the fish parachuting down is wearing snorkel gear. If Scout grows up in Missoula the fisherboy sitting in the tree might unfortunately be the most diversity he gets.

Cat In the Hat, Fox in Sox, Mazzy and Kodiak, Corpse Lily, Little Buggy

Kylie painted the homes on the hill. Hop on Pop under the tree with a Corpse Lily in the foreground. In real life Corpse Lilies grow to be three meters wide (and they smell like a rotting corpse!) Whatever, I get to have some fun with this mural. The Cat In The Hat is reading stories to a little bug from Thidwick’s book.

Horton and the Monarch

Somebody took a bite out of that mushroom! Horton is listening to the Monarch while Fox in Sox is welcoming everyone down the trail. Our dog Mazzy and her best friend Kodi are waiting for us to get on that trail. There are a lot of other little fun facts and trivia, but you’ll have to stop by the house to hear those.

Well, that’s it. Now let’s place bets on how many years it will be until Scout says, “Papa, can I just have a plain walled room like all the other kids?”

Ugly

We have hit the third trimester mark. Now we are counting how many weeks we have left (13) rather than how many weeks we are into pregnancy. I say we- but Kylie is the beautiful one with a basketball jutting from her abdomen. Scout’s little jabs have turned into horse kicks and we know he’s going to have the same powerful soccer player thighs both Ky and I have.

It is getting to the point that I am starting to wonder what he is going to look like. Is he going to have the same potato shaped birthmark on his side that Kylie has? Will he get the small useless crooked pinkies that I got from my Nana? He’ll most likely have a small nose like both Kylie and I unless some random big nose gene intrudes from my family.

I have never been the type of person to fawn over how cute a baby is. Newborns are wrinkly and creepy and look like they have an undercover agenda. I’m told that I will think mine is beautiful no matter what. I’m leery of this and I kinda don’t want this switch to flip in me. I think I’d be okay with thinking it’s not the cutest baby in the world. In fact, is it okay to say that I would even be happy to have an ugly baby?

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! WHOA! Okay, I said that. Now let’s set things straight. First and foremost I want a healthy baby- that is the most important thing. When I say “ugly” I’m not hoping for an ugly baby. I don’t secretly want Kylie to give birth to Sloth from The Goonies.  (I can make that joke because Sloth is not real- no matter how much I thought he was when I was a kid).

sloth

I guess what I’m saying is I’d be perfectly happy with an Ugly Duckling. Of course I wouldn’t want my kid to go through his whole life being a very unfortunate looking person with a small nose and thunder thighs. But as a baby, if he’s not the cutest thing, I would love to see adults meet him for the first time and watch them come up with a lying compliment. “Um, he’s cute….. Where’d you get that onesie?”

I imagine the tone to be similar to that of the person at the bar who asks me to make them something different- what do they say?

“Make me anything you want- something different- anything- I love everything- Make me something YOU would drink.” I then make them something that I like and would love to drink… “Wow… That’s in – ter – est – ing”. “Interesting” is drawn out across thirty seconds while they stare at it and avoid eye contact with me.

5secondsapp-2

I used to take this very personally. But after a couple years of bartending I now take great joy in this response because it is usually a person who is trying to flaunt their adventurousness to their friends. His/her drink will sit there getting warm while his/her friends finish their round. As I get everyone another drink the adventurous one will point to their lukewarm drink, “This is really good, but I think I’m just not in the mood for it- Can I get a vodka-soda?” 

Wow, that makes me look like a bad bartender but- OH MY! This is my baby blog- sorry- but that was really cathartic. So anyway- that tone- “Um, cute”. I love watching bad liars lie.

I do have some worries though. They usually surface when I look at the local mugshots. Our newspaper posts them online. Here are some of my favorites…

 

mug13mug10mug15mug8mug6mug4mug1mug2

 

All these guys were babies once. Somehow, some way, they grew up and lost their innocence. They have all done some fucked up shit. This is what scares me- and I don’t even know what about it scares me. I used to just look at these and think nothing of them- it would just remind me that there are some really fucked up people in Missoula County. But now, with a kid on the way, these faces affect me differently. They put me on edge. They make me want to protect Scout from all the other people like them. I want to keep whatever influenced them as far away as possible from my unborn child. I don’t even want him to see these people. This is a brand new feeling inside that I can only describe as some sort of carnal protectiveness. I didn’t even know it was inside me until I saw these mugshots today. It makes me want to hide every single person like this from Scout. It makes me want to protect him from the truth of what some people truly are… ugly.

Twenty-five

We are twenty-five weeks pregnant today! I probably didn’t have to punctuate that with an exclamation mark but I’m pretty excited about it- and surprised. Where is the time going? It doesn’t feel like very long ago that Kylie and I were waiting for her to have a little baby bump- and now she’s bumpin’ like a smooth R. Kelly song. Ew. No. Not R. Kelly. I can’t believe I even mentioned that guy in this blog. If you wanna learn more about R. Kelly, here is an exposé written last year on his grossness at Spin Magazine.

How about bumpin’ more like MC Hammer style- Pumps and a Bump, Pumps and a Bump, We like the girls with the– never mind- let’s just keep it as Kylie’s bump. Hammer, don’t touch this.

Kick it MC!

Sorry for the digression, let’s get back to the real topic of twenty-five weeks. The pregnancy app says Scout is the size of a papaya now- last week he was the size of an eggplant. Without ever seeing the two things side by side I’d have to say I thought an eggplant was a little bigger- maybe the app considers density in the size evaluation. But really, I probably shouldn’t invest so much thought into this comparison. I mean who knows who writes these apps, for all we know it could be some 400 lb. guy sitting on his bed at home who got bored of hacking into the DNC and decided that writing a pregnancy app would be more lucrative.

No offense to 400 lb. guys- I didn’t make him up- somebody else colluded on that idea- but that’s neither here nor there. Let’s move on to Kylie’s birthday. She had a birthday on Wednesday- and it was a wonderful day. In the morning she opened a pile (enormous pile) of presents that friends and family had sent. A slew of things ranging from a hilarious pregnancy activity book to strapless stomach bras (?) to a pregnancy pillow the size and shape of two elephant’s trunks and a pregnancy back brace and and some earrings and just a whole bunch of fun cool stuff- thank you everybody.

Her family bought her an Osprey I don’t even know what you call them baby carrier backpack thing. This thing is legit with an aluminum frame and a drool pad. It also has a sunshade and a perfectly shaped bottom zippered storage area for a six pack of beer. Up until now I’ve been a little afraid that I wouldn’t really get excited about baby stuff but this thing flipped that worry upside down. I studied all the directions and and messed with all the special features. I got lost in it blowing all the bells and dinging all the whistles- it was like hanging out with a new motorcycle- well, almost. Oh yeah, Kylie liked it too.

Pumps and a Bump, Pumps and a Bump, We like the girls with the Pumps and a Bump.

That song is stuck way up in my head now. I should not have researched it so heavily. Click here if you want to get the full effect of this blogpost…

In all seriousness though, Kylie and Scout are doing well. Actually, great. He’s been kicking like an octopus and giving me high fives all the time (not true, but that’s what I like to believe- and I’m not even a high-fiver). It’s crazy that there’s just over three months left. It’s odd though- the closer it gets, the more real it gets- and the more I realize I have no idea what I’m in for. It was all fun and games romanticizing about it when Scout didn’t have a face or gender or a room, but now that it’s all coming together and getting closer to actually happening it’s getting harder and harder for me to actually get a clear picture it. Marty McFly
It’s like when when Marty McFly looks at his hand while he’s playing the guitar at his parent’s dance in Back to the Future- I am Marty Mcfly and Scout is my hand. I know it’s there- it has been for a long time- but now it’s getting harder and harder to see.  Whoa. I think I just got way deeper than I meant to.

Never mind. You know what’s wrong with me right now? I’ve got that damn song stuck in my head!

Pumps and a Bump, Pumps and a Bump, We like the girls with the Pumps and a Bump

Pregaroonies

Kylie is twenty-three weeks pregnant today. Scout is purring all curled up in the wooly of his little womb. His lungs are tidying up so he can breath air when he comes out to meet us. June 8th is just around the corner now- well, it will be- so Kylie and I are signing up for birth classes and figuring out other stuff like the diaper situation- poop- there will be lots of it- cribs and rock-n-plays and carseats and slings and changing tables and this and that. It’s not overwhelming, it’s just a whole new world. It’s a lot different from when we used to abstractly think about babies in the past- when it was just fun and inconsequential…

 

So we’ve been busy with planning and thinking about things like names and to snip or not to snip. For now, Scout has one name- Scout- until he is born, and then we will share his human name with everyone. We haven’t settled on a name yet anyway. At the beginning, when it was fun to just come up with names, it was nice to share with friends and family. But we also found that positive or negative reactions really did have some influence as to whether or not we kept a name kicking around. So as we narrow it down we decided it’s really best if we just keep it to ourselves. (It’s just another thing I’ve never thought about until actually going through it.)

Another preparation that began in the last month is the baby room. My spare bedroom (yeah, I know, how posh of me) will be Scout’s room. Some time in January I started the mural. It got bigger than expected and I still have A LOT of work to do- like probably another month or two at the rate I’m working- but here are some details of what has happened so far…

 

That’s all I got today- I gotta put the computer away and pick up a paint brush. Hope your February is going well- and Happy Black History Month!