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.

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?”

Cliché

Scout!

What’s going on in there little thing? You are eleven weeks, three days today. Congratulations, you are the size of a fig. Your great grand-nana loved figs. She had a tree in her back yard in Chula Vista. I used to watch her pick them off the tree and eat them- I thought it was disgusting- I think I just don’t like seedy things. Anyhoo, she died over a year ago. I would have loved for you to meet her- mostly because I would have loved to watch her scare the shit out of you. She was an absolutely loving grandmother, but she also like to yell at us as kids. “IF YOU KIDS DON’T LISTEN TO ME I’M GOING TO BEAT YOUR BRAINS IN!!” On occasion she followed it up with, “IF YOU HAVE ANY!”  We, as children, would scream, scatter, and run away. The adults in the room would laugh out loud. As an adult, I got to watch her yell at my younger cousins- I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. Her husband, on the other hand, your great grandpa, was the polar opposite. He would sit quietly in his chair and just observe everything. Every once in a while he’d quip a joke out and everyone would laugh. He died about six years ago while your mama and I were living in a shitty apartment in Flagstaff.

You have one great grandparent left right now- Red. Red is your grandpa Jared’s dad who lives in New York. You’d like him- I had the pleasure of meeting him this year in June. He’s quite the character with stories galore. He reminded me a lot of your late great grandpa Harvey from West Virginia. In fact, both of them had messed up a couple of their own fingers by the time I came around. Your great grandpa Red mangled a couple of his with a chainsaw (they are still there though). Your great grandpa Harvey lost one at the knuckle while working at a sawmill. He used to draw a face on it and move it around to entertain us.

But let’s stop talking about your late Greats. Let’s talk about your balls! Or your vagina! That’s right, I went there. By now you are forming one or the other- and quite honestly, I don’t care which! As long as you are healthy- I know, how cliché of me. But it’s true. I will let you know right now, if you are a girl I’m going to try like hell to raise you like a tomboy- and if you are a boy I’m going to try like hell to raise you into the most sensitive and caring man I can. And if you end up being gay, I’ll be absolutely happy and supportive with that too.

If you can help it though, please don’t be racist, sexist, homophobic, or a bully, or a football player, or in a fraternity or sorority… This will be a longer and more defined list some day, but this is all I can come up with right now on the fly. Actually, if you follow this list of don’ts then you should have a good foundation for being a good person.

Okay, I am about finished with my cappuccino, so I will bid you adieu. I hope you are warm and well inside your mama’s belly. I might put a stethoscope to your world tonight even though the internet says that it is pointless this early in the pregnancy. I wish I could come in and hang out with you for a bit but you’d probably freak me the fuck out with your creepy underdevelopedness at this stage- so I am perfectly happy to wait till June. Hugs and kisses little one.

Case

I lost two small pocket knives in the span of a week. One was confiscated at the airport because they thought I would use it to make tiny stabs in people on the airplane. The other knife fell out of my pocket somewhere in between home and work. Neither had any sentimental value to me, they were just small tools I liked to carry around to assist me with little jobs that require a little knife. Mind you, I’m not the guy that likes to carry around a big knife to show off how much of a man I am- quite the opposite actually- those kinds of guys like to make fun of me and my little knife.

So I needed a new knife. Sure, a custom made one by a local craftsman would have been nice, but considering my track record with the last two I decided I should opt for a cheaper mass produced knife. So off to Cabela’s I went. Whenever I go to Cabela’s I always expect there to be a camouflaged man at the door to stop me and say, “Hey, you aren’t a hunter, maybe you should go to REI instead”. But, he wasn’t there, and I walked right in.

Cabela’s had a great selection of knives! (I swear they are not sponsoring me). They had everything from Rambo knives to machetes to small pocket sizes that fit my personality. As I was looking in the knife cases Gary approached me and told me about a real deal, three knives for $10. I let him lead me that way but I didn’t have great expectations on quality- they ended up being a random camouflaged set of three that had the Cabela’s logo on them. I imagined the blade getting dented as soon as I tried to cut a piece of tape. I thanked Gary and told him I would keep looking.

As I looked over the knives on the wall I realized I wasn’t buying a knife just for me, but a knife that one day I could give to Scout. I remember my dad gave me a knife when I was a kid, just a simple no frills folding pocket knife with a yellowish handle. It was small and had a timeless look to it, unlike all the fancy springy and edgy designed ones out there today. I think I carried it around for a year or two before I lost it. You didn’t think I still had it did you?

My eyes finally rested on a small orange and silver folding knife with a small oval logo on it that read Case. This was the one, I thought, this is the one I’m going to give Scout one day. It had the classic look that reminded me of the one my dad gave me. Gary told me it was forty dollars and when I told him I wanted it he shot me a look that said, I just showed you three knives for ten dollars but you’re gonna get this little one for forty dollars instead? I immediately shot him back a more pronounced look that said, Keep your thoughts to yourself Gary and just sell me the damn knife.

Admittedly, I wasn’t planning on spending forty dollars for a pocket knife. It was a bit more than I had planned- but for a family heirloom? That’s pretty cheap if you ask me. (I used this same justification when I bought my truck- I told Kylie, “Just imagine, one day our first born will drive this”- that was way before Scout was in the picture.) As Gary boxed up the family heirloom he told me I could save twenty dollars just by signing up for a Cabela’s credit card. I told him I didn’t need another credit card. Gary insisted that I did, and it would only take a couple of minutes. A couple of minutes? I’ve got that kind of time…

Twenty-five minutes later I was finally walking out the door with our new knife, some paperwork, a credit card, and a ball cap that read Cabela’s Club. During that twenty-five minutes of frustration, I had a lot of time to think. My mind wandered to the movie Pulp Fiction. Specifically the scene where Christopher Walken’s character is describing to the kid how he hid the watch up his ass for years, just so he could give it to him when he got home…

captainkoonsThe way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He’d be damned if any slopes gonna put their greasy yellow hands on his boy’s birthright, so he hid it, in the one place he knew he could hide something: his ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable piece of metal up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you. 

Suddenly this pocket knife didn’t feel too significant as an heirloom. The only story I had to tell Scout was about my twenty-five minute wait to save twenty dollars. I guess I can dramatize it and tell Scout, “But it was a long twenty-five minutes”. I can also tell Scout how pushy over-the-hill Gary was. Not too exciting though.

I suppose I could hide the knife up my ass just for a good ol’ family heirloom story, but I don’t know who I’d be hiding it from. It would probably be a good idea to do so though, because most likely I will lose the knife before Scout is even born- that’s what Kylie thinks- and she’s usually right about that type of stuff.

As a matter of fact, yesterday we were tearing apart some boxes in the garage. I was working on a particularly difficult one and Kylie asked me if I needed a knife. I looked up and in her outstretched hand rested my new orange pocket knife. “Where did you get that?” I asked. She smiled with a twinkle in her eye, “I found it on the floor”.

Holes

This little ditty didn’t fit in the last post very well, so it’s its own little thing. As I was getting ready to go to the Obstetrician yesterday I realized my underwear had holes in them. It seemed like a very dad thing. Normally (not that it happens all the time), I would just wear them through the day, then throw them out. But this time I felt very embarrassed- and I’m not sure why. I wasn’t even the one who was going to have to take my pants off but I felt like everyone would know. They would know with their ultrasound and it would display on the large screen in the waiting room for all to see. Things that go through my head.

I’m not talking about a little tear either, I’m talking holes! I don’t know where they came from, or how long they have been around. I mean sure, it probably happened in the last wash, right? Because I would have noticed them before. Or! Or Mazzy has been a little terror lately- I bet she chewed some holes in them and then put them back in my drawer- I wouldn’t put it past her- she’s been opening cabinets lately- we still don’t know how, but she has.

Anyway, Scout, if you are reading this, just know that I didn’t have any holes in my underwear at your first visit to the doctor- I wouldn’t embarrass you like that, or your mother for that matter.