Roommate

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…

 

mogwai

 

And sometimes an insatiable Gremlin…

 

gremlin cue

 

There’s always a baby hippo snort or two…

 

hippo

 

But those change to Ferris Bueller’s deafening dummy snores…

 

sleep dummy

 

And then to just some heavy grampa breathing…

 

grandpa

 

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”…

 

Fat Bastard

 

And when he’s not tooting up a storm, I hear his hands moving around and imagine this guy laying there…

 

moor der

 

But whatever sounds I hear coming from where he sleeps, and every time I check on him, he always looks like this…

 

dreamer

Welcome home Arlo Ray

36/2

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)

 

Balboa Rocky

No pressure though buddy, you’re gonna be ready when you’re ready, and that’s just fine.  Love you.

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?”

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

Kicks

Scout’s astir! Kylie started feeling some kicks on Tuesday night. At first she only felt them inside her belly- like little flutters, but by Thursday she was feeling them from the outside with her hand. With Scout only consistently kicking at bedtime and with my annoying work schedule, I had to wait until Saturday night for my turn to feel.

On Saturday night I took a break from painting to put my hand on Kylie’s belly when she went to lay down for bed. I waited for three minutes when I started thinking the little guy was gonna leave me hanging. Kylie told me to hold on because it usually takes him a few minutes. Another minute or two went by and then I felt one… and then two… and then three. I don’t know what he was doing but he was kickin’ or punchin’. I have never felt a kick from the womb before (I’ve never really hung around a lot of pregnant women). It was an amazing feeling though.

Tonight I was painting and Kylie was lounging on a cushion in the room reading and keeping me company. She whispered for me to come over and she placed my hand on her belly. He kicked a couple of times. Right now he’s small but I can feel his stronger jabs pretty good. There’s no consistent rhythm or spot so I imagine a guy in there holding a pencil with the eraser end out searching for a letter on a keyboard that resides just inside Kylie’s belly. He’s having a hard time finding the key he wants to hit but when he does he makes it known with a frustrated pencil jab at that key. That’s what it feels like.

As magical as it is however, my mind can’t ever leave it as is. It reminds me of that scene in Alien– you know the old one with Sigourney Weaver from 1979? Kylie, this is where you should stop reading this post- don’t worry, there’s nothing to see here…

 

X X X X X X

X X X X X X X X X X X X

X X X X X X

 

This is your last chance Kylie, stop scrolling…

 

X X X X X X

X X X X X X X X X X X X

X X X X X X

 

DarkNecessaryHorseshoebat-max-1mb

 

And then the cute little bugger breaks his way out…

 

Born with Teeth

 

*SIGH* I just hope Scout’s not born with teeth.