Thursday, July 31, 2008

Right On Time!

I’ve wanted to do this for a while, especially before I forget all the ways the timing of Cade’s birth was perfect. He was considered premature, but the more and more we’re around him and consider the whole thing, we’re confident he was right on time. God has a way of taking our plans and showing us He knows better. Think about these things:

* Cade was born at 34 weeks. He weighed 5 lb., 11 oz., and was 19” long. Some full-term babies are not that large. If he would have been born on his due date of August 3rd (which we’ve still not reached), he would have been huge, and the birth could have been extremely rough for Susie, possibly even requiring a Cesarean.
* Susie was not allowed to drive for over two weeks following Cade’s birth. If Cade would have been “on time,” her inability to drive could have been even longer, requiring someone to drive her to Bloomington at the start of the fall semester. As it stands, she’ll be able to drive herself without any restrictions. Also, there has been plenty of time to establish a routine with him before beginning school.
* The week after Cade’s birth was our church’s youth summer camp. I was supposed to go to this camp with our youth, so I had done a lot of work in preparation for being absent from work. I had also worked pretty far ahead in my school work. This allowed me to take the time I needed to support Susie and Cade and stay in the hospital without worrying about schoolwork or work issues. If Cade had showed up later it may have caused some scheduling issues with finals or other end of the semester work.
* During the week I was to go to youth camp, Susie was planning on spending the week in Alabama with her parents. It would have been extremely stressful for her and me (and Cade, I’m sure) to have to give birth in a different town with a different doctor.
* During our week at the hospital Cade had a night-shift nurse named Katie in the special care nursery. She had previously worked at the hospital in Lexington in the NICU unit. So while Cade was at the higher end of the severity that most of the nurses were used to (he was close to being sent to Evansville the first couple days), Katie had seen much worse and wasn’t afraid to try things with Cade when the other nurses were more cautious. It was under her care that most of his major improvements took place, things like coming off oxygen, having his first bath, and having his feeding tube removed. The week we were in the hospital was her last week in Owensboro before she moved to Iowa, so if we’d been in there one week later we’d have missed her and her care of Cade.
* My dad was supposed to go on a trip to sea with my uncle on a research ship this summer. He was going to be gone for six weeks getting back at the end of June. My uncle was unable to go, and so my dad was replaced with a grad student. He was originally bummed about it, but if he’d gone he would have been on a ship in the middle of the ocean when Cade was born.
* Susie’s doctor was on vacation, and the perfect doctor was on call that night. I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog, but of all the possible other doctors to walk in that night and deliver her baby, Dr. Ottman was the best.
* We had actually discussed the option of driving to Evansville if Susie went into labor prematurely. But when I got home from work that Monday, she was so far along that it really didn’t make sense to drive to Evansville. I’m glad we didn’t attempt it, because if we’d have tried, there’s a good possibility we may have been stuck in traffic since it was rush hour. If we’d have been stuck in traffic the hour-long drive could have been much longer and he may have come in the car (seeing how he came so fast even with the doctor’s efforts to slow labor). It would have been impossible to get the required care for his lungs if he’d have been born in the car.
* There were four things we wanted to do that we weren’t able to fully commit to since we didn’t know when Cade would show up. We wanted to go to two weddings (one in Colorado), I was supposed to play guitar at our church’s kids camp, our church hosts a church-wide retreat down at Kentucky Lake in the fall that we were hoping to attend. Cade’s early arrival has allowed us to go and do all of these things. The event we were least confident we could attend was my friend’s wedding in Colorado in late August. If he’d been on time or a little late he would have been too young to take on a plane, but we’re going to try it since he’ll be two months old when we go.
* The fact that Susie went into labor six weeks early allowed her to avoid the discomfort of late pregnancy. She had a nearly picture-perfect pregnancy without any major swelling of her hands or feet, no major problems sleeping, she didn’t grow to an incredibly huge size, and just didn’t really have any major discomfort. After Cade was born I think she actually missed being pregnant a little because it was such an enjoyable experience.

I’m sure there are more things I can’t think of right now, but this is a pretty good list. I’m guilty of thinking I have my paths planned out better than God can plan them for me. This is a perfect example of His timing being the best. I wasn’t seeing it when we first went to the hospital. It was a very stressful week. I had a multiple commitments (a meeting at work, a haircut appointment, and a meeting with friends) that I completely forgot about until way after the fact and someone reminded me (usually the jilted party). I lost 8 pounds in less than a week because I neglected taking care of myself in an effort to tend to Susie and Cade’s needs. I couldn’t understand why God had Cade show up when he did because I was focused on the immediate situation. God sees everything from beginning to end, and life is so much better when we submit to His perfect plan. As the week went on and we started coming up for air, it was humbling to start to take account of the ways in which the timing was perfect. In my opinion there is no way to look at this situation except to stand in awe of God and give Him the credit and praise.

Here are a few pictures of Cade. We’re taking tons of them. I’m sure he’ll be sick of seeing himself when he gets older.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Video Blog!

Thought you all might want to see Cade in action. He was starting to get a little hungry, which is why he was so talkative.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Nighttime musings

Have you ever been so tired you can't sleep? That's how I feel right now. It's been a frustrating week at work and I have a ton of things floating through a brain that can't turn off so I'm down in the kitchen having a snack and hoping that a little thought flush can get me back on track for sleep (just in time to wake up and feed Cade). :)

I was wondering if this is something any other new parent has experienced. It has happened to me several times in the last few weeks and I can't tell whether it's a bad recurring dream or if it's just my mind playing tricks on me. I's happened to Susie a couple times as well. From time to time we've held Cade in bed with us when we're trying to calm him down or get him to sleep because he really responds to sleeping on our chest or in the crook of our arm. And occasionally we've fallen asleep with him laying on us or next to us. Well, there have been a few times in the middle of the night where I'll either be dreaming or in a half-awake daze with my mind playing tricks on me (I haven't been able to tell which). But what my mind tells me I'm experiencing is that I've fallen asleep with Cade next to me or on me and I'm now waking up and can't find him. I'll start looking around in the folds of the covers and grow more and more worried that I've rolled over onto him or pushed him off the bed until I really am actually awake looking through the covers. Every time this has happened I'll kind of come to and realize that he's asleep in his bassinet. Has anyone else experienced this or something like this? It's a little disconcerting, and it's happened less and less as the days go by, but it's a really weird feeling.

Cade is doing well and so is Susie. We are kind of settling into a routine of feeding at night, but as you can tell by the timestamp on this post, not every night is super smooth, and we're all still adjusting. Last weekend we took Cade to his first wedding. Our worship pastor was getting married, and it was a great time. Cade was passed around and was very well behaved! We're finding that he actually prefers to be moving around to have some background noise when he sleeps. He gets pretty restless when it is completely still and silent. So the reception was the perfect time to nod off. Here are a couple pictures.

I'm sitting here with my little buddy Coleson. He's been my favorite little guy at church to play with every week, and he was very eager to meet Cade and to help hold him.

He's a little bit awake here. I think he wanted to try the cake.

Here we are with the newlyweds, Kaleb and Meagan Scharmahorn. We were happy we were able to go to their wedding; we weren't sure if we'd be able to go, but Cade was born with just the right timing to allow that to happen.

Wedding day was tiring for Cade AND for mommy. I just can't get over how much I love these two people.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Next lesson: Keep the diapers in a sealed trash can

It's really been a great week getting to know this kid. It started out with a great doctor's appointment on Monday. Cade was 5 pounds, 10 ounces, just one ounce shy of his birth weight. The doctor was very pleased with his weight gain and told us that we could take him off his three-hour feeding schedule and let him dictate meal times by when he was hungry. We were ecstatic dreaming of all the extra dreaming we'd get to do during the night since most of the time we were having to wake him up to feed him anyway. Well, that didn't quite happen the first night; he actually was up more than when we had him on the schedule. But it's been getting better and better overall (with a couple rough nights) and we're all adjusting to a better, more regular schedule. A couple mornings ago he actually slept from 4 to 8 am (and I ended up being late for work since I've been relying on him to be my alarm clock).

Chili has been great as a big brother. You could tell his world was pretty well rocked when we first brought Cade home. But you can definitely tell now by the way he acts and where he positions himself that he's completely accepted Cade as part of his "pack" and would defend him just like he'd do for Susie or me. And it's also interesting to see how Cade is already used to Chili. If a door slams or we drop something and make a sharp noise Cade startles. But I've not yet seen him startle or even blink or move when Chili barks, and sometimes Chili can startle us with his sudden loud barks. I think Cade was used to hearing it when he was inside Susie.

The only compaint we have had so far (and it was really our fault) happened a few mornings ago. Up to that point we'd been putting dirty diapers in a trash can in the room where we feed Cade. I don't have any idea why doggies are attracted so much to turd, but they are. I hadn't been walking Chili as much as I should have been or as much as he needed, and on Tuesday morning I got the following text message from Susie when while I sat in my office at work: "Poo and pee everywhere. Chili just shredded 4 of Cade's diapers around our room, on the bed, & in the study." The previous night had been a trying one as far as sleep goes, so I couldn't tell if her text was one of amusement at our silly puppy or of sheer rage. Fortunately, I arrived home to find Chili in one piece and the rooms cleaned up. Susie had to put our sheets and duvet cover in the wash to clean them, but it's all good now, and we keep dirty diapers in a trash can with a cover. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), Susie didn't get any pictures of the incident or you would be looking at them as you read this post.

This morning I noticed some dry skin on the top of Cade's head so I put some baby lotion on it to help keep it from flaking too much. To my surprise and glee I discovered that baby lotion can also be used as hair gel. After much serious debate and discussion, Susie and I decided that Cade's first official hairdo would be a mean fro-hawk. As you can see in the pictures, Cade completely agreed.

This afternoon Susie was feeling good so we went on our first family walk together. It's times like this when we use new baby equipment that we are reminded of just how small he still is. He's still not tall enough to eat at the big boy table but check out his large dogs hanging out the bottom of the blanket. :)

One thing that has been almost magic at times is the ablility of a swing to calm Cade when he's fussy. Sometimes it makes him forget he's hungry or has a dirty diaper. So when we got to the park we absolutely had to take him on the swing. Doing so provided the definition of a relaxed baby. I've made the following statement several times this last week: "I had no idea how tiring and how much work this would be, but I also had no idea how much fun and exciting it would be." Doing this is definitely the definition of total sacrifice, but it just keeps getting better and better. We wouldn't trade our situation for anything.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The training wheels are off!

Well, my parents left yesterday and Susie's mom left this morning, so I think the training wheels are now officially off! We are grateful to our parents and the help they gave us over the last week as we settled into a routine with our new little buddy. Here are a few pictures from the last few days.

Three generations.

He's already learning to pray.

Big yawn! And this is his first pair of pants. It's the smallest pair we have and he's still swimming in them.
He got mad at me for giving him a bath, but I think he forgot about it and just wanted to cuddle.
Here we are with Susie's mom and my parents. He looks so tiny.
My grandpa gave me this bear when I was born. We have a picture with me just like this and now we have one with Cade.
Our parents built this garden while they were here this week. It's amazing how much they accomplished. We got help finishing projects we were in the middle of (painting) and can't express how nice it was to have meals prepared and cleaned up after, laundry done, diapers changed, etc.
Cade does this leg pump thing that's hilarious. You just have to stay out of the way!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Athlete - "Wires"

I've been asked a few times about the song "Wires" that I've referred to on this blog. Athlete is a British band that I started getting into a little before we learned we were pregnant. I really liked what they were doing and still do, but for some reason the song "Wires" just stuck out to me. The pain and hope and believability of this song is great. The lead singer, Joel Pott, had a daughter who was born prematurely and he wrote this song about that experience.

The video is just them playing the song, but the words are heart-wrenching. Susie and I watched this last night and it still brings tears. Hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Special Delivery!

We’ve been asked many times to recount the story of Susie’s delivery from last week. I love telling the story, because it’s amazing to me how obvious God’s direction and timing were apparent in our situation. So I wanted to write the story down for two reasons: so that everyone out there in blog world that is interested in reading can do so, and also so we can have a written account of it to refer to and to show our little Cade when he gets older and time has blurred details.

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008, was a pretty normal Sunday for us. We went to church in the morning, had lunch with some friends, took a nap in the afternoon in between chores, and had Bible study at our house with our small group from church. That night our group had brought over some baby gifts that included crib sheets, diapers and wipes, and a baby monitor. We had the third baby in our group in the last few months, so we benefitted from the experience of others in the selection of their gifts.

Susie and I went to bed around 11:00 that night and shortly after we turned out the light Susie groaned and said, “It feels like he just dropped.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I knew she wasn’t feeling good at that point. I figured he’d rotated or moved in a way that pressed against a nerve or somehow made her uncomfortable. We had just attended our first childbirth class the day before and started to kind of jokingly discuss what we’d do if he was really coming. We came to the conclusion that we’d probably head to Evansville because we had heard a number of horror stories regarding births and other types of care coming out of the hospital here in Owensboro. Because we weren’t confident in the care we would receive here in town if we had a premature baby we thought if he came early we’d go over the river. Neither of us really slept well that night. Some massaging helped her with her pain, but she slept in the recliner for a lot of the night.

The next morning (Monday, the 23rd) I made her scrambled eggs, tortillas, and a smoothie for breakfast hoping to help her feel better. She was still in pain but was going to just try and take it easy that day. She had to go into Kentucky Wesleyan to do some work, but other than that was going to try to stay off her feet. At lunch time I was talking with the guys I work with about it and telling them about our decision to head to Evansville and kind of joking about an early baby with them. Around 3:00 I talked with Susie and she was still not doing well. She thought she’d passed her mucous plug (which I didn’t even know existed until two days before!) and was having pretty bad cramps that felt like menstrual cramps. That worried me a little, but she said she’d left a message with the doctor and was going to head home and get in the bath to relax. I didn’t leave work right away, but wasn’t planning on staying late.

I got home around 4:30 and found Susie in the bath tub in a pretty good deal of pain with Chili playing nurse, licking her face to keep her calm. What immediately caught my attention was the fact that her pain was coming in waves. She said the cramping still felt localized below her belly, but I could definitely tell that it was her entire belly tightening up in a big way. What we later determined were actually contractions were coming about every three minutes and lasting about 30 seconds apiece. She still hadn’t heard back from the doctor’s office so I tried calling again. The on call nurse called me back shortly and told me to take her into the hospital. She had already called ahead for us and told us that since our doctor was on vacation we would be seeing another doctor. I won’t use that doctor’s name here, but it was the specific one we had heard so many bad stories about. I didn’t mention this fact to Susie because I knew it would make her upset and anxious but my heart dropped when I thought about this particular person delivering our baby. We didn’t know what the evening held, so we didn’t know what to bring, but luckily I did throw the camera in my pocket.

When we got to the hospital (a little after 5:00) they brought us into one of the L&D rooms and started hooking Susie up to monitors to keep a eye on her contractions and the baby’s heart rate. At this point they also hooked her up to an IV with magnesium sulfate. This was introduced to slow the contractions down, because now they were coming at a pretty rapid rate and increasing in intensity. They checked her and found that she was 4-5 centimeters dilated. They told us that if they were successful in stopping her contractions Susie would have to stay in the hospital on complete bed rest until the baby came (they had already put a catheter in her). At that point everything was happening way too fast and we weren’t really sure what sounded more intimidating to us, bed rest or a premature baby.

I called both of our parents to let them know what was going on and asked for prayer. We really had an unsettled feeling and weren’t sure about what was best for Susie or the baby. God provided a comfort for Susie at this point in that the nurse supervisor was a lady that lived three houses down from Susie in the Tampa area years ago. Susie had actually babysat this lady’s two daughters. The fact that Colleen was in the room in a completely different state from their previous life as neighbors really helped to settle Susie because she knew what an outstanding nurse Colleen was and knew that she wasn’t just another patient in labor to her. As the contractions subsided it looked to be more of a waiting game. But about 6:15 or 6:30 the nurse checked Susie again and found that despite her reduced contractions she was 8 centimeters dilated!

At this point there was no way to stop the baby from coming, so the nurses stopped the magnesium sulfate and started preparing the room for delivery. I called Susie’s parents and asked them to come as soon as possible, because the nurses told us that 34-week babies are usually sent straight to Evansville for more intensive care. I wanted her parents here so I could go to Evansville with baby and still have someone here with Susie. Almost immediately after stopping the IV, the contractions came back in full force. We had a brief moment in the room alone and Susie asked if I thought she should get an epidural. Before labor she was pretty insistent on going as natural as possible, so I reminded her of that, and the fact that a nurse had told her she was almost there anyway. Her resolution was incredible and she wanted to continue on with no epidural.

I was still wondering about the doctor situation after hearing that the only one we specifically didn’t want was on the way. But the door opened and the doctor that walked in was someone else. She said, “My name is Dr. Ottman. You’re going to deliver a 34-week baby. A 34-week baby has the exact same survival rate as a full term baby.” That was exactly what we needed to hear at that exact minute. It didn’t take much longer for Susie to completely dilate, and it was time to push! Dr. Ottman has an incredible, easing, calm bedside manner that made a stressful situation more manageable and we can’t say enough about her and the nursing staff and their care of Susie and Cade.

Susie was unbelievable. The nurses kept saying that they’d never seen anyone so in control of their body in delivery, and were even more impressed because she was doing it naturally. I felt truly helpless to do anything but hold her hand and encourage her as much as I could. Her devotion to eating well and staying in shape by walking Chili and working out at the gym while pregnant served her well while in labor.

The one thing that kept nagging at my mind during the delivery was how big he would be. I had this fear of a tiny little guy coming out. But as the head started coming out and as it kept getting bigger and bigger I was put more and more at ease. I knew it was going to be a battle for him, but I knew that since he had pretty good size he would have a better chance of being fully healthy sooner.

I cannot describe the feelings present while watching my son being born. I didn’t know what I was in for when people would tell me, “It’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.” It really was something that I can’t put into words. If you have children you know exactly what I’m talking about. As part of being married to someone and living with them 24/7 through well and sick times you end up seeing each other in all states and from all angles. But Susie’s body did something that I never thought was possible. I mean, I knew it was possible, but to witness her giving birth was completely indescribable.

After the head and the first shoulder came out the rest came out like a torpedo. I have to say that Dr. Ottman might do well as a receiver in the NFL with hands like that. She sucked his mouth dry with a bulb and the screaming that ensued was the greatest sound these ears could have heard. All I could do was half laugh/half sob and stare in wonder at him. She clamped the umbilical cord in two places, handed me some scissors and said, “If you’re going to cut the cord, do it now!” So I cut it and the nurses whisked him over to the other side of the room where they cleaned him off and started evaluating him. On his way out of the room they brought him by Susie for a quick mommy/son picture. We still knew he might be on the way to Evansville and we were unsure about that, but we knew he was here and in good hands. He was born at 7:44 PM, less than three hours after we showed up.

I think the rest of the story is pretty well documented previously on the blog. His birth completely caught us by surprise, but it was an amazing experience. In my life I’ve been good at slowing important minutes down, but it seemed like this went by extremely fast, which is one reason I wanted to write this out. In my mind I envisioned this long, drawn-out labor which is common for first time moms, but he just wanted to see the world. And since I know some of you just come for the pictures, here are a couple of cute ones of him sleeping last night. :) Thank you all for your prayers. I can’t wait to get another post up solely about God’s amazing timing in this whole thing.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bath, doctor, and grandparents

It's been a week of firsts for all of us. A couple nights ago we gave Cade his first bath. Someone told us that baths are calming for babies, and good to do before bed. I'm pretty sure that person never gave Cade a bath. He didn't really enjoy it too much, but afterwards we dried him off and he really seemed to like the towel.

After his bath we wrapped him up in a sleep sack that we could have put two of him into. He ended up crawling his way out the top, but he sure looked cute in it!

My two favorite people and favorite dog. :)

Yesterday we took Cade on his first trip to the doctor. He's gaining weight and is up to 5 lb, 4 oz! The doctor was very pleased with how he's doing. While we were getting ready we had Sportscenter on. I snapped this quick picture right after they showed Troy Tulowitzki's home run. He's already a baseball fan, cheering for the Rockies, and using his left hand very well. :)

My mom and dad showed up after the doctor's appointment and are very proud grandparents.