« March 2007 | Main | May 2007 »

April 2007 Archives

April 4, 2007

Ronan Rhyon

Ronan Rhyon

April 4, 2007

Click on the image to load video

April 7, 2007

Ronan Sucking His Finger

Ronan Sucking his finger

Right click and choose view image to enlarge

Awwwww. I can't stand it!

April 10, 2007

Birth Story (Part 1)

Ronan Hiccups

Click the picture to play the video

One of the myths about the feminist movement is that all of its gains were strictly for women. Sexism cuts both ways, one side sharper for women.

Two of the things that immediately come to mind is that men have more latitude in today’s western cultures to express their emotions, and they are no longer barred from the birth experience. (You could make an argument that women were also barred from the birth experience, since before the feminist movement they were often drugged into unconsciousness during labor. More on that later.)

Terry and I had two different approaches to the upcoming labor. She researched everything, asked a lot of questions of friends and family who had recently undergone labor, and read a lot of books. I read almost everything she told me was worth reading. In theory, we were prepared as can be.

Since I study World War II, I often think of quotes from soldiers or politicians from that time. If there were a quote that reflects Ronan’s birth, it would be that “no plan survives contact with the enemy,” (which is actually a quote from Moltke the Elder during the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, but it held true in World War II, and it holds true today.)

When we woke up Tuesday I think Terry and I were hopeful we could be left alone to have Ronan come out in his own time. We went for our scheduled OB/GYN appointment. We didn’t bring the hospital suitcases we packed, we didn’t call Terry’s work and tell them she wasn’t coming, and we didn’t eat lunch, thinking we could eat after the appointment was over.

Instead, the sonogram showed that instead of sitting in a big wet pool, Ronan was sitting in a puddle of amniotic fluid; about half the absolute minimum he needed to stay in the womb. Instead of going for lunch, we were going to the hospital. We were told we didn’t even have time to go home and get her suitcase.

Everything went fine for a while. Terry was in labor by the time we had our second fetal monitor at the hospital, and we were admitted to the birthing center and got a large private room. My brother Ryan performed his first of 20,000 miracles that day by stopping at our apartment and getting Terry’s stuff before coming to meet us.

They were busy. Tuesday April 3rd was some kind of record for Long Island College Hospital. This worked for us initially, as they pretty much left us alone. The labor progressed from eight to five minutes apart, and the pain progressed from nothing to manageable.

We were in the Labor and Delivery room around 12 Noon. By 9 PM the labor hadn’t progressed much beyond five-minute intervals, and our OB/GYN ordered an induction. An IV of Pitocin was started, an artificial form of oxytocin that starts contractions.

There’s a point in everyone’s life when someone they love is in pain. I’ve experienced differing emotions to these life events. When my father had open-heart surgery, it was easier for me to plunge myself into work than be with him. My brother, mother and grandmother were with him, but it was too much for me to deal with. (Before you judge me callous, my girlfriend dumped me and my uncle died the same week, so that was a low point in my life.) Other times, like when my grandmother died, I’ve wished for a quick end to her pain so that her suffering was over.

Terry’s labor was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Almost immediately after the pitocin was connected to her IV she started having intense pain. She also immediately asked for an IV injection of statol for pain relief. Initially, this seemed like a good idea as she became incoherent and couldn’t remember was what happening, but it also meant that she became unresponsive to instructions.

The next two hours made me feel more alone than just about any time in my life. Terry was wracked with pain, and the statol left her unable to communicate except in mumbles. Still, the IV didn’t knock her completely out, so each contraction she would thrash around the bed, in more pain than I’ve ever seen her. She was also bleeding much more than the videos they showed us in childbirth class.

I wondered if this was what it was like for women in the fifties and sixties when they were routinely drugged during labor. Rolling around in agony for hours while the staff checked in only to see if there was some emergency.

The floor was so busy, nurses and doctors rarely stopped by to check in. I was concerned about the blood and they were concerned about her thrashing. Every time she had a contraction, Terry would throw herself around the bed, and end up hunched over like question mark. This put a lot of pressure on Ronan, and his heart rate dropped with each contraction and each thrashing. The statol prevented Terry from realizing that she was ending up in a position that was cutting off blood to Ronan, and I had to resort to holding her down during her thrashings. She did not like that much.

As she came out of the statol-induced haze, she couldn’t remember how much time had passed, and she wanted an epidural. I knew she was in a lot of pain because we had discussed an epidural beforehand and this was her last resort. Terry has MS and when she was diagnosed, they botched a spinal tap, causing her to have spinal fluid leaking out and a headache for three weeks. The steroids caused severe nausea and vomiting. Since then she has a big fear of needles to the spine, so the idea of an epidural caused as much stress as relief.

The anesthesiologist was not happy with administering an epidural while Terry was recovering from statol. It took a lot of time with Terry repeatedly requesting an epidural for the doctor to agree to administer it.

Little did we know that our OB/GYN cancelled it, because she had decided that the baby wasn’t going to take any more labor with the lowered heart rate. She came in and told us that since Terry hadn’t made any progress with the pitocin, that the baby needed to come out and that Terry needed a c-section.

The OB reminded Terry that this was normally done with a spinal block, but Terry completely freaked out, so the OB recommended full anesthesia. This calmed her down but it meant that I wouldn’t witness our son’s birth as the hospital policy prevented me from being in the operating room if Terry was completely out.

It was a scene worthy of ER. Nurses and the doctor stood around the bed, shouting instructions at Terry, who was more confused than anything as she struggled to wake up from the statol. At one point, with four people shouting instructions, Terry sat up and said, “Wait! Wait! One question at a time!” and then everybody stopped and waited for her to collect herself. I don’t think she was ready but they went anyway.

We wheeled her into the operating room and I stopped at the door. I went back to the now-empty room where Ryan was packing our stuff. Suddenly there was nothing left for me to do except wait.

It was that moment I started to cry.

As they sent Ryan out with the bags, I stood in the birth room, totally alone. I was waiting to find out what was going on, putting on a flimsy white disposable OR gown, which was about two inches shorter than me. Just as I figured out how to get my shoulders into it, they came and told me that I couldn’t go in. I was more relieved to get out of that thing than I was about not being there to witness the birth.

After collecting myself, Ryan carried all the bags to the waiting room and introduced me to the others waiting there. I don’t really remember what their names were, but they were all in the same boat – their loved ones were having a c-section.

Then, I just waited. About thirty minutes went by, and then an hour.

Then the OB brought out Ronan. The whole waiting room went crazy, Ryan and I ran out and hugged each other and took photos.

I think it was one of the most memorable moments in my life. He was cute and perfect, and suddenly the terror of the evening paled in comparison to this beautiful, alert little newborn. I felt totally rejuvenated.

Which was good — we had nine hours to go before Terry was moved from recovery to the well baby maternity floor.

April 12, 2007

Birth Story (Part 2)

Ronan Sucking a Finger

Ronan Sucking My Finger

Ronan’s born. Cue fade to black. Roll credits, end of story. We all lived happily ever after.

Gee, I wish that were the case. I have mixed feelings about putting this in writing — it’s important to focus on the wonderfulness that is Ronan — but our hospital experience was so terrible, I feel I have to share it.

In the last ten years it seems our extended family has spent a lot of time in hospitals. My Dad has open-heart surgery for a defect since birth and his gall bladder out, my Mom had her appendix out, back surgery and then she broke both ankles in a fall. Then our extended family tended to cancer in both my maternal and paternal grandmothers until their eventual deaths. I’ve had two surgeries; one to remove my gall bladder and a second to repair a hernia. So, we all know what a good hospital stay is.

Our time at Long Island College Hospital felt more like prison.

Almost any one of the problems we encountered would be laughable, a great story to tell, if it was an isolated incident. In total it was horrible and never-ending and added greatly to our stress. Some of them were probably actionable in court, but it would be very hard to prove anything without suing the OB, and we don’t think she was the cause of the problems, and she worked very hard to rectify the ones she was aware of. So we’re not going to sue; after this post, we hope to just focus on the positive being that is Ronan and move on.

The problems began when we got into the birth center. The first nurse who got us settled in made a lame-ass attempt to calm us down by telling us about her lawsuits. Yes, that’s right, she was being sued. She was quite angry about it; she tried to make fun of it. If you’re in a nursing program, or are thinking about being a medical professional, let me say right now that telling your patient that you’re the subject of a lawsuit is not really very calming.

The whole evening of the labor, the one answer to every question was “we’re really busy.” That’s an acceptable answer for ice chips, a soothing word, another pillow or blanket, but as the emergency c-section progressed, that’s not an acceptable answer for “Is she bleeding too much?” or when the alarm on the fetal monitor kept going off. At one point I was told, “the other patients are important too.” Yes, to their families and maybe the staff, they are. But Terry only had me to advocate for her. The condition of the other patients is not my responsibility and that’s not a valid excuse!

When Terry came out of surgery she needed morphine. For some reason the charge nurse in the recovery room wasn’t allowed to handle controlled narcotics, and the anesthesiology team, apparently all of them, were in the operating room on successive c-sections so they couldn’t even order morphine until they were done. Terry kept asking for pain meds, I kept asking the nurse, she kept saying that there were no anesthesiologists available to write the script, and she couldn’t fill it anyway. About two hours went by; Terry, completely out for the c-section, began to complain of more pain.

Finally, around 4 AM, I found her OB, who had been performing the successive c-sections as well. “How’s your wife?” she asked. “Well, she hasn’t got morphine yet.” I said. “What?” She said. “She’s been laying there for hours, and they say no one is available to medicate her.” I said. The OB called the recovery room nurse, confirmed my story, and then killed — killed — the anesthesiology resident dead in front of the entire nursing staff. Okay, I’m speaking metaphorically, but the resident lamely tried to say that since she wrote the script that was the same as Terry getting medicine, which anyone in pain knows that an order for medicine and actually getting that medicine are two different things.

I guess because Terry got the morphine so late, they kept her in the recovery room for eight hours. (I’ve been discharged for outpatient surgery in less time.) We didn’t get upstairs to well baby maternity until 9 AM. My brother Ryan met Ronan again and went home, his mission completed until the world needs a savior again.

Terry received assistance from a floor nurse immediately in breastfeeding Ronan, even though she was tired and in pain. This was the first of several meetings with different nurses, including a lactation specialist, who gave conflicting information and suggested different holds and positions without really helping Terry to understand that she and Ronan could choose the best position for them. One nurse said “you want to have round nipples after feeding” without indicating how to accomplish that. Terry was left confused and insecure.

But after that first instruction, thinking everything was okay, I went home to answer the phone and E-mail messages and give Terry’s parents an update. I was overtired and overexcited and with my own parents arriving in a few hours, I didn’t sleep at all. About 2 PM the same day, my parents newly arrived, we all went to the hospital.

I was completely unprepared for what I found. Terry was disconnected from her IV fluids, despite not having eaten solid food in 30 hours. She was upset and had been calling for help for hours. Ronan had fallen asleep during feeding and she was unable to move him with the surgery pain. Finally her roommate, who was recovering from a c-section herself, lifted Ronan into his bassinette and was helping Terry out of bed when I got there. I am sooo simplifying the situation to protect Terry, but basically the hospital had not responded to her call button or voice cries. She was exhausted without IV fluids and very dehydrated and upset. I was so angry they got the nurse floor manager and she quickly got people to restart her line and get her calmed down.

The well baby floor staff seemed very confused in general. I spent as much time as I could at the hospital because every request was met with a request to confirm Terry’s name (sometimes three times), incredulous disbelief that that Terry was in need of what she was asking for, or simply ignored. The next nurse or pediatrician would ask us for what the last medic had said about Ronan, and one even denied that Terry had met with anyone the day before. The last day the food service staff told Terry that she wasn’t eating her lunch fast enough and she had to eat her dinner in a more timely fashion. Plus the way that everyone — maintenance, nursing, food service, and pediatricians — walked into the room regardless of whether the curtains were pulled close made me really wary of anyone entering. They often would enter, make a lot of noise, and then realize that they were in the wrong room. When Terry got a new roommate, the transport worker wheeling her in didn’t seem to care that he was pulling away Terry’s curtain while she was breastfeeding. He blamed the nurse. I didn’t care who it was — can we wheel someone in without disturbing the other patient in the room?

All of this together was overwhelming, exhausting and left both of us wondering for Terry’s and Ronan’s safety, not in a “Oh my God get us out of here” way, but in a vague sense of unease — of dread — especially when nurses would casually mention that they were in trouble for not making notations on patient charts or people were confused because another mother with a similar last name was on the floor. I talked with my parents about switching hospitals, but it seemed that Terry would be better off without that stress of moving. The whole experience left us angry, tired and upset, and despite several meetings with the floor manager, we were very disappointed and glad to get out of there. There was only one night that Terry felt like she worked with a compassionate nurse. I think the situation led to Terry having to back for pain management in the Emergency Room within 36 hours.

I’m sure every parent feels like crisis mode is engaged when labor starts, but instead of that being released when Ronan was born, I feel like I’ve been in danger mode for a week. I know other couples have had worse birth experiences, but the thing that drives me crazy is that all of this could have been avoided if Long Island College Hospital was better organized, the staff better trained, or even if there were adequate nursing staff for everyone on the floor. I’ve worked in pediatric hospitals and I know that there the level of staff was connected to the number of patients on the floor. If they needed more nurses, they called more staff. I guess the nursing shortage has changed things from twelve years ago.

The whole time in the hospital, I kept thinking about the radiologist who performed Ronan’s ultrasound. He said health care in this country was going to collapse in the next ten years. After this week I feel like that collapse has already begun.

April 19, 2007


So Ronan is too weeks old, and things are becoming somewhat normal. And by “normal” I mean we get up about every four hours. And by “get up” I mean that Terry sits in a chair feeding Ronan and I periodically wake up and yell, “Do ya needz sum help?” while half-asleep.

My Mom and Dad got us home from the hospital and stayed the first week, and now Terry’s parents are here. The help is really wonderful and very appreciated. The funniest part (for me) was when we tried to empty the diaper genie for the first time. (By “we” I mean Grandpa, and by empty I mean he accidentally cut the bag open and dirty diapers were spilled all over the nursery.) Good times.

Ronan is very cute. He had is own personality as soon as he was born. I expected that he would eat, pee and poop, sleep and repeat, but he had likes and dislikes that were evident in the hospital and he communicates more each day. The “experts” say to wrap him up tightly to comfort him, but he hates that. If his arms aren’t free he goes nuts. Also doesn’t seem to like footsie clothes much, preferring pants or onesies.

One thing I didn’t expect is that clothes just don’t fit him already. His take-home outfit was fine except the matching hat didn’t fit; it was too small. In fact, Ronan hates hats. He gets all weepy if you try to put one on him.

I didn’t think outfits meant much until Terry’s hospital roommate went apeshit on her mother for daring to send over a take-home outfit that didn’t match. We were so glad to get out of there I would have dressed Ronan in that day’s copy of USA Today, but she was upset that her baby would get photographed coming in the door wearing both white AND off-white. Damn! We didn’t even take a through-the-door-for-the-first-time photo.

The experts say to sleep when Ronan sleeps, but he has his own definition of sleeping. It involves being awake a lot. When he does sleep, he’ll often go down for fifteen minutes, until I’ve nodded off and then he’ll wake up.

Hopefully soon we’ll be able to introduce him to people. We’re waiting the required six weeks to allow him to build up his own resistance to germs. You’ll have to wash your hands for 30 seconds and not have cold, recently had a cold, or feel like you’re getting a cold!

Until then, please don’t visit. We’re too tired!

April 21, 2007


In the hospital, the OB warned me that if Ronan kept falling asleep in my arms each night, he would have problems going to sleep on his own. He would expect that he could fall asleep in my arms every night.

At first thought, what’s wrong with that?

Ronan won’t want to be in my arms forever — I can’t imagine him eighteen and crawling into my lap, let alone four or five — and as long as I can lift him and he wants to, why shouldn’t I? I bet a lot of parents of older children miss the times their babies fell asleep with their head wedged under their chin.

Missionaries in Africa, besides trying to teach indigenous people how to have vanilla sex, also taught child rearing. In the West we don’t pick a crying child up and comfort them as much as in other non-Western cultures. There is a belief that you will “spoil” the child. In Africa and Asia they have another term: “Nuts,” because the kid doesn’t have a sense of self, and he or she just wants to be held. So they pick the kids up. The missionaries, as always, were really confused and angry by this. Stupid missionaries.

I forget which French King it was, but one of the more stupid ones decided the perfect human would result if you denied babies human contact and only gave them food and clothing. The result: the babies died. Babies need human interaction and plenty of it.

Terry and I aren’t attachment parents. We use a stroller, by gum, and it is a handy thing to have. But we’re not shy about picking up Ronan and letting him fall asleep in our arms, to the point that Terry’s parents are jokingly wondering if we’re spoiling him.

There are practical reasons to not pick Ronan up every time we put him down and he doesn’t fall asleep. One is that it can be strenuous if we want to sleep and Ronan wants to be held. If we fall asleep and forget about him, it could be dangerous if we drop him. (I keep telling Terry that you don’t sleep the same way when you’re holding a baby, but it’s possible.) Another is that eventually we’ll have to leave him overnight with someone — a grandparent or an uncle — if we have to go out of town or have an emergency or something. If Ronan is used to falling asleep in our arms, he may not like someone else’s arms, even a grandparent or an uncle’s.

Unless you have your own child, it’s hard to describe the bliss of holding him while he sleeps. Ronan has found this one place where his head slips under my chin. He seems to root around until he gets his head just right. Often he will grab onto my chest hair and pull, which is not fun, and we have to reposition the T-shirt to cover myself. Then he settles down and falls asleep after a long session of fidgeting around for a while. Often Terry has fallen asleep already and it’s just Ronan and I. It’s a really nice moment.

Can you blame me for wanting to enjoy that? Can it really spoil him at two weeks of age? I don’t think so.

April 26, 2007

Dreams into Nightmares

I’ve always had vivid dreams. In high school I once dreamed that Adolf Hitler was nailing spikes into my brain. My brother, who was waking me up for school, tells me I said I couldn’t go because I was “napping in Australia” which is a hell of a commute. Another time I told my parents that the bed was full of broken glass.

All of this pales in comparison to the night mares I’ve been having lately since Ronan was born. I’m beginning to stress out about sleep because the nightmares are a whole new level of crazy.

My Mom had terrible dreams when her children were born. She was in a helicopter. We were hanging on my our fingernails to the skid as it dashed across the sky. She tried and tried to pull us in but she could never quite do that. So she would wake up, and at eight years old, she would tell me about this dream. At eight years old I don’t think you should get vivid descriptions of your parents’ nightmares, but there it was. It was slightly less terrifying for me than it was for her. I guess when you wake up you have to tell someone about these dreams.

I had to tell Terry immediately when I wore up from the latest one. Usually my dreams have something to do with me not being able to adequately take care of Ronan but this one was all mine. I dreamt that my parents and I went to Wall Street for lunch with my cousin, who’s a lawyer, and while waiting for her for hours we ended up battling werewolves with flamethrowers.

Why werewolves with flamethrowers? I don’t know. Flamethrowers are scary. Werewolves are scary. Werewolves with flamethrowers are more than twice as scary. The scariest part was not the pre-lycanthrope evil randomly bursting people into flame, it was that I grabbed one of the pre-lycanthropes and held it and it turned into a werewolf in my arms. That was terrifying because I couldn’t let go of the werewolf without being attacked myself. And then I had to deal with the flamethrower!

Needless to say I work up screaming. Terry, who is generally more sleep-deprived than I am, was very patient. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I got up at 6 AM. I took a nap later in the day and went right back to battling werewolves.

Thankfully I haven’t had that dream again. My dreams (what I remember of them) are more about breaking Ronan accidentally. In my dreams I have a kid made of corrugated cardboard and he folds up like book. I can hear his bones break as I try to support him correctly.

I think this dream is my subconscious trying to deal with Ronan’s inherent “sturdiness.” I didn’t make that term up – that’s the pediatrician’s terminology. Ronan is an exceptionally strong baby. He came out of the womb able to hold his head up. As a result we tend to forget to support his neck, and after a while his little head droops with exhaustion. I think that dream is myself telling myself to support his head.
The other dream I have again and again is dropping him. Out back room is an addition, and the doorway is about two feet thick, made of stone. In my dreams I accidentally ram poor Ronan into the doorway. His skull crushes like an egg. He’s dead and I killed him. End of dream.

Or, I’m carrying him through the apartment, and I lose control and drop him like a bowling ball. He rolls up into a ball and runs down the length of the place. When he hits the far wall, he explodes.

Obviously I’m feeling some pressure in taking care of him. Things are going really well in the waking hours, so I’m living out my fears in my dreams.

I can’t wait for the werewolves with flamethrowers to carry Ronan into the other room. That should end well…

About April 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Freaks & Geeks Parenting in April 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2007 is the previous archive.

May 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.34