Monday, February 24, 2003

Big Announcement.

Heather gave birth to our second child and first son, Dale III, today at 1:00pm on the nose.

Our son was 8 lbs., 11 oz., and 20 inches long, technically making him a barrel. Labor was (from my perspective, FWIW) fairly brief, and there were no complications.

Mother and son are both doing well. I am at home with Maddie, who doesn't seem to realize that the "bay-bee" is coming home with us on Wednesday.

How the birth came about today, and the preparations for same, is the subject of several posts in itself. But that's for later.

The adrenaline has officially worn off.

Thanks be to God for my wife and children. Boy, does that last word have a nice ring to it...

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Part III: Blue Monday.

We found a Ram's Horn restaurant, and settled into our booth. For non-Detroiters, Ram's Horn is a solid restaurant chain akin to a "Big Boy," but, on average, better. Early Monday is apparently a good time at this particular outlet. You get your pick of the potential seating arrangements.


"Yes." Does it come in an IV?

Breakfast was good (omelette for me, pancakes and eggs for Heather--we split biscuits and gravy, too), and 40 ounces of coffee helped me feel something approximating human. We headed home.

I hope this doesn't make us seem like bad parents: we called Misty and said we'd pick up Maddie after a nap. You see, Maddie would have gone to her aunt's that day anyway. Frankly, we were dogged out. Misty said no problem. We felt guilty, and asked twice. Same answer.

We went home, snoozed, woke up and showered. We picked her up, and her coughing was as bad as ever. We decided to make a doctor's appointment.

We could get in at 3:15pm. Great! After a few hours at home, we went there. Maddie tried to storm around the suite like she owned it, which entertained everyone but me, who happened to be on Toddler Patrol. I ended up closing the doors to restrict her expeditions. A ten year old boy, who while amused by her antics, was nevertheless sympathetic to me. He explained that he was heavily outnumbered by women at his household, including an energetic baby girl a little older than Maddie and other sisters. He sounded a little jealous when I said I'd be getting reinforcements by the end of the month. One of his younger sisters walked out, and was unable to empathize with him.

Diagnosis? Ear infection X! This time, in her left ear. Fortunately, the physician's assistant understood that we needed to go to the strong stuff right away: Biaxin, which had killed the last infection. No more entertaining the bug with amoxicillin or suprax. We left, and dropped the prescription off at the Walgreen's.

Neither one of us remembers what we had for dinner, nor really the rest of the day. Except that Maddie made her "yuck face" as she started the Biaxin course again.

Sleep came really, really easily to the Price household Monday night.
Part II: I Don't Like Mondays.

We parked in the Emergency Entrance parking lot. It still seemed like an interminable walk to the entrance. This was not helped by the fact I was laden like a Sherpa at an Everest base camp. We checked in.

"What's the problem?"


"I'll get the wheelchair."

We were checked in quickly, with a cheery and perfunctory verification of the address and insurance information. The night cleaning staffers were delighted, offering encouragement. Heather was wheeled up to the Family Birthing Center, Dale Sherpa chugging alongside with our baggage. The security officer with the wheelchair was friendly and talkative, which helped pass the time in a corridor that never seemed to end. We got to the third floor and checked in at the Birthing Center. Heather was taken to her room and hooked up to the contraction monitor, with the little buddy hooked up to the fetal heart monitor. We settled in, watched the periodic contractions, and the steady, reassuring heart rate.

Bonus--I remembered the hospital TV has cable! SportsCenter! No, actually, Heather quickly asserted control over the remote. She tuned into the hospital channel, which had an Important Instructional Program on breastfeeding.

"If you are having difficulty with plugged ducts...."

I began to have difficulty staying awake. We were safely at the hospital, and the adrenaline was wearing off. I had no coffee to compensate--we didn't stop to fill the thermos.

It was at this point that the on-call doctor came in. Good news: It was Dr. P, the same physician who had helped Heather's Ob-Gyn with Maddie's birth. Heather and I liked her. There were others we didn't like, and Heather has particularly pungent opinions about one fellow we'll simply call Dr. Doofus. Dr. Doofus asked Heather questions that only the Doctor should have known, and at a particularly awkward time--not a confidence builder.

Doctor P. checked Heather out, and provided some rather surprising information. Heather's cervix was only dilated to 1 centimeter (for those of you who don't know, the cervix has to be dilated to 10 before vaginal delivery is possible). Plus, Heather had a urinary tract infection. News to Heather, who had noticed nothing amiss. The regular contractions had apparently been caused by the UTI. The contractions were also slowing and becoming more irregular. They were going to monitor her for another hour or so, and check with her Ob-Gyn.

But it was entirely likely that we would be going home today. With the lad still on the inside. I reeled my jaw back in, and we both settled in--Nap time.

Two minutes later, Dr. P came back in and said Heather was being discharged. Our Ob-Gyn decided that there was no point in waiting another hour. Advice: here's a prescription for some antibiotics, and make sure to swill plenty of cranberry juice. And come back in if the contractions return.

No nap for Mommy and Daddy. Heather got dressed, I made sure we had all our stuff, and we left. Still more than a little discombobulated, and still more than a little dubious. Regular contractions, intensifying--all caused by an infection.

Well, they're the doctors. The contractions had tailed off, too. Heather called Lou and Misty to advise that it had been a false alarm.

"Wanna eat breakfast?"


Part I: Monday, Monday.

Dale: Our Monday was much more exciting than yours--I'm willing to bet substantial cash on this proposition.

First of all, it started earlier: around 2:15 am, with a coughing toddler. Maddie had been suffering from a running nose and occasional coughing since Saturday. On Sunday, when I spoke to my mom, she warned: "She could have another ear infection." I said, warningly, "Mom, don't say that..."

Oh, joy. That would be, of course, ear infection No. X since Halloween. X doesn't mean "10," it means "indeterminate." I cannot remember how many she's had since then. I think six. But it could be five.

"Do you feel lucky, punk?"

No matter. Maddie woke up with periodic coughing fits. Around 2:15am, she woke us up--again. I blearily got up, got the Pediacare out, and gave her a dose. It normally works. It didn't this time. My suggestion was to wait. If it didn't work quickly, then at least I had plenty of Cafe Coppa Breakfast Blend. That, and a new coffeemaker to try it out in. We gave it another cough-filled half-hour. Maddie wasn't crying, which made it easier. For her.

It was then that Heather decided to wake me up fully without the benefit of coffee.

"I've been having contractions every eight minutes for the past hour."

I'm awake!

Heather had told me she was having periodic contractions on Sunday--a total of five. But they were of the once-every-three-hours variety--and not even that regular. Nothing shocking for a woman 36 weeks pregnant. But once every eight minutes? It's go time. Like the tombstone says: "I expected this. But not so soon." Unless:

"They could be Braxton-Hicks. Did you drink a big glass of water?"

"Yes. And I walked around for about fifteen minutes, too."

Uh-oh. OK. Um, what was that part about contractions from our pregnancy classes again....?

"I got the book out. There's a section on contractions. Give it a look," she recommended.

OK. I went out and picked up the book. I was able to read, nerve-dilated eyes and all.

"Have your contractions increased in intensity?"

"Not really."

I exhaled slightly.

"What's the duration?"

"Mostly less than 45 seconds."

More relaxation. It could be false labor, then. It has the hallmarks.

"Why don't you call the hospital," she suggested. The friendly 24/7 staff nurse responded. I gave her all the signs. She recognized the indeterminate nature, and gave equally equivocal advice: "You can bring her in if you want. But if her water breaks..."

Yes, if that happens--it's definitely go time. Even Bleary Man knew that.

I relayed the equivocal advice (really, the nurse couldn't have given us anything more concrete). It was at this point Heather decided to throw the split-fingered fastball:

"The contractions have gotten stronger."

Time to pack.

Also, time to call my brother-in-law and his wife. After all, we have a toddler to take care of. Maddie going to the hospital to hear her mama scream is not on the agenda. As a bonus, Aunt Misty and Uncle Lou (and especially Cousin Megan) are on Maddie's Good List. Lou answered the phone (after screening the call on his machine)--he sounded as instantly awake as I was.

Absolutely, of course: Bring Maddie over. We packed quickly, during which time Heather advised that the contractions were now coming more quickly.


Maddie was in pretty good spirits, which helped. In a moment of caution, I decided against calling my parents. First of all, even though dad's surgery was almost two months ago, he still needs his sleep. He still has a part-time day job, too. Add to that the fact they live 140 miles away, and I decided I'd wait until we had medical confirmation. They should still have time to make it down, too.

In the meantime, Heather the Teacher had to make sure that the school would get a substitute. Only she didn't have the number to get the on-call service. Instead, she had to call the principal. Yeesh--Wrong number! (We later learned it was well out-of-date) What about the Assistant Principal? Success! He was very sympathetic, and assured Heather the substitute would be ready: "I'll take care of it--you take care of yourself. It's covered." He must have been awake, since Heather said he sounded like he was at school.

We sped over to Lou and Misty's. We made it there around 3:30am. The lights were on, but Megan, Maddie's partner in crime, was still asleep. Everyone else was fully awake. Misty thoughtfully gave me a thermos to fill with coffee. Maddie bid us adieu without a hint of emotional discomfort. Lou and Misty wished us luck, and assured us they'd be there later.

We headed for the hospital. It was nice to be able to speed, too, knowing full well the cop who pulled us over would give us the flashing light escort the rest of the way. Alas, no cops. But Heather kept me informed:

"Is it 3:48 yet?"

"Yes. Why?"

"Because it was 3:43 the last time I had a contraction, and I'm having another one."

Oh, boy. Plus, she told me it was getting harder to breathe during the contractions. And they were getting longer in duration--we timed one at a nearly a minute."



Friday, February 14, 2003

Heather: Some thanks are in order.
I've heard from two servicemen regarding my post, "About this war thing..." Mark Jacobsen, USAF and Joe Grabowski, USANG--thank you both for your kind words.
Mark, I've wondered if anyone cares about our daughter's diet or the goings-on in a middle school classroom; thank you also for the reassurance that this aspect of our blog is what you find most interesting. And ladies, he's still single, too. If I weren't already happily married, he'd be worth investigating.
(Note: that was my first try in putting in a link. I hope it works.)
Joe: Welcome back to the States. Dale's brother is in the NG here in Michigan and spent 5 months away from his family working at the Blue Water Bridge after 9/11. In light of the current situation with the clergy and the Catholic Church, all I can say is I admire you for following the call. Aside: this one probably isn't as good a bet for single ladies.
Both of you will remain in my prayers, along with all who wear a uniform. And those who command them.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Heather: About this war thing...
I'm relieved that I'm not the only Catholic with ambivalent feelings about the situation with Iraq. I heard on the radio that France (via Chirac, I think) that war should be a last resort. In the parlance of my students: Well, DUH.
I wasn't able to see Colin Powell's presentation to the UN yesterday, or even listen to it. I've been able to read transcripts from the beginning of it, though. Of COURSE Iraq is going to say it's all fabrications and falsehoods; what else could they say? "Yep, that's a mobile biological weapons factory. Heh, heh. You got us! Can you see my house with those satellites?"
In talking with a colleague, though, he maintains war never solves anything and is set against it. He also feels that Americans--specifically Arab-Americans, but all of us to some degree--are losing rights all over the place and we don't even notice or mind. We're told "It's for the war on terrorism," or to protect us, or for national security, or the like.
However, I put the question to him. So what should we do then? He didn't have an answer.
I admit I was something of a neo-hippie in college; the tie-dye and peacenik without the pot-smoking. That question was a difficult one for me to ask when part of me wanted to blithely agree. War is always bad! Keep our soldiers safe! What if the schools got all the money they need and the army had to have a bake sale to build a bomber? No blood for oil! etc.
Then I look into a pair of innocent blue eyes. She has her arms raised and is saying, "Mama, mama." I pick her up and hold her close.
I feel callous saying this next, but out it must. We have an entirely volunteer military. All of the soldiers, sailors, pilots, etc. chose to sign themselves up for the job they have. They had to be at least 18 and in theory recognized the risks they may have to take. My daughter has not.
I believe in my heart that Saddam has the weapons he's not allowed by 1441. Whether our government has proved that beyond a reasonable doubt, I don't know. The world knows he has used such weapons against his own people. What would keep him from using them again once our forces are in Iraq? He obviously doesn't care about their effect on other Iraqis; how tempting would it be for him to unleash them when he's sure to get some Americans to boot?
If we go in to disarm him, we know it will be done. If we don't... what is to stop him from unleashing them on another civilian population, or from selling them to someone else who will?
Here's the callous part: A soldier is no more guilty than my daughter, but if I have to choose between one who signed up to risk his life for the freedom and safety of his compatriots and my 17-month-old little girl, I choose the former.
And I weep as I do it.

A Soldier's Dream
I dreamed kind Jesus fouled the big-gun gears;
And caused a permanent stoppage in all bolts;
And buckled with a smile Mausers and Colts;
And rusted bayonets with His tears.

And there were no more bombs, of ours or Theirs,
Not even an old flint-lock, nor even a pikel.
But God was vexed, and gave all power to Michael;
And when I woke he'd seen to our repairs.
--Wilfred Owen

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