Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A big day

I guess they're all big days when you've only had 16 of them. Today Conrad met another grandparent, Grammy, who's here for two weeks. We went to the airport en famille to meet her. I'm sure he was very excited, although his outward demeanor was as it always is when he's in the car: cool and detached. Asleep, really.

As if that weren't enough, he also had his first visit to a restaurant tonight. We went to Panzanella, where I had the homemade papardelle with bolognese, Jean had the lemon chicken with mascarpone mashed potatoes, Thelma had the scallops with risotto, and Conrad had a nap. Possibly with dreams of boob.

By the way, I will usually post more pictures to his Flickr page than I post here, and some days I may only post pictures to Flickr without posting here at all, so be sure to check the Flickr page, too. The link is over there in the right column somewhere.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

First Day Alone

Today was the first day that Conrad and I spent alone home together. Up until now, either Dave or the doula have been here for all of part of the day. Hence the lack of photos, as Dave has been in charge of all things electronic in the past two weeks.

All in all, it went pretty well. I still am contemplating how I might watch the baby, take a shower, get dressed and leave the house in a single day. Perhaps the shower isn't so important.

The miracle of the day is that Conrad has been holding tight to a schedule. I'm sure this has nothing to do with me, and more to do with him, his stomach size and disposition. Regardless, every three hours, like clockwork, he wakes up, nurses and then promptly goes back to sleep. I'm sure this won't last, but it's been a very nice first day together.

I've even had time to pet the poor needy cats. Poor Roy is about to tie a napsack to his back and go in search of a more attentive family. It's hard to explain the concept of 'baby' to the furry family that's been the center of attention for the past ten years.

In other news, we welcome two new babies to the world. Congratulations Jenny and Jon Whaley on the arrival of Sterling Bernard, born on Sunday. They came and visited us on Friday night and then Jenny went into labor on Saturday. That's some baby mojo Conrad has.

Also Congratulations to our neighbors Ingrid and Rob Morris on the arrival of Anna Katherine, born on Thursday. Conrad looks forward to hanging out with his new friends.

Fun With Sleep Deprivation

Last night around 2 a.m. Conrad was ready to be fed, and it's my job to get him up and change his diaper in preparation. Then I remembered the baby care class where we learned you not only have to change the baby's diaper, you also have to change the baby's basket, but you don't have to change his basket every time you change his diaper. So I lay there wondering if it was time to change his basket, or just his diaper.

As I woke up a little more, I started wondering what exactly the hell his basket was. While I was thinking about that, I remembered the class was taught by Captain Deakins, the character on Law and Order: Criminal Intent who sometimes wears an eyepatch. At that point I was pretty much awake and realized I could stop looking for his basket.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Once again, work cuts into my blogging

Today was my first day back at work, and I only managed one picture of the boy. In fact, Jean took it with my camera phone on the way home from the pediatrician. Since we have so many photos of him around the house it seemed a shame to miss the opportunity for a change of backdrop.

Very good news from the baby doc. His jaundice is gone and he's gaining weight like his daddy after a bad breakup. At two weeks he has surpassed his birth weight by seven ounces. The size of a small steak, gained in tiny, painstaking, mommy-punishing gulps. In fact they told us they like to see average weight gain of 20 grams per day, and he's averaging 36. That's my boy.

Like blogging, but with more typos

I've just set it up so that I can post to this blog from my Blackberry, allowing me to write short, typo-laden posts accompanied by blurry, underexposed camera phone photos. I know you're as excited as I am.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hey, grandparents: Time to get broadband

Click the Play button to watch the first video of Conrad. We shot it in our bedroom by lamplight, using our Canon digital camera. Pretty good considering. Tomorrow maybe we'll try it in daylight.

Man of leisure

I realized today that most of the photos I've posted have been pretty similar:

Drowsy baby with chicken pot pie
Sleeping baby with breast pump
Drowsy baby with oatmeal

Then I realized that you're probably not coming to this blog looking for cutting-edge infant photography; you're here to see pictures of Conrad. And there's probably a one in five chance you're his grandparent. So I'm not so worried about pushing the envelope.

Nomenclature III


Our life, in palindromes


Friday, February 22, 2008

They grow up so fast

I can't believe it's been 11 days since he was born. Maybe it's because all our days and nights run together into one long span divided by feedings every three hours, but it feels like we've been home for maybe three or four days. I'm due to go back to work on Monday and I can't imagine doing that. I guess I have the weekend to come to terms with it.

Hairless Kitten

Each time we've brought Conrad home from the pediatrician, the cats have been waiting for us at the door. Siegfried and Roy have a look on their faces that says, "Oh, crap. They brought it back again." Not the most adaptable kitties at the best of times, the two of them seem to know that something major has changed, and they know they don't much like it. Roy, extraterrestrial freaky being that he is, expresses his displeasure by sitting on the floor next to our bed meowing plaintively, as if to say, "I want to get up there, but I'm afraid of the small yellowish thing." (If you're a fan of Homestar Runner, Roy is basically Strong Sad).

Roy is only visiting our planet

Roy seemed to know this was coming, and spent the night before we went to the hospital in the emergency vet's office, where $735 later it was confirmed once again that we have a nervous kitty who pukes a lot for no known medical reason. Interesting side note: thanks to insurance, our total out-of-pocket expenses for having an entire human baby were only about half of that (meals included).

Siegfried, in her characteristic diva fashion, is basically pretending none of this is happening. Weeks ago she decided that Conrad's room was hers, and runs in there expecting a petting on the new rug whenever we walk by. I expect quite a star fit when we eventually move him in there.

"All right Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up."

Hastings, on the other hand, has seemed to get it from the start. It's as though he knows Conrad is one of our young, and he's not going anywhere. Long a fierce competitor for our attention and a spot under my chin at night, he has ceded his place without complaint, and appears happy - even grateful - for a spot at the foot of the bed.

He also doesn't seem particularly bothered by Conrad. He's sniffed him a couple of times and yesterday gave him a small lick on the top of his head, which visitors to our home know is the Hastings seal of approval.

Hastings did seem to have a little bit of trouble understanding when we installed a baby nest thing in his usual spot between us in the bed. He let us know in no uncertain terms that it would serve well as a cat bed, but once we made it clear it wasn't for him, he found his own space.

Do you mind?

I drove around yesterday to a couple of different stores trying to find the baby nest thing because it seemed really important, and now after a night of using it I can't remember why. I think we thought being closer to us would help Conrad sleep better, and we'd be better able to nurse and comfort him without getting up. So far the net effect is we hear every squeak and burble right in our ears, and it's no easier to pick him up because you end up kneeling on the mattress, leaning over to pick him up out of the nest while trying to keep your balance. Sounds like it would be a good Pilates exercise. We'll give it another night.

Conrad's fine with the baby nest thing

In case anyone's worried, we only let the cats in the room when we're awake and paying attention. When we go to sleep, we exile them and close the door.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Who the hell is Billy Rubin?

And why is he messing with my kid?

Conrad came home from the hospital with a bit of jaundice: not enough to require treatment but enough that our pediatrician wanted to keep an eye on it. She ran a test yesterday and called today to tell us he's fine. For those of you keeping score at home, his bilirubin level was 11.8, where 20 is cause for concern.

Good news, but we were a bit concerned because she also said she hoped he would be back up to his birth weight by now. We did a little web searching and found one site that said babies usually return to birth weight between ten and 14 days. This confirmed that our pediatrician is an overachiever, and expects Conrad to be one, too.

We already knew she likes to run a tight ship. We showed up a few minutes late for our first appointment, causing her to remark, "Now you know how long it takes to get out of the house with a newborn." The implication was clear. We arrived 15 minutes early for our appointment yesterday, and she saw us five minutes before our scheduled time. How often does that happen?

So we're not too worried about the jaundice, but we do stare at him every morning trying to figure out if he looks less yellow. See what you think:


Last Wednesday:


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

We paid for two stories, we might as well use them

We came downstairs today more or less for the first time since we brought Conrad home, and found it much as we had left it. It was nice to get out of the bedroom, which had taken on a sort of hospital room aspect.

Of course that meant we had to move a subset of Conrad's support kit downstairs with us: diapers, wipes, cloths of various descriptions and purposes. We try to be pretty tidy and clutter-free, and I can already see how that's going to go.

Now we may be using disposable diapers, but that's okay, because we've got the Fisher Price Rainforest Swing. It's got pictures of an endangered tree frog and a white tiger, so that makes it environmentally friendly.

"How are the baby swing sales numbers looking?"

"Not too good. The L'il Clearcutter and My First Stripmine are both tanking."

"Hmm. We need a new angle. I was reading National Geographic in my dentist's office the other day..."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Nomenclature II

Funny how the day gets away from you. I've been planning to post all day long, and I'm just now getting around to it, and I think I'd rather be going to sleep. It was a big day. Conrad met a grandparent for the first time, my father:

Today was the first time Dad saw Conrad's room, which features the haiku Dad wrote for our wedding stenciled on the wall. His reaction was very gratifying.

While here we discussed what he wanted to be called, and settled on Opa, which is what I called his German-born father. We still have to decide on what to call my Mom. Do we decide or does she? How does this work?

Jean's parents already have established grandparent names: Grammy and Grampy. They'll be visiting soon.

One of the reasons I didn't get around to the blog until now is that I spent the evening setting up a Flickr photostream. If you can't get enough of Conrad, here's the link for you:

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Swaddle this.

My parents very thoughtfully arranged for us to have a postpartum doula come and spend some time with us to help with the adjustment to having a new baby around the house. Doula is a Greek word that means "one who requires only a large piece of cloth to demonstrate how unprepared you are to be a parent."

I am, of course, talking about swaddling. Swaddling is the practice of wrapping your child up like a baby burrito, to keep him feeling secure and contained like he's back in the womb. Like everything else baby-related, it's harder than it sounds, especially at three in the morning. When done properly, it quiets him down in seconds, so obviously you can see the value, especially at three in the morning. Not since losing my virginity have I wanted so badly to be good at something I was so bad at.

I feel better knowing I'm not the only person who has a lot to learn about babies. Jean's cousin Laura and her boyfriend Craig sent Conrad this bouquet of cookies:

I mean, come on. Even I know he can't eat cookies yet.


Posing for his postage stamp

When people hear the name Conrad, we often get two questions. "Is it a family name?" Yes, it's Jean's mother's family name. We also get some variation of "What are you actually going to call him?"

How about we just call him Conrad? Does he need a diminutive? Our nephew Marcus has been called Marcus for his entire 12 years and that seems to have worked out fine. (Although I just decided this minute that I'm going to call him Marco from now on).


If Conrad did need a nickname, the only obvious one that comes to mind is Connie, which could be a trifle problematic, what with him being a boy and all.

I just did a web search and found that Kurt is a traditional German nickname for Conrad, but if we wanted to call him Kurt we would have called him Kurt. Another German nickname for Conrad, apparently, is Kunz (or Kunze or Kunza), but let's not even.

I did find somebody on the web named Conrad who goes by Cosmo. That is totally awesome. I've been calling Conrad Cosmo since he woke up from his last nap and Jean hasn't tried to stop me.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

We're home

Actually we've been home for a day and a half, but blogging hasn't been high on the list. We're both trying to catch up on sleep and figure out how to run a house that suddenly has a whole new focus. We've been so completely in our own world that we were surprised to see cars with snow on them on the road this morning. If you've ever been in North Carolina when snow was threatened, you know how hard it is to avoid the frenzy that accompanies even the lightest of flurries.

Also, apparently it's Valentine's Day.

Conrad had his first pediatrician visit this morning. He came home from the hospital with a bit of jaundice but it seems to be progressing nicely and he is eating like an absolute champ, after a bit of a shaky start in the first couple of days. In fact, he's eating now, and has been for roughly 90 minutes straight. The doctor said he had gained a good amount of weight since leaving the hospital. Like the hospital, our doctor uses a seemingly random mix of English and metric units which makes things complicated. I think she said he'd gained 85 hectares.

Jean is doing well and continues to amaze me with her strength and good humor. If it hadn't been confirmed during her champion performance during a long and often difficult labor, seeing her love and devotion to Conrad makes me realize anew every hour that I couldn't have found a better person to do this with.

And now, the stuff you came for:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

There's a mom and a dad, too.

The picture below of Conrad and me was taken a few hours after he was born, but I waited until today (after Jean had finally been able to take a shower) to post any of her. (I also have a series shot for reference during our session with the lactation consultant, but I doubt she'd appreciate me putting those up.)

Jean bought a nice new sweater for the hospital. My only considerations when packing were comfort and the potential for mess, so I've been walking around the place looking like the contents of a Goodwill donation box.

He looks good in stripes

Knowing that there are lots of current parents reading this blog, I'll try to avoid the new Dad habit of acting like I've just discovered babies and am announcing their existence to you. We've had enough experiences just in the past 29 hours that made me realize I have a lot to learn, but almost all of it is already known by one or all of you. For instance, you already know that gas makes babies cry. I just learned that around noon.

One thing that I think might be new, though. See that cute hat he's wearing? Five minutes ago Jean looked over and noticed he'd pulled it completely down over his face, all the way to his chin. This after 29 hours of fighting to remove the hat. He doesn't like it much on his head, but he likes it even less when worn like a ski mask without eye holes.

One last quick note before we get him ready for lunch: Those of you who have told us how cute he is should know that your opinion has been verified by at least six medical professionals who see babies every day. So now we know it's fact.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Conrad Ferguson Thomas

Born Feb. 11, 2008
7:00 a.m.
7 pounds, 10 ounces

Mother and baby are healthy and happy. And there was much rejoicing.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Today's Plan - live from the Birthing Center

That's what we've got on the schedule for today, and so far it's progressing nicely.

Jean has had two popsicles so far. She's also determined that two popsicles may be her limit. (Scroll down to watch a riveting motion picture version of the Popsicle Story.)

In one of our birthing classes, we learned the importance of "focal points," objects for the mother to focus on during contractions. Here are two of our focal points. Note the continuation of the "ear" theme: