The Hour Draws Near Part II

baby

It’s a strange thing to think that in just eight days I’ll be a father to the little guy pictured above. When Kayte and I first discovered ‘we’ were pregnant, there was this sense that actual parenthood, as opposed to pregnancy, was still in the distant future. I think I found myself rounding 9 months up to a year and imagining I’d undergo great leaps in maturity by the time this whole fatherhood business actually snuck up on me. But indeed here we are with just a hint over a week to go until life unloads a massive set of new responsibilities (and a massive new set of blessings) upon us, and, truthfully, it’s a bit hard to imagine what it will be like. I have watched a few friends become fathers in the past few years and there is an identifiable set of transformations that take place (be they voluntary or not) immediately after birth. A friend recently described the experience to me as a kind of instant, deeply embedded shock at one’s former pre parenthood selfishness. I’m looking forward to that actually. The house of course has taken on a new shape. The other night I ran straight into our playpen (which will double as the master bedroom crib for the first few months before we banish the little fella to the nursery full time) on a midnight trip to the bathroom. In that sense there are visual and physical reminders lurking everywhere. Prior to 2009 there were very few brightly colored objects in our house and now there are several, each subtly hinting at a different life to come. People keep semi ominously urging us to “get sleep while you can”. The Priuses (Prii?) have been fully outfitted with infant safety gear. It’s as though our every day surroundings have accrued all the window dressings of parenthood and now all that’s missing is the main character: Cole.

Yes, you read right, our son’s name will be Cole. I’d been resisting the finality of setting his name in stone, mainly because I kept fearing we hadn’t exhausted EVERY baby name book available in the english language (we had). I’d wake up in the middle of the night dreading the prospect of stumbling on THE perfect name weeks into our son’s life, thus dooming myself to a lifetime of regret. The truth of the matter is that we liked Cole from the get go and there has never really been another serious contender. We have flirted with a few other names, just to give the vetting process a sheen of due diligence but really, deep down, it was always Cole. Sending this piece of information out into cyberspace (wow is that word is beginning to show its age) has a soothing closure to it. I wonder if there is any way to pre print the birth certificate in order to stave off any last minute second guessing.

Speaking of Cole, the dude looks to be sporting a major league set of cheeks and lips in the picture you see above. Kayte knows I have long coveted a chubby baby and it seems as though I may get my wish. He remains somewhat disconcertingly (to Kayte’s ribs, that is) active in the womb. In fact there are times when it appears that he is either giving himself swimming lessons in there or else doing jumping jacks in sets of 50. Because he’s being delivered approximately two and a half weeks early, the betting is that he’ll weigh in around 7 pounds next Thursday (half exciting, half terrifying to write ‘next thursday’ there). Wrapping things up, I’ve included a few belly shots below, one from 32 weeks and one from 34 weeks (we’re in week #36 now) so you out of staters can get some idea of the kind of bed hogging that’s going on around here. I’ll post one last time before next week with a detailed look at the nursery while it’s still has the pristine sparkle of a space that no one actually lives in.

After that post, the next time you hear from me, you’ll be hearing from the three of us : )

– Ross

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The Hour Draws Near Pt. 1

I will not begin this entry with a now-redundant apology for extended time between posts. I would however like to point out that what this blog sacrifices in post regularity it more than makes up for in word count.

The first thing to know is that Kayte’s Placenta Previa condition has shown no signs of abating, which means there’s a 99% chance the baby will arrive via a scheduled cesarian in late May. We have understandably mixed feelings about this. The idea of a fixed delivery day is appealing. It allows us the luxury of “planning” our baby’s due date, and spares us the frantic rush-to-the-hospital drama we’ve grown accustomed to hearing about (and seeing in the movies). There’s also some excitement about the sheer speed of the procedure. A friend told me recently that it was something like 90 seconds from scalpel out to crying baby. Having heard stories of torturous marathon length labor sessions, it’s a relief to me personally that Kayte won’t suffer that. The surgery of course comes with its own unique pains and limitations. Her recovery won’t be as swift as if she’d given birth conventionally, which means a bit longer of a hospital stay. I have tried to convince her that this is a good thing considering that today’s post delivery rooms resemble nothing so much as luxury suites at a day spa. I suspect she worries that due to fatigue and post op pain she won’t be able to engage with the baby in those early hours and days as much as she’d like. There’s also the usual anxieties that accompany any full scale operation on one’s body, particularly those that involve your infant son. All in all it’s a mixed bag but at least our baby son will be arriving two weeks ahead of schedule. We have several close friends who have had or are having babies this week and it’s begun to make us a bit antsy for our own. This is the dreaded time slowing effect that dawns upon soon to be parents during the homestretch of pregnancy. I imagine the weeks will begin to inch by as June approaches.

On the kicking front there has been significant progress. Whereas before our little guy’s kicks were just fluttery heartbeats, like a moth trapped in a balloon, they have now grown to full blown flesh protrusions who’s preciousness dims considerably as they grow to resemble certain scenes from the Sigourney Weaver Alien films. Kayte is really good (or just really speculative) at identifying which part of the little guy is pressed against the interior wall of her stomach. I’m a little suspicious of the certainty with which she declares “come feel the underside of his left elbow!”. Perhaps she is possessed of some extrasensory limb recognition ability that I’m entirely tone deaf to.

A few weeks ago we showed up at Mission Hospital for a “walk through” of the labor/delivery wing. The event description was entirely accurate if by “walk through” you actually mean “sit fidgeting in a conference room as slides depicting the labor/delivery wing are presented”. Misleading title notwithstanding, the experience was totally worth it. It went a long way in helping me to visualize the way it’s all going to go down come show time. Also, the staff members who lead the presentation were very funny. Of course there were two or three moms-to-be who asked ten questions each, far exceeding the questions of the other 80 guests combined. It totally gave me flashbacks of undergrad.

(Apology for using the word ‘totally’ in previous sentence. Won’t happen again. Promise.)

Last but not least because our pregnancy is high risk we are treated to more ultrasounds than the average joe. At one of our recent doctor visits we were treated to a 3D4D image of the baby as part of the ultrasound. The little guy is looking handsome! He does have a somewhat worryingly large head (97th percentile!) likely an artifact of his Fogal genes. Overall I view it as a positive development. I figure that’s just more room for brainpower. Plus, movie stars always have outsized head-to-body ratios. As long as he doesn’t come out sporting an A.C. Green style occipital lobe I’m good. Interestingly, I went to google images to try to find a representative pic of A.C.’s misshapen dome and all the pictures of him are from straight on. I wonder if he spends an hour every morning scouring the web and sending cease and desist letters to those who dare feature his melon in glorious profile view. Anyway, we asked our ultrasound tech if fetal head measurements were reliable indicators of head size later in life. She replied with a “yes” so definitive as to convince us that Baby Andersen is going to be outfitted in 8 1/2 inch ball caps at the age of 4. Somebody somewhere would be wise to buy stock in FlexFit.

I’ve included a few ultrasound shots below so you can check it out for yourself : )

– Ross

Part 2 Later This week: A “walk through” of our budding nursery and more belly shots!

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A Massive and Massively Overdue Update

After many entreaties from friends and family (and a few threats from wifey, the content of which will remain private) it has come to my attention that I have been severely tardy in updating our baby blog. My apologies. Please do not unjustifiably conclude that my posts-per-month count is a reliable indicator as to my baby enthusiasm. We’re doing cartwheels over here, and as it turns out, so is the baby…

Which brings us to our first item of news: kicks are in full effect! At first only Kayte could feel them but now if I spread my palm across her stomach I can feel a tiny thump, a heartbeat-like sensation within. I’m told that these will evolve in to full foot-pressing-against-stomach kicks soon.  In the meantime, we’re grateful for occasional reminders that the little guy is figuring the whole motor skills thing out. It’s adorable to see the way Kayte reacts to it. I’ll be frowning studiously, immersed in some sober passage of a book and all of the sudden she’ll be squealing, googly eyed, hand on stomach. It’s fairly contagious. 

Speaking of Kayte! After many, many months of strained, hips-jutting-out posing and other do-I-look-pregnant antics, Kayte, well, looks pregnant! She looks beautiful, actually. She’s been blessed thus far with enlargement located exclusively in the belly, a state of affairst that rewards constant repitition : ) I’m including some photographic evidence below. It’s interesting the way women transition radically from an unceasing terror of looking pregnant to, paradoxically, an expressed desire to do so. Outfits are evaluated for the way they accentuate a pregnancy so that others don’t mistakenly credit some other, more unseemly factor for the ongoing stomach expansion. Secretly I suspect she knows she looks absolutely gorgeous. More importantly, from a health/comfort standpoint, things couldn’t be better. Kayte dodged morning sickness altogether. Fatigue hasn’t been an issue. Recently she even made it past 2 AM on a Friday night for a friend’s birthday party. There is some concern that Kayte may have placenta previa (like the egg shaped toyota!) a condition which, as I understand it, involves her birth canal being blocked. There is a chance that it could move by our due date, but if not it will mean a C section. This is obviously not ideal but if it ends up being the sum total of our pregnancy difficulties then we’ll count ourselves blessed. In spades. For the record I realize what a fraught thing it is to have me, the guy, so enthusiastically communicating the ease of her pregnancy. All preceding statements were signed off by Kayte : ) There is some sense that sleeping from here on out will be an increasingly difficult endeavor. I say that having been on the receiving end of a swift knee to the back the other night which was promptly excused by complaints of “trouble sleeping”. I have suggested that we see about purchasing a body pillow though signs point to yours truly standing in for said cushion. 

We were recently treated to another big screen tv ultrasound. It’s incredible to compare the initial fuzzy, android-esque images of our son to the new vaguely personlike shots. Even more striking than that are his fast karate chop movements onscreen. The dude is QUICK! This would be a significant departure from previous Andersen men. Perhaps a paternity test is in order. Kidding! Except that I am not quick. Really. Not. Quick. So unquick in fact as to have developed a full range of compensatory skills in the pursuit of sports (trickery, for instance). In any event it was wondrous when our US Technician zoomed in and out on his face and then BOOM there was his hand right next to his head, as if to wave “hi” to mom and dad. We were charmed. Kayte insists on making several (in my view premature) inferences as to the eventual face and head shape he’ll have based on the latest ultrasound. She’s taken to saying flatly ridiculous things like “yup, definitely your nose”  despite the possibility that many nose shapes may yet emerge from our little guy’s current tangerine sized dome. 

All in all things are proceeding nicely as June starts to look less like some future abstraction and more like a tangible, just-a-few-months- now reality. Breaking the halfway point (and so fast!) was a huge psychological barrier. We know we’re not quite in the home stretch but we’re not far either : ) Just 17 weeks and 1 day to go…

– Ross

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Pics from Ultrasound #2

Here’s a few shots of our little man from Monday’s ultrasound:

(apologize for the quality – it’s printout-to-cameraphone grade film stock)

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Boy.

It took all of one moment for me to understand with sudden and perfect clarity why I’d wanted a girl. That moment came when our doctor motioned towards a vaguely tubular mass dangling between our baby’s outstretched legs and said in the most clinical, unfussy tone: “penis”. 

(disclaimer: there is some possibility that said mass was a stray portion of an umbilical cord)

This is not to say that we were not immediately overjoyed to be having a boy. I experienced a frenzy of masculine visions: front yard catch, adventures in the mountains, jumpshot fine tuning, my son bouncing on my knee at his first laker game. I celebrated the historical fact of the Andersen name surviving another generation (until Monday, my brother and I represented its last hope). Kayte, having witnessed the way our friends’ sons adore their mothers, had been coveting a mama’s boy. She had predicted early on that it would be a boy, and had wavered only once or twice. The idea of a strong older brother protecting his younger siblings appealed to us greatly. The hearty, wink wink, punch-on-the-shoulder “atta boy” nature of my guy friends’ congratulations were an especially nice (and humorous) bonus. 

So why do I say that I had wanted a girl? 

Kayte and I visited my parents in Utah this past weekend for Thanksgiving. On Friday morning, as we all laid around in various stages of digestion, some channel surfing brought us face to face with Forrest Gump (a movie I am prepared to defend to its naysayers by death or duel). There is a scene late in that film where Forrest is told he has fathered a son. It takes a moment for the news to set in. He staggers back, tears in his eyes, and asks, simply, selflessly: “is he smart?”. That scene captures, in a small way, the reason I’d wished for a daughter. Having a son, or as a woman, having a daughter, means the constant terror that one’s shortcomings will be repeated in one’s child. It’s not that I wouldn’t be instrumental in forming the character of a little girl, its just that a smaller version of yourself is something of a more accurate mirror. I knew that having a boy would carry with it that extra layer of responsibility (something I always take great care to avoid). There’s an intentionality involved. Loving a baby girl would be just that: the effortless loving of a baby girl. Whereas the everyday example I set for my son will always be his first and most enduring vision of manhood. There will be a greater tendency for me to interpret his failures as my own. My Dad has carried that burden beautifully for me. How will I measure up? 

It’s funny how discovering the gender adds such definition to your idea of parenthood. It’s quite a bit more than just blue or pink. The path down which my mind wanders when I think of what June will bring has narrowed considerably. That’s a good thing. 

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to look for baby laker jerseys, beacause, after all, IT’S A BOY!!!

– Ross

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A little scare.

The past ten days or so have been a bit anxious here in Andersenland. On November 10th we received word from Dr. Faraz that Kayte had tested positive as a gene carrier for cystic fibrosis. What does that mean? Nothing as it turns out, but it took us a little while to arrive at the blessed reassurance of “nothing”. You see to be a carrier (of which one in thirty of all adults are) of cystic fibrosis does not immediately consign one’s offspring to the disease. The danger comes when both parents are carriers and even then it’s roughly a 1 in 4 shot that it passes to the child. All this means the purpose of Dr. Faraz’ call (besides scaring us half to death and immeasurably increasing the web traffic to the cystic fibrosis entry on wikipedia) was to have me tested as soon as possible. 

I went the very next day to a Qwest Diagnostics center where, in a miracle of modern medicine, I was in and out, blood extracted, in less than ten minutes. From there it was a waiting game. We tried our best over the past week not to engage in some of the uglier what-if’s that spring to mind in these cases. Overall I was very proud of Kayte who’s heart is really much bigger than mine and as a result tends to worry very intensely about just these sorts of things. She remained steadfastly positive, insisting repeatedly that everything was going to be fine when underneath our bravado we were both frightened. 

Today we received word that I had tested negative, a huge relief. After we settled down and called our parents, Kayte and I reflected that this was a powerful example to us as soon-to-be parents. We know that having kids means operating at a constantly fluctuating level of worry for, well forever (I was going to write 18 years but then I thought of my Dad calling me every time I visit him to warn of the same speed trap). That means that this is just the first of many instances in which we’ll fear intensely for our child’s safety, well-being, bills, success, lovelife, grades, social acceptance, bicycle riding aptitude, skinned knees, cognitive development, manners, athletic ability, friends, attitude, etc. I’m still not sure whether that is supposed to be reassuring : )

– Ross

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Eating for Two: A Self Intervention

Pregnant women often joke, usually in the midst of devouring several peanut-butter-dipped twix bars, about “eating for two”. So far Kayte has not indulged in any grievous overeating. There have been no midnight outings to procure absurd food combinations. Not once has she crept ninja-like to the kitchen to binge on ritz crackers, cookies, or half unwrapped string cheeses. The same, however, cannot be said about me. 

For some reason my appetite has roughly quadrupled, as if my body thought there were some sort of telepathic umbilical cord connecting my gut to our baby. If I continue at the current pace of calorie consumption for the next 7 months there is going to be some serious question in the delivery room as to who is actually having the baby.  I have instructed Kayte not to laugh in the off chance that someone asks me when I want an epidural. 

Fortunately there’s hope. You see today my wanderings around the internet landed me face to face with the picture below. I felt shamed and repentant like scrooge after he’d visited Christmas future.  So now, every time I consider a predawn visit to the fridge I’ll have in my mind’s eye the fat, slothful vision of fatherhood as depicted below. Should make for a powerful deterrent.

– Ross


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