Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In the Blink of an Eye

There are a handful of nostalgic movies that I will always watch if they are on TV. One of my favorites is Big - a Tom Hanks classic. It's one of those films that sucks me in and absorbs 100% of my attention. I am physically unable to change the channel. It makes me *that* happy.

Some Broadway producers tried to capture that magic by making it into a musical. Sadly, it compeltely tanked, and was only on the Great White Way for a little under six months. However, that was long enough for my high school drama director to see it and decide that we would perform Big: The Musical in the Spring of my Junior year. I was cast as Mrs. Baskin, aka Tom Hanks' mother. For lots of different reasons too numerous to go into, we didn't end up doing the musical. I instead played Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls that year, another one of my favorites. But every now and then, I think about the show that never was and how much fun it would have been to perform. Of the songs that Mrs. Baskin sings, "Stop Time," has always stuck with me. It was moving when I was 16, but now that I'm thirtysomething and have two kids of my own, it means oh-so-much more.

I go back to work in a little over two weeks, which marks the end of my days at home with tiny boy. My maternity leave has flown by, and I know it's just the beginning of time slipping away from me. As I hold Everett and stare at his itty bitty baby features, I think about how quickly Ethan has grown, and Mrs. Baskin's song plays on a loop in my head:

Two months old, he looks up at you.
How his smile melts your heart!
You want to say, "Stop, time."
"Don't move on."
Even as you watch, that look is gone.

Then he's two, such a little man.
So alive and so smart!
Again you say, "Stop, time."
"Stay just this way."
But the future comes, and he can't stay.

Nobody warns you of this parent's paradox -
You want your kid to change and grow,
But when he does, another child you've just begun to know,
Leaves forever.

Birthdays fly - 7, 8, 9, 10.
Every kid he becomes you clutch and say "Stop, time."
"Hold this one fast!"
But it's not supposed to last.
And that time has come and passed.
For he's growing,
And he has to go.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Be My Valentine

We drove up to Sacramento this weekend so Ethan could have a date with his sweet little Emberly. Of course, I had to chaperone, camera phone in hand to capture each and every moment. Here's a little photo essay on how the evening went:

It started off with a gourmet dinner of dinosaur chicken nuggets and juice popsicles. Ethan let his best gal have the pink princess plate - not because he's opposed to pink, but because he wants to give her every happiness. He's chivalrous that way.


We need to work on manners. Ethan made a drippy popsicle mess all over the table. Upon discovering it, Emberly hopped up, ran into the kitchen, asked her mom for a wipe, and cleaned up after him. She's nurturing that way.

But seriously, little dude, let's try to get more in than on your belly next time.

After dinner, Ethan took Emberly for a spin on a shiny red tricycle. Chicks dig it when you've got a cool ride.

Notice how he's powering it Fred Flintstone style. Smooth.

Emberly wanted to show him how to put the foot to the pedal and the pedal to the metal. Or something like that. So they swapped places and Emberly hopped behind the wheel.

She's a much better driver. Sorry, Ethan, but them's the facts.

After the long drive from the kitchen, they arrived in the living room and watched "Finding Nemo" for a bit. When their attention span was tapped out, they retired to a comfy chair for a little light reading.

Building literacy skills with the added bonus of cuddling up with his lady. Win-win.

Those two little sweeties played together for hours, filling the house with the sounds of squeals and laughter. Thanks for such a lovely evening, Hoke family!

(A special shout out to the babies, Sam and Everett, for sleeping through the whole thing! Boys - you were missed, but it sure was nice to be able to eat a delicious meal and play some Spades without interruption!)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Everett's Birth Story (Finally!)

Here's how the story *should* have gone:

"Knowing that we were going to have a repeat c-section, we scheduled everything in advance. We booked the surgery for 9:00am on December 8th, 2011. I got a full eight hours of blissful sleep the night before, and woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on the morning of our big day. I had time to shower, curl my hair, and put on makeup. We took a leisurely drive to the hospital, and everything went as planned. Friends were anxiously huddled in the waiting room, ready to toast Everett's arrival with bottles of sparkling cider and red Solo cups in hand. Everett was born at 9:30am, and Mommy and baby were happy and healthy." Short. Sweet. Predictable. Of course, we all know that babies sometimes have a mind of their own...

Here's how the story *actually* goes:

On Friday, December 2nd, I was working from home. I had just finished my last work task for the day when my best friend, Ingrid, called me. She said she had a funny feeling that I was going to have the baby early, and wanted to work out the logistics for taking care of Ethan in case I went into labor. "Don't you worry about that," I told her. "I feel fine, and the c-section is only a week away. There's no way I'm going into labor before then."

What happened next? I went into labor, of course. Not an hour after telling Ingrid that I wouldn't. Cause that's what happens when you make such a bold statement. The universe knocks you down a few pegs and shows you who's boss.

I wasn't quite ready to accept that my contractions were the real thing. I'd been having some pretty intense Braxton Hicks action off and on throughout the last few months of the pregnancy, and I was in total denial that these contractions were different. You see, I'm a planner. And I had a really good plan cooked up for welcoming this baby into the world. Unexpected labor and a trip to the hospital did not fit into those plans. I sheepishly called Ingrid, and began a slightly panicked conversation by saying, "Soooooo, remember how, like forty five minutes ago, I swore up and down that I wouldn't be going into labor?" She offered to come over right away, but still being in denial, I told her I'd call her in a hour after I'd had a chance to lie down. I made another few panicked phone calls, including one to Ryan, who happened to be enjoying himself at a "Last Hurrah Happy Hour" thrown by his work buddies. In the city. Ninety minutes away with rush hour traffic.

Resting didn't help. A shower didn't help. Crying certainly didn't help. And so, finally, I relented and faced reality: this baby was not going to wait. He was ready, and didn't care that I wasn't. I called Ingrid and told her to come on over. Thankfully, she had decided to ignore me when I told her to wait for my call, and was already on her way. Ryan had begun making his way home as well.

By the time we were headed to the hospital, things had already started to get real. I'd heard that labor can progress more quickly with your second baby, but I didn't expect it to progress this quickly. Four hours into my labor with Ethan, I wasn't totally sure that I was actually in labor. Four hours in this time around, I was in tears. Thankfully, since we had already decided to take the doc's advice to have a repeat c-section, I knew I wouldn't have long to wait. Eight hours into labor, I was being wheeled into the operating room.

Unlike the emergency c-section with Ethan where I had to be put under general anesthesia, I was able to get a spinal instead. I was so excited to witness the birth of my child, but was also very nervous about the whole process. There's a bit of blissful ignorance when you're unconscious for a major surgery. I was prepared for the recovery, but had no idea what to expect out of the actual being-cut-open-and-having-a-baby-yanked-out-of-you thing. Luckily, the c-section went really well, and Everett was born at 2:46am on December 3rd, 2011.

Everett was healthy, but not breathing well enough on his own. He had some fluid in his lungs and wasn't getting enough oxygen, so he had to stay in the NICU for four days. I wasn't able to nurse him for the first two days due to his breathing apparatus. We did get a lot of skin to skin bonding time, and (the one perk to having a baby in the NICU instead of in your room with you) I was able to get some rest between pumping and snuggling time.

Under those blankets, our kiddo was a big bundle of tubes and wires.

Slowly but surely, Everett's condition improved, and they moved him from the CPAP to the nasal cannula, took out the tube going down his throat into his stomach, and weaned him off of the IV fluids. When I was able to begin nursing he took to it like a champ, and hasn't looked back since. I was initially a little worried about the loss of bonding time, but he quickly reassured me that we were thick as thieves, even if we couldn't be hospital roomies. He'd instantly calm down when in my arms, falling asleep to the sound of me softly singing what would become his favorite songs. I can't really put it into words, but when I held him, it was like we'd known each other forever. It was hard to walk back to my room and leave him in the NICU, but deep down I felt like he knew that I'd be back. He usually just slept in between my visits - the nurses would call me when he woke up so that I could be with him. That made me feel a lot better during the long, slow walk back to my room. I left him with enough love and comfort to make his dreams sweet, and was by his side almost as soon as he woke from his peaceful slumber.

Ethan and Ryan spent a lot of time in the hospital with me, and I relished those little moments when we were together as a family of four. Ethan wore his big brother scrubs from Mima and Poppa when he came to the hospital to meet his future best buddy, which resulted in a lot of ooooohing and aaaaahing from the doctors and nurses.

A pack of crackers AND a baby brother? Best. Day. Ever.

He stared with wonder into Everett's eyes, gently touching his baby brother's fingers and toes through the "portholes" in Everett's isolette.

You were that small once upon a time, big brother.

Unbeknownst to me, my dad had been scheming with Ryan since August, and had a secret visit planned that turned out to be perfectly timed. He arrived on the evening of December 6th, and surprised me in the hospital. I was floored, and turned into a heap of tears. See for yourself:

It's a bit of an embarrassing video, but the reaction was too good not to post.

We were released on December 7th, the day before I was supposed to be entering the hospital all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and curly-haired and pretty-faced. It worked out nicely, though, our impatient boy's unanticipated arrival. Ryan's parents flew in the next day, and were able to get more QBST (quality baby snuggling time) at home than they would have if Everett was still in the hospital.

It just goes to show - you can plan and plan, and be certain that you know the "right" way for everything to work out, and still end up being so totally wrong. Babies arrive at the perfect time, whether you want them to or not. Looking back, it was silly of me to want to wait for his scheduled arrival. On Everett's schedule, I ended up with five bonus days with my tiny boy.

Perfect timing, little man. Thank you for that.