Monday, April 23, 2018

1st Month

Let's see if I can even remember how to write a monthly baby update post, shall we? Granted, he is only one month old and still a newborn, so there's really not much to update upon...



Rohan has been such a calming influence in our family. Which has been greatly appreciated considering the constant amount of chaos we are currently undergoing. That is not to say it hasn't been difficult at times, or that we haven't had to make adjustments, or that I don't feel the need to sleep for three days straight. But if all my babies could come out with Rohan's temperament, I'd get pregnant again tomorrow.
It's bizarre to me to have a baby so reliably easy to console. They say babies only cry if they're hungry, tired, or uncomfortable and with Rohan that holds so blessedly true. When in doubt as to why he's fussing, we literally just double-triple wrap him in warm blankets and as soon as he's sweaty toasty, he settles right down.
Gas drops and pumping his legs actually works to get the tummy bubbles out, what a concept!
He hadn't soiled a diaper in a little over 24 hours the other day, so I ran out to Walgreens for some suppositories, and whaddya know! It worked like a charm!
We got so much advice and suggestions with Ander when he was tiny, and in all honesty hardly any of it ever worked. So to get a firsthand example of how these things could have worked is blowing my mind in all sorts of great ways.


I guess I'll take a hot minute to try and explain where Rohan's name came from.

We are indeed aware that it looks like a hardcore Lord of the Rings tribute. It is not. I originally brought the name to the table, very much liking the sound of it but disliking the traditional spelling of 'Rowan'. I researched and found that 'Rohan' was a suitable substitution, but Mark was staunchly against giving him a name so steeped in pop culture as to condemn him to a life of having his name mis-pronounced, or being teased as to it's presumed origin.
But after explaining that 'Rohan' is indeed an official, anglicized spelling of the Irish 'Ruadhain', it was much easier for Mark to swallow.
In the end we compromised so that I was allowed 'Rohan' as long as we used Mark's favorite, 'William', for the middle name.
Coincidentally, 'Ruadhain' means "red one/red-haired" and as of now, our Rohan is certainly looking particularly auburn. In Celtic it also means "keeper of wolves", which is completely bada**. Just sayin'.


Rohan is keeping up the Douglass tradition of dominating the upper 90th percentiles of all his physical measurements. 96th for height, 99th for weight, and we won't even talk about head circumference. He always fills his diaper literally seconds before the doc walks in, so we always get a proper thumbs-up on his bowel integrity.
He does a magnificent job of giving us loads of awake-time during the day, and very rarely does he give us any trouble going back to sleep at night. He reliably gives us solid three hour chunks of sleep, sometimes extending to nearly four.
He eats a TON. Our one, single struggle in all of this glorious baby perfection has been the breastfeeding. But it isn't Rohan at all, it's me. Without getting into the nitty-gritty, we're giving it all we've got, gonna keep on truckin', and in the meantime he enjoys the occasional formula bottle or two.


We're all absolutely smitten with this chunk of love, Ander loves to "let" Rohan watch as he plays games on his tablet, and wants so badly to just pick Rohan up whenever it strikes his fancy, and Mark will undoubtedly fall asleep each and every time he holds Rohan. Regardless of the place or the hour. The baby sedative is strong with this one.
He's growing faster than I would like, but I anxiously look forward to seeing who this chill dude becomes.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Rohan William

It's impossible to start at "the beginning" because the beginning is convoluted, and much too long for what this post needs to be (which would be just a simple birth story) (if such a thing exists). But perhaps someday the backlog of dramatic drafts I have wallowing in the queue can be spruced up and fashioned into something semi-intelligible and worth posting.

In the meantime, we can start at the beginning of the 19th of March--a Monday. We weren't scheduled to arrive at the hospital until 10 am that morning, which sounds delightful, until you factor in the minor detail that I would be undergoing major surgery so I wasn't allowed to eat.
Talk about a looooong morning.
Ander woke us up at his usual time, between 6:30 and 7, completely oblivious of the monumental shift his universe was about to undergo. He had spent Friday evening, all of Saturday, and most of Sunday leading up to the 19th down in Tucson with his grandma and we were all thrilled to have a quiet, relaxed morning just the three of us.
My mom arrived just before 9 am and we began packing up our car with hospital things, and packing her car with Ander things.
The dog tried to hide his mild panic. Unsuccessfully. Jerky helped.
Soon it was 9:30 and we were off, whizzing down the freeway and discussing the birth plan(s). We were scheduled for c-section, but if they checked me and I was dilated, in conjunction with a baby not the size of a small toddler, we were to be allowed to discuss induction.
We arrived in triage, the nurse pointed me towards the bathroom and I was instructed to disrobe. I mentioned the call for cervical check and ultrasound. Her poker face was less than successful as she said she would run it by the doctors and get word from them. As we waited in our little room directly beside the front desk, Mark overheard an exasperated nurse ask, "why are we doing this? Isn't she a c-section??"
But I immediately discarded that bit of information from my mind. I didn't want to be crying just yet.

I wanted to offer to walk to the ultrasound, in order to avoid the Wheeling Throne of Awkward Feelings (aka the gurney), but turns out I'm glad I didn't because it was in an entirely other zone and floor of the hospital. With the level of waddle I had achieved by that stage of pregnancy, it may have taken most of the afternoon to get there.
As the tech gooped me up for the ultrasound machine, she asked how we were doing, why we were up here, and I joked, "we're just hoping to get a better idea of his current size and how impossible it will be to birth..."
To which she immediately chirped, "or how possible."
And that was the first (and last) medical professional to give a positive remark in regards to my desire to VBAC. Cue more choking back of waves of emotion.
She estimated 8 pounds 10 ounces, give or take a pound, which was actually pretty shocking to hear. I'd been resigned to hearing over 10 pounds again, and when faced with the sudden possibility that we would actually have to go through with discussing induction, I had the sudden realization that maybe I would have to be brave and try to labor and risk all the risks every doctor had been throwing in my face for the last nine months and it was scary.
Though it didn't matter anyway, since they'd forgotten to check my cervix first, and when they finally got around to it, I was about as high and tight as they come.
Which they could have just done when we first walked in and avoided the ultrasound and the waiting and the eventual delaying of our surgery by an entire hour.
But whatever. I'm not salty about it at all.

After that I finally met the OB who would be performing the surgery. And she was a gosh darn delight. She jabbered on about the procedure and everything leading up to it, offering to give us skin-to-skin time in the OR, possibly even breastfeed a little, and was very aware of our concerns regarding abdomen incisions and having a nearly three year old circus performer at home, proactively offering solutions before I'd even thought to bring it up.
Turns out they can provide binders for your belly there in the hospital. What a concept!
Basically, she turned the entire morning around from heading in a stressful direction, to feeling safe and comfortable and eager.

Already my memory of this next part begins to haze up, since it's the phase I dreaded the most going into it.
Mark dressed in his operating room paper suit and they instructed him to grab our belongings, leading us down a short, short hallway into the "hugging area". One wonders if the blatant naming of such an area is as good an idea as it seems, considering the frantic leaping and tugging of my heart as I got separated from my husband.
The room was just as barrenly crowded and cold as I remembered. Walls piled to the ceiling with machines and wires and not a speck of warmth, or dust even.
I found immense comfort in the kind but sassy Russian doctor who held my hand and gave me heavily accented instructions to make it through the spinal tap. If you have to have surgery, might as well get yourself a Fairy God-Babushka. I tried to read her name tag so I could remember her properly, but all I know is it started with an O and was approximately 28 letters long. With numerous X's.
As the hustle and bustle continued to flurry about me, I strove to take deeper and deeper breaths, talking to God and asking Him to help me be calm and stifle the anxiety. I know the anticipation is more often worse than the outcome and I was dangerously close to crying.
The nurses continued to lay out the medical science for me, I presume in hopes that it would be comforting, but explaining that pain and cold are registered by the same area of the brain don't make it any less bizarre and terrifying that the only way I am to be assured I won't feel that scalpel is by being sprayed in the leg with cold air.
That will never not petrify me to the deepest degree.

Just before I was about to blurt out that I was sure they'd forgotten to let my husband in, Mark arrived and I took a shuddering breath. He grabbed my hand and glued his fingers to my face, as I had emphasized how reassuring it had been during Ander's c-section.
They began, and I steeled myself as best I could. The motion sickness was about as bad as I remembered, if only slightly better because they couldn't be as quick as before due to some organs with scar tissue loitering about.
Far more quickly than I would have liked, things got more uncomfortable. I started feeling a pulling sensation in my left side, similar to that of a side cramp from running. I mentioned it and they "doused" me with Lidocaine (topical anesthetic) and reminded me how perfectly the spinal tap went, she got it on the first try, everything is fine, yadda yadda.
The discomfort didn't abate. And soon it spread into a fiery burn across my abdomen, increasing in intensity at an alarming rate. Try as I might I couldn't refrain from arching my back, fingernails digging into my palms. They were close to getting the baby out. The anesthesiologist was going to give me something else, I just needed to hold on a minute longer. I was "doing so well". Swarms of people spitting words at me.
Splats of water hitting the ground.
"There's the head."
Gurgling and tiny baby cries.
Mark struggling to hold my hand, touch my face, hold the phone steady to take a video, see our child, the simultaneous joy and concern twisting the corners of his eyes.
More hoarse baby cries and a sudden cavernous empty feeling.
Mark faltering between leaving me and going over to the clean-up station, which I could not see from my vantage point. I urged him to go to the baby.
All they had to do now was close, right?
"That is a big placenta!"
It still hurts.
"This really hurts."
They throw the rest of the Lidocaine in.
Mark's holding our baby up to my face. I choke out the only thing I can think to say about a million times, "Hi, baby. Hi. Hi, sweet. Hi, baby. Hi."
I want to touch his tiny face but I don't trust myself. I beg Mark to hold onto him tight.
They ask if I want to do skin to skin and I've never wanted anything more but they just don't understand how much it HURTS.
My face must have said enough because they whisked Mark and the baby out and I saw the anesthesiologists face leaning over mine as he said something that didn't matter.
I blinked and the curtain was removed. It took a moment for me to understand and remember that I was feeling better because I had been feeling pain in the first place. They told me to hug my arms around myself as they moved me onto a rolling gurney.
As I wheeled backwards out the OR door I noticed the clock read TWO:FIFTY.
I blearily recalled we had started at one o'clock. It seemed strange but I couldn't put two and two together.
I remember how fondly I looked upon Mark sweetly holding our newborn to his chest, relaxed and calm and reassuring. I don't remember what was said for awhile. Turns out they had to pump me so full of meds that I finally just went under and went to sleep.
I may have asked the nurse why my face itched a gross amount of times. Blinking was arduous, and keeping my eyes from crossing with each blink even arduous-er. But our child was born, we were both alive and healthy, and I wasn't being cut open or sewed shut anymore.


And the entire rest of our hospital stay was a flurry of rainbows and unicorns and every nurse was precious and wonderful and Rohan is just a literal champion of babies.
Ironically, though he weighed less than Ander (9 pounds 12 ounces to Ander's 10.10), he had difficulty passing the blood sugar tests. We were thiiiiis close to having to put him on an IV but he pulled through at the last minute. Which sounds more drastic than it was, he simply had to have a blood sugar level surpassing 45 three times in a row. His poor little heels are all chewed up from the poker and he's still sensitive about people grabbing his feet, but all things considered he's an actual real-life peach.



He immediately latched like he'd been a pro at it for months already. It took some convincing to get him to feed for longer than two seconds (not even exaggerating) and we had to supplement with formula because of the blood sugar, but even after we'd only been home for barely 24 hours he was already feeding almost exclusively from breast so we're optimistic that we'll be able to save that formula moolah for more fun stuff!
He passes gas and poops and burps without question and it's just...such a turnaround from Ander's first couple days months home.
He rarely spits up, and when he does it's the tiniest amount. I've actually been able to dress and swaddle him without fretting that I'm risking ruining the cute clothes and blankets.

And best of all, Ander has been so incredibly sweet with the baby, I am thrilled with his reaction. He finds binkies or teething toys and comes running over, "here, baby!"
If I'm feeding Rohan, Ander's right there to say, "baby eat! Baby eating food!"
If Rohan cries Ander asks, "baby hurt? Baby okay?"
Ander wakes up from his nap and first thing, he asks where the baby is.
The other night we were putting Ander to bed and unprompted, he went up to Rohan's swing, kissed the baby on the forehead and said, "good night baby, wud you!"

We feel incredibly blessed and lucky and over-the-moon that we get to keep this precious bubba. He is a gift and was always meant to be in our family, I genuinely feel like he's always belonged.

I love my sweet boys, and I love having talented and sweet friends who want to take photos of my babies! Thanks, Allie! <3







Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Macro Colorado

Mark and I went on a weeklong vacation to Evergreen, Colorado and basically I photographed mushrooms the entire time. The entire time. I'm only sorry because that's basically all the story I have for this blog post. 
But if you don't mind a novice's attempt at macro-photography and some miniscule backstory, then by all means, continue reading.

I guess I can relay how we got to Colorado in the first place. Back in March, around our anniversary, we were dumping money into renovating our current house so we knew we wouldn't be able to afford a vacation at that time. But we decided to plan ahead and have ourselves a belated anniversary trip. Planning that early also meant we had no idea I would be between 8 and 9 weeks pregnant at the time. Oops! 
Mark got an email alert for cheap Allegiant flights and we just picked the cheapest one on the list: Mesa Gateway into Colorado Springs. 
Our flight was uneventful other than my seatmate on my right (Mark being on my left) spilling most of his $15 double Jack and Coke all over himself and the wall of the plane. I pretended not to notice. 

We got into Colorado Springs around 8 in the evening, with our Turo ride waiting. Turo is a service similar to airbnb in that you simply rent people's personal cars from them. Through the service app, of course. The guy we rented from lived 15 minutes from the airport so he simply drove home with us in the car, and then we took over and were on our way!
We had a two hour drive ahead of us to get up near Denver, and then out of the city lights and up into the mountains. So we dropped by a Wal-Mart to pick up some snacks and energy drinks for Mark. We had the brilliant plan to skip packing any hygiene products and just buy travel size things once we got into Colorado and found a grocery store, but we literally only bought food and completely forgot about the shampoo and toothbrushes we would most certainly need. But we were already half an hour down the freeway before we remembered, and we just shrugged it off. There would be more convenience stores later.
We fiddled around with the radio, ate some snacks, I nearly bailed from the car when Mark had me open his jerky...typical road trip shenanigans. 

By the time we were pulling into the driveway of our airbnb, it was just past midnight and we were excited to get inside. The gentle burbling of the backyard brook greeted us, as well as the hosts pet cat who was waiting inside. As we unloaded our things the cat chirped incessantly until I hopped in bed and he promptly curled up in my lap. Disney Princess coronation TBA. 


Our little place was so cozy and cute. We laughed at the Western/Tuscan decor. Even on vacation from Arizona, it still looks like Arizona. 
We had a little sitting room with a coffee table, a kitchen cart with a coffee pot, microwave, and toaster oven (and general kitchen utensils), with a basket of snacks and fruit. There was a door out to the garage that had a full size refrigerator that was pretty loaded full of complimentary food. I tucked into those almost immediately, but Mark's sense of propriety kept him from utilizing the free food for a couple days. 
The bedroom was beautiful, with a gorgeous bed and armoire set. There was gentle zen music playing when we arrived, as well as a humidifier with essential oils steaming away in the corner. I ended up using that humidifier with some peppermint oil on days I was feeling particularly sick. 
To our surprise, and Mark's delight, we found that the bathroom was almost completely stocked with all the hygiene items we'd forgotten, including Mark's preferred brand of shampoo (Head and Shoulders). So all we ended up needing to buy was toothbrushes. 
It was hovering around 50 degrees most every night we were there, and we cracked a window some nights to really enjoy hunkering deep in the heavy blankets and comforters. 

As we laid down to sleep, we were unsure of what to do with the cat. There was no evidence of a cat door of any sort, no mentions in the instruction booklet on the coffee table as to what the "Cat Protocol" was, and the doors to the rest of the house were locked. We tried texting the hosts, but as I menntioned, it was after midnight and we didn't hear from them. We also tried just sleeping with the cat, as it wouldn't have mattered if he just snoozed at the foot of the bed. But with the lights off he went wandering off, mewing at the door. 
So we made the decision to just let him outside and hope for the best. I wasn't too worried, it made sense to me that if it were a big no-no there would have definitely been some instructions from the hosts. Mark was nervous about it. But we went to bed and slept soundly.

That morning, Mark was in a fit of anxiety about the cat, certain that we had sent the poor thing to it's doom. We heard from the hosts, since we weren't able to meet them at the time of our arrival, and were informed that while, yes, the cat is not an outdoor cat, he regularly escapes and had made it through the night just fine. 
Mark's cat-murdering-conscience assuaged, we had a simple breakfast, got dressed and explored the premises. Which included a picnic area surrounded with hanging baubles from the pine trees, a hammock, lawn chairs by a bridge over the stream, and immediate access to hiking up the side of the mountain. 

And thus, the pictures: 
















 
Our first hike we wandered our way to "Maxwell Falls", which were a tad less impressive than I had imagined. But still plenty worth the effort, and I wandered around taking photos as Mark delved into reading his 1200 page book he had brought along.












I tried very hard and quite in vain to not be as pregnant as I felt, but I was painfully unsuccessful. My efforts have now shifted to trying to not fervently hate any picture Mark happened to snap of me.
I'm being only marginally more successful in this endeavor.

Mark wanted to go into Denver to visit an electronics shop that we don't have in Arizona. While we were in town, I wanted to go to a Ramen house and get some soup. So we found a place that was very cute and chill and had plastic displays of many of their dishes out in the windows out front of their establishment which I thoroughly appreciated. For $7 each we both ordered the lunch combos: a ramen bowl, three potstickers, and one of their side bowls of rice. It was a lot of food and an excellent value. I regret to say that I was disappointed in the ramen only because I like mine to be steaming hot. The soup was lukewarm barely halfway through the meal and with my currently sensitive stomach, it was difficult to get past.


Turns out, literally inside Denver, there is a huge state park with a sandy beached reservoir that we had no idea existed! We were slightly disappointed that we didn't have our swimming suits with us, but with how tired I always was right at noon, like clockwork, it may have been too exhausting to enjoy anyway.
We still read our books until the mosquitos chased us away.

On one of our return trips for lunch (aka naptime for Hope because #alwaystired), we found a gorgeous bouquet of roses placed on the coffee table with a note saying, "Happy Anniversary, Mark and Hope!"
We were constantly overwhelmed by the kindness and considerate efforts of our precious hosts. They were the perfect type of host for the kind of vacation we were looking for: present, but gave us all the space we desired.
I promptly carted the entire vase outside for a little photoshoot.






While I napped, Mark usually read his book and kept the camera nearby for any wildlife that happened to scurry into the vicinity.

 


We were delighted to learn that while the cabin WAS secluded, it was a mere seven mile drive into a cluster of tiny towns (one literally named TinyTown) with a handful of mildly touristy things to do.
We walked to the dam for the Evergreen "Lake" (reservoir), and ate at some local restaurants, and browsed the teeny tiny stores.





During our driving about town we noticed a sign for the "Three Sisters" hiking trail and figured, "well, now we know where that one is, so we should do it."
The trail-head had a handy map with ratings as to the difficulty of the many trails, so we chose one that started out easy, hit intermediate halfway through, and finished out easy. 8 weeks pregnant and not looking to impress anybody, hello.
Except near the end we noticed there was an off-branch that led to "Brother's Lookout", labeled as a scenic point, so we huffed and puffed our way up a steady incline to get to the peak.





The views were never not astounding.

During one of our visits to town, we were heading to a thrift shop I had noticed and found a crowd of people excitedly pointing their camera phones into the river. I thought, "the ducks must have finally showed up!"
It was a little more than just ducks.






We had spotted many deer and elk throughout the whole trip, but literally every sighting happened in town. We never saw anything big out on the trails. They had signs for moose but I never saw one. /le sigh

For our last day, we decided we would just drive into Colorado Springs first thing in the morning and spend the day down there, in order to avoid stress about making it to the airport in time for our flight at 4:30pm.
Mark had heard of Garden of the Gods, and we had seen signs for it on our way out of the city after our arrival, so we figured that would be the easiest way to kill time.
And kill time we did--driving around trying to find a parking spot! The park is free, but in order to get to any of the rocks you have to drive around the reserve and hope you chance upon an open spot in one of the eleven or so "parking lots" of about six or seven spots each.
We drove the loop one and a half times, before settling on a spot down the road a bit, having to hike back up the pavement to get to the other parking lot that had been full.
Grueling, for a weakling pregnant person, but worth it in the end.






Mark was in the mood for Thai and I had seen a little joint not five minutes from Garden of the Gods, so we went there for lunch, Mark having the spicy pad Thai and I ordering wonton soup and steamed white rice. The blander, the better.
Less than a mile from our rental car return there was a firefighter memorial park where we planned to chill until time to get our driver and head back to the airport. Mark snuck this photo of me in my natural state on this vacation--lying down.


So, all in all, our chill and purposefully laid-back vacation was still sometimes too much for my weary baby-bun-oven-body to handle. It was exactly what we needed as a couple, and as individuals, and as parents of a wolverine human child. Who barely noticed we were gone, but I wish we'd filmed the reunion because 'twas precious. 
And there you have it. Mostly boring, who-the-frick-even-likes-nature-shots-what-is-this, 100% my kind of vacation.