Name: Elias Matthew Clarke
Birthday: July 28th, 2010
Time: 11:11am
Weight: 9 lbs. 1 oz.
Length: 19 and 1/2 inches
Hospital: Crouse Irving Memorial, Syracuse, NY
Babies make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

6 lbs. Already???

On Tuesday I went to Syracuse for yet another biophysical profile and non-stress test. Our little guy weighed in at 6 lbs. even! That means that he gained a whole pound in one week, and he is above the 80th percentile for growth. This is excellent because most O babies are underweight. Because he is head down and facing my spine/left hip, they couldn't get a good view of the O, and they were unable to measure it at all. His kidneys are slightly enlarged (+2mm), but the perinatologist indicated that he would only be concerned if they were 10mm+ larger than normal. So no real concerns there.

Everything else looked so good that my perinatologist said it would be ok to see my midwife here in town for another two weeks. That means I will only have two appointments in Syracuse before I deliver. WHOOP WHOOP! Only 4 weeks and 6 days until he's "out of mah bellay!"

Today is my last day of work. I am psyched about it, but a little concerned that I won't be able to muster the energy to keep up with Julia in these last weeks. It will be an adventure, I'm sure. Until next time...

Friday, June 4, 2010

A General Update

Well, in the past month we have had 4 ultrasounds and non-stress tests - one each week. Every one has been good news. At our last appointment - 31 weeks - our baby boy measured 4 lbs., 2 oz., which is in the 76th percentile. That's a really good thing, because it means his abdomen is not lacking in circumference and there will be more room more quickly for the intestines to descend.

Which leads me to my not-so-good news. We were originally told that our baby's "O" was relatively small and that, shortly after birth, they would take him into surgery to return the contents to the abdominal cavity and then sew up the abdominal wall. We were looking at a stay of 1-2 weeks in the NICU. However, we met with the pediatric surgeon on May 12th, and he indicated that, based on the size of the omphalocele (now measuring just over 5 cm in its largest dimension), our baby will have to undergo various procedures over the course of a month. First, they will sterilize the area and place a plastic silo (or dome) over the omphalocele. They will keep him on his back in the NICU with a mesh "chimney" wrapped around his middle to keep the silo centered over the opening in his abdominal wall. There will be slight pressure applied to the sac. Hopefully, the combination of pressure and gravity will help the intestines recede back into the belly. This may take days or weeks. We won't know until it's happening. During this time, they will place an IV either in his arm, leg, or scalp to feed him. As he grows (which they assure us he will using the IV feed), there will presumably be more room for his bowels on the inside. Once the majority of the intestines have returned, they will force the rest and then close the abdominal wall, leaving a rather larger, vertical scar. They will attempt to create a realistic-looking belly button for him, but the surgeon warned that it is nearly impossible to duplicate a real belly button.

If all goes well with the procedure and the surgery, we should be able take him home as soon as the stitches can be safely removed, he is nursing and having normal bowel movements, and there is no threat of infection.

During this month or so that he will be in Syracuse, we will be trying to manage life as best as possible. On one of the discussion boards I follow online, a woman said something that I found very reassuring. The NICU nurse that was in charge of care for her infant told this new mom, "Your baby will know when you're here, but he won't know when you're not." I plan on repeating this to myself often, and hopefully that will take the rough edges off the guilt that I am already experiencing. The NICU visitation rules are super-strict. Only parents and grandparents are allowed. There can only be two visitors at a time, and one MUST be a parent. So even my parents can't go see the baby at the same time. And being that Julia will not be in daycare, either Eudes or I will have to stay with her while the other visits the baby, and then we'll have to trade off. It's sad to think that we won't get to spend time with him together very often.

We CAN stay at the Ronald McDonald house in Syracuse while the baby is in the hospital, but the more we consider this, the less viable an option it seems. Both Eudes Jr. and Isaiah have camp Sertoma every day - Papi as a pair counselor and Isaiah as a camper - up until the second week in August. They need to be here in Binghamton to catch the bus in the morning and afternoon. Julia needs us. We have the dogs, the cat, the fish. The lawn needs to be mowed and the house vacuumed. So our current plan is to drop the boys at the bus stop each morning, drive together to Syracuse, and one of us visit the baby while the other takes Julia somewhere in Syracuse to do something - whether it's a park or a beach or the zoo or the mall - for a couple of hours and then we'll switch. I have considered putting Julia in daycare a month early, but Eudes seems to think this is a bad idea. He says that her life will already be disrupted by having a new sibling and that we should try to make it as "normal" for her as possible. I feel torn. I think it might be better for her to be at school, where she doesn't have to spend 3 hours a day in a car. In any case, it seems impossible that we would stay in Syracuse for any length of time beyond my recovery from the c-section.

Even though I can't quite comprehend how everything will work out, I know it will. And even though it's going to be tough, I am still excited about meeting our new little one. I can't wait to see what he looks like and touch his soft skin and smell that newborn baby smell. We may not be able to spend as much time with him as we'd like to when he's in the NICU, but I know we will compensate for it when he gets home. As of now, we only have 7 weeks and 4 days to go. I have three weeks left of school, my brother's wedding, two more weddings, and then he'll be here. It's not that long...

Last thing - I know this is a crazy long post - we think we have settled on the first name, although the middle name is still in limbo. We think we will name him Elias. It's a combination of all three of the other kids' names and it's original. Middle will probably be either James, after my father, or Joseph, after Eudes' mother (her middle name is Josefa). There is an outside chance that we will choose a middle name that is NOT a family name. When we know for sure, we will certainly let everyone know.