Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tilly the Weed and Wallpaper Mayhem

Chapter 1: Masochistic Nurses and Weed-like Growth

I wanted to stab their heels with ice picks and make them bleed all over sheets of paper. Hasn’t my daughter suffered enough coming into this world? Do we really need to prick her heels every time she exposes them? Next time, I think I’ll use luggage locks to make her baby booties irremovable, except that would probably just exacerbate the problem as they’d just find some other open pasture of skin to mine for red gold. Darn nurses and their testing.

I know. I know. It’s all necessary and modern medicine is such a blessing and all these discomforts will in the end help preserve Tilly’s health, but is it not a justifiable reaction to want to sock it to people who make infants bleed? Especially my own? I even forgot my own address while trying to fill out the forms while Li’l Til wailed. I have never heard her so upset. I’ve rarely been so upset. I think the last time was when my brother erased my game on Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Happy two-week birthday to you! Happy two-week birthday to you! We’re going to stab your heel while you’re naked and force you to hemorrhage on sheets of paper! Happy two-week birthday to you!

*Sigh* Sorry…

So today was Matilda Murphy’s two-week birthday and appointment. I think we’ll throw a little party tomorrow to celebrate and also her shouldabeen birthday. Oh, and to celebrate her umbilical cord stump falling off too! (We're going to bury it under the light of a blue harvest moon in January while facing South-West and singing "God Save the Queen", then plant a Huckleberry bush above. I heard from a crazy three-eyed old woman living under a bridge that we should do that.) All things considered, it was a great appointment. All the nurses commented on how cute her name is and how beautiful she is. Lots of people have told us how babies are supposed to be funny-looking, but how her eyes, ears, nose, and everything are just beautiful. She goes a little cross-eyed sometimes, but that’s usually only when we’re having a funny face contest.

Birth Height & Weight – 5 lbs 2 oz, 18 inches

Two Week Height & Weight – 5 lbs 13 oz, 20.5 inches

What a little weed! Everybody was amazed, the doctor especially, at how much she had grown and at how much weight she had gained! He said that she’s right where she would have been had she stayed in utero for the extra 15 days. She’s now in the 25th percentile for height but still under the 5th percentile for weight. It’s too bad we live so far away from her cousin Drew-Bob (8 lbs 10 oz, 19.5 inches) because I would really love to get a picture of them together. I think I can do a little photo-comparison though. Yup, here it is.

Andrew Robert Ruden (August 17)(Left)
Matilda Rose Murphy (August 12)(Right)

Tilly (Left) and Drew Bob (Right)

Aren’t babies cute?

Matilda has been wonderful! She loves being held and given attention by all her aunts and uncles and even strangers. She’s always so aware and loves looking around. It may just be a random reflex, but sometimes when I go to the side opposite of the way she’s facing and start talking, she’ll turn her head to look at me. She’s amazingly strong and has almost propelled herself off my lap with those skinny little frog legs. And she finally fits into her newborn clothes too! They still drown her a bit in the width, but the height is just right. I can’t wait to see how she grows, but at the same time, I want to be able to fit her curled up little self on my chest or in one arm forever.

Chapter 2: Woebegone Wall Coverings

But alas, no matter how I’d like to just sit and watch her grow all day, there is work to be done and there are projects to be completed. One such project was stripping wallpaper in our bathroom last Saturday. Our ceilings are probably about 10 feet tall in the bathroom, and when we moved in, the lower 2/3 was a blood red and the top 1/3 was golden wallpaper with a fleur-de-lis pattern, designed by Ugg Lee. The week before Matilda arrived we painted the bottom 2/3 and last Saturday I tackled the top. The process took six hours and I hope to high heaven that I’m rich enough to pay someone else to do it the next time I need it done. It went as follows:

Mix wallpaper removal solution. Sponge solution all over room. Wait 15 minutes. Sponge again. Wait again. Sponge again and attempt to remove. Realize that it hasn’t worked a lick. Go complain to Megan and hold Tilly to calm down. Go tear off top layer of all wallpaper leaving white backing. Soap backing. Wait 15 minutes. Soap again. Wait again. Soap and remove. Still not working. Go to Megan and Tilly. Doesn’t quite pacify as well. Go back and get catty with wallpaper, attacking it with fingernails and spittle. Realize I’m on to something. Have Megan get me a plastic spoon and a water bottle, then spend the next four hours scraping each inch of a very awkwardly situated top three feet of the wall with a spoon (breaking three spoons and bruising both hands, and both feet in the process). But it’s done and I want to stab whoever put up the wallpaper in the heel with an ice pick. Not just because it was a beast to remove, but also because it was the exact same color as the paint underneath! Was the fleur-de-lis pattern really that important? Hopefully by next weekend it will be white.

Next project, fixing the floor in the bathroom. For some reason the toilet is sunk two inches into the floor. No overweight people are currently allowed to use the toilet in our house, although I’m trying to rig up a brace for them.

Chapter 3: Felicitous Realignment

It seems like I’ve been a little negativo in this edition of my bloggery, so I’ll try to restore the cosmic karmic balance by talking about some things that I’m really happy about, like Matilda’s room! I’m really excited for her to move in there from the bassinet in our room, not only for the better sleep, but so she can enjoy the awesomeness that is her room! It has 12-foot ceilings, we’re going to paint a few walls green soon, and all sorts of cool stuff.

After a long and exhausting search for cool and affordable baby bedding, Megan found this stuff from Target – DwellStudio Circles collection. We’ve had it all for about four months now and have all their receiving blankets, blankets, a Boppy Pillow cover, pillows, etc. Megan also found this great diaper bag that doesn’t even look like one! It’s all very cute and we were stoked about our baby’s original “crib”. It didn't take us too long to realize that people are drawn to cute and cheap, however, and soon a few other mothers had the same stuff. We were mildly nonplussed at first, but hey, it ain't the bedding that will help our baby grow up creative, intelligent, caring, happy, and perfect - it's our inimitable love that we shall shower upon her whilst in the bedding.

So enjoy the pictures of her room and tune in next week for another chapter in the lives of the Murphy Trio.

Matilda's crib and a rocking chair that Megan used as a child which her grandma recently gave back to her at her Oregon baby shower. And yes, when we dress Tilly in polka dots we can't find her.

A genuine teddy bear from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. I grew up in Vermont and toured the factory as a grade-schooler and so I had to splurge for one of these.

This is Megan's teddy, Pinky, who has been with her since she was an infant. And now it's going to our daughter.

Our ever-growing collection of stuffed animals. We really like the Grannimals (to the monkey's right). The monkey, Ross Westin, is from the 5th Ave. Build-A-Bear in New York City, the pig is from the Murphy Aunts and Uncle, and the dog is from cousin Joel. The hand-painted mirror has the Three Little Pigs on it and originally cost $410. We got it and the $395 shelf (pictured below) with the Cow Jumping Over the Moon for $100 at La Bella Casa in McMinnville, OR.

The nursing corner. That yellowed newspaper is from the day she was born. We're saving it so that when Tilly is old enough she can appreciate how stupidly sentimental her parents are.

The changing table and Diaper Genie II, where all the crap goes down. I've never known a baby who pees more on the changing mat than in her diapers. Now I do. And I thought it was only boys who did that.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Matilda Rose Murphy - Born 08.12.08 - Revised, Updated, and Complete

You know what my problem is? I'm a perfectionist. Sometimes I don't feel like I can or should write until I have the time to make it something truly worth reading; something that will edify, inspire, educate, or at least entertain those whose eyes glance over it. This has resulted in a drastic decline of those who frequent this blog because with all that has been going on lately, for me to enshrine each moment in a masterpiece of prose just asks too much. Ergo, no recent posts.

But now I'm falling into the cliché of assuming that there are myriads of folks with nothing better to do than read my prattling, and when I don't post for a week they'll go out and start banging their heads on a wall until I post again.

So without further ado, I present the story of Matilda Rose Murphy. Updates about our new house, my first marathon, and our trip to San Francisco may or may not ever appear. Just know that those things happened and went dandily.

Last Monday, August 11, was my sister Megan's birthday. This is significant because for a while after Megan Rose and I started dating, Megan sister was mad because of the shared name deal. It has since evolved into a series of jokes about "what if..." scenarios, including my only other brother, James, briefly dating a girl named Megan. So at dinner that night, we all laughed about how Megan sister would flip a gourd if Megan wife gave birth on her birthday... two gourds if we named our daughter Megan. Only then will we have then completed our twofold hostile mission 1) Take over of her identity, and 2) Cause the total inversion of two squashes. We all had a good laugh about this. What we failed to tell them was that Megan wife had been enjoying contractions every five minutes for about 12 hours. I say "enjoying" and while they may not have been entirely pleasant, they were not causing extreme discomfort yet.

That started about midnight.

And even then, the level of discomfort wasn't horrible. I could feel something was about to go down (literally... well... go down literally, not that I could literally feel it), so I tried my best to clean up our house, specifically the baby's room. For those of you who for some reason don't know each intricate detail of our lives, we moved into a new house about a month ago. We were to the point where there were just a few piles of random crap sitting around, but it was outcast crap. It was the kind of stuff where you wish you could just throw it away, but due to some sentimental attachment, you can't. But it needs to be organized if you're going to keep it. But that would take too much time. So it sits there and taunts you with the cheesy chains that it has wrapped around your pack rattish neck.

In the meantime, Megan packed a suitcase for the hospital and kept moving since that helped with the pain. The contractions kept getting longer and harder, so she took a bubble bath in our beautiful and luxuriously large claw-foot tub. In a gesture of selflessness, I shaved her legs. Her insides were trying to pass a human being to the outside, so really it was the least I could do. I made it through without cutting her, but admittedly that's probably because she did her knees herself.

At around 2:00 AM, I got really tired and fell asleep. Poor me. About 4:00 AM Megan woke me up with those surreal words, "We need to go to the hospital."

In the immortal words of Strong Bad, "Holy crap, man."

Every first-time father will know the feeling. Today is the day that I become the next generation.

I was torn between a desire to go out and swear, express flatulences, and hit things with sticks so that I got all misbehavin' out of my system leaving only good parenting techniques and a feeling of elation at the thought that I'd be able to teach my own posterity to do all those things once my own resolve not to do them waned. Everything except swearing. If my kids ever let past their lips even one damn swear word...

5:00 AM - Surreality continues. We check into the hospital. I take the following picture. I'm sorry Megan, but it has to be included because our loving public demands it. Don't you, guys? What an adorable little preggy Meggy. It's the last surviving photo of mother and daughter as one.

As soon as the nurse found out that we were first timers and that this was our first time to the hospital, she rolled her eyes. I'm sure she expected to find Megan overreacting and that she would have to sit us down, relay the bad news that it's still premature, and send us home until Megan was really in labor. Little did she know how tough my wife is. She ended up measuring 5.5 cm, which is over halfway to the point where they'd have her start pushing! (Quick crash course in labor and delivery for you single guys and gals out there: 0-1 cm = Baby ain't goin' nowhere. 2-4 cm = Attention ground control, entry phase initiated. 5-9 cm = She'll be comin' 'round [down] the mountain [birthing canal] when she comes [right now]. 10 cm = Holy crap, man. Mamma's ready to start pushin'.)*

*The aforementioned crash course has no medical validity whatsoever. They are the sleep-deprived observations of a first-time father.

We had decided to go without an epidural, and so after getting Megan hooked up to all the machines which would monitor the baby and mommy, we settled into a routine. As I saw the contraction coming, I would warn Megan and she'd start moving. She'd look right into my eyes and do whatever it took to lessen the pain. When I saw that the contraction had peaked on the monitor, I would tell Megan so that she knew the end was in sight.

The contractions got stronger and stronger, but after her water was broken, they got really intense. I cannot even fathom the pain involved in the process, but I love and appreciate my mother for enduring it to bring me here and my wife for going through it for our baby. About an hour after having her water broken we decided to ask for an epidural. There was no shame in it. Megan had experienced the pain of childbirth au natural in about its most extreme form. And by the time the got the epidural going, she was already at 8.5 cm. She nearly made it! To her credit, she never screamed at me or cursed me for having done this to her or anything like that. No shoes were thrown across the room or curses placed upon me. The whole process really brought us closer together and deeper in love. She was just in the most intense pain she'd ever know, but knew it was all for the good of bringing life into the world.

The first few contractions with the epidural were probably the worst experience of her life. They have to hook you up to all sorts of monitors to make sure your blood pressure doesn't drop too much and that mother and baby stay safe thereby effectively annulling Megan's ability to assuage pain by moving about. Those were the hardest for me to watch. But the end was in sight. (Megan's was too thanks to the lovely hospital gowns. Good thing it's so cute.) After two really criminal contractions, the drugs kicked in and Megan was a happier camper. Megan's sister Allison, her son Samson, and my Mamma Jill were there by then, so life was good. Even though only about 11 months old, Sambo would have a whole new outlook on life by the time the day was over.

By about 9 AM Megan was fully dilated and ready to start pushing, but our doctor was in surgery assisting with a lobotomy or something like that. Aller dem mederkal werds iz perty much soundin' dersaym ter me. So Megan rested and descended, but since there was not much change in Megan's elevation, I'm guessing that means she rests whilst the bambino descends. About this time, the epidural wore off (since it was not continuous) and the anesthesiologist was out to lunch. I could have knocked his teeth out! It took him over 20 minutes (a long time for contractions coming every 3 minutes) to get there and up the dosage. I have a good mind to sneak into the hospital when he's getting a vasectomy and replace the anesthesia with water. Or maybe invent a fluid that enhances pain and put that in there. Heh heh heh.

10:25 AM - Push time! This is where nurse grabs a leg and I grabs a leg and nature has a good laugh at this process she's derived of having mothers push a big something through a little something. It's a slow process, but from what I hear, most have it a lot slower. By about 10:50 AM I could see the first part of the baby's scalp. Heaven help me, I lost it then and there. I could actually see for the first time my daughter's head and hair and birthing goo. It looked like she could just pop out at any moment, she was so close, but the doctor explained to me that what I was seeing was just a bulge in the baby's head. It's like trying to squeeze a water balloon out of a 2-liter bottle. It bulges quite a bit, but the bulk of the baby's head still has yet to come.

Side note: Good music provides the boon of a relaxing and calmer atmosphere. This is true for life in general, but especially during an intense process like labor and delivery. We tried Simon and Garfunkel, the Almost Famous soundtrack, and a few others before settling on Michael Bublé. All the nurses commented on how nice it was, and without any provocation or manipulation on my part, the music coincided with the event. For example, at the time about which I was just speaking, Señor Bublé crooned, "The Best is Yet to Come".

And come it did.

About the same time I got all bleary-teary, Megan was offered and accepted a mirror so she too could see what was going on. She would recommend this to all laboring mothers as once she could see what she was doing, it really helped her focus her energies on the process. A few other things that helped the process along were 1) the second dose of the epidural which never did take effect on Megan's right side. This helped her to feel what she was doing and move things right along. And 2) me squishing her like I was trying to hold a blanket full of picnic supplies or watermelons or anything really. This may sound weird, but again, with the epidural sometimes they (the mothers) really don't know how to push most effectively, and my pulling her knees back and shoulders forward got her in an effective position. All you natural-birthing method advocates out there are probably pooping pumpkins about how everything we did was so unnatural and so wrong and anti-gravity counterproductive and blah blah blah go kiss a duck. We have a happy and completely healthy mother and baby as a result of doing things the way we did. Now get back to tending your tofu. So there.

I previously mentioned that Ally's 11 month-old was in the delivery room the whole time. Well, he found the whole delivery process to be hilarious. When a contraction would come, Megan would go through three to four sets of pushing for ten seconds each. The nurses would say, "Okay, now deep breath, and push... 2... 3... 4... etc." until they got to 10. Well, about the second time Megan pushed, Sam started laughing and gurgling and everyone in the room was like, "What? A baby already?!" I think my mom was confused by this every time Sam did it, which was virtually every time she pushed. If you ever meet Sam, try saying, "Okay, now deep breath, and push... 2... 3... 4..." and he'll probably crack-up. Good ol' Sam.

Megan and Tilly meet for the first time, face to face.

We made a good baby.

11:18 AM - About six hours after checking in to the hospital and 45 min after pushing began, our beautiful baby girl arrived. She had her eyes open and immediately began crying. Michael Bublé was singing "Fly Me to the Moon". She's going to be an astronaut. The doctor worked to suction fluid out of her mouth and nose, and after clamping off the necessary parts, I cut the cord. I guess they have fathers do that so they can say that they helped too. She then went to the scales where our little tanker weighed in at a whopping 5 lbs 2 oz and toppled the charts at 18 inches long.

Tilly, just minutes old, already knows how to hold Daddy's hand.

Unfortunately, our as-of-yet-nameless cutie sucked in some fluid while coming out, so they did some quick exams and after giving Megan and I a moment to hold her, whisked her away to the newborn intensive care unit (NICU, pronounced nihk-you). It was really just a precautionary measure and not entirely necessary, but better safe than sorry. After an hour on a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine to help clear the fluid and 30 minutes of observation, she was cleared to go and we made our way back to Megan. After trying out a few names on her, we decided on Matilda Rose Murphy, or little Tilly. Michael Bublé was singing "Daddy's Little Girl" and I cried again. Although I was sad that Megan didn't get to spend more time with her before heading off to the NICU, I was glad for that time I had to spend with my daughter. Even though my mom was there with me and Tilly, I held Tilly's hand and talked to her nearly the whole time. I got to give her a pacifier for the first time and help her keep it in. She had her eyes wide open for nearly three hours after delivery and I was in front of them for nearly the whole time. I think they'll be brown, FYI.

The next few days blurred their way by as we tried to help Megan and Matilda establish a feeder/feedee relationship and get all the necessary immunizations/washings/whatevers out of the way. We watched the Olympics quite a bit in our room and were greeted by many well-wishers and family members. Megan's parents had left Oregon at about 11 AM and arrived about midnight, driving straight through to see their 10th grandchild. My parents and all of my brothers and sisters were there that night to celebrate the arrival of their first grandchild/niece. She was so good with all the attention. Like I already mentioned, she hardly shut her eyes! She just loved looking around, and I'll say looking at everyone even though their vision at birth is about 20/800 and everything is blurred, upside-down, and in black-and-white.

Matilda with the pink and green bows I picked out.

Much has happened since then, but little Tilly and Mommy are doing great. She's eating well, sleeping well, and pooping well. Just last night, I was changing a diaper and had just gotten her cleaned off and the diaper in the Diaper Genie II, when *poop*, out came a little puddle. I slid her back on the changing table (which was already down to just plastic since both cloth covers were being washed do to prior incidents) and picked up her legs to slide the new diaper under when *poop* all down her back. Note: trying to talk them out of pooping doesn't work.

Since Megan's parents were leaving on Monday to get back to Oregon for work and to see their 11th grandchild, Drewbob (aka Andrew Robert Ruden), first son of Dan and Annie Ruden, we decided to bless her on Sunday the 17th. Once again I cried. I just feel so lucky to be wed to such an amazing woman (who has already lost 23 lbs) and to be father to such an amazing daughter. I could stare into those beautiful eyes all day long. One of my favorite things is napping or reading out loud to her with her on my chest. She'll just cuddle right up to me. I read her the first chapter of the first Harry Potter book which I have in Italian. She may be bilingual yet! We also put on music whenever she is feeding so she'll be a musician/dancer. Talk about pressure! This girl's going to be the most talented human being in the world and she's only a week old.

I could go on and on and on, but for now I subsist. Never fear, though. I will return often and in great detail with "The Many Adventures of Tilly Rose".

A picture our sister-in-law Camie took for us after her blessing on Sunday. What a sweet little girl!