Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Introducing ...

Matthew Alexander (Мэттью Александр)

Weight: 8 lbs. 5 oz. (3.78 kg.)

Length: 20.5 in. (52 cm.)

Born: 5:41 pm April 28th by emergency C-section (see below post for more info)

Hair: Blondish red

Eyes: Seem to be a very dark blue, almost purple. Steven's were a similar color when he was born, and are now more of an deep sky blue, so this could change.

In summary - healthy baby, healthy Mom, which is pretty much the important part. I'll let B post a more detailed report sometime in the near future, since I was accused by more than one female reader yesterday of leaving out "details." Since I know that I can never include enough of this essential ingredient to satisfy, I'll just leave it to her to take care of. :)

In the meantime, she's recovering fairly well and hasn't shown any complicated aftereffects from the surgery. Thanks again to all of you who thought about us during this time! A few more pics, for those interested:

Above: Proud papa, exhausted mama, and confused baby.
Below: Baby Matthew with his grandmothers

Steven meets his new little brother for the first time and seems to warm to him almost immediately:

Of course, you have to have at least one "Aaaaaaawwwww!" shot of a new baby, so here it is:

Thanks again for thinking of us! We give thanks for the amazing blessing He's given, so please rejoice with us.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cometh the Hour, Cometh the ... Little Baby?

NOTE: Scroll down for updates at the bottom of the post as they occur! Current update: #6 - Matthew has arrived!

Well, the title might miss some of you, but I thought it was funny at least! With a resounding ding the oven timer has gone off, so this baby is fully prepared. In fact, if you asked B, she might say it was a little "overdone," having been ready to get the enormous lump off her poor bladder for a couple of weeks, but at any rate, we're finally here.

Anyway, it is that time. The MD got tired of waiting for the baby to show up on his own (due date is tomorrow), and so he wanted to go ahead and jumpstart things with some chemical assistance. Apparently, he thinks the baby is on the large side, which is bad news for B. Here we are, though, having left the house at about 5:30 this morning. It's now 6:30 as I type this, and they've just started the Pitocin drip, which should see the contractions get more regular as it kicks in. I'll follow with updates as we have more news.

How can you tell we're just getting started? B's still smiling! Ha, ha. No, seriously honey, it was a joke. You look wonderful. What's that? I'm not going to print things like that on the blog!! For the rest of you, rest assured that in reality, B is a sweet-tempered woman and would never do any of those hateful things to me. At least, not while she's strapped to a hospital bed and I'm across the room. If she managed to catch me, now that might be another story ... ;)

In this gratuitous Steven shot, he's practicing his "Welcome home, baby Matthew!" pose with his grandmother.

Anyway, that's it for now. I'll put updates below so that the three or four of you who are that interested can follow along.

UPDATE #1: 9:15 AM
MD has just been here, and reports that B is now 2-3 cm dilated, and the Pitocin is kicking in seriously. Poor B is having contractions almost on top of each other, and even though they aren't incredibly strong yet they're backing off the dosage just a bit. The main thing the MD did was to break B's water, which should speed things up as well.

In short, so far, so good! The only bad (?) news was the size of the baby, which he thought might be 9 lbs./3.9 kg plus! Thanks for all of you who are thinking of us, and I'll try to post another update around lunchtime.

UPDATE #2: 11:30 AM
B's been hanging out on the birthing ball for the past couple of hours, and has made some progress. Nurse just checked and reports that we're up to 5 cm, and the baby has dropped a bit deeper.

At any rate, B's back in bed, and I think she's leaning towards getting an epidural this time. One heroic delivery was enough for her, apparently. I'll check back in when we find out more about when that might happen.

UPDATE #3: 2:30 PM
So, not much has happened since last report. B did go ahead and get the epidural, since she was really struggling with the muscle pain from her groin tear (she did the splits last night. Accidentally.) We're still stuck at 5 cm, and the baby seems to be higher up than he should be.

All in all, things are still going OK, but they're starting to worry that the baby needs to move down the birth canal at some point. His heart rate keeps dipping between contractions, so he needs to get his act together and start heading for home!

Oh, and we're going to add a contest to this post as well (why skip the contest just because we're having a baby?): who knows the real conclusion to the quote in the title? "Cometh the hour, cometh the ..." First person to post the correct answer in the comments section wins the point.

UPDATE #4: 5:15 PM
OK, so we're finally making some progress. After a long afternoon, B is finally at 9 cm and we're about to start pushing!

During the afternoon, the medical folks had a toughish time getting the Pitocin dosage lined up right, and either the contractions would fade or Matthew's heart rate would drop. Long story short, eventually B got to 9 and now the MD thinks we might get it done still.

UPDATE #5: 5:23 PM
Scratch that. After a few pushes, Matthew's heart rate is falling too fast for being as far in as he still is. MD thinks the baby is quite big, so we're headed for the OR to do a C-section.

UPDATE #6: 7:00 PM
Matthew is here! After an extremely quick C-section, prompted by the MD's perception that the baby was in trouble due to a dropping heart rate, he has arrived!

I was impressed by how fast they move when they think the baby is in trouble. From the time the decision was made to do a C-section, around 5:23, to the birth was less than 20 minutes.

Anyway, I suited up and scurried in just in time to see them slice B wide open. Within seconds, they plucked Matthew out, crying from the second he came out. He had apparently gotten his head slightly crooked, and wrapped the cord around his neck, which was what made his heart rate drop with each contraction. Thankfully, all went well, and both Mom and baby are safe and sound. More details on this whole thing at a later point.

Currently, B is trying to recover, feeling quite woozy and a bit nauseated. Matthew's in the nursery, where they're making sure everything's OK with him. Everything seems to be normal, and he weighed 8 lbs 5 oz/3.78 kg at birth. Length was 20.5 inches, I think, although I have yet to confirm that one. At any rate, I'll put some more pics and details on here when I get them.

As with most newborns, they're not that cute in the first few minutes of life, but here his head has started to return to a normal-looking shape and he's getting pink. I'll definitely get some more pictures when he gets to the room and we can get some more.

You can't see much of him here, but this is Mom, still with belly in twain, Dad, and little Matthew, curled up in a ball. Thanks for everyone who thought of us during this time, and please continue to remember B in her recovery!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fun in the Sun

An apology to all of our faithful readers, but J put the responsibility on me to do this blog and since I procrastinate in everything else I couldn't disappoint in this assignment. But here I am with nothing to write about.

We have now been in the US for about two weeks. We're still doing our Russian lessons via Skype (an internet videoconference program) with our teacher in Moscow which works most of the time. However, our commitment to doing full-time Russian study is difficult to maintain here. I (B) usually can do about 1-2 hours in the morning but by the afternoon usually will need a nice long nap.

Our evenings are usually booked with dinners or just hanging out with friends which has been very nice. I can't do too much anymore since I feel like I'm carrying around an elephant but we have been able to do several things we have missed doing while in Moscow. The biggest new thing for me has been going to yard sales:

For our non-American readers, this is where a person collects all the unwanted items in their house, places them in their yard, and tries to sell them. The prices can range from 10 cents to $20. I love buying things there because everything is so cheap but you usually have to drive around to find them which can take some time. Since I enjoy it so much I don't mind.

The other thing we have been catching up on is eating our favorite foods. We have been to several restaurants stacking on the weight in order to stay warm for the next winter (yeah, I don't really believe it either but it sounds good). For those of you who know me (B), knows how much I love to eat. Unfortunately, I can't eat much these days since my stomach is the size of a pea. So watch out Cracker Barrel, Bojangles, and Fiesta Mexicana - once I have this baby I coming to clean you out!

My family met at one of my favorite restaurants, Cracker Barrel, soon after we got here. Not only do I love the food but the atmosphere is fun and unique. They have a lot of antiques (American country-style stuff) hanging on the walls and a country store with all kinds of goodies in the front of the restaurant. Here are some pictures from that night:

We have also been enjoying some beautiful weather. When we first got here everyone commented on how yellow we looked. Since then we have been trying to get outside as much as possible. The scenery is so beautiful here. After living in an apartment and not being around a lot of nature, I have to say that it's easier on the eyes.

Well, that is about it. Hopefully the next post will include our new baby. I have 1 1/2 more weeks to go. We will keep you updated. Here's a little video of Steven enjoying some of the sunshine and warmth in a local park to leave you with:

OK, so this is J, and I'm adding a What Is It™, but with the caveat that anyone from the southern US is not eligible. The below picture is one of the foods B mentioned earlier in the post, and if you're not from the south, you might not know what it is. If you can guess the name of this vegetable, and you are from somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon line or outside the US, enter your guess in the comments. For you Southerners, you'll have to just comment about something else, or I won't publish your comments!

Для наших дорогих русских читателей, мы приглашаем вас также угадать, чем называют
этот овощ. Напишите ваши догадки в секции комментариев. Я надеюсь, что я написал этому правильно, чтобы наша учительница не рассердилась на меня! :)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Oo-ohh Say Can You See, aa-aa Wand'ring Family?

Yep - we're back in the US, having returned to have the baby. It's funny how many people have asked us how it feels to be "home" without realizing that this isn't really our home any more. I suppose you could say we're not really at home anywhere on earth :) but, insomuch as we have a home on earth, it's back in Moscow now.

That said, it is good to be here! We've had a week now to de-jet lag ourselves, and now all of us, inlcuding Steven, are back on our regular schedules. For Bobbie and I, that means doing our Russian lessons via Skype (an internet videoconferencing program). Every morning, both of us have a separate two-hour class with our teacher just as if we were there, and so far it's working well. Hopefully we'll be able to find some language helpers here soon and continue to make progress in the language. Just because we're a long ways away doesn't mean we have to give up studying!

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy a few pictures and videos of our time here so far, so here goes. First up, we have a shot of the beginning of our journey, when both B and Steven were in good spirits. Then we started going through security checkpoints - a lot of them!

To fly out of Moscow, you first get scanned (all baggage, plus you get patted down) as you walk through the airport door. Then, you go through outgoing customs and your bags are checked again. Then, another X-ray scan of your baggage, then a guard opens your carry-on luggage for a hand inspection. At this point, you finally go get your boarding passes and check your big bags, and here we had some complications with Steven's ticket. After some confusion and an additional $360, we were through, and only had one more scan of our baggage, another patdown for weapons and we were through!

Then, a mere 14 hours later, and much struggling with a baby boy not accustomed to sitting in one place for that long, we were here! Here Steven has finally fallen asleep, and I'm enjoying a rare moment of peace on the plane.

Since we've gotten back, we've been enjoying the wonderful spring weather. When we left it was in the single digits and there was still snow on the ground, and here it's warm and everything's green! It's really wonderful.

Of course, Grandpa and Grandma Williams have also been enjoying their grandson, and here Steven's going for a ride with Grandpa in the wheelbarrow:

I'm trying to include more videos, since everyone tells us they love them, so here's a clip of Grandpa tickling Steven, always one of his favorite activities.

Steven likes this kind of flight a lot better than the kind in actual airplanes!

Of course, he's had a chance to make some new friends as well in the last week. Our friends Mike and Martha have a baby boy named Noah who's almost exactly the same age as Steven. We took him over there one night and they "enjoyed" a bath together. Frankly, I think this was more a stunt for the moms to laugh at them, not to mention take some pictures that might come back to haunt them in high school. :)

Anyway, Steven hasn't had a lot of time in his life to hang out with animals, since neither us nor any of our friends have any back in Moscow. Here he explores the world of cats at Noah's house. This cat's name is Arnie, and Steven seems to like him:

Anyway, that should do it for this installment. Sorry we've been late getting it up, but we've been spending all our time getting our language classes back up and running, not the mention hanging out with family and friends.

Oh, and I should pass along one piece of news, which some of you might find humorous. If you're recall, in our last post we mentioned that some of our friends had bought us a lovely snowsuit for our expected new delivery. Since I was so confident in our doctor's diagnosis on an early ultrasound that we were expecting "Nicole," I foolishly joked that the pink snowsuit might be "gay-looking" if it turned out to be a boy.

In a strange twist of fate, in our doctor's visit on Tuesday to make sure everything was OK with B and the baby, we found out that we are indeed expecting a boy! We've been calling him "Nicole" for so long, it's going to be tricky to think of a boy's name now. Anyway, thanks to all of you who have laughed at me for that remark! :)

With regards to the What Is It?™, KarenG gets the point. The blue plastic thing is indeed a shoe cover, something you are required to put on when you go to the doctor's office in Russia. It makes sense, since in a home you always take your shoes off at the door, and you can't really do that in an office. However, you need something to keep everyone from tracking snow everywhere, so they solve the problem with the shoe covers.