Friday, 20 June 2008

Eating Out in Cleveland

Over the last few weeks I’ve eaten at a couple of new [to me] Cleveland-area food places. My favorite aspect of Cleveland is the ease with which one can go to an authentic ethnic restaurant and never run out of such places to attend. I made it to Sterle’s Slovenian County House awhile back and had a great time. The murals on the walls made it seem like I was back in Slovenia, and the live accordian polka accompaniment and old folks dancing was awesome. It is right around the corner from Empress Taytu.

Brown Bag Burgers near Great Boredom Mall is another tasty little eatery with a mural on the wall. Although their burgers aren’t the Best in Cleveland, they are the exact perfect size for eating, leaving you full but not stuffed, satiated, not begging for more. That’s a hard balance to strike.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Home Updates

Although I’ve taken the last two weeks off of work to spend time with Abraham, I’ve also been doing [and having done] a lot of work on the house. I’ve been working on the room that you enter from the front door. For lack of a better term, I call it the parlor. Here are some photos:
Before:
Pre-parlor
After:
Parlor Painted.
Before:
Pre-parlor
After:
Parlor Painted

I painted, put down quarter-round, replaced a pane in the doors to the bedroom, and painted those too. The plaster needed some serious patching but that was done awhile ago. I’m having quite a bit of contracted work done on the bathroom and getting a closet expanded. One of the small rooms is disappearing to make this happen, but it is certainly worth it. During this process we’ve found some painted-over hand-made fixture gems. Here are some hinges:
Stripped of their paint [and original black enamel, unfortunately]:
Stripped Hinges
And restored [thanks to Rustoleum]:
Restored Hinges
The window sashes have similar paint-encrusted metalwork, and I’m still working on restoring the original doorbell [you can see the paint-encrusted version and the empty spot in the photos above]. The door itself is probably going to take a week or two of work itself. I’m not looking forward on the constant removing and rehanging of it.

There will be pictures of the bathroom and closet when they are finished.

Monday, 16 June 2008

One Week

Routine

Octopus Versus AbrahamAbraham is one week old and I’ve still not managed to get rid of him. I took him to Petco the other day to see if anyone wanted to adopt him. That didn’t work, so I went to Home Depot to try and return him there. Home Depot will take just about anything back but they wouldn’t take the kid.

We’ve been told that routine is the most important thing for a newborn, so we’ve been trying to establish one. Abraham’s in utero routine was to wake up at 10pm and be up from 2-5am every night. This has continued for the most part ex utero. We’ve been trying to change that using various methods. The first is bath time. Every night at 8, and try to keep him awake until we feed him right before 10. By doing this we hope to get a good start to our sleep. This only sort of worked, we neglected to realize that by sleeping all day, of course he’s going to party all night. Yesterday we kept him up with frequent small feedings and he decided to stay awake for a few hours on end on his own. Last night he only fed twice, at 1:30am and at 5. I barely woke up in my memory, but Debbie says I was fussing nearly as much as the baby when he cried.

Naming Convention

We chose Abraham, after a moderate amount of deliberation, because we wanted a strong, biblical name that isn’t used all of the time. The name Abraham certainly fits that bill, and I hope my son grows into it; and becomes as strong and honorable as his namesake[s]. The biblical Abraham is huge figure in Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and Kierkegaard [and other philosophers, so I’ve been told] have used the story about him and Isaac as a frame to analyze ethical and moral behavior.

There’s also Abraham Lincoln; a pillar of humanity if ever there was one.

In terms of nicknames, I’m not a fan of Abe, but I like Bram. And Abraham rolls off the tongue so well that there isn’t much need to shorten it. Everyone liked the name except for the crossing guard.

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a couple of different answers for his middle name. Originally, I didn’t want to give him one, Abraham Harvey being imposing as it is. But in February, my grandma died. Her name was Frances Sue. I considered having a boy named Sue for a brief time, but settled on Francis, which works out well since Debbie’s father is named Frank.

Miscellaneous

Abraham wiggles alot.

Me and Abraham

Thursday, 12 June 2008

The Birth & Aftermath

Chronology

Hand ComparisonDebbie started having frequent contractions on Saturday morning at 5am. We went to the hospital later that afternoon to see what was up, the contractions were about 5 minutes apart. We get to the hospital and, of course, they slow down. After examination, Debbie was still only about 2cm, so they sent us home. She was still having contractions, and we’d told the contractor working on our house that we wouldn’t be back for a few days, so we stayed at her parents house. We didn’t get much sleep though, as contractions continued throughout the night, increasing gradually in pain. Sunday morning we went back to the hospital and found out that Debbie was at 4cm. Go time. 13 hours later: Abraham.

Calculating labor time is not exact. Technically we could count it from when she started having her contractions early Saturday morning, a 44 hour labor, but I was told that hospitals usually count labor from 4cm, which would make the labor the aforesaid 13 hours. I’m inclined to go with labor lasting from the first signs of pregnancy through the birth, because it appears to be work the entire time. Debbie was certainly doing quite a bit of work starting Saturday morning. Labor, in general, burns about 1000 calories an hour. Debbie’s labor plan was to keep her options open. The intention was a natural childbirth if at all possible. Since she likes being in the tub, we aimed for a waterbirth at first. The only problem was that Abraham’s head had entered the pelvis a bit crooked. This stuck things for a few long [exhausting] hours. The pain was increasing and her energy level was waning, so she took a little Nubain to take the edge off. Being in the tub was helping, but after awhile it slows labor down. Eventually we got out of the tub altogether, because Debbie had no energy left and asked for an epidural.

After the epidural, we both took a brief nap before things got going again. She was already at 10cm so it was pushing time, for almost three hours. Debbie got the head very close, but it seemed to get stuck again, so Colleen, the most excellent midwife suggested using a bit of suction to get him crowned. She left, and Debbie decided she wanted to do it on her own, and with the roaring encouragement of the nursing staff, managed to get the baby crowning by the time Colleen came back with the doctor.

I stopped holding Debbie’s legs, stopped keeping her focused, stopped feeding her popsicles, and put on my catcher’s mitt. It was time to catch the baby. What looked like a tennis ball was already crowned, I thought, “Oh, he’s almost here”, and then after another push, a HUGE, blue-purple, softball-sized head popped out. My thoughts were now nothing more than inarticulate gibberings of shock and joy. The cord wasn’t wrapped completely around his neck, but it was against it, and there was quite a bit of meconium, so Colleen cleaned his nose and mouth before I pulled him the rest of the way out.

My son was then taken from me. Taken. From me. But they gave him to Debbie, which is okay, I guess. I cut the cord with one snip. It is tough like a fleshy electrical cord. They whisked him away to the warmer while I heard him start to scream lustily. I don’t really remember what I told Debbie, but I went over to “check out” the baby. What I was really doing was guarding him. Guarding my son. He was bright red and squalling. A beautiful, healthy boy. I looked over just in time to see the placenta plop out of Debbie. I wasn’t much interested in the placenta, so I hung out with my son for a bit before going back to Debbie and getting a few pictures. I wanted a good shot of me delivering the baby, but with all of the excitement, it didn’t turn out that way.

Debbie’s parents came over that night to meet little Abraham. We ended up going to sleep around 3, only to be woken for poking and prodding around 7. The first day in the hospital went quite well. The staff, including the students, were helpful and compassionate. The second day, though, was hell. Debbie had been up until 5 trying to feed the baby and was completely out of energy. Our morning started with a barrage of loud knocks on our door, and a male student who was anything but quiet for 7 in the morning. People were poking and prodding Debbie for most of the morning and afternoon. She was exhausted and all she needed was people to listen to her when she expressed her needs. Instead, when she said she was dizzy, they started asking too many questions and just made things worse. All she needed was food. Which took about 2 hours to arrive. We’d been mentioning to people all day that she wasn’t getting any rest because of all the checkups. At one point she was lectured by a nurse that she should be sleeping when the baby sleeps; which she can’t very well do with people waking her up every half hour. Eventually she was so tired that she started crying when a nurse asked, for about the millionth time that day, how her bottom felt on a scale of 1 to 10. The nurse immediately asked Debbie if she had a history of depression in her family. That set Debbie off. “I’m just TIRED!” she yelled. Evidently after the nurse left, she finally spread the word [apparently the Do Not Disturb sign on our door wasn’t a clue to them] and we stopped getting incessant visitors. It only took about 12 hours. Pretty much the only upside to the day was a visit from my mom. She came up for a couple of hours to meet her grandson and it was great to see her.

We let the baby go to the nursery for most of the night so that we could catch some shut eye. He got bottle-fed once through the night so the upshot was that we got to sleep for about 6 hours, straight. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of the hospital by this point, they had a hide-a-bed that was lumpier than a toad’s back and was too short and angled to sleep on comfortably. My neck and back are killing, but it was nice to be allowed to stay in the room with Debbie and Abraham. I’d been out making errand end runs to home and the grocery, since Debbie is now hungrier than when she was pregnant. We made it out of the hospital a bit after noon, and the day was much more relaxed after that.

Miscellaneous

Baby!We didn’t get Abraham circumcised. Apparently only 50% of boys get circumcised anymore, it is more traditional than medical. No one has vehemently disagreed with our decision apart from a few of my coworkers.

Letting Abraham sleep on and next to me makes me realize just how much I am an animal. To him I must seem this great, furry breathing source of comfort and protection, when I nuzzle him I remind myself of all of those nature documentaries where critters care for their young. I’ve got one for myself now, and the challenge of fatherhood suits me well. I’d been wanting a new difficult and meaningful challenge in my life. I love him.

Sleepdep is already in full effect. Abraham only needs fed about twice during the night, but it isn’t that easy. If he does eat right away, that takes about half an hour, followed by burping, possible diaper changing and getting the little feller asleep. Then we have a chance to use the restroom and grab a bite to eat ourselves. By the time all that is taken care of, it is pretty much time to feed him again. And that’s only if things run smoothly. Sometimes he won’t latch, will fuss because he’s too hungry to sleep and too tired to eat, or just because 10pm and 3am were his favorite times to party in the womb. I’m getting the idea that I’ll never catch up on sack time.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Rationed Space

I’ve lived in this house for almost a year and I’m still not moved in. The work on fixing the place up continues, and tomorrow the embiggening of the bathroom and closet [to the dearth of the tiniest bedroom] begins. Since we’re in the process of painting the entry room, this means that 4 of the rooms can’t have anything in them right now. It will be 5 if we don’t manage to complete the painting and quarter-rounding of the entry room by the time the big room by the kitchen is ready to have the flooring put down.

We’re pretty stressed and cramped, living in two rooms with the floors covered in crap from the other rooms, and the kitchen. We’ll have to go upstairs for most of the bathroom needs. Plus, an imminent eminent like a thief in the night baby on the way. Compared to the hectacular hecticness of our current lives, being settled in with a finished house and a finished baby seems positively cromulent.