Occasional updates from the home front

First Cries

posted Mar 25, 2015, 7:14 AM by Ross Olson   [ updated Mar 25, 2015, 8:58 AM ]

Audio file of James' first cries. This was recorded within minutes of his birth. 53 seconds long, MP3 file.

Side note: There's no video of this, because my phone at the time, (an iPhone 3GS) did not support video and the camera I took to the hospital froze up dealing with the new memory card I had just inserted.

365 Days

posted Nov 28, 2010, 8:38 PM by Ross Olson

One year later and James continues to amaze us. He also happens to keep us running around a lot, and hence the lack of updates here. Teething is weighing heavily on our schedules as the nights are punctuated with cries and fussiness rules the day on a regular basis. Between these times, we still see him smiling and laughing with ease. He still has smiles for miles, but we are ever mindful to keep his acetaminophen dropper close at hand.

We are patiently waiting for medical results in the next week to see how the future will play out. Our special little guy will have some special little needs, and it is important we find out as much as we can today, to plan for his tomorrow.

We hope we make the right decisions. It is his happiness that we hang our hopes on. Our only guide these days is his laughter. Let's hope the next 365 days are filled with those giggles.

Green is the Color

posted Mar 20, 2010, 11:02 AM by Ross Olson   [ updated Mar 20, 2010, 12:17 PM ]

This morning I’m sitting with James next to me on the desk as I try to clean up months worth of open web pages I’ve wanted to read, in preparation of dealing with more months of e-mail in my inbox. The big boy is doing pretty well considering the 2 weeks at OHSU and the week at home with the feeding tube. In fact, this week he turned 4 months old.

James spent the food tube days at his Uncle's house being watched by Grandma and his Aunt and cousins with help from Grandpa. Food tube nights were handled back at home, with me taking a short shift after work until midnight and Amy taking the midnight to 7am care and feedings. The actual physical tube he used was the one I inserted at the hospital and it did not need to be replaced while he was at home. I’m glad for that. Threading that tube down his nose was one of the more emotionally challenging trials I've ever encountered.

The virus that put him in this situation was resolved a week or more prior, so once the food tube week was removed, he was cleared to get back into daycare. The daycare place we picked out has been great. The infant care room has some really nice women in it and they all adore the children that come in. You can see the love and I feel like James is in good hands during the afternoons he's there.

He's still spitting up enough that I‘m making him small batch bottles of 2-3oz (30-45ml), though he’s taking twice that in some settings. I think the feeding tube left him with a raw throat since he still gets these coughing fits that just take all his energy. The second set of shots at his 4 month wellness check up on Thursday certainly didn’t “pep” him up either. He sleeps a lot these days, but I think that will turn around soon.

In addition to all the medical stuff, James is really starting to smile at us. Time on the changing table taking care of him, holding him after he has taken his bottle and anytime I’m up-close with him he gets a great little toothless grin on his face that stays in my mind all the time.

The photo was from St. Patrick’s Day this week, as he got ready to go to daycare. I've added a photo to the previous entry too.

Really Sucky Virus

posted Mar 8, 2010, 1:33 PM by Ross Olson   [ updated Mar 20, 2010, 12:06 PM by Ross Olson ]

James just spent the last week and a half at OHSU recovering from a virus that was in his lungs, called RSV. He's doing well now, shuttling from home to Uncle's house each day where he's being tended to by Grandma. A feeding tube is complicating things, but also allowing him to keep on gaining the weight he needs (12 lbs and change at the last weigh in.)

It was a sucky way to spend the two weeks: Amy was fighting food poisoning, the flu and a kidney stone so Dad and then Grandma stayed with him for the full 11 days. I'll try and get one of the photos he took recently up on this entry soon. But with my weekly class and all of the medical stuff we're still trying to wade through, posts here will continue to be sparse.

Added March 20: photo from the hospital room. Note the device stand next to his crib. At one point he had IV fluids, oxygen to his nose, the feeding tube on a pump and heart/pulse/oxygen monitors to deal with.

Superbaby Sunday

posted Feb 7, 2010, 11:17 AM by Ross Olson   [ updated Mar 20, 2010, 12:11 PM ]

James continues to grow and there is no stopping him. He has been blissfully unaware of closely held chaos around him. He is sleeping for longer stretches, and taking more formula in a single feeding. We have just started using an 8oz bottle in addition to the 4 ouncer that we've had for the first two months. Amy was looking at some of his NICU pictures and said she was surprised at just how much he has developed.

It is surprising, to be sure. Not because we didn't expect it, but because when you're with him for every day of his life, it is hard to detect the changes. I am so glad I was pushy about taking his picture at every step of the way. I have a poor memory for events in my life and these pictures allow me to dredge up the memories that are already starting to get buried.

I mentioned the chaos surrounding him, and I want to clarify that for him, the chaos is simply frazzled faces looking at him when he gets his bottle or a diaper change.

For Amy and I however, we have felt like we're skirting disaster at every turn. Broken water pipes in the kitchen ceiling, surgical procedures, medical appointments of all kinds, medication issues, a broken car (admittedly that car has +280k miles on it), flesh wounds, childcare runarounds and paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. 

Meanwhile. James sleeps cradled in the nook of my arm as I lie in bed. Amy stirs for a moment and then goes back to sleep. A moment of tranquillity on a Sunday morning.

(Added March 20: Photo from first Timbers game on Feb 17 at Merlo Field at University of Portland.)

A Merried Christmas

posted Dec 22, 2009, 12:06 AM by Ross Olson   [ updated Dec 26, 2009, 2:34 PM ]

Contrary to the dire tone of the previous post here, Christmas was really nice, if a little low key. We got our tree late in the season. So late that the lot we usually get it from was vacated and only had leftover 3- and 4-foot trees sitting out, asking for a donation (if you could afford one, but feel free to take one if you couldn't).

This year the tree is in the same corner where we usually have it, but sits on top of a table. The 4-foot table plus the 4-foot tree in the (now) oversized 1-foot stand actually makes the tree look quite sizable when you're looking into the living room from the sidwalk outside.

Presents were short and sweet this year as James got clothes and a few stuffed animals, Amy got a new iPod and I got a bluetooth headset (Oregon law requires them while driving starting Jan 1). The boxes for diapers and moist wipes have come in handy to sort and store some stuff, even if the stuff is stuff that needs to have stuff done before it can be filed away like proper stuff. That whole “a place for everything...” goal is a little closer.

I think we've started a new tradition, at least I hope we have: christmas spaghetti! Amy put a lot of effort into it and it came out delicious. I think we may have to wait till next year to share with James.

Amy's mood has leveled out and I think I've been in pretty good spirits. The sun is shining and excepting a skipped paycheck for the family leave I took, things are going pretty well.

It should also be noted that today marks his original due date. He certainly avoided that whole overlapping birthday/christmas issue...

Answer: Keep Going

posted Dec 20, 2009, 2:28 AM by Ross Olson   [ updated Dec 26, 2009, 6:58 PM ]

Question: What do you do when you’re going through hell?

Friday marked James’ first month on the planet, one-twelfth of the way around the sun since his first breath. It was a quiet first couple of weeks while he was in the NICU, but now, things have changed.

Week Three

LISTS: The past two weeks have been a strange ride, as postpartum depression has come in like a drunk heavyweight boxer, landing hits on Amy's psyche with frightening intensity. Right out of the gate, our perinatologist and our OB/GYN referred us to a counseling group but they had no openings until the middle of January, which was far too long based on Amy’s state. I ended up calling our insurance company to find additional resources, but (as I later found out) got routed to the wrong department, and ended up with a nearly useless list of providers as they didn't specifically call out postpartum specialties. I also checked with the Oregon Psychiatric Association and got a list of providers who specialize in postpartum issues, but they had no idea of which insurance company panels each provider was on. Finally I had a list of referrals from the counseling group (a list which had mostly psychologist, not psychiatrists and no insurance information)

Throughout the week, Amy's condition continued to worsen. Although she never gave any signs whatsoever of wanting to hurt James or myself, her thoughts were mostly focused on how to get out of the situation. Her first idea was running away and the second was... more dire. She was sure that either way, James and I would be better off without her.

GROUP: One of the earliest resources we found was the BabyBluesConnection website. The new mothers group sounded like a place to start. When we arrived at the SE meeting spot at 7pm, we found out that the website was out of date and no one would be there until 7:15. We waited in an upstairs loft that was powerfully over-scented and by 7:15, Amy couldn't stand the smell any further as it was giving her a headache and making her eyes water. My distinct lack of smelling ability helped me out here, but not by much. As we were about to drive off, the facilitator, caught us and I opted to stay and talk, keeping James with me while Amy took off for some alone time. The session was fine, although it was just the facilitator and I (no one else showed up). Amy and I are firm skeptics in regards to naturopathy and homeopathy when there’s no hard evidence to back it up, so neither the spa nor the facilitator would have connected well with Amy.

I spent most of Wed Dec 9 - Fri Dec 11 desperately trying to find a provider from the 3 lists who could A) take our insurance, and B) could see Amy within the next few days, and C) prescribe medications in order to get something started now and D) specialized in postpartum issues.

Week Four

Know Your Tools: Eventually I found a psychiatrist, Dr. F. We had an appointment with her on Monday Dec 14 in an office that was obviously set up to interview mostly children not adults. She prescribed Amy a med, starting with a half-pill to take as soon as possible. In response to that half-pill Amy experienced trouble walking/standing, severe headache, diarrhea, increased thirst, lightheadedness and dizziness. The doctor oddly thought that these were unrelated, even though these were side effects clearly listed on the information sheet from our drug store, and a few of which were under the heading of “Contact your Doctor immediately if...” As Dr. F followed up with us it turned out that she was not on our insurance network, so we will not be able to continue with her, although Amy had already decided not to because she was not focused on postpartum issues.

However as Dr. F tried to find out what our available benefits were, she triggered someone at our insurance company to reach out to us. This person was very interested in helping, saying that A) they would cover the cost of the visit to Dr. F fully, as a one-off, and B) pointing us to 2 quick-turn options through another local hospital.

Tweeter and Facepage: Tuesday night I sent out a Twitter tweet and Facebook status update that was seen by a friend (who once hired me at OPB) and was able to put us in contact with a Towering Figure (TF) in the national postpartum mood disorder scene. TF has graciously found us some more resources to look into.

Wednesday was a bit of a day off and Thursday was the second weight-check appointment with Dr. S. She was happy to tell us that weight-wise, James was perfectly at the 50th% for his gestation-corrected age. Having a healthy baby has made this easier. On another positive note, Thursday night Amy took her evening walk for the first time in nearly 6 months. She had been ordered off of walking due to the pregnancy and bedrest orders. A positive sign, but we're not out of the woods yet.

This weekend presented its own unique challenges, some of which we met, some of which felt like getting body slammed. Through it all James has been blissfully healthy and easy-going.

Upcoming Weeks Five and Six

As we are heading into the holiday season, I'm lucky enough to have a few company holidays over the next two weeks so I can continue to take care of things. Of the three remaining work days I'm hoping to patch over with work from home, a visit to the office with James and a short stint of leaving James home with Amy. After the new year, we'll need to have some longer term solutions in place.

Home First, Home First, Jiggity Jig

posted Dec 8, 2009, 12:07 AM by Ross Olson   [ updated Dec 11, 2009, 10:42 PM ]

We went up to OHSU on Saturday to pick up the little man. The hour we chose landed in the middle of a shift change, the lactation consultant was on a tight schedule and (wow!) was there a lot of paperwork for us to review. Oddly, there was only one single paper to sign to bring him home.

So he had his first ride in the car at about 6pm on Saturday, 5 December and came home to an as usual overstuffed apartment. Next to the pile of Goodwill-donations-to-be, there's a new heater, a new pack ‘n’ play, a new bouncer, and a few bins of clothes, toys, and supplies. “A place for everything, and everything in its place” is not a mantra that I’ve been able to maintain with this influx of equipment.

Over the past week I've made a small amount of headway in the organization side of things, but not much. Other here-un-named issues have been taking quite a bit of time. However with a weekend when offices are closed and Portland set to become the next Nome, Alaska, we are going to be home-bound, more than likely. Rearranging things in the apartment will be the primary method of blowing off cooped-up steam, not to mention generating heat and warmth.

This week we had our first visit with our pediatrician, Dr S. who told us that James is looking fine and healthy, tracking well on weight and length. He’s doing well enough that we are no longer tied to an every-three-hour feeding schedule, which is a huge step forward for those of us who would like to try out this REM sleep that seems to be all the rage.  Amy also had the first of a few follow up appointments with our providers and we’ll have a few more next week.

Tomorrow marks one week with Jayray at home. I’m hoping to connect with his grandma and grandpa tomorrow for a video chat. Perhaps a great-uncle will be available too.

30 milliliters

posted Dec 1, 2009, 10:30 AM by Ross Olson

James is still in the NICU, but he's an easy-to-care-for baby. This means he is considered to be a counter-balance for a nurse that has other babies to watch that are more troubled. Based on the number of wires and tubes hooked up to some of these kids, multiplied by the number of machines they attach to, it is easy to understand that James is in very good health. And he's getting better every day.

The latest milestone is the amount of milk he's taking orally. For a solid week now, he's been taking about 15 mL of his 55 mL meals orally and the rest is put down his feeding tube. But on Monday he started to up the ante and he's now taking 30 mL off and on. This is important, because the final hurdle he needs to clear to come home is to take his full meal orally. Right now, he nibbles and nom-noms for a while, gives us a quick smile, and then falls back to sleep. This is his pattern for now, and we're happy to have it.

Amy and I are visiting twice a day at least, and we continue to meet many different nurses, each with their own style of taking care of James. Quick or deliberate, intense and focused or light and scattered (in order to keep all the babies happy), each one has a deep love for these kids. It has been great getting to watch these pros do their thing. Yesterday it was bath time and we watched in amazement at the speed of the nurse. She had him in and out of the water in just a couple of minutes. Amy and I agreed that it would take us an hour to do something like that the first time. But now that we've seen it performed (and played a small part in it), we'll be better at it.

I really want to take advantage of the fact that we can get hands-on guidance with our own kid-o on how to take care of him, from people who do it every day. So far, so good.

It’s been one week...

posted Nov 24, 2009, 4:46 PM by Ross Olson

The tube is his gavage/feeding tube. He’s not quite up to taking all of his food orally, so they’re using this to get him the calories he needs. He’s taking some milk via a bottle but if he tires out, they just let the rest gravity feed directly into his tummy.

The air tube which was cranked down over a period of days is finally gone. He got off of it on Tuesday, a great present for Amy’s birthday.

He's developed a very red rash in his diaper, as it seems his poop at this point is pretty caustic or acidic. Either way he's got a lot of salve to put on it. The picture has him making an 'o' with his mouth and it looked like he was feeling something very cold on him bum. I thought it was pretty funny.

(Title of this post brought to you by the Barenaked Babies.)

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