February 08, 2006

They Call Me Mellow Yellow

Week Two

There is just no way that I am going to be able to keep up with weekly essays on the growth and development of my child. After this week (which is already late), I'll probably move to a bi-weekly or even monthly thing. Especially since I've been slacking on the much more important highpointing and vacation recaps you all look forward to so much every week. I mean, having a baby is cool and all but really - does it even compare to standing on a trash-strewn knoll amongst moonshine operations (with no views) and being able to say that you've been to the highest point in South Carolina?!


And besides, a normal 2-week-old baby is actually somewhat boring for those of you who didn't create him, I'm afraid. But alas, I am here to make our little Damian and his story more exciting than you can imagine. It helps that he's such a daggone cute little bugger, that's for sure...

Damian's second week began right where his first week left off; sleeping a combined 22 hours per day, eating every few hours, and making a litany of disturbing and loud gurgling/throat-clearing/wombattish noises at all hours. Oh, and his jaundice reached its peak as well. His yellow pallor gave Hoang and me reason to slip into our 1922 speakeasy alter-egos, Woodsy Malone and China Doll.

(to the boy):
"Yeah, see, why ya so yella, boy?"
"Yeah, see, whatta ya, some kinda yella rat fink, see?"
"Why I oughta get my Tommy and see about all this hubbub, see, when I see someone so yella, see, I gets ants in my pants."
"Yeah, if I weren't such a classy dame, see, I'd gets these gams runnin', see, and see about you bein' so yella, see."

If you think that's funny, you'll chuckle even harder when I tell you that we really did have several conversations that played out like that. It helps that we both read James M. Cain's great little genre-creating noir novel, "The Postman Always Rings Twice," a couple years ago. And oh yeah, it also helps that we're complete doofuses too. Anyway, the boy was looking pretty yellow but there was no cause for concern. We just needed to stick him in the sun (fleeting as it was) and top off his feedings with some Similac and he'd be fine. Looking back through these pictures, though, it's now surprising to me how much of a yellow rat fink he really was. (Rest assured, he's perfectly fine now!)

Our little jellybean has spawned a new Jelly Belly flavor: Bilirubin.

In the midst of a deluge on Friday, 2/3, the boy had his 1 week check up with our (so far) wonderful pediatrician. His weight was now up over 7 pounds and his color was becoming less and less yellow by the day. Everything else checked out "perfect," so with slightly more confidence, I showed the doctor the video we shot of Damian's rather disturbed - and disturbing - sleep patterns. During the night mostly, he would thrash about with a constant stream of sounds; gurgles, chokes, guffaws, gags, hiccups, grunts, groans, cries, mews, hacks, spiffles, and snorts. His little baby arms and legs always seemed to be in constant motion and his head would turn back and forth endlessly. I'd read about "restless sleep" in infants and how it was normal, but man... This kid took the prize! (I found another article which claimed that extra restless sleep equated to greater neural/brain development. I think that was written by some guy to allay his wife's fears about Tourette's or something.)

The weird thing about all this was that he appeared to sleep more or less perfectly during the day - like a baby, if you will. So was it environmental? That is, did he enjoy bright lights and conversation and television rather than darkness and quiet? Or were we just more aware of his nonsense during the night? The doctor essentially said everything was fine and dandy and offered a few suggestions to help us out. Among them were to elevate his head more, try side sleeping, nasal drops, a humidifier, and if all else fails, stick him out in the backyard where we can't hear him.
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Damian has been christened with his Chinese name as a result of his constant side to side head movement and the chafing that results: Chap Chin.

We tried the first several suggestions and saw slight improvement over that second weekend. This whole issue brought to mind a wholly different question - that of, "What do infants dream about?" Damian was assuredly dreaming about something, but with such minimal life experience, no language, and very minimal visuals, what in the world was he thinking about? Usually the province of marijuana and tequila fueled dorm room fueled discussion, Hoang and I found ourselves pondering this quite a bit. (To date, I can't even venture a guess, by the way.)

Having gone back to the grind at work that Thursday, Hoang was feeling a bit more pressure to care for Damian by herself at home. She seemed to deal with that quite well... I, on the other hand, was feeling a rather strong sense of guilt from being away from him for long stretches of time. Like I was missing out on important developmental milestones as well as not alleviating some of the stress on my wife. I've never looked forward to the end of the workday or weekends as much as I do now! Not that Damian cares - my mammary glands aren't as well developed as Hoang's and really, does he care about anything else at this point?

We also brought the family dog back into the mix that second weekend. Sasha is an eleven year old mutt (German shepherd/collie mix) who has some minor mental issues. I was a bit worried how she'd react upon realizing there was another needy creature in our midst - one which required far more care and attention. She was initially confused and way less curious than I would have guessed, but over the next few days she seemed to accept Damian into her life. Damian, for his part, could not have cared less about Sasha - even when she breathed her horrendously evil festering garbage-on-a-hot-summer's-day breath on him. Oh Sassa... Poor, poor Sassa-loo.

The last few days of Damian's second week went well. He was sleeping better, his color was definitely improving, and he made the transition from the breast milk/formula combo to pure breast milk very well. Hoang and I are both extremely happy (so far) that she's able to provide him all the food he needs without too much discomfort. It's still a bit crazy to me (being a dude and all) how women can just whip their shirts off and be able to feed their babies. It's a beautiful and fascinating thing to see... Over and over and over again... Day after day after day...

All in all, the second week went very well. I assimilated back at work, Sasha came back into the fold, Damian's mild health issues cleared up, Uconn continued to roll (Damian has yet to witness them lose), and his cuteness factor remained a solid 10 - despite the disturbing similarities he has with a baby turtle in his second week of life (You must click on the pictures):


The negatives:
1) I lost all interest in the Superbowl, which struck me as odd.
2) We now run the dishwasher and washer/dryer twice as much as before and keep the thermostat 6 degrees warmer.
3) The mother-in-law "Free random food generator" seems to have slowed. (Though certainly not stopped. In fact, on Sunday the 5th I decided to go for a little hike up to Heublein Tower. Sure it was raining and late in the day, but that's never stopped me before. So off I went - I reached the tower very quickly, took in the views, daydreamed about taking Damian up here, and decided to follow a different route down. I knew the blue-blazed trail crossed a road near my car and assumed the trail would take me from Point A to Point B in a straightforward fashion. Um... No. About halfway down, the trail took a turn in the exact opposite direction I knew I needed to go- basically to Point Z. The sun had set and the rain was getting harder... And my wife was home with a newborn. I'm such an idiot sometimes. So I began jogging, then running, in an effort to get to the road before complete darkness set in. I made it safely home finally and stumbled into the house soaked and muddy from my adventure - only to find my in-laws cooing to my baby in the living room. Hmmm, how would I play this one off? Especially when my father-in-law said from the other room, "Hi Steve, back from shopping?" Errr, if by "shopping" he meant running through a dark, wet, and muddy forest like a moron then, yeah. I was able to change clothes without them seeing my dilapidated state which was a good thing - I was unsure Hoang would even understand me, let alone her parents! Anyway, the point of this was to say that they brought along 4 grapefruits, 3 bowls of instant pho, some Pepperidge Farm cookies, a Costco box of frozen chicken with cheese and broccoli things, 2 heads of romaine lettuce, and some homemade phyllo turkey meat pie things that I devoured due to my tiring slog through the woods.)
4) Excessive hand washing = dry, crusty hands.
5) He's one week closer to driving a car.

Continue on to Weeks 3 and 4: Count Damian

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