Months don't pass much faster than they do than in a home with a newborn baby.
Yesterday, I was fumbling in the hallway of the hospital maternity ward, trying to remove every last inch of slack from the straps in Zac's old car seat so that it would make at least a token show of usefulness holding three-day-old Alex in place. (Imagine trying to tape an egg down inside a punch bowl.) This morning I was fighting with the accursed thing just to get a couple of centimeters back.
You'd think that on our third time around, the whole baby business would be old hat. Yet somehow there are still things that surprise me.
Maybe it's because I'm just less worried and obsessed about the millions of little things that drive new parents to distraction. This time, it was like I was seeing and remembering details clearly for the first time. Alex's arrival is burned in my mind much more vividly than those of his siblings.
Smells, in particular, really stuck. The scratchy facemask I had to wear. The newly-opened box of purple rubber gloves sitting on the counter. The soap with which the doctor scrubbed up for a full five minutes (or so it seemed, which was quite reassuring). The scent of hospital oxygen, and blood, and my own sweat.
Wasn't that yesterday?
Today Alex is a month old. I'm absolutely astonished by how much he's changed and grown, even though it's not like I haven't seen it all before.
He seems like a different baby in the morning from the little thing we swaddled up the night before. Every time I come home and see him again, I feel like I've been gone for weeks. His eyes open that much wider, and sparkle that much brighter... and he howls that much louder.
He lost a little weight the first couple of days, which isn't unusual (though that didn't stop Jen in her successful campaign to get herself and Alex sprung from the hospital a day early). By his checkup last week, he gained it back and then some nine pounds, two ounces.
The first pictures I took of him already look way out of date. That cute, perfect little acorn of a face is now a jiggly, chipmunk-cheeky mug, with the requisite mucous issues and a moderate case of baby acne. He's developed a bit of a tummy (accentuated with a umbilical stump that stubbornly refuses to fall out), while his thighs are well on track to reach sumo proportions by Christmas. And he's been looking around and flexing all his muscles for over a week now, making it just a little harder to simply hold and admire him for hours on end.
At the rate he seems to be growing, I can't help but be a little impatient for him to smile, to crawl, to start getting wise and slamming doors. But that's tempered by the fact that this'll be the last time down this particular path for us.
And I mean it this time.
Many of my coworkers knew I'd taken off for a new baby, but some were surprised to hear it was my third. "Yeah, he's the bonus baby," is my already tired line. "Buy two, get one free who knew?"
The most frequently asked question, of course, is, "Getting much sleep?" And the answer is usually no. It's a more entertaining answer, at least. But truth be told, the sleep deprivation is definitely one of those things we've simply learned to deal with, and as babies go, Alex does nod off for reasonably long stretches. More to the point, he wakes up less often than you'd expect.
Actually, Alex didn't pass the standard hearing test when he was born.
The doctor and nurses all said it was pretty common, especially in caesarian births, due to excessive fluid settling in the ear canal. While we were a little worried, the upside of the condition is that Alex didn't seem to be bothered by noise at all for quite a while. Zac and Katie could be screaming bloody murder right under his crib, and he'd keep right on sleeping, looking like an angel. The first couple of weeks, I was convinced he was completely deaf, with passing motorcycles and pot-lid drums eliciting absolutely no response.
He started getting startled recently, though, be it at a door closing or my barking at his siblings for some household disaster or another. And the shrieks and crashes of Katie and Zac's bouncing-off-the-wall adventures have now, occasionally, disturbed his sleep. He's still much less bothered by the sorts of things that would annoy other kids... but perhaps that's what you get for being the youngest kid.
Okay, so we were -- and are -- more than "a little worried" about his hearing. He has another hearing test on Saturday. But really, what can we do right now? I might be feeling the "veteran parent" thing a little too much, but I figure, he's probably fine. And whatever comes, we'll deal with it. That's all there is to it.
Jen's parents were supposed to have been here last month to meet our new baby. And to meet Danielle, Jen's niece, born three days later to her brother and his wife (also their third child).
But on Aug. 13, Jen's birthday, a little thing called Hurricane Charley arrived in Florida. And even though it came at the dangly state from the west, it still wreaked havoc on Daytona Beach. Jen's parents' condo was torn up when their patio window shattered, so they postponed their trip.
The day after they finally got their window fixed, Hurricane Frances came ashore, this time a near direct hit.
And this week it's Hurricane Ivan. It looks like my in-laws will be spared the worst of this storm, though, and hopefully they will actually get on their plane tomorrow.
It might be a bumpy ride.
If Hawaii is inexplicably and suddenly struck by a hurricane while they're here, I'll know who to blame.
When Katie was born on that incredible day that's now an unbelievable six years ago Jen and I were the first and only people in our respective, overlapping circles of friends to become parents. She was working for peanuts as a retail slave, I was utterly failing at being a college student.
While we were too overwhelmed to notice at the time, it was a pretty lonely life. Heading out for a bite to eat or catching a movie became a whole production, one we were reluctant to subject others to and one that others wisely avoided encouraging altogether. The friends we managed to hold onto meant a lot to us... but still, everything changed. We became different not better or worse, just different.
There was some novelty, I suppose, in becoming the collective parenting guinea pigs (or cautionary tale, depending on your perspective) for our friends, but really, only other parents will ever understand how engaging a hourlong conversation about poop can really be. We had to seek out these strange parent creatures: cousins, neighbors, regular faces at the park...
This year, though, we don't feel quite so alone anymore. We might be on our third (and did I mention last?) kid while they're only joining the club for the first time, but still. Finally, people who understand!
Donica and Jason, who I've known for over ten years, are having a baby. So are Lisa and Vince, right on schedule. One coworker has a six-month-old girl, and two other colleagues are six months along. There's Beth and Basil and their beautiful boy Beckett, too (though we're losing them back to the Mainland tomorrow). Heck, even my ex announced on this very site that she's pregnant and due in December.
Babies are busting out all over!
So this summer has definitely been the season of synergies.
We've been able to hang out with both our old neighbors (Nicole and Martin and their daughters Celeste and Natasha) and new neighbors (Jon and Annie and their sons Nathan and Noah). We've gotten together with my cousin Jennifer, and Katie and Zac play just wonderfully with Trevor and Alyssa. After moving out of their Manoa hideaway, Beth and Basil braved the long drive up to Mililani to see us, as did Lisa and Vince that same day. Simple gestures by people we know have allowed us to believe, if only for a moment, that we're not entirely losers or lepers.
We've been trying to get out, too, at least a little, to try and avoid the cabin fever I think we're somewhat prone to. We somehow made it to the Okinawan Festival and, the very next day, to dad's Labor Day picnic (and Alex, at three weeks, took it all like a champ). Jen, Katie and now Alex are going to church again (Zac can't sit still, so I just run errands with him for now). It's a heck of a drive, to be sure, but with Alex's baptism scheduled for Tuesday, you bet your sweet bippy we're showing face every week. Closer to home, I go for random walks around the block, with any ambulatory kid who cares to join me. I'm even deluding myself into thinking that I might get a mountain bike... and actually ride it this time. I'll probably need an obnoxious kiddie trailer to go with it, though.
Spending more time with friends and leaving the house once in a while. It's a bit late to be making resolutions, but maybe I did, anyway.
Alex has that wise look in his eyes that I remember being so startled to see in my daughter's eyes at six weeks. That photo had an honored spot on my desk at work!
Denise (September 17, 2004 5:20 AM)
aww, he is growing up fast! Honestly, it doesn't seem more than a few months since Zac was born, and now he's a running jumping talking head-thwacking little person. But maybe that just means we need to make more of an effort to see you guys :)
lisa (September 17, 2004 9:00 AM)
Congratulations, Ryan. I had no idea you folks had another babe. He's beautiful. Much aloha and many blessings.
Maggie (September 17, 2004 9:25 PM)
Hi guys - I heard about Alex when they announced his baptism at Mass this weekend (both at the St. Pius X Youth Mass and Sacred Heart Parish @ 5:30) Congratulations!
Stella (September 26, 2004 9:27 PM)
Congratulations to you, Jennifer, Katie and Zac! Thank you so very, very much for having the skill and time to share such heartening observations, thoughts, emotions and photos with the rest of us.
Mike Shiroma (September 27, 2004 10:23 AM)
Are Jai and I (okay, and Wayne too) the only people you know that *aren't* having kids? Just curious... Congrats nonetheless on a pack of good lookin' children.
Lusus Naturae (October 23, 2004 12:06 AM)
Congratulations on the very handsome baby Alex!!! :-) Katie and Zac are looking as cute as usual, too! :-)
Wendy (November 10, 2004 6:24 AM)
E kala mai! Comments have been disabled due to overwhelming abuse by spammers. Please click through to any of the video hosting services linked above to leave a public response, or feel free to send an e-mail. Mahalo!
© 1997-2008 Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: email@example.com · Created: 13 November 1997 · Last Modified: 14 January 2008