Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy birthday, Alex!

In the wee hours of Sunday, July 3, we welcomed the newest member of our family. A boy! A BOY! I can't think of anything luckier than having one of each. We named him Alexander David, after Sal's grandfather and my father. He is spectacular.

It was a very fast, very intense birth, and I hope to write about it soon while it's still fresh in my memory. But for right now, I think I only have the energy for photos. Many babies are sleepy little blobs in their first hours of life, but Alex was super alert from the start. He loves to gaze up at your face and look around the room, and he even seems to try lifting his head up. He seems so thoughtful and wise! Handsome as hell, too. How did we get TWO kids who look this good right outta the chute?!

He's also gigantic. Clocked in at 9 lbs, 2 oz, which explains why getting him out of my body absolutely clobbered me. It's only a pound and a half more than Mia weighed, but I ASSURE you that makes a significant difference to the whole, ah, "birth experience."

Proud papa and his son!

And here's Alex meeting his sister. Mia has been very excited about this whole thing for months, patting my belly to feel "bee-bee moo?" (baby move) and running around the house clutching his ultrasound pictures. Introducing her to the real deal was unforgettable. When I took him out of the bassinet and sat down to show her, she got a huge grin on her face and put her hand over her mouth. Then she walked up and showered him with kisses.

Now, the unfortunate part: I'm currently writing this from a parent room at the NICU, where Alex has been since early Monday because he has severe jaundice. He will be OK, but this has been a fairly miserable chapter for all involved. It was terrifying to have the visibly alarmed pediatrician enter my room and whisk way the little glass bassinet holding my baby. His bilirubin level was over 22, which is quite high. From what I can tell reading things on the internet (because that's always a good idea, right?) people begin to freak out about "high" bilirubin levels of 13 or 14. A level of 25 or 30 is when they start talking about blood transfusions and other scary things, so we were inching close to that, particularly since bilirubin levels rise in the first few days of a baby's life. In other words, we are grateful and lucky that they began treating it so aggressively so early.

So Alex went to the NICU, where he lays all day and night in one of those little blue-light aquariums. He's naked except for bandages and IVs and monitors all over his body, and a little mask covering the top half of his face. For two days (I think? I have lost all sense of time) I couldn't even hold him. Every time I pulled myself together to go visit him, I would walk in and not even be able to see him through the tears. Then later I feel bad, because I know there are far more woeful stories to come out of a NICU than dumb ol' jaundice. But seeing my son like that and being unable to scoop him up and hold him close is one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced.

However! Things are looking up. Alex's bilirubin levels have dropped to a far less worrisome number - it was 13.1 this morning. He gets to come out of the tank for feedings, so every few hours I get a chance to kiss and cuddle that sweet boy. And yesterday (well, 2 o'clock this morning) I even nursed him for a bit before we switched to a bottle of pumped milk. I also take his temperature and change his diaper (no small feat amid the tangle of wires and tubes) (oh, and yikes, there's a penis! also new diaper-changing territory for this mom.) The most important thing for him right now is to eat and poop, eat and poop, eat and poop, since that's how his body expels the bilirubin. And may I please just say, my son is already a world-class pooper. He pooped on the delivery table, he pooped four times our first night together, and he poops nearly every time I feed him. So he is definitely doing his part to get the hell out of here.

I find it amusing that my last blog post was basically a pep talk to myself over anxieties about introducing a new baby to our already hectic household. But at this moment I'd give anything to only have to worry about sleep, food and entertainment for two-under-2-plus-Chickens! We just have to be very patient. And remind ourselves that in matter of days we will be able to heave a sigh of relief, put this precious boy in a car and bring him home.