Monday, August 28, 2006


The mantra of lactation consultants is that one must avoid nipple confusion at all costs, at least in the case of newborns. This means that the introduction of bottles, pacifiers and any other objects other than the mother’s breast designed to be placed in your child’s mouth to stop them from crying are strongly frowned upon. No one really says what the repercussions of being nipple confused is, but the implication is no good and will invariably involve some sort of therapy in adulthood.

Now we really want Owen to have nipple clarity and had decided that we would not introduce a pacifier for at least one month and delay introducing a bottle until sometime after that, but then came his third night home from the hospital. For reasons that still elude us, Owen decided that the hours between midnight and four in the morning should be spent either breast feeding or screaming. We tried walking. We tried swaddling. We tried rocking. We tried singing. We tried various combinations of all of these and nothing seemed to help. Finally, at 3:30 am Elaine decided to go boil a pacifier. Allen wanted to hold off and desperately searched on-line for some alternative remedy, but by the time Elaine returned with the sterilized pacifier Allen had given up and offered the forbidden fruit to our son.

Which he summarily and immediately rejected.

To be honest, we hadn’t considered that as a possible outcome. The pacifier was our nuclear option which would insure peace but may also involve quite a bit of fallout. Having weighed the pros and cons and decided to go for it, we just assumed it would work. As our son spit it out and continued to wail and scream we just looked at each other, horrified, and contemplating what to do next.

Eventually, Owen fell asleep and we got a few hours as well. The next day we wondered about our folly and what it said about us as parents that we had caved so quickly and to no purpose. Allen called his friend Nabeel who has a 1 ½ year old and asked his opinion about pacifiers. While Nabeel maintained they held out for three weeks (though his wife Megan called the next day and corrected him that the initial introduction was more like five days) their philosophy was that given you can’t boil their fingers, a sterilized pacifier isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


We intended to have a lengthy entry detailing Owen’s homecoming the day it happened. Unfortunately, since it didn’t happen until 10 pm on Wednesday, August 23rd, we put it off thinking we’d have more energy later. Yes, yes, our naiveté really is quite endearing.

Anyway, in addition to Allen’s nose, hair and eyes, Owen seems to have inherited his Daddy’s blood type. Unfortunately, this means that he doesn’t have his Mommy’s which meant that Owen was prone to developing jaundice. Sure enough, the eyes and nose that everyone thinks resemble Allen’s started turning yellow.

Standard care for newborn jaundice is phototherapy, which for Owen meant either being put in a "bili-bed" where his body is encased in a gown and he’s under lit from below, or being placed in something akin to a tanning bed and wearing little baby goggles. Given Owen’s reaction, neither is particularly pleasant from a baby’s point of view. Since he wasn’t embracing the standard of care, he wasn’t really improving that much and so the powers that be were discussing the very real possibility of not discharging him until Thursday or Friday.

We had mixed emotions with regard to this because while we both wanted to get Owen home, the idea of another night of having the wonderfully helpful nurses around…. The latest Elaine could stay at the hospital was Thursday and so we both felt strongly that Owen needed to leave by Thursday. Meanwhile, Allen’s softball team’s playoff game was scheduled for Wednesday night, and since we’d already spent most of the day in the hospital, he thought it wouldn’t be too terrible for Owen and Mommy to stay over for one more night and for Daddy to get to play with Bad Air Daze.

Eventually, Owen finished his treatments and his bilirubin blood count appeared to be in order, but the phototest was still above the acceptable range, so the hospital had to rerun the blood test to determine if he could be released. They finally decided at 3 pm (5 hours after the usual discharge time) that he could go home.

However, because of all the phototherapy, Owen wasn’t able to have another procedure take place, a fact that the nurses forgot until we reminded them. Scheduling circumcisions is not as easy task (which I suppose might be seen as a good thing) and Owen’s was all the more complicated as the doctor that was planning on doing it had to perform three emergency C-sections that same afternoon.

This presented a bit of a moral dilemma, because do you really want a doctor that’s performed three back-to-back surgeries to be anywhere near your son’s genitalia at seven o’clock at night? Moreover, do you want your son’s first night at home to be after such a traumatic day? Now, with all the waiting, Allen missed his softball game (and without their captain, Bad Air Daze lost 21 - 19), but hopefully things will have calmed down enough next week for him to play in the season-ending "Beer Cup".

In the end, Owen went home with us at 10 pm on the 23rd of August and slept for the first time in our room. And while it wasn’t entirely peaceful, it certainly was emotional, and it was definitely a very special moment that we will cherish the rest of our lives.

(click here to see the photos from Owen's first few days in the hospital, and here to see pictures of him at home)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Owen Grady Fawcett

Yesterday (August 20th, 2006), at 2:50 pm Owen Grady Fawcett joined our family. Defying the dire predictions from our sonogram, he was 7 lbs 15 ozs, and 20 1/2 inches long. He was born via Cesarean section, and mom and baby are both doing well.

Our good friend Nabeel over at Start-Up Dad got the scoop with the first picture of Owen online, and a day later, here's a bit more of the story. If you don't want to read me droning on about all the details, you can skip to the good stuff at the bottom of the post were there is a link to all the pictures.

On Friday, Elaine went to the doctor's office, and she said that Elaine was only dilated 1 cm (which was 1 cm less than the previous week!), so she went ahead and scheduled an induction for Tuesday, August 22nd. At this point we were pretty convinced the baby was never going to come on its own, all the crazy new due dates the sonograms had indicated had long since come and gone, and having already been on the edges of our seats for over three weeks, Tuesday couldn't come soon enough.

So on Saturday, Elaine and her mom went to see 'Little Miss Sunshine' and I took Elaine's dad sailing with Don and Brad & Marlo. We all had lovely afternoons, I'm told the movie was great, and the wind and weather were perfect for a wonderful sail. That evening we all converged on Mom's house for grilled salmon and peach & blueberry cobbler. However, right as the salmon was coming off of the grill at about 7:15, Elaine's water broke!

We took a little time to decide that it actually must of been her water breaking, and then called the doctor's office. The advice nurse told us to have Elaine lay on her side for an hour and call back to tell them if the towel under her was soaked. So we had Elaine lie down, and I started wolfing down some delicious bbq salmon. A few minutes later, the nurse called back and told us that the doctor wanted us to just head right in to the hospital. I inhaled some cobbler, we rushed down to our place to pick up the bags, drove over to the hospital timing Elaine's contractions at about 7 minutes apart, and checked in a little after 9:00 pm.

The resident that examined Elaine found that she was still only dilated 1 cm. Then she preformed several tests to verify that Elaine's water had indeed broken, but they all were coming up negative, so she talked to the attending physician, and he requested that Elaine walk the halls for two hours with a pad to try to verify the presence of amniotic fluid. This of course annoyed Elaine to no end, since she clearly knew that her water had broken, one of the test was ridiculously painful, and each hour she had to walk around was another hour without any pain medication to help with the contractions.

At 12:15 am, after walking the halls for an hour, we decide to go back to the labor & delivery room and tell them Elaine wasn't going to walk the halls any more. Her contractions were 4 minutes apart, lasting over a minute, and becoming very painful. Another resident checked her pad, and immediately could tell that Elaine's water had indeed broken, so they finally officially admitted her. They gave her some medication for pain and nausea, which helped some and at least allowed her to rest between contractions, and measured her cervix at 3 cms. At about 3 am, after Elaine's blood work came back, they finally gave her an epidural to help with the pain. This really helped Elaine sleep, but I was pretty much up for the night.

As a little aside, I really can't imagine how women that go through child birth without any medication can manage it. I've heard plenty of arguments for natural child birth that I won't link to here, because I don't want to start any debates about it in this forum, but for Elaine, the epidural was amazing. It took away all the pain, and let her actually sleep, saving her energy for what was to come. Before the epidural, I'd be watching the contraction monitor and it felt like riding a roller coaster. We'd ride up to the top of each peak with Elaine's vice like grip squeezing my hand, and I'd desperately watch for a slight dip in the monitor that would indicate her pain was about to subside. Each contraction was a traumatic event that seemed to stretch out time, and the thought of continuing this for 15 more hours was unimaginable. After the epidural, the pain went away, and I'd watch the same contractions on the monitor, and it's as if they were gentle waves that simply were rocking Elaine to sleep. She was relaxed, and the contractions could do their work without Elaine tensing up and resisting them. That being said, there were certainly times when the epidural would ware off, and I am incredibly impressed with how well Elaine did throughout the whole experience, I couldn't be prouder of her.

Around 7:00 am, the attending physician came in and found Elaine to be dilated 5 cms. He said that the contractions Elaine was experiencing were coming in overlapping waves that didn't let her fully recover between contractions, so they were not being as effective as they could be. He adjusted her pitocin dosage and watched as her contractions spaced out into a more effective rhythm.

By 9:00 am Elaine was dilated 7 cms, but after that things began to stall. At 12:30 pm, the new attending physician checked and found she was only 8 cms. The contractions were strong and in a good pattern, so he said if things were going to progress, she should have been dilating another centimeter each hour. He gave us the choice between going right in for a C-section, or trying for another hour, and we decided to try for another hour. At 1:30 pm, Elaine was still only 8 cms, so they began prepping for the Cesarean section. I went to the recovery room to get dressed in scrubs while they took Elaine to the O.R. to prep her for surgery. After she was prepped, they brought me into the O.R. and sat by Elaine's head as they began the operation.

It wasn't long before I saw a little purple cone-headed creature emerge from behind the screen at 2:50 pm. They suctioned out his airways, and as he began to cry my tears joined him. He quickly turned form purple to pink, and after the pediatrician checked him out and the nurse cleaned up his poop and swaddled him, I held my baby for the first time. They still need to finish the operation, so for the next twenty minutes I held Owen near Elaine's head so she could see him, and bonded with my son. It's hard to describe the emotions of holding your child for the first time, but there is something very intense and primal about it. The same instincts that helped our distant ancestors protect their offspring in the wild are with us today, and as I held Owen and looked into his eyes I was overcome with feelings of love and an urge to protect this helpless little guy from all the dangers of the world.

After they sewed up Elaine, they put Owen on her chest and mom and baby were together again. They wheeled her out to the recovery room, and both of Owen's grandmothers were there waiting with tears in their eyes, smiles on their faces, and cameras in hand.

I'll leave the story here for now, and let the pictures that follow and the many phone calls with family and friends document the rest of the day. I'm off to hold my son...

click here to see all the pictures.

(Note: some of the baby pictures are only viewable by friends and family. In order to see these pictures, you need to have a flickr account, and I need to mark you as one of my friends or family contacts. To sign up for a flickr account (it's free), click here, then if you already have a Yahoo! account, sign in with your user name and password, if not, then click on the "sign up" link. Once you're logged into your account click here to view my profile, and in the upper right hand portion of the page click on "add allen fawcett as a contact." On the next page, check the "Mark as a friend? (optional)" or "Mark as a family? (optional)" check boxes and then click the "ok" button.)

click here to see mom's pictures.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Still Waiting...

Long walks, speed bumps, bribery, we're trying everything we can think of to convince the baby it's time to come out, but so far none of it is working. Last night we promised the baby ice cream if it would just be born, and it responded with some vigorous kicking, but resolutely stayed inside. Then we tried to convince the baby that it should come out now and not risk a lifetime of mommy resenting it for subjecting her to an extra week of pregnancy, but I think the baby's rate of time preference is pretty high and it's willing to give up an awful lot of future utility for a few more days of fetal bliss. This morning we had another doctors appointment, and she said that Elaine was dilated 2 centimeters. Then she tried to 'stir things up', which I'm not sure is an official medical procedure, but with any luck it will help move things along. I know lots of you are hoping the baby will be here soon too, so if you have any helpful suggestions or stories, be they humorous or serious, feel free to relay them in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hot and Heavy

As the temperatures here in DC are climbing up over the 100 degree mark, we have the results in from the latest sonogram, and the news is big. The technician estimated that the baby is already about 9 pounds! Now the reliability of these sonogram based weight estimates is somewhat questionable, and we can add another layer of doubt with the technician's somewhat uncertain metric to english units conversion, but given all the other hints along the way, we're taking this as confirmation of a big addition to our family. Needless to say, Elaine is not terribly thrilled with being 9 months pregnant with a 9 pound Fawcett baby in the midst of one of the worst Washington heat waves in recent memory, but I'm not sure she's quite ready for the alternative. Elaine's Mom is flying into town on Sunday, so right now we're just hoping that both the baby and Elaine are able to stay inside until then.