Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jonquil Jog 5k

I ran my second 5k yesterday in 28 minutes 16 seconds, taking almost 2 minutes off my previous 5k time. Considering I was sick the entire previous week, I'm pretty damn happy with that time.

Next time I have to find a 10k as I get ready for the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Nalgene Bottles, Bisphenol A and REI

It has become hard to avoid the news over Bisphenol A (BPA) lately (here, here, here and many, many more). As an avid water drinker — in addition to beer, of course! — I have sworn off plastic disposable water bottles for a while now and mainly used my trusty Nalgene water bottles. Made of lexan (polycarbonate) it is nearly indestructible and was always with me on hikes.

No more Nalgene bottles for me, however. With the recent news of Bisphenol A, I swore off my old-school Nalgene bottles (at last count, I think we had 6 of various forms in the house) and went to REI to buy a new bisphenol A free water bottle. Here's where things get interesting: REI has voluntarily removed all bottles containing BPA from their shelves! According to their staff they are only selling BPA free bottles, predominantly from CamelBack. Cool, nice job REI, I'm glad to see you out ahead of this issue.

But wait, there's more! If you bought any BPA containing bottles from REI under an REI membership, you can return them for a full refund! Sadly, many of my bottles predate my membership, but at least one bottle is being returned for a refund. Two more bottles, neither of which appear on my membership purchasing history, have REI labels printed on the bottle, so I hope to return these as well so I can replace them with new BPA free bottles.

REI, once again, you prove what a great company you are. Your customer friendly policies will have me coming back and paying (sometimes) high prices again and again.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Home With Maya - 2 Weeks In

We've been home with Maya for a 2 weeks now. She's sleeping very well, allowing both of us some much needed rest, though not as much as we had before she came along. All in all, she's been a great baby. We've taken her on a few brief outings (Ikea, Muss & Turner's, Costco, Atlantic Station, REI and, of course, Babies R' Us). I even managed to get Steph to relax enough to take her out for dinner twice.

I started right back with Operation Boot Camp on Monday after we came home from the hospital. I have missed a few days due to being really tired, the crazy pollen count and, now, to a head cold. I've also gone back to work, but it has been an odd transition. Steph is still not allowed to drive, so I have to take her and Maya out any time there is something we need to do (get a birth certificate, etc.). So the work week was tough. But Maya, Steph and the dogs have been pretty cooperative with me, allowing me to work at home with minimal disruptions so far. Plus, its always nice to see Maya during the day when I take a break!

This week is the big test: A 2 day trip to NJ for work. Steph will be able to drive again, so she and Maya will have freedom to go do whatever it is that ladies do. I'm a bit more concerned about how well I'm going to handle the transition...

Monday, April 07, 2008

Maya's Birthday Box o' Beer

I'm putting together a list of beers to lay down in the cellar for the next 21 years (give or take a few days) to share with Maya when she's old enough to legally imbibe. (I'm getting nothing out of this. I swear. Its all for her. Yup, it will pain me to drink these in 21 years... or 18 if current legislation in 7 states has its way...)

Here's what I have on the to-buy list so far:
Of course, if anything interesting should come out this year, that will probably get added to the beer box, too. Hopefully work travel will pick up soon, many of these beers, particularly the Dogfish Head brews, aren't available in Georgia due to our 14% ABV cap on beers...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Maya's First Night at Home

Last night was Maya's first spent at home. We were prepared for a difficult evening with little sleep, however, we got more sleep than we expected! Maya was a very good girl last night, allowing us both to get a reasonable amount of sleep. I managed to get 6+ hours between diaper changes and comforting Maya in the middle of the night. Steph actually managed 4 - 5 hours of sleep Steph between feedings.

The dogs met Maya for the first time last night. Java was quite curious about the little squirming, crying thing in our arms. Lucy wanted nothing to do with Maya. And then Maya started crying. Java started barking. They had a little chorus going, but the tune wasn't something you could dance to. Nor would it become a number 1 hit anytime soon. Then the cutest thing happened. We were getting ready for bed. Maya was swaddled in her crib when she began crying. Java immediately jumped up, ran to her room and paced around, worried about Maya! He was so cute! I think he's going to be her little protector.

Tomorrow we're seeing the pediatrician for Maya's first appointment. Since we're not going to feed Maya formula we plan on getting a breast pump from the hospital tomorrow, as well. Steph can pump and put away milk which will allow me to take on some of the feedings with Maya. I hope this will allow Steph to get the rest she needs to recover fully from surgery while making the best use of my paternity leave from work. Of course, I am also anxious to be able to take Maya out for a walk or a trip to the store sometime soon while Steph catches a well deserved nap. Unless I have a food supply that is mobile, i.e. a bottle of milk, that's not going to be a possibility.

Once I go back to work, we're going to have to find a schedule that works for us with respect to feedings and sleep so that we are both able to function... we have a week or so to figure that one out. Since I work at home, we'll also need to figure out how I can find the time and space I need to be fully functional with Mom and a new baby at home. Perhaps it is time to build an office in the basement...?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Maya's First Day Home

Steph and Maya came home today, yay! The dogs are down at Wag-A-Lot in daycare at the moment, but they'll come home soon to meet the newest addition to the family. That should be... interesting.

I can see the scene unfolding in my mind's eye: Java takes one look, a quick sniff and thinks "WTF is this little thing? It smells of baby powder! It sure is loud, too!" Lucy, on the other hand, will get a worried look on her face as she realizes that she is still at the bottom of the hierarchy in our home. Then she'll run away, tail tucked firmly between her legs, never wanting to meet the little squirming thing in the cute yellow onesie.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A Baby Story...

People have been asking what happened during Maya's birth that made it "not as planned", so here's the whole sordid tale. Most of it was great, just the last few hours or so where things went south quickly...

Around 6 AM Steph woke up with regular contractions. I woke up shortly after and we discussed her contractions before I left the house for a life insurance physical. By the time I returned, the contractions were coming regularly, every 10 - 12 minutes or so. This is usually referred to as "early labor".

I called work and let them know I was taking the day off to be with Steph in case this was "it". We then headed down to Memorial Park for a walk along Peachtree Creek with the dogs. Slow, steady contractions continued as we walked. The dogs definitely knew something was going on, you could just tell by the way they were acting, but of course they had no idea what was yet to come.

We then made a run up to Muss & Turner's to see my cousin Todd (aka "Muss"), his wife and one of their children over lunch. Throwing caution to the wind I had the M&T version of a sloppy joe and some fries. Good stuff indeed, especially since I haven't eaten that kind of food in more than a month! (Yes, Greg, Molly, et. al, I ate unhealthy, fattening food and I enjoyed it!) We had a leisurely lunch before heading down to the OB for an previously scheduled appointment. At this point we are indeed in early labor, and Steph was 1.5 cm dilated. The doctor advised us we're probably be parents in 24 hours or less...

Apparently, much less than 24 hours, as we would soon find out.

We called our doula to let her know our progress and headed home to labor. Things started progressing quickly. Contractions became stronger and closer together over the next few hours. We were in contact with our doula a few times as we waited for the magical "contractions spaced 5 minutes apart consistently for 1 hour" which signifies the change into active labor and the time at which we're supposed to call the doctor's answering service and head to the hospital.

About 20 minutes into timing contractions which were about 5 minutes apart, Steph was having real pain. My wife is tough, she has put up with a lot of painful things in her life, but she was really struggling. I was at a loss for what to do to help her. Feeling pretty helpless I called our doula. She gave me some advice to have Steph labor in the tub which we did, but the pain continued to grow and the timing of Steph's contractions grew shorter, coming every 3 - 4 minutes. I felt completely helpless, there was nothing I could do to relieve her pain. Both of us were in tears at this point. The dogs felt equally out of control. Java was barking and Lucy had a very worried look on her face and tail between the legs. Oy!

I called the doula again for advice. She questioned our technique for measuring the timing of contractions and questioned the amount of pain that Steph was dealing with. Neither of us felt as if she was being helpful or truly engaged with us at this point. When we both stated our intention to go to the hospital, she gave us a choice: she could meet us at Piedmont Hospital (~45 miles from her home) or we could call after Steph was "checked" by the doctor. The question was clearly loaded, she did not feel as if we were as far along in labor as we were. The question was put in such a manner so as to make us choose the latter option, which we did. She's the expert, after all. We were made to feel as if we were most certainly being overly concerned and would probably be told to go home once we arrive at the ER. We were both made to feel completely stupid.

We headed to the hospital as quickly as I could get Steph dressed and in the car. All together that took 45 minutes, 30 minutes longer than it should have. Steph, being herself, was apparently hanging up towels we had used and depositing plates in the sink on the way out the door. Always straightening something up, I swear. The car ride was horrible, thankfully its only 4 miles! Steph was writhing in pain next to me with each contraction. I was trying to keep it together, driving through the tears and trying to ensure we actually made it to the hospital without any accidents. We dropped the car with the valet at the ER and Steph was wheeled up to the maternity ward, checked in and in a hospital bed within 5 minutes. The staff at the hospital was great and efficient!

Steph was close to 6 cm dilated and having contractions about every 3 minutes, we were definitely in active labor! And we've been receiving very bad advice from our doula. I called the doula and told her to get her ass down to the hospital IMMEDIATELY. She replied it would take her 60 - 90 minutes! When I told Steph, the hospital staff laughed and said we'd be parents long before the doula ever arrived. What a comforting thought...

Labor continues, doula or not, so Steph and I had to be a two man team. I was working with Steph to keep her breathing steadily through an oxygen mask while the staff gave her an IV and hooked her up to various monitors. The doctor on call, whom we had seen earlier in the day, came in and was clearly not pleased with the situation, our lack of doula and my retelling of her advice. Not pleased, at all. (The next day, we had a 30 - 40 minute open ended discussion with him about our choice to use a doula as well as things his practice can do to serve pregnant women more effectively. It was very nice of him to spend that time with us.) Quickly we progressed to Steph being fully dilated and ready to give birth. On the instruction of the maternity ward staff and doctor we started really pushing, trying to have a natural birth as we had both intended. Steph had always intended to try birthing Maya without drugs, I think she was beginning to reconsider that decision. However, we were way too late for that. After 30 minutes or so of actively trying to give birth, Maya was struggling, her heart rate was decelerating and she was clearly in distress. (We'd find out later that the placenta had abrupted, i.e. prematurely pulled away from the uterine wall, causing distress for the baby. Had we waited at home any longer, the outcome might have been quite different.)

The nurses quickly gave Steph drugs to stop her contractions, unplugged all of the wires from various monitors and in no time Steph was whisked into an emergency C-section. While we had both intended for me to be there with her during the surgery if possible, due to the emergent nature and the need for immediate sedation, I was not allowed to be with her. She was rolled into the OR for sedation and surgery.

I was left in a room. Alone. Crying.

I had no idea what was going to happen to my wife or my baby. And there was nobody who could tell me.

15 minutes passed, it seemed like an eternity.

During this time I managed to compose myself enough to send an emergency text message to my cousin asking for help. I finally got myself together enough to call him as well. Todd hopped in his car and headed my way. This was the longest 15 minutes in my life sitting alone, without anyone there to support me in my time of need. Nurses came in and out of the room where I was alternating between sitting alone crying and pacing a hole in the floor.

Connie, one of the nurses, came out to get me. We had a baby! I was so stressed out I almost forgot to ask her if we had a boy or girl! Connie helped me get dressed up to go into the OR and lead me in. Seeing Steph laid out on the table, cut open with people still working on her made my heart sink. That was a very scary sight, the image is one I don't think I will ever get out of my head. It was only then that I learned that she was OK and would be out of surgery soon.

Then I saw Maya! She was being tended to, cleaned up and having her APGAR scores checked, etc. I stood there in shocked silence, camera in hand, gazing at my newborn daughter. I continued crying. I could barely get myself together enough to take a picture. I didn't say anything until someone asked me what her name was. Somehow I managed to get out "Maya Simone" before falling back into my dumbfounded silence.

Maya was ready to be moved to the transitional nursery so she should could finish being cleaned up, weighed, measured and have her footprints taken. (Side note: I have an extra set of her footprints which I will put to good use soon... more on that some other time.) She was put into a bassinet and I got to wheel her out of the OR and down the hall with two nurses in tow.

As soon as we exited the OR I looked up to see our doula. We exchanged few words, but my message was clear: "Go home, your services are not needed." Steph had already been through most of a vaginal birth and a C-section without the support of the person we hired for support! What else could she do? How much more bad advice did I really need?

While waiting on Steph to come out of surgery I made some important calls to let family know what was going on. Shortly afterward, Steph came out of the OR and into a recovery room. I got to give her the good news about Maya! I showed her the pictures I had taken kissed her and told her she'd get to meet Maya soon. My cousin, Todd, showed up shortly thereafter. Finally I had some support! I was so relieved to have a shoulder to cry on. He stayed with us for a few hours to help with Maya - Todd is a master swaddler! - and be there for both Steph and I.

In the end, everything turned out OK, even if not exactly as we had planned. Mom and baby are healthy and happy. While the experience was not as planned or expected, there were some things that the doula could not have changed, specially the abrupted placenta. However, the doula failed to deliver services that were promised. We decided to request that all fees be returned to us. This was a conversation neither of us was looking forward to.

After consulting the doula's contract this morning to understand our rights, I spoke to her. I was unimpressed by her unwillingness to negotiate with me on a refund of her fees for her negligent behavior and lack of support during labor. After an unsatisfactory and argumentative response from the doula, I called the owner of the doula service directly in order to express my dismay.

The owner and head doula was much nicer and more accommodating. She listened to my concerns, gave me a chance to share my recollection of the events on Wednesday night and recognized that our doula did not provide acceptable service. She also indicated that she had already discussed our birth with the doula and given her a "talking to" about the way in which she presented our choices with respect to coming to the hospital. With the help of a labor timeline guided by my cell phone records and photographs, we have been able to document exactly what happened during Steph's labor, when we contacted the doula, etc. Based on our discussion and the details provided the owner of the service has agreed to refund all fees associated with Maya's birth.

We are quite appreciative of the owner's willingness to work with us and her recognition that we did not receive the quality of service that she expects from her doulas. In deference to her and the services her company offers, I have chosen not to name either the doula or the doula service.

I don't know how differently the evening might have gone had we received the expected service, but I am still very happy with the outcome: a beautiful little girl who has already stolen my heart.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

24 hours in...

I'm exhausted, but running on adrenaline for the moment. It has been a full day of family and friends coming to visit us and meet Maya while I learn how to change diapers, swaddle Maya and generally try to keep her happy. Of course, I don't have boobs, so I can only do so much at this point...

I've had 3 hours sleep since 6 AM yesterday, so I'm headed home to be with the dogs and catch some shut eye while Steph and Maya spend another night in the hospital. Steph will get some rest with Maya in the nursery between feedings. Of course I'll be back first thing in the morning to keep everyone company...

Who is Maya Named For?

People are already asking how we came up with Maya's names, so here's a little info to chew on...

Though I am firmly atheist, or what Richard Dawkins would call a "strong atheist" denying the existence of any god or gods, and Steph is agnostic, we both enjoy the cultural traditions of Judaism. We wish to raise Maya in a home with respect for our cultural traditions.

These bullet points from Wikipedia on Humanistic Judaism represent our views quite well:
  • People possess the power and responsibility to shape their own lives independent of supernatural authority;
  • Ethics and morality should serve human needs, and choices should be based upon consideration of the consequences of actions rather than pre-ordained rules or commandments; and,
  • Jewish history, like all history, is a purely human and natural phenomenon. Biblical and other traditional texts are the products of human activity and are best understood through archaeology and other scientific analysis.
In the cultural traditions of Ashkenazi Jews parents name their children after deceased relatives. However, we do not reuse the name of that relative, only the first initial. Following this tradition, we have named Maya after a few prominent people in our lives:

Maya is for Steph's father, Mitchell Levine. As you may recall from our first Hike For Discovery, we hiked in honor of Steph's dad who lost his battle with myeloma in November, 1995. Maya has a number of different meanings, the one I like best was provided by one of my coworkers. In Hindu culture, Maya means "ultimate truth". Simone is for my maternal grandparents, Sue and Samuel Jacobs, and Steph's maternal grandmother Sadie Buchman. Simone comes from the Hebrew word for "loud". We are already seeing her live up to that name!

Introducing... Maya Simone Saxe!

It's official, I'm a daddy!

Maya Simone Saxe was born last night, 4/2/2008, at 8:45 PM. Although her birth was not at all what we expected — the emergency C-section was definitely not part of the birth plan, nor was the doula showing up after the birth — both mom and Maya are doing great. I've put up a Flickr photostream for Maya where I will be pushing pictures over the next few days.