Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One Week to Go!

I just told my nurse that I knew I should post something because it's Tuesday, but I've run out of ways to say the same thing every week. She laughed and said that if she was writing, she'd just say, "Ditto," and be done. I'm not sure that's a workable solution for me, but getting bored with writing the same things every Tuesday is a pretty good problem to have.

Today everything was basically the same. I've officially gotten good at accepting that the measurements don't matter that much, but it's also a lot easier now because the risks of preterm birth are smaller. We're down to the final stretch... just over a week away from the ultimate goal of 34 weeks, and all signs suggest we'll reach it. Obviously 37 would be even better, but once we get to 34 we're outside of the window for most all significant problems we could have faced had Tate been born when we originally thought.

This week life has veered slightly back towards normal. I'm allowed to sit up and move around a little more, and Kevin takes me for a wheelchair ride every afternoon which gives me a little time outside of our lovely hallway. I've spent the past two days picking out clothes for Tate since we have nowhere near enough, and last night I entertained the night nurses with glow bracelets (which they actually wore all night long!). If you take out the hospital and the wheelchair, it's been a pretty normal week... picking out baby stuff and laughing with new friends. It's still different than what I always imagined this time would be like, but I don't mind so much anymore that this will be our story. There are some pretty awesome parts that wouldn't have been there if I'd gotten my way.

Soon life will change again. Before we know it, I'll be home, and not too long after that we'll finally get to meet Tate. Life at the hospital will be a distant memory, except for when we come back to visit the women we've grown to love who've kept us safe for so long. We have so much to be thankful for and even more to look forward to... only one week to go!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Four weeks ago, I picked up a cookie cake at the mall. On it, was the simple, unpunctuated declaration that Tate was 28. The cookie company people probably didn't realize that 28 was in reference to weeks rather than years, and they certainly didn't realize just how exciting it was. That day was one that I will never forget. Everything else seemed far away, but that day we celebrated that Tate's brain and several other vital organs were developmentally at a point where a lot of major risks of premature birth had passed.

From that day, the milestone was 32 weeks. That would represent the point where just about everything aside from his lungs was developed. As recently as last week, we thought that today might have to be more about a tiny boy hooked up to machines fighting to grow rather than another celebration of a boy that we haven't met. I still can't quite believe it, but according to the cake (again lacking punctuation worthy of the excitement), Tate is 32 weeks old. I won't forget today either. Two out of three milestones down. We celebrated with Chuy's and that big chocolate cake complete with a rainbow.

On to another day. Like always, we have to continue a day at a time. That final milestone of 35 weeks looks and feels more possible than at any point in the last 7 weeks, but we aren't going to take anything for granted. Getting to today is just another of many in a long string of amazing blessings.

Things I'm Thankful for Today (Other than 32 weeks):
1. Tasty, cheap cakes from Costco.
2. Getting to share today's celebration with the nurses. They deserve more than just cake.
3. A quiet week (so far) of being on call at work.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Bit of a Rainbow

As always, this morning I had my weekly sonogram. It should have been quick because the doctor did a more in-depth one last week, but I got "lucky". A new nurse and a student nurse were here to observe, and since I was the only person scheduled for today my doctor took a little more time than usual explaining everything to them. I could have done without the extra eyes, but it did mean an extra picture and more time watching Tate. I guess it was a decent trade off.

This week the news is good. Tate was great as always, and we got to watch him swallowing (which gave him the hiccups... not his favorite). He was also wide awake and wiggly as opposed to his normal early morning sleepiness which made things a little more fun. The doctor was encouraged by all of my measurements too. No one knows why, but things are actually looking visibly better. At this point, the general consensus seems to be that we're going to safely make it past 34 weeks and head home still waiting for Tate to arrive, but even if we don't, tomorrow we'll hit 32 weeks and enter the zone of relative safety. Chances are now good that our son will be born healthy. That's amazing.

Tomorrow we're going to celebrate Tate's latest milestone with lots of yummy junk food, but for now I get to keep waiting. We're getting so close...

Not his most photogenic moment, but he's certainly getting big!

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Other Boys

Many of you know that for the past two summers I've gotten to hang out with two super cool preteen boys, Max and Patrick. I met my precious Patrick at church back when he was just a bouncy kindergartner, obsessed with pizza and Spongebob, and I've been blessed to watch him grow into a fabulous fifth grader who now prefers drawing and Pokemon but still loves cheese pizza as much as always. Over the years of working with him, I also got to know his parents and his awesome big brother, so when his mom emailed me one spring asking if I knew anyone who would want to be their summer babysitter/tutor, the answer was easy: me! For two years now I've gotten to drive the boys around, attempt to make them do school work, and feed them lots of junk food, and they in turn entertained me with their witty humor and kept me from going insane from boredom during my time away from school. It has been the best job in the world.

We love the Pipers and are thankful every day for what their friendship has meant to us over the past few years, so yesterday we were heartbroken to hear that my dear friend Ann and her sweet boys had lost their husband and father, Matt. It's hard to swallow because it makes no sense and feels very unfair, especially considering some of the other trials their family has dealt with lately. This is yet another time that I wonder where God's goodness is in a hard situation, but I take comfort in knowing that somehow this is part of his good plan. He's still there. Our friends are not alone. We don't understand why this had to happen, but we know there is still hope.

Today we are thankful that our precious boy, Tate, is still safe, but we ache for Ann and her boys, who I love like my own. Today our prayers are with the Pipers, and we ask that you join us in praying for their comfort and peace in the midst of this storm.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


We met the very first day that we were both in College Station. She was a tall, quiet, beautiful girl from Louisiana. She was at A&M on scholarship studying Petroleum Engineering. I was a tall, shy, goofy looking guy from Southeast Texas. I was at A&M on mostly my parent’s dime studying Computer something. We didn’t talk much, though we did end up seeing a lot of each other that first year at school. It wasn’t that we set out to see each other; it was incidental contact. She became good friends with my twin sister. My sister and I shared both a car and a residence, so I had to see that beautiful girl quite often. Revisionists’ history says I was pretty mean that year. I don’t recall such things.

A year or so down the line, a boy from Laredo was in the picture for my sister. Adrian wasn’t around quite as much with Karla being so occupied, but I still saw her somewhat often. Over the span of Christmas break our junior year, we started seeing quite a bit of each other even though. Classes were out. Movies needed to be watched, and cheesecake needed to be made. Just before we both left for Christmas, it worked out that a group of people was whittled down to just the two of us. We went to see some Christmas lights and then I got to buy her some ice cream. By the time we got back from Christmas break, we stepped it up to dinner at the Cotton Patch CafĂ© and Putt-Putt. The next few years flew by. We watched lots of bad movies. She took a job in Hearne while I finished up school and moved here to Dallas. I asked her to marry me on a poorly planned April Friday a few months later, and we were married that July in a chapel less than a mile from where we first met.

Here we are now. Living in the Dallas area. Six years of marriage. Bought a house. Adopted an awesome mutt. Done a good bit of traveling. Eaten out way too much. There have been a lot of highs and lows. We’ve both changed a lot since those early days in College Station. I love my wife more than anyone in this world. She is a smart, funny, beautiful person. She is amazing with kids. She may be quiet in a room full of adults, but give her a bunch of 5 year olds, and she lights up. Her sarcastic wit makes me smile. She keeps me on my toes, and I love her so much. I’ve missed having her at home almost as much as she’s missed being home. She continues to do an amazing job with being here at the hospital. We are on the downhill side.

Thanks to her persistence to keep Tate safe and God’s grace, our family is still just me, A, and Maggie. We get to know Tate a little better every day. He has his tendencies that make us laugh. Our little boy brings us so much joy already. We continue to realize what a blessing it is to have not seen him yet. On to week 32.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 40

After a rather stressful half day filled with concerning new symptoms, the weekly checkup is over ahead of time!

Although we're still not clear on what has caused the newest complications, the news from this afternoon's sonogram was great all around. Tate is still measuring right on track, weighing in at a whopping 3 lb 14 oz, and surprisingly, my measurements were the best yet. Based on the past couple of days, I'd prepared myself for a bad report, and judging by his response upon looking at the sonogram, my doctor hadn't been super hopeful either... but we were both wrong. Against all odds, everything was fine.

Tonight I'm thankful for our 40th completed day. Not so many hours ago there was a very real concern that Tate might be here by now, but instead we get to keep counting tomorrow. Since everything has settled down for now and the sono looked good, there's a solid chance we may still make it to 32 weeks or beyond. I'm also grateful that for the first time in three weeks, my favorite nurse was here today when things went bad. She's still here in fact, working a 16 hour shift. I certainly couldn't do her job, but for my own sake, I'm really glad she showed up this morning!

We're only one day away from 31 weeks now, eight days away from the next big milestone of 32 weeks. After today, I'm thinking these may be the longest eight days of my life...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

An Empty Room

The transformation of our guest room into Tate's room is one of the projects that is going on at our house right now without much help from me. My family finally got the shutters down and blinds up when they came. A's parent's have taken up the project from there, leading up to what you see today. The room is an empty shell, ready to become a little boy's room. Gone is the bed that I liked to nap on, the bookshelves that held all manor of crazy things but few actual books, the stacks of cds that grew on the desk in the corner, and the Christmas decorations, old computer parts, and various other sundries that filled the closet.

Over the next few weeks, it will become our little boy's nursery. The blue paint that is in the cans on the floor will be going up on the walls. Curtains are being made with cartoon animals on them. A crib, changing table, glider chair, and who knows what else will be taking up the floor space. Hopefully the rug we ordered will make it soon. Chances are a couple of T's, an A, and an E will find their way onto the wall, along with some other colorful, fun pieces of art. I'm not very good at picking that sort of stuff, but A's been working on finding some.

It was kind of strange sitting in the corner of this empty room thinking about what it is about to become. I was completely alone. It was silent except for the sound of the camera shutter. Before long, the room will be full of life. A will be sitting in her glider right there in the corner. Tate will be sleeping in her arms. It will be a good silence. I'll get to take that picture too, and the shutter won't even echo.

This chapter continues to be a long test of our endurance. The plot has stalled out and is highly repetitive. Not as many characters have been in and out. We still have no idea how much time is left in this particular section, but we remember that the longer this one goes, the easier the next one will be to get through. The part that includes the big chair and the beautiful woman and the tiny baby will be amazing. I just have to be patient. We're getting there. Slowly but surely.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

30 Weeks

Yesterday was sonogram day, and as always my doctor pronounced everything unchanged. I'm slowly getting better at accepting that unchanged can mean a lot of things, all of which are fine for now, but it's still not easy. This week was one of the weeks that unchanged actually meant worse. I took the news better than some weeks, but I'm definitely dreading next Tuesday.

Today we finally hit 30 weeks. Although the sonogram wasn't great, everyone still assumes we'll be here awhile longer. It's just becoming more likely that the next few weeks will involve more restrictions for me which I would really prefer to avoid. Most of the time I have to force myself not to think about what could be ahead because if we get to that point, I'll have no real choice but to comply even though it will totally suck. Luckily, Tate was particularly precious during yesterday's sono: all curled up in a ball, sleeping, with his tiny hand rubbing his eyes. When I see him looking so real and human it's impossible not to love him, and that makes the hard stuff seem a little more bearable.

This week is shaping up to be long and boring. No going outside. No visits from Maggie, and hopefully no visits from Tate. Just waiting and hoping that next week things look better, not worse.

Monday, September 5, 2011

One Month

I can hardly believe I've been in the hospital for an entire month. It's certainly not because the month has flown by. I've done this for so many days that at times it's hard to remember life was ever different, but this is so far from something I thought I'd have to deal with that it still feels foreign most of the time. Other people do this. Stronger ones. Not me.

For the last week or so I've been exhausted with it all. Luckily the week has been fairly low stress because I don't know how well I would have dealt with another week like the last one. Unfortunately, being in bed is finally starting to wear on me. It took a month, but now my legs pretty much constantly feel stiff and weak. I'm losing patience with the miserable side effects from the medication I'm on to prevent contractions, and most of all I'm tired of being "reminded" that I should just think about how I'm doing what's best for my baby any time I say anything even vaguely negative, even if I'm answering a question (like about the side effects of the meds, for instance). Unless you've done this yourself random nurse, you don't get to tell me how to feel, thanks. Incidentally, the one doctor who HAS done this herself never criticizes.

Assuming nothing changes, Wednesday will mark the halfway point of my hospital stay. As long as I don't develop any new complications, my doctor has said I'll be allowed to go home once we reach 35 weeks. Since I was admitted at 25 weeks and 1 day, that works out to exactly 10 weeks, and we're 2 days away from the end of week 5. It's easier to think about when there's an end point. Only 6 more sonograms. A little over 5 more weeks. Things could still change at any moment, but it's fairly unlikely that the change would result in me being here longer. At least for this part, there is an end in sight.

We're almost to 30 weeks (wow!), and tomorrow we should find out if we're likely to make it to 31. Here's to hoping everything stays the same...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Another Week Down

It's been a quiet, slow week at the hospital. Tomorrow marks a full month since we arrived. The month has flown for me. With being up here mixed with work, food and grocery runs, some short times at home, and everything else that goes along with it; it seems like yesterday that we started all of this. I don't think I could make a half day out of the amount of time that I've spent at home aside from sleep and getting ready for work. It's a whole different story for A. The month has been long. She hasn't clocked an hour total outside of the walls of this room. Her 20 minute visit with Maggie earlier this week was the first time she's even left the hallway.

This difference is part of what makes this hard for me. The pace for me outside of these walls is so fast that I don't have the time I need to to slow down and rest. The hospital room is somewhere that I slow down, put away all that is going on outside, focus on my wife, and get some of that much needed rest. For her, the hospital room is a cell that sometimes seems to be getting smaller. Resting 24/7 isn't all it's as great as it sometimes sounds. She'd love to feel the normalcy of being out and about and running errands. I'd love to spend some nice, quiet days at home. This is probably the first time in our marriage that these roles have been reversed.

In the end, I'm going to do what keeps my wife and son safe, comfortable, and feeling loved. As we push into month #2, some things are going to continue to get harder. My pace isn't going to do much slowing down. A's pace isn't going to do much speeding up. We look back and are thankful that we've had the month that we have. We still haven't met Tate. He's still growing, and through this, so are we, even though we might not want to.

Things to be thankful for:
1. Going back several days, but I am extremely thankful for my buddy Mike. Tuesday got busy at work, and I didn't get the details of Maggie's visit with A worked out until very late. He dropped what he had planned to come help me out and made the day work.
2. The takeout counter at Chuy's in Plano. I've visited it many times this month, and they always get stuff ready quickly. I'm pretty sure they know me by now as Deluxe Chicken Quesadilla with Just Chicken and Cheese Guy.
3. Baseball season. The half inning of the Rangers that I tend to catch a day has become my nightly wind down routine.