Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yes, He's Actually Cute!

Finally, the much sought after Alex pictures!

A Few Hours Old

3 Days Old

Sleepy Dad and Alex
1 week old

Passport Photo
9 days old

We had to apply for a passport for 2 reasons. First, we have a trip planned to Canada for a conference in April. Second, as Alex was born at home, he wasn't automatically "in the system." This means that we had to go get his birth certificate from the Health Services place downtown. It also means that he doesn't have another form of id. So, he couldn't apply for a Social Security Number. Oddly, it's easier to get a passport than a Social Security Number. We just had to bring him and his birth certificate to the Post Office and vouch for his identity as his parents. We will get his Social Security Number for him later. The only reason he needs it right now is so that he can open a bank account.

12 Days Old, Still Sleepy

3 Weeks Old

Will and Alex

Alex looking concerned about Will catapulting him
into the next room with the bouncy chair

Will actually tries to use the bouncy chair as a catapult. I can't leave him alone with Alex for a minute. He means well, but doesn't quite understand that the baby can't play and doesn't like to be touched while he is sleeping.

You may have noticed that we have the same bouncy chair that Will was "measured" in when he was a baby. It was a gift to Will from Kevin and Sara. Here is a comparison so far...

Will on Left
2 weeks old

Alex on Right
3 days old

We forgot to take a picture of Alex at 2 weeks in the bouncy chair. We will do another comparison at 4 weeks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Alexander Daniel Kroboth
The Less-Insane-Than-Will's-Birth-Story Story

[Disclaimer: As before, if you aren't into stories that involve words like "cervix" go back to the cute pictures of the new baby.]

As you may know, I posted the story of Will's birth back when he was born in April 2006. It was a 4-day ordeal where he was forced to join us in the outside world at a small OB clinic in Tokyo. That's not to say that I didn't receive great care. I had a wonderful team of people helping me out, including a midwife, a doctor, and very nice nurses. (Oh, and Dan too, he went through the most stress during the experience, but was very helpful.) Everyone was with me through the whole experience, unlike most births these days where you see whichever nurse happens to be on duty and your doctor a few minutes before you deliver. Will's birth was difficult, but he and I were well taken care of.

This time around, we had a much easier experience. Basically we hung out at home for 5 hours of contractions and had a water birth with 15 minutes of pushing. All before Will woke up to start the day with a new baby brother.

Here is the breakdown:

2:00am - Wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Waking at this time wasn't anything abnormal since the baby was constantly pushing his head on my bladder. However, I couldn't get back to sleep because of contractions. Most contractions that I had been having over the last few days/weeks were very mild and caused very little discomfort even though some of them were consistently 5 minutes apart. However, these contractions were different. After about an hour of contractions that actually caused discomfort, I decided it was time to wake up Dan.

3:00am - Wake up Dan. Debate whether it is time to call our midwife, Mary Lou, or not. Decide that it is time to start timing contractions. Also, decided to take a shower to see if the warm water would calm the contractions down or not. It did not calm them down, but it felt good to get a shower.

3:40am - Call Mary Lou. As I have no trouble talking to her during a contraction, her recommendation is to give her a call when things are more active or when it would make me feel better that she were there.

Dan starts setting up birthing tub. It consists of a steel frame with a plastic shell and a disposable lining.

Hang out lying down on the bed we had set up in the living room, having annoyingly intense contractions. However, because it was so early in the morning and we went to bed late the night before, I was able to relax between contractions so much that I think I fell asleep a couple of times in between. The contractions were different than with Will's birth, probably because they were naturally occurring instead of forced into existence with pitocin. Last time I wanted to move around and spent most of my time burying my head in a beanbag chair with Dan pushing on my back. This time I didn't want anyone to touch me and I stayed as still as I could laying on the bed we set up in our living room, just dealing with the contractions on my own.

It didn't help that a few days earlier I had watched "A Baby Story" where the woman had a perfect epidural that basically stopped her from having any pain (at least on TV). So I was lying there thinking about epidurals and remembering the question that I got asked at one of the Japanese hospitals that I visited, "Do you want pain-free birth?" But then I remembered that every woman goes through this stage of labor where self-doubt sets in and if available, drugs will be taken. And, since I was giving birth at home and my pain relief options were limited, I reminded myself that the more intense the contractions, the more they were opening the cervix. Plus, I knew that soon I would be able to test the theory about how much relief the birthing tub actually provides.

4:45am - In between contractions, tell Dan to call Mary Lou.

5:00am - Call Lynn, a friend of mine who is training to be a doula. She didn't pick up her cell phone.

5:15am - Mary Lou and her assistant arrive.

6:00am - After watching me have a bunch of contractions, Mary Lou suggests a cervical exam to see how far along I am. I agree after some contractions subside and I am actually able to move into position. She checks and announces that I am 8 cm dilated. Since that is more than 5cm, the recommended number that you wait until getting into the tub, I immediately hop in.

The water feels great. Prior to getting in the tub, I was having both back pain and abdominal pain. The water helped with the back pain and nearly eliminated the abdominal pain. The tub was about half full at this point, so it sort of covered my giant stomach. Mary Lou had Dan go turn on some more water to get it closer to full. Dan did some running around dealing with hose issues, but was able to use his helpful engineering skills to actually produce more water.

6:00am - Have Dan call Lynn again, on her home phone number. She doesn't pick up. I guess Asha, her daughter who is Will's age, had messed up her phones.

It was hard to stay in place in the tub, although it was great to be able to move around in any way I wanted during contractions. The problem was that if I leaned up against the sides, I kept sliding around. And it kind of wore my arms out to put them up on the sides of the tub. So I told Dan that I needed him to get his swimsuit and join me. This worked much better as I sat in front of Dan, holding onto his legs. It also meant that I could use my hands to put pressure on my back. This was good because it meant I didn't have to try to tell Dan where I needed counter pressure during contractions.

6:30am - As it got closer to when Will wakes up, we decided that we should have someone come by to pick him up since we were kind of busy. Figuring that Darren is used to waking up early for work, we opted to wake him up early on a Saturday.

Mary Lou told me that given that I was so far along in the dilation process and that my cervix was very soft, that I could try pushing when I was ready. I wasn't ready right away, but eventually I tried some pushing. I remembered how it relieved a lot of pressure when I was pushing with Will, and this time it helped too. Then....

at 7:00am - My water broke. It was a weird popping feeling in the middle of a push. It actually surprised me and caused me to stop pushing for a second and laugh. But I kept going and as I got the hang of it, I started pushing harder. The process hurt a little bit, but this problem was solved by simply waiting for a contraction to push instead of pushing in between contractions. It was completely different than giving birth to Will with people telling me to push at specific times. I was able to figure it out for myself and push whenever I felt like it. This was very effective and the pushing stage didn't last too long. The only down side was that I pushed Alex's head about half way out, then left him there for a couple of minutes, causing a slight bruise on his eye lid.

7:14am - Alex is born!

I was shocked at how short the pushing stage was. Will wasn't even awake yet. Of course, this meant we had to call Darren and apologize for waking him up. He was nearly here. I think he actually arrived, but Dan met him outside and chatted or something, then sent him back home.

Will woke up at about 7:30 to meet his new brother. He seemed cool with it.

Dan called some people to announce the birth (we are sorry if we didn't call you, we were kind of tired). However, he did this prior to us weighing Alex. As we looked at him, we commented that he looked smaller than Will did at birth. However, then we weighed him. He weighed 10lbs 12 oz. The video of us weighing him is funny. We are all kind of shocked. He was half a pound heavier than Will. Now, you might wonder, wasn't Will 10 1/2lbs? Well, that's what we thought, but it turns out that when we converted 4.67kg to lbs, we ended up with the wrong result. It turns out that Will was actually only 10lbs 4 oz.

What about my recovery, you might ask? I am totally fine right now. I actually have to wait until Alex is 6 weeks old before I can leave him at the child watch at the YMCA so that I can exercise. Or maybe I will try some exercising in the evening when Dan can watch him, so that he doesn't have to be exposed to the concentrated extra germs. He's just getting over the cold that he caught from Dan/Will.

So far, I've lost 34lbs in the past 3 weeks. This is significant, but as I gained a total of 42lbs, I've still got 8lbs to go, plus some extra to get more in shape as I was about 20lbs "overweight" prior to being pregnant.

I only ended up with two small tears from the birth process. This was much better than with Will's birth, since I had at least 5 stitches back then and it took about 8 weeks to heal. The most painful thing that I experienced the next day was, oddly, sore arms. I guess all of the holding myself up on the sides of the tub stretched the muscles out a bit much.

Overall, for someone choosing birth options, I definitely recommend the option of giving birth at home. It was awesome that we didn't have the stress of figuring out when to go to the hospital. We didn't have to worry ahead of time about whether or not I would go into labor during rush hour. We didn't even have to disrupt Will's schedule or wake someone up super early when we needed to go to the hospital. My midwife came to me, even though it was kind of early in the morning for her. The lack of stress really helped my body to relax and deal with contractions naturally. I wouldn't recommend it without a birthing pool as it was amazing to relieve the intensity of the contractions.

Dan's level of stress was much lower during the home birth than during Will's birth. He would willingly do it again.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Surveilling the Child(ren)

Angela and I have been without a baby monitor since we moved to Redondo Beach. The 900 MHz model that we purchased and used in San Diego suffer interference from a local radio station or someones wireless speakers or something else. However, with Alex here, we decided we should try to get something working. Since the two boys are supposed to sleep in the same room, we decided to get a video monitor so we could make sure they weren't physically harming one another. So, we picked up the two camera, one video monitor, $150 wireless version from Babies R' Overpriced Us. This fancy new 2.4 GHz model was also completely overwhelmed by our hi-tech neighbors massive number of interfering wireless systems.
Two choices:
a) purchase digital spread spectrum voice-only for $200
b) go to Fry's and roll my own

I choose b. and paid $70 for basically the same setup but when two wired cameras instead of wireless...

And it works....yea1

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Announcing: Alexander Daniel Kroboth

Alex was born this morning 01/05/08 at 7:14am. He weighed 10lbs 12oz, and is 23 inches long. Both of these metrics are slight improvements over big brother Will. Angela went into labor at 2am, and pushed for about 15 minutes starting at 7am. She and I both agree that a water birth in our house was much easier than our Japanese experience.

So far, Will is enthusiastic about the "cute baby." Technically speaking, he and Alex are 21 months apart exactly since Will was born 04/05/06 if you take into account the time difference. Both Angela and I are excited not to be going to the embassy tomorrow.

We haven't captured a particularly good photo yet, but here is the best on we've got. Also, this is not the first post announcing Alex's birth. My sister got there first.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Exciting New Year Resolutions...

As the New Year begins, we reflect on the things we resolved to do last year and look forward to the things we hope to do this year.

Of course, the fact that I am still pregnant is related to my failure to finish some things last year...
  • Primarily - Producing another tax deduction for 2007. Our accountant told us that even if we have the baby on my due date, January 1st, we can still count him for last year. Of course, with only a few hours left in January 1st, it's not looking too hopeful.
  • NY Resolution 2007 - "Be More Fashionable." I was on my way. I had a personal shopper at Macy's and stylish clothes that fit me. Then April happened and I was pregnant. So I pulled out the box of maternity clothes and settled in for the 9/10 month adventure that is pregnancy fashion. Pregnancy fashion basically involves a lot of stretchy stuff. And bows. Why are bows required on all pregnancy shirts? Beats me. Although, I did have the advantage of looking like a Christmas present all through the holiday season.
So what great new resolutions have we come up with for 2008?

Having the baby seems like an attainable New Year's Resolution. And why create a resolution that depends on a long time frame when you can make one that is sure to occur in 2 weeks or so?

"Be More Fashionable"
My specific goal related to this is to go swimsuit shopping on June 1st. Obviously with the stretch marks and still recovering stomach, I'm not going to be able to wear a 2-piece swimsuit. I'm thinking a neat 1-piece. It may be possible to lose the 40 extra pounds I am carrying around by then. Counter to the random man in Starbucks who commented, "It looks like you are 32 weeks pregnant and have kept your weight gain down," I am 40 weeks pregnant and have not kept my weight gain down. Ah, if only I had that tact of random-Starbucks-man.

A bit bigger than normal this Christmas
(the bow on this shirt ties on the back)

Getting a job might be nice. If only I could find someone who is interested in hiring me for part-time, mostly working from home.

Time is running out. I must finish my DTM before June when the criteria changes. Otherwise I have to figure out the new criteria and do a bunch of random other stuff. I have less than 10 speeches to go! Must give speeches. And mentor a new member with their first 3 speeches. Any new members out there near Redondo Beach who want a mentor?

Everyone Else
Of course we all know that I will make resolutions and set goals, but what about the rest of the family?

Dan's New Year Resolution is to wear socks that do not have holes in them. You know how men tend to keep their socks forever as long as there is one sock particle holding the sock together? So far, the resolution is working out well. Dan actually went shopping for socks, then threw some old socks away. I think that this effort is part of his secret plan to someday return to Japan where you need hole-free socks since you take your shoes off frequently.

Will is good in the sock department, especially since Dad and Lee just provided him with a bunch of new socks (and other neat clothes) that will fit him for a long time. What sort of resolutions would a 21-month old child make? I think that he would like to spend more time with trains. Maybe we will take him on a train trip this year. Other than that, we are hoping that he resolves to learn how to share.

Will has quite the set of opinions these days. This may extend to him creating his own resolutions including reducing the amount of time he sleeps. Also, I am starting to think that he is involved in Dan's secret plan to return to Japan. The other day he took all of his old shoes and put them in the entry way pointing out. When you take off your shoes in a Japanese place, it is polite to turn them to point out so that they are easier to put on as you exit.

Who me? Returning to Japanese roots?

New Baby
Should the new baby have resolutions prior to being born? As classic over-achievers, Dan and I encourage this. We are thinking that the goal of sleeping all night would be good. Ultimately, in 2008, we hope that he also learns stuff like crawling and walking. And, like Will, but to a slightly lesser degree, the new one should establish a frequent flyer account, get a passport, and do some travel. On the horizon: His first out of state trip will be in March, most likely to AZ baseball spring training. His first international trip will be to Vancouver in April. His first mid-west trip may be to Michigan for the 4th of July. And his first trip all the way across the country will be to New York City in August.

Happy New Year Everyone!