Rest In Peace, James Lipton

I was saddened to read of the passing of James Lipton this week at age 93.  Many know him from Inside the Actor’s Studio, but he did so much more.  He was a writer and producer (working with greats like Bob Hope, and writing for many soap operas).  He was also an actor (on Guiding Light, Arrested Development) and voice actor (often playing himself on shows like the Simpsons and Family Guy).  He was also an author (he wrote the novel Mirrors, which was made into a TV movie in 1983).

He was born in Detroit and worked as a copy boy for the Detroit Times.  He actually starred on radio’s The Lone Ranger (which was broadcast out of WXYZ in Detroit) as Dan Reid, the Lone Ranger’s nephew.  He wanted to be a lawyer, but went into acting to earn money to pay for his education.

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It was with Inside the Actor’s Studio that made him a household name.  The show was a non-credit class at the Actor’s Studio Drama School where successful writers, directors, and actors were interviewed by him about their craft.  The acting students could also ask questions of the guests.  The sessions were recorded, edited, and broadcast on television for audiences to enjoy.  The show began in 1994 and continued with him as host until 2018, when he stepped down.

He was parodied by many, including Will Sasso on MadTV and David Cross on Mr. Show.  But the most memorable parody was done by Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live.  Ferrell’s portrayal was over the top and hilarious.  When asked how he liked it, Lipton said, “I love it!  I love it!  It’s flattering.”  The thing I always remember about it was the HUGE stack of blue question cards Ferrell had on the table for his guest.

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I know many people found him to be a bit creepy, but I found him fascinating.  I was always amazed at how he was able to get his guests to open up and share stuff.  He was very good at that.

Whenever we interviewed someone on the radio, we had a jar with questions.  The questions were written by staff members, listeners, and some were just made up.  We’d have them dig into the jar and answer five of them  We called it the “Final Five”.  It was far from an original idea, as James Lipton always wrapped up his interviews with a series of questions inspired by French interviewer Bernard Pivot.

In honor of his passing, here are those 10 questions.

  1. What is your favorite word?
  2. What is your least favorite word?
  3. What turns you on?
  4. What turns you off?
  5. What sound or noise do you love?
  6. What sound or noise do you hate?
  7. What is your favorite curse word?
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
  9. What profession would you not like to do?
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Here are my answers:

  1. Ridiculous.  I am not sure that I’d call it my favorite, but I use it a lot!  I am guessing it changes from day to day.
  2. Moist.  That’s the first word that pops into my head, and I hate it!
  3. My wife. Constantly!  She is beautiful.
  4. Smoking. I was exposed to it as a kid and I find it disgusting.
  5. Birds singing on a spring or summer morning.  Love it even more when I hear it on the golf course.
  6. Children crying – it always breaks my heart.
  7. Fuck.  Not proud of this, and believe me, I am trying really hard to stop using it so much!  There are just some things that force me to say it – like my co-workers – they’ve come to expect it from me.  LOL
  8. I would love to teach.  Today’s atmosphere is a lot different from when I was in school.  I would love to teach some sort of fun subject – music or entertainment oriented.  Wishful thinking, I know.
  9. Any political job.  No matter what you do, someone disagrees with you. I’m not sure I could handle that kind of criticism or pressure.
  10. I believe heaven does exist, and I would love for God to say, “Welcome, Keith.  You’ve done well.  You were a good father, a good husband, and a good friend.  You’re mom and grandparents have been waiting for you.  They need a fourth for pinochle.”

What are YOUR answers?

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“Hello, Papa!”

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We had plenty of great reactions when we told our family we were having a baby.  One of the most genuine was from my dad.  He was just thrilled when he found out.  He has always wanted a granddaughter and we took a video of him opening up a onesie that told him he was indeed going to have a granddaughter. His reaction to that was priceless!

Throughout the pregnancy, he called to ask how Sam was.  We called him after every OB/GYN appointment with updates and news.  We called him to tell him we were on our way to the hospital, too.  He was upset, though.  He knew it would be a week or so before he would get to see Ella.  Grandma Rose came down with Influenza A, and Papa was not about to get his precious grandbaby sick.

So for the past two weeks, I’ve been using Google Duo to do video chats with him when Ella is awake and happy.  You could tell that it was really bothering him that he hadn’t gotten to hold her yet.  He was loving being able to see her and talk to her on the phone, but it wasn’t the same.

Yesterday, he was finally able to come up and hold her for the first time.   When they got to the house, Sam had just finished feeding her.  She said, “You can hold her if you want” and my dad was up to get her before Sam finished the sentence!

What an amazing thing to see him holding her!  He stared at her, talked with her, touched her cheek and held her hand.  It was such a beautiful thing to witness!  As he spoke to her, I could hear his voice cracking and I could see a tear welling up in his eyes.  It was truly an emotional thing to see.  This showering of love and affection was so special.  I took pictures, but wish I had taken video.  She will never have to wonder how much her Papa loves her – you can see it in his face.

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My dad’s relationship with his grandsons is not as strong as it could be, due to my previous relationship.  But, that doesn’t stop him from loving those boys with all his heart.  I hope they know that.  Ella will never have to question that, as I will be sure that she gets to see him as often as possible.  She has been blessed with some wonderful grandparents and great grandparents!  I am SO glad that they are a part of her life.  I am sure that she is going to be very spoiled.

Grandparents are indeed a blessing!  There is a quote that says, “Grandparents are a delightful blend of laughter, caring deeds, wonderful stories, and love!”  I certainly had those things with my grandparents.  As I look at the picture of my dad and Ella, I can’t help but notice the love in his face.  It immediately reminded me of a picture of my grandpa (my dad’s dad) looking very much the same way at his grandson (me).  Compare the two.  The love of these two men for the babies in their arms is a powerful, never ending love!!!

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Dad, thank you for being an amazing man.  I am proud to be your son.  I am so happy that my children have you in their life.  I see so much of grandpa in you.  He raised you right.  You raised me right, as well, and I hope that one day my children look back and see you in me.

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(My sons, too!)

Ella stayed awake long enough to get a picture or two with Papa and Grandma Rose.  I just love it and had to share.

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Ella and Papa – March 1, 2020

 

 

Fatherly Observations (AKA “Things I Forgot About Having a Newborn”)

Sam and I sat down to start filling in the baby book we received for Ella.  It’s a very nice book and has little pouches to keep her first lock of hair, baby hospital bracelet and other things.  It has places to place her ultrasound pictures, foot and hand prints, and so many other things.  In the weeks and months ahead, we will track various milestones in it.  There is a LOT of writing involved.

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Some of the things the book asks are actually a bit hard to remember, even though the thing only happened within the last 9 months!  Some of it is hard to put into words.  Some of the stuff I have written about in blogs, and may just print them out and put them in the book!  The whole reason for a baby book is so that sometime in the future, she can look through it and read about all the stuff that happened when she was a baby, right?

So we need to write this stuff down while it is fresh in our minds – before we forget them.  Believe me, there will be things you will forget!  Ella will be three weeks old on Monday.  In the time we have had her, she has brought many smiles, and also caused me to remember all kinds of things I had long forgotten about.  Here are just a few:

Baby Sneezes

This was actually the title I considered for this blog.  The first time I heard Ella sneeze, I grabbed my “Blog Ideas” journal and wrote it down.  A sneeze isn’t such a odd thing, I mean, we all do it.  A baby sneeze, however, is so tiny, soft, and gentle.  I had forgotten just how cute these little sneezes are. Gesundheit!

Get a Grip!

How do you even begin to put into words how awesome it is to have your baby grab onto your finger?  I can’t.  I know as she grows, her little hand will grasp onto mine as we walk through the store, but there is something so cool about her little hand grabbing onto your finger and squeezing it.  Those hands are powerful!  I was holding her with just a tank top on this week and her little hand grabbed a handful of my chest hair and I winced with pain – wow, that hurt!

Sharp as a razor

Baby fingernails could easily be a weapon!  They are SO sharp!  They always seem to be grabbing at their faces and as parents, we try to stop that so they don’t scratch themselves!  This is obviously a concern because many of the onsies have arms that actually fold over the hand to keep them from scratching themselves. I was holding her this week and those nails drew blood on my shoulder as she scratched me.

Ch Ch Ch Changes …. of clothes

I used to make fun of a friend of mine who used to always seem to change outfits two or three times a day.  Well, for a baby, this is so true!  They sometimes go through four or five outfits a day because of various reasons.  There always seems to be a load of clothes ready to go into the laundry!

Speaking of laundry, I had forgotten just how much I love the smell of baby laundry soap.  Whether it is All Baby or Dreft, I just LOVE the smell of it!  The first week I was back to work, I actually washed my sweatshirt in her laundry soap so I could smell it at work and think about her.

Baby Faces

One of the most amazing things about watching a baby, whether awake or asleep, is watching the many faces they make.  Sam sent me a slew of four or five pictures, all taken within a two minute period as she was waking up – they are awesome.  You see everything from happy to sad to disgust to wonder – and all the emotions in between!  Our OB/GYN had a big print of his daughter making faces in his office.  I think I may just stand over her one day with my camera to catch a variety of them and then put them into a big collage.

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You’ll Need More Time

A lesson I had forgotten:  You are now on HER time, not yours!  You have to factor in diaper changes, feedings, and so many other things before you do anything or go anywhere!  We had a 10:30am doctor appointment on Friday.  The doc is about an hour away.  I think we were up at …. 2:30am to get ready for it!  Seriously!   We had to give the baby a bath, get ourselves showered and dressed, and by the the time we did feedings and diaper changes we barely made it out the door in time!  There is SO MUCH more preparation to get out the door now!

Whoa!  That’s Heavy!

Truth in arithmetic:  8 pound baby + 10 pound car seat = 500 pounds!  I cannot figure out for the life of me how this all works out!  Maybe it is just the way you have to hold the thing?  You gotta be friggin’ Superman to carry that thing for any length of time.  I am not ashamed to admit I am winded carrying her to the car in this thing!  It’s like the baby has rocks in her pockets to weigh it down or something!  At the end of the day, I am popping ibuprofen and applying heat and ice to my arm and shoulder!

Holy Crap!

Literally!  As a parent of a newborn, you are up to your ears in poop!  They poop – A LOT!  It is not odd for me to change a diaper, and immediately hear her poop again!  I gotta be honest, sometimes I am jealous!  Here I am taking fiber just to stay regular and she can poop at will!  The last time I pooped like her, I was preparing for my colonoscopy!

The Need For Speed

Speaking of poop and diaper changes in general, you gotta be The Flash when you change a baby! I mean it!  I forgot that the new diaper has to be under them as soon as the old one is taken away.  You gotta time it just right or you will regret it!  I was changing her on our bed the other day and Sam was talking to me while I was mid-diaper change.  I was distracted.  I wasn’t fast enough.  She asked me a simple “yes” or “no” question, but it was enough to slow me down.  So as I began to answer it, Ella peed all over my side of the bed.  You gotta be fast!

Side note:  One good thing about changing a girl is that if she does pee, its dripping down and not being shot at you like boys.

It’s a Blowout!

Honestly, I didn’t forget about diaper blowouts – but I have tried!  These are traumatic!  We’ve had a few already!  These result in an immediate bath – or an entire box of baby wipes (depending on where you are)!  The anticipation of a blowout is why every diaper bag in America includes 15 outfit changes!  They are so terrifying that there is even a product available on Amazon called the “Blowout Blocker!”

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Parents everywhere are wishing they had come up with that billion dollar idea!!

Baby Sounds (That Aren’t Crying)

Baby’s make noise.  Crying is their favorite sound to make, because it is their primary form of communication at this early stage of their lives. She is not cooing quite yet, but I am looking forward to that.  For now, I get to enjoy three other sounds –

  • Burping.  She is not an easy burper.  Sometimes I am patting her back or but for 20 minutes before she burps!  When she does, it is either tiny or epic! There is no rhyme or reason for how loud it is.
  • Farting.  Farting comes easy.  Sometimes her “toots” are a bit more than a toot (see above paragraphs on poop!).
  • Hiccups.  Baby hiccups are so cute.  Sometimes I feel bad for her, though, cause she seems to have them for quite awhile.

Soothing Sounds

I don’t claim to have the best singing voice. No one is going to sign me to a big record deal.  I do, however, like singing to my baby girl.  I sang to both boys when they were babies, and now I sing to her, too.  Sometimes she likes it, sometimes she doesn’t.  I think it may be her mood.  I really hope it isn’t my song selection – I don’t know too many by heart!

We were both amazed the other day when the hair dryer turned on.  She had been fussing and crying and when it turned on – instant silence.  It was weird.  Last night, we ran the vacuum cleaner and it had the same effect!  I don’t recall whether the vacuum bothered my sons, but something tells me that the floors will be spotless if she gets cranky! I may keep the hair dryer next to my side of the bed for nights she is upset.

Snuggles

Ella spends a lot of time with mommy, and rightfully so!  She is breastfeeding, so she gets to be in mommy’s arms a lot more than mine.  When I do get the chance to hold her, I love when she is alert and looking at me.  I get lost in her eyes, I kiss her cheeks, I play peek a boo, and just enjoy every second!

I also love when she falls asleep on me.  There is something so special about just holding her.  This week she fell asleep on my chest and didn’t move for over an hour. I stared at this little miracle and thanked the Lord for blessing me with her.  Time stood still as I spent most of that time staring at her.  Of course, I had to sneak a picture to remind me of this very special moment.

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Smiles, Everyone!  Smiles!

I forgot just how much I love to see a baby smile!  According to many sources, a baby’s first smile should take place when they are about 2 months old.  According to parents.com, anything before that time is considered a “reflex smile”.  Reflex smile or not, I just love to see it on her face.  Recently, Ella was in my arms dozing off and she began to crack a smile, so I grabbed my phone to snap a picture.  My friend, Dawn, used to always say “Smile!  It’s contagious!”  She is right, because when Ella smiles – I smile!

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Which Dwarf Am I?  Sleepy!

Lack of sleep is one thing that I did NOT forget about!  The only reason I am getting more sleep than my poor wife is that she is breastfeeding.  She is up every two hours with her feeding her. I am glad for the days when I am home from work, so she can actually get a little break between feedings.

Quick Change

The saddest thing I had forgotten about having a newborn baby is just how fast they change.  She has only been here for three weeks and she has changed SO much since she was born!  Just this morning Sam asked me if I noticed how long her eyelashes had gotten.  I mean, it’s insane!  The facial features, the hands & feet, eye color, and so many other changes are happening.  I guess that’s why I am glad I am taking so many pictures!

The days will turn into weeks.  The weeks will turn into months.  The months will turn into years.  With each second that passes, my little girl will grow up.  I will love her more and more as time moves forward.  I hope she will never doubt for a second that she is Daddy’s Little Princess.

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Tears on My Pillow

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I’m a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist. Those are some fancy words for “Sleep Tech”. I watch people sleep. I test them for sleep apnea, and treat them with PAP therapy when needed. People ask me all kinds of questions about sleep. I know a lot about sleep. People also ask me a lot about dreams. I don’t know a whole lot about dreams. Dreams are an illusive topic.

Do an internet search on dreams and you will find hundreds of webpages or articles with thoughts, theories, and general guesses about what dreams are and why we have them. Many people have different ideas about them. Ask a doctor about dreams and they will tell you something very different from what a therapist or psychologist will tell you.

This blog isn’t searching for why I had this dream. This blog isn’t expecting someone’s interpretation of this dream. This blog has one purpose – to write this down so I will remember it. After all, they say that you forget 90% of your dreams. I wanted to write this one down, so I’d remember it. So I might be able to come back to it and ponder it at some later date. I have waited too long to write this, as some of the details are already fading.

The Dream

“It’s not fair! It’s just not fair!”

I say this as I am looking at my mother, while holding my newborn daughter. There is no rhyme or reason for her to be there. She has been dead for 13 years, I am aware of this, yet there she is. She is alive in this dream, yet I know she had died already and is dying yet again. I am crying as I speak these words.

I am not sure if I am in a park or some public place. My dad is there, too. There are people around me. A crowd, perhaps. Is this a fair? I don’t know.

There is a stroller. Without knowledge of handing her to him, my dad now has his granddaughter and is walking with her in the stroller.

I cannot recall any conversation between my mother and me, but I am aware she is there. This is different from other dreams with her, where she usually speaks to me.

There are occasional interruptions by people I may or may not know. I do not really hear what they are saying, as my mind is still trying to comprehend how my mother is here, and why she is dying again. Cancer has already taken her once. How can she be back and how can it take her again?

I am aware of my dad returning with the baby in the stroller. He looks at my mother and asks if she wants to push the stroller for a bit. I am suddenly aware that I am standing next to a car. The driver’s side door is open and I am standing between the door and the inside of the car (almost like I am going to get into it). Am I in a parking lot?

I am aware that my daughter is now back in my arms and my mother seems further away. She is not looking directly at me, or anywhere in particular. I am overcome with emotion again as I lay my right arm on the roof of the white car and lay my head on my arm. I again begin to sob. I can feel the tears falling and I keep repeating, “It’s not fair! It’s just not fair!”

I woke up today with tears in my eyes. My pillow was wet from those tears.

What does it mean? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. This dream was just … different. There may be some sort of meaning to it. Maybe it was just my mind sorting through a variety of thoughts. Maybe it means absolutely nothing. It left me contemplating and thinking – enough that I felt I needed to write it down someplace, and that someplace was here.

Maybe one day, I will make sense of it. For now, I will just leave it here.

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So Bad, It’s Good: Napoleon Dynamite

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This blog is part of the Second So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, hosted by Taking Up Room.  The idea of this event is to write about a movie that is just SO bad, it’s actually good!

You can see the other entries here:

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/103513267/posts/42964

Intro

I have many movies that I absolutely love that many would consider “bad”.  They are movies that I can sit and watch over and over, and still find great enjoyment from watching them.  I probably could have picked any one of them to write about for this blogathon, but instead, I chose Napoleon Dynamite.

I must be honest with you, I wasn’t even aware of this film until it was out on video.  I am not really even sure what made me pick up the case to see what it was about.  Maybe it was the school lockers in the picture?  Maybe it was the picture of the weird looking dude on the cover?  Maybe it was because the cover said, “You’ll laugh till it hurts”.

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No matter what the reason, I decided to rent it.  What happened next has NEVER happened before in my entire life.  When you see a bad movie, you usually say, “Well, that sucked!” and that’s the end of it.  As I sat to watch this film for the first time, I was expecting a full blown comedy.  I watched this entire movie – in silence.  When it was all over, I turned to my then wife and said, “Did I miss something?  What the hell did we just watch!?”

But that’s NOT where the story ends!  For the first time in my life, I immediately started the movie over from the beginning and watched it again!  It was THAT bad!!  The second time through, I found myself chuckling out loud at the absurdity of the whole movie, and the characters in it!  Because it was a new release, the rental was for 24 hours.  Dear reader, this movie was SO bad, I watched it AGAIN the next day before I took it back to the store!  You know what?  I found it funnier the third time!

Any time I recommend this film to anyone, I tell them, “Watch it once, and then watch it again.  Trust me!”

The movie

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It is hard for me to even begin to describe this movie.  I am not sure I even can.  Yes, there is a plot.  There are sub plots.  The movie is almost a series of vignettes strung together in a way that sort of makes a story.  Yeah, that is probably a terrible description, but that’s really all I can come up with.

Napoleon Dynamite (played by Jon Heder) is … unique.  He’s different.  He is a loner and he’s kind of happy that way.  He is a bullying victim.  A day at school is complete misery for him.  He is constantly picked on and made fun of.

Napoleon has two friends, Pedro and Deb, who fit right in with him.  They all seem to speak in short, simple sentences.  They all seem to be very socially awkward.  This does not stop Pedro from running for class president, though.

Napoleon lives with his grandmother and his brother, Kip.  Kip is also a nerd and spends almost all of his time in chat rooms talking with girls.  When their grandma is injured in a Dune Buggy accident (let that sink in for a minute!), we are introduced to their baby sitter – their Uncle.

Uncle Rico is a sleazy dude who drives around in an orange and brown Dodge van selling breast enhancement potions and Tupperware-like storage containers.  Poor Rico is fixated on 1982.  He was on the football team and they “should have won state!”  He constantly talks of how things should have been different.  He even bought a “time machine” on the internet to try to go back in time!

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The more I write, the more I keep scratching my head and wondering, “Just what was this whole movie about, anyway!?”  There are just so many scenes in the movie that leave you wondering “why is this in the movie?” “What was THAT all about?”  “Why did he do that?”

Those “what the hell” moments, actually end up being the ones you remember the most!  Many of them are some of my favorite scenes!

Some examples:

Napoleon feeding Tina, the llama

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When Napoleon throws a wrestling figure out the school bus window

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Uncle Rico nailing Napoleon with a steak

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The entire dance scene on stage

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The bully who asks for some of Napoleon’s tator tots (in his pants pocket!), only to be told “no”….so he smashes them…

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The entire Rex Kwon Do scene featuring Diedrich Bader of the Drew Carey Show

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Tether Ball, Summer’s cake, the bike that does “sweet jumps”, Ligers, La Fawnduh, I could go on and on to explain why this BAD movie is SO good.

I probably lose a few IQ points after each viewing, and you will too!  It is one of those guilty pleasure films for me that I will often quote to friends.  You will too!  But only if you watch it a second or third time!

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Thanks to my friends at Taking Up Room for allowing me to participate in this fun blogathon…..and for giving me another reason to watch this idiotic movie!

 

 

A Letter to My Daughter

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It is my hope that one day, my children will read over these blogs and learn a little more about their dad. This blog, in a sense, is a sort of “autobiography” with some musical, and entertainment memories sprinkled in.  A year after my mom passed away, we found letters that she had written to each of us.  I cannot begin to tell you how much that letter means to me.  It remains in a safe place and I re-read it often.

Letter writing is something that we rarely hear about anymore.  This is sad.  When my oldest son began elementary school, at the end of each year, I asked his teacher to write a letter to him, that he could read when he graduated.  It is my hope that his mom still has those letters for him to read.  I tried to do the same with my youngest, but his teachers were less than enthusiastic about doing it.  I plan on doing the same thing with my daughter.

Another article I was sent while Sam was pregnant said to have grandparents and relatives write a note to the baby that could be read when they got older.  Imagine a child being able to read a note from a grandparent or relative who passed away while they were young – that would be pretty amazing!

All this talk about letter writing brings me to the subject of this blog.  What follows will come from a week’s worth of various scribbling down of thoughts, random questions, and the idea of writing a letter …..

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2/20/2020

Dear Ella,

It has been 10 days since you made your entrance into the world and mommy and I got to see your beautiful face.  We certainly tried to get a glimpse before you arrived, but you had other ideas.  When we tried to see you in your ultrasound, you kept putting your hands and arms up by your face – something that you continue to do.  It only made it more special when we finally got to look at you!

I write this letter, knowing that it will be some time before you will be able to read it.  Please bear with me as I try to put into words my feelings.  Mommy will be the first to tell you that daddy can get pretty emotional, and I am not sure that I can find the right words, but I will certainly try.

You need to know that before you even arrived, you were loved unconditionally. You were cherished.  You were anticipated.  You were wanted.  Each day that passed brought more excitement as we anxiously awaited your birth.  We prayed for you.  We wondered about you.  We thought about you.  We prepared for you.  We longed to meet you face to face.  We could not wait to hold you, hug you, and kiss you. And it wasn’t just mommy & daddy who felt this way!  Your brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and so many others asked about you and prayed for you, too.

Your mommy and I were told that it was going to be very hard to have a baby, so when she told me on Father’s Day weekend that you were on the way, I was so happy I cried and hugged her.  You are a miracle, my princess.  When we found out we were having a little girl, we were filled with joy.  You were supposed to arrive on February 16 (your great-grandpa Davidson’s birthday).  You decided, however, that you weren’t going to wait until then!

As you know, you were born February 10, 2020 at 2:57pm.  You weighed 7 pounds 7 ounces and measured 19 and a half inches long.  We knew you were going to be born with hair, because we were able to see that on the ultrasound.  Mommy also knew you would have hair, as you gave her a whole lot of heartburn while she carried you in her belly.

I was next to mommy the entire time we were in the hospital, and watched as you entered the world.  Your tiny cry was the most beautiful sound.  The doctor handed me a pair of scissors and I was allowed to cut the cord that attached you to mommy throughout the past nine months.  Once they cleaned you up a bit, they handed you to mommy and she was able to hold you.  It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed.  I was overcome with emotion as I looked at my two favorite girls – mommy and you!

We named you Pamela Rose:  Pamela comes from your grandma’s (mommy’s mom and daddy’s mom).  Rose comes from grandma Rose and daddy’s grandma.  We can only hope that you will grow to be like these amazing ladies!  We wanted you to a have a unique nickname, so we call you Ella.

You are just perfect, sweetheart.  In the short time you have been with us, you have captured our hearts.  Our love for you has doubled, tripled, and quadrupled and continues to grow!  I look at you in awesome wonder.  My heart does flips every time you smile. I fall deeper and deeper in love with you every time I hold you in my arms.  I could spend hours looking into your amazing eyes. You are simply beautiful and suddenly – you have become everything to mommy and me.

We have so many great things to look forward to!  I can’t wait to read you bedtime stories, sing you Dean Martin songs, and tickle your belly.  I can’t wait to buy you Christmas and birthday presents and take you swimming.  I can’t wait to have tea parties and watch Peppa Pig.  I can’t wait to watch you grow and make a difference in the world!

I want you to know that I love your mommy with all my heart!  She is one of the most amazing women I have ever met.  I truly hope that you will be like her.  She is kind, loving, and fair.  She makes me laugh every day.  We are a team and we will do everything and anything for you!  We will be your biggest cheerleaders and will support you in whatever you do!  We will always do whatever we can to help you achieve your goals in life!

I promise I will do my best to keep you safe.  I promise to make you smile.  I promise to be there when you are scared.  I promise to always have a hand for you to hold.  I promise to be there to listen when you need to talk.  I promise to wipe away any tears when you hurt.  I promise to take care of you when you are sick.  I promise to be honest with you.  I promise to answer any questions you have.  I promise to put you first. I promise to love you forever, no matter what!

Only God knows how much time we will have together, sweetheart.  There is a quote that says:

“Time is free, but it is priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it.  You can’t keep it, but you can spend it.  Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.” 

I promise that I will treasure every moment we have together, Ella.  I look forward to every second of it.

I loved you yesterday, I love you more today, and I will love you more tomorrow.

Daddy

ella

 

 

 

 

 

She’s here!

stork

” A baby fills a place in your heart that you never knew was empty” – Anonymous

It has been a long journey, but the day finally arrived! We welcomed our daughter into the world this week, but the days leading up to her debut were far from easy.

The week before

Our due date for Ella’s arrival was February 16. The closer we got to that day, the harder it got for my wife. We had learned while trying to do a 3D ultrasound that our baby was very low. At a subsequent OB/GYN visit, our doctor also seemed surprised that she was as low as she was.

We also learned that she was “sunny side up”, which means the baby’s skull is against the back of the pelvis and the face points up toward the abdomen. What this meant for Sam was – a whole lot of pain. Because of the position of the skull, it cause an abundance of back pain. Back labor is terrible, because with every contraction there is pressure on the spinal cord. By Thursday, Sam was having sporadic contractions, and we knew we were getting close. We kept track of them with a handy dandy “contraction counter” app.

300x0w

Friday

We had our 38 week appointment with our OB/GYN. Sam was having contractions off and on and the doc had to check and see if she was dilated. She was dilated 2-3 centimeters and she was 80% effaced. He basically said that the baby could come at any time. He hooked her up to some equipment to see if there were contractions. He said there were and they were about 6 minutes apart. After some discussion, he planned an induction for Sunday night at 11pm. He then told us “You’ll have the baby before then” based on what he was seeing. Contractions and back pain kept Sam up most of the night.

Saturday

birthing center

Early Saturday morning, the contractions were between 5-7 minutes apart and Sam was having a lot of pain. We were told if the water broke, to head right to the hospital. Some people say the water breaking consists of a large pop and a gush of water. Some say it can be a trickle, which is what we were seeing. We decided to go to Labor/Delivery. While there, the contractions were only 6 minutes apart and she remained dilated 2-3 centimeters and 80% effaced. We were told that you have to be at least 6 centimeters before they keep you. I guess this is the new thing – labor at home. I think we were sent home around 2 or 3 that afternoon.

The remainder of Saturday we were home, anticipating going back to the hospital. The pain grew worse and there were times that Sam was in terrible pain throughout the night.

Sunday

No matter what happened, we knew that we had an induction scheduled for Sunday night. We had a snow storm system that was going through the state that was going to dump 4-6 inches on the ground. I had been saying that she’d probably come during a snow storm, so I thought for sure it was happening Sunday night.

The labor Sam was experiencing also indicated that we’d probably be heading to the hospital. The back pain was so intense that she was in tears. I felt helpless, and it really bothered me to see her in so much pain. The only thing I was happy about was knowing that we were going to be heading into the hospital that night.

We both had gotten very little sleep and decided that we were going to attempt to try to grab a few winks. We received a call from the hospital early in the afternoon saying that they had to cancel the induction due to them being “full”. We were again told that if her water broke to come in and they would find a way to accommodate us. They also told Sam to call about 10 am the following day to reschedule the induction.

I was immediately pissed off. How could they just cancel this?! I was furious. I wanted to call the doctor, but Sam said not to. I was angry because I had already called my boss and told her that we were going to have the baby by Monday and to start my time off, The more I thought about it the angrier I got.

The labor became more intense as the night went on. One of the suggestions we received in our birthing class for back labor was to hold your partner face to face and sway – like you were slow dancing. I did this more than a few times. Each time, Sam stood, there was a trickle of fluid running down her leg. I wondered if that was the water breaking, neither of us was sure. At 2am, Sam had had enough. She said we needed to go to the hospital, but then suggested we wait one more hour.

I am sure by this point, we knew we were heading to the hospital. Sam decided to take a shower because the hot water really helped. At 3:30, I finally called the Labor/Delivery department and asked about the trickle. They said it was probably not her water breaking, but if I felt like we were truly in labor to come in. I really felt like her water broke, despite the amount of it we were seeing, and quite frankly, was sick of seeing my wife in so much pain. So we were in the car and driving by 4am, Monday morning.

Monday (Technically, that last paragraph was where Monday started)

The hospital is about 30 minutes from us. A 30 minute drive for a woman in labor is not the most comfortable thing in the world. We were lucky that the snow had stopped, and despite some snow on the roads, we made it to the hospital in good time. We arrived at 5 am. The first thing I noticed was the fact that I was able to get a front spot in the Labor/Delivery parking lot. This never happens – especially when they are “full”!

When we walked in, there was nobody in the waiting area. When we pushed the call button, we were immediately brought back. As we sat giving the woman at the desk our info, I noticed that all of the triage/holding rooms were open and empty and there were members of the staff just sitting and talking. I also noticed that they had Sam’s paperwork already printed and ready for us. I mentioned it and they told us “We knew you were going to be here” (probably from my phone call).

Normally when you check in, they put you in one of those triage/holding rooms and hook the mom-to-be up to a monitor that measures contractions and listens to the baby’s heartbeat. We skipped that step entirely and were shown directly to our birthing room. We were in our room by 5:15 am. I couldn’t believe how fast this was all coming together.

I don’t remember if Sam asked about it, or if our nurse just let the information out, but we found out that because of the weather, many of the staff called in. That was the reason they had to cancel and reschedule the induction. Honestly, just tell me that. Why make up a story about being “full”? I don’t get it.

So through all of this, Sam is continuing to have this terrible back pain. Sam had told me during our birthing classes that she wanted to do the delivery with no medications. She told me that she did not want an epidural for pain. After hours of insane pain, she told me on the way to the hospital that she wanted to do the epidural. The epidural was in place by 5:45 am.

They won’t let anyone stay in the room while they place the epidural, so I was encouraged to go downstairs and have a cup of coffee. Sam and I hadn’t gotten any real good sleep since Thursday, so coffee sounded perfect! When I arrived back to the room, Sam was a different person. Those epidurals are pretty amazing. I watched that monitor thingy and could see these contractions, and Sam and I were just chatting away like nothing was going on!

This was Sam’s first baby, so we kept being told that labor is always longer on a first baby. They checked Sam again, and told us that she was dilated to 4 centimeters (10 is the magic number you need to get to). Our doc popped his head in on his way to a C-section and he told us we may be at 4 for a while. He said moms tend to “be stuck” at 4 for quite awhile. “It’s all downhill after you hit 6,” he said. He also told us that the baby had probably broke the water at the top of the sack with her foot, and that because she was so low, her head acted like a stopper, only allowing a little bit of fluid to trickle out.

They had started her on potocin, which is a medication that helps induce labor. The next time they checked her to see how dilated she was we were told that she was 100% effaced and she’d be pushing soon. That went a whole lot faster than either of us realized. Sam said she could tell the contractions were stronger and more frequent. She could feel pressure, but no pain. Another check from the nurses and we were told we were going to start pushing. It was about 2:10 pm. It was “go time”.

Approaching the Finish Line

Home-Stretch

As if on cue, all of a sudden my stomach started to churn, I began to sweat, and I pulled up a chair next to Sam. I thought “I am totally going to pass out. I swore I wasn’t going to pass out!” Luckily, this feeling passed quickly and by the second push, I was feeling better. We hadn’t really eaten anything for hours, so I am guessing that’s what was going on.

There were two nurses who had been working with us. One was a seasoned vet and the other was shadowing her and training. When it came time to push, the nurse could see the contraction start on that monitor and would tell Sam to take a deep breath and push through the contraction. She was to push for 10 seconds and the nurse counted those off in a steady tempo “1..2..3..4..5…..”

A few minutes in, she turned to the trainee nurse and said for her to keep count. This poor gal was obviously not in band/choir in school because she had no sense of rhythm at all! The contraction would start and she’d start counting “1..2…….3…….4.5.6………7…8…….9………….. and …….10.” There was never any real tempo to it. It was almost like she was thinking as she was counting. “1..2…(I wonder if I locked the front door)…..3…..(I may need to stop at Wendy’s for breakfast now that they are serving it there. I like eggs. Whoops – count!) 4.5.6…….(with my overtime, I should be able to afford to buy concert tickets) …. 7…8….It was crazy! There was more than one time that Sam just exhaled after this gal said 8, knowing full well it was more like 15!

This was the first natural child birth for me (both boys were born by C-section). I had heard all of the horror stories from friends who said they pushed for like 36 hours or a week or something before their baby was born. “The first one is always the hardest” people told us. Well, either our baby was in a hurry to meet us, or Sam is a super hero (I think both may be correct), because Sam pushed for just under 45 minutes and Ella was born!

Welcome, Ella!

(Some birth details here – for those readers with weak stomachs) One of the things my friends and I were asking about was what color hair she might have. Sam’s hair is light, mine was dark, and she has some red-heads on her side of the family. So as I started to get a glimpse of the baby’s head, I tried to figure it out, but really couldn’t. I remember as she was pushing thinking “Wow, this baby has a tiny head. She is going to be small.” Those thoughts vanished immediately as her entire head appeared. Once that happened, she slid right out. It was the grossest and most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed! I glanced at my phone and noted the time – 2:57pm.

fox tag

Her tiny cry brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. The doctor called me over to cut the cord (something I had done with my youngest son, Dimitri). I remember the cord being extremely hard to cut with my son, so I was totally ready to fight this cord. The doc had clamped it and showed me where to cut, and it cut like butter. It actually threw me for a loop. They cleaned stuff off the baby and handed her to Sam so that they could share some skin to skin time. As I sat next to Sam, watching her look at our baby, my heart overflowed with happiness!

Having those moments to ourselves meant so much. Sure, the doctors and nurses were all still in the room. They were cleaning stuff, stitching, and doing some other things, but I couldn’t tell you what they were. In that moment, there were six other people hustling around in the room with us, but in that moment, it was just the three of us. It was Happiness, Awe, and Wonder beyond measure!!

After about 20 minutes, they took Ella to be weighed, measured, and to give her a general examination. At this time they put her feet in ink and stamp them on a card for you. In my previous post, I posted a picture of a pink T-shirt with “Labor Coach 2020” and baby footprints on it. That is the shirt I wore during the delivery, with one specific purpose in mind – I wanted her footprints on my shirt.

footprints

What a keepsake!

Ella’s first visitor was Aunt Emily, who brought her a a cute stuffed elephant. Nana came over after that and got to hold her granddaughter. That evening, I received a text message from my friend Margaret. It was a picture of the hospital lobby. I responded and asked “Are you here?!” She said she was and that she brought food. When I walked to the lobby, she had food for an army (which was kind of intentional)! She and her husband Walt brought Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan for Sam and I (with salads and breadsticks) from Olive Garden. She also had three big things of soup, huge salads, breadsticks, and more for the staff. Those nurses were surprised when I told them that the food was for them! They were more than grateful.

Ella had two other special and important visitors on her first day – her brothers. I sent them a picture when she was born and told them they could come up after school. Dante’ was able to get the car and bring his brother to the hospital with him. I met them in the lobby because they weren’t sure where to go. When Dante’ saw me he yelled “Dad!” and ran to me. He and Dimitri were so excited to see their sister. On the way back to the room, they both asked if Sam was ok. Both boys had a chance to hold her.

boys with sister

I had to chuckle when she started to cry while Dimitri was holding her. I laughed because I remember that feeling! I was probably about his age, maybe older, when my Uncle Tom and Aunt Jane’s twins were born. I remember holding Sara and she started crying. I panicked! I didn’t know what to do! I know he had to be feeling exactly what I did, so I grabbed her from him. They stayed about an hour, but had to head home because it was a school night. Both have texted throughout the past couple days asking if she was ok and for updates. I am so excited to see how their relationship will grow!

Nod to the winner

On my Facebook page, I asked for guesses as to when the baby would be born. There were almost 200 guesses! Folks who guessed had to pick the date and give a weight in case of a tie. Congratulations to Christine Anderson who went to high school with me. She not only picked 2-10, but she was only off by an ounce! She guessed 7 pounds 8 ounces. She lives out of state, so I gotta find a way to buy her a coffee!

Tuesday

Day two included a bath, hearing test, and blood work. Visitors included Papa (Sam’s dad), cousin Matt, Uncle Jeff, and Aunt Stephanie. With her bath done, we decided to get her dressed and take a few pictures. Sam is a Pinterest junkie. She saw something on their that spawned an idea for a picture. Prior to our trip to the hospital, I stopped at the store and picked up what we needed. I absolutely love this picture.

cupcake

Speaking of pictures, both boys had pictures done at the hospital when they were born. They had yet to come and do them, so I asked about it. I was told that their photographer had quit and they had a new one starting at the end of the month. Well, this doesn’t help us! That’s when you improvise – I think this will be our birth announcement picture:

clean after bath

I had already started taking things out to the car and had the “going home” outfit (purchased by my co-workers) ready. It was then that we were told that the bilirubin levels were high and they wanted to keep us one more night. While we were anxious to get her home, we also knew we needed to stay to see if they were better the next day.

That evening was a rough one for both Sam and I. Neither one of us had really slept much. Sam was up and down all night breastfeeding. The baby was quite fussy that first night. At one point, I tried to sleep for a bit. ANY dad who has had to sleep on that awful, rock-hard, “couchy” thing can tell you how uncomfortable it is! I got a few minutes here and there, but nothing really worth anything.

After one particular wake up, I looked up to see my wife holding the baby. I watched her, and reflected on the past few days. This woman was simply amazing. She endured intense pain, emotional mood swings, and pushed out this little miracle all in a span of 72 hours! I also reflected on the 9 months prior. I remembered her telling me we were having a baby, our baby shower, the many nights where I put my hand on her belly to feel this miracle kick me, picking her name, our doctor’s appointments, building the baby’s room, and many other moments that brought happy tears. How do I even begin to explain how much I love this woman?! Well, I found a quote from Tina Brown, but am altering it a bit to make it fit:

“Having a baby is like falling in love again with your (wife) and child”

mom holding baby

I thought I loved her before! I thought I fell more and more in love with her each day! My love for both of them has increased a hundred times infinity!

Wednesday

We were anxious to go home. They did take some more blood to check the bilirubin levels and we waited. We also did another hearing test, because one of the ears did not pass the day before. While we waited, we held our baby and watched her cute facial expressions. All through the pregnancy, every time we did an ultrasound, her hand was by her face. It was no surprise that she continued to do this after she was born. I think she is trying to suck her thumb here…

thumb sucking

The blood work came back, and the bilirubin level was still a bit high. He told us we could go home, but we needed to see our pediatrician first thing the following day to check the levels again. I called and made the appointment and loaded up the car. We were all happy to be heading home.

headinghome

Ella’s first stop at home, was her room. Sam made sure she got to see it.

in crib

Sam and I continued to sleep poorly (Sam more than me, because she was breastfeeding throughout the night). We had to be up early to get to the pediatrician on Thursday. Because of my insurance, her doctor is 45 minutes away. The roads were awful thanks to snow, but we made it down on time. The doc did her examination and we went to the lab to have blood taken yet again.

We drove all the way home and as we pulled in the driveway, the doc called Sam. The levels came back twice as high as the should be, so she suggested we go to the ER. She’d need light therapy to bring those levels down. This time we had to take her an hour away because now she is on my insurance. We waited about 7 hours in the ER waiting for a room to open. While we waited, we watched as three nurses poked out little girl for blood unsuccessfully. That is one of those hard parent moments, let me tell you!

blue light

Happy to say that the numbers continue to fall, and hopefully we will be able to leave soon. Dig those rock star shades!

If all continues to progress in our favor, we can go home. Today, after a feeding, she opened her eyes and just stared into mine. Like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes today!!

As I look at my sweet princess, I wonder. What will those eyes see in her lifetime? What will those ears hear in her lifetime? What experiences will she have? How will she do in school? What will she grow up to be? Will she be right or left handed? Who will she act more like – mommy or me? SO many unanswered questions! Excitement lies ahead! I can’t wait!

I love you, Ella, and will always be here to hold your hand!

Hand in hand

“I loved you from the very start. You stole my breath, embraced my heart. Our life together has just begun. You are a part of me, my little one.”

My princess’s story began 2-10-20 with “Once upon a time…..”