Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

            One year ago I was walking into a clients office in San Francisco when I got the call. Your Mom hadn’t been feeling good the past few days and I was convinced she was working too hard and just needed to relax…….I was wrong. I picked up the phone expecting to hear that everything was fine and the appointment had gone great like all the rest but instead I heard something in your Mom’s voice that I rarely hear….fear. She told me that they had done some tests and the Doctor thought she might have a severe form of Toxemia. She then told me that they may have to put her an ambulance and get her over to the hospital for an emergency C-section. This took a little bit to sink in and I stood dumbfounded on the sidewalk off Market Street for a few minutes trying to process what was happening. I started mumbling something about documents that needed to be dropped off for work and was quickly jolted back into reality when I heard the first signs of panic on the other end of the line. I rushed back to my car and took to the streets like a criminal on a high-speed chase. Ignoring most stop signs and red lights I made it onto the bridge in record time.
 I remember thinking to myself that there was no way my little girl was going be born today. The more anxious I got the faster I drove. When I finally looked down and realized I was going 110 miles an hour I thought to myself it probably wouldn’t be the best scenario for me to crash going this fast. I tried to calm myself down by trying to think of what sign she would be if, by chance, she was actually born today. I racked my internal astrological calendar and realized I had no clue what a March 23rd baby would fall under.  I assured myself that this was fine because there was noooooo way we were having a baby today. As I screeched into the parking lot and ran into the building I tried to compose myself before your Mom saw me. I kept repeating to myself “Its gonna be fine we are NOT having the baby today” I figured as long as I kept saying it over and over again I could manifest the most ideal outcome. I went into the room she was supposed to be and she wasn’t there. “We are NOT having this baby today.” I ran down the hall and found somebody that told me she had been moved…..not good. “We are NOT having this baby today” As I made my way into the next building I noticed it was the same building that our friends Nick and Cailin had just had their baby in. This was not a big deal because, “ We were NOT having this baby today.” When I finally found your Mom I couldn’t help but notice she was in a hospital gown, hooked to an IV, and not looking very happy. “ So looks like we’re having a baby today,” she said as the tears began to form in her eyes…….so much for manifestation.
The next few hours were a blur. Your Mom was loaded into an ambulance and taken to John Muir in Walnut Creek. Looks like my little girl and me were going to be born in the same hospital. Your Mom later told me that she was joking around with her ambulance drivers as they listened to Kings of Leon on the radio. I circled the parking lot looking for the marked spaces for frantic father-to-be but had to settle for the last spot on the highest floor. By the time I made it to the room there were already ten people crowded around trying to comfort your Mom. She was doing incredibly well considering the circumstances and was seemingly exceptionally calm. I, on the other hand, was kind of a wreck. The Doctor came in and explained the situation. We could either try to induce labor, which would be painful and most likely unsuccessful, or we could have an emergency C-section as soon as they could prep her. He said he would give us 2 minutes to decide…Awesome. I followed him into the hall and explained that I had read on Google, yes I actually said this, that sometimes Toxemia would regulate with a little bed rest. His exact words, “ Her situation is a little different and I don’t want to freak you out but if we don’t get that baby out today you could lose them both.”   Yeeeeaaaaah thanks for not freaking me out or anything Doc. I walked back into the room trying to hide the greenish tone that my skin had just turned and grabbed a hold of her hand while trying to wipe the mascara off the corner of her eye. After his initial bomb drop the Doc came back in and turned out to be a total rock star. He laid down the facts and made us feel totally comfortable. He assured your Mom that her scar would be minimal and she would be able to wear any skimpy bathing suit she wanted without having to hide a gigantic scar. One minute he’s talking life and death and the next we’re talking about bathing suits…..strange day.
Before I knew it I was in scrubs and being led into the operating room were your mom was laid out in a very Christ like pose on an operating table. She was split in half by a sheet so we didn’t have to see them working. She remained as calm as she had been for the majority of the day when they asked her if he was ready. I remember being so impressed with the way she had handled herself through all this. Even before you were born seeing your Mom deal with this whole situation with such grace made me confident that she was going to be an excellent mother. The procedure was quick and other than the clear bucket being filled with blood right next to me, not as bad as I thought it would be. I tried to tell your Mom a story about a hike we went on to keep her mind off what was happening but she couldn’t remember what I was talking about and I was too distracted by the ever increasing volume of the blood bucket to start a new story, Just as I realized that my techniques of calming her down were failing miserably I heard your voice for the first time… was tiny. I shot up so quickly to see you that I forgot I had been told to wait until they said to come over. As I looked back to share my excitement with your Mom I realized she still had a large hole in her and was not quite ready to jump up and celebrate. I did everything in my power to not pass out as seeing so much of her internal organs wasn’t as pleasant as one may think. After they wiped the goo off you I got to really see you for the first time… were tiny. Tiny arms, tiny legs and the tiniest feet and hands I had ever seen. You were the most beautiful thing in the world. They tried to put a tube down your throat to help you breath but you didn’t think you needed it and immediately pulled it. One of the Doctors laughed and said, “We got a little fighter.” They wrapped you in a blanket and put on a little pink hat that you apparently didn’t care for either and instantly threw it on the ground. At that moment I remember thinking, “this one’s gonna be a handful.” They put you on the scale and the little red numbers said 4.7 pounds, I had eaten bigger burritos. They whisked you away before I got a chance to hold you and started on a number of different tests.  I felt totally helpless watching them poke and prod you. I wanted to push the Nurses and Doctors out of the way and say” That’s my daughter STOP messing with her and give her to ME!” Instead I just stood there with my heart pounding hoping the results of all these tests would be good. I kept checking the faces of the staff trying to determine if everything was going smoothly. Finally one of the nurses told me that everything looked fine so far and I felt a bit of my anxiety dissipate. Just as I began to calm down they took you into another room and told me that I could see you in “ a little bit.” I went back into the operating room and told your Mom what was going on and saw the look of disappointment in her face when she realized she wasn’t going to get to hold you right away. Nothing about this day had gone like we thought it would but not being able to hold you after you were born was by far the hardest thing for your Mom and I.
When we finally got to see you they had you hooked up to a breathing mask along with various other IV tubes and wires. We must have looked very concerned and scared because people kept assuring us that you were doing great and that everything seemed fine…….we were still very scared. Neither of us slept much that night and I must of made five trips into the NICU to stare and talk to you through the little hole in your incubator. They finally let Mom hold you the next day and you looked so small and fragile in her arms. A look came over her face that I had never seen before when she first looked at you and at that moment nothing else mattered except that you were here and you were ours. Happy Birthday little girl and thank you for the great year!




Monday, February 28, 2011

Just The Two Of Us

            As you waved your adorable backwards wave the rain began to fall harder as your Mom got in the car on her way to the airport. We sat on the porch for a little longer and listen to the drops hit the pool. You pointed at the rushing water coming down the Japanese chain drain and curiously stared at the sky until my hand began to get numb signifying our need to get back in the house. As we sat on the floor next to the heating vent you played with Laney’s ear, giggled and rocked until you gave me the “its time for breakfast” sigh/whine. The morning started brilliantly but as soon as I tried to put you down for your nap your demeanor began to change. You arched your backed in protest and started to howl. Your sobs were peppered with faint cries of Mumma, Momeee and Muma. That’s when I stared to panic. I tried everything in the book to get you go to bed but you were not having it. Something I had read on the Internet the night before had me jumping to all kinds of conclusions. Doctor’s appointments were made and eventually canceled after I realized you just really didn’t want to go to bed. This theme carried over into the rest of the day, which I attributed to you just really wanting to spend some quality time with your Dad. We read books, stacked blocks, went on a back yard tour, played with Laney and pulled every one of your stuffed animals out of the cabinet. Through all of this you never rubbed your eyes or even gave the slightest yawn, I on the other hand was exhausted. After only one day on my own I had a whole new respect for single parents and stay at home moms. You fought for two hours past your bedtime and eventually gave up….thank you children’s Tylenol. For a few hours I had time to pick up and clean the army of bottle’s, bibs, bowls and utensils that you had used throughout the day. At 3:30 AM after Laney decided to alert us all that there was a Raccoon washing his dinner in the pool you woke up and deiced that you founds Laney’s announcement rather amusing. What seemed like 15 minutes passed before the sky got a little lighter, the birds began to chirp and a little voice called out for……Mommmmm.
            We got into our rhythm on day two of Daddy Daughter weekend. Cries for Mom began to be replaced by calls for Dud, Da and finally Dadeeee. You napped, I napped and it seemed as though we were back on schedule. As dinner rolled around the guys came over with pizza and beer. You flirted and seemed to truly enjoy being the center of attention in a room full of dudes. Then it was time for bed… disagreed. After two hours of trying every one of Mom’s tricks I surrendered and brought you out to join the party. You contently watched the Celtics game and relentlessly tried to steal everyone’s beers until eventually you began to slow down. Two hours past your bedtime and you finally went down….lets hope Mommy doesn’t read my posts anymore. I figured after going down so late you would want to sleep in…. I was wrong. I normally don’t wake up with a smile on my face at 6:15 but when I heard your tiny voice say Dada I couldn’t help but laugh as I dragged myself into your room to start our last full day together. We went on a long walk in the park with Laney and you said Dada, Dadeee, and Dad the whole time…….I’ll be honest it almost made me cry. We practiced crawling and you successfully made it all the way down the hall……backwards. We went to Mima’s for dinner and once again you decided that you wanted to stay up and hang out with everyone until you were ready to go bed. Your Mom spent all that time getting you on schedule and I ruined it in two days. I tried to explain when Mom finally got home that your schedule seemed to have ummm “shifted” while she was away. She confidently said it would be fine and went back to put you down at your standard time to which I said, “There is nooooo way she’s gonna go down now.” Once again I was very, very wrong. Sometimes there is just no substitute for Moma….. not even Dada.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Your Great GrandPapa

January was not an easy month for any of us. I wanted to write something heartfelt about your Great Grandpa but only managed to put up a few pictures of the two of you together. I have been struggling with the right words for the last three weeks and I realized today that no words, none that I know, will ever be enough to describe how much your Great Grandpa meant to me. There are very few people in life that can maintain the level of composure and grace that Papa had…..he was the coolest person I have ever met. Some of my earliest memories are spending time on his shoulders as we walked along the path to the beach in Hawaii or through the snow lined trail behind the condo in Incline. He was always smiling and if he ever had a bad day it never affected his ability to make you feel like everything was going to be just fine. When you were with him you felt safe, loved and lucky. He made everyone around him feel comfortable and important. As I got older our relationship matured he became someone I looked to for advice and guidance. Harper your “GGP” was quite the business man. He ran everything from farms to golf courses and car dealerships. Everyone he worked with respected and loved him. After he passed we threw a party in his honor and people that worked with and for him came out to pay their respects. Everyone had something wonderful to say about him and the kind of person he was. As you get older you’ll see that it’s pretty rare for people to say nice things about their boss. Harper you didn’t realize it at the time but you helped us all so much through this difficult period. Whenever the sadness was too much to bear for any of us, we just held, touched, or looked at you. You were the perfect angel throughout the entire party and the only thing, other than some rather funny stories about your GGP, that put a smile on peoples face. You were a constant reminder that life goes on which is exactly what your GGP would have wanted. The last night you saw him we made him dinner after the chaos of Christmas, and you sat on his lap the entire time your mother and I ran around the kitchen.  He wasn’t feeling very good that night but you never would have known it, because just like him you have a way to make people feel like everything is going to be just fine. He loved you very much and all though you didn’t get to spend a great deal of time with him I could tell that you loved him very much too.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy 10 Month Birthday!

Today Harper is 10 months old!  She is getting so much stronger and, with a little support, can stand on her own for a pretty long time.  She is eating lots of yummy homemade food like chicken apple sweet potato puree that mommy makes her every week.  Harper loves to eat all types of food and everything is "mmmm" good to her.  She has found her voice and is saying mama regularly which is a relief because for a while there she was calling me Bob.  Everyone told us that it would just keep getting better as she got older and it most certainly has.  Harper is such a great baby and we feel so blessed each and every day that we have her in our lives.

Click on the link below to see Harper say mama.
Harper says mama!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Harper's First Trip to the Snow!

This weekend we took Harper to the snow for the first time. While dad was convinced it would only take us 30 minutes to pack, we spent 5 hours getting ready for our big family trip.  Harper did great on the long road trip and slept most of the way there.  We arrived late in the evening at our friend's beautiful Lake Tahoe home.  We hurried to get Harper's sleeping arrangements set up and prayed that she would find her new crib familiar with all of the blankets and stuffed animals we brought from home, and comfortable enough to fall asleep again.  It took a little longer than we thought, but she eventually went down for the evening.  We crept downstairs and had a couple glasses of wine to unwind from our hectic work week and long drive up, and then crawled into bed excited about our first day of skiing of the season.

No more than an hour of shut eye later and Harper started crying.  This was very strange because usually she is a great sleeper.  She has been sleeping through the night since she was 5 months old; what was going on?  We picked her up and soothed her back to sleep but she kept waking up and each time it got worse.  Her nose was getting increasingly stuffy and her breathing became labored until both of us were at the edge of the bed making sure she was o.k.  We hadn't lost this much sleep or been this scared since the very first night we brought her home from the hospital.  At 3:30 in the morning we debated to get back into our car and head out to the drugstore to buy a bulb syringe for her nose, or go to the emergency room....were we just being paranoid?  We weren't even really sure where we were, let alone how to get to the hospital and it hadn't stopped snowing since we arrived.  We decided it would be safest to take shifts watching Harper and holding her upright to help her breathe easier and comfort her so that she could sleep.  It seemed like the longest night of our lives.

Once the sun rose, the plans we had for the day changed.  Dad helped mom get Harper ready and figure out where the nearest after hours clinic was.  After we mapped out where we were headed, dad hit the slopes and the girls headed to see the doctor.  One hour in the waiting room, 3 nurses and 3 pharmacies later it was determined that Harper had croup (a serious and sometimes fatal chest cold that effects babies) and needed steroids in order to take down the inflammation in her airways so that she could breathe.  All the while, she had barely slept, missed her morning nap and couldn't get comfortable.....a mother's worst nightmare.  Once we gave Harper the medicine she needed, she conked out for the afternoon and got some much needed rest.  Perfect timing for mom to sneak in a half day of skiing.

The snow was perfect and the weather couldn't have been better.  We had a great time despite how tired we were and really enjoyed our first tracks of the season.  That night we gave Harper a steam shower and let her breathe in the cold mountain air (doctor's orders).  We had a delicious dinner and cozied up to the fire for our last night in the cabin.  We all slept much better that night and headed home in the morning.

Monday, January 3, 2011

We'll Miss You Papa

Jim "Papa" Doten • July 9, 1930 - January 3, 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!


The first thing that came to my mind this morning was that I broke my promise to post on the blog every month. In the chaos that is December I forgot my own rule to contribute a little piece of literary context to my daughters first year of life. This morning I sat staring out the window at the endless gray expanse of the Pacific (We’re in Pebble Beach) and realized that I had also neglected to make a New Years Resolution, 0-2 going into 2011 didn’t sit well. The Holidays tend to stir up a variety of emotions within me but guilt usually wasn’t one of them.
            It has been over a year since Ryane, Laney and I sat on the cold floor and opened a little package that would completely change our lives. The present sat under the tree last year for over three weeks, which seemed like an eternity for someone like myself with the patience level of a two year old. Our ultrasound technician had kindly accepted our request to write the gender of Baby Siegel in a sealed envelope and gave no inclinations when I prodded her suggestions that “my little boy” was looking good on the monitor. The contents of the envelop alone didn’t have enough drama for the big reveal so Ry dropped the information off to our good friends, The Clarke’s, along with an outfit for a little boy, a little pink dress and instructions to wrap the appropriate clothing based on the results of the ultrasound. The package was delivered to our house a few days later and placed along side the other gifts as if it were just another sweater or pair of gloves. Every time I walked past it I had the urge to accidentally fall into the tree and in turn possibly catch a glimpse of the color of fabric within. In the end I never did peek mostly because I was convinced we were having a boy. Our “clairvoint” friend told us she had a vision and it was definitely a boy, the hocus pocus ring test my mother had claimed fool proof for years said it was a boy, my neighbor convinced that baby girls drained the beauty out of their mother told us that Ryane was a vision of maternal beauty and that it had to be a boy.
As we pulled the tiny pink dress out of the festive tissue paper all I could think was……oh boy?
One year later I saw the joy that Harper brought to everyone’s faces this Christmas and something changed for me. I’ll be the first to admit I have been more than a little scroogey the last few years. The excitement of he Holidays was replaced with the stress of having to navigate frantic parking lots just to be herded with the rest of the masses into some unruly and disheveled retail barn. People are overworked, underpaid, and generally overwhelmed and this becomes clearly apparent after spending a few hours Christmas shopping. I don’t like the music, I think the whole concept of Santa is a little conflicting and I don’t really care for eggnog. None of that mattered when I saw my Grandpa hold my little girl on Christmas Eve. As she played with her new Christmas Bear with her Mimi and Papa I remembered why the holidays are special. Life as I know it has changed and that seemed to ring very true on Christmas Eve as I carved the family turkey for the first time. I know that the New Year will bring many new surprises but as I think back and remember all the great moments, including Christmas (go figure), I think that an appropriate resolution for me would be to relax and enjoy. Life is short and if you get too caught up in all the distractions you might miss the beauty. To all my friends and family, I love you, Thank you for a very special Christmas and Happy New Year!