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29 October 2007

Duty Calls, Part 1

One of the many diversified parts of my work life consist of teaching advanced search & rescue topics to a local, state and federal audience. To my new born son, I assume that being gone too soon would mean that he would begin the long spiral downward into father-deprivation, beheading his GI Joe's and everlasting bed wetting. So when his blessed birth finally came I began anguishing the cost-benefit of being gone too soon to deliver a couple of classes out of town or stay and give him the fatherly presence that again, I assumed, he would need. Little did I know. To the person, the medical staff at the hospital after Ethan was born stated that unless I produced milk, that my presence - for Ethan's benefit anyway - was largely ceremonial. So there. I also learned that our wonderful mother's bodies amp up a whole degree warmer after giving birth to give the newborn a warm place to hang out.

So, before I bid adieu for a little while so I can make some gravy for my family, let me address two key points:

1- There is no greater wife, friend, mother and companion than my wife Tonya. It is only with her unreserved support and assurance that I would even consider being gone so soon after her giving birth. Having an awesome support network and an 11 year old daughter helps too.

2- Women's Centers are awesome at the obvious, taking care of women. If those where the only people that needed service there, that would be fine, but there are a slew of involved MEN that are under served while trying to be strong for their women. I will address this disparity in greater detail in a future offering.

27 October 2007

The Doctor is in

A neighbor threw a Halloween party and bought Ethan a little doctor’s scrubs costume. We modified a headband and added a round tin foil covered ‘reflective mirror’ and voila, a doctor in residency. Of course no one could resist his charms and he was the runaway winner of the costume party, netting $36 for his troubles. How ‘bout that? He is already contributing money into the household and he is barely a week old. Going forward, nothing less will do.

26 October 2007

Juggling Anyone?

Juggling anyone? So, I tried to pick up the ancient art of 3-ball-juggling. There is probably something metaphorical there, but I’ll save that for another day. A friend on my TF got me inspired while we were ‘camping’ in the Astrodome awaiting Hurricane Rita. Juggling it seems helps pass the time. For me, juggling’s positive effects have been a tad more elusive. It’s more like the lesser known ancient game of 3-ball–controlled-drop-and-frantic-lunge. When Tonya became pregnant, I envisioned a carnival act in front of Ethan where he watches his dad in amazement juggling three colorful orbs of fun. Today, that act consisted of an errant toss into his bassinet near his sleeping body followed by a hearty admonishment from Tonya. More practice is needed.

25 October 2007

Projectile Poop

No, nobody threw it, but the velocity that Ethan’s bottom produces is astounding. While his diaper was off, he snuck one by us and shot his gooey yellow wad of poo the length of the changing table. It looked like somebody stepped on a rancid spicy mustard packet.

24 October 2007

Dogs R Us

I have dogs. I love dogs. I train dogs and I work dogs. That is to say I know a few things about dogs. In fact, some might say I know more about dogs than their human counterpart…children. But alas, it is my blog and my story. Therefore, I take liberal use of implementing K9 behavior and applying it to humans and vice versa. So far, it has worked quite well for me thank you very much. There are some important Laws of Behavior that will no doubt ooze forth from time to time, but speaking dog also provides some comedy while comparing them to children. Today, we watched Ethan offer one of his many faces and like all goofy parents, we tried to apply a resulting behavior to them. This behavior, a productive urination, produced a hearty pursed lip and, when done, a vigorous shaking of one leg, as if to you know, shake the dew from his lily. Male dogs, male humans and males of all species know this private ceremony after a productive pee.

19 October 2007


SUMMARY: The Eaglette Has Landed.

DETAILS: At 6:08am, 19OCT 2007 in {edited for privacy}, Ethan Michael {edited for privacy}finally forced his way out and has joined Tonya, Emily and me at the family table. Since stats are important I am told, here are his:

Weight: 6.7 pounds
Length: 19 inches long
40 meter dash: 4.2 second
Phone Numbers slipped into his nursery crib for ‘play dates’ by smitten female infants: 4

Tonya is awesome and is the real hero in all of this. She has endured more during this pregnancy than what most women and no man I know could have. She took ‘taking one for the team’ to a whole new level and I couldn’t be more happy to share this experience with her. When it was finally time, she gritted her teeth and – drug free – escorted little Ethan to the light. Impressive.

Ethan’s plan stayed consistently clear even before arrival when he vigorously kicked (or paddled) all the way down the birth canal in near record time. From Tonya’s first signs of contracting to his ta-da-I-am-here moment, it was barely 3 hours (not including the 6 weeks of pre-labor contractions of course!). After he was placed in the new baby kiosk by the neo natal special forces ….he proceeded to pee, a lot, on them, the wall and the apparatus. His territory has been duly marked I suppose. I am just waiting to see dry cleaning, equipment repair and a new paint job on our hospital invoice.

Physically, Ethan is fine or will be as far as we know. Since the speed in which he travelled the birth canal was like a basketball bouncing off the rim into the basket, his faced got bruised all over, which will quickly heal. Now though, he looks a little like a memory foam doll that hasn’t sprung back to shape yet, particularly his head that went from the width of a couple of DVD’s to the size of round Texas grapefruit just by being born. Incredible stuff for those that haven’t experienced it in person.

Want to see the little booger? The hospital took a couple of obligatory baby pics and posted them on their site
: {edited for privacy}. Appearance wise, he will still be in the ‘not a fetus, not yet a human’ stage (sorry Britney), but for us, he is captivating beyond words. The more I gaze at him the more astonished and hopelessly attached I become. After the phase where he looks like an ‘old drunk Irishman’, I have no doubt he will be dashing to more than just his parents too. :)

No Neonatal ICU for this boy! He is assigned to the general population nursery and barring some south turn tomorrow, he will go the {edited for privacy} Hacienda with us on Sunday. How cool is that? He is nursing fine and has gifted us with more than his daily quota of tar filled diapers…which I am getting better at replacing without getting the goo all over a wiggly baby, the crib and myself. Ritz Cracker anyone?

Tonya’s and Ethan’s fan base has grown to include many from the medical team that attended to them for all those weeks during her preterm delivery ‘challenges’. When Tonya’s name came up on their Jumbotron as being back in-house, with a newborn this time, they began streaming over to see her and meet this child that they spent so much time attending to in-utero but had never met. Tonya’s charm and appeal as a patient aside, these medical folks are committed to their craft and to their patient’s final objective, and that doesn’t end just because their shift does. How great is that to be around – and be treated by - people that are so thoughtfully and thoroughly mission oriented. Our pregnancy ended in success in large part due to the dedication of those folks at {edited for privacy} Hospital. In additional we also owe many, many people a collective thanks for your well wishes, prayers, offers and far ranging support. So while this chapter in Ethan’s Epic Story comes to an end, our appreciation for your kindness does not.

Thank you again. Now, in search of a nap….

Mike, Tonya, Emily….and ETHAN!

05 October 2007


Ah, we meet again so soon.

Tonya is back at the {edited for privacy} Hacienda … and is still pregnant with Ethan. The big brains in the white coats feel that this is the best course of action and we are suitably convinced. So at this writing, she is in our own bed, chillin’ (medical term is ‘continuing bed rest’ I believe) until further notice. Our dogs were overcome with excitement to see her back and Tonya was visibly relieved to be back in familiar surroundings. Obviously, Emily and I are grateful to have our family back in the same comfortable place again too.

As we enter this next chapter, we are not sure what help we may or may not need yet, but I would sure like to state again how much we appreciate and are honored by the tremendous support and offers of support we have received. The notes, emails, gestures, meals, rides, bags of untraceable cash left on the stoop, (okay, maybe not that last one) etc. have been outstanding. Thank you all again.

As if this last month was a blur, we now return to weekly doctor’s appointments, sleeping in our own bed and to homework done at a desk instead of the floor of a hospital room. Since I am mostly confident that reports of such details would far exceed anyone’s already stretched tolerance to know so much about our family, I don’t expect to send another update until there is a significant change of status. Qualifying events would be: an actual bag of cash left on the stoop, the eventual birth of our little whippersnapper or perhaps that I finally learned to juggle for more than 15 seconds without breaking any furniture.

To reach Tonya in the meantime, feel free to call the house during sensible hours at {edited for privacy}
. She will periodically check her home email too at {edited for privacy}.

Visits are great also, but of course please contact us first to arrange. Our home address is {edited for privacy}. Park anywhere except in front of the fire hydrant.

That’s it for now. And thank you all again very, very much.


03 October 2007


SUMMARY: The bun is still in the oven. The presumably successful end of this pregnancy is near.

DETAILS: Needless to say, everyone is happy that said bun is still in said oven. After setting a personal best of nearly eight days of no new labor contractions, Tonya started having contractions again at the end of last week and they have continued on and off through the weekend and sporadically into this week. Thus far, the outstanding team at the hospital continues to do what they do so well… drug the little booger into submission. While that tactic is successful for keeping Ethan at bay in the short term, the effects don’t last very long, and the drugs have detrimental long term effects for the host (our dearest Tonya). In simple terms, the worst that can happen to Tonya by staying on the drugs is worse than can happen to Ethan if he is born now, so the lesser of the two evils is for them to stop fighting back and let Ethan do what is inevitable.

Ethan’s head remains in the ‘go’ position and judging from the sonogram, it appears somewhat misshapen for the effort, including some dramatically chubby cheeks. To those like me trying to comprehend something that seems so unnatural, I think of a rat’s head squishing under a door to escape after stealing a piece of cheese. The medical team assures me however that Ethan’s head will return to a more humanlike shape at ‘some point’ … and that no cheese will be involved. We also got a glimpse of his focus and reaction to the sonogramographer (yes, I made that up) when he tried to get Ethan’s lodged head to move by zapping him with a little Taser like device they playfully call a Fetal Attitude Adjustment machine. No, I am not kidding. Little Ethan barely flinched from his launch position, but did offer a rather distinctive finger wave to us to presumably let us know how he feels about our little prank. Ethan = 1, sonogram guy = 0.

This coming Monday (October 8th) will mark our 34th week, which is worth cheering for. The list of possibly unpleasant outcomes (respiratory issues mainly) drop significantly again; and 34 is of course a step closer to the promised land of 36 weeks. Regretably, there is a systematic lack of willingness for the medical folks to project likely outcomes (thanks to their fear of @*&^$@# lawyers no doubt) but from our various chats with them, Tonya and I have the fervent belief that the worst is behind us and that while an early delivery still seems likely, the chance of defect or other notable issue is statistically improbable.

Later this week we will also have a SITREP of our own with the Captain of our Medical Team. According to her counterparts, and with the recommendation of the perinatalogist, we are somewhat expecting that they will kick Tonya to the curb this weekend or early next week. We expect to hear two reasons: 1) empirically and statistically, there is no difference in preterm delivery for mothers that stay in the hoosegow versus those that ride out their time at home and 2) they will probably not medically intervene to stop any labor that commences after 34 weeks, which thereby reduces the need for 24 hour bedside medical care.

So, If you are planning on a visit after next Monday and you haven’t heard from me yet, I suggest calling her room first {edited for privacy} to make sure she is still there.

LOGISTICS: There have been some real stand out performances by folks helping to get Emily to/from school, to the hospital, special meals, repeat visits to Tonya (in person and by phone), treats, flowers, etc. At this moment, I can’t think of anything that we need that isn’t already in motion.

It is incredible to see and hear of the number of people interested in Tonya’s and Ethan’s welfare and the outpooring of support and offers of support. To quote the literary genius of my favorite 6th grader: “you guys ROCK!”