Friday, May 25, 2007

Tobin's First Birthday

Tobin had his first birthday one week ago today. I have a few things to share about his big day--actually his big weekend. On Thursday the 17th, the Walsh side of the family showed up: Al and Amy from Florida, Bethany and Louise from Louisiana, and Ashley from Atlanta. On Friday, the Smith side of the family made it in: Tobin's Great-Grandma Yardley from Missouri (by way of every state in between, it seems) and Larry and Tricia (my parents) from Kentucky.

We were a little worried about Tobin being overwhelmed with all of the attention, but he was great. There was a time or two that he seemed a little concerned about all the commotion, but for the most part he just ate it up . . which brings me to the most entertaining part of the weekend.

On Saturday, the family and some close friends had lunch together and shared Tobin's first birthday cake. He had a Spider-Man cake with a blue web of icing on it.
first birthday cake
I guess it was the first time that Tobin has ever been sung to by a large group of people, but his reaction was really funny. He wasn't sure what to make of the singing or the cake at first. You should watch the video and see for yourself. Click the picture of Tobin below to launch the file. If you're on a Mac or you want to download the video in iPod friendly format, use this link.

The video above has music added. Tobin likes to watch the video and bob his head to the beat. If you would rather watch the video without music, you can use this link (or this one for iPod format). It's the same video as the one above; it just doesn't have the additional music. If you like the music, bob your head like Tobin while you watch it.

Allison said it well below, but we really are thankful for all of you that wished Tobin a happy birthday, either by joining us or being with us in spirit. We had a great time with our family, the Wards, and the Dickinsons. If you haven't already, be sure to look at a few of the pictures we've posted from the weekend on our flickr page.
and these "birthdays" happen how often?
I only have a couple of weeks more at school, so I hope to keep you more regularly updated about Tobin during the summer. I think he's about ready to start walking. He pulls up nimbly and has finally mastered sitting gracefully. He still uses one hand to steady himself, but I think we're nearing takeoff. I'll be sure to have my camera running when it happens.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Thank you thank you thank you.

We just had a wonderful weekend celebrating Tobin's birthday. Pictures and a more detailed account will follow, but for now I just want to thank everyone--near and far--who helped us celebrate, whether by your presence with us or your well wishes from a distance. Our blessings are truly too numerous to count . . .

Friday, May 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, Tobin!

At 5:32 P.M. today, Tobin turned one year old. Tomorrow is the official celebration, so a full report will follow, I'm sure. Today was spent with all of us at home, hanging out with family, welcoming more family in town, and buying groceries and other party necessities. Tobin was delightful, entertaining his guests with lots of smiles and by showing off his new tricks. He even waited up an hour and a half past his bedtime to welcome his Great Grandma Yardley. Of course, it doesn't take much to impress this crowd; they're all huge fans.

In keeping with Matt's reflections on what was happening a year ago, I think this would be a good time to write Tobin's birth story. . .

I woke up around 4 A.M. with contractions. This wasn't alarming because this was the third consecutive night that I had been wakened by them. Earlier in the week the contractions would come regularly for a while and then taper off, so I half expected these to do the same. But they didn't. By 5:30, we were timing them and they were only about 3-4 minutes apart. I went and took a shower, which was tough to do with the frequency and duration of my contractions. We decided it was probably time to go to the hospital, so Matt called work to let them know he needed a sub and called our friend Caleb to tell him that we probably needed him to come pick up Hannah after school that day. We headed out to the hospital around 7 A.M. with my contractions continuing to come strongly every few minutes.

At the labor and delivery triage, they checked my dilation. I was at 4 cm, so they told us they would admit me because I was definitely "in labor." (We had had a false run to the hospital nearly a week before, so it was kind of a relief to know we had read the signs correctly.) The next few hours are kind of a blur. We waited a while for a room. Once we were in the room, they hooked me up to the monitors, which I remember being really uncomfortable. I had the thought that since the contractions would only get worse, maybe I should try to eat something. I took one bite of a granola bar and decided I didn't really want to eat. Almost immediately after, I had a really intense contraction and vomited. I remember this kind of freaked me out. A doctor came in (I saw many doctors, residents, interns, etc. through the course of the day because we were at a teaching hospital) and asked if I would like to speed things along by breaking my water. Then he said they could do that before or after I had my epidural. I had previously been undecided about an epidural. My plan had been to go as long as I could without it, but I never was completely opposed to it. I remember feeling a little panicked because I was so uncomfortable and the thought of breaking my water was scary, so I said let's go ahead and do the epidural.

The doctor came in and did the epidural. I don't remember the insertion or whatever of the epidural being too bad. What I remember more distinctly is how relieved and relaxed I felt when it started to work. There was such a release of tension in my lower body. My labor did slow down, but other than that my epidural was perfect. During this lull in my contractions, I sat back and relaxed. Matt and I watched an entire Braves-Rockies baseball game. Looking back, I appreciated this time of relative rest. My best guess as to the timeframe was that the epidural was administered around 12-1 P.M. Then we waited a while for someone to come back and break my water.

I'm not sure when they broke my water but I guess it was about 2 hours after the epidural. My contractions picked up again, and gradually intensified (through the course of the Braves game as I recall). Of course, because of the epidural, I didn't feel much for a while, but would just watch the monitor. After the Braves game finished, we watched Oprah. I remember my contractions intensifying during this time such that I started to get really uncomfortable again. By around 4:30, I told the nurse that I thought I was ready to push. The nurse started to prepare the birth kit at what seemed like a leisurely pace. At some point, she was actually talking to the TV (still on Oprah), saying how if she was in that woman's position, she would have left her husband a long time ago. I was extremely annoyed by this and asked Matt to turn off the television. The nurse finally checked my cervix. I was fully dilated and could start pushing. It was around 4:45.

Pushing seemed to go on forever and was largely a frustrating experience. I was definitely in pain again and felt my nurse was not terribly helpful. For example, I told her I wanted to lay on my side and push. She asked why would I want to do that. I don't know if I explained that I had read it was a more comfortable position. I just remember being perturbed that she even asked that question. So I tried pushing on my side for a few minutes, but it was really awkward, so I returned to my back when the nurse suggested it.

When the O.B. (unfortunately, my doctor wasn't on call) arrived, she said something like, I'm sorry I didn't get here until the very end. I didn't care that she was late in getting there. I was just thrilled to hear that she thought I was nearly done. Throughout all of this, Matt was so great, telling me how good I was doing, helping me count and breathe. I pushed about 5-10 minutes more. When he crowned, the doctor asked me if I wanted to feel the top of his head. For some reason, I didn't; I just wanted to push some more. Tobin was born at 5:32 P.M., after about 45 minutes of pushing.

The first thing I remember is one of the nurses saying, that's a big baby. Then they handed him to me. He was kind of gray and slimy and beautiful, looking at me with his already big, wide eyes. He was so peaceful but also alert. I was overcome with happiness. Absolutely giddy. My first words to Tobin were something like, we're so glad to meet you, little guy. I didn't shed a tear; I couldn't stop smiling. Matt was crying and telling me how wonderful we both were. When they called out his weight--9 lbs., 2.5 oz.--I think I laughed a little.

For some reason, we didn't get around to calling our parents (and then others) until after 8 P.M. We were enjoying our time with Tobin, and I was undergoing the obligatory stitching (3rd degree tear) and post-delivery care. We were both starving, so Matt picked up food from the Wendy's in the hospital. (I honestly don't remember if I ate before or after we made the first call.) We moved rooms to the post-partum unit. I had planned on Tobin staying with us all night, but realized how exhausted I was and that if he was in the room with us we would both be checking to see if he was breathing every 5 minutes. I had already attempted an unsuccessful breastfeeding, so once I was ready to try to sleep, I just asked the nurse to bring him back in two hours. I spent the night waking every two to three hours to try to feed him and catching some surprisingly good sleep in between. When morning came, it was great to have him in the room with us continuously. Breastfeeding was a team effort, as I worked on getting Tobin to latch on while Matt tried to keep him awake to feed a little. Matt has been absolutely the best partner and father I could have hoped for, and I remember fondly how helpful he was during labor and the precious first hours caring for our son. It was actually Matt who changed Tobin's first diaper. I like to joke that he took advantage of me being laid up in bed to beat me to it.

So that's my memory of a year ago today when we welcomed Tobin Lee.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mother's Day (two days after)

Two days ago I celebrated what I count as my second Mother's Day. Even though Tobin was born four days after Mother's Day last year, I already felt like his mama and he was making his presence known in my pre-labor contractions. As Matt noted, Mother's Day fell on my law school graduation day, so in many ways celebrating that accomplishment eclipsed reflecting on the beginning of my motherhood experience. If I were comparing the two, I would say that this Mother's Day was way better simply because I know Tobin much better and got to hang out with him.

I kind of made a weekend out of Mother's Day. On Saturday, I got a pedicure, bought Tobin an adorable first birthday party outfit at a too-pricey children's boutique, did some much needed housecleaning while the boys went shopping (doing housework actually was enjoyable for me since it helps reduce my stress/anxiety about the level of cleanliness in our home, which by my measure is always lower than I'd like), and finished the night by going to an early dinner with Tobin and Matt (steak followed by a delicious chocolate cake and strong coffee). And I haven't even gotten to Sunday when...I opened two sweet cards and some gifts from my boys (Microplane grater/zester, Silpat baking mat, Norah Jones CD--all perfect for me), we all went to church, I took a 2-hour nap with Tobin, and Tobin and I went grocery shopping. Perhaps grocery shopping seems a bit of a chore to do on Mother's Day, but if you know me well, you know that I really like grocery shopping and it was fun to take Tobin along and talk to him while I shopped. Plus, as usual, he was remarkably cute. I gave him a bag of baby carrots to "hold" and then a box of penne pasta. He seemed to enjoy having the bag on one side of him and the box on the other; he would pat them and smile as we rolled along.

This past weekend was truly wonderful, reminding me of how incredibly blessed I am. Blessed to have such a supportive, giving husband who is also a loving dad. Blessed to have a happy, healthy, sweet son. My heart swells when I watch them together. This past year has been so special.

Monday, May 14, 2007

One year ago today

One year ago today was Mother's Day and Allison's graduation day. We had asked Tobin to hold off a couple of days since we had company in town for graduation. I had a state playoff baseball game looming on Tuesday the 16th. Allison was having more frequent contractions by Monday. I won't speak for Allison about how she was feeling this time last year. I can just speak for myself. I was really nervous. I was excited, too, but nervous was my state most often.

My pulse rate would jump anytime my phone would ring or Allison would ask for something. Even if she just wanted a drink of water, by the time she had finished her question I had run through a number of scenarios up to and including the helpful tips for emergency home delivery that we had learned at childbirthing classes. While my lips were saying that I would be glad to get water, my brain was trying to figure out which towels it would be okay to use in delivering Tobin if he decided to rush out before we could get to the hospital. Would Allison care if I used certain towels--and would it be best to use the nicer towels to welcome him or the not-so-nice ones so we could throw them out with no reservation? Now that I think of it, that was about the time I began to hone my ability to worry and fret at warp speed. Now I can hear Tobin cry from the next room and in less than three seconds have two routes in mind [allowing for traffic] to the nearest Emergency Room or Urgent Care Center, depending on my personal triage assessment.

I'll probably be awash in reflection and memories this week, but May 14th was a big day in my mind last year, and was the first day of the week that Tobin was born. He's asleep now. We spent the afternoon at the dog park with Hannah then crawling around the house toppling things until Mom got home. I had no idea how much I would love being a dad, but I'm trying to soak up every moment of it I can now.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

It's been a while, we know.

Our apologies for the dearth of posts and/or pictures of late. Things are going well--just quite busy.

After Tobin's Easter/spring break from school when he was home with his dad, grandparents, aunt, and uncle for a week, we had a couple of weeks of a slightly tough transition back to school. Tobin got a bad cold, which always seems to happen when he returns to school after a break. The good news was that it was just a cold because our one trip to the doctor revealed that his ears were fine. We're ever vigilant about ear infections since he had two over the winter. With the cold came a suppressed appetite, so for a couple of weeks Tobin wanted very little to do with solid food and suddenly preferred his bottles (and, of course, he wanted to nurse frequently when we were together).

Things took a turn for the better this past week. Tobin's appetite for solid foods was back; he ate great all week. His separation anxiety seemed less intense as most mornings this week I just put him down at school and he was off playing in no time, hardly noticing when I left. All of this was very good after the rough couple of weeks we had. "Rough" for us is all relative. Things have never been difficult with Tobin--it's just a little tougher when he's sick.

We're certainly counting the days (13) until Tobin's first birthday when we're planning to have family in town for a party. There's a part of me that gets a little sad to think of how quickly he's growing up. But mostly, it's so much fun getting to know him as a little boy. For example, we were in the church service last week, and Tobin was sitting in my lap swaying to the music as the choir sang. Then he started "singing," which is this softer, higher-pitched, sustained babbling he does. Matt leaned over to me and said, "He's on pitch." It was terribly sweet, and maybe we interpreted to be more than it was, but it was still wonderful to watch him interacting with and appreciating his world in that small way. It seems that each day is filled with small, poignant moments like that.

So there's a little update from our little family. Hopefully, more will follow more frequently as we approach the milestone of Tobin turning one year old.