Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's about the story

I found a great video on Ramit Sethi's blog, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. While he gives good advice about how to manage your money, this video--commercial really--is outstanding.

If you want proof that you stories can be told in seconds, it's all about the writing, that good stuff comes from surprising places, or even that I like to cry at the sappy stuff, then watch this video.

If you don't love this I think I might have to claim you've lost touch with that soft center of your heart.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I'm a Dad

I'm a Dad. I like to think I'm a good dad, but I'm not sure. Many people have been telling me I will make a great dad for quite a long time, but I'm not sure. I doubt I can know if I met any kind of standards for years to come.

I can say, I do say, "I love being a dad." Really, I do. (But I do not have any shirts yet.) I cannot imagine living life otherwise now that I have a child. It is as if life before Katie, which was fine and good, was just a precursor to what I'm doing now. This is what I was meant to do. Here are a couple minor examples:

Jay came over Saturday night and we watched a Tennesee lose to Floriday. During the first half of the game I changed a diaper. It took me just a few seconds, and like every time I've changed Katie's diapers it just felt natural. Jay's comment was something along the line of, "That was amazing. It took me two years to feel that comfortable changing Conner's diapers." Now, I'm sure he doesn't remember life way back then all that clearly, but it was a very nice thing to say.

Tonight Kristi said to me, "You love to feed Kaitlyn. It's so obvious to see when you're doing it." My mom has said similar things a couple of times. The truth is, I don't see it. I don't know I'm showing any special love to her. I just know, grok even, how to do it. I know how much to wake her, keep her alert, feed her, and even get her to burp when other people seem to be missing parts of the process.

I'm not sure how, but I know what I need to do. What I can do. What I should do.

Now, let me tell you another story about Jay. Kristi came out and the three of us were talking about having a child in the NICU. Jay & Jen's second son Ryan (now 5 years old and doing fine) was admitted into a NICU after first spending a couple days at home. As Jay told the story he didn't show a great deal of emotion, his voice didn't change inflection and his body seemed relaxed. But his left hand reached up and wiped away a tear that came to his eye as he talked about the struggle his son experienced a long time ago. It seems to me that this simple gesture, almost hidden, is one of those things that might by itself qualify Jay as a good dad.

And to all those Dads in my life who had a child in trouble, please accept my apology. I know so little about how to offer support now, and I knew much less then. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Gifts and Sacrifices

I am in the airport, on the way to work. Kristi and Katie are doing great, here's a picture we took a couple days ago. Aren't we lovely together?Daddy & Katie
I bought Kristi a "Mommy Gift" from Aaron Basha. She says it's extravagant (though she still took it) and I said she deserves even more than the extravagant gift. Don't you think my bride deserves everything for working so hard to give birth to something so precious?

Finally, I am starting to get mad about something. It bothers me when people say it's a "sacrifice" to have and raise a child. Maybe other people had some big sacrifice, but I honestly do not see that this is the case or even understand. I didn't understand this before, but now that I have a daughter it really gets under my skin. I realize this may be a small thing, but I don't like it.

It's like saying I made a sacrifice by not playing football in college. I could have been in the NFL making millions, but instead I have weekends off. Or I made a sacrifice by not becoming a beach bum, because now I have to work. Or I made a sacrifice by marrying my bride, because I'm not having sex with a model on the Mediterranean coast.

But Katie is not a sacrifice.

You can say she is a consequence of my love for Kristi, and our desire for a child, and a particular mating ritual (hubba hubba), and a small dose of a pill, and a bit of luck or blessing, Kristi became pregnant. As a consequence of the pregnancy we now have a lovely new addition to our family. But Katie is not a sacrifice.

You can say she is a new responsibility because I choose to raise her well and with love. But Katie is not a sacrifice.

You can say she is a gift, a beautiful and extravagant gift we do not deserve. A wonderful gift because my family--immediate and extended--are pleased and proud and blessed to have her grace our lives. But Katie is not a sacrifice.

I'm sure I could go on, but the plane's about to go and I have to sign off. Talk to you later.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

7 Days in a Hospital

Authors Note: This is the second post in a series about the birth of my daughter, Kaitlyn. The first post described the day leading up to her birth and can be found here.

Just a few minutes oldFriday, Aug 18
Kaitlyn wasn't alive but a couple minutes when the nurses and attending folks informed me she would have to be taken off to the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

I follow Kaitlyn from the birthing room to a private little room inside of the dark and quiet NICU. I had to ask if I could hold her for a minute before they started hooking up leads and monitors. Begrudgingly, they agreed.

Thankfully, I was allowed a couple minutes before gently handing my baby off to others. I type this more than a week later and it still makes me sad to think I had to hand her to anyone but Kristi.

The first few hours after the birth consist of me escorting family members back to see Kaitlyn. We can only have two people in "The Unit" at a time. Throughout all the trips back and forth the nurses, and there were at least five that I saw, were trying to find a vein in Kaitlyn to administer IV fluids. Poking, and poking, and poking. Hands, legs, feet, arms. With every family member it's a new nurse trying a new spot. Sandy leaves the room. Barbara looks away.

They cannot find a good vein yet because she doesn't have much fluid in her, and they cannot put fluid into her until they find a vein. So they poke my baby again. They don't want to put the IV into the vein in her head unless nothing else works; it's just too disturbing for parents and relatives to see.

Kristi comes to see the baby a few hours later. It's after 3 AM I think, maybe 4 AM. Finally the IV is in. Our baby is on a breathing machine, CPAP. She has an IV with Antibiotics and saline fluid with Dextrose. A light and sensor combination is wrapped around one foot to measure 02 levels in her blood. She has three leads attached to her chest. Another one attached to her stomach; this one under a little gold duckie.

The problem, the key problem, is our baby is breathing too fast. Instead of 40 times per minute she is panting at 100 times per minute. Think of how exhausting that would be. I'm told she doesn't need extra oxygen, not yet, but she needs the breathing machine to keep pressure in the lungs so they don't collapse. Her blood gases are a little off too, but not enough we need to worry about them now.

I get to bed about 5 AM and wake about five hours later. I slept through the doctor visit, again.

She's stable. She needs the pressure for her lungs, but not oxygen; this makes the nurses happy. Her blood gases are better. We cannot hold her, not while the CPAP is attached. The day becomes a blur.

Daddy wants his girl to go to PurdueSaturday, Aug 19
Another late night, another late wake-up. Kristi doesn't feel good. Most ladies are told to walk around after giving birth (isn't that a funny phrase, "giving birth?"). Not Kristi; her blood pressure was 100 over 50 yesterday. It's still too low today. Instead of walking she has a wheelchair; without it, she would fall over.

We see the baby some. A few people stop by to visit, it's nice they could come by.

Kaitlyn is doing better. Blood gases are fine, the pressure in the CPAP has been reduced. Antibiotics and fluids are still being administered by IV in the foot. The culture they are growing to see if the antibiotics are even necessary is negative so far. We really aren't sure what the problem is.

The likeliest issue is that she didn't and cannot get rid of the fluid in her lungs. This will go away with time. The next likeliest issue is that her lungs are under-developed. This is seen as "probably not true" because she would be getting worse instead of better if it was true. The third potential problem is an infection, hence the use of antibiotics.

Sunday, Aug 20
We were given the orders from Kristi's substitute doctor, we can check out and go home today. With a baby just downstairs it's a mixed blessing so the question is when will we actually leave. We've talked with our nurse, Yvonne and she said something like, "It's Sunday until midnight, you can leave when you want. Let me know when you want to leave. "

Kaitlyn is doing better, thank goodness. The culture is negative so far, so we can stop the use of antibiotics. Also, she's off the CPAP (breathing machine) and just on a nose canula. That's the little tube they put under the nose to give people oxygen. So yes, she did not need any oxygen yesterday when she was getting pressurized air, but today she does. I'm not sure why that would be, but you've got to trust the doctors. The great thing about this change in air supply is we get to hold her now.

As you can see from the picture, Kaitlyn is under a couple of bright spotlights and wearing purple shades. The lights are how babies get treated for high bilirubin, the stuff causing jaundice in babies. For us this is caused by a confluents of events; a liver that is not completely developed (common in all babies), bruising from the birthing process (fairly common in natural births), lack of bowel movements (caused by the use of an IV instead of regular feeding), and random chance.

We left the hospital around 6:30 PM. Kristi's not feeling well yet and we're going home to rest.

Monday, Aug 21
Kaitlyn is still subjected to the lights and a nose canula. She's getting better, they have reduced the amount of oxygen they're feeding her through the canula and today we start trying to feed with a bottle. She was fed formula yesterday, but because of all the tubes and sensors it was fed directly through a tube into her stomach.

We spend all afternoon in Kaitlyn's little room and late into the evening too. Kristi is tired and should be resting, but she wants to be here, with her baby.

For dinner we at with a support group for parents who have children in "The Unit." We heard the stories of a children who "graduated." I cried as I listed to a parent talk about the joy of her daughters and the pain she felt when other people looked aghast at pictures her tiny babies. The struggle to maintain her relationship with her husband and Herculean effort to support and nurture her children. How she celebrated all the tiny victories of her children's growth.

I know so little about this kind of suffering. My girl will be home in a few days not a few months, and this gives me an assurance they can only dream about. I am, we are, even in this time of less than perfectness, still blessed.

Tuesday, Aug 22
I really like this picture. The expression is so cute. You can imagine she is thinking so many things. A developmental expert might tell me she's practicing her muscles, but to me she's a beautiful and inquisitive girl exploring her world.

We're doing well; the doctor is very pleased with our progress. I asked the doctor to rate how serious Kaitlyn's condition was on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means it's a very serious situation for the NICU. The doctor said, "Let me answer a different question. How concerned am I about her? Zero. I have no concern that she won't get better and be healthy." Wow, isn't that great news?

Since we are doing so well, that means we can go home somewhere between two and five or more days. The key is she needs to maintain her progress and have no new or reoccuring issues come up for the next few days. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Wednesday, Aug 23
Today we moved from The Unit to "Baby Steps." Baby Steps still requires people know the password to come visit our baby, but it means she is making lots of good progress. The big difference is that babies in the NICU are being monitored for their conditions, while over in Baby Steps the concern is maintenance and growth.

For us, this means we want Kaitlyn's bilirubin levels to decrease without use of lights or any other treatment. We also want her to continue to breath and maintain her heart without any problems occurring. Actually, it's okay if a problem occurs, it's that Kaitlyn needs to self-correct the problem within 20 seconds without any outside intervention.

As the good doctor said to me yesterday, they tend to over-monitor babies and this just induces more concern than is warranted. Babies at home have the same kind of problems, but without all of the fancy monitors they recover on their own and parents don't go through the heart-wrenching feeling when the monitors start beeping. The picture above is Kristi looking at the monitor when it beeped a heart rate warning. It was actually just a monitor issue, but it's hard to stop looking up when it's beeping about your baby.

Thursday, Aug 24
Maybe, just maybe, we can home tomorrow. We were told yesterday it would be Saturday at the latest, but this is getting better. In honor of the special potential the nurse suggested we give Kaitlyn a bath.

Everything went well with the bath and we only stayed at the hospital for a bit today (less than six hours). This is great because Kristi has not recuperated from the delivery yet. We're going to go home and get some extra rest. Not a lot of rest, but extra compared to what we've been getting lately.

Friday, Aug 25
We call into The Unit every few hours to see how our baby's doing. This morning when I called the nurse said, "She's doing great. The doctor hasn't written the orders yet, but you can take her home today."

I was so excited I almost told the nurse, "I love you."

We started getting ready to go to the hospital, but with the extra phone calls we started making it took a couple hours to get out the door.

Once at the hospital it took some time for the nurse and the doctor to get free enough to talk with us, but who cares? Really, we're going home today, why should we care about a few extra minutes?

And so ends our week in the hospital. And if you didn't know this already, you can click on the pictures above to see a larger version. Thank you all for your concern, thoughts, and prayers.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Introducing Baby Davidson

We are proud to let you know about the birth of our beloved daughter,
Kaitlyn Leigh Davidson
Born Friday, August 18, 2006 at 12:13AM
Weighing 6 lb, 4 oz
19-3/4 inches in length

Author's note: The following story is the birthing diary I kept during our stay in the hospital. I finished telling the story of the experience, but some of it was not typed until after the event. At the end I was busy participating rather than typing. The story is continued in Part 2, talking about Kaitlyns time in the NICU.

Wednesday, 10:43 PM

We're at the hospital and Kristi has changed into a gown. Not the hospital gown, because the nurse has agreed Kristi can wear her own for the night. Tomorrow will be a different story.

The nurse's name is Caroline and she seems friendly. In fact, I have been very happy with every staff member we've run into here.

I'm running into a bunch of trouble with Cingular's wireless card so far, so we'll have to see how long I can keep the birthing diary going.

11:26 PM
Kristi has had a couple mild contractions, so mild she didn't know it until Nurse Caroline looked at the monitor and told us. Kristi's blood pressure is 146/83 and the baby's heart rate is steady at about 140.

Registration just called and I have to go down and fill out some forms.

Thursday, 12:10 AM
The contractions are coming pretty regular now that Kristi knows what to feel for (and I can see the peaks on the monitor). I'm sure this will make the doctor happy. In our meeting with the doctor she told us contractions prior to checking into the hospital would help the process go smoother.

12:54 AM
Kristi has given blood, she is hooked up to an IV with saline drip only (no drugs), and the good nurse Caroline is having her sign a whole bunch of consent forms. I also received instructions on how to read the little monitor and Kristi's contractions are running four to four-and-a-half minutes apart.

We have our first request for pictures, but even though I have camera, I do not have any software to load the pictures. This will be a text only story.

1:35 AM
Contractions are still going well, the nurse is asking a bunch of miscellaneous questions, and Kristi was just given Ambien to help her sleep.

So, in case you haven't figured it out, Kristi & I are in the hospital to deliver our first child, a baby girl. She is 37 1/2 weeks pregnant, which is full-term according to our doctor. Maybe later I'll write about why we're really here this week instead of waiting a bit longer for the blessed event.

Anyway, part of the "induced labor process" involves softening the cervix. For reference purposes, the cervix is generally thick and stiff like the end of your nose. During labor the cervix softens and becomes pliable like your lips.

2:58 AM
We've been watching some video tapes of I Love Lucy and Kristi has finally turned over to go to sleep. I just received this email from Martha

You two get some sleep. You've got a long day ahead of you tomorrow and then the first night with the baby. This is your last night to get some sleep, take our advise.... HIT THE HAY! It will be years before you get the opportunity again!
I've got some work to finish up so I'll be up for a bit more, but this is my last entry for the night. I'll talk to y'all in the morning.

4:20 AM
Kristi just paged the nurse because her contractions, which are now varying between every two and five minutes are quite a bit more painful. I finally convinced Kristi to accept some pain medication. She's worried about the baby, but it seems to me that she and the baby will be better if there's less pain.

She did fall asleep for a minute while I was typing, but then the next contraction started and ... you can fill in the rest of the story from here.

6:35 AM
Well the pain medicine didn't get administered until close to 5 and we've had a bunch of nurse visits since then. The pain medication has done wonders for Kristi and she has calmed down quite a bit.

The plan for when to introduce which drugs has been changed and the nurse has come in a half-dozen or more times since the medication started. The end result is Kristi has not slept for more than 5-10 minutes at a time yet. I'm done with my work for the moment, so I'll make the bed and see how much sleep I can get. At the moment, my expectations are pretty low.

10:10 AM
Quick update... I woke up at 9:55 and a bunch happened while I was sleeping. The doctor has been bye to visit while I was sleeping (an hour ago?) and she is expected back any minute. Kristi is dilated to 1.5 cm, the doctor can feel the babies head(!!), Kristi is 80% effaced (I'll explain that later), and when the doctor gets back she is going to break the water sac.

10:27 AM
The doctor is in the house...

11:45 AM - Quick
Kristi is doing great. Dilated to 3 cm. Epidural is in. She's about to take a nap.

11:46 AM - Long
I'll answer some questions from comments and emails a bit later.

Okay, so what's been happening since the doctor's visit? The doctor came in smiling and thinks Kristi is doing very well. The doctor said we're dilated to "a tight 3 cm." This is good because Kristi could not get an epidural when dilated less than 3 cm.

The doctor also broke Kristi's water during this exam. [Fluid was clear, which is good] The problem with this is contractions become significantly more intense (painful) after the water is broken. Pain before was rated a 5 or 6 or 7 before, it was rated a definite and tearful 10 after the water was broken. We only went through 3 or 4 contractions at the new, intense level before Kristi agreed to expedite the epidural.

Of course, it took some time to get the right people in the room and insert everything. Kristi did a great job and it struck me it must be more than the mind-numbing pain, but the whole idea that even as it lessens she knows it is going to come again in just two or three minutes. It adds a whole element of torture, the knowledge of impending pain, to the event.

During this period we also changed nurses from Tara to a tag team of Julie and Krisha Crisha (who is apparently still in training).

12:50 PM
I just had a mediocre panini sandwich for lunch. Kristi had a catheter inserted. She is only allowed to eat ice chips and popsicles, so she's a bit hungry right now.

Kristi's blood pressure is running high (143/72), but it is not very high compared to some of the peaks we've hit in the last 14 hours. Kristi has been hypertension medication for as long as I've known her to control her blood pressure. We spent a few night here in the hospital right at the end of June while she was 31 weeks pregnant due to her BP.

At the time the doctor was pretty sure we were going to be delivering the baby within days, a week at most. Of course the doctor's worry only added to Kristi's stress and BP, increasing the chances we would deliver early. To say I was frustrated at the doctor's mismanagement of Kristi would be a significant understatement.

Of course, it worked out okay in the end; by staying on strict bedrest Kristi was able to keep the bun baking for an additional six or seven weeks.

The doctor's due in a few minutes so I'll give you more info in a bit.

1:00 PM
Sometimes I look at her and cry. I really do love Kristi. I know it drives her crazy that I don't show much emotion except for when watching romantic comedies (we don't see commercials anymore since TiVo), but looking at her sleep now, or watching her walk down the aisle, touch me deep in my heart. I don't know how to express it, but the catch in my throat and the tear in my eye will have to be enough.

1:20 PM
Doctor update: Kristi is now completely effaced (cervix is soft), but she is only dilated between 3 and 4 cm. The doc upped the pitocin level to strengthen the contractions and increase the dilation. When asked when the baby would come the doctor said, "I have no idea." At least she's honest.

Next doctor visit will be a bit after 3 PM.

2:00 PM
Okay, time for a couple more updates. I forgot to tell you the doctor can feel the baby's hair. Isn't that just cool?

Answering some questions: The drug we were given after we arrived to soften the cervix is Cytotec (PDF alert). Typically women get two treatments of Cytotec, four hours apart. To our nurse's surprise the doctor ordered three treatments for Kristi. Due to "life happens," she only received one treatment and then went on Pitocin at 6AM when I was just going to sleep.

To the people asking if I'm a dad yet, the answer is "No." But you can bet your bottom dollar I ain't gonna be blogging in the middle of that. I love y'all, but I'll be busy holding Kristi's hand not typing about the actual birth. And no, I will not attempt to do both at the same time; don't ask.

It's funny, Kristi would never let me bring in a camera crew, but writing about for the experience you and your neighbor is just fine. She doesn't get how wide the reach of blogs are. (As an example, old friend Nnamdi sent email congrats from Africa.)

And for those of you who are new to this "blogging thing" I recommend you click on the comment link below. Doing this will let you read the comments of other people and enter your own comments. I do get your emails, but this post and the comments will survive much longer than my email archive. *sigh*

2:45 PM - Quick
The nursing team just came in to insert an internal monitor just to make sure they get accurate readings of Kristi's contractions and the baby. Everything is looking good and we have 5 cm dilation.

3:45 PM - Long
Hmph. About 3:10 the nurseing team comes rushing in and surrounds Kristi. She had 6 contractions in 5 minutes and the baby didn't like that. By way of communicating the baby drops her heart rate from about 140 to the 80s. Right away the team is cutting off the pitosin and adminstering a shot of Terbutaline, or Terb. The baby calms down right away and while blocking my view they have put an oxygen mask on Kristi.

Kristi is thinking I need to get my mind off this keyboard and onto her. I'm wondering where the doc is and the nurse gets her on the phone (but not the phone in the room; is this a bad sign?). While the team is wandering around the doc says she'll come by the room in 10-15 minutes.

Kristi is holding up well and I'm holding her hand. The contractions have not stopped, but they have started coming at a regular frequency. The baby's heart rate is good again.

After reviewing the situation the doctor says it's time to restart the Pitosin and build up the levels slowly. Dilated 5 to 6 cm, which isn't enough yet. (Did I tell you the goal is 10?)

And while typing all of this I've talked to Fred & Sandy. They're leaving our house and going to head this way. Kristi is feeling the contractions a bit more and they have sent in the guy to give her a booster shot through the epidural. They don't want to give too much because they want her to be able to push when the time comes.

4:30 PM - Misc.
Kristi feels like she has spent the whole day sleeping, but I know my honey, and this is not a good sleep. She is up every few minutes with a feeling, a pain, someone's entering the room and poking or rolling or somethinging her.

Kristi is starting to get a bit pissy about me blogging instead of giving her attention. I do jump when she speaks, but between the micro-naps and interuptions I do this. I am wondering if the typing isn't a substitution for feeling. If it puts off anxiety I'm okay with the swap; what did anxiety ever buy anyone?

Uncle Rick says the dogs are going to fall from grace, which is so true as to not be worth mentioning it. With the exception that Kristi doesn't realize it yet.

My mother called from Town East Mall. She may have gotten the directions to the mall from Kristi, but there is no chance Kristi gave these particular directions in relation to the hospital or the pregnancy. Maybe we shouldn't have given the directions out so long ago, but Kristi was trying to prepare her parents and mine.

I expect to see Fred & Sandy, Mom & Jill in the next 30 minutes or so. I know Sandy was worried this morning. She called right when Kristi was feeling one of the contractions where pain was dialed to 10. I can not yet imagine what it would be like to hear your daughter crying from pain in the background, but it gives me pause to even consider the thought.

The doc won't be back for another visit until 5:30 or 6.

5:50 PM
All the visitors are here and we're sitting around gabbing. Well, Kristi's half-asleep, but the rest of us are chatting away. The doctor's due soon. The 5PM BP medication is stuck downstairs in the pharmacy so the nurse is on an errand to get. Nothing big, just keeping you up to date.

6:15 PM
The visitors have gone off to have dinner and they'll come up for another visit afterwards. The doctor was here for about 10 minutes. Kristi and the baby are still doing great (her word), but Kristi has not dilated any further past 6 cm. The new order is to restart the pitosan (which I thought we did last time) and build up to the same dosage level we had previously. The doctor does not plan to be back for another 2-1/2 hours, but is somewhat hopeful the baby will arrive between then and 12 midnight.

Kristi is napping, and if the interuptions slow down a bit it just might be a good one this time. I probably won't post an update for a bit unless something changes.

6:40 PM
Just a comment, but it pisses me off when the nurse throws the door open and loudly asks, "How we doing?" Everyone tells us she should get more rest, but she is besieged by events that preclude a good rest. I know I am being protective here, but couldn't the nurse walk in and check to see if the patient is resting? And then maybe checking the machines and charts without waking her?

Author's note: The following two updates are recreations of lost updates.

7:30 PM
Hey, this new nurse, Amy, is all about the business. She just walked in and told Kristi we're going to have a baby tonight. Gotta change my shirt.

8:15 PM
We're gonna start pushing, might have a baby in two hours, gotta run...

Author's note: All the updates below this point were written after the fact. I've tried to keep the timline, events, and thoughts true, but I'll ask for a little forebearance if some unintentional license was taken.

8:20 PM
Dilated to 9 - 9.5 cm (still). The room is changing as they take apart the bed and get it set-up for delivery.

Q: Where's the doc? A: At dinner

8:45 PM
We're in a slight holding pattern; still not dilated enough yet. Seems like we're going to wait for 10 cm after all. Kristi is yelling at me about the computer, again. I wasn't even looking at it!

Q: Where's the doc? A: Dessert??

9:30 PM
Doc is in the house. We're close enough to 10 cm that the next time we have a contraction we're going to push.

9:50 PM
I can see why men were not allowed in here. I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm trying to encourage Kristi, but I know her and she has already tuned me out. Really. Like she just put her hand over my face and switched half-way through the contraction to putting her hand across my throat. I guess she doesn't want my encouragement. :-)

10:15 PM
Uh oh. Kristi is ready to give up. She says it hurts and it's hard. (No shit, they call it labor.) They count to 10, or almost, because Kristi doesn't push past 6, sometimes 7 in the count. Seriously, she can do it, but they need to push her more. She won't listen to me.

10:30 PM
She hurts. She says it every time. The pain is up on her left side. They don't want to open another bag of epidural solution because is $500 per bag. Like I care.

I think you have to be numb to people's suffering to be a nurse. Really. They just don't seem to care about her pain. It's a practiced indifference. Like the rest of the day they were just acting when they acted concerned.

10:30 PM
We have another nurse. She's the head nurse tonight and I don't remember her name, but as far as Kristi's concerned, we can call her Nurse Ratched. She just had a talk with Kristi. Now my wife is pushing to 10, sometimes 11.

10:45 PM
Kristi wants Lee. Anything for Lee. She really wants some more drugs. The real issue is, if you make her too numb, she will not have enough control to push. Honestly, she calls for Lee like a lost lover. It's kinda funny.

11:05 PM
The doctor shows me the baby's head. It's sticking out and I can see her hair. I want to cry. This is so special. I cannot show my tears to Kristi; they'll distract her from pushing.

11:15 PM
The doctor plays with the baby's hair while Kristi is pushing. She's pulling little bits of stuff out of the hair with her gloves on. It's pretty funny.

I say it seems like time is flying. it does for me, this is exciting. The doctor and Nurse Amy look at me like I'm the spawn of satan. Kristi doesn't even notice me.

11:25 PM
Nurse Ratched wants to have the baby tonight. Apparently she promised this to Freddie out in the hallway. We went so long I kinda want 12:01AM. I'm not sure why, maybe because it's a cool time of day.

Doc asks if Kristi wants to use the vacuum to pull the baby out. Kristi asks me what I think. Nurse Amy asks me why I get a say in the matter.

11:40 through 11:50 PM
They just called in half the hospital. Two more people just showed up and started getting the baby bed with lights all ready with blankets. Here comes Lee, the doc makes him stand away and out of Kristi's sight (haha). Here's comes another one. This is gonna happen.

11:55 PM
We're going to have just a couple more pushes. The hospitals clocks are all off. They match the computers but the computers are slow. What the heck?

Friday, 12:03 AM
Let's use the vacuum. It's time to get the baby out.

Friday, 12:10 AM
"Get the camera, get the camera!" Everyone's shouting at me. I just wanted to hold onto Kristi. Damn, where's the camera?

Friday, 12:15 AM
I'm taking pictures with one hand. Holding the phone up (speaker-phone mode) in the other so the grandparents can hear the baby cry.

They can hear my baby. That's my baby!

Author's note: And thus ends the first part of my story. You can find the next part of the story here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Almost Empty Musings: A New Look

It's time for a new look, so Almost Empty Musings has undergone a facelift.

The idea comes from Thomas Marban, who has a great screen blog of more than 4500 different design ideas. I choose to blatently steal the new look from back-word. It's got a clean look and I thought I could handle the design implementation.

If you look at the bottom of the page you'll see I didn't quite couldn't figure out how to keep the whole menu / footer section centered. Please don't hesitate to drop me a line with the solution to my coding garbage.

Update (8/15): I still cannot get the menu below to operate correctly. (Apparently CSS doesn't handle three columns very well.) And in the meantime I've botched the Blogger header bar at the top of the page.

Update (9/18): I cannot take the unfinished design any longer. I've changed to a template available at the link in the page footer.

Monday, June 12, 2006

On Becoming a Business Analyst

I have started a central resource site for requirements gathering and business analysis. You can check it out here: On Becoming a Business Analyst. I'd love feedback if you have any.

I have to say, if it wasn't for the latest client and the great fun I am having training their very first analyst, I'm not sure what I would be doing. I do know I am learning, she is learning, their VP of IT is learning, the organization is growing, and I am overjoyed. Seriously. Just read this quote the trainee sent me the other day:
I am so happy to be here and experiencing this sort of focused training on being a business analyst and determining procedures around requirements gathering and the SDLC. I have never in my 10 years in IT experienced such a level of dedication and focus towards improving the people and process in my job function. Merck and Lucent, with their large training arms, BA forums, and established SDLC processes, cannot hold a candle to what we are doing here. This training and discussion is so important for staff and process development and I cannot say enough how privileged I feel to be a part of it. On a personal level, also, I have never had coworkers and managers so invested in making me a great BA – thanks a bunch you guys and I will do my utmost to reach that bar and beyond!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A dozen years, an airport, and 263 feet

Way back in college I was a part of Alpha Phi Omega. Purdue's chapter of APO was a great place to be. In fact, the only people I keep in touch with from college are all from APO. I would say I spent most of my time with four very different people; Linda, Jay, Chris, and Glenn.

Which is funny because Linda and I were both at PHX, or Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Thursday. She was catching a connecting flight between Lafayette, IN and San Diego on the way to see her husband Eric. I was catching a flight home to see Kristi. I just missed seeing Linda in person because the timing between her flight and mine was too close for the space between terminals 3 and 4. We gave each other a virtual hug over our respective cell phones and said "Maybe next time."

Tonight I got a phone call from Jay, which is surprising because we only talk to each other once a year or in the annual Christmas card letter. We've only gotten together a couple of time socially since I moved to Dalls, in part because the distance between our respective suburbs is pretty high. But I suppose it has more to do with him being a family man with three boys and me traveling for a living. Anyway, all that is going to change next month. It turns out he just bought a house down the block from us. It's a red brick two story we can see from our front yard, only seven houses away!

I suppose I should be on the lookout, because at this rate I might get to see Chris or Glenn real soon too! Hmm, I wonder when I'll be seeing Tommy, and Emily, and Doug, and Heather, and Derek, and Brenda, and Joe, and Jen, and Chris, and...

Post Script: Doesn't Lee live in Phoenix? Hmm, maybe I'll see him next.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Who's to blame?

Steve Johnson, over at Pragmatic Marketing has a good rant about a poor software experience in Another negative development rant. And while I love the rant, Jerry Aubin does a great job pointing us away from the developer in his post, Are There Lazy Programmers?

For my part, I think Jerry came close to hitting the nail on the head. While I agree that things are broken and UX should be better almost everywhere, putting the blame on the developer is pretty close to a cop-out.

(Generalizing…) I think most people perform to the level they are expected to perform; certainly not much beyond that effort. In the business world, this is largely set by the culture of the department or company. Obviously Garmin has a different set of expectations for user interactions than other companies (let’s say Apple or 37signals). One of those other companies would demand more from the developer, dev manager, product manager, and the business sponsor. In the other companies the result for the consumer would be different.

While part of the reason may be economic (we certainly hope the analysis went that deep, though I often doubt it), it may be a culture (of laziness) starting in one of the “likely failure points in the chain before the engineer gets involved”.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Complaints as a service

Twenty years ago I read a newspaper article about a woman who was making the equivalent of a hefty salary by complaining. She was a master of letting companies know where they did not live up to their obligations and in return she received lots of free products, refunds, vouchers, coupons, etc. As much as the article's author was pushing the concept of "spend lots of time bitching and you can free stuff," I recall her side of the story. She viewed her complaints comments as a service to the company; giving feedback when most people aren't willing say anything.

I was thinking about this last week when I wrote my complaint letter to Intermatic. While I thought it would be cool to get a free timer out of the deal, I already have a new one installed and it's not like I need a bunch of them.

I know it sounds funny, but I really thought a good company would value my problem as an opportunity. Unfortunately, most companies don't think of problems as opportunity. For an example of how most companies seem to handle issues, read Seth Godin's article about Jonathan Cruce's problem with VTech or his post about Shari's Berries.

Contrast that story with the following response from Intermatic:
Hi Jeffrey,

Thank you for your recent letter and picture. I am sorry that you are having problems with our timers. I would like to talk to you about the past and present timer you have purchased and I'd like to tell you about our new timer that will hit the market soon. I'd be happy to put you in my data base so that you will receive one of the timers complimentary.

Please send me a day time phone number.

Thank you!

Lisa Kosel
Customer Service

I was out this afternoon and missed Lisa's call, but the summary of the voicemail she left is I am going to receive both their latest switch/timer (different than the one I bought last week) and their soon to be released timer once it comes out this Spring or Summer. She also left me her direct line so she could explain the features of their soon to be released product.

And all of this is why I am now a big fan of Intermatic. If your curious, they also make Malibu Lights, the landscape lighting you can buy at Home Depot and Lowe's.

For new readers (should I get so lucky) check out the related posts where I complain about and then get a lovely response to my rant.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

My new light switch

I wrote a complaint letter today. I'll let you know if I hear anything back from them.
11 February 2006

Intermatic, Inc.
Intermatic Plaza
Spring Grove, IL 60081

To Whom It May Concern:

I just purchased and installed a new timer for the lights outside my garage (2 fixtures, each with a 60 watt Halogen bulb). The problem is, I did this just a few months ago and today I had to do it again.

I had an automatic timer for the lights and it worked for three or four years. The brand was not yours, but it worked just fine. Sometime last summer it bit the dust. I went to Home Depot, again, and bought a new automatic timer for my lights. I bought your timer, the SS8 model and I’m guessing this was in the early fall. I do recall remember it was a pain to install because of the space the timer took in my electrical box.

About a month ago, it broke. I tried replacing the battery, but that didn’t help it either. So I am once again trudging to the store (Lowe’s this time) to pick up a new timer. I would have gone back to Home Depot, but I don’t want to go digging for the receipt; without which it would take them a couple hours to figure out how to give me a partial refund should they even be able to find the item in their system.

If I had been sure the last model was from you I really doubt I would have purchased the new model, EJ500CL. I will say the install on this, the digital model, was easier than last time. I also thought the controls were easy to understand.

My problem is why did the first one break? Why did I have to go through all this hassle and spend another $24.98 plus tax? Even if I have the whole timing screwed up and it lasted a year, who cares? This is a product I expect should last at least 5-10 years without maintenance, repair, or replacement.

It seems to me this should really be your problem, not mine. I’m almost afraid because I ended up buying another of your products. You can trust me when I say that if this one goes bad I’ll be passing the word about this to everyone I can get to listen. In the meantime, while I wait to pass judgement on the new timer, is there anything you will do to alleviate my frustration?


On the plus side of today's experience, the reason I went out of my way to Lowe's in the first place is because I had received a $10 coupon in the mail.

So, I walking through the store, getting the new light and a couple keys made when I realize the coupon must have been that thing I thought dropped out of my pocket in the car. So I leave the stuff at a checkout stand, go digging under the seat to find the coupon, and discover it was $10 off of a purchase of $50 or more. *sigh*

Now I'm looking for grass seed, but I have to call Steve because I think I've got Bermuda grass instead of Kentucky, but I wasn't sure. Anyway, after upping my purchase to $50+ bucks I go back to the check out line to discover the coupon expired on February 5! Before I can say anything, another checker walks over starts punching buttons, calls a manager, and gets me my $10 discount.

Which all means I'm going back to Lowe's next time, because they know how to take care of their customers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

How to Save the World

Wow. I really, really like this quote of T.H. White's Once and Future King, pulled by How to Save the World
"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then--to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn--pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics--why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until is it is time to learn to plough."

I haven't figured out what my resolution will be this year (I've got some left, don't I?), but maybe I should try to do this, learn something everyday.

And as I was telling Spencer the other day, "No, people don't learn something new every day, but they should. And learning what happened lately to a movie or TV star doesn't count either."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Call the FBI, I've been kidnapped

It is common to hear how pregnancy will cause emotional swings, but I had no idea what that would mean.

Sure, Kristi has been a bit more moody the last couple of weeks. As we talk she has fought a bit harder for ideas that seem a bit unreasonable. And yes, she has cried more lately. But it's all good. I love her, she loves me, we're going to have a baby.

On Monday I found out what all of the talk is really about because she really did go a bit wacky on me.

I was in the garage, selling some of the old Lone Star Games inventory to a local casino party operation (they will come and host a Casino Night event for your business or charity). We were outside quite a long time discussing business, chips, tables, etc. After loading up the first 17,000 chips and seeing them off I entered the house through the front door. I couldn't find Kristi, but I figured she must be in the bathroom. No big deal.

Boy was I wrong. It turns out she was simultaneously looking for me in the garage while I was looking in the house. When I wasn't there and the buyers were gone she figured it was because I was kidnapped. They must have wanted the poker chips, but didn't want to pay for them. So after taking the chips they decided to take me too.

At this point she comes stumbling into the house; trying to call my name through the sobbing. Hoping against hope I was still alive.

By the way, I was alive. I was just next to the back door, letting the dogs into the yard.

I must have related this story a half-dozen times or more, but I think it was probably William who told me the most useful information. "Jeffrey," he said, "it doesn't get any better."

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Very Happy New Year

Hello everyone!

It's been a good year even though we didn't spend enough of it together. If you're on the list to get one of Holiday Greeting cards you'll note the absence of the traditional recap of the year.

I wrote the letter, but Kristi didn't want to send it because she thought it was sad rather than interesting. I personally think the year was filled with a number of interesting things even it it wasn't quite as exciting as some previous years.

We really enjoyed the holidays together, spending most of the time in pursuit of the simple things, like cuddling with each other on the sofa.

But boy, have things picked up and gone crazy since then! We've been open to having children for the last couple of years. So far, we've been pretty passive (not using protection), but we were not getting any traction this way. Kristi talked to her doctor in November and was put on a fertility drug to increase the chances of ovulating. If it didn't work I was going to ask my doctor to check my sperm. As luck and love would have it, I don't need to see my doctor. You see,
Kristi's pregnant!
So please, send your congratulations to me. And your condolences to her Honestly, would you want me to be your child's daddy? :-)

Actually, I've been thinking about how I wanted to raise my children for almost 20 years. I'm not sure any of the ideas are going to survive the first night, but I am very excited and looking forward to the first addition to our family.

I found the The Baby Name Wizard: NameVoyager a couple months ago and thought it was fun to see how the popularity of baby names has changed over the last 130 years. Now I plan to be looking at the site a bit closer.