party girl can't keep up.jpg

party girl can't keep up.jpg, originally uploaded by Travel Ho.

This is what happens when you take your eyes off the child for 5 minutes. She popped that top and sucked it down. Don't know how she did it without the nipple. Girl's got skills, I can't lie.

Anyway, this is how we found her.

The next day, we had a talk about moderation. "I'm just trying to numb the pain, daddy."


World Cup Laments

Damiana has been watching the World Cup with great interest, learning to smile while watching the magic of Riquelme, Zidane, Pirlo, Lahm, Maniche, and Buffon. But, her favored team has lost the final, in the most tragic fashion. So sad...


Who wants to eat their baby?

Anyone else have an impulse to eat their babies? I mean, really, when they've just come out of the bath and they smell good don't you just want to eat 'em? Sometimes Dami's cheeks look like caramel apples. Her skin looks like peanut butter (smooth, not crunchy). The bottom of her little toes look like Dots, that stuck-on-paper candy. Lots of tasty little morsels on the girl. Of course, she's still so little that if she was in the wild, I'm inclined to think that a predator would turn its nose up--not enough meat to be worth it.


You say "Tummy Time", I say "Torture Time"

One thing all the baby guide books seem to agree on is that babies should spend some time each day on their tummies. Something about strengthening their upper body and neck. Dami doesn't think much of this advice, as her howls let us know. She must've inherited her daddy's soccer bias (reinforced by her ardent World Cup watching) towards focusing on making her legs strong.


What a month!

Wow. We are usually busy people, but who knew you could pack so much into one month? Feeling my water break pushed the throttle called life full-on like I've never experienced. And into very uncharted territory for us. I remember the days in the hospital when I'd call the nurse too often for her to have any patience left for me. I had tons of random questions as I tried to cram in every ounce of know-how before we somehow were given full responsibility for this beautiful little life. How I miss that call button, but Dami is teaching us well. One month in-- Damiana supposedly means 'one who soothes'. We didn't pick the name because of its meaning, but it suits our little girl. She is an oasis of calm. (Usually. After all, she's also a baby which by definition means she spends enough waking hours in the anything-but-calm state.) Her big almost-brown eyes track a bit. Her grunts and groans entertain us. Smiles flicker across her face, leaving the audience wanting more. Month #2 will bring even more surprises. Maybe by the end we'll have a few ideas of what we're doing. Hopefully we'll continue to humor her and she'll keep us around.


Advice of the Day

From a friend: If they’re crying, they’re breathing. Don’t worry about it.

Julie's first Mother’s Day

Julie planned to paint our 2nd floor bathroom today. After morning yoga, I convinced her that maybe we should just stop. S-T-O-P. Julie couldn’t spell stop if I spotted her S-T-O. But the possibility of brunch at Mendocino Grill got her attention, and even though it was closed on Sundays, we took a long afternoon nap instead. I wanted to remind her that she’s not just Mommy Milk Truck, so some snappy light blue Puma kicks, her favorite kind of dress (halter), a femmy little sweater got her very excited. We went out to dinner that night to fall off the preggie wagon—her first sushi and sake in over 10 months. good husband

Gravity of small bodies

I’m going to start calling Damiana “The Black Hole”. A tiny object with such a powerful gravitational pull that all objects, people, clothes, diapers, toys and gear are inexorably drawn to it. Warps normal experience of time and space. Escape is futile.

What does Damiana mean?

Damiana (age 6): Daddy, what does my name mean? Everett: It’s the name of a beautiful flower in Mexico. We saw it when we first decided to have you. Damiana (age 13): Daddy, I forget. Where did you get my name? Everett: It’s the name of a flowering plant in the Baja of Mexico. Locals also make a liqueur out of it, and we had some when you were conceived. When we thought of names, we wanted something to connect you to that place, and we liked how Damiana sounded. It also means “one who soothes” in Greece. Damiana (age 20, in Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico): So is this the place? Everett: Sure is, the Todos Santos Inn. We drove here after Karyn Blyda and Craig Palmer’s wedding and to our surprise, you were conceived. Damiana: Surprise? Didn’t anyone tell you where babies come from? Everett: No, smartypants, only Georgetown grads like your mother get confused like that. Now that we’re here, we can tell you the true story—the locals believe the damiana plant is an aphrodisiac, and since you were a surprise, we figured it was the damiana that did it. I started calling you Damiana when you were the size of a peanut and it stuck. Damiana: Oh, Dad (eye roll) I Googled that when I was 10. I just like hearing you tell the story.


Tasty Leetle Morsel

Damiana’s weight rebounded to 6lbs 12 oz after 2 weeks, and now she feels a lot fuller. But she’s still leettle-leettle. Let’s say that if we were in the wild, she wouldn’t make much of a morsel for a predator. She’s the king crab leg of children—lots of work, not much meat.


Birth-day Part 2

Whoops-forgot to add the moment of truth--Dami's birth!! ------- 3.51pm Julie asks everyone to leave so we can have five minutes to…readjust? Reassess? Rejoice? We know a C-section is the right call, and we have been impressed by all the docs so far. We’re part bewildered, part excited at all the swift changes in expectations. All the spoken and unspoken visions of giving birth emerge and recede in those five minutes—and curiously, none of them included a c-section. Hah! 3.55pm Let’s go! They wheel Julie out into the operating room, and I stay behind until they have her prepped. I change into scrubs and a mask, and sit to meditate until they call for me. 4.08pm The nurse walks me to the op, and the anesthesiologist allows me to bring my camera (unexpected surprise). Julie’s head and hands are disembodied by the blue screen at her chest. I see the docs’ headlamps and masks and blurs of movement behind the screen. 4.10pm I start stroking Julie’s forehead as the doc tells her that she will feel as if someone is sitting on her chest, but that’s it. I ask when they’ll deliver Dami. “Oh, in about 5 minutes,” she replies calmly. Wow! Serious? That soon? We only made the decision 15 minutes ago! 4.15pm Doc: “Do you want to look”? Ev: “Oh yeah” I thought she’d never ask. Doc: “So…are you a tough guy or a geek?” Julie: “With this stuff? Definitely geek” She knows I’m dying to get on the other side of screen. Doc: “Good—the tough guys always pass out.” 4.16pm I stand up to see Dami’s pasty purple face and shoulders flopping like a newly passed-out college student. The docs slide her body on the table and all this action commences—so many hands can fit on such a tiny body? I’m snapping away with the camera and giving Julie the play-by-play. Still waiting for a sound. Docs are clearing her airways. A startle? Then a bleat. A cough. Then a yelp. She’s here. 4.18pm They weigh her, wiping some of her covering, clearing her nose and mouth with the blue rubber nozzle. She starting to get loud now—sweet! Julie still hasn’t seen her, but she can turns her head to hear her—mom’s rooting instinct, no? Finally, they hold her up so Julie can see. Introducing….Damiana! 6.03 lbs, 19 inches. She’s got an 8-head and yoga toes, and she looks great. But what’s up with all that hair?! 4.24pm Luckybabydaddy (LBD) gets to hold Damiana first, while the docs stitch Julie up. She’s pale rose-lavender, swaddled like a burrito. The amazing thing is how calm she is. Not belting out, just chilling. The doc says, “Watch this,” and shields Dami’s eyes from the op lights. On cue, Dami starts blinking and then starts looking around. When I start describing this to Julie, Damiana turns her head, looks right at me, blinks, and keeps looking. Staring but not staring—more gentle. When I meet someone’s eyes, the flow of communication can be like two open hydrants. But meeting Dami’s eyes for the first time was a pond’s still surface. 4.45pm We’re back in the labor room and Julie gets to hold Dami for the first time. One of Julie’s best qualities is that she lets her excitement show. She can’t clap her hands because of the IV’s, but my wife is greedy greedy for her child! Damiana is greedy back, and starts feeding like a champ. The doc tells us that Damiana had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, which is why her heart rate dropped every time Julie had a significant contraction. Grácias á Dios, we came to the hospital early, and the Dr. Lightfoot didn’t hesitate to do a C-section. Its all about a healthy baby. 5.16pm Damiana’s an hour old, still alert. I sing to her and she calms down, opens her eyes and sticks her tongue out. Julie and I reflect on how fast everything happened. We expected to have 2 more weeks because Julie was not dilated and her uterus measured small just 4 days ago. This morning, I thought I’d put up shelves and start the garden. We were prepared for the uncertainty of labor and delivery, not the efficiency of a c-section. All since 7am. 7pm My mother and father happened to be in Baltimore to visit my sister Deb and her family, so they all came that evening to see the hours-old child. Mike, Julie’s brother and Kylie, his wife, came also. Total rock stars—lots of love and plates of food. Dami is held by the AfroKoreaPolska Benetton family. All these loves in one room. Yumm.


new pictures--day 2

First night and morning. I spend the first hours of the morning with a warm body against my skin. I think she's comfortable, but she keeps wriggling, inching up my chest . Until she can hear my heartbeat. I figure this out later. I watch her go through sleep phases...settling in, motionlessness, twitchy, REM/RTM (Rapid Tongue Movement). She seems to enjoy making her way across until her head is resting on my bicep, requiring me to hold my arm just so. Or use a pillow. I figure this out later.


Birth-day Part 1

8am thankfully, I’d made the hospital bag list on Friday. Change of clothes, Ipods with the birth playlists, camera, exercise ball, Lagavullin scotch and Navarro Gewurtzraminer grape juice, and an orchid for Julie. We were relaxed about gathering our stuff, but we both hoped for a false alarm. Unfortunately, Julie kept gushing through the new powder blue gauchos we Targéted yesterday because we were sick of her everyday jeans. 9.30am Beautiful crisp Sunday morning, perfect for a day of chores…or having a child. Drive past the pink and white dogwoods, the last cherry blossoms, and the crinkles of spring dresses. Check into Sibley Hospital and get settled with our nurse Virginia. She’s getting married in the summer to a Moroccan restaurant owner and has practiced at my yoga studio. A good sign, and some understanding for the yoga mat and meditation cushion I brought. 11am We’ve seen the doc. Julie is only 1cm, and we’re not sure why she’s broken so early, but Damiana is coming today, for sure. Can’t say we weren’t hoping for the “Get Out of Jail” card, but we’ll roll. Julie looks cute in green socks and a hospital robe. Regular contractions, no real pain, Julie’s high pain threshold is in full effect. 12.30pm No breakfast for Everett until now. Julie is settled in and time to take advantage of the long wait. Snacks, coffee, goodies for Julie and I return to hear that Dami’s heart rate dropped too low for a minute, but she and Mom are back on track. Figured it wasn’t serious since the doc didn’t call on the cell, but things change quickly. 2.50pm Julie sits on the exercise ball to help the pressure on her back and her hips. I give a good massage on her shoulder blades and spine to keep her muscles loose. She wants touch more than anything today, and I’m glad we have so much good lotion at home. But…Dami’s heart rate plunges from 128 to 90 after a big contraction. This time, 2 nurses, an anesthesiologist, and another OB rush in one after another. They are professional and friendly in speech, but efficient and taut in motion—a combination that says to me SWAT team. Serious. Prepared. 3.15pm We expected an epidural later, but they put one in now, just in case we need to go to the op right away. Oh. This IS significant. First time Julie felt pain + fear of big needles. The doc tried to distract us by asking us questions about how we met. When I got to the parts of the story that Julie likes to “correct”, she didn’t even jump in. Serious concentration, serious breathing. Julie was taking big deep swimmers breaths, so the nurse and I tried to get her to take yogi breaths, long, slow and a pause in between. Better—the tension in her shoulders subsided. Dami’s heart rate is back to normal, and the drugs are starting to come in. There’s air in the room again. 3.50pm The delivery Dr. comes back, and tells Julie she is not happy about Dami’s change in heart rate. Dr. Lightfoot tells us that she doesn’t need to watch for another bad reaction. Julie is still only 1 cm, and pitosin (sp?) is not Dami’s favorite medicine. We know what’s coming. I’m trying to keep a straight face and not to register disappointment. We ask all the questions, but there is not a choice to be made really.


The headline, story at 11...

Damiana Harper was born two weeks early on Easter Sunday, April 16, at 4.14pm at Sibley Hospital. She was 6.03 lbs and 19 in., with a full head of hair and sticking her tongue out at Daddy immediately. Babymomma Julie is thrilled, healthy, and catching up to the world-class feeder. Babydaddy is feeling very lucky. More story later, but below is what you really want--photos!!

Countdown...I mean, early arrival

7 am, Easter Sunday Julie: Everett? Everett: (sleepily) What? Julie: Everett? Everett: (waking) What? Julie: Everett? Everett: (alert)What? Julie: I’m all wet. Everett: (undivided attention) You’ve GOT to be kidding. She surprised us in August, hecho en Mexico, so why not surprise us and be two weeks early?
  1. We have a car seat, but no car
  2. We have a contractor coming 8am Monday to redo a bathroom
  3. I was going to set up a countdown blog today, not the birth blog