The chaos has begun

Most of last week was spent at the hospital, with Abbey and Owen both doing really well but stuck there for the longer-than-usual time that is exceedingly common with Abbey’s heart condition.

The days were mostly quiet and peaceful. We would have lunch together in the hospital room, and after Miles got out of preschool, we’d pick him up and bring him back there for a visit. It was all very lovely.

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Then we got home.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a special moment to bring Owen home for the first time. It was even more special to have all of us at home together for the first time. And when we all sit in the living room together, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like we’re all the subject of a Saturday Evening Post cover or something.

But the chaos is something else. Miles has this habit of exuberantly screaming at the top of his lungs for no reason whatsoever; the dog is incapable of sitting still or relaxing and is usually pacing a trench in the floor; Owen has his own set of newborn problems; and mom and dad spend most of their time shooshing one child or another.

With the baby, it’s of course a gentle “shhhhhh, now let’s go to sleep in our wittle bitty bouncer” and with Miles it’s a furiously whispered “SHHHHH!!!!!! USE YOUR INSIDE VOICE!!!!!! YOU’LL WAKE UP YOUR BROTHER!!!!!”

And yes, sometimes I forget who I am shooshing – ironically the shooshing only adds more to the feeling of general disarray. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

The dynamic of noise and movement is tough for me personally. I’ve always been a quiet person. I would guess it is hard for many people to relate, but any more than two conversations going on in a room at the same time and my nerves just get twisted into knots.

Over the years, I have learned a few ways to calm myself. I am increasingly thankful for the quiet moments that break up the mass of noise and confusion. Such as now. Owen is asleep. Abbey is watching some bad reality show. Miles is napping —

(in actuality, he’s probably playing with his trains on the floor in his bedroom and would bolt back to his bed if I went and opened the door, but at least he’s being quiet)

— and the only real noise in my vicinity is the clatter of my keyboard and a Dave Brubeck record on the stereo. Ahhhhhh.

It’s these quiet moments that kind of “recharge” me for the not-so-quiet ones.

Because, sometimes, the not-so-quiet moments can also be the most rewarding.

Welcome to the world, kid

Up until now, my dad responsibilities have centered around Miles, our three-year-old son. Miles is a brown-eyed, tousled-hair, sticky-handed tornado of energy and big personality. He teaches me a little more about myself every day, and sometimes I have a hard time remembering what my life was like before him (I mean that in a good way, of course).

However, as of Monday afternoon, our second son Owen is now Abbey calls an “outside baby,” and will obviously demand his share of attention:

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Owen Michael Doyle made his worldy debut Monday afternoon at 1:55 p.m. He was happy and healthy, just under 7 pounds and 19 1/12 inches long. He has big, dark eyes, a smattering of red hair, and bears a striking resemblance to his big brother when he was a newborn.

Owen on the left, Miles on the right.

Owen on the left, Miles on the right.

(I am told the red hair probably comes from my mother’s side of the family. Abbey does, in fact, have red hair, but that’s with the assistance of Clairol — or knowing Abbey, most likely whatever brand just happened to be on sale.)

The first couple of days have been fantastic and tiring. I can’t say enough about Abbey, who has been so tough through the whole experience. Several hours after having her abdomen sliced open, she was up and walking around the hospital room, and somehow managed to function on literally 15 minutes of sleep that first night. It’s amazing.

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Speaking of amazing –

So far, Owen is thriving! He’s nursing really well, poops a lot — which I’m told is a really good sign – and doesn’t cry too much. His interests, at the moment, seem to be twofold: starting wide-eyed at whatever happens to be within his six-to-eight-inch visual range; and chewing on his blanket.

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The eating thing is a huge relief. Miles struggled so much with that as a newborn that he lost a bunch of weight and had us worried for a while. But Owen has been, as his mom says, “a rock star.” I guess everybody’s got to learn to eat and poop sometime, but it’s nice that he seems to be well ahead of the curve.

Allow myself to introduce … myself

Regular readers of this blog know that its usual author will be out of circulation for a few weeks. But fear not, the show will go on! As Abbey mentioned in her last entry, I will be taking over Aparently Obvious while she is on maternity leave.

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For clarity’s sake, my name is Michael. I am Abbey’s husband, a regular contributor to the Courier & Press (and a couple of other very fine daily publications throughout Louisiana and Texas) and a stay-at-home dad.

Unlike my globe-trotting, career-achieving wife, my life story resides on the boring side of average. I’m a cheeseburger-and-fries, t-shirt-and-jeans, can’t-dance-at-all kind of guy. But that’s okay, we can’t all be Justin Timberlake.

I am from south/central Louisiana, where I spent the first 31 years of my life. Met a girl, got married, you know the story – next thing I know I’m in the land of Mellencamp and high school basketball. After a few years living in the northern half of Indiana, we moved down to Evansville about a year and a half ago.

I’ll always be a Louisiana boy. Louisiana is like something that just gets in your bones. You can never leave it behind.

But, I like Evansville a lot and have already come to think of it as home. I’m excited about the prospects of living and raising a family here in the long term.

So I will try to carry this blog forward with that as the overall focus, for you, the loyal readers. And I know you’re out there, because several times when I’ve been out covering a story I get the whole “You’re married to Abbey?!? I love her blog!!!” thing.

Mostly, it’s going to simply be a slice-of-life kind of thing, as we all get adjusted to life with a new member of the family. I feel like we’re off to a great start already.

Stay tuned!

Trading places

This is it.

At least for me, for a while.
As I type those words a couple things go through my mind — the first is the catchy 1979 Kenny Loggins’ tune (“This is It”) and the other is, “Oh my gosh I can’t believe that in just a few days I’ll be mom to two.”

Seriously, how did that happen? (Don’t answer that, I really know the answer but it doesn’t make it any less scary!)

Fireworks in Anderson in 2012.

After Michael Jackson’s “This is It” clears my brain (yes, both tunes are floating around in my head this morning), I am left only with my mushy baby-brain thoughts; I don’t really have anything too profound for my parting words.

But fear not, oh faithful readers. This blog isn’t known as “A ‘Mom’ly Obvious.” Its moniker is “A Parently Obvious,” so the other parent in this household will be taking over.

We are going to be kind of switching roles for the next eight weeks. Michael is super-stay-at-home dad who works from home part-time normally while I’m the full-time, works-too-many-late-nights mom. But now, Michael will be focused on working a lot more, and I will be taking on the primary parenting and household duties. I’m afraid of what may become of the house during this switch, but I’ll do my best.

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I’m looking forward to the change of pace. I’ve never been one to question what my stay-at-home husband does all day. I know raising kids and keeping up with a house, along with working as a freelance reporter, is a ton of hard work. I have no allusions that my time at home will be a welcome break from my pace at my job. What it will be though is a wonderful opportunity for me to bond with our new son and to shower a lot of attention on Miles.

But don’t get too attached to my hubby. I want the blog back when I return to work at the end of November. No matter how clever, insightful or just better he may be, I want it back!

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Until then, have a great couple months, and I’ll talk to you again in about eight weeks. Michael will keep you in the loop about all of our adventures as a new family of four in the meantime.

Some good too

So yesterday I focused on all the not-so-joyful elements of the “miracle of pregnancy” with this blog. And while I meant every single one of them and more that I didn’t even mention, there are some pretty amazing things about being pregnant.

Today I’ll focus on the things I’ve loved about being pregnant and will miss in just a few days.

Let’s start with the magic. It is kind of unbelievable to think about the fact that I am growing a human being right this very second! It’s a concept that is so hard to wrap my mind around. But there is a living, breathing (well kind of) little dude hanging out INSIDE ME. That’s kind of outrageous when you think about it. I think we all kind of just accept that this is who babies come into the world and don’t stop and think about how incredible and complicated of a process those 10 months of gestation really are. And I am lucky enough to get to do it — twice!

Another thing I love is watching and feeling Owen move around in there. And this kiddo does a ton of that. I don’t remember Miles being as active or at least as strong with his movements as Owen has been. Every time we get an ultrasound the tech even comments on how he’s always rolling, flipping or kicking something. I can sit back at my desk, in the car, in bed, really anywhere and if I sit still for more than a few minutes I see a little (and sometimes big) ripple or jump in my stomach or side. That’s pretty awesome (even the times that it is a kick to the bladder or a painful kidney or ribcage I’m pretty impressed with it.)

Ice cream, Jason’s Deli salad bar and other indulgences I may not always allow myself seem a little more acceptable while pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried to eat a healthy, balanced diet and was very active until about 28 weeks (an hour of Zumba twice a week, a 5K, several mile bike rides, lots of walks on the greenway). But my nightly dose of ice cream and a heaping pile of olives aren’t something I can really pull off when I’m not pregnant. It’s pretty nice to be able to excuse a crazy eating habit with, “Eh, I’m pregnant. What do you expect?”

I haven’t had to move furniture or lift other heavy stuff these last few months. Both times I’ve been pregnant we’ve moved. I’m not sure how I worked this out, but it happened. The first time around I definitely did more heavy lifting than I should have because I’m pretty stubborn and didn’t listen much. This time I did my fair share of packing (AKA most of it) but did very little moving and only kind of directed my hubby and friends who helped with the not-so-fun task. And when I’ve got heavy things in my car I’m able to say (and should say mind you), “Hey, I’m kind of pregnant over here. Do you mind getting that for me?”

And I think the most special part of this whole difficult, messy, stressful and joyful experience of pregnancy is that for these nine or so months Owen is just mine. As soon as he’s an “outside baby” I have to share him with the rest of the world. But right now I have this special, magical connection with him, something no one else will ever get with him. I treasured that so much with Miles and, even with all of the challenges and struggles I’ve had with this pregnancy with Owen I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m the luckiest person out there to have been chosen to create and nurture this little guy keeping him safe deep inside me.

So on Monday when the rest of the world gets to meet Owen, and I get to hold him in my arms for the first time I’ll know what that feels like because I’ve been holding him in my heart this whole time. He will no longer be a physical part of me but will continue to have a spot in my heart, right there next to Miles’ spot. And when he gets passed from me to Michael to my mom to my sister … I’ll remember the time when he was just mine and treasure these very special (hot and uncomfortable) moments.

What were you favorite things about being pregnant?

Beauty of pregnancy?

One week. I’ve got one week to go. At the time of this writing, this time next week I should be holding my healthy, baby boy in my arms.
I’ve been down this road before (the pregnancy one) and that old cliché about every pregnancy being different is oh so true, at least for this momma.

And any platitudes about pregnancy being a miracle or beautiful or joyful, pshaw! It’s painful, messy, a little gross and exhausting.
Don’t get me wrong, I am SO grateful that I’m able to become pregnant and sustain a pregnancy when there are so many people (close friends and family even) who haven’t been so lucky. But with all that being said, I can still be grateful and feel blessed but also annoyed and disgusted with it at the same time, right?

My mom, super human in a million ways, talks about how she LOVED being pregnant (even pregnant with twins!) She said she never felt as special as she did when she was pregnant with my sister and me. She was fawned on by strangers and just always felt that “special glow.”

I can easily say neither of those things are true for me. I’m a week from giving birth, and I finally feel (well I have the last two to three weeks) that a stranger could safely assume I’m pregnant, not just overweight. But, shy of a few teachers at my son’s school telling me they didn’t think I should go down the slide at Goebel’s Farm in my “condition,” I’ve not had anyone try to pat my belly or fawn over my glowing state. Maybe I’m not glowing after all.

I certainly don’t feel glowy. I’m certainly “shining” (or sweating profusely, however you want to word it.) Between the “sexy” thigh-high compression hose, my work’s disdain for an adequate cooling system and the furnace that is currently residing deep within my core (aka the baby) I am always hot (and typically sweating.)

So I’m crossing “glowing” off my list of pregnancy benefits.

Glorious hair and nails, this has got to be a myth. I remember being told that the prenatal vitamins would give you amazing nails and hair. Nope. Cross that one off!

Gorgeous baby bump — eh, not so much. I would classify what I’m rocking to be more of a baby lump. Seriously, I just look extra lumpy. I was wearing my regular, pre-pregnancy jeans until three weeks ago. There’s been no weekly belly pics; I won’t be posting any cool belly progression videos.

And I just haven’t felt good. When I was pregnant with Miles I was moderately uncomfortable, you know the way that anyone would feel when they are growing another human inside them. This time though by around three months pregnant my sciatica was so annoyed with this baby that it felt like someone was continually jabbing me with a knife in my lower back. So I started receiving chiropractic care (amazing results, by the way) that only added to the list of doctor’s appointments a 33-year-old pregnant woman with a pacemaker has to go to.

There was also the heartburn, OH THE HEARTBURN! Today for lunch I had a salad and plain boneless, skinless chicken breast. SALAD and CHICKEN people, who does that cause a fire of a thousand horses (or whatever that phrase is) to come trampling up my esophagus and into my throat?
I’ve worn a path between my desk and the bathroom for the frequent potty breaks that pregnancy demands. Between the gallons of water they recommend you drink to stay healthy and the tiny human dancing or doing a handstand on your bladder it almost feels as if moving into the bathroom would be the saner idea. Because this nice little waddle that my split pelvis (at least that’s what it feels like some days) makes between here and there is not all that attractive or efficient.

And then on a more serious note this pregnancy has been complete with its fair share of “scares.” I had what doctors called a subchorionic hemorrhage early on (I referred to it as that petrifying bleeding that had me convinced that something was terribly wrong). And then when I was about 7 months pregnant my body was possessed by poison ivy and ended up in the hospital for three days after passing out cold in the middle of a parking lot from a terrible reaction from the immune response to the poison ivy and the medication they gave me to treat it. And just about a month ago I had another health scare that sent me back to the hospital.

Needless to say, I haven’t felt all warm and snugly with this whole pregnancy thing. I’ve been anxious, uncomfortable, exhausted and downright annoyed at times. And I’m not even going to get into all the icky stuff that pregnancy brings. You have either been there and are shaking your head like, “she’s right,” or you can go ask your own mother, the mother of your children or another friend who has gone through this “miracle” of pregnancy.

When people talk about the joys of pregnancy they don’t talk about that stuff. They don’t mention days like my Sunday. I had been up until 1:30 a.m. “nesting” and my kiddo woke up at 4:45 a.m. with the lightning and thunderstorm and had and refused to go back to bed meaning his momma was wide-awake too. I was unbelievably tired, sore and downright unpleasant. And by around 8 a.m. Miles was also pretty darn cranky as he too was exhausted but wouldn’t slow down. I had tears of joy when my sister said she was going to drop by for a bit. I think she intended to be there for 15 or so minutes but ended up staying closer to four hours sensing my “on the edge” feeling.

That picture, the pregnant mom on the verge (or in the throes) of tears isn’t what people see when they think about pregnancy.

What do you see? How was pregnancy for you?​

Figuring out how to let life win sometimes

I constantly feel the pull of work vs. life. It’s a strong one, but luckily work allows life to win as often as it can.

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One such example was Friday, when I was able to take the morning off to be a chaperone for my son’s first field trip. I had about two weeks left of work before maternity leave and at least a month’s worth of work, the only other reporter in my department was on vacation and my editor was doing her best to prepare to be gone for a week of vacation herself. But without hesitation she said, “Go, take the time off. Have a great time and be careful!”

Not only are my co-workers pretty accommodating, they all are a bunch of mother hens to this pregnant chick.

I’m not sure if Miles will remember moments like this in 10, 20 or 30 years, but I know I certainly will.

When I heard that St. Theresa’s preschool through second grade would be taking a field trip (Miles’ first-ever) I quickly asked his teacher if they needed any chaperones. I’m not sure if they really did, but thankfully the kind Mrs. Bartley graciously said, “Of course,” giving me permission to tag along.

The students all piled onto a big yellow school bus, another first for Miles. We talked about that part of the field trip the night before because I wanted him to be prepared. I was trying to squash any potential fears of doing something different. But there was nothing even remotely scary about the school bus, well unless you count the frighteningly ridiculous number of times he asked about when he got to ride it between bedtime Thursday and school drop off Friday morning.

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All the parents were to meet the kids and the bus at the destination — Goebel’s Farm in rural Vanderburgh County. I was anxiously waiting outside of my car, camera in hand, to catch the bus pulling in and Miles descending the steps. Of course life happens and the bus was about an hour late. I made the best of it and pulled out my laptop and whipped out a story while I was waiting. (See, work won there!)
When he hopped down the steps with his teacher’s help the smile on my guy’s face was visible from across the parking lot. He spotted me and started to run toward me.

“Mommy!”

Gah! That sound of pure joy and glee at seeing me. That has got to be one of the best sounds and feelings in the world. We all filed inside and learned about how pumpkins were grown, the difference between the different kinds and even met a chicken. It was fun to see Miles interact with the other students and for the other teachers to tell me how sweet and cute our little dude is, reassuring to hear because you always wonder how well behaved they are when you aren’t around.

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The whole group piled onto a straw ride (it wasn’t hay, we learned) out to the pumpkin patch where we got to traipse around all the growing pumpkins. It was magical watching Miles discover things he found, hearing him excitedly proclaim his discoveries of “punkins.” The group headed back to the main farm, home to the amazing barn slide. We’d gone to Goebel’s a few times last year and spent quite a bit of time playing on the barn slide.

Mrs. Bartley picking out the class' pumpkin.

Mrs. Bartley picking out the class’ pumpkin.

This thing is no joke. It’s pretty high up and has some challenging steps to tackle. Last year, when Miles was still just 2, he definitely couldn’t navigate his way around up there alone and Michael and I took turns going up and down with him. But with the whole class lining up to go up the slide I thought Miles would be OK. So my nearly 37-week pregnant self decided to watch from the ground with some of the other teachers and parents who skipped the slide.

But after Miles made it all the way to the top, I saw him coming back down with one of the teachers. He was too scared to do it by himself and wanted his momma. Heart melts, of course, and I quickly start to climb the stairs with him. When I get to the top a parent and teacher exchange glances with each other and then eye my now pretty obvious baby belly.

“Are you sure you should be doing this?” one of them asks.

I laugh, “What, go down a slide pregnant with my son? Of course I should do it!”

So Miles and I zoomed down the slide.

What a fun morning. It was just a few hours but it was full of memories and moments I’ll treasure. I’m not sure how many field trips I’ll make, but I’m hopeful I can do at least one a year. I’m grateful to have a kiddo that is happy and proud to have me tag along and an employer who values the importance of family time.

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