June 2008


We have many, many baby products in the house now, and even the simplest of them comes with reams of warnings and instructions.  Generally I don’t pay much attention to them (do I really need to read instructions for a pillow?) but the one pictured above caught my eye.  Was this an admonition?  If so, for who?  Certainly not for the baby, because as far as we can tell kids these days just don’t follow instructions.  The parents?  Perhaps, but this is also an ineffective use of labeling: new parents seem to be overcome by sleep anytime they stop moving.  I prefer to think of this as a prediction: Warning, you will never sleep again, at least not the same way.  We have since been assured by experienced parents that this is the case.

On Sunday afternoon I was at the grocery store picking up a few things for dinner, and while waiting for the employees at Dave’s to do whatever it is they do when they are pretending to be cashiers, I tried to read the people in line.  The man immediately in front of me appeared to be extremely tired, always a potential sign of a new parent, and the things he was purchasing confirmed it: diapers, a baby bottle washer and a keg of Heineken.  We were similarly prepared for Everett.  By the time he arrived we had the nursery stocked and decorated, and had three carboys of Belgian ale bubbling away in the kitchen.

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Everett is big.  He was born on the large side, then lost some weight, which caused the pediatrician to instruct us to feed him every two hours for the next 24 hours, during which he gained 8 ounces or about 5% of his body weight.  In the following week and a half he gained about two pounds.  He has now outgrown his newborn clothing.  Breastmilk is apparently a fantastic growth medium.

We have a close friend who is a pediatric physical therapist, and she has often emphasized to us the importance of “tummy time” for babies.  Apparently babies these days are spending quite a bit of time on their backs, leading to flattened heads and other problems.  Michelle, this picture is for you.
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One Week Old

We are just beginning to get into a rhythm now.  Everett nurses about every two and a half hours during the day and every three hours at night.  This allows us some time between feedings to sleep, eat and take care of ourselves.  Today we went to Parade the Circle, which was his first parade and outing.  It was a beautiful day for it.

We have been told repeatedly that you cannot spoil a newborn.  Good thing, because during the first week of his life, Everett was doted on by two parents and two grandparents.  Chris stayed home from work, and Melissa’s parents stayed with us from Monday evening until midday on Friday.  During that time there was rarely a moment that we was not being held, fed or generally loved on. We have never had so little sleep in our lives, but no matter how little sleep we get he seems impossibly cute and entertaining.  The time when he was not in our lives is already becoming a dim memory, and the world now seems a different place because he is in it.

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We are now in the process of cataloging firsts.  His first walk (Monday), pediatrician visit (Wednesday), the first time he found his thumb to suck on, as well as rolled on his side unassisted (Thursday).  This last event is a bit disconcerting because babies are not supposed to be able to roll until 5-7 months, and we don’t want him to get stuck on his belly when no one is watching.  His first public outing was Friday evening: Chris was getting a little stir crazy in the house, so we walked around Coventry a bit and then ate outside at Panini’s.  In retrospect this was an odd place to have a newborn, with the happy hour crowd at a sports bar, but it was one of the few places we could eat outside and we had a lot of room to ourselves.

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We came home in the afternoon today.  First stop: meet Kyra, then the rest of the animals.  Strangely, none of them seemed to care very much.  Kyra eventually did take an interest once Everett started pooping, but that took a couple days.

Everett went for his first walk with Mom and Dad today, and it seemed to relax him quite a bit.  Preliminary, anecdotal evidence suggests that he prefers the swaddled versus unswaddled condition during his walks, but this has not been confirmed in a randomized, blinded trial.

During our first night home Everett was like a wild animal – he would suck on anything that got near his mouth.  We feel pretty sure that he would have nursed for 12-14 hours straight, and in retrospect perhaps this is what we should have done, but we were completely exhausted and Gramma Barber is very good at calming him down, so he nursed every 2-3 hours and was held by someone for the times in between.  Since that night Everett is a very laid back baby.  The doctor says it’s too soon to tell if this is his temperament, but for the last few days he doesn’t seem to get too upset or aroused about anything.  We consistently have to wake him up to eat!  This has certainly been a surprise, and not what we expected from Barber-Butson genes.

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Day One

Amanda returned to the hospital early Sunday morning to join us for a couple hours before she had to leave for a wedding.  A lifelong family friends of the Barbers was getting married in Chicago, and Cress and Amanda had multiple contingency plans on what to do about newborn and nuptials depending on when Melissa went into labor.  Ultimately, Plan E was put into effect: Cress and Matt and Trinity went to Chicago on Saturday while Amanda drove to Cleveland (she arrived just as he was being born); Chris dropped Amanda off at the airport about midday on Sunday and she made it to the wedding just in time that evening.  Then the whole family drove to Cleveland on Monday so that Cress and Matt and Trinity could meet Everett.

Later in the day I decided to give Melissa a few moments alone and take Everett for a walk within the family ward.  So I picked him up and walked outside our room, stopping to chat with the family of another newborn.  In the midst of this, I am not exaggerating when I say that one of the nurses ran out of the nursery to tell me that I am not allowed to carry him around, he must be in a bassinet on a cart like this one.

From this behavior you might be surprised to learn that they sent Everett home with us the very next day, completely unsupervised.


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On June 7th 2008, Snormi’s identity was revealed as…Everett Maxwell Barber Butson.  Until the moment he arrived we didn’t know boy or girl, and in either case we had to meet in person before choosing a name.  But it didn’t come right away.  We had a short list of girl and boy names, and we tried a few over the weekend before deciding.  We chose Everett Maxwell for a number of reasons, one of which is that it is fitting of a poet & explorer.  A close friend of ours said that his name is “on the hip side of nerdy”, and this is certainly good news to us.  Perhaps soon we will get him a pipe and a jacket with patches on the elbows.

Melissa’s labor was…much more difficult than we expected (Chris speaking).  It started at 5am on Thursday and she didn’t give birth until 1:24 pm on Saturday, during which her contractions were never more than 8-10 minutes apart and neither of us slept very much.  The midwife broke her water about 10 am Saturday and they noticed a lot of meconium, apparently more than most people had seen before.  Melissa felt an urge to push about 1pm and it only took her 24 minutes to push the baby out, at which point the midwife and neonatologist went about trying to remove as much meconium as possible from his airways.  We were able to spend a few minutes with him before they gave him a vitamin K shot and took him to the special care nursery for about an hour of observation, after which they decided that his breathing noises had diminished enough.  One major epiphany was when the nurse brought him from the nursery, opened the door to our room and said “Butson baby?”  She wheeled him in and left him with us.  This was the first time we spent alone with him and we will never forget it.

A couple hours after birth we were moved from the labor room to a post-partum room.  Amanda and Chris went home to let the animals out and get Thai carry out for dinner.  Then we returned to the room and everyone ate dinner together while we slowly adjusted to this huge change in our lives.  Amanda left in the evening to stay at our house.  Melissa and I stayed in the room that night and put Everett in the nursery periodically to get some sleep between feedings.  At one point he started crying and wouldn’t quit, and the nurse asked if his diaper was dirty, which had not previously occurred to us.  Clearly there is a fair amount of parenting common sense that we have to learn.

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