Vernix Colostrum Meconium

Here are three words I learned over the past days and weeks, which I can now promptly forget.

  • Vernix: waxy white coating that’s all over a newborn’s body as he or she emerges from the womb. It comes not from the amniotic fluid but from the fetus’ own sebaceous glands.
  • Colostrum: first milk produced by a new mother, high in nutrients and immunoglobins, low in fat, and mildly laxative, which helps with the next item…
  • Meconium: black tarry feces, the first stuff to come out a newborn’s butthole — sterile and odorless and composed of nutrients ingested in utero.

And I’m sure there are many more. I didn’t know there were so many bodily substances I’d never heard of before. But if you chant these three in repetition it sounds like a Satanic Mass.

Communication Meltdown

I had planned to Twitter my daughter’s birth. It seemed like the perfect tool for giving blow-by-blow updates in real time, and it’s easy to do from my phone.

Alas, it was not to be. Last week I suffered what I call a “communication meltdown,” where multiple technologies fail me at the same time, compounding one another and making everything more difficult. I suffer through these from time to time, and they often seem to coincide with other crises that are not technological in nature.
Continue reading “Communication Meltdown”

Pictures from Her First Days of Life

I’m not the kind of guy who carries around pictures of his newborn child.

But I will post ’em on the net.

Three Days Old

I can understand that our geographically dispersed family members would want to see more pictures of our little girl, but I was surprised that friends and co-workers have requested more as well. I mean, generally speaking, I don’t want to look at other people’s baby pictures. Xy and I both share the conviction that all newborn babies look alike — which is to say rather ugly. Curiously enough we have both found our daughter to be an amazing exception to this rule. I guess it’s her goddess-like qualities that make other people want to adore her as well. Even Xy’s 6th grade classroom has been clamoring for a closer look.

So without further ado, check out this Flickr photoset: Birth & First Days of Life.

Postscript: If you’re really interested in keeping up with the pictures from our lives, you should sign up for a free Flickr account and add me as a contact.

And Now the Screaming Starts

Trying to bring this journal up to date…

We spent two nights in the hospital and were discharged on Saturday just after noon. We got home less than 48 hours after the birth.

As I was running errands to the pharmacy, Xy of course overexerted herself. She was excited to be home and started trying to do things like she hadn’t just had surgery — not to mention the pregnancy. Plus she’s breastfeeding, and that evening she reached full engorgement. So she’s in three kinds of pain and barely able to function.

This is where our individual quirks come to the fore. Fortunately Xy has always had a talent for copious sleeping, while I don’t need much sleep at all. She stayed in bed most of the day Sunday and hopefully today too. That leaves me to care for both mother and daughter and everything else around the house.

And it seems to be working. (Though I have to confess, if I didn’t have my sprained ankle and sore lip I’d be in a much better mood. Plus I’ve been dealing with a truly aggravating communications meltdown — more about that later.) Despite the title, our daughter has been pretty easy so far. She sleeps a lot and has only had a few real crying fits. Then again, she’s only four days old, so she hasn’t had much chance to prove what her lungs can do. My dad always tells me what an easy child I was. Here’s hoping our daughter takes after me, and not Xy, in that regard.

Lest I forget: Many thanks to all the friends who’ve helped us out and offered their support in big ways and small. We are very grateful.

The Story of Her Birth

Xy woke up around 3:30 Thursday morning and discovered her water had broken sometime during the night.


This took us by surprise just a bit, because we expected to have a couple more weeks.. Xy racked her brain and remembered what the doctor said: “Three reasons to come straight to the hospital: 1) blood, 2) contractions of a certain intensity/frequency and 3) your water breaks.” No need to call, just come in.

So we did. We packed a few things first, of course. No panic. Xy took a quick bath, just as I was reading in some reference book that if your water breaks, you shouldn’t take a bath. Oh well.

Then we got in the car and drove. I still could hardly believe this was happening. It was rainy, and the roads were slippery, but there was very little traffic at that hour. By 4:45 AM we were at the hospital (Tulane Lakeside) where we checked in and were assigned to Labor & Delivery Suite #3.


They had a hell of a time getting Xy’s IV in. Three people took stabs at it, poking her repeatedly and painfully. This was actually the most difficult part of the whole day. When they administered her epidural Xy lost the ability to move her left leg, much less feel anything.

Xy reached maximum dilation very quickly. But the baby was still riding high, not descending into the birth canal much at all. She tried pushing, for over an hour, with very little to show for it. Hard work.

So then the doctor made the case for a Cesarean birth. He indicated that Xy might continue to labor for a very long time, pushing pushing pushing, and there might still be complications. We had an expectation that the baby was large, but the ultrasound to determine size had been scheduled for next Monday and thus never happened.

In any event, Xy took the doctor’s advice and — wham/bam/thank you ma’am — they cut her open and had the girl out in amazingly short order. I held Xy’s hand through the whole procedure. There was no pain, but she could feel them wrasslin’ her innards.

At one point the surgical team invited me to take a look. I peeped over the screen and saw my daughter’s head sticking out of her mother’s belly. The next thing I knew, they had her whole body out, with twisting umbilical still connected. I was stunned, and nowhere near as sick as I thought I would be.


Turns out she’s not big at all, just barely six pounds. A number of people remarked that a Cesarean hardly seemed warranted for such a small child. This made me wonder if we made the right choice.

Later that evening I held her in my arms. I’ve held very few infants in my life, having always shied away from people who asked me if I wanted to hold their baby. Shortly thereafter I learned how to change a diaper. First time ever. It’s good to know I can still learn a few new tricks.

Those are the facts as I remember them. It’s a little trickier to pin down how we felt about it all. Jeffrey the Lover of Ellipses wrote, “Let me guess. You are proud… and thrilled… and scared out of your wits.” That’s a reasonable guess, but not quite on the money. If I had to sum it up in three terms, I’d say we are relieved… exhausted… and dizzy.


Due to circumstances beyond my control, all e-mail is out of commission for the foreseeable future; however I do have my replacement Crackberry so you can call or txt me.


Break out the cigars and pass em around — it’s a girl.

Persephone Jean Everpax

Born on the cusp:
February 21, 2008

6 lbs. (just barely)
17 3/4″ long

Mother and child are both healthy. Persephone was delivered via Caesarian section, so Xy is recovering slowly.

More to come.

In the meantime, you can find the earliest known photos of Persephone ex utero in my photostream.

Latest Entry in the Annals of Idiocy

This morning, Xy was sitting in our car, waiting to give a ride to some co-workers. A short time later, I got a text message: “u have the car.” I looked out the window and saw, sure enough, Xy was gone but the car was still there. Must have been a mix-up about who was giving a ride to whom.

Then came the follow-up text: “oops, keys r n car.” So I went down and checked it out. Yup, the keys were in the ignition. Not only that, but the engine was running. And the doors were unlocked.

The first reaction most people have when I relate this story is, of course, that “it’s because she’s pregnant.” It’s a compulsion. Go ahead and say it; you know you want to, and it will make you feel better. But I can’t help recalling what Xy’s mother said when I first met her 15 years ago: “If she had half a brain she’d be dangerous.” And, for the record, she wasn’t pregnant then.

This is the silliest stunt she’s pulled since smashing out the kitchen window or flushing her keys down the toilet. In fact, it’s so stupid it seems like something I would do.


My mouth is numb from a visit to the dentist. They drilled on a couple teeth on my upper left and one on my lower right. The anesthetic did its job. I didn’t feel a thing. Completely painless. The criss-cross numbness makes me feel like the Harlequin of Novocaine. Unfortunately I think I’ve chewed a small hole in my cheek without realizing it.

Later: Lunch was a minor disaster. Turkey sandwich with a side of lip.

All-Star Recovery

I notice I haven’t been writing about issues in the recovery of New Orleans nearly as much lately. That’s because my primary mission here is to write about what’s going on in my life, and my life has been more preoccupied by personal issues lately.

Nevertheless, I try to keep tabs on what’s going down in the world around me. I wouldn’t want to give the impression that the recovery is complete, or that it’s going great guns, or that it’s stalled either. We continue to creep forward, but at a slow pace.

This past week’s NBA All-Star festivities dramatize the point. By all accounts it was a huge success, as were the two college bowl games the city hosted in January. (And yet they say we’re not ready to host a presidential debate?) These are clear indications that certain sectors of the city are back, full force. But the really revealing moment was the massive volunteer day organized by the NBA. It was the biggest single volunteer event since the flood. What does it say about the state of the recovery, that we’re having the biggest volunteer effort two and a half years after the disaster?

As Cliff says, “I like the days of service but that also means that there are still hundreds of things that need to be done.” We have a long way to go.

I’m aware of this every day. All I have to do is look around me. Our renovation may be done (though in an old house the work is never really done) but on one side we have a house that’s half-built, and on the other side we have a house that hasn’t even been gutted since the flood.

Meanwhile around the city, FEMA is urging the 30,000 still in FEMA trailers to get out because the formaldehyde causes cancer. People are still waiting for Road Home checks. The streets still run with blood. And in Baton Rouge the new governor is trying to push “ethics reform” while his own administration fends off mounting allegations of impropriety.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve made plenty of progress. But we still have a long, long way to go. A couple years ago I said it might take the rest of my life, and that’s looking like a good estimate.


We think the baby dropped sometime yesterday or the day before. Xy is feeling a lot better and seems to have a lot more energy.

Speaking of dropping, perhaps it’s time to drop the pretense that we’re keeping the child’s sex a secret.

See, four or five months ago Xy asked me if we should opt to discover the child’s sex in advance. I said, “Let’s find out but keep it a secret.” I thought that would give us something to announce when the child was actually born.

And so, back in October, I got a one-word text message from Xy informing me of the child’s gender. I wrote that I knew something you didn’t. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, Xy was calling and/or texting most everyone she knew.

This led to the awkward situation of her parents knowing something that my parents didn’t. My parents were content to wait until March, since that seemed to be our wish. But in reality Xy had told half the population of the United States. Soon I started telling people when it came up in conversation. Eventually I had to call my parents on the phone and fill them in. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, after all. They should not be the last to know.

I’m still not publishing this factoid on the internet. To any who remain curious, I offer the following hint. We’ve been astonished by the blatantly sexist responses of some people when we tell them. Are you disappointed? Are you gonna try again? People are a trip.

Threat Assessment

I’ve been in a bit of a flame war on an e-mail discussion list over the last couple weeks. I thought it was all rather silly, but my main combatant sent me a private message last night, off-list, that has really thrown me for a loop. Here’s the pertinent extract:

I am still restrained about this. My options if I want to be a real pain in politics are all off-list and they are real. I do not utilize them very often and I am not always 100% successful, but I do have a voice in circles that matter. That isn’t a threat, that is just to say I am acting with far more restraint than you seem to believe.

It is best to let it go with absolutely no more commentary. This will all layer over and blow away…. But it is not something to continue to pick at.

When I first read this, my gut reaction was, “He says it’s not a threat, but it sure reads like one.” He seems to be saying, “Shut up or else.” I shared it with a couple co-workers, two solid guys who don’t scare easy, and their first reaction was the same.

Now I find myself in a bit of a quandary. He’s gotten in cyber-fights with others on the list before, and now I have to wonder if he hasn’t stooped this low before. It seems like the other members of the discussion group deserve to be apprised of these tactics. But if I share this information, I would undoubtedly provoke him further, and perhaps he makes good on this mysterious veiled threat. This has clearly gotten out of hand, so I should just drop it. But if I do that, without explanation, it seems like he gets a pass, and his bullying is perhaps further enabled.

Or maybe I’m reading too much into this?

Valentine’s Day Protest

I won’t be there, but this sounds interesting:

Valentine’s day press conference 11:00 am in front of city hall to celebrate the love between the city council and the private interests who will make millions demolishing public housing. Half hour, fun, satirical protest! Wear red, bring a date!

[via txt msg from Brice Nice]

Ran Off, Got Hitched

I mentioned last June that I was going to be a grand uncle. About five months ago, my niece gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. Last month she ran off to Nevada with the father, whom I’ve never met. A few days ago they got married. He is joining the Marines, and my niece is thinking about enlisting as well.

My sister is not happy with her daughter’s choices. She didn’t like her moving away, and she called her marriage the “worst mistake of her life.” The irony there is that my sister also had a child and got married at a very young age.

I hate to think of them putting their lives on the line in this misbegotten war. I wish them well, of course. The truth is that I hardly know my niece. I guess their child and our child will be first cousins once removed. But it seems probable that they will be almost complete strangers.

Any Time Now


Xy’s in the ninth month of her pregnancy now. She’s tired of carrying the extra weight and all the other many attendant discomforts. Pregnancy is quite a physical chore, and it’s all on her, with very little I can do except try to be helpful and supportive. She’s more than ready for it to end.

Yesterday the doctor told her she’s dilating to a point where she could go into labor any time now. Could be tomorrow, could be four more weeks. Her official due date is March 8, which of course is just and educated guess. The doctor recommended that, if she hasn’t already gone into labor, they should induce it two days before that, to reduce the possibility of her petite body being ripped asunder by the travails of birth.

I think he’s just filling a hole in his golf schedule on March 6. Ha! No, I’m kidding. This guy has delivered over 10,000 babies so I think he knows what he’s doing.


I salute the people of Louisiana who made it to the polls Saturday. Obama beat Clinton by a big margin; Huckabee beat McCain.

Locally, a few friends and fellow bloggers were in the running for some Democratic executive committee seats. Karen and Danger won, Michael and Oyster did not. I was also glad to see Ed McGinnis and Deborah Langhoff score victories.

I’m not a Democrat, but I respect what these folks are trying to do — reform the local Democratic party from within. Does it need reforming? I suspect it does. So hats off to them.

Get full primary results from the Secretary of State.

Footnote: One friend suggested that I was abdicating my civic responsibility by not registering Democrat and participating in the party primary. I disagree. I hope some day to be voting in a Green primary here in Louisiana. Greens in Illinois just had their first primary, and by all accounts it went very smoothly — not.