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Making Eliot Darwin Faith
 
 
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
the decision
Ilaria has fibroids, which are tumors on the uterine wall. Fibroids are very common and normally not a problem. They can however make getting pregnant and carrying a baby to term more difficult.

Ilaria always told me she wanted a kid before she was "old". After consulting with three different doctors, she came to the conclusion that it could take up to three years (if ever) to have a child given her fibroids. The formula from the docs was: 1) try normally for one year; 2) if that doesn't work, have surgery, wait 8 months, and try for another year.

Given the surgery scenario, she'd be 34 years old for her first kid which was a little later than she wanted, but still not too bad, so we began working on the one-year, pre-surgery attempt.
 
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Two weeks later she took a test, while I was brewing beer (an IPA) at Eric and Nicole's house; it was positive; she freaked out and called our friend Elissa (not wanting to disturb me during the brewing). She showed me the positive test as she drove me home.

When we got to our apartment
 
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she took
 
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a second test
 
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to double check.

Achieving success only two weeks into what we'd mentally prepared for as a three year journey almost felt like failure.
 
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But after the initial shock, we started taking belly pictures to track the journey -- always staying cautious that given the fibroids, we had a higher risk of a miscarriage.
 
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I stained all of our unfinished furniture, while I still had no-kid and lots of free time for unnecessary house projects.

And we decided as travelers, we should take a final long road trip, because we wouldn't have kid-free travel for many years.

For Ilaria, most of the pregnancy seemed to be some sort of self-preservation based denial. She was always saying she didn't think the kid would make it the whole 9 months because her fibroids. She was really just trying to mentally prepare herself, so that if she did lose it, it wouldn't hurt so bad.

The first eight weeks her hormones were rapidly changing her body and everytime she felt a change in her body (which was several times a day), she say "something feels weird, I think I lost it" later in the day she'd say "I don't feel that weird thing anymore, I'm afraid I lost it" (it being the developing one).
 
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So we were almost a little surprised to see a living, seven week old, creature with its heart beating away when the doctor gave Ilaria a quick ultrasound to check the position of the fibroids relative to the baby.
 
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The doctor also said it was safe to travel.

Ilaria carried the developing one
 
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to the Grand Tetons,
 
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Yellowstone,
 
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Craters of the Moon National Park,
 
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Glacier National Park,
 
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Arches National Park,
 
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and after 5,589 miles of seeing the Rockies and the Northwest of the US, we returned home to let everyone know we were expecting a kid.
 
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I was pretty impressed with Ilaria's belly by the 14th week, but my sister said it just looked like she'd eaten too many hotdogs.
 
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At week 17, Maria Rita, Gabriella, Elissa, Ben and, Ansel all came to visit at the same time and checked out Ilaria's little pancia (belly).
 
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By week 18, the developing one was big enough to serve as an apple polisher when we went apple picking with Meg and Andy.

Our friends Meg and Nicole were pregnant 3 months before Ilaria, and served as a constant reminder of what we were about to get into in terms of belly growth and pregnant aches and pains.
 
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At week 19, we went to see the developing one again. This time he was much bigger. We also learned the developing one
 
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was a boy!
 
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By week 20, we decided that maybe we still didn't have our fix of traveling, so we took a weekend trip to see
 
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the autumn leaves in the Ozarks.

After that, Ilaria's travel bug went away, and my normally outgoing never-want-to-be-at-home girlfriend, wanted less and less to go out.
 
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At week 33, we went to have another look at the developing one inside his mom's belly
 
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to make sure he was head down (he was; good boy).
 
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I'd originally planned to take one photo of Ilaria everyday in the same position, so I could make a movie of the belly growing (I see these all of the time on youtube). But my attempt was poor at best, and there certainly aren't enough photos for a video.

Here's 19 weeks.
 
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23 weeks
 
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28 weeks
 
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29 weeks (New Year's Eve at 4 am)
 
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30 weeks
 
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37 weeks!
 
timeline
and here they are on a timeline
 
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Another aspect of Ilaria's denial that the developing one was going to make it out ok, was that she refused to buy anything or accept gifts related to the developing one for a very long time.

When we made it to the final month, the reality that the developing one was developed and would likely be out soon hit Ilaria and we made hurried preparations to obtain a bed and some clothes (thanks for all of the donations/lendings from our friends!).
 
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Our friends at work also had a baby shower for us (was this for me too? or just Ilaria? or just the developing one? who are baby showers officially for?). Check out the nice diaper wreath and the clothes that Sabrina and her mom knitted (around this time many of the ladies in my lab started learning knitting from Sabrina and scarfs started appearing everywhere).
 
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We got lots of nice
 
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things for the developing boy,
 
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and I learned about the contraptions they make for little kids (like this kid towel that has a hat built in).
 
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This glucose T-shirt from Jay and KT was a hit amongst the science nerd filled room.
 
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There were also games to 1) guess the circumference of Ilaria's belly (Michelle won); 2) guess what type of poop was in different diapers (it was different chocolate candy bars (chocolate master Nate won); 3) guess what was in some unlabeled baby food jars (I tied with Henning).

Thanks everyone for the shower!
 
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My last project was to brew some beer, while I still had some free time.
 
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By week 37, I started wishing he'd hurry up and come out, before I got too anxious. Finally on Friday morning at 1 day and 39 weeks, Ilaria woke me up at 5AM and said she thought her water broke (no gush, just a slight leaking, no signs of labor), so we needed to get to the hospital within 18-24 hours.

I was super excited, took a quick shower and snapped a photo of our soon-to-be baby filled house.
 
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But after doing the "fern test", the residents decided it wasn't amniotic fluid and told us to come back if Ilaria didn't stop leaking by that night.
 
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That night we went back because Ilaria was still leaking. Still no ferns, still no amniotic fluid. We were told to come back if the leaking turned into a gush.

The next day at 10:30PM, Ilaria had just such a gush; her pants were completely soaked (through one of those girl-liquid catchers too); I got all excited again and drove Ilaria to the hospital. No ferns, sent back home...

The whole weekend was completely draining for Ilaria; she felt very strongly she was leaking amniotic fluid, despite the tests; but the residents were very strict with their no ferns, no amniotic fluid, no induction. Ilaria is positive for Beta-strep (a bacteria that lives naturally on 1/4th of all humans, but is very bad for infants); if you're water is broken, you should be induced into labor within 18-24hrs and given penicillin to prevent infecting the baby; so when Ilaria went to the doctor on Monday and the doctor agreed with Ilaria that the fluid was probably amniotic fluid, and she obtained a positive fern test, Ilaria lost it....
 
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Within minutes we were in the hospital
 
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We were told the induction would take up-to 24 hours, so I was happy to have a nice view from the window.
 
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While we were waiting for the doctor to come by and determine what medicine to use for the induction, Ilaria had a really long contraction (appx 2 min 30 sec). Not painful and they were the type of contraction she'd been having for a few weeks. However, with the baby on the monitor, we could hear that his heart went from a rapidly beating baby heart (120-160 beats per minute) to a slow beating old man hard (60 beads per minute). As his heart went from dudududu to duuu duuu duuu, the nurse quickly went into alert mode and before you could turn around, she had Ilaria laying on her side with an oxygen mask and the room was filled with residents.

We'd experienced a similar phenomenon on Saturday nite while we waited for the negative fern test.

20-30 minutes later it happened again, and the OB doctor came to chat with us about the induction for the first time. She said if he's not tolerating these weak contractions he's extremely unlikely to tolerate the frequent strong contractions to get him out naturally, so if we try for a natural child birth it was likely to result in an emergency cesarean section. Or else we could do a planned cesarean right away before his heart did any more weird stuff.

After chatting to each other and over the phone with Sandra (Ilaria's doula), Ilaria and I decided to do the planned cesarean.
 
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Ilaria's doctor was quite literal when she said the cesarean would start right away if Ilaria decided on that route. Within 10 minutes, they were wheeling my girl to the O.R.
 
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They told me they'd come get me in 20 minutes, after Ilaria was all drapped up and they were about to start.
 
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It was a very lonely feeling being in the delivery room after Ilaria's bed had been wheeled out with her on it.
 
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I tried to find a way to kill the 20 minutes to keep my nerves from going crazy.

After only 10 minutes, one of the O.R. nurses came to get me. She said I could go in early to try and calm Ilaria who was extremely nervous.

When I got in the O.R., my nerves disappeared (thankfully) as I saw how petrified Ilaria was in there. She was laid out on a table with her arms pinned out perpendicular to her body like a horizontal Jesus Christ paralyzed from the chest down. I could see why she was nervous. 1) they just gave her medicine that gave her the shakes; 2) the drapes weren't up yet, so she could see everything that was going on in the room; there were 10-15 people all hustling about getting ready for the surgery; 3) they were about to cut open her stomach and pull out a human being.
 
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Once the drapes were up and Ilaria couldn't see what was going on, she looked a lot better. She was still shaking, but she could speak in somewhat comprehensible sentences.

Cutting her to get to the baby was surprisingly fast. In about 15 minutes, the nurse told me to get ready to take a picture if I wanted; I stood up and the doctors all hollered, no sit back down we're not quite ready yet.

(warning: slightly bloody pictures coming up)
 
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Then the docs said, OK get your camera.
 
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And I saw my boy coming out of Ilaria's stomach.

I was surprised that they just grabbed his head and pulled up so hard on it to get him out. His neck got all stretched out and I was afraid we were going to need a put-his-head-back-on surgery.
 
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But those docs knew what they were doing.
 
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And a pissed off little developed one, Eliot Darwin Faith,
 
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was cleaned up
 
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and had some antibiotics stuffed in his eyes.

For about a week, I'd been wondering what to say to him when I met him for the first time. When I got close enough so he could hear me I said, "welcome to the world little boy".
 
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I moved around the O.R., watching the doctors put Ilaria back together
 
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and the nurses determining how big our boy was (8lb 11oz).
 
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As the doctors put Ilaria back together, they pushed really hard on her stomach many times and eventually Ilaria went from nauseous to puking over-and-over. She looked really sick and I felt real bad for her.

When they were initially giving Ilaria the spinal, they asked if she'd eaten in the last 6 hours, she said she'd eaten a bagel and cream cheese 4 hours before. After one of Ilaria's pukes they said, "this doesn't look like a bagel and cream cheese; looks like vegetables". Ilaria brightened up a little and said, "that was my lunch!"
 
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The O.R. began emptying out as people finished their roles in the operation.
 
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Eliot had his footprints taken,
 
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and I took a picture of my hand so I would not forget key statistics about my son: his length 21.5in, his time of birth (20:28CST, March 16 2009), and the spot my car was parked in so I could take him home in a few days (M232). (one statistic I learned later was his head circumference: 36cm)
 
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His blood sugar was low and they wanted to give him a little formula to keep him from needing an IV. I was told to ask his mom if was ok. That was a pretty useless conversation, because Ilaria was completely out of it.
 
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But she said it was ok to feed him.
 
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After the little bottle of formula, Eliot turned into an I-want-to-eat crazy boy. He just kept his chomping his mouth open-and-closed hoping another bottle would fly in there.

After they wrapped him,
 
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they handed him to me.

I didn't have any wow I'm a father feelings. I was happy he was ok, happy he wasn't crying, happy he was cute, unhappy that he was so warm, which combined with my hot surgery gown was making me sweat, and unhappy that he was making my arm really tired and it'd look really bad if my arm muscle gave out and I dropped him in front of everyone.
 
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I took him over to his mom who was happy
 
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to see
 
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her new boy.
 
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The doctor came over to have a look at him,
 
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and they wheeled Ilaria and Eliot back to the delivery room
 
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Given the boy's low blood sugar and the adrenaline rush that keeps newborns awake for a little while after birth,
 
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Sandra made sure to try and get the boy feeding with his mom for a few minutes before his next test.
 
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For awhile it looked like his sugar was dropping and he'd need to go to the ICU, but his sugar reached the upper 50s,
 
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so our family was going to be able to stick together.
 
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Eliot was swaddled and hanging out in one of the hospital baby beds.
 
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We took a few memories
 
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Nicole
 
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our new family
 
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and the two that by far had worked the hardest
 
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to get to this point.
 
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Officially the new boy didn't have a name yet, and he was referred to as "Mogno boy" on all of the hospital paper work and our wristbands. I think I might keep that as a nickname for him...

 
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I walked Eliot up to the nursery with Nicole (Ilaria's nurse); it had been a long 9 month journey that we'd taken to get to this point -- especially for his mom. But they were both doing really well, which made the dad very happy. Let's hope things stay that way for the long future we will share with each other.