Friday, December 09, 2016

Mister Mom

Being a mom is a tough job. I should know, because I've been one for the past two weeks.

"Hey!" you're thinking. "You can't be a mom... you're a guy!"

I can be whatever I want to be. Stop discriminating against me based on my gender!

Why have I been a mom? Because Betty had a minor procedure a few weeks ago. The procedure only took 14 minutes, but the recovery time is between 2-3 weeks. She's doing OK, but I'm getting a first hand look at what it's like to be Mom for a while.

And I'm exhausted.

I used to get excited when I got over 10,000 steps on my FitBit. It would take a significant effort on my part, because I sit on my fat ass all day at work. So for me to hit 10,000 steps, I'd have to work at it: walk around the neighborhood, park far away from the office, or just randomly swing my arm at 11:59 pm to get those few extra "steps" in. But Betty always tells me that she gets that every day just doing mom stuff. And she's right. My FitBit has been clocking in at over 10,000 steps regularly, sometimes even before 3 pm.

No wonder I'm so tired.

Betty's parents have been at the house, and they've been a huge help. I honestly could not have done this without them. Their house flooded so they've been floating around at all the kids' houses until theirs is fixed. But we really needed them this month. And even with three grown adults, we still haven't been able to do what Betty does on a normal day. I'm regularly told by the kids that whatever I'm doing is not how mom does it, and I'm doing it wrong.

One day I came into the bedroom, where Betty was on Season 2 of her Gilmore Girls marathon on Netflix, and just said, "I want to cry."

Betty laughed. Real tears of joy streamed down her face. The laughing made her surgery site hurt.

While being Mom this month, I've finally started learning where things are in my house. I've also learned that we have not one but two colanders. (We might even have three.) What!?! I went almost four years without knowing that.

I wish I could go back to those innocent days of ignorance and bliss.

Being a mom is a thankless job. The kids don't say thanks after I get them ready for school, or make their lunches, or make dinner. (OK, so Betty's parents have been doing a lot of that. But the kids don't tell them thanks either.) I'm blaming their lack of manners on Dad, and since I'm Mom right now, that's not my fault. And the kids need to be at different places at the same time. Thankfully we have great friends who are willing to be our own personal Uber drivers for a bit.

But it's not enough. I'm not a great substitute for Mom. I like to come home, rile up the kids, play games with them, bathe them, then go sit in the restroom for twenty minutes and play Angry Birds Pop on my phone. All this "make sure they get their homework done then eat a healthy snack then go do something educational then BRUSH YOUR TEETH ALREADY" isn't my style.

To all the moms out there, let me say this from all of us clueless dads: Thank you. We love you. We need you. We're not worthy.

Betty still has about a week's worth of recovery time before she's going to feel somewhat normal again. And after that... I'm going on a Mom's Night Out.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Overprotective Dad on Board

I made the perfect bumper sticker for all the new dads out there. It goes great with your Baby On Board bumper sticker.

That's right, it says Overprotective Dad on Board!

What it really means is that if you hit me, tailgate me, cut me off, speed past me, sideswipe me, flash your lights at me, play your music too loud around me or look at me in a way that I don't like, I'm likely to pull your ass out of your car and break your back over my knee.

Don't even think of honking at me.

Look man... I'm incredibly happy that I have a baby at home. But I'll be honest: I haven't gotten as much sleep as I probably should have, and I'm probably not acting how I'd normally act had I received my normal amount of Z's. And your despicable driving is really pissing me off.

That means I'm cranky.

I'm cranky like a baby that wants to be fed, and I'm about to eat your lunch. Cranky like a baby that needs its diaper changed, and I'm about to light a used diaper on fire and throw it into your car like it's a Molotov cocktail.

Drive carefully. Or else. Because there's an overprotective dad on board, and nothing is more precious than my children. You've been warned.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Weighing Our Options

My daughter Rose was in the NICU for over four weeks. She's home now, thankfully! And in typical Tanory style, while she was in the NICU I managed to not only learn a great deal about the NICU and infant healthcare in general, but I also gathered enough personally shameful and blog-worthy material to last me several years.

For example, Rose originally took nutrition through an IV. Once Betty started pumping, Rose could be fed milk through a naso-jejunum tube - which is fancy talk for a tube going from the nose to the middle of the small intestine. After a while the NJ tube was removed and another tube was inserted to bring milk through the nose to the stomach. We slowly started incorporating bottle feeding into Rosie's feeding schedule. And at each step of the way, the doctors and nurses knew exactly how much milk Rose was getting.

Then around the two week mark, Betty started breastfeeding.

The thing about breastfeeding a newborn is that you don't really know how much milk the baby is getting. This is a very important metric for the NICU, as too little milk intake would mean that Rosie wouldn't get enough nutrients or gain enough weight. At first we tried to supplement Rosie with a bottle after she breastfed. We could assume that if she took x amount of milk from the bottle, then she must have taken y amount from the breast. But the best way to know, as one nurse attempted to instruct me, was to "measure the weight" before and after feeding.

The nurse was quite clearly talking about weighing Rosie. She meant to weigh Rosie before she fed, have us feed Rose, then measure her once she was done. They could then determine how much milk she ingested based on the difference in weight.

But what I heard was that we could weigh Betty's breasts before and after.

When it was time to do the weighing, I jumped at the chance to volunteer. "I volunteer as tribute!" are my exact words, I believe. The nurse went to hand Rosie to me, but my hands were already reaching for something else.

"So do we put them on a scale or something? And should we measure them together or separately?" I asked these questions about of scientific curiosity.

Needless to say, this story went viral within the NICU. I'm apparently a legend there now. On a bright note, everyone remembered me and asked about Rosie, so I guess I helped ensure that she was on everyone's minds!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rose Elizabeth Tanory

Betty and I are really happy to share that our beautiful daughter, Rose Elizabeth Tanory, was born on February 24, 2016.

It's taken me a while to write about it because she was born seven weeks premature due to some complications with her stomach and pancreas, and it's been a whirlwind over here. We're so tired! And my "we" I mean "Betty." I'm not allowed to be tired, or so I've been told. Rose had a successful surgery to fix the stomach issues, and is currently kicking butt in the NICU. But more on that later.

Rose's name has some family history. Rose is Betty's middle name, and it was also the name of Betty's maternal Grandmother. By the way, Grandma Rose (aka Gama) was married to Peter (aka Baba). So two of our children are named after Betty's grandparents. Don't worry, I snuck some Tanory family names in there, too.

We had a lot of trouble coming up with a middle name for Rose. The main thing we had to consider was her initials. We couldn't have her middle name start with an A or an O, because then her initials would be RAT or ROT. Hey, this stuff if important!

We decided on the middle name of Elizabeth for several reasons. First, it's a beautiful name. Second, it didn't start with an A or O, so that was good. Last, both Betty and I have cousins named Elizabeth, and we want both of them to think that we named Rosie after them.

Regarding Rose's surgery, Betty's pregnancy was considered high risk because we lost our last child, James, to stillbirth. During the pregnancy Betty had several ultrasounds, and around week 28 I asked the ultrasound tech if she could look at the stomach. We wanted to make sure that Rose didn't have what James had, which was called duodenal atresia. Duodenal atresia is where the stomach is not connected to the small intestine, or when there is a blockage in the top part of the intestine called the duodenum that makes passing food from the stomach impossible. Duodenal atresia is also called the "double bubble" because it looks like two bubbles on the ultrasound.

The ultrasound tech and our doctors knew that something was going on, but couldn't tell us with 100% certainty whether she had it or not. It sort of looked like she did, but sort of looked like she didn't. And Betty didn't originally have the extra amniotic fluid that she had with James. We kept looking at it during each weekly ultrasound, and it seemed like each time we looked it was clearer that something was going on. As time went on, Betty ended up getting more amniotic fluid. But it always seemed like it wasn't exactly duodenal atresia, because although it had all the hallmarks of it, Betty and Rosie didn't exhibit any of the symptoms until much later in the pregnancy than what we experienced with James. We had already been through it once before and knew what to look for, and this was different - even if just slightly different.

It ended up not being duodenal atresia. Instead, it was what's called Annular Pancreas, which is where the pancreas grows around the intestine and constricts it. This was why the doctors couldn't be sure about it. It looked as if there was a blockage, but it wasn't the same sort of blockage. Had we not been specifically looking for an issue with the stomach, we wouldn't have caught it until after she was born. We would have known about it then because Rose would have not been able to keep any food down.

I really have to thank Betty's OBGYN and our doctors and techs at Maternal Fetal. It was a very stressful time for us as you can imagine, yet they were calm and kept us calm throughout everything. We knew what was at stake, and they helped us make what we believe was the right decision to deliver Rose early. We never got an answer on why James died - unfortunately, many families of stillborn children never do - so we didn't know if Rosie had whatever James had. But we knew that Rosie was not safe in Betty's belly anymore considering the amount of amniotic fluid that was in there.

We delivered at 33 weeks to the day. We were told that we probably wouldn't be able to hold Rosie after she was born because she might need help breathing. But she came out screaming. It was the best sound ever.

If you've ever lost a child, you understand. And if you haven't, let me try to explain: when you're at church and some baby is crying in the back, and you see people glancing out the side of their eyes at the family, whispering to take them out because how dare that baby annoy them while they're praying? Well... we love that sound. That's the sound of a healthy baby. We'd give anything to be able to annoy you with that sound.

So hearing Rosie scream... it was magical.

The day after she was born, she underwent a form of gastric bypass surgery. The surgeons connected Rosie's stomach to the jejunum, which is the part of the small intestine directly below the duodenum. I'm amazed that they can do this. If you personally know a pediatric surgeon, give them a hug or send them some Girl Scout cookies next time you see them. They may have literally saved someone's life that day - and given a baby a chance at life.

Our decision to try for another baby was not easy. Thank you to everyone who has been with us on our journey since James passed away. I'm not going to sugarcoat it... it's been hard. Our friends and family have been wonderful. And I don't know what we would have done without our community at St. George Church and St. George School, as well as Maddie's Footprints, Anna's Grace, Threads of Love, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, our Infant Loss Support Group, our therapists... you are all amazing people. Thank you for helping us.

Rose is currently still in the NICU, but like I mentioned before, she is kicking butt. She literally kicks her foot up in the air. It's like she knows!