Owen Francis Strother Lilleleht
Also known as:
Wole (after the great Nigerian writer, Wole Soyinka), Bamdogo (short for Baba mdogo - Kiswahili for "little father"), and whatever other little pet names we can come up with... (including "pumpkin" and its variants, "pumpkin head" and "pumpkin butt" - but Wole is a favorite so far).
You can go directly to the pictures by clicking here.
The Birth Experience Revisited
1 September 2000
Well, Kimberly, Owen, Erica [my sister - here on a visit] and I went out to Famous Dave's, a barbecue joint here in town, and get seated right next to a couple with a child and an infant. An infant, Kimberly remarks, that looks just about as old as Owen. We smile, I make goo-goo eyes at the baby, try to get Owen to look at her, the whole baby/family eating out shtick.
As they get up to leave we exchange some pleasantries and Kimberly asks how old their little princess is. "Almost four months," is the reply. "Him too, born May 9th," Kimberly offers. Well, turns out to be their little girl's birthday too. Born at St Mary's? Yes, about 5 or 6 am. Hmmmmm....
My brain's really cooking now. A few more tidbits are shared that places them just about where we were in the maternity ward -- kitty-corner to the nurses' station. "I think we heard you!" Kimberly offers. This is the woman who's moaning and groaning woke Kimberly up the morning of Owen's birth [click here to revisit that part of the tale - be sure to hit the back button on your browser to return]. I expand on that a little bit more, perhaps a bit insistently, and they are, understandably, quick to deny that it could've been them. "I didn't make any noise, really..." voice somewhat trailing off. I could be a bit more diplomatic but it's hard not to get excited. They excuse themselves and we turn to each other: "That was them!" And I'm sure it was.
What a small, small - and sometimes uncomfortable - world it must be...
The Next "Big" Day
1 August 2000
Oh my! Kimberly returns to work today and leaves our little man with me. Full time. Nine hours a day. At least. If you think of it, send her a note of welcome: email@example.com. She's not thrilled to be leaving Owen - she keeps asking of friends who've also gone back to work, "It's harder to be at home all day with a baby, isn't it? Well, isn't it?!?" - but somebody's got to earn us some jack [there is also some underlying suspicion, not without some basis I might concede if pressed, that this too is part of a larger plan to avoid gainful employment on my part - she is seeking some sort of reassurance that I will be properly "punished" for such dreams]. I think she trusts me with him although on a walk the other night she did blurt out, apropos of nothing [certainly nothing more than a passing reference to the Wu Tang Clan], "Oh god, I'm going to come home to a little you." She wasn't referring to my rugged good looks.
"Owen: Seven Days" - a poem by Pulitzer Prize winner, C.K. Williams, from his collection, Repair.
Following this link will spawn a daughter window that you should close on finishing the poem - sorry, trying out my programming prowess [or lack thereof].
Pictures, Pictures, Pictures Are Here!!!
Just the facts, ma'am:
Day of Birth: Tuesday, 9 May 2000
Time: 7:24 pm
Ask Liz and Terry, or Marianne and George: did I call it? Uh-huh! I called Tuesday even though Kimberly's due date was the 15th [or the 12th if you went by the ultrasound]. But Bailey had been acting funny and Kimberly said she was feeling a little "crampy" at work on Friday, so Saturday evening I went with my gut and said today, Tuesday, was the day and, voila! Gives new meaning to the phrase: "Who's your daddy?!"
Weight: 7 lbs 4 oz
Length: 20 inches
6 June 2000: 8 lbs 7¼ oz
7 July 2000 [2 month checkup and his first immunizations - egad!]: 10 lbs 11¼ oz & 22 3/8 inches
And our pediatrician [and all the nurses and lactation consultants] keep telling us what a beautiful round head he has...
18 September 2000: 14 lbs 1½ oz & 25 inches
9 November 2000 [6 month checkup; immunizations continue]: 15 lbs 1½ oz & 26¾ inches & 43cm head
28 November 2000 [the first "why's this happening to my baby" panic visit]: 16 lbs 7 oz [um, we've got him started on solids so the weights starting to add up... quickly]
23 January 2001: 16 lbs 8¼ oz - Oh, oh! We're a little worried and the doctor's not sure if we have to be. Wole's certainly developing well [and boy is he crawling] but he's sick for the second time in less than a month, pretty severly sick, and this time he's barfing around, so...
An Abbreviated Tale of
By Mark L. Lilleleht - Baba Oweni - 10 May, ~2am
Kimberly comes gingerly walking up from the basement where she's been doing laundry. "My water just broke," she splutters, giggling a bit, giddy disbelief bubbling up as she makes her way to the bathroom. I jump up from the futon, starting towards her. "You didn't dribble on the carpet, did you?" The more things change the more I channel my gramma. It's going to be a long night, I'm sure we both thought.
So we scramble to pack some semblance of a bag, call the hospital to let them know we're on our way and trundle off. To wait. Yes, her water broke but there are no contractions. We try to get some sleep. I'm a bit more successful than Kimberly, who wakes me up at 5:30am on the 9th. A woman in a nearby suite is hootin' and hollerin' and Kimberly can't stand to listen to it alone - little do either of us know that in about thirteen or fourteen hours, she's gonna be the one giving some poor early stager the heebie-jeebies. But I'm getting ahead of the story. She settles in next to me on the sofa, we turn on and turn up the television and sit and wait some more.
Run home to get something to eat and to shower and when I get back they're setting up to start her on pitocin to get the contractions started. By 9:30 am she's hooked up to an IV and some external monitors and I can claim a small victory: we've got her relaxing to some South African township jive. Soon thereafter our Internet connection is up and I'm running amok with the emails. I feel a little silly hammering away at the keyboard, but the contractions are sporadic and more like gas or cramps than anything else. Type on, she allows.
10:30 am, Wednesday, 9 May: In the "now they tell us" department - Kimberly's not yet in labor, but "it's only a matter of time"; so she's feeling great! We find out later that the nurse pegs her as slipping into "real" labor at noon.
A little before 2pm Kimberly's begging for the numorphin to take the edge off the pain of the rising contractions. But she's only at 3cm and our doctor wants her at four before they slip her the happy juice. At 2:15pm she gets it and it's smooth sailing for the next hour and a half. We start talking about her stepping out to go clothes shopping sometime later in the month - a great opportunity to do a little something for herself and a break from the baby. "Oh right, I totally forgot we were going to have a baby," is her response. This is some good stuff.
But not a cure all and by 4pm the edge has slipped back into the contractions and she needs, and gets, another dose. Not quite as effective, but she's making great progress: in two hours she's gone from 4cm to 8cm and her cervix is paper-thin. By 5pm she's ready to push and the doctor gives her the go ahead. At 5:15 she turns to me: "it feels like a brick of cheese." Okay, so the numorphin has greater staying power than I thought.
We try a few different positions before we settle into the bed for the final push home. I'm on one leg, the nurse is on the other, and the resident and our doctor are at the end directing traffic. Bad analogy, since this traffic is perhaps most like an 18-wheeler loaded with bricks heading down a narrow side alley: momentum makes it almost impossible to stop and it sure as hell ain't gonna make any wide turns, either right or left.
By 7pm she's the one hootin' and hollerin' - not much but probably enough to put the fear of god in a few first-timers [you see, we're old hands at all this by now]. One big push and, pop, there's the head. One more and, pop, the shoulders. The rest of him slithers on out rather quickly. He's a little slow catching his breath and getting his temperature up but by the time we tuck him in this evening, everything is checking out a-ok.
And so it goes.
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Updated: 24 September 2000