Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Little Clothes

I remember a few years back when Crystal was moving back to Dallas from Vancouver. We were in the midst of that transition from friends to "something there that wasn't there before", so watching her leave was difficult (though somehow I knew it was only a temporary goodbye!). Anyway, I remember helping her pack and seeing her fold up her clothes -- they were soooo tiny! I didn't know they made clothes that small. It was kind of like when I was kid, saw my dad's clothes and was doubtful that I'd ever be that big, but in reverse.

Well I had that experience again this morning when I went outside and saw Ellie's clothes hanging on the line. They are soooo tiny! I used not to understand when girls would ooohh and aaahhh over baby clothes. But now that I have a tiny baby, and not just clothes, then they remind me of how sweet and beautiful she is.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Pulling Up Weeds

Just to let you know that not everything going on here in Durham revolves around Ellie, I thought I'd let you peek in on Nana and me doing a little gardening. It was an absolutely lovely day (the 35 mph winds notwithstanding) so it seemed like a good time to get out there and see what could be done with our jungle. Our landlord had put in a flower bed that has long since become a bed of weeds. So I started digging things up (gosh, those weeds put down same hardy roots!). Before long Nana couldn't resist getting up from her sewing machine and coming out to help. Crystal was trapped with Ellie being omni-hungry but ventured out to make sure we were doing things right and take a few pictures.

I later went out and weeded a second bed beside the fence. Somewhere in here we're going to attempt some better-late-than-never vegetable growing. We'll see how it goes. You'll also see there in the corner our newly acquired compost bin (courtesy of the Durham City Council). It's good to be composting again, though I keep forgetting and throwing things in the trash — but Nana always catches me with an "Ah, ah, ahhhh...compost!" (By the way, pay no attention to our neighbor's lush green lawn on the other side of the fence...we're just getting started).

And since I know you didn't come here to see our garden, here's a new picture of Ellie shortly after Daddy gave her a bath for the first time (his first, not hers). She seems to have survived, but was happy to see Mommy.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Cuter Every Day

I think it must be her eyes opening up and getting bigger each day, but Ellie is clearly getting cuter. I know that's hard to imagine. But you've got to admit that I'm right, don't ya?

One thing for sure, though, is that this kid can eat. Continuously. Like nearly non-stop. Pictured above is her standard "Got milk?" look, otherwise known as the "Mummy, you've got what I want and nobody else will do right now" look. Daddy knows that this is the time to steer clear unless he wants Ellie to start sucking on his beard (somewhat entertaining for me, but certainly not too pleasant for her). In those rare 15 minute breaks between feeds, when she hasn't realized that she's hungry again, there are a few minutes for father bonding with a little skin-to-skin.

Now this is the life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Crystal Grows a New Bump

I had told Crystal during her 9th month that I was going to miss her bump after delivery. Sometimes when my hand is resting on her I catch myself waiting for a little kick. Well, not to leave me disappointed, she has grown a new one! But getting Ellie back out of the new one is quite a bit easier than the last one, let me tell you. This sling (thanks Ruth!) is an amazing little device that can be worn all sorts of different ways (with cute names for the various configurations, like the "Cuddly" and the "Facing the World"). They advertise that you can carry a four-year old in the thing, but I'm a little skeptical about that. And no, in case you were wondering, I haven't tried it yet. Give me a little time to get used to the idea. Besides, I'm holding out for a more manly color.

Lydia came to visit yesterday after school with her mum Vicky. Lydia is very excited to be taking riding lessons now that she is seven, and was more than happy to hold Ellie. Lydia unknowingly played an important role in preparing me for fatherhood. A couple of months ago at church, Vicky said to her, "Give Rob a cuddle!" and she jumped into my arms, gave me a hug and smiled at me with those big, pretty eyes. Obviously my heart melted and I decided I really wanted a daughter of my own. And now I get cuddles all the time from little Ellie.

Our health visitor Debbie came to see us today. She comes on day 10 after birth to weigh the baby, discuss any problems, talk about immunizations, etc. Ellie weighed in at a healthy 2.94 kg (6 lbs 8 ounces), which is getting close to returning to her birthweight of 2.955 kg (babies lose weight after delivery and are supposed to regain it within two weeks).

My favorite moment of the visit was when Debbie asked Crystal if she was getting enough to drink while breastfeeding. Crystal (who admittedly had just been awakened from a nap) responded, "Oh yes, I drink a pint with every feed." Both Debbie and her assistant did double takes, looked a little puzzled, and then realized that Crystal meant water and not beer. No wonder Ellie sometimes has that "drunken sailor" look....

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Print Me

A few people have asked about making prints of Ellie so they don't have to be sitting in front of their computers in order to behold her beauty. :-) Not to disappoint her admirers, I've uploaded a number of photos to the Walmart Digital Photo Center so that you can make prints pretty conveniently. However, to print photos you'll need us to invite you to view our photo album. So if you're interested, please email me your email address and we'll hook ya up.

Sorry not to have any great new pictures today. Nana and I went to church this morning and were welcomed by hordes of well-wishers (plus a notice in the bulletin!). Though Crystal and Ellie didn't accompany us, we assured everyone that they were doing great and that we had left them resting together in bed. Little did we know by that time that Ellie had begun a two hour screaming session that put Crystal in a bit of a daze by the time we got home. But all was happy again before too long. She slept through all of Apollo 13 tonight on DVD...sure hope she sleeps a little tonight!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

I'm Going Shopping!


To celebrate the last day of her first week of life, Ellie decided to head into downtown Durham for some shopping. It's great fun to have both strangers and friends stop you in the street to admire her (especially since people tell me how much she looks like me! :-). Our friend Karen chased us down for a look. Rita at the fabric store has been watching Crystal grow as she regularly stopped by for more nursery fabrics, so she was looking forward to the day we brought Ellie by.

We found some luscious strawberries on sale at this fruit stand and they have just finished their process of becoming strawberry-banana ice cream (drop by for a taste!). Nana couldn't resist having her picture taken by a red British phone box.

This really is a beautiful city. Here's the market square with St. Nic's Church in the background. Crystal and Ellie are going to play hooky in the morning (gotta get that feeding schedule thing worked out...), but Nana and I will venture out for services. Sorry for the bouncy video but Ellie obviously enjoyed her first visit to High Street (click the image below for the video).

All in all, it was a very successful outing. We found a nightlight for Ellie, a waste bin for the nursery, batteries for the baby monitor, a changing mat, a ribbon from which to hang Ellie's cards in her room, sewing thread, etc. etc.

After such an eventful day, it's no wonder that Ellie ended up plumb tuckered.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Some Days Tears Must Fall

In my Old Testament studies, I'm looking at how God sometimes brings pain upon his people. It's hard to hear Ellie's cries and we do everything we can to prevent any discomfort. But pain comes in different kinds -- a dirty diaper can be changed to make things better, but sometimes there's nothing you can do about a little tummy gas. Day 6 of life in the UK means a heel prick for a few drops of blood -- just enough to screen for problems that can be ameliorated with early intervention. So today Margaret came armed with her weapon of pain and healing -- making Ellie cry for a higher good.

You can witness it a little yourself by clicking on the image above. I think you'll also enjoy Margaret's melodic accent!

But what better way to wipe the tears from a little girl's eyes than with new clothes? Our British friends are astonished at Ellie's eight pair of shoes lined up in her nursery. The jellies probably get the most coos, but I'm partial to the bunny slippers. And she's all ready for the great outdoors with her 'coon boots! Meanwhile, Crystal is struggling to keep up with all of the clothes that have come pouring in from our generous friends and family. She sorted and organized things today so that we can rotate larger things into the dresser as Ellie grows. Ellie, I think you may be the best dressed member of this household!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Day 5 -- More Excitement

It's hard to keep up with all of the excitement around the Barrett house these days, but we'll do our best to keep your inquiring minds satisfied. I guess it's sort of like home movies, but at least you can fast-forward....

Ellie was meeting all sorts of people today. Crystal had said that she was going to keep her cloistered for a few weeks, but it's just too much fun to show her off! We had the special treat of two midwife visits today. As I noted yesterday, Ellie tends to be well-behaved in front of the midwife -- latching on and feeding with wild abandon. But when Sharon visited this morning she gave her a demonstration of what life is normally like around here at feeding time (well, maybe not "normally" but at least "occasionally"). She was wailing up a storm, getting a few gulps and then getting tired or bored or something, with none of the standard tricks doing much good. Nothing is really wrong, but Ellie just isn't always as cooperative as she could be (maybe a little of her father's orneriness has snuck into her genes). Sharon said she would check back in the afternoon to make sure the next feed had gone better. But to our delight Margaret (pictured above), the midwife who take care of most of our pre-natal needs, popped by for a cuppa while Ellie gave a splendiferous performance.

We also had a visit with Ruth and her son Peter. Ruth sings with the music group at church so we see each other quite regularly. Peter has apparently been quite smitten with Ellie and likes to admire her on the web. Now he can see himself here too! We also had a nice visit with Amy and her son Sam (below). Amy has been a regular visitor but Sam hadn't had the opportunity to make Ellie's acquaintance. He's going on his first airplane flight tomorrow so came over to see her before the big trip.

Crystal realized that she hadn't been outside since coming home from hospital so we took advantage of the nice weather and had a little outing to the neighborhood Co-op for a few provisions. Nana's getting the hang of tea and crumpets, but I must admit it was nice to have good ol' Texas-style red beans and cornbread tonight. Ellie watched us from the comfort of her bouncy chair (thanks Ruth!).

Beyond basic health and well-being, Crystal's deep longing was that Ellie would enjoy baths as much as Crystal enjoys giving them. (Point of culture: in England you "bath" your baby, you don't "bathe" her). Ellie certainly seemed to enjoy her hospital baths but tonight was her first home bath, complete with a Pooh bear bath sponge (thanks Kathy!) and a boogie-boarding hippo with pink jams bath thermometer (thanks Sam!). Within seconds of going into the water she was asleep and snoring. I think Crystal may be even more hooked than she was before!

And what day would be complete without a case of the hiccups? It's probably not nice to giggle when your darling is confused by her body's rhythmic convulsions, but it's hard not to when you see something that's so cute! Click on the image to watch the captivating video. How could tomorrow be any more exciting??

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ellie Meets Real Life

We're on Day 4 now and starting to move toward some sort of routine. Crystal and I are both most comfortable in a groove so there's a natural inclination to search for a basic pattern for life. I'm not sure that's exactly conducive to life with a newborn, but it's a beginning.

The first item on the agenda is figuring out how to eat. We're primarily interested in how Ellie gets her daily caloric intake, which is mainly in Crystal's court. Fortunately there are books (and the web, of course). But even more helpful is the community midwife system. A midwife comes by the home each day for the first week or two after delivery to check-up on things. Ellie seems to be much more compliant when the midwife is watching (and working her magic) with latching-on, not falling asleep during feeding and not wailing so much that she loses focus on the goal. No matter how desperate things seem, we can always rest on the fact that the midwife will be here again soon!

Of course, Ellie's not the only one who has to eat around here. So Rob tried out the Snugli today while making his peanut butter sandwich. Though eating said sandwich was delayed for awhile because another Ellie-admirer (and gift-bringer, thanks Andy and Louise!) showed up mid-sandwich.

Another daily necessity is email, especially with those wonderful, supportive notes that you've all been sending and that we hope to respond to before Ellie gets to kindergarten! It won't be long before she starts trying to pound the keyboard herself, but for now we can conveniently hold her while writing to y'all. (I read a funny story recently of someone's young child who was randomly playing with the mouse and managed to buy a few items with Amazon's one-click ordering system before daddy noticed). I'll hold off before teaching her the finer points of Java programming.

Well, I know you didn't come here to see pictures of Crystal and me, so here are a few of our lovely lady herself. These final two are from a minute-long video that helps capture Ellie's personality better than still pictures can. Click on the left image to see a lower quality version that's more appropriate for dial-up connections. Click on the right image for a higher quality version. For those still in the dark ages, may this be one more reason for upgrading to broadband!

lower-quality video (320kb)

higher-quality video (3.7mb)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Introducing Ellie

We invite you to celebrate with us the birth of Eleanor Grace Barrett!
Born15 May 2005
11:07 am
Weight2.955 kgs
6 lbs 8 oz
Length48 cm
19 inches
Mother, daughter, father and Nana are all doing great. Thank you for your prayers—past, present and future!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Bunny Arrives!

She's here. She's beautiful. Crystal is wonderful. Everyone is doing fine. I'm not sure whether I'm going to eat a pile of food, fall dead asleep, call all my friends and family, or cry with joy. I think I'll do all of them at once.

She was born at 11:07am Sunday 15 May 2005 and weighs in at 2.955 kilograms (6 lbs 8 oz). [They don't measure the lengths of babies in the UK!]

p.s. They tell us we have 6 weeks before we are required to name her -- but don't worry, we'll announce it Real Soon Now!


Friday, May 13, 2005

The Art of Persuasion

Since Bunny persists in enjoying the comfort of her in utero home, we began to "persuade" her to join us in the outside world today. We're at due date + 10 days and enough is beginning to be enough! :-)

So we walked over to the hospital this afternoon and got hooked up to the continuous monitoring device that charts the baby's heartbeat for 30 minutes to see what she's up to. It's fascinating -- with each kick her heartbeat jumps up from the rest rate of 130 bpm to about 160. Then it settles back down over 15 seconds or so. (We actually had this test earlier in the week to make sure that everything was continuing to be ok and she apparently grabbed her umbilical cord for a few minutes and brought her pulse down to around 90 bpm...and nearly gaver her father a heart attack! She's obviously inherited her sense of fun [from mother or father we'll leave you to decide] with her how-will-they-react-if-I-make-myself-pass-out antics.)

But before the monitoring the midwife did a little exam on Crystal. (Can you believe she's been pregnant for 9 ½ months and no one has taken the first peep you-know-where? This is a very modest people.) This included "stripping the membranes" (which isn't as scary as it sounds -- speaking as the comfortable man standing there with all of his clothes on....). It's supposed to encourage labor, but its efficacy is dubious.

But sure enough, a few hours later "something" is happening, Crystal reports. We're not sure what so don't get too excited. But she's doing quite a bit of grimacing and ohhing and so on. We've had false alarms before, so we're not quite sure what to think. But Bunny, hear this: we have an appointment to admit Crystal to the hospital for induction on Monday at 10pm. This is the big guns, y'hear? As the police say, you may as well come quietly....

On another front, we're really happy to have Crystal's mom with us now. She flew into Manchester on Wednesday and came into the Durham train station a few hours later (I'll let others share the train mis-hap story). It's great to have her here with us.

This reminds me of a story my thesis supervisor, Walter Moberly tells of his daughter's birth. A couple of days after they brought her home they were at their wits end trying to console her. They had tried everything to no avail. Just when they were about to give up hope of calming her down, his American wife Jenny's mother appeared at the door. "Just like the United States Cavalry coming to save the day!" She whisked little Rachel out of their arms and skillfully put her to sleep.

So Bunny, I'll have you know that we didn't just call the U.S. Calvary but the legendary Texas Rangers!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Hitchhiker's Guide to Pregnancy

Now what would the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy say about pregnancy? Well, probably that the best way to take your mind off of being three days overdue is to go see the movie!

I wouldn't say that it was as hilarious as the book, but the dolphin show tune at the beginning and end was particularly entertaining. And, given our circumstances, one couplet seemed apropos. The dolphins sing about their co-existence with humans:
We thought that most of you were sweet
Especially tiny tots and your pregnant women

I know one particular pregnant woman that I find to be most sweet. Maybe you know her too?

And what better way to round off possibly our last Friday night as just the two of us? Why with fish'n'chips...possibly the best in the world!

P.S. Yes, we've already noted the possibility of naming her "Blair" with "Tony" as a nickname, but maybe not....

Monday, May 02, 2005

One Day More

All Les Misérables fans know the anticipation of the closing song of the first half of the show:

One day more!
Another day, another destiny.
Tomorrow we'll discover
What our God in Heaven has in store!
One more dawn
One more day
One day more!

Not quite as poetic, our kitchen duck says "1 days" remaining before Bunny's due date. Should we stay up for half an hour to see what happens at midnight? Fireworks? "Happy Birthday"? "Congratulations"? Smoke and a message to buy another duck for the next baby? The wondering is almost unbearable, but nothing compared to waiting to see Bunny herself!

Maybe I should take Crystal's advice and go to bed...she says we might need our energy soon.