Monday, April 28, 2008

Uncle Alex visits...

Uncle Alex came to visit this past weekend to celebrate Pip's birthday.

At first Owen was a little confused.... who was this character that LOOKS like dad only taller and with a more refined fashion sense?


But, Owen quickly figured things out and was just happy to be with his fellow Raymond Men (he's usually surrounded by women so this was a pleasant change).

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hollywood, here I come!

Since we live in the land of sunshine (300+ days a year!) and Owen is now awake for many of our outings, a friend mentioned the importance of getting Owen sunglasses. The past few days have been really nice and sunny (it hit 80 degrees this week!) so on Tuesday I bought Owen some baby shades. And, though I am totally biased, I think he looks like one super cool dude....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Uncle Michael's visit and other tales of hair-woes

My brother, Michael, came to visit last week while Sean was in California. It was a HUGE help to have Michael here! And, as it was his first time seeing Owen since January 4th, I think the two bonded quite well.....

Here is a picture of uncle and nephew from January and last week. As you can see, Owen is still enthralled with Uncle Michael's hair.....



Michael helped me take Owen to daycare and even spent Wednesday morning babysitting for the little guy while I was at work. And, I think the Boulder way of life was a nice vacation from the hustle and bustle of NYC. We were all sad to say good-bye!

In honor of his uncle, Owen came home from daycare on Tuesday with a new hairstyle... his first mohawk. No gel was needed! Sean would have been so proud!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Daddy Reflections at 100 days

Owen is more than 100 days old! It is my turn to reflect on what things have been like for me as a dad. Here we go...


What I have learned about Owen:

He is super cute! He has lots of faces -- smily, confused, forlorn, furrowed brow, half smily and, of course, the blank stare. He has one new face where he bites things that I call "Tiger Milk", and more new faces popping up all the time. Here are some of those faces from back when he was only 99 days old:



In fact, Owen is so cute that the women at day care fight over who gets to hold and feed him! This is not a bad thing for us who worry about him getting enough attention.

More about Owen coming soon in another post about his likes and dislikes.


What I have learned about myself:

1. It turns out that I love babies (or, at least, I love my baby)! They are much more interesting than I had imagined. Owen is always changing, and his personality is growing all the time, especially when he grabs my chest hair I suppose. It's so cool that he is doing everything for the first time -- the world must look so huge and weird to him! It's fun to try to imagine how things are for him.

And when he smiles at me it is the best feeling in the world. I guess without those heart-melting smiles, cave-men and women might not have felt compelled to continue taking care of their kids after many nights with little sleep.

2. As expected, I get dumber when I don't sleep enough. This has become painfully obvious this year. I don't really want to give any specific examples... We are struggling with getting Owen on a better sleep schedule, especially at night. The last three nights he has woken up on average every hour or so, which is devastating to any attempt at longish sleep. Usually he wakes up sometime like 3 times per night and has something like a 4 hour sleep interval at some point. But he has had a cold the last several days (his very first cold, of course) and he keeps waking himself up because his nose is congested and he can't breathe properly. Poor little guy! And, after a few nights, poor us who are basically zombies.

3. It is kind of fun to use things in new baby-ish ways...


4. It's hard not having as much free time as I used to. I used to often take a few hours here or there to go on a little hike or something like that. Now, I have to squeeze things into smaller amounts of time, or make them baby-friendly activities. Not an easy task. I did do the Imperial Challenge up in Breck last weekend -- Marisa and Owen were there to meet me at the finish line which was really nice. Here we are right after the finish... (Note: my dad won his age group in the race!)


5. The worst feeling in the world is when something is wrong with your baby. We have gotten so worried in the past 3 months about lots of stuff -- a bonk on the head, jaundice, a clogged tear duct, two fevers, a cold, and other stuff I am not remembering right now. The worst thing for me was the bonk on the head, which happened when Owen slipped off my chest and out of the bed at the hospital. The docs came to check him out and he was very quickly given a clean bill of health, although the bump on his head didn't show up for a few days and lasted for about a month. Even though he was fine, I was haunted for days (and still am, from time to time) by the idea that I hurt my own kid. I talked with my dad and he reminded me of the time, when I was 13, that I broke my leg skiing. That wipeout was caused in part by my bindings that my dad had set. He told me that he felt horrendously terrible about that for a long time. I guess I know how he felt now...

6. Owen is not very big, but he really dominates our lives. We are always thinking or talking about what he's doing, how he's doing, how much he is sleeping, etc. Sometimes I miss the times when we were free to do almost anything. Not that we necessarily did that much, but we were really free to do nothing at all if we felt like it.

7. Cleaning up poop and spit-up and all that goop isn't nearly as bad as I expected. I had built it up in my mind as this terribly scary thing but it's not a big deal, really. Of course, I haven't been directly pooped on (yet?).

8. Skype is awesome! I was away at a conference in California for 3 days last week. But, every morning I video-skyped with Marisa and Owen and it really made it much easier to be away. No more distant conferences in the works for this year, so I'll be sticking around...


What I have learned about Marisa:

1. She is incredibly sweet with Owen. She sometimes uses up all her energy on the baby and has none left for anything else. It's tough for me to see that because I always tell her to take care of herself (and I do my best to take care of her) but she is so focused on the baby that she doesn't as much as she could.

2. She gets really spooked when Owen poops in the bath. This happened the other day and she was very startled! I was also startled but a lot quieter about it.

3. If left to her own devices, Marisa can end up worrying nonstop like crazy. I do my best to reassure her. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes not -- I wish I could keep her calm but some combination of my dumbness and her stubbornness makes that difficult.

4. Marisa is a master at getting Owen to fall asleep. She doesn't shush him or even use a pacifier, just her crazy mommy-jedi mind tricks.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Owen gets his REVENGE

"Ha ha! That'll teach you!"

Friday, April 11, 2008

Returning to work...

I returned to work part-time on March 31st. It was definitely a very hard day. I left Owen snuggling in bed with Sean at 6:30am (nice and sleepy after a 5:30am feeding) to catch the bus to Aurora. Walking to the bus stop, I called my mom for moral support.

Another co-worker was also returning from maternity leave that day (her son was born on 12/31 - just 7 hours before Owen). To celebrate, our colleagues brought breakfast. Lots had changed in 3 months - a new mailbox set-up, new office staff, and the best surprise of all... TONS of pictures of Owen hanging up on the door of my office (thanks to my officemate Melissa for that!!)

Sean took Owen to his first day of daycare at Tinyminders so I'll let him post about that experience. Needless to say, it took a lot of strength for me to only call them once that day to see how he was doing (he was sleeping). He's typical week is:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: Tinyminders
Wednesday: Home with Nan
Friday - Sunday: Home with mom and dad
(I'm also home on Tuesdays this month for some "self-care" time)

Work itself was actually good (and BUSY!). It was nice to have some conversations about things other than poop color and, although my brain isn't working at 100%, it was nice to have something to focus on other than all the things that could possibly go wrong with Owen (such as why he isn't sleeping so well - but that's a different post).

AND... the best part of the day was returning home. Owen and Sean picked me up at the bus stop and Owen had a BIG smile for me. It was the greatest feeling in the world!

-Marisa

Thursday, April 10, 2008

100 days old!

Owen is 100 days old today (4/10)!



To celebrate, we will have some good new stuff coming soon: Owen's new likes and dislikes, Daddy reflections and some new photos. Stay tuned....

Monday, April 7, 2008

Social Security

Owen received his Social Security card in the mail last week. So, he can now officially work in the US. Being a baby is no excuse! :)

Friday, April 4, 2008

The shadow of Fusion

Anyone who plans to read this, beware that this post is a pretty sad and depressing one. It is about how our first pregnancy, miscarriage and the aftermath has affected me and still looms over us. This post is more about me writing it than anyone reading it, so there is no obligation to read on...


Like Owen was called Tomato while he was in the womb, our first pregnancy was called Fusion. It only lasted about 6 weeks, in Aug-Sept 2006. I was so excited when we found out Marisa was pregnant on 8/17/2006 -- I still remember the moment vividly. I had resisted the idea of having kids for a little while because I was afraid of the responsibility, but when it happened it seemed like the best and most exciting thing in the world. Unfortunately, it didn't take long to be worried that things weren't right. Those six weeks were completely up and down -- one day the doc would say that everything looked okay, the next day things were way off. In the end, Fusion didn't grow and Marisa had a surgical miscarriage (called a "D&C"). It turns out that 1 in 4 of all pregnancies is a "blighted ovum" like Fusion was but you don't hear about it much until it happens to you.

The year or so that started in Aug/Sept 2006 and lasted until Aug 2007 was by far the worst year of my life. Loking back (and felt even more strongly at the time), I am amazed by the accumulation of crappy feelings, unlucky experiences, and overall bummed-out-ness over a relatively short time. And by far the worst feelings came from the loss of Fusion.

Marisa and I were both completely devastated by the loss, although I think it was much tougher for Marisa than it was for me, because she would (and still does) blame herself for what happened. But after the D&C, things just got worse: Marisa didn't recover physically for about 5 months, and was eventually diagnosed with gestational trophoblastic disease, a (pretty mild) form of cancer caused by a few stray cells hanging around in the uterus and keeping pregnancy hormones elevated after the baby isn't there anymore -- it is really no fun for anyone. A lot of waiting and worrying and one (mild) chemotherapy injection didn't help, but acupuncture came to the rescue and Marisa was (physically) recovered as of Feb 2007. We were told to wait six months before trying to get pregnant again (we waited two).

The one good thing that came of our experience was that Marisa and I grew closer than we ever had been. Our combined grief and frustration was an amazing shared experience. I've never been any good at talking about my feelings (like most guys, I think), but this was too much to hold inside so I let things out with Marisa. It was a really special connection between us that grew from a very unhappy place.

For me personally during that time, things stayed completely up and down, mostly down. Workwise I was doing great -- writing lots of papers and getting invited to give talks. In just about every other way, things were terrible. In the six months after Fusion I got two mild concussions (from ultimate and skiing) and was hit by a car on my bike. My head didn't feel right from about Jan to August 2007 -- I had to stop playing ultimate for a few months and I'm still worried about how I will be when the weather gets hot this year. I also managed to get quite sick about four times that winter, which was a direct result of worrying and stress. I have never been much of a worrier, but I lived in constant inner turmoil, worried to death about Marisa during her recovery.

We didn't feel particularly social for a long while and our social circle dwindled. I didn't feel able to share what was going on with many of my friends, so I felt increasingly isolated. In fact, I still haven't told most of my friends about what happened (until now, if they read this). Since this isolation creeped in, I just haven't felt connected to people as much as I used to. I also don't think the people that knew about this understood how hard this was for us and how long it would take to recover -- this added to our isolation but also, in a way, to bringing us together. I still feel the effects of that horrible year almost every day.

Marisa got pregnant again in April, about two months after she recovered from the miscarriage. Again, we were so happy and excited! But this time, we worried like crazy that things were about to go wrong. When we saw the baby at the first ultrasound, it was really special to see Tomato growing and his heart beating -- one of the best things I've ever seen and made even more special by the contrast with the empty womb from Fusion's ultrasounds. It was still tough because Marisa especially was (and still is) perpetually terrified of something going wrong, which took away from her pregnancy experience. One difficult thing was that other people didn't appreciate that things were still very difficult for us, that we still hadn't recovered from the loss and complications. To be honest, I don't think I would appreciate that about someone else if we hadn't gone through it ourselves -- I think I have grown a bit more sympathetic to people in difficult places. Still, it was one more thing that made us feel isolated.

The rest of the story gets happier. Marisa was pregnant, and Tomato grew and grew and we slowly recovered both physically and mentally from the aftermath of the miscarriage. I still remember a time in August 2007 when I began to feel like things were not so bad anymore, when the joy from Tomato finally overcame the accumulated misery of the previous year. A good feeling.


If Fusion had grown into a little baby, he/she would be almost one year old. I think about Fusion often, although not as often as Marisa does. It makes me sad that the aftermath of the miscarriage was so traumatic that I tend to remember the pain of the following months rather than the baby that almost was. We are still dealing with the lingering effects of that terrible year (Aug 2006-Aug 2007) but we are focusing our energy on Owen. I still don't feel like the "myself" I remember -- I am less connected with my friends than I would like to be and more prone to worrying. Still, we ended up with a pretty great little guy and I wouldn't trade him in for all the wine in France (or for all the beer in Belgium).


Sean

Little Red Sox fan

Baseball season is upon us, so it's time to cheer for the (stupendous, fantastic, World Series champion) Red Sox again! Owen is festively dressed in his Sox outfit (thanks Patti!) and we have encouraged him to use his mini-Red Sox bat to pound on any of his toys that look like they might be evil Yankee fans.



We decided not to dress him up yesterday because he just started day care this week (and Marisa went back to work) and there are a lot of Rockies fans. Until the World Series, I don't think anyone in Colorado had anything against the Sox. But since the Sox trounced, nay pounded, the Rockies in the World Series I have gotten a couple of comments while wearing Red Sox clothing. Thus, to protect the little guy from any jeers from other babies, we waited until an off day to wear the Red Sox outfit and show his true colors.

Who will be Owen's favorite player? He isn't really going to know what's going on in baseball for a few years, so it has to be someone who isn't too old -- I think Papi and Manny are probably out for that reason. Maybe Jacoby Ellsbury? Dustin Pedroia? Josh Beckett? Pitchers are always less exciting because they don't hit many HRs... I guess we will have to wait and see... Maybe Ichiro -- he is awesome.

But really, it doesn't matter what baseball team he roots for. I hope he is a fan of our local team (the Rockies for now) as well as the Red Sox and any other team that either has a cool name or a cool mascot or has some awesome players. The only tragedy would be if he was a Yankees fan. I can imagine him rebelling as a teenager and rooting for the Yankees just to get back at us for grounding him or something like that. That would be a pretty hilarious retaliation I think!


Sean

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Owen talking

Owen has started babbling for minutes at a time. Here is a movie from yesterday:

video


Here is another one from a few minutes later, taken in the bath. First he babbles about his day, then he goes crazy for a flying fish that is squirting at him.

video


Can't wait until he actually has things to say in real english (french or spanish would be okay too). I actually had a crazy dream last night -- I was walking around the campus of the University of Geneva with a couple of astronomers and carrying Owen. At one point, Owen turned to me and said "MacGyver controls all my planets".

Here is a visual interpretation:



I really hope that those are not Owen's first words, because where do you go from there? First of all, why does Owen own planets in the first place, and how did he get them? I wouldn't mind having a few of those. Second, what is MacGyver doing taking over my kid's planets? This will not stand! I'm not going to let some imaginary 80s tv star take charge of planets belonging to anyone in my immediate family, at least not without a fight! (But who wants to fight MacGvyer? He can make bombs out of fish sticks!)

I assume this popped in my head because 1) Owen is my kid, so he has been featuring frequently in my dreams, 2) I study planets, and 3) Marisa and I have started watching old MacGyver episodes on the internet.

Well, this post sure got a little rambly. I guess I'm having trouble controlling my random babbling, just like someone else I know....



Sean

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Godparents

Owen now has godparents -- our really good friends Andrew and Catherine!




They came to visit us last weekend and we had a really fun time. Owen got to go snowshoeing for the first time (while strapped to my chest -- he is in the fuzzy green pouch in my jacket).




We also hung out in Boulder a bit, and walked around up to a good-looking pile of rocks:


Owen is a big fan of Andrew's craziness!



A little background: Andrew and I were the only two students in our grad school class at UW in Seattle. We did a lot of fun things together out there: we played ultimate, drank beer, climbed mountains, and even had our thesis defenses on the same day! Below is a photo of me, Andrew, and our friend Craig on the way up Mount Adams in 2003.



A little tidbit of trivia for you: Andrew and Catherine were married in 2005 by the Reverend Sean Raymond! It's true -- not only am I an astrophysicist, a frequent consumer of pizza and beer and an ultimate frisbee player, but I am also a reverend, certified online by the Universal Life Church. Here is photographic evidence. Boom!




We are really happy that Andrew and Catherine are Owen's godparents. The little guy's family has expanded!

Sean