So, I have lived in New Jersey almost my entire life. Why only 85%? And what is a FAT SANDWICH? Does anyone know?
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
A Morales/Soto Christmas
aka Gideon's First Trip to Chinatown
Our annual Christmas Day tradition is this: Alex and I arrive at my parents' house sometime late morning Christmas Day. We usually have something to eat, and wait for my mom to finish wrapping last minute gifts. We then open gifts (this process takes about 2 hours), and then we get in the car and it's over the river and through the woods, it's off to Chinatown we go! I don't know why we go to Chinatown. We have been going since Andrea and I were kids. We just really like good Chinese food. And after Chinatown, we stroll over to Little Italy to Sambuca's Cafe or La Bella Ferrara for a cappuccino and pastry. It's is a very nice tradition, and I tend to gain 5 lbs in just a 3 hour period.However, this year Gideon was in the picture. And when there is a baby involved in the mix, new problems arise. Should we take him into the city? Will it be cold? Will it rain? What if he is fussy? Will he really appreciate New York City or does he prefer the suburbs? Can he nap in the city that never sleeps? OK, so this year, after the present opening extravaganza, we decide that Gideon is ready for Chinatown. We put the car seat in the van, and away we go, Gideon being fast asleep. Now, the usual deal is this: we park in a lot, and walk around looking for a restaurant that is busy, but not too busy, has a good mix of locals and out of towners, and is not too expensive. Alex thought taking the stroller was a muy loco idea, so we decided to Baby Bjorn it. However, as we get to Canal Street, the skies open up and it starts to rain. There goes the walking around idea. No can do with Gideon. So, my dad decides to simply pull up to a restaurant and let us out. When, all of sudden...a car pulls out from a parking space on the street. My dad pulls in, and there is a restaurant right in front! A Christmas Miracle!
http://www.savemartha.com/courthouse_photos-2-27.htm. (I don't know why I know this.) We sat upstairs, where they can accommodate bigger groups (and an extra chair for the car seat).
Now, you might be thinking, where was Gideon in all of this? Was he still asleep? Could he have slept through the shrimp feast of 2006? We were not that lucky. He woke up between the soup ending and the rice beginning. He started to whimper in his car seat, and the people at the next table immediately gave me dirty looks. I started to panic. What if he began full blown crying/screaming/not breathing because he is screaming too much and freaking me out? Would they throw their chopsticks at us in a martial arts movie style? All of a sudden Gideon scrunches up his face and lets out poop like noises from down below. Ewww. Now, of course we deserve the dirty looks, but don't get them. My mother goes to the bathroom to check out the diaper changing situation. Not only is there no changing table , but the bathroom can barely accommodate Gideon by himself, let alone his mom and grandmother. However, there is a poopie diaper situation, and a baby's happiness at stake. It was a desperate time. My mom and I squeezed in and used the diaper bag as a table. I held his upper body, while my mom tackled the diaper. Luckily there was a mirror, so Sir Cuteness was able to stare at himself and make cooing noises. Once we left the restaurant, I ran into one of the Chinatown shops to buy Gideon his first NYC souvenir.
Monday, December 25, 2006
On what other occasion would a new mother allow her baby son to sit on a stranger's lap? Why, at Christmas, of course! I had considered doing the Santa picture thing, but usually the line was too long, or Gideon was asleep, and I figured it was kind of silly anyway. However, there we were, at the Bergen Mall, and there was Santa. No line, no wait, and Gideon was wide awake and looking super cute in his new sweater. So, I hand over my darling baby to a slightly shifty looking Santa. As you can see by Gideon's expression, he cannot believe that I just handed him over to this old man, and walked away. And why was Mommy jumping up and down and calling his name? Did she really think he was going to smile after she plopped him down on cheap velvet? Nothing doing. He is, of course, furrowing his brow. That is his signature move.
Gideon's first Christmas went as expected. He slept, cried, pooped, nursed and then slept again. Pretty much standard Gideon behavior. We spent Christmas Eve at Alex's parents house. They have a midnight gift opening tradition. Gideon received many gifts, including toys and clothes. However, the most memorable gift was a family of stuffed bears given to him by his cousins, Stephanie and Joel. They represent our little family, with Gideon, like the little bear, being a nice combination of the two of us. However, he slept through all of it. I will write later about Christmas Day. That is a post all to itself. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. A heartfelt "thank you" from me on Gideon's behalf. He is truly a blessed boy. He received many wonderful presents for his first Christmas.
Friday, December 22, 2006
As I write this, my sweet boy is fast asleep in his magic swing. For those of you that have children, you probably know the power of the swing. He is peacefully swinging, unaware that in a month's time, he will be having surgery. We went to see Dr. Arno Fried today http://www.humc.com/pediatricneurology/ourteam.shtml, the pediatric neurosurgeon at Hackensack University Medical Center. He was very nice, and he did inform us that Gideon does have craniosynostosis, and will indeed have to have surgery to correct it. The surgery is scheduled for Tuesday morning, January 23. I am outwardly calm, although my emotions are churning on the inside. Despite the fact that we knew this was a very likely possibility, I was hoping for the doctor to laugh at us, and say "You crazy kids, your son is fine, now go have an ice cream soda!". I was hoping that I had inherited the exaggerated version of the Solano (my mom's maiden name) worry gene. However, despite all the negative, I know that God is taking care of my baby. Gideon is, in fact, a gift from God, and I know He takes care of his children. Please continue praying for him. All will be well, and Gideon will come through this like a champ. It is out of my hands, and I merely have to trust and let go. And now I am craving a chocolate ice cream soda. Man!
Monday, December 18, 2006
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
Then he really cries. But that isn't the point.
The point is that he knows that if he cries, he'll get picked up and rocked gently. He also knows he'll hear either Mommy or Daddy sing, whisper or repeatedly say in a soft voice, "it's ok. it's ok."
The characteristics of those sneaky cries are also unique. These cries have no pause and sounds more like a whine rather than a cry. I know a whine when I hear one. Isn't that right hunnie? (Hunnie = Alexa)
So, I tried teaching him a lesson during one of his sneaky crying sessions and did not rock him (He was already in my arms). While it broke my heart, I noticed that after phases of crying and multiple moments of silence, he just stopped. Once I made eye contact, I noticed him staring at me with the biggest, most adorable brown eyes I've ever seen. A second later, he started crying .... cough cough whining cough cough.... again.
Lo and behold, I started rocking him rhythmically and told him that "every little thing was going to be all right" ala Bob Marley style.
He then opened his eyes ever so slightly to see if I was still looking.
Gideon 1 / Alex 0.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Some of you may be wondering about Miggy and how's he's doing. The picture above says it all. In the past, Miggy would jump on top of Alexa and position himself exactly where Gideon is in the picture. Let's be clear, Miggy still lays on Alexa, but seems to know that Gideon is first. At this point, he'll take any comfortable spot he can find.
Miggy has definitely grown to accept Gideon. Now that Gideon is a month old, we are still very careful with him. I haven't seen it yet, but Alexa says that Gideon kicks Miggy by mistake when they are laying down like this. What does Miggy do? Nothing really. He opens his eyes a bit then goes back to sleep. He may be a moody (and sometimes menacing) cat, but he is also a sleepy one who just wants to be loved, feel warm, and in a comfortable setting. Isn't that what we all want in our lives?
Shalom in the home. Even in the midst of Gideon's uncontrollable crying sprees, there is peace. When Gideon is in the middle of getting his diaper changed and decides that he is not done, even if Alexa or I are well within his range, serenity now. Peace be onto you all.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Within minutes of Gideon's arrival to the library, his huge fan base of female librarians who have only seen him in pictures surrounded him.
It never ceases to amaze me how much power a baby has. Gideon's mere presence almost put everything at a stand still. He makes a noise, and the cumulative reaction of "awwwww" reaches the heavens.
Then comes, "he's so cute.... aren’t you just the cutest ever" comments. His eyes open and an overwhelming joy overtakes Alexa's co-workers as some (mainly Shin Nae) cheerfully jump in a celebratory fashion.
I remember the power of babies in the workplace early in my career. My career started in Public Relations, an occupation dominated primarily by women. When babies arrived at the office, all work stopped. The phones rang; fax machines overflowed with paper, and computers crashed. I never understood all the attention. They would call me and say, "Did you see the baby?" I would be like, "no, but I've seen babies before. What's different about this one?"
Now that I am a dad, I guess I understand it now. Gideon’s movements and non-movements alike hypnotize me. I find myself just staring at him in silence hoping that he notices me.
At the library today, all the women wanted to see a show, even if the performance was Gideon sleeping and making goo-goo noises. I noticed John, Alexa's co-worker, looking from a distance and I recalled the reaction of my teenage cousin, Joel, and of my older nephew, Luis, who is I believe 7 years old. When I asked them if they saw the baby. They both walked towards Gideon carefully and peeked in his direction about 5 feet away as if looking over a private, high-security, barbed-wire fence.
I also remembered my early days in Public Relations. It was at that very moment when I realized that a baby's presence brings to light the differences between men and women. To the manly men, like me, reading this blog, it may be hard to understand why women make such a huge hubbub about a baby in the workplace, but it's ok to join in. Don't be afraid. Get closer. Take a stand and make cute little baby noises -- "goo goo, gaga" and stuff like that.
Men, free yourselves from the bondage of manly reservation and speak baby language with fluency and less bass in your voice!
Of course, don't expect me to join in. I only speak to Gideon in a cute, slightly high-pitched voice when no one is looking.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Baby at Work.
Here's a sad twist to all this. I recently discovered that the contract for my biggest client (I only have 2 clients and do freelance work on the side) was not going to renew my contract for next year. So I may be forced to seek a full-time job which will disallow me to be a stay-at-home dad. Naturally, I'm a little sad about it. So, when I woke up yesterday, I told Alexa that I wanted to take Gideon to work, which is located across the dining room in a sectioned space in the living room. I requested this for two reasons: my chance to spend as much time as I can with Gideon may be gone soon and I felt the work day was going to be very long.
I was right about the long work day. It was jam-packed with activities and then I received new "rush" projects. Somehow I was able to spend more time than ever with Gideon. Who can resist the face (not mine) in the picture above? Not me. As I held Gideon at work with my right arm, I discovered that I am quite talented typing with one hand, while singing to him following the music playing from my iTunes, and at one point simultaneously petting our cat Miggy.
I made lots of typos.
Ok, so I am not Super Dad.
But, this experience has reinforced my dedication to the dream of staying home with Gideon. I haven't ruled full-time employment entirely, but I'm confident that it will all work out where I can still be the primary caretaker for Gideon come January 07. I've prayed about it, thought about, and talked about it with friends and family. Your thoughts and prayers wouldn't hurt.
Oh, by the way, Gideon is 3 weeks old today! Time truly goes by fast.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
This is my most favorite Gideon face. He makes this oval shape with his mouth when he is ready to eat, and I just love it. I sat next to him with the camera, waiting for him to make this face so I could capture it and post it. Aren't you glad I did? Isn't he the most precious, sweetest, most adorable baby? He is now 18 days old. Isn't that amazing? He will be 3 weeks old next Wednesday. I know it's a cliche to say that time is flying by, but I really feel that he is growing so quickly! It really seems like yesterday that we brought him home from the hospital, and now he is making cute "o" shapes with his mouth. Sigh.
All in all, we are all doing pretty well. I am going a bit stir-crazy. It is hard to be in the house all the time. And I have things I need to do, that I haven't had time to do. There are still people who haven't gotten thank you cards from my baby shower, and Alex brought down the fall/winter clothes yesterday, and I haven't had time to organize them, so there are bins everywhere. Since I have to breastfeed about every 2 hours, and it takes about an hour at a time, no hay tiempo for Alexa. Sometimes, I am mid-feed, and I have to pee really badly. What do I have to do? Yup...hold it. And there are times that I have to think of when the last time I ate was. The breastfeeding has been challenging, but we seem to have gotten the hang of it now. I say "we", because really, I 've known what to do all along, it is Gideon who is being difficult. He apparently prefers to bottle feed, and is being lazy about boob feeding. But I am determined to continue this course, since it is better for him in the long run. I am already sounding like a mom, don't you think? I am on the verge of saying "you'll thank me later", or "things were different when I was 18 days old". Oh, he was sleeping, but I can hear him making "I am awake" noises in the monitor. I am going to go check up on him. He is probably making the "o" face right this minute! Talk soon - Alexa
Monday, October 23, 2006
Admittedly, I was initially concerned about Miggy's reaction to Gideon's arrival -- even more concerned than Alexa.
The fact is that in the past, Miggy has not been accepting of strangers. In fact, he gave Alexa a hard time when we first got married. Since then, he has grown to love her very much because she feeds him and has become an expert cat petter. It is true that he probably loves me more; after all, I did save him from a life of neglect and abuse.
Miggy's reputation forces me to be watchful over the situation, but as you can see from the picture, all is well and peaceful in our house. Miggy was a bit stressed and scared in the beginning with all of Gideon's high-pitch crying, but after 12 days Miggy barely flinches at all. Sometimes Miggy just sits and watches as we comfort Gideon, almost as if he understands that Gideon is here to stay as a member of the family.
We are still very careful because Gideon is still so fragile, but it appears that Miggy has accepted him. He has sniffed Gideon's toes, head and even clothes. As he does with everyone else, Miggy has shown some signs indicating his desire to scent mark Gideon, as aggressive male cats like to do. We won't let him though -- not yet at least.
Alexa couldn't be in the picture because she took it, but there have already been many beautiful moments where all members of our small family sat together peacefully.
Friday, October 20, 2006
We went to Gideon's Pediatrician yesterday and a lady recognized him from afar. She asked Alexa, "Excuse me, but is that Gideon Soto?" After responding "Yes, " the lady expressed excitement.
Why was some strange lady pleased to see Gideon? More importantly, how did she know him by name?
The answer is simple. He's famous, or at least getting there. You see – Gideon and Alexa appeared on NBC's local New York news channel 4 at 5pm this past Wednesday. Dr. Max Gomez interviewed Alexa about a new NJ law that was enacted for postpartum depression screening.
No, Alexa is not depressed. She just happened to be a new mother at the right time. They sought her opinion about the new law. 90% of the intelligent stuff she said was cut out of the segment. It was obvious that Gideon was the star of the show. But Alexa was also cute during the interview.
We are trying to get the tape and hopefully post it up so all of you can see.
Other news. The Mets lost. Gideon, who was all revved up for the game as you can see in the picture, was disappointed -- as was I, but we're hopeful for next year.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I'm a huge Mets fan and as a result, so is Gideon. If only Gideon knew what I know now -- it is tough to be a fan of the Mets and Jets. He really doesn't have a choice though.
This is what proud daddies do; they rear their children to love the sports teams they grew up loving. My brother, who is a Yankees and Giants fan, did it with my nephews. The sports rivalry my brother and I must live on through our children, and our children's children. In fact, Gideon already has more Mets gear than I do, thanks in large part to my side of the family.
Now that the NLCS is 3 - 2 in favor of the Cardinals, I fear that I may have to taste end of baseball season disappointment once again and say the inevitable phrase of hopeful sports fans worldwide; "maybe next year." Hopefully, they'll win so that Gideon won't have to savor the awful taste so early in his life. We'll see. I'm still hopeful that the Mets can pull off a miracle and still win this year.
Speaking of miracles, Gideon beat the odds against him during labor. Throughout the entire morning of October 11th, Alexa's contractions were consistent -- about a minute long and a minute apart (I think - I was so busy coaching her to push and breathe that taking time between contractions was the least of my worries).
When the doctor arrived to deliver, we learned that she wasn't pushing correctly. A nurse mentioned that she was pushing with her face. Lamaze covers breathing techniques, but for obvious reasons, not pushing techniques. So any pushing done during labor is self-taught.
On about 6 occasions, Alexa pushed, but every time she pushed, Gideon would sneak out then go back in. The doctor and nurses showed very visible signs of concern -- this was not good news for Gideon. I turned to Alexa. She looked defeated and tired as if she couldn't push any more. After a nurse told her to give one long push on her next contraction, we waited.
1 minute past. No contraction.
3 minutes past. No contraction.
5 minutes past. No contraction.
While only a few minutes, it felt like an eternity. At this point, the visible signs of concern by the doctor became outward, physical expressions of distress as he nodded his head as if saying "No." At this time, I was reminded that a successful delivery was not completely in the hands of our wonderful doctor. Nor was it in the excellent care Alexa's nurses provided for her.
So I decided to ask for divine intervention - I put my head down and prayed silently while stroking my fingers through Alexa's hair. I noticed that Andrea walked away. Later I learned that she also was in prayer at the moment.
Within seconds, Alexa cries out, "Another one is coming." She was feeling a contraction. She took a deep breath. Then with one final push, much longer than any other one, Gideon comes out. Alexa told us afterward that she also prayed for strength because she honestly felt that she could push no more.
Now that Gideon is home with us, I am reminded of the miracle that occurred in that hospital room. Sure, the Red Sea was not parted on that day, nor were thousands of people fed with just a few loaves of bread, but Gideon, my son, was born.
This was a miracle God gave me. He filled a need that I desperately needed at that time. I believed and He heard my prayer.
Prayer is a funny thing. It's something most people decide to do only when times are tough or when in a situation that is out of their hands. At that moment in time, there was nothing more that I wanted than for Gideon to be born and healthy. If necessary, I would have given all of my possessions to make it happen. Even my life. Nothing else mattered.
Now that the Mets need some miraculous things to happen in order to win, like in 1969, I guess I can pray that God makes it so. I can ask God to make these things to come to fruition - good pitching, timely hitting and errorless baseball.
But whether the Mets win or lose, I can go on living knowing that God already answered a true need in my life. I want the Mets to win; I don't need them to win. So I won't pray for them to win. If they win, great! If they don't, then Gideon and I will have to wait till next year.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Born: October 11, 2006 6:53 am 7lbs/12.7 ounces 21 inches
At a later date I will detail the miracle of Gideon's birth. Thank you all for your hearts, prayers and thoughts. Enjoy and God bless.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I was actually considering posting a picture of myself at this hour, so you could all see me in my insomnia state. I guess I hadn't seen me in my insomnia state, because there is no way I am posting any of those pictures. Wow, am I looking puffy and tired. I honestly don't know how I am functioning anymore; it must be for the grace of God. I have accepted my insomnia as something related to my pregnancy. It is really amazing how I can survive on so little sleep. Everyone tells me to clear my mind, but the truth of the matter is that there is very little on my mind at this hour. I am basically just reading, talking to God, or watching TV. And there really isn't any good TV. Lots of infomercial. I think they assume if you are awake at this hour, you are so tired, you will just buy anything. I guess what I am not good at is being totally alone. Everyone else that I know is sleeping. Even Gideon! Despite the fact that me being awake is technically his fault, he is sleeping right through it all.
So, I have been experiencing kind of painful Braxton-Hicks for a week now. They are a little scary, simply because I feel now that I will never know when I am in labor for real. At my last check up, I was already partially effaced, and my cervix had already started to soften. Don't ask me what any of that means. Gideon is now 7lbs 4 ounces, and he is in a head down position. Woo-hoo. I will post pictures of the almost ready nursery soon. Everything is pretty much in place, just some decorative touches left. Ok, so I am sorry for this boring post. I promise the next one will be more exciting, with photos and funniness. I am going to go drink some chamomile tea now. Sweet dreams to all. Don't call me between 7-10am. I will hopefully be sleeping then.
Monday, October 02, 2006
I have tried hot showers before bed (I haven't tried hot baths, because I am afraid I won't be able to get out of the tub), glasses of warm milk, chamomile and sleepytime teas, giant pillow, reading/watching tv until I am nodding off, praying, reading Psalm4: "In peace I shall both lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me secure." Nothing so far is working. Of course, everything I am reading online and in books says that this is Perfectly Normal. If anyone has any suggestions, please fill me in. I am pretty much willing to do anything at this point. I am in danger of becoming bitter towards anyone who looks rested.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Alexa is showing a lot, but she really hasn’t gained much weight. In fact, doc says she will lose weight, as much as 20 pounds, as a result of this pregnancy. In contrast, I have swelled to an all time high.
Children are so frank and wonderful aren’t they? Or are they just evil?!! Here’s why I ask.
A little boy in church innocently asked Alexa what she had in her round belly. In response, she said, “a baby!”
The little boy giggled.
His mom chuckled.
Alexa and I laughed.
Ahhhhhh……what a cute little boy! All is well with the world.
Then, in just a matter of seconds, the little boy’s smile turns slightly downward. Like the wind and to my horror he turned towards my direction. He gazed at my eyes. As soon as I realized that Alexa’s belly was no longer the focus of his attention, I became stuck. I couldn’t move as if in a trance. I read his eyes very clearly. At that point in time, I knew where the rest of the conversation was heading. I felt defenseless and my belly was suddenly exposed to the world. Need I say more?
Friday, September 15, 2006
Please Don't Call Me Mr. Mom!
I am very excited about being the primary caregiver to my son, Gideon. I've yet to figure out how I am going to get any work done, being that most of my time will be spent changing diapers, feeding, then changing diapers again. I'll figure it out.
If you didn't know already, I work from home doing a variety of things like marketing communications, freelance writing, and technical stuff.
Alexa seems to have trouble understanding what it is I do. Ever since she's known me, I've never settled to hold on to just one job at any single moment. Right now, I got about "fi job," with the potential of few more to come. Any of you old enough to remember the television program, "In Living Color," knows what I'm referring to.
Plus, Alexa has a tendency of getting sleepy when I start talking about the technical aspects of my job. I don't blame her. In an effort to keep you, the reader, awake, I won't divulge information as to what I do for a living.
Anyway, did you know that stay-at-home-daddyship is all the rage these days due to the number of men who are taking on this role? Here are some stats. The November, 2004 U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2003 the number of stay-at-home fathers was 98,000. The following year, this number has risen significantly – in 2004, there were 143,000.
As time goes on, I will take pictures of my adventures as a stay-at-home dad and keep you updated. In the meantime, rest assured that I have been practicing using my "Baby Bjorn" with "Bunny." I'm hesitant to display pics of me with the Baby Bjorn on, but I have uploaded a picture of Bunny with his pal Miggy for your slight amusement. Talk to you soon.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Our Babymoon...sort of.
Have you all heard of the term babymoon? It is supposed to be a couple's last vacation before the baby comes. A time to be alone together, a romantic time, a time to reflect on the changes that are about to take place in your lives. Alex and I of course refuse to be slaves to tradition! Romantic moments? Hah! Time to reflect and be alone? Hah hah! What could be more perfect than to join my crazy family on a 6 hour car trip to Maine for Labor Day weekend? Let's all pile into the mini-van with luggage, an 8 month pregnant woman, her 5 foot long pregnancy pillow, and the singing Morales clan! Yes, we sing.
Despite all the "baby things" happening, I still can't seem to fathom that Alex and I are going to be parents in a month. I keep catching myself making plans for fun things to do in October or November, like apple picking or going to see a show, and then realizing that umm...wait a minute, there will be a baby here who will not allow us to sleep, let alone go upstate. Upstate? How about a nap? I will never go apple picking again, if it means a nap. I can't believe that I am saying that and the baby is not even born yet. Does it sound like I am freaking out? I have to practice my lamaze breathing.