Yum Yum Finger, Hooray!

  • Whoever figured out the blow dryer while changing a diaper trick should have won a Nobel Prize for Economics. The previous winners were unable to prevent the current global economic catastrophe, so might as well give it to someone who did something really useful.
  • For the few week or two, J-Balls was pooping what appeared to be Gulden’s brown mustard. Now he’s pooping French’s. Since the final destination is standard human crap, he seems to be heading in the right direction.
  • There’s been lots of on the fly song creation, which is awesome. “Yum Yum Finger, Hooray!” has gotten legs. I’ve already written 4 verses. Hopefully I’ll get around to recording and orchestrating it. Songs like “Daddy’s going to go insane” and “Lets clean the poop off your ballsack” will probably not see the light of day outside this house though.
  • I’ve become real familiar with the frustration of finally getting your kid asleep, only to have him wakeup during the delicate transition from me to the crib. Multiple times in a row. Its like playing Mega Man. You get all the way to the end boss, die during the battle, and have to start all over again from the level’s halfway check point. In this case it’s important to not to throw your controller in frustration after the 3th attempt though.
  • In this light, Jiboo has been clear in his intentions to only sleep while someone holds him. We knew going into this that every baby has its parental kryptonite. I’m learning how to cradle him while passing out in the reclining chair.
  • I’ve been “jet streaming” far too much Netflix (a term coined by Erin Crowley). The upside is discovering gems like “The Last Dragon” I can’t believe I never saw that one before. The DVDs in the mail get extra special treatment. I saw “Hellboy 2”, and then immediately watched it again with the commentary on. What else do I have to do?
  • It’s amazing that even this early on, there’s an obvious difference between Stina’s and my approach to parenting. I’m probably too casual and want to take the path of least resistance, whereas she’s far more militant and can be somewhat obsessive over things that I think are unimportant.  I can already anticipate that this gap will widen and lead to new sources of friction. Friction leads to chaffing. Chaffing leads to ointment. Ointment leads to the devil.
  • For the last 10 months, I devoted most of my spare mental energy focusing on the preparation for the baby. Now that he’s arrived and I’m able to wrap my head around the concept of caring for a baby, I have the freedom to freak out about our future. Our linear life for the past 8 years had a pretty obvious direction – constrained irresponsibility with occasional goals.  Our future now seems laden with complex parameters and heaps of uncertainty.  I feel like we finally graduated to where most people I know are – we have no clue how this is going to play out and all we can do is take it one day at a time. I think out graduation party got a little out of control, since Stina ended up tearing up her lady business.


It’s been two weeks now, Chunkers

  • Jasper’s second official nickname, and the one most used, is Jiboo. Stina concocted the initial one in the hospital while she was weighing out the baby name – J-Balls. That may have clinched Jasper.
  • Getting him to sleep has gotten far more challenging. Actually, all around he’s gotten more challenging. He teased us with some cushy behavior on home arrival, and has slyly introduced “the sleep fake” and “inconsolability” into his repertoire. Boo-errns.
  • I often discover that I have unconsciously puckered my lips when Jiboo is having difficulty feeding. As if it was going to make any difference. He’s been eating like a champ as of late though . . .
  • I’ve started calling him Chunkers. He’s developed all sorts of new folds in him limbs. When we went to the pediatrician for our first visit, he was in the 25% percentile for weight. This week he was in the 50% percentile. He gained almost 2 pounds. We’re attempting to re-program him to eat less. So far I’ve learned that baby’s don’t like to be treated like robots.
  • He’s had his first bout with mild baby sickness. I guess this is potentially real bad when they’re this young. Besides being rather fussy, we survived. I broke my “stick a thermometer up a baby’s pooper” cherry. I’m a man now. Chunkers didn’t seem to mind to much, so Berkeley might be the right fit for him.
  • Stiners is taking all the right steps to get back on track. She’s definitely doing better this week, and is now armed with some quality sleep.
  • Its a little sad how much we celebrate when we get him to burp or when he poops.
  • We’ve eaten like royalty while Lola and Nana were kickin’ it at chez Krudden. Biggie ups. Our freezer would be extremely grateful if it gave a shit. Fortunately, we do, and our fridge can munch my sack. We are more then a little apprehensive about doing this alone starting next week. I guess my Zen mentality has worn off.



Somehow, Stina is the only one unscathed by the mighty Jasper pee. If this lasts for much longer, I might try to personally level the playing field the next times she’s sleeping. . .



Day 6 or so

Things that are surprising:

  • I knew there were going to be three baby states: sleeping, crying, and eating. I didn’t know about the mystical fourth state: aware. Jasper’s wide awake, eyes roaming, quietly taking everything in. Well, actually, he’s probably taking nothing in, but it’s real cute and unexpected. Occasionally there’s hiccups. Bonus.
  • Newborn eyes do freaking crazy things. The roll around in a way that doesn’t imply brilliance. His eyelids seem almost double jointed.
  • How not complicated he is. He’s a really sweet little guy. He really doesn’t cry all that much, and when he does he’s relatively easy to sooth. We are extremely lucky right now. I know this could change at the drop of a hat, so I’m really not taking it for granted.
  • Time passes differently. It sorta seeps and glides by. We’re using formula while we determine if Stina’s breast milk will come in, so I play an active part in the feeding. Feeding can easily take an hour and a half. Its a whole process. It doesn’t feel like a long time though. I just look up at the clock, and find that an hour or two has slipped by.
  • Many times during the pregnancy I would bemoan how we wouldn’t sleep, have fun, etc after the baby came. About two months ago Stina smartly said it was time we stopped bitching about the future since it wasn’t doing us any good. Instead we should talk about what we were looking forward to. For some reason (possibly because she was 7 month pregnant) that advice didn’t just pass over me. A switch flipped in my head, and I became rather Zen about our daily experience. I started appreciating every day that I had when I had no responsibilities. Somehow, magically, post birth, I’m still doing it. I’m not worried about the future – I’m really enjoying the present moment. This is fantastic, and rather surprising.
  • Conversely, Stina’s not sleeping nearly enough. She’s really anxious about the baby. She’s hit several walls already. There’s all sorta of crazy stuff going on in her body, she’s got a lot of healing to do from the birth, and there’s an inflow of postpartum hormones.  I know we’ll get through this. Its good that I’m feeling so stable right now, so she can completely lean on me as much as she wants. I’m sure the tables will turn down the line.

Things that are not surprising:

  • Mama Rudden, our savior, arrived on Tuesday afternoon. The relief in the air is palpable. She cooking up a storm and being terribly helpful. Three of us can totally tackle caring for the baby.
  • There’s a non-rhythmic cycle for feeding. Rooting -> sloppy eating -> passing out -> burping -> checking/changing diapers -> crying -> rooting, with many variations on a theme. When Jasper passes out for a solid ten minutes, we’re done. At least for ten minutes.
  • I’m learning to sleep at anytime of the day. The sun just sorta glides up and down. The day/night barrier is much less distinct. Its a weird feeling. I wish we had a better view from our place to watch the sunrise.
  • I think one of the advantages of being older is that I’m actually aware that these moments are fleeting and that I should treasure them. This is much more useful then people telling me this truth. Having Jasper gently sleeping on top of me is rather precious. It’s even better than a cat. Especially cause I’m allergic to cats.
  • I don’t feel like a father yet. It’s like I’m at newborn training camp, and I’ll go home at the end of the week. Maybe it’ll sink in when I don’t.
  • I enjoy hand comparison pictures. Eat it.

Oh, also, as an aside, all militant breast milk advocates can go to hell. I’m down with non-militant ones though. I’d totally party with them. All night long. Especially if they brought their boobs, which seems highly likely. There are advantages to having low expectations. Booyeah!



Outside the Womb

What Jasper thinks of life outside the womb.



Jasper Rudden Kirsch

Stiner’s water broke on Thursday (3/6) afternoon. Since contractions didn’t begin with any sort of regularity, we stumbled without sleep into the hospital at 7am on Friday morning to get induced. The triage nurse was quite amused with us, and our first nurse (Sonja) chose to work with us after hearing  the laugher from our triage area.

They started a pitocin drip to begin the induction at 9am. From 11am to 3pm Stina, experienced increasingly painful contractions in her back, clearly indicated that the baby was in OP position.

When Sonja finally checked her cervix at 3pm (they limit the number of fingers in her VJJ if the bag has already ruptured), we discovered that she was only 2cm dilated. Patents are usually not admitted into the hospital unless they are at least 3cm dilated.  Stina was already in pretty extreme discomfort, so by 4pm, I made the call to order the epidural, which we planning on doing eventually. The actual insertion of the epidural was rather traumatic (combine a fear of needles and a hatred of spine being touched), but the effects were amazing. They cranked up the pitocin, and from 4pm to 6pm she dilated to 4cm with no discomfort, verifying that we made an excellent decision. Occasionally, when Stina had a contraction, the baby’s heartbeat would significantly drop, creating a solid moment of panic along the way. Nothing really came of it, but nurses were closely monitoring the heartbeat all evening.

By 11pm she was fully dilated and the baby was in +2 position, meaning we were ready to push. The nurses told us that because the baby was to low in the pelvis, that pushing shouldn’t take so long. That unfortunately set some inaccurate expectations.

Our doctor is a rather unique individual. He has this incredibly dry sense of humor that is pervasive through everything he does. He constantly makes funny, sort of satirical, facial expressions. Its easy to understand why some patients would not get along with him. We really like him and find his personality amusing.  He visited us in the labor room in the morning and early evening to check in.  He was not on call that night, but to our utter amazement, he decided to help us deliver the baby anyways. He had a scheduled c-section on Friday night, so he checked in before he left at 10pm, and then nurses called him back in at 11pm. The nurses didn’t know what to make of him.

When he arrived, he gave Stina some coaching. He made what we all (nurse inclusive) thought were joking references to passing out on the labor room couch and that there would be snoring. Low and behold, five minutes later, he did exactly that.

So try to imagine the scene, where Stina is pushing with all her might, the nurses and I are voraciously encouraging her, and our doctor is snoring loudly on the couch. Crazy surreal. Of all the labor prep we had done, we hadn’t devoted any attention to pushing, and Stina wasn’t prepared for how physically challenging it would be. She was pushing with all her might, and the baby was only making very moderate progress through the birth canal. After an hour and half of pushing, the doctor woke up, and got involved.

He gave Stina another hour to push, and at that point we could see about a silver dollar’s worth of the baby’s head. He determined that her vagina wasn’t big enough to accommodate the baby’s giant head. After two and half hours of pushing, Stina was physically and mentally exhausted, and the doctor made the call to perform a vacuum assisted delivery.

The room suddenly filled up with doctors and nurses. I think that vacuum assisted delivery must be something of a rarity in the hospital.  The doctor said we could do three attempts with the vacuum (anymore would be too stressful for the baby). His first attempt was a failure. I saw what looked like the bottom of a muffin being pulled from our baby’s head (the result of the suctioning). It was really freaky. I mentally knew he wasn’t hurting the baby, but I couldn’t understand how this wasn’t damaging the baby’s brain. The baby went into distress (heart dropped to 50 bpm, where the baseline is about 140 bpm). Stina was fitted with oxygen and the doctor performed an episiotomy. Things got really intense really quickly. Stina was both completely spent and totally panicked. I was attempting to video tape the birth, but I immediately dropped that task and got right in her face. We had that moment of connection that two people share during an extremely powerful moment. I experienced tunnel vision – the 6 other medical professionals weren’t in the same dimension as Stina and I. I consoled her, encouraged her, loved her, and pushed her as hard as she could go even though she was tapped. This was it. She gave a huge push, the doctor pulled with the vacuum, and the baby’s head came out. Now that was a CRAZY sight. Stina needed to do one more push, and though she had nothing left, she managed to give one last huge push and the baby came out.

I’m not sure if I can find the words for what swept over me. In moments like this, part of me is usually detached, observing the situation while experiencing it. Not this time. My entire self was simply overwhelmed with emotion. I found myself crying hysterically. I didn’t expect to. I’m still not sure if it was joy, shock, relief, pride, love, or some combination therein. Whatever it was, I still choke up thinking back to that moment, even though my son is right in front of me. Jasper Rudden Kirsch was born at 2:23 am in Berkeley, CA. 7 lbs, 1 oz, most of which is head. He’s long and skinny, and somewhat Asian looking. I’m really hoping this is from Stina’s side of the family. Otherwise, she’s got some explaining to do.

It was fairly gross experience, from a bloody, fluid-y perspective. Its a rather graphic experience. The word of the day was “gushing.” As a software engineer, this was a realm I’m not generally accustomed to. Stina still had to birth the placenta and get stitched back up. The doctor told me to follow the baby around for its APGAR testing, first bath, and whatnot. I numbly followed his directions, since I lost the ability to think for myself. We were eventually led to our hospital room around 5am, where we blankly looked at each other and our Son in utter disbelief.

I suspect that most deliveries that were this challenging (the baby was facing the wrong position, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, and her vagina wasn’t big enough) end up in a c-section. After the birth, our doctor told us that he thought the on call doctor would have probably elected to perform a c-section, which was something that Stina had REALLY wanted to avoid doing. This is why he came in to assist in the delivery. I can’t tell you how amazing that is, and how grateful to him we are. He went far beyond the call of duty, and we are deeply indebted to him.

It’s been a blurry couple days in the hospital. The nurses were generally fantastic. Hospital staff were constantly coming into our room during all hours, and time lost all meaning.  We had many friends stopping by to visit and bring food.  We arrived home today to our relief / terror. We eagerly anticipate the arrival of Mama Rudden tomorrow. Someone needs to tell us what to do. It’s been amazing to watch Stina’s mothering instinct kick in. I was curious if it was going to happen. She’s such an atypical woman in many ways about things like that.

Let the games begin.



T-Minus Now

Well, for those not in the know, the version was quite successful. The doctors, whom warned us that the likely hood of success was very low, turned our baby a good 150 degrees. When they failed to find the heartbeat after the version, there was a small whirlwind of activity. When Stina and I looked at each, “holy shit” was painted all over our faces. The heartbeat was located shortly after, and everything eventually mellowed out. We went home and I changed my underwear.

Since the version, we’ve been in an incredible head space. We’ve gotten all the major necessary pre-baby tasks accomplished, so we’ve relishing in our bonus extra special free time. I went to see Moe at the Fillmore, because I could. We’ve discovered tasty sandwiches do exist in the east bay. I lost myself in the best french toast I’ve ever tasted (one of the many things I’ve snobby about) @ Aunt Mary’s Cafe.

I’ve been working at home, attempting to stay close at hand since labor could be imminent. After spending half the week at home, Stina told me to go to work. A watched pot never boils. Or a watched pregnant lady doesn’t break water. So I head in, and of course in the afternoon, I get the call. It was very surreal heading home on the train, listening to “Late for the Future”, looking at all my commuting companions, living very separate lives. I arrived home to delicious fresh baked banana bread muffins. That’s Stina in a nut shell. Her water breaks, so she makes muffins for the nurses.

Contractions have been mellow and distant, so she’s not in labor. Yet. We’ll have a baby before the weekend is over. That’s a pretty heavy sentence right there. Stina’s really had the miracle pregnancy. We were so worried about her body and her back. She’s experienced minor discomfort, but overall its been incredibly smooth sailing. And for that, we are grateful. She’s really had an incredibly positive attitude through this whole pregnancy thing. That gave me a long leash to freak out a lot. Good times. Now all we have to deal with is that labor bit. No big deal, right?

I find myself mentally shedding the things that have occupying my free time for the past 4 months or so. Going out, seeing music, eating at restaurants, and doing our own thing. I’ve been working on music with abandon as of late. I’ve made incredible progress on album #6 (and even a separate secondary album). It’s been somewhat stressful, full of the usual frustrations about flailing about without making any real progress. About two weeks ago I hit a major milestone where I pretty much have the whole next album mapped out. There’s a ton of work left to do, but I can see the big picture. I know the time I have for my music will be fleeting, so it’s incredibly comforting to feel that I will be productive with that time. And now I’m going to put that part of my life on a shelf for a little while. It’ll be there when I get a moment to breathe. Being a father doesn’t mean I’ll stop being a musician. It’s too much a fundamental part of who I am. I’m also keenly aware that being a father will become a new fundamental part of my identity. I’m not sure what thats going to be like. I won’t deny that some small part of me that feels like my entire life has been leading up to this moment.