Thursday, September 25, 2008

How is Vince coping?

Fun videos of BIG BOY VINSON!
Having two kids is definitely different than having just one. Vince has had two major ways of coping that are completely opposite but understandable. One way of coping is that he wants to be a baby too. When we left the hospital Dan had to carry Vince out in a blanket just like Benji. He also has a new liking for milk. Vince would always ask for juice before but now he wants to be like the baby.
The other way he copes is that he wants to be a big boy. His favorite saying now is "Vinson do it." He has learned how to get into the fridge and he will come walking into the living room with a big container of juice and he'll want to pour it. We've only had one big spill so far. Sometimes he wants to do absolutely ridiculous things like make me re-zip his zipper so that he can do it and when he has a problem at the end he'll finally ask for help. One excellent by-product of this is that he now is pee potty trained!! YEAH!! Of course he sill does it almost entirely for the candy he gets at the end.
Otherwise Vince absolutely loves Benji and kisses him all the time. He loves holding him and tries to pick him up by himself so we're always on guard. Occasionally he will give Benji a hard slap in the face but most of the time he's really good.
A lot of people say Vince and Benji look a lot alike. I don't really think so. What do you think?
Benjamin's passport photo:
Vinson's passport photo:
Benjamin before he was blessed at church:
Vinson before he was blessed at church:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Having a Baby in the Czech Republic

Could it be a prison? It kind of felt like it . . .
Maybe a grocery store? They used grocery carts as strollers.
Well I've had a lot of requests to write about what it's like having a baby in the Czech Republic. I wrote this and realized it was really long, so the three things that struck me as being the most odd were 1. The whole shopping carts as strollers thing was different. 2. They put a big tatoo on Benjamin's chest to identify him. I had a bracelet with his name and number on my wrist. And 3. that I had to weigh the baby, take his temperature and record everything. What did the nurses do? Check to make sure my numbers looked good. So now feel free to read as much or as little as you want. It's kind of divided into two parts: Pregnancy and delivery, and hosptial stay.
Pregnancy and Delivery
This blog is dedicated to Alena Pilková who is watching Vinson at the park right now and is the only way that I would have time to write a blog like this. So I've had a lot of people ask what it's like having a baby in the Czech Republic. It's a lot different than the U.S., or at least my experience with Vinson in the U.S. The last month of pregnancy in the Czech Republic you go to the hospital for check ups because the doctor that you have visited for the pregnancy to that point doesn't do deliveries (or at least mine didn't). I had to have three check ups. First I have to preface this with the fact that Prague is experiencing a baby boom right now. To give you an idea: I called to sign up for the hosptial at 13 weeks into the pregnancy and Benjamin had 2 due dates. One was in August and the second was September 2nd. It was a good thing he had a Sepember due date because August was already full at all of the hospitals. So they are short on facilities. All of the mothers in the last month of their pregnancy - or with an at-risk pregnancy - go for these check ups and so there are about 20 women waiting on hard couches for the first half of the check up (about a 2 hour wait). I had no idea it would be so awful, so I didn't bring a book or anything and nearly died from boredom. Then they check the baby's movement and heart rate. I had to do plenty of these with Vinson, but there was no waiting. Only four mothers can do this at a time and it's a 20 minute process for each mother, but there's always a chair empty because the nurse wasn't very fast. And then, if that wasn't enough, you wait in another line to see a doctor. About a 4 hour process, altogether. It was a different doctor each time and they would check dialation and if the baby had dropped, etc. Everytime, I had a checkup scheduled I would hope and hope that Benjamin would come before the next one because they took so long and I had to find someone to watch Vinson. (Thanks Melinda!!!)

As a little bit of background information, with Vinson I was induced and had an epidural before feeling much of anything, so I felt like this was my second pregnancy but my first real labor experience. I didn't really know what a contraction felt like or when I should expect Benjamin to come (early or late) according to the due date, etc. I had been having really sporadic contractions for an entire week and then on the morning of the 5th I had contractions every 10 minutes. Dan and I called a taxi and woke the Kings up to watch Vinson at three in the morning. I had 3 contractions in the taxi, but it didn't faze the driver one bit. At the hospital they said that the contractions were too far apart and that I should go home and come back later. No buses were running - it was 5 in the morning, after all - so we walked to the tram stop and took a tram home. I could tell people were adverting their eyes because it was obvious when I was having a contraction. I think I did pretty good at being inconspicuous, though.

After trying to sleep at home for a while, I went to Melinda's house and paced around waiting for the contractions to get more frequent. I called Dan and we went to the hospital. Again, on the bus I kept having contractions, but it was the bus that goes to the hospital- you would think people would assume this was normal, but I have been suprised how few pregnant women I see on the bus. With all of the ones in the checkup lines, they must get there by car or some other way. So, yeah, I was somewhat of a spectacle and again, people diverted their eyes. This time we were admitted to the hospital. I had to be strapped in for them to check my contractions for 20 minutes. By this time they were getting pretty bad and I just wanted them to give me an epidural as soon as I got there. They skipped some of their normal prep work and had Dan sign a bunch papers that the expectant mother usually signs and I was taken to the delivery center. It is a big room with partitions separating all of the mothers who are delivering babies. I had heard about this before and had visions of me having an epidural and feeling nothing but hearing two or three women screaming and cursing (in Czech) while I was delivering the baby. But I was the only one delivering at the time and didn't have to hear someone else screaming. I got an epidural. YEAH! Epidurals aren't very common here, so one of my biggest concerns was that an anethesiologist wouldn't be on duty or something and I would have to tough it out. Benjamin came fairly quickly. The umbilical cord was around his neck so he came out really purple, but he was/is healthy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hosptial Stay

The minimum stay for babies is three days (with the day of delivery not being counted as a day) so I was stuck in the hosptal for 4 days. The rooms are shared, normally, with three mothers per room. My absolute biggest fear during pregnancy was that I would be stuck in this room with two other mothers who had become fast friends and would talk to each other really fast (in Czech), that they would both the kind that are harder to understand (using more academic words or slurred speech or something) and they would ignore me. I realize this is lame, but this was definately my biggest fear. I ended up in a room with one other mother who had delivered her baby 6 weeks premature and, therefore, was pretty much free to do whatever she wanted and wasn't in the room hardly at all. I would say her English was about as good as my Czech so she helped me understand a few times. On my second day, she was moved to another room so then I had my own room which was nice because I didn't get woken up by other mothers or babies, but kind of lonely and boring.

I have to brag a little in that I did really well with the nurses not speaking English. I understood everything, eventually. There were several times I had to say I didn't understand and they would try again. For instance, I knew the Czech word for poop: "bobek", but not the word for stool, so I would get the idea and say "bobek?" and they would say, "yeah." The nurses were all good at using simple words and pantamiming everything. One of the nurses spoke to me in English pretty well; her son lives in California. Her English was really good but she kept saying "hospitality" instead of "hospitalization", it struck me as really funny. "We will make a report about your hospitality."

A few things that were interesting about the stay and vastly different from the U.S. First I believe they were trying to get rid of all of your baby fat while you stayed in the hospital. For breakfast we had 2 rohliky (rolls) and a little thing of jam. Then for lunch we had soup that tasted like alphabet soup watered down with hardly any noodles or meat or anything. I was so starved the first day that I gulped it down, but I couldn't eat it the next day. Then they brought a more substantial lunch/dinner item. I had: noodles that were cooked too long with bland gravy, a tiny slice of fatty ham and dry dumplings, a small slice of pork and rice with gravy. Finally for "dinner" we got more rohliky, a small thing of yoghurt, and a cup of milk. (All other meals were served with coffee, so I had water :) Thankfully I had friends bring me food or I might have starved to death.

Second, the nurses watch the baby for the first night and then you are in charge. You take the baby's temperature twice a day, weigh it before and after feedings, and everything else you would expect a nurse to do in the U.S. The nurses would come in once a day to check your records and tell the doctors if there were problems. To pass the time I read all 550 pages of The Three Musketeers and finished that the night before I left so the next morning I twiddled my thumbs waiting for the time to come when I could leave.

So, that was my experience having a baby in the Czech Republic. I'm sure this is more than you ever wanted to know, but hopefully it was interesting if nothing else.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Vince and Benji



So, it's been a while since we wrote. We were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our second son and I am happy to say he finally showed up. For an entire week before he was born, Valerie was having irregular contractions, so we got a little impatient. They only had to send us home from the hospital once, though (at 4 am on the day Benji was born), because we were not close enough to delivery. Val and I went back home (Vinson was, thankfully, at a friend's place) and spent a few hours timing contractions and trying to distract ourselves. We went back to the hospital around noon and Benjamin was born at about 2:15 pm on September 5th.

Vital statistics,
weight: 3.175 kilograms = 7 pounds
height: 50 cm = 19.7 inches

What a beautiful mother!! Val looks so good here and I honestly took this picture ten minutes or so after Benji was born. I would be lucky to live through labor, let alone come out of it looking like this!

Vinson and Benjamin got acquainted that evening. They hit things off pretty quick (and Vinson didn't hit Benji until Sunday, so that was a good 48 hours of peace). Vinson calls him "my baby" and loves pushing Benji around in the hospital bassinet-on-wheels.

We've got Mom seriously outnumbered now guys! Good thing she likes to camp and mountain bike and rock climb...