Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Day

Yesterday Harper turned three weeks old and told us how excited she was about waking up at 4am and watching live the nuptials of Kate Middleton and Prince William. Well not wanting to disappoint, her mother made her a fashionable outfit to celebrate the day and having slept in just a bit we all found ourselves around the tele at 5am this morning taking part in all the pomp and circumstance.

And what a wedding it was. An early post feeding bout of crying was clearly Harper telling us how upset she was that she did not have an appropriate hat to wear. But once she saw Kate in her stunning dress and the service in Westminster began, Harper relaxed and was obviously moved by the pageantry of it all. Towards the end we all got a little emotional by the vows (Harper at times truly inconsolable) but the long carriage ride was a great moment for Dad to have some wedding cake (seriously I bought cake and champagne at Ingles last night:) and we all toasted the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. She thought the 2nd kiss was much better than the first and was very excited to see the Queen in her canary yellow hat and dress waving to the crowd. Harper could have sworn she saw one of the young ring bearers from the balcony say, "It's really is fun spending time with the Royal Family."

After a mid morning nap we went out on the town running a few errands to Babies-R-Us and a meal at Burgermeisters, but Harper couldn't wait to get back in time for the evening news to see all of Diane Sawyers wrap up of the days events. It was all a little overwhelming and she finally conked out in daddy's arms having had one of the most exciting days in the full 21 that she has been with us.

With her sights clearly set on the still single Prince Harry, Harper drifted off in to dreams of her own royal days. Most likely taking place in the near future somewhere in Orlando.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Harper's 1st Easter and it was a sweet one. Her Gramps and DeDe came for a wonderful ham supper and brought an Easter Basket filled with bunny ears (the non sexy kind) and books and these great letters to put on her wall that spell her name. Wish we could have also been with her other grandparents and cousins and Aunt and Uncle but we will get back east for a visit soon I am sure. Her Grandmama sent her super cute spring outfits that she is a little small for right now but it won't be long before she grows into them. Also got to speak with my Unlce Derek who sent lots of well wishes from all the Baltimore Savage's. I can't wait for her to meet them all.

Before everyone came over this morning I took a nice long walk with Harper down by the lake while Amanda showered and got some much needed solo time. On the way I stopped and spoke with our neighbors Luanne and Chris who have 4 and 14 month old daughters. They are really great people and it will be a great place for Harper to grow up in as she will have lots of friends.

In the afternoon, while she took a long nap in her vibrating seat, we all watched the terrible comedy Balls of Fury and had lots of good laughs at its stupidity. Gramps and DeDe left and we are hoping to take another family stroll tonight as it is simply gorgeous outside.

Back to work tomorrow after a great break. This time with Harper and Amanda has been so wonderful. As I get to spend the long days with them I feel like each moment they both teach me something new and I hope I am becoming a better father and a better husband. I am truly thankful for these great blessings.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Daddy's Little Drug Problem

Time sure does fly when you're having fun and not getting much sleep.

It's been two weeks now since Harper was born and she has already changed so much. We took her to the pediatrician today and she has gained nearly a pound and got a big thumbs up from her doctor. Amanda and I still feel like we don't have a clue what we are doing so the reassurance from Dr. Fogleman that we are doing a "great job" did a lot for our fragile parental egos. Although she did tell us that before I told her the story of the previous night.

I had mowed the lawn yesterday and after an early afternoon rain, the sun was high and it was very warm and humid. I guess I haven't been doing a good job of hydrating as when I was finished I came inside and had a strong headache. Headaches are not a normal occurrence for me and as I'm a bit of a wimp I was complaining and generally being a whiner. Amanda asked me to change Harper's diaper and I guess I let out a pretty audible groan (I am hoping Amanda will share her side of things) so she told me to "forget it" and went upstairs and did it herself.

15 minutes later when she came back downstairs I was still being a brat about my head and Amanda curtly told me to go upstairs and take some ibuprofen and deal with it. Reluctantly and probably very dramatically I got off the couch and went to our bedroom bath and grabbed the ibuprofen right off the counter where Amanda said it was. I took the requisite 4 pills, drank some water and went back downstairs to make dinner.

Cracked a beer and cooked some chicken on the grill and as Amanda was getting the pasta ready she got a call from her Mom and told me to go ahead and eat. Chicken was quite good actually but I was really feeling super drowsy. After I ate I actually pushed my plates out of the way and laid my head on the table. I knew this wouldn't fly with Amanda so I got up and made my way to the couch. It was everything I could do to keep my eyes open. My legs hurt. My head hurt and I was certain I was beginning to get the flu or something like it. I could hear Amanda in the kitchen banging pots and making sure I was well aware of how frustrated she was with me. But then I was getting frustrated because, well, I was sick right? and I just couldn't help right now. According to Amanda, (again she really must share her side of this) as she was cleaning all the dishes, and putting away the leftovers, Harper, who was in her swing started howling and Amanda asked me to get her. I did not. I don't really remember any of this. I think by this point Amanda was planning on kicking me out to the curb.

At some point (I think it was only 9:30 by now) I must have gotten off the couch and gone upstairs. I knew I was in for it as I had been about as worthless of a father as I could be. Next thing I remember is Amanda waking me up at 4:30am asking me to change Harper's diaper which apparently I did but have no memory of. This morning, after what felt like an incredible nights sleep, I woke up feeling a bit hungover but I had only had one beer. Thinking it might of been the combination of not having had a beer for many weeks now and the dehydration from the day before, I got out of bed and started going about my day.

Amanda and Harper slept in for a long time and finally Amanda asked me to come upstairs and look after the baby as she took a shower. I knew I had been a waste last night so I apologized to Amanda and she went into the bathroom. About a minute later she came out and said "which ibuprofen did you take last night?" I wasn't sure what she meant by "which" and I told her the one on the counter. I could see the lightbulb grow bright over her head and a smile being to creep on her face as she told me I took the Ibuprofen PM with Benadryl. "How many did you take? she asked. "Four" I said and at that point everything had become crystal clear. I had totally and unknowing drugged myself and the added beer certainly did not help matters. It seems I have been forgiven although I must admit I feel pretty guilty cause I know how I get when I am tired like that. I must have been a jerk. It has however led to a new house rule which is that Amanda from now on dispenses all drugs to Harper and me. Seems like a good idea seeing that she is a pharmacist and all.

Some other exciting things happened this week. We took Harper on her first stroll and met lots of nice people on the block. Spring is really coming fast and there are beautiful dogwoods and rhododendrons flowering everywhere. We met one little girl down the street who just turned 1 so it is nice to know Harper will have some neighborhood friends.

Car rides seem to be the ticket to get her to sleep and our proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway I am certain will come in handy. We are also getting out and about although whose idea was it to make car seats so darn heavy. How about some carbon fiber? Oh yeah, the Sleep Sheep is our new best friend. It puts Harper, Mommy & Daddy all out lickety split.
Without the benefit of pills;)

The picture at the top of this post is of Harper in the fabled "Pennsylvania Turnpike" tshirt. The story goes that when my older brother Chris was born, my Uncle Derek (Dad's brother) was on his way to come and meet the newest Savage. Being on the road his only option for a gift purchase was at a rest area. He got a toddler T that had a picture of a tunnel and said Penn Turnpike on it. It was a little big for the newborn Chris but none the less became a legend in the family and Mom put it away for future Savages. It has now been passed down and will be worn with pride by Harper Maguire who will carry on the memory of her uncle and Irish namesake, Christopher Maguire. If you look around the collar of the shirt (click it to enlarge) you can see that Chris wore it well!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

One Week Old!!

It is simply amazing how quickly time flies by. Amanda and I were looking at toddlers in the swings in our neighborhood today and Amanda remarked that we would  blink and Harper would be that big. I believe her. Harper has grown so much in just the past week I am amazed. I am doing my best to savor each and every moment as I know that before I realize it I'll be taking her to her first day of school or letting her take the car or watching her graduate from college (fingers crossed).

Everyday Harper changes. She spends more and more time awake and it is fascinating for me to watch her open those big eyes and begin to figure out the world. I want so badly to know what is going on in that brain as she has started to respond to specific voices and I think has begun to smile. I still feel inadequate at times but I think so much of that is just that she is really in such a helpless state. Harper is just a little alien, not really doing much of anything but eating, pooping and sleeping. And still I am mezmerized by her. Not being used to the cries of a small child I have at times thought "she doesn't like me" which I know is ridiculous. These thoughts have gotten better as the days have passed, but I think early on I just was being a little too sensitive.

Oddly, Harper seems to be very much the opposite, just taking everything in stride. She really doesn't seem to cry all that often except for the essentials like food and sleep. For me it was a milestone when she made it through a diaper change without wailing but now that behavior seems commonplace. I'd like to believe it has something to do with the fact that I have become a bit of a diaper changing grand master but I also think she is beginning to show signs of personality. When she is naked she is happy as a clam in mud. A trait I hope she gets in control before her freshman year of college or a summer at Pocono. She also does not like to be wrapped in a blanket. She is big on moving the arms and legs and around. With all this need for freedom however she does not appear restless. On the contrary, she seems quite content most of the time.

It's been an exciting week for the little munchkin. She had her first Dr.'s appointment and got all A's. We had a big grandparents dinner with both sets which provided much stimulation. She's had a car ride and we think the first stroller walk will be this weekend. Don't worry world, I am documenting every moment.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mom's are amazing!!!

I am simply blown away by my wifes perserverance. Last night was very difficult. It was our first night at home and I think it had been a bit of overlead with Harper and her mother. As wonderful as it was to have family with us celebrating these first moments, I also know tyhat Amanda was exhausted and I think that was effecting the feeding.

Harper just did not want to get a good feed and in turn ended up very restless. We were up at 12:30, 1:30, 3, & finally 4 when she finally got a soild meal and rested till 6:30 when Amanda woke her up to feed. Amanda was too kind and did not wake me to help. It is for those reasons that I am just in awe of her. Although I am doing all that I am able to help with the child, there is not much I can do about the actual feeding except stimulate Harpers jaw and try to coax some of the milk out of the breast (trust me it is not a sexy moment).

It is Amanda who must, every three hours, go thru the process of getting the feeding area ready (an ordeal to be sure) and then have Harper try and feed which is uncomfortable, awkward and at times painful when the latch is not good. And yet, every three hours, without fail Amanda goes to it with incredible willpower and determination.

Even more amazing, Amanda makes me feel like my attempts at a tight swaddle are somehow keeping us equal in the rearing of this child. I don't know how it is possible, but I love her more now than I ever have.

Sappy, sappy. Whatever. This blog is for me.

3 cheers for mothers everywhere. Especially the mom I call my wife. (And some mad props for my own mom as well:)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Ok, forget all that emotion stuff I talked about yesterday. I got pretty verklempt as we headed home this afternoon. There was something about the calmness and serenity of the hospital and all the help that gave Amanda and I almost a false sense of security.

And suddenly there I was, pulling the car up to the outpatient roundabout seeing Amanda, sitting in a wheelchair with Harper in the car seat and the weight of all this came crashing down. The big world awaited this new Savage family and as I turned out of the hospital on to the road home, Amanda and I each had a bit of a meltdown. Not in a sad or scared way but more so in recognition of all that we had been thru the past few days and in anticipation of what was to come. It was a very surreal moment.

Harper has been doing very well since we arrived home. All of Amanda's immediate family is with us. Her parents, sister and husband and their two kids. Alex and Abby (Harper's 1st cousins) were so excited to meet Harper and quickly took a shine to her. Steph and Kent (Amanda's sister and husband) came to the room earlier in the day so Alex and Abby were the only ones who had not met her yet and although they were anxious they were calm and almost a bit mesmerized. There was a bit of rivalry over who would hold her and for how long, etc, etc but all in all they were great with her.

Amanda was diligent all day in breastfeeding on schedule and hopefully Harper will sleep well tonight except when we have to wake up for early feedings. This should be the interesting test as the sleep deprivation begins to set in. I worry a bit about having to go back to work on Monday but thankfully the semester is almost over and I will have May and June for lots of daddy/daughter time.

Amanda's folks will be here for at least 5 or so more days which will be a big help as I transition back to work and she has Dr's appointments and so forth.

Bit less of a blog tonight and I know I won't be blogging every day of Harpers life. Now that we are going to try and settle into some sort of routine I hope that I use this forum to record not only the important moments in her life, but the lessons that Amanda and I will learn along the way.

Let the adventure begin.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 2

Harper's second full day is coming to a close and to any one who has been or is a parent it will be no surprise that I am very tired and running on fumes of joy. Sitting here in our private cave of a hospital room listening to Bob Marley, I occasionally look over towards the bed to hear the coo of my daughter and the snore of my bride as both sleep soundly between feedings. I am in ecstasy.

Reflecting on the short time Harper has been with us, I think I am most surprised at my emotional reaction to all these changes. Anyone who has ever been around me for even a bit knows that I am a fairly sensitive guy who can be easily quick to tear. I am man enough to admit that Amanda wears the pants in this family. I honestly expected I would react in Hollywood fits of crying but I have been somewhat struck by how quiet I have been in my connection with Harper. She has enraptured me and sucked me in. Its almost as if she has helped release the internal feelings I have tried so hard to get in touch with in my acting career. She just lies there in my arms, doing nothing, and I can't take my eyes off her and after 20 minutes I feel tired in my cheek muscles and realize I have been beaming the entire time. I suddenly feel less of the boy-child I have been the past 36 years, and, while maybe not a full MAN yet, there is a strong sense of responsibility now. Leave it to a newborn to get me to grow up.

Amanda and I make a pretty good team. Already we have worked pretty hard to establish routines and are sharing the work load as best we can. I'm not bad at changing a diaper and I am slowly mastering the ninja-swaddle. I think Amanda is pretty overwhelmed with the task and demands of breast feeding and so she is counting on my to be involved in those things I am capable of doing.  There is something satisfying in a tight swaddle beyond the fact it puts Harper out.

Dede  (my mom) came for a visit early this morning and Gramps (my Dad) came later in the afternoon in all his motorcycle gear having ridden to the hospital. I think he wants his granddaughter to know he's a pretty cool dude. Later in the afternoon Amanda's folks final arrived and they both melted upon meeting Harper. This is their 3rd grandchild so they have a little more experience but were no less joyful to meet the newest addition to the family. Granddaddy's (Amanda's Dad) big hands gently cuddled Harpers body as if they were sculpted for such moments. When the nurse came in to take her vitals, Mama (Amanda's mom) did not want to give her up. Harper is so blessed to have come into the world with such a loving family. I hope as she grows she will come to appreciate her great fortune. I suppose that is my job to see that she does not take anything for granted.

Amanda's sister Steph wil come to visit tomorrow morning and then we go home to all the excitement of sharing Harper with the world outside the hospital. I have to admit that is has been wonderful here at Mission. Every time I walk outside the room I see hordes of families waiting to go into rooms and visit with new moms and their children. My parents two short visits and Amanda's folks today have been our only guests with the exception of the nurses and doctors. We have had such wonderful bonding moments with just the three of us. As excited as we are to go home and introduce Harper to her cousins and friends I think we have a new sense of the value of "family time" and will be instituting "visiting hours" at home.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My 1st Day

Harper Maguire Savage

Harper Maguire Savage
Early this morning at 12:20am Harper Maguire Savage entered in to the world. Weighing in at 8lbs 9ozs and measuring 21.5ins she is quite the bundle of joy. It has been a long, wonderful day. 
Mom is recovering well after what, in some books could be called a 22 hour labor. Early on Wednesday morning, Amanda we downstairs with some cramps and a bit of discharge. After a visit to the clinic at about 9:20am, it was discovered that her amniotc sack had a tear and that the process was beginning. 
After packing the car and getting everything in order, we arrived at Mission Hospital in Asheville by about 11:30am on 4/6/2011. The contractions at this point were weak and sporadic at best and so with the help of Dr. Hawes we made the decision to fully rupture Amanda’s sac. This sped things up a bit, but due to a nurse shift change there was a bit of a miscommunication and Amanda was put on a slow drip of pitocin. Ultimately I think this was the right decision as after that, at about 3pm things kicked into gear.

With the Savage Grandparents waiting in the family room outside, Jessica Lee arrived from Chapel Hill to help assist in the room.  Cut to 8pm and Amanda is in excruciating pain from contractions. The birth plan was to 1st, have a safe vaginal birth, and 2nd to try and go as natural as possible. Poor Amanda was in so much pain and discomfort and having been up since 3am was deliriously tired as well. She finally chose the epidural and it was the best decision we could have made. Things calmed down drastically and Amanda was able to gain composure and even rest a bit.

After Dr. Hawes checked her to see she had quickly gone from 8-10cm dilation, he suggested she rest and he would be back for the final leg. Amanda slept and Jessica and I got some food. Then at 11pm, our nurse Pam (whose birthday it was) come and and got Amanda going. Jessica and I each held a leg and encouraged Amanda thru what became over the next hour, increasingly more intense pushing phases. By midnight the pushing was showing us the head (we didn’t know the sex at this point) and we were moments away. 15 minutes later Pam called Dr. Hawes in who got ready although Amanda was really pushing and the baby was coming. All of the sudden there were 3 nurses, 1 doctor, 1 husband, 1 best friend, 1 soon to be mom, and one big hairy head all in the room and it felt like controlled chaos. Then at 12:20 a body emerged and in the excitement I couldn’t even tell what we had. Questioningly I said “it’s a girl?” 

Our healthy beautiful girl had come into the world to Burning Spear’s “People Get Ready” and immediately everything changed. Hours later and after DeDe and Gramps Savage came in to meet her and I had called Amanda’s folks and sister, we were moved upstairs to the mother/baby rooms and finally got to bed by 4am.

Today has been a long, blurred, quiet, restful day. Lots of holding, breastfeeding and I final changed my first diaper. I am now truly a father. 

Oh what joys to come.